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Paul, the Law and Israel
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  1. Paul, the Law and Israel Covenant with Abraham Covenant at Sinai Apostle tothe Gentiles

  2. Paul, the Law and Israel • 1. Continuity—Discontinuity • 1.1 Paul complies with Judaism • God is the God of Israel • The God of Israel has spoken and acted through Moses and Prophets • God’slaw is holy and good • God is faithful to the promises given to Israel • God saves Israel by sending the Messiah/Christ • 1.2 Paul challenges boundaries • God is the God of all people • All who have faith in Jesus Christ are children of Abraham • Thus, Gentiles can become full members of the Covenant People • Thus, Gentiles must not circumcise

  3. Paul, the Law and Israel • 2. The basic problem • 2.1 Negative statements about the law • Gal 3:13—Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law • Gal 3:19—The law was added for the transgressions • 1 Cor 15:56—The power of sin is the law • 2 Cor 3:6—The letter kills but the Spirit gives life • 2.2 Positive statements about the law • Rom 7:12—The law is holy, just and good • Rom 13:8—The one who loves another fulfills the whole law • Gal 5:13—The whole law is summed up in the love commandment • 2.3 Contradiction, development, misinterpretation?

  4. Paul, the Law and Israel • 3. The traditional interpretation • 3.1 Judaism - a legalisic religion • OT piety had deteriorated into a legalistic “Late” Judaism • Thus, Paul also had sought to earn his salvation through good works • 3.2 Paul’s conversion = liberation from legalism • Law contra Grace • Doing contra Receiving • 3.3 Modern Lutheran Interpretations • Bultmann: The effort of keeping the law itself is sin • Käsemann: Paul strikes at the hidden Jew in us all

  5. Paul, the Law and Israel • 4. Covenantal Nomism (EP Sanders) • 4.1 Covenant = God’s undeserved gift • Membership is free and apart from merit • God’s love, “You were the least of all people...” • 4.2 Covenant = a binding relationship • Demands and promises • Blessings and curses • Rewards and punishments • 4.3 Common pattern of religion • The appropriate response to God’s gift of grace is obedience • Slogan: Getting in by grace, staying in by works • 4.4 From solution to plight • Paul: Since God has acted in Christ to save the world, there must be something wrong with Judaism

  6. Paul, the Law and Israel • Covenantal Nomism (EP Sanders) • 4.5 Different questions, different answers • The tension between Paul’s negative and positive statements concerning the law can be resolved: • How to join?—not by works of law • How to behave?—love your neighbor and fulfill the law • 5. Ethnocentric exclusivism (JDG Dunn) • 5.1 Paul finds fault with Judaism • Sanders’ Paul makes an inexplicable and arbitrary jump from one religious system to another • Instead, Paul really finds fault with the Judaism of his time • 5.2 Paul objects to “the works of the law” • Paul objects not against legalism or doing the law • BUT against using the law as a boundary marker • Works of law = circumcision, food laws and Sabbath • Exclusivismcontrainclusivism

  7. Paul, the Law and Israel • 5. The Christian Paul is pessimistic about the law (Westerholm) • 5.1 The law was given as a means to live • But human beings have proved incapable • The fault lies not with the law but with Sin • 5.4 A theological dilemma • If the law cannot save, then God’s purpose with the law is not fulfilled • What about God’s promises to Israel, God’s chosen people? • Are God’s promises unreliable? Is God unfaithful? • Me genoito! By no means! • 6. Paul writes to Gentiles

  8. Paul, the Law and Israel • For the best of Israel • In Rom 9-11 Paul presents his view on • the place of Jews in in god’s salvation plan • and the responsibility of Gentiles towards Jews • Nowhere else in his letters such an intense expression of sorrow as in Rom 9:1-6: He writes: • 1 I am speaking the truth in Christ-- I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit-- • 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. • 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. • Why? • 4 They are Israelites, • and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, • the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; • 5 to them belong the patriarchs, • and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

  9. Paul, the Law and Israel • For the best of Israel • 7.1 God’s righteousness • Has God rejected his people? • Is God then unrighteous? • Me genoito! (9:14) These questions are rhetorical since the righteousness of God is • Not up there in the heavens, • Not an unreachable ideal • Not an idea in a far distance. • The righteousness of God • Is the basis for a relation • It guarantees that promises are reliable • It is the faithful loving kindness that never deceives • It is the helping power that never fails • (Cf. Is. 51:5-8)

  10. Paul, the Law and Israel • For the best of Israel • 7.2 A logical dilemma • The majority of Jews rejects the Gospel of Christ? • Their hardening will result in the destruction of many • YET, all this is part of God’s plan for the best of Israel! • 7.3 Paul looks for answers • Distinguishing Abraham’s from Jacob’s children (9:6-13) • The stories of Moses and Pharao (9:14-18) • The potter and the clay (9:19-26) • Conclusion: There is no coherence: • God shows mercy to whom he wishes and he destroys whom he wishes

  11. Paul, the Law and Israel • For the best of Israel • 7.2 A logical dilemma • 7.3 Paul looks for answers • 7.4 A rest shall be saved • Paul looks to the prophet Isaiah for answers • 9:27"Though the number of the children of Israel were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved; 28 for the Lord will execute his sentence on the earth quickly and decisively." • 29 And as Isaiah predicted, "If the Lord of hosts had not left survivors to us, we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomorrah."

  12. Paul, the Law and Israel • For the best of Israel • 7.4 A rest shall be saved • Paul looks to the prophet Isaiah for answers (Rom 9:27-29) • 27"Though the number of the children of Israel were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved; 28 for the Lord will execute his sentence on the earth quickly and decisively.“ • 29 And as Isaiah predicted, "If the Lord of hosts had not left survivors to us, we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomorrah." • Can the logical dilemma be solved through a distinction of individual and collective? • Individuals may perish, the sons of Israel may be reduced to a rest • BUT God will remain faithful to his promises to his people • God will never betray his righteousness • But is this a solution? Not really!

  13. Paul, the Law and Israel For the best of Israel 7.5 Some stumble for the salvation of all Instead of solving the logical dilemma, Paul turns to another question: Did they stumble in order to fall? Again Paul’s answer is Me genoito! Of course not! (11:11) Instead, the first answer is:some stumbled in order to save the Gentiles (11:11) The second answer is: so that all of Israel will be saved (11:26) The mission to the Gentiles is for the best of Israel!

  14. Paul, the Law and Israel • 8. The situation in Rome • 8.1 Why this line of argument in a letter to Gentiles? • Why these questions: • Has God rejected his people? (11.1) • Did they stumble in order to fall? (11:11) • Why the double Me genoito? • What did the Gentile Christians in Rome have to learn concerning the people of Israel? • 8.2 Did the Gentile Christians deride the Jews? • Gentile Christians in Rome: • Look down on the Jews and their relation to God • Think that Israel’s time is over

  15. Paul, the Law and Israel • 8. The situation in Rome • 8.1 Why this line of argument in a letter to Gentiles? • 8.2 Did the Gentile Christians deride the Jews? • 8.3 God’s faithfulness must not be doubted • Paul responds to the scourn by pointing to God’s faithfulness: • If God’s promises to Israel are naught, all God’s promises are naught! • Everything is connected. The parts need the whole and the whole needs the parts! • Only if God’s promises to Israel are reliable, then also God’s promises in christ are reliable! • Doubt regarding God’s faithfulness towards Israel, by necessity leads to doubt concerning the relaiability of the Gospel! • For “in the Gospel God’s righteousness is being revealed” (Rom 1:17)

  16. Paul, the Law and Israel True and wild braches in the Olive tree 13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry 14 in order to make my own people jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead! 16 If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; and if the root is holy, then the branches also are holy. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree, 18do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 You will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you.

  17. Paul, the Law and Israel True and wild braches in the Olive tree 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And even those of Israel, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree. 25 So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved;