Verse 30 of chapter 9 begins the second section of the third quarter of Paul’s letter to the Roman church. In the first section Paul dealt with Israel’s unbelief and now in this second section Paul will deal with Israel’s rejection of God through their unbelief. Israel’s rejection of God is due her stubbornness. She sought salvation through legalistic works and did not submit to Christ (Romans 9:30-10:4). The law method can never work; it demands what men cannot do—perfect obedience from the cradle to the grave (Romans 10:5). The faith method can work; man can do what it asks (Romans 10:8-10). The faith method makes salvation possible for all men (Romans 10:11-13). Universal salvation demands universal proclamation of the Gospel (Romans 10:14-15). Israel has indeed heard, but she hardened her heart against God (Romans 10:16-21). This is why she has been rejected by God.
What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”—9:30-33
Paul portrays Jews and Gentiles as taking part in a running race. Like the ancient fable of the tortoise and the hare, the sure favorite is beaten by the outsider. Even though Gentiles did not aim for the prize (righteousness), they in fact reached it by faith (Romans 9:30). By contrast, Israel thought the law was the course of the race that would lead to the goal of righteousness (Romans 9:31), but the law and obedience to it were the wrong course. The course was blocked by a big stone over which the Israelites tripped (Romans 9:32). The stone is Christ himself. Approached in the wrong way, Jesus is a source of glory, not shame (Romans 9:33, which is quoting Isaiah 8:14 and 28:16).
Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.—10:1-4
Paul returns to the theme of Romans 9:1-5, in which he expresses his love for his fellow Jews and his desire for their salvation, encouraging all believers to pray for those who are not yet saved. The Jews have a zeal for God, but it is misdirected (Romans 10:2) and based on establishing their own righteousness on the basis of obedience to the law instead of Christ alone (Romans 10:3 and Philippians 3:9): “God’s righteousness” (Romans 10:3) means both his act of righteousness in sending Jesus to save sinners and his act of giving righteous status to anyone who believes. In verse 4 Paul perhaps returns to the racetrack, where Christ is the culmination, or the end of the race—what the law was really aiming at. If Christ is pictured as awarding the prize, the price is righteousness for everyone who runs the race by faith and not by works. And that is where we will pick up tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Isaiah 51-52, Ephesians 5, Psalm 69:19-36 and Proverbs 24:7
Make a one-time donation
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly