Romans - Lesson 38

Romans 9:1-5

In Romans 9-11, Paul addresses the tension between God's promises to Israel and their current situation, emphasizing the Gospel's alignment with Old Testament teachings. Paul's deep concern for the spiritual well-being of the Israelites reflects his profound anguish, akin to Moses' plea for his people. Discussions around Romans 9:5 highlight scholarly debates regarding the attribution of the title of God to Christ, underscoring the complexities of biblical translation and interpretation. 

Lesson 38
Watching Now
Romans 9:1-5

IV. The Defense of the Gospel: the Problem of Israel (9:1-11:36)

A. Introduction: The Tension Between God's Promises and Israel's Plight (9:1-5)

B. Defining the Promise (1): God's Sovereign Election (9:6-29)

C. Understanding Israel's Plight: Christ as the Climax of Salvation History (9:30-10:21)

D. Summary: Israel, the "Elect," and the "Hardened" (11:1-10)

E. Defining the Promise (2): The Future of Israel (11:11-32)

F. Conclusion: Praise to God in Light of His Awesome Plan (11:33-36)

  • This lesson offers a deep dive into Paul's Letter to the Romans, revealing its pastoral aims, Paul's intentions to visit Spain, Jerusalem, and Rome, and its relevance to early Christian dynamics and theological inquiries about the Law in Christ's time.
  • This lesson offers a fresh view of Paul's theology, focusing on Romans. It emphasizes the first-century context, highlighting Gentile inclusion and unity in Christ, challenging traditional views. Gain insights into Paul's message and its relevance today.
  • Explore the book of Romans for modern faith conflicts: balance tradition with contemporary practices, learn from history, and grasp Paul's ministry and Gospel's complexities.
  • Follow along with Dr. Moo as he begins a thorough review of Romans 1:2-5. You will learn how Paul emphasizes Jesus' earthly life, resurrection, and his appointment as the Son of God in power. This lesson examines the interconnectedness of faith and obedience, underscoring that while faith initiates salvation, genuine faith inherently entails obedience to Christ as Lord, maintaining a balanced Christian life.
  • By delving into Romans 1:16-17, you'll understand the Gospel extends beyond individual salvation, encompassing God's reign over creation and His establishment of justice. The Gospel challenges worldly powers, offering hope and transformation to all who embrace it.
  • Listen along as the class discusses questions and answers revolving around Romans 1:16-17.
  • In Romans 1:18-28, you learn that all people are held accountable by God, having knowledge of Him through natural revelation but some turn away. This passage highlights the manifestation of God's wrath against sin, the exchange of truth for falsehoods, and the absence of excuses for humanity's actions, ultimately emphasizing God's fair judgment.
  • Listen in as the class and Dr. Moo discuss aspects of Romans 1:18-28.
  • The lesson discusses Romans 2:1-11, it highlights the use of the diatribe device and the transition from focusing on Gentiles to Jews. It underscores the Jewish belief in their special status and their potential misunderstanding of God's judgment. The lesson reviews the focus of the text on key themes such as judgment, righteousness, and the relationship between faith and good deeds.
  • In this lesson, you'll review the significance of the Law, notably the Law of Moses, in God's judgment. Paul stresses that mere knowledge of the Law isn't sufficient for righteousness; obedience is key. The primary message is that salvation ultimately relies on God's grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as human efforts and consciences alone cannot secure salvation. This lesson highlights the importance of understanding these concepts in interactions with people of different religious beliefs.
  • The key takeaway in this lesson is that while being a Jew comes with a great heritage, it doesn't guarantee salvation. Obedience to God's law is crucial, and reliance on religious heritage or rituals won't save you. The lesson emphasizes the universal human condition of being under the power of sin, and people cannot be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law or by the works of the Law. Only through faith in Christ are we made righteous.
  • This lesson explores the New Perspective on Paul, emphasizing that the Law was for Jewish covenant status, not just salvation. It promotes a holistic faith view, balancing vertical and horizontal aspects, Spirit-led obedience, and 1st-century Judaism diversity, enriching Pauline teachings in the church.
  • In exploring Romans 3:21-26, you'll gain insights into the relationship between righteousness, faith, and salvation. Paul highlights God's righteousness, which is accessible to all through faith in Jesus Christ. By weaving together themes of righteousness, faith, and inclusivity, Paul challenges conventional Jewish and Gentile perspectives, emphasizing the continuity of God's salvation plan while underscoring the centrality of faith in Christ for all believers.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the potential challenge in translating Romans 3:23-24, particularly the term "all" and its connection to the debate on universalism in evangelicalism. Dr. Moo stresses the importance of coherence in biblical interpretation and explores the themes of God's righteousness, faith, and grace in justification. The lesson reviews the cultural background of redemption, drawing parallels with the Greco-Roman slave market and emphasizing the need to understand both the problem of sin and the Gospel solution.
  • Embarking on this lesson, you'll gain insight into the historical development and contemporary challenges surrounding the doctrine of justification. Through exploring classic Reformation principles and contemporary reassessments, you'll understand the tensions between Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives, particularly regarding the infusion of righteousness and the role of grace.
  • The lesson explores the intricate connection between faith and works, justification, and sanctification in contemporary theological discourse. It delineates divergent views on justification, with scholars like Piper advocating for the preservation of biblical distinctions amidst modern theological trends. The lesson examines key questions regarding the meaning, basis, time, and means of justification.
  • Students in Dr. Moo's class ask multiple questions about justification.
  • By studying Romans 3:27-4:25, you gain insight into Paul's theology, where faith, exemplified by Abraham's righteousness, transcends works and ethnicity, emphasizing the universal scope of salvation through Christ.
  • Hear the questions the students ask regarding Romans 3:27–4:25. And discover Dr. Moo's answers to the questions posed.
  • In Romans 5 – 8, you gain insights into profound theological concepts like justification, identity in Christ, and the tension between present reality and future hope, guiding you to embrace your changed identity and hope for future transformation amidst life's trials.
  • Students as deep questions about Romans 5-8. Hear what Dr. Moo presents as answers to their questions.
  • Through Romans 5:1-11, you'll review the contrast between the Old and New Realms, understanding the essence of living in grace, finding hope amid suffering, and experiencing the assurance of eternal security rooted in Christ's sacrifice and God's love poured into believers' hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  • In Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts Adam's sin with Christ's redemptive grace, emphasizing humanity's hope and victory over death through union with Christ, while various interpretations of original sin underscore the universal need for redemption and Christ's pivotal role in restoring humanity to God.
  • Listen to the thorough questions the students ask regarding Romans 5:12-21.
  • The students ask excellent questions of Dr. Moo in this insightful discussion on Romans 6:1-14.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the theological implications of Christ's death and resurrection as explained in Romans 6. You will explore different interpretations of Paul's language regarding the old self and the new self, considering the implications for the Christian life. Ultimately, you will be challenged to recognize your identity in Christ and to actively live according to that identity, rejecting the slavery of sin and embracing servitude to God.
  • Hear the questions the students ask of Dr. Moo regarding Romans 6:1-23.
  • In diving into Romans 7, you'll explore the Law's role in Christian life. Paul's discourse clarifies the distinction between law and gospel, emphasizing the Torah's significance in understanding divine commandments.
  • Class discussion on Romans 7:1-6
  • In Romans 7:7-12, Paul explores the Law's role in intensifying sin and contrasts it with Christ's liberation. His narrative prompts reflection on individual experience and collective identity, enriching understanding of Christian faith.
  • The class discusses the previous lesson on Romans 7:7-12.
  • This lesson covers interpretations of Romans 7:13-25; whether Paul's description is of pre- or post-conversion struggle with the Law.
  • In Romans 8:1-22, discover the Spirit's transformative power over sin, leading to a life free from condemnation, intimacy with God, and anticipation of future glory amid present sufferings.
  • Explore the theological insights on environmental stewardship, emphasizing Christian responsibility in light of Romans 8:19-22.
  • Gain insights into Romans 8:23-27, understanding destined glory despite present suffering. The Spirit intercedes, bridging current and promised futures, offering assurance amid weakness.
  • Romans 8:28 offers profound insights into the nature of God's providence and the believer's journey of faith. Beyond its surface meaning, the verse challenges misconceptions about 'good' and underscores the transformative power of God's grace. It invites believers to trust in God's unfailing love amidst life's trials, anchoring their hope in the assurance of His sovereign care and redemptive purposes.
  • Romans 9:1-5 highlights Paul's profound concern for Israel's salvation and the theological complexities surrounding God's promises. Reviewing salvation history, you'll learn that God's offer of salvation for both Jew and Gentile, fits within the Old Testament narrative.
  • Paul discusses Israel's role in God's plan, emphasizing grace over race. He illustrates divine choices and sovereignty, sparking debates on salvation.
  • Discover diverse views on election, Israel's struggle with faith, and the significance of overcoming theological narrowness in Romans 9:30-10:21. Gain insights into law versus faith in attaining righteousness and the importance of engaging deeply with Scripture for a comprehensive understanding.
  • Gain insights into faith versus works, Christ as the culmination of the Law, and the inclusivity of righteousness through Him. Embrace unity in Christ, transcending cultural divisions, and embodying love and holiness.
  • Gain insight into contrasting righteousness by law vs. faith in Romans 10:5-13. Accessibility of salvation through Christ bridges Old and New Testament teachings, emphasizing unity and continuity.
  • Gain insights into Romans 10:14-21, emphasizing faith, preaching, and Israel's reception of the message. Dr. Moo highlights Paul's use of Old Testament quotes and God's ongoing relationship with Israel, revealing the significance of faith and salvation.
  • Gain insight into Romans 11:11-15. Paul discusses Jewish rejection, Gentile salvation, and Jewish inclusion, aiming to provoke Jewish envy. The phrase "life from the dead" hints at spiritual renewal or future resurrection.
  • Gain insights into the Olive Tree analogy in Romans 11:16-24. Understand humility, faithfulness, and the purpose of warning passages in Scripture.
  • Discover the mystery of Israel's salvation in Romans 11:25-32. Paul reveals unity of Jews and Gentiles, challenging arrogance and emphasizing God's inclusive love.
  • Gain deeper understanding of Christian-Jewish ties, navigate theological challenges, address Israel-Palestine tensions, and embrace God's inclusive grace.
  • Gain deep insights into Romans 12:1-2: True worship extends beyond rituals, urging sacrificial living and transformation in response to God's mercy.
  • In Romans 12:3-8, Paul stresses humility, unity, and diverse gifts within the body of Christ, urging faithful stewardship for the edification of the body of Christ.
  • Gain insights into love's complexity in Romans 12:9-21. Paul urges sincere affection, alludes to Jesus' teachings, and prompts contemplation on love and judgment.
  • Gain insights into balancing submission to authorities with obedience to God. Understand the context of Paul's exhortation to Roman Christians and the complexities of submission, emphasizing humility, unity, and love in the Christian life within God's sovereignty.

Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.

Please note that the audio mp3 file numbers on downloaded files are two greater than each lecture number beginning with number 15.

Dr. Douglas Moo 
Romans 9:1-5  
Lesson Transcript


Romans 9:1-5 

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.


A. The Tension between God’s Promises and Israel’s Plight: 

For Romans 9-11, it is fairly easy and uncontroversial and so it should be easy to get through. (laughter)

I can remember when I was a boy and reading, “All Israel shall be saved.” My eyes just about popped out of my head, thinking what in the world did I just read?!

Dr. Moo:  
There are several texts like that in here, I think. 

Just some general comments first. As you look back at the history and interpretation of Romans, Romans 9 through 11 have sort of been the abandoned stepchild sometimes, if I may use that illustration. Paul has put it here but we are not quite sure why. Really, we should just move right from Romans 8 to Romans 12 because we don’t quite understand why Romans 9-11 is here.  

Here’s where the kind of emphasis you have in the New Perspective makes a valid point. These chapters are here and Paul has spent a lot of time talking about Israel, its past and history and its future. Romans is not simply a letter about individuals becoming saved; it is also about God’s bigger plan and how that plan is working with Jew and Gentile together. We’ve seen that this has been a concern of Paul from the beginning of the letter, to show that the gospel Paul preaches fits with God’s Old Testament word and promises. For Paul, there can be no Good News if the message he is proclaiming about Christ doesn’t have continuity with the Old Testament. 

In my view, in Romans 9-11 Paul needs to reflect on this whole matter of the way salvation history has unfolded. Paul is sort of saying, here is how I understand what God has been doing and here is why I think the gospel and the situation that it has created fits with what God has been doing. Romans 9:1-5 kind of sets up the issue in which Paul contrasts the situation of Israel, the reality of Israel, with the promises and privileges that God gave to Israel. This launches Paul into the key issue here.

No one can read very many pages in the Old Testament without coming to realize that God made a lot of promises to Israel. When He talked about a Messiah to come, when He talked about blessing His people, when He talked about the pouring out of the Spirit, when He talked about things like being children of God and experiencing glory – those were promises given to Israel. 

In Paul’s day in the Roman Christian community however, we have a situation in which most of the people who are experiencing glory and becoming children of God and filled with the Spirit are Gentiles. So, how can this be fit together then? God promises Israel all of these blessings; now He turns around and He seems to give them to the Gentiles. Yes, there were some Jews but there were a lot of Gentiles. 

It is like, me as a father promising my son, Jonathan, a new bicycle for Christmas. Then Christmas morning comes along and no bicycle for Jonathan, but my son, David, has a bicycle. David is going to say to me, I’m glad you changed your mind on that, Dad, that you went back on your word. And Jonathan is going to say, Dad, how could you go back on your word like that?  How could you give what you promised to me to my miserable, no-good, younger brother? 

This is the kind of issue we have Paul facing here in Romans 9-11. Paul has to show how there is a correlation between what the Gospel has produced –  a lot of Gentiles being saved but not many Jews – and what the Old Testament teaches. 

Questions on the general framework of what Paul is doing here? Why we have Romans 9 through 11?

Along the way we are going to have to ask some questions; in my neck of the woods we say, how does this preach in Peoria? If Paul is talking about these issues of salvation history and Israel, how do we preach that in a way that is relevant and useful to people in our church?  We’re going to be addressing ourselves to that as we go, but we have to figure out what the text is doing first. 


B. Paul’s Concern for His People:

A couple of comments on the details of Romans 9:1-5.  Paul’s strong passion and concern about the matter comes across very clearly in verses 1-3. ‘I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish.’ He so far as to say, I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people.  

I think the NIV gets the sense of the Greek here pretty well. ‘I could wish’ that. There is a form of the verb used here in the Greek that has the sense of: I am not really wishing this because I know that it is inappropriate and not according to the will of God, but if it were possible, I might wish this. 

Who does this remind you of by the way? Moses, yes, it reminds us of Moses. Remember when Moses intervenes on behalf of the people of Israel. He tells God to take him but spare the people. Paul is sort of putting himself here almost in the shoes of Moses in the way he talks about his concern for the people. 


C. Greek Manuscripts and Their Writing Style: 

Paul goes on to talk about all these things God has given Israel, all the things He has promised Israel, culminating in the Messiah – look at the end of verse 5 – the Messiah, in the NIV, comma ‘who is God overall praised forever.’ Here is one of these verses that may call Jesus Christ God. I say may because the issue here is a matter of punctuation.

I say it may because the issue here is a matter of punctuation. Most of you will know that the vast majority of the Greek manuscripts we have contain no punctuation at all. They are written in capital letters without any breaks between the words. If you go to the British museum and look at Codex Alexandrinus for instance; you will see that every line has, I think, eleven letters with no breaks for words, far less any punctuation or verse numbers or titles or paragraph numbers, or anything of the sort. That is just the way they wrote manuscripts in those days. 

The point is then, and it’s a good thing to remember, all of the punctuation, verse numbers, the paragraphs, those are decisions that editors make. We on the translation committee spend a lot of time figuring out where to put paragraph breaks and how to punctuate, where to put a period or a comma. These are all decisions that translators have to make.

This is another place where it is really important to compare English translations to see where the differences are in the way those divisions are being made. There are a couple of Bibles now being published that I think are really useful that remove all verse numbers, paragraph breaks, titles, even chapter headings. Sometimes this is a nice Bible to have along with your other ones because when we pick up a Bible and open it up, immediate we are going to predisposed to read chapter 8 in isolation from chapter 9 but maybe that is not what Paul intended. Paul didn’t make that division; Paul didn’t put a big break in there. Human editors have done that t Was that the right choice or not. Sometimes it is good to cut through all of that and read the Bible more in the way God first gave it to His people, in a sense.


D. The Title of God Ascribed to Christ?:

The point then here is that there is considerable debate about whether after the word, Christ or Messiah, here, we put a period or a comma. Is Paul saying (NIV) “the human ancestry of the Messiah comma who is God over all forever praised?” Or is he saying, “the human ancestry of the Messiah period God who is over all, be forever praised.” In the former case, the word God is applied to Jesus; in the latter case, it is not. It is a matter of trying to figure out what Paul intended here and what the best sequence is and how to punctuate. There is a tendency in modern scholarship to go with the comma as we have in the NIV, but it certainly isn’t a unanimous decision.

I have provided on the PowerPoint the results of the most through discussion of this word God as a title of Christ in the New Testament. In Murry Harris’ book in which he draws these conclusions, he says in his estimation, the word ‘God’ is applied to Jesus 

  • pretty certainly in John 1:1 and John 20:28, 
  • very probably in the text we are looking at now Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, and 2 Peter 2:1,
  • probably in John 1:18. 

In each case, it is a matter of debate about the interpretation, the exegesis of the text. Harris’ book is certainly by far the most important on this particular issue of title ‘God.’ 

Obviously, our understanding of the deity of Christ rests on many other foundations. This isn’t the only evidence nor is it even perhaps the most important evidence. But, as far as it goes, here is the evidence that in my view Murry Harris, one of my own teachers and mentors, has done a great job in sorting it out for us. 

This is a translational question: is it “God blessed for the ages,” Jesus Christ is “God blessed,” in the sense of the blessed God? 

Dr. Moo:  
There are several ways to translate, depending on how you punctuate. The most likely two options are what you have in the NIV the human ancestry of the Messiah or Christ comma who is God overall comma forever praised. That is the most likely way to take it if we have a comma here. You have Christ called God over all, and then it’s said that He is forever praised.

With a period, the idea would be God, who is over all. May He be forever praised. Assuming a verb there ascribing praise to God the Father obviously in that case.