Romans - Lesson 40

Romans 9:30-31

By diving into Romans 9:30-10:21, you'll gain insights into various views on election, Israel's failure to embrace Christ, the role of law versus faith in attaining righteousness, and the importance of challenging theological presuppositions to avoid narrow-mindedness. The text underscores the significance of openness to diverse perspectives and engaging deeply with Scripture to foster a more comprehensive understanding of theological concepts and their implications for faith and practice.

Lesson 40
Watching Now
Romans 9:30-31

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)

1. Israel, the Gentiles, and the Righteousness of God (9:30-10:13)

a. The Righteousness of God and the "Law of Righteousness" (9:30-33)

b. The Righteousness of God and "Their Own Righteousness" (10:1-4)

c. Gospel and Law (10:5-13)

2. Israel's Accountability (10:14-21)

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 9:30-31  
Lesson Transcript


Romans 9:30-31

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.


A. Thinking about Election: 

Let’s move on to the second stage of Paul’s argument; we will rehearse a little bit this matter of election. So, how do we think about election? 

One option is associated particularly with the theology of Karl Barth who says the elect one is Christ. If you are familiar at all with the theology of Karl Barth you know that he puts all this emphasis on Christ, that everything is focused on Christ. So, for Barth he thinks there is language in the New Testament that suggests that Christ is the elect one so that it is when we believe we become part of Christ and so we are elect. That is Barth’s way of doing it.

This is the traditional Calvinist view: God chooses, and so we believe. 

Here is the traditional Armenian view: God chooses in response to our belief. (I’m generalizing but I think it’s fair.) 

The other option I want to throw out here is related to the transition we are making now from Romans 9 into Romans 10, is that you have God electing us to be a member of the people of God. You have we as humans responding in faith that Paul says both without resolving them. 

It is an interesting transition from Romans 9 to 10. In Romans 9, you have all this emphasis where God chooses; God selects; He is the one who makes people anyway He wants; He has the freedom to do anything He wants to do; He is God. 

Then you come to Romans 9:30 and following; this whole passage is about why is Israel not saved? It is because Israel failed to believe, because Israel was blind, because Israel was ignorant, because Israel was disobedient. 

It is almost as if Paul gives us two somewhat contradictory answers to his question within two chapters. Why aren’t more Jews in Paul’s day believing? because God didn’t choose them – Romans 9. Why aren’t more Jews in Paul’s day believing? Because they have failed themselves culpably to respond to what God was doing in Christ.

There are those then who say I am neither Calvinist nor Armenian; I am not some hybrid of the two; “Calmenianism” is an impossible mixture. But rather to go back to the illustration we had the other day of the divine agency and human agency issue, some texts of Scripture say it’s God who has done it, others say it is humans who are responsible. Both are there; we can’t resolve them. So, this is another option we have to have on the table. 

What do you call that view? The Compatibility view?

Dr. Moo: 
It is related to this. Compatibilism is a broader theological, philosophical approach to things that says full divine sovereignty is compatible with complete human responsibility. This is usually the way it is framed. Usually when we hear the phrase “compatibilism” that is what is intended.  

I think this is correct; you can’t read scripture for very long before you see page after page that God does it, He is control, He is in charge, He is sovereign, He determines the way things are. And yet throughout scripture it is equally obvious that humans are responsible, we choose and our choices matter. We are responsible for the choices, and rightly condemned for our wrong choices. 

So, compatibilism is an attempt at the more philosophical level to say that these two do work together. Some of that is above my paygrade and I’m not quite sure I follow it all but people I respect hold that view.


B. The Jews Failed to Respond to What Jesus Offered: 

Romans 9:30 – 10:21 is the next section. This is about Israel’s responsibility for her fall. Paul is giving us successive responses to the problem he has created. Why have so many people of Israel – why are so many Jews not becoming part of the new people of God if this is the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel? How do we explain this? Paul’s second answer is: Jews have themselves failed to respond to God’s grace in Christ. Paul develops this now as we’re going to see in this section. 

In 9:30 – 10:8 is characterized especially by three contrasts between righteousness related to law and the righteousness related to faith. Here Paul comes back and begins using some of the language he used earlier in Romans. If you try to follow what Paul is doing here and pay careful attention to the language he is using, as we saw in Romans 3 and Romans 4, righteousness, faith, law – these are words that are mentioned again and again. 

We haven’t heard those words very much since then; Paul kind of reintroduces them in the discussion as a way of explaining the situation of Israel in his day. Verse 30, ‘What shall we say? 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 a way of righteousness have not obtained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.’ 

On the one hand, Paul reflecting on the situation of his day in the context of the Roman Christian church as well. Here we have these Gentiles who were not pursuing a relationship with God because they didn’t know about God, they didn’t even know about the God of the Bible. Here they have attained this righteous status that is by faith. But in contrast to the Gentiles is the people of Israel. They pursued the law as a way of righteousness but did not attain it.


C. The Law Was Not a Means to Righteousness: 

Now, do you see the interesting shift that Paul makes here? You see how he disrupts the parallelism between the two statements. Where does he do that?

By introducing Israel?

Dr. Moo: 
No. What did the Gentiles pursue? 

They didn’t pursue righteousness, yet Israel did. The Gentiles got it, but they did not pursue it.

Dr. Moo: 
What did Paul say Israel was pursuing? They were pursuing the law rather than righteousness. You’d expect Paul to say Israel (Gentiles) didn’t pursue righteousness but found it; Israel was pursuing righteousness but didn’t find it. That is what you would expect him to say. But instead, he says the law of righteousness. He introduces the law into it again, which by this point should be no surprise to us. Again and again, Paul is bringing in the issue of the law.

This is a controversial verse. I’d be glad to have you challenge me, ask me questions about it. In my view, what Paul is trying to say, Israel’s problem was that she became focused on the law as a means of righteousness and therefore didn’t achieve the righteousness God had planned for her. Rather than submitting to God’s righteousness in Christ (language that Paul is going to use in a moment), Israel focused so much on the law, that Israel missed the righteousness. Narrowly insisting that any righteousness had to come in and through the law. This was their absolute unchallenged framework.

So, in a sense, the law became their God; the law became elevated among the Jews to such a position that it was unassailable, it was unquestioned. And by focusing so much on the law, Israel missed righteousness and did not enter into the right relationship with God that He was making available by a simple act of faith. 

So, in this case ignorance is bliss. The Gentiles did not have the same kind of issues that Israel had because the Gentiles didn’t have all of that history. They didn’t have this fixation on the law. They just heard Christ being proclaimed and didn’t have any categories in their background and responded in faith, simple basic faith. But Israel had all this baggage that kept the Jews, again and again, from responding in the right way. 

A lot of us have had that experience. We would much rather evangelize an out-and-out heathen who has never heard of Christ than someone who has been raised in a certain church tradition which absolutely blocks their ability to truly understand the Gospel, or at least creates interference with their fair and genuine hearing of the Gospel. That seems to be what Paul is saying about the situation here with Israel.

I think that makes sense in terms of living the life that we were talking about, “I don’t know a lot about the doctrine you’re talking about but all I know is let’s go out and help the poor.” I think we see that even now in terms of how much time is spent on strong legalistic minds. A lot of energy is spent on that. A parallel in that.


D. Not Getting Bogged Down with Theological Baggage: 

Sometimes the naiveté of the very young believer who doesn’t have all the baggage of the theological discussions and church issues in their background. It can be very refreshing. This is kind of the way the Gentiles often responded with the preaching of the Gospel, whereas, the Jews were blocked by this stuff they had learned, the framework they had established which they could not think outside of. There were boxes they had built for themselves that prevented them from seeing the truth of the gospel. 

I think here of the great biblical illustration of the beautiful irony in the story of the man born blind that Jesus heals in John 9. This guy whom Jesus heals comes before the Jewish religious leaders and basically, they tell him that he can’t see because the guy you claimed healed you doesn’t fit our pattern. Jesus didn’t qualify to be an effective and accurate teacher of Israel. So, you can’t see. 

This poor guy who was born blind, he is no great theologian or philosopher, just keeps saying that he doesn’t understand all the theology they were talking about, but all he knew was - this morning I couldn’t see and now I can see, and that I am sure about. This is an illustration of how the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day just could not accommodate Him. Their theology just would not allow someone like Jesus who was fast and loose to the Sabbath to have the miraculous power to heal somebody like that.  Paul is talking about the same issue in this context. 


E. Challenging Your Presuppositions and Narrowness: 

Do you have any practical advice to keep us from blinding presuppositions?  Seriously, I fear that – that I’m really not giving this text it’s justice because of my own presuppositions.

Dr. Moo: 
I think study and prayer, and I don’t think those are antithetical.  Sometimes I hear: “all your study, where is that really going? It’s not really just seeking God’s Spirit by prayer to understand the text.”  I don’t see any way to separate those two in my own experience. It is study guided by, informed by, inspired by the Spirit that I claim in prayer. 

So, I think there, if we are open to God’s Word, if we are going to be the kind of people who to say not “I’m going to read this to confirm what I believe,” but, “let me pray that God would teach me from this Word; let me try my best to really be open to what He is saying.” If you’d only do that, you’d all be Calvinists, too.” (laughter)

I was going to come at the from the other way!  How can we convict the Calvinists with their staunch presuppositions…

Dr. Moo: 
With the truth. (laughter)  

I think the other thing that helps here in a very practical way is either to find fellow clergy, or fellow people who are fairly theologically astute, who differ from you, to get engaged in conversation with.  In my experience, I have learned a lot more about the strengths and weaknesses of Calvinism and Armenianism by sitting in the White Horse Inn at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School as a student, debating with my Armenian friends for hours. The problem a lot of us face is that we get very closed in with our own denominational structures, we spend all our time with people that we already agree with. Let’s face it we don’t have time to do any more than that. I realize that time is the tyrant here. But to the degree that you can cultivate and spend time together …

That is one of the benefits of a program like you are in here. Very similar with the DMin (Doctor of Ministry) program I’ve taught in Trinity for many years.  You get Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Bible Church folks all thrown into the same class and suddenly they begin talking with each other. Sometimes, you can almost see lights going on when suddenly a Lutheran will turn to a Baptist and say, you are not as bad as I thought. 

I think that is a healthy way to help us identify where some of our narrowness might be. I make assumptions about this text that I didn’t even realize I was making now that I hear someone else talking about it.   

If we can’t do that personally which I think is by far the best thing, then the other thing that you can do is to read books that are deliberately not in our own tradition to make us think. Find good books. If I’m preaching through Romans, I’m going to find a good commentary from my denomination and then I’m going to find a commentary that is from someone completely off the wall, like Moo or somebody, and read them too. That is going to help my narrowness perhaps in thinking about the text only in one way.  

I personally put no limits on what I read. I read out and out atheists, I read Bart Ehrman, people who are antithetical to the faith, who are atheists, who hate Christianity. I read them. Partly because I want to be able to respond to them, of course, because I know other people are reading them. That’s why you might want to read a Brian MacLaren because you might have someone in your church who has read Brian McLaren.  

There are people I read that I don’t like to read because I get so irritated, I lose my sanctification. I won’t even mention a couple of people for whom that is true for me, but sometimes I feel I have got to do it because I have people in my Sunday school class who ask – how about what Brian McLaren says? If I am going to respond to Brian McLaren, I have to take the ownership to have read him, not just do it second-hand or hear a rumor about him because that’s not fair.  

In working on the commentary on Romans, I came to Romans 9. I remember this very particularly. I talked earlier about this view on corporate election about God working in history, not so much in terms of our individual salvation. That was a view I was unfamiliar with; I had an immediate reaction against it. I remember reading and re-reading and re-reading Charles Cranfield’s commentary that takes that view just to where I could get to the point of really understanding what he was saying. I was trying to get my prejudices out of the way a little bit so I could be fair in hearing what he was saying and then evaluate it against the text. It took me quite a while to do that. I realize for most of us, we don’t have the luxury of all that time. I’m in a different situation than most of you.

But I think there are ways, wherever you are in ministry, that you can try to keep yourself from becoming narrow in that way. Not that you should give up your denominational distinctives or theological perspectives that you have learned and found to be faithful to scripture over the years. Just know what other people are saying, trying to look at the bigger world out there sometimes.