Lectionary Year A
August 18, 2002
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
Step III: Composition
A. Immediate Context
(JFC) Pre - Looking at the whole two chapters leading up to these verses, we read of
Paul's genuine concern for his fellow Jews' rejection of salvation offered in Christ. He seems to argue for, as well as with them, especially those there in Rome where he addresses this Epistle. He maintains God's faithfulness and unquestioned justice and he actually proves Israel's guilt of refusing to obey the New Covenant. He emphasizes God's promises' fulfilled and truths' being told without deviation. He longs for the/his people Israel to be saved, to participate in salvation history, to trust God more than merely to obey the Law.
Interlude - Form verses 2b through 28, Paul re-emphasizes God's undeserved kindness, even and especially the Gentiles, mentioned to make the Jews jealous of God's grace, available for them even and especially since they have "fallen" by not responding obediently to Christ. He uses parabolic illustrations of God's grace for the Gentiles - the dough in bread and the roots of trees making the end product right and righteous. Next, Paul refers to branches cut off from trees, stating that they are dead but can find new life in Christ, as can the Jews who had rejected Christ as the Messiah. Still, in all, God's mercy is always available for everyone at all times, even and especially the Jews whenever they believe Christ is the savior.
Post - The final four verses of Romans 11 confess Paul's inability to understand fully God's wealth, wisdom and knowledge. A Doxology concludes the chapter.
B. Organization of the Compositional Whole
(JFC) As these pages have noted formerly, several commentators find the overall
subject of Romans to be stated in the first chapter, verses 16f. We might divide the entirety of this Epistle, thematically, into four parts: chapters 1-4 are about God's saving righteousness/justification by faith as shown through the Old Testament, especially; chapters 5-8 express the significance of living life in Christ; chapters 9-11 present Paul's attempt to deal with the large matter of salvation for the Jews; chapters 12-16 convey Paul's ethics and personal concluding remarks. And, Karl Barth's Shorter Commentary on Romans, writes of this Epistle, "It has often been compared to a catechism, or even to a handbook of dogmatics, and for that reason the first systematic theologian of the Evangelical Church, Melanchthon, did in fact use it as a pattern for a work of this kind."
C. Issues of Authorship
(JFC) As previously stated, virtually every commentary consulted says the Apostle
Paul wrote Romans and that he did so between 54 and 60 or so of the Common Era. Some say it was written from Corinth when Paul visited there in 57 or 58. He went to Jerusalem in 57 or 58 and from there planned (Romans 15:22-32, Acts 19:21 and 20:3 and I Corinthians 16:3-6) to go, for his first time, to Rome on his intended way to Spain.
Barth and Dodd (The Moffett NT Commentary) both recognize Paul's apprehension at going to Rome where he expected some hostility among the residents there, Barth identifying them as "disobedient Jews", disobedient of the covenant(s) God had made with their forefathers. Dodd calls them "Jewish-Christian opponents".
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