Lectionary Year A
August 18, 2002
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JFC) The theological pivotal point is the God who does not turn His back on His people nor take back gifts He gives. The next most major concern in this lesson is God's mercy given to all. Then, too, another major issue is in the reason Paul says God treats as prisoners those who disobey Him. These designations leave the minor elements in this pericope to be Paul's claim to be Jewish, Abraham's descendant and those who reject God in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ as Messiah.

B. Smoother Translation

(JFC) 1 I say then/thus, did God reject His people? No indeed! He would not do so; for also I am an Israelite of the first order I come from the seed/posterity of Abraham, the tribe/nation of Benjamin. 2a Not did God reject His people whom He foreknew. 29 For irrevocable (are) the gifts and the call of this God. 30 For just as previously you disobeyed this God, now on the contrary you have been shown mercy by this one even in your disobedience, 31 thus also these now who disobeyed the one having shown mercy in compassion, so that also now they (all) have been shown mercy. 32 For made prisoners the God of the ones all who are into disobedience, so that everyone would be shown mercy.

C. Hermeneutical Bridge

(JFC) Reginald Fuller says, "For us what is of permanent validity in this passage is not Paul's particular scheme of salvation history (which had to be corrected already by Matthew), but the great principle enunciated in verse 29 and highlighted in the caption: the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. That must be the basic principle as we wrestle today with the place of Israel in salvation history." Since Fuller wrote those sentiments in 1974, we have learned most recently to ask such questions, re: those of Eastern Religions, today's Israelis, Muslims, Palestinians, Arabs, Buddhists, etc. Is the challenge greater now? Is Paul's hope a help to us these days? Dare we hope with him?

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