by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2 December 17, 2017 Humble, Texas (Download Audio)
(019)Thesis: The Word of The God has not failed because the condition of the Israelites in the first century is not an accurate picture of the condition of "Israel" in the first century.
Introduction: In the paragraph before us, we are facing Paul's "biblical hermeneutic" as he continues to defend the Gospel as it affects the massive shift in "message focus" and "audience". The Jews had accused him of preaching a "theology of hate" as he dismantled the legal theology of the Jews and proclaimed his message to the nations. They also accused him of preaching an inherently contradictory theology wherein he admitted that "Israelites" were significantly attached to God's promise of adoption, but then accused them of significant apostasy in their rejection of Jesus of Nazareth as God's Christ. How can the Israelites be in such a state if God had promised them "the adoption"?
I. The Short Answer: Hebrews 4:2 and Acts 2:39 and Acts 13:46.
A. According to Hebrews 4:2, the gospel was preached to all "Israelites" in the wilderness, but it did not "profit them" because they did not believe it.
B. According to Acts 2:39, "the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off", but it must be associated with the "call" of The Lord Our God.
C. According to Acts 13:46, God insisted upon the proclamation of the Gospel to the Jews first, but allowed them to "judge" themselves "unworthy of everlasting life".
D. Conclusion: "promise" is preached to "Israelites" for the sake of "Israel", but there is no guarantee in "promise" that everyone who hears it will "believe" it, thus eliminating the argument that Paul's theology is inherently contradictory.
II. The Longer Answer: Our Current Text.
A. At issue in our text is the question of whether The Word of The God has failed because "Israelites" rejected the covenants and the promises.
B. Paul's "hermeneutic".
1. "Israelite" does not equal "Israel".
2. "Seed of Abraham" does not equal "children".
a. The larger issue of the paragraph.
1) The immediate issue is whether The Word of The God has "failed".
2) But the larger issue is whether a person "automatically" becomes a "child of God" by virtue of some activity "of the flesh".
b. When Paul says "seed" does not equal "children", he does not mean "children of Abraham".
1) He makes this clear in 9:8 where he expands the word "children" into the phrase "children of God".
2) He further clarifies in 9:8 when he says "the children of the promise" are "reckoned" for "seed".
3) Thus, he claims that there are "fleshly children" who are one kind of the "seed" of Abraham, and that there are "God's children" who are another kind of the "seed" of Abraham.
a) This has application for Israelites in that there were "fleshly children" born of both Abraham (Ishmael and the sons of Keturah) and Isaac (Esau).
b) But this also has application for Paul's turn to the nations after the "Israelites" deemed themselves "unworthy of everlasting life" by rejecting The Word of The God.
1) Paul never taught that non-Israelites ever became the seed of Abraham in respect to "Israel".
2) But he did teach that non-Israelites become the seed of Abraham in respect to the other promise of God to make Abraham the father of many nations (Genesis 17:4-5).
i) This is explained in Galatians 3:14-16 and 29 where anyone who "believes" in Christ becomes of the "seed" of Abraham by becoming united to "The Seed" of Abraham, which is Christ.
ii) In the midst of that context, Paul declares to gentiles that they are "the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" because that "faith" results in a "baptism into Christ".
3. "In Isaac shall your seed be called" means, not "physical sperm seed", but "God-produced children".
a. The phrase out of Genesis 21:12 means that Abraham's "seed" will be out of the "God-produced" son, Isaac, and not the "flesh-produced" son, Ishmael.
b. Paul's argument is that the "God-produced" seed are those who come into being by reason of God's promise and not by reason of any fleshly activity: they are "the children of the promise".
1) This is clear from his clarification of "the word of promise", "I shall come and a son shall be to Sarah" (Genesis 18:10).
2) But this follows on the heels of Genesis 17:16 where multiple nations are to come from Sarah.