Friday 30 April 2021

Bible Book:

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! (v. 1)

Romans 11:1-12 Friday 30 April 2021

Psalm 119:145-160


Paul is writing about an issue close to his heart and of central importance during the early days of Christianity. The earliest Christians were trying to decide what the Cross and Resurrection meant, who Jesus was for, and who was included.

Could Gentiles be saved by faith in Jesus and experience the Holy Spirit? As Peter found out in Acts 10 it turned out they can, God’s spirit was visibly there with them (and despite his later faltering which was challenged by Paul it became the norm to include Gentiles).

So then could Jews be saved by faith in Jesus and experience the Holy Spirit? The answer to that was obvious to the first disciples, who were Jews – yes.

But what about Jews who did not accept Jesus or a Christian expectation of experiencing the Holy Spirit? Here, and elsewhere in Romans, Paul argues that yes, they too are included.

Paul’s logic is complex and often confusing as he argues things out from Scripture and experience. I’m reminded of the time I read the philosopher Mary Warnock’s book An Intelligent Person's Guide to Ethics, which led me to conclude that I wasn’t an intelligent person :-) Both Paul and Mary Warnock use complex logic to make a case. Paul does so to influence Christians to recognise that God wasn’t about to start rejecting Jews Historically, Christians have been poor at accepting this. We have a justifiably bad reputation when it comes to our teaching and behaviour towards Jews.

Do we need to be intelligent enough to work through the arguments in full or are we able to accept Paul’s claim that by no means has God rejected his people? This continues the logic from yesterday that all we are going to see from God is mercy. We cannot find any people who will not experience God’s mercy, because God is always merciful. Maybe it is time to give up trying to find God rejecting people and instead get on board with God’s mercy and God’s inclusion of all people.


To Ponder:

  • Do we listen to the teaching of Rabbis enough? Are we listening to Jews describing how our teaching and practices feel to them? Why or why not?
  • One common Christian practice that is widely criticised by Jews is that of sharing a Seder meal on Maundy Thursday. Are you aware of this and how might we respond in the light of Paul’s writing?
  • Do you find Paul’s arguments of God not rejecting Israel helpful or convincing? How have they affected the ways Christians have treated Jews over the years, and even today?
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