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But, Paul, why are the Jews rejecting the gospel?

Posted by on Jul 22, 2013 in scripture | 10 comments

But, Paul, why are the Jews rejecting the gospel?

We have had a great time discussing and learning from Romans over the last few months. We just finished studying through chapter 10. In Romans 9-10, Paul seems to be answering the question, “But why are the Jews rejecting the gospel?”

Obviously, all Jews did not reject the gospel – Paul was a Jew, for instance. But, many Jews not only rejected the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, they actively worked against this message.

So, why were the Jews (in general) rejecting the gospel?

In Romans 9-10, Paul offers at least three answers to this question:

1) God chooses who to save. (Romans 9:6-29)

2) The Jews do not trust (have faith in) Jesus Christ. (Romans 9:30-10:13)

3) The Roman Christians (and other Christians) are not proclaiming the gospel to them. (Romans 10:14-17)

I find it very interesting that Paul places the “responsibility” of the Jews’ salvation in God’s hands, the Jews’ own hands, and his readers’ hands. They are all responsible – in different ways, and it’s not helpful or complete to remove the responsibility from any of the three.

Also, it’s not helpful to see these three “answers” (or responsible parties) as working separately. Obviously, it all goes together: God choosing – People having faith – Believers proclaiming the gospel… they all go together.

I think this is a great pattern to remember when we’re thinking about salvation for anyone – either a large group of people (a “people group” for instance) or even for an individual.

So, I thought I would include you (my readers) in our discussion. Obviously – and unfortunately – you were not part of the actual discussion – either last week or the many weeks studying Romans leading up to this discussion. But, still, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

First, do you agree that Paul is giving these three answers to the question, “Why do the Jews generally reject the gospel?”

Second, do you agree that it’s beneficial to keep these three “answers” (or responsible parties) in mind when considering salvation today (either for large groups or individuals)?

Finally, do you think there are problems with focusing only on one or two of Paul’s “answers”? If so, what problems could arise from that?


10 Comments

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  1. 7-22-2013

    Briefly, I’d answer “yes” to all of your questions. It is helpful to keep all of this in mind, namely, God’s sovereignty in salvation, human responsibility to repent and believe, and our responsibility and privilege to preach the gospel. To separate any of these from the other is to wrongly release us of responsibility (God will save who He will save so there is nothing we can do) or to wrongly overburden people with guilt (the salvation of others is all my responsibility).

    I think we also see various “isms” in the church (i.e. Calvinism and Arminianism) created through the separation of these truths. And these “isms” have proved to be anything but helpful.

  2. 7-22-2013

    My son and I have been reading through Acts together and have discussed this:

    * The Jews saw Christianity as a threatening, heretical cult within Judaism.
    * In many ways, Christianity was a reformation of Judaism, and almost all reformation movements are opposed by the establishment.
    * The rejection of the Gospel by most of the Jewish population spurred the move toward evangelizing the gentiles.

  3. 7-22-2013

    “So, why were the Jews (in general) rejecting the gospel?”

    I believe the answer to the above question is revealed in the answer to the following questions: “Why did Saul (aka: Paul) receive (not reject) the gospel?” (Acts 9:6, 15 “”Lord, what do you want me to do? … Arise and go into the city and you will be told what you must do. … for he [Saul] is a chosen instrument of mine… .”)

    And again, in “Why did the Gentiles gladly receive the word of the Lord given them?” (Acts 13:48 “…as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”)

    What in the world is God doing? HE is building HIS Church…His Body…(Mt. 16:18) using His creatures (aka: instruments) (1 Cor. 3:5ff) to accomplish it.

    Now if the question is: Can we present the gospel in such a way that people do not reject it? I believe, NO. Though I am a construction worker in the building project — God is the Project Designer and Manager. He determines the which materials are being built into His Temple (Romans 9).

    RevJ

  4. 7-22-2013

    Scott,

    Those are my thoughts also.

    Dan,

    It’s interesting to see both similar and different answers to the same question.

    RevJ,

    I think you’ve pointed out a very important part of Paul’s answer in Romans 9-10, but that’s only part of his answer. He didn’t stop with that answer. Why do you think Paul also pointed out the Jews’ failure to believe (have faith in) Jesus, and why do you think he also exhorted his readers to proclaim the good news to them?

    -Alan

  5. 7-23-2013

    Your question: “Why do you think Paul also pointed out the Jews’ failure to believe…”

    They – we (Jews and Gentiles), all owe our Creator acknowledged worth, glory, and thanks (Rom. 1:21, 28). We have revelation of God: creation itself – and the revealed word of God. That revelation is sufficient to hold us all to account.

    Your question continues “…and why do you think he (Paul) also exhorted his readers to proclaim the good news to them?”

    For certain the “Good News” IS the power of God unto salvation! And God has privileged the Church (Body)- and commissioned the same – to communicate His great plan of salvation to each/our generation. Faith does come by means of the word.

    Yet I believe that nothing of what I have just written conflicts with what I stated earlier — and what I believe is the bottom-line answer to your initial question: “Why were the Jews rejecting….”

    A question I asked myself years ago, “How many people die without salvation as a direct result of my failure (whether active or passive) to communicate the good news?”

    My answer, “None.”

    Yet asked differently: “How much will my failure (whether active or passive)to communicate the good news negatively affect my reward in the eternal state?”

    “Very much!”

    God is sovereign — He has revealed Himself — I am accountable. (I think I am preaching to the choir).

  6. 7-23-2013

    ohhh here we go with that word “balance”. The truth lies in the combination of it all and not any extreme. Isn’t that true for so many areas!?!? Which is why we need each other because lots of people would be passionate about responsibility A — but if they forget B or C, they will be totally extreme & off base. Thank you for this teaching today!

  7. 7-23-2013

    RevJ,

    Exactly. They all go together. Why did the Jews (in general) not find righteousness with God? Because 1) God did not choose them for righteousness, 2) they did not trust (have faith in Christ) for righteousness, and 3) they have not heard the good news of Jesus Christ.

    Randi,

    Instead of “balance,” I think of it as “completeness.” For example, if we asked the question, “What did God create?” and someone answered, “God created humans in his image.” That answer would be correct, but not complete. But, you’re right, without this complete answer, it’s easy to go to one extreme or another – which is an issue of balance.

    -Alan

  8. 7-23-2013

    Alan,

    I can’t even begin to offer a good, comprehensive answer to your original question (“Why are the Jews rejecting the gospel?”). I agree with your statement about the three factors/responsibilities involved in one’s accepting the gospel. But I also have a question about your third statement: “3) they have not heard the good news of Jesus Christ.” Romans 10:18-21 seem to me to indicate that the Jews had, in fact, heard the gospel–and had been hearing it since the time of Isaiah. And I believe that there was much preaching of the gospel in Jerusalem (if not throughout all Israel) in the days following Christ’s death. Am I missunderstanding your assessment, or am I missing the point?

    Back to your assessment, I appreciate your offering a balanced/complete look at the issue. That’s not something we often hear.

  9. 7-23-2013

    Norm,

    Yes, after telling the Romans (indirectly) to be the beautiful feet that bring good news, he explains that (for the most part) the Jews had heard the gospel and had rejected Jesus Christ and faith in him for righteousness.

    -Alan

  10. 7-23-2013

    yes! your response was helpful to me in many ways actually. Just had a mental breakthrough, thank you! You are right. Completeness/incomplete are words I will use much more. I’ve always thought “balance” but that gives an inaccurate picture. I think balance insinuates that we need LESS of the one…. but that isn’t necessarily true. we can still have so much passion and fervor and so MUCH of the one….. as long as we “balance” no….. “complete” it with passion fervor of the other angle(s) that complete it.