ROMANS 9:6-13 Essay

This essay has a total of 5009 words and 25 pages.

ROMANS 9:6-13


ROMANS 9:6-13



30 NOVEMBER 2004


Repetitive Texture and Pattern 4
Opening-Middle-Closing Texture and Pattern 6
Oral-Scribal Intertexture 7
Social Intertexture 11

This exegetical paper will be dealing on Rom 9:6-13. In order to understand this passage,
an overview of chapters 9 to 11 will be considered as it forms part of Paul's discussion
(although it is possible take into consideration the entire epistle, it is not necessary
to discuss beyond the context). Next, a proposed translation of the text is done
highlighting the variants that exists in the passage. Then, a socio-rhetorical analysis
using inner texture and intertexture will be used to draw out a clearer understanding of
the passage. Finally, with the help of the analysis, the meaning of true Israel and the
understanding of sovereign election will be discussed. This understanding of this focus is
fundamental in correcting, if any, the misinterpretation of God's promises by the Jews and
believers at Rome, and as well as for us today.

Romans chapter 8 ends in a most glorious and victorious statement. Paul says that he is
convinced that nothing is able to separate him and the believers from the love of God (Rom
8:38-39). However, he begins in chapter 9 with great heaviness and continual sorrow in his
heart (9:2). It would seem strange to see a sudden shift in Paul's attitude in the
beginning of chapter 9. The relation of chapters 9 to 11 to their context - as well as, of
course, their purpose - has been the subject of a great deal of scholarly discussion. At
first glance, the discontinuity of this portion of the epistle and its length makes it
difficult to unravel. On closer examination, Paul has not finished what he has said and
now continues to develop his thesis in Rom 1:16-17. If this section is missing, there
would be a hiatus leaving us with unanswered questions and the corresponding perplexity.

Chapters 9 to 11 comprise of "a carefully composed and rounded unit with a clear beginning
(9:1-5) and end (11:33-36)." Paul begins on a personal note, expressing his concern for
his own people. He is fraught over their condition.

Next, he gives a positive assertion: "it is not as though the word of God has failed"
(9:6). This states a possible implication from what Paul had written in verses 1-5. Paul,
who has written so stridently on the justification of sinners, now turns to write on the
justification (vindication) of God himself (cf. 3:3, 4). He reminds them that the God is
free and sovereign in what he does.

In chapter 10, he turns the discussion to the Jews' mistake in trying to establish their
own righteousness before God in terms of meritorious obedience to the law instead of
responding to the gospel of Christ by faith. God had not set Israel aside arbitrarily.

In chapter 11, Paul writes about Israel's rejection being not complete, for there was a
believing remnant and a mass conversion of Israel will occur. In addition, during this
temporary rejection, God continues his work of grace by saving many Gentiles. The figure
of the olive tree emphasizes that Gentile salvation is dependent on Israel's covenant
relationship to God. Gentiles have to be grafted into the olive tree (11:17-21). God is
found faithful to his covenant promises in spite of the unfaithfulness of Israel. In
closing (11:33-36), Paul, despite his burden for the Israel of his day, is able to lift
his heart in indulgent praise to God.

Therefore, Rom 9:6-13 and Rom 9:24-29 contain the brunt of Paul's argument, while Rom
9:14-23 form an excursus in which Paul deals with certain questions that his teaching
about the freedom of God in election raises. The exegesis of Rom 9:6-13 will substantiate
Paul's defense that God's promises made to true Israel has indeed not failed.

v6. It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are from Israel are Israel.

v7. Neither because they are his seed are they all Abraham's children. But, "It is
through Isaac that your seed will be called."

v8. That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are God's children, but it is the
children of the promise who are considered as Abraham's seed.

v9. For this is according to the word of promise: "At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son."

v10. Not only so, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac.

v11. Yet, before they were born or had practice anything good or bad -- in order that
God's purpose in election might remain:

v12. not by works but by the one who calls—it was said to her, "The older will serve the younger."

v13. Even as it is has been written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

Having done the translation and pointing out the variants, the exegesis begins by looking
at the inner texture. Robbins identifies this texture as the texture of communication.
This inner texture resides in features in the language itself, like repetition of words
and use of dialogue between two persons to communicate the information.

Repetitive texture resides in the occurrence of words and phrases more than once in a
unit. An examination of Rom 9:6-13 reveals the major characters as shown the following

Table 1: Characters and topics involved in Rom 9:6-13
v6 not
not God Israel
v7 neither but seed
seed children Isaac
v8 not but God seed children
children promise
v9 I (God) promise
v10 not but Isaac
v11 not God
v12 not but God (the one)
v13 but

God is the subject of interest throughout the passage. There is a progressive flow from
Israel (two references) to seed (three references) to children (four references). Also, of
interest to the author is Isaac (two references) and promise (two references).

The highlight of this passage is a series of "nots" (seven references) and "buts" (five
references) which undeniably represents some correcting of a misunderstanding or the
author is refuting a misconception. Table 2 shows the pattern of refuting in clearer

Table 2: Pattern of refutes in Rom 9:6-13
v6 not as though God's word had failed
for not all who are from Israel are Israel
v7 neither (not) because they are his seed are they all Abraham's children
v8 not the children of the flesh who are God's children
but, "It is through Isaac that your seed will be called."
v10 not only so,
but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac
v12 not by works
but by the one who calls
v13 "Jacob I loved,
but Esau I hated."

The only two verses without this pattern of refuting are verse 9 and verse 11. However, it
is possible to rephrase in verse 11 in the following manner.

v11. not yet , before they were born
nor practice anything good or bad
but in order that God's purpose in election might remain

This above analysis provides us with an overarching view of the texture of the language
and an initial insight and approach into the overall argument that Paul is about be make.

Opening-middle-closing texture resides in the nature of the body, and conclusion of a
section of discourse. It would be easier to see this texture and pattern when chapters
9-11 are examined as a whole. However, some type of this pattern emerges in this passage
with reference to the word of God.

v6. It is not as though God's word (oJ lovgo" tou' qeou') had failed
v9. For this is according to the word of promise (ejpaggeliva" … oJ lovgo")
v13. Even as it is has been written (gevgraptai)

Paul begins his argument to say that the word of God has not failed (Opening). He
discusses why in verses 6b-9 and declares "according to the word of promise," continues
with a greater assertion in verses 10-12 (Middle) and ends with the claim "it has been
written" (Closing). Verses 9 and 13 can also technically be called two endings.

Section 1 (Rom 9:6b- 9) also reveals that the family of Abraham, Sarah and Isaac is being
discussed. In section 2 (Rom 9:10-13), the family of Rebekah and her two children, Jacob
and Esau is being discussed. Both families are also related, and Paul has in mind to
illustrate his case by giving attention to them. This will further reveal the plot of
Paul's argument.

Inner texture cannot give us all the answers that we need to exegete this passage. A text
is always interacting somehow with phenomena outside itself. We will then explore another
texture of the text for a clearer meaning.

Intertexture is a text's representation of, reference of, reference to, and use of
phenomena in the ‘world" outside the text being interpreted.

Oral-scribal intertexture involves a text's use of any other text outside of itself. Part
of the intertexture analysis is to analyze Paul's quotations and use of the OT. Paul knew
the OT as one who was immersed in the content and teaching of the OT. It is significant
that twenty-six of his quotations occur in Romans 9-11, in Rom 9:6-13, it occurs four
times. Paul's OT was, without doubt, the LXX. Even where his quotations vary from the LXX,
parallel phraseology is often apparent. Witherington goes further to say that the
intertextual echoes that resound in Romans (and Galatians) shows Paul's narrative thought
world, where he uses the Hebrew scriptures as a gigantic prophetic textbook, applying his
christological and ecclesiological hermeneutic in various ways.

A study of the four OT quotations or allusions will be done in depth.
1. First OT allusion
v7b. ajll j jen jIsaa;k klhqhvsetaiv soi spevrma
"It is through Isaac that your seed will be called."

The quotation from the LXX of Gen 21:12 is verbatim. God tells Abraham not to be upset and
to do whatever Sarah tells him. Sarah had an ultimatum; drive out Ishmael else faced a
breaking of an emotional tie with Isaac. The issue is that of inheritance. Sarah was right
in saying that but she exhibits the wrong reasons. God has decreed that Abraham's line of
promise will be continued through Isaac but it will not be the result of Sarah's jealousy
of Hagar. God was using the wrath of a human being to accomplish his purposes. The general
sense is clear that the elect line of Abraham's descendants will run through Isaac; none
of his other children count, a point also made in Gen 17:19 and is reaffirmed here.

Paul quotes this verse to evoke an explicit image of Abraham (9:7a) and Isaac outside the
inner texture of the text. The reader becomes conscious of two main central characters in
the OT. Paul's defense of God is with allusion to Israel's familiar leaders whom are
credible in Israel's sight. Use of other persons or argument may not have produced the
same effect necessary for Paul's case.

The term "seed" is a category that includes but is not synonymous with children. Though
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