Why Is the Issue Raised in Romans 9-11 So Important for Paul and How Does He Respond?

Essay, 2010

7 Pages, Grade: 63.00




Whilst Paul, as can be seen in his writings overall, had worked faithfully in preaching to all particularly the Gentiles, Romans 9-11 reveals his concerns for both the Jewish converts and the Gentiles predominantly in relation to their attitudes towards each other. For instance, the Jewish converts who had returned to Rome following their expulsion by Claudius,[1] (10ce-54ce;Acts.18:2), were specifically concerned regarding the annulment of the Law which they believed was required to make them ritually pure. While the main function of the Law was to maintain the holiness of Israel and protect its purity it also indicated that the Israelites were a people called by God and set apart from all other nations.[2]

Then again the Gentile Christians had a tendency to treat the Jewish non-Christians as inferior and rejected the concerns of the Jewish Christians for their non-practice of the Law. Consequently, and similar to the historian Josephus[3], Paul in his letter to the Romans related the traditional Jewish story of their origins with radical Christian modification, (cf. Rom 9), to try and wean the Gentile converts away from the latent pride they had in being Romans. In doing so he undermined the story of Rome.[4] However it seems that 9-11 was a clear effort on his part to reconcile the Jews and the Gentiles in their rationale, ensuring that they understood they were both equal in the eyes of God.

Therefore, and for the purpose of this essay, a succinct insight into Paul’s theological thinking will firstly be referred to, followed by a brief portrayal of the beliefs of Judaism as a singular faith group. Then an in depth discussion of Romans 9-11 will take place which will portray the ingenuity of Paul in using vocabulary in such a way as to challenge his listeners who were both Jewish and Gentile converts. In bringing it all together in the conclusion the reader will finally understand why the issue raised in 9-11 is so important to Paul and why he uses the particular technique that he uses in his response.

Theological Thinking of Paul

Paul was a Pharisaic[5] Apocalyptic Jewish convert who understood himself as being a ‘servant of the Gentiles’, and who proclaimed that the works of the ritual law had become obsolete in the light of Christ. He further proclaimed that God was calling on all - Jews and Gentiles - to be His people. Thus the attitude that pertained particularly amongst the Jewish converts of ‘us and them’ was in contradiction to Paul’s teaching on the meaning of the Resurrection. Paul wrote what many theologians arguably refer to as his ‘theological treatise’ addressed to the Romans, (cf. Rom. 9-11) which, when analysed, also extends to the Gentiles. Indeed the controversial issue of ‘us and them’ was so important to Paul that his response reveals that his doctrine is in reality Christocentric and is based on his own understanding of soteriology.


[1] Claudius was emperor of Rome between 41 and 54ce. Whilst he was amenable towards Judaism overall the Jewish Christians began to create disturbances which resulted in many being expelled. However, eventually when they began to return to Rome the Gentile converts had established a law-free style of Christianity and thus conflict developed between the returning exiles and the Gentile converts particularly in relation to the keeping of the Law. In: www.newadvent.org [Accessed 3rd January 2010].

[2] M. Daly-Denton, Tutor. Notes from talk given by Professor Dunn in TCD In: www.prioryinstitute.com Study board, [Accessed 29th December 2009].

[3] A fist century Jewish historian and apologist of priestly and royal ancestory who commended Judaism to educated gentiles and argued that it was compatible for Graeco-Roman thought. In fact he promoted the antiquity of the Jewish story and illustrated that the people were civilised, devout and philosophical. In: www.newadvent.org [Accessed 3rd January 2010].

[4] G. Johnson The Protestant Reformers Readings of Romans 9-11 [Accessed 1st January 2010].

[5] The Pharisees were a zealous Jewish religious lay party that grew in Palestine towards the end of the period of the Second Temple (515bce-70ce). In contrast to the Sadducees (the high priestly order) who depended solely on the Pentateuch to resolve legal and religious matters because they contained the written Law, the Pharisees insisted that the oral tradition was also binding. In:www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/455129/Pharisee[Accessed 1st January 2010].

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Why Is the Issue Raised in Romans 9-11 So Important for Paul and How Does He Respond?
BA in Theology
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Romans 9-11 Paul's response to the dilema faced with Jews and Christians
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Bernadette O'Connor (Author), 2010, Why Is the Issue Raised in Romans 9-11 So Important for Paul and How Does He Respond?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/148426


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