Romans: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators

By J. Patout Burns Jr.; Constantine Newman | Go to book overview

Romans 9

In this chapter, Paul considered God’s fidelity to the promise made to Abraham about his descendants; he argued that the promise of divine blessing had been made not to all of Abraham’s descendants but to those who shared a spiritual relation to him, primarily his faith in the promise itself. Most commentators explained that God chose those intended in the promise through foreknowledge of their own faith, thus defending God’s limiting of the gifts of grace as just. Augustine broke from this established tradition to insist that God’s gift caused the faith of the elect rather than granted favor in response to it. He appealed to the universality of human sinfulness to argue that God was just in granting salvation to some while not giving it to others. A literal reading of Paul’s text, he insisted, yielded the judgment that the efficacy of divine mercy could not depend upon human cooperation or be frustrated by human resistance.


Romans 9:1-5

1I am speaking the truth in Christ; I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in
the Holy Spirit, 2that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I
could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my
brethren, my kinsmen by race. 4They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship,
the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; 5to them
belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who
is over all be blessed forever. Amen
.


(1) Ambrosiaster on verses 1-2

Since he earlier seemed to criticize the Jews, who think they are justified by the law, Paul now clearly shows what his prayer is for them and how deep is his affection for them. With his conscience as his witness, and speaking in Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, he has no desire to be considered an enemy of their faith. For this reason he gives as his witnesses Christ and the Holy Spirit, from whom nothing is hidden and whose testimony cannot be rejected. They support and bear witness to the Apostle by the power of the signs which they perform through him.

-217-

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Romans: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Church’s Bible i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Interpreting the New Testament xiii
  • An Introduction to Romans xxiii
  • Preface to Romans 1
  • Romans 1 13
  • Romans 2 37
  • Romans 3 61
  • Romans 4 83
  • Romans 5 102
  • Romans 6 132
  • Romans 7 154
  • Romans 8 182
  • Romans 9 217
  • Romans 10 245
  • Romans 11 260
  • Romans 12 289
  • Romans 13 314
  • Romans 14 334
  • Romans 15 359
  • Romans 16 381
  • Appendix 1- Authors of Works Excerpted 394
  • Appendix 2- Sources of Texts Translated 396
  • Index of Names 414
  • Index of Subjects 417
  • Index of Scripture References 422
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