Things That Are Above

Gospel Thinking for Gospel Living

Romans 9-11 and Christian-Jewish Relations

leave a comment »

In fall 2013, I took a class on Jewish-Christian relations for my religious studies minor at The University of Alabama. The class was interesting, especially since I was learning Jewish-Christian relations from a Jewish perspective. (My professor for that class, Dr. Steven L. Jacobs, also serves as the rabbi of Tuscaloosa’s only Jewish congregation, Temple Emanu-El.) The class was valuable for me as a Christian youth pastor because it helped me to clarify and to sharpen my own thoughts regarding how Christians should relate to Jews (and all non-Christians, for that matter). The class culminated in an 8-10 page research paper on Jewish-Christian relations, and I wrote my paper on Romans 9-11, where Paul personally deals with this problem extensively.

In my paper, I defended the exclusivity of the Christian gospel in Romans 9-11. Paul had “great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart,” he wrote, because so many of his fellow ethnic Jews were proving not to be spiritual Jews by their rejection of Jesus as the promised Savior Messiah (Rom. 9:2). This rejection is damning because Jesus the Messiah is not only human but also God: from the Jewish race, “according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all” (Rom. 9:5). Because of their unbelief in Jesus as the Christ, Jews are not saved, so Paul’s “desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (Rom. 10:1). Paul hopes to save some Jews by making them jealous of Gentile Christians (Rom. 11:13-14), but he knows that a majority of Jews will not become Christians “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in,” when “‘The Deliverer will come from Zion'” and “‘will banish ungodliness from Jacob'” (Rom. 11:25, 26).

Despite arguing that the only way for all non-Christians, my Jewish professor included (!), to be saved, to escape an eternal hell of separation from God, Dr. Jacobs gave me top marks on my paper. Even more surprisingly–praise God and to him be the glory!–over the winter break Dr. Jacobs invited me to present my paper at the religious studies department’s upcoming inaugural undergraduate research symposium. Throughout January and February, I edited my paper, further sharpening and clarifying my original thesis that everyone, even Jews, must believe in Jesus as the Messiah Savior in order to enjoy God for eternity, and delivered it weekly to Dr. Jacobs for practice. I praise God for the opportunity thus to share the gospel weekly with Dr. Jacobs leading up to the symposium. Dr. Jacobs remains the rabbi of Temple Emanu-El and proud of his distinctly Jewish (not Christian) identity, but seeds were sown, and I continue to pray that by God’s grace they may one day produce the fruit of faith in Jesus as his Savior and Lord (see Mark 4:1-20, 26-29).

I am glad to make my edited paper available in its entirety online. You may view and download my paper, “The Implications of Romans 9-11 for Modern Christian-Jewish Relations,” here. May God use this paper for his glory by giving non-Christians faith in Jesus Christ for salvation and by emboldening us Christians to build relationships with the non-Christians around us in order to share the gospel both urgently and respectfully.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: