The Apostle Paul Answers Hank Hanegraaff
Christian radio personality Hank Hanegraaff has come out with a new book entitled: The Apocalypse Code (Thomas Nelson, 2007). In it he takes to task Dispensationalism and Premillennialism. Generally, his attacks have to do more with personalities rather than substance. In trying to read his book, I was continually stalled because in about every paragraph there were historical, contextual, and exegetical mistakes. It would take forever to answer all his faux pas that filled these pages.
As a Greek teacher, and one who took Romans in graduate school under the great Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, I decided to let the apostle Paul answer the exegetical mistakes that seem to be pouring forth today from so-called Bible teachers. I will however use appropriate commentaries and grammar notes from great authors who have gone before, but the major thrust in answering will come from Paul’s Greek exegesis of these chapters and verses.
What will be the great hermeneutical and exegetical secret in answering Hanegraaff? There is none! This study will simply let the Bible in its normal, literal, and clear grammar and exegesis answer for itself. Satan is the author of confusion. And while he is not indwelling Christians who teach error, he can manipulate and side-track them and cause them to muddle up plain language whereby laymen are left in the dark. I will follow the Army’s KISS principle here! Keep It Simple Stupid!
INTRODUCTION TO ROMANS 9-11
The apostle Paul has just finished climbing spiritual Mt. Everest in his discussion about God’s personal election and individual salvation in 8:28-34. He closes these subjects with one of two of his great Romans anthems, a poetic statement about God’s wonderful glory and grace in saving and keeping those who are His (vv. 35-39). He finishes with a look at the Lord’s mercy that defies and goes against everything in the realm of "height, … depth, … [and driven by] any other created thing"—nothing in that sphere "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (v. 39).
But there is a burning issue that just comes to mind naturally that Paul knows needs to answer, and that is, what about God’s promised plans and purposes for the Jewish people? Because God is reaching out and saving Gentiles, does this mean He is through with His working with the nation of Israel, as prophesied?
God is not through with Israel as a national force in history. The promises made about the Messiah ruling (literally and actually) in Jerusalem have not gone away, but it does seem they have been set aside temporarily. And if so, when will those literal messianic promises be fulfilled?
This must have been a burning issue raised over and over again by Gentiles, and especially Gentile Christians. This would be similar to today. "Is God through with the Jews as a people since God is so dramatically now working the church, and this church has no geographical boundaries as Israel had?" "Is the church some kind of ‘new’ Israel?" That these were Gentile questions seems to be clear from chapters 9-11. Paul is clearly addressing the Gentiles and writing about them, that is, the Jews both as individuals but also as a nation flooded from the Old Testament with unfulfilled promises about them as a nation. On this, Woodrow Kroll writes:
Paul’s Heart Is Broken For Israel
Because the Jews were so hateful toward Paul, one would expect him to wish the worse upon them because of the rejection of Christ. But instead here, the heart of the apostle is laid bare. His concern for Israel comes from the depths of his conscience and this is sealed by the witness and the veracity of the Holy Spirit.
Paul may be using the preposition en with the instrumental idea. "I am speaking by means of Christ," and "I am witnessing by means of the Spirit Holy." Paul’s "conscience is not left to itself but it is informed and enlightened by the Spirit of God." (Ellicott, p. 403) "’In Christ’ means that Paul is speaking in fellowship with Christ so that falsehood is impossible." (Nicoll, p. 656) What he is saying and feeling is really generated by Christ and the Spirit who dwell within! Paul is speaking as a Christian who is united to Christ. (Ellicott, p. 403)
But the questions will be raised before these chapters are over: Is God through with the Jews? Has He permanently set aside all His promises for the nation of Israel? Has He cast them away forever?
The Greek word anathema is a powerfully negative word. It means "something devoted to God (like a sacrificial animal) without hope of being redeemed, therefore a person or thing doomed to destruction, detestable, cursed." (Thayer, p. 37)
The word Christos is the Greek of the Hebrew word HaMaschoich, meaning the "anointed one." It is used to describe the King-ship of the Son of God in Psalm 2. He will come and reign over Israel from Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, so it says plainly in Psalm 2:6.
In verse 3 could one ever get the idea that God will someday be forever through with Paul’s own kinsmen, the Jews? No. The word kinsmen is actually one of the strongest words to describe the physical nature of the Jewish people and Paul’s physical relationship with them. It is the word sungevon with genon referring to the physical generation they share together in the Jewish blood line (sun).
Paul is not referring to the Jewish people in some kind of "spiritualized" or allegorical way. By using the Greek word flesh (sarka) Paul makes it clear that the physical-ness of the people of Israel is a matter of utmost importance. One cannot get rid of the Jews as a physical people. They will not disappear off of the map of God’s plans for the world!