????Questions????? Studying Romans 9

The Book of Romans is a book full of questions. Not only does it generate a multitude of questions but the manuscript moves along on questions. Paul has a protagonist that shows up from time to time questioning Paul’s argument for justification by faith. There are many theories as to the identity of Paul’s protagonist. I fall with those who believe Paul’s questions are spawned from the multitude of debates he has engaged in throughout his travels. Some say his protagonists are strictly Jewish. I am not sure that is the case. Those are “questions” reserved for another day.

In Romans 9 the protagonist enters the arena yet again. Paul entertains his questions. Here is my take on the “spirit” of the questions:

V. 6 - If Israel is not saved have the promises of God failed? (this is an assumed question)

V. 14 – Is God unjust by extending mercy to some but not to others?

V. 19 – If God shows mercy to some and hardens others regardless of human effort or choice, how can he possibly assign blame to human beings for their choices and actions?[1]

V. 32 – Why is Israel in a general state of rejecting Jesus as Messiah but Gentiles have turned to Him in masses? (Keep in mind here that Christianity is for all practical purposes a sect of Judaism).

In doing personal Bible study on Romans 9, especially when you lack resources, it is always good to build your study around questions. Generate questions. Seek answers. The good thing about Romans 9 is that you already have a list of earth shattering questions. Try to answer them using Scripture. Remember Paul is not answering these questions based on his own opinion, but on the application of what has already been written. Notice his numerous Old Testament quotations throughout the passage. So using Scripture, how would you answer Paul’s questions?

Maybe Paul’s questions are too tough to handle. Join the club! Here is a list of questions that may help you engage in more meaningful Bible study of Romans 9, or any passage.

1) What is the book that contains this passage about? Try to write your answer in one sentence.

2) What is the chapter previous to this one about? Again, one sentence.

3) What is the chapter following this one about? You guessed it, answer in one sentence.

4) What is this chapter about? One sentence!

5) Why was it important for the author to write this portion of Scripture to his original audience?

6) What words should you look up that may help you gain a better understanding? Write down the definitions.
7) What is it about this passage you don’t understand? (You will be amazed at how many times in writing down what you don’t understand you will begin to understand what you don’t understand and will gain understanding of things previously not understood).
8) How would you explain this passage to someone in a conversation? Answer this question in a paragraph or two.

9) If you could sit down with an expert on this passage what are three questions you would ask?

If you will work through that list, even jus the first five questions in the list, you will be amazed at how meaningful your Bible study time will become. Use this list over the course of a week to ten days. In doing so it will give you time to truly meditate on Scripture.

[1] Thomas Schreiner. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Romans. P. 514.


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