Romans chapters 9 through 11 should be read as one unit. Interrupting the flow of Paul’s argument can lead to misconceptions, and in some cases poor interpretations that are “antibiblical and antievangelical (Jennings, Outlaw Justice, 141).”
In these chapters Paul continues to connect points that he has already made to his overall all argument that God’s justice is present in the messianic event and has radically altered the way we interact with one another in our communal lives.
The energy from Romans 8:31-39 carries us into this next segment. Paul’s thunderous proclamation that nothing can separate us from God’s love, or one another, brings us to a grand conclusion to Paul’s discussion of the differences between our being enslaved in the flesh (Adamic reality) and set free through our resurrection by the spirit (the messianic reality).
“What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“The unshakable assurance of Romans 8:31-39 must be tested. It has so far been grounded in the experience of the faithful in two ways: their own response to the glad-making proclamation in terms of the acclamation of God as abba/Pater, and the endurance of the community and its members in the face of affliction and persecution (Jennings, Outlaw Justice, 139).”
The initial statement of Paul’s argument must now be dealt with: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).”
For the majority of the argument to this point, Paul has dealt with connecting the gentiles to the work of the good news. He will now shift focus to the Judeans and their relationship to God through the messianic reality.
“At the beginning of chapter 3 was a series of questions that seemed to be left hanging: If some were unfaithful, does their faithfulness nullify the faithfulness of God? [3:3]. If our wickedness serves to show the justice of God…is God unjust to inflict wrath on us? [3:5]. If through my falsehood God’s truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner? [3:7-8]. The argument of the long discourse the we will track through the next three chapters serves as a reply to these questions (Jennings, Outlaw Justice, 139-40).”
“The basic issue - Will their unfaithfulness nullify the faithfulness of God? (3:3) - is now going to be addressed… If the promise of God has failed with respect to Israel, it cannot stand with respect to us. Who could then have confidence in the divine promise (Jennings, Outlaw Justice, 140).”
“Christianity has often assumed it can do without a relation to the root of Israel’s history. The result has been the enablement of tacit or terrifyingly explicit anti-Judaism (Jennings, Outlaw Justice, 140-41).”
Paul uses the Hebrew scriptures throughout his argument and very densely in the next three chapters. Paul does this to build his argument. It is important to remember that Paul is arguing for God’s reliability and not looking for some pattern or code that would justify human condition to achieve justice. God is the author of this story, scripture is merely a response.
“It is important to keep in mind two interrelated coordinates: history and Israel. History is crucial since God is involved in history, including some relationship to the history of the rejection and execution of the messiah (Jennings, Outlaw Justice, 141).”
Chapter 9 will deal with the question “Has the promise failed [9:1-29] (Jennings, Outlaw Justice, 140).”
There will be a brief interlude of the history of justice from 9:30 through 10:4.
Chapter 10 will explore “Speaking and Hearing: How Justice Comes [10:5-21] (Jennings, Outlaw Justice, 155).”
Chapter 11 will discuss “The Redemption of [All] Israel [11:1-12], “Warning to the Nations [11:12-24], and “Eucatastrophe [11:25-36] (Jennings, Outlaw Justice, 161-175).”