All the ‘…faith in/of Jesus Christ’ and ‘There is therefore now no condemnation…’ and ‘…nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ passages build to this rhetorical climax where Paul’s working out the vexing mystery:
How is it that Messiah has come yet the People called to await him do not recognize him?
Seldom do mainline Christians dare wade into this part of Paul. Only occasionally does the lectionary cycle of assigned readings stop for a visit in this central section of Romans.
And, you’ve got to admit, it’s for good reason.
With perhaps the obvious exception of the Passion narrative itself (where Pilate abdicates any blood on his own hands for Jesus’ death and imputes it to the crowd), Romans 9-11 has more blood on it than any passage in the New Testament.
For nearly 2 millennia, minus a few centuries, Christians have- erroneously and sinfully- misread Paul in Romans 9-11, answering ‘Yes’ to Paul’s rhetorical question ‘Has God rejected People?’ which gave license for God’s adopted People to rejected his Elect People.
Take it from personal experience, a single walk through the Holocaust Museum will- and should- give you pause before ever utter a single speculation about the Jews’ salvation.
As Western Christians, we simply do not have the right to weigh in.
Because Romans 9-11 is so fraught with tragic interpretations, as I’m wont to do I’ve turned once again to Karl Barth. If for no other contribution, Barth is a historically significant theologian for rejecting Christian supercessionism (the idea that Christianity/Church transcends and replaces Judaism/Synagogue. Barth’s rejection of such thinking emerged in no small part from his experience in Nazi German. It also charted a path forward for post-holocaust theology.
A few basics from Barth’s point of view:
A promise from God (ie, the covenant) can’t be revoked. God can’t be unfaithful to himself.
Israel’s infidelity (ie, lack of recognition of Jesus the Messiah) is proof positive that God is a God of grace- to say Jews will not be saved is literally to pull the entire foundation of scripture out from under our faith. It’s like the Prodigal’s Father saying ‘Nah, you should’ve come home earlier.’
For Barth, the above added up to the impossibility of any mission to the Jews. They have their own inscrutable vocation and election within God’s eternal plan.
‘Anti-semitism in all its forms means rejection of the grace of God, covenant grace.’
‘The existence of the People Israel is the factual reality that testifies to the truth of the God who is bound to humanity and of the humanity that is bound to God.’
‘Election means not that Israel has chosen God but God Israel.’
‘God has always had as his partner not a peer but a human in dire need of mercy. The covenant is grounded solely on God’s goodness and not on human worthiness. The inequality of the partners can, thus, not threaten the covenant.’