Reading Paul as an ancient Jew, and not one of our tribe
Understanding that Israel encompasses all of the tribes
The problem with the law is that we don’t keep it
Implanted on our hearts is where we need it
The wrath of God revealed, not just against the gentiles
But Israel herself has gone astray and proven hostile
Torah can’t bring justice, but God himself sure does
Messiah make us righteous and empowers us to love
Israel is proven unfaithful, but God remains true
An unexpected salvation encompassing Gentiles too
Israel is cast away into the sea of the nations
God brings them back in via Gentile salvation
This is the Messiah’s work, the only faithful one
Israel pursues Torah vainly, because it’s already been done
But all who trust in hum and pledge their loyalty
Are sons by the Holy Spirit and heirs of royalty

This book is a goldmine of exegesis and Pauline theology. The tracing of Paul’s argument for Gentile inclusion as the means of restoring the still-yet-in-exile tribes of Israel is rock solid, but there is so much more in here worth chewing on. Whether or not you end up accepting everything he’s laying down, you have to come to terms with his detailed exegesis and coherent analytics of Paul’s thought.

Key Themes

Common Knowledge in Pauline Letters

Paul’s letters are dense and rely on shared knowledge that many modern readers lack. This can obscure the original meaning and intent behind Paul’s arguments.

Modern Interpretations of Paul’s Message

Staples critiques the modern tendency to view Paul through contemporary lenses. He argues that interpreting Paul’s gospel as focusing on inclusiveness and opposing racism reflects modern Western values rather than Paul’s original context. This approach can unintentionally reinforce anti-Jewish sentiments by casting Paul as a champion of modern liberal values against a supposedly regressive Jewish particularism.

Defining Israel

Staples discusses the challenge of defining who constitutes Israel. Terms like “ethnic” or “empirical” Israel are inadequate and fail to capture the issue’s complexity. The distinction between Jews and Israelites is nuanced, as shown by historical and current debates within Jewish communities.

Jews vs. Israelites

During the Second Temple period, a distinction existed between Jews (Ioudaioi) and Israelites. Staples notes that “Jews” typically referred to people from Judah, while “Israel” included the broader identity of the northern tribes. This distinction appears in various contexts, such as cultic or eschatological settings, where “Israel” is used to refer to the collective people, including non-Jewish northern tribes.

Significance of the Exile

The exile continued even after the return from Babylon. Staples cites the book of Daniel, which suggests that Israel’s true redemption is still in the future with the arrival of an “anointed one.” This perspective highlights the ongoing nature of Israel’s exile and the anticipation of future restoration.

Paul’s Approach to the Torah and New Covenant

Paul is not “law-free” but advocates for a “law-implanted” approach. He argues that true obedience to God requires a new heart and the indwelling of the sacred spirit, as promised in the new covenant. This transformation enables followers of the resurrected Messiah to genuinely fulfill the Torah’s requirements. Staples highlights Paul’s use of the distinction between the “letter” and the “Spirit” in 2 Corinthians 3, drawing parallels between Moses and Jesus as mediators of God’s promises.

Paul’s Inclusive Message

Paul’s message of inclusiveness is controversial because it extends the restoration promises to uncircumcised Gentiles who receive the spirit and become equal members of restored Israel. This inclusion challenges traditional boundaries and redefines the concept of Israel to encompass all transformed by the spirit.

Exile and Death

In ancient Mediterranean thought, exile and death were seen as equivalent, with exile often leading to death. This idea is evident in biblical narratives like the banishment of Adam and Eve from Eden and Cain’s punishment after killing Abel. Staples connects this concept to Paul’s argument that followers of the Messiah pass from under the Torah through death and resurrection, moving from an age of wrath to an age of favor.

Transformative Justification

Staples emphasizes that Paul’s view of justification is transformative. God does not change the standard of judgment but changes the person through the spirit, enabling them to fulfill the Torah’s requirements. This transformation is necessary for a person to be judged as righteous. Staples argues that this transformative view of justification is central to Paul’s message and differs from later Protestant interpretations that emphasize forensic declaration over transformation.

Israel and the Nations

Staples highlights the interconnectedness of Israel and the nations in Paul’s theology. He argues that Israel’s insensibility leads to mercy for the Gentiles, which in turn facilitates Israel’s redemption. This reciprocal relationship fulfills the promise of blessings for all nations through Israel’s restoration.

Role of the Messiah

Staples outlines various perspectives on the coming of the Messiah within Jewish tradition. Paul combines these views, suggesting that the Messiah came at the appointed time for an apostate people, bringing justification and repentance through his death and resurrection. The Messiah will return when Israel has been fully transformed by the spirit, fulfilling the eschatological promises.

Final Restoration

Staples explains that Israel’s destruction and dispersion among the nations are part of God’s hidden plan for vindication and victory. By incorporating Israel into the nations, God extends his claim to all peoples. This cosmic drama underscores the mystery of Israel’s salvation and the ultimate restoration of all things through the Messiah.

Notes and Quotes


…the Pauline letters involve highly compressed and allusive arguments that assume the readers share a great deal of foundational common knowledge - knowledge modern readers do not tend to share. (xiv)

Introduction: Jews, Former Gentiles, Israelites

Modern tendencies to read Paul in their own image are no different than earlier versions of the same.

It is also hardly mere coincidence that a group of Western scholars from the late twentieth century discovered that Paul’s gospel was really about inclusiveness and opposition to racism. “Inclusiveness” is, after all, arguably the highest virtue in postmodern Western culture. The New Perspective has therefor exchanged an antithesis more at home in the sixteenth century (merit/grace) for one better suited to the twenty-first century (racism/inclusiveness). By interpreting Paul’s message as the gospel of inclusiveness, Paul’s interpreters have once again looked down the deep well of history and seen their own faces reflected back at them. Moreover, by trading “legalism” for “ethnocentrism,” much New Perspective scholarship ironically and unfortunately represents a retreat to the anti-Jewish tendencies of pre-Schweitzer Pauline scholarship, effectively portraying Paul as the enlightened apostle of modern liberalism, embracing inclusive and progressive ideals over and against a regressive Jewish particularism. (5)

(footnote 34) That Paul includes former Gentiles as descendants of biblical Israel in 1 Cor. 10:1 is a significant problem for the idea that he sees them as incorporated into Abraham but not Israel. (9)

The problem of defining who is Israel isn’t is simple as many assume.

But merely adding “ethnic” or “empirical” to “Israel” does not solve the problem or provide clarity but rather begs the question. First of all, this language implies a scientifically verifiable or self-evident category such that it is clear who counts as Israel and who does not. (“Empirical” is, of course, a way to say “ethnic” while sidestepping the potentially problematic racial connotations of the latter term.) But ethnicity is neither empirical nor self-evident even in the modern world, as attested by the controversies over the decisions of the Israeli government denying aliyah (immigration to Israel) to self-identified Jews, many of whom have been approved as Jews by other Jewish groups. Empirically, what is the ethnic status of those received as Jews by Orthodox leaders in the diaspora but rejected as Jews by the nation of Israel? (15)

Such appeals to “ethnic Israel” therefore run into precisely the question of status Paul and his interlocutors are debating: Who counts as “in,” who counts as “out,” and who gets to determine the “Empirical” boundaries for the group? (18)

That we should not assume everything Paul writes would be immediately perceived by his audience.

Nevertheless, Paul did have a reputation for over-shooting the capabilities of his readers, as attested by 2 Pet. 3:15-16, and it is difficult to disagree with Robert Foster’s conclusion that “Paul writes … out of his own expertise and not on the basis of his reader’s competency.” That being the case, one must be careful not to limit the potential meaning of any passage to what one might reasonably expect an audience to have comprehended on first exposure to a given letter. Finally, the sophistication of second-generation works like Luke-Acts and 1 Clement is evidence of at least some readers sure capable of handling Paul’s rhetoric and use of scripture. (28)

1 - The God of Jews Only?

Quoting Josephus, on the distinction between Jew and Israelite:

when these Jews (Ioudaioi) learned of the king’s piety towards God, and his kindness towards Ezra, they loved [him] most dearly, and many took up their possessions and went to Babylon, desiring to go down to Jerusalem. But all the people of Israel remained in that land. So it came about that only two tribes came to Asia and Europe and are subject to the Romans, but th eten tribes are beyond the Euphrates until now and are a countless multitude whose number is impossible to know. (50)

While discussing that the exiled continued even after the return from Babylon:

The book of Daniel, for example, brushes over time time when Jerusalem is rebuilt “with streets and moat and in times of oppression” (9:25), declaring that the real fulfillment of Israel’s promised redemption would come centuries later, when an “anointed one, the prince” (Dan 9:25-26) would be “cut off” (cf. Isa 53:8), setting in motion the final restoration and the “end of the age of wrath” (Dan. 8:19, 11:36). (54-55)

Summary of the distinction being made:

The evidence therefore strongly indicates that the distinction between “Israel” and “the Jews” throughout the Second Temple period carries forward the distinction between Israel and Judah witnessed in the biblical texts, with Yehudi/Ioudaios ultimately meaning Judahite,” of which the English “Jew” is simply a shortened form. This pattern holds up with remarkable consistency across the extant evidence from the Second Temple period, wherein Ioudaios is consistently preferred (and Israel avoided) when referring to contemporary Jews, while that preference is reversed when (1) referring to the people of the biblical past, (2) in cultic or diachronic settings …, or (3) referring to eschatological Israel, including both Jews and northern Israelites. (58)

It bears emphasizing at this point in the study that I am not suggesting that “Israel” refers exclusively or even primarily to the so-called lost tribes (as some slanderously report - their condemnation is just) but rather that the term Israel is not limited to Jews and is preferred when the whole people, including the non-Jewish norther tribes, is in view. (63)

Many indications that Jesus had the Restoration of Israel fully in view in the gospels. Interesting note is the allusion to Zech. 2:6 “from the four winds” in Mark 13:27/Matt 24:31.

2 - Paul and the Israel Problem

On Deut 31:20-21 and the expectation of Israel’s disobedience:

The problem is not with the command but with the inclination of the people, and the command reveals that problem precisely buy “bringing about my death through what is good so that through the command sin would become utterly sinful” (Rom. 7:13). That is, since the Torah is good, the fact that the command resulted in death reveals the true source of that death - since dwelling in the “fleshly” inclination of those to whom the command was given, who are not only unable to keep the command but inclined to rebel against it. (88-89)

Paul is not “law-free” but “law-implanted”

He does not argue that his opponents’ Torah-keeping is the problem but rather that they do not in fact keep the Torah adequately, declaring that faithful obedience to YHWH requires the new heart and the indwelling sacred spirit granted to the followers of the resurrected Messiah. (90)

2 Cor 3 and the letter vs the Spirit

In the same way that Moses could not bring the people in to the promise but left that task to his successor Joshua (LXX: Iesous; “Jesus”), so now the “letter” cannot grant life (3:6) but rather gives way to the “ministry of the spirit” (3:8) administered by another Jesus, through whom the promise of life is granted. (92)

On the relationship of Exile and death:

The close relationship between death and exile established in these passages warrants further clarification. On an individual level, the punishments of death and banishment were typically treated as equivalent in the ancient Mediterranean world, mainly because a banished individual could customarily be killed with impunity and without pollution (e.g. Numbers 35:27), which is what necessitated flight from the land. A similar equivalency of death and exile is evident in the first pages of Genesis, where YHWH warns Adam, “on the day you eat from it you will die” (2:17). But when the humans doe eat from the tree, they are banished from the harden (3:22-24), signaling the essential equivalent of death and exile from the perspective of the author of the story. Then, when Cain murders his brother Abel, his punishment is banishment to be a wandered, though measures are taken to ensure that he is not fiar game to be killed by anyone who comes across him (4:12-15). (99)

How the followers of Messiah pass out from under Torah:

In Paul’s own words, “through Torah I died to Torah” (Gal 2:19). In the death of the messiah who fulfilled the Torah’s requirements to end the wrath brought about by disobedience to Torah (cf. Rom 4:15; 3:19-31), the Torah has come to it telos (Rom 10:4): the curse of death followed by the renewed life promised by the Torah itself. Those who have received the spirit are therefore no longer “under Torah but under favor” (Rom 6:14-15), having moved beyond the age of wrath into the age of favor. (103)

3 - The Israel Problem and the Gentiles

Romans 1:18-32 is not targeting Gentiles but all of Adam and Israel:

Rather than Rom 1:18-32 targeting “the pagan gentile world alone,” this passage weaves together the transgressions of Adam and Israel to indict all humanity - Israel and the nations alike - as under sin and therefore subject to the curse of death, an assessment then made explicit in Rom 2 and then again in Rom 3. (117)

After considering Rom 5:14 (not after the likeness of Adam’s sin) and 2:14 (do not have Torah):

In this light, it is all the more significant that Paul’s excoriation of impiety starts not from ignorance but from knowledge - a situation shared by Adam and Israel but not the stereotypical gentile, who is to a large degree a victim of ancestral sin resulting in the empty reasoning, foolishness, and depraved minds that ensure thet remain captive to sin and subject to death (Gal 4:8).

The people in view knew the just decrees of God:

Although this word (dikaiwma) can refer to “acts/requirements of justice” in a general sense, it is difficult to escape the biblical resonance of “dikaiwma of God” as referring to the revelation of those requirements in the Torah (e.g, Deut. 30:10, 16), especially since Paul uses it explicitly in that sense in Rom. 2:26 and 8:4. The next clause strengthens this resonance, as Paul specifies that the “dikaiwma of God” is “that those who do such things are worthy of death” (1:32). But idolatry, homosexual acts, and the rest of the vices Paul has just listed (excepting murder) were not capital offenses in gentile law codes, a fact that has led to significant difficulties as interpreters have (sometimes rather creatively) attempted to establish on what basis Paul could argue that these deeds are recognized as worthy of death. But once one recognizes that Rom 1:18-32 conflates the stories of Adam and Israel, that problem is moot, as both Adam and Israel are given specific commands that if violated will result in death. Specifically, Moses presents the choice between obeying and disobeying God’s statutes (dikaiwmata) as a choice between “life and death” (Deut 30:19), and those who know Torah are the ones who know that persons who do such things come under its curse, that is, death. (125)

The Gentiles being under sin is a given, and Paul’s exegetical argument loops both Israel and Adam under sin:

Unlike Wisdom, Paul is not making an empirical argument from natural law but rather an exegetical argument linking the rebellion of Adam and Israel, with all humanity subject to the ignorance, immorality, and death wrought by the disobedience of their forebears, who in each case did have access to special revelation. Moreover, as will be shown below, the argument of Rom 2 that “obedience to what the law requires is possible to those who do not know the law as such” is not (as is often assumed) the result of natural law among gentiles in the absence of special revelation. On the contrary, inasmuch as obedience requires the “work of the Torah written on the heart” (2:15), it is instead proof that such persons are indeed participants in the new covenant and therefor recipients of special revelation. (126)

The basic point - the inference signaled by the “therefore” - is that if one agrees with the preceding discourse, then no one stands aloof from God’s judgment. Specifically, those who know the Torah and were paying attention to the signals to Israel’s history in 1:18-32 know that Israel committed the same offenses and is therefore subject to the same wrath as the rest of the nations. Those who agree that such things are worthy of condemnation - that is, those who have received the Torah and agree with its judgments - are no less under God’s wrath than those from the nations. Indeed, the one who agrees with the Torah is self-condemned because the Torah condemns its hearers and declares that its own function is to be a “witness against you” (Deut 31:26). (134)

On Rom 2:6 within Pauline corpus:

Such emphasis on judgment based on works is by no means out of character for Paul. ON the contrary, Paul’s thinking is dominated by the impeding eschatological judgment in which God will finally mete out justice based on what people deserve. This theme of God’s judgment is so foundational that it appears in every undisputed letter except Philemon, being significantly more pervasive in that respect than justification by faith. A few examples should suffice to show that the view of judgment in Romans 2 is by no means outside of the Pauline norm: …2 Cor 5:10-11… …Gal 5:21… …1 Cor 6:9a… …Gal 6:7… …1 Cor 3:13…. …Phil 2:14-16… …Rom 14:10,12…

4 - Salvation through Justification: Jews and Gentiles Alike

God’s mercy achieved, not by changing the standard but by changing the person:

In this framework [the new covenant promises], God’s mercy does not involve changing the standard of judgment. That is, rather than unjustly judging the unjust to be just, God will transform the unjust into “doers of Torah” who can then be justly judged “just before God” (2:13). Rather than eliminating Torah, God will transform people, and these justified people will obey God, having been given the fidelity needed to fulfill Torah. (146)

He definitely takes a transformative view of justification, but the question remains whether the focus here is on “final justification” in the eschaton and whether there is place for a forensic declaration in the present.

What makes Paul’s restoration teaching controversial was that…

Paul takes the additional step of arguing that the restoration promises to Israel also apply to uncircumcised gentiles who can (and do) receive the spirit, thereby becoming equal members in restored Israel’s new covenant….The first argument in Romans for the inclusions of gentiles without physical circumcision rests on an extension of the new covenant promise to gentiles who then do the things the Torah requires, which will result in a good judgment “on the day when God will just the hidden things of humans according to my gospel through Messiah Jesus” (2:16). (150)

The hidden Jew:

Those approved (that is, recognized as covenantal members) by humans due to what is externally visible are not necessarily those who truly belong to YHWH, who judges “the hidden things of humans” (c.f. Rom 2:16). That is, while physical circumcision may result in human praise and acceptance by those who can only see what is external, “God knows who are his and who are sacred” (Num 16:5). For this reason, Paul elsewhere exhorts, “Do not judge before the time until the Lord comes, who will bring to light the hidden things.. of darkness and revieal…the purposes of the hearts, and then approval… will come to each person from God” (1 Cor 4:5). (170)

The new covenant promise of justification…

Moses and the prophets do not promise that God will save the the unjust by declaring them to be just despite their continued injustice, eliminating his just statutes and rewarding the unjust as though they were just. On the contrary, they promise that God will make the unjust just, giving them the desire and capacity to do the justice he requires. That is, as Deut 30:6 promises, “YHWH your God will circumcise your heart … to love YHWH your God with all your heart and all your soul so that you may live.” The promise is that God will change the heart so that the people will fulfill the love command, which is identified with the “just statutes” in Deut 30:10, 16. The consequence of fulfilling the love command as a result of that heart circumcision will be life - the very thing Paul says is the outcome of fulfilling the “just statutes of the Torah” (2:25)…. …Rather than arguing against the principle of retributive justice or the need for works for a good judgment, Paul is instead addressing what one might call the paradox of justification: a person cannot become just though the works of Torah because only a just person will properly fulfill the just things of the Torah - that is, the love commands. (177)

In other words, the life-giving Spirit transforms a person from unjust into just, thus becoming the people who are able to love God and neighbor and live.

The fact that it is by God’s grace does not mean there is not human effort… herein is a decidedly non-Protestant reading of justification…

When Paul argues such justness can only come through God’s grace, this is not over and against desert or the need for works, nor does he ever argue that a person is saved “by faith alone.” Instead, “in Messiah Jesus, neither circumcision nor foreskin matters, only fidelity working through love” (Gal. 5:6). That is, fidelity must be worked out (the “justified” person must do justice), and God’s grace is what brings transformation, empowering and motivating the works of justice necessary for a good judgment justly based on works. …For Paul, justification amounts to the forgiveness of past sins, freedom from the human propensity to sin (slavery to the power of sin), and the power to obey God fully. (178)

He also clearly emphasizes that we should not conflate justification with salvation.

5 - “Not My People”: Israel’s Infidelity and God’s Fidelity

That Israel’s redemption would not include everyone descended from Israel was not controversial, and it is unclear why Paul should be expected to differ from his contemporaries in this respect. (186)

Romans 9-11 aim to explain: 1) Why uncircumcised gentiles are included at all, 2) why the restoration of the 12 tribes seems to not be happening

Put together, the problem Paul must explain is how his gospel - including the counterintuitive incorporation of gentiles - fulfills the promises of Israel’s redemption despite not looking like Israel’s restoration. In light of the apparent absence of Israel’s restoration combined with gentile reception of the spirit the prophets promised to Israel and Judah, Paul must defend against the charge that God has been unfaithful to his promises to Israel. (187)

Paul argues that God has in fact been over-faithful, going so far as to extend redemption to the gentiles as a means to fulfill his word and redeem “all Israel” (11:26). Thus, throughout Rom 9-11, Paul attempts to explain why gentiles are partaking in the promises associated with Israel’s redemption - and how that redemption will ultimately be fulfilled - from the larger perspective of Israel’s story, arguing for the interdependence of gentile incorporation and Israel’s salvation. (187)

On the potter/clay analogy:

The fundamental lesson of the potter and clay analogy is not that God works arbitrarily but rather that although God ultimately decides the fate of humans and nations, those decisions are contingent on his interactions with human beings who can and do resist his will. (198)

By definition, patience/longsuffering implies not getting one’s own way, and the implication of the analogy is that is anyone resists God’s initial plan, God will patiently find another way for that person or nation to serve God’s larger, overarching purpose in history. But such reshapings, although still ultimately serving God’s purposes, may not result in the most honorable outcome for that individual vessel. (199)

What are vessels of wrath? Instrumental - God works wrath through the vessels…

In keeping with the larger metaphor, it is more likely that a potter would make vessels to serve a useful function rather than solely for the purpose of immediately destroying them. This reading also fits with the material in 9:6-18, in which Pharoah, Ishmael, and Esau are all persecutors used by God for redemptive purposes.

Quoting Munck:

In this connection, a peculiar feature of Paul’s though in Romans 9-11 may be noted, namely that none of the participants in Helsgeschichte are saved or lost for themselves alone. The hardening of the one has as its redemptive motive the salvation of the other, and again, the salvation of the other leads to the salvation of the first after all. (201)

Not my people becoming my people…

In this larger context, the point of this conclusion is precisely that God is now calling vessels of mercy from the nations among which Israel was sown (Zech 10:9; cf. Hos 2:23), with these previously dishonored vessels being redeemed and transformed into instruments of God’s mercy and being used for God’s purpose of transforming the world through his people after all. (204)

As he already hinted as far back as Rom 2, Paul takes the radical step of identifying uncircumcised Gentiles who “manifest the work of the Torah written on their hearts” as members of new covenant Israel. They are the “not my people” being re-adopted like Hosea promised to northern Israel, which would be scattered, mixed, and absorbed in the nations before God showed them mercy once again. Paul therefore applies Hosea’s promise to gentiles not in a secondary or typological sense but as a necessary part of the promised redemption of once-rejected Israel. That is, for Hosea’s promise to be fulfilled, “not my people” (=gentiles) must be transformed into “my people” (=Israel). (206)

6 - God’s Justice and the End of the Torah

Paul is participating in an established early Jewish debate about the relationship between Israel’s obedience and redemption. Paul does agree that Israel’s redemption depends on Israel’s justness; without repentance, there will be no return. The debate has to do with the source and nature of that repentance and justification. The question is whether Israel must become sufficiently righteous/just to bring the messiah or whether the messiah will come to make Israel sufficiently just. Paul takes the latter view. (236)

For categories of opinions regarding the coming Messiah: 1) Once Israel repents and is adequately just 2) When Israel is completely apostate 3) At an appointed time, irrespective of Israel’s justness

A fourth opinion attributed to R. Joshua b Levi instead suggests that the manner of the messiah’s coming will depend on whether Israel is righteous or not: “If they have merit, it will be ‘with clouds of heaven’ [Dan 7:13], but if they do not have merit, it will be ‘lowly and riding on an ass’ [Zech 9:7]” (b. Sanh. 98a). Paul’s position essentially combines all four options: the messiah came at the appointed time (Gal 4:4, Rom 5:6) for an apostate and unjust people (Rom 1-3), and the humble manner of his coming was in accord with Israel’s impiety and injustice. He came the first time to bring justification and repentance through his death and resurrection, and he will return in the clouds (1 Thess 4:17) when Israel has been fully transformed and justified by the Spirit. (237)

Deut 30:12-14 in Romans 9 -

The relationship between these verses - the promise to the doer of Torah and Jesus’ resurrection from the death - suggests that Paul reads Lev 18:5b as a messianic prophecy in which “the human who does these things will live by them” refers to one person who will attain (eternal) life through properly fulfilling the requirements of the Torah. (243-244)

In seems that the reading of Romans 10 proposed in 243-246 definitely coheres with a form of imputation of righteousness in which the Messiah’s obedience is considered Torah fulfillment for those who trust him.

On Jesus fulfilling Habakkuk:

In light of this evidence and the relationship between the quotation in Rom 1:17 and the preceding verses, the most reasonable conclusion is that Paul undertands Jesus’ resurrection as the fulfillment of Habakkuk’s prophetic promise of resurrection to “the just one.” The opening of the letter therefore establishes that in Paul’s gospel, the “justness of God”… is revealed through the resurrection of God’s son, Jesus (Israel’s) Messiah, who has been made “Lord” and to whom all the nations owe their obedience (1:4-5). In this context, the resurrection serves as the confirmation that Jesus is in fact the deliverer of Habakkuk’s vision, having come as promised to rectify the injustice about which the prophet was complaining. (251)

The point of [Galatians 3:12] is that although the Torah did not arise from fidelity, it yet promises life to “the one who does these things” - that is, “the just one” already mentioned in the quotation of Hab 2:4 in the previous verse. The function of citing Hab 2:4 and Lev 18:5 together is therefore not that the fidelity spoken of by Habakkuk invalidates the Torah’s promise of life to the doer, nor that, as some have suggested, Paul understands “doing” as incompatible with “faith.” instead, as is also the case in Rom 10, the argument is about the source of justification and deliverance from the Torah’s curse. Rather than citing Hab 2:4 and Lev 18:5 as a scriptural contradiction, Paul cites them as concurring witnesses to the messiah to whom life is promised. Together they provide the witness of the Torah and Prophets to the resurrection of the “the just one” whose fidelity enabled him to “do these things” and receive (resurrection) life, resulting in the dispensation of the spirit to all of God’s people. (261)

The loyalty pledge:

The confession that “Jesus is Lord” therefor serves as a public embrace of a new identity, an official acknowledgement of Jesus’ authority and a commitment to submit to that authority - that is to live according to Jesus’ teachings and mediated via the spirit. Now the initiate into the messianic ekklesia can be expected to uphold the norms of this new group and - as evident in 1 Cor 5 - may be punished accordingly. (266)

7 - The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation

Because Israel was scattered among - and assimilated by - the nations, Israel’s salvation paradoxically depends on salvation coming to the gentiles (11:11), and like a master potter, God has used Israel’s misstep not for destruction but to accomplish the very purpose for which Israel was chosen in the first place: riches for the world (11:12) and the blessing of Abraham for all nations (Gal 3:14). (282)

The remnant is not complete, but is contingent on fidelity:

As such, the present remnant (cf. 11:5) - that is, those who presently stand within the faithful community and would be saved if the judgment were today - is not identical to the final remnant that will be saved at the eschatological judgment. Instead, the remnant is still under construction, subject to continued expansion, growth, and further pruning until it reaches its fulness. Nevertheless, Paul does not suggest that all broken branches will be reincorporated, only that they can be reincorporated. (300)

Paul’s phrase of the “fulness of the nations” is in reference to Gen 48:19 and Ephraim’s blessing.

Just as the fates of Israel and Judah are interconnected, because of Israel’s disobedience, the fates of Israel and the nations have become interconnected. Israel’s insensibility was the means of mercy towards the gentiles, and that mercy toward the gentiles is in turn the means of Israel’s own redemption. To save Ephraim, gentiles are saved, and by saving “the fullness of nation,” Ephraim is redeemed. Israel’s redemption is the redemption of the cosmos. (317)

8 - The End of the Matter

Paul adds a surprising twist to this cosmic drama: rather than marking YHWH’s defeat, Israel’s destruction as a nation and mixture among the nations is part of the mystery, the hidden plan of YHWH’s vindication and victory. By unjustly crossing their spheres of authority, tearing Israel apart and incorporating Israel within their own peoples, the rules of the nations have given YHWH claim to all the nations. That is, since YHWH has claim to Israel and Israel has been mixed among, YHWH now has claim to all the nations into which Israel has been mixed (328).

Why is Paul against circumcision?

Requiring physical circumcision would imply that what is truly efficacious for creating Israelites is the work of human hands rather than the work of God. Moreover, if those who are already circumcised still need the Spirit for their circumcision and participation in the covenant to be valid, requiring those who already have the spirit to validate their reception of the spirit by being physically circumcised is an absurdity (338).

In light of the Genesis narrative to which Paul refers here, the same principle established in Gal 3:19 applies: circumcision was added due to the episode of infidelity that occurs between the promise in Gen 15 and the revised covenant in gen 17, namely Abraham’s infidelity (lack of trust that God could provide an heir otherwise) and injustice toward Hagar.