Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Paul’s Exposition of Isaiah: Romans

For some reason the idea that the apostle Paul changed the teaching of Christ, and established what Christianity would be has been widely propagated. The main argument for this idea goes something like this:

“Jesus’ audience was Jewish, and in order to spread the gospel Paul and others had to adapt the gospel to be more Greek.”

Unfortunately this is a distortion of the truth. For this to be true we would have to ignore Paul’s dependence on the OT (a Jewish book). If you are a student of Scripture you probably have noticed Paul’s clear dependence on the OT texts in the shaping of his theology. There was probably no more influential book in Paul’s life than the book of Isaiah. Paul quoted from the book of Isaiah more times than all the other prophets put together. As you make your way through the book of Romans, Paul’s most extensive Gospel treatise, you will notice that Paul actually uses the prophet’s writings as a skeleton of his Gospel presentation. Look at the quotations of Isaiah from Paul in the book of Romans:

“As it is written, ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you’” (Romans 2:24; Isaiah 52:5, LXX).

“Their feet are swift to shed blood: ruin and misery mark their paths and the way of peace they have not known” (Romans 3:15-17; Isaiah 59:7-8).

‘Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the Israelites should be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry our his sentence on earth with speed and finality.’ It is just as Isaiah had said previously” (Romans 9:27-28; Isaiah 10:22-23, LXX).

“Just as Isaiah said previously, ‘Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have been like Gomorrah.’” (Romans 9:29; Isaiah 1:9, LXX).


“As it is written, ‘See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall’”(Romans 9:33a; Isaiah 8:14).

“and ‘the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame’” Romans 9:33; Isaiah 28: 16, LXX).

“As the Scripture says, ‘He who believes in him will not be disappointed’” (Romans 10:11; Isaiah 52:7, LXX).

“As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news’” (Romans 10: 15; Isaiah 52:7).

“For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’” (Romans 10:16; Isaiah 53:1, LXX).

“And Isaiah boldly says, ‘I was found by those who did not seek me, I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me’” (Romans 10:20; Isaiah 29: 10, LXX).

“What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not attain, but the elect did. The others were hardened as it is written: ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day’” (Romans 11:7 -8; Isaiah 29: 1 0, LXX).

“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, ‘there shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is my covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins’” (Romans 11:26-27; Isaiah 59:20-21, LXX).

“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34; Isaiah 40: 13, LXX).

“For it is written, ‘As I live, sayeth the Lord’” (Romans 14:11a; Isaiah 49: 18).

“Every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11b; Isaiah 45:23, LXX).

“And again, Isaiah says, ‘The root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him’” (Romans 15:12; Isaiah 11:10, LXX).

“Rather, as it is written, ‘Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand’” (Romans 15:21; Isaiah 52:14, LXX).


What we can obviously see from Paul’s extensive and systematic use of Isaiah is that he did not haphazardly use the prophet’s writings. These quotations work systematically through the development of God’s working in the salvation of man. Paul did not simply use the Prophet Isaiah in his writings, he depended on him. Paul’s systematic explanation of the Gospel, Romans, is in large part the result of rigorous exposition of the book of Isaiah.

1 Comments:

Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Very interesting. Thanks for the post.

1/1/06 11:18 PM  

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