Israel in the Eyes of St. Paul

“Of particular interest here is the way that Paul describes this breaking: ‘If God did not spare (ouk epheisato) the natural branches, neither will he spare you’ (Rom. 11:21). This language of ‘not sparing’ should trigger a chain of reminiscences for Paul’s readers. In Rom. 8:32, Paul had already written, ‘He who did not spare (ouk epheisato) his own son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?’ By describing the fate of unbelieving Israel in the same language that he had used to describe Jesus’ death, Paul hints at a daring trope whose full implications subsequent Christian theology has usually declined to pursue. What Paul has done, in a word, is to interpret the fate of Israel christologically. If Paul can write in Galatians that Jesus ‘became a curse for us….in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles’ (Gal. 3:13), he can say in Romans 11 something very similar about Israel’s role in the drama of salvation. Israel undergoes rejection for the sake of the world, bearing suffering vicariously.” (Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul, pg. 61)

Gifts of the Spirit: Given to the Community

St. Paul  writes to the Romans (12:6-12) –

“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”

Nonna Verna Harrison comments:

St. Peter, Theotokos, St. Paul

“Doing good works such as these and others is enabled by the Holy Spirit, who gives different gifts to different people. The Spirit, indeed, is a source of positive human diversity and individuality (1 Cor. 12::4-11). Yet in community life, Basil says, ‘the gift proper to each becomes commons to all those living together.’ The gift received by one monk is equally received by his brothers, since the Holy Spirit has given it for the sake of all of them, not just one. The gifted brother has the task of working with the Spirit to share his gift with the whole community. Thus those who live together benefit from the gifts bestowed on oneself. This abundance can bring strength and joy to all alike.” (God’s Many-Splendored Image, pg. 179)