Terrific remarks here from Daniel Kirk on the radical implications of the surprising, unexpected way Jesus fulfilled Israel’s story:
“The question of Paul’s hermeneutic [i.e. his unapologetic re-reading of the Old Testament in the light of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which provides insight unattainable before the coming of Christ] continues to be an important one for exegesis, ethics, and Pauline theology. It tells us about more than how Paul reads Scripture. Paul is remarkably consistent in using the Christ event as a hermeneutical key for interpreting the world and the life of the church more generally. Thus, we find his resurrection hermeneutic impacting not only his reading of Israel’s Scriptures but also his interpretation of Israel’s post-scriptural story [Romans 9-11] as Israel has by and large rejected his gospel message. The implications for reading the present are as profound as those for reading the past…
We must take seriously the freedom displayed in the apocalyptic nature of God’s redemptive activity [in the surprising death and resurrection of the Messiah]…Paul’s hermeneutic constitutes a bold claim, not merely about the freedom of God in general, but that freedom even as it acts in the realm ‘circumscribed’ by God’s own promises in the Scriptures. God is free to bring about surprise endings in fulfillment of his word and as the manifestation of his covenant faithfulness. How God has been (and thus will be) faithful to his promises in the Scriptures is only known after the fact.
The apocalyptic nature of God’s manifestation of his faithfulness through the Christ event thus sounds a word of warning for those coming in the wake of Paul who would wish to comment on the present or yet to come activity of God. The apocalyptic hermeneutic not only undermines an ‘organic’ growth from Old Testament to New Testament (as one sometimes hears in the expression ‘from acorn to oak tree’), it also undermines an ‘organic’ growth from the resurrection/exaltation of Christ to the full and final consummation of the kingdom. Such schemes…take insufficient account of the ex post facto nature of the world-reading hermeneutics engendered by the resurrection of Jesus…[Our] pursuits must always be conducted with full and humble realization that, as often as not, the lordship of Christ is exercised in a surprising in-breaking which often overturns even (and especially) those things about which God’s people have the greatest confidence.” (J. R. Daniel Kirk, Unlocking Romans: Resurrection and the Justification of God, pp. 209-12)