“It’s not a bug; it’s a feature.”
The structure—not the conclusion—of today’s Romans text should feel familiar to anyone who’s called Technical Support re some computer or mechanical problem. Paul outlines how the process is supposed to work (vv.14-15), acknowledges that it isn’t (vv.16-17), and trouble-shoots, searching for where the process is breaking down (vv.18-21). The analogy breaks down in vv.18-21, because the texts Paul chooses—perhaps inviting the hearer to retrace Paul’s own process of discovery—is that this breakdown (the lack of response [10:16] or, more precisely, the Gentiles attaining righteousness and Israel not [9:30-31]) is also foreseen. It’s not a bug; it’s a feature. And Paul will devote the next chapter to exploring this “feature.” Stay tuned.