Romans 9 - Outline of Romans (Book Notes menu page)
V. Righteousness Vindicated - Dispensation, Sovereignty (9:1-11:36)
A. Israel's Past; Election (9:1-29)
1. Paul's Sorrow (9:1-5)
9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not,
my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
9:2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
9:3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren,
my kinsmen according to the flesh:
9:4 Who are Israelites;
to whom [pertaineth] the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants,
and the giving of the law, and the service [of God], and the promises;
9:5 Whose [are] the fathers,
and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ [came],
who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
I say the truth... I lie not...- Paul affirmed his love for Israel in such strong terms
because many considered him an enemy of his own people. eg., Acts 21:26-31; 23:12
that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow...- What a contrast:
In ch. 8, Paul was buoyed up by unshakeable joy because nothing can separate us from Christ.
In ch. 9, he is burdened by inexpressable sorrow and despair, to the point that personal separation from Christ would be an acceptable price to remove the source of his heartbreak.
Paul's sorrow for Israel has three elements:
[1.] They (Israel, as a nation) are 'my brethren' (v.3).-
for I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren...-
  • I could wish...- ie., if it were permissible or possible, and it is not (Rom 8:35).
  • that I... were accursed {GK=anathema, devoted to destruction}...-
  • from {ie., 'apart from', 'separated from'} Christ...-
  • for {ie., in behalf of} my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.-
    Far from being an enemy of Israel, Paul, like Moses before him, yearned so deeply for Israel, that he would have willingly sacrificed himself, if that would bring them into the things that God had prepared for them. cp. Ex 32:31-33
    Such love is consistent with the heart of Christ, who gave Himself for us. Gal 1:4; 3:13
McGee also suggests this 'free translation' of v.3:
     ''For I myself was once accursed from Christ, as my brethren...''
ie., Paul could understand their animosity toward Christ and toward Christians, because he had once walked in their shoes, until he had met Christ for himself.
[2.] They (Israel, as a nation) are God's chosen people (v.4).-
who are Israelites...- God has distinct purposes for Israel and the Church.
- - The Lord has given no earthly promises to the Church except Joh 16:33 and Php 1:28-30.
- - The inheritance of the Church is heavenly; we are pilgrims and strangers here (Col 3:1-4).
to whom pertain... (cp. Rom 3:1,2) -
  • the adoption - This refers to the national adoption of Israel as God's chosen people. Deu 7:6
    In the OT, the nation of Israel is often referred to as God's son. eg., Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1
  • the glory - The visible Presence of God was manifested to Israel, not to any other nation. cp. Ex 40:35
  • the covenants - Covenants given specifically to Israel include:
    1. The Abrahamic Covenant- God promised to make of him a great nation, to give him a specific land, to bless all nations through his seed (Gen 12:1-3,7; 15:5-7).
      While, it is true that gentile believers receive blessings through the covenants with Israel, we should remember that these are the overflow of what belongs to Israel (cp. Mat 15:24-27).
    2. The Mosaic Covenant- by which Israel would be uniquely His people, if they could have kept the Law (Ex 19:5).
    3. The 'Palestinian' Covenant- which guarantees Israel's future restoration (Deu 30:1-3).
    4. The Davidic Covenant- which establishes the throne of David forever (2Sam 7:16).
    5. The New Covenant- by which God will write His Law within the hearts of His people, when the Messiah's kingdom is established in Jerusalem (Jer 31:31-40).
  • the giving of the Law - The Law revealed the righteous standard for a people in right relationship with the Holy God. This covenant relationship was established with Israel, to enable them to know the LORD (cp. Ex 19:5,6; 31:13), and to enlighten other nations concerning the true and living God (eg., Isa 43:8-12).
  • the service [of God] - ie., the priestly service of the Tabernacle (later, of the Temple). Originally, Israel was to be a 'kingdom of priests,' but because of sin, the priesthood was taken from the nation and given to the tribe of Levi. The Levitical priesthood and sacrificial system were 'patterns' depicting the way by which sinners could be reconciled to the holy God, through the blood of the Lamb which He would provide, in His time. Heb 9:22-28
  • the promises - ie., the unconditional covenants (eg., Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic), and the restoration of the nation, following their dispersion for failure to fulfill the conditional covenants (eg., Mosaic). Deu 18:15,18,19; Jer 23:5-8; 31:31-36; Luk 1:69-75
  • whose are {ie., to whom belong} the fathers - ie., Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: the patriarchs with whom God originally established His Covenant with Israel, and by whom He identifies Himself, even today (Mat 22:31,32).
  • of whom {ie., of Israel}... Christ came...- God's Anointed is son of man & God the Son.
    • according to the flesh...- Israel's Messiah was born a Jew.
      Isa 9:6; Mat 1:1-f; Rom 1:3
    • who is God blessed forever. Amen.-
      The word 'blessed' {GK=eulogetos, praiseworthy} is an adjective (not a verb). This word is used only of God in the NT (cp. word use in Mat 23:39). ie., The Christ who came, in the flesh as a Jewish man, is God... and as God, He is forever 'praiseworthy.'
      Affirming His praiseworthiness, Paul adds: 'Amen.' (cp. Joh 1:14; Rom 1:4)
[3.] They (Israel, as a nation) are blind concerning the Gospel of Christ (Rom 11:7).-
The greatness of these things belonging to Israel, emphasizes the greatness of the problem before Paul: Israel has not received Christ. cp. Joh 1:11
Therefore, the question arises: ''Has God cast away His people?'' Rom 11:1
To address this problem, Paul backs up to take a look at the big picture...
2. God's Sovereignty (v.6-29)-
A. Israel's rejection of Christ is not inconsistent with God's Word. (v.6-13) -
  1. The children of God are not all of the physical seed. (v.6,7)
  2. The children of God are those who are of the promise. (v.8,9)
  3. The children of God are those who are the called. (v.10-13)
9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. {cp. Rom 3:3,4}
For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel:
{cp. Rom 2:28,29}
9:7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children:
but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
{Gen 21:12,13}
9:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these [are] not the children of God:
but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
9:9 For this [is] the word of promise
{lit., 'for of promise is this word'},
At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.
{Gen 18:10}
they are not all Israel, which are of Israel...- ie., Israel is differentiated into two groups:
(1) the natural (the children of the flesh, by natural descent), cp. Joh 8:37-39
(2) the spiritual (the children of God, by faith in God's promises). cp. Rom 4:9-12
This differentiation is illustrated by the differentiation of Abraham's physical descendants:
neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children:
but 'in Isaac shall thy seed be called' (v.7, quoting Gen 21:12,13).-
At the time when this word came to Abraham, he had two sons: (1) Ishmael and (2) Isaac.
  1. Ishmael was 'Abraham's physical seed' and his first-born son. He was born after God promised a seed, but before He provided a son to Abraham. Ishmael's birth was according to the will and strength of the flesh (Gen 16:1-4). The promises which God had made to Abraham and his seed (eg., Gen 12:1-3,7) would not be passed down through Ishmael's line, nor through any of the sons which were born to Abraham following Sarah's death (Gen 25:1-6).
  2. Isaac was the son born according to God's promise, and by His power, when Abraham and Sarah were well beyond childbearing years (Rom 4:17-22). God would eventually fulfill His covenant promises through Isaac's line, for those with faith like that of Abraham.
the children of the promise are counted as seed... (v.8,9, quoting Gen 18:10)-
''God's promise is a potent energy quickening those to whom the covenant pertains.'' [Stifler]
  • It was fulfilled in God's power: ''...I will come.''
  • It was fulfilled in God's time: ''at this time...''
  • It rested entirely upon God's ability and faithfulness to keep His Word.
    Isaac, the son of the promise, was not born due to his personal faith, but because God promised. (However, in time, Isaac did come to understand and believe God's promises. eg., Gen 26:1-6)
(a.) God's sovereign choice of Isaac's seed was not meant to preclude any other people from Grace. Rather, it was necessary to set aside a 'line of promise' through which the Savior would enter the world, in order to prepare salvation for all who would believe.
(b.) Elsewhere, Gentile believers are also referred to as 'the seed of Abraham,' because of their salvation by faith like that of Abraham (Gal 3:6,7,29; cp. Rom 4:12,23-25). However, Gentile believers can no more be called 'Israel' than can Ishmael.
     Some argue that the ''Israel of God'' in Gal 6:16 refers to the Church. But in the context, the term is used in contrast to the Judaizers (who sought to bring gentile believers under the Law, Gal 6:12,13). The ''Israel of God'' is the Jewish remnant, who, placing no confidence in the merits of the flesh, are saved by Grace, through faith. The only line leading to salvation is through faith in Christ alone. Peace and mercy belongs, alike, to believing Gentiles ('as many as walk by this rule') and believing Jews, 'the Israel of God' (Gal 6:14-16).
9:10 And not only [this];
but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, [even] by our father Isaac;
9:11 (For [the children] being not yet born,
neither having done any good or evil,
that the purpose of God according to election might stand,
not of works, but of him that calleth;)
9:12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
{Gen 25:23}
9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
{Mal 1:2,3}
God not only chose between Ishmael & Isaac, but also between Jacob & Esau.
But on what basis?
- - they were twins,
- - they had the same mother,
- - they had the same father (Isaac, was a unique father, being the child of promise),
- - they, being yet unborn, had no moral or spiritual marks to distinguish between them.
that the purpose of God might stand...- cp. Rom 4:16
  • according to election {choosing}... according to Him that calleth.-
    ie., It was God's sovereign choice. cp. Rom 8:28
  • not of works- ie., not of any human merit.
    Both were equal descendants of Abraham, in the line of promise.
It was said unto her...- ie., To Rebecca, God gave His word of promise:
'The elder shall serve the younger.'
(God's sovereign choosing was also contrary to the brothers' status within the family.)
Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated {relatively speaking, cp. Heb 11:20} -
These words, spoken long after the deaths of these men, are applied to the people who descended from them. The context of this quote (from Mal 1:2,3, read entire chapter) speaks of the sureness of Israel's restoration in spite of her sinfulness. It is just as sure as the desolation of their enemies. These things are sure, because they are determined by the sovereignty of God.
We may struggle to comprehend the mind of the Lord in choosing one brother over the other.
But which is the greater mystery? - -
  1. That God should hate Esau? - Esau served the flesh & despised his spiritual birthright.
    Esau's descendants were proud, self-exalting, godless, enemies of Israel, with no regard for God's promises.
  2. That God should love Jacob? - Jacob was a deceiver, who acted willfully and selfishly.
    Yet, God chose this unworthy man, in order to demonstrate that His purposes depend solely upon Him. The foolishness and failures of men cannot thwart His plans for His own.
Paul's point thus far:
God's Word shows us that although God has made promises to Israel, these promises will not be realized by all who are natural descendants of Israel. God will fulfill His promises, in His own time and way, for the benefit of a chosen remnant.
2. God's Sovereignty (v.6-29)
A. Israel's rejection of Christ is not inconsistent with God's Word. (v.6-13)
B. Israel's rejection of Christ is not inconsistent with God's justice (v.14-29)
9:14 What shall we say then?
[Is there] unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
{Ex 33:19}
9:16 So then [it is] not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth,
but of God that sheweth mercy.
9:17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh,
Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up,
that I might shew my power in thee,
and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
{Ex 9:16}
9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will [have mercy],
and whom he will he hardeneth.
Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.- cp. Psa 145:17
Man rebels against the sovereignty of God, and charges 'injustice' when God chooses sovereignly.
But unrighteousness is man's problem. How can we judge Him who is intrinsically just?
God is not unrighteous. He is sovereign.
For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy...-
Even Moses, the great leader of Israel, had no merit to be accepted before the Lord.
When Moses requested to see God's glory (Ex 33:18,19), the Lord granted his request, not because of who Moses was, but on the basis of the Lord's mercy and compassion.
Mercy (cp. Psa 103:10-12) and compassion (Psa 78:32-38) are reserved for those who do not deserve them.
So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.-
  • The source of Grace is God's own will.
    eg., In regard to my salvation:
    There was no goodness in me that I should be saved (Rom 5:8).
    Salvation rests on the greatness of God's mercy (Eph 2:4-6).
    He was free not to offer the free gift of Grace (Rom 5:15).
  • ''Willing and running may indicate the possession of grace,
    but they are not the originating cause.'' [Stifler]
However, God's sovereignty is not limited to showing mercy...
For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up...
  • ...that I might shew my power in thee,
  • ...and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth (v.17).
    When God chose to raise up Pharaoh to a position of political power, He knew that Pharaoh would not willingly yield to His sovereignty. Even so, through Pharaoh's rebellion, the Lord purposed to make Himself known. By God's power, Pharaoh would be judged, Israel would be redeemed, and all the world would know to call upon the name of the Lord.
therefore, has He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth.
  • The Lord dealt with Moses according to mercy, because He chose to do so.
  • The Lord elevated Pharaoh to destruction, because He chose to do so.
    Yet, God did not force Pharaoh to act against the thoughts and intents of his own heart.
    Rather, He applied heat and pressure until he was set in the way of rebellion, which he chose of his own free will.
    God forced him to decide. But it was Pharaoh's own willful decision that brought him to destruction.
[For more on the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, see the Book Notes at Exodus 7:3.]
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9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me,
Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?
Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus?
9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay,
of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will?-
Paul has already answered this: The sovereign God is free to do as He wills.
If I demand that He give account for His action, I set my justice above His, and so, blaspheme.
Natural man charges God with unrighteousness because God has set bounds to man's free will.
The fact of the matter is that because God is sovereign, man is accountable to Him.
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? -
''You cannot set one little star in motion,
You cannot shape one single forest leaf,
Nor fling a mountain up, nor sink an ocean,
Presumptuous pygmy, large with unbelief.'' [S.A.Nagel, quoted by McGee]
Our attitude toward Him should be more like that of Abraham in Gen 18:27.
Shall the thing formed say... Why hast thou made me thus?- (quote from Isa 29:16; 45:9)
The word 'formed' {GK=plasso, cp. English word 'plastic'} is used of working with clay.
The potter does not create the clay. Rather, he molds it into the shape he desires.
God did not create humanity in its sinful condition.
But that is the state in which He finds us all.
Out of this condition, He fashions some for His service.
Hath not the potter power over the clay... {cp. Jer 18:1-10}
of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor {eg., Moses},
and another unto dishonor {eg., Pharaoh}? -
The 'lump' is sinful humanity. Unlike clay, the natural man may desire honor for himself (as Pharaoh did). But sin has corrupted man's concept of what is honorable. He does not seek, nor could he suit himself, to please God (Rom 1:21; 3:11). God has the prerogative, for His own purposes, to mold a man, consistent with his natural inclinations, to fill some worldly role.
On the other hand, God also has the prerogative, by His Grace, to transform a man, through faith in Christ, to make him fit for the Master's use (cp. 2Tim 2:19-21).
9:22 [What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known,
endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
9:23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy,
which he had afore prepared unto glory,
9:24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
What if...- Paul suggests an explanation for God's present dealing with men:
  • The sovereign God is ready and willing to judge sinful man (cp. Rom 1:18).
  • But He has chosen, for the moment, to deal patiently with those who are ripe for judgment through their own rebellion (cp. Rom 2:3-5).
  • His purpose is: 'that He might make known...' His power and mercy to such as would be saved.-
    Just as He could have destroyed Pharaoh instantly, but chose instead to allow him to persist in his hardness, in order to demonstrate the Lord's mercy and power to save (v.17). So, now, He could bring swift judgment upon unbelieving Israel, but in His longsuffering {patience}, He is providing a period of opportunity, for those whom He foreknew, to place their faith in Christ.
    (eg., At the time Paul wrote, Jerusalem was still standing, even though more than 25 years had passed since they had rejected God's Son. If God's wrath had been without longsuffering, Paul himself would not have known His mercy.)
the vessels of mercy were... (v.23,24)-
  • afore prepared {prepared beforehand} unto glory- cp. Rom 8:29
  • called- cp. Rom 8:30; also 9:11; Rom 1:6
  • not of {ie., from among} the Jews only, but also of {ie., from among} the Gentiles.-
    This also was consistent with God's Word:
2. God's Sovereignty (v.6-29)
A. Israel's rejection of Christ is not inconsistent with God's Word. (v.6-13)
B. Israel's rejection of Christ is not inconsistent with God's justice. (v.14-29)
C. God's election (ie., choice) of some is consistent with prophetic scripture. (v.25-29)
     - - Points (1.), (2.), (3.) follow.
9:25 As he saith also in Osee {ie., Hosea},
I will call them my people, which were not my people;
and her beloved, which was not beloved.
{Hosea 2:23}
9:26 And it shall come to pass,
[that] in the place where it was said unto them, Ye [are] not my people;
there shall they be called the children of the living God.
{Hos 1:10}
(1.) Some from among the Gentiles would be saved, according to prophecy.
Other NT passages apply similar OT passages in this way. eg., 1Pet 2:9,10; Eph 2:12,13
     In the context of these passages from Hosea, the ten northern tribes of Israel had strayed so far from the Lord, that He could no longer refer to them as ''my people.'' For all practical purposes, they had become a heathen nation.
     Yet, in a future day, God would call, and raise up sons of God in the nation of Israel. He foreknew these sons. He would call them.
     Paul applies these passages also to the Gentiles, who by nature were ''not my people.'' Many other OT passages foretold that gentiles would be saved. eg., Isa 49:6
9:27 Esaias {ie., Isaiah} also crieth concerning Israel,
Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea,
a remnant shall be saved:
9:28 For he will finish the work, and cut [it] short in righteousness:
because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
{Isa 10:22,23}
(2.) Only a remnant from among Israel will be saved, according to prophecy (cp. Rom 11:5),
even though Israel's physical descendants are as the sand of the sea in number (cp. Hos 1:10).
for He will finish the work {GK=logos, lit. 'word'} and cut it short in righteousness.-
lit., ''for the Lord will execute His word upon the earth, finishing and cutting it short.'' [Wuest]
ie., God will bring His decrees to completion, both in regard to salvation and judgment.
a short work will the Lord make upon the earth {or, 'in the land'}.- cp. Mat 24:22
(In Isa 10:20-23, the word 'consumption' means 'destruction,' or 'a full end.')
9:29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed,
we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.
{Isa 1:9}
Even the remnant would not remain, but for God's mercy.
The judgment upon Sodom & Gomorrha was deserved. Gen 18:20,21; cp. Isa 1:2-4
The judgment upon Sodom & Gomorrha was total. Gen 19:24,25
the Lord of Sabaoth = the Lord of Hosts {armies, multitudes} -
This name speaks of His sovereignty and power. Although Israel deserved total destruction, the Lord chose to proactively preserve a remnant of His people.
(3.) These prophecies (that some Gentiles & a remnant of Israel would be saved) have been fulfilled (but not, yet, completely). (v.30-33)
(Though most of Israel have rejected Christ, the Word of God has not failed. v.6)
9:30 What shall we say then?
That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness,
have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.
What is the present state of the case? [Points (A.) and (B.) follow.]
(A.) That Gentiles...- ie., that some Gentiles {the definite article is not in the GK}...
...which followed not after righteousness...- cp. v.16
...have attained to... the righteousness which is of faith. cp. Rom 3:22-24
(just as foretold [v.25,26]).
9:31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness,
hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
9:32 Wherefore?
{ie., Why?}
Because [they sought it] not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.
For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
9:33 As it is written,
Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence:
and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
(B.) But Israel... hath not attained to the law of righteousness...
Why did Israel not attain, even though they 'followed after' it?
  1. Because they sought it, not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.
    • It is not because they were 'non-elect.'
      (Election accounts for the saved, but not for the lost.)
    • But because of sin:
      Righteousness cannot be attained by the Law (Rom 3:20). Thus, the righteousness which they sought 'as it were by the Law' was a fleshly distortion. They sought to attain it by the works of the flesh ( cp. v.16; Rom 8:7,8).
  2. Because they stumbled at that stumbling stone {ie., the one mentioned in scripture}:
    Paul's quote (v.33) combines two OT passages:
    • Isa 8:13,14 where the stumbling stone is the LORD of Hosts.
      The whole nation stumbled over the LORD,
      because they refused to hear, believe and obey His Word.
    • Isa 28:16 where the stumbling stone is the Messiah,
      who is the sure foundation, which the LORD promised to lay in Zion.
      whosoever {lit., he who} believes on {ie., trusts in} Him {ie., Christ}...
      ...shall not be ashamed.- ie., The one who trusts Christ will not be disappointed.
      ...shall not make haste {as worded in Isa 28:16}.- The one who trusts Christ will have no need to run to any other refuge for salvation. cp. 1Cor 1:23-25; 1Pet 2:7,8

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