This is one of the most difficult chapters for theologians to reconcile and defend God at the same time. How do you say God is righteous, just, and gracious when He calls some and allows others to “miss out”….
Outline Romans 9 – 11
They go together: God’s interaction with Israel in the past, present, and future
How God dealt with them in the past (chapter 9), how He is dealing with them in the present (chapter 10), and how He will deal with them in the future (chapter 11)
GOD IS FAITHFUL
Romans 9:1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,
Romans 9:2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.
Romans 9:3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed [devoted to destruction: anathema] from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,
Paul was willing to give up his salvation if it meant that they didn’t deny Christ. [as we will see in the last verses]
What are we willing to give up or do for the brethren; if Paul was this willing to go this far how willingly should we be to lay down our lives for the brethren?
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
Not necessarily physically, but a life of sacrifice and love towards them
Romans 9:4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;
God’s faithful and election of Israel
They were chosen because of the promises to Abraham, not because of anything that they did or were.
…the adoption [by God as His on people], the glory [in the tabernacle or temple where he resided; moses beheld it on Sinai; led them for 40 years in the wilderness], the covenants,[to Abraham, Moses, David] the giving of the law,[to govern their religious, political and social life; with guaranteed blessings] the service of God,[ministry tabernacle temple priesthood] and the promises [Deuteronomy 28; Leviticus 26] This is what God gave to them and did not give it to any others
Romans 9:5 of whom are the fathers [patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob] and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
Promises to them
Christ came through this lineage [through his seed] to save mankind
Romans 9:6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,
In spite of all of this they failed. In fact they crucified Christ, but this does not mean that the word of God has come up short. But rather, as Paul will explain, God has a purpose that He is working out that might not seem self-evident
they are not all [spiritual] Israel who are of [physical] Israel
Romans 9:7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “IN ISAAC YOUR SEED SHALL BE CALLED.”
Not Ishmael the first born, but it is through Isaac
Paul is now beginning to set up and show that God does not work through those that we think He is or should be working through. God has His reasons and His ways!
Romans 9:8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.
Paul is saying that in the same way those that are physically of Isaac are not necessarily or ultimately the children of God
Romans 9:9 For this is the word of promise: “AT THIS TIME I WILL COME AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON.”
Romans 9:10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac
Romans 9:11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),
Called not because of works, not born yet
Romans 9:12 it was said to her, “THE OLDER SHALL SERVE THE YOUNGER.”
You would think that Esau being the first born would have the rights. But God does it according to His will. Not because of the physical but on promise and purpose and those that had the characteristics He wanted to work through
Neither had been born so this choice was not made based on who they were or what they had done (not because of our righteousness; or no one would be called or chosen), but on God’s will and the fact that He extends His grace / love towards us and does not make the decision based on what we would
Romans 9:13 As it is written, “JACOB I HAVE LOVED, BUT ESAU I HAVE HATED.”
The direction that Edom had gone in the interim since birth
Malachi 1:2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD. “Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’ Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” Says the LORD. “Yet Jacob I have loved;
Malachi 1:3 But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness.”
Malachi 1:4 Even though Edom has said, “We have been impoverished, But we will return and build the desolate places,” Thus says the LORD of hosts: “They may build, but I will throw down; They shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, And the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever.
It was who Esau had become and the direction he had chosen even after knowing God’s way
This is part of how God’s election works. It is for HIS reasons
The main point is that God chose Jacob over Esau (even though Esau was first), it was His will that mattered not ours.
He was making a point. He could have just as easily had Jacob come out first.
From this we should see how specific and special our calling is. God can and may have chosen us from the womb like he did Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Christ and Jacob even when there were two in there at the time and the other one came out first. This also shows that it was nothing that they did, it was not based on works, there were none – this shows the glory and power of God in us.
GOD IS RIGHTEOUS
Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!
Does this make God unrighteous because he chooses one over another?
The intelligent of the world do not understand. What about those before Jesus Christ; bushmen of the Kalahari; the non-christian religions; atheists;
God is not unfair because all will have the opportunity to have salvation. In fact He is just the opposite, He is righteous
Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOMEVER I WILL HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOMEVER I WILL HAVE COMPASSION.”
Not only is God not unrighteous but He has always done things this way.
Exodus 33:19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
Because God has a plan that He is working out and He knows best how to accomplish it.
Do you want to know why God called you? Because He decided to have mercy and compassion on you now at this moment. Because He knew that you could answer His calling now and make it through the time that you were called in and come out the other end successfully.
It is not mercifully and compassionate to call someone to failure.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
God is calling you now because He knows that you can and will make it in spite of the times that we are living in. In the millennium it will be a different story. Satan will be sequestered away. God will be in charge, the Holy Spirit will be flowing freely, it will be the Kingdom of God as we have imagined it.
Do you think it will be easier at that time to answer the calling that God is sending out…than it is at this time?
God chose you right now for the better resurrection, because He knew that you could go through the trials and tribulations that you are going through today and still become a firstfruit, a first born member in the family of God.
That is why God called you today.
Romans 9:16 So then it is not of him who wills [not us], nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.
According to what God is working out
Romans 9:17 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I HAVE RAISED YOU UP, THAT I MAY SHOW MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MAY BE DECLARED IN ALL THE EARTH.”
1 Corinthians 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1 Corinthians 1:26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
1 Corinthians 1:27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
1 Corinthians 1:28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,
1 Corinthians 1:29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.
1 Corinthians 1:30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—
1 Corinthians 1:31 that, as it is written, “HE WHO GLORIES, LET HIM GLORY IN THE LORD.”
Romans 9:18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
They were times when Pharaoh became recalcitrant on his own
Notice how Jesus Christ enlightens us to the meaning of the rest of this verse
Matthew 13:11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
Matthew 13:12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. [Remember that we are talking about Israel’s election in chapter 9; they had the things of God: adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises]
Matthew 13:13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. [here is the key, they had a chance to act on these things but instead went the wrong direction:]
Matthew 13:14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘HEARING YOU WILL HEAR AND SHALL NOT UNDERSTAND, AND SEEING YOU WILL SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE;
Matthew 13:15 FOR THE HEARTS OF THIS PEOPLE HAVE GROWN DULL. THEIR EARS ARE HARD OF HEARING, AND THEIR EYES THEY HAVE CLOSED, LEST THEY SHOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, LEST THEY SHOULD UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEARTS AND TURN, SO THAT I SHOULD HEAL THEM.’
Matthew 13:16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;
Matthew 13:17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
GOD IS JUST
Romans 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?”
Now do we understand…because we have our part in the hardening and rejection of God’s ways as we just read in Matthew.
Romans 9:20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”
Can we protest against God to any avail? What can we say or do any way even if we object greatly?
Job 11:7 “Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty?
Job 11:8 They are higher than heaven— what can you do? Deeper than Sheol— what can you know?
Job 11:9 Their measure is longer than the earth And broader than the sea.
Job 11:10 “If He passes by, imprisons, and gathers to judgment, Then who can hinder Him?
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
This puts things in perspective:
Romans 9:21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
He has chosen our paths for His purposes
Romans 9:22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
Romans 9:23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,
Romans 9:24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Jeremiah 18:3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel.
Jeremiah 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.
Jeremiah 18:5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Jeremiah 18:6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the LORD. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!
Whether nations or people, He can and does do this according to His mercy and compassion
God has the power over life and death. What He does not have power over, is our character building. If He sees that the best way (and we can rest assured that it is) for us to come to Him is by witnessing the power and work of God as a vessel of dishonor and then coming up in the second resurrection at the great white throne judgment, then who are we to know and judge the ways of God?
Romans 9:25 As He says also in Hosea [prophecy in Hosea 2:23]: “I WILL CALL THEM MY PEOPLE, WHO WERE NOT MY PEOPLE [Gentiles], AND HER BELOVED, WHO WAS NOT BELOVED.”
Meaning the Gentiles
Paul repeats what we read before in Matthew:
Acts 28:26 saying, ‘GO TO THIS PEOPLE AND SAY: “HEARING YOU WILL HEAR, AND SHALL NOT UNDERSTAND; AND SEEING YOU WILL SEE, AND NOT PERCEIVE;
Acts 28:27 FOR THE HEARTS OF THIS PEOPLE HAVE GROWN DULL. THEIR EARS ARE HARD OF HEARING, AND THEIR EYES THEY HAVE CLOSED, LEST THEY SHOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, LEST THEY SHOULD UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEARTS AND TURN, SO THAT I SHOULD HEAL THEM.” ‘
Acts 28:28 “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”
Romans 9:26 “AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS IN THE PLACE WHERE IT WAS SAID TO THEM, ‘YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE,’ THERE THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF THE LIVING GOD.”
We see here more of the justice of God. The Gentiles will also be called Sons of God.
Romans 9:27 Isaiah [Isaiah 10:20-23] also cries out concerning Israel: “THOUGH THE NUMBER OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL BE AS THE SAND OF THE SEA, THE REMNANT WILL BE SAVED.
Only a small portion in this life time will have the opportunity for salvation in the first resurrection.
When we understand the framework of the Bible, this is easy to understand and reconcile with a God that is Just. If we do not understand the simple truth of multiple resurrections then you see a God that cannot do what He says and is losing the proverbial battle to Satan.
But notice this:
Romans 11:25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel [like we were talking about before] until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
Romans 11:26 And so all Israel will be saved….
Romans 9:28 FOR HE WILL FINISH THE WORK AND CUT IT SHORT IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, BECAUSE THE LORD WILL MAKE A SHORT WORK UPON THE EARTH.”
Romans 9:29 And as Isaiah [Isaiah 1:9] said before: “UNLESS THE LORD OF SABAOTH HAD LEFT US A SEED, WE WOULD HAVE BECOME LIKE SODOM, AND WE WOULD HAVE BEEN MADE LIKE GOMORRAH.”
GOD IS GRACIOUS
Romans 9:30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith;
It wasn’t by their own power and intellect that the Gentiles were included in the plan of God. It surely wasn’t by their righteousness (ie God’s law and commandments which are righteousness Psalms 119:172) especially since the Gentiles were not given the same things that Israel had been given (covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises)
They have attained righteousness by grace, the love of God…the only way that they can initially be gotten.
Romans 9:31 but [physical] Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.
Israel had the law but did not obey and live by it faithfully. They had an opportunity and came up short:
Romans 9:32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.
Romans 9:33 As it is written: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STUMBLING STONE AND ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND WHOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME.”
The Jews had denied Christ and the weightier matters of the law, but rather thought that their works could and would save them. But because of God’s grace, the Gentiles were given a chance.
Attributes of God (each section begins with a question)
- His Faithfulness (Romans 9:1-13) to continue the plan of salvation
- His Righteousness (Romans 9:14-18) not unrighteousness.
- His Justice (Romans 9:19-29) in giving everyone an opportunity in their time and order
- His Grace (Romans 9:30-33) because we could not do any of this on our own