God’s Sovereign Choice

Rom 9:1  I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 
Rom 9:2  that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 
Rom 9:3  For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 
Rom 9:4  They are Israelite’s, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 
Rom 9:5  To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. 
Rom 9:6  But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 
Rom 9:7  and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 
Rom 9:8  This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 
Rom 9:9  For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 
Rom 9:10  And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 
Rom 9:11  though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 
Rom 9:12  she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 
Rom 9:13  As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 
Rom 9:14  What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 
Rom 9:15  For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 
Rom 9:16  So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 
Rom 9:17  For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 
Rom 9:18  So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 
Rom 9:19  You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 
Rom 9:20  But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 
Rom 9:21  Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 
Rom 9:22  What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 
Rom 9:23  in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 
Rom 9:24  even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 
Rom 9:25  As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” 
Rom 9:26  “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” 
Rom 9:27  And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 
Rom 9:28  for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 
Rom 9:29  And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.” 

v1-2 – Paul and confessing that he has great sorrow regarding the Jews. He is upset and his grief does not cease but is continual.

v3 – The object of the apostle is not to state his former feelings, but his feelings regarding his fellow Jews, and his willingness to suffer for them. The proper grammatical construction of the phrase used is not that ‘I did wish’ but ‘I could desire’ implying that he was willing at that time to endure it; that his present love for them was so strong that if he would, if practicable, save them from the threatened ruin and apostasy. It is not true that Paul ever did wish before his conversion to be accursed by Christ, that is the Messiah. At no time would he have wished this. The phrase, therefore, expresses a feeling which the apostle had, when writing the epistle in regard to the condition and prospects of the nation. (See Exodus 32:30-35)

v4-5 – They were descended from Israel, also known as Jacob; honored by having such an ancestor, and by bearing a name so distinguished as that of his descendants. They were the chosen ones by God. (See Deuteronomy 7:6-11) . The glory speaks of the symbol of God’s divine presence that attended them from Egypt, and that finally rested over the ark in the first temple – “the Shechinah.” The covenants speaks of the various covenants or promises which had been made from time to time with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and with the nation as a whole. The pledges of God’s divine protection. He also mentions here the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai, the temple service; regarded by the Jews as the ornaments and pride of Israel. And finally the promises, especially regarding the coming of the Messiah and the spreading of the true religion; that which would be called Christianity, from and through them.

v6 – This can be better worded ‘for not all they which are of Israel are Israel’. (See Romans 4:13-25.) Not everyone who is descended from from Jacob. This refers to the physical Israel through the bloodline verses those who are followers of the promised Messiah, namely Jesus. For those who are followers of Christ are considered the true Israel. He is saying that God’s word has not failed, for Israel will be saved. But not all who are simply descendants.

v7-8 – He clarifies his thoughts from the previous verse here in these verses. Just because they are Abraham’s descendants does not necessarily mean they are of the promise. To be a child of Abraham in a physical sense is not necessarily to be his descendant in a spiritual sense. Salvation is not Jewish birthright. (See Genesis 21:8-21.) The advantage of Isaac lies rather in the spiritual realm; it is with Isaac, not Ishmael that God promises to establish His covenant. It is from among Isaac’s descendants, not Ishmael’s that God will call individuals to become a part of His covenant people (See Genesis 17:15-21.) Notice the wording in Romans 9:8, “That it is not the children of the flesh who who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.” (See Romans 8:11)

v9 – Therefore, this is the ‘promise’, that at this time Sarah shall have a son, and this will be the children of the promise. “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18:14. It is important to remember that the Jews believed that the promise would come through Abraham, which in a sense is true. But it would flow through Isaac, and not Ishmael.

v10-11 – Paul here is simply saying that before the twins of Rebekah were born, Jacob was chosen to be of the line of the Messiah. This is not referring to salvation, but to the line that would bring the promise. Remember, there were many proselytes from many nations, this is not limiting salvation. Remember Ruth the Moabite.

v12-13 – (See Malachi 1:2-5.) The idea here is that God did not bestow on Esau what He did to Jacob. It has nothing to do with hatred as we understand it. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16. God loves the entire world, meaning the unsaved here. Now, look at a verse in Malachi which reads, ” For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6. It says here that God does not change. Therefore, if He loves the whole world, then how can He harbor hatred toward Esau? He cannot, therefore, to say ‘Esau I hated’ cannot entail lacking love and harboring hatred. God is love. “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8.

v14-16 – God’s mercy and compassion is not based on what we do but on God’s will. God chose Jacob to be the nation of the promise, not Esau. Again, this has nothing to do with salvation of individuals. This addresses God’s work in history.

v17 – This scripture is found in Exodus 9:16 which reads, ” But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.” For this reason God made them stand; sustaining them. The Greek word for this has the meaning “I have excited, roused, or stirred you up”. And it has the idea of sustaining and supporting; that is, I have kept you from death, I have preserved you from ruin. It does not mean that God had infused into his mind any positive evil, or that by any direct influence he had excited any evil feelings, but that he had kept him in circumstances which were suited to develop his true character.

  • God meant to accomplish some great purposes by his existence and conduct.
    • He kept him, or sustained him, with reference to that.
    • He had control over the haughty and wicked monarch. He could take his life, or he could continue him on earth. As he had control over all things that could affect the pride, the feelings, and the happiness of the monarch, so he had control over the monarch himself.
    • “he placed him in circumstances just suited to develop his character.” He kept him amidst those circumstances until his character was fully developed.
    • He did not exert a positive evil influence on the mind of Pharaoh; for,
    • In all this the monarch acted freely. He did what he chose to do. He pursued his own course. He was voluntary in his schemes of oppressing the Israelites. He was voluntary in his opposition to God. He was voluntary when he pursued the Israelites to the Red sea. In all his doings he acted as he chose to do, and with a determined “choice of evil,” from which neither warning nor judgment would turn him away. Thus, he is said to have hardened his own heart
      • Exo 8:15  But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the LORD had said. 
    • Neither Pharaoh nor any sinner can justly blame God for placing them in circumstances where they shall develop their own character, and show what they are. It is not the fault of God, but their own fault. The sinner is not compelled to sin; nor is God under obligation to save him contrary to the prevalent desires and wishes of the sinner himself.
  • This addresses God’s work in saving Israel from Egypt.
    • “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;” Romans 11:25
      • This shows that God’s hardening is not always permanent.  Could this be the same regarding Pharaoh?  Was this hardening by God temporary for the purposes of freeing Israel? Look at Daniel 4.

v18 – This is not stated in what the scriptures said to Pharaoh but is a conclusion to which the apostle had arrived in view of the case of Pharaoh. The word ‘harden’ means only to harden in the manner specified in Pharaoh’s case. It does not mean to exert a positive influence, but to leave a sinner to his own course, and to place him in circumstances where where the character will be more developed. It implies, however, an act of sovereignty on the part of God in thus leaving him to his chosen course, and in not putting forth that influence by which he could be saved from death. (see John 12:36-43 and Matthew 13:10-17.) Regarding the idea that ‘they should not see…’, this does not infer that it was the design of God that they not be converted, but that it was the effect of their rejecting the message given them.

v19 – So, who has resisted His will? Worded another way, who has ‘successfully opposed’ His will or frustrated His plan? The word that is translated ‘resists’ is often used to describe the resistance offered by soldiers or armed men. ” Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” Romans 13:2. (Also see Galatians 2:11-14) Now, this does not mean that there has never been anyone who has resisted or opposed God. only that they have never been successful. “and he said, “O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You.” 2 Chronicles 20:6. And “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?” Daniel 4:35.

v20 – The objection is one which is supposed to be made by a Jew, and it was proper to reply to him by a quotation from his own Scriptures. Any being has a right to fashion his work according to his own views of what is best; and as this right is not denied to people, we ought not to blame the infinitely wise God for acting in a similar way. They who have received every blessing they enjoy from him, ought not to blame him for not making them different. (See Isaiah 29:16 and Isaiah 45:9)

v21-23 – (See Jeremiah 18:1- 23 Focusing on verses 6-10)

v24-26 – “I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!”  Hosea 2:12. God intended to call His people from the Gentiles as well as the Jews. He was bound by no promise or obligation to bestow salvation on all the Jews or only the Jews. Therefore, it was right for Him to reject any or all the Jews if He chose and cut them off from their privileges as a people and from salvation.

v27-29 – Remnant – Meaning a remnant only. This implies that great multitudes of them would be “cast off,” and “be not saved.” If only a remnant was to be saved, many must be lost; and this was just the point which the apostle was endeavoring to establish. The word “remnant” means what is left, particularly what may remain after a battle or a great calamity, In this place, however, it means a small part or portion. Out of the great multitude there shall be so few left as to make it proper to say that it was a mere remnant. This implies, of course, that the great mass should be cast away or rejected. And this was the use which the apostle intended to make of it. The idea is that many will only have the appearance of religion. They do what is required but their character was as a hypocrite. Also, it was not that He did not desire to save all, but those who would be discarded were those who did not accept the idea that salvation was by grace, through Christ, and not from works.

Go Forward to Chapter 9 Part 2

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