Bible Studies In The Christian Library
 
ROMANS CHAPTER 9

Romans chapter nine begins a new section in the book of Romans. Up to this point Paul has talked a great deal about the acceptance of the Gentiles into Godís plan. He has not said much about the overwhelming problem of the non-acceptance of the Jews of Christ. Beginning here and going through chapter 10, Paul approaches the thorny question of why Godís old people had rejected their messiah and what could be done about it. This would have to be handled with they utmost delicacy, for nothing would be more offending to the Jewish mind than the fact that they had rejected by God and the Gentiles accepted!
 
 

VERSES 1-3 "I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2- that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3- For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,"
 
 

A. "I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit"
1. This is a form of sacred vow. Paul is calling on the twin witnesses of his clean conscience and the work of the Holy Spirit to bear record that he is speaking the truth.

2. In saying that he is telling the truth in Christ he is simply showing that he would not dare say anything that would be wrong as a faithful brother in the Lord. It is another validation of the truthfulness of what he is about to say.

B. "that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart."
1. Until Paul explains the reason for his sorrow it seems so strange that he could change moods so quickly from one of great joy and happiness in Christ to one of such sorrow.

2. But we should know ourselves that it is possible to have both feelings of great joy and sorrow at the same time, depending on the reasons for them.

3. This is an ongoing grief, one that is continual.

C. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,"
1. The source of his grief is his fellow Jews. As we will read in the next two chapter, it is the fact that they, as a whole, have rejected the messiah, their only hope. Now they have been cut off as branches of Godís "tree."
VERSES 4-5 "who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5- of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen."
A. "who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises"
1. Paul did not disrespect the traditional role that Israel had enjoyed in the Godís scheme. They had enjoyed unique privileges that the rest of the world never enjoyed!

2. Paul describes many of the great blessings that Israel enjoyed.

a. The adoption - Israel was adopted as children of God. They enjoyed a special relationship with the heavenly Father.

b. The glory - Could refer to the glory of God as shown above the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant, or to the general glory of Godís relationship with His people.

c. The covenants - Ephesians 2:12 refers to "covenants." Could refer to the many smaller covenants the God had made over the years within the context of the great covenant, the Law of Moses.

d. The giving of the Law - This likely refers to the manner in which the Law was given. See Deuteronomy 4:33.

e. The service of God - This refers to the temple service. The word for service here is the same Greek word used for worship in the tabernacle and temple in the Septuagint version.

f. The promises - This likely refers to the great promise of the messiah, which was first given to Abraham and was handed down through succeeding generations, all the way to Christ.

B. "of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen."
1. There was also the great blessing of being part of a nation which produced such men as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, etc. These men would have glorified and dignified any race.

2. The last great blessing was that they were the source through which the Messiah cam forth.

a. It is no accident that Paul saves this great "advantage" of the Jewish race for last. This is by far the greatest of all, that the messiah would be brought into the world as a Jew. What great blessing could a people give the entire world than giving it the savior of all mankind.

b. Jesus sprang from the Jewish nation, according to the flesh. This means that Israel was responsible for his human side, not the eternal nature which he possessed from all eternity.

3. This last part of the verse, "Who is over all, the eternally blessed God," is a clear affirmation to the divinity of Jesus.
a. Jesus, as the NKJV clearly affirms, was over all creation (in harmony with Matthew 28:18 and Colossians 1:15;17) but is God! See also John 1:1-1, 14; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8.

b. Here is a passage where the newer translations, including the ASV, has tended to weaken the divinity of Jesus and thus show some modernistic bias. This has been a trend that has continued throughout most of the modern translations, with the exception of the NKJV.

 
VERSES 6-8 "But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7- nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called." :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."
A. "But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel"
1. Someone would likely bring up an objection to what Paul has just said by declaring, "So, Paul, if what you say is right, why is it that the Jews have not completely accepted their messiah? If they are such good Jews with all the blessings you ascribe, why arenít they following Jesus?"

2. Paul brings forth an argument that anticipates such questions and softens the blow of Godís rejection of a large part of the Jewish nation at the same time. 

a. Being a "Jew" is more than a fleshly relationship. It is a spiritual relationship which denotes a closeness to God and a desire to obey His will. Not all the fleshly descendants of Abraham would meet these qualifications. This is a principle that John the Baptist set forth (Luke 3:8).

b. Of course, Paul will use the same principle to show that they Gentiles can in reality be Abrahamís seed when they come to Christ (Galatians 3:28-29). Not all of Israelís (Jacob) descendants would be spiritual Jews.

B. "nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called."
1. Paul begins at the obvious point. Not all of Abrahamís fleshly descendants are true "Israelites." As a practical point, Abraham was the father of "many nations" (See Genesis 17:4-5). See also Genesis 25:1-4. In addition, he was the father of the Arab peoples through Ishmael and the Moabites and Ammonites through Lot.

2. Only through Isaac would the special relationship with Jehovah continue.

3. Paul uses this argument in Galatians 4:28-29.

4. Paul also argues that the special spiritual relationship would continue only through Abrahamís spiritual seed, Christians. See Galatians 3:16.

C. "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."
1. Paul makes the next logical step in his argument. He next states that only those who embrace Jesus as messiah can be called true children of God. This is why no one can say that the Word of God is of no effect!
VERSES 9-13 "For this is the word of promise: ĎAt this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.í 10- And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac. 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), 12- it was said to her, ĎThe older shall serve the younger.í 13- As it is written, ĎJacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.í"
 
 
A. "For this is the word of promise: ĎAt this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.í"
1. Paul buttresses his case by showing that God has made choices which excluded others from the covenant promises.

2. God chose Isaac as the child of promise, even though Ishmael was already living. Of course, Jesus is a perfect antitype of Isaac.

B. "And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac.
1. These verses are here to show that the Jews should not consider themselves chosen based on any special merit of their own. 

2. God chose Jacob and his descendants because Jacob would pass on traits that would better suit the nation that would be entrusted with the blood lineage.

3. Godís purpose was not to choose concerning salvation but His purpose in election (i.e. His plan). This election was before the children and was made based upon Godís foreknowledge of character traits that both Jacob and Ease would possess.

4. Verses 13 must be understood in terms of election of nations. It is taken from Malachi 1:2ff where Malachi is taking about Edom and Godís judgment on it!

5. For Paulís purpose, He is talking about the spiritual aspect of the choice, that Israel was chosen to keep the seed promise intact.

6. Choices were made based on future natural character. See Genesis 18:19
 
 

VERSES 14-16 "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 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.í 16- So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy."
 
 
A. "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!"
1. Paul keeps coming back to the same theme that he has spoken several times, that God is not unjust for making choices. God is creator and can make certain sovereign choices, not arbitrary choices, but sovereign.
B. " 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.í"
1. Godís sovereignty is based on His judgments, not on our decisions! This doesnít mean that God chooses without any logic! This would be against Godís nature. As we look over the panorama of Bible history we can see that God had a reason for all that He did.

2. This statement is taken from Exodus 33:19

C. "So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy."
1. Paul tells his readers that it is not up to those whom serve God to determine Godís choices, but up to God himself.
VERSES 17- "For the Scripture says to 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."" 18- "Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens."
 
 
A. "For the Scripture says to 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. Coffman makes a very important point that Pharaoh was raised up to glory God, but that the purpose was left in Pharaohís hands. If he had humbly submitted, like the king of Assyria to Jonah, Godís name would have been glorified as well and in what happened in the Exodus account.

2. God has providentially raised up men to fulfill His purpose throughout history. Nebuchadnezzar was raised up to destroy Jerusalem and discipline Godís people. God then raised up Cyrus to deliver Godís people (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1).

B. "Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens."
1. This is the main point to his bringing up Pharaoh. God is sovereign in His ways. They must not judge Him concerning his making a spiritual people from the remnant Jews and Gentiles who will accept His son!
VERSES 19-21 "You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?"" 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? 21- Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?"
 
 
A. "You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?"
1. He anticipates what some are going to say. "If God uses people to do His will, then why does God find fault in them? They really donít have a choice in the matter!"

2. "If a great man like Pharaoh could not resist Godís will, why should God hold common man responsible."

3. Of course, this does not take into consideration freewill and the fact that God used men to do certain tasks here on earth and used their own wicked attitudes and did not force them to do His bidding. Also, they could always repent and turn to God.

B. "But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?"
1. This is entirely the wrong question to be asking God! The creation does not have the right to question any of the actions of the creator.

2. This is the lesson that Job learned when God spoke to him out of the whirlwind!

C. "Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?"
1. This is a favorite theme throughout the Old Testament. God has a right to punish His people because he made them what they are.

2. See Isaiah 29:16; 45:9; 64:8, Jeremiah 18:1-10.
 
 

VERSES 22-23 "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, 23- and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,"
A. "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,"
1. The key in this passage in the phrase "prepared for destruction." It does not say that God prepared them for destruction. In fact the phrase carries with it in the Greek the idea of them preparing themselves.

2. God showed His great mercy in not exercising judgment upon them because of their rebellion, even though they deserved such! In Pharaohís case God rightly could have brought his whole judgment upon him when he first rejected the direction of Moses. 

B. and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,"
1. This must also be understood in light of manís freewill. God would no more force mankind to turn to Him than force mankind to rebel! 

2. God prepared them beforehand in that He provided a way by which man might glorify Him. God has always had a people and a way of redemption!

3. This preparing beforehand for glory took place in the plan of redemption that God had originated with the church.

a. See Ephesians 1:3-7
C. The thrust 
1. Godís people, as a whole, deserved punishment from God. Godís continued for some time to exercise mercy for a long time when He had the right to punish them. 

2. God also the right to extend mercy to those who was not His people, but whom turned to him and received mercy.

3. Those "vessels of wrath" was the bulk of Jews who had turned away front the truth of the Law and the coming of Christ.

4. The "vessels of mercy" were the remnant of Jews who remain faithful to God and then obeyed the gospel and the Gentiles who turned to Christ.
 
 

The Application Given

1. The Gentiles Would become Godís people

VERSES :24-26 "even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 25- As He says also in Hosea: "I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved." 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.

A. "even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?"
1. God would choose to give mercy to both Jew and also the Gentiles.
B. "As He says also in Hosea: ĎI will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved.í"
1. This passage is taken from Hosea 2:23. 

2. A working understanding of Hosea will be enlightening. Hosea was directed to take a wife (Gomer) who was a prostitute. They had children, and later Gomer want back into harlotry. Their childrenís names were instructive. Some believe that the second and third children were not Hoseaís, from the names given. They were called Lo-ruhumah ("one for whom natural affection is not felt") and Lo-ammi ("not my people") There are certainly illustrative of what has happening to Israel. Lo-ammi was later changed to Ammi (my people) illustrating God embracing of the Gentiles as His people when once they were not.

3. This is the context of Hosea 2:23 that sheds such light on Paulís arguments.

C. "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."
1. After being removed from Israel, Godís people who rejected God and went into spiritual harlotry would repent, turn to Him and become His people once again. This would take place in the calling of both Jew and Gentile into one body, the church.

2. This comes directly from Hosea 1:10. It is likely that Hosea intended this in a dual sense, giving a fulfillment for the Jews on the return from the exile but also intending it for the very purpose the Holy Spirit intended here. But while Hosea 1:10 can be understood in this sense, it is very difficult to make the case that Hosea meant anything else except for the calling of the Gentiles centuries later.

2. The Jewish Remnant would be saved along with obedient Gentiles.

VERSES 27-29 "Isaiah 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. 28- For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth.í 29- And as Isaiah 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.""

A. ""Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel..."
1. This passage is taken from Isaiah 10:22-23. It is significant to note that these words were spoken of concerning the northern kingdom of Israel. There were on the verge of being swept away by the Assyrians and their kingdom would be destroyed forever. The ten tribes would be all but forgotten from the earth. But a reading of the New Testament shows that a remnant survived to turn to God in obedience. See Luke 2:36-37 and Philippians 3:5-8.

2. Most would be swept away of the nation. But some would survive. In the same way, most of the nation would not survive spiritually either, but a small number would turn to Jesus and be saved.

B. "And as Isaiah said before..."
1. Isaiah writes this concerning the kingdom of Judah (see Isaiah 1:1) and how the people would only survive because God extended mercy upon a small remnant. But it would not be because the deserved this deliverance. The Assyrians should have swept down and destroyed all of Judah. They were just as deserving of destruction as Sodom and Gomorrah. But the Lord of Sabaoth (Hosts) would be merciful and not completely sweep away His people but leave a small seed to carry on His will. One of the amazing facts of ancient history was the indestructible Jews!

2. Paul uses this passage to show that God will, in His great mercy, make a way for the small remnant of Jews who are wanting to follow Him to be saved.
 
 

VERSES 30-33 "What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31- but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. 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. 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.""
A. "What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith"
1. Paul states the first of his conclusions on this section and it is one of the great ironies of the Bible.

2. The Gentiles were not historically seeking after God. Far from it! A reading of Romans chapter one will show that the Gentiles had, as a body, been drawn away into idolatry and all kinds of perversions. But it was they, or at least large numbers of them, that attained a right relationship with God because they embraced the gospel of Christ.

B. "but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness."
1. The other irony is that the very people who had the Law of God along and who were entrusted with the seed promise would not, as a people, be justified by the same faith that would justify the Gentiles. Why? How could something happen? Paul will explain in the last two verses of the chapter.
C. "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."
1. They were not "living by faith" (See Habbakkuk 2:4) but by their own self-righteousness. This is self-evident from the New Testament. See Matthew 23:23; Luke 18:9-14.

2. It because evident that they were not keeping the Law of Moses too closely, but not closely enough. For if they had truly be striving to keep the Law instead of their own righteousness and justifying self they would have recognized and followed the messiah when he appeared. See Matthew 23:13ff.

3. So, when God sent the Messiah who would not placed them in positions of carnal power and drive out the Romans, they stumbled and refused to obey Him.

D. "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."
1. Paul combines two passages from Isaiah (Isaiah 28:16; 8:14).

2. It shows the dual nature of Jesus. He is a stumbling block to those Jews who will not follow Him. But he is the power of God to all those who accept Him.


 

Copyright 1999 by Grady Scott may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.


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