Romans 9

God is absolute sovereign in disposing of the children of men with reference to their eternal state. He dispenses His gifts to whom He will without giving us His reasons, but we may rest assured He is a competent judge. Gentiles are permitted by Him, by the short cut of believing in Christ, to attain to that for which the Jews had long been “beating about the bush,” but lost because of sin and unbelief.

1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,

2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

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;

5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

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 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.

10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

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;)

12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

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.

16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

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.

18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

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?

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

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:

23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.

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.

27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:

28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

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.

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.

31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

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.

Romans 9:1-13 – Longing for His Kinsmen

   Our consciences should be continually bathed in the light and warmth of the Holy Spirit, Romans 9:1, that the inward witness may be maintained in its integrity. We must love as Moses and Paul did, Romans 9:3, before we can understand Exodus 32:32 and Galatians 3:10. The Hebrew nation was marvelously privileged by adoption as God’s firstborn, by having the Shekinah glory and by being called to maintain the witness of the Temple and its services, Romans 9:4. But these privileges were granted, not for the nation itself, but for the blessing of mankind. This is the meaning of election. There are elect races, elect nations, elect souls, that they may be able to impart of what they have received, and communicate whatever advantages have been entrusted.
   The sorrowful admission must be made that a very large proportion of the Hebrew race had missed the privileges to which they were entitled, because they had regarded these merely as intended for their own comfort and enrichment, Romans 9:6. This was the outstanding difference between Esau and Jacob. It is plain that the hatred in Romans 9:13 means nothing more than relative repudiation, as it does in Matthew 6:24 and Luke 14:26. No personal animosity can obtain in the nature of the God of love except that He withholds from the recreant soul the full manifestation and outflow of His love. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Romans 9:13—Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

   The apostle is dealing here, not with individuals as such, but with peoples and nations. For instance, Isaac stands for the entire Jewish race—Abraham’s seed (Romans 9:7). He is dealing with the question, why it was that God chose Israel and rejected Edom; chose Jacob and rejected Esau: and he shows that the ultimate decision of their destinies lay in the purpose of God, according to election. The one was elect to be a channel of immense blessing to the world; the other was rejected.
   But we must always associate the Divine foreknowledge with the Divine choice. “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate” (Romans 8:29). We must regard Jacob and Esau, not as individual personalities merely, but as the founders of nations. For God’s purpose in the building-up of the chosen people, Jacob the methodical and far-seeing, was more suited than Esau the free-lance, the rover, the child of impulse and passion. And, besides, there were religious aptitudes and capacities within him, of which Esau gave no sign or trace. This does not solve the entire mystery, perhaps; but only casts it a degree or two further back. Still, it ought to be considered. Like a candle, it casts a slender ray on to the black abyss. In any case, is it not certain that God’s choice did alight on him who was most suited to serve the Divine purpose?
   It may be that God is wanting to execute his purpose through you. Take heed. Still the savory dish steams on the desert air, and appeals to the appetite of our natures; and we are strongly tempted to forego the unseen and eternal for a moment’s gratification. See to it that for one morsel of meat you do not sell your birthright. —Our Daily Homily

Romans 9:14-24 – The Righteousness of God’s Choices

   God desires to do His best for every man. But, as in the case of Esau, who wantonly sold his birthright, and of Pharaoh, who turned all God’s revelations into occasions of aggravated resistance and stronger revolt, the Heavenly Father is sometimes compelled to cast away those who might assist in the execution of His purposes, and use inferior vessels made from common clay. In the earlier part of the conflict with the proud Egyptian monarch, it is said that he hardened his heart, and afterward that the LORD hardened it, Exodus 8:15; 10:20. To the froward God becomes froward; that is, the means that He takes to soften and save will harden, just as the sun which melts wax hardens clay.
   The same power which was thwarted and resisted by the unbelief and stubbornness of the Chosen People, has taken up us Gentiles, who have had none of their advantages, and what wonderful mercy has He shown to us! Riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy! Romans 9:23. What an argument for us all not to resist the grace of God, which strives with us so earnestly and continually! God can make saints out of the most unlikely material. Let us see that He has full opportunity. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Romans 9:25-33 – Stumbling over the Cornerstone

   There has been a notable transference of privilege from the Jew to the Gentile believer. This is not due to fickleness on God’s part, but to a fatal defect in the Hebrew people. The vessel that was marred in the potter’s hand suffered not from the clumsiness of the potter, but from some inherent flaw in the clay. The Chosen People stumbled over the law of faith and rejected their Messiah. The Gentiles, on the other hand, have exercised faith in Him, and have thereby attained a justifying righteousness. There is no caprice with God, “neither shadow of turning,” James 1:17. Any apparent change in His dealings is determined by our attitude toward Him.
   Jesus is a stone of stumbling to the blind, but all who confide in Him and rest on Him shall not be put to shame. God has laid the foundation of our salvation deep in the waters of death and judgment. In the death of Christ He condemned sin in the flesh, and now we who are built into Him, as a stone is clamped to the foundation, shall rest secure when the last great storms sweep over land and sea. —Through the Bible Day by Day