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Bible Commentaries
Romans 9

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

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Verse 1


1) “I say the truth in Christ," (aletheian lego en Christo) "In Christ I say (or speak) or tell (the) truth," In harmony with Christ who is the truth and bound to unerring and inviolate truthfulness, as if under an oath in court, John 14:6; John 8:32; 2 Corinthians 1:23.

2) “I lie not," (ou pseudomai) "I lie not, of my own will, choice, or accord;" Because of his being "in Christ" in fellowship with Christ it is impossible for him to engage in falsehoods, 2 Corinthians 11:31; Galatians 1:20.

3) "My conscience also bearing me witness," (summarturouses moi tes suneideseos mou) "My conscience witnessing in symphony to me," as "his Spirit bears witnesses with our Spirits that we are the sons of God," Romans 8:16; The conscience, the monitor of the soul, bore witness of Paul’s burden for his people, Israel’s salvation, Romans 10:1-4.

4) "In the Holy Ghost," (en pneumati hagio) "in (the) Holy Spirit," or in harmony with the Holy Spirit, in which all functions of the Christian life are exercised, 1 Timothy 2:7, Galatians 5:25.

Verse 2

1) "That I have great heaviness," (hoti lupe moi estin megale) That I have, hold, or contain great grief," grief that burdened his soul and body, that caused him to sow in tears with assurance of a good day of reward, Psalms 126:5-6; Ecclesiastes 11:1; Ecclesiastes 11:6; Romans 1:14-16. This is the key to persistent soul-winning, Jeremiah 9:11; La 2:11; Ezekiel 9:4.

2) "And continual sorrow," (kai adialeiptos odune) "and unending, unceasing, or incessant pain," soul-care, soul-concern for Israel. None could say among the Jews at that time "no man cared for my soul," Psalms 142:4. As our Lord had compassion and was moved and wept with care for his people Israel, so did Paul.

3) "In my heart," (te kardia mou) "in (the) my heart or seat of emotions," that his own people might receive salvation of Christ, even as he had, Romans 10:1. In this spirit of Christ he sought to win men wherever he went, 1 Corinthians 9:20-23.

Verse 3

1) "For I could wish that myself were accursed," (euchomen gar anathema einai autos) "For I was praying myself to be a curse," separated from union with Christ, as an individual forever, if by such, the nation of Israel, his own people, might thereby be saved. This was the spirit of Moses for Israel, when he stood in the gap for them, Exodus 32:11; Exodus 32:32; Psalms 106:23.

2) "From Christ for my brethren," (apo tou Christou huper ton adelphon mou) "From Christ on behalf of, or in the stead of, my brethren," Jewish brethren in the flesh. This is the Spirit of true love - the love of Jesus Christ, and God, the Father, for humanity, John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Timothy 2:10. This appears to be the very spirit of the substitutionary love of Jesus Christ for sinners, 1 Peter 2:24.

3) "My kinsmen according to the flesh," (ton surgenon mou kata sarka) "My kinsmen according to the fleshline," those related by descent from a common racial ancestry, Romans 10:1-3; Romans 16:7; Romans 16:21.

Verse 4

1) "Who are Israelites," (oitines eisin Israelitai) ’Who are (exist a s) Israelites," in flesh-identity and law-conformity, so-called from Israel, the prevailer; Jacob found the Lord at Bethel and found prevailing power and his name change to Israel on the bank of the Jabbok river, Genesis 28:12; Genesis 28:19; Genesis 32:28; Hosea 12:2-5.

2) "To whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants," (hon he huiothesia kai he doksa kai hai diathekai) "To whom are related the heirsetting (adoption), and the glory, and the covenants," made to Israel in Old Testament promise and times; Paul here enumerates six things that were delivered to natural Israel in their administration of a program of divine worship and service, Exodus 4:22; Jeremiah 31:9; Romans 8:15; Romans 8:23;

1) the adoption, 2) The glory, and 3) the covenants-

a) Shekinah glory, Leviticus 16:2; 1 Kings 8:11

b) Covenants, Genesis 17:1-2; Exodus 31:16-17; Ephesians 1:5.

3) "And the giving of the Law," (kai he nomothesia) "and the setting forth (of) law," Exodus 20:1-12; Exodus 34:27-28; Deuteronomy 12, 13; John 1:17.

4) "And the service of God," (kai he latreia) "and the divine order of service (to God)," the service accompanying sacrifices, ceremonial observances, and public worship, 1 Corinthians 9:13-14; Hebrews 9:1-10.

5) "And the promises," (kai hai epangeltai) "and the promises pertaining or relating thereto;" Through the covenant of Abraham, Genesis 17:1-2; and the Mosaic (Law) covenant, Exodus 31:16-17; Acts 3:25; Hebrews 8:8-10.

Verse 5

1) "Whose are the fathers," (hon hoi pateres) "of whom the fathers (came)," Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob received and were confirmed in the promises of the Messiah and possession of Israel’s Land Grant in a time of universal peace, all to come through the seed of Abraham, Genesis 12:3; Genesis 13:15-17; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:8; 1 Kings 4:20-21.

2) "And of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came," (kai eks hon ho christos to kata sarka) "and out from whom Christ (came) according to the fleshline," of the tribe of Judah, family of David, of the Jews (of Israel), Luke 1:26-35; Luke 2:4-11; Galatians 4:4-5; John 4:22.

3) "Who is over all," (ho hon epi paton) "who is (exists), being over all," Lord He is of all, risen Lord, at the right hand of the Father, intercessor of all believers, to be judge of all, and to reign one day on David’s throne, over all the Earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Luke 1:32-33; Revelation 15:3-4; Revelation 19:11; Revelation 19:16.

4) "God blessed forever, Amen," (theos eulogetos eis tous aionas amen) "God blessed into the ages, unending," Amen, or so may it be always; by the Father, the Holy Spirit, Holy Angels, and the redeemed, Jesus is blessed and passes all honor and praise and glory to God the Father, Ephesians 3:21.

Verse 6


1) "Not as though," (ouch oion de) "Not of course," not that, He explains that he does not mean to say, in spite of his grief for Israel, that, God’s Word concerning them as a nation will not be fulfilled, or individuals can not be saved.

2) "The Word of God had taken none effect," (hoti ekpeptoken ho logos thou theou) "that the Word of God has failed," become non-effective or come to nothing regarding God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Romans 3:3. The rebellion, obstinacy, and anarchy of even natural Israel does not make void God’s provision and offer of salvation to all, Romans 1:16.

3) "For they are not all Israel," (ou gar pantes hoi eks Israel) "For not all those out of the fleshline of Israel," not all born of the patriarch, or not all of his natural family line - are true Israelites, people of God, John 8:37; John 8:39. Just as it is not what we inherit from our parents that insures us a place in the family of God, John 3:3-7. Salvation is not an inheritance.

4) "Which are of Israel," (houtoi Israel) "Which ones are Israel," It is those who have become "children of God" "by faith in Christ Jesus," who are the true Israel, true children of God, Galatians 3:7; Galatians 3:26 - not those merely of Abraham’s seed of flesh lineage, for some were of Ishmael, as the Arabs of today are. It is the new creature, (new creation) by thy new birth, that makes one of the Israel of God, 1 John 5:1; Galatians 6:15-16; Romans 2:29 reads, "’But he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision (that counts) is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter."


The Old Testament is the first chapter of the history of man and the history of God. The experience of the Jews is our experience. It is for us that we see this people alternately gathered together and forsaken, scourged and blest. Not that they are not loved for themselves, and for the fathers’ sakes, as Paul says, but in the marvellous guidance of this people God was preparing an immortal lesson for the whole human race. Not only the doctrine preached to the Jewish people, but more especially their history, constitutes the treasure of all ages and nations; because, as history, it not only teaches, it establishes what God is and what man is, to what extent God’s authority is absolute, and His law sacred; and, in fine, it establishes the active, determinate, and paternal manner in which God constantly interposes in human affairs.

-A. Vinet

Verse 7

1) "Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham," (oud hoti estin sperma Abraam) "Neither because they are seed of Abraham," flesh seed of Abraham guaranteed salvation or provided salvation unconditionally to no one. Even Abraham became a child of God ’by faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ which God preached to him; We become children of God and Spiritual Jews the same way, Romans 4:3-5; Romans 4:16; Romans 2:29; Galatians 3:7-9.

2) "Are they all children," (pantes tekna) "(are they) all children," "born children" of Abraham; our Lord called the seed of Abraham’s flesh-line, pious though they were, "murderers, liars, and children of the devil," John 8:37; John 8:40; John 8:44-47.

3) "But in Isaac shall thy seed be called," (all I en Isaak klethesetai soi sperma) "But thy seed will be called to thee in Isaac;" not Esau the 1st born, but in Isaac. As in Adam the first humanity fell and in Christ the second (man) humanity redemption came provisionally to redeem all - So God pre-pictured this in rejecting Ishmael, the bondage-born son, and in choosing Isaac as the seed line of promise, Hebrews 11:11; Hebrews 11:18.

As Christ was born, not by the will of the flesh, but of the Spirit of God, so are all his children brought unto his family, not by the will of the flesh (depraved carnal desire) but by the will of the Spirit of man, wooed by, drawn by, and quickened by the Spirit of God into Divine childhood, John 1:11-13; John 3:5-7; John 6:63; 1 John 5:1; Galatians 3:26.

Verse 8


1) "That is," (touto estin) "This is," as follows, to illustrate or clarify the above contention who true Israel is, who a true Jew or true Israelite is; Two illustrations follow: (first-that of Hagar and Sara; second, Jacob and Esau).

2) "They which are the children of the flesh," (ta tekna tes sarkos) "The children of the flesh;" those from Abraham’s flesh-wilI-off spring, especially by Hagar and Keturah, Galatians 4:23-28; Genesis 25:1-10.

3) "These are not the children of God," (ou tauta tekna tou theou) "The children of God these (are) not;" either the promised national or natural line of God’s children, or even the direct descent line thru which the Redeemer should come, Genesis 18:10; Genesis 18:14.

4) "But the children of the promise," (alla ta tekna tes epangellias) "But the children of the (particular) promise;" all promises of redemption pointed to Jesus Christ, in and through faith in whom, all might become children of God, true Israelites, Acts 10:43; Galatians 3:26; Galatians 3:28-29; Hebrews 11:13.

5) "Are counted for the seed," (logizetar eis sperma) "are counted (reckoned or calculated) for seed;" those who trusted, were persuaded. placed their trust in Jesus Christ were reckoned or calculated to be Abraham’s true seed, Hebrews 11:11; Romans 4:16.

Verse 9

1) "For this is the Word of promise," (epangellias gar ho logos houtos) "For this is the (particular) Word of promise;" the essence of God’s promise to Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3 and more definitely to Sara and Abraham, Genesis 18:10; Genesis 18:14.

2) "At this time I will come," (kata ton kairon touton eleusomai) "According to this (season), particular time, I will come;" as God came to rescue Sara from shame and bring assurance to Abraham in a time of old age, so God sent forth his Son "when the fulness of the time" had come, to keep his promise thru the proper seed, Galatians 4:4-5. God still comes to draw men by his spirit to become his children-He draws by His spirit, men choose by their volition or will, John 6:37; John 6:40; John 16:8-11; John 1:11-12.

3) "And Sarah shall have a son," (kai estai te Sarra huios) "and Sarah will have a son;" This was not a may, might, or a mere possibility, but an incontrovertible and incontestable covenant pledge or promise that was fulfilled and is fulfilled and found in Christ for every responsible believer, John 3:16. This son of Sara was provided by supernatural intervention (from above-Gk-anothen) just as true children of God are born today, from above, from a spiritual begetting, one above natural begettal and inheritance, see, John 3:3-7; John 6:63, 1 John 5:1.

Verse 10

1) "And not only this," (ou monon de) "and not only (so)." There is more, a further illustration that the true Israel (people of God) was by promise thru Isaac, as well as Abraham. Isaac and Ishmael had only one parent in common. Jacob and Esau had both parents in common.

2) "But when Rebecca also had conceived by one," (alla kai Rebekka eks henos koiten echousa) "But also Rebecca conceiving from one," or having conceived from one, from Isaac, Genesis 25:21. When Rebecca was barren Isaac interceded with (intreated) God, so that he gave conception to her. Note the prayer, faith, and life of Isaac were exercised in harmony with God’s promise to Abraham.

3) "Even by our father Isaac," (Isaak tou patros hemon) "That is) by Isaac, our father;" God may be intreated regarding his delayed or deferred promises of fulfillment to his people and he does respond to their prayers. Neither legal claims nor good works gives one claim to heirship with God apart from personal acceptance of Jesus Christ, his Son, as a personal Savior, 1 Chronicles 5:20; 2 Chronicles 33:13; Ezra 8:23; note the sovereign promises of God to a special nation, race, or people does not void personal choice of individuals which each must exercise to become a new creature in Christ, a true Israelite or child of God, Luke 18:13-14; Acts 10:1-4; Acts 10:43.

Verse 11

1) "For the children being not yet born," (mepo gar gennethenton) "For (the children) not yet being born;" Both Jacob and Esau, before they were born; through their distinct personal human existence, were divinely recognized and honored in God’s divine purpose and choosing, before their birth.

2) "Neither having done any good or evil," (mede praksenton ti agathon e phaulon) "Not even practicing or having practiced anything either good or foul, (bad)," not yet having engaged repeatedly in deeds of right or wrong, as any personal basis for God’s purpose, promise, choosing or decrees concerning them, Romans 4:17.

3) "That the purpose of God according to election might stand," (hina he kat’ eklogen prothesis tou theou mene) "in order that the chosen purpose of God might remain," abide, or be at hand. Man’s personal deeds do not determine the purpose or choosing of God for them as either individuals or as a body of people, Jews or Gentiles, or even the church of the Lord. A sovereign God is not arbitrarily or otherwise restricted to the will of individuals, nor are individuals arbitrarily or otherwise restricted in personal choices and actions to a fixed body of prophecied conduct. Romans 8:28; Romans 14:11-12; Romans 3:3-4; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11, 2 Timothy 1:9.

Verse 12

1) "Not of works, but of him that calleth," (ouk eks ergon ail ek tou kalountos) "Not out of works, but from the source or origin of the one calling," from God; The promises of God were based on the purposes of God, and neither was based on man’s response to constitute their truth or trustworthiness. See Romans 3:3-4; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5.

2) "It was said unto her," (errethe aute) "It was told emphatically to her, clearly to her"; regarding God’s purpose and calling of Isaac’s natural seed of Abraham’s line and God’s promise to them, Genesis 25:22-23. God responded to Rebecca’s inquiry of him regarding her barrenness and his promises to her husband’s family-line and hope of the Redeemer as other barren Mothers did, Genesis 30:1-2; Judges 13:1-24; 1 Samuel 1:6; 1 Samuel 1:9-20; Luke 1:7; Luke 1:36.

3) "The elder shall serve the younger," (hoti ho meizon douleusei to elassoni) "That the greater (elder) shall serve the lesser (younger);" Esau was the elder of the two sons and he and his posterity, the Edomites, God foretold, based on his foreknowledge, should be servants to the younger, to Jacob and his direct offspring. The "two nations" and "two manner of people" in Rebecca’s womb at the time of God’s revelation to her lead logically to this conclusion, Genesis 25:23. This did not prefix personal or national salvation on individual offspring of either Esau or Jacob, but certified that God is al I knowing and sovereign in His exercise of choice of individuals and nations that he may use to effect his purpose in his universe, Romans 10:9-13. See also Romans 11:5; Romans 11:7; Romans 11:28. He elected national Israel to some special physical labors and blessings.

Verse 13

1) "As it is written," (kathaper gegraptai) "Even as or just as it has been written;" Paul appealed to the Holy Scriptures to verify his inspired conclusions regarding God’s sovereign power and just exercise of his will, purpose, and revelation of himself, without respect of person to all men, 2 Samuel 14:14; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9.

2) "Jacob have I loved," (tou lakob egapesa) "The one (son) Jacob I loved;" with an high, holy, sanctified quality of love, Malachi 1:2-3; That God is just in his inheritance right laws to individuals of natural Israel is evident, Deuteronomy 21:15-17. Love and hate are used in a comparative sense, not in an absolute sense, Luke 14:26; Revelation 12:11.

3) "But Esau have I hated;” (ton de Esau emisesa) yet, the one (son) Esau I hated;" or loved to a less degree, in his purpose for his life and service, and that of the Edomites, his offspring nation; Malachi 1:3 describes this idea. See also Jeremiah 49:17-18; Jeremiah 50:12-13; Jeremiah 51:37, such was decreed against Chaldee, Babylon, and Edom; Deuteronomy 7:6-11. This aspect of God’s sovereign power and choice does not conflict with John 3:16.

That "love and hate" are often used as comparative or relative terms is evident in their usage where it is recorded that Jacob "hated" Leah and that he "loved Rachel the more," Genesis 29:30; Genesis 29:32-33. This idea is also used in the New Testament, Matthew 10:37, John 12:25.


A gentleman who thought Christianity was merely a heap of puzzling problems said to an old minister, "That is a very strange statement, ’Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,’ "Very strange," replied the minister, but what is it that you see most strange about it?" "Oh, that part of course about hating Esau." ’Well, sir," said the minister, "how wonderfully are we made and how differently constituted. The strangest part of all to me is that He could ever have loved Jacob. There is no mystery so glorious as the mystery of God’s love."

-N. T. Anecdotes

Verse 14


1) "What shall we say then?" (ti oun eroumen) "What therefore shall we say?" Shall we impugn God’s justice, goodness, holiness, love, or wisdom in His purpose, callings, and promises relating to individuals or nations? Who is qualified to question God or be skeptical of his choices and actions? Deuteronomy 32:3-4.

2) "Is there unrighteousness with God," (me adikia para to theo) "Is there injustice or unrighteousness associated with God," does God associate with, participate in, or become party to injustice or unrighteousness?" The nature of the questions suggests that there absolutely is or exists no unrighteousness; with God, as also the Scriptures repeatedly assert, 2 Chronicles 19:7; Job 8:3; Job 34:10; Psalms 92:15.

3) "God forbid," (me genoito) "May it not be so," so charged, or may it not even exist, in ones mind that such could be charged against an holy, infinite God! Psalms 18:25; Psalms 18:30; Daniel 4:37. Away with such a thought that God may be charged with unrighteousness! It is tantamount to the assertion, "There is no God."

Verse 15

1) "For he saith to Moses," (to mousei gar legei) "For to Moses he says," Paul the new creature in Christ, the Apostle, often quoted Moses as a testator to sustain positions of divine truth, as in this instance from Exodus 33:19; Exodus 34:6-7.

2) “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy," (eleeso hon an eleo) "I will have mercy on whomever I have mercy," or have loving kindness on whomsoever I will, yet it is granted or based upon the degree of respect men have for his laws that they are under, Exodus 20:5-6; Exodus 32:34-35.

3) "And I will have compassion," (kai oiktireso) "and I will have pity," or compassion and care in a time of suffering and need, La 3:22, 23; Psalms 40:1-3. This he does, on nations and individuals, as they show sorrow and repent of their wrongs.

4) "On whom I will have compassion," (hon an oiktiro) "Whomever I pity," He had compassion on Israel in Egyptian bondage, heard their cry, and delivered them, of his own volition, based on the integrity of his nature and character, Exodus 3:6-7; 2 Chronicles 7:13-14; 1 John 1:8-9; 1 Peter 5:7.

Verse 16

1) "So then it is not of him that willeth," (ara oun ou tou thelontos) "So therefore it is not of him who wills;” This is Paul’s reasoned conclusion. It is not of man’s will or merit that any receives mercy, but of God’s own choice, on the basis of his knowledge and righteousness that he shows" his mercy and compassion, Exodus 33:19; Exodus 34:6-7.

2) "Nor of him that runneth," (oude tou trechontos) "Nor of him who continually runs," who is always trucking around; God does not show or send forth his essential character attributes of love, mercy, compassion, forbearance, and long-suffering to man, (in redemption) because of man’s deeds or works, or because of man’s will, but because of his own free and sovereign will to do so, Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 4:31.

3) "But of God that sheweth mercy," (alla tou eleontos theou) "But of God who is continually having mercy," Man has no inborn goodness, no holy dispositions, or will, by inheritance of nature, that makes him a necessary object of God’s mercy, compassion, and salvation. These come to man solely because of, originating from, God’s Grace, mercy and love, Ephesians 2:4-10; Titus 3:5; John 3:16. Even God’s response to a sinner or a backslider’s cry in prayer, repentance, and faith is because of God’s promises and decrees, not because of what man does, but in his decreed pledge to grant personal and special help to those who call upon him, Exodus 20:5-6; Isaiah 55:6-7; 2 Chronicles 7:13-14; Romans 10:9-13; Hebrews 13:5.


The mercy of God. - The air we breathe, the light we behold, the ground we tread upon, the meat we eat, whatsoever we are, or have, or hope for, it is His mercy. By it "we live, and move, and have our being." "Thou hast crowned me with Thy mercy," said David; it is a metaphor taken from a garland, which is composed of many and different flowers. God’s mercy was the only motive to our redemption; His merciful grace, preventing us and assisting us, is the only means to apply this redemption; the consideration of this mercy is that which encourageth us to repentance. As Christ prayed, "Father, forgive them!" the poor thief grew bold, "Lord, remember me!"

Verse 17

1) "For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh," (legei gar he graphe to phatao) "For the scripture says to Pharaoh," Every divine truth, needful for man to know, is revealed, declared, and illustrated in the Holy Scriptures. To these Paul often resorted for testimony to sustain or corroborate inspired truth which he was stating, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

2) "Even for this same purpose," (hoti eis auto touto) "That with reference to this very thing," to show mercy and compassion to whomsoever he willed, and at whatever time he willed, and under whatever conditions or circumstances he willed, to individuals or to nations. God is not a puppet manipulated by man, nor is man a machine that God controls, by remote controls. Each has a sovereign area of exercising volition; nor is God limited in exercising his will except it be as his holy nature limits him from doing wrong.

3) "Have I raised thee up," (eksegeira se) I raised thee up," God not only raised up Moses the Jew, but also Pharaoh the heathen. Gentile, for a divine purpose; Pharaoh was of God "brought on the stage of action in human history," for the following purpose, Exodus 9:16.

4) "That I might shew my power in thee," (hopos endeiksomai en soi tun dunamin mou) "So that I might of my own accord show my power in thee," God’s power was shown in his penal miracles (judgment miracles) that he sent on Pharaoh and Egypt, of his own free choosing, and in his own purpose, Exodus 5:1 to Exodus 14:31.

5) "And that my name might be declared," (kai hopos diangels to onoma mou) "and so my name (authority) might be published abroad," announced, made known; even to this day God’s name (authority, sovereignty) is published abroad wherever this story is told, 1 Chronicles 29:11-14.

6) "Throughout all the earth," (en pase te qe) "in all the earth," Proverbs 16:4, Galatians 3:8; Galatians 3:22; and so his name is to be proclaimed by the church today, Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; Acts 4:12.

Verse 18

1) "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy," (ara oun hon thelei eleei) "So then he has or h Ids mercy (on, to, toward) whom he divinely wills;" From the example of Jacob it appears that God bestows mercy and favors on what nation he wills. This demonstrates his free volition, or will, based on his knowledge, holiness, goodness and justice.

2) "And whom he will be hardeneth," (hon dethelei sklerunei) "yet, whom he divinely wills, he hardens;- Or allows them the opportunity to harden themselves, in giving them life, health, and necessities of life, as he causeth the sun to shine and sendeth the rain upon the just and the unjust, Acts 17:28; Matthew 5:45; Acts 14:16-17. The hardening process may be observed in the example of the rich barn builder, and men of his disposition today, and in the specific life of Belshazzar. Luke 12:16-21; Daniel 5:18-23. In some places it is said Pharaoh hardened his heart, in others that God hardened his heart. There is no actual contradiction between the two statements, because God’s Word is "true from the beginning"; the term "harden" is used in the primary and secondary senses. It appear that God hardens men’s heart only in the sense that he sustains them with life in their choices as men turn away from him again and again in procrastination of obedience to his commands and in obstinate enmity and rebellion against his calls, Exodus 4:21. Truth and light rejected hardens the heart, Proverbs 29:1, Romans 1:28.


In some places it is said that Pharaoh hardened his own heart, and in others that God has hardened it. Both are strictly correct. The rejection of the truth and the abuse of our privileges ever tend to harden the heart. This is a spiritual law as certain in its operation as the law of gravitation. As soon as Pharaoh saw a respite from his afflictions, his heart was hardened. And how often do men make all kinds of promises, but no sooner does relief come than we fall back again into a state worse than the first. "The sun," says Theodoret, "by force of its heat, moistens the wax and dries the clay, softening the one and hardening the other; and as this produces opposite effects by the same power, so through thy long-suffering of God, which reaches to all, some receive good and others evil; some are softened and others hardened.


"Pharaoh," says Fry, "had not, in immediate consequence of his hardness, any more sinfulness in his heart than he had previously; but he dared to do more." In selecting the word "hardens" the apostle suggests a parallel between Pharaoh and the Israelites. There was something ominously Pharaonic in the spirit of the unbelieving Jews.

-J. Morison

Verse 19

1) "Thou wilt say then unto me," (ereis moi oun) "Therefore, (or in light of this) thou wilt say to me," you will question my inspired explanation of God’s sovereign will and choosings, as if both he and I were below your mentality.

2) "Why doth he yet find fault?" (ti eti memphetai); "Why does he (God) still find fault?" Why does God make men bad, then find fault with them? Men still question God’s goodness and justice, a thing that reflects their own limitation of knowledge, goodness and justice, and obedience, Acts 2:23; James 1:13.

3) "For who has resisted his will?" (to gar Boulemati autou tis anthes teken;) "For who has resisted his coun­sel?" The term "counsel" indicates that God counsels, directs, instructs, and commands men to righteousness, before he "hardens" them in their course of rebellion and obstinacy, as in the case of Pharaoh, and many rebellions in Israel. Proverbs 1:22-33. The very use of the term (Gk. Boulemati) which means "council" or to "counsel," not (Gk. thelo) meaning "high, holy will," indicates that God’s high holy will to harden men personally is only after they have rejected his "counsel-will" for them. With this Bible concept none should stumble at God’s sover­eign will and acts of even judgment.

Verse 20

1) "Nay but, 0 man, who art thou," (o anthrope, menoun ge su tis ei) "Nay, but rather, a man, who are you?" "It is morally and ethically improper for the created to find moral and ethical fault with the Creator or question his goodness or judgment in any matter.

2) "That repliest against God?" (ho antapokrinominos to theo) "The one passing judgment on God?" talking derogatory against God, who are you to do such? It is improper to adopt such a tone against or toward God, repulsive and objectionable, Romans 9:18; Should the child talk back, "sass" or act impudent toward the parent? The conclusion suggested is an emphatic no.

3) "Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it," (me erei to plasma to plasanti) "The thing formed will not say to the one having formed (it)," talk back to, question the judgment of, will it? Should it? Is such not a matter of showing disdain, disrespect, or dishonor? Job considered such improper and refused to defy God’s judgment even under great sorrow and pain, Job 9:11-15; Job 33:12-13; Job 34:22-23.

4) "Why hast thou made me thus?" (ti me epoiesas houtos) "Why did you make me like this, will it?" This appears as a rhetoric question, suggesting "surely not;" This citation or allusion is first addressed to Israel, who questioned Moses and God’s goodness and judgment in bringing them from Egypt into the wilderness of Sinai; It is still a sentiment of man in rebellion against God, to reject or question all his counsel, Numbers 11:1-5; Psalms 106:7; Psalms 106:25; Psalms 106:43; Proverbs 1:24-26; Proverbs 1:29-31.

Verse 21

1) "Hath not the potter power over the clay," (e ouk echei eksousion ho kerameus tou pelou) "or has not the potter working, performing, or administering authority of or over the clay"; Does he not have or hold this prerogative, this moral right? This is the illustrated truth regarding God’s sovereignty over his own creation, Isaiah 29:16.

2) "Of the same lump," (ek tou autou phuramatos) "out of the same (identical) lump," lump of clay. The argument of Paul is that as the lump of clay yields to the call and will of the potter, so should men and nations submit, yield to obey the word and will of God for them, Romans 10:16.

3) "To make one vessel unto honor," (poiesai ho men eis timess skeuos) "to make the one vessel unto honor;" for one purpose, an honorable purpose or use; as the potter can form the clay into a useful vessel, only as it yields to his will, so the master potter, (God) can form or fashion clay-like-men to honorable use, only as they yield or exercise their volition, will, or choice to obey his higher will, Luke 13:3; Luke 17:30-31; Romans 6:16; Romans 6:19.

4) "And another unto dishonor?" (ho de eis atimian) "and the one (other), or another, unto dishonor? for a differing or contrasting purpose? unto a dishonoring purpose or use? God set forth Jesus to be a payment for every man’s sin, to redeem him from consequences of sin in him, but personal benefits of redemption are received only as men willingly receive that redemption through faith in Jesus Christ, Romans 3:24-25; Galatians 3:26; John 1:11-12; Romans 1:16; Romans 10:9-13; Both salvation and useful service to God are contingent or dependent upon one’s yielding or surrendering to the sovereign will, call, and convicting word and spirit of God, Jeremiah 18:6; Isaiah 45:9; 2 Timothy 2:20.


The petty sovereign of an insignificant tribe in North America every morning stalks out of his hovel, bids the sun good-morrow, and points out to him with his finger the course he is to take for the day. Is this arrogance more contemptible than ours when we would dictate to God the course of His providence, and summon Him to our bar for His dealings with us? How ridiculous does man appear when he attempts to argue with his God!


God does not reason. - A gentleman examining some deaf and dumb children wrote up the question, "Does God reason?" One of the children immediately wrote underneath. "God knows and sees everything. Reasoning implies doubt and uncertainty; therefore God does not reason."

-Bib. Ill.

Verse 22

1) "What if God willing", (ei de thelon ho theos) "But if God strongly wills;" what shall we say, who rightfully can complain? find fault with God for exercising his own will in his purpose in saving, judging, chastening his own people?

2) "To show his wrath," (endeiksasthai ten orgen) "to show forth "his wrath"; if the potter has the right to form, mold, or break inanimate (lifeless) clay into vessels as he pleases, does not God have a corresponding right to judge and punish the guilty? or exercise longsuffering? Exodus 9:13-17.

3) "And to make his power known," (kai gnorisai to dunaton autou) "and to make known (make to be recognized) his dynamic ability," He did this to Pharaoh, in his rebellion and abuse of God’s mercy to him, and the Egyptians, again and again, Exodus 5:1 to Exodus 14:31.

4) "Endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath," (enegken en polle vessels of wrath," such as the pre-flood people who gave no heed to Noah’s preaching, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Pharaoh and his armies, and the unbelieving Jews, Genesis 15:16; Proverbs 1:22-31; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:16.

5) "Fitted to destruction," (katertismena eis apoleian) "Having been fitted with reference to wrath," having been fitted or fitted themselves, personally rejecting the counsel of God to and for them; See Romans 9:19, comment. 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Judges 1:4; Matthew 5:13. God’s primary will is that none perish, 2 Peter 3:9; But his corresponding counsel-will is that those who obstinately defy his will and resist his call and disobey his commands, shall be damned, Mark 16:16; Luke 13:3; Romans 2:4-5.

Verse 23

1) "And that he might make known," (kai hina gnorise) "and in order that he might make known," for the purpose of making known, revealing in men now and at the coming of Jesus Christ, that he might disclose in the redeemed by their light (influence) and testimony, Matthew 5:15-16; Acts 1:8; John 15:13-15.

2) "The riches of his glory," (ton plouton tes dokses autou) "the plutocracy (excelling riches) of his glory"; the abounding state and experience of bliss and exaltation of the redeemed in eternity, Romans 2:4; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 2:7; Ephesians 3:8; Colossians 1:27.

3) "On the vessels of mercy", (epi skeue eleous) upon vessels of mercy", those who have accepted his mercy-sacrifice, as the publicans did, Luke 18:9-14. The term "vessels of mercy," means those who have come to and received his mercy, Isaiah 55:6-7; men who have sought, willed to have, asked for his mercy believed in Jesus Christ, Titus 3:5.

4) "Which he had afore prepared unto glory," (ha proetoimasen eis doksan) "which he previously prepared unto glory;- the "previous preparation" means previous to disclosing the riches of his glory, both in providing and offering redemption and help in life, and at the appearing of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:18-19; Hebrews 13:5. God’s preparing men to glory includes his calling, convicting, forbearing, converting, and perfecting to resurrection glory, Titus 3:3-7; 1 Peter 1:2-4; Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 1:6.

Verse 24

1) "Even us, whom he hath called," (ous kai ekalesin humas) "Even us whom he called," this explains who the vessels of mercy are, not merely the "were called," but the "are" or "hath called" ones, those who have believed, Ephesians 3:6; Romans 3:29-30; John 1:11-12.

2) "Not of the Jews only," (ou monon eks loudaion) "not only out of (from among) the Jews;" Long days and years he showed mercy to the Jews, personally and nationally, but not to them restrictedly, to the exclusion of all other responsible men, Acts 10:43; Galatians 3:8.

3) "But also of the Gentiles?" (alla kai eks ethnon) "But also out of or from among the nations, heathen, or races;" note: the questions that began in Romans 9:19; Romans 9:22 and end here. The idea raised is "who has the mental acumen to raise any question of suspicion concerning the righteous judgment of God?" He is just, righteous, merciful, and good to all the sons of men, Galatians 3:20; Galatians 3:28: Romans 1:14-16; Romans 10:8-13.

Verse 25


1) "As he saith also in Osee," (hos kai en to Hosee legei) "As he also says in Hosea;" foretells by the inspired prophet Hosea. Paul sustained his arguments again and again by testimony of the Old Testament prophets, indicating his acceptance of them as Inspired and trustworthy, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, as well as Peter Acts 10:43.

2) “I will call them my people, which were not my people: (Kaleso ton ou laon mou laon mou) "I will call the people not of me, my people;- Those who (as a nation) were not, at that time "God’s people," in the sense of called, commissioned, and entrusted with his worship and service, he prophesied that he would (in the future) call "my people". This is a two-fold prophecy: 1) First it alludes to the call of the gospel specifically to the Gentiles, second the call of the church, Hosea 2:23, Matthew 4:12-20; Matthew 16:18; Acts 15:14.

3) "And her beloved," (kai egapemenen), And call her beloved, The "her" beloved refers not to Israel God’s Wife), but to the church (the bride of Christ) who was called from among and sent into all the world to the Gentiles; The church was called and chosen of the Lord from among the Gentiles, John 15:16; Matthew 4:13-20; John 3:29-30; Acts 15:14; Acts 20:28; 2 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Timothy 3:15; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8.

4) "Which was not beloved," (ten ouk egapemenen) and her who has not been called beloved," which did not, had not had, or been entrusted with the intimate worship service and work of God, Ephesians 2:11-12. Those once strangers, individually and nationally, from the commonwealth and inheritance of Israel, received in the coming and call of Christ, both personal redemption thru faith in the blood of Christ, and thru personal voluntary identity with his church, purchased with his own blood, called from among and sent to the Gentiles even as Paul was, Acts 26:16-20; Ephesians 5:25.

Verse 26

1) "And it shall come to pass," (kai estai) "And it shall be or exist" This is a prophetic projection regarding God’s call of the Gentiles in a specific manner and his calling the New Testament church "my church," Matthew 16:18.

2) "That in the place where it was said unto them," (en to topo hou errethe [autois]) "That in the locality where it was said to them;" the place referred to is that in Gentile lands, Gentile occupation; It is not accidental or incidental that Jesus called his church in "Galilee of the Gentiles," not Judea of the Jews; See? Matthew 4:13-20; Acts 10:37; Acts 15:14; Acts 15:17; Acts 26:16-20.

3) "Ye are not my people," (ou laos mou humeis) "You all are not my people."

4) "They shall be called," (ekei kethesomtai) "There (in the same place or locality) they will be called;" they who of Gentiles, among the Gentiles repented and received Christ and voluntarily followed him to do his work, give God glory thru his church, which he sent to the Gentiles, into all the world, Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; John 15:16.

5) "The children of the living God " (huioi theou zontos) "Sons or heirs of (the) living God;" When God grafted the Gentiles in, nationally, committed to the church, called from among and sent to the Gentile world, the preaching of the gospel and administration of his worship and service for this age he also gave to them promise of a joint-heirship in ruling and reigning with him over national Israel in the coming millennial – Luke 22:28-30.

Verse 27

1) "Esaias also crieth concerning Israel," (Isaias de Krazei huper tou Israel) "Yet Isaias cries on behalf of Israel," proclaims regarding Israel and her future hope, Isaiah 6:13; Romans 11:5.

2) "Though the number of the children of Israel," (ean e ho arithmos ton huion Israel) "if the number of heirs (sons) of Israel." This is a quotation from Isaiah 10:22-23; Genesis 15:4-7; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:6-7.

3) "Be as the sand of the sea," (hos he ammos tes "Be or exist as the sand of the sea" (innumerable), not to be, or beyond what man can number or enumerate; and though, as a nation, a people, they are spiritually-blinded and set aside, cut off for a season, (and they are), while having been scattered among all nations, Romans 11:25; Ezekiel 5:7-10; Luke 21:20-24.

4) "A remnant shall be saved," (to hupoleimma sothesetai) "the remnant as prophesied will be saved," Daniel 9:27; only a remnant. This remnant of national Israel, a preserved national posterity, exists today because of God’s promise to Abraham, and his grace, unmerited favors to Abraham’s offspring, Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 18:18; Romans 11:15; Romans 11:24; Romans 11:31; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.

Verse 28

1) "For he will finish the work," (Logon gar suntelon) "For accomplishing an account, record, or assignment," What God purposes and begins, he completes or finishes, for he is a perfect God. The work (account refers to both national and spiritual redemption in Christ as promised thru Abraham and his seed, Genesis 12:1-3; Galatians 4:4-5; Luke 1:30-33.

2) "And cut it short in righteousness," (kai suntemnon) "and cutting it short;" His judgment upon Israel, in securing the remnant of her people in the last days, will be in righteousness, based on his warnings and promises; The days of his tribulation wrath will be cut short or abbreviated, Deuteronomy 28:15; Deuteronomy 28:62; Deuteronomy 28:67; Deuteronomy 30:3.

3) "Because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth," (poiesei kurios epi tes ges) "The Lord will do or perform upon the earth;" Isaiah 65:8-9; Matthew 24:21-22; Zechariah 13:8-9; As the Lord "finishes or completes" redemption in every believer in Christ, so will he finish what he has purposed and begun in the natural seed of Abraham, Philippians 1:6; Revelation 12:7-12.

Verse 29

1) "And as ’Esaias said before," (kai kathos proeireken Isaias) "And as Isaias has previously said," said before the previously quoted passages. Paul respected as authentic, trustworthy, or true, the words of Isaiah regarding God’s fulfillment of his promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Israel.

2)"Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed," (ei me kurios sabaoth egkatelipen hemin sperma) "except the Lord of hosts, of the armies of destruction, had left to us a seed;" a remnant seed, Isaiah 1:9; Isaiah 10:20; Galatians 4:4-5. Paul believed that God almighty preserved them for his future glory, Luke 1:32-33.

3) "We had been as Sodom," (hos (Sodoma an egenethemen) "We would have become, or now existed as Sodom," God’s mercy and grace spared Israel from destruction, as it did Lot from destruction in Sodom, else Israel would have no longer existed. This is Paul’s contention; La 3:22; Malachi 3:6.

4) "And been made like unto Gomorrha," (kai hos Gomorra an homiothemen) "And we would have been likened to or compared with Gomorrha;" a symbol of divine wrath and judgment upon the rebellious, Isaiah 13:19; Jeremiah 50:40. It was God’s mercy that granted Gentiles "repentance unto life," Acts 3:19. It was by his mercy and is thru it a seed of natural and now national Israel has been preserved for God’s future glory.

Verse 30

1) "What shall we say then?" (ti oun eroumen) "What therefore shall we say?" What argument have we to make as a case for the Gentiles, from whom God called a people for his sake, Acts 15:14; Matthew 4:13-20; Romans 1:14-16; It is our duty and privilege to preach this salvation as Paul did, Acts 26:15-20.

2) "That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness," (hoti ethne ta me diokonta dikaiosunen) "that nation’s not pursing righteousness;" that is law-righteousness by standard of the Mosaic law. The Gentiles were not even claimants to be observing, seeking law-standards of righteousness, Romans 2:14-15.

3) "Have attained to righteousness," (katelahen dikaiosunen) "Apprehended or have received righteousness," They did it by faith in Jesus Christ a) Cornelius’ household, Acts 10:43; b) Lydia’s household, Acts 16:30-34; c) and the Ethiopian Eunuch, Acts 8:36-37; Romans 1:15-16.

4) "Even the righteousness which is of faith," (dikaiosunen de ten ek pisteos) "But a righteousness that is out of or originating out of faith;" The Gentiles received salvation and imputed righteousness from God, just as Abraham had done, as a father-example before them in Ur of The Chaldees, Genesis 15:6; Galatians 3:8-9; Romans 4:4-6; Romans 4:16; Romans 10:1-4.

Verse 31

1) "But Israel which followed after the law of righteousness," (Israel de diokon nomon dikaiosunes) "But Israel pursuing a law of righteousness," doggedly chasing a law - (form) of righteousness, and tradition of the elders, under the law, Mark 7:1-9; Mark 7:13; Matthew 15:1-20; Romans 10:1-4 - did not attain to it – Romans 11:7; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.

2) "Hath not attained to the law of righteousness," (eis nomon ouk ephthasen) "Did not arrive at or to a law of righteousness;" The law pointed to Christ who would become, in his sacrifice, man’s righteousness before God, at the point in time and eternity, that each by faith accepted his propitiation, 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:19-24; Galatians 3:26; Romans 3:29; Romans 10:10. Israel did not attain to or obtain righteousness of God, by morality, ceremonials, or rituals under Moses’ law-neither may Jew or Gentile attain to or obtain the righteousness of God thru morality, ceremonies, or rituals of the Lord’s Church today, but by repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ, see, Luke 13:3; Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5.

Verse 32

1) "Wherefore?" (dia ti) "Why?" For what reason has Israel not obtained Salvation, the righteousness of God? Paul raised the question only to reaffirm the answer.

2) "Because they sought it not by faith," (hoti ouk ek piotess) The answer is "They did not seek righteousness by faith," by faith in the Redeemer who was to come, but by works of their own hands and unregenerate lives, after a pattern of moral and religious conduct prescribed for those who should first receive the coming Redeemer by faith, John 1:10-11.

3) "But as it were by the works of the law;- (all hos eks ergon) "But as (if it were) out of the works of the law"; and the traditions of the law, as presented by elders of Israel, who perverted the way of Salvation. Jesus called them hypocrites.

4) "For they stumbled at that stumblingstone” (prosekosan to litho tou proskommatos) "They (therefore) stumbled at the stone of stumbling;" Christ crucified was that stumbling stone, that rock of offence; Luke 2:34; 1 Corinthians 1:23; To one who stumbles, the race is lost; all Israel (as a nation) stumbled and fell, was cut off as administrator of God’s program of worship and service, because they rejected the very Christ to whom their true prophets had looked, and for whom they had longed, John 1:11-12; Isaiah 8:14; Matthew 11:6; John 6:60; John 6:66; 1 Peter 2:7-8; Acts 4:11-12.

Verse 33

1) "As it is written," (kathos gegraptai) "Just as it has been written," This rejection of Christ by Israel had been predicted, Isaiah 8:14. Paul had read and accepted it as divine truth, as all men should, Psalms 119:160.

2) "Behold I lay in Sion a stumblingstone," (idou tithemi en Sion lithon proskammatos) "Behold I put, place, or set in Zion a stone of stumbling"; an occasion by which the willfully blind or misled blind might stumble; as the Jews did, 1 Corinthians 1:23. The term Sion is the lofty Greek term for Zion, center of holy worship-Jesus Christ founder of the church, source of true glory - service and worship today, Ephesians 3:21; Matthew 5:15-16.

3) "And rock of offence," (kai petra skandalou) "And a rock of offence," of scandalizing; the Jews offended at that rock of Salvation which was Christ; Psalms 118:22; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11-12.

4) "And whosoever believeth on him," (kai ho pistenon ep’ auto) "And he who believes on him," puts his trust in him; This was the true message of salvation as preached by all Old Testament prophets, Acts 10:43; Romans 4:4-6; Romans 4:16.

5) "Shall not be ashamed," (ou kataischunthesetai) "Will not be put to shame," or placed in position to be ashamed, will not be a blushing; not be disappointed; true faith in Christ never brought regret or shame to any child of God, Isaiah 28:16; 1 Peter 2:6-8. Paul was not ashamed of his name - neither should any believer be, Romans 1:16.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Romans 9". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/romans-9.html. 1985.
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