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Bible Commentaries
Romans 9

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


What I say is true. Paul implied in Romans 3:3 that God would reject the Jewish Nation because they disbelieved Christ. Some Jews then said: “If this is true, then God has broken his own promise and repudiated his own chosen people.” To answer this, Paul shows: (1) the promise was not to all of the descendants of Abraham; (2) God has the right to choose whoever he wants to. Individual or personal “election” is not the subject here. Paul looks at the choosing of the Jews, their rejection later, and the choosing of the Gentiles. Paul speaks so strongly in chapters 9, 10, 11, because his fellow Jews were saying he was a traitor to his nation.

Verse 2


How great is my sorrow! Because many of his nation were without the blessing of Christ.

Verse 3


For their sake. What he says is that he would be willing to be under God’s curse himself and lost eternally, if it would help to bring his nation to Christ!!! This shows how much he loved his Jewish race!

Verse 4


They are God’s chosen people. In Romans 9:4-5, Paul speaks about the honor which God gave Israel. “Israel” means “a Prince with God.” He made them his sons. (Deuteronomy 7:6). This is not Christian sonship, but the sonship mentioned in Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1 in which every Israelite was a son (Hosea 1:10). Shared his glory with them. The Shekinah of God’s presence, the box of the covenant, etc. See 1 Samuel 4:21 : Hebrews 9:1-5. He made his covenants with them. With Abraham, and at Sinai. Gave them the law. “The holy law made and given by God” (2Ma. 6:23). The Law was a “GOOD LUCK CHARM” to the Jew (see Romans 2:17). The true worship. Compare John 4:22. God’s promises. Especially the promise of the Messiah.

Verse 5


From the patriarchs. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The sons of such fathers were forfeiting everything for which their ancestors had been chosen! And Christ. As a human being, Jesus belonged to their race, the tribe of Judah, a descendant of David the king. May God. [The best Greek texts make this refer to the father.] Paul’s purpose is to imply that the tragic apostasy of the Jews (Romans 9:2-3) is itself part of the “master-plan” of God. Compare Revelation 5:0 : Romans 11:11-12. God is able to bring good out of evil.

Verse 6


I am not saying. The Jew might say: “If Israel had such honor from God, why is the nation rejected? If Jesus really is the Messiah, has God canceled his promises?” Paul uses the rest of this chapter to answer this. Because not all the people of Israel. God’s promise will not fail, even if the Jewish Nation is rejected. They do not make up the whole chosen people of God.

Verse 7


Neither are all Abraham’s descendants. Ishmael and others were Abraham’s children (1 Chronicles 1:28; 1 Chronicles 1:32). The descendants of Isaac. The promise did not come through the children of Ishmael or the sons of Keturah.

Verse 8


This means. This illustrates the contrast between the natural family-line of race, and the spiritual family-line of faith. This destroys the claim of the Jews: “Abraham is our ancestor” (Matthew 3:9 and note).

Verse 9


For God’s promise. This promise made the birth of Isaac supernormal. Isaac is called: “his only son” (Hebrews 11:17); even though Abraham had other sons; because Isaac was the son of promise. Only the children by God’s promise are the “chosen people.” Christians are children by God’s promise (Galatians 4:28).

Verse 10


And this is not all. The Jew might say: “Ishmael was illegitimate and had no rights. We are legitimate descendants of the patriarch and have ‘Chosen People’ status.” Paul now shows that God has the right to reject any nation, including the Jews, and to choose other people, if it suits his purpose. Isaac was the father of Rebecca’s twin sons.

Verses 11-12


But in order that. The only possible basis of choice would seem to be on the “priority of birth,” yet God ignored this to choose Jacob. It may be said that God chose between them because of what they would do (see note on Romans 8:29). Yet Paul uses this to show that God’s choice was not based on either family-line or actions.

Verse 13


As the scripture says. [Malachi 1:2 Septuagint.] The Expositor’s Greek Testament says: “Yet it would not be right to say that Paul is here considering merely the parts assigned by God to nations in the drama of providence; He is obviously thinking of Jacob and Esau as individuals, whose own relation to God’s promise and inheritance (involving no doubt that of their posterity [descendants]) was determined by God before they were born or had done either good or ill. On the other hand, it would not be right to say that Paul here refers the eternal salvation or perdition [condemnation] of individuals to an absolute decree of God which has no relation to what they are or do, but rests simply on His inscrutable will.”

Verse 14


That God is unjust? God treats all men on the same basis (Acts 10:34-35). The Jew would say that God was being unjust, if he did not choose on the basis of family-line or actions. Paul shows now that the Jewish Scriptures [the Old Testament] declare God’s right to do this. Not at all. It is not possible for God to be unjust. [God forbid does not appear in the Greek.]

Verse 15


For he said to Moses. [Exodus 33:19 Septuagint.] He said this in answer to Moses’ prayer. The point is that in having mercy, God is influenced by nothing outside of his mercy itself.

Verse 16


So then. This repeats the reasoning of Romans 9:11-13. Esau was Isaac’s favorite son and the one firstborn, Esau acted to receive his birthright. Yet God was influenced by none of this, and blessed Jacob.

Verse 17


For the scripture says to Pharaoh. It does not say Pharaoh was born for this purpose, but that he was made king. [Compare Christ’s choice of Judas (John 6:64; John 6:70-71; 2 Timothy 2:19-21).]

Verse 18


God has mercy on whom he wishes. God’s mercy and wrath are not influenced by human claims. The “making stubborn” of Pharaoh is explained by 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12. Godet says that Paul is not writing theology here, but answering the proud claims of Jewish pharisaism, showing that no human can place an obligation on God by anything he does or says or is. For a Jew, the contrast between the examples of Moses and Pharaoh are proof, interpreted by the words of God himself. But Paul neither raises nor answers the questions of exactly what the “making stubborn” means, nor the relationship between God “making Pharaoh stubborn,” and Pharaoh making himself stubborn. The Jews thought that God COULD NOT abandon them, and that he would not accept the Gentiles.

Verse 19


One of you, then. “If the character of Moses and Pharaoh are ENTIRELY the result of God’s will, doesn’t the difference between them disappear? Doesn’t this make men the helpless tools of God? How can he find fault with them?” Paul does not answer this objection, but says in effect: “Even if that is true, what right has the Jewish Nation to object to it? It is a lump of clay in the hands of the man who makes pots.”

Verse 20


To talk back to God? He has the right to decree the terms of his own mercy.

Verse 21


After all. Not the quality of the clay, but the will of the man who makes the pots, decides what use will be made of each part of the lump. The Expositor’s Greek Testament says: “True, the objector might say, but irrelevant. For man is not clay, and the relation of God to man is not that of the potter to dead matter. To say that it is, is just to concede the objector’s point – the moral significance is taken out of life, and God has no room any longer to pronounce moral judgments, or to speak of man in terms of praise or blame.” [Christians have argued for centuries over the exact relation between God’s SOVEREIGN WILL and man’s FREE WILL.]

Verse 22


He wanted to show. “God’s will in relation to man is difficult to understand, but if his actual treatment of them is “patient in enduring,” what can you say against that?” [Destroyed = condemned to hell.] God’s long history of patience with the Jewish Nation is probably in Paul’s mind at this point.

Verse 23


And he wanted also to reveal. This completes the thought in Romans 9:22. God: (1) shows his wrath and power; (2) reveals his rich glory. But in both of these, God acts in such a way that not only can man not complain, but must stand in amazement and worship!!!

Verse 24


For we are the ones. This explains the “on us” of Romans 9:23. The fact that those called are from among both Jews and Gentiles shows that no one can claim God’s mercy as a right of his racial heritage! Johnson sees in this a restraining of the destruction of the Jewish Nation until the entire world heard the Good News of Christ (Compare Matthew 24:14; Colossians 1:23).

Verses 25-26


This is what he says. [Romans 9:25 quotes Hosea 2:23; Romans 9:26, Hosea 1:10; both from the Septuagint.] God’s action in calling people from among both Jews and Gentiles, agrees with what he has already said in the Scripture. When God calls Gentiles, he is doing what he already said he would do.

Verse 27


And Isaiah exclaims about Israel. [A paraphrase of Isaiah 10:22-23.] Paul shows that God had already said that only part of Israel would be called. The Jews dare not complain about their dilemma, since it is exactly what the Word of God says. See note on Romans 9:6.

Verse 28


For the Lord. The meaning is: “God fulfills his promise, but also limits it [to those who have faith].” This is why only part of Israel will be saved. [Compare note on Romans 11:26. ]

Verse 29


It is as Isaiah had said before. [Isaiah 1:9 Septuagint.] The “descendants” are the same as the “only a few” of Romans 9:27. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their sins, and no trace of them was to be found. A few of Israel will be saved. God Almighty. SABAOTH. Ainsworth says the Rabbins teach, that when God judges his creation he is called Elohim; when he shows mercy he is called Jehovah; when he fights against the wicked he is called Sabaoth.

Verses 30-31


What shall we say, then? Up to this point in chapter 9, Paul has looked at the problem of Jewish unbelief, and shown us that no one has any claim on God to put him under obligation. Now in these last few verses, he shows it was their own guilt which cut them off from God. That the Gentiles. They knew nothing about the Law and its demands. It is a paradox that they did not try to put themselves right with God, yet were put right with him through faith. But the Jews, chosen people, who did have the Law, and tried to bring God to themselves with it, failed to do so. The argument between Paul and the Jews is: “being put right with God – what is it, and how can you receive it?”

Verse 32


And why not? How do you explain the paradox of Jew and Gentile? Scripture has not failed (Romans 9:6), because it predicted all that has happened. Because what they did. We immediately think of their relationship to the Law. What they did in obeying the Law, they thought of as placing an obligation on God. We could have the same attitude toward Christianity, with the same results. They stumbled. This points directly to Christ! He is the “stumbling stone.” The thought of a “crucified Savior” was offensive to the Jews (1 Corinthians 1:23). Unbelief cut them off from God’s promise.

Verse 33


That the scripture speaks of. Paul blends and paraphrases Isaiah 28:16 and Isa. 18:14 as proof that this very thing would happen. But whoever believes in him. See Romans 5:1. One who has peace will not be disappointed at the Judgment.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Romans 9". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/romans-9.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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