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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 9

Verses 1-5

Romans 9:1-Deuteronomy : . Sorrow over the Reprobation of the Jews. Paul’ s rapture passes into anguish at the exclusion of his kinsmen from this blessedness. So the second theme of the epistle comes into view; see Introd. § 5 .

Romans 9:1 f. The apostle was denounced as a renegade ( Acts 21:28, etc.); hence his solemn protest ( cf. Romans 1:9, 2 Corinthians 1:23, 1 Thessalonians 2:5).

Romans 9:3 . His deeply-wounded love prompts the “ wish”— almost a prayer—“ that I were myself anathema,” that I were “ cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my natural kinsfolk.”— The Greek anathema ( cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23, Galatians 1:8) renders the Hebrew term for put-under-the-ban, as with Achan and his plunder (Joshua 7; cf. Joshua 6:17 f., Leviticus 27:28 f.).

Romans 9:4 f. This recital shows how far Paul is from disparaging his people’ s distinctions ( cf. Romans 2:1, Romans 3:2, Romans 15:8), and how tragic is their reprobation. “ Israelites”— the title of religious nobility ( Genesis 32:28, Psalms 73:1 , John 1:47, etc.). “ The (national) adoption” (see Romans 8:15 *): “ Israel is My son, My firstborn” ( Exodus 4:22, etc.). “ The glory”— . the Shekinah of Exodus 16:10, etc., which attended the desert march and rested on the sacred Ark. “ The Covenants”— with Abraham, Moses, David; finally, that of Jeremiah 31:31-Haggai :. “ Of whom,” not whose as in former clauses— a case of origin, not possession—“ is the Christ,” etc.: the consummate honour of the Israelite race.

Romans 9:5 b is sometimes punctuated as a detached doxology: “ God, who is over all, be blessed for ever! A rendering grammatical indeed, but forced and improbable. “ Who is over all, God blessed for ever,” supplies the antithesis to “ after the flesh” ; cf. Romans 1:3 f., Galatians 4:4. Christ is not called “ God over all” : “ over all” affirms His Lordship ( 1 Corinthians 8:6, Php_2:9-11 , etc.); “ God,” His oneness of being with the Father ( Colossians 2:9, Titus 2:13; John 10:30-Zechariah :).

After all this, Israel’ s reprobation looks like God’ s defeat. But “ God’ s word has not failed” ; for God is acting, as always, in the sovereignty of His elective grace ( Romans 9:6-Joel :), while Israel rejects His way of righteousness ( Romans 9:30 to Romans 10:21); in the end Israel will be saved (Romans 11).

Verses 6-18

Romans 9:6-Job : . God’ s Free Election.

Romans 9:6-1 Samuel : . We must distinguish: “ to be of Israel, is not to be Israel.” Mere physical heredity counts for nothing: “ Isaac” was the proper “ seed” of Abraham, designated as “ the child of promise” ( Genesis 21:12, etc.). Here Isaac’ s case illustrates the sovereignty of God; in Romans 4:18-Ecclesiastes :, the efficacy of faith.

Romans 9:10-1 Chronicles : . The case of Esau and Jacob is equally significant. Twin offspring of the same parents, the unborn babes had done nothing to achieve merit or display worth, when God said, “ The elder shall serve the younger,” an election governing the history of the descendant peoples ( Malachi 1:2 f.*).

Romans 9:14 . No Jew would deem “ God unjust” in such preferences; the question of Romans 9:14 answers itself. The application to contemporary Judaism is patent.

Romans 9:15 f. The election of Jacob recalls words used to Moses: “ I will show mercy to whomsoever I will show mercy,” etc.— not that God is arbitrary in His compassions, but He is untrammeled; even Moses may not prescribe to Him. Hence the inference: “ it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs” (as Moses was doing then, Paul now, for Israel’ s salvation), “ but of God,” etc. ( cf. 1 Corinthians 3:6 f.). Dictation, like prerogative, is out of court.

Romans 9:17 f. This holds in respect of “ hardening” too. Witness the Pharaoh of the Exodus: God “ raised” this evil-hearted man to greatness, “ on purpose to demonstrate His power” as the Judge of the earth. As the story shows, the monarch’ s defiant temper was the nemesis of unbelief; cf. Romans 1:24 ; Romans 1:28. In every decision God judges for Himself, despite human pleas of privilege and pride of power: “ Whom He will He compassionates, whom He will He hardens.”

Verses 19-29

Romans 9:19-Joel : . The Divine Sovereignty in Judgment.

Romans 9:19 f. The hard saying just enunciated provokes the question, “ Why does He blame,” if the hardening is His doing and “ none may resist His will” ? Paul forgoes the obvious retort, that God’ s “ hardening” is a judgment on hardness of heart ( cf. Romans 2:5 , etc.), that Pharaoh (and Israel now) did resist God ( cf. Acts 7:51, etc.); he assails the spirit of contradiction: “ Nay, surely, O man, who art thou who repliest against God— the thing formed saying to its fashioner, Why didst thou make me so?” (see Isaiah 45:9). Such questions cast on God the responsibility for our miscarriages: whoever is to blame, He is not.— The “ forming” of Romans 9:20 is the shaping, not the creation, of the instrument.

Romans 9:21 . “ The potter has a right over the clay, to make a vessel for honourable or ignoble use, from any part of the lump” he chooses. He has his reasons, but those reasons are for himself. “ What right,” says the Jew, “ has God to cast away sons of Abraham?” The right, answers Paul, of the potter, from which there is no appeal.

Romans 9:22 recalls Romans 9:17: “ Supposing God, resolved to make an example of His punitive wrath, has borne long” with evil-doers, rendering their doom in the end more terrible, who will gainsay Him— in Pharaoh’ s case, or (to read between the lines) in Israel’ s?

Romans 9:23 f. “ And” supposing He did this “ of purpose to make known His glorious wealth of mercy . . . in us,” for example, “ whom He has called from amongst both Jews and Gentiles?” The suggestion is that God’ s punitive judgments have mercy, somewhere, somehow, for their aim ( Romans 11:30 ff.). The “ vessels of anger” were chosen suitably, as well as sovereignly: God’ s displeasure found, not made, them “ fitted for destruction.” The antithetic clause, “ which He prepared beforehand for glory” ( cf. Romans 8:30, Ephesians 2:10), associates God with all that leads to the happier choice, without denying man’ s co-operation ( cf. Php_2:12 f.).— Throughout Paul asserts the challenged right of God to deal judicially with Israel; he is not denying man’ s freedom in order to safeguard God’ s sovereignty, but maintaining God’ s freedom against Jewish presumption.— The sayings drawn from Hosea and Isaiah in Romans 9:25-Joel : reveal the disregard of previous status with which God “ calls” into favour “ the once rejected” and selects “ a remnant” while rejecting the mass. Isaiah 10:22 f. and Isaiah 10:19 remind Israel how summary God’ s ancient judgments had been— yet “ leaving a seed” to revive out of the waste.

Verses 30-33

Romans 9:30 to Romans 10:4 . Paul has discussed the Jewish situation as from God’ s side; he proceeds to point out, from man’ s side, the Cause of Israel’ s Stumbling. This chs. 3– 5 have prepared us to understand.

Romans 9:30-Jonah : a . The paradox is that “ Gentiles, who were out of the way of righteousness, have obtained it; while Israel, intent upon a law of righteousness, missed the mark, because it rejected the way of faith (which Gentiles took), preferring that of works.” In other words ( Romans 10:3), Israel wanted “ to set up its own righteousness” ( cf. Php_3:6 ; Php_3:9 ) and “ did not recognise” nor “ submit to God’ s righteousness.”

Romans 9:32 b , Romans 9:33 . They stumbled at the” old “ stumbling-block” marked in Isaiah 8:14; Isaiah 28:16— the demand for “ trust” in God as the basis of salvation.

Romans 10:1 f. So Paul’ s “ good-will and prayers” ( cf. Romans 9:16), and Israel’ s unquestioned “ zeal for God,” are unavailing. Their zeal “ lacks knowledge”— though the Jew prides himself on this ( Romans 2:18 f.)!

Romans 10:3. This ignorance is bound up with self-conceit and insubordination ( cf. Romans 2:4; also John 8:19; John 8:55, etc.).— On “ the righteousness of God,” see Romans 1:17 *, Romans 3:22; Romans 3:26 *.

Romans 10:4 . The Jews deem the Mosaic system eternal; they fail to discern “ the end of the law ( cf. 2 Corinthians 3:13-Nehemiah :, Hebrews 7:18 f., etc.) in Christ,” who, revealing God’ s righteousness, imparts “ righteousness to every believer.”— end: i.e. terminus and goal; see Galatians 2:19; Galatians 3:24, Matthew 5:17, Luke 16:16.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 9". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/romans-9.html. 1919.