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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Romans 9

Verse 1

In Christ (εν Χριστω). Paul really takes a triple oath here so strongly is he stirred. He makes a positive affirmation in Christ, a negative one (not lying), the appeal to his conscience as co-witness (συνμαρτυρουσης, genitive absolute as in Romans 2:15 which see) "in the Holy Spirit."

Verse 2

Sorrow (λυπη). Because the Jews were rejecting Christ the Messiah. "We may compare the grief of a Jew writing after the fall of Jerusalem" (Sanday and Headlam).

Unceasing pain in my heart (αδιαλειπτος οδυνη τη καρδια). Like angina pectoris. Οδυνη is old word for consuming grief, in N.T. only here and and 1 Timothy 6:10.

Unceasing (αδιαλειπτος). Late and rare adjective (in an inscription 1 cent. B.C.), in N.T. only here and 2 Timothy 1:3. Two rare words together and both here only in N.T. and I and II Timothy (some small argument for the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles).

Verse 3

I could wish (ηυχομην). Idiomatic imperfect, "I was on the point of wishing." We can see that ευχομα (I do wish) would be wrong to say. Αν ηυχομην would mean that he does not wish (conclusion of second class condition). Αν ηυχομην would be conclusion of fourth class condition and too remote. He is shut up to the imperfect indicative (Robertson, Grammar, p. 886).

Anathema (αναθεμα). See for this word as distinct from αναθημα (offering) 1 Corinthians 12:3; Galatians 1:8 I myself (αυτος εγω). Nominative with the infinitive εινα and agreeing with subject of ηυχομην.

According to the flesh (κατα σαρκα). As distinguished from Paul's Christian brethren.

Verse 4

Who (οιτινες). The very ones who, inasmuch as they.

Israelites (Ισραηλειτα). Covenant name of the chosen people.

Whose (ων). Predicate genitive of the relative, used also again with ο πατερες. For "the adoption" (η υιοθεσια) see Romans 8:15.

The glory (η δοξα). The Shekinah Glory of God (Romans 3:23) and used of Jesus in James 2:1.

The covenants (α διαθηκα). Plural because renewed often (Genesis 6:18; Genesis 9:9; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:2; Genesis 17:7; Genesis 17:9; Exodus 2:24).

The giving of the law (η νομοθεσια). Old word, here only in N.T., from νομος and τιθημ.

The service (η λατρεια). The temple service (Hebrews 9:1; Hebrews 9:6).

The fathers (ο πατερες). The patriarchs (Acts 3:13; Acts 7:32).

Verse 5

Of whom (εξ ων). Fourth relative clause and here with εξ and the ablative.

Christ (ο Χριστος). The Messiah.

As concerning the flesh (το κατα σαρκα). Accusative of general reference, "as to the according to the flesh." Paul limits the descent of Jesus from the Jews to his human side as he did in Romans 1:3.

Who is over all, God blessed for ever (ο ον επ παντων θεος ευλογητος). A clear statement of the deity of Christ following the remark about his humanity. This is the natural and the obvious way of punctuating the sentence. To make a full stop after σαρκα (or colon) and start a new sentence for the doxology is very abrupt and awkward. See Acts 20:28; Titus 2:13 for Paul's use of θεος applied to Jesus Christ.

Verse 6

But it is not as though (ουχ οιον δε οτ). Supply εστιν after ουχ: "But it is not such as that," an old idiom, here alone in N.T.

Hath come to nought (εκπεπτωκεν). Perfect active indicative of εκπιπτω, old verb, to fall out.

For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel (ου γαρ παντες ο εξ Ισραηλ ουτο Ισραηλ). "For not all those out of Israel (the literal Jewish nation), these are Israel (the spiritual Israel)." This startling paradox is not a new idea with Paul. He had already shown (Galatians 3:7-9) that those of faith are the true sons of Abraham. He has amplified that idea also in Romans 9:4. So he is not making a clever dodge here to escape a difficulty. He now shows how this was the original purpose of God to include only those who believed.

Seed of Abraham (σπερμα Αβρααμ). Physical descent here, but spiritual seed by promise in verse Romans 9:8. He quotes Genesis 21:12.

Verse 8

The children of the promise (τα τεκνα της επαγγελιας). Not through Ishmael, but through Isaac. Only the children of the promise are "children of God" (τεκνα του θεου) in the full sense. He is not speaking of Christians here, but simply showing that the privileges of the Jews were not due to their physical descent from Abraham. Cf. Luke 3:8.

Verse 9

A word of promise (επαγγελιας ο λογος ουτος). Literally, "this word is one of promise." Paul combines Genesis 18:10; Genesis 18:14 from the LXX.

Verse 10

Having conceived of one (εξ ενος κοιτην εχουσα). By metonomy with cause for the effect we have this peculiar idiom (κοιτη being bed, marriage bed), "having a marriage bed from one" husband. One father and twins.

Verse 11

The children being not yet born (μηπω γεννηθεντων). Genitive absolute with first aorist passive participle of γενναω, to beget, to be born, though no word for children nor even the pronoun αυτων (they).

Neither having done anything good or bad (μηδε πραξαντων τ αγαθον η φαυλον). Genitive absolute again with first active participle of πρασσω. On φαυλον, see 2 Corinthians 5:10.

The purpose of God (η προθεσις του θεου). See Romans 8:28 for προθεσις.

According to election (κατ' εκλογην). Old word from εκλεγω, to select, to choose out. See 1 Thessalonians 1:4. Here it is the purpose (προθεσις) of God which has worked according to the principles of election.

Not of works (ουκ εξ εργων). Not of merit.

Verse 12

But of him that calleth (αλλ' εκ του καλουντος). Present active articular participle of καλεω in the ablative case after εκ. The source of the selection is God himself. Paul quotes Genesis 25:33 (LXX).

Verse 13

Paul quotes Malachi 1:2.

But Esau I hated (τον δε Εσαυ εμισησα). This language sounds a bit harsh to us. It is possible that the word μισεω did not always carry the full force of what we mean by "hate." See Matthew 6:24 where these very verbs (μισεω and αγαπαω) are contrasted. So also in Luke 14:26 about "hating" (μισεω) one's father and mother if coming between one and Christ. So in John 12:25 about "hating" one's life. There is no doubt about God's preference for Jacob and rejection of Esau, but in spite of Sanday and Headlam one hesitates to read into these words here the intense hatred that has always existed between the descendants of Jacob and of Esau.

Verse 14

Is there unrighteousness with God? (μη αδικια παρα τω θεωι?). Paul goes right to the heart of the problem. Μη expects a negative answer. "Beside" (παρα) God there can be no injustice to Esau or to any one because of election.

Verse 15

For he says to Moses (τω Μωυσε γαρ λεγε). He has an Old Testament illustration of God's election in the case of Pharaoh (Exodus 33:19).

On whom I have mercy (ον αν ελεω). Indefinite relative with αν and the present active subjunctive of ελεαω, late verb only here and Jude 1:23 in N.T. "On whomsoever I have mercy." The same construction in ον αν οικτειρω, "on whomsoever I have compassion."

Verse 16

So then (αρα ουν). In view of this quotation.

It is not of (ου). We must supply εστιν ελεος with ου. "Mercy is not of." The articular participles (του θελοντοσ, του τρεχοντοσ, του ελεωντος) can be understood as in the genitive with ελεος understood (mercy is not a quality of) or as the predicate ablative of source like επιλυσεως in 2 Peter 1:20. Paul is fond of the metaphor of running.

Verse 17

To Pharaoh (τω Φαραω). There is a national election as seen in verses Romans 9:7-13, but here Paul deals with the election of individuals. He "lays down the principle that God's grace does not necessarily depend upon anything but God's will" (Sanday and Headlam). He quotes Exodus 9:16.

Might be published (διαγγελη). Second aorist passive subjunctive of διαγγελλω.

Verse 18

He hardeneth (σκληρυνε). Pharaoh hardened his own heart also (Exodus 8:15; Exodus 8:32; Exodus 9:34), but God gives men up also (Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28). This late word is used by the Greek physicians Galen and Hippocrates. See on Acts 19:9. Only here in Paul.

Verse 19

Why doth he still find fault? (τ ετ μεμφεται?). Old verb, to blame. In N.T. only here and Hebrews 8:8. Paul's imaginary objector picks up the admission that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. "Still" (ετ) argues for a change of condition since that is true.

Withstandeth his will (τω βουληματ αυτου ανθεστηκεν). Perfect active indicative of ανθιστημ, old verb, maintains a stand (the perfect tense). Many have attempted to resist God's will (βουλημα, deliberate purpose, in N.T. only here and Acts 27:43; 1 Peter 4:3). Elsewhere θελημα (Matthew 6:10).

Verse 20

Nay, but, O man, who art thou? (Ο ανθρωπε, μεν ουν γε συ τις ει?). "O man, but surely thou who art thou?" Unusual and emphatic order of the words, prolepsis of συ (thou) before τις (who) and μεν ουν γε (triple particle, μεν, indeed, ουν, therefore, γε, at least) at the beginning of clause as in Romans 10:18; Philippians 3:8 contrary to ancient idiom, but so in papyri.

That repliest (ο ανταποκρινομενος). Present middle articular participle of double compound verb ανταποκρινομα, to answer to one's face (αντι-) late and vivid combination, also in Luke 14:6, nowhere else in N.T., but in LXX.

The thing formed (το πλασμα). Old word (Plato, Aristophanes) from πλασσω, to mould, as with clay or wax, from which the aorist active participle used here (τω πλασαντ) comes. Paul quotes these words from Isaiah 29:16 verbatim. It is a familiar idea in the Old Testament, the absolute power of God as Creator like the potter's use of clay (Isaiah 44:8; Isaiah 45:8-10; Jeremiah 18:6). Μη expects a negative answer.

Why didst thou make me thus? (τ με εποιησας ουτωσ?). The original words in Isaiah dealt with the nation, but Paul applies them to individuals. This question does not raise the problem of the origin of sin for the objector does not blame God for that but why God has used us as he has, made some vessels out of the clay for this purpose, some for that. Observe "thus" (ουτως). The potter takes the clay as he finds it, but uses it as he wishes.

Verse 21

Or hath not the potter a right over the clay? (η ουκ εχε εξουσιαν ο κεραμευς του πηλου?). This question, expecting an affirmative answer, is Paul's reply to the previous one, "Why didst thou make me thus?" Πηλος, old word for clay, is mud or wet clay in John 9:6; John 9:11; John 9:14. The old word for potter (κεραμευς) in N.T. only here and Matthew 27:7; Matthew 27:10.

Lump (φυραματος). Late word from φυραω, to mix (clay, dough, etc.).

One part (ο μεν)

--another (ο δε). Regular idiom for contrast (μεν--δε) with the old demonstrative ο (this), "this vessel (σκευος, old word as in Mark 11:16) for honour, that for dishonour." Paul thus claims clearly God's sovereign right (εξουσιαν, power, right, authority, from εξεστ) to use men (already sinners) for his own purpose.

Verse 22

Willing (θελων). Concessive use of the participle, "although willing," not causal, "because willing" as is shown by "with much long-suffering" (εν πολλη μακροθυμια, in much long-suffering).

His power (το δυνατον αυτου). Neuter singular of the verbal adjective rather than the substantive δυναμιν.

Endured (ηνεγκεν). Constative second aorist active indicative of the old defective verb φερω, to bear.

Vessels of wrath (σκευη οργης). The words occur in Jeremiah 50:25 (LXX Jeremiah 27:25), but not in the sense here (objective genitive like τεκνα οργης, Ephesians 2:3, the objects of God's wrath).

Fitted (κατηρτισμενα). Perfect passive participle of καταρτιζω, old verb to equip (see Matthew 4:21; 2 Corinthians 13:11), state of readiness. Paul does not say here that God did it or that they did it. That they are responsible may be seen from 1 Thessalonians 2:15.

Unto destruction (εις απωλειαν). Endless perdition (Matthew 7:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Philippians 3:19), not annihilation.

Verse 23

Vessels of mercy (σκευη ελεους). Objective genitive like σκευη οργης.

Afore prepared (προητοιμασεν). First aorist active indicative of προετοιμαζω, old verb to make ready (from ετοιμος, ready) and προ, before, in N.T. only here and Ephesians 2:10. But same idea in Romans 8:28-30.

Verse 24

But also from the Gentiles (αλλα κα εξ εθνων). Paul had already alluded to this fact in Romans 9:6 (cf. Galatians 3:7-9). Now he proceeds to prove it from the Old Testament.

Verse 25

In Hosea (εν τω Hωσηε). He quotes Romans 2:23 with some freedom. Hosea refers to the ten tribes and Paul applies the principle stated there to the Gentiles. Hosea had a son named Lo-ammi = ου λαος. So here ο ου λαος μου "the not people of mine." Ου with substantives obliterates the meaning of the substantive, an idiom seen in Thucydides and other Greek writers. See also Romans 10:19; 1 Peter 2:10.

Which was not beloved (την ουκ ηγαπημενην). The LXX rendering of Lo-ruhamah (not mercy, without mercy or love), name of Hosea's daughter. The use of ουκ with the perfect passive participle is emphatic, since μη is the usual negative of the participle in the Koine.

Verse 26

Ye are not my people (ου λαος μου υμεις). Quotation from Hosea 1:10 (LXX Hosea 2:1).

There (εκε). Palestine in the original, but Paul applies it to scattered Jews and Gentiles everywhere.

Verse 27

Isaiah (Εσαιας). Shortened quotation from Isaiah 10:22 (LXX).

It is the remnant that shall be saved (το υπολειμμα σωθησετα). First future passive of σωζω. Literally, "the remnant will be saved." Late word from υπολειπω, to leave behind (Romans 11:3), here only in N.T. Textus Receptus has καταλειμμα, but Aleph A B have υπολειμμα. Isaiah cries in anguish over the outlook for Israel, but sees hope for the remnant.

Verse 28

Finishing it and cutting it short (συντελων κα συντεμνων). Present active participles and note συν- with each (perfective use of the preposition, finishing completely as in Luke 4:13, cutting off completely or abridging and here only in N.T.) The quotation is from Isaiah 28:22.

Verse 29

Hath said before (προειρηκεν). Perfect active indicative of προειπον (defective verb). Stands on record in Isaiah 1:9.

Had left (εγκατελιπεν). Second aorist active indicative of old verb εγκαταλειπω, to leave behind. Condition of second class, determined as unfulfilled, with αν εγενηθημεν and αν ωμοιωθημεν as the conclusions (both first aorist passives of γινομα and ομοιοω, common verbs).

A seed (σπερμα). The remnant of verse Romans 9:27.

Verse 30

Attained (κατελαβεν). Second aorist active indicative of καταλαμβανω, old verb, to grasp, to seize, to overtake (carrying out the figure in διωκω (to pursue). It was a curious paradox.

Which is of faith (την εκ πιστεως). As Paul has repeatedly shown, the only way to get the God-kind of righteousness.

Verse 31

Did not arrive at that law (εις νομον ουκ εφθασεν). First aorist active indicative of φθανω, old verb to anticipate (1 Thessalonians 4:15), now just to arrive as here and 2 Corinthians 10:14. The word "that" is not in the Greek. Legal righteousness Israel failed to reach, because to do that one had to keep perfectly all the law.

Verse 32

We must supply the omitted verb εδιωξα (pursued) from verse Romans 9:31. That explains the rest.

They stumbled at the stone of stumbling (προσεκοψαν τω λιθω του προσκομματος). The quotation is from Isaiah 8:14. Προσκοπτω means to cut (κοπτω) against (προς) as in Matthew 4:6; John 11:9. The Jews found Christ a σκανδαλον (1 Corinthians 1:23).

Verse 33

Paul repeats the phrase just used in the whole quotation from Isaiah 8:14 with the same idea in "a rock of offence" (πετραν σκανδαλου, "a rock of snare," a rock which the Jews made a cause of stumbling). The rest of the verse is quoted from Isaiah 28:16. However, the Hebrew means "shall not make haste" rather than "shall not be put to shame." In 1 Peter 2:8 we have the same use of these Scriptures about Christ. Either Peter had read Romans or both Paul and Peter had a copy of Christian Testimonia like Cyprian's later.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 9". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/romans-9.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.