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Bible Commentaries
Romans 9

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

1-2 Romans 9:1-2. See the comments at Act 24:16 for the meaning of conscience. Witness in the Holy Ghost means his conscience had the testimony of the Holy Ghost (or Spirit), recorded in the scripture. The great heaviness refers to his great concern.

Verse 3

9:3 Romans 9:3. Paul had said so much in criticism of his Jewish brethren that some might think it was prompted by a personal grudge against them. To offset such an impression, he refers to evidences of the past that showed his personal love for them. I could wish is all from EUCHOMAI. The Englishman's Greek New Testament translates it, "I was wishing," thus putting it in the past tense as it should be. It is just another expression in Paul's effort to show his Jewish kinsmen how devoted he had been to their interests. (See the comments on the preceding paragraph, also the passage in Act 26:9-10.) Accursed means to be separated from Christ--having nothing to do with him except to oppose him as shown in the passage cited in Acts.

Verse 4

9:4 Romans 9:4. This is virtually the same as chapter 3:1, 2.

Verse 5

9:5 Romans 9:5. Whose are the fathers means the Israelites descended from the fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Christ came from them as regards his fleshly ancestry.

Verse 6

9:6 Romans 9:6. Word . . . taken none effect is explained at chapter 3:3. Not all Israel . . . of Israel. There are two Israels being considered, the fleshly and the spiritual.

Verse 7

9:7 Romans 9:7. Not all of Abraham's descendants were children or in the line coming down to Christ; only those who descended from Abraham through Isaac.

Verse 8

9:8 Romans 9:8. Flesh and promise refers to Ishmael and Isaac. The regular law of fleshly reproduction was all that was necessary to produce Ishmael (Gen 16:1-3). But Sarah was barren and a ,miracle was needed to produce Isaac, which God promised to do for her.

Verse 9

9:9 Romans 9:9. At this time. God worked a miracle to enable Sarah to conceive, then let nature go through the usual time of expectancy for the forming of the child.

Verse 10

:10 Romans 9:10. We learned at chapter 3:9-18 that God did not choose any particular nation because of its personal goodness, for all were corrupt as nations. His choice, then, was solely because He so willed it, as he certainly had the right to do. Paul is making the same argument in several verses, beginning with our present one.

Verse 11

:11 Romans 9:11. As an illustration of God's practice of making official selections regardless of personal merit, Paul cites the case of the twin brothers where God made the choice before they were born and before they could have done anything, good or evil.

Verse 12

:12 Romans 9:12. Elder and younger are changed to "greater" and "lesser" in the margin. That is proper, for while Esau was elder in the order of their births and thus of greater age, yet God decreed that he and his descendants should give place to Jacob in His plans.

Verse 13

:13 Romans 9:13. The original word for hated is defined by Thayer in this place, "to love less," hence it does not mean a feeling against Esau as if He detested him.

Verse 14

:14 Romans 9:14. Since no personal injury was done to Esau by this choice, there was no unrighteousness on the part of God in making this official selection.

Verse 15

:15 Romans 9:15. The mercy and compassion of this verse does not refer to the personal treatment of the individuals, but to selecting them for national or official purposes.

Verse 16

:16 Romans 9:16. The selection is not left to the person to do his own choosing, since it was not for personal advantage, but to God whose will is supreme.

Verse 17

:17 Romans 9:17. In some cases the selection did result in the personal welfare or fate of the one selected, and then God selected one who was already fitted by character for the place. Pharaoh was brought to the throne of Egypt by the Lord at the right time to go through the humiliating experiences related in Exodus, but he was a wicked character to begin with (Exo 1:8), so the experience did him no injustice.

Verse 18

:18 Romans 9:18. Verses 15 and 17 should be considered with this one.

Verse 19

-20 Romans 9:19-20. To criticize God for using his divine right of choice would be like a vessel complaining against the one who formed it. It would be similar to the foolish argument about deliberately sinning in chapter 6:1, 15.

Verse 21

:21 Romans 9:21. A potter is the one to decide what kind of vessel is to be made out of a lump of clay. The facts that determine it are such as the case of Pharaoh.

Verse 22

-23 Romans 9:22-23. A potter might delay his decision about a vessel, when an onlooker would think it very clear as to which vessel deserved to be retained and which discarded. Yet he would not know the mind of the potter, neither would it be his affair.

Verse 24

:24 Romans 9:24. The apparent unwise action of the potter in the preceding paragraph refers to the Jews and Gentiles. Each of these nations thought the other should have been discarded as an undesirable vessel. (See the comments at chapter 3:9-12.)

Verse 25

-26 Romans 9:25-26. Osee means Hosea, and it is a prediction that the Gentiles were to become God's people, even though the Jews thought them unworthy of it.

Verse 27

:27 Romans 9:27. Esaias is Isaiah, whose prophecy was concerning the Jews also. But this prediction was not so complimentary for this nation, although it was the vessel at first selected by the Potter. Notwithstanding its number was as the sand of the sea, a remnant only was to be salvaged because of unbelief of the majority.

Verse 28

:28 Romans 9:28. The first application of this verse as well as the preceding one, is that only a remnant of the Jewish nation was to return from the Babylonian captivity. The context of the passage cited in Isa 10:22-23 shows clearly that such is the meaning. Then later the nation was reduced still more by the wars with the Romans.

Verse 29

:29 Romans 9:29. Lord of Sabaoth means Lord of hosts. Left us a seed applies to the remnant of verse 27, and to the "elect" for whose sake the days of the siege of Jerusalem were to be shortened according to Mat 24:22. The reference to Sodoma and Go-morrha is to show how complete the destruction of Israel would have been had it not been for the mercy of God.

Verse 30

-31 Romans 9:30-31. Followed not after righteousness. The Gentiles were not under the law of Moses and did not profess to follow the life of righteousness. The Gentiles were not under the law of Moses and did not profess to follow the life of righteousness that it prescribed. Yet when the righteousness set forth by faith (the Gospel) was offered to them, they were more ready to accept it than was Israel. (Chapter 8:4 and Act 13:42 Act 13:46.)

Verse 32

:32 Romans 9:32. Paul explains that the failure of the Jews came because they did not seek to attain to righteousness by faith (the Gospel). Instead, while professing to accept the preaching of the apostles, they insisted on clinging to the merits of the works of the law. The apostle gives an additional explanation of their failure which is in the fact that they stumbled at that stumbling-stone.

Verse 33

:33 Romans 9:33. The stumbling of the people of Israel had been predicted, and Paul cites it which is in Isa 8:14 Isa 28:16. It is also in Psa 118:22 and 1Pe 2:6-8. The Jews' prejudice against Christ caused them to reject His system or righteousness.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Romans 9". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/romans-9.html. 1952.
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