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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Romans 9



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Verse 1

In Christ (εν Χριστωιen Christōi). 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 Corinthians-witness (συνμαρτυρουσηςsunmarturousēs genitive absolute as in Romans 2:15 which see) “in the Holy Spirit.”

Verse 2

Sorrow (λυπηlupē). 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 τηι καρδιαιadialeiptos odunē tēi kardiāi). Like angina pectoris. ΟδυνηOdunē is old word for consuming grief, in N.T. only here and and 1 Timothy 6:10.

Unceasing (αδιαλειπτοςadialeiptos). 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 (ηυχομηνēuchomēn). Idiomatic imperfect, “I was on the point of wishing.” We can see that ευχομαιeuchomai (I do wish) would be wrong to say. Αν ηυχομηνAn ēuchomēn would mean that he does not wish (conclusion of second class condition). Αν ηυχομηνAn ēuchomēn would be conclusion of fourth class condition and too remote. He is shut up to the imperfect indicative (Robertson, Grammar, p. 886).

Anathema (ανατεμαanathema). See for this word as distinct from ανατημαanathēma (offering) 1 Corinthians 12:3; Galatians 1:8.

I myself (αυτος εγωautos egō). Nominative with the infinitive ειναιeinai and agreeing with subject of ηυχομηνēuchomēn

According to the flesh (κατα σαρκαkata sarka). As distinguished from Paul‘s Christian brethren.

Verse 4

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

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

Whose (ωνhōn). Predicate genitive of the relative, used also again with οι πατερεςhoi pateres For “the adoption” (η υιοτεσιαhē huiothesia) see note on Romans 8:15.

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

The covenants (αι διατηκαιhai diathēkai). 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 νομοτεσιαhē nomothesia). Old word, here only in N.T., from νομοςnomos and τιτημιtithēmi

The service (η λατρειαhē latreia). The temple service (Hebrews 9:1, Hebrews 9:6).

The fathers (οι πατερεςhoi pateres). The patriarchs (Acts 3:13; Acts 7:32).

Verse 5

Of whom (εχ ωνex hōn). Fourth relative clause and here with εχex and the ablative.

Christ (ο Χριστοςho Christos). The Messiah.

As concerning the flesh (το κατα σαρκαto kata sarka). 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 επι παντων τεος ευλογητοςho on epi pantōn theos eulogētos). 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 σαρκαsarka (or colon) and start a new sentence for the doxology is very abrupt and awkward. See note on Acts 20:28 and note on Titus 2:13 for Paul‘s use of τεοςtheos applied to Jesus Christ.

Verse 6

But it is not as though (ουχ οιον δε οτιouch hoion de hoti). Supply εστινestin after ουχouch “But it is not such as that,” an old idiom, here alone in N.T.

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

For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel (ου γαρ παντες οι εχ Ισραηλ ουτοι Ισραηλou gar pantes hoi ex Israēl houtoi Israēl). “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 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 Αβρααμsperma Abraam). Physical descent here, but spiritual seed by promise in Romans 9:8. He quotes Genesis 21:12.

Verse 8

The children of the promise (τα τεκνα της επαγγελιαςta tekna tēs epaggelias). Not through Ishmael, but through Isaac. Only the children of the promise are “children of God” (τεκνα του τεουtekna tou theou) 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 ουτοςepaggelias ho logos houtos). Literally, “this word is one of promise.” Paul combines Genesis 18:10,14 from the lxx.

Verse 10

Having conceived of one (εχ ενος κοιτην εχουσαex henos koitēn echousa). By metonymy with cause for the effect we have this peculiar idiom (κοιτηkoitē being bed, marriage bed), “having a marriage bed from one” husband. One father and twins.

Verse 11

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

Neither having done anything good or bad (μηδε πραχαντων τι αγατον η παυλονmēde praxantōn ti agathon ē phaulon). Genitive absolute again with first active participle of πρασσωprassō On παυλονphaulon see note on 2 Corinthians 5:10.

The purpose of God (η προτεσις του τεουhē prothesis tou theou). See note on Romans 8:28 for προτεσιςprothesis

According to election (κατ εκλογηνkat' eklogēn). Old word from εκλεγωeklegō to select, to choose out. See note on 1 Thessalonians 1:4. Here it is the purpose (προτεσιςprothesis) of God which has worked according to the principles of election.

Not of works (ουκ εχ εργωνouk ex ergōn). Not of merit.

Verse 12

But of him that calleth (αλλ εκ του καλουντοςall' ek tou kalountos). Present active articular participle of καλεωkaleō in the ablative case after εκek 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 εμισησαton de Esau emisēsa). This language sounds a bit harsh to us. It is possible that the word μισεωmiseō did not always carry the full force of what we mean by “hate.” See Matthew 6:24 where these very verbs (μισεωmiseō and αγαπαωagapaō) are contrasted. So also in Luke 14:26 about “hating” (μισεωmiseō) 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 τωι τεωιmē adikia para tōi theōi̇). Paul goes right to the heart of the problem. ΜηMē expects a negative answer. “Beside” (παραpara) God there can be no injustice to Esau or to any one because of election.

Verse 15

For he says to Moses (τωι Μωυσει γαρ λεγειtōi Mōusei gar legei). 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 ελεωhon an eleō). Indefinite relative with ανan and the present active subjunctive of ελεαωeleaō late verb only here and Judges 1:23 in N.T. “On whomsoever I have mercy.” The same construction in ον αν οικτειρωhon an oikteirō “on whomsoever I have compassion.”

Verse 16

So then (αρα ουνara oun). In view of this quotation.

It is not of (ουou). We must supply εστιν ελεοςestin eleos with ουou “Mercy is not of.” The articular participles (του τελοντοσ του τρεχοντοσ του ελεωντοςtou thelontosελεοςtou trechontosclass="normal greek">επιλυσεως tou eleōntos) can be understood as in the genitive with eleos understood (mercy is not a quality of) or as the predicate ablative of source like epiluseōs in 2 Peter 1:20. Paul is fond of the metaphor of running.

Verse 17

To Pharaoh (τωι Παραωtōi Pharaō). There is a national election as seen in 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 (διαγγεληιdiaggelēi). Second aorist passive subjunctive of διαγγελλωdiaggellō f0).

Verse 18

He hardeneth (σκληρυνειsklērunei). 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 note on Acts 19:9. Only here in Paul.

Verse 19

Why doth he still find fault? (τι ετι μεμπεταιti eti memphetai̇). 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” (ετιeti) argues for a change of condition since that is true.

Withstandeth his will (τωι βουληματι αυτου αντεστηκενtōi boulēmati autou anthestēken). Perfect active indicative of αντιστημιanthistēmi old verb, maintains a stand (the perfect tense). Many have attempted to resist God‘s will (βουλημαboulēma deliberate purpose, in N.T. only here and Acts 27:43; 1 Peter 4:3). Elsewhere τελημαthelēma (Matthew 6:10).

Verse 20

Nay, but, O man, who art thou? (Ο αντρωπε μεν ουν γε συ τις ειO anthrōpeσυmen oun ge su tis ei̇). “O man, but surely thou who art thou?” Unusual and emphatic order of the words, prolepsis of τιςsu (thou) before μεν ουν γεtis (who) and μενmen oun ge (triple particle, ουνmen indeed, γεoun therefore, ο ανταποκρινομενοςge at least) at the beginning of clause as in Romans 10:18; Philemon 3:8 contrary to ancient idiom, but so in papyri.

That repliest (ανταποκρινομαιho antapokrinomenos). Present middle articular participle of double compound verb αντιantapokrinomai to answer to one‘s face (το πλασμαanti̇) late and vivid combination, also in Luke 14:6, nowhere else in N.T., but in lxx.

The thing formed (πλασσωto plasma). Old word (Plato, Aristophanes) from τωι πλασαντιplassō to mould, as with clay or wax, from which the aorist active participle used here (Μηtōi plasanti) 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). τι με εποιησας ουτωσMē expects a negative answer.

Why didst thou make me thus? (ουτωςti me epoiēsas houtōṡ). 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” (houtōs). 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 εχει εχουσιαν ο κεραμευς του πηλουē ouk echei exousian ho kerameus tou pēlou̇). This question, expecting an affirmative answer, is Paul‘s reply to the previous one, “Why didst thou make me thus?” ΠηλοςPēlos old word for clay, is mud or wet clay in John 9:6, John 9:11, John 9:14. The old word for potter (κεραμευςkerameus) in N.T. only here and Matthew 27:7, Matthew 27:10.

Lump (πυραματοςphuramatos). Late word from πυραωphuraō to mix (clay, dough, etc.).

One part (ο μενho men) - another (ο δεho de). Regular idiom for contrast (μενδεmeṅ̇de) with the old demonstrative οho (this), “this vessel (σκευοςskeuos old word as in Mark 11:16) for honour, that for dishonour.” Paul thus claims clearly God‘s sovereign right (εχουσιανexousian power, right, authority, from εχεστιexesti) to use men (already sinners) for his own purpose.

Verse 22

Willing (τελωνthelōn). Concessive use of the participle, “although willing,” not causal, “because willing” as is shown by “with much long-suffering” (εν πολληι μακροτυμιαιen pollēi makrothumiāi in much long-suffering).

His power (το δυνατον αυτουto dunaton autou). Neuter singular of the verbal adjective rather than the substantive δυναμινdunamin

Endured (ηνεγκενēnegken). Constative second aorist active indicative of the old defective verb περωpherō to bear.

Vessels of wrath (σκευη οργηςskeuē orgēs). The words occur in Jeremiah 50:25 (lxx Jer 27:25), but not in the sense here (objective genitive like τεκνα οργηςtekna orgēs Ephesians 2:3, the objects of God‘s wrath).

Fitted (κατηρτισμεναkatērtismena). Perfect passive participle of καταρτιζωkatartizō old verb to equip (see note on Matthew 4:21 and see 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 απωλειανeis apōleian). Endless perdition (Matthew 7:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Philemon 3:19), not annihilation.

Verse 23

Vessels of mercy (σκευη ελεουςskeuē eleous). Objective genitive like σκευη οργηςskeuē orgēs

Afore prepared (προητοιμασενproētoimasen). First aorist active indicative of προετοιμαζωproetoimazō old verb to make ready (from ετοιμοςhetoimos ready) and προpro 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 και εχ ετνωνalla kai ex ethnōn). 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 τωι ωσηεen tōi Hōsēe). He quotes Hosea 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 λαοςou laos So here ο ου λαος μουho ou laos mou “the not people of mine.” ΟυOu 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 ηγαπημενηνtēn ouk ēgapēmenēn). The lxx rendering of Lo-ruhamah (not mercy, without mercy or love), name of Hosea‘s daughter. The use of ουκouk with the perfect passive participle is emphatic, since μηmē is the usual negative of the participle in the Koiné.

Verse 26

Ye are not my people (ου λαος μου υμειςou laos mou humeis). Quotation from Hosea 1:10 (lxx Hosea 2:1).

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

Verse 27

Isaiah (ΕσαιαςEsaias). Shortened quotation from Isa 10:22 (lxx).

It is the remnant that shall be saved (το υπολειμμα σωτησεταιto hupoleimma sōthēsetai). First future passive of σωζωsōzō Literally, “the remnant will be saved.” Late word from υπολειπωhupoleipō to leave behind (Romans 11:3), here only in N.T. Textus Receptus has καταλειμμαkataleimma but Aleph A B have υπολειμμαhupoleimma Isaiah cries in anguish over the outlook for Israel, but sees hope for the remnant.

Verse 28

Finishing it and cutting it short (συντελων και συντεμνωνsuntelōn kai suntemnōn). Present active participles and note συνsun - 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 (προειρηκενproeirēken). Perfect active indicative of προειπονproeipon (defective verb). Stands on record in Isaiah 1:9.

Had left (εγκατελιπενegkatelipen). Second aorist active indicative of old verb εγκαταλειπωegkataleipō to leave behind. Condition of second class, determined as unfulfilled, with αν εγενητημενan egenēthēmen and αν ωμοιωτημενan hōmoiōthēmen as the conclusions (both first aorist passives of γινομαιginomai and ομοιοωhomoioō common verbs).

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

Verse 30

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

Which is of faith (την εκ πιστεωςtēn ek pisteōs). 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 επτασενeis nomon ouk ephthasen). First aorist active indicative of πτανωphthanō 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 εδιωχαediōxa (pursued) from Romans 9:31. That explains the rest.

They stumbled at the stone of stumbling (προσεκοπσαν τωι λιτωι του προσκομματοςprosekopsan tōi lithōi tou proskommatos). The quotation is from Isaiah 8:14. ΠροσκοπτωProskoptō means to cut (κοπτωkoptō) against (προςpros) as in Matthew 4:6; John 11:9. The Jews found Christ a σκανδαλονskandalon (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 σκανδαλουpetran skandalou “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)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 9:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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Monday, October 26th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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