Romans 9

 

Romans 9:1-4
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost [holy spirit],

That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Until now who has Paul been addressing in the book of Romans? We need to be clear on this because here we have a change of address. Think back to chapter 1.

Romans 1:7
To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Who Paul has been addressing since chapter 1 has not changed through chapter 8. However, here in chapter 9 we have a change.

Romans 9:3,4
For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Paul is now addressing the brethren who were his kinsmen according to the flesh who were Israelites. We must keep in mind that in those home churches not everyone was born again. When new people come to our home churches for the most part they will not be born again. It is impossible for anyone to be born again unless they believe that God raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and it is impossible for anyone to believe that unless they are first taught it. In the home churches back then there was a mix of disciples, new believers who were born again but who didn't know very much, Gentiles who were not yet born again, and Judeans who were not yet born again. Here in chapter 9 he is now specifically addressing the Judeans, the Israelites who were going to the home churches but who were not yet born again. In our day and time these might be Roman Catholics, Prostestants, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jews, Agnostics, you know, religious nuts who have no clue what truth is.

Romans 9:5-8
Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

These verses require an in depth knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures to fully understand. However, I will summarise what Paul is saying and then you can go and do some reading and studying for yourself. God made a promise to Abraham back in Genesis.

Genesis 13:15,16
For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.

And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.

Genesis 15:3-5
And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.

And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

A few years later Abraham became a little impatient while waiting for the promise to come to pass and tried to force the issue by marrying his wife's Egyptian handmaid and having a son with her. Unfortunately, things don't quite work out as planned when we do things our way and walk by our senses, which is often referred to in the bible as walking by the flesh.

Genesis 16:3,4
And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.

This son of Hagar was called Ishmael and he was the father of the Ishmaelites, who were basically the founding fathers of the Muslim religion. That's what happens when men try to do God's job for him. However, we can understand Abraham's impatience because he was 86 years old when he had Ishmael and God's promise still hadn't come to pass. God's promises don't come to pass because we twist his arm or try to do his job for him, we have to believe that he will bring his promises to pass. We have to be patient and believe. Abraham was 100 years old before he had a son by Sarah.

Genesis 21:1-7
And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.

For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.

And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.

And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.

And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.

And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.

And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.

This is what Paul is referring to here in Romans 9 when he talks about children of the flesh and children of the promise. Ishmael was born by Abraham trying to work things out his way, so his children are these children of the flesh, while Isaac was born by believing that God would bring his promise to pass.

Romans 9:7-9
Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.

The children of the flesh were the children of Ishmael, those who were born because Abraham walked by his senses when he tried to work out God's promise for him. Walking by the senses is not walking by the spirit, it is walking by the flesh. Jesus Christ was of the tribe of Judah who was a descendent of Isaac. We are here because of God's promise to Abraham, not because he married his wife's handmaid to try and do God's job for him. We are not children of the flesh, we are children of God by promise.

Of course, the Judeans going to the home churches in Paul's time would have known all this as they would have had an excellent education in the Old Testament scriptures. Paul is speaking to them on their level, as one of them. He isn't ridiculing them, or telling them they are stupid, or looking down his nose at them, or shaking his head at them, or being impatient with them, he is speaking from his heart to try to help them.

Romans 9:10-14
And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

You can also read Genesis and catch up with the story of Isaac, Rebecca and their two sons Esau and Jacob, but I'll summarise it here as it's important to understanding what Paul is saying.

Rebecca had been pregnant with twins, Esau who was the firstborn and Jacob. Esau being the firstborn should have been of the lineage of the promised seed Jesus Christ. However, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob. Later, Jacob disguised himself as Esau when his father was dying and also stole his inheritance. At first glance this may seem a bit harsh and even criminal, but Esau had married unbelieving women who were not of the correct lineage for a Messiah. God therefore had no choice but to help Jacob to acquire the birthright and the blessing to keep the Christ line intact otherwise there never would have been a messiah and we wouldn't be here.

Romans 9:15-18
For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Although God is no respector of persons, sometimes he has to make hard choices. His will is to have mercy on everyone, but sometimes that just is not possible because of the choices men make.

1 Timothy 2:4
Who [God] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

In addition, always keep your eye on the idiom of permission. God didn't force Esau to marry unbelieving women, that was Esau's choice. Once Esau had made his choices, then God had no choice but to work with Rebecca and Jacob to take his birthright and blessing away from him. Do you think that makes God evil? God forbid! Listen to how Paul deals with this.

Romans 9:19-22
Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

What if God, willing to shew [expose] his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

God isn't unrighteous, quite the contrary, look at what he has had to put up with since the fall of man back in Genesis. He didn't throw up his arms in disgust, he has worked tirelessly for thousands of years to help us out of the mess WE made. Look at what he has gone through, look at what he has endured for thousands of years since the fall of man so he could help us. God has forgiven us for what we did, he isn't mad at us, we have peace with God. Instead of waggling our tongues at God and pointing fingers at him, we should be thankful for what he has gone through for us.

Romans 9:23
And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

Everything God has done for us has been for our glory.

Romans 9:24-26
Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews [Judeans] only, but also of the Gentiles?

As he saith also in Osee [Hosea], I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.

And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

I should have been dead in 1977. I was an autistic drunk, stoned most of the time, had been in court over twenty times, been in jail, and was violent, a completely worthless piece of shit. Yet God loved me enough to send his son Jesus Christ to die for the likes of me. At times I have great difficulty wrapping my head around this. Yet, here I am, a child of the living God. What did I do to deserve it? Nothing. What did I do to get it? I believed, that's all, and here I am, a child of God with eternal life. This isn't about us, it's about what God accomplished for us in Christ Jesus.

Romans 9:27-29
Esaias [Isaiah] also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:

For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.

Had it not been for God preserving the Christ line through all those centuries, which was what he was doing with Esau and Jacob, we would not be here. The devil went to extraordinary lengths to kill off the Christ line to try to prevent the messiah from being born. What do you think the flood of Noah's time was all about?

Revelation 12:15-17
And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

There have been many other instances where the Christ line was attacked to try to cut it off before Christ could be born. The parting of the Red Sea so Israel could escape from Egypt is one example. Pharoah had commanded his people to kill all the newborn male Israeli babies. God had to get his people out of there so the Christ line wouldn't be drowned in the Nile! As another example, let's not forget Herod murdering all the young children in Bethlehem to try to kill Jesus Christ after he had been born. I tell you, getting to this place today in earth's history where we could believe to be children of the living God has not been an easy road for our father. He has had to make some hard choices. He didn't want to kill all those Egyptians at the Red Sea, he was protecting his people. He gave Pharoah ten TEN opportunites to let his people go. The Egyptians left him no choice. I'm getting a bit emotional here, let's move on.

Romans 9:30-33
What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith [believing].

But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith [believing], but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

The Gentiles were the unbelieving nations of the world, and they cared nothing about the bible or about living the Old Testament law of righteousness, yet God made the righteousness which comes by believing available to them. Israel, however, who did attempt to follow the law of righteousness never achieved it, they stumbled over it and fell. Now, because of what God has done for us and because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us, anyone on earth, Judean or Gentile can believe to receive the righteousness of God and have eternal life as a child of the living God. Those of us who choose to believe will never be ashamed.


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