Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Romans 9


Romans 9:1-6


“From the first, Paul had been writing with his Jewish kindred in mind.  He had declared his gospel to be ‘the power of God unto the Jew first, and also to the Greek’(1:16).  He had demonstrated how much the Jew needed the righteousness, which the gospel revealed.  He had shown, from the Jewish Scriptures, the way of righteousness by faith.  He had answered the various objections, which a Jew might make to a righteousness that was ‘apart from the Law’.  It was absolutely necessary, then, that Paul should deal with the historic and pathetic situation in which the Jews, as a nation, were rejecting the righteousness which God had provided” [1] “It was of the essence of Paul's argument that the gospel which he (and his fellow-apostles) preached was no innovation.  It was attested in the Hebrew Scriptures; it was the fulfillment of God's promise to the fathers; it proclaimed that God's way of righteousness through faith, by which Abraham had been blessed, was still open to all who believed in God as Abraham did.  How came it, then, that it was pre-eminently Abraham's descendants who refused to believe the gospel?  Surely, had Paul's claims been valid, the Jewish people would have been the first to acknowledge them?  Such objections were no doubt voiced, and Paul could appreciate their force, although he was well aware of the fallacy, which they involved.  Yet it was a paradox, not to say a scandal, that the very nation which had been specially prepared by God for this time of fulfillment, the nation which could glory in so many unique privileges of divine grace (including above all the messianic hope), the nation into which in due course the Messiah had been born, should have failed to recognize Him when He came, while men and women of other nations which had never enjoyed such privileges embraced the gospel eagerly the first time they heard it. How could this be harmonized with God's choice of Israel and His declared purpose of blessing the world through Israel?” [2]




The Calvinistic Doctrine of Predestination argues: "By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God by which he determined with Himself whatever He wished to happen with regard to every man.  All are not created on equal terms, but are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death." [3] "God, by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was His pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was His pleasure to doom to destruction..those whom He dooms to destruction are excluded from access to life by a just and blameless but at the same time incomprehensible judgment." [4] Thank God that the above isn't true!  These three chapters (9,10,11) teach anything but predestination.  Free will and the consequences of one's free will are found throughout (9:32; 10:2-4,9-12,13, 16-21; 11:20-23,32). "His own precious Son said (John 5:40 'Ye will not come to me that ye may have life'; Matthew 23:37 'How often would I have gathered your children..and ye would not...'; Matthew 11:28 'Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest'.)  Was He playing word-games?  If His Father had eternally consigned these people (irrespective of their longings and choosing) to eternal death and torment, the Christ was only tantalizing the damned when He offered them life! There is a Man who protests such horrific doctrine as Calvinistic reprobation, the man is Jesus Christ." [5]




We see Paul's sorrow for his in people in 9:1-3, the Blessings and Privileges of the Jew in 9:4-5, that physical ancestry was never the sole basis for obtaining God's promises in 9:6-13, God’s right to condemn or bless is clearly stated in 9:14-23, How God deals with those that responded to God's Mercy in 9:24-29, and Jewish rejection of Mercy in 9:30-33.




Romans 9:1 “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit”


“I say the truth in Christ”:  “I am telling the truth” (NASV).  “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” (Robertson p. 380).  “In the Holy Spirit”:  A conscience not left to itself; but informed and enlightened by the Spirit of God (Alford p. 918). "Paul insists that he is a lover of his people.  He must not be thought a renegade whose dissatisfaction with his heritage had driven him to defamation of his people.  He lives with the pain of watching his people, in bulk, wander outside of their Messiah when they could so easily be enjoying what God had promised them." [6] Being the Apostle to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:7), caused many of Jewish background to view Paul as a traitor to his people (Acts 22:22).


Romans 9:2 “that I have great sorrow and unceasing pain in my heart”


“Great sorrow”:  Some derive “great sorrow” from the root 'ed eat', as indicating consuming pain (Vincent p. 99), and old word for consuming grief (Robertson p. 380).  Paul was a man that was honest with life.  He allowed himself to really see and experience the harsh realities of life (God's own people on the road to damnation), and yet he also experienced true joy(Philippians 4:4).   He did not seek to protect himself or insulate himself from life.  The person who has a relationship with Jesus Christ, doesn't have to pretend about anything.  Such a person can face life head-on, and it will not destroy their attitude about life, people, or the future.


Romans 9:3 “For I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren's sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh”


“I could wish”: “I was on the point of wishing” (Robertson p. 380).  “So strongly did he feel for his people that he had found himself (at times) in the past, and even yet, musing with himself and saying..'if such were possible, I would buy the salvation of this nation at the price of my own salvation”  (McGuiggan p. 283/Lenski p. 583). “ Were Paul to act from his intense love for his Jewish brethren alone, it would prompt him to give up Christ himself, if thereby he could save them.  But there are other considerations that would hinder his acting on these..” (Lipscomb p. 165).   "Anathema": “accursed” (NASV), (Gal. 1:8,9; 1 Cor. 16:22).”'Set apart to destruction and so separated from Christ” (Vincent p. 100). “But there is in him the heart of a Moses who felt so strongly about the Israelites that he wished to be cut off (Exodus 32:30-32).  There is in him the heart of the Christ who radically longed for the salvation of his people to the point of laying down his life for them” [7]”The Christian Church would never lack converts if all its members or even its ministers felt for their friends and fellow countrymen the deep concern expressed by the apostle Paul for his kinsmen the Jews” (Erdman p. 111).


Romans 9:4 “who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service {of God}, and the promises”


“Israelites”: A name of distinction, “Israel goes back to Jacob whose name God changed to "Israel" (Genesis 32:28) ("Contender with God") in honor of his prevailing faith which would not let God go until God had blessed him” (Lenski p. 584).“Adoption”: God chose this nation as a people for His own possession (Exo. 4:22-23; 19:5ff; Amos 3:2; Deut. 14:1-2). “And the glory”: The visible, luminous appearance of the Divine Presence was called by the Israelites the glory of Jehovah, or, in rabbinical phrase, the Shekinah (Exo. 24:16; 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11) (Vincent p. 100).  “And the covenants”: The covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the covenant made at Sinai, the covenant made with the ancestors of Aaron (priests), the covenant made with David, and so on (Ex. 29:9; Deut. 29/30; Josh. 24:25; 2 Samuel 7:12-17). “Giving of the law”: “Had there ever been an incident like Sinai in the history of the world?  What a moment!  What a demonstration!  What a privilege!(McGuiggan p. 284).   Deut. 4:7-8 “ Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law...?” 4:32-33 “Has anything been done like this great thing..has ANY PEOPLE heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire...and survived?”  “And the service of God”:  The whole sacrificial and priestly system (Heb. 9:1).  “And the promises”:  These are the collective messianic promises (Vincent p. 101).


Romans 9:5 “whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen”


“Fathers”:  The three pre-eminent fathers were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exo. 3:6,13,15; 4:5).  “The greatness of its ancestry (not to mention the heroes of Hebrews 11) ennobled Israel, and made its position in Paul's time harder to understand and to endure.  Who could think without the keenest pain of the sons of such fathers forfeiting everything for which the fathers had been called?” [8] “And of whom is Christ”:  The crowning glory.

“As concerning the flesh”: On His human side. “There are those who say Paul didn't bother identifying the earthly Christ; that he was only interested in the "Christ of faith".  That view won't account for this text or a dozen others..Here is the pinnacle of all the privileges enumerated.  God chose to enter the world through the Jewish line!” [9] “Who is over all”: He may be the Jewish Messiah but He has been given authority over all the nations (Psalm 2; Isa. 11; Matthew 28:18; Eph. 1:21-22). “God blessed forever”:  Many feel that this last phrase applies to Jesus.  “The Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever”, i.e. Christ is God”(Vincent p. 101).  “Christ, an Israelite according to the flesh, is Lord of all, God blessed forever, to which we, like Paul, add an emphatic "amen" (Lenski p. 589).


Romans 9:6 “But {it is} not as though the word of God hath come to nought. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel”


"Word of God hath come to nought": “Has failed” (NASV); “It doesn't mean God failed to do what He said”(Beck).  The fact that millions of Jews (when Paul wrote) stood outside of Christ, still unblessed, would cause some to think that all the promises that God gave to Israel had failed.  “If the promises of God were really made to physical Jews by a faithful God why didn't they all have them?” (McGuiggan p. 286). “For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel”: “Not everybody that is descended from Israel really belongs to Israel” (Wms). “He is clearing up what may cause a difficulty for earnest Christians when they look at the position assigned to Israel in God's Word and yet see that Israel is lost.  They may think that the Word of God has dropped away, that the outcome with regard to Israel proves it to be unreliable, and non-dependable.  Such would be mistaken regarding Israel and regarding the Word:  regarding Israel because it does not include all the physical descendants of Abraham; regarding the Word because this is promise and itself excludes unbelief and unbelievers” [10] “What he doesn't suggest is:  “The answer to your problem will be given a few thousand years from now when God will bring the bulk of a whole generation of Jews to faith and consequently to salvation (there are those who insist that Paul proves God's faithfulness in Chapter 11 by speaking of the coming glorious conversion of a very large number of unbelieving Jews).  That would have been no answer at all.  He had a present problem; one right in front of him.  What about those unblessed Jews in Paul's day (and before?)  Did the Word of God come to nought in respect to them?  Never!  Shall we say the promises were not addressed to them?  We can't do that (9:3-5; Acts 3:25-26; 13:32).  We must insist with Paul that the real heirs are faithful physical Jews” [11]  The same is true with the rest of the world.  God offers salvation to all men (1 John 2:1-2; 1 Timothy 4:10; Mark 16:15).  But only those who manifest “faith” actually inherit the blessing. (Galatians 3:26-28).


Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017



    [1] Erdman p. 108-109

    [2] F.F. Bruce p. 183

    [3] John Calvin. Institutes. 3:21:5

    [4] Institutes. 3:21:7

    [5] McGuiggan p. 296

    [6] McGuiggan p. 283

    [7] McGuiggan p. 283

    [8] Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 657

    [9] McGuiggan p. 285

    [10] Lenski p. 590

    [11] McGuiggan p. 286