Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Romans 9 - Part 2


Romans 9:7-17


Romans 9:7 "neither, because they are Abraham's seed, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called".

Here is Paul's first proof that inheriting the promises of God, was ever based on "sole physical descent", for even the Jewish people accepted this fact. Abraham had other children (Ishmael, one physically descended from Abraham), who weren't regarded as true children of Abraham (that is, those that would inherit God's promises to Abraham). "Thy seed be called": Means "shall be acknowledged" by God really to be seed for thee (Lenski p. 592).


Romans 9:8 "That is, it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned for a seed".

"Children of the flesh": That is, Ishmael and the other children that Abraham fathered besides Isaac (Genesis 25:1-6). "It signifies that not mere bodily descent from Abraham makes one a child of God--that was never the case, not even in Abraham's time" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 659). John the Baptist taught the same thing (Matt. 3:9) and being descended from Abraham, didn't help the rich man (Luke 16:25"Abraham said, Child.."); Paul had already touched upon this subject (Romans 2:28-29; see also Galatians 3:26-28; 4:21-31). "Children of the promise": "Promise" stresses the gracious nature of the whole thing. "Reckoned for a seed": "Are regarded as descendants"(NASV); "are reckoned as his true offspring" (Mof).


Romans 9:9 "For this is a word of promise, According to this season will I come, and Sarah shall have a son".

"This is": "This is what the promise said" (Gspd), (Genesis 18:10). Indicating that the child of promise was Isaac.


Romans 9:10 "And not only so; but Rebecca also having conceived by one, {even} by our father Isaac"

"And not only so": "Nor is that all" (TCNT). "Paul had said plenty already but there was more to come. Suppose it were possible to get around the Ishmael rejection by claiming he was illegitimate, what of the two sons of Isaac? The same two issues are raised again; fleshly connection isn't the whole issue.." "By one, even by our father Isaac": Through one father. "So the Jewish objectors can't claim illegitimacy here. God chose between two people from the very same family" (McGuiggan p. 289).


Romans 9:11 "for {the children} being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth",


"Being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad": "Nor is the Jew able to claim that Esau was rejected because of his profanity in selling his birthright for the choice was made by God before the children were even born" (McGuiggan p. 290). Point to Note: Some people start thinking predestination when they read this section and what follows. Paul's point isn't to teach that God predestinates people to heaven or hell. But rather: The receiving of God's promises, even in the past, WAS NEVER SOLELY BASED ON PHYSICAL TIES. A true physical descendent of Abraham was excluded from the "promised line" (i.e. Esau). But this doesn't mean that Esau (or Ishmael) couldn't please God. God also excluded Melchizedek from the promised line, (that is, God chose the descendants of Abraham to be His people rather than the offspring of Melchizedek) and yet Melchizedek still found favor with God). Paul is cutting out ground from underneath those that thought a relationship with God (inheriting the promises) was somehow based on physical descent or merit. "The factors being discussed (descent/merit) were the very things the Jew kept claiming as the ground of his special relationship with God. He has learned that "flesh of Abraham" is a lame argument" (McGuiggan p. 290.) "According to election might stand": "In order to carry out God's purpose of selection, which depends not on what men do (merit) but on His calling them" (Gspd). "Stand": Abide, continue, remain unchanged. The unchangeableness of purpose was conveyed in His declaration to Rebecca, "The older shall serve the younger"(9:12). "Not of works": Clearly, from what we know about Jacob, Jacob didn't "merit/deserve" his being selected by God. In all of this remember: Receiving the promises of God has never been based solely on physical descent or merit. But that doesn't mean that all of God's promises are unconditional. Receiving the promised salvation is: (Romans 1:16; 9:30,32; 10:4,9-10; Mark 16:16).


Romans 9:12 "it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger" (Genesis 25:23). Romans 9:13 "Even as it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Malachi 1:2)

We are making a grave mistake if we take this section of Scripture as teaching that God predestined Esau to be a God-hated, eternally dammed man, without any choice of his own. The word "hate" of Malachi 1:2, is to "love less" (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26). God had demonstrated greater love for Jacob's descendants in the sense of allowing them to remain a people, and to be allowed to come back and dwell in their homeland (such would not be the case of Esau's descendants). Even though both nations had merited destruction. To apply these verses to the eternal salvation to two individuals doesn't fit the context. For one thing, "the elder shall serve the younger", refers to the status of their descendants (the nations that would issue from Jacob and Esau, 1 Chron. 18:12-13). This wasn't true concerning the individuals Jacob and Esau. Actually, Jacob was more of a servant of Esau (Genesis 32-33). "For as individuals Jacob came nearer serving Esau" (Whiteside p. 200). "It is worthy of note that after Esau has been rejected as the chosen vessel to bring forth the Messiah and so have the place of honor before God, he is blessed by faith by Isaac (Heb. 11:20). So whatever the rejection means we must not make Esau into a God-hated, eternally damned man. What we say of Esau, we must say of all his descendants: And whatever we say of the choice of Jacob we must say of all his descendants" Right here, reading Calvinistic Predestination into these verses contradicts Paul's whole point. For in selecting Jacob, many of Jacob's descendants still ended up lost! (The very problem being dealt with in this chapter(9:1,31/10:1-3)! "It is rather odd that this chapter should be used to prove salvation by election when, so far as it bears on election at all, it is wholly an effort to justify God in casting off an elect people (Jews that refused to believe) and choosing an non-elect people (believing Gentiles)" God excluded various individuals from the covenant of promise (i.e. Ishmael, Esau, Melchizedek), but not from salvation! Paul said that Gentiles had been excluded from the covenants of promise (Eph. 2:12), but that didn't mean they were automatically excluded from salvation. We know that believing Gentiles in ancient times were justified (Rahab and Ruth come to mind). Paul agreed (Romans 2:26)"'God had made a distinction between children of the same father and different mothers. He had made a distinction between children of the same father and mother. Even while they were in the womb. And it is this kind of activity by God that justifies His making the point that it wouldn't be surprising that He would make a distinction between Jew and Jew". Remember: One didn’t have to be in the Messianic line to end up saved. God has never based salvation upon physical lineage, rather, the dividing line is something over which we all have control, namely, "faith" (9:32; 1:16).

Romans 9:14 "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid".

"What shall we say then?": Five times already in this Epistle he has asked this question(3:5;4:1;6:1;7:7;8:31). Paul anticipates an objection here. The objection might be that those of a Jewish background had a difficult time accepting the fact that earning/meriting God's favor wasn't in there somewhere. They forgot that mankind isn't divided into two groups (the worthy and unworthy/the guilty and the innocent), but mankind is one group, the guilty (3:23). People earn only condemnation (6:23). "Is there unrighteousness with God?": "Does this mean God is unjust" (Beck).


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

"For he saith to Moses": "His argument rests on a double assumption; first, that God is truly represented in the Scripture, and, second, the Scripture everywhere represents Him as just, holy, and perfect". How many people try to claim that God is somehow different from the picture of Him in the Bible? "I will have mercy" (Exodus 33:19). Don't make the mistake of thinking that Paul is here saying, "God extends mercy to predestinated individuals only". Such is not the case, because the message that reveals God's mercy is sent out to all(Matthew 28:19-20). Even in the O.T., God's mercy did have some conditions (Exodus 20:6). Physical lineage is not a condition for receiving God's mercy, but obedient faith, has always been(5:1-2; 1:17).


Romans 9:16 "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy".

"It is not a question of human will or effort" (Mof), "not on human wishes or human efforts" (TCNT). Again, don't get the idea that you don't have to obey God. The stress here is that receiving God's mercy isn't dependant upon how badly you think you deserve it, or how hard you are trying to earn it. You cannot extort mercy from God! "Mercy is not extorted from God by the will of man or the performance of man" (McGuiggan p. 294). You cannot disobey your way into God's mercy (10:1-3), neither can you earn your way in, or merit/deserve your way in. An obedient faith in Christ is the only way in! (5:1-2) "All of this must have had an awful ring for the Jew who felt God was obligated to him. It must have an awful ring for the moral or religious among us today for we are prone to feel that our religiosity and moral performance merit something. I mean, it's not as though God were being kind to moral riff-raff when he is being kind to us. Right?! Hmmmm."


Romans 9:17 "For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, For this very purpose did I raise thee up, that I might show in thee my power, and that my name might be published abroad in all the earth".

"For": "Paul goes further, and explains the contrary phenomenon--that of a man who does not and cannot receive mercy" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 662). But another point may be under consideration. Pharaoh is an example of someone selected to fulfill God's purposes (9:17), just like the nation of Israel had been (9:5). But being used in God's plan, didn't mean automatic salvation or any "credit to those so used. Pharaoh could have glorified God by bowing to God's power and voluntarily letting Israel go, but he chose another route. "For this very purpose did I raise thee up": (9:16 "allowed you to remain"). "The Exodus passage seems to be saying God has been sustaining Pharaoh through six terrible plagues so as to draw the lesson out. (Moses had been asked by Pharaoh: "Who is Jehovah?" and Moses signed him up for a 10-lesson course.) God could have slain Pharaoh immediately but preferred to make the lesson a prolonged one for its teaching value". "The reference may be not merely to God's raising up Pharaoh to be king, but to His patience in preserving him alive, in spite of his disobedience". "That I might show in thee my power:: "In showing my power in dealings with thee" (TCNT). "That my name might be published abroad"(Ex. 15:14ff; Joshua 2:10; 9:9; 1 Sam. 4:8), "for the effect produced on other nations by the news of the Exodus and attendant events" (Bruce p. 194)Pharaoh didn't have to resist God's will. Even wicked, rebellious, and head-strong people can change when confronted with God (Ezek. 18:21-23; Jonah 3:4-10; 1 Timothy 1:13-16; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). God's will could have been worked out in two ways. Pharaoh could have submitted to God, and everyone would have heard that the great king of Egypt even bows before the God of Israel (God is glorified, His name is published), or, Pharaoh could foolishly resist, and God could destroy Egypt to the point that Pharaoh would be forced to let Israel go (God is glorified). Even here, in dealing with a rebellious man, God demonstrates tremendous mercy and forbearance. God allows this man to survive through ten plagues, to give him the opportunity to repent (Romans 2:4-5; Exodus 10:3.)



Romans 9:18 So then he hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will be hardeneth.


God chose the message of salvation (it's conditions and contents). Mercy will be extended to those that exercise obedient faith in Christ (Mark 16:16); all that can't handle that, or don't like it, will be 'hardened'.


And how does God harden? It is the result of God deliberately forcing a person to choose..(God gave Pharaoh a command that Pharaoh didn't like (but Pharaoh could of obeyed it, he was able but unwilling), God kept pressing the issue, and Pharaoh kept refusing. The Bible points out that Pharaoh 'hardened his own heart' (8:15,32; 9:34), it reminds us that Pharaoh was a willing contributor to his stubbornness. "It is well within God's right to demand obedience of ANY MAN. It is God's right to demand obedience of any man even if he knows that that man will not obey . It is never unjust of God to demand obedience of one of his subjects.'


But someone might say, 'But why did God pick on "this" particular Pharaoh?' (1) Being 'picked on' can result in my salvation. God 'picked on' the people of Nineveh, they repented! (Jonah 3). God 'picked on Saul', and he became a Christian! (Acts 9) (2) In the final analysis, God picks on everyone in one degree or another (God picked on you when someone confronted you with the truth and challenged your former view of life). The question isn't, 'It's not fair that God picked on me', but rather, 'How am I going to respond to the commandments of my Creator?' (Matthew 28:19-20)


In fact, we might also add, that a number of times, what seemed to make Pharaoh more stubborn, was when God showed Pharaoh some mercy. (Ex. 8:28; 9:27; 10:24; 8:15 'but when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart..'). Some people grow more stubborn when it seems that God is slow in exercising his wrath.

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