Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Romans 9 - Part 3


Romans 9:18-27



Romans 9:18 "So then He hath mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardeneth".


God chose the message of salvation, it's conditions and contents. Mercy will be extended to those that exercise an obedient faith in Christ (Mark 16:16); any negative reaction to this message is part of the hardening process. 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 have 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" (Exodus 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". Yet someone might say, "Why did God pick on this particular Pharaoh?' (1) Being "picked on" can result in one’s salvation! God picked on the people of Nineveh, and 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 me when someone confronted me with the truth and challenged my 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 (Exodus 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 (Romans 2:1-5).


Romans 9:19 "Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth He still find fault? For who withstandeth His will?"


"Why doth He still find fault?": This seems to be an argument that says, "If God is glorified by our disobedience, if His will is still accomplished, then how can He blame us or hold us accountable for our sins?" "Just because God is capable of working His will out of the rebellion of man, is no ground for excusing man's rebellion (Isaiah 10:5ff)"


Romans 9:20 "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why didst thou make me thus?"


"Nay but, O man": "Nay, but who are you, a mere man" (Wey). "Repliest against": Lit., to contradict in reply; to answer by contradicting, the spirit of contention (Vincent p. 106). The present tense, go on answering back to, that is, engage in quarrelling (Lenski p. 619).Skeptics constantly reason about God in this arrogant way (p. 618). "It is the reply of a wicked man who is now denying God's right to use evil for His holy ends. It is a wicked man saying (in essence) that God has no right to make use of him (or his wickedness) withoutcrediting him with doing God's will. It is as if he were saying: "God has no right to use me and then punish me since I carried out His purposes. I mustn't be used this way. I have rights’". Note: This isn't talking about predestinating someone to eternal damnation, regardless of our own choices. That would be something to protest!


Romans 9:21 "Or hath not the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?"


"As clay belongs to the potter so people belong to God. And God has a right to work with men as he sees fit" (McGuiggan p. 297). Note this illustration is from Jeremiah 18:1-12. This text clearly doesn't teach predestination, but rather free-will and choice (18:7-11). "The potter takes the clay as he finds it, but uses it as he wishes" (Robertson p. 384).


Romans 9:22 "What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction:"


"Willing to show his wrath": That is, against sin, God isn't indifferent to sin (Romans 1:18). "Endured with much longsuffering":"Bore most patiently with" (TCNT); "has tolerated most patiently" (Mof). "But how can anyone accuse God of injustice in view of the way He actually has dealt with men? He had been patient and long-suffering toward His impenitent people, Israel" "Vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction": "Ready, ripe for judgment" (Vincent p. 107). "Perfected, made quite fit or ripe (2 Tim. 3:17)" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 664).

Other Scriptures reveal that one ends up ripe for judgment, through their own foolish and selfish choices, and then only compounds such by refusing to repent (Romans 2:4-5; Ephesians 2:1-3; 1 Thess. 2:15-16; 2 Timothy 2:19-22). Such was the case with Pharaoh, and such was to be the case for the unbelieving Jews (1 Thess. 2:15-16; Matthew 23:32-39). "It might occur to the protesting Jew to make the point that God's longsuffering with the Jew proves God is still (and has always been) in favor with the Jew Paul is excluding. But God’s longsuffering is designed to lead us to repentance (2:4f; 2 Peter 3:9), and if that doesn't follow it only serves to highlight the justness of the wrath. What a disgusting thing it would be to say: ‘Isn't God wonderful for enduring those He eternally predestined to damnation’ (i.e. vessels of wrath fitted for destruction?!)"


Romans 9:23 "and that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He afore prepared unto glory"


"Afore prepared unto glory": No predestination or unconditional salvation here. Glory is only for those that endure (8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12-13). "Prepared": When I accept the gospel call (9:24); I become a vessel upon which God exercises mercy. God planned that He would save man "in Christ" (Ephesians 1:4), and when I choose Christ, I get to share this "before prepared" glory. "That He might": "And He did so in order that He might" (NASV). Thank God for His patience! Thank God that God didn't wipe the often rebellious Jewish nation off the face of the earth, for through them came the Messiah, 9:5). God's patience with self-made ungrateful and evil men, enabled Christ to come, die, and rise again, so that this wonderful message could be preached to all. All of this section reveals a great truth about all the judgments in the O.T., (the flood, the various times that the Israelites were punished (1 Cor. 10:5-11), the judgments that came upon heathen nations, all these judgments that skeptics and unbelievers complain about (i.e., "The God of the O.T. was cruel", etc..) were judgments tempered with mercy! Man deserved much more severity! Yea, 23,000 Israelites fell in one day (1 Cor. 10:8), but due to the mercy of God, many others that deserved a like fate, didn't!


Romans 9:24 "{even} us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles?"


"Even us" Christians are people that have experienced God's mercy. "Whom He also called": Through the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14); a call sent to all (Mark 16:15). But only those that accept this call become "vessels of mercy" (Matthew 22:14; Acts 2:38,41).


"Not from the Jews only": Since salvation isn't based on physical ancestry, Jews as well as Gentiles could be called.


Romans 9:25-26 "As He saith also in Hosea, I will call that My people, which was not My people; And her beloved, that was not beloved". And it shall be, {that} in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not My people, There shall they be called sons of the living God".


Paul quotes from Hosea 2:23 and 1:10: Here is proof from the very Scriptures that the Jewish people possessed which had said, a "not My people", would become "sons of God". This is a great passage against predestination. For if God has from eternity already selected and known the specific individuals that He wanted saved, then the "sons of God", have never been a "no people". See also 1 Peter 2:9-10; Ephesians 2:12-13, that is, predestinated people never would have been in a no hope condition. Some commentators argue that these verses in Hosea actually applied to the Jews. The Jews of the northern kingdom had forfeited their status as the people of God by their ungodliness. Paul's argument here is that the O.T., even taught that the Jews were in need of mercy too! "The ten tribes, by their lapse into idolatry had put themselves upon the same footing with the Gentiles" (Vincent p. 109). Paul agreed with such in principle inRomans 2:25. I think the above view has some merit when considering the following points: 1. Paul didn't have to prove that Gentiles needed mercy, every one conceded that point. 2. The real issue with which Paul is dealing, is the point that not every descendant of Abraham is a real Jew (9:6). The verses in 9:25-29 certainly prove this point. Isaiah taught that only a remnant of the vast Jewish nation would actually be saved (9:27).


Romans 9:27 "And Isaiah crieth concerning Israel, If the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that shall be saved"


"Crieth": "An impassioned utterance" (Vincent p. 109). "Isaiah cries in anguish over the outlook of Israel, but sees hope for the remnant"(Robertson p. 385). "Remnant": A remainder, that is, a few. That claim that not every Jew is a true Jew, is supported by the O.T. prophets. Salvation belonged to objects of mercy called out of the Jewish nation, as well as Gentile nations. "The Jews wished to know how Paul can dare limit salvation to a remnant of Israel since the whole of Israel was elected and he (in essence) says: ‘This isn't my story! This is Hosea's and Isaiah's! The general election (selecting) of Israel as a nation didn't guarantee them a saving relationship with God back in Isaiah's day"



Romans 9:28 for the Lord will execute {his} word upon the earth, finishing it and cutting it short.


'finishing it and cutting it short'- (Isaiah 10:22-23), 'thoroughly and quickly' (NASV); Bringing that to an issue, winding up (Lenski p. 631) 'Because of their unbelief, God would cut off his people, exercising sharp and decisive sentence upon them.' (Erdman p. 120). The remnant would be saved, the unbelievers punished. In Isaiah's day Israel would be punished by the Assyrians. In like manner, the good and honest hearts in Judaism had come to Christ (Acts 6:7) (a remnant), the rest would face judgement in A.D. 70. God moved quickly.


Romans 9:29 And, as Isaiah hath said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, We had become as Sodom, and had been made like unto Gomorrah.


'as Isaiah'-Isaiah 1:9


'Sabaoth'-4519. sabaoth {sab-ah-owth'}; of Hebrew origin [6635 in feminine plural]; armies; sabaoth (i.e. tsebaoth), a military epithet of God: -sabaoth. i.e. the Lord of the heavenly hosts. The commander in chief of the armies of heaven that no human power can stand against successfully.


'a Seed'-i.e. the remnant in verse 27. This verse proves that the vast majority in the Jewish nation, was never true to God. For Isaiah says, that without this remnant of the faithful, God would of wiped us out long ago. We would have become a 'second' Sodom and Gomorrah (i.e. cities wiped off the face of the earth, absolutely nothing left of them). For want of 10 righteous people (Genesis 18:32), these cities were doomed.


Romans 9:30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, who followed not after righteousness, attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith:


'followed not after'-people who hadn't made righteousness their chief concern in life (in the past).(Isaiah 65:1 'I permitted myself to be sought by those who did not ask for me'). The contrast here is on a national scale, as a whole Israel had always been a religious nation. The Gentiles 'on a whole', had been people which had little to do with such spiritual pursuits. And yet such people who seemed to be so unconcerned about 'righteousness', flocked to it when it was introduced to them. (Acts 13:48; 17:12; 18:6-8)



Romans 9:31 but Israel, following after a law of righteousness, did not arrive at {that} law.


'law of righteousness'-'seeking justification by law' (Nor); 'righteousness which is based on law' (RSV); 'a Law that could give righteousness' (Wey). Here the mentality of the Jewish nation is stressed. Many Jews were looking for a Law, the keeping of which would bring a right standing with God.


'did not arrive at that law'-since no one can keep the law perfectly (3:23); they failed to achieve a law-based right standing with God. Not that law isn't important, but rather, the Jew wanted to 'base' his acceptance with God on the merits of his law-keeping ability. And all such efforts have failed. The Jewish nation forgot about 'trust, faith'. As one writer said, 'Paul will go on to show that the only reason Israel didn't attain to what they were looking for was because THEY REFUSED TO ACCEPT THEMSELVES AS OBJECTS OF MERCY' (i.e. objects needing God's mercy, and hence the need for faith) (McGuiggan p. 302)


Romans 9:32 Wherefore? Because {they sought it} not by faith, but as it were by works. They stumbled at the stone of stumbling;


'Wherefore?'-'Why was this' (Knox)


'Because they sought it not by faith'-'Because their efforts were not based on faith' (NEB)


Their whole religious attitude was that they thought they could put God under obligation to save them by means of their moral performance, what they did, and who they were related to. Throughout the O.T. with find the Jewish nation demonstrating this attitude. They wanted to 'trust' in Assyria or Egypt, in their own ingenuity, foreign militarism, alliances, tribute to other nations and the gods of other nations. The one object of trust that they couldn't seem to allow themselves to believe in, was God. Do we ever demonstrate the same type of failure to trust in God? Do we find ourselves thinking, 'God is nice for Sunday morning, but when I am in trouble, in "real life", God isn't very useful. In those times, one must be realistic and rely on other things.'


'They stumbled at the stone of stumbling'-i.e. Jesus Christ (Matthew 21:42-45; Acts 4:10-11; 1 Peter 2:6-8).


Romans 9:33 even as it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence: And he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame.


'as it is written'-Isaiah 28:16


This failure to trust God, had manifested itself in the rejection of the Son of God. 'When Jehovah manifested himself in Christ the spirit of the Jew was no different. (Acts 7:51-52) To save themselves, the Jews made a covenant with death (Acts 2:23; John 11:47-50) and used Roman power in an attempt to gain their ends.'


'I lay..a stone'-as God had been the only true foundation for His people in the O.T., Jesus Christ would be the only true foundation for those in the N.T.


'A rock of offence'-this verse is interesting. Reading it carefully you find that the verse is saying, 'The only people that God "offends" are those that can't bring themselves to trust in Him, i.e. people that refuse to see themselves as needing His mercy!'-WOW AND OUCH!


'shall not be put to shame'-Jesus has never failed those who put their trust in Him! But everyone else, will be ashamed of what they 'trusted' in. (Matthew 7:24ff)


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