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Romans 9 (web)

Paul's Attitude Towards Unsaved Israel

9:1 I tell the truth in Christ. I am not lying, my conscience testifying with me in the Holy Spirit,
9:2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing pain in my heart.
9:3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brothers' sake,
my relatives according to the flesh, (Ex 32:32)
9:4 who are Israelites;

God's Choice

Children of the Promise

9:6 But it is not as though the word of God has come to nothing.
For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel.
9:7 Neither, because they are Abraham's seed, are they all children.
But, "In Isaac will your seed be called." (Gen 21:12)

9:8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God,
but the children of the promise are counted as a seed.

9:9 For this is a word of promise,
"At the appointed time I will come, and Sarah will have a son."(Gen 18:14)
9:10 Not only so, but Rebecca also conceived by one, by our father Isaac.
9:11 For 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 who calls,
9:12 it was said to her, "The elder will serve the younger."(Gen 25:23)
9:13 Even as it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." (Mal 1:2)

Objections to God's Choice

9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? May it never be!
9:15 For he said to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." (Ex 33:19)
9:16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy.
9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I caused you to be raised up, that I might show in you my power, and that my name might be published abroad in all the earth." (Ex 9:16)
9:18 So then, he has mercy on whom he desires, and he hardens whom he desires.

9:19 You will say then to me, "Why does he still find fault? For who withstands his will?"

9:20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?
Will the thing formed ask him who formed it, "Why did you make me like this?"
9:21 Or hasn't the potter a right over the clay,
from the same lump to make one part a vessel for honor, and another for dishonor?

9:22 What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known,
endured with much patience vessels of wrath made for destruction,
9:23 and that he might make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy,
which he prepared beforehand for glory,
9:24 us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles?

9:25 As he says also in Hosea, "I will call them 'my people,' which were not my people; And her 'beloved,' who was not beloved."
9:26 "It will be that in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' There they will be called 'children of the living God.'" (Hos 1:10)
9:27 Isaiah cries concerning Israel, "If the number of the children of Israel are as the sand of the sea, It is the remnant who will be saved; (Is 10:22)
9:28 For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth."
9:29 As Isaiah has said before, "Unless the Lord of Hosts {Greek: Sabaoth} had left us a seed, We would have become like Sodom, And would have been made like Gomorrah."  (Is 1:9)

The Basis for God's Choice

9:30 What shall we say then?
That the Gentiles, who didn't follow after righteousness,
attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith;
9:31 but Israel, following after a law of righteousness,
didn't arrive at the law of righteousness.
9:32 Why?
Because they didn't seek it by faith, but as it were by works of the law.
They stumbled over the stumbling stone;
9:33 even as it is written, "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and a rock of offense; And no one who believes in him will be disappointed."(Is 8:14; Is 28:16)

Discussion Questions

Are there non-Christians that you regret are unsaved in similar manner as Paul does the Jews?
Does God chose people to be saved on an individual basis, or a categorical basis, or both?
Do you reckon yourself to be a child of the promise? (xref Gal 4:28)
How does this section affect how you view the Old Testament?
Is the Old Testament now more relevant to you?
What is the basis for God's choice? (Rom 9:30-32)


Sorrow for Unbelievers

Rom 9:1-4a
I speak the truth in Christ— I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit—  I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.

Contrary to the anti-semitic attitude some who allege faith in Christ have had historically, Paul, himself being a Jew, along with Christ, shows a great deal of compassion to his fellow countrymen who remain unbelievers, despite having receive unbelievably harsh treatment from them. "Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned" 2Cor 11:24,25

In contrast is, for example, Martin Luther, an alleged pillar of the reformation who among other things writes in his book, "The Jews and their Lies", "I shall give you my sincere advice: First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn ... Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed ... Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them ... Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb ... Fifth, I advise that safe­conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews" And he goes on and on with unbelievably anti-semetic statements. I mention this because much as many Christians pledge allegiance to certain post-Biblical theologians, post-Biblical Christianity, even to the present day, has failed in many ways to reflect Biblical Christianity.

And what could be said of Jews could likewise be said of Muslims. As Christians we should experience sorrow and anguish in our hearts on their behalf, desiring all such people to be saved, despite Christians being treated with hostility by them. In fact Paul goes one step further. A step of which I doubt any Christian I know would take. If you could trade your salvation in for the salvation of those around you who have treated you with hostility, would you do it? Would you be willing to suffer eternal damnation in hell so that your enemies could go to heaven? That's what Paul is saying here.

It is important to note Paul's attitude here. For chapters 9 to 11 have historically been misread to advocate a fatalistic and  uncompassionate view towards Jews in particular and more generally towards those outside the faith, which is contrary to much of what Paul is saying in these chapters.

The Status of Judaism

Rom 9:4b-5 Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

Earlier Paul wrote,  "What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God." Rom 3:1,2 The Christian Old Testament is the Jewish Bible, which itself is quoted extensively in the New Testament. Furthermore given that "the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ" Gal 3:24 you would think that being brought up Jewish would naturally lead one to becoming a Christian. In fact, unlike Islam, one could legitimately identify oneself as both a Christian and a Jew, as was the case for many early Christians, all the apostles, including Paul who all the way to the end of the book of Acts identified himself as such saying, "I am a Jew" Acts 22:3a Unlike with other religions Jews aren't spoken of as converting to Christianity. For Christianity is in a sense the true path of Judaism, as Paul will speak on later.

Note also in verse 5 of the allusion to the deity of Christ. Though his flesh, his human nature, was descended  from David, which is part of the gospel as Paul writes, "Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel" 2Tim 2:8, yet "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." John 1:1a,1:14a Thus of Jesus it says, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands." Heb 1:10 For "Through him all things were made" John 1:3a Thus "Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything." Heb 3:3,4

The Two Israels

Rom 9:6-9 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." (Gen 21:12) In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. For this was how the promise was stated: "At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son." (Gen 18:14)

There are two senses in which the New Testament speaks of "Jews" or "Israel". Note from verse 4 that Paul speaks of Israel incorporating all Israelites, both believers and non-believers. Yet a number of places it speaks of Israel as that which incorporates only believers. "Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.  Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God." Gal 6:15-16 In which case, "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God." Rom 2:28,29

With regards to Sarah and Hagar Paul elsewhere writes, "it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.  For it is written: 'Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.' Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise." Gal 4:22-28  Unbelieving Jews are reckoned much like Ishmael, Abraham's son through the slave women Hagar. In fact Arab Muslims view themselves quite literally in that manner, and they're right. But in fact both unbelieving Jew and Muslims are in this same category. While believers, both among Jews and Gentiles, are reckoned sons of the promise as if sons of Abraham through Isaac.

Jesus said of the unbelieving Jews, "If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham." John 8:39 And recall also Paul said previously in this letter, "the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring— not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all." Rom 4:16 So it's being of the faith which counts.

Categorical Election

Rom 9:10-13 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad— in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls— she was told, "The older will serve the younger." (Gen 25:23) Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." (Mal 1:2)

This would imply that God shows partiality. But since the scriptures are clear that God does not show partiality, "For there is no partiality with God" Rom 2:11, who are these two categories alluded to as analogous to Jacob and Esau? The same of which Paul spoke of previously concerning the two sons of Abraham, namely Isaac and Ishmael. Esau was the older, representative of Judaism which was the forerunner of Christianity which represents Jacob. Just as Paul also spoke of Sarah and Hagar saying, "these things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants." Gal 4:24 These are two covenants. The "older" brother represents the Old Covenant. And the younger brother represents the New Covenant. The Old Covenant is subservient to the New. And before these covenants even came into being, God determined the outcome. God determines the requirements to be saved. In a sense God hates the Old Covenant in that he "wants all men to be saved" 1Tim 2:4a, but no one will be saved under the Old as no one lives up to its requirements.  "Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked" Eze 33:11a The Old Covenant is about God's wrath, His hatred of sin, just as the context of the quote from Malachi indicates is the case with Esau.

"Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals." Edom may say, "Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins." But this is what the LORD Almighty says: "They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the LORD." Malachi 1:2-4

Edom, by the way, was the land of Esau. And by the way, Esau married daughters of Ishamael just to spite his parents. So there's alot of connections in all these analogies.

God loves the New Covenant - God preordained that Christ would die for sins, making salvation available freely who all who would believe. "He (Christ) indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world" 1Peter 1:20a Thus seeing as God planned out the New Covenant, it could be said that Jesus was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Rev 13:8b And Jesus himself said to the Father, "You loved Me before the foundation of the world." John 17:24c, much like it says, "Jacob I loved".

God's Gracious Choice

Rom 9:14-16 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." (Ex 33:19) It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

There is no obligation on God's part concerning the exercise of grace. Else grace would not be grace. Just as generosity would not be generosity if it were an obligation. If the demands of justice are satisfied, grace does not conflict with justice, nor does the withholding of grace conflict with justice.

Having paid for sin by the blood of Christ, God's judicial nature was satisfied with regards to sin. Now God can freely dispense grace on his own terms, whatever arbitrary terms suit his pleasure. Or he could decide not to exercise grace at all. It's His choice, not ours. One is reminded somewhat of the parable of the workers in the vineyard of Matt 20:1-16 in which the master pays the workers the same amount, an amount of which they had agreed upon, for different amounts of labor. Much as some complained, the master answered, "Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?" Matt 20:13-15

And what is God's arbitrary condition upon which his grace is dispensed? Faith in Jesus Christ. Realize that the reason he's going through this, the point of these three chapters is that the unbelieving Jews took offense at the idea that salvation is granted solely to those who believe in Christ. There are many who desire and will that such not be the case. Even within Christian denominations there are those who think that children born of Christian parents are automatically members of the New Covenant, members of the Church. You find such people baptizing unbelieving infants, replacing God's choice of salvation through faith in Christ with their own desire that their children would automatically be saved just by being born of  Christian parents, eliminating faith as an essential element to be qualified to be saved under the New Covenant. Likewise there are those, even among alleged Christians, who replace faith in Christ with works, whether it be rituals, or one's compliance to regulations, or simply trying to be a good enough person to be reckoned worthy of salvation.

And there are also those who have a fatalistic view of salvation - that  no one can know what God's conditions for salvation are. But there's no mystery to it. When asked very plainly, "What I must do to be saved" Paul answered unambiguously,  "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" Acts 16:30,31 Those are the category of people God has chose to have mercy on - those who come to believe in Christ. Paul's saying, if that bothers you, tough! That was God's choice.

Whom God Hardens

Rom 9:17,18  For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." (Ex 9:16) Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

A person can't chose whom God chooses to have mercy on. Of course that doesn't mean that we have no idea whom God has chosen to mercy on. Nor does it mean that people play no part in obtaining mercy. For example if God arbitrarily said that He would have mercy on anyone would could run a 6 minute mile, it would take effort to obtain such mercy, but nonetheless no matter how much effort one made, one could not change God's mind on the subject. Thus we have no control over what category of people God has chosen to have mercy on.

But in fact we do know what category of people that is. Under the New Covenant God has mercy on those who put their faith in Christ. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son." John 3:16-18

And just as there is a category of people to whom God has chosen to have mercy, so also there are those whom God has chosen to harden their hearts. Pharoah was such a person. But if we study the subject more comprehensively we find that those whom God choses to harden are those who are proud. In fact the hardening of the heart is in cooperation with the individual. Take Pharoah for example. It says, Ex 8:15 "But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said" But "blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble." Pr 28:14  It's really pride which is the choice on our part. The Lord has ordained it such that pride results in one's heart being hardened, becoming desensitized to the things of God. Thus also, humility is the most essential of character qualities. The Lord says, "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word." Is 66:2b

A Vain Excuse

Rom 9:19-21 One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’" Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

The objection is much along the lines previously dealt with in chapter three, where one said, "If our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us?" Rom 3:5 and "If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?" Rom 3:7 Here in verse 19 the objection essentially presumes incorrectly that God holds people accountable for things over which they have no control. Is God unjust in hardening the heart of those who are persistently proud? Is God unjust in condemning the wicked? The presumption the critic makes is that he has no control over his behavior and attitude, much like today where people blame their misbehavior on the environment or other people or some uncontrollable psychological condition, anything other than taking responsibility for their own behavior.

It's interesting how Paul answers here. For he could just point out that it's their fault and not God's. There was a time when Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?" Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains." John 9:39-41 If people were in fact ignorant, blind to sin, they would not be guilty of sin. If people were like pottery, or puppets, inanimate objects having no will of their own, they would not be guilty of sin. Because we all know that to hold someone accountable for things over which they have no control is unjust.

But instead Paul argues, OK, let's say you're pottery, you're puppets, you're inanimate objects. In that case what's your problem? Pottery does not answer back its maker. That fact that you are talking back to God demonstrates that you're not mere pottery, that you have a free will, and therefore your argument doesn't hold. But if you argue that you are mere pottery, isn't it true that the potter has the right to make any kind of pottery he wishes?

A person can't really invoke arguments of injustice if their premise is that they are merely a puppet. Issues of justice don't come into play when it comes to destroying inanimate objects.

Objects of Wrath and Mercy

Rom 9:22-24 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath— prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

Who are the objects of wrath? Paul writes to the Christians in Ephesus, "Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath." Eph 2:3b At one time or another EVERYONE has been an object of God's wrath, including those elected to eternal life. But those who hear and believe the gospel have their status changed from being an object of wrath to an object of mercy. Paul continues, "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved." Eph 2:4,5 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith" Eph 2:8a

God "wants all men to be saved" 1Tim 2:4a and consequently "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2Peter 3:9 "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?" Rom 2:4

Sometimes His patience does lead to repentance, as in the case of the apostle Paul who writes, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners— of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." 1Tim 1:15,16 And other times it doesn't as in the case of Judas whom the Lord chose as an apostle and tolerated such misbehavior as his stealing from the money bag. (John 12:6)

Whether Jew or Gentile, the great patience the Lord has shown towards us who have been led to salvation will be the theme of our eternal praise to Him. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade— kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." 1Peter 1:3-5

God Chooses Gentiles

Rom 9:25,26 As he says in Hosea: "I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one," (Hos 2:23) and, "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’" (Hos 1:10)

"Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." Eph 2:11-13 "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" Eph 2:19 

This idea really upset Jews who thought it was all about being Jewish. One's ethnicity has no relevance with regards to having a righteous standing with God. Rather, all "are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" Gal 3:26 regardless of background or upbringing.

Only a Remnant

Rom 9:27-29  Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality." (Is 10:22,23) It is just as Isaiah said previously: "Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah." (Is 1:9)

Much as in the Old Testament prosperity was measured by quantity, as for example it says, "I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted." Gen 32:12 and likewise institutional Christianity has often measured its prosperity by numbers, yet one can infer a New Testament principle that popularity is not a measure of prosperity. For we see an emphasis on the value of individuals. Thus it speaks of the salvation not of the majority, but rather "at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace." Rom 11:5 And in response to the question, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" He said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Luke 13:23,24 and "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Mt 7:13,14

It's individuals that matter. And often individuals will impact the fate of the majority. In Genesis 18 Abraham, an individual, and the Lord, haggled with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. And it was revealed that God so highly valued the righteous that Sodom and Gomorrah would have been spare had there been but 10 righteous men therein. But there were not found that many. Nonetheless before obliterating the cities, he first delivered the few righteous who lived there. God highly values righteous individuals as He does His own Son. But it's written that "Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." Jude 1:7 So "he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly" 2Peter 2:6

Chosen According to Faith

Rom 9:30-33 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith;  but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone." As it is written: "See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

This is what this chapter is really all about. It's not about fatalism. It's not about the righteous being a nebuluous, vague category of people. But rather that righteousness is obtained by faith and not by works of the law, not by conformity to regulations. It's saying that God's choice is not based upon one's ethnic background nor conformity to law, but rather everyone who believes in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, is reckoned among the righteous.

Faith is the essential element often left out of discussions of the meaning of Romans 9. Yet we find the subject of faith abundantly covered in chapter 10 which is what this chapter has been leading up to. Thus earlier in Romans 9 he's simply stating the fact that God has the right to be gracious to whom he will. But he leads up to the fact that the category of people God has chosen to be gracious to are those who put their faith in Christ.

This is a stumbling block for the proud, as typified by Jewish unbelievers. For God has so orchestrated the gospel as to dissuade the proud from accepting it. Jesus came as a humble, poor man from an area despised by the proud provincial Jews. That was a stumbling block. His message was one humiliating the religious elite. That was a stumbling block to the proud Jewish religious elite, one which got him killed. His message was that of salvation by faith apart from works. That was stumbling block to those self-reliant Jews who reckoned themselves good enough to be saved on their own merits. And such a gospel was offered equally to Gentiles, which again was a stumbling block for Jews who in their pride were prejudice against non-Jews.

Consequently in preaching the gospel, don't cater to people's pride. Seems God wants the proud to be "turned off" to the message. He wants the message so construed that they stumble over their own pride. For unless one humbly receives the message, they're not coming through the door, they're coming through the window.

"Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone," and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message— which is also what they were destined for." 1Peter 2:7-8


A critique on a bit of post-Biblical theology. Just for readers to be aware, those of a Calvinistic theology, a theology largely associated with Reformed Theology, have a significantly different view of much of scripture than what I've been teaching, this chapter being an example, though many a so-called "Calvinist" today doesn't accept every aspect of Calvinism.

Calvinistic Misconception: God holds people accountable for things over which they have no control. Example: God imputes the guilt of Adam's sin to those who didn't actually commit the sin. And He imputes such guilt before they are even born, thus condemning the innocent. But they go on to reason that God's justice cannot be scrutinized as God is just by definition and not because he does or fails to do things which are inherently just by human standards. Indeed many a Calvinist I've talked with will often say, "God is not just in human terms". (Or to say it another way, "In human terms, Calvinistic theology teaches that God is not just.")

Calvinism holds a fatalistic view both of salvation and condemnation. For in both cases man's free will has no part in determining their fate. Indeed Calvinism goes so far as to deny the free will altogether, opting rather for a puppet theology. Thus under Calvinism people are condemned not because of any decision on their part, but simply because God arbitrarily wills it. And likewise with regards to salvation.

There are a number of ideas that logically follow from this. One is that God doesn't want everyone to be saved. This in contrast to 1Tim 2:4 which says that God "wants all men to be saved". In fact Calvin writes that God takes pleasure in the destruction of the unelect.  (Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 21, Section 7) In contrast God says, "I take no pleasure in the death of anyone." Eze 18:32 And this also impinges on the concept of God's love. For what is it to say that "God is love" if he holds people accountable for things over which they have not control, and takes pleasure in their eternal condemnation, while having the ability to save them? How can the Calvinist say, as the Bible says, "God so loved the world"?

According to John 1:12 faith qualifies one to be born of God. Calvinism gets that backwards claming that being born of God must precede faith. In fact Calvin tells us that faith is not a necessary requirement, but rather that salvation can be inherited by simply being born of Christian parents. Furthermore under Calvinism one has no control over one's fate, one's faith or one's behavior. People are viewed as merely puppets. There's no free will. All which is contrary to the way the Bible speaks of such things. Not likely to hear a Calvinist preach the gospel as Peter did. For With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Acts 2:40

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jul 31,2020