Romans Chapters 9-11 Study 1
Romans Chapter 9
(Vss. 1-3) “I am speaking the truth in the Messiah—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
One of the things that caused Paul anguish was the stubborn unbelief of his brothers and sisters according to the flesh in their Passover Lamb the Jesus the anointed Messiah of Israel. He carried Israel on his heart as the Lord Jesus had done at the cross when He prayed “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Paul knew that the curse of the law hung heavy upon Israel because of their rejection of the salvation God had provided for them in the Lord Jesus. Added to this was the curse they had pronounced on themselves and their children at the trial of the Lord Jesus before Pilate. (Matthew 27:25)
Like the Lord Jesus the apostle Paul loved his fellow Jews so much that he wished he could be cut off from God in their place, something that the Lord Jesus had experienced at the cross when He cried out; “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me.” Even today Israel are God’s people but still under the curse of the Law. (Deuteronomy 28:15-68) That curse was broken at the cross when the Lord Jesus became a curse for them by hanging on that cross. (Galatians 3:13) When any Jewish man or women repents of their unbelief in the Lord Jesus as their personal saviour from sin and as their Messiah and make Him their Lord the curse over their life is broken. Having said this does not mean that they cease to be Jewish. Yes they are Christians through faith in the Lord Jesus their Messiah but do not lose their unique identity as Israelites. Through the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit they come to understand what it really means to be a true Jew. (Romans 2:28-29)
(Vss.4-5) “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”
The Gentile Church owes a great spiritual debt to Israel. God did not start the Body of the Messiah with Gentiles but with Jews (Israelites). The first Church was Jewish. The whole of the Bible is a Jewish book and should be studied and understood as such. The Lord Jesus was Jewish. The New Covenant ratified in the blood of the Lord Jesus was made with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah and not with the Church. (Jeremiah 31:31) As we will see believing Gentiles are grafted into Israel and partake of the richness and blessings of the olive Tree. (Israel) God’s gifts and calling are irrevocable. He does not go back on His covenants ever! What He has called Israel to become that they will be in the Millennial Kingdom. If Israel did not exist, neither would the Church!
(Vss.6-8) “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.”
Abraham was both a Gentile and a Jew. All who have the faith in God he had are Abraham’s children as he is the father of faith and of all who believe. (Romans 4:16) Ishmael was born of the flesh. It was through an act of the flesh that Hagar conceived him. He was a wild donkey of a man and a rebellious one who died fighting his brethren. (Genesis 16:12) He was not a spiritual man. Isaac was born supernaturally by the Spirit. He was the second son who was supernaturally conceived. As in the case of Jacob and Esau it was the second birth that counted. Spiritually speaking the first birth is our natural birth but the second birth is our spiritual rebirth from above. This is why the older shall serve the younger in God’s thinking. It is not the physical birth that counts but the second birth through the supernatural working of the Spirit of God that really counts. (John 3:3)
As to the Land of Israel it was bequeathed to Isaac and not to Ishmael. (Genesis 17:7-8, 17-22) So we can see that both Jew and Gentile must be born from above by the Spirit if they are to be true children of Abraham. In saying this in no way nullifies God’s promises to give to the Jewish people, the Israelites, the whole land of Israel from the Wadi of Egypt to the River Euphrates to be for them “an everlasting possession.” Those who defame Israel as usurpers and as an apartheid state and the Jewish people as illegal occupiers of the land do so in God’s face and at their own peril. Those who go against Israel go against God Himself and do despite to His covenants made with them, covenants that He intends to keep.
(Vss.9-13) “For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of Him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
God’s purpose of election concerns nations. When Jacob and Esau were struggling with each other in the womb of their mother Rebekah she asked the LORD why this was happening. We read about this in the book of Genesis. “But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is so, why then am I this way?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. The LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.”(Genesis 25:22-23) in His foreknowledge of all things the LORD foresaw that Jacob would become a spiritual man and that his brother Esau would become a man of the flesh. The struggle that had been going on between the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael would continue through Jacob and Esau. Once again we see that the second birth is what counts.
Even though Jacob had many character flaws in the end God knew that He could deal with him and bring him to really trust in Him. As for Esau from the very outset he sold his birthright to feed his fleshly appetites. By doing this he was despising his spiritual inheritance and like Esau thumbing his nose up at God if the truth be known. Even though Esau regretted and mourned for what he had done he never repented. He was remorseful but not repentant. As the author of Hebrews writes; “See to it that no one is … is godless like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected. He could find no ground for repentance, though he sought the blessing with tears.” (Hebrews 12:16-17) Later as an act of rebellion Esau married into Ishmael’s family much to the regret of Isaac and Rebekah. (Genesis 28:9) Like Ishmael Esau was a rebel. God foreknew and foresaw these things. This was before the twins were born or had made any choices.
God’s election is based on His foreknowledge. He did not love Jacob more than He did Esau because God is no respecter of persons and He is a respecter of faith. (Romans 2:11) (Hebrews 11:6) What God hated about Esau was his indifference to his birthright. The things God saw in Jacob was that he would value his birthright even though he got it through deceptive means. Understanding election in reference to nations and not individuals teaches us that God does not arbitrarily select some people for heaven and others for hell. If this was the case then a verse like John 3:16 is null and void because the Lord Jesus said “whosever will.” While all things are foreknown to God the choice is still given. This is the balance of scripture concerning election and free will.
(Vss.14-18) “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever he wills.”
Those who insist that God sovereignly chooses some to be saved and others to be lost use the illustration of Pharaoh to try to prove their point but if you look carefully at the record in Exodus it was Pharaoh who hardened his heart first and God in His foreknowledge saw this. (Exodus 3:19) God said “okay if that is the way you want to play it then I will harden your heart.” God always reserves the right to do what He wants with man but He is just and fair in whatever He does. Keeping in mind that God gives men choices we must also keep in mind that God does what He wants, when He wants and in the way He wants and asks no man’s permission. As it is written; “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” His actions are according to His sovereign will but done in conjunction with His foreknowledge. There are some God persists with until He gets them and others that God leaves alone. Once again we are not dealing with an arbitrary decision but one based on foreknowledge, divine wisdom and insight and taking into consideration the free will of man.
(Vss.19-21) “You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is moulded say to its moulder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honourable use and another for dishonourable use?”
Once again in God’s purpose of election He is dealing with nations and not individuals. When you consider Israel as a nation He wanted to have a people exclusively set apart to Himself for His exclusive use and a nation through whom He could reveal Himself to men. He chose Abraham to be the father of a nation that would be separate and distinct from all of the other nations in the world at that time. The other nations were idolaters and demon worshippers and living immoral and godless lifestyles and God wanted to have a people separated from these things. He started with Abraham whom God knew in His foreknowledge would walk with Him and teach his family to do the same. (Genesis 18:19)
Abraham was a vessel chosen by God to be a vessel for honourable use and that his descendants would also be the same way. Abraham still had to obey and he did and God accepted his faith as righteousness. The Gentile nations God had also fashioned but they were fashioned to be vessels for common use. While God loves all men and in time wanted Gentiles to become part of His family of faith whose father was Abraham, the father of faith, God made the distinction between those who have faith and those who don’t.
When you consider Romans chapter 1-2 God clearly shows that from the beginning of creation He had been clearly revealed to all men in the things He had created and that man was without excuse. While all of us are born into this world with original sin and are like lifeless and shapeless clay, God fashions the clay according to His will. Having said this, the clay must be mouldable in the potter’s hand. Depending on our ability to be moulded determines how we will turn out. This is the balance of scripture and allows for both the sovereignty of God and the free will of man.
(Vss. 22-23) “ What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory—“
God will put up with many things that people do but a time comes when He must act. One of the reasons God has not judged the world as yet is because He wants men everywhere to repent and come to Him. As the apostle Peter writes; “Beloved, do not let this one thing escape your notice: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some understand slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be dissolved in the fire, and the earth and its works will not be found.” (2 Peter 3:8-10)
There are only two kinds of people in the world, those who know God and those who don’t. We are either in one camp or the other. If we see election in light of a people group then it implies that all those who belong to that group are part of the elect company. Those of us who have been born again through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus have been brought into the company of God’s elect. Israel was elected as a nation and those who believed were part of the elect nation. While God knows those who are His by name they still have a responsibility to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus then you are part of God’s elect. In the whole Bible we find that the elect consist of all those who have been saved through faith in both Testaments.
There are those that could be saved and should be saved and God wants them to be saved and the Lord Jesus has bled and died for them to be saved but chances are they never will be saved. This was the case with the Pharisees in the time of the Lord Jesus and the apostles. It is true today for some in this world. In that sense they are vessels prepared for wrath yet the Lord holds back the ultimate judgement. Look at how the Lord Jesus treated Judas right up to the end. The Lord Jesus offered Judas the Passover cup even after he had betrayed Him. Judas was part of the elect as he, like the other apostles, had been chosen by the Lord Jesus and empowered with the Spirit but in the end stepped out of his secure position in the elect company which consisted of the other apostles and all those who had believed for salvation in the ministry of the Lord Jesus.
On the other hand the vessels prepared beforehand for glory are those whom God knows will come to believe and has chosen them on the basis of that foreknowledge He has. If this is not the case then you are left with the unbiblical doctrine of God showing favourites arbitrarily, electing some for heaven and others for hell without any choice being given. This is just not Biblical. Why would the phrase “whosoever” appear in scripture if God had already arbitrarily decided who was going to heaven and who was going to hell? To believe this would lead to the conclusion that God has contradicted Himself which He cannot do seeing He does not change!
(Vs.24-26) “…even us whom He has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed He says in Hosea, “Those who were not My people I will call ‘My people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people, ’there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”
Because of the possible schism that could possibly happen at Rome between the Jewish and Gentile believers the apostle Paul clearly emphasizes again that God’s elect consists of all those in both Testaments both believing Jews and Gentiles who are part of the elect of God. The Gentiles never had a covenant with God but the Israelites did yet a true Jew was one circumcised in heart by the Spirit (Romans 2:28-29). As we will see in chapter 11 there are two Olive Trees. One is the cultivated Olive Tree which is Israel and the other is the uncultivated and wild Olive Tree which is the pagan nations. Cultivated branches (unbelieving Jews) are broken off from their own cultivated Olive Tree. The believing Gentiles, even though they are wild olive branches, have been grafted into the cultivated Olive Tree (Israel) among the natural believing branches and become partakers of the nourishment of that cultivated Olive Tree.
Having said this, the Olive Tree is still there! It has not been replaced by a Gentile Olive Tree. Added to this it is the root of the Olive Tree which nourishes the branches and causes them to bear spiritual fruit for God. That root is Jewish and it is the Lord Jesus the Messiah, the root of Jesse. All who believe then whether they are Jew or Gentile are all children of Abraham and members of the Commonwealth of Israel. (Ephesians 2:11-22) The middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile has been broken down through the Messiah. The Church has not replaced Israel. The true Body of the Messiah is Jewish at its very roots. If the root is gone so are the branches and so is the Olive Tree! So then Gentiles who believe are called sons of God and part of the Commonwealth of Israel and part of the elect of God.
(Vss. 27-28) “And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out His sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.”
God has always had a faithful remnant. In the time of Elijah the prophet when he thought he was the only one left in Israel the LORD said to his weary and dejected prophet that He had reserved 7,000 in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. God is impartial when judging sin whether it be the sin committed by Gentiles or Jews. He wrote about this in this letter to the believers in Rome. “There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil, first for the Jew, then for the Greek; but glory, honour, and peace for everyone who does good, first for the Jew, then for the Greek.” (Romans 2:9-10) God is fair in this matter. Whether it is the Gentile nations or the nation of Israel the LORD has reserved a faithful remnant in both camps that He knows in His foreknowledge will come to faith and obedience.
God always deals with people on the basis of faith and not lineage or ethnicity. He is no respecter of persons but He is a respecter of faith. (Hebrews 11:6) In the long and trouble history of Israel many Jewish people perished in every century but there was always a faithful believing remnant. It has always been the same in Christendom. In the end after the LORD has allowed Israel to pass through the Time of Jacob’s Trouble a faithful remnant will come forth as the prophet Zechariah writes; “It will come about in all the land,” Declares the Lord, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. “And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” (Zechariah 13:8-9) Also see (Jeremiah 30:1-7)
(Vss. 29) “And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.”
At the end of this age God will restore Israel spiritually. A faithful remnant will survive the last three and a half years of the Big trouble and enter into the Millennial Kingdom to co-reign with their Messiah our Lord Jesus over the Gentile nations that have survived. If God did not save a remnant then Israel would have become completely extinct as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Even though many in Israel have been spiritually cut off from their own Olive Tree because of their unbelief there were always those who stayed grafted in by faith. Israel as a nation has survived and will continue to survive and in the Millennial Kingdom there will not be one unbelieving Jew on earth. All Israel will have been saved!
(Vss. 30-33) “What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
God’s righteousness has always been bestowed by faith and not by trying to keep the Law of Moses. The Law is good and profitable but God never intended people to be saved by keeping it rather no one can and its purpose was to show us how far short all of us fall of God’s laws and commandments. It was our schoolmaster to bring us to the Lord Jesus that we might be saved by faith in Him and not by works. As it is written; “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
As Paul writes; “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;” (Romans 3:21-24) Israel as a nation for the most part sought to obtain righteousness through keeping the law but in reality could never keep it. God instituted the Mosaic sacrificial system to teach them that their ultimate salvation lay in the Passover lamb that was to come. The blood of bulls and goats could only cover the sins of the people temporarily. When the Lord Jesus was sacrificed on the altar of the cross the Mosaic sacrificial system was finished as a means to atone for sins. The way now lay open into the very throne room of God for ‘sinners’ through faith in the Lord Jesus Israel’s Messiah.
Righteousness was fully manifested in the Lord Jesus and His righteousness, sanctification, holiness and redemption was made available to both Jew and Gentile through the faith of obedience. (Romans 1:5; 16:2) (1 Corinthians 1:30-31) God made Him to be a sacrifice for our sin and to take our sin upon His shoulders that He might bestow upon us and impart to us the righteousness that belonged to the Messiah. (2 Corinthians 5:21) The Jews could not accept that God’s righteousness could be obtained by faith alone apart from keeping all of the Law which they couldn’t anyway because of their works based righteousness. The stumbling block for unbelieving Jews even today is the Lord Jesus their Messiah. The trouble is not that they do not believe in Jesus, many Jews today believe that He existed in history, but that they do not believe Moses who spoke about the Lord Jesus. If they really believed everything that Moses taught in Torah then they would clearly see that he spoke about the Lord Jesus who in Himself fulfilled all of the requirements of Mosaic Law on our behalf and on behalf of His people the Israelites and providing for them the righteousness based on faith and not on keeping the Law.
For unbelieving Jews the stumbling block to their righteousness based on works is their Messiah our Lord Jesus. He is a rock, an offense to those still in their sins and trying to put themselves into right standing with God by their own works of righteousness. For those who believe in Him alone for salvation and for the righteousness that God bestows on them through their faith they will never be put to shame. They have come to know that salvation is only found in the Lord Jesus the Messiah. Paul himself has made this discovery and he writes; “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, then to the Greek. For the gospel reveals the righteousness of God that comes by faith from start to finish, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”(Romans 1:16-17)