Section 4: God and Israel—what about Israel? Romans 9-11

Chapter 9, God’s promise and Israel

Romans 9 is about national election of Israel, not individual election to everlasting life

Summary Outline Romans 9

  1. Romans 9:1-5. At this point in Paul’s letter he voices his great sorrow about Israel. She has such a great heritage from God as his choice or elect nation to bring in redemption, yet Israel is not experiencing God’s blessings at this time because she has rejected the way of redemption which is faith in Jesus the Christ, as noted in Romans 3.3 and 9.30-33.
  2. Romans 9:6-13. Israel’s failure is not evidence that God has failed to keep His word. Israel is still God’s choice nation and in God’s plan. God has the right to select the nation Israel. Paul explains that the line of promise and redemption is through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 50:24; Exodus 33:1; Deuteronomy 6:10; Acts 7:8; many more). These three are related to God through God’s choice, God’s promise, and faith response to him.
  3. Romans 9:14-29. God cannot be accused of unfairness in selecting Israel. He has the right to choose to whom he will show mercy and to whom he will show wrath. This fact Paul then illustrates in several ways: by Moses pleading for Israel (Exodus 32-33), by Pharaoh rejecting God and God subsequently hardening him so that he let Israel leave (Exodus 7.1;5; 9.12; and others), by God molding the nation Israel for a purpose as a potter does clay (Jeremiah 18.1-12), by God calling out the church made up of Jews and Gentiles as indicated by Paul using Hosea’s words for Gentiles, “not my people” and “not beloved,” (Romans 9.24), and by having a remnant of Israel who will in the future be saved (Romans 9.27).
  4. Romans 9:30-33. Faith in God’s promises are the needed human response by all people. The Gentiles are not God’s appointed redemptive people, but they believed God and attained righteousness while Israel tried to get righteousness by works instead of by faith. They stumbled over Jesus the Messiah. Though God chose Israel to be his redemptive nation, the way of individual salvation is by faith in Jesus Messiah, the stone of stumbling and rock of offense. Israel as a nation has temporarily stumbled at him and Gentiles have believed in him.
  5. Romans 9:1-5. At this point Paul voices his great sorrow about Israel. She has such a great heritage from God as his choice or elect nation to bring in redemption, yet Israel is not experiencing God’s blessings at this time because she has rejected the way of redemption which is faith in Jesus the Christ. Paul sets the stage for his argument that Israel is God’s redeemer nation and still has a purpose in God’s redemptive plan for the world.
    1. Romans 9:1. Paul is writing truth. The Holy Spirit witnesses to Paul the truth of verse two.
    2. Romans 9:2. Paul has great sorrow because those people considered to be Israel or Jewish have rejected their Messiah.
    3. Romans 9:3. He wishes to be cursed and cut off from Christ if it would help racial ethnic Israel—anyone with genes of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Genesis 12.1-3, 7, Romans 9.3, and others).
    4. Accursed means devoted to God and put to death (Lev 27.28-29). Maybe like Moses in the golden calf incident (Exodus 32.32).
    5. Romans 9:4. Physical Israel (through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) (Israelites John 1:48; 2 Cor. 11:22; Phil. 3:5) has the benefits of adoption (God adopted the Israelites as his people Exodus 4.22; Deut 14.1-2; Isaiah 1.1-2; Hosea 11.1), glory (God’s glory shown to them in the fire and the cloud (Exodus 16.10; 40.34; 1 Kings 8.10-11), covenants (those God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob Gen. 15:9–21; 17:4, 7, 10; 26:24; 28:13), Law (the legislation given to Israel at Sinai Exodus 19 and following), service (this is the religious service centered in the tabernacle and temple, Exodus 40.17-38; Leviticus; 1 Kings 8; Hebrews 9.1,6), and promises (probably those made about the coming redeemer as noted in Acts 13.32-33).
    6. Romans 9:5. The Hebrew fathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) are part of the Israelite heritage and blessing, and Christ descended from them.
  6. Romans 9:6-13. Israel’s failure is not evidence that God has failed to keep His word. Israel is still God’s choice nation and in God’s plan. God has the right to select the nation Israel. Paul explains that the line of promise and redemption is through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These three are related to God through God’s choice, God’s promise, and faith response to him.

Abraham

    1. Abraham left Ur (Genesis 11.31).
    2. Abraham left Haran (Genesis 12.1-9).
    3. Abraham goes to Egypt (Genesis 12.10).
    4. Abraham back to Canaan; Lot; Chedorlaomar (Genesis 13-14).
    5. Abraham believed God (Genesis 15.6).
    6. Abraham had eight sons Abraham X Hagar=Ishmael (Genesis 16); (Abraham X Sarah=Isaac. (Genesis 21); Abraham X Ketura=6 sons: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, Shuah (Genesis 25).
    7. Sara dies (Genesis 23).
    8. Abraham died (Genesis 25.7-8).
    9. Four seeds of Abraham
      • Natural Seed. All the physical descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 12.1-3, 7, Romans 9.3, and others).
      • Natural-Spiritual Seed. The believing physical descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob (Roman 9.6,8; Galatians 6.16).
      • Spiritual Seed. Believing non-physical descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3.6-9,29).
      • Ultimate Seed. Messiah, Jesus Christ (Galatians 3.16).
    10. Romans 9.6. Not all who physically descended from Israel (refers to Jacob whose name was changed to Israel in Genesis 32.28, or Israelite heritage) are saved Israel.
    11. Romans 9.7-9. Not all of Abraham’s descendants are in the redemptive line, only those through Isaac. God chose to work through Isaac. God promised Abraham that Sarah will have a son, Isaac, who is the line of promise. See Genesis 18 for the promise of Isaac. There are three kinds people in Romans 9: anyone with Abraham’s genes; those with Abraham’s genes but in the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (ethnic or racial Israel); and those in the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who believe God (saved Israel).
      1. Were Ishmael and Esau OT believers. It seems so. Hebrews 11 list with favor people who had failures of faith which failures are not mentioned e.g. Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Moses. In Heb 12:16-17 Esau is mentioned as a warning to believers against spiritual failure. The context is people running the spiritual race (Hebrews 12:1-3), failure and discipline Hebrews (12:4-11), correction of weakness (Hebrews 12:12-13), pursue peace and do not come short of the glory of God (Hebrews 12:14-15), and then Esau is an example of failure. I think a good argument can be made that Esau was a believer. Therefore another evidence that Romans 9 is not about individual justification, but about God choosing his redemptive nation and he has the right to do so. (Gordon Olson, in his book, also thinks that Ishmael was a believer). Genesis 21:12-13, Isaac is the promised line, yet Ishmael will be a great nation. God did bless Ishmael (Genesis 16.10-12; 21.12-22).
    12. Romans 9:10. Isaac, forefather of Israel, and his wife Rebekah had twins, Jacob and Esau. Genesis 24-25 the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. The birth of Jacob and Esau is recorded in Genesis 25.19-26. The boys will be the patriarchs of two nations.
    13. Romans 9:11. See Genesis 18.1-20, the prediction about Isaac. God announced to Rebekah before the twins were even born or had done anything good or bad so that God’s purpose and free choice in electing the one and rejecting the other remains God’s choice.
    14. Romans 9:12. God told Rebekah that the elder boy, Esau, will end up serving the younger, Jacob, (Genesis 25:22-23).
    15. Romans 9:13. And Paul refers back to Yahweh’s oracle to Israel through Malachi (Malachi 1:1-3) that Yahweh loved Jacob, Israel, and hated Esau. The names refer the nations descended from Jacob and Esau. Figures for favor or disfavor in the redemptive plan. The text indicates that the choice is about the separation of nations, not unconditional election. God is not unjust. He can set the rule. God chose Jacob for the linage. Furthermore, we have indication that Jacob valued the birthright and Esau did not. This may indicate faith, though weak faith.
  1. Romans 9:14-29. God cannot be accused of unfairness in selecting Israel. He has the right to choose to whom he will show mercy and to whom he will show wrath. This fact Paul then illustrates in several ways: by 1. Moses pleading for Israel, by 2. Pharaoh rejecting God and God hardening him, by 3. Israel being molded as clay by God as potter, by 4. God calling out the church made up of Jews and Gentiles as indicated by Paul using Hosea’s words for Gentiles, “not my people” and “not beloved,” and by having a remnant of Israel who will in the future be saved.
    1. Romans 9:14. Paul now answers objections to God choosing Israel to be his redemptive people. He illustrates with four examples.
    2. Romans 9:15. Moses. This is the golden calf incident. God wanted to destroy the people and start again with Moses. Moses appealed to God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The subject of the incident is continuing God’s people whom he brought out of Egypt (Exodus 32). God, in mercy, relented (Exodus 32.9-14). Moses then requested to know God’s ways, presence, and glory of the LORD. The LORD agreed to this because Moses had “found favor in my sight and I have known you by name” (Exodus 33.12-23). This section is about mercy and compassion on Moses and the nation Israel. There is nothing here about individual election.
    3. Romans 9:16. God is free from man’s control and shows mercy on whom He wills. God is free to show mercy on whomever he will. God’s mercy in Exodus went to Moses who believed God.
    4. Romans 9:17. Pharaoh. God raised Pharaoh up and kept him alive to demonstrate His power and spread God’s fame. The issue was to deliver Israel from Egypt and to demonstrate God’s judgment on the idolatrous religion of Egypt (Exodus 7.3; 9:16). Hard heartedness does not necessarily mean that the individual has been prevented from believing the gospel or from repentance of some kind. Eternal salvation was not involved in the Pharaoh incident. The hardening by God followed Pharaoh’s own hardening of himself. God hardened Pharaoh 1. so God could do all the signs in Egypt, 2. make his name known, and 3. have Pharaoh release Israel. Joshua 2.8-14, Rahab had heard. See Pharaoh hardens his heart doctrine.
    5. Romans 9:18. God has mercy on whomever He wills and also hardens whom (Pharaoh) He wills. ??Romans 9:17-23 demonstrates that God had the right to chose Israel. (In Romans 9:24-29 God extends mercy to both Jew and Gentile. The unifying theme is that God extends mercy to those who believe him.)
    6. Romans 9:19. Paul supposes the likely remarks of an objector who complains that God is unfair in finding fault in anyone since no one can resist His will.
    7. Romans 9:20. The potter. Paul responds. See Jeremiah 18 for the incident. Paul refers to the potter incident. Paul in a pottery analogy brings out the absurdity of his complaint: “Why have you made me like this?” by telling him that the thing molded cannot tell the molder what He did wrong.
    8. Romans 9:21. A potter can make from clay a vessel for honorable use and another for common use; the choice is entirely his own.
    9. Romans 9:22-23. Paul concludes. On the one hand God endured “vessels of wrath” prepared (katartizw, pf pass ind) for destruction to make his wrath and power known. Destruction is physical, not hell (9.22). On the other hand God made known the riches of his glory on “vessels of mercy” prepared (proetoimazw a.act. ind. get ready beforehand) for glory. Israel, the nation, and “us” are prepared for God’s glory. The church is also for God’s glory (See Romans 9:24 and Romans 8.28-33).
    10. Romans 9:24. The church. God extends His mercy to Jews and Gentiles. The glory is ahead. God has been working to get us ready for it.
    11. Romans 9:25-26. Paul applied Hosea 2:23 (Israel) and Hosea 1:10 (Israel) to show that Gentiles will also be vessels of mercy, called God’s people, beloved, and sons of God. Explain Inspired Sensus Plenior Application.
    12. Romans 9:27. The remnant of Israel. Paul applied Isaiah 10:20-23 to affirm that a remnant of Israel will be saved.
    13. Romans 9:28. Paul applied Isaiah 10:23 to show that the Lord will keep his word about judgment on those who reject Messiah.
    14. Romans 9:29. Paul applied Isaiah 1:9 to show that God will preserve the Hebrew remnant.
    15. Romans 9:30-33. Faith in God’s promises are the needed human response by all people. The Gentiles are not God’s appointed redemptive people, but they believed God and attained righteousness while Israel tried to get righteousness by works instead of by faith. They stumbled over Jesus the Messiah. Though God chose Israel to be his redemptive nation, the way of individual salvation is by faith in Jesus Messiah, the stone of stumbling and rock of offense. Israel as a nation has temporarily stumbled at him and Gentiles have believed in him. People who believe God’s promise are given God’s righteousness (Romans 9:30-33).
    16. Romans 9:30. The Gentiles did not work for righteousness but got the righteousness which is by faith.
    17. Romans 9:31. Israel tried but did not get righteousness from the law.
    18. Romans 9:32. Israel tried to get righteousness by works not faith and so failed.
    19. Romans 9:33. Paul applies Isaiah 28:16 to show Israel will stumble over the Messiah stone, yet some will believe him and they will be protected.
  2. Select doctrines from Romans 9.
    1. Israel (Romans 9:3,4,5,6,7,8,24,27,31).
    2. Israel’s blessings and responsibilities (Romans 9:4,5).
    3. Promise line (Romans 9:7,8,9,10,11,12,13).
    4. Faith (Romans 9:32).
    5. God’s attributes. God is sovereign (Romans 9:15,16,17,18,21,22,23).
    6. God’s choice of those who believe his promise (Romans 9:7,8,9,10, 11,13,15,16,17,18,22,23,24,25,26, 27,30,31,32,25, 26,27,30,31,32,33).
    7. Mercy (Romans 9:15,16,18).
    8. Pharaoh (Romans 9:17)
    9. Vessels of wrath (Romans 9:22).
    10. Vessels of mercy (Romans 9:23).

Notes and Questions.

  1. God is sovereign. He gives mercy and wrath to whom he chooses. Mercy to those who believe him. Wrath to those who reject him.
  2. Paul’s argument is that God has the right to appoint Israel, the corporate group, as a special people and to give Israel privileges and responsibilities that go with that appointment.
  3. Notice that Gentiles are not brought up until Romans 9:24.
  4. When does attaining righteousness first come up in this chapter? Not until Romans 9:30.
  5. Individual election to salvation or to judgment is not in this chapter.