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BIBLE STUDY on the book of Romans
God’s Sovereignty - Romans 9:1-24
We now have come to the second major division of this epistle. Romans chapters 1 - 8 is doctrinal. Romans chapters 9 - 11 is dispensational. Romans chapters 12 - 16 is duty. The first eight chapters of Romans emphasize faith. Chapters 9 - 11 emphasize hope. Chapters 12 - 16 emphasize love. Another way to put it: the first section deals with salvation; the second section with segregation; and the last section with service.
Chapter 9 has to do with God's past dealings with Israel. In chapter 10 we will see God's present dealings with Israel and, in chapter 11, God's future dealings with Israel as a nation. God's reason for dealing with the nation in the past did not come from their exceptional qualities or superior efforts. Quite the opposite, all of God's actions are found in His own sovereign will. He works through mercy in His dealings with Israel and all other nations . . . and with you and me.
Chapter 12 can follow chapters 1-8 easily. So it may seem that chapters 9-11 are an interruption. But they should not interrupt our thought. Paul had explained the Gospel in chapters 1-8. Now he discusses why his own people, the Jews, did not accept the salvation of the Gospel. Paul may have wanted to explain the situation in Rome, for there were now many Gentile Christians in Rome. Jewish and Gentile Christians may have had wrong ideas about each other’s importance to God. Paul needed to write about this.
Israel Defined . . . Romans 9:1-5
Romans 9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, (KJV)
Because we are “in Christ” and in the Presence of Christ, we should speak with truthfulness at all times. We should bring the Truth (Gospel of Christ) to people around us, just as Paul did. It is a command, "Ge ye therefore!" (Mat.28:19-20).
Romans 9:2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. (KJV)
Do you, like Paul, have a heart filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for unbelievers around you? Do you do anything about it? Please consider this!
Romans 9:3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: (KJV)
Paul showed deep concern for his Jewish “brothers” by saying that he would willingly take their punishment in Hell, if that could save them. Only Christ can save us, but Paul showed a remarkable and rare depth of love. I too have a burden for lost souls, but I’m afraid it’s not like Paul. Like Jesus, Paul was willing to sacrifice for others. Do you have any concern for those who don’t know Christ? Are you willing to sacrifice your time, money, energy, comfort, and perhaps even safety to see them come to faith in Jesus? This is what a TRUE disciple is and does!
Romans 9:4-5 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. (KJV)
They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s special children (Ex.6:7; 19:5; Deut.4:37; 32:10; Zec.2:8). God revealed His glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them His Law. They had the privilege of worshiping Him and receiving His wonderful Promises. Their ancestors were great people of God, and Christ Himself was a Jew as far as His human nature is concerned. Yet He is God, who rules over everything and is absolutely worthy of eternal praise from us all!
Romans 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: (KJV)
Has God failed to fulfill His Promise to the Jews? NO! The failure was not God’s; but the people of Israel. They failed God! For not everyone born into a Jewish family is truly a Jew in God’s eyes! Covenant people, the true children of Abraham, are not just his biological descendants. TRUE Israel are those who trust in God and in what Christ Jesus has done for them. (Rom. 2:29; Gal. 3:7, 26-29.)
Romans 9:7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. (KJV)
The rejection of the Gospel by the Jews, did NOT break God’s Promise to the patriarchs. ALL the Promises and threatenings of God shall be fulfilled. Some of Abraham’s seed were chosen, and others were not. IF the “seed” were determined by natural birth alone, Ishmaelites, Midianites and Edomites all would be
included, but they are not. They instead are enemies of the Jews.
Romans 9:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. (KJV)
This means that all of Abraham's physical descendants are NOT necessarily God’s children. It is the children of the Promise who are considered to be Abraham's children (Gen.22:2,12;16; 25:5; Mat.1:2), and that Promise was given ONLY through Isaac!
Romans 9:9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. (KJV)
God had promised Abraham he would be the father of a great nation (Gen.12:2-3; 15:3-5; 17:1-8), but after Abraham waited childless many years, he took matters into his own hands and fathered Ishmael (Gen.16). God’s Promise to Abraham was fulfilled when Isaac was born (Gen.21:1-4). Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90. God works on His time clock, NOT ours! The children of Promise are NOT those who believed something, Isaac could not believe anything BEFORE he was born. God promised, and God fulfilled His Promise! He always does!
Romans 9:10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (KJV)
Isaac, when he grew up, married Rebecca, who gave birth to twins.
Romans 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) KJV)
But BEFORE the twins were born, BEFORE they had done anything, good or bad, Rebecca received a message from God. What God told her, proves that God chooses according to His own plan. Those boys were twins, same father and same mother, yet God chose the younger one (Jacob) and rejected the older one (Esau).
Romans 9:12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. (KJV)
Genesis 25:23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. (KJV) . . . Rebecca was told, “The descendants of your older son will serve the descendants of your younger son.” God’s sovereign choice, not Rebecca’s.
Romans 9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. (KJV)
Malachi 1:2-3 I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, 3 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. (KJV) . . . God loved Jacob, but rejected Esau. “Hated” simply means to love less (Luke 14:26). Was it right for God to choose the younger Jacob, over Esau? The statement “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” refers to the nations of Israel and Edom rather than to the individual brothers.
God chose Jacob to continue the nation Israel because He knew his heart. But He did not completely exclude Esau from His love. The God we worship is sovereign; He is never haphazard or chaotic. In ALL things He works for our good (Rom.8:28). He is always trustworthy; and He will save all who believe Him. We must understand these qualities of God, to know that His choices are good even if we don’t understand His reasons. IF God had chosen the child of Sarah (Abraham’s true and first wife), over the child of Hagar, Sarah’s maid, and/or the children of Keturah, Abraham’s second wife, we might be able to understand that.
But it was not so in the case of Rebecca, Isaac's only wife. The choice of her son Jacob was the choice of one of two sons by the same mother; the younger in preferred to the elder, and before either of them was born. “Esau I have hated” does not refer to Esau’s eternal destiny. It simply means that God chose Jacob, not his brother Esau, to be the one through whom the nation of Israel (and the Messiah) would come. Esau did father a nation, but this nation, Edom, later became one of Israel’s worst enemies.
Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. (KJV)
Was God being unfair? Is there any injustice with God? Of course not! But, natural man always rebels against the sovereign God. Any time anything is left for God to decide, mankind always assumes God is not just in His decision. We can never intrude in the mysterious ways of God, but we can always trust Him to act in wisdom and justice. We cannot completely understand God’s sovereign election but who are we to question His decisions? He could take my life any time He wanted to!
Romans 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (KJV)
God told Moses: “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose” (Ex.33:19). I am so very grateful that He chose me before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4). I have no idea WHY he chose to save me, I’m just grateful He did! What about you?
Romans 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. (KJV)
So receiving God’s Promise is NOT up to us. We CANNOT get it by choosing it or working hard for it. God will show mercy to anyone He chooses. God extends His mercy and grace on whom ever He chooses. Don’t question Him, just thank Him.
God does not choose a person just because of that person’s ancestors. And God does not choose someone because of that person’s deeds. God is not unfair. He is righteous and He is perfect. He acts with grace and mercy and love when he deals with people (Ex. 33:19). He does not deal with them as they deserve. He shows His love to them in ways that He chooses.
Romans 9:17-18 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. (KJV)
The Israelites were slaves in Egypt. The Pharaoh refused continuously to let the Israelites go. God sent Moses as a prophet, to tell Pharaoh to free the Israelites. But Pharaoh refused. Pharaoh made his heart hard against Moses and the Israelites. God let his heart stay hard, for a reason. Exodus 9:16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. (KJV) . . . God used the situation with Pharaoh for His own purposes. It was God Himself Who overcame Pharaoh, and freed His people. Afterward people across the entire region heard what God had done.
The Bible contains many Passages that warn people not to have the same attitude as Pharaoh. Isaiah knew that the hearts of unbelievers would become hard. Isaiah 6:9-10 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. (KJV) . . . God is not unfair if He allows a person’s heart to stay hard. The result of sin is God’s judgment.
God shows mercy to some just because He wants to, and He chooses to make some people refuse to listen. BUT . . . there will be NO person in Hell who did not choose to be there. You are the one who makes the decision . . . but God knows every decision you will ever make (Job 31:4; 34:21; Ps.139:4; Eze.11:5).
Romans 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? (KJV)
You might say, “Why does God blame people for not listening? Haven’t they simply done what He made them do?” Friend, there is absolutely NO unrighteousness with God (John 7:18). God exercises much long-suffering, patience, and forbearance towards sinners BEFORE He brings utter destruction upon them. The fault is NOT with God, but in the hardened sinner. As for all who love and fear God, even though such truths are beyond our understanding, we should keep silence before Him. It is God alone who made us different; and we should adore His pardoning mercy, love and grace.
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 hast thou made me thus? (KJV)
Who are we, mere human beings, to criticize God? How can the thing that was created say to the one who made it, “Why have you made me like this?” NO human reasoning can ever answer the problem. The answer comes only from the awesome mystery and majesty of the sovereignty of Almighty God! TRUE faith accepts this and leaves it there in humble obedience; while unbelief rebels and continues to question God’s authority, wisdom and judgment. God is God! And there is NOTHING little man can do to change this fact! See our article on describing God: . . . http://www.hisservants.org/describing_god_h_s.htm
Romans 9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (KJV)
When a potter makes jars out of clay, isn’t it his right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for special occasions and another to throw garbage into? Well, look at it this way: God reaches down to the “lump” of humanity. He takes some and makes a Noah, or Abraham, or Moses, or David, or Paul, etc. Then He reaches down into the same lump and makes a Pharaoh or Haman, or Ahab, or Jezebel, etc. The decision lies only with God, NO one else! He can have mercy on whom ever He so desires!
Romans 9:22-24 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? (KJV)
God has every right to exercise His judgment and His power, but He also has the right to be patient and merciful with those who are the objects of His judgment, those who are fit only for destruction (Hell). He also has the right to pour out the riches of His glory upon those He prepared to be the objects of His mercy. And that includes all those whom He has selected, both Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews).
The Choice Of Gentiles In The Scriptural Prophecies . . . Romans 9:25-33
Romans 9:25-26 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. (KJV)
This is quoting: Hosea 1:10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. (KJV) Hosea 2:23 And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God. (KJV)
Once they (the Gentiles) were told, You are not my people. But now He will say, You are children of the living God. But, even in the nation Israel, there are those who are NOT God’s people, not beloved by God. But it need not be so. Jew or Gentile, if people would just forsake their idols, and turn to God they could be God’s people, God’s beloved. Acts 15:17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. (KJV) . . . All the rest of the human race might seek God, all the Gentiles whom I have called to be my own.
Romans 9:27-28 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: 28For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. (KJV)
Concerning Israel in Isaiah 10:22-23, the prophet cried out, “Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand on the seashore, only a small number will be saved. For the Lord will carry out His sentence upon the Earth quickly, completely and with certainly.”
Romans 9:29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha. (KJV)
This is quoting Isaiah 1:9. If Almighty God had not spared a few of the Jews, they would have been wiped out just
as completely as Sodom and Gomorrah. But, God in His mercy intervened, and a remnant was saved. Only God’s mercy and grace keeps anyone from Hell. God loves the Jewish people, and we must love them too! Anyone who hates or curses the Jews, God will curse (Gen.12:3). That Promise still stands!
Israel’s Unbelief . . . Romans 9:30-10:12
Romans 9:30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. (KJV)
This is a wonderful statement to those of us who are Gentiles. We have found righteousness with God through Christ without working for it; for God willed it to be so, and God worked it that way. The Old Testament had prophesied it to be so (Is.42:1-12; 49:5-6; 60:3).
Romans 9:31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. (KJV)
Israel pursued the Law so they might be right with God, but were in vain doing so. They tried to produce their own righteousness through the Mosaic Law. They did NOT, nor can NOT produce righteousness, nor can any one do so.
Romans 9:32-33 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (KJV)
There are some, like these people, trying to get right with God by keeping His laws. Attending church, doing church work, tithing and being nice is NOT enough. This will never succeed, never get you to Heaven! God’s Plan is not for us to try to earn His favor by being good. His plan is for those who realize that they can never be good enough and so we must depend on Christ. Salvation is only by putting our faith in what Christ Jesus has done, NOT what we try to do. We must never be ashamed of Christ, and accept what He has done for us (Mark 8:38).
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