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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 9 - Verse 12

Verse 12. It was said unto her. By Jehovah. See Ge 25:23.

The elder. The eldest son, which was Esau. By the law of primogeniture among the Hebrews, he would have been entitled to peculiar honours and privileges. But it was said that in his case this custom should be reversed, and that he should take the rank of the younger.

Should serve. Shall be subject to; shall not have the authority and priority, but should be inferior to. The passage in Ge 25:23 shows that this had reference particularly to the posterity of Esau, and not to him as an individual. The sense is, that the descendants of Esau, who were Edomites, should be inferior to, and subject to the descendants of Jacob. Jacob was to have the priority; the promised land; the promises; and the honour of being regarded as the chosen of God. There was reference here, therefore, to the whole train of temporal and spiritual blessings which were to be connected with the two races of people. If it be asked how this bears on the argument of the apostle, we may reply,

(1.) that it settles the principle that God might make a distinction among men, in the same nation, and the same family, without reference to their works or character.

(2.) That he might confer his blessings on such as he pleased.

(3.) If this is done in regard to nations, it may be in regard to individuals. The principle is the same, and the justice the same. If it be supposed to be unjust in God to make such a distinction in regard to individuals, it is surely not less so to make a distinction in nations. The fact that numbers are thus favoured does not make it the more proper, or remove any difficulty.

(4.) If this distinction may be made in regard to temporal things, why not in regard to spiritual things? The principle must still be the same. If unjust in one case, it would be in the other. The fact that it is done in one case proves also that it will be in the other; for the same great principle will run through all the dealings of the Divine government. And as men do not and cannot complain that God makes a distinction among them in regard to talents, health, beauty, prosperity, and rank, neither can they complain if he acts also as a sovereign in the distribution of his spiritual favours. They, therefore, who regard this as referring only to temporal and national privileges, gain no relief in respect to the real difficulty in the case, for the unanswerable question would still be asked, why has not God made all men equal in everything? Why has he made any distinction among men? The only reply to all such inquiries is, "Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight," Mt 11:26.

{1} "elder" or, "greater" {2} "younger" or, "lesser"

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