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God’s Election of Israel


I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit— 2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. 4They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; 5to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

6 It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, 7and not all of Abraham’s children are his true descendants; but “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” 8This 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 descendants. 9For this is what the promise said, “About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son.” 10Nor is that all; something similar happened to Rebecca when she had conceived children by one husband, our ancestor Isaac. 11Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose of election might continue, 12not by works but by his call) she was told, “The elder shall serve the younger.” 13As it is written,

“I have loved Jacob,

but I have hated Esau.”

14 What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,

and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

16 So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. 17For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses.

God’s Wrath and Mercy

19 You will say to me then, “Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? 22What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; 23and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25As 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 shall be called children of the living God.”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the children of Israel were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved; 28for the Lord will execute his sentence on the earth quickly and decisively.” 29And as Isaiah predicted,

“If the Lord of hosts had not left survivors to us,

we would have fared like Sodom

and been made like Gomorrah.”

Israel’s Unbelief

30 What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; 31but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. 32Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33as it is written,

“See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall,

and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

10. And not only, etc. There are in this chapter some broken sentences, such as this is, — But Rebecca also, who had conceived by one, our father Isaac; for he leaves off in the middle, before he comes to the principal verb. The meaning, however, is, that the difference as to the possession of the promise may not only be seen in the children of Abraham, but that there is a much more evident example in Jacob and Esau: for in the former instance some might allege that their condition was unequal, the one being the son of an handmaid; but these were of the same mother, and were even twins: yet one was rejected, and the other was chosen by the Lord. It is hence clear, that the fulfilment of the promise does not take place in all the children of the flesh indiscriminately.

And as Paul refers to the persons to whom God made known his purpose, I prefer to regard a masculine pronoun to be understood, rather than a neuter, as Erasmus has done: for the meaning is, that God’s special election had not been revealed only to Abraham, but also to Rebecca, when she brought forth her twins. 292292     Here is a striking instance of a difficulty as to the construction, while the meaning of the whole passage is quite evident. The ellipsis has been variously supplied; “and not only this,” i.e., what I have stated; “and not only he,” i.e., Abraham to whom the first communication was made; “and not only she,” i.e., Sarah, mentioned in the preceding verse; “but Rebecca also is another instance.” But it may be thus supplied, — “and not only so,” i.e., as to the word of promise; “but Rebecca also had a word,” or a message conveyed to her. That the verse has a distinct meaning in itself is evident, for the next begins with a γὰρ, “for;” and to include Romans 9:11, in a parenthesis, seems by no means satisfactory. The three verses may be thus rendered, —
   10. And not only so, but Rebecca also received a message, when she conceived by the first, (i.e., son or seed,) even our father Isaac:

   11. for they being not yet born, and having not done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not

   12. through works, but through him who calls, it was said to her, “The elder shall serve the younger.”

   The words ἐξ ἑνὸς, rendered commonly “by one,” have never been satisfactorily accounted for. It. seems to be an instance of Hebraism; the word אחד, “one,” means also “first.” We have other instances of this in the New Testament; εἰς μίαν των σαββάτων — “on the first (i.e., day) of the week,” Matthew 28:1; see also Mark 16:2; John 20:19. “The first day” in Genesis 1:5, is rendered by the Septuagint, ἡμέρα μία. Isaac was the first son or seed of promise: and a difference was made in the children of the very first seed. But this meaning of εἰς is said by Schleusner to be sanctioned by Greek writers, such as Herodotus and Thucydides There is no necessity of introducing the word “children,” at the beginning of Romans 9:11; the antecedent in this case, as it sometimes happens, comes after the pronoun; and it is the “elder” and “younger” at the end of Romans 9:12. — Ed.

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