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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.”

31. But Israel, by pursuing, etc. Paul openly states what seemed incredible, — that it was no wonder that the Jews gained nothing by sedulously following after righteousness; for by running out of the way, they wearied themselves in vain. But in the first place it seems to me that the law of righteousness is here an instance of transposition, and means the righteousness of the law; 315315     There seems to be no necessity for this transposition. “A law (not the law) of righteousness” means a law which prescribes righteousness, and which, if done, would have conferred righteousness. But the Jews following this did not attain to a law of righteousness, such a law as secured righteousness. The Apostle often uses the same words in the same verse in a different sense, and leaves the meaning to be made out by the context. Grotius takes “law” as meaning way, “They followed the way of righteousness, but did not attain to a way of righteousness.”
   What follows the question in the next verse stands more connected with Romans 9:30 than with Romans 9:31; and we must consider that the word righteousness, and not law, is referred to by “it” after the verb “pursue,” which is evidently to be understood before the words, “not by faith,” etc., as the sentence is clearly elliptical.

   The verb διώκω, rendered “sector“ by Calvin, means strictly to pursue what flees away from us, whether a wild beast or an enemy; it signifies also to follow a leader, and to run a race, and further, to desire, to attend to, or earnestly to seek a thing: and in this latter sense Paul often uses it. See Romans 12:13; Romans 14:19; 1 Corinthians 14:1. Similar is the application of the corresponding verb, רדף in Hebrew. See Deuteronomy 16:20; Psalm 34:14 Quaeroto seek,” is the word adopted by Grotius

   But Pareus and Hammond consider that there are here three agonistic terms, διώκων κατέλαβε, and ἔφθασε. The first signifies the running; the third, the reaching of the goal; and the second, the laying hold on the prize: and with this corresponds the stumbling afterwards mentioned. The Gentiles did not run at all, but the Jews did, and in running, they stumbled; while the Gentiles reached the goal, not by running, or by their own efforts, but by faith, and laid hold on the prize of righteousness. — Ed.
and then, that when repeated in the second clause, it is to be taken in another sense, as signifying the model or the rule of righteousness.

The meaning then is, — “That Israel, depending on the righteousness of the law, even that which is prescribed in the law, did not understand the true method of justification.” But there is a striking contrast in the expression, when he teaches us that the legal righteousness was the cause that they had fallen away from the law of righteousness.

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