Category Archives: Romans 9

Romans 9:6-13

Continuing in our look at Romans 9 today. If you’ve missed the Intro to Romans 9, or my previous post on Romans 9:1-5, please feel free to check them out as today’s passages build upon what we’ve already studied.

So today I want to take a closer look at Romans 9:6-13. As you read it with me, keep in mind that Paul makes the point in verses 6-7 that God’s faithfulness to Israel and His covenant promises to them would be kept…God wasn’t done with Israel–true Israel. And Paul then goes on to illustrate those points made, in verses 8-13. Let’s read.

Romans 9:6-13,

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel:Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

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.

For this [is] the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.

And not only [this]; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, [even] by our father Isaac;

(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;)

It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

An important thing to remember, is that we are talking about the nation of Israel here. That this is a national election to a specific purpose, not a personal election to individual salvation, is seen by Paul’s references to Israel in verses 1-5 as: Israelites, kinsmen, brethren…to whom God elected to receive the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants, national promises given to the Jewish people “of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came” (vs 5). The Israelites were the chosen race through which Jesus Christ, our Savior, Himself came in the flesh. Israel was blessed with many privileges, but all Israel did not accept these advantages. Paul is laying a foundation here for a great truth.

“For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” Romans 9:6b-7

What’s he saying here? That even though Ishmael and Isaac were both physically of Abraham, it would be through Isaac’s seed that the covenant promises would come. Isaac’s seed received blessings not given to Ishmael’s, through no merit of his own. God chose to bestow the incredible advantages mentioned in Romans 9:4-5 upon this nation of people.

Let’s check out the original story in Genesis 21:12-13.

And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he [is] thy seed.

It’s important to go back and check these references…because here we see, it was always about nations. Don’t misunderstand me, not “national salvation” but national service for God’s purposes. Both Isaac and Ishmael represented nations. And from Isaac came Jacob, whose name eventually changed to Israel–very fitting for the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. So these men are being referenced here not only as individuals, but as heads of nations.

In verses 10-11, Paul gives yet another example of God’s unconditional election of two nations. We know he is further expounding on these points by his wording at the beginning of verse 10, “And not only this;” This time it’s Rebekah and Isaac’s twin sons, Jacob and Esau, who are chosen for heads of nations. God told Rebekah this in 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.

So we see Paul is quoting Genesis 25:23 in Romans 9:12: “The elder shall serve the younger.” We gain even further light on Romans 9:12-13, by checking out Malachi 1:2-4, which says,

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, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.

Key point here–notice at the beginning, “you” is plural “ye” is always plural (which is super helpful, and one reason I find the KJV easier to study), and “hast loved us”. All plural references, even though Jacob and Esau are primarily referenced, as they were the heads of these nations. Then lastly, Esau is equated with the Edomites…and the end of Malachi 1:4 says it all: “The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.”

So Romans 9:12-13 is talking about God’s choosing nations for service, just as it plainly states. The election here deals with Israel’s rule over Edom, not about the spiritual salvation of Jacob or Esau. Romans 9:12 does not say that Jacob would be saved and not Esau, rather it says, “the elder shall serve the younger.”

Paul is writing at a pivotal time for the Jews. After centuries of being under the law and their exclusive claim to the promises, grace has come through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and things have changed to include the Gentiles. The Jews needed to understand that true spiritual Israel would see fulfillment of these promises, and that just being of pure Jewish lineage did not automatically guarantee individual salvation. True spiritual Israel are those who do not reject the advantages God’s given (Romans 9:4-5). Not only this, but true, spiritual Israel now has expanded to include Gentiles, anyone who believes in Jesus Christ as children of the promise, even those who have no physical claim as descendants of Abraham.

Galatians 4:22-31 is a great passage shedding more light on how Ishmael and Isaac represent two covenants, one for bond and one for free, typifying the same struggle the Jews and Gentile converts were facing thousands of years later. That being, shall we rest in Christ alone for our salvation and the liberty of the gospel as sons of the “freewoman” (Sarah) and partakers of the promise, or are we to still be under the law, sons of the bondwoman (Hagar)? The answer for the Jews is the same answer for the Gentiles, as we’ve been “grafted” into their promises today (Romans 11:17):

Galatians 4:28 and 31,

Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of the promise.

So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond-woman, but of the free.

Galatians 3:29,

And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

I’m so thankful that God had a plan for the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, aren’t you? In Romans 9, Paul helps us distinguish between personal and national election, and spiritual and physical Israel. Whom will God save? If you have personally accepted Christ’s sacrificial death for your sins, and in faith confessed Him as your Savior, you have met the conditions necessary to be one of God’s elect.

Jesus’ did it all, and all to Him I owe…won’t you surrender all to Him right now, if you haven’t already?

Romans 9:1-5

In Romans 9:1-5,  Paul says,

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: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;

Whose [are] the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ [came], who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Paul sets the stage in Romans 9:1-5, as a Jew himself, expressing his abject sorrow for his fellow Jews, those of the nation of Israel who have been rejected for the sake of the Gentiles. Romans 10:1-13 goes into this further, with verse one stating:

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

And verses 12-13 in chapter ten:

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.

The tragedy here, for the nation of Israel, is their continual resistance to the Lord. In Romans 10:19-21, Paul quotes both Moses and Isaiah to this end:

But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

But Esaias is very bold and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

And if you keep reading, the very first verses in Romans 11 declare that God has not cast away his people Israel, but has preserved a remnant according to grace.

So we’re back to Romans 9:1-5. I want to zero in on verse 3, where Paul’s strong declaration of love for the Israelites seems a startling contradiction to the Calvinist doctrines of Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement:

For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh…

Unconditional Election refers to a Calvinist doctrine maintaining that God chose certain humans for hell and certain for heaven, and Limited Atonement, likewise, is the belief that Jesus died only for the elect, not for the entire world*. If so, isn’t Paul’s statement in verse 3 in direct opposition to such a claim? Paul would wish himself accursed from Christ for the sake of the Israelites? Why would Paul dare to state such a thing, if he believed that his own salvation was “luck of the draw” so to speak, and that the Israelites themselves had nothing they could do differently to effect the outcome of their eternity. Who is Paul to oppose God’s sovereign will here, if indeed, the Israelites had been chosen by God before the foundation of the world for eternal damnation?

Furthermore, if the doctrine of Limited Atonement is true, that Jesus Christ died only for certain people*, then Paul is definitely out of bounds here to even express sympathy for those whom Christ himself did not die. Only if God were unwilling for these Israelites to perish and if Christ had died for them does Romans 9:1-5 make sense.

Romans 9 deals with the national election of Israel, and as we study it further, we’ll see how Paul distinguishes between national election and individual election. Namely, that Israel’s national election, did not guarantee them individual salvation. God’s “chosen people”, the Israelites, had rejected their Messiah. Thus, they could not fathom God’s acceptance of the Gentile race. Their objection is that it seemed completely contrary to God’s word, and His promises to their nation. We see in Romans 9, Paul’s earnest explanation of this tough concept to the Jewish people. Proof of this, is found in Paul’s summing up of Romans 9, in verses 30-33.

What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

Wherefore? Because [they sought it] not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.


*1 John 2:2,

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.

Romans 9, an Introduction

Romans 9 is one of those amazing passages that begs for deeper study. The book of Romans is Paul’s gospel message–his unveiling of the great mystery entrusted to him by God: justification by faith and salvation through Jesus Christ for the Gentiles! And where exactly does this leave the Jews, and their status as God’s “chosen people”? He answers that question too.

This is a difficult passage taken by itself. Many people have been led down the road of Calvinism by majoring on certain of its verses. I can’t over-emphasize the importance of studying the whole book of Romans in order to truly grasp the truth of Romans 9. At the very least…read chapters 9-11. Also important is the greater context of the passages referred to in the Old Testament. Paul makes this easy for us, by embellishing Romans 9-11 with many quotes from the Old Testament, that when read in their context, shed a great deal of light on chapter nine’s meaning.

J. Vernon McGee’s Thru The Bible series says this about the theme of Romans chapter 9:

“Israel defined; Israel identified; the choice of Israel in the sovereign purpose of God; the choice of Gentiles in the scriptural prophecies.”

Further, McGee writes of Romans 9-11:

“it deals with the eschatological, that is, the prophetic, section of the Bible that reveals God is not through with Israel. Now as we begin chapter 9, notice that this 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…”

This post is intended as a very brief intro to this study…maybe there are others who read here who have often been puzzled at certain verses in this passage, verses that seem to lend credibility to the Calvinist’s claim that God created certain souls for hell and certain souls for heaven.  After all, Romans 9:21 sure seems to indicate as much:

“Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

But let me assure you, that the answers to these riddles are all to be found in God’s word, with just a little cross referencing. I hope you’ll be as blessed by this study as I have been.

Disclaimer: I am a woman, with no theology degree, with only a deep love for God’s word and a sincere desire to understand it. Differing stances on Romans 9, as we get into the series, will be welcome when accompanied by scripture references. Thank you!