God’s Plan for Israel and the Gentiles (9:1 – 11:36)   All along in Romans Paul has been dealing with both Jews and Gentiles. God shows no partiality toward the Jews, whether this has to do with His condemnation of sin or with His provision of salvation. Impartiality does not mean that one deals with everyone alike in every respect, however. For example, we may be impartial or just in dealing with our children, but we need not treat every child in exactly the same way. Each child should be dealt with as an individual. God is impartial in condemning sin, but He deals differently with those He condemns. Those who have not received the revelation of God’s righteousness in the Law are judged apart from the Law and only in accordance with what has been revealed to them. Those who have received the Law are judged by its standards (Romans 1 and 2). Throughout history God has always dealt impartially with men, but He has also distinguished between the Jews and the Gentiles. This matter of God’s dealings with the Jews and the Gentiles is now taken up, to show that in distinguishing between Jews and Gentiles, God has been impartial; thus the righteousness of God is revealed by His dealings with men in history. These dealings of God with men in history are summed up in chapters 9-11.   There is a very evident problem. God had made certain promises of salvation to the Jews in the OT, the nation Israel had rejected Jesus as their Messiah and now the gospel was being proclaimed to Gentiles, as well. Churches, such as the church in Rome, had some Jewish Christians and (usually) many more Gentile saints. While God deals impartially with Jews and Gentiles, and He both condemns and saves them justly, are there not some unfulfilled promises to Israel which should be fulfilled? And why is it that God started His program of salvation and blessing through the nation Israel only to set them aside? This seems to be the problem which Paul is addressing in Romans 9-11.   Romans 9:1-10:21 Paul’s Concern for Israel 1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4 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.   Isaac and Jacob – Chosen by God (vv.6 – 13) 6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 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. 9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. 10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 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;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.   Moses and Pharaoh – Subjects of God’s Will (vv.14 – 18) 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 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. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 17 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.   The Potter and The Clay – An Allegory (vv.19 – 33) 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 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? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 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: 23 And 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? 25 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. 27 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: 28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. 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.   The Path to Righteousness 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. 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 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.       In chapter 9 Paul defends the righteousness of God by expounding the doctrine of election. In proportion to the Jewish population, only a few Jewish saints could be found. This seemed to puzzle the Jews, because they thought that the promised blessings of God would be poured out on all the descendants of Israel (Jacob). In fact, they seemed to think that being the physical seed of Abraham assured them of these blessings (see Matthew 3:9; Romans 4:10-17). What Paul sets out to show us is that God’s blessings were never promised to the Jews, based solely upon their physical descent from Abraham, or from Jacob (Israel).

  • In verses 1-5 of chapter 9 Paul begins by revealing his own heart with respect to the Jews. What he is about to say, he will say as a Jew. He is not anti-Semitic, and he loves His people so much that he wishes he could suffer God’s condemnation in their place. He desperately yearns for their salvation. These are a privileged people, but the restoration of Israel and the fulfillment of God’s promises to this nation will not be fulfilled until later in history, as Paul is about to demonstrate.
  • In verse 6, Paul sets out a principle: “They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.” Through the principle and process of election, God continued to restrict His blessings to some of the descendants of Israel, but not to all.
  • In verses 7-13 Paul gave the specific example of God’s sovereign choice of Jacob and His rejection of Esau, both sons of Isaac. God set Jacob over Esau, in spite of the fact that Esau was born first. God’s choice was not based upon the works of either child; it was a sovereign choice.

  Does God’s election disturb some? Are we troubled that at God’s sovereign discretion some are chosen to be the objects of His favor while others are the objects of His wrath? Does divine election seem unfair, unjust, unrighteous? It is exactly the opposite. Election is precisely that means of God’s blessing some which demonstrates His righteousness.   Think back with me for a moment to recall the principle Paul has already laid down, the principle of rewards, which is the basis for divine condemnation:

  • There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to every man who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no impartiality with God (Romans 2:9-11).
  • God’s standard of justice is that all who do good will receive glory and honor and peace, while all who do evil receive tribulation and distress.
  • By verse 20 of chapter 3 Paul has concluded that there is none who does good, and that all men (Jew and Greek alike) do that which is evil. This means that the justice of God requires that all men be punished, and that none deserve God’s blessings of glory, honor, and peace.

  At this point in Romans, we see that God’s mercy joins forces with His justice, so that salvation is provided, in a way that satisfies both His mercy and His righteousness. Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son, died for sinners, bearing the Father’s wrath toward sinners. God has therefore maintained His righteousness by following through with the wrath that sin requires. He has also provided His blessings through a righteousness which He provides, in Jesus Christ. God is therefore righteous both in the saving of some and in the condemning of others.   But on what basis is the decision made? How is it determined who will receive God’s blessings and who will receive His wrath? There are two answers to this question, provided in Romans 9 and 10. In Romans 9 Paul tells us that God chooses those whom He will bless, and those who will continue on the path to their own judgment. The basis of this choice is crucial, for the righteousness of God is at issue.   God cannot choose to bless men on the basis of their “goodness” or on the basis of the good works that they will do, for we have already seen that all mankind is sinful, unrighteous, and falls under divine condemnation. Men will be blessed on the basis of the righteousness of Christ, not on the basis of their own works. For God’s blessings to be bestowed righteously, the objects of His blessings must not, in some way, be shown favoritism. Thus it is that God’s blessings have always been bestowed on some, on the basis of God’s sovereign, unconditioned choice, by His sovereign election.   God did not choose to bless every descendant of Israel because this would be favoritism toward the Israelites. It would be unfair. God has chosen to allow some to suffer the consequences of their unrighteousness—to become “vessels of His wrath.” He has chosen others to be the objects of His blessings—to become “vessels of His mercy.” All men could have been righteously condemned, because all sinned. No one should have been blessed, for none merited God’s blessings. But God chose to pluck some from the wrath and destruction their sins required and to bestow His blessings upon them, based upon the death of Jesus for their sins, and His righteousness. To have the choice rest only with God is the only basis on which God’s blessings and cursings could be righteously imparted.   Thus, from eternity past it was not God’s purpose to save every physical descendant of Abraham, or Isaac, or Israel. It was His intention to save some. It was also His intention to save some of the Gentiles as well. This was foretold by the prophet Hosea (Romans 9:25-26). Not all Israel was to be saved, nor needed to be, but only a remnant, through which the promises of God could be preserved and fulfilled. Isaiah spoke of this remnant (Romans 9:27-29). Thus, from the beginning God planned to save some Jews and some Gentiles, based upon His sovereign choice. God is just in judging some sinners, and He is both merciful and just in saving and blessing other sinners. And God is just in saving and rejecting both Jews and Gentiles so that He shows no partiality.    



Scroll to Top