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Romans Chapter Nine


Romans 9

There remained one important question to be considered, namely, how this salvation, common to Jew and Gentile, both alienated from God-this doctrine that there was no difference-was to be reconciled with the special promises made to the Jews. The proof of their guilt and ruin under the law did not touch the promises of a faithful God. Was the apostle going to do away with these to place the Gentiles on the same footing? They did not fail also to accuse the apostle of having despised his nation and its privileges. Chapters 9, 10 and 11 reply to this question; and, with rare and admirable perfection, set forth the position of Israel with respect to God and to the gospel. This reply opens, in itself, a wide door to intelligence in the ways of God.

The apostle begins by affirming his deep interest in the blessing of Israel. Their condition was a source of constant grief to him. Far from despising them, he loved them as much as Moses had done. He had wished to be anathema from Christ for them. [1] He acknowledged that all the privileges granted by God until then, belonged to them. But he does not allow that the word of God had failed; and he develops proof of the free sovereignty of God, conformably to which, without trenching upon the promises made to the Jews, He could admit the Gentiles according to His election.

In the first place, this truth displayed itself in the bosom of Abraham's own family. The Jews alleged their exclusive right to the promises in virtue of their descent from him, and to have their promises by right, and exclusively, because they were descended from him. But they are not all Israel which are of Israel. Neither because they were of the seed of Abraham were they therefore all children. For in that case Ishmael must have been received; and the Jews would by no means hear of that. God then was sovereign. But it might be alleged that Hagar was a slave. But Esau's case excluded even this saving thought. The same mother bore both sons of one father, and God had chosen Jacob and rejected Esau. It was thus on the principle of sovereignty and election, that God had decided that the seed should be called in the family of Isaac. And before Esau and Jacob were born, God declared that the elder should serve the younger. The Jews must then admit God's sovereignty on this point.

Was God then unrighteous? He plainly declared His sovereignty for good to Moses as a principle. It is the first of all rights. But in what case had He exercised this right? In a case that concerned that right of Israel to blessing, of which the Jews sought to avail themselves. All Israel would have been cut off, if God had dealt in righteousness; there was nothing but the sovereignty of God which could be a door of escape. God retreated into His sovereignty in order to spare whom He would, and so had spared Israel (justice would have condemned them all alike, gathered round the golden calf which they set up to worship)-this, on the side of mercy; on that of judgment, Pharaoh served for an example. The enemy of God, and of His people, he had treated the claims of God with contempt, exalting himself proudly against Him-"Who is Jehovah, that I should obey him? I will not let his people go." Pharaoh being in this state, Jehovah uses him to give an example of His wrath and judgment. So that He shews mercy to whom He will, and hardens whom He will. Man complains of it, as he does of the grace that justifies freely.

As to rights, compare those of God and those of the creature who has sinned against Him. How can man, who is made of clay, dare to reply against God? The potter has power to do as he will with the lump. No one can say to God, What doest Thou? God's sovereignty is the first of all rights, the foundation of all rights, the foundation of all morality. If God is not God, what will He be? The root of the question is this; is God to judge man, or man God? God can do whatsoever He pleases. He is not the object for judgment. Such is His title: but when in fact the apostle presents the two cases, wrath and grace, He puts the case of God shewing long suffering towards one already fitted for wrath, in order to give at last an example to men of His wrath in the execution of His justice; and then of God displaying His glory in vessels of mercy whom He has prepared for glory. There are then these three points established with marvellous exactitude; the power to do all things, no one having the right to say a word; wonderful endurance with the wicked, in whom at length His wrath is manifested; demonstration of His glory in vessels, whom He has Himself prepared by mercy for glory, and whom He has called, whether from among the Jews or Gentiles, according to the declaration of Hosea.

The doctrine established, then, is the sovereignty of God in derogation of the pretensions of the Jews to the exclusive enjoyment of all the promises, as being descended from Abraham; for, among his descendants, more than one had been excluded by the exercise of this sovereignty; and it was nothing less than its exercise which, on the occasion of the golden calf, had spared those who pretended to the right of descent. It was necessary therefore that the Jew should recognise it, or else that he should admit the Idumeans in full right, as well as the Ishmaelites, and renounce it himself, the families of Moses and Joshua alone perhaps excepted. But if such was the sovereignty of God, He would now exercise it in favour of the Gentiles, as well as Jews. He called whom He would.

If we look closely into these quotations from Hosea, we shall find that Peter, who writes to converted Jews alone, takes only the passage at the end of chapter 2, where Lo-ammi and Lo-ruhamah become Ammi and Ruhamah. Paul quotes that also, which is at the end of chapter 1, where it is written, "In the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there shall they be called-not 'my people,' but-' the children of the living God.'" It is this last passage which he applies to the Gentiles called by grace.

But further passages from the prophets amply confirm the judgment which the apostle pronounces by the Spirit on the Jews. Isaiah declared formally that, if God had not left them a little remnant, they would have been as Sodom and Gomorrah;numerous as the people were, a little remnant only should be saved; for God was cutting the work short in judgment on the earth. And here was the state of things morally: the Gentiles had obtained the righteousness which they had not sought, had obtained it by faith; and Israel, seeking to obtain it by the fulfilment of a law, had not attained to righteousness. Why? Because they sought it not by faith, but by works of law. For they had stumbled at the stumbling-stone (that is, at Christ), as it is written, "I lay in Sion a stumbling-stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth in him shall not be ashamed."


[1] Read, "I have wished." Moses, in his anguish, had said, "Blot me out of thy book." Paul had not been behind him in his love.

── John DarbySynopsis of Romans


Romans 9

Chapter Contents

The apostle's concern that his countrymen were strangers to the gospel. (1-5) The promises are made good to the spiritual seed of Abraham. (6-13) Answers to objections against God's sovereign conduct, in exercising mercy and justice. (14-24) This sovereignty is in God's dealing both with Jews and Gentiles. (25-29) The falling short of the Jews is owing to their seeking justification, not by faith, but by the works of the law. (30-33)

Commentary on Romans 9:1-5

(Read Romans 9:1-5)

Being about to discuss the rejection of the Jews and the calling of the Gentiles, and to show that the whole agrees with the sovereign electing love of God, the apostle expresses strongly his affection for his people. He solemnly appeals to Christ; and his conscience, enlightened and directed by the Holy Spirit, bore witness to his sincerity. He would submit to be treated as "accursed," to be disgraced, crucified; and even for a time be in the deepest horror and distress; if he could rescue his nation from the destruction about to come upon them for their obstinate unbelief. To be insensible to the eternal condition of our fellow-creatures, is contrary both to the love required by the law, and the mercy of the gospel. They had long been professed worshippers of Jehovah. The law, and the national covenant which was grounded thereon, belonged to them. The temple worship was typical of salvation by the Messiah, and the means of communion with God. All the promises concerning Christ and his salvation were given to them. He is not only over all, as Mediator, but he is God blessed for ever.

Commentary on Romans 9:6-13

(Read Romans 9:6-13)

The rejection of the Jews by the gospel dispensation, did not break God's promise to the patriarchs. The promises and threatenings shall be fulfilled. Grace does not run in the blood; nor are saving benefits always found with outward church privileges. Not only some of Abraham's seed were chosen, and others not, but God therein wrought according to the counsel of his own will. God foresaw both Esau and Jacob as born in sin, by nature children of wrath even as others. If left to themselves they would have continued in sin through life; but for wise and holy reasons, not made known to us, he purposed to change Jacob's heart, and to leave Esau to his perverseness. This instance of Esau and Jacob throws light upon the Divine conduct to the fallen race of man. The whole Scripture shows the difference between the professed Christian and the real believer. Outward privileges are bestowed on many who are not the children of God. There is, however, full encouragement to diligent use of the means of grace which God has appointed.

Commentary on Romans 9:14-24

(Read Romans 9:14-24)

Whatever God does, must be just. Wherein the holy, happy people of God differ from others, God's grace alone makes them differ. In this preventing, effectual, distinguishing grace, he acts as a benefactor, whose grace is his own. None have deserved it; so that those who are saved, must thank God only; and those who perish, must blame themselves only, Hosea 13:9. God is bound no further than he has been pleased to bind himself by his own covenant and promise, which is his revealed will. And this is, that he will receive, and not cast out, those that come to Christ; but the drawing of souls in order to that coming, is an anticipating, distinguishing favour to whom he will. Why does he yet find fault? This is not an objection to be made by the creature against his Creator, by man against God. The truth, as it is in Jesus, abases man as nothing, as less than nothing, and advances God as sovereign Lord of all. Who art thou that art so foolish, so feeble, so unable to judge the Divine counsels? It becomes us to submit to him, not to reply against him. Would not men allow the infinite God the same sovereign right to manage the affairs of the creation, as the potter exercises in disposing of his clay, when of the same lump he makes one vessel to a more honourable, and one to a meaner use? God could do no wrong, however it might appear to men. God will make it appear that he hates sin. Also, he formed vessels filled with mercy. Sanctification is the preparation of the soul for glory. This is God's work. Sinners fit themselves for hell, but it is God who prepares saints for heaven; and all whom God designs for heaven hereafter, he fits for heaven now. Would we know who these vessels of mercy are? Those whom God has called; and these not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles. Surely there can be no unrighteousness in any of these Divine dispensations. Nor in God's exercising long-suffering, patience, and forbearance towards sinners under increasing guilt, before he brings utter destruction upon them. The fault is in the hardened sinner himself. As to all who love and fear God, however such truths appear beyond their reason to fathom, yet they should keep silence before him. It is the Lord alone who made us to differ; we should adore his pardoning mercy and new-creating grace, and give diligence to make our calling and election sure.

Commentary on Romans 9:25-29

(Read Romans 9:25-29)

The rejecting of the Jews, and the taking in the Gentiles, were foretold in the Old Testament. It tends very much to the clearing of a truth, to observe how the Scripture is fulfilled in it. It is a wonder of Divine power and mercy that there are any saved: for even those left to be a seed, if God had dealt with them according to their sins, had perished with the rest. This great truth this Scripture teaches us. Even among the vast number of professing Christians it is to be feared that only a remnant will be saved.

Commentary on Romans 9:30-33

(Read Romans 9:30-33)

The Gentiles knew not their guilt and misery, therefore were not careful to procure a remedy. Yet they attained to righteousness by faith. Not by becoming proselytes to the Jewish religion, and submitting to the ceremonial law; but by embracing Christ, and believing in him, and submitting to the gospel. The Jews talked much of justification and holiness, and seemed very ambitious to be the favourites of God. They sought, but not in the right way, not in the humbling way, not in the appointed way. Not by faith, not by embracing Christ, depending upon Christ, and submitting to the gospel. They expected justification by observing the precepts and ceremonies of the law of Moses. The unbelieving Jews had a fair offer of righteousness, life, and salvation, made them upon gospel terms, which they did not like, and would not accept. Have we sought to know how we may be justified before God, seeking that blessing in the way here pointed out, by faith in Christ, as the Lord our Righteousness? Then we shall not be ashamed in that awful day, when all refuges of lies shall be swept away, and the Divine wrath shall overflow every hiding-place but that which God hath prepared in his own Son.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Romans


Romans 9

Verse 1

[1] I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,

In Christ — This seems to imply an appeal to him.

In the Holy Ghost — Through his grace.

Verse 2

[2] That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

I have great sorrow — A high degree of spiritual sorrow and of spiritual Joy may consist together, Romans 8:39. By declaring his sorrow for the unbelieving Jews, who excluded themselves from all the blessings he had enumerated, he shows that what he was now about to speak, he did not speak from any prejudice to them.

Verse 3

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

I could wish — Human words cannot fully describe the motions of souls that are full of God. As if he had said, I could wish to suffer in their stead; yea, to be an anathema from Christ in their place. In how high a sense he wished this, who can tell, unless himself had been asked and had resolved the question? Certainly he did not then consider himself at all, but only others and the glory of God. The thing could not be; yet the wish was pious and solid; though with a tacit condition, if it were right and possible.

Verse 4

[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;

Whose is the adoption, … — He enumerates six prerogatives, of which the first pair respect God the Father, the second Christ, the third the Holy Ghost.

The adoption and the glory — That is, Israel is the first-born child of God, and the God of glory is their God, Deuteronomy 4:7; Psalms 106:20. These are relative to each other. At once God is the Father of Israel, and Israel are the people of God. He speaks not here of the ark, or any corporeal thing. God himself is "the glory of his people Israel." And the covenants, and the giving of the law - The covenant was given long before the law. It is termed covenants, in the plural, because it was so often and so variously repeated, and because there were two dispositions of it, Galatians 4:24, frequently called two covenants; the one promising, the other exhibiting the promise.

And the worship, and the promises — The true way of worshipping God; and all the promises made to the fathers.

Verse 5

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

To the preceding, St. Paul now adds two more prerogatives. Theirs are the fathers - The patriarchs and holy men of old, yea, the Messiah himself.

Who is over all, God blessed for ever — The original words imply the self-existent, independent Being, who was, is, and is to come.

Over all — The supreme; as being God, and consequently blessed for ever. No words can more dearly express his divine, supreme majesty, and his gracious sovereignty both over Jews and, gentiles.

Verse 6

[6] Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

Not as if — The Jews imagined that the word of God must fail if all their nation were not saved. This St. Paul now refutes, and proves that the word itself had foretold their falling away.

The word of God — The promises of God to Israel.

Had fallen to the ground — This could not be. Even now, says the apostle, some enjoy the promises; and hereafter "all Israel shall be saved." This is the sum of the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters.

For — Here he enters upon the proof of it.

All are not Israel, who are of Israel — The Jews vehemently maintained the contrary; namely, that all who were born Israelites, and they only, were the people of God. The former part of this assertion is refuted here, the latter, Romans 9:24, etc. The sum is, God accepts all believers, and them only; and this is no way contrary to his word. Nay, he hath declared in his word, both by types and by express testimonies, that believers are accepted as the "children of the promise," while unbelievers are rejected, though they are "children after the flesh." All are not Israel - Not in the favour of God. Who are lineally descended of Israel.

Verse 7

[7] Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

Neither because they are lineally the seed of Abraham, will it follow that they are all children of God - This did not hold even in Abraham's own family; and much less in his remote descendants. But God then said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called - That is, Isaac, not Ishmael, shall be called thy seed; that seed to which the promise is made.

Verse 8

[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.

That is, Not the children, … — As if he had said, This is a clear type of things to come; showing us, that in all succeeding generations, not the children of the flesh, the lineal descendants of Abraham, but the children of the promise, they to whom the promise is made, that is, believers, are the children of God. Genesis 21:12

Verse 9

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

For this is the word of the promise — By the power of which Isaac was conceived, and not by the power of nature. Not, Whosoever is born of thee shall be blessed, but, At this time - Which I now appoint.

I will come, and Sarah shall have a son — And he shall inherit the blessing. Genesis 18:10.

Verse 10

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

And that God's blessing does not belong to all the descendants of Abraham, appears not only by this instance, but by that of Esau and Jacob, who was chosen to inherit the blessing, before either of them had done good or evil. The apostle mentions this to show, that neither were their ancestors accepted through any merit of their own.

That the purpose of God according to election might stand — Whose purpose was, to elect or choose the promised seed.

Not of works — Not for any preceding merit in him he chose.

But of him that called — Of his own good pleasure who called to that privilege whom he saw good.

Verse 12

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

The elder — Esau.

Shall serve the younger — Not in person, for he never did; but in his posterity. Accordingly the Edomites were often brought into subjection by the Israelites. Genesis 25:23.

Verse 13

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

As it is written — With which word in Genesis, spoken so long before, that of Malachi agrees.

I have loved Jacob — With a peculiar love; that is, the Israelites, the posterity of Jacob. And I have, comparatively, hated Esau - That is, the Edomites, the posterity of Esau. But observe, 1. This does not relate to the person of Jacob or Esau 2. Nor does it relate to the eternal state either of them or their posterity. Thus far the apostle has been proving his proposition, namely, that the exclusion of a great part of the seed of Abraham, yea, and of Isaac, from the special promises of God, was so far from being impossible, that, according to the scriptures themselves, it had actually happened. He now introduces and refutes an objection. Malachi 1:2,3.

Verse 14

[14] What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

Is there injustice with God — Is it unjust in God to give Jacob the blessing rather than Esau? or to accept believers, and them only.

God forbid — In no wise. This is well consistent with justice; for he has a right to fix the terms on which he will show mercy, according to his declaration to Moses, petitioning for all the people, after they had committed idolatry with the golden calf.

I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy — According to the terms I myself have fixed.

And I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion — Namely, on those only who submit to my terms, who accept of it in the way that I have appointed.

Verse 15

[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.

Exodus 33:19.

Verse 16

[16] So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

It — The blessing.

Therefore is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth — It is not the effect either of the will or the works of man, but of the grace and power of God. The will of man is here opposed to the grace of God, and man's running, to the divine operation. And this general declaration respects not only Isaac and Jacob, and the Israelites in the time of Moses, but likewise all the spiritual children of Abraham, even to the end of the world.

Verse 17

[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.

Moreover — God has an indisputable right to reject those who will not accept the blessings on his own terms. And this he exercised in the case of Pharaoh; to whom, after many instances of stubbornness and rebellion, he said, as it is recorded in scripture, For this very thing have I raised thee up - That is, Unless thou repent, this will surely be the consequence of my raising thee up, making thee a great and glorious king, that my power will be shown upon thee, (as indeed it was, by overwhelming him and his army in the sea,) and my name declared through all the earth - As it is at this day. Perhaps this may have a still farther meaning. It seems that God was resolved to show his power over the river, the insects, other animals, (with the natural causes of their health, diseases, life, and death,) over the meteors, the air, the sun, (all of which were worshipped by the Egyptians, from whom other nations learned their idolatry,) and at once over all their gods, by that terrible stroke of slaying all their priests, and their choicest victims, the firstborn of man and beast; and all this with a design, not only to deliver his people Israel, (for which a single act of omnipotence would have sufficed,) but to convince the Egyptians, that the objects of their worship were but the creatures of Jehovah, and entirely in his power, and to draw them and the neighbouring nations, who should hear of all these wonders, from their idolatry, to worship the one God. For the execution of this design, (in order to the display of the divine power over the various objects of their worship, in variety of wonderful acts, which were at the same time just punishments for their cruel oppression of the Israelites,) God was pleased to raise to the throne of an absolute monarchy, a man, not whom he had made wicked on purpose, but whom he found so, the proudest, the most daring and obstinate of all the Egyptian princes; and who, being incorrigible, well deserved to be set up in that situation, where the divine judgments fell the heaviest. Exodus 9:16.

Verse 18

[18] Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

So then — That is, accordingly he does show mercy on his own terms, namely, on them that believe.

And whom he willeth — Namely, them that believe not.

He hardeneth — Leaves to the hardness of their hearts.

Verse 19

[19] Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

Why doth he still find fault — The particle still is strongly expressive of the objector's sour, morose murmuring.

For who hath resisted his will — The word his likewise expresses his surliness and aversion to God, whom he does not even deign to name.

Verse 20

[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?

Nay, but who art thou, O man — Little, impotent, ignorant man.

That repliest against God — That accusest God of injustice, for himself fixing the terms on which he will show mercy? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus - Why hast thou made me capable of honour and immortality, only by believing?

Verse 21

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

Hath not the potter power over the clay — And much more hath not God power over his creatures, to appoint one vessel, namely, the believer, to honour, and another, the unbeliever, to dishonour? If we survey the right which God has over us, in a more general way, with regard to his intelligent creatures, God may be considered in two different views, as Creator, Proprietor, and Lord of all; or, as their moral Governor, and Judge. God, as sovereign Lord and Proprietor of all, dispenses his gifts or favours to his creatures with perfect wisdom, but by no rules or methods of proceeding that we are acquainted with. The time when we shall exist, the country where we shall live, our parents, our constitution of body and turn of mind; these, and numberless other circumstances, are doubtless ordered with perfect wisdom, but by rules that lie quite out of our sight. But God's methods of dealing with us, as our Governor and Judge, are dearly revealed and perfectly known; namely, that he will finally reward every man according to his works: "He that believeth shalt be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." Therefore, though "He hath mercy on whom he willeth, and whom he willeth he hardeneth," that is, suffers to be hardened in consequence of their obstinate wickedness; yet his is not the will of an arbitrary, capricious, or tyrannical being. He wills nothing but what is infinitely wise and good; and therefore his will is a most proper rule of judgment. He will show mercy, as he hath assured us, to none but true believers, nor harden any but such as obstinately refuse his mercy. Jeremiah 18:6,7

Verse 22

[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:

What if God, being willing — Referring to Romans 9:18,19. That is, although it was now his will, because of their obstinate unbelief, To show his wrath - Which necessarily presupposes sin.

And to make his power known — This is repeated from the seventeenth verse.

Yet endured — As he did Pharaoh.

With much longsuffering — Which should have led them to repentance.

The vessels of wrath — Those who had moved his wrath by still rejecting his mercy.

Fitted for destruction — By their own wilful and final impenitence. Is there any injustice in this ?

Verse 23

[23] And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

That he might make known — What if by showing such longsuffering even to "the vessels of wrath," he did the more abundantly show the greatness of his glorious goodness, wisdom, and power, on the vessels of mercy; on those whom he had himself, by his grace, prepared for glory. Is this any injustice?

Verse 24

[24] Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

Even us — Here the apostle comes to the other proposition, of grace free for all, whether Jew or gentile.

Of the Jews — This he treats of, Romans 9:25.

Of the gentiles — Treated of in the same verse.

Verse 25

[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.

Beloved — As a spouse. Who once was not beloved - Consequently, not unconditionally elected. This relates directly to the final restoration of the Jews. Hosea 2:23

Verse 26

[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.

There shall they be called the sons of God — So that they need not leave their own country and come to Judea. Hosea 1:10

Verse 27

[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:

But Isaiah testifies, that (as many gentiles will be accepted, so) many Jews will be rejected; that out of all the thousands of Israel, a remnant only shall be saved. This was spoken originally of the few that were saved from the ravage of Sennacherib's army. Isaiah 10:22,23

Verse 28

[28] For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

For he is finishing or cutting short his account — In rigorous justice, will leave but a small remnant. There will be so general a destruction, that but a small number will escape.

Verse 29

[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.

As Isaiah had said before — Namely, Isaiah 1:9, concerning those who were besieged in Jerusalem by Rezin and Pekah.

Unless the Lord had left us a seed — Which denotes, 1. The present paucity: 2. The future abundance.

We had been as Sodom — So that it is no unexampled thing for the main body of the Jewish nation to revolt from God, and perish in their sin.

Verse 30

[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.

What shall we say then — What is to be concluded from all that has been said but this, That the gentiles, who followed not after righteousness - Who a while ago had no knowledge of, no care or thought about, it.

Have attained to righteousness — Or justification. Even the righteousness which is by faith. This is the first conclusion we may draw from the preceding observations. The second is, that Israel - The Jews Although following after the law of righteousness - That law which, duly used, would have led them to faith, and thereby to righteousness.

Have not attained to the law of righteousness — To that righteousness or justification which is one great end of the law

Verse 32

[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;

And wherefore have they not? Is it because God eternally decreed they should not? There is nothing like this to be met with but agreeable to his argument the apostle gives us this good reason for it, Because they sought it not by faith - Whereby alone it could be attained.

But as it were — In effect, if not professsedly, by works.

For they stumbled at that stumblingstone — Christ crucified.

Verse 33

[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.

As it is written — Foretold by their own prophet.

Behold, I lay in Sion — I exhibit in my church, what, though it is in truth the only sure foundation of happiness, yet will be in fact a stumblingstone and rock of offence - An occasion of ruin to many, through their obstinate unbelief. Isaiah 8:14; Isaiah 28:16

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Romans


Rom. 9:1~5

A man said to a friend, “I hear you dismissed your pastor. What was wrong?” The friend said, “Well, he kept telling us we’re all going to hell.”

The first man then asked, “What does the new pastor say?” The friend replied, “The new pastor says we’re going to hell, too.”

“So what’s the difference?” asked the first man. “Well,” said the friend, “the difference is that when the previous pastor said it, he sounded like he was glad about it; but when the new man says it, he sounds like it is breaking his heart.”

That is what Paul is saying in this passage. It is breaking his heart that he has to say harsh things to and about nonbelievers, especially those among his fellow Jews.


Chapter 9. The Authority of God

Pottery for Common Use
Pottery for Noble Purpose

I. The Grace of God's Election

  1. God's Promises
  2. Not by Works
  3. The Merciful God

II. The Parable of Potter and Clay

  1. The Potter Makes Pottery
  2. A Lump of Clay
  3. Some Noble and Some Common

III. The Evidence of god's Election

  1. The Words of Hosea
  2. The Words of Isaiah
  3. The Warnings of Prophets
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament
Chapter Nine General Review
1) To appreciate why and how God could choose to reject the nation of
   Israel (except for a remnant) and accept people from among the
With the conclusion of chapter eight Paul has completed his description
of how God's righteousness was manifested in Christ, and the results of
such justification.  However, some of Paul's readers may have received
the impression that God's plan of saving man in Christ apart from the
Law (3:21-22) implies that God has rejected His people of Israel and
the promises made to them.  In chapters nine through eleven, Paul
explains that God has not rejected His people.
Paul first expresses his own concern for his fellow Israelites (1-2).  
If it would do any good, Paul would gladly be condemned in order to
save his brethren who had been the recipients of so many blessings
But Paul quickly states that God's promises had not failed.  He reminds 
them that true Israel is not simply the physical descendants of Israel, 
any more than the promises to Abraham were to be carried out through 
all of Abraham's descendants just because they are his physical 
descendants.  Rather, it depends upon what God has chosen according to 
His Divine purpose.  This is illustrated by contrasting what the 
Scriptures reveal about Isaac and Ishmael, and then about Jacob and 
Esau (6-13).
That God has made such distinction is illustrated further with the 
example of Pharaoh, where God chose to show mercy to some while He 
hardened others [who had already persistently rejected God's mercy, 
MAC] (14-18).  That God has the right to make such choices is His as 
the potter over the clay (19-21).
So God chose to endure "vessels of wrath" with much longsuffering, that 
He might make known His glorious riches to "vessels of mercy" [a point 
expanded upon further in chapter eleven, MAC] (22-23).  And who are 
these "vessels of mercy"?  They consist of Gentiles, and a remnant of 
Israel, as foretold by Hosea and Isaiah (24-29).
Paul's conclusion?  That God's words of promise were not just to the 
fleshly descendants of Abraham (as the Jews would have it), but to the 
faithful remnant of Israel and to the Gentiles who accepted the 
righteousness which is by faith.  The only reason any of the Israelites 
were rejected by God was because of their rejection of the Messiah, 
even as Isaiah foretold (30-33).
      1. His conscience and the Holy Spirit bear witness to his great
         sorrow and grief (1-2)
      2. He would even be willing to be cut off from Christ for their
         sakes (3)
      1. Including the covenants, the Law, the promises (4)
      2. Of whom are the patriarchs, and of course, Christ Himself (5)
      1. They are not all Israel who have descended from Israel (6)
      2. As illustrated with Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau (7-13)
      3. According to God's purpose, whose choice was not based upon
         works (11)
      1. Possible only through His Mercy (14-16)
      2. Just as Pharaoh was the object of His Wrath (17-18)
      3. God's right to choose the objects of His mercy and His wrath
      1. Not of Jews only, as foretold by Hosea (24-26)
      2. But only a remnant of Israel, as foretold by Isaiah (27-29)
      1. Though they had not actively been looking for it (30a)
      2. Yet many have attained righteousness through faith (30b)
   B. FOR ISRAEL (31-33)
      1. Though diligent for the Law, did not have the attitude of
         faith (31-32a)
      2. And therefore stumbled over Christ, as foretold by Isaiah
harden - to make callous, to make strong; can be accomplished in two
         ways:  1) INDIRECTLY, by providing occasion to repent or
         resist (eg: as when judgment is delayed, Ro 2:4-5), and
         2) DIRECTLY, by strengthening those who rebel so as to
         contrast power, mercy, or judgment (for example, a)  Pharaoh,
         to show God's power, Ex 9:12-16; b)  Israel, to show God's 
         mercy, Ro 11:7-11,31; c)  those who disbelieve, to show God's
         judgment, 2 Th 2:9-12
remnant - a small portion of the whole; Isaiah foretold only a remnant 
          of Israel would be saved (Ro 9:27-29)
the Stumbling Stone - a reference to Jesus (cf. 1 Pe 2:6-8)
1) List the main points of this chapter
   - Paul's Concern For His Brethren Of Israel (1-5)
   - The True Children Of God (6-29)
   - The Basis Of God's Choice: Faith vs. No Faith (30-33)
2) How much love did Paul have for the nation of Israel? (2-3)
   - Enough to be lost if it would do any good
3) Who are the true children of God? (8)
   - Children of promise, not children of flesh
4) What does God have the right to do? (18)
   - To show mercy on who He wills, and to harden who He wills
5) What O.T. prophet foretold that Gentiles would be a part of the 
   people of God? (25-26)
   - Hosea
6) What did Isaiah say would happen to the nation of Israel (27)
   - Only a remnant would be saved
7) Why are Gentiles among the saved? (30)
   - Because of faith
8) Why are some Israelites going to be lost? (31-33)
   - They trusted more in the keeping of the Law, and did not believe 
     in Christ

--《Executable Outlines


The Authority of God

Pottery for Common Use

Pottery for Noble Purpose


I.  The Grace of God’s Election

1.    God’s Promises

2.    Not by Works

3.    The Merciful God

II.The Parable of Potter and Clay

1.    The Potter Makes Pottery

2.    A Lump of Clay

3.    Some Noble and Some Common

III.       The Evidence of God’s Election

1.    The Words of Hosea

2.    The Words of Isaiah

3.    The Warnings of Prophets


The Authority of God

Pottery for Common Use

Pottery for Noble Purpose


IV.      The Grace of God’s Election

1.    God’s Promises

2.    Not by Works

3.    The Merciful God

V.       The Parable of Potter and Clay

1.    The Potter Makes Pottery

2.    A Lump of Clay

3.    Some Noble and Some Common

VI.      The Evidence of God’s Election

1.    The Words of Hosea

2.    The Words of Isaiah

3.    The Warnings of Prophets

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament