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Bible Discussion — Romans 9 : Bweinh!

Bible Discussion — Romans 9

October 24, 2007, 11:45 am; posted by
Filed under Bible, Chloe, David, Steve  | 1 Comment

This week, Bweinh.com looks at the next chapter in the book of Romans, Romans 9.

Genesis: 1-4 | 5-9 | 10-14 | 15-18 | 19-22 | 23-26
27-29 | 30-32 | 33-36 | 37-39 | 40-43 | 44-46 | 47-50

Exodus: 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-11 | 12-14 | 15-18
19-22 | 23-26 | 27-30 | 31-34 | 35-40

And the book of Romans: Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3
Ch. 4 | Ch. 5 | Ch. 6 | Ch. 7 | Ch. 8 (I) | Ch. 8 (II)

After introducing the concepts of calling, predestination, and election in chapter 8, Paul must now deal with the ramifications of these doctrines on his people, Israel.

Paul turns a corner here, going from the exaltation of the last few chapters, to equal depths of anguish as he weeps over the condition of his countrymen, the Israelites.

Paul actually says the Israelite people “are not all Israel.” Much like Esau had the right blood, but the wrong heart, the current descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were focused on genealogy rather than God.

The Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it by faith. The Jews, because they tried to gain righteousness by works, did not.

Steve: The Same Lump
Chloe: Cursed and Cut Off

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” — Job 1:21

Gomer’s Theme by Third Day. “She’s forgotten her first love — He’s forgotten that she ever went away and broke his heart…” This is because of Paul’s reference to Hosea.

It reminds me of the many wild hypotheticals from law school. What if the driver wasn’t just speeding, but was speeding down the sidewalk? What if the squatter lived in the abandoned building for seven years straight, but then went to visit his mother for two weeks? And what if God created vessels of wrath meant just for destruction, and vessels of mercy meant just for glory? Discuss.

This chapter is designed to prove the point that no human endeavor can make us worthy of God’s grace, and that includes ancestry. Paul uses the hypothetical discussion of God’s motivations to show that the Israelites don’t have any reason to complain about his response to their breach of the old covenant. He could have done whatever He wanted, including creating people just to destroy them, and any mercy He extends is a free and gracious gift. What are you complaining about?

Importantly, at the end of the chapter, Paul doesn’t say that the Jews had not attained righteousness because of God’s choice. He says they didn’t attain it because they did not seek it by faith.

In the chapter on predestination, Barnes’ Notes point out that the “lump” of clay in verse 21 refers not to mankind in general, but mankind in our fallen state. If the entire race is fallen and deserving of judgment, how could anyone be indignant on behalf of those not chosen for mercy? No one deserves grace and all deserve hell. God is the owner of the Vineyard, who says at the end of the day, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?”

God has called us His people, His loved one, and sons of the living God.

The book of Hosea, which Paul references here, is an amazing story of God’s faithfulness told through the devotion and pain of one humble prophet. Definitely worth reading again if you haven’t been there in a while.

In verses 4-5, Paul finally finishes the truncated list of “why its great to be Jewish” that he started back in chapter 3 — adding adoption, glory (God’s presence in the wilderness), the covenants, the law, service of God (the Temple), His promises and their status as the birth nation of Christ.

Verses 32-33: the stumbling block set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel.

The proverbial potter, casting pots and vessels of all types, shapes, and designs.

9:30-31 — “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.”

9:33 — “Behold I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and a rock of offense: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

9:26 — “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ there they shall be called sons of the living God.”

Who are the objects of His wrath, prepared for destruction?

Actually, verse 20 makes it pretty clear that He owes me no explanation for any of this, so I will refrain for now.

The last four verses sum it up. Attaining righteousness that will last is not a matter of following an external code of laws, but seeking the will of God by faith in Jesus Christ. To a people used to a long and intricate list of regulations, this counterintuitive news probably didn’t appear like the great blessing it really was, and is. They might not have been great at keeping all the laws all the time, but they — like us — probably enjoyed enforcing them.

The wicked are “fitted” for destruction by their own agency, while the righteous are selected and prepared for a Heaven “which He (God Himself) had afore prepared.” God’s hand furthers the righteous, but He does not actively pursue the degeneration of the wicked. He simply leaves them to fully develop into what they are.

Paul couldn’t possibly get more passionate than he is in this chapter. He desperately wants his own people to come to the saving knowledge of Christ, to the point that he would take on a curse to bring them to belief. But in an excellent example to us, he doesn’t allow his passion or empathy to cloud his understanding of the Gospel. Love tells the truth; here that means a fair assessment of how and why the Jews are no longer God’s only chosen people.

God chose Abraham, but rejected his offspring Ishmael. He chose Isaac, but rejected his son Esau. Paul uses these examples to make the case to Israel that God never promised to save all of them — just the ones who pleased Him. He always talked about just a remnant being saved, not the entire nation, simply because they were of Abraham.

Two more chapters are coming on God’s relationship with Israel, and they get a little confusing. But we’ll be here to explore them!


1 Comment to “Bible Discussion — Romans 9”

  1. Steve on October 24th, 2007 6:14 pm

    I was talking with Chloe about this chapter and there was more I wanted to add.

    In verses 22 through 24, I believe Paul is speaking hypothetically about something God could have done. Look, Israelites, he writes, you’re so upset that God is allowing others to be considered his chosen people, but you’re not remembering His plan very well. He’s always made choices based on faith and belief. And think about this — He created everyone anyway, so He could do whatever He wanted to do!

    Then he explains one possibility — He could have made ‘vessels of wrath prepared for destruction’ and ‘vessels of mercy . . . prepared for glory.” What’s most important about this part is the way Paul ends it — by saying that if God had done so, those He called (the vessels of mercy) would be “not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.” The next three verses are quotations from the OT that stress that very thing, that God has planned to bring non-Jews in, based on faith.

    The whole point of this chapter is to explain to the Jews that Gentiles have just as much a right to God’s grace as they do, which is to say none. The ‘vessels of wrath’ and ‘vessels of mercy’ are a way to address that point, by showing the Jews that even if God had done it this way (which Paul doesn’t say He did), Gentiles would have been included in the good segment, because of these other OT verses. Because as it says at the end of the chapter: you must seek God by faith.

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