New Defender's Study Bible Notes
9:6 not all Israel. In this section, Paul is clearly speaking about his “kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3), not about the Gentile church. Nevertheless, God’s election of Israel refers ultimately only to those Israelites who become true children of God by faith. In the coming kingdom, the nation of Israel will be the leading nation of the world (Zechariah 14:16), with the twelve apostles judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:29,30), but the Israelites who participate in the kingdom will only be those who have acknowledged the returning Christ as their Messiah and Redeemer (Zechariah 12:10-11). In the meantime, Israelites who accept Christ in this age are also part of true Israel, while simultaneously being part of the Christian church, in practice being no different from Gentile Christians (Colossians 3:11).
9:7 In Isaac. Of all the biological children of Abraham (Genesis17:18-19; 25:1-2), only Isaac was in the line of promise. In fact, the promised seed in its ultimate fulfillment was none other than Christ Himself (Galatians 3:16).
9:8 children of the promise. Again this has a dual application. Only those Israelites who are saved by faith in Christ participate in God’s ultimate promises to the nation of Israel. Likewise all who come to Christ by faith, whether Jew or Gentile, are spiritual children of Abraham, saved through the promised seed.
9:11 purpose of God. God is Creator of all, and needs no human justification for His actions. It is His prerogative to choose whomever He will. We can be confident that His “purpose” is good and holy, whether or not we understand it now; it is our responsibility simply to trust and thank Him.
9:11 not of works. Before Esau and Jacob were born, they had no record of works, so God could not have chosen one of them on that basis. But neither had either one yet exhibited either faith or rebellion, so God’s election of Jacob rather than Esau was not because of either works or faith, “but of Him that calleth.” In due time, of course, Jacob did manifest saving faith and demonstrate its validity by his works, but both had been foreordained by God in ways inscrutable to man.
9:12 serve the younger. This revelation expressing God’s purpose had been given to Rebekah while the twins were struggling in her womb (Genesis 25:22-23), and she undoubtedly transmitted this word to Isaac, but the latter nevertheless continued to favor Esau over Jacob until God overruled him in traumatic fashion (see notes on Genesis 25–27). It is noteworthy that, in the line of the promised seed, God often chose a younger son, over-riding the natural human tendency to choose the elder (e.g., Seth over Cain, Shem over Japheth, Isaac over Ishmael, Judah over Reuben, Pharez over Er, David over Eliab). Of all in the line of promise whose brothers’ names are given, only Abraham and Jesus Himself were firstborn sons.
9:13 it is written. See Malachi 1:2-3. Undoubtedly, “hated” is used here only in a relative sense. Note a similar usage by Jesus (Luke 14:26).
9:15 saith to Moses. This was said to Moses in response to Moses’ request to see the glory of God (Exodus 33:18-19). Since there are none who merit salvation, there are none who are fit (or who can make themselves fit) to be in God’s immediate presence. Therefore, it is entirely by God’s mercy that any at all are saved, and He surely has the divine right by creation to show mercy on whomever He will (Romans 9:16).
9:17 scripture saith unto Pharaoh. Note here that Paul equates the word spoken by God (Exodus 9:16) with “Scripture.” The fact that this pronouncement of God was written down by Moses (the Greek word for “Scripture” was graphe, meaning a “written document”) gave the writing the authority of God Himself. Note Paul’s summary in II Timothy 3:16,17.
9:18 hardeneth. It was said several times that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 7:3,13; 9:12; 10:20; 11:10; 14:4). But also it was noted that Pharaoh often hardened his own heart (Exodus 7:4,14,22; 8:15,19,32; 9:7,34). In some mysterious way, our human decisions (for which we bear full responsibility) have also been God’s decisions, and vice versa. This is beyond our finite comprehension and we should not try to rationalize it by some human device of reasoning. What God does is right, by definition (Genesis 18:25; Psalm 33:4) and His ways are “past finding out” (Romans 11:33; Psalm 139:6). We must simply trust Him in whatever He does, knowing that He is accomplishing His own eternal purposes thereby (Romans 9:22-23).
9:20 Why. We have no right to ask God: “Why?” Remember that He answered Job’s pleas for understanding merely by reminding Job of the fact of creation (Job 38–41). As our great Potter, He has the right to make His pottery vessels both for honor and dishonor (Romans 9:21). We who have been redeemed by His mercy should be grateful that He did choose us even before the world began (Ephesians 1:3-4; II Timothy 1:9), confident that He—by whatever means He chooses—is preparing His “vessels of mercy” to receive the full manifestation of His glory in the ages to come (Romans 9:23; Ephesians 2:10). The fact that our finite minds cannot comprehend the simultaneous operation of divine election and human responsibility is irrelevant. Both Scripture and human experience demonstrate both to be true. We must both rest in that fact, and act in light of it.
9:25 saith also in Osee. See Hosea 1:9. Although Hosea was speaking of the remnant of Israel, Paul (writing under the Spirit’s inspiration) applies the same principle to God’s calling of a remnant of the Gentiles as well.
9:26 said unto them. Still quoting Hosea (Hosea 2:23), Paul again applies the principle to God’s calling of a remnant from the Gentiles, who had been set aside as a whole after the rebellion at Babel. Hosea had applied it to the remnant of Israel, who as a nation had been set aside, first in the Assyro/Babylonian captivity and then more rigorously in her worldwide dispersion when she rejected their Messiah. God is now “[visiting] the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name” (Acts 15:14).
9:27 Esaias also crieth. Isaiah 10:22. God had promised Abraham that his physical descendants would be very numerous (Genesis 13:16; 15:5; 22:17), a prophetic promise that has been remarkably fulfilled. But only a small remnant among these are actually saved and will inherit His promises.
9:28 the work. “Work” here is the Greek logos, usually rendered “word,” and never translated elsewhere as “work.” Evidently Paul’s intent here is to stress that God’s word concerning both Jew and Gentile will be accomplished quickly. The whole history of the world is brief in light of eternity to come.
9:29 Esaias said before. Quoting Isaiah 1:9. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorra was a very real event in history, even though it was so complete that modern archaeologists have great difficulty in identifying its location, and liberal critics doubt that it ever happened.
9:33 As it is written. See Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14; 28:16. That “stone” which caused Israel to stumble, the “rock” which offended their self-righteousness, was actually a “Him”—none other than their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Israel’s rejection of Him resulted in God setting Israel aside and turning to the Gentiles. This truth is also expounded by Christ (Matthew 21:42) and Peter (I Peter 2:8).