Romans 9:7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called." 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son." 10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger." 13 As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated."

 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called."

The first example shows that God made a sovereign choice among the physical descendants of Abraham in establishing the spiritual line of promise.

God was choosing which nation He would bless not individuals

Ishmael, born to Hagar (Gen. 16)—and the six sons of Keturah as well (Gen. 25:1–4)—were Abraham’s descendants but they were not counted as Abraham’s children (“born ones”) in the line of promise. Instead, as God told Abraham (Gen. 21:12), It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned (lit., “in Isaac seed will be called to you”). Paul repeated the principle for emphasis in different words: It is not the natural children (lit.,“the born ones of the flesh”) who are God’s children (“born ones of God”), but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring To be a physical descendant of Abraham is not enough; one must be chosen by God (cf. “chosen” in Rom. 8:33) and must believe in Him (4:3, 22–24). God’s assurance that the promise would come through Isaac, not Ishmael, was given to Abraham: At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son Gen. 18:10 from the LXX[1]

He distinguishes between the seed of Abraham and children.  Children here refers to those who enter into salvation, those who enter into covenant blessing, those who enter into the promise, life eternal.  He says just because you are the seed of Abraham — that's a phrase that has to do with racial identity — just because you're Jewish, just because you descend from Abraham doesn't mean you are a child of salvation, doesn't mean you're a child of blessing, doesn't mean you're a child of promise, doesn't mean you are a child of God. 

Here is his illustration.  "In Isaac shall thy seed be called."  Now this is most important.  Because we know that everybody who descended from the loins of Abraham is not automatically in the covenant, everybody descending from Abraham is not automatically in the promise, everybody descending from Abraham is not automatically in salvation blessing, and the best way to prove it is to go right back to Abraham and look at his own biography.  Who was the first son born of Abraham?  Ishmael, he was a son of Abraham.  But Ishmael was excluded from the promise.  He was excluded from the covenant.  The second son and the first legitimate son born of Sarah was Isaac.  And Isaac was included.  Was Isaac better?  Did he earn it?  No, it all happened before Isaac was ever born or Ishmael.  It was the calling of God, "In Isaac shall thy seed be called."

Paul's argument is very simple.  Ishmael and Isaac demonstrate that God never intended all those naturally descending from Abraham to be a part of the line from which the covenant blessing came. 

The point is, God is selected one nation to be the people whose line contained the promised Seed Jesus.

Ishmael did not go to hell based on these scriptures, so he was not predestined to hell because he was not chosen of God

Ge 25:8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.

 Ge 25:17 These were the years of the life of Ishmael: one hundred and thirty-seven years; and he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people.

 Ge 35:29 So Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people, being old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

 Ge 49:33 And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

 Nu 20:24 "Aaron shall be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the children of Israel, because you rebelled against My word at the water of Meribah.

 Nu 20:26 "and strip Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son; for Aaron shall be gathered to his people and die there."

 De 32:50 "and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, just as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people;

     8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.

It starts out "that is," which indicates to us that he's giving us a further explanation.  "That is they who are the children of the flesh," that is equal to the phrase "Abraham's seed" in verse 7, or the seed of Abraham.  Those who are physically descending from Abraham, these are not the children of God, that's equal to the children of verse 7. 

In other words, just being physically from the loins of Abraham does not mean you're a child of God.  "But the children of the promise,” that's another way to say the children of God, or the children of verse 7 “are counted as the seed."

     Who are the true children of God?  It's the children of promise.  They're called that because they were called by God to receive the promise of salvation.  They are considered the true seed.  They are regarded as the recipients of promise.  And Isaac is the illustration. 

     It was not all the natural children of Abraham that God had in mind when He spoke of blessing Abraham's seed uniquely. It was only of the children born supernaturally in fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham about seed that He was speaking, namely, Isaac's descendants.

Isaac is a perfect illustration of a believer because he was born by a special act of God, he was born by supernatural power, and he was born according to a divine promise.  He's a picture of anyone who is redeemed.

 9 For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son."

The word of promise was given in Genesis 18:10, "And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life and lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. That's the word of promise, Verse 14: "Is anything too hard for the Lord?  At the time appointed I will return unto thee according to the time of life and Sarah shall have a son."  The word of promise is repeated, verse 10. It's repeated in verse 14.  And here in verse 9, "This is the word of promise, at this time will I come and Sarah shall have a son," quoted right out of Genesis 18:14That's the promise.  Sarah shall have a son.  Not Hagar shall have a son, and not Keturah shall have a son, Sarah shall have a son.  And so God is selective.  Isaac was born at a special time, born by the special power of God, and born by the promise of God. He is the child of divine choice as God acts in human history.

Just as it is said of Ruth that she was uniquely set by God in a special place, chapter 1:6, just as it is said of Esther that she had come to the kingdom for just such a time as that, just as the Bible tells us God acts through various human beings at special times in history, just as it says of Christ in Galatians 4 that He came at appointed time in the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son made of a woman, made unto the law and so forth, so it is that in the right moment in the right time by the right choice God chose to give a child of promise, Isaac.  And this is all just an illustration, simply pointing out the fact that God is selective.

     It's very difficult for the Jews to accept this because what it says to them is that within the Jewish race there are some that are to be the children of the promise, not all. So wholesale Jewish unbelief doesn't make us panic like God has overturned His promises. 

God has always worked through a remnant, a saved minority.

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

But there's even a stronger illustration here in verse 10: Rebecca was the daughter of Bethuel, remember, from Padan-Aram, chosen as a wife, as a bride for Isaac.  You remember that great story of how the servant went to find a bride for Isaac.  Genesis 24.  And she was to be the bride.  And she came back and was the bride.  And according to Genesis 25, she gave birth.  And you remember, she gave birth to twins, Genesis 25. You can read it in verses 19 to 24.  Their names were Jacob and Esau.  And from those two God chose one through whom would come the line of promise and the one was whom?  Jacob.  Esau was first born and he should have had the right of primogenitor (the first born privileges), which meant a double blessing and double respect.  But God chose Jacob, and what it means is God is selective.  And He's not only selective but sometimes He chooses what doesn't seem to be the way you should choose.  He has that sovereign right.

So when Rebecca had conceived by one, that's one man, that is by our father Isaac, jump to verse 12, "It was said to her," verse 11 is a parenthesis, "It was said to her, ‘The elder shall serve the younger.’"  Who said that?  Who said that?  Genesis 25 says God said it.  God says I choose Jacob. I choose the younger to be set over the elder.  And that was against the normal course of life.  But that was God's choice.

     Now if you read Genesis 25 you find a lot of interesting things about these two men, Jacob and Esau. 

11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),

           According to God's purpose, whose choice was not based upon works (11)

Esau was the one who was first born.  He was not chosen of God.  And his life confirmed that, didn't it?  You see, when God chooses that's only part of it.  God rejected Esau as the line of promise.  And Esau also rejected God.  And you can be sure that God only rejects those who reject Him and only chooses those who choose Him. That's the divine mystery. 

 12 it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger."

The other one was Jacob, he was the younger.  And verse 12 says that the text said the elder shall serve the younger. You can read it in Genesis 25, God said that.  The elder is going to serve the younger.  He bought the birthright from Esau.  He received the blessing.  Oh, he received it by deception, didn't he?  He pretended to be Esau.  His mother put him up to it.  Stupid.  What would Rebecca do that for?  She knew God said the elder will serve the younger.  She knew God said Jacob is the one I choose. Why do you do that?  Why don't you trust God if He says it's going to be that way that He'll make it happen without being a deceiver?  Isn't it sad the way people take things into their own hands?  His mother put him up to it in spite of the Word of the Lord.  All they had to do was wait and God would have worked it out that he received the blessing, but they tried to deceive and get it on their own.  Consequently, poor Jacob had a life of pain and sorrow and trouble.

     Jacob did seek God.  He's the one who wrestled with an angel and out of that wrestling God changed his name from Jacob to what?  To Israel.  And he did seek God.  He had a heart for God.  But he suffered because of his sin.  He was chastened by the Lord.  He was hated by his brother.  His life was full of pain and sorrow.  But he did seek God and there was a righteousness in him.  And he was God's chosen child.  So the point that Paul is making is the same point only he's using a different illustration. When it came to Jacob and Esau, God made a choice, too.  So it shouldn't be surprising to us that all of the Jews don't believe. All of Abraham's sons weren't chosen as children of promise nor all of Isaac's either.

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

"The strong contrast is a Semitic idiom that heightens the comparison by stating it in absolute terms."

it is evident that in this case the word hate means to love less, to regard and treat with less favor. Thus in Gen. 29: 33, Leah says, she was hated by her husband; while in the preceding verse, the same idea is expressed by saying, “Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah,” Matt. 10: 37. Luke 14: 26, “If a man come to me and hate not his father and mother,” &. Joh 12:25 "He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.


That is a direct quote from Malachi 1:2-3.  "I hated Esau, laid his mountains and his heritage waste."  He hated Esau.  Verse 2, I love Jacob.  Jacob I loved, Esau I hated.  Now listen carefully.  I do not believe that this is a primary reference to the individual Jacob and the individual Esau. I don't think that's the point.  Because that's never said in the Old Testament.  That is never uttered in the book of Genesis.  God never says when those young men are born, "I hate Esau."  He never says it during the life of Jacob and He never says it during the life of Esau.  There's no such statement made.  In fact, it is probably nearly a thousand years later when the prophet says, "Esau have I hated."  And the Esau of His hatred is the idolatrous, pagan kingdom of Edom that's come from the loins of Esau.  And the Jacob He loves is the Israel, the Israel of God, His people, His nation, the people of blessing.




  1. God did not base His election on the physical. Therefore, if the nation of Israel—Abraham’s physical descendants—has rejected God’s Word, this does not nullify God’s elective purposes at all.[1]
  2. God chose Jacob before the babies were born. The two boys had done neither good nor evil, so God’s choice was not based on their character or conduct. Romans 9:13 is a reference to Malachi 1:2–3 and refers to nations (Israel and Edom) and not individual sinners. God does not hate sinners. John 3:16 makes it clear that He loves sinners. The statement here has to do with national election, not individual. Since God’s election of Israel does not depend on human merit, their disobedience cannot nullify the elective purposes of God. God is faithful even though His people are unfaithful.[1]
  3. We cannot explain the relationship between man’s choice and God’s purpose, but we know that both are true and are taught in the Word.[1]
  4. We cannot help but admire Paul’s burden for Israel. His words remind us of Moses in Ex. 32:31–32. Do we have that kind of a burden for lost souls? Christ loved us so much He became a curse for us.
  5. Keep in mind that the election discussed in Rom. 9–11 is national and not individual. To apply all the truths of these chapters to the salvation or security of the individual believer is to miss their message completely. In fact, Paul carefully points out that he is discussing the Jews and Gentiles as peoples, not individual sinners.



Romans 9:6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel.



Paul's train of thought unfolds as follows in these verses. Because God's election of Israel did not depend on natural descent (vv. 6-10) or human merit (vv. 11-14), Israel's disobedience cannot nullify God's determined purpose for the nation.

The failure of the Jews to respond to the gospel of Christ did not mean God’s Word had failed. Instead, this rejection was simply the current example of the principle of God’s sovereign choice established in the Old Testament. Paul reminded his readers of a truth he had presented earlier: For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel, that is, spiritual Israel (cf. 2:28–29).[1]

  1. They are not all Israel who have descended from Israel (6)

Ro 9:6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel

The word of God that was in Paul's mind was evidently God's revelation of His plans for Israel in the Old Testament. God revealed that He had chosen Israel to be a kingdom of priests (Exod. 19:5-6). The Israelites were to function as priests in the world by bringing the nations to God (cf. Isa. 42:6). They were to do this by demonstrating through their life in the Holy Land how glorious it can be to live under the government of God. Israel had failed to carry out God's purpose for her thus far and consequently had suffered His discipline. It looked as though the word that God had spoken concerning Israel's purpose had failed. The Greek word translated "failed" means "gone off its course," like a ship. Paul proceeded to show that God would accomplish His purpose for Israel in the rest of chapters 9—11.

Romans 9—11 contains 11 occurrences of the term 'Israel,' and in every case it refers to ethnic, or national, Israel. Never does the term include Gentiles within its meaning. The NT use of the term is identical with the Pauline sense in this section."

Saved Gentiles are also Abraham's seed, but they are not in view here. Paul was considering only two kinds of Israelites: natural (ethnic) Israelites, both saved and unsaved, and spiritual Israelites, saved natural Israelites.

The failure of the Jews to respond to the gospel of Christ did not mean God’s Word had failed. Instead, this rejection was simply the current example of the principle of God’s sovereign choice established in the Old Testament. Paul reminded his readers of a truth he had presented earlier: For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel, that is, spiritual Israel (cf. 2:28–29).[1]

That is a very important statement: For they are not Israel who are of Israel.  What does he mean by that?  He means that God never promises unconditionally to each offspring of Abraham covenant blessing just because he is an offspring of Abraham.  Did you get that?  You see, the Jew believes that because he is fleshly descending from Abraham he therefore is included in the covenant; because he is a Jew by birth, he is therefore a child of promise.  He is therefore redeemed, if you want to put it in our manner of speaking.  He is therefore saved.  He is therefore going to go to heaven.  Nevertheless, God never intended that all Israel would be redeemed Israel, for they are not all the true Israel who are of the fleshly Israel.

The nation was elected to privilege but only individuals are elected to salvation.  The real Israel is the Israel of faith and throughout all of the history of Israel, there have been faithless Jews.  It is not anything just common to the time of Christ.

In fact, if you go to chapter 11 you will find that in verse 4 during the time of Elijah, go way back, in the time of Elijah, verse 4, God says, "I have reserved to Myself seven-thousand men who've not bowed the knee to the image of Baal."  But what about the multiplied tens of thousands of others?  They had bowed the knee to Baal, they had entered into paganism.  Even in Elijah's time all Israel was not true Israel.

This is merely an application of our Lord’s words, That which is born of the flesh is flesh. It is not what we get from our fathers and mothers that ensures our place in the family of God.”[1]

Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 4, Hebrews 11:4, the great chapter on faith. It says in verse 4, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain by which he obtained witness that he was righteous.  Righteousness did not come because he was born of Adam.  Righteousness did not come because he offered a sacrifice.  Righteousness came because he trusted in a Christ to come and offered an excellent sacrifice that was born of his righteousness,

John chapter 8, same concept, verse 39, but here Jesus is confronted by the religious leaders and their hope, of course, is in their Abrahamic descent.  They believe they are part of the kingdom because they were born of the seed of Abraham.  They say in verse 33, "We are Abraham's seed," that is their claim to fame.  In verse 39, they answered and said, "Abraham is our father.” That makes us invincible.  Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children you would do the works of Abraham."  Now what does he mean by that? They were Abraham's children physically but he says if you were really Abraham's children spiritually, you would do the things that he did.  And what did he do?  He did righteous things. 

Look at Galatians chapter 3 for another scripture that will help us understand this.  Chapter 3:6, "Even as Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness, know ye therefore that they who are of faith the same are the children of Abraham."  Verse 9: "So then they who are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham."  That is the point.  So when we go back to Romans chapter 9 we really are hearing an echo of what he said in Romans chapter 2 verses 28 and 29, for he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh but he is a Jew who is one inwardly and circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit and not in the letter whose praise is not of men but of God.

Galatians 3:29 it says, "If you are Christ's then are you Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.”  If you are Christ's then you are really Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise. 

  1. Christians believe in Christ. The Christ of the early Christian community and of all true Christians everywhere, is the Christ of the New Testament, which means that he is the Son of God who became a man for our salvation. This is the one on whom the Christians believed. Moreover, this belief was no mere intellectual conviction. I have often said that faith (or belief) has three elements. The first is its intellectual content: who Jesus is and what he has done for our salvation. The second is the emotional part being broken over our sin and being moved by Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. The third is personal commitment, the most important part of all. It means giving oneself to Jesus, becoming his, taking up his cross, being a disciple.

This is what the believers in Antioch had done. They had committed themselves to Jesus so thoroughly that the pagans who looked on said, “They are Christ ones, Christians.”

  1. Christians follow Christ. There was a second characteristic of these first Christians, which is also characteristic of all true Christians at all times. It is wrapped up in the matter of commitment, as I have just indicated: Christians are followers of Jesus. That is, if they have believed on him in a saving way and not merely by some mere mental intellectual assent to his deity, then they are following him on the path he sets before them. That path is the path of obedience, and as they walk along it, they become increasingly like the one they are following and obeying.

This is an important dimension of what it means to be a Christian. To be a Christian means to believe on Jesus, surely. But it also means to be following Jesus and thus becoming increasingly like him. A true Christian is someone who is becoming like Jesus Christ.

  1. Christians witness to Christ. I think there must have been another reason why the early Christians were called Christians, and it is that they were apparently always talking about their Savior. The name of Jesus was constantly on their tongues, his gospel consistently on their hearts, and his glory uppermost in their minds. They were always looking for others whom they could tell about him, and they were always praying and working at their witness so that these others might be saved.

It is significant in this respect that the first great missionary movement of the church began in Antioch. We are told about it in Acts 13: “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off” (vv. 2–3). Paul undertook three missionary journeys at the direction of this church and with accountability to it, for at the end of each assignment he reported to the congregation what God had done to save other Gentiles and some Jews through him.

We cannot forget that Jesus himself said that his followers would be witnesses: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

  1. Christians learn more and more about Christ. Here is a fourth thing that is characteristic of true Christians. They want to learn more about Jesus. We are told of the Christians at Antioch that after Barnabas had gone to their city to encourage the infant church in its faith, he then went to Tarsus in Turkey to look for Paul, whom he remembered from earlier days (Acts 11:22–25). When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch so that “for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people” (v. 26a). It is significant that it was immediately after this, after the Christians at Antioch had been carefully taught about Jesus, that they “were first called Christians” (v. 26b).

As they learn about Jesus Christ, Christians naturally become more like him, intensify their love for him, and witness about him to others.[1]

A Time for Self-Examination

The point of all this is that each of us who calls himself or herself a Christian should be led to self-examination. And what we should ask ourselves is: “Am I a true Christian, or am I a Christian in name only?” This is a serious question and a necessary one. For if Israel—with all the spiritual advantages that Paul mentions in Romans 9—could be composed of thousands or even millions who were not true Israel, it is certain that the visible church of Jesus Christ in our day is filled with many who are actually unbelievers.

Paul told the Corinthians, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5a).

Peter told his readers, “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10a).[1]



  1. the receiving of the Law (Deut. 5:1–22),

This would refer to (1) Moses’ receiving the Law on Mt. Sinai (cf. Exod. 19–20)

One of the chief criticisms of Paul by his Jewish countrymen seems to have been his alleged disregard for the law, since he taught that salvation was by grace through the atoning work of Christ and not by law-keeping.

However, Paul does not discount the law’s value. In fact, he has already affirmed its superlative value in Romans 3, where he first raised the matter of Jewish advantages. “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew?” he asked. The answer: “Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God” (vv. 1–2). The phrase “the receiving of the law” means the same thing here.

This extraordinary advantage was possessed by no other nation until the Christian era, when the gospel of God’s grace in Christ and the books that taught it were deliberately taken to the entire world by the apostles and early missionaries in obedience to Christ’s express command.[1]

  1. the temple worship (latreia, “sacred service,” which may also include service in the tabernacle),

David’s developing the Temple service, and (2) possibly the Tabernacle of the Wilderness Wandering Period (cf. Exod. 25–40 and Leviticus).

This phrase refers to the extensive set of regulations for the religious rituals to be practiced first at the tabernacle and then at the temple in Jerusalem. It involves the construction of the temple itself, the laws governing the various sacrifices, and the times of the year for and nature of the specified holy days of Israel.                           

            The importance of these things is that they were designed to show the way in which a sinful human being could approach the thrice holy God. God must be approached by means of a blood sacrifice, which testified to the gravity of sin (“the wages of sin is death,” Rom. 6:23) and to the way in which an innocent substitute could die in the sinner’s place. Eventually all such sacrifices, which were only figures of the ultimate and true sacrifice, were brought to completion and fulfilled by Jesus Christ.[1]

Jer 31:35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day, The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, And its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name): 36 "If those ordinances depart From before Me, says the LORD, Then the seed of Israel shall also cease From being a nation before Me forever." 37 Thus says the LORD: "If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel For all that they have done, says the LORD.

  1. and the promises (esp. of the coming Messiah).

Since “the covenants” are mentioned earlier, “the promises” speak of those promises contained within the covenants and also refer to the Messiah (e.g. Gen. 3:15; 49:10; Deut. 18:15, 18–19; 2 Sam. 7; Ps. 16:10, 22; 118:22; Isa. 7:14; 9:6; 11:1–5; 53; Dan. 7:13, 27; Micah 5:2–5a; Zech. 2:6–13; 6:12–13; 9:9; 11:12.

These promises (covenants) are both unconditional and conditional. They were unconditional as far as God’s performance (cf. Gen. 15:12–21), but conditional on mankind’s faith and obedience (cf. Gen. 15:6 and Rom. 4). Only Israel had God’s self-revelation before the coming of Christ.[1]

Ro 9:5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

V (5) Also the Israelites were in the line of promise from its beginning in

  1. the patriarchs (cf. Matt. 1:1–16;

The “patriarchs” are the three fathers of the Jewish nation, namely, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, though in a looser sense such distinguished ancestors as Moses and David should also be included. These were all illustrious men to whom God revealed himself in special ways and through whom he worked to call out and bless his ancient people. To have such devout, saintly, and influential men in one’s past is rightly regarded by Paul as a significant national distinction of which Jewish people could all justly be proud[1] Genesis 12–50 (cf. Rom. 11:28; Deut. 7:8; 10:15).

  1. “From whom is the Christ according to the flesh” This referred to the physical lineage of the Messiah, the Anointed One, God’s special chosen servant who would accomplish God’s promises and plans, (cf. 10:6).

The term “Christ” is the Greek translation of the Hebrew “Anointed One.” In the OT, three groups of leaders were anointed with special holy oil (1) kings of Israel, (2) high priests of Israel, and (3) prophets of Israel. It was a symbol of God’s choosing and equipping them for His service. Jesus fulfilled all three of these anointed offices (cf. Heb. 1:2–3). He is God’s full revelation because He was God incarnate (cf. Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Micah 5:2–5a; Col. 1:13–20).[1]

Ro 1:3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, to its fulfillment in the Messiah,

The human ancestry of Christ. Everything Paul has said to this point would have been thoroughly echoed by his Jewish opponents, for they, too, regarded all these spiritual advantages highly, though they misunderstood and misused some of them. This is not the case with the last item Paul mentions, for they would have understood at once that Paul is referring here to Jesus of Nazareth, and they had no intention of recognizing Jesus as their national Messiah. Yet Paul cannot leave this matter out, if for no other reason than that everything he has mentioned thus far leads up to Jesus.

This is not a random collection of items. There is actually a very close connection between these advantages, according to which each rightly leads to the one following and all lead to Christ. Adoption is the right starting point, for it places the source of salvation in God’s electing grace, just as is the case also for believers in Christ. Having chosen to enter into a special relationship with his people, the next step was for God to reveal himself to them in a special way, which is what the word glory describes. God has done that for us in Christ, for he is where God’s glory must be seen today (John 2:11; 2 Cor. 3:18). When God revealed himself to the people, as he did at Mount Sinai, it was to enter into special covenants or agreements with them, to give them the law by which they were to live, to show the way of salvation through the temple rituals, and to point forward the full realization of their spiritual inheritance when the Messiah should at last be revealed.

The flow of God’s actions reaches back to the patriarchs, with which it began, and forward to the coming of Jesus, in whom it culminates (v. 5). These verses are as full and reasoned a statement of the blessings of God to Israel and the spiritual advantages of Old Testament religion as could possibly be given. Israel truly lacked nothing. The nation was enriched with every spiritual blessing and advantage.[1]

 Who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. This is a clear affirmation of the deity of Messiah.[1].

Paul does not use Theos for Jesus often, but he does use it (cf. Acts 20:28; Titus 2:13; Phil. 2:6).

All the early church Fathers interpreted this text as referring to Jesus[1]

This is a very striking statement. For Paul is not only saying that the Messiah was born of Israel, that is, that he was a Jew. He is also saying that this Jewish Messiah, born of Israel according to the flesh, is, in fact, God. And he is saying it in plain language. If we substitute the name Jesus for Christ, which we can do, since Paul is obviously writing about Jesus, we have the statement: “Jesus, who is God over all, forever praised!” Or, to simplify it even further, “Jesus … is God over all.”

 The sentence means that Jesus is himself the only and most high God.

 “Who is over all” This also could be a descriptive phrase for God the Father or Jesus the Son. It does reflect Jesus’ statement of Matt. 28:19 and Paul’s in Col. 1:15–20. This majestic phrase showed the height of Israel’s folly in rejecting Jesus of Nazareth.

Col 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

“Forever” This is literally the Greek vernacular phrase “unto the ages” (cf. Luke 1:33; Rom. 1:25; 11:36; Gal. 1:5; 1 Tim. 1:17).[1]

We have to admit at this point that there is an obvious restraint among the New Testament writers to say starkly that “Jesus is God.” And for good reason. Without explanation, a statement like this might be understood as teaching that God left heaven in order to come to earth in the person of the human Jesus, leaving heaven without his presence. Each of the New Testament writers knew that this is not an accurate picture. Each was aware of the doctrine of the Trinity, according to which God is described as being one God but existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Since Jesus is the Son of God, it was customary for them to call him that, rather than simply “God,” reserving the unembellished word God for God the Father.

This is why Jesus is not often called God explicitly.

Yet, although it is unusual to find Jesus called God for the reasons just given, it is not the case that he is never called God.

At the very beginning of that, Gospel of John writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (vv. 1–2, emphasis added).

A bit later, “the Word” is identified as Jesus (v. 14), so the text says that Jesus is God. True, the verses are written so as to distinguish the persons of the Father and Son within the Trinity. But they nevertheless identify Jesus as God explicitly.

Later in John’s Gospel, we find the same thing in Thomas’s great confession, which is the Gospel’s spiritual climax. “Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ ” (John 20:28).

Acts 20:28 is another important passage. Here Paul is speaking to elders of the church at Ephesus, telling them to, “be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” The blood that was the price of our redemption is the blood of Christ, but here it is called the blood of God. The only way Paul could make this identification is by thinking of Christ as being God so directly and naturally, that what he posits of one can without any forcefulness be said of the other.

Hebrews 1:8 calls Jesus “God” by applying Psalm 45:6–7 to him: “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever. …”

The best example of an identification of Jesus with God in Paul’s writings, apart from our text, is Titus 2:13–14, where Paul writes, “We wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. …” Apart from the context, the words God and Savior could mean only “God the Father and God the Son.” But since Paul is writing of the second coming and sudden appearance of Jesus, both words must refer to him, for it is not God the Father who is going to appear suddenly but rather “our great God and Savior,” who is Jesus.

Therefore, it is not true that Paul never identifies Jesus with God explicitly. He does, as do other New Testament writers, in spite of the discretion and care with which they usually write. However, even if it were the case that Paul nowhere else explicitly identifies Jesus as God, that fact alone does not prove that he cannot do it here—which, in fact, he does.

I like what John Calvin says of the attempt to separate God from Christ by splitting up the text in the way I have described. He writes wisely, “To separate this clause from the rest of the context for the purpose of depriving Christ of this clear witness to his divinity is a bold attempt to create darkness where there is full light.”

Even better is the judgment of Robert Haldane: “The Scriptures have many real difficulties, which are calculated to try or to increase the faith and patience of the Christian, and are evidently designed to enlarge his acquaintance with the Word of God by obliging him more diligently to search into them [sic] and place his dependence on the Spirit of truth. But when language as clear as in the present passage is perverted to avoid recognizing the obvious truth contained in the divine testimony, it more fully manifests the depravity of human nature and the rooted enmity of the carnal mind against God, than the grossest works of the flesh.”

Like many other commentators and Bible teachers, I find Romans 9:5 to be one of the most beautiful testimonies to the full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ in the entire Bible.


  1. To whom much is given, much is required

Lu 12:46 "the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 "And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 "But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

2.     To be saved, you have to believe that Jesus is God and in Him only can you be saved



Romans 9:4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

 So immediately after having expressed his great love for his people, he writes two sentences that explain the genuine and admirable advantages they possess. [1]

In this chapter Paul is going to say that salvation is of God’s grace entirely. But before he does, he reminds us that there are nevertheless very great advantages even to the outward forms of God’s revealed religion.

 This series of NOUN PHRASES spells out in graphic detail the privileges of Israel. Their unbelief was all the more blamable in light of these advantages. To whom much is given, much is required Luke 12:48![1]


Ro 9:4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;

  • Paul then listed the spiritual privileges which belonged to the people of Israel as God’s chosen nation:
  1. “Israelites” - This was the OT covenant name for Abraham’s seed. Jacob’s name after a pivotal encounter with God was changed to Israel (cf. Gen. 32:28). It became the collective title for the Jewish nation.[1]
  2. the adoption as sons - (cf. Ex. 4:22 “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is My son, My firstborn.),

This is the only place in the New Testament where adoption is used of Israel. Normally it is used of believers in Jesus Christ, which is how Paul has used it thus far in Romans (Rom. 8:15, 23). When it is used of believers it refers to their new status before God as his spiritual sons and daughters resulting from redemption and the new birth. When it is used of Israel, as here, it refers to God’s selection of the Jews as an elect nation through which he would bring salvation to the world.

In the OT the PLURAL of “sons” usually referred to the angels (cf. Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Dan. 3:25; Ps. 29:1; 89:6–7), while the SINGULAR referred to (1) the Israeli King (cf. 2Sam. 7:14); (2) the nation (cf. Exod. 4:22, 23; Deut. 14:1; Hosea 11:1); (3) the Messiah (cf. Ps. 2:7); or (4) it can refer to humans (cf. Deut. 32:5; Ps. 73:15; Ezek. 2:1; Hos. 1:10. Gen. 6:2 is ambiguous; it could be either). In the NT it refers to one who belongs to the family of God.[1]

De 7:7 "The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; 8 "but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Paul’s major metaphor for salvation was “adoption,” while Peter and John’s was “born again.” They are both family figures of speech. It is not a Jewish, but a Roman, figure of speech. Adoption was a very expensive and time consuming legal procedure under Roman law. Once adopted the person was considered a new person who could not be legally disowned or killed by their adoptive father.[1]

  1. the divine glory - The Hebrew root meant “to be heavy” which was a metaphor for that which was valuable. Here it refers to (1) God’s revealing Himself on Mt. Sinai (cf. Exod. 19:18–19); or (2) the Shekinah cloud of glory which led the Israelites during the Wilderness Wandering Period (cf. Exod. 40:34–38). YHWH uniquely revealed Himself to Israel. YHWH’s presence was referred to as His glory (cf. 1 Kgs. 8:10–11; Ezek. 1:28).[1].

In the Old Testament “glory” usually refers to the visible symbol of the presence of God described by later Judaism as the Shekinah, and that this is what “glory” probably refers to here.

This visible symbol of God’s presence seems to have taken a variety of forms. It appeared first at the time of the exodus from Egypt, when it was a great cloud separating the fleeing nation from the pursuing Egyptians. This cloud guided them during the years of their desert wandering, protecting them from the sun by day and turning into a pillar of fire by night to give both light and warmth to their encampment. Later the glory descended on Mount Sinai as a dark cloud accompanied by thunder and lightning when the law was given to Moses (Exod. 24:16–17). Later it filled the tabernacle (Exod. 40:34–38) and rested over the Ark of the Covenant within the Most Holy Place. Still later it settled down as an intense light above the Mercy Seat of the Ark between the wings of the cherubim (Lev. 16:2). From there, in the time of Ezekiel, it departed and returned to heaven in response to the escalating sins of the people (Ezek. 10; 11).

John Murray wrote, “This glory was the sign of God’s presence with Israel and certified to Israel that God dwelt among them and met with them.”

Ex 16:10 It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 24:17; 40:34; 1Kings 8:11),

  1. the covenants (a covenant is defined as promises, agreements, contracts, bond, pledges, treaties, bond)- (Gen. 15:18; 2 Sam. 7:12–16; 31:31–34),

Covenant is the means by which the one true God deals with His human creation. The concept of covenant, treaty, or agreement is crucial in understanding the biblical revelation.[1]

  1. The Types of Covenants

There are two types of covenants in the Bible: conditional and unconditional. It is important to distinguish between these two types of covenants in order to have a clear picture of what the Bible teaches.

  1. Conditional Covenants

A conditional covenant is a bilateral (two-sided) covenant in which a proposal of God to man is characterized by the formula: if you will, then I will where God promises to grant special blessings to man providing man fulfills certain conditions contained in the covenant. Man's failure to do so often results in punishment. Thus one's response to the covenant agreement brings either blessings or cursing’s. The blessings are secured by obedience and man must meet his conditions before God will meet His.

Two of the eight covenants of the Bible are conditional: The Edenic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant.

  1. Unconditional Covenants

An unconditional covenant is a unilateral (one sided) covenant and is a sovereign act of God where He unconditionally obligates Himself to bring to pass definite blessings and conditions for the covenanted people.

This covenant is characterized by the formula: I will which declares God's determination to do as He promises. Blessings are secured by the grace of God. There may be conditions in the covenant by which God requests the covenanted one to fulfill out of gratitude, but they are not themselves the basis of God's fulfilling His promises.

 Six of the eight covenants are unconditional: The Adamic Covenant, the Noahic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Palestinian or Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant.

Five of these eight covenants were made exclusively with Israel while the others were made with mankind in general. Only one of the five covenants made with Israel is conditional: The Mosaic Covenant. The other four covenants with Israel are all unconditional: the Abrahamic Covenant, the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant.

Four things should be noted concerning the nature of the unconditional covenants made with Israel.

     First: they are literal (actual) covenants (promises) and their contents must be interpreted literally as well.

     Second: the covenants that God has made with Israel are eternal and are not in any way restricted or altered by time.

     Third: it is necessary to re-emphasize that these are unconditional covenants that were not nullified because of Israel's disobedience; because the covenants are unconditional and totally dependent upon God for fulfillment, their ultimate fulfillment can be expected.

Fourth: these covenants were made with a specific people: Israel. This point is brought out by Paul in Romans 9:4: who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.

This passage clearly points out that these covenants were made with the covenanted people and are Israel's possession.

This is brought out again in Ephesians 2:11-12 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh--who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands-- 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

  1. The Covenants with Israel

Five of the eight Bible covenants belong to the people of Israel and, as this passage notes, Gentiles were considered strangers from the covenants.

  1. The Principle of the Timing of the Provisions

A covenant can be signed, sealed, and made a specific point of history, but this does not mean that all the provisions go immediately into effect.

In fact, three different things happen once a covenant is sealed:

first, some go into effect right away;

second, some provisions go into effect in the near future, which may be twenty-five years away or five hundred years away:

third, some provisions go into effect only in the distant prophetic future, not having been fulfilled to this day.




  1. There have been two ways of understanding this literary unit’s relationship to chapters 1–8.
  2. It is a totally separate topic, a theological parenthesis
  3. There is a drastic contrast and lack of logical connection between 8:39 and 9:1.
  4. It is directly related to the historical tension in the church at Rome between believing Jews and believing Gentiles. It was possibly related to the growing Gentile leadership of the Church.
  5. There was misunderstanding about Paul’s preaching concerning Israel (and the Law) and his apostleship to the Gentiles (offer of free grace), therefore, he deals with this topic in this section.

But I believe that:

  1. It is the climax and logical conclusion of Paul’s presentation of the gospel.
  2. Paul concludes chapter 8 with the promise of “no separation from the love of God.” What about the unbelief of the covenant people?
  3. Romans 9–11 answers the paradox of the gospel concerning Israel’s unbelief!
  4. Paul has been addressing this very issue all through the letter (cf. 1:3, 16; 3:21, 31 and 4:1ff).
  5. Paul claims that God is true to His Word. What about His OT word to Israel? Are all those promises null and void?[1]

 Romans 9–11 forms a literary unit. It must be interpreted together as a whole. However, there are at least three major subject divisions.

  1. 9:1–29 (focusing on God’s sovereignty)
  2. 9:30–10:21 (focusing on human responsibility)
  3. 11:1–32 (God’s inclusive, eternal, redemptive purpose)

 This section is as much a cry from the heart as a presentation from the mind.  Its passion reminds one of God’s heart breaking over rebellious Israel in Hosea 11:1–4, 8–9.

In many ways the pain and goodness of the Law in chapter 7 are paralleled in chapters 9–10. In both cases Paul’s heart was breaking over the irony of a law from God that brought death instead of life!

This text, like Eph. 1:3–14, deals with the eternal purposes of God for the redemption of humanity. At first it seems to describe God choosing some individuals and rejecting other individuals (supralapsarian Calvinism), however, I think the focus is not on individuals, but on God’s eternal plan of redemption (cf. Gen. 3:15; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28; and 13:29).

The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 2, “The New Testament,” edited by Joseph A. Fitzmyer and Raymond E. Brown, says:

“It is important to realize from the outset that Paul’s perspective is corporate; he is not discussing the responsibility of individuals. If he seems to bring up the question of divine predestination, this has nothing to do with the predestination of individuals to glory” (p. 318)[1]

Related Insights to Chapter 9

  1. What a drastic change of attitude occurs between chapter 8 and chapter 9.
  2. This literary unit (9–11) deals with (1) the basis of salvation, (2) the electing purpose of God, and (3) the faithlessness of unbelieving Israel versus the faithfulness of YHWH!
  3. Chapter 9 is one of the strongest NT passages on God’s sovereignty (i.e. the other is Eph. 1:3–14) while chapter 10 states human free will clearly and repeatedly (cf. “everyone” v. 4; “whosoever” vv. 11, 13; “all” v. 12 {twice}). Paul never tries to reconcile this theological tension. They are both true! Most Bible doctrines are presented in paradoxical or dialectical pairs. Most historically developed theological systems are logical, but they proof-text only one aspect of biblical truth. Both Augustinianism and Calvinism versus semi—Peligianism and Arminianism have elements of truth and error. Biblical tension between doctrines is preferable to a proof-texted, dogmatic, rational, theological system that forces the Bible onto a preconceived interpretive grid!
  4. 9:30–33 is a summary of chapter 9 and the theme of chapter 10.[1]


Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App