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. 
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!
- FOR ISRAEL, THEY ARE THE RECIPIENTS OF MANY BLESSINGS (4-5)
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:
- “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.
- 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.
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.
- 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)..
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),
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.