Paul’s Anguish Over Israel

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying,(A) my conscience confirms(B) it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself(C) were cursed(D) and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people,(E) those of my own race,(F) the people of Israel.(G) Theirs is the adoption to sonship;(H) theirs the divine glory,(I) the covenants,(J) the receiving of the law,(K) the temple worship(L) and the promises.(M) Theirs are the patriarchs,(N) and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah,(O) who is God over all,(P) forever praised![a](Q) Amen.

God’s Sovereign Choice

It is not as though God’s word(R) had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.(S) Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[b](T) In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children,(U) but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.(V) For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”[c](W)

10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac.(X) 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad(Y)—in order that God’s purpose(Z) in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”[d](AA) 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”[e](AB)

14 What then shall we say?(AC) Is God unjust? Not at all!(AD) 15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”[f](AE)

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.(AF) 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[g](AG) 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.(AH)

19 One of you will say to me:(AI) “Then why does God still blame us?(AJ) For who is able to resist his will?”(AK) 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God?(AL) “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it,(AM) ‘Why did you make me like this?’”[h](AN) 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?(AO)

22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience(AP) the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?(AQ) 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory(AR) known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory(AS) 24 even us, whom he also called,(AT) not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?(AU) 25 As he says in Hosea:

“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
    and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”[i](AV)

26 and,

“In the very place where it was said to them,
    ‘You are not my people,’
    there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”[j](AW)

27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:

“Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,(AX)
    only the remnant will be saved.(AY)
28 For the Lord will carry out
    his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”[k](AZ)

29 It is just as Isaiah said previously:

“Unless the Lord Almighty(BA)
    had left us descendants,
we would have become like Sodom,
    we would have been like Gomorrah.”[l](BB)

Israel’s Unbelief

30 What then shall we say?(BC) That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith;(BD) 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness,(BE) have not attained their goal.(BF) 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.(BG) 33 As it is written:

“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall,
    and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[m](BH)

Footnotes

  1. Romans 9:5 Or Messiah, who is over all. God be forever praised! Or Messiah. God who is over all be forever praised!
  2. Romans 9:7 Gen. 21:12
  3. Romans 9:9 Gen. 18:10,14
  4. Romans 9:12 Gen. 25:23
  5. Romans 9:13 Mal. 1:2,3
  6. Romans 9:15 Exodus 33:19
  7. Romans 9:17 Exodus 9:16
  8. Romans 9:20 Isaiah 29:16; 45:9
  9. Romans 9:25 Hosea 2:23
  10. Romans 9:26 Hosea 1:10
  11. Romans 9:28 Isaiah 10:22,23 (see Septuagint)
  12. Romans 9:29 Isaiah 1:9
  13. Romans 9:33 Isaiah 8:14; 28:16
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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?

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

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:

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

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

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.

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.

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:

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

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.

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.

31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

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;

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.

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