Part 3 [9:1-11:36] God’s Future for Israel

Paul now turns his attention to the problem of why God's plans for Israel seem to have failed, and what God's ultimate purpose for them is.

3b - Romans 9-11 - God's Future for Israel (detailed notes)

  • Our understanding of this difficult passage must fit in with the context
    • i.e. the argument and purpose of the section.
    • The purpose is to show how Israel fits into God’s plan of salvation.
  • Connection with what has gone before
    • The theme of the book in 1:16,17 needs an answer to the “for the Jew first and also for the Greek”
    • The subject of election has been briefly mentioned (1:6,7; 8:28-33) and needed explaining.
    • Romans 3:1-3 and 9:6 point forward to 9-11
    • Romans 1:18-2:29 is resolved first by chapters 3-8 and then chapters 9-11 resolve the other issues.
    • Some say that chapters 9-11 parallel chapter 3.
  • The problem:
    • “how is it that Gentiles are entering into the promises to Abraham so readily while most of his own people to whom the promises were given seem to be missing out?” (Dunn)
    • The answers are in B, C & D below.

A. [9:1-5] Introduction—Paul is grieved by Israel’s’ rejection of the Gospel

  • Does Paul really want to be “cut off from Christ”?
    • Does he love the Jews more than he loves Christ?
    • Is there anyone else in Scripture who spoke like this?
  • To emphasise the seriousness of the statements, Paul uses the very effective method of saying everything twice.
    • It really comes across how weighty and important it is.
      • I tell the truth in Christ,         I am not lying,
        my conscience also bearing me witness         in the Holy Spirit,
        that I have great sorrow         and continual grief in my heart.
        For I could wish that I myself were accursed         [separated] from Christ
        for my brethren,         my kinsmen according to the flesh,
  • In the Greek, the next six lines all end with a similar sound, giving a poetic force to the words.
    1. who are Israelites,
          to whom pertain the adoption,
          the glory,
          the covenants,
          the giving of the law,
          the service of God,
          and the promises;
    2. of whom are the fathers and
      from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came,
      who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
  • Paul’s strong wording here prepares the reader for the terrible things he will say about Israel in the next chapters.
    • It pre-empts the charge of being anti-Israel, and demonstrates his tact and sensitivity.
    • There is an allusion to Ex. 32:32 where Moses prays to be blotted out of God’s book for his people’s sake.
    • Paul is almost putting himself in Moses’ place and his love and self-sacrifice alongside that of Moses. Note:
      1. He does not say wish but could wish.
      2. The context is his feelings, not a precise theological statement. “There is something within me that would give myself in the place of my people”.
      3. The context of 8:38,39 shows that the reality of his union with Christ is so firm that this statement here is just a strong figure of speech.
    • This great list emphasises the mercy that God has shown them, and prepares against the criticism that God’s election is not merciful.

B. [9:6-29] Not all Israel are of Israel—God’s sovereignty (Israel has no automatic right)

  1. [6-9] Paul needs to explain the current spiritual state of Israel. Has God failed?
    • No, because he never intended to save every single child of Abraham anyway
      • This can be proved from the case of Ishmael
    • Two questions: How is his word to be performed and Who are the true seed of Abraham?
  2. [10-13] In order to answer these two questions, Paul needs to talk about election
    • Jacob & Esau are an even better example than Isaac & Ishmael
    • They were twins, and God had elected one of them before they were born
    • However, The Genesis account tells how much care God took over Esau
      • How can that be consistent with “hating” ?
      • hating is simply in comparison with the love to Jacob, not to be taken by itself
        • “not the one on whom God has set his love”.
    • The basic principle is that God has the right to make promises to some and not to others—because they have not earned it anyway!
  3. [14-18] Now Paul has to counter an accusation against God. Election is not fair!
    • He replies with two quotes from the O.T.
    • God is free to have mercy on any that he chooses, and may harden any by withdrawing mercy.
    • The first quote is very significant because it is part of God’s revelation of his glory and his name to Moses.
      • Mercy is the core of God’s being. Who can dare to call him unjust?
      • No-one deserves it so no-one can claim it. (“who runs”=“who tries by his own effort”)
    • The second quote is stronger, and brings with it the negative aspect.
      • Does God force anyone to sin? No!
        • So what does this mean? How should we understand it?
      • God’s saving power was shown in the Exodus, and in the 10 plagues that preceded it.
      • Exodus repeatedly says that Pharaoh hardened himself,
      • but Rom. 1 tells us that God punishes people for sin by giving them over to more sin.
      • The hardening is therefore Pharaoh’s fault, a punishment from God.
    • Hardening here is seen as the opposite of mercy.
      • When God withdraws mercy, it results in hardening.
      • Another example would be King Saul
  4. [19-23] There is another protest from the imaginary listener about God’s fairness
    • the picture of the potter is presented.
    • Who can question his right to do anything he wants?
    • Yet he has mercy and shows forth his power in salvation
    • The illustration of the potter is brought in to show how ridiculous it is to reply against God.
      • (dishonour = pot for a very lowly use.)
    • But God is not actually a hard-hearted potter (although he has a right to be), but is longsuffering.
      • The reference is to Jer. 18:1-6 where the potter is ready to re-make the spoiled pot into a good one.
  5. [24-26] Having dealt with the objections to election, he returns to the original questions
    • Having dealt with the objections to election, he returns to the question of who God has loved and called to be his children:
      • the Gentiles as well as Jews.. See above in 1. and 2. the references to call (counted) [9:7,11], children of God [9:8], and loved [9:13].
    • The true seed include the Gentiles
      • God has a right to extend mercy to the Gentiles as well as the Jews and call them his sons
  6. [27-29] But God will also save a remnant of Israel, bringing to pass his word
    • Now the original questions may be answered (v6,7):
      • How will God’s word be performed;
      • Who are the true seed.
    • Not only the Gentiles, but God will perform his word by saving a remnant of Israel. (This is expanded in ch. 11).
      • The word for work in the original is literally “word” as in 1. [9:6]
    • Compare with 9:6,7 and see how 6. answers them.

C. [9:30-10:21] Israel has “missed the Gospel” and is totally without excuse

  1. [9:30-33] Israel tried to gain righteousness through the law
    • This section is full of contrasts.
      • 9:30 as against 9:31-33
  2. [10:1-4] They had a lot of zeal for their own way of serving God, but rejected Christ
  3. [10:5-13] The Gospel is not about self-effort but is about believing and trusting
    • The point of 10:5-8 is that the gospel is not hard, it is easy
      • So they do not have the excuse of complaining it is too hard for them!
    • 10:9-13 puts the gospel in a nutshell
  4. [10:14-21] God has constantly reached out to them, but they rejected him
    • They cannot give the excuse that they haven’t heard!
    • The conclusion to the problem is that it is their own stubborness [10:21]

D. [11:1-32] but God has purpose for Israel that will demonstrate his kindness & mercy

  1. [1-6] Even now there is a remnant saved (including Paul!)
    • v1 starts with “I ask then” or “I say then” (legō oun, mē) similar to 10:18,19 and 11:11, tying them all together.
    • The the questions in 10:18,19 raise the question in 11:1 about whether the Jews have indeed been cast away.
    • v1 God would hardly have chosen a Jew to be his special apostle to the Gentiles, had he cast off his people, the Jews.
      • “Tribe of Benjamin:” simply that he may be regarded as a true Israelite.
    • 1 Sam 12:18-22 —promise never to cast away his people.
    • Ps 94:14 —similar promise
    • v5-6 The very fact that it is a remnant “according to the election of grace”, and therefore not a remnant “standing by its own deserving”, makes its existence full of promise for the rest of the nation, a pledge of God’s continuing interest.
  2. [7-10] But many are hardened
  3. [11-15] Yet God has a purpose—to bring salvation to a greater number of people
    • If the present exclusion of the majority of Jews means so rich a benefit for the Gentiles,
      • what glory shall accompany their final restoration?
    • Purpose: to warn the Gentiles at Rome against an unchristian attitude to the Jews.
    • v12: fullness refers to full and completed number as against remnant.
    • v15 the reconciling of the world is the actual death and resurrection of Christ (Rom 5:10,11),
      • The casting away of the Jews is their rejection in the same event.
    • life from the dead must surpass salvation of v11.
    • v15 “life from the dead” —There seems to be a sequence:
      1. Jews reject and Gentiles receive the gospel
      2. Jews are accepted back (mass revival?)
      3. The final resurrection as Christ returns
  4. [16-24] Picture of root and branches—Gentiles should not be complacent
    • v16 picture of offering a cake from the first of the dough (Numb. 15:17-21)
      • The first fruit is the patriarchs, as is the root in the second illustration
    • There is a pattern in these verses:
      1. Natural branches broken off and wild ones grafted in [17,18]
        1. It was because of unbelief they were broken off, and the grafting in is by faith [19-20]
          1. Don’t be proud because you could suffer the same fate [21]
            1. Consider God’s goodness and his severity [22]
            1. Severity on the unbelievers, but goodness towards you
          1. Don’t be proud because you could suffer the same fate
        1. If they have faith they will be grafted in again [23]
      1. Natural branches will be grafted back in again to their own roots [24]
  5. [25-32] Future revival among the Jews, in God’s grace and mercy
    • Three separate stages in the divine plan:
      1. hardening in part has happened to Israel
      2. until the “fullness of the Gentiles” has come in.
      3. And so all Israel will be saved,
    • hardening in part has happened to Israel
      • Not all Jews were hardened
    • until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
      • ending the period of time during which it is mainly Gentiles being saved
    • And so (in this way) all Israel will be saved,
    • In this order, opposite to the order in which the Gospel message was offered (1:16).
    • What does “all Israel” mean?
      1. all elect
      2. all elect of Israel
      3. every single Jew alive at the time
      4. the nation as a whole, so that Israel becomes essentially Christian
    • my opinion:
      1. rejected: cannot understand Israel different to v25, especially in view of the sustained contrast between Israel and Gentiles throughout vv. 11-32.
      2. Also to be rejected, since the truth would be so obvious as to be an anticlimax. v12, v15 and the grafting references point to more.
      3. Impossible to define who is a Jew. The word all is often used in Greek qualitatively, rather than a strict numerical quantity (e.g. “all Judea went out to hear John preach”)
      4. is the most likely. Praise God!

E. [11:33-36] Conclusion: To him be the glory forever.

  • A song format in the original

3c - The Flow of Argument Regarding Election [9:6-23]

  • The problem the Jews has was that they regarded God’s blessing at their birthright
    • God owed it to them to bless them
  • In order to deal with them, Paul needs to point out the difference between
    • what is a free gift and what is a right
    • If someone gives a gift, then they can chose whom to give it to
  • Abraham was given a promise and this was to apply to his “seed” as well
    • But God is free to chose which child to give the gift to
    • If this were not true, then it woundn’t really be a free gift, but earned
  • We must be very clear that God was extremely kind to Esau and blessed him massively
    • (This is also true of Ishmael)
  • So the expression “Esau I hated” must be taken as comparative with Jacob, for the sake of emphasis

The argument flows like this:

  1. Because of the Jewish misconceptions, Paul needs to discuss election
    • otherwise it looks like God’s promises have failed
  2. The promise to Abraham didn’t apply to all his physical children
    • only the promised one, Isaac
  3. The promise then fell on Jacob
    • but this was nothing to do with his performance else it would be works, not grace
  4. This raises the question: Is God unjust not to treat everyone the same?
    • No, God has a right to give out his gifts of mercy to whomever he desires—it is his gift
  5. If God choses not to show mercy on someone, then they become “hard”
    • the way it is written could look like God’s fault that Pharaoh is hard
      • this is the hardest bit of the whole passage!!!
    • but Exodus tells us he hardened himself willingly
      • Here we up against the mystery of Pharaoh’s free will, and God’s overall sovereignty
      • both of them are true—God never compelled Pharaoh in any way, but showed only grace to him
      • however God is said to have “hardened him” —God “gave up” communicating with him in the end, which allowed him to go his own way
      • Parents might reluctantly give up trying to discipline a rebellious teenager
        • This action could cause the teenager to go into sin, but they are still responsible
    • Nobody forced Pharaoh to take the actions he did—it was from his own free volition
      • Yet doing what he did allowed God to give Israel the greatest picture of freedom from Satan’s power
    • There was a free choice about who was on the ark or not—Noah didn’t have to turn anyone away
      • God punished them all with destruction, but it was their own fault
      • Yet it was all in God’s plan
  6. In God’s sovereign plan, even rebellious people end up by causing good things to happen
    • Just because God used Pharaoh’s evil to accomplish so much good, doesn’t mean Pharaoh should be rewarded
    • e.g. Judas!
    • The same logic would reward Satan for his evil which allows God’s love to shine so brightly
  7. How then can God punish such a person, since good came of it?
    • God has a right to do what he likes, just like a potter
      • But God is not actually a hard-hearted potter (although he has a right to be), but is longsuffering.
    • Some people have come up with the idea of “double predestination”. Two reasons why not taught here:
      1. Paul does not say “God Does”, but “what if God”
      2. different words are chosen to describe the two groups.
        • The first is prepared (Greek: made-ready) for destruction
        • while the second is prepared beforehand, a different word in Greek.
      • Although the effect of God choosing some must mean that others are damned, it is not the same as saying that God has chosen some for damnation.

3d - Election, God's Fairness and Man’s Responsibility

Sovereign Grace how do we reconcile them? Man’s Responsibility

Verses that support Sovereign Grace

  • Jn. 6:37 All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
  • John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
  • John 6:65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
  • Jn. 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.”
  • Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honoured the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
  • Acts 16:14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.
  • Gal. 1:15,16 But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood . . .
  • Plus account of Paul’s salvation
  • Eph. 1:4,5 He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. 5 In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will . . .
  • In particular: Romans 9:11-24 “...For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills...
  • Romans 11:5-10 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.”

Verses that suggest God does not have a choice

  • 2 Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
  • 1 Tim. 2:4 God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Verses that speak of God “forknowing

  • Rom 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;
  • 1 Pet. 1:1,2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.

Verses that indicate we have a choice

  • Josh 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
  • Virtually every time the Gospel is preached

Holding Sovereign Grace and Man’s Responsibility in tension

  • David Ruis: “It’s not about balance, I hate the word balance, its about keeping these truths in tensionCatch the Fire, 2005
  • The problem is to not to let go of either truth
  • Dangers of under-emphasis of man’s responsibility
    • become fatalistic
    • fail to preach the gospel (because people are too dead spiritually to respond)
    • lack of evangelism or missions
    • become very passive in the Christian life
  • Dangers of under-emphasis of God’s sovereignty
    • fail to pray for people’s salvation
    • more trust in techniques than the Holy Spirit
    • can become very performance orientated
    • can lead to striving “if you don’t persuade them to accept Christ, then it will be your fault they are in hell”
    • put a guilt trip on parents whose children are not believers
  • We need to make sure we keep hold of both truths
    • “We must chose God, but in the end we discover that it is he who chose us after all” TACF Sunday morning, Sean Connigan, 2003
  • One of the ways of thinking that I find helpful, is that election is “outside of this universe”
    • God chose us before the world was created
    • We will not know exactly who he chose until after this world is ended
    • Within this world, we have absolutely no way of knowing who is elect
      • In some ways this information is “outside of time” because there is no time with God
    • Everybody is a candidate for salvation
  • Other truths are “outside of time” and we handle those ok
    • God knows the exact day we will die—does that mean we can be careless driving?
    • He knows what grades we are going to get—so we don’t need to bother working?
  • Almost every time predestination is mentioned in the N.T., the purpose is to comfort us
    • I am loved and chosen
    • It is not dependent on my performance
    • I do not believe that “double predestination” is taught in the N.T.

Even people who say they don’t believe in Sovereign Grace usually do in their hearts and are quite happy to sing songs like:

Martin Smith (Delirious)
Oh, lead me to the place where I can find you.
Oh, lead me to the place where you’ll be.
Lead me to the cross where we first met.
Draw me to my knees, so we can talk.
Let me feel your breath,
Let me know you’re here with me.
John Newton
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
was blind, but now I see.

T’was grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,
the hour I first believed!

Tim Hughes
Beautiful One I love you
Beautiful One I adore
Beautiful One my soul must sing

You opened my eyes to your wonders anew
You captured my heart with this love
‘Cause nothing on earth is as beautiful as you

Tim Hughes
Light of the world you stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes, let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore you
Hope of a life spent with you
So here I am to worship, here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that you’re my God
You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me

Conversation between John Wesley & Charles Simeon

  • “Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?
  • Yes, I do indeed.
  • And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?
  • Yes, solely through Christ.
  • But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?
  • No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.
  • Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?
  • No.
  • What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?
  • Yes, altogether.
  • And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?
  • Yes, I have no hope but in Him.
  • Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.” (Moule, 79f)

Ultimately this is Mystery

Once Saved Always Saved?

  • There are two perspectives that are both true
God’s Perspective both are true Our Perspective
God sees the heart
and knows if a person is truly saved
  We only see the appearance,
like the parable of the wheat and the tares
God chose us and will keep us by his grace and power
It is nothing to do with our performance
  We make a real choice to follow him
From a human perspective people really do fall away
If a person is united to Christ, they can never lose that,
but are secure for eternity
  We can never “see” their unity with Christ, but only the fruit of it
  • If someone who claims to be a Christian goes on to reject Christ, then ultimately they could not have been truly saved
  • However, the Scriptures give us many examples of people who manifested the Spirit externally but were not true believers
    • King Saul prophecied
    • Judas must have healed people
    • Jesus said in Matthew 7:
      1. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
      2. And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
  • But we can never be sure this side of eternity—It is not uncommon for someone to backslide for years, even decades and then come back to Christ. Only God knows the heart.
  • We are only responsible to respond to what we see:
    • If they are bringing forth good fruit, accept them as a believer
    • If they are living a life of sin, then preach the Gospel to them!