This is the ninth installment of what I hope to be a complete “translation” of Romans. Please note that this is not scripture; it is my understanding of scripture. Any with questions or concerns should check the original.
Ninth chapter of Romans
Truthfully in the name of Christ I say to you – the Holy Spirit confirming it in my conscience – that my heart is filled with great sorrow and unending anguish for my brothers, my family: the people of Israel.
I almost wish that I myself was damned and cut off from Christ, if only my kinsmen, the Jews, could be saved.
For theirs is the adoption as sons of God, theirs is the divine glory. The promises and covenants were made with them; they received the ten commandments; they were given the temple to worship in.
Theirs are the patriarchs, fathers of old, and from them Christ was born, who is God over all and forever to be praised – amen!
But it is not as if the word of God has not had any effect. For not all that are Israelites, are Israelites in truth. And not all of Abraham’s descendants are true children of Abraham.
On the contrary, just as it was Isaac’s children were the true Israelites (and not Ishmael’s), so it is not the natural children who are God’s, but the spiritual children: the children of the promise.
For God gave this promise to Abraham: “At the right time, Sarah will have a son.” And Abraham’s son, Isaac, had twins with his wife Rebekah, but before they were born and done anything either good or bad, God had said, “The older will serve the younger.”
Both of these things were done so that God’s purpose – His calling – might be the deciding factor in who is a true child of God. Just as it is written in Malachi: “Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated.”
What shall we say then? Is God unjust? Not at all!
For as He told Moses:
I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Being saved, therefore, does not depend on what we do, or our effort, or our desire. Instead, it depends on God’s mercy.
As the Bible records, God said to the Egyptian Pharaoh who enslaved Israel: “I raised you up for this purpose: to show my power in you and to ensure that my Name is proclaimed over all the earth.” So God has mercy on those whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens the heart of those whom He wants to harden.
Now you will say to me: why then does God find fault with people? How can anyone resist His will? But who are you, to talk back to God? Can’t the potter do what he wants with his clay, using some for noble and some for common purposes?
What if God, planning to show His anger and His power, is greatly patient with those who are disobedient? And what if He does this to highlight the riches of his grace and glory to those whom He shows mercy … even us, those He has called, Jews and Gentiles both?
As God said through His prophet Hosea:
I will call them my people who were not my people, and I will call her my beloved who is not my beloved.
In the very place where it was said “You are not my people,” they will be called sons of the living God.
And as God said through Isaiah:
Though the number of the Israelites be the number of the grains of sand by the sea, only a portion will be saved. For the Lord will carry out judgement quickly and finally.
If the Lord Almighty had not spared us, we would have become like Sodom and Gomorrah – wiped out.
What shall we say then?
That the Gentiles, who did not seek favor with God, have found it – by faith. But Israel, who sought favor with God through good works and the law, have not.
Why not? Because they thought they could earn salvation … but God only gives it as a free gift through Jesus Christ.
This is the Stumbling Stone that Isaiah writes about:
See, I’m setting a stone in Zion that causes men to stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.
But the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.