Verse 1 – I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,
Verse 2 – that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.
Verse 3 – For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,
Verse 4 – who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving law, the service of God, and the promises;
Paul insisted that he felt intense sorrow and continual anguish over the Jewish unbelief and would willingly forsake his own salvation if it could save his brethren, his own flesh and blood. How many of us are willing to sacrifice time, money, and efforts, to see the lost saved?
Verse 5 – of whom are the fathers and from whom according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God, Amen.
Verse 6 – But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,
Not all the descendants of Jacob have the true spirit of Israelites. It was a basic misunderstanding of the Old Testament promises to think that all who were in the nation of Israel were guaranteed to receive God’s spiritual blessings. Paul provides examples in the following verses.
Verse 7 – nor are they all children because they are seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.”
Verse 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.
This statement was in opposition to one of the most settled and deeply cherished opinions of the Jews. They supposed that the mere fact of being a Jew, entitled a man to the blessing of the covenant, and to be regarded as a child of God. But Paul shows them that just because they were natural descendants, they were not automatically entitled to these blessings.
Verse 9 – For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.”
Verse 10 – And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac,
verse 11 – (for the children not yet born, nor having done any good or evil, that they purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),
Verse 12 – it was said of her, “The older shall serve the younger.”
Rebecca had twins, but God’s choice of the younger twin, before their birth, indicated again that God’s blessing are His to hand out and that they are not an automatic birthright.
Verse 13 – As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
Jacob, the Israelites, and Esau, the Edomites, both nations were punished for their sins, about only one received grace. God has shown affection for Israel and bestowed privileges and blessings, as proof of Him preferring Jacob to Esau. This is explained in Malachi 1:3.
Verse 14 – What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!
Verse 15 – For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”
God is sovereign and doesn’t have to give an account on why He has mercy and compassionate to some and not to others. Think about this: Do we not show mercy and compassion on those we choose to do so? Do we help some and not others?
Verse 16 – So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.
Verse 17 – For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “Even for this same purpose I have raised you up, that I might show My power in you, and that My name might be declared in all the earth.”
God raised Pharaoh as ruler of Egypt and used him as a foil to reveal His name, Yahweh, and His power, so the One true God would be known. Pharaoh believed that he was Ra the sun-god.
Verse 18 – Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
Meaning, a sinner will be left to their own course, and to place them in circumstances where their character will be more pronounced.
Verse 19 – You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?”
Will the one who contends with Almighty correct Him? Do we question why God does certain things for others and not for us? Some do. Who are we to question or correct God?
Verse 20 – But indeed O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”
What right or authority do we have, being the creation, to ask our Creator what or why He does anything?”
Verse 21 – Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lumps to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
Paul is not saying that some of us are worth more than others, but that the Creator has control over the created. Some are called to a higher calling. He sees the determination and intents of the heart.
Verse 22 – What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
Verse 23 – and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,
Verse 24 – even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
These verses prove that Gentiles might be called as well as Jews. Two things are established here, (1) that the grace of God was not confined to the Jewish people; (2) and that God was not bound to confer grace on all the descendants of Abraham, as He bestowed it on those selected from the mass according to his own will, and not of necessity on the mass itself.
Verse 25 – As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved.”
Verse 26 – “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ there they will be called sons of the living God.”
About seven hundred years before Jesus’ birth, Hosea told of God’s intention to restore His people. Paul applies Hosea’s message also to God’s intention to bring Gentiles into His family after the Jews rejected His plan.
Verse 27 – Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved.
Verse 28 – For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth.”
Verse 29 – And as Isaiah said before; “Unless the LORD of the Sabbath had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have been made like Gomorrah.”
God has the right to show His mercy on whom He chooses. If not for saving a remnant of the Jews, they would have been destroyed long ago. Wherever Paul preached there was only a small amount of Jews that accepted Christ as the Messiah.
Verse 30 – What shall we say then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness, having attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith;
Verse 31 – but Israel, pursuing the law, of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.
Verse 32 – Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.
The Gentiles, who were not seeking righteousness, were granted it by grace through faith. But Israel missed it by seeking righteousness through the Law and by their works.
Verse 33 – As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and a rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
People are still like what Paul was talking about today. They think they can gain God’s blessings and favor through good works. Those who think this, “Don’t read their Bible.” Because if they did read God’s word they would know that the only way to God is faith in Jesus Christ. The good works come after salvation, not to earn God’s favor, but because we are His children and it becomes a part of us.