• Romans overview (video): Part 1, Part 2
  • Romans is structured as follows:
    • Books 1-4: Revealing God’s Righteousness
    • Books 5-8: Creating a New Humanity
    • Books 9-11: Fulfilling God’s Promise to Israel (Past/Present/Future)
    • Books 12-16: Unifying the Church

Romans 9: Fulfilling God’s Promise to Israel (Past)


  • Romans 9 finds Paul heartbroken that his people, the Jews, have rejected Christ.
  • Paul insists that God will keep His promises to Israel, but that not everyone born to Israel is truly Israel.
    • God will show mercy to whomever He wishes, calling out His people from both the Jews and the Gentiles to faith in Christ.
  • If God is faithful to his promises, why haven’t most Jews accepted Jesus, the Messiah?
  • A drastic change of attitude occurs between chapter 8 and chapter 9.
    • Chapters 9–11 deal with the basis of salvation, the electing purpose of God, and the faithlessness of unbelieving Israel versus the faithfulness of YHWH!
    • Chapter 9 is one of the strongest NT passages on God’s sovereignty (the other is Eph. 1:3–14)
    • Chapters 9:30–33 provides a summary of chapter 9 and the establishes the theme of chapter 10.
  • Romans 9 is a complex passage that has been debated for centuries. Here’s a breakdown of two viewpoints:

    • Staunch Calvinistic View:
      • Predestination: God has eternally chosen some for salvation (the elect) and others for reprobation (those not chosen). This choice is based solely on God’s will, not on any foreseen merit or actions of the individuals.
      • Sovereignty of God: God has absolute control over everything, including the hardening of hearts (e.g., Pharaoh) to display His power and justice.
      • Verses Highlighted: (9:11-13, 9:16-18, 9:21)
    • Free Will Christian View:
      • Corporate Election: God chose Israel as His special people, not individuals for salvation. This choice was based on their potential to carry out His plan for the Messiah.
      • Conditional Hardening: God allows hearts to harden as a consequence of rejecting Him, not as a forced action.
      • Human Responsibility: People have a genuine choice to respond to God’s grace. This free will allows for genuine faith and the possibility of anyone coming to Christ (e.g., Gentiles attaining righteousness).
      • Verses Highlighted: (9:24-26, 9:30-33)
  • Key Points of Contention:
    • Meaning of “vessels of wrath and mercy”: Calvinists see these as predetermined groups, while free will proponents see them as consequences of choices made.
    • Jacob and Esau: Calvinists see this as an illustration of predestination, while free will proponents see it as God’s plan for the nation of Israel.
  • Both viewpoints acknowledge God’s sovereignty and human responsibility to some degree. There are additional interpretations of Romans 9 beyond these two.
Further Exploration:
  • For a Calvinistic perspective, you could look at resources from John Piper or R.C. Sproul.
  • For a free will perspective, resources from Norman Geisler or William Lane Craig might be helpful.

Here are some key points:

  • God’s Promises Haven’t Failed
    • Despite Israel’s rejection of Jesus, God remains true to his word. However, not all ethnic Israelites are the true Israel (v.6).
  • Sovereignty of God’s Grace
    • God has the right to choose whom he shows mercy to (v.18). He uses illustrations from Israel’s history (e.g., Rebekah’s twins) to show his freedom to choose (v.10-13).
  • Election Based on Faith, Not Ethnicity
    • Being a descendant of Abraham doesn’t guarantee salvation; it’s about faith (v.6-8). God can call people from anywhere (Jews and Gentiles) based on his purpose (v.24-25).
    • God’s choice of who is included in His plan (often referred to as “election”) is not based on ethnicity, but on faith.
        • Jacob and Esau: Paul uses the story of Rebekah’s twins, Jacob and Esau, as a key example (v.10-13). Even before they were born and hadn’t done anything good or bad, God chose Jacob. This emphasizes God’s sovereign choice, not based on their actions or ethnicity (both were descendants of Abraham).
        • Not All Israel is Israel: Paul clarifies that not everyone descended from Abraham is part of the true Israel, the people of God (v.6-8). It’s about faith, not just physical lineage.
        • Gentiles Included: Romans 9 and 11 together show that God’s plan isn’t limited to Israel. He can call and include people of faith from anywhere, even Gentiles who weren’t part of the Abrahamic covenant (v.24-26).
          Here’s a deeper look:
    • Imagine God is inviting people to a banquet (His salvation plan).
      • Being a descendant of Abraham might get your name on the invitation list, but it doesn’t guarantee a seat.
      • The deciding factor is whether you accept the invitation (have faith) or not.
  • Romans 9 explains that God’s plan of salvation unfolds according to his will, not because of human merit.
    • While it upset Paul that many Jews rejected Jesus, he affirms God’s faithfulness and his plan to include both Jews and Gentiles in his salvation.

Notes from the video

  • The next three chapters focus on the following:
    • Chapter 9 focuses on Israel’s past election
      • Election means historically how they were chosen by God.
      • Analogy: an invite was sent to all people to attend a wedding but not everyone accepts the invitation and goes.
      • Just because you’re a child of Isaac it doesn’t mean you’re a chosen one of God
      • This is compared to Esau and Jacob. Jacob was not perfect but God brought the promise through him. Esau was also not perfect and was not chosen.
      • Calvinists see this as an illustration of predestination, while free will proponents see it as God’s plan for the nation of Israel.
    • Chapter 10 focuses on Israel’s present rejection of Jesus
    • Chapter 11 focuses on Israel’s future restoration when the messiah comes.
  • At the end of Chapter 8 it talks about God having a purpose for believers and nothing can separate His people from His love.
    • So what to do about the Jews who don’t believe in Christ was the messiah?
    • When God says something He means it.
  • The first 13 verses of Chapter 9 focus on God’s faithfulness
    • v1: God speaks the truth and never lies
    • v2: Paul has intense sorrow and anguish over the Jews not believing in Christ
    • v3: Paul compares being cutoff from Jesus to being cursed. Paul offers to give up his salvation to save the Jews.
    • v4-5: Paul describes the Jews and explains the messiah came from them.
      •  theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises
      • the promises are going to continue
      • Romans 9:5 makes it clear that Jesus is God:
        • ‘Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. ‘
    • v6-13: Paul explains how the Jews are the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Israel is God’s first born son. They are His favored people.
      • God’s word has not failed.
      • God’s chosen people are from Israel but not everyone in Israel is part of His chosen people. Not everyone in Israel is part of God’s plan.
        • ‘In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.’ (Romans 9:8)
  • Paul compares the situation to Jacob and Easu where Jacob was the favored son. This is based upon God’s righteousness.
    • God shows mercy to those He wants to and hardens those whom He chooses.
    • ‘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.” ‘ (Romans 9:17)
  • God patiently waited to show His wrath:
    • ‘What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? ‘ (Romans 9:22-24)
  • Because of God’s fathfulness, righteousness, and justice – you will see God’s grace,
    • ‘Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.” ‘ (Romans 9:27-28)
  • Jesus is the stone in Romans 9:33:
    • ‘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.”’


  • Jewish leaders witnessed Jesus performing many miracles yet still didn’t believe He was the Son of God.
  • This is still true for the majority of the Jewish people today.
  • Isiah 53:4-6 in the Old Testament (Jewish Torah) provided evidence that Jesus was the messiah but Jews to this day still do not acknowledge it.

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