Romans 9:1-33

Who are the Israelites? They are the chosen people of God and “to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises” (Verse 4-5). It is from the Jews that Christ came, and Christ Himself was also a promise. 

Why does Paul express sorrow? The Israelites rejected Jesus, but does that mean God will reject Israel as a result? No, because the word of God has not and will not fail (verse 6). 

Paul then goes on to explain how God’s promise is independent of birth, works, or merit. God chose to bestow a promise upon Sarah, who was infertile. Though Ishmael was born of Hagar and was also the son of Abraham, he was born of the flesh while Isaac was born of the promise (verse 8). God also bestows His promise on Jacob, the second-born son of Rebekah before he was even born, showing that God’s choice is independent of the actions of the child and is based on His sovereign choice alone (verse 10-13).

In verse 13, it is stated “As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.””. God did not hate the actual person of Esau, rather He hated the nation that arose from Esau’s lineage. Jacob and Esau represented two nations, Israel and Edom, respectively, and Edom hated the worship of God. Refer to Malachi 1:2-3 from which this verse is quoted.

This goes to show that God works by divine election alone, and it depends “not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (verse 16). But there is no injustice in how God works because he is sovereign over all things:

“For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Verse 15, a reference to Exodus 33:19) 

God predestines us, yet we also face the choice between sin and righteousness every day of our lives. How is this fair if God made us a certain way? But who are we to question God? Paul reminds us that God has mercy upon us, and it is through God’s grace that we can even be saved at all, even though we deserve nothing but destruction and Hell. Yes, God chose and predestined us, but we must also commit ourselves to Him.

While God always has a sovereign plan over all things, we are still responsible for our actions and the way that we live our lives as Christians. 

God’s perfect plan includes not only the Israelites but the Gentiles as well (verse 24-26). Paul makes it clear that it isn’t by our own merit or birth that we can be called righteous, and even calling ourselves Christians does not necessarily mean that we are followers of Christ. Therefore, we should pursue righteousness in faith and submit ourselves to the sovereignty of God.              —- Cecilia Yip


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