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©John Yerkes

Chapter 9:6-13 (ESV)

Posted on January 02, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Romans 9:6-13 (ESV) - But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Question to consider: Why would people think that the rejection of Christ by the Jews was a sign that the word of God failed?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s study, Paul was in anguish because his kinsmen, those descended from Israel, were persecuting the church just as he once had before encountering Christ on the road to Damascus. Obviously, there was a large contingent of Jews who recognized their Messiah at Pentecost and for the first couple of years of the church in which the gospel went out primarily to Jews. Once the gospel began to go out to the Gentiles, many of the Jews hardened their hearts to the idea that Jesus could be the Messiah, and the persecution intensified.

Paul made it clear that the rejection of the gospel by his kinsmen did not mean that God’s word failed. In fact, the going out of the gospel to the Gentiles marked the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. From the moment God promised Eve that she would produce a descendant who would crush the head of the serpent back in Genesis 3:15, the world was divided between those of the holy line of Seth and the faithless line of Cain. While there was truth to there being a physical line from Seth all the way to Jesus, Paul pointed out the obvious that as the physical line whittled its way down to Christ, the ancestral branch was reduced with each generation. Abraham had multiple kids, but the line went through Isaac. Isaac had two sons, and the line went through Jacob. This went all the way down until Jesus who was the promise of Israel, the seed of Abraham, the seed of the woman. Of course, Jesus did not have any physical children.

Thus Paul established that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise who are counted as offspring. God emphasized this by granting Sarah a miraculous birth and promising that it was through this child God would cause Abraham to be a blessing to the nations. Furthermore, God called the younger, weaker Jacob and rejected Esau before either were even born. We get hung up on the phrase, “Jacob I love, but Esau I hated,” but this is a reference to Malachi 1:3 in which God described His love for Jacob as blessing the people of Israel and hatred of Esau as decimating the Edomites (the “red” people which was the nickname given to Esau) who opposed Israel and sought their destruction during their fall to Babylon. Both Esau’s expectation to receive the blessing, and Edom’s actions against Israel demonstrated that they had no faith in the word of God and thus were not children of God despite being descendants of Isaac.

A good summary of Paul’s arguments here was made by the apostle John in his gospel account, “[Jesus] came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,  who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11-13)


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for granting sonship to those who receive Christ by faith and not because of physical ancestry. We look forward to seeing the multitudes of people who have been made righteous in Christ, and pray that those who cling to their physical ancestry and personal works will instead receive Your mercy by faith. Amen.