[In my Sunday school class, we've been studying through Romans. The following are the notes I've taken in preparing to teach Romans 9:6-18 tomorrow.]
6 But it’s not as though the word of God has failed. For not all those from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s seed, but “in Isaac your seed will be called.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh that are the children of God, but the children of the promise are accounted unto seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah will have a son.” 10 And not only this, but Rebecca also conceived from one man, from Isaac our father. 11 For they were not yet born, nor had they done anything good or bad– in order that the purpose of God according to election might remain, 12 not from works, but from the one calling– it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice with God? May it never be! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will mercy whom I would mercy and I will pity whom I would pity.” 16 So then it is not of the one willing nor of the one running, but of God mercying. 17 For Scripture says to Pharoah, “For this very purpose I raised you up, that I might demonstrate my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he mercies whom he wills and he hardens whom he wills.
v. 6. Paul returns to the “true Jew” issue that he raised in Rom 2:28-29.
v. 7. Paul quotes Gen 21:12.
v. 8. Paul also addresses the ‘children of the flesh vs. children of the promise’ issue in Gal 4:21-23ff.
v. 9. Paul quotes from Gen 18:10, 14.
v. 10-12. An allusion and a quote from Gen 25:21-23.
v. 13. Paul quotes from Mal 1:2-3.
v. 14. That God is just is basic to our knowledge of God from what He has revealed (see, for example Deut 32:4).
v. 15. Paul quotes from Exod 33:19.
v. 17. Paul quotes the word of judgment against Pharoah from Exod 9:16.
The “5 Ws”
Who: 1. God, whose word has not failed, who has promised to raise up seed for Abraham. 2. Israel, defined not according to physical descent, but according to the election of God. 3. Jacob, who was loved, Esau, who was hated, and Pharaoh, who was hardened.
What: 1. God’s promise insures that there will be seed for Abraham. 2. Abraham’s seed is defined according to this promise and not according to physical descent. 3. God’s purpose according to election determines who is effectually called into a relationship with Him. 4. Injustice is no part of God’s activity; God works according to either His justice or His mercy. 5. Mercying and hardening are activities of God.
When: God’s activity in election has been constant in human history from the time of the patriarchs to the time of Moses, to the time when Paul is writing, to the present day.
Why: That God has a purpose in His electing activity is clear, though it is impossible to fully know the “why” of our infinite God’s purpose, we may at least discern that God wishes to show His justice and His mercy to the glory of Christ.
How: Romans 3:21-26 has already described how Jesus’ work on the cross demonstrates the justice of God.
So what? This passage demonstrates the sovereignty of God and is meant to provide believers assurance of His control; God has not failed and will not fail in His work with Israel.
2 Tim 3:16 Hermeneutic
Teaching: God is trustworthy, sovereign, merciful, and just.
Rebuking: This passage rebukes those who would think of God as untrustworthy, out of control, unloving, or unjust.
Correcting: This passage corrects those who believe that God’s purpose of election is determined by Man’s will or activity.
Instruction in righteousness: We must trust God, depend on Him, cry out to our sovereign for mercy on behalf of ourselves and others, and know that He is just in all His works.
Gene Bridges (on “hardening”): 1. What kind of people are hardened? Those who, like Pharaoh or Judas, have had close acquaintance with God’s revelation, but who reject God. “God isn’t putting fresh evil in their hearts, He is giving them what they want all the more. This is judicial on His part. They deserve this treatment, so God punishes their sin with more sin, which is poetic justice served upon them.” 2. God is “sovereign but not arbitrary” is His hardening activity– He has a purpose.
Augustine: “God does not choose us because we believe, but that we may believe.”
Martin Luther: “Very aptly he says: ‘Neither having done any good or evil’; and not: ‘Neither being good or evil’; for without doubt both sons were evil by the corruption of original sin. So far as their merit was concerned, they were equal to each other in birth and rank; both belonged to the same corrupt mass (of humanity).”
John Calvin: The text assumes that both Esau and Jacob as children of Adam were “sinners by nature.”
John Murray: “God’s covenant promise was not made so as to include all of ethnic Israel. Thus the exclusion of Israelites from God’s covenant favour does not negate the word of the oath.”
Doug Moo: “If God’s love of Jacob consists in his choosing Jacob to be the ‘seed’ who would inherit the blessings promised to Abraham, then God’s hatred of Esau is best understood to refer to God’s decision not to bestow this privilege on Esau. It might best be translated ‘reject’… Indeed, these questions state the human response to an insistence on the sovereignty of God in salvation: if God decides apart from anything in the human being whom he will chose and whom he will reject (v. 13), how can he still be ‘righteous’ (v. 14)– and how can he blame people if they reject him (v. 19)?” … Criticism of Paul’s teaching often springs from false notions that the ways of God must conform to human assumptions and human reasoning. “Paul’s approach is quite different” in that he considers his defense of God’s righteous “to be successful if it justifies God’s acts against the standards of Scripture (vv. 15-18) and his character as Creator (vv. 20-23). In other words, the standard by which God must be judged is God himself. Judged by this standard, Paul contends, God is indeed ‘just.’ Paul does not provide a logically compelling resolution of the two strands of his teaching– God, by his own sovereign choice elects human beings to salvation” and human beings are held accountable whether or not they believe in the gospel. Paul does not have to give a resolution in order to accomplish his purpose of showing God to be just and trustworthy and no resolution of this issue seems possible this side of heaven. “Paul cites OT texts in which God himself speaks. Such texts constitute the most important evidence we can have about God’s essence and ways of acting… God’s hardening, then, is an action that renders a person insensitive to God and his word and that, if not reversed, culminates in eternal damnation.”
Tom Schreiner: “Those who insist that corporate election alone is intended in chapters 9 and 11 are inconsistent when they revert to individual decisions of faith in chapter 10… Malachi describes God’s ‘hatred’ of Esau (Edom) in active terms; he lays waste their land (Mal. 1:3), tears down their buildings (v. 4), and his ‘anger’ is upon them ‘forever’ (v. 4).” Verse 15 provides an explanation for why God is not unrighteous (cf. 3:5-6; 6:1-5; 7:7-11). “How does this constitute an answer to the objection that God is unrighteous? … The righteousness of God is defended… by appealing to his freedom and sovereignty as the Creator… God’s righteousness is upheld because he manifests it by revealing his glory both in saving and in judging.”
Labels: Bible study