Due to Bible study I feel that it would be beneficial to try to present Romans chapter 9 as it is in the Scripture. Not because I have it all figured out, but because so many are trying to place some concepts into chapter 9 that are just not there. The concepts that are being taught are mostly Biblical concepts, but are not found in chapter 9. I think one of the reasons that chapters 9, 10 and 11 are misunderstood is that there is little teaching concerning the marriage of Yahweh to Israel. We must let the Bible speak for itself.
It seems to me that many are trying to make chapter 9 contrast the "flesh" vs. the "spirit" and the "Jews" vs. the "Gentiles". This is not the intent of chapter 9. Let's start with the first four verses.
9:1 I speak the truth among the Anointed, I lie not, my conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit,
2 that grief for me is great, and distress incessant in my heart,
3 for I have prayed that I myself would be accursed from the Anointed for the brethren, my kinsmen in regards to the flesh;
4 those who are Israelites, whose is the position of sons, and the honor, and the covenants, and the legislation, and the service, and the promises; (CNT)
Paul sets up his discussion with the first four verses. He makes it plain that he is speaking of Israelites who are his bretheren. Paul was a Benjaminite (of the tribe of Benjamin) of the house of Judah. The house of Judah contained the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and most of Levi. Please note in verse four the word adoption. The Greek word for adoption is not found in the new testament. Strong's says "the placing as a son". Apparently the difference is that the phrase has to do with placing those who are sons, not placing people to become sons. Many people try to say that some other people were involved with the placing. The Bible does not teach that concept. The idea of adoption as we think about it was not intended. Actual physical sons are being discussed not someone else's sons. No one else was being brought in to replace the original sons.
5 whose are the fathers; and of whom are the Anointed in regards to the flesh, being over all blessed of Yahweh for the ages. Truly.
Verses 3 and 5, I guess, are where most people get the idea of the contrast between flesh and spirit. However if Paul had meant that he would have said so. The contrast is between flesh and something else however as we shall see.
6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,
7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called."
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.
9 For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son."
Another problem with how we understand intent is in verse six. "Not all who are Israel are considered Israel" might be a better way to see Paul's intent. Here we begin to see the contrast that Paul is trying to show us. The contrast is between flesh and promise or in better terms the will of the flesh, Abraham's will verses the will of God. Not that Abraham was against God's will, but only in that Abraham had a minimum of nine sons without counting Isaac. However God had other plans and intended the promise to go only through Isaac. By the way, in verse seven "children" are Israelites. It is true that not all of Abraham's children's children were called or known as Israelites. Not even all of Isaac's children as we see in the next verses are called children.
10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac
11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),
12 it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger."
13 As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated."
As we see here God went a step further and chose Jacob over Esau. So only Jacob's children are considered children of the promise and Israelites. By the way, God did not love Esau less as some say. The Greek word is miseo which means "to detest". If God had wanted it to say "loved less" He would have said so. God does not love everyone. God detests Esau and his descendants. It is God's right to chose whom He will.
14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!
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."
16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.
17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth."
18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
19 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?"
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?"
21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
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,
23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,
Please note in verse sixteen. "So then it is not of him who wills." Let's say Abraham's will for Ishamael to be the son of promise compared to "God who shows mercy", namely the children of Jacob. In verse 22 God puts up with those he made for destruction in order to show his power and his mercy on those he created for mercy.
The rest of the chapter goes back to what Paul started the chapter discussing, Israel and Gentiles. However, these Gentiles are not the non-Israelite Gentiles as most think. Please note in verse twenty five that Paul tells us who are those Gentiles.
24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
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.
26 And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' There they shall be called sons of the living God."
Now if you really want to understand something that will make Romans 9, 10 and 11 (all of Romans really) make more sense then you must understand who are the Gentiles in verse twenty five. So in order to do that we must take Paul's cue and go to Hosea. Reading the first two chapters is sufficient and I will hope that you will do so before continuing.
Try to picture yourself back in Hosea's day standing in the midst of the northern ten tribes or the house of Israel, Hosea preaching to the crowds. God has told Hosea to do some rather unusual things to make a point with the people. Because of the house of Israel's sin God was going to remove her name and her right to "rule with El", He was divorcing her. (Jeremiah 3) So he told them: "You are not my people now and I will not be your God". Now if you say that at this point God never dealt with those people or their descendants again, but instead substituted some other people called Gentiles then you make God a liar. That is why it is important to continue reading Hosea.
There were promises made to the house of Israel even though they were being sent away and punished, divorced. Based on the promises it was a temporary punishment, but they would never come back to the land of Palestine.
Hosea 2:6 "Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, And wall her in, So that she cannot find her paths."
In fact every time that it is mentioned that they would return to God the statement is written in such a way as to allow another land to be the promised place. Nathan the prophet told David in 2 Samuel 7:10 that they would receive another land or lands.
"Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more;"
Hosea states one of the promises given to the house of Israel when she was divorced in Hosea 1:10:
"Yet the number of the children of Israel Shall be as the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered."
That is the northern ten tribes of Israel that people today incorrectly teach has disappeared from history and no longer exist. Amos tells that Yahweh would not let his people disappear among the nations in chapter 9:9.
"For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth."
Flavius Josephus, historian and contemporary of the apostle Paul said, "wherefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers." Many people teach that the northern ten tribes went out of existance or mixed with the rest of the world, but people knew where the ten tribes were in the time of Christ. Read John 7:35. "Dispersion" comes from a Greek word that means "Israelite residents in Gentile countries". James wrote to all twelve tribes in James 1:1.
To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.
Scattered is from the same Greek word as dispersion. The other significant promise that is answered and explained in Romans 9 is the following.
And it shall come to pass In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' There it shall be said to them, 'You are sons of the living God.'
Now, who is Hosea and in Romans, Paul, talking about that were called "Not My People"? Israelites of the northern ten tribes. Who is it that Hosea and Paul were talking about when it was said that those who were called "Not My People" would one day, in that same place be said that they were "Sons of the Living God" (or "Christians")? Israelites of the ten northern tribes. Note that they did not have to be in that same land. It just had to be said of them there that they were "Sons of the Living God". So where does Paul start talking about non-Israelite Gentiles in this chapter? He does not. He is talking about answered prophecy in Hosea, Ezekiel and many other places. (Ezekiel's two dead sticks in chapter 37 is answered in Romans 11's grafting.) The parable of the Prodigal Son has the northern tribes of Israel as the Prodigal son who returns to God and the house of Judah was indignant about it. It is hard, very hard to not read in what we have been taught for many years, but this chapter does not deal with those who were not literal sons of Jacob. There are other scriptures that deal with that, but not here.
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.
28 For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because Yahweh will make a short work upon the earth."
29 And as Isaiah said before: "Unless Yahweh of Sabaoth (armies) had left us a seed, We would have become like Sodom, And we would have been made like Gomorrah."
In case you were not convinced by the reference to Hosea, Paul then takes us to Isaiah to confirm the matter. The prophesies were made to, for and about sons of Jacob and no one else. We will finish up the chapter that is a continuation of what Jeremiah was teaching about in chapter 3 verses 8 through 11.
8 "Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also.
9 So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees.
10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense," says Yahweh.
11 Then Yahweh said to me, "Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah."
Romans 9:30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles (*), who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith;
31 but Israel (**), pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.
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.
33 As it is written: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."
(* The Prodigal son or Nations of the northern ten tribes.) (** The house of Judah who remained at home.)
Doesn't this make more sense when you see the scriptures from Jeremiah and Romans next to each other? Just remember that the "Gentiles" here in Romans 9 are the "house of Israel" and "Israel" is the "house of Judah". Those Gentiles lost the right to be called Israel. (Check Romans 2:14-15 Gentiles as well.) So in Romans 9:30 through 33 and elsewhere they were called Gentiles or Nations because they lived "among the Gentiles", Hosea 8:8. Do a phrase study on "among the Gentiles". I was surprised at the results.
The last part of the story is to realize who are the Israelites of scripture today. The modern day Jews have no physical ancestry from Jacob Israel