Recall from our introduction that Paul has been articulating for the Romans a systematic understanding of the great truths of the gospel he had acquired over the course of his ministry in the eastern part of the Roman empire. As the result of the continual opposition to the gospel by both Jews and Judaizers who supposed that salvation was the result of observing the Law, he had developed a deep understanding of these truths and honed his defense of them. He has just concluded that the gospel he preaches is the mighty power of God for a complete salvation to all who believe—to the Jew first and also to the Gentile, for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith (Rom 1:16-17). And yet as it became clear that the great majority of Jews were rejecting the gospel, his opponents were now advancing one final argument against it: The gospel cannot be true because that would mean that God’s promises to Israel had failed. Paul addresses this charge in the next 3 chapters.
Rom 9:1-5 What do these verses teach us about Paul’s great love for the Jewish people? How could he still hold such tender feelings for those from whom he had suffered so much? See 1 Tim 1:12-16. Recall from Rom 3:1 the natural question to the gospel truth that since no flesh is justified by the works of the Law, both Jews and Gentiles are under condemnation: “Then what advantage has the Jew?” How does Paul more fully answer that question here? In light of such privilege, is not their rejection of the gospel both surprising and significant?
Rom 9:6-13 How does Paul begin to answer the charge that if the gospel is true then God’s promises to Israel have failed? See Rom 9:6-8. What application do these verses have for those who suppose they are saved simply because they are a part of “Christendom”? What is Paul’s point in Rom 9:10-13? i.e., how do they relate to the charge that if the gospel is true, then God’s promises to Israel have failed? See Rom 9:11. Does the quotation from the OT in Rom 9:13 refer to the individuals Jacob and Esau, or to the two peoples they came to represent? See Mal 1:2-4. In Paul’s argument how does he understand those two peoples they represent to be taken: literally—i.e., the Jews as the physical descendants of Jacob and the Edomites as the physical descendants of Esau, or spiritually—i.e., true Jews are those who are sons according to the Spirit and who walk after the Spirit, and Edomites are those who are sons according to the flesh and who walk after the flesh? See Rom 9:8, 2:28-29, Heb 12:16.
Rom 9:14-21 What natural question does Paul anticipate to the point he has just made about the sovereignty of God? What is the emphatic answer, and why? What do these verses teach us about the sovereignty of God in the salvation process? See also Jn 6:44,65, Eph 1:3-5, 2 Tim 2:25-26, 1 Pet 1:1-2. Consider God’s foreknowledge of those who would (or will) love Him and His sovereign ordaining of all things so as to predestine them to be adopted into His family and conformed to the image of Christ (see again Rom 8:28-29). Consider too His foreknowledge of those who would (or will) reject Him and the fact that He gives men over to their sin (Rom 1:24,26,28), sends upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false (2 Thess 2:11-12), and even hardens their hearts so as to effect and accomplish His purposes for the redeemed (Rom 9:17-18, 22-23). Do these facts necessarily imply, as Calvinism teaches, that man ultimately has no free will and that God causes some to be saved but others to be damned, and even creates some for eternal life, but others for an eternal hell? Does it mean that God willed the fall of man and that ultimately all of the evil we see in the world today is the result of His good pleasure? Does predestination imply predetermination? With Rom 9:20-21, see 2 Tim 2:20-21. See also Ez 18:23, 1 Tim 2:4, 2 Pet 3:9. For the inevitability of God’s will but man’s free will and accountability in the midst of it see Est 4:14, Lk 17:1, 22:22, Acts 4:27-28. Can you think of another mystery clearly taught in the Bible that is similar in nature to this one, seemingly illogical, and yet in faith we accept it as so? (Think: the Trinity!) If God is God, should we expect our finite minds to always be able to fully comprehend His infinite ways and being?
Rom 9:22-29 Who are the “vessels of wrath” Paul has in mind in Rom 9:22 who had been made complete (literal rendering, and in the perfect tense) for destruction? See Rom 9:27-29, 10:21. Is it significant that God’s wrath was poured out upon them in 70 a.d.? Who are the “vessels of mercy” Paul has in mind in Rom 9:23? See Rom 9:24-26, 10:20, 11:25.
Rom 9:30-33 How does Paul summarize the issue at stake which he is addressing? See Rom 9:30-31. In the previous verses he explained from God’s sovereign perspective why such had happened; how does he explain from man’s accountable perspective why such had happened? See Rom 9:32-33.