God’s Renewing Word of Hope
Romans 9:1-18: For the remainder of this month, we will be reading excerpts from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans. The main theme of this letter is that all people, both Jews and Gentiles, need to be put right with God, for all alike are under the power of sin. And people are put right with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul wrote this letter about 55-56 AD to introduce himself to the followers of Christ in Rome, who likely included new Gentile Christians as well as Jewish Christians. In chapters 9-11, Paul wrestles with the question of how Jews and Gentiles fit into God’s plan for all people. In today’s reading, Paul expresses great sorrow and pain as he considers his fellow Jews who do not trust in Jesus to make them acceptable to God.
God and His People
1I am speaking the truth; I belong to Christ and I do not lie. My conscience, ruled by the Holy Spirit, also assures me that I am not lying 2when I say how great is my sorrow, how endless the pain in my heart 3for my people, my own flesh and blood! For their sake I could wish that I myself were under God’s curse and separated from Christ. 4 They are God’s people; he made them his children and revealed his glory to them; he made his covenants with them and gave them the Law; they have the true worship; they have received God’s promises; 5they are descended from the famous Hebrew ancestors; and Christ, as a human being, belongs to their race. May God, who rules over all, be praised forever! Amen.
6I am not saying that the promise of God has failed; for not all the people of Israel are the people of God. 7 Nor are all of Abraham’s descendants the children of God. God said to Abraham, “It is through Isaac that you will have the descendants I promised you.” 8This means that the children born in the usual way are not the children of God; instead, the children born as a result of God’s promise are regarded as the true descendants. 9 For God’s promise was made in these words: “At the right time I will come back, and Sarah will have a son.”
10And this is not all. For Rebecca’s two sons had the same father, our ancestor Isaac. 11-12 But in order that the choice of one son might be completely the result of God’s own purpose, God said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” He said this before they were born, before they had done anything either good or bad; so God’s choice was based on his call, and not on anything they had done. 13 As the scripture says, “I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.”
14Shall we say, then, that God is unjust? Not at all. 15 For he said to Moses, “I will have mercy on anyone I wish; I will take pity on anyone I wish.” 16So then, everything depends, not on what we humans want or do, but only on God’s mercy. 17 For the scripture says to the king of Egypt, “I made you king in order to use you to show my power and to spread my fame over the whole world.” 18So then, God has mercy on anyone he wishes, and he makes stubborn anyone he wishes.
Today’s Key Verse: Romans 9:16
Everything depends, not on what we humans want or do, but only on God’s mercy.
What is the cause of Paul’s sorrow and pain (verses 2, 3)? In verses 4 and 5, how does Paul describe God’s relationship to the people of Israel? According to what Paul writes in verses 7 and 8, who are the true descendants of Abraham as a result of God’s promise, as cited in Genesis 18:10 and 21:1-2? (When Paul speaks of children born in the “usual way” he is referring to Abraham’s descendants through Ishmael, his son by Hagar, who was Sarah’s slave woman; see also Genesis 16:15 and Galatians 4:22-23.)
Almighty God, I trust in your great mercy. You are a God of justice and compassion and I seek to worship you alone and praise your holy name. Amen.
Romans 9:19-33: The apostle Paul discusses God’s anger and mercy.