Romans - Lesson 39

Romans 9:6-29

In Romans 9:6-9, Paul addresses the dilemma of Israel's role in God's plan. He argues that being part of Israel is based on God's grace, not merely racial descent. Paul illustrates this with examples from Israel's history, emphasizing God's sovereign choice in selecting Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau. He asserts that God's choices demonstrate His sovereignty and purpose, including the inclusion of Gentiles in His plan. The passage also prompts reflection on the doctrine of election, highlighting debates between Calvinists and Arminians regarding the relationship between God's sovereignty and human choice.

Lesson 39
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Romans 9:6-29

 IV. The Defense of the Gospel: the Problem of Israel (9:1-11:36)

A. Introduction: The Tension Between God's Promises and Israel's Plight (9:1-5)

B. Defining the Promise (1): God's Sovereign Election (9:6-29)

1. The Israel within Israel (9:6-13)

2. Objections Answered: The Freedom and Purpose of God (9:14-23)

3. God's Calling of a New People: Israel and the Gentiles (9:24-29)

C. Understanding Israel's Plight: Christ as the Climax of Salvation History (9:30-10:21)

D. Summary: Israel, the "Elect," and the "Hardened" (11:1-10)

E. Defining the Promise (2): The Future of Israel (11:11-32)

F. Conclusion: Praise to God in Light of His Awesome Plan (11:33-36)

  • This lesson offers a deep dive into Paul's Letter to the Romans, revealing its pastoral aims, Paul's intentions to visit Spain, Jerusalem, and Rome, and its relevance to early Christian dynamics and theological inquiries about the Law in Christ's time.
  • This lesson offers a fresh view of Paul's theology, focusing on Romans. It emphasizes the first-century context, highlighting Gentile inclusion and unity in Christ, challenging traditional views. Gain insights into Paul's message and its relevance today.
  • Explore the book of Romans for modern faith conflicts: balance tradition with contemporary practices, learn from history, and grasp Paul's ministry and Gospel's complexities.
  • Follow along with Dr. Moo as he begins a thorough review of Romans 1:2-5. You will learn how Paul emphasizes Jesus' earthly life, resurrection, and his appointment as the Son of God in power. This lesson examines the interconnectedness of faith and obedience, underscoring that while faith initiates salvation, genuine faith inherently entails obedience to Christ as Lord, maintaining a balanced Christian life.
  • By delving into Romans 1:16-17, you'll understand the Gospel extends beyond individual salvation, encompassing God's reign over creation and His establishment of justice. The Gospel challenges worldly powers, offering hope and transformation to all who embrace it.
  • Listen along as the class discusses questions and answers revolving around Romans 1:16-17.
  • In Romans 1:18-28, you learn that all people are held accountable by God, having knowledge of Him through natural revelation but some turn away. This passage highlights the manifestation of God's wrath against sin, the exchange of truth for falsehoods, and the absence of excuses for humanity's actions, ultimately emphasizing God's fair judgment.
  • Listen in as the class and Dr. Moo discuss aspects of Romans 1:18-28.
  • The lesson discusses Romans 2:1-11, it highlights the use of the diatribe device and the transition from focusing on Gentiles to Jews. It underscores the Jewish belief in their special status and their potential misunderstanding of God's judgment. The lesson reviews the focus of the text on key themes such as judgment, righteousness, and the relationship between faith and good deeds.
  • In this lesson, you'll review the significance of the Law, notably the Law of Moses, in God's judgment. Paul stresses that mere knowledge of the Law isn't sufficient for righteousness; obedience is key. The primary message is that salvation ultimately relies on God's grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as human efforts and consciences alone cannot secure salvation. This lesson highlights the importance of understanding these concepts in interactions with people of different religious beliefs.
  • The key takeaway in this lesson is that while being a Jew comes with a great heritage, it doesn't guarantee salvation. Obedience to God's law is crucial, and reliance on religious heritage or rituals won't save you. The lesson emphasizes the universal human condition of being under the power of sin, and people cannot be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law or by the works of the Law. Only through faith in Christ are we made righteous.
  • This lesson explores the New Perspective on Paul, emphasizing that the Law was for Jewish covenant status, not just salvation. It promotes a holistic faith view, balancing vertical and horizontal aspects, Spirit-led obedience, and 1st-century Judaism diversity, enriching Pauline teachings in the church.
  • In exploring Romans 3:21-26, you'll gain insights into the relationship between righteousness, faith, and salvation. Paul highlights God's righteousness, which is accessible to all through faith in Jesus Christ. By weaving together themes of righteousness, faith, and inclusivity, Paul challenges conventional Jewish and Gentile perspectives, emphasizing the continuity of God's salvation plan while underscoring the centrality of faith in Christ for all believers.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the potential challenge in translating Romans 3:23-24, particularly the term "all" and its connection to the debate on universalism in evangelicalism. Dr. Moo stresses the importance of coherence in biblical interpretation and explores the themes of God's righteousness, faith, and grace in justification. The lesson reviews the cultural background of redemption, drawing parallels with the Greco-Roman slave market and emphasizing the need to understand both the problem of sin and the Gospel solution.
  • Embarking on this lesson, you'll gain insight into the historical development and contemporary challenges surrounding the doctrine of justification. Through exploring classic Reformation principles and contemporary reassessments, you'll understand the tensions between Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives, particularly regarding the infusion of righteousness and the role of grace.
  • The lesson explores the intricate connection between faith and works, justification, and sanctification in contemporary theological discourse. It delineates divergent views on justification, with scholars like Piper advocating for the preservation of biblical distinctions amidst modern theological trends. The lesson examines key questions regarding the meaning, basis, time, and means of justification.
  • Students in Dr. Moo's class ask multiple questions about justification.
  • By studying Romans 3:27-4:25, you gain insight into Paul's theology, where faith, exemplified by Abraham's righteousness, transcends works and ethnicity, emphasizing the universal scope of salvation through Christ.
  • Hear the questions the students ask regarding Romans 3:27–4:25. And discover Dr. Moo's answers to the questions posed.
  • In Romans 5 – 8, you gain insights into profound theological concepts like justification, identity in Christ, and the tension between present reality and future hope, guiding you to embrace your changed identity and hope for future transformation amidst life's trials.
  • Students as deep questions about Romans 5-8. Hear what Dr. Moo presents as answers to their questions.
  • Through Romans 5:1-11, you'll review the contrast between the Old and New Realms, understanding the essence of living in grace, finding hope amid suffering, and experiencing the assurance of eternal security rooted in Christ's sacrifice and God's love poured into believers' hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  • In Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts Adam's sin with Christ's redemptive grace, emphasizing humanity's hope and victory over death through union with Christ, while various interpretations of original sin underscore the universal need for redemption and Christ's pivotal role in restoring humanity to God.
  • Listen to the thorough questions the students ask regarding Romans 5:12-21.
  • The students ask excellent questions of Dr. Moo in this insightful discussion on Romans 6:1-14.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the theological implications of Christ's death and resurrection as explained in Romans 6. You will explore different interpretations of Paul's language regarding the old self and the new self, considering the implications for the Christian life. Ultimately, you will be challenged to recognize your identity in Christ and to actively live according to that identity, rejecting the slavery of sin and embracing servitude to God.
  • Hear the questions the students ask of Dr. Moo regarding Romans 6:1-23.
  • In diving into Romans 7, you'll explore the Law's role in Christian life. Paul's discourse clarifies the distinction between law and gospel, emphasizing the Torah's significance in understanding divine commandments.
  • Class discussion on Romans 7:1-6
  • In Romans 7:7-12, Paul explores the Law's role in intensifying sin and contrasts it with Christ's liberation. His narrative prompts reflection on individual experience and collective identity, enriching understanding of Christian faith.
  • The class discusses the previous lesson on Romans 7:7-12.
  • This lesson covers interpretations of Romans 7:13-25; whether Paul's description is of pre- or post-conversion struggle with the Law.
  • In Romans 8:1-22, discover the Spirit's transformative power over sin, leading to a life free from condemnation, intimacy with God, and anticipation of future glory amid present sufferings.
  • Explore the theological insights on environmental stewardship, emphasizing Christian responsibility in light of Romans 8:19-22.
  • Gain insights into Romans 8:23-27, understanding destined glory despite present suffering. The Spirit intercedes, bridging current and promised futures, offering assurance amid weakness.
  • Romans 8:28 offers profound insights into the nature of God's providence and the believer's journey of faith. Beyond its surface meaning, the verse challenges misconceptions about 'good' and underscores the transformative power of God's grace. It invites believers to trust in God's unfailing love amidst life's trials, anchoring their hope in the assurance of His sovereign care and redemptive purposes.
  • Romans 9:1-5 highlights Paul's profound concern for Israel's salvation and the theological complexities surrounding God's promises. Reviewing salvation history, you'll learn that God's offer of salvation for both Jew and Gentile, fits within the Old Testament narrative.
  • Paul discusses Israel's role in God's plan, emphasizing grace over race. He illustrates divine choices and sovereignty, sparking debates on salvation.
  • Discover diverse views on election, Israel's struggle with faith, and the significance of overcoming theological narrowness in Romans 9:30-10:21. Gain insights into law versus faith in attaining righteousness and the importance of engaging deeply with Scripture for a comprehensive understanding.
  • Gain insights into faith versus works, Christ as the culmination of the Law, and the inclusivity of righteousness through Him. Embrace unity in Christ, transcending cultural divisions, and embodying love and holiness.
  • Gain insight into contrasting righteousness by law vs. faith in Romans 10:5-13. Accessibility of salvation through Christ bridges Old and New Testament teachings, emphasizing unity and continuity.
  • Gain insights into Romans 10:14-21, emphasizing faith, preaching, and Israel's reception of the message. Dr. Moo highlights Paul's use of Old Testament quotes and God's ongoing relationship with Israel, revealing the significance of faith and salvation.
  • Gain insight into Romans 11:11-15. Paul discusses Jewish rejection, Gentile salvation, and Jewish inclusion, aiming to provoke Jewish envy. The phrase "life from the dead" hints at spiritual renewal or future resurrection.
  • Gain insights into the Olive Tree analogy in Romans 11:16-24. Understand humility, faithfulness, and the purpose of warning passages in Scripture.
  • Discover the mystery of Israel's salvation in Romans 11:25-32. Paul reveals unity of Jews and Gentiles, challenging arrogance and emphasizing God's inclusive love.
  • Gain deeper understanding of Christian-Jewish ties, navigate theological challenges, address Israel-Palestine tensions, and embrace God's inclusive grace.
  • Gain deep insights into Romans 12:1-2: True worship extends beyond rituals, urging sacrificial living and transformation in response to God's mercy.
  • In Romans 12:3-8, Paul stresses humility, unity, and diverse gifts within the body of Christ, urging faithful stewardship for the edification of the body of Christ.
  • Gain insights into love's complexity in Romans 12:9-21. Paul urges sincere affection, alludes to Jesus' teachings, and prompts contemplation on love and judgment.
  • Gain insights into balancing submission to authorities with obedience to God. Understand the context of Paul's exhortation to Roman Christians and the complexities of submission, emphasizing humility, unity, and love in the Christian life within God's sovereignty.
  • In Romans 14:1-15:13, you learn about the division in the Roman Christian community, the concept of adiaphora, the balance between liberty and love, and Paul's emphasis on mutual acceptance and avoiding spiritual harm through personal conviction and respect for others' practices.
  • In Romans 15:14-16:27, you explore Paul's extended conclusion, his ministry to the Gentiles, his request for prayers regarding his journey to Jerusalem, the roles of Phoebe and Junias in ministry, and the diversity of the early Christian community.

Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.

Please note that the audio mp3 file numbers on downloaded files are two greater than each lecture number beginning with number 15.

Dr. Douglas Moo 
Romans 9:6-29  
Lesson Transcript


Romans 9:6-9 

It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”


A. The Dilemma Regarding Israel: 

Back to the overall argument. Paul responds now to this problem which he set out for us in four stages as I see it. The first stage includes verse 6-29 where Paul develops the idea of an Israel within Israel; “not race but grace” is Tom Wright’s phrase. Wright is very good with coming up with these neat, very effective ways of putting things. You can see what he is getting at there, God’s choice has always rested on His grace, not simple straight forward racial identity. Not race, but grace.

Second, Paul is going to say that Israel has a lot of responsibility for her own fall. Here Paul talks about Israel’s lack of understanding, her stubbornness, her sinful disobedience. 

Three, God is saving a remnant now. In other words, when Paul presents the problem in 9:1-5, he presents it in very global general terms. But what he wants to say here is that most of Israel hasn’t responded but some of Israel has; remember, there are Jewish Christians. We should not forget that in this situation. 

Finally, climatically, the end of Romans 11, where Paul climaxes the thing by this claim that God is going to save all Israel. 

All of this is an answer to the dilemma, the problem, of how we can understand that so many Jews are not part of the new people of God and so many Gentiles are. 

The first answer, God never promised to save all Jews as shown in 9:6-29. Paul here looks at the history of the people of Israel, particularly in its early period. He says that God has been making choices all along here. Let’s start with Abraham, he says. Abraham had two sons and only one inherited, Isaac, not Ishmael. Bring it down a generation, Paul says. Isaac also had two sons and, in this case, he had two sons who were twins. Paul uses very specific language here saying that Jacob and Esau were the result of one seminal emission, one act of making love. This is the Greek language that Paul is using here. He is trying to make the point as graphically and clearly as he can: Jacob and Esau were conceived at the same time. Indeed, Esau was the older for he came out of womb a little bit before Jacob. Paul’s point is to say, God has Himself shown that simply being racially descended from Abraham isn’t what makes you a true part of the people of God. It is choices that God has been making all along, Isaac and not Ismael, Jacob and not Esau.


B. Was It Fair for God to Make These Choices: 

Paul, then in 14-18 takes this a bit further. Is God fair to do this then? Is it unjust of God to make these choices in this way? Paul responds by reminding us of the Old Testament story in which God tells Moses that He has mercy on whomever wants. On the other hand, He hardens whomever He wants. Here, he brings in the story of the Exodus and the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart at that time. 

More objections in verse 19. Someone will say to me, why does God still blame us? Paul responds, God has a right to do this; to make these decisions because He is God. Not only does God make choices from within Israel, He even chooses people from outside to be involved, as in verse 24. He has called us not only from the Jews, but also from the Gentiles. 

So, what you have here is Paul saying that within the larger entity that we might call Israel, there is a smaller group of those whom God has actually chosen, and added to that group from within Israel is a group entirely apart from physical Israel, the Gentiles. The whole point being again that those who interpret God’s promises in the Old Testament to mean that God promises to save alldescendants of Abraham and only descendants of Abraham are misunderstanding God’s purposes in these promises. God has always had purpose demonstrated in what He has actually done in choosing only some among the larger group Israel to be His true people. And, as the Old Testament itself indicates in places like the book of Jonah, God has always been interested in allowing Gentiles to become part of that. This is something, of course, in the New Covenant era that has expanded more significantly beyond what you saw anytime in the Old Testament itself. 

This is an overview of what Paul is arguing here. It meets the objection that Paul’s gospel can’t really be from God because your gospel isn’t bringing salvation to all of Israel. Paul says that this isn’t a reasonable objection because you are assuming that God’s purpose was to bring salvation to all the people of Israel; that’s not clear at all, Paul says. Read your Old Testament more carefully and you will see again that these decisions are being made throughout.

I’m sure this wasn’t comfortable for many people outside of Paul.

Dr. Moo:  
The Gentiles were probably to hear it. As we mentioned before, there were lots of debate among the Jews in Paul’s day about the right interpretation of the Old Testament. Who do the promises apply to and how do we understand them. Paul is taking a particular stance in that debate which, you’re right, was anathema for many Jews, very uncomfortable for many Jews. Even maybe some Jewish Christians who weren’t really happy with it. 


C. Has God Failed Israel and Will He Fail Us: 

Whenever I have taught this section, it seemed to me that one of the main points was, was God actually going to be faithful to His promises, was He keeping His word? Whenever I could take that and bring it into our own current situation, that’s a good question for us too. If God wasn’t faithful to Israel and if we somehow build up in our minds that He made a change, He has made promises to us as well, who is to say if He will keep those? 

Dr. Moo:  
This is a very good point. If God has changed His mind after He made the promises to Israel, what is to say that He is not going to change His mind again, making promises to us that He doesn’t keep? This is a fundamental issue. At the beginning of verse 6puts it in those terms, The Word of God has not failed. His promises never fall short of becoming fulfilled.


D. God’s Sovereignty in Choosing: 

Before we leave this section, I know it’s controversial, but let’s briefly talk about the implications of this passage for the doctrine of election. 

Both Calvinists and Armenians believe in election but have different ways of understanding it. Here is the way I define the views. Here is a passage that puts a lot of emphasis everyone must agree on God’s sovereignty in choosing. The Calvinists emphasize that side of it; this is a text that Calvinists like to quote. It is God who chooses, it is not our will, it’s not our works; it is God’s choice that makes the difference.

To which Armenians typical reply, yeah, there is a lot of emphasis on God’s choice here but don’t forget that there is a lot of emphasis on human choice in Romans 1-8 to this point. Our faith seems to be something that is foundational to this whole matter of salvation as well. 

So, let’s bring them together and find here that while Paul in Romans 9 is saying that God is in charge and God is choosing. His choosing doesn’t take place apart from our decision to believe. That is where the debate focuses here. 

There is one other strand to the debate; there is another way of viewing this. In current times, recent years, there has been a lot of emphasis on taking the whole issue of God’s choosing here to have to do more with the status of Israel in history, rather than with the eternal destiny of individuals. In other words, when God decides to choose Isaac rather than Ismael, is that a text talking about God chooses to save Isaac and damn Ismael? Or is it simply saying that God chose to carry out His promise through Isaac? Or when you come down to Pharaoh, does the text say that God condemned Pharaoh to hell, or does it simply say that God used Pharaoh in a negative way to accomplish His purposes in rescuing Israel and magnifying His name? 

That has become a very popular way of coming up with an interpretation about salvation history that would fit an Armenian way of thinking about election in a general way. You know what I hold on this, you’ve read what I’ve written in the commentary, I don’t really have anything to add to this in terms of more Calvinist reading of this particular argument.