GOD’S WORD HAS NOT FAILED, AND HE IS NOT UNJUST IN REJECTING UNBELIEVING JEWS AND SAVING BELIEVING GENTILES
Thesis: God is neither untrue to his word nor unjust in rejecting unbelieving Jews and accepting believing Gentiles, but he is only fulfilling his promises in the Scripture and showing his mercy.
I. ALTHOUGH PAUL REJOICED TO BE ABLE TO OFFER SALVATION TO THE GENTILES, HE WAS IN GREAT ANGUISH OVER THE LOST STATE OF SOME OF HIS FELOW JEWS (1-5).
A. Paul had great sorrow and unceasing anguish in his heart over his lost brethren (2).
B. He would almost wish himself anathema from Christ if it would help his brethren to be saved (3).
C. The Jews have much to commend them (4-5).
1. Theirs is the adoption as sons (4).
2. Theirs is the divine glory (4).
3. Theirs are the covenants (4).
4. Theirs is the receiving of the law (4).
5. Theirs is the temple worship (4).
6. Theirs are the promises (4).
7. Theirs are the patriarchs (5).
8. From them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised (5).
II. GOD’S WORD HAS NOT FAILED (6-9).
A. Not all who are descended from Israel are the true (spiritual) Israel (6; cf. 2:28-29; Gal. 6:16; Phil. 3:3).
B. Not all who are his descendants (Israel’s) are Abraham’s children (7; cf. 4:11-12, 16-17).
C. It is not the natural children who are God’s children, but the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring (8).
D. The statements, “Through Isaac shall your offspring come.” (cf. Gen. 21:12) and “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” (cf. Gen. 18:10, 14) are interpreted by Paul to have reference to the believers as Abraham’s children (7, 9).
E. Although Rebecca’s children had the same father, Isaac, one was chosen by God and the other not–God exercising his right to choose whom he saw fit to choose (10).
F. God made his choice of Jacob before he or Esau had done anything good or bad so that his promise, “not by works but by him who calls,” could be demonstrated (11-13)).
III. GOD IS NOT UNJUST IN SAVING BELIEVING GENTILES AND REJECTING UNBELIEVING JEWS (14-18).
A. He is not unjust because he said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (14, 15; cf. Exodus 33:19).
1. God chose to show mercy to the believers (3:21, 22).
2. Jesus died so that God could be just in saving only believers, and he could save both believing Jews and Gentiles (3:22-26).
B. Since man’s desire and effort are not adequate (3:9-20, 23; 7:14-25; 8:3; Gal. 3:10-13), it does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy (16).
C. Pharaoh’s case is an illustration of God’s sovereignty in this matter (17; cf. Exodus 9:16).
D. Therefore, God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wills (18).
E. Those who do not believe in Christ are hardened toward salvation, and those who believe in Christ are moved to obey him.
IV. GOD HAS A RIGHT TO ACCEPT WHOM HE WILLS AND TO REJECT WHOM HE WILLS (19-21).
A. No one has a right to challenge and resist God’s will (19).
B. No one has a right to talk back to God (20).
C. The potter has the right to make both pottery for noble purposes and pottery for common purposes from the the same lump of clay, depending on the quality of the clay (21).
D. God chooses to accept those who believe among the Jews and to reject those who do not believe among them (2:5-14; 3:21-24).
V. THE JEWISH SCRIPTURES SHOW GOD’S PROMISE TO SAVE GENTILES WHO BELIEVE AND TO SAVE ONLY SOME (A REMENANT) OF THE JEWS (22-29).
A. God was patient toward the object of his wrath to make known his glory and mercy to both Jew and Gentile (22-23).
B. This is according to what he promised in the Scriptures (25-29).
1. God declared through Hosea, “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people” (25).
2. He also said through Hosea, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God'” (26).
3. Isaiah declared that God would save “only the remenant” of the Israelites (27).
4. Isaiah also declars that God will save some from among the Jews (29).
VI. SOME OF ISRAEL ARE LOST BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF, WHILE SOME GENTILES ARE SAVED BY THEIR FAITH (30-33).
A. Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness by works, have obtailed it by faith (30).
B. Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it because they pursued it not by faith but by works (31-32).
C. As Isaiah prophesied (Isaiah 8:14; 28:16), some of Israel stumbled over the “stumbling stone” (32).
D. Those who trust in him were promised they would not be put to shame (33).
Conclusion: Just as the Scriptures say that those of Israel who are lost are lost because they refuse to believe. It also says that the Gentiles who are saved are saved because they believe and obey Christ.
© 2004, Dr. Wm. T. (Bill) Lambert
Professor Emeritus – NT Literature and Interpretation
College of Bible and Religion