Bible Conversations: Romans 9-11

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Queries, expositions, comments original or selected, references of all sorts, parallel passages and other notes on Rom. 13, 14 can be sent by any subscriber, addressed " B. C." Editor of B. S., 27 Paternoster Square, E. C., on or before the 25th instant.
All communications must be brief and pointed, diffuse commentaries on the whole Scripture being avoided. The papers sent may be shortened, or omitted wholly, or in part, at the discretion of the Editor. No communications can be returned, but each will be acknowledged at the head of the Conversation.
Communications received from Yod,-T. H.,-Edo,-C. H. P.,- E.M.B..-G. K. B.
G. K. B.-We now enter on a new section of the Epistle, in chapters ix.-xi. the main object of which is to reconcile the indiscriminate call of the Gentiles and Jews with the special promises made to Israel.
Ed.-Yes, and it may be well before going into the chapter just to give an outline of their contents.
I. God's Sovereignty
A. In selecting the line of promise
B. In showing mercy or hardening
C. In His absolute power
D. summing up
II. God's Salvation
A. Not of law
B. But for all
C. And therefore preached
III. God's Faithfulness
A. Proved by spared remnants
B. Proved by Gentile call being merely conditional
C. Proved by final salvation of Israel
Yod:-Paul has been showing the Jews to be as bad and even worse than the Gentiles, but the question would now arise as to God's promises to His ancient people, and in the ix., x., and xi. chapters he treats of this subject. In chapter ix. he first recalls their privileges, and then shows that they are not hereditary, but of sovereign grace.
G. K. B.-In verses 1-3 it is plain that the apostle is here alluding to the love Moses had proved so well, and his ardent heart had loved them as much as Moses who would have been "blotted out of God's book" rather than not see them forgiven. Love makes the most of what is possessed by its object. All divinely conferred privileges were really theirs.
Yod.-Compare as to verse 3 Moses' prayer in Ex. 32.32. Does not this mean that Paul wished himself eternally lost for their sakes?
Ed.-The language, as was frequently the case with this apostle, was certainly amazingly strong. We cannot, however, take it as deliberately and literally meant, but rather as expressive of his strong affection.
G. K. B.-v. 4, Israelites. Alluding to the divinely conferred name of victory with God and man, which they derived from their father Jacob.
The adoption. The name Jehovah deigned to call them by in His summons to Pharaoh, " my son, my firstborn."
The glory. The Shechinah or glory cloud, which led out the people from Egypt, through the wilderness into Canaan.
The covenants. Those solemn covenants, which God made first with the fathers, but assuredly including that which He will make in the latter day with the sons.
The lawgiving. Before which all the boasts of ancient and modern times are as nothing, compared with the blaze of glory at Sinai, or the marvelous condescension which deigned from the tabernacle to treat of their least as well as their greatest matters.
The service. The ordinances of worship, the only ritual with its priesthood which God ever instituted for a people on. earth. Next the _promises, naturally followed by the fathers, and all is crowned by the Messiah.
C. H. P.-" To whom pertaineth the adoption." Will you please explain the difference between this adoption, and the adoption into which we are brought.
Ed.-The adoption of Israel was national, not individual, ours is individual not national.
T. H.-What am I to understand by " the children of the-promise? "
C. H. P.-Was it only the true believers who were " children of the promise? "
Ed.-The "children of the promise" refers to Isaac's descendants, in contrast to Abraham's other children, verse 9 shows this. The object is not to give the verse a spiritual meaning, but to show that God chooses whom He will.
G. K. B.-The natural seed were not heirs, because they were the natural seed. Ishmael was the natural seed, but sovereign grace maintained its prerogative. The Jews themselves therefore, to exclude the Ishmaelites must fall back upon the promises to the line of Isaac. Promises therefore, and not mere descent decide.
Ed.-It is curious how the Jews should have overlooked this fact in their own history.
G. K. B.-In verses 10-13 there follows a closer instance, that of Rebecca, who bore to Isaac two sons, and God revealed His purpose respecting the younger or lesser of the two, before either had done good or evil.
T. H.-This tenth verse demonstrates the great sovereignty and elective purpose of God in accomplishing what He intends by means of these examples, Jacob and Esau.
Yod.-If they objected that Ishmael was born of a slave, here were two of one mother. And one was chosen, not on account of a righteous life, for he was not born, but, in grace to inherit the promises. So the Jews were obliged either to admit God's sovereignty, or to acknowledge that Ishmaelites and Edomites participated in the promises.
Edo.-Was it owing to Rebecca's knowledge of this that she acted as she did in Gen. 27, was she by faith obeying the Lord?
Ed.-We could not say that Rebecca had such spiritual discernment as this would imply.
T. H.-What is the explanation of " Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated? "
C. H. P.-I can never understand the latter half.
Ed.-We should understand it better if we remembered that the fact that Jacob was loved is seen in the first book of the Bible, according to God's electing grace, whereas the fact that Esau was hated is not stated till Malachi, when Esau had fully proved what he was.
G. K. B.-If God had not retreated into his own sovereignty and said " I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy" all Israel except Moses or Joshua would have been cut off at Sinai. That sovereignty God would now use in favor of the Gentiles, whom He called along with the Jews.
T. H.-Verse 15. God can use His prerogative as He pleases. He can bestow His favor on whom He chooses. He will do no wrong to any of His creatures.
Edo.-Verse 16. Is it not restful to remember our utter dependence on our Master for everything? If we are "willing" we know it is His working in us made us so. Phil. 2:1313For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13). Compare this verse with St. Paul's Phil. 3:99And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (Philippians 3:9), " That I may be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God by faith." What a rest when we can say from the heart:-
I'm a poor sinner and nothing at all,
Jesus Christ is my all in all!
The very Rock which might have been "as an hiding place from the wind, a covert from the tempest," is to some instead a stumbling stone and a rock of offense.
G. K. B.-There is the unqualified assertion of God's power to make vessels of dishonor, if He pleased, but careful avoidance of the thought that He had made any.
T. H.-Please explain verse 22, " which He before prepared unto glory."
C. H. P.-Verses 22, 23. " Vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." It does not say " which He had fitted," but in speaking of the vessels of mercy, it says " which He had afore prepared unto glory." We are told of "vessels of wrath," and " vessels of mercy, vessels to honor, and vessels to dishonor." How much less we should) think of ourselves, our rights, and our doings, if we realized that we are only vessels in the Master's hand, and not independent actors!
Ed.-The expression " before prepared unto glory" refers to God's electing grace.
T. H.—I should be glad of an explanation of verses 23 and 24.
C. H. P.-Verses 25, 26. It is evident that verse 25 the apostle interprets of the future call of Israel, the reinstatement of the people of God on a better footing than ever, in sovereign grace; but he also applies verse 26 to the Gentiles. Thus all is here set out in the most orderly method. " Even us, whom he bath called, not of the Jews only, (shown in ver. 25), but also of the Gentiles" (referred to in ver. 26.) " And it shall come to pass that in the place where it was said to them, ye are not my people, there shall they be called the sons of the living God." Consequently sonship is far more characteristic of the call of the Gentile than of the Jew. Thus in the change (not a little one, as I was going to say, but very great indeed), in the avoidance of the expression "people," and the employment of " sons," God, intimates by the prophet that when He was going to work in grace, He would work worthily of His name. He would bring the Gentiles not merely into the place of Israel, but into a better standing.
G. K. B.—From ver. 27 the apostle confirms his reasoning by positive quotations from the prophet Esaias declared that a remnant should be saved. They had sought righteousness, but by their own works and rejected Christ, stumbling at the stumbling stone, while the Gentiles who sought it not had come in under mercy for " whosoever believeth on Him would not be ashamed."
C. H. P.-Verse 27 seems much clearer in the Revised than in the Authorized Version.
In closing our brief remarks on this interesting chapter it is well for us to remember that whereas the doctrine of God's positive electing grace is clearly taught, the contrast to it is not, as many think, the doctrine of reprobation, but the beautiful picture of verse 22 of God's endurance with much long-suffering.