The Sovereignty of God Israel's Past Election: Romans 9

Romans 9  •  17 min. read  •  grade level: 9
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Chapter 9
Paul's Genuine Love for Israel And Their God-ordained Religion of Judaism
Chap. 9:1-3—As previously mentioned, the Jews misunderstood Paul's message in the gospel. They saw him as a traitor, and imagined that he was a hater of Israel who disrespected their God-ordained religion of Judaism. They thought that he was teaching that they should "forsake Moses," which to them was outright "apostasy" (Acts 21:2121And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. (Acts 21:21)).
To set this misunderstanding right, Paul begins by stating his great love for his nation and his appreciation for the privileges that were theirs in Judaism. His love for them was such that he had great grief and sorrow because of their unbelief and rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ, their Messiah. He even went so far as to say that he had "wished" that he himself were "accursed from Christ" if it meant that his fellow countrymen would be saved! This is an incredible statement, paralleled only by Moses himself (Ex. 32:31-3231And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. (Exodus 32:31‑32)). This was a clear proof that the Jews had mistaken ideas about Paul; he truly loved them and respected Judaism.
Chap. 9:4-5—To prove that he had no intention of belittling the privileges of Israel, he lists eight things that had made Israel the most favoured nation on the earth (Deut. 4:77For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? (Deuteronomy 4:7)).
•  "The Law"—The five books of Moses had been given to them. (Ex. 20).
•  "The Service of God"—The divinely instituted Levitical order of sacrifices, whereby they approached God in worship and praise, belonged to them (Lev. 1-7).
•  "The Promises"—A bright future in the millennial kingdom was assured to them (Isa. 30:23-26; 32:1-20; 35:1-1023Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures. 24The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan. 25And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound. (Isaiah 30:23‑26)
1Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. 2And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. 3And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken. 4The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly. 5The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful. 6For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail. 7The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right. 8But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand. 9Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech. 10Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come. 11Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins. 12They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine. 13Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: 14Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; 15Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. 16Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. 17And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. 18And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; 19When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place. 20Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass. (Isaiah 32:1‑20)
1The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. 2It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. 3Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. 4Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. 5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. 7And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. 8And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. 9No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: 10And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 35:1‑10)
, etc.).
•  "The Fathers"—A great heritage of spiritual ancestors.
By adding his "Amen" to this list of things, Paul was indicating that he greatly appreciated these advantages and privileges that had been given to Israel, and approved of them. He valued those things as much as any Jew and did not make light of them in his preaching and teaching, as the Jews mistakenly thought. In fact, he could argue that it was not he who was disrespectful of Judaism and the hope of Israel, but them! For the greatest of these favours promised to Israel was to have the Messiah come into the world through that nation (Matt. 1). It was He, around whom all the privileges of Judaism centered, and through whom the promises would be fulfilled. But when He did come to them, they rejected Him! They "stumbled at that stumbling stone" (chap. 9:32; John 1:1111He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (John 1:11)), and their stumbling has hindered the fulfilment of their national "hope" (Acts 26:66And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: (Acts 26:6)).
The True "Israel of God" is Not Every Natural Descendant of Abraham
He goes on to show that while those promises will definitely be fulfilled, Scripture does not teach that they will be realized by every one of Abraham's descendants. He says, "For they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children." In stating this, Paul shows that Abraham has two kinds of descendants: there are those who have his bloodline but not his faith, and then there are those who have both. This means that not all who are "of Israel" by natural descent are necessarily true "Israel" having faith. A real Israelite whom God regards has both Abraham’s blood and Abraham’s faith. In accordance with this, Paul carefully distinguishes "the seed" of Abraham (natural descent) and the "children" of Abraham (those who have Abraham’s blood and faith). He touched on this distinction in chapter 2:28-29. Thus, Scripture distinguishes between an Israelite and "an Israelite indeed" (John 1:4747Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! (John 1:47)). The promises of God, therefore, will most assuredly be fulfilled to "all Israel" (chap. 11:26), but this refers to those who are true Israelites having Abraham’s blood and faith.
Four Instances From Israel’s History Concerning the Sovereignty of God
Paul then shows that God works on the principle of sovereign election, and since He is God, He can sovereignly call the Gentiles at this present time, even as He sovereignly called the nation of Israel long ago. The Jews were really the last people in the world who could afford to question divine sovereignty. Again and again in their history it had been exercised in their favour. Paul turns to Scripture to prove this point.
1) Isaac Chosen Rather Than Ishmael
(Chap. 9:7b-9)—Paul quotes the Lord's statement to Abraham: "In Isaac shall thy seed be called" (Gen. 21:1212And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. (Genesis 21:12)). This was said to him when there was some question in Abraham's household as to who would be his heir—Ishmael or Isaac. By stating emphatically that it would be Isaac, the Lord clearly ruled out natural descent in Abraham's house, because both Ishmael and Isaac were Abraham's natural sons. If the Jews insisted on natural descent being the enough to inherit the blessing, then they would have to admit the Arabians into blessing, because they descended from Abraham through Ishmael! (Gen. 25:12-1812Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham: 13And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, 14And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, 15Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: 16These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. 17And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people. 18And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren. (Genesis 25:12‑18)) The Jews would never accept that. Paul says, "They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." Ishmael, as we know, was a child of the flesh, but Isaac was the child of promise (Gal. 4:2323But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. (Galatians 4:23)). By God’s choosing of Isaac rather than Ishmael, it is clear that blessing in Abraham's house did not come through the line of natural descent. And, it will be that way when the kingdom of Christ is established on earth—not all of Abraham's natural descendants will be blessed as his "seed" and inherit the promises.
2) Jacob Chosen Rather Than Esau
(Chap. 9:10-14)—Paul moves on to the example of Jacob and Esau. He shows again that blessing did not come through natural descent, but through the sovereign election of God’s grace. In regard to Isaac and Ishmael, the Jews might argue that they had two different mothers, but they could not use that argument here with Jacob and Esau. Rebekah was the mother of them both.
In connection with these twins, if blessing is inherited on the line of natural descent, then they would have to admit the Edomites into blessing! No Jew would accept that for a moment. Before the boys were born, and had done neither “good” nor “evil,” God said, “The elder shall serve the younger” (Gen. 25:2323And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. (Genesis 25:23)). Normally Esau would have had the place of privilege in Isaac's family, but God's sovereign selection passed Esau by and rested on Jacob. This proves that God's sovereign call does not depend on works, whether good or bad, but on grace alone. Fifteen hundred years later, the Lord said, “Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated” (vs. 13; Mal. 1:2-32I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, 3And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. (Malachi 1:2‑3)). This was written after they had lived their lives and had proved their true character. Thus, Paul mentions two statements that the Lord made concerning Jacob and Esau: one was stated before the boys were born (vs. 12), and the other was stated many years after they had lived their lives and had died (vs. 13). They show conclusively that God chose one rather than the other.
3) the Lord Chose to Have Mercy on Israel When They Turned to Idolatry
(Chap. 9:14-16)—The person who argues with divine sovereignty will say, "If there are really only two outcomes in choosing—to be blessed or damned—to go ahead and elect one and not the other, necessarily damns the one who wasn't chosen! How can this be fair?" The same skeptic will also say, "If everything has been settled ahead of time, then there is nothing anyone can do about it, and if that is true, then God is unrighteous for condemning people because it’s not their fault they weren’t chosen!"
Paul anticipated that people would object to the principle of divine sovereignty and responds by saying, “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?” He answers his own question, “God forbid [far be the thought].” Paul proceeds to defend the sovereignty of God, but not as some Christian theologians who try to reconcile God's sovereignty and man's responsibility by merging them into one thing. They will say that God, by His foreknowledge, knew who would believe and who would not, and chose those who would believe. This is the gist of the mistaken ideas of Arminianism, which emphasizes man’s responsibility in salvation to the exclusion of God’s sovereignty. Paul cites an example of God’s sovereignty from the case of Israel's idolatry—their worship of the golden calf (Ex. 32). When the people sinned against God in this matter, God said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Had God dealt with Israel according to the just deserts of divine justice only, giving them what was due to them, He would have destroyed the whole nation! But, the fact that God elected not to judge the nation, shows that He sovereignly chose to have mercy on them. The Jews could hardly afford to argue with God's sovereignty on this occasion, for had it not been exercised favourably toward them they would have been wiped out! If Jews wish to charge God with unrighteousness in this, then they would be admitting that they should be condemned! And if all men deserve to be condemned, then no one can rightly accuse God of unrighteousness if He doesn’t show mercy to some. Paul, therefore, concludes, "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." If God chooses to have mercy on some, no one can find fault with it.
4) the Lord Hardened Pharaoh
(Chap. 9:17-18)—Opposers may not have a difficulty with God sovereignly acting in mercy toward someone, but they might when it comes to an act of judgment. Paul goes on to show that God is also sovereign in judgment. Just as Israel did wickedly in worshipping the golden calf, and God sovereignly chose to show mercy on them, so also with Pharaoh—he did wickedly, but in his case God hardened him, and then judged him. Since Pharaoh was reaping what he had sown, God was justified in judging him. Thus, we see God's sovereignty being exercised in showing mercy to some and also in hardening others. Paul says, "Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth" (vs. 18). God can and does exercise judgment on the wicked, and He is just in doing so, but He might choose to show mercy on some; it is His prerogative.
Who Can Resist the Will of God?
Chap. 9:19-23—Men will accuse God of unrighteousness by pointing to His dealings with Pharaoh as an example of predestinating people to hell. Paul goes on to show that this is not true; God would never predestinate anyone to a lost eternity. He also points out that it is folly on man’s part to question the ways of God.
He presents the argument that skeptics and opposers use: “If God hardens a man so that the man will not believe, how can God then ‘find fault’ with him for not believing?” (vs. 19) Paul answers this mistaken notion by showing that while God does act in judgment, Scripture does not say that He chooses people for eternal destruction. “Vessels of wrath are fitted to destruction” (vs. 22), but they are not fitted as such by God; people fit themselves for it by their own unbelief! In the case of Pharaoh, God did not predestinate him for judgment. If we read the account of the Lord’s dealings with Pharaoh carefully (Ex. 4-12), we will see that he fitted himself for his judgment by repeatedly hardening himself against the Lord. But he was not doomed from the moment of his birth. In his life, he proved himself to be wicked, and God could have justly cut him off, but chose to preserve him alive for a time so that He might display His power in judgment, and through it, magnify His name in the earth.
The Lord knew that Pharaoh would harden his heart against Him (Ex. 3:1919And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. (Exodus 3:19)) and told Moses that He would judicially harden his heart even further, as a consequence. The Lord said, “I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go” (Ex. 4:21; 7:321And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. (Exodus 4:21)
3And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 7:3)
). Note: the Lord did not say at that moment, "I have hardened his heart..." but rather, “I will harden his heart.” It was something the Lord was going to do as a consequence of Pharaoh’s hardening his heart first. Sure enough, Pharaoh proved himself to be a wicked man, and hardened his heart against the Lord. Scripture records, “And Pharaoh's heart was stubborn [hardened]” (Ex. 7:1313And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said. (Exodus 7:13)). (This verse unfortunately has been mistranslated in the KJV, saying, "And He hardened Pharaoh's heart." This would make the Lord the Initiator of the hardening, which is not true.) Exodus 7:13-1413And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said. 14And the Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go. (Exodus 7:13‑14) is the first mention in Scripture of Pharaoh's heart being hardened, and it is clearly something that he did himself. In fact, he repeatedly hardened his heart against the Lord (Ex. 7:22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:722And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the Lord had said. (Exodus 7:22)
15But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said. (Exodus 8:15)
19Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said. (Exodus 8:19)
32And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go. (Exodus 8:32)
7And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go. (Exodus 9:7)
). It was only after all that, that the Scripture finally says, “And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh” (Ex. 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:1012And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had spoken unto Moses. (Exodus 9:12)
1And the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might show these my signs before him: (Exodus 10:1)
20But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go. (Exodus 10:20)
27But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go. (Exodus 10:27)
10And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land. (Exodus 11:10)
), which is a fulfilment of what the Lord said He was going to do in Exodus 4:2121And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. (Exodus 4:21) and 7:3. Scripture says, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Prov. 29:11He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. (Proverbs 29:1)). This was the case with Pharaoh.
Paul shows that to question the sovereignty of God is to misunderstand who God is, and who we are. He says, “For who hath resisted His will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast Thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” God has all power in heaven and earth and can to do as He pleases—and He never does wrong. He said to Abraham, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:2525That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Genesis 18:25)).
All men deserve judgment, but if God chooses to show mercy on a few, who are we to say that He is doing wrong? How any get saved at all is a testament to the sovereign grace of God. The old and true adage is: all may come (Rev. 22:1717And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)), but none will come (John 3:3232And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. (John 3:32)); but on account of the sovereign power of God acting in men, some shall come to Christ and be saved (John 6:4444No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)). While God may choose some for blessing (as “vessels of mercy”), He never chooses any to go to hell. All who turn out to be “vessels of wrath” are “fitted to destruction” by their own unbelief (vs. 22). There is no such thing as being predestinated to hell. Paul says that the reason why God chooses some to be “vessels of mercy” is to demonstrate “the riches of His glory” (vs. 23).
J. N. Darby said, "The root of the question is this; is God to judge man, or man God? God can do whatsoever He pleases. He is not the object of our judgment" (Synopsis of the Books of the Bible––on Romans 9). F. B. Hole said, "How slow we are to admit that God has a right to do as He likes, that in fact, He is the only One who has that right, inasmuch as He alone is perfect in foreknowledge, wisdom, righteousness, and love. Things may appear inexplicable to us, but then that is because we are imperfect."
The Principle of the Sovereign Election of Grace Applied to the Gentiles
Chap. 9:23-26—Paul then shows that the principle of sovereign election applies as much to the Gentiles as it does to Israel. He says that “the vessels of mercy” (believers) were “afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.” Thus, all blessing, whether for Jews or Gentiles, rests upon the sovereignty of God.
He quotes from Hosea 1:1010Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. (Hosea 1:10) and Hosea 2:2323And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God. (Hosea 2:23) to show that God will once again take up Israel in a coming day. They are presently in a position of not being His people—“Lo-ammi” ("not My people") being written over them. But then, in sovereign grace, He will make them His people again. Their present position of not being His people is identical to the position that the Gentiles are in. Paul's reasoning is that if God can deal in this way with Israel, then He can do it with the Gentiles too.
Chap. 9:27-29—Paul then quotes from the prophet Isaiah to emphasize what he has already taught in verses 6-8—that this act of grace toward Israel will not include every Israelite by natural descent. The mass of the nation will prove to be faithless and will be judged by God, but “a remnant” will be saved. He says, “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea (by natural descent), a remnant shall be saved” (Isa. 10:2222For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. (Isaiah 10:22)). And again, “Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed [a very small remnant], we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha” (Isa. 1:99Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. (Isaiah 1:9)). Those who will compose this remnant will have faith, and consequently, will receive the Lord, and be blessed according to the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These will form the nucleus of the nation in the Millennium.
Vss. 30-33—Paul then concludes by stating that the Gentiles who have “followed not after righteousness” have found “righteousness that is on the principle of faith.” On the other hand, Israel, who followed after “the Law” for “righteousness,” has not attained it because they sought it by “the works of the Law,” and not by faith.
Paul asks, “Wherefore?” He answers his question by stating that it was “because they sought it not by faith.” The Jews (nationally) missed the blessing because they misunderstood the purpose of the Law. They thought that it was a ladder upon which one climbs to attain righteousness, and have tried to establish their own righteousness by keeping the Law, and as a result, have become blinded as to their true state. And the crowning proof of their blinded state is that they “stumbled at that stumbling-stone”—Christ. They rejected Him!
Paul quotes again from Isaiah 28 to show that while the nation as a whole stumbled at the “stumbling-stone and rock of offence,” God has worked sovereignly and some at this present time (a remnant) have believed the gospel. By saying, “whosoever believeth,” Paul points to the fact that there is human responsibility in receiving the blessing—a person, whether Jew or Gentile, must believe. This acts as a segue (connector) to the subject in the next chapter, which has to do with the responsibility of man.