Paul’s Anguish Over Israel
1I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— 2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 4the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised!9:5 Or Messiah, who is over all. God be forever praised! Or Messiah. God who is over all be forever praised! Amen.
God’s Sovereign Choice
6It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”9:7 Gen. 21:12 8In 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. 9For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”9:9 Gen. 18:10,14
10Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”9:12 Gen. 25:23 13Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”9:13 Mal. 1:2,3
14What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”9:15 Exodus 33:19
16It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”9:17 Exodus 9:16 18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
19One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ”9:20 Isaiah 29:16; 45:9 21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
22What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25As he says in Hosea:
“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”9:25 Hosea 2:23
“In the very place where it was said to them,
‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ ”9:26 Hosea 1:10
27Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:
“Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
only the remnant will be saved.
28For the Lord will carry out
his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”9:28 Isaiah 10:22,23 (see Septuagint)
29It is just as Isaiah said previously:
“Unless the Lord Almighty
had left us descendants,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah.”9:29 Isaiah 1:9
30What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33As it is written:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”9:33 Isaiah 8:14; 28:16
Paul Mourns for Israel
1I speak the truth in Christ. I am not lying. My mind tells me that what I say is true. It is guided by the Holy Spirit. 2My heart is full of sorrow. My sadness never ends. 3I am so concerned about my people, who are members of my own race. I am ready to be cursed, if that would help them. I am even willing to be separated from Christ. 4They are the people of Israel. They have been adopted as God’s children. God’s glory belongs to them. So do the covenants. They received the law. They were taught to worship in the temple. They were given the promises. 5The founders of our nation belong to them. The Messiah comes from their family line. He is God over all. May he always be praised! Amen.
God’s Free Choice
6I do not mean that God’s word has failed. Not everyone in the family line of Israel really belongs to Israel. 7Not everyone in Abraham’s family line is really his child. Not at all! Scripture says, “Your family line will continue through Isaac.” (Genesis 21:12) 8In other words, God’s children are not just in the family line of Abraham. Instead, they are the children God promised to him. They are the ones considered to be Abraham’s children. 9God promised, “I will return at the appointed time. Sarah will have a son.” (Genesis 18:10,14)
10And that’s not all. Rebekah’s children were born at the same time by the same father. He was our father Isaac. 11Here is what happened. Rebekah’s twins had not even been born. They hadn’t done anything good or bad yet. So they show that God’s purpose is based firmly on his free choice. 12It was not because of anything they did but because of God’s choice. So Rebekah was told, “The older son will serve the younger one.” (Genesis 25:23) 13It is written, “I chose Jacob instead of Esau.” (Malachi 1:2,3)
14What should we say then? Is God unfair? Not at all! 15He said to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy.
I will show love to those I love.” (Exodus 33:19)
16So it doesn’t depend on what people want or what they do. It depends on God’s mercy. 17In Scripture, God says to Pharaoh, “I had a special reason for making you king. I decided to use you to show my power. I wanted my name to become known everywhere on earth.” (Exodus 9:16) 18So God does what he wants to do. He shows mercy to one person and makes another stubborn.
19One of you will say to me, “Then why does God still blame us? Who can oppose what he wants to do?” 20But you are a mere human being. So who are you to talk back to God? Scripture says, “Can what is made say to the one who made it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” (Isaiah 29:16; 45:9) 21Isn’t the potter free to make different kinds of pots out of the same lump of clay? Some are for special purposes. Others are for ordinary use.
22What if God chose to show his great anger? What if he chose to make his power known? But he put up with the people he was angry with. They were made to be destroyed. 23What if he put up with them to show the riches of his glory to other people? Those other people are the ones he shows his mercy to. He made them to receive his glory. 24We are those people. He has chosen us. We do not come only from the Jewish race. Many of us are not Jews. 25God says in Hosea,
“I will call those who are not my people ‘my people.’
I will call the one who is not my loved one ‘my loved one.’ ” (Hosea 2:23)
26He also says,
“Once it was said to them,
‘You are not my people.’
In that very place they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ ” (Hosea 1:10)
27Isaiah cries out concerning Israel. He says,
“The number of people from Israel may be like the sand by the sea.
But only a few of them will be saved.
28The Lord will carry out his sentence.
He will be quick to carry it out on earth, once and for all.” (Isaiah 10:22,23)
29Earlier Isaiah had said,
“The Lord who rules over all
left us children and grandchildren.
If he hadn’t, we would have become like Sodom.
We would have been like Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:9)
Israel Does Not Believe
30What should we say then? Gentiles did not look for a way to be right with God. But they found it by having faith. 31The people of Israel tried to obey the law to make themselves right with God. But they didn’t reach their goal of being right with God. 32Why not? Because they tried to do it without faith. They tried to be right with God by what they did. They tripped over the stone that causes people to trip and fall. 33It is written,
“Look! In Zion I am laying a stone that causes people to trip.
It is a rock that makes them fall.
The one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” (Isaiah 8:14; 28:16)