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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 2 I speak the truth in
Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the holy Spirit in bearing me
that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in
For I could wish that I myself were accursed
and separated from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kin according to the
They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the
glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;
theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according
to the flesh, is the Messiah. God who is over all 3 be
blessed forever. Amen.
But it is not that the word of God has failed.
For not all who are of Israel are Israel,
nor are they all children of Abraham because
they are his descendants; but "It is through Isaac that descendants shall
bear your name."
This means that it is not the children of the
flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted
For this is the wording of the promise,
"About this time I shall return and Sarah will have a son."
And not only that, but also when Rebecca had
conceived children by one husband, our father Isaac 4 -
before they had yet been born or had done
anything, good or bad, in order that God's elective plan might continue,
not by works but by his call - she was told,
"The older shall serve the younger."
As it is written: "I loved Jacob but hated
6 What then are we to say? Is there injustice on
the part of God? Of course not!
For he says to Moses: "I will show mercy
to whom I will, I will take pity on whom I will."
So it depends not upon a person's will or exertion,
but upon God, who shows mercy.
For the scripture says to Pharaoh, "This
is why I have raised you up, to show my power through you that my name may be
proclaimed throughout the earth."
Consequently, he has mercy upon whom he wills,
and he hardens whom he wills. 7
8 You will say to me then, "Why (then) does
he still find fault? For who can oppose his will?"
But who indeed are you, a human being, to talk
back to God? Will what is made say to its maker,"Why have you created me
Or does not the potter have a right over the
clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for a noble purpose and another
for an ignoble one?
What if God, wishing to show his wrath and make
known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for
This was to make known the riches of his glory
to the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared previously for glory,
namely, us whom he has called, not only from
the Jews but also from the Gentiles.
As indeed he says in Hosea: "Those who
were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved 9
I will call 'beloved.'
And in the very place where it was said to
them, 'You are not my people,' there they shall be called children of the
And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel,
"Though the number of the Israelites were like the sand of the sea, only a
remnant will be saved;
for decisively and quickly will the Lord
execute sentence upon the earth."
And as Isaiah predicted: "Unless the Lord
of hosts had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom and have been
made like Gomorrah."
10 What then shall we say? That Gentiles, who did
not pursue righteousness, have achieved it, that is, righteousness that comes
but that Israel, who pursued the law of
righteousness, did not attain to that law?
Why not? Because they did it not by faith, but
as if it could be done by works. They stumbled over the stone that causes
as it is written: "Behold, I am laying a
stone in Zion that will make people stumble and a rock that will make them
fall, and whoever believes in him shall not be put to shame."
[⇒ 9:1-⇒ 11:36] Israel's
unbelief and its rejection of Jesus as savior astonished and puzzled
Christians. It constituted a serious problem for them in view of God's specific
preparation of Israel for the advent of the Messiah. Paul addresses himself
here to the essential question of how the divine plan could be frustrated by
Israel's unbelief. At the same time, he discourages both complacency and
anxiety on the part of Gentiles. To those who might boast of their superior
advantage over Jews, he warns that their enjoyment of the blessings assigned to
Israel can be terminated. To those who might anxiously ask, "How can we be
sure that Israel's fate will not be ours?" he replies that only unbelief
can deprive one of salvation.
2 [1-5] The apostle speaks in strong
terms of the depth of his grief over the unbelief of his own people. He would
willingly undergo a curse himself for the sake of their coming to the knowledge
of Christ (⇒ Romans 9:3; cf ⇒ Lev
27:28-29). His love for them derives from God's continuing choice of
them and from the spiritual benefits that God bestows on them and through them
on all of humanity (⇒ Romans 9:4-5).
3  Some editors punctuate this
verse differently and prefer the translation, "Of whom is Christ according
to the flesh, who is God over all." However, Paul's point is that God who
is over all aimed to use Israel, which had been entrusted with every privilege,
in outreach to the entire world through the Messiah.
4  Children by one husband, our
father Isaac: Abraham had two children, Ishmael and Isaac, by two wives, Hagar
and Sarah, respectively. In that instance Isaac, although born later than
Ishmael, became the bearer of the messianic promise. In the case of twins born
to Rebecca, God's elective procedure is seen even more dramatically, and again
the younger, contrary to Semitic custom, is given the preference.
5  The literal rendering,
"Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated," suggests an attitude of divine
hostility that is not implied in Paul's statement. In Semitic usage
"hate" means to love less; cf ⇒ Luke
14:26 with ⇒ Matthew 10:37. Israel's
unbelief reflects the mystery of the divine election that is always operative
within it. Mere natural descent from Abraham does not ensure the full
possession of the divine gifts; it is God's sovereign prerogative to bestow
this fullness upon, or to withhold it from, whomsoever he wishes; cf ⇒ Matthew
3:9; ⇒ John 8:39. The choice of Jacob over
Esau is a case in point.
6 [14-18] The principle of divine
election does not invite Christians to theoretical inquiry concerning the
nonelected, nor does this principle mean that God is unfair in his dealings
with humanity. The instruction concerning divine election is a part of the
gospel and reveals that the gift of faith is the enactment of God's mercy
(⇒ Romans 9:16). God raised up Moses to display that
mercy, and Pharaoh to display divine severity in punishing those who
obstinately oppose their Creator.
7  The basic biblical principle
is: those who will not see or hear shall not see or hear. On the other hand,
the same God who thus makes stubborn or hardens the heart can reconstruct it
through the work of the holy Spirit.
8 [19-29] The apostle responds to the
objection that if God rules over faith through the principle of divine
election, God cannot then accuse unbelievers of sin (⇒ Romans
9:19). For Paul, this objection is in the last analysis a
manifestation of human insolence, and his "answer" is less an
explanation of God's ways than the rejection of an argument that places
humanity on a level with God. At the same time, Paul shows that God is far less
arbitrary than appearances suggest, for God endures with much patience
(⇒ Romans 9:22) a person like the Pharaoh of the
9  Beloved: in Semitic discourse
means "preferred" or "favorite" (cf
⇒ Romans 9:13). See ⇒ Hosea
2:1, which is transposed after ⇒ Hosea 3:5
in the NAB.
10 [30-33] In the conversion of the
Gentiles and, by contrast, of relatively few Jews, the Old Testament prophecies
are seen to be fulfilled; cf ⇒ Romans 9:25-29.
Israel feared that the doctrine of justification through faith would jeopardize
the validity of the Mosaic law, and so they never reached their goal of
righteousness that they had sought to attain through meticulous observance of
the law (⇒ Romans 9:31). Since Gentiles, including
especially Greeks and Romans, had a great regard for righteousness, Paul's
statement concerning Gentiles in ⇒ Romans 9:30 is to
be understood from a Jewish perspective: quite evidently they had not been
interested in "God's" righteousness, for it had not been revealed to
them; but now in response to the proclamation of the gospel they respond in
11  Paul discusses Israel as a
whole from the perspective of contemporary Jewish rejection of Jesus as
Messiah. The Old Testament and much of Jewish noncanonical literature in fact
reflect a fervent faith in divine mercy.
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