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Romans 9:1-29

Context
Israel’s Rejection Considered

9:1 1 I am telling the truth in Christ (I am not lying!), for my conscience assures me 2  in the Holy Spirit – 9:2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3  9:3 For I could wish 4  that I myself were accursed – cut off from Christ – for the sake of my people, 5  my fellow countrymen, 6  9:4 who are Israelites. To them belong 7  the adoption as sons, 8  the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple worship, 9  and the promises. 9:5 To them belong the patriarchs, 10  and from them, 11  by human descent, 12  came the Christ, 13  who is God over all, blessed forever! 14  Amen.

9:6 It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all those who are descended from Israel are truly Israel, 15  9:7 nor are all the children Abraham’s true descendants; rather “through Isaac will your descendants be counted.” 16  9:8 This means 17  it is not the children of the flesh 18  who are the children of God; rather, the children of promise are counted as descendants. 9:9 For this is what the promise declared: 19 About a year from now 20  I will return and Sarah will have a son.” 21  9:10 Not only that, but when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, 22  our ancestor Isaac – 9:11 even before they were born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose in election 23  would stand, not by works but by 24  his calling) 25 9:12 26  it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger,” 27  9:13 just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 28 

9:14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! 9:15 For he says to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 29  9:16 So then, 30  it does not depend on human desire or exertion, 31  but on God who shows mercy. 9:17 For the scripture says to Pharaoh: 32 For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may demonstrate my power in you, and that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” 33  9:18 So then, 34  God 35  has mercy on whom he chooses to have mercy, and he hardens whom he chooses to harden. 36 

9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who has ever resisted his will?” 9:20 But who indeed are you – a mere human being 37  – to talk back to God? 38  Does what is molded say to the molder,Why have you made me like this? 39  9:21 Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay 40  one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use? 41  9:22 But what if God, willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects 42  of wrath 43  prepared for destruction? 44  9:23 And what if he is willing to make known the wealth of his glory on the objects 45  of mercy that he has prepared beforehand for glory – 9:24 even us, whom he has called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 9:25 As he also says in Hosea:

I will call those who were not my people,My people,and I will call her who was unloved, 46 My beloved.’” 47 

9:26And in the very place 48  where it was said to them,You are not my people,

there they will be calledsons of the living God.’” 49 

9:27 And Isaiah cries out on behalf of Israel, “Though the number of the children 50  of Israel are as the sand of the sea, only the remnant will be saved, 9:28 for the Lord will execute his sentence on the earth completely and quickly.” 51  9:29 Just 52  as Isaiah predicted,

If the Lord of armies 53  had not left us descendants,

we would have become like Sodom,

and we would have resembled Gomorrah.” 54 

1 sn Rom 9:111:36. These three chapters are among the most difficult and disputed in Paul’s Letter to the Romans. One area of difficulty is the relationship between Israel and the church, especially concerning the nature and extent of Israel’s election. Many different models have been constructed to express this relationship. For a representative survey, see M. Barth, The People of God (JSNTSup), 22-27. The literary genre of these three chapters has been frequently identified as a diatribe, a philosophical discussion or conversation evolved by the Cynic and Stoic schools of philosophy as a means of popularizing their ideas (E. Käsemann, Romans, 261 and 267). But other recent scholars have challenged the idea that Rom 9–11 is characterized by diatribe. Scholars like R. Scroggs and E. E. Ellis have instead identified the material in question as midrash. For a summary and discussion of the rabbinic connections, see W. R. Stegner, “Romans 9.6-29 – A Midrash,” JSNT 22 (1984): 37-52.

2 tn Or “my conscience bears witness to me.”

3 tn Grk “my sorrow is great and the anguish in my heart is unceasing.”

4 tn Or “For I would pray.” The implied condition is “if this could save my fellow Jews.”

5 tn Grk “brothers.” See BDAG 18-19 s.v. ἀδελφός 2.b.

6 tn Grk “my kinsmen according to the flesh.”

7 tn Grk “of whom.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

8 tn The Greek term υἱοθεσία (Juioqesia) was originally a legal technical term for adoption as a son with full rights of inheritance. BDAG 1024 s.v. notes, “a legal t.t. of ‘adoption’ of children, in our lit., i.e. in Paul, only in a transferred sense of a transcendent filial relationship between God and humans (with the legal aspect, not gender specificity, as major semantic component).” Although some modern translations remove the filial sense completely and render the term merely “adoption” (cf. NAB, ESV), the retention of this component of meaning was accomplished in the present translation by the phrase “as sons.”

9 tn Or “cultic service.”

10 tn Grk “of whom are the fathers.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

11 tn Grk “from whom.” Here the relative pronoun has been replaced by a personal pronoun.

12 tn Grk “according to the flesh.”

13 tn Or “Messiah.” (Both Greek “Christ” and Hebrew and Aramaic “Messiah” mean “one who has been anointed.”)

14 tn Or “the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever,” or “the Messiah. God who is over all be blessed forever!” or “the Messiah who is over all. God be blessed forever!” The translational difficulty here is not text-critical in nature, but is a problem of punctuation. Since the genre of these opening verses of Romans 9 is a lament, it is probably best to take this as an affirmation of Christ’s deity (as the text renders it). Although the other renderings are possible, to see a note of praise to God at the end of this section seems strangely out of place. But for Paul to bring his lament to a crescendo (that is to say, his kinsmen had rejected God come in the flesh), thereby deepening his anguish, is wholly appropriate. This is also supported grammatically and stylistically: The phrase ὁ ὢν (Jo wn, “the one who is”) is most naturally taken as a phrase which modifies something in the preceding context, and Paul’s doxologies are always closely tied to the preceding context. For a detailed examination of this verse, see B. M. Metzger, “The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5,” Christ and the Spirit in the New Testament, 95-112; and M. J. Harris, Jesus as God, 144-72.

15 tn Grk “For not all those who are from Israel are Israel.”

16 tn Grk “be called.” The emphasis here is upon God’s divine sovereignty in choosing Isaac as the child through whom Abraham’s lineage would be counted as opposed to Ishmael.

sn A quotation from Gen 21:12.

17 tn Grk “That is,” or “That is to say.”

18 tn Because it forms the counterpoint to “the children of promise” the expression “children of the flesh” has been retained in the translation.

sn The expression the children of the flesh refers to the natural offspring.

19 tn Grk “For this is the word of promise.”

20 tn Grk “About this time I will return.” Since this refers to the time when the promised child would be born, it would be approximately a year later.

21 sn A quotation from Gen 18:10, 14.

22 tn Or possibly “by one act of sexual intercourse.” See D. Moo, Romans (NICNT), 579.

23 tn Grk “God’s purpose according to election.”

24 tn Or “not based on works but based on…”

25 tn Grk “by the one who calls.”

sn The entire clause is something of a parenthetical remark.

26 sn Many translations place this verse division before the phrase “not by works but by his calling” (NA27/UBS4, NIV, NRSV, NLT, NAB). Other translations place this verse division in the same place that the translation above does (NASB, KJV, NKJV, ASV, RSV). The translation has followed the latter to avoid breaking the parenthetical statement.

27 sn A quotation from Gen 25:23.

28 sn A quotation from Mal 1:2-3.

29 sn A quotation from Exod 33:19.

30 sn There is a double connective here that cannot be easily preserved in English: “consequently therefore,” emphasizing the conclusion of what he has been arguing.

31 tn Grk “So then, [it does] not [depend] on the one who desires nor on the one who runs.”

32 sn Paul uses a typical rabbinic formula here in which the OT scriptures are figuratively portrayed as speaking to Pharaoh. What he means is that the scripture he cites refers (or can be applied) to Pharaoh.

33 sn A quotation from Exod 9:16.

34 sn There is a double connective here that cannot be easily preserved in English: “consequently therefore,” emphasizing the conclusion of what he has been arguing.

35 tn Grk “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

36 tn Grk “So then, he has mercy on whom he desires, and he hardens whom he desires.”

37 tn Grk “O man.”

38 tn Grk “On the contrary, O man, who are you to talk back to God?”

39 sn A quotation from Isa 29:16; 45:9.

40 tn Grk “Or does not the potter have authority over the clay to make from the same lump.”

41 tn Grk “one vessel for honor and another for dishonor.”

42 tn Grk “vessels.” This is the same Greek word used in v. 21.

43 tn Or “vessels destined for wrath.” The genitive ὀργῆς (orghs) could be taken as a genitive of destination.

44 tn Or possibly “objects of wrath that have fit themselves for destruction.” The form of the participle could be taken either as a passive or middle (reflexive). ExSyn 417-18 argues strongly for the passive sense (which is followed in the translation), stating that “the middle view has little to commend it.” First, καταρτίζω (katartizw) is nowhere else used in the NT as a direct or reflexive middle (a usage which, in any event, is quite rare in the NT). Second, the lexical force of this verb, coupled with the perfect tense, suggests something of a “done deal” (against some commentaries that see these vessels as ready for destruction yet still able to avert disaster). Third, the potter-clay motif seems to have one point: The potter prepares the clay.

45 tn Grk “vessels.” This is the same Greek word used in v. 21.

46 tn Grk “and her who was not beloved, ‘Beloved.’”

47 sn A quotation from Hos 2:23.

48 tn Grk “And it will be in the very place.”

49 sn A quotation from Hos 1:10.

50 tn Grk “sons.”

51 tc In light of the interpretive difficulty of this verse, a longer reading seems to have been added to clarify the meaning. The addition, in the middle of the sentence, makes the whole verse read as follows: “For he will execute his sentence completely and quickly in righteousness, because the Lord will do it quickly on the earth.” The shorter reading is found largely in Alexandrian mss (Ì46 א* A B 6 1506 1739 1881 pc co), while the longer reading is found principally in Western and Byzantine mss (א2 D F G Ψ 33 Ï lat). The longer reading follows Isa 10:22-23 (LXX) verbatim, while Paul in the previous verse quoted the LXX loosely. This suggests the addition was made by a copyist trying to make sense out of a difficult passage rather than by the author himself.

tn There is a wordplay in Greek (in both the LXX and here) on the phrase translated “completely and quickly” (συντελῶν καὶ συντέμνων, suntelwn kai suntemnwn). These participles are translated as adverbs for smoothness; a more literal (and more cumbersome) rendering would be: “The Lord will act by closing the account [or completing the sentence], and by cutting short the time.” The interpretation of this text is notoriously difficult. Cf. BDAG 975 s.v. συντέμνω.

sn A modified quotation from Isa 10:22-23. Since it is not exact, it has been printed as italics only.

52 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

53 tn Traditionally, “Lord of hosts”; Grk “Lord Sabaoth,” which means “Lord of the [heavenly] armies,” sometimes translated more generally as “Lord Almighty.”

54 sn A quotation from Isa 1:9.



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