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. Chapter 9.

The purpose of God in history

God's Election of Israel

1 I AM SPEAKING the truth as a Christian, and my own conscience, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, assures me it is no lie: 2 in my heart there is great grief and unceasing sorrow. 3 For I could even pray to be outcast from Christ myself for the sake of my brothers, my natural kinsfolk. 4 They are Israelites: they were made God's sons, theirs is the splendour of the divine presence, theirs the covenants, the law, the temple worship, and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them, in natural descent, sprang the Messiah. [Greek: Christ.] May God, supreme above all, be blessed for ever! Amen. [Or: sprang the Messiah, supreme above all, God blessed for ever; Or: sprang the Messiah, who is supreme above all. Blessed be God for ever!]

6 It is impossible that the word of God should have proved false. For not all descendants of Israel are truly Israel, nor, 7 [ Gn.21.12. ] because they are Abraham's offspring, are they all his true children; [Or: all children of God.] but, in the words of Scripture, 'Through the line of Isaac your posterity shall be traced.' [Or: God's call shall be for your descendants in the line of Isaac.] 8 That is to say, it is not those born in the course of nature who are children of God; it is the children born through God's promise who are reckoned as Abraham's descendants. 9 [ Gn.18.10-14. ] For the promise runs: 'At the time fixed I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.'

10 But that is not all, for Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our ancestor Isaac; 11 and yet, in order that God's selective purpose might stand, based not upon men's deeds but upon the call of God, 12 [ Gn.25.23. ] she was told, even before they were born, when they had as yet done nothing, good or ill, 'The elder shall be servant to the younger'; 13 [ Mal.1.2-3. ] and that accords with the text of Scripture, 'Jacob I loved and Esau I hated.'

14 What shall we say to that? Is God to be charged with injustice? By no means. 15 [ Ex.33.19. ] For he says to Moses, 'Where I show mercy, I will show mercy, and where I pity, I will pity.' 16 Thus it does not depend on man's will or effort, but on God's mercy. 17 [ Ex.9.16. ] For Scripture says to Pharaoh, 'I have raised you up for this very purpose, to exhibit my power in my dealings with you, and to spread my fame over all the world.' 18 Thus he not only shows mercy as he chooses, but also makes men stubborn as he chooses.

God's Wrath and Mercy

19 You will say, 'Then why does God blame a man? For who can resist his will?' 20 [ Is.29.16, Is.45.9. ] Who are you, sir, to answer God back? Can the pot speak to the potter and say, 'Why did you make me like this?'? 21 [ Jr.18.6. ] Surely the potter can do what he likes with the clay. Is he not free to make out of the same lump two vessels, one to be treasured, the other for common use?

22 But what if God, desiring to exhibit [Or: although he had the will to exhibit ...] his retribution at work and to make his power known, tolerated very patiently those vessels which were objects of retribution due for destruction, 23 and did so in order to make known the full wealth of his splendour upon vessels which were objects of mercy, and which from the first had been prepared for this splendour?

24 Such vessels are we, whom he has called from among Gentiles as well as Jews, 25 [ Hs.2.23. ] as it says in the Book of Hosea: 'Those who were not my people I will call My People, and the unloved nation I will call My Beloved. 26 [ Hs.1.10. ] For in the very place where they were told "you are no people of mine", they shall be called Sons of the living God.' 27 [ Is.10.22-23. ] But Isaiah makes this proclamation about Israel: 'Though the Israelites be countless as the sands of the sea, only a remnant that shall be saved; 28 for the Lord's sentence on the land will be summary and final'; 29 [ Is.1.9. ] as also he said previously, 'If the Lord of Hosts had not left us the mere germ of a nation, we should have become like Sodom, and no better than Gomorrah.'

Israel and the Gospel

30 Then what are we to say? That Gentiles, who made no effort after righteousness, nevertheless achieved it, a righteousness based on faith; 31 whereas Israel made great efforts after a law of righteousness, but never attained to it. 32 Why was this? Because their efforts were not based on faith, but (as they supposed) on deeds. They stumbled over the 'stone' 33 [ Is.28.16. ] mentioned in Scripture: 'Here I lay in Zion a stone to trip over, a rock to stumble against; but he who has faith in him will not be put to shame.'

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