Keys to Understanding Romans 9 : 6-13 – God’s Sovereign Prerogative

In this series, we are not going through Romans chapter 9 in depth. My goal is merely to give us some key cross-reference passages to help us come to a clear understanding of what Paul is communicating in Romans 9.

Up to this point (Romans 9:1-13), Paul has been trying to illustrate that God does not reckon His people according to lineage or according to obedience to the Law of Moses. He has done this by appealing to the history of the Hebrew patriarchs in verses 6-13. We have noted that Paul is having a hypothetical debate with his unbelieving countrymen. He has been defending God’s sovereign right to limit citizenship in Israel on whatever condition He so chooses. So let’s follow his argument all the way through verses 7 to 13.

He points out that though Abraham had two sons, the promise he received from God was only inherited by Isaac. What is interesting about this is that Isaac was not the firstborn son, and so, according to custom, it should have been Ishmael that received the promise. Paul’s countrymen would have quickly acknowledged that this decision was God’s prerogative.

Paul goes on in verses 10-13 and reminds his hypothetical debate partners that God did the same things with Isaac’s sons. Esau was Isaac’s firstborn, but God sovereignly chose to give the promise to the second-born son, Jacob. He made this decision before the twins were even born. Again, the Jews of Paul’s day would have had no objection to this arrangement but would have acknowledged that God was just in His choice. This would be acceptable to them, not only because God is sovereign, but also because Jacob was their ancestor, and so God’s choice happened to benefit them.

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