We must see the sincerity of Paul as he writes to the Romans. Paul proclaims that he is telling the truth. Even Paul knows that the truth is not in man so he presents three statement to verify that his words are true. Paul states that his words are true because Christ abides with him and he abides with Christ. Paul is telling the truth as his conscience testifies through him in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, as the Spirit is of God.
Here Paul is in sorrow for his fellow Jews who he refers to as relatives. His grief is because they have not accepted Jesus as their Messiah. Paul may have remembered that Moses once prayed on behalf of the Israelite people who had worshiped the Golden Calf and Moses thought that God could punish him in their stead. (Exodus 32:32) Knowing that this is not truly possible Paul still makes it his wish, or prayer, that for their benefit he would be separated from the love of Christ. Still it is a deep expression of the love Paul had for his fellow unbelieving Jewish brethren. Paul demonstrates the heart that we as Christians should have for our lost brethren in this world.
Paul knew that nothing can separate man from the love of God. (Romans 8:38) Paul also knew that not he but the unbelieving had to trust Christ in order to receive God’s Salvation. We serve a God of unsurpassable mercy but the principles of His truth do not change. God will save only those who put their trust in Him.
Paul now makes list of the kindness of God to His chosen people the Israelites.
God chose the Israelite nation to be His people, His sons. “Israel is My son, My firstborn.” (Exodus 4:22) Out of the bonds of slavery God called them. “And out of Egypt I called My son.” (Hosea 11:1)
The Glory of God gave evidence that His presence was with them. The Jewish people were not as orphans but their heavenly Father was with them. The glory of God is called “Shekinah.” Shekinah descended on the tent that the Israelites used for worship while they wondered through the wilderness. (Exodus 40:34) The Shekinah also descended on the Temple that Solomon built. (1 Kings 8:10-11)
The Covenant of God is the contractual promise that God made to His people. All of God’s Covenants with man except one are eternal and unilateral. That is God promised to accomplish something based on His Character and not in response to man.
The covenant with Noah, (Genesis 9:8-17) The covenant with Abraham. (Genesis 12:1-3) The covenant of law given to Moses at Sinai (Exodus 19-31) The Priestly Covenant. (Numbers 25:10-13) The covenant of an eternal kingdom through David. (2 Samuel 7:8-16) The New Covenant. (Jeremiah 31:31 Ezekiel 37:26 Hebrews 8:6-13) All are eternal and unilateral except the Mosaic Covenant.
The ending of verse 5 is not a Benediction but an affirmation of the sovereignty and deity of Christ. Some commentators question Paul’s meaning of “who is over all” or in other translations “God over all things.” The question is Paul referring to God the Father or to Christ. People usually praise God rather than Jesus. Paul usually refers to Jesus as God’s Son. Paul does recognize Jesus as God. Paul addresses Jesus as Lord and speaks of His part in the creation. (Colossians 1:16-17) Paul also addresses Jesus as our Lord in life and death. (Romans 14:9) Those points being made Jesus Christ is God over all things and honor is due to Him.
Paul mentions the Temple services as at the time of his writing this letter the Jews were still using the Temple to make sacrifices to God.
Not all of the descendants of Abraham will be heirs of the Covenant promises of God. God had promised that one of the descendants of Abraham would bless all the nations of the earth. (Genesis 12:3) God’s promise was that from the seed of David a king would come. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Paul make note that only the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These were the ones who received the birthright of their fathers and these are the true bloodline of the Christ. Jacob had twelve sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel.
Paul’s point here is that it no longer is a flesh birthright to be a child of God but a spiritual birthright. Now in the New Covenant one must be born of the Spirit to receive the spiritual blessing promised to Abraham’s descendants. (Romans 4:7-11 Romans 11:3-4)
Isaac and Rebecca gave birth to twins, Jacob and Esau. Before their God said that the older would serve the younger. Esau was born first but God had chosen Jacob who was born second. God’s choice was in no reference to any good or bad that Esau and Jacob had done. The descendants of Esau were the Edomites and Jacobs descendants were called Israel. In times throughout history the Edomites did serve Israel. (2 Samuel 8:13-14) Malachi speaks of the difference between the blessing of Israel and the Edomites. The Prophet sates that God loved Israel and hated Esau. The Israelites were given a land of milk and honey while the Edomites land God “made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.” (Malachi 1:1-3) In the original Hebrew the words “I hated Esau” means “I did not chose Esau.” One nation Israel were given divine blessing and protection and the other Edom was left to divine judgment.
This shows that Jacob did not earn the benefits of the Covenant but received them because of God’s grace. Paul has often emphasized that people cannot earn their salvation by any effort, it is the free gift of God. Our salvation depends completely upon God’s kindness, we can only accept it or refuse it.
God’s grace is not given based upon the person’s ancestors or upon any deeds that person may have done. To the mind of men this may seem unfair but Paul emphasizes that God is not unfair. God is righteous and God is perfect. Moses was told by God that He is kind to people. When God acts with people He shows mercy and love. (Exodus 33:19) God does not deal with people as they deserve but shows His love to them as He chooses.
Paul now refers to the Scripture found in Exodus at the time of the Israelites bondage. It is a contest between God and the gods of Egypt. God is telling Pharaoh that is was He that established and raised him up that through the hardness of his heart God could use him to accomplish His purpose to prove there is none other like Him. (Exodus 9:16) In the contest between God and the gods of Egypt God obtained the victory and Pharaoh let the Israelites go. Pharaoh then changed his mind and went after them only to lose his army in the drowning waters of the Red Sea. The witness of God’s actions was spread throughout the entire region.
The Scriptures warn us in many passages against having the same attitude as Pharaoh. Isaiah knew the hardness of unbelievers. (Isaiah 6:9-10) Jesus also used the words of Isaiah in John. (John 12:39-40) This is not unfairness on God if He makes a person’s heart hard it is the result of sin that brings God’s judgment.
People who argue the will of God are in great error and Paul now shows why such an argument is wrong. He reminds us that we are the creature and God is the creator. In the demonstration of the potter can the pot argue why he was created the way that it was? People who are sincere want to know the truth and will ask questions. The people that Paul is addressing are seeking to fain away to oppose God’s authority. People should respect the decisions of God as they are always right and His judgments are perfect.
We see here three reasons that God has permitted sin to continue to contaminate throughout this age. 1) So that God will be able to demonstrate His wrath. 2) That God will be able to make His power known unto man. 3) So that God can put the riches of His glory on display. No one is treated unfairly. Many will receive what they earn and deserve, while others graciously receive His grace and mercy. Men have become vessels of wrath and by their own rejection of God and are being prepared for destruction. God could destroy a sinful man at the time of his sin, but God endures with patience these vessels until the time of judgment. It is not that God does not want to save all His creation but these vessels have chosen to reject God. God does not make men sinful but leaves them in the state they have chosen.
God has the right this very moment to show His anger and power. But our Lord is longsuffering and is being patent with those who oppose Him. God has delayed His judgment giving them more time to repent and accept His mercy. Because they continue to do wicked things it is they who are responsible for preparing themselves for punishment.
For those who have received God’s mercy God will receive them in His glory and they will share it themselves. (Romans 8-17-18)
Paul includes himself as a Jew who has received mercy from God. Then Paul makes the point that God has also shown His mercy to the Gentile. Pau quotes from the Scripture written by the prophet Hosea. It is clear through the prophet’s word that God knew these things would happen.
The Prophet Hosea had a wife that was not loyal to him and felt that he was not the father of his second and third child. This belief is reflected in the name that Hosea gave to the children. His second child was named Lo-ruhamah which expresses that Hosea felt unable to love this child. The third child of Hosea was named Lo-ammi which meant “not of my people.” This signified that Israel had not been loyal to their God. It would be in the future that God would be able to call Israel my people. Once God would be able to call Israel His people He then would be able to show real love for them. (Hosea 1:6 Hosea 1:8-9 Hosea 2:23)
Hosea was speaking of the people in his own time but Paul was seeing his words as a prophecy. Paul saw it as meaning that the Gentile people would also be called God’s Children. Paul was saying this as he saw this beginning to happen through his ministry to the Gentile people.
Isaiah prophesized that God’s wrath would come to Israel because of their neglect of God’s Word. God promised that there would be a remnant who returned to His righteous ways and that salvation would come to the Jewish nation. (Isaiah 10:20 Zechariah 13:1) But this would happen only after great troubles which will affect the whole earth. After this judgment few people will remain to receive the promised of God. (Zechariah 13:8-9)
The Assyrian armies were attacking Judah at the time of Isaiah. Abraham had been promised by God that his descendants would be very many. (Genesis 22:17) The Jewish people had become very sinful and God was using the Assyrians to punish them and only a few of them would remain.
Isaiah’s prophecy recalls the events of Sodom and Gomorrah where nothing remained form God’s judgment upon them. There are no descendants for those cities as God’s punishment came sudden and was final. God does not deal with the Israelites in the same way. Even as the Israelites had become very evil in the days of Isaiah, and Isaiah issued warnings to them from God, they paid little attention. But they were the chosen people of God and He had a plan for them. The punishment that God placed upon them was not total or final He would allow them to have descendants. (Isaiah 1:9) Isaiah’s son was named Shear-jashub which means “those who remain will return.” (Isaiah 7:3) This name was given to the people as a sign to the people that if they trusted God some would return to their country.
Paul saw this prophecy as meaning that many Jews would not trust God. That only a few of the Jews would believe in God’s Son and therefore avoid God’s judgment. These few of the Jews would return to God and be obedient to Him and through them God would carry out His promise to save the Jews.
Paul now give a contrast between the Jew and the Gentiles. The Gentiles were not looking for a way to have a right relationship with God. But when introduced to the gospel message many accepted on faith. Most of the Jew still thought they could obtain a right relationship with God by works and earn their way to heaven. They believe their salvation was based in the law and their obedience towards it. They believed that God would accept them by their good deeds but because they never could keep the law they fell short of having a right relationship with God. The Jew should have accepted the gospel message by faith as the Gentiles were doing. The gospel message is for everyone, both the Jew and the Gentile, it is the free gift of God and none can earn it by their own efforts.
Christ died for all the sins of the world but the Jews could not accept that He died for them. Paul inserts the use of Isaiah’s prophecy of the stone that would become a stumbling block. (Isaiah 8:14 1 Corinthians 1:23) The gospel message is useful to the person who believes but for the one who refuses the message it becomes a stone to stumble upon.
In Isaiah 8:14 Isaiah describes God as a rock that will provide safety for the Israelites but if they refuse the safety of the rock they will suffer for it. Isaiah also in 28:16 refers to the stone as the most important stone in the building. This stone is described in Psalms as the chief corner stone and therefore the most valuable stone of the building. (Psalm 118:22) Jesus reminded the Jews of this passage in Matthew 21:42. Peter combines these two passages of Scripture in 1 Peter 2:4-8.