Romans 9:24-33 - A Stumbling Stone to One Is Refuge for Another
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24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. - Romans 9:24


This is likened to how Paul wrapped up his argument with the Romans in person as well (Acts 28). Upon meeting with the Jews in Rome who wanted to hear directly from Paul about this new "sect" being spoken against in their circles (Acts 28:22) Paul made efforts to persuade them, walking them through the Law of Moses and the Prophets spending all day with them and reasoning according to scripture (Acts 28:23), much like Paul has done with us in Romans 9 as well. Upon their final rejection of what Paul was sharing Paul shared a stark prophecy that Isaiah had given and said to them "Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles" (Acts 28:28).


What's interesting is that what would be scoffed at by the Israelites such as the Gentiles inclusion, is celebrated by us Gentiles. Imagine though, imagine the Gentiles of Paul's day. Always an outsider, always required to stay in the outer courts of the temple, then Jesus shows up, cleanses the temple on behalf of the Gentiles (Matt. 21:12-13), tears the veil on behalf of everyone (Matt. 27:51), and amazingly, comes to you! (Rev. 3:20). Talk about feeling included! Can you imagine once feeling like the woman at the well asking Jesus why He's even talking to her to sitting at a table with a bunch of Jews who believed, all of like mind, all in fellowship, thankful for what Christ has done for you all!


25 As He says also in Hosea,

“I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’
And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’”
26 And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.” - Romans 9:25-26


Paul is quoting from Hosea 2:23 and 1:10. What's beautiful is that if you read the verses Paul is quoting from Hosea in it's original context you will read a wonderful story about a loving God pursuing an unfaithful Israel. Even these verses Paul is referencing testify to God's genuine love for an unfaithful Israel (Hos. 3:1). It may appear that those who are not God's people as quoted in Hosea here could mean us Gentiles, that is not the case. Hosea is a depiction of God redeeming Israel. The verses quoted are referencing Israel who was God's people, then through their unfaithfulness became not God's people, and yet God redeems them to once again make them God's people once more. Israelites would have known this. From the Jewish standpoint they would have affirmed that Israel would most definitely be redeemed by God as they would have been familiar with Hosea. Paul is pointing out that indeed Hosea was about Israel, but within the context of the preceding verse as well as the rest of the chapter and all of Romans, basically that if God can do this with Israel, that is make them who were not His people once again His people, can He not also do that with Gentiles? If God can do this with Israel, then to the Israelites that are familiar with this story, would it be so far fetched that God can do this with Gentiles?


People previously classified as outsiders, (whether Jew or Gentile) are now officially insiders which was made possible through God's long standing redemptive plan which involved much of what Paul wrote about in this chapter that we've covered thus far. Paul, according to the Holy Spirit, is revealing God's mystery that was hidden in ages past to make known to us now that this has been God's plan all along.


For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, - Ephesians 3:1-11


"To be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel", "mystery which for ages has been hidden in God". This has always been the plan. Romans 9 details that plan for us now given special revelation of what was formerly a mystery. I can't imagine Paul's heartache when his kinsmen refused to listen (Acts 28:25,28, Rom. 9:1-3, 10:1).


27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; 28 for the Lord will execute His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly.” - Romans 9:27-28


Jews often rejected the Messiah because the majority of Israel didn't accept the Messiah. In other words, they believed the Messiah would be welcomed by all and because Jesus wasn't, they conclude He was not the Messiah. However, Paul is showing them in their own texts that it doesn't say all will accept Him but rather "it is the remnant that will be saved", thus disqualifying their preconceived notion from their own texts.


29 And just as Isaiah foretold,

Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us a posterity,
We would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.” - Romans 9:29


Question: What is the "Posterity" mentioned here? Could it be the same as the "it" mentioned in verse 16?


God, according to His purpose, ensured a remnant of Israel would remain from physical destruction per His promise (otherwise they may have become like Sodom and Gomorrah). Isaiah is crying out that if God hadn't left them this posterity (promise of a Descendant) that Israel would have gone the way of Sodom and Gomorrah. Therefore their preservation is credited solely to God and by His doing alone, not by reason of Israel's faithfulness, their works, nor their lineage, but according to His purpose. This prophecy from Isaiah confirms what Paul has been walking all of us through thus far. That God has a plan and that plan is not contingent on man, but that God in His sovereignty has personally saw to it that His promise doesn't fail and through His choice has made elections in keeping with that purpose. Thank God. Like we discussed before, but can you imagine if the coming of Christ was contingent on man? A terrifying thought. Fortunately God is so faithful to His word and loves us so much.


30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. - Romans 9:30-31


This would be seen as unfair, that Jews who were trying hard wouldn't attain that which Gentiles weren't even trying for, namely, being righteous before God. I believe that's the point. Paul is pointing out that it's by grace!


Question: Why did Israel not arrive at that law?


Paul brings his argument full circle to the conclusion of what has happened with Israel. Namely that they didn't attain righteousness. My question for you that if you've read ahead Paul already answered, but it's still worth asking, is why? Why did Israel not receive righteousness? Is it because God elected them for hell because He only wanted a remnant to be saved? Is it because God didn't want them to? Not at all! (Eze. 33:10-11). Paul answers:


32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, - Romans 9:32


It's interesting that Paul mentions the pursuit here. Paul wasn't arguing that Israelites weren't trying, that they weren't pursuing, he knows they were and are. Paul is arguing that though they are trying so very hard, they aren't obtaining it. They aren't reaching their goal. They aren't getting their desired outcome. They aren't arriving at their intended destination which is righteousness before God. Why? Because they aren't pursuing it by faith but as though it were by works. Paul had just argued earlier in Romans how Abraham obtained it as a credit based on faith now is showing how they aren't doing the deeds of Abraham (John 8:39).


33 just as it is written,

Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” - Romans 9:33


It's interesting that the same Rock can to one group be a stumbling stone and to another be a Rock that does not disappoint. What's the difference? How you pursue it. Those that pursue it by faith will not be disappointed but those that pursue it as though it were by works, they will stumble over it and even take offense at those that are gifted it freely, something which they've striven so hard to obtain and never arrived at. Let's face it, the Jews were working so much harder to obtain righteousness than the Gentiles were. So Gentiles arriving at the finish line without working for it themselves but instead trusting in Christ's work on their behalf.. yeah that may offend some Jews. Those that pursue it by works are of the flesh, like Ishmael, are children of the flesh. Those that pursue it by faith, like Isaac, are children of promise (Gal. 4:21-31).


This chapter is not a matter of chosen vs unchosen nor is it a matter of Synergism vs Monergism. It's about God's redemptive plan from ages ago now being revealed to men. It's about God ensuring this redemptive plan of His, which was enacted solely by His election, His choice, His promise, His purpose, comes to pass, thus ushering in the Messiah who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers (1 Tim. 4:10, 1 John 2:2). Riches of mercy and grace, available to all who pursue this righteousness by faith, and them that do, both Jew and Gentile, will not be disappointed.


Paul's closing statement at the end of this letter:


25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen. - Romans 16:25-27


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