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Introduction

Collection:
Book of Romans

A Sermon on Romans 9:1-33

God’s Sovereign Choice

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
“And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”


And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” And as Isaiah predicted,

“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah.”


Israel’s Unbelief

What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (ESV)

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The expression “missing the wood through the trees” is particularly appropriate when approaching a new section of sacred Scripture. While it is tempting to focus on individual subsections in Romans 9–11, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones encourages keeping an overall big picture in mind. In this sermon Romans 9:1–33 titled “Introduction,” he provides a helpful overview of these key chapters. Dr. Lloyd-Jones demurs from well-loved interpreters who elevate the doctrine of predestination and election as central to chapters 9–11. He also objects to placing the question of salvation for Jews and conflict with Gentiles at the center of this section. Instead, he argues for a much bigger central theme of this section. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says Paul is harmonizing the ways of God. What is found in this section, in other words, is Paul’s way of harmonizing the Old Testament with the New Testament. There is no contradiction in God’s purposes as Paul talks about the old covenant in relation to the new. Dr. Lloyd-Jones shares his justification for this conclusion by drawing attention to Romans 11:33–36 and the apostle’s doxology. Listen as he traces the central theme of Romans 9–11 as well as subsidiary themes of this important section of Scripture.


Additional Scripture Translations

Romans 9:1-33, New American Standard Bible

Deep Concern for Israel

1I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying; my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my countrymen, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and daughters, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the temple service, and the promises; 5whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

6But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants shall be named.” 8That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah will have a son.” 10And not only that, but there was also Rebekah, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13Just as it is written: “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

14What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? Far from it! 15For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I have mercy, and I will show compassion to whomever I show compassion.” 16So then, it does not depend on the person who wants it nor the one who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very reason I raised you up, in order to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the earth.” 18So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

19You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20On the contrary, who are you, you foolish person, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21Or does the potter not have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one object for honorable use, and another for common use? 22What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with great patience objects of wrath prepared for destruction? 23And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon objects of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24namely us, whom He also called, not only from among Jews, but also from among Gentiles, 25as He also says 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.”

27Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel may be like the sand of the sea, only the remnant will be saved; 28for the Lord will execute His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly.” 29And just as Isaiah foretold:

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

We would have become like Sodom, and would have been like Gomorrah.”

30What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, but the righteousness that is by faith; 31however, Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though they could by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33just as it is written:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,

And the one who believes in Him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 9:1-33, King James Version

1I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

6Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. 9For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. 10And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

14What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 17For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 25As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. 27Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: 28For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. 29And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha. 30What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.


About Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.