Romans 9:10-13 – Who Is Jacob? Who Is Esau?

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 communication in Romans 9. Most of these passages come from Paul in the book of Romans, Galatians or Ephesians. But we will also look to some of Old Testament passages he cites, as well as other related passages. 

In the last post we saw that Paul, in Romans 9:6-9, uses Isaac, the child of promise, to represent the Church of Jesus Christ made up of Jewish and Gentile believers. And he points his finger at his unbelieving countrymen and suggests that they are like Ishmael, the son of a slave women. This was clarified by referring to Galatians 4:21-31 and Romans 4:13-16. Now we want to turn to the next section in his argument found in 9:10-13.

10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” 

Rom 9:10-13 NKJV

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Romans 9:6-9 – Who Are The “Children of Promise”?

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. Most of these passages come from Paul in the book of Romans, Galatians, or Ephesians. But we will also look at some of the Old Testament passages he cites, as well as other related passages. 

6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.” 

Rom 9:6-9 NKJV

In the last post, we looked at Romans 9:1-6 and noted what issue Paul intends to discuss in the chapter. He is asking and answering two primary questions. He is pointing out to the reader that Israel was promised the New Covenant, and yet they have for the most part rejected it. Firstly, he wants to answer why it is that Israel has rejected Christ and the New Covenant in Him. And secondly, he wants to let us know with confidence that this has not hindered God’s promise and plan. In 9:6 he told us that the unbelief of Israel did not thwart God’s promise to Israel because Israel is not reckoned according to natural descent. In 9:7-9 he is going to expand on this idea and present evidence for his assertion. 

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Romans 9:1-6 Who Is Israel?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

Romans 1:16

Romans 9 is often used as a proof-text for determinism. It is as though Paul is presenting the Gospel for Jew and Gentile from Romans chapter 1 to chapter 8, and then becomes a fatalistic philosopher all of a sudden in chapter 9. This would really be a strange detour for the apostle to take. But, there is no detour. Paul continues to preach the universal message of salvation in Romans chapter 9. This chapter will become clear to us if we let Scripture interpret Scripture. So in the next several posts, we will look for a few key passages from Scripture, primarily from Paul’s epistles, in order to understand what Paul is arguing in Romans 9.

I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,…

Romans 9:1-6

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God So Loved The World & Hated Esau

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 NKJV

…(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

Romans 9:11-13 NKJV

These 2 passages are often used in the good old-fashioned Free Will vs. Sovereignty debate. Maybe a Calvinist will post the Romans 9:11-13 passage to stump the non-Calvinist, and then the Free-Willer will respond by saying, “Well, what about John 3:16?! Aha!” It would be a humorous exchange if it was not so depressing. First of all, both are setting up one passage of Holy Writ against another, which seems a strange thing for Christians who believe in the inspiration of Scripture to do. But, to be fair, each of them thinks that their opponent is misinterpreting the passage they reference, and so they attempt to give them a clearer passage that they cannot possibly fail to understand. But instead of dealing with the first passage quoted, each side runs to its storehouse of verses with which to respond.

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Romans 9:1-13 – God’s Sovereign Prerogative

1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. 

– Romans 9:1-5 NKJV

Paul is grieved over the unbelief and spiritual danger of the nation of Israel in general. The New Covenant was specifically promised to the nation of Israel, though it was foretold to include Gentiles as well. But the situation in Paul’s day was that the majority of Jews had rejected the Jewish Messiah and the New Covenant in Him. In these verses Paul expresses his desire for their salvation and rehearses the reason why the promises are for Israelites first and foremost. Continue reading “Romans 9:1-13 – God’s Sovereign Prerogative”

The Law of Christ (OT Interpretation #6)

20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 

– 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 NKJV

25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. 

– James 1:25 NKJV

12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. 

– James 2:12-13 NKJV

2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ

– Galatians 6:2 NKJV

In the fourth post in this series we noted that there are many commands in the Bible. There is one set of commands in the Old Covenant called the Law of Moses, and there is another set of commands in the New Covenant called the Law of Christ. The New Testament teaches that we are not under the Law of Moses, but we are under the Law of Christ (i.e. the law of liberty). We have been considering the Old Covenant Law, but now we must turn our attention to the New Covenant Law so that we can understand which commands we are obligated by God to obey. A failure to distinguish between these two sets of commandments leads either to Judaizing (i.e. extreme versions of the Hebraic Roots movement) or lawlessness (i.e. “hyper-grace”), both of these are deadly errors which we must avoid for the sake of our souls.

Jesus’ Commandments

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. 

– Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV

46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say

– Luke 6:46 NKJV

What commands are included in the Law of Christ. To put it simply, the Law of Christ is made up of the commands of Jesus Christ. He commissioned His apostles to go make disciples teaching them to obey all that He had commanded. Anything written in red letters is the law that we are obligated to live by. Jesus is the King Who has all authority in heaven and on earth, and we are not only commanded to confess Him as Lord, but to submit to HIm as Lord.

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Adopted & Indwelt (Galatians 3:26 & 4:6)

Galatians 3:26 & 4:6

Galatians 3:26 & 4:6

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. …And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

Galatians 3:26 & 4:6 – Context

Galatians 3:23-24

23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 

The Law of Moses revealed sin, but did not provide a lasting and thorough means of justification. It is true that people could receive cleansing from the breaking of certain aspects of the Law by offering the proscribed sacrifices at the temple. And there was a general cleansing that happened once a year during the Day of Atonement. But these did not cover every sin and they had to be offered again and again. 

So, from the Law people understood that sin offended God, and they knew they had no way to fully and finally deal with it. But in Jesus Christ, through faith in Him, we can receive full and complete forgiveness for all sin. He died once, and is now sitting at the right hand of God presenting that sacrifice on behalf of those who trust Him. We always have access to the throne of grace, and can come boldly to receive mercy and grace through faith in Christ Jesus. 

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The Right to Become God’s Children (John 1:12)

John 1:12

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…

John 1:12 – Context

John 1:9-10

9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 

Jesus Christ came into the world as a light. He came to reveal God to the entire world. He did not merely come for the nation of Israel, but for men from all nations. This is because He is the Creator of all mankind. 

3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 

– John 1:3 NKJV

The Gospel of John was written at a time when most Christians were Gentiles. And these Christians (both Jew and Gentile) suffered persecution from unbelieving Jews as well as the Romans. This is one of the reasons John begins His Gospel with this universal perspective. He wants to make it clear that the Jewish Messiah is not merely for Jews, but for all of mankind. 

We see evidence for this as we read through John’s Gospel. In chapter 3 we find one of the most famous verses in the Bible. To us it sounds so commonplace. But to a first-century Jew, it would have sounded unthinkable.

16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

– John 3:16 NKJV

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Washed & Renewed (Titus 3:5)

Titus 3:5

…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit…

titus 3:5 – Context

Titus 3:1-3

1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. 3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 

Paul had just written in Titus 2:11-14 that the grace of God leads men away from sin and towards righteousness and godliness. Paul here continues to urge Titus to live righteously in the sight of all men. God has not called us to be rebellious and contentious. In the past, Christians were sinful like all other men, but God redeemed us to be a people who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:14).

Titus 3:4

4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 

Previously in Titus 2:11 Paul stated that the grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to the world. He makes it clear that the result of receiving and submitting to this grace is a holy life. Jesus came to make us into a godly people. He came to set His people free from slavery to sin so that they can live righteous lives to His glory. 

Paul now mentions the grace of God again, but this time he wants to go back and focus on how we first received that grace. The result of God’s grace in a person’s life is holiness. But where does this reception of grace begin, and how does it take place?

Titus 3:5

5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 

Before mentioning how grace is received, Paul wants it to be clear that God’s grace is the cause of salvation, not our righteousness. We do not receive the grace of God by works of righteousness which we have done. If we merited God’s mercy and grace it would no longer be called mercy and grace. The fact that we did not deserve salvation is the reason that it is called mercy and grace, kindness and love. So here Paul makes it abundantly clear that the cause of salvation is nothing other than the mercy of God. 

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Born of Water & Spirit (John 3:5)

John 3:5

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

John 3:5 – Context

John 3:1-2

1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 

Nicodemus was a sincere and God fearing man. A leader and teacher among the Jews. He knew what was happening in Israel. He was aware of the Messianic hopes people had that Christ would come and free the Jews from Roman occupation and bring in the new age of God’s kingdom. He was aware that John the Baptist had come baptizing in the Jordan River calling the nation to repentance. 

The Israelites had been exiled into Babylon centuries before, and though many had returned, many had not. The Jews were in the land again, but they were not in control of the land. For this reason the people of Israel were still waiting for the promises of the prophets to be fulfilled which stated that God would bring them back from captivity, and establish His kingdom among them which would extend its borders to every part of the earth. 

Nicodemus would have understood the significance of John baptizing in the Jordan River. It was in that place that the Israelites first entered the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua in order to conquer it. And so it was a fitting place for the prophecy of Isaiah to begin its fulfilment. Isaiah 11 speaks of the return from exile and the establishing of the kingdom through the “root of Jesse.” Through the coming of this king, the meek would be shown mercy and the wicked suffer wrath, and even the Gentiles would seek after Him. Isaiah speaks of this return from exile as a second exodus in the following verses:

11 It shall come to pass in that day That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time To recover the remnant of His people who are left, From Assyria and Egypt, From Pathros and Cush, From Elam and Shinar, From Hamath and the islands of the sea. … 16 There will be a highway for the remnant of His people Who will be left from Assyria, As it was for Israel In the day that he came up from the land of Egypt. 

– Isaiah 11:11, 16 NKJV 

This prophecy would have been familiar to Nicodemus, and he would have understood, as most in Israel did, that John was preparing a highway not only for the remnant, but also for the great king! This was John’s public testimony to the religious leaders of the Jews found in the first chapter of John.

20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” … 23 He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD,” ‘ as the prophet Isaiah said.” … 26 John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. 27 “It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” … 33 “I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.‘ 34 “And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” 

– John 1:20, 23, 26-27, 33-34 NKJV

Nicodemus desired to learn more about this man whom John had testified about. Not only had John testified about Jesus, but the miracles which Jesus performed confirmed that God was doing something among His people through this Nazarene. So Nicodemus went to find out more.

John 3:3

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 

Jesus immediately begins to tell Nicodemus about the kingdom of God that had now arrived in Israel. And Jesus tells him how to get involved in it. But this would not have been an easy word for Nicodemus to accept. It is hard to imagine that he couldn’t understand the implications of what Jesus was saying, but it seems he tried hard to avoid those implications.

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