even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. 25As 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.” 27Isaiah 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; 28FOR THE LORD WILL EXECUTE HIS WORD ON THE EARTH, THOROUGHLY AND QUICKLY.” 29And 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.”
We now enter into even further substantiation in regards to the faithfulness of God in His promises of the Old Testament and why His word had not been made void or contradictory when the Israelites were accursed. Paul begins v.24 by linking it with the idea of the “vessels of mercy” in giving us further details in regards to who these actually entail. He begins with “even us” which associates the passages without any break. The very characteristic by which they, the vessels of mercy, are defined is by the fact that they were “called”. The term “called’ refers back to the same terminology used in Romans 8:28-30 mainly that of an effectual or definite calling which guarantees their coming. Some have attempted to tone down this term by stating that the “called” here is merely referring to the gospel invitation which is universally open to both Jews & Gentiles. I am not persuaded by this argument and feel it is speaking of the effectual calling of God “from” both Jews & Gentiles and not of “all” Jews & Gentiles.[i] The whole point of emphasis here and throughout vs. 24-29 is that of inclusion vs. exclusion.
In order to substantiate v.24, Paul brings in quotations from the Old Testament. The two first quotations (vs. 25-26) are meant to show that the calling was of Gentiles while the quotations in vs. 27-29 are to prove the assertion of the calling of the Remnant.
Hosea 2:23 is quoted firstly and then Hosea 1:10 that the children of promise are not only from among Jews but now Gentiles have been brought into the promise. (Romans 11:17-24). The quotations are referring particularly to the tribes of Israel in their original context but, once again, I feel they are being used as a principle and applying it to the Gentiles. (see 1 Peter 2:8-10) I feel this is very similar to the words of Matthew: I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11-12) In other words those who were rejected in past times are now seen as sons while now he says to those who thought themselves to be his sons “you are not my people”. So, in other words, the vessels of mercy are a group who are called “from among Gentiles”.
With that said, Paul then turns to validate the 2nd part of the vessels of mercy mainly “from among the Jews”. Once again, it goes back to vs. 1-5 where he is arguing that God is still faithful to His promises even though the Israelites were accursed. Paul’s quotations from Isaiah in vs.27-29 further what we had just seen in vs. 6-23 in that God has preserved his promises through a remnant. Paul quotes from Isaiah 10:22 firstly to demonstrate that the remnant that God has chosen and which he has been arguing since the beginning of this chapter, consists of the ones who would be “saved”. The crying out of Isaiah is similar to the lamentations found in the opening passages. Isaiah is expressing his suffering at the condition of his countrymen. V.28 simply strengthens this entire paradigm by bringing in the idea of the preservation of Yahweh in that there would not have been anything left if God would have left the promises based upon Israel’s faithfulness. God needed to go outside the barriers of Israel to find a faithful people which essentially consists of a Remnant of Jews along with Gentiles.
Once again, this shows the idea that God has always had a people and that the ultimate factor of one becoming a child of promise is based upon the Sovereign choice and work of Jehovah rather than the libertarian free will of men. If it was left up to man to become a child of promise, there would not be children of God!
There is much more we could examine in the text of Romans 9 but I will leave it to my readers to continue in their studies to discover the truths therein. My aim was to write some thoughts on the text from a perspective that sees God’s sovereign hand in the salvation of a people who were called forth to be the recipients of his grace through His Son! My examination, as mentioned in the introductory remarks, was not to offer an extensive study of this precious chapter but to settle the issue for me. I wanted to delve into the mind of Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit and seek to appreciate the wonderful blessings that are for those God has chosen. My intentions were not to bring about a controversy in my own mind but to gain a better understanding and answer some of the objections that I have come across over the course of my short Christian life. I am perfectly content with my undertaking and appreciate not all will be convinced by my exegesis of this text. If some have taken the time to scrutinize it in detail then I have accomplished something wonderful even if their findings do not match mine. God’s sovereignty in salvation and human responsibility have been deeply pondered by greater minds than I and many have never come to a satisfying conclusion. I cannot understand these things to a full extent but I am happy to examine them and know they are there. If these truths are actually found in the pages of scripture then we have a responsibility to give them our attention no matter how difficult they are to accept or comprehend.
[i] See Footnote #10 for further argument of this term.