Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: The present situation of rejection by Abraham's physical seed reproduces a pattern of divine action which has been unfolded often enough in the past. Through God's choice of Isaac but not his brother Ishmael, & Jacob instead of his older brother Esau, Go

ROMANS 9: 6-13


[Genesis 18:9-19]

If the Jews have rejected and crucified Jesus, the Son of God, does that mean God's purposes were frustrated and His plan defeated? Paul provides an argument from ancient biblical history to prove otherwise.

The present situation of rejection by Abraham's physical seed reproduces a pattern of divine action which has been unfolded often enough in the past. Through God's choice of Isaac but not his brother Ishmael, and Jacob instead of his older brother Esau, God established the precedent of His right to chose the person and thus the people of His promise.

The initial disciples of Jesus were Hebrews. It was the faithful remnant of Israel as always that became heir to the promise. It was this faithful remnant of Israel, this Israel within Israel, that brought the Gospel to the Gentiles. This faithful remnant were the children of Israel and the children of promise who bore the fruit of spiritual children who became heirs to the original promise to Abraham.

The plan of God is not limited to merely physical decedents of Abraham. It is God's choice that determines who will be the child of promise (CIT).




Verse 6 again introduces the concept of a SPIRITUAL ISRAEL. "But it is not as though the Word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are [descended] from Israel;"

Apparently Paul was afraid that the statement (in verse 2) with regard to his great sorrow and unceasing anguish might be interpreted as if he meant that God's word -His promise with respect to Israel- had failed. God's Word never fails. Heaven and earth will pass away before God's Word could fail (Lk. 16:17). So the Apostle explains that although a marvelous promise had indeed been made to Israel that promise was never realized in the entire nation, but only in the godly remnant of Israel (a truth he had presented earlier in Romans 2:28-29).

The failure of all Jews to respond to the gospel of Christ did not mean God's Word had failed. All Israel is not the true or Spiritual Israel. There is an Israel within Israel. For, "They are not all Israel who are [descended] from Israel." All the natural descendants of Abraham are not necessarily the true sons of God. All the descendants of Abraham do not unconditionally possess the promise. Only those who walk by faith are the true sons of Abraham (Gal. 3:7-9; Rom. 4) and possess the promise. Thus the Apostle distinguishes between the natural seed and spiritual seed of Abraham.

Paul knew that the Word of God had not failed, though most of Israel had not believed in Jesus Christ. This is true because God's promises were obviously not intended for all who could boast of racial descent from Abraham [which he will prove in verse 7]. So three Old Testament illustrations of the principle of God's sovereign choice (Isaac and Ishmael, 9:7b-9; Jacob and Esau, vv.10-13; and Pharaoh, vv. 14-18) are provided. The first two (which will deal with tonight) show that God made a sovereign choice among the physical descendants of Abraham in establishing the spiritual line of promise.

Verse 7 and the verses that follow confirm that natural descent from Abraham does not secure a portion in God's promised inheritance. Verse 7 designates the CHILD OF PROMISE. "nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: "through Isaac your descendants will be named."

Abraham had two children according to the flesh, Ishmael (Gen. 16) and Isaac, but only Isaac inherited the promise since he was the child specified in the promise which Paul quotes from Genesis 21:12. Ishmael, [born to Hagar] and the six sons of Keturah (Gen. 25:1-4) were Abraham's descendants (sperma), but they were not counted as Abraham's children (tekna, "born ones") in the line of promise. Instead, as God told Abraham (Gen. 21:12), "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned" [lit. "in Isaac seed (sperma) will be called to you"].

Ishmael was just as much a child of Abraham as was Isaac. Yet no Jew would consider the descendants of Ishmael to be children of God's promise to Abraham. The Covenant relationship continued on only through Isaac, the child of promise.

We learn about the CHILDREN OF PROMISE in verse 8. "That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants."

"That is" means "what the Old Testament is saying signifies this." The children born of the physical lineage (lit., "the born ones of the flesh") of Abraham are not necessarily the "children of God" (tekna, "born ones of God"). The children of promise are those who, like Abraham, believe the promise of God and are therefore Abraham's spiritual offspring [sperma].

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