Pristine Grace

Rom 9:6-13, (GILL)
6  Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect,.... Or "it is not possible indeed that the word of God should fall"; see 1Sa 3:10; This the apostle says, partly to relieve his own mind pressed with sorrow, and partly to obviate an objection some might make, or prevent any mistake any might be ready to go into; as though from what he suggested that what God had said concerning the people of the Jews, was made void and without effect: for whether by the "word of God" are meant, the Scriptures in general, the prophecies of the Old Testament, these were now about to have their accomplishment, in the rejection of the Jews, and in the conversion of the Gentiles; or whether by it is designed the Gospel, this, as preached both by Christ and his apostles, had had its effect upon God's chosen ones among that people; it was become the power of God unto salvation, to the Jew first: or rather by it may be intended, God's word of promise to Abraham, that he would be a God to him, and to his seed after him; and that he and they should be heir of the world, of this and of that which is to come; particularly the heavenly inheritance, which he gave to him by promise; this was not made void, or had taken none effect: for this was made only to Abraham and his spiritual seed; and therefore though his carnal seed believed not, and for their unbelief should be cut off, this did not make the faith, or faithfulness of God of none effect:

for they are not all Israel, which are of Israel; that is, they which are the descendants of the patriarch Jacob, whose name was Israel; or who are of the Israelitish nation, of the stock of Israel, belonging to that people; they are not all larvy ta, "the Israel", by way of emphasis, as in Ps 25:22, or the "Israel of God", Ga 6:16, the Israel whom Jehovah the Father has chosen for a peculiar people; which Christ has redeemed from all their iniquities; which the Spirit of God calls with an holy calling, by special grace, to special privileges; the seed of Israel who are justified in Christ, whose iniquities are so pardoned and done away, that when they are sought for they shall not be found, and who are saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: or in other words, though they are "Israel after the flesh", 1Co 10:18, yet not after the Spirit; though they are by nation Israelites, they are not Israelites "indeed", as Nathanael was, Joh 1:47; they are Jews outwardly, not inwardly; they have not all principles of grace, uprightness, and sincerity in them: now to these spiritual Israelites, or seed of Abraham, were the word of God, the promises of God concerning spiritual and eternal things made, and upon these they had their effect; and therefore it could not be said that the word of God had taken none effect; though the whole body of Israel after the flesh were cut off and rejected. Some copies, and the Vulgate Latin version, read, "who are Israelites"; and the Ethiopic version, "they are not all Israel who came out of Egypt".

7  Neither because they are the seed of Abraham,.... The Jews highly valued themselves, upon being the natural seed of Abraham; and fancied, upon this account, that they were children, which the apostle here denies: neither

are they all children; as in the former verse, he explains in what sense they were Israelites, which he had mentioned among their high characters and privileges, as descending from Jacob, and in what sense they were not; so in this he shows in what manner the "adoption", Ro 9:4, belonged to them, and it did not; being Abraham's seed, they were his natural children, and the children of God by national adoption; but, they were not all the spiritual children of Abraham, nor the children of God by the special grace of adoption; these characters only belonged to some of them, and which are equally true of Gentile believers; who being of the same faith with Abraham, are his children, his seed, and also the children of God: natural descent from Abraham avails nothing in this case, as is clear from the instance of Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael was the natural seed of Abraham, as well as Isaac; but he was not a son of Abraham in a spiritual sense, nor a child of God; he was not a child of promise, this was peculiar to Isaac:

but in Isaac shall thy seed be called; see Ge 21:12. The meaning of which is, either that the progeny of Abraham in the line of Isaac should only be called, accounted, and esteemed, in an eminent sense, the seed of Abraham, and not his posterity in the line of Ishmael: agreeably to which the Jews say [c], that

"Ishmael is not Mhrba lv werz llkb, "in the general account of the seed of Abraham"; for it is said, "in Isaac shall thy seed be called", Ge 21:12; nor is Esau in the general account of the seed of Isaac; hence, says R. Joden bar Shalom, in Isaac, that is, in part of Isaac.''

So another [d] of their writers, on mentioning this passage, observes,

"that it is said in Isaac, qxuy lk alw, but "not all Isaac";''

or all that sprung from him. Or this has respect to the most eminent and famous seed of Abraham, the Messiah, in whom all nations of the earth were to be blessed; who was to spring from him by Isaac, in the line of Jacob; and may likewise have a personal respect to Isaac himself, the son of the promise, a child of Abraham in a spiritual sense, when Ishmael was not; and to whom belonged the spiritual promises and blessings, and who was to be, and was effectually called by the grace of God; and may include also his whole seed and posterity, who, both natural and spiritual, were children of the typical promise, the land of Canaan, and the enjoyment of temporal good things; and the matter also children of the antitypical promise, or of those spiritual and eternal things, which God has promised to Abraham's spiritual seed, whether among Jews or Gentiles; and which always have their effect, and had, even when, and though Abraham's natural seed had a "lo ammi", Ho 1:9, written upon them.

[c] T. Hieros. Nedarim, fol. 38. 1. [d] Yom Tob in Misn. Bava Metzia, c. 7. sect. 1.

8  That is, they which are the children of the flesh,.... This is an explanation of the foregoing verse, and shows, that by "the seed of" Abraham are meant, the natural seed of Abraham, who are born after the flesh, or descend from him by carnal generation:

these are not the children of God; that is, not all of them, nor any of them, on account of their being children of the flesh, or Abraham's natural seed; for adoption does not come this way; men do not commence children of God by their fleshly descent; they are not "born of blood", but of God, who are the sons of God:

but the children of the promise are counted for the seed; tyrb ynb "children of the covenant", is a common phrase with the Jews; who reckoned themselves as such, because they were the seed of Abraham: thus in their prayers they say [e] to God,

"we are thy people, Ktyrb ynb, "the children of thy covenant", the children of Abraham thy friend.''

And so they were the children of the covenant, or promise, which God made with Abraham and his natural seed, respecting the land of Canaan, and their enjoyment of temporal good things in it; but they were not all of them the children of the promise, which God made to Abraham and his spiritual seed, whether Jews or Gentiles, respecting spiritual and eternal things; to whom alone the promises of God, being their God in a spiritual sense, of spiritual and eternal salvation by Christ, and of the grace of the Spirit of God, and of eternal life belong; and who are the seed which were promised to Abraham by God, saying, "thou shalt be a father of many nations", Ge 17:4: for which reasons, because these spiritual promises belong to them, and because they themselves were promised to Abraham, as his children, therefore they are called "children of the promise": or rather, because as Isaac was a child of promise, being born after the Spirit, by virtue of the promise of God, through his divine power and goodness, when there were no ground or foundation in nature, for Abraham and Sarah to hope for a son; so these are called "children of promise", Ga 4:28, because they are born again, not through the power of nature, and strength of their own free will; they are not born of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, according to the will of God and his abundant mercy, by the word of truth, through his power, Spirit, and grace; and by faith receive the promises made unto them; and are counted and reckoned as "Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise", Ga 3:29, whether they be Jews, or whether they be Gentiles: and since now the promises of God are all made good to these persons, the word of God is not without effect, or is not made void, by the casting off the children of the flesh, or the carnal seed of Abraham, who were not children of the promise in the sense now given.

[e] Seder Tephillot, fol. 3. 2. Ed. Basil. fol. 6. 1. Ed. Amstelod.

9  For this is the word of promise,.... The following passage is the Scripture, which contains the promise concerning the birth of Isaac; which was the produce, not of nature, but of divine grace and power; and was typical of the regeneration of God's elect, who "as Isaac was, are the children of promise", Ga 4:28, for as Ishmael was a type of them that are born after the flesh, and are carnal men, so Isaac was a type of those, who are born after the Spirit, and are spiritual men: the promise is,

at this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son; the passage referred to is in Ge 18:10; which there stands thus, "I will certainly return unto thee, according to the time of life, and lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son": some difference there is between the words as cited by the apostle, and as they stand in the original text; the word "lo", is omitted by the apostle, nor was there any necessity to repeat it, since it was used only to excite Abraham's faith, attention, and wonder; also the phrase "thy wife", is neglected, the reason is, because the words in Genesis are an address to Abraham, here the substance of the promise to him is produced; besides it was not only well known in the apostle's time, that Sarah was the wife of Abraham, but that as such she brought forth Isaac, wherefore it was not so very necessary it should be mentioned here; add to this, that it is not repeated in Ge 18:14, which will justify our apostle in the omission of it: but the greater seeming difference is, that what in Genesis is rendered, "according to the time of life", is by the apostle, "at this time": some think, that there may be an emendation of the present original text, and suppose a various reading, and that the apostle, instead of hyx, "life", read hzx, "this", but there is no occasion for such a supposition, or to make this amendment: for the phrase "the time of life", signifies the present time, the "nunc stans"; so R. Levi ben Gerson [f], understands this phrase, "according to the time of life", hte tdmwew tmyyq ayhv tazh tek, "according to this time which is now standing and abiding" and adds, rightly is this said, because neither time past nor to come are to be found, only the present time, the "nunc stans" and afterwards more than once explains it, of this present time, the next year: and so both R. Solomon Jarchi, and R. Aben Ezra [g], expound it, tazh tek, "according to this time", the year following; that is, exactly according to this present time next year, or this time twelve month; besides, in Ge 17:21 it is said, "at this set time", and in Ge 18:14, "at the appointed time"; all which support the apostle in his version.

[f] Perush in Gen. fol. 26. 4. & 27. 2, 3. Vid. in 2 Reg. iv. 16. [g] In Gen. xviii. 10.

10  And not only this,.... This instance of Ishmael and Isaac, is not the only one, proving that Abraham's natural seed, the children of the flesh, are not all children, the children of God:

but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac, "it was said unto her", Ro 9:12, being in a parenthesis, "the elder shall serve the younger". The apostle was aware, that the Jews would be ready to say, that the instance of Ishmael and Isaac was not a pertinent one; since Ishmael was not born of Sarah, the lawful wife of Abraham, but of a bondwoman, which was the reason his rejection, when Isaac was the son of promise, by the lawful wife, and that they were children of Abraham in the line of Isaac, and so children of the promise, as he was: wherefore he proceeds to mention the case of Jacob and Esau, which was not liable to any such exception; seeing they not only had the same father, but the same mother, Isaac's lawful wife; they were conceived by Rebecca at once, were in the same womb together, were twins, and if any had the preference and advantage, Esau had it, being born first; and yet a difference was made between these two by God himself, and which was notified by him to the mother of them, before either were born.

11  For [the children] being not yet born, So says [h] the Chaldee paraphrast,

"the prophet said unto them, was it not said of Jacob, dylyta ald de, "when he was not yet born", that he should be greater than his brother?''

the Syriac version supplies, "his children", that is, Isaac's; and the Arabic version, "his two children". This shows, that the apostle designs not the posterity, but the very persons of Jacob and Esau; since as he speaks of their conception in the verse preceding, so of their birth in this: and though in the words of God to Rebecca, and which are urged in favour of the other sense, it is said, "two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels, and the one people shall be stronger than the other people", Ge 25:23; yet this primarily respects the persons of Jacob and Esau, as the roots of their respective offspring; and only secondarily their posterity, as branches that should sprout from them; it properly regards their persons, and only in an improper, figurative, and metonymical sense, their seed; for in no other sense could two nations, or two manner of people be in Rebecca's womb, than as there were two persons there, who would be the authors of two nations and people; and whatever may be said for their respective posterity, taking their rise from one common father Isaac, or for their being chosen or rejected as nations, before they were in being as such, yet it cannot be said with any propriety, that "Rebecca conceived" their several offspring "by one, even by our father Isaac", Ro 9:10: which sense well agrees with the scope of the apostle, which is to prove, that all were not Israel which were of Israel, and that all Abraham's natural seed were not the children of God; which he could not better exemplify, than in the persons of Jacob and Esau; for to have instanced in the posterity of Esau, would have been foreign to his purpose, and not accord with the continuation of his discourse in the following verses, which entirely proceeds upon the subject of personal election and rejection, and with the scriptural account of the personal characters of Jacob and Esau; and from hence, as from many other passages, it may be concluded, that predestination, whether to life or death, is a personal thing, concerns particular persons, and not nations, or collective bodies of men:

neither having done any good or evil; Jacob and Esau were under all considerations upon an equal foot, were just in the same situation and condition, when the one was loved and the other hated; or in other words, when the one was chosen, and the other rejected; they were neither of them as yet born, and had they been born, their birth and parentage could have been no reason why one was chose and the other not, because in both the same; nor had the one performed a good action, or the other an evil one; so that Jacob was not loved for his good works, nor Esau hated for his evil ones; which confirms the truth of this doctrine, that the objects of predestination, whether to life or death, are alike, are in the same situation and condition: whether they are considered in the corrupt mass, or as fallen, they are all equally such, so that there could not be any reason in them, why some should be chosen and others left; or whether in the pure mass, antecedent to the fall, and without any consideration of it, which is clearly signified in this passage, there could be nothing in the one, which was not in the other, that could be the cause of such a difference made: so that it follows, that works neither good nor evil are the causes moving God to predestinate, whether to life or death; good works are not the cause of election to eternal life, for not only, this act of distinguishing grace, passed before any were done, but also these are fruits, effects, and consequence of it, and so cannot be the causes thereof; God does not proceed in order branches of salvation, as in calling, justification, &c. according to them, and therefore it cannot be thought he should proceed upon this foot in the first step to it; and which is ascribed to his free grace, in opposition to works. Evil works are not the cause of the decree of rejection, for this also being as early as the decree of election, as it must unavoidably be, was before any evil works were done; sin is not the cause of God's decree, but of the thing decreed, eternal death; otherwise all the individuals in the world being equally in sin, must have been rejected: it remains then, that not any works of men, good or bad, are the cause of predestination in either of its branches, but the sovereign will and secret counsel of God: that

the purpose of God according to election might stand: the decree of God, which is entirely free, and depends upon his own will and choice, stands firm and immutable, and is not to be disannulled by earth or hell, for it stands not on the precarious foot of works:

not of works: did it, it would not stand sure, for nothing is more variable and uncertain, than the actions of men:

but of him that calleth: who is the unchangeable Jehovah; it stands upon his invariable will and immutable grace, whose "gifts and calling are without repentance", Ro 11:29.

[h] Targum in Hos. xii. 3.

12  It was said unto her,.... To Rebecca, Ge 25:23,

the elder shall serve the younger, or "the greater shall serve the lesser", an Hebrew way of speaking; so Japheth is called lwdgh, "the great", or, as we render it, "the elder", Ge 10:21; and the evil imagination is said [i] to be lwdg, "greater", that is, elder than the good, thirteen years; See Gill on "Lu 22:26"; The sense is, Esau shall be a servant to Jacob; which is to be understood, not of temporal servitude; for in this sense he never was a servant to him; so far from it, that as soon as Jacob had got the birthright and blessing, he was obliged to flee from the face and fury of Esau; and upon his return after many years, he sent messengers to Esau in a very submissive manner, charging them after this manner, "thus shall ye shall say to my lord Esau, thy servant Jacob saith thus", &c. Ge 32:4, and when he found that his brother was coming to meet him, which threw him into a panic fear, lest he should "smite [him], and the mother with the children", Ge 32:11, he prepares presents for him; and when he came to him, bowed himself seven times, and his wives and children bowed likewise; and the language in which he addressed his brother Esau, all the while they were together, was that of "my lord": now if this oracle was to be understood of outward temporal servitude, it is strange it should have no appearance, nor any shadow of an accomplishment in the persons of Jacob and Esau, supposing it was to have one in their posterity; and indeed the completion of it, in this sense, is not very evident in their offspring. It is certain, there was a long train of dukes and kings in Esau's family, before there was any king in Israel; the posterity of Esau were in lordly grandeur and splendour, when the children of Israel were grievously oppressed with hard bondage in Egypt. The single instance usually referred to, when the Edomites became tributaries to David, was near a thousand years after the giving out of this oracle; and this show of servitude did not last long, for in Joram's time they revolted, and so continued; and it is evident, that at the time of the Babylonish captivity, the children of Edom were prosperous and triumphant, and said concerning Jerusalem, "Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation thereof", Ps 137:7: this servitude therefore is to be understood in a spiritual sense, of Esau's exclusion from the favour of God, and blessings of grace, signified by his being rejected from inheriting the blessing, which was given to Jacob; and it appeared that he was not a son, but a servant, by his departure, and pitching his dwelling elsewhere; which showed he had no interest in spiritual adoption, no right to the covenant of grace, nor was he an heir of heaven, all which were peculiar to Jacob: Esau was a servant of sin, under the dominion of it, and in bondage to it; whilst Jacob was the Lord's freeman, and, as a prince, had power with God and with men, and prevailed: Esau was serviceable to Jacob, both in things temporal and spiritual; as reprobates are to the elect, for all things are for their sakes, and work together for their good; Jacob's being obliged to flee from his brother, was for his good; by this means he got him a suitable wife, and large substance: his brother's meeting him on his return, which gave him so much pain and uneasiness, issued in his spiritual good; this sent him to the throne of grace, to humble himself before God, acknowledge his mercies, and his dependence on him, to implore his help, and plead his promises; and thus the oracle was verified in the persons of Jacob and Esau.

[i] Midrash Kohelet, fol. 80. 1.

13  As it is written,.... In Mal 1:2;

Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. These words are explanative of the former; they are of like import, and the one interpret the other; and show, that the former are to be understood in a spiritual, and not in a temporal sense, and of the persons, and not the posterity of Jacob and Esau; for though Malachi prophesied long after Jacob and Esau were personally dead, yet the Lord in that prophecy manifestly directs the murmuring Jews to the personal regard he had had to Jacob and Esau, and which had continued in numberless instances to their respective posterities, in order to stop their mouths, and reprove their ingratitude; and though he speaks of the nation of the Edomites, and to the posterity of Israel, yet it is evident, that he has a respect to the persons of Jacob and Esau, from whence they sprung, when he says, "was not Esau Jacob's brother?" Mal 1:2, now though an Edomite may be said to be brother to an Israelite, yet Esau is never said, nor can he with any propriety be said to be the brother of Jacob's posterity: it remains, that these words regard their persons, and express the true spring and source of the choice of the one, and the rejection of the other; and which holds true of all the instances of either kind: everlasting and unchangeable love is the true cause and spring of the choice of particular persons to eternal salvation; and hatred is the cause of rejection, by which is meant not positive hatred, which can only have for its object sin and sinners, or persons so considered; but negative hatred, which is God's will, not to give eternal life to some persons; and shows itself by a neglect of them, taking no notice of them, passing them by, when he chose others; so the word "hate" is used for neglect, taking no notice, where positive hatred cannot be thought to take place, in Lu 14:26.

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