They Stumbled

Romans 9:30-33 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believe on him shall not be ashamed. 

‘What shall we say then?’ What shall we finally conclude from all these prophecies? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained it; but Israel which followed after the law of righteousness has not attained it (9:30-31).

‘Wherefore?’ Why has Israel not attained to the righteousness she sought so long? Because she sought it not by faith, but by works of the law and because she stumbled over the way her Messiah came (9:32-33).

‘Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law’ – the Jews were ignorant of God’s way of righteousness by faith in Christ (3:25-31; Gal. 2:16; 3:10-28). They went about to establish their own righteousness by works. They attained not to the Abrahamic covenant, which stands alone on the principle of grace through faith (4:1-25; Gen. 15:6). They set all their efforts upon the law of works and imagined they were justified by outward observance of a few rituals. When the gospel came along offering free salvation to Gentiles as well as Jews on the basis of grace and faith without works, they were offended and rejected it.

‘Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believe on him shall not be ashamed’ this is the 7th Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Romans (9:33; Isa. 8:14; 28:16).

‘Stumblingstone and rock of offence’ – I will send the Messiah, not as a mighty prince and a conqueror whom everyone will be willing to trust in, but as a man of sorrows, humiliation, and death. Many will think it disgraceful to trust in such a person for salvation. In spite of this, whoever trusts in Him will not be ashamed of Him or be confused.

Concerning Israel

Romans 9:25-29 As he said also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, You are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. Esaias also cried concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodom, and been made like unto Gomorrah. 

‘Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved’ this is the 3rd Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Romans (9:25; Hos. 2:23).

‘And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, You are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God’ this is the 4th Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Romans (9:26; Hos. 1:9-10).

‘Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved …’ this is the 5th Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Romans (9:27-28; Isa. 10:22-23).

‘A remnant shall be saved’ – the doctrine of the remnant always refers to Judah and the other tribes of Israel, never to Gentiles or the Christian body of Christ. It teaches that God is obligated to save a remnant of all Israel, so as to preserve their line to eventually fulfil with them the covenants made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. God promised an eternal line to these men, and He promised their descendants an eternal land (Gen. 12:1-3, 7; 13:14-17; 15:18-21; 17:2-8, 19; 21:12; 22:17-18; 26:3-4; 28:3-4, 28:13-15; 2Sam. 7:1-29). God often predicted the deliverance and preservation of a remnant of the thirteen tribes and their final and eternal restoration under their Messiah (Isa. 1:9; 10:20-22; 11:10-12, 16; 38:1-22; 46:3; Jer. 23:3; 31:7; 39:9; 40:11; Ezek. 6:8-10; Joel 2:32; Mic. 2:12; 5:3-8; Zeph. 2:7-9; 3:13; Zech. 8:6-12; Rom. 9:27; 11:5; Rev. 12:17). According to Isaiah 1:9, Isaiah predicted that a very small remnant would be saved in the coming destruction of Judah and Jerusalem; otherwise Israel would have been totally destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah.

‘Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodom, and been make like unto Gomorrah’ this is the 6th Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Romans (9:29; Isa. 1:9).

‘Sabaoth’ this term is often used in the Old Testament of God who is Lord of hosts, or Lord of armies, who has infinite power to rule the nations and punish the wicked (1Sam. 1:3, 11; 4:4; 15:2; etc.).

Vessels

Romans 9:19-24 Thou will say then unto me, Why does he yet find fault? For who has resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who are thou that replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why has thou made me thus? Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he has called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 

‘Thou wilt say then unto me, Why does he yet find fault? For who has resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who are thou that replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why has thou made me thus? Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory in the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?’ Here the Jews argue again, as they did in Romans 3:7. Paul answers by questions (9:20-24). Who are you to reply against God? Who are you to blame God for your sinfulness? Cannot God deal with you as is necessary (Jer. 18:1-17)? If God still wants to save people who will obey Him, Jews or Gentiles, is that not His right? If He has to damn those who harden themselves may He not do so without our criticism?

‘Vessels of wrath fitted to destruction’ – vessels of wrath are Jews who were: stubborn (9:6); proud (9:31); rebellious (9:32); ignorant (10:3); jealous (10:19); angry (10:19); disobedient(10:21); blind (11:7); fallen (11:12); cast away (11:15); broken off (11:20); spared not (11:21); unbelieving (11:23); cut off (11:24).

‘The riches of his glory’- True riches that are mentioned in Scripture: Riches of His grace (Eph. 1:7); the riches of the glory of the inheritance in the saints (Eph. 1:18); the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8); the riches of glory (Eph. 3:16; Rom. 9:23); the riches of His goodness (Rom. 2:4); the riches of wisdom, knowledge (Rom. 11:33); the riches in glory (Php. 4:19); the riches of the glory of the mystery of Christ in you (Col. 1:27); the riches of the full assurance of understanding of God’s mystery (Col. 2:2); the reproach of Christ had greater riches than that what was in Egypt (Heb. 11:26).

‘Vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory’ – these are the Jew and Gentile converts to Christianity (9:23-24).

God that Shows Mercy

Romans 9:14-18 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he said to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy. For the scripture said unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore has he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardened. 

‘What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?’ These questions are answered with another “God forbid.” There is no unrighteousness with God if He sees the dispositions of two boys and chooses on the basis of what He can foresee in each one. So with God’s present dealings with Israel and the Gentiles. If He sees that Jews will be continually rebelling against Him and the Gentiles will not, can He not act accordingly without unrighteousness? God is not responsible for the acts of Esau or Jacob; Jews or Gentiles. He had to make the choice of Jacob over Esau due to the dispositions and lives of the boys. So now, He has to set aside Israel, due to her ever-increasing rebellion of over 1,800 years. The only thing left for Him to do is to use the Gentiles if they will carry out His program (Matt. 21:33-45).

‘I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion’ Here we see that God is sovereign over His mercy. He has laid down His terms of mercy and compassion and will not dispense with either until people meet His terms. He will not save one soul without repentance and continued conformity to His will, nor will He damn one soul that will meet His terms.

‘Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth’ quoted from Exodus 9:16. Here we have an instance of a wicked king resisting God’s will to the point of destruction. At many points in God’s dealings with Pharaoh, the king could have submitted and escaped judgment. But he was too stubborn to do so and therefore God could not do otherwise than punish him for his sins and resistance.

‘Therefore has he mercy on whom he will have mercy’ this is the fourth time that we can conclude that God has been fair in His dealings. God was righteous in choosing: Isaac over Ishmael (9:7-8; Gen. 17:1-27); Jacob over Esau (9:9-13; Gen. 25:1-34); the righteous over the sinners in Israel (9:14-16; Ex. 32:32-33; 33:19); Israel over Pharaoh and the Egyptians (9:17-18; Ex. 7:1-14:31).

Paul next applies all these instances to God’s present dealings with Jews and Gentiles. He concludes that, since it was the only just and righteous thing to do in the above four cases, it is only just and righteous of God to cut off Israel and choose the Gentiles to carry on His program (9:19-11:36).

‘Hardened’ God hardens on the same grounds of showing mercy. If men will accept mercy He will give it to them. If they will not, thus hardening themselves He is only just and righteous in judging them. People are privileged to humble themselves and seek mercy or exalt themselves and refuse mercy. Mercy is the result of a right attitude, and hardening is the result of stubbornness or the wrong attitude toward God. It is like the clay and the wax in the sun. The same sunshine hardens one and softens the other. The responsibility is with the materials, not with the sun. People are more responsible than these materials, for they have wills to make proper choices. The only sense in which God hardened Pharaoh was in giving him the occasion to harden his own heart or obey. Such is the choice all people have to make daily (2Cor. 2:15-17; Ps. 81:11-16).

The Word of Promise

Romans 9:6-13 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That 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. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (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 called;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 

‘In Isaac shall thy seed be called …’ this is the 2nd Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Romans (9:7-14; Gen. 17:15-19; 18:10; 25:1-34; Mal. 1:1-3).

‘But the children of the promise are counted for the seed’ we who are Christians are the children of the promise and of the new covenant like Isaac as we see in Galatians 4:28-29. The “heirs of the promise (Heb. 6:17) are called the children of faith (4:1-25).

‘At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son’ – in Genesis 18:10 we see the promises and it was fulfilled the following year in the birth of Isaac (Gen. 21:1-8).

‘The elder shall serve the younger’ This prophecy was given in Genesis 25:23 and we see later in history that the family of Esau (or Edom) seemed to be stronger at first than Jacob’s (or Israel’s), for they had dukes and kings long before Israel did (Gen. 36:1-43) and they were powerful enough to resist Israel’s passage through their land when coming out of Egypt (Num. 20:1-29). Later, David completely defeated them and made them subject to Israel for about 150 years (2Sam. 8:14). After the Babylonian captivity, the Maccabeus compelled them to leave their country or embrace the Jewish religion. From then on they were ruled by Israel. In the Millennium they will again be under Israel (Ps. 60:8-10; Isa. 11:14; 63:1; Amos 9:12).

‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated’ – hate, as used here, is an idiom of preference, as in Luke 14:25-27, not a term expressing personal malice or jealousy in the sense we’re familiar with. This is the sixth of twelve cases in Scripture where God made the choice of the younger over the older brother. Here it was because of the disposition and attitude toward Him. Esau was a fornicator and destitute of hunger for God in his life (Heb. 12:16-17), while Jacob was the type that loved the Lord and hungered to do his will. (Mal. 1:1-3).

The Truth in Christ

Romans 9:1-5 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. 

‘Say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost’ In Romans 1-8, we see prove that God’s grace extends to both Jews and Gentiles who believe. Romans 9-11 deals with the Jews and shows why they were rejected and cut off by God and why and how the Gentiles were called and elected to partake of gospel benefits.

‘Heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart’ sorrow and continued pangs.

‘I could wish that myself were accursed’ – this merely shows Paul’s willingness to be cursed, not it is necessity (John 15:13).

‘Adoption’ the Jews was all adopted by God (Ex. 4:22; Deut. 14:1; 32:18; Jer. 31:9; Hos. 11:1). In Exodus 4:22 we see that God calls the nation of Israel His son and firstborn as contrasted with the firstborn of Egypt. Pharaoh would understand this fully, for he himself was called son of Ra, or beloved of his god. God was telling him that He loved Israel as he himself loved his firstborn (Ex. 4:23). The whole life of the Israelites was regulated by this principle: You are the children of the Lord your God (Deut. 14:1; Ps. 87:6). God says He birthed Israel (Deut. 32:18). Isaac is spoken of as being born “after the Spirit” (Gal. 4:28-29). They were children of God by the new birth in the same sense that men are born again today, which is by adoption (8:15; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:4).

‘Glory’ this refers to the Divine Presence (Ex. 16:7, 10; 24:16-17; 40:34-35; Lev. 9:6, 9:23; Num. 14:10, 21; 16:19, 42; Deut. 5:24; 1Sam. 4:21-22; 1Kin. 8:11; etc.).

‘Covenants’ the ones made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and others. ‘Law’ – the law was only for Jews (2:12-16; 3:2; 9:4; Deut. 5:3; 29:14). ‘Service of God’ – the rituals of the law (Leviticus 1-12; etc.). ‘The promises’ of Canaan, Messiah, Kingdom, etc.

‘Fathers’ Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and 12 sons.

‘Concerning the flesh Christ came’ – according to human nature (9:3-5; 1Tim. 3:15; Heb. 2:7-18; 1Jn. 4:2) Jesus came in the flesh (Matt. 1:1, 6).

‘Came, who is over all’ – a true Jew is not the one who is circumcised in the flesh, neither is true circumcision in the flesh. A true Jew is one that has inward circumcision of the heart and in the spirit and has more than an outward cutting in the flesh and a profession of truth. This does not teach that every Christian is a Jew, but to be a true Jew one must be of the seed of Abraham, and have circumcision of the heart, and be a child of the promise (2:28-29; 9:6-7).

I am Persuaded

Romans 8:36-39 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

‘As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter’ the first Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Romans from Psalm 44:22.

Eight facts about Christian suffering are given: Suffering is not strange or unusual for Christians (1Pet. 4:12; 2Tim. 3:12). One should rejoice when a partaker of the sufferings of Christ (1Pet. 4:13; Matt. 5:10). The greater the suffering the greater the joy and glory (8:17-18; 1Pet. 4:13). Besides the greater glory to come the Christian has the Holy Spirit upon him now to enable him to endure (8:26-27; 1Pet. 4:14;). Christian sufferings glorify God (8:17-18; 1Pet. 4:14). It is an honor, not a shame, to suffer as a Christian (1Pet. 4:16). Though sufferings begin with Christians, they end in an eternal weight of damnation to the ungodly (1Pet. 4:17-18). Sufferings should be borne by Christians, in patience as in the will of God, realizing that God is always faithful to His own in their sufferings (1Pet. 4:19; 1Cor. 10:13).

Ten rewards for Christian suffering are noted: Greater glory in heaven (2Cor. 4:17); eternal consolation (2Cor. 1:7); making Jesus known (2Cor. 4:11); life to others (2Cor. 4:12); making grace manifest (2Cor. 4:15); guarantee of judgment (2Thess. 1:5); reign with Christ (2Tim. 2:12); the Holy Spirit upon us (1Pet. 4:14); glory to God (1Pet. 4:16) and great joy (1Pet. 4:13-14).

Christian suffering does not consist of: Suffering for murder, as a thief, or for being an evildoer or a busybody (1Pet. 4:15); or for suffering for any crime listed in Romans 1:18-32; 1Corinthians 6:9-11 and Galatians 5:19-21

Christian suffering does consist of: Persecution for righteousness (Matt. 5:10; 13:21; Mark 10:30; John 15:20); reviling and slander (Matt. 5:11-12; 10:25; Acts 13:45; 1Pet. 4:4); false accusations (Matt. 10:17-20); scourgings for Christ (Matt. 10:17); rejection by people (Matt. 10:14); hatred by the world (Matt. 10:22; John 15:18-21); hatred by relatives (Matt. 10:21-36); martyrdoms (Matt. 10:28; Acts 7:58); temptations (Luke 8:13; Jas. 1:2-16); shame for His name (Acts 5:41); imprisonments (Acts 4:3; 5:18; 12:4); tribulations (Acts 14:22; 2Thess. 1:4); stonings (Acts 14:19; 2Cor. 11:25); beatings (Acts 16:23; 2Cor. 11:24-25); being a spectacle to people (1Cor. 4:9); misunderstanding, necessities, defamation, and despisings (1Cor. 4:10-13); trouble, affliction, distresses, tumults, labours, watchings, fastings, and evil reports (2Cor. 6:8-10; 11:26-28); reproaches (Heb. 13:13; 1Pet. 4:14); trials (1Pet. 1:7; 4:12); satanic opposition (Eph. 4:27; 6:12); groaning and travailing because of the curse (8:17-26).

‘For I am persuaded’ in Romans 8:38-39 Paul explains that, in view of his doctrines before stated, he is personally persuaded that nothing will be able to separate him from the love he has for God and Christ.

‘Principalities’ the satanic powers of Ephesians 2:2 and 6:12.

‘Creature’ any thing in creation.

‘Separate us from the love of God’ one who lives and walks in the Spirit, will not be separated by any of the 17 things of Romans 8:35-39 any more than he will be moved to commit the 17 things of Galatians 5:19-21. The secret of victory and absolute assurance for the believer is to walk as taught in Romans 6:14-23; 8:1-13 and Galatians 5:16-26.

Who Shall Separate Us

Romans 8:31-35 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 

‘What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? … how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? … Who is he that condemns? … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?’ We must conclude from these doctrines that God is for us and will freely give us all things; that God alone is our judge; that Christ and the Holy Spirit are our helpers; that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ; and that we are more than conquerors over all enemies through Jesus Christ our Lord. Please note that sin will remove us from His grace and one cannot sin and claim these Scriptures for oneself (Isa. 59:1-2; Heb. 10:26-31).

‘Lay … to the charge of’ [Greek: engkaleo] call to judicial account (Acts 19:38). God justifies the elect.

‘Elect’ [Greek: eklektos] anyone chosen of God at any time, Jew or Gentile, is the elect of God (9:11; 11:5, 7, 28; 1Thess. 1:4; 1Pet. 5:13; 2Pet. 1:10). All men are called to become God’s elect or chosen ones and can be if they will choose God (Matt. 11:28-30; 20:16; John 1:12; 3:16-20; 6:37; Eph. 1:4; 2Thess. 2:13; Jas. 2:5; 1Tim. 2:4; 2Pet. 3:9; Rev. 17:14; 22:17).

‘It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us’ four redemptive acts of Christ: His death and resurrection, His ascension (Eph. 1:20) and intercession (8:27).

‘Who also makes intercession for us’ because He is an everlasting priest, and has made the only true atonement for sin, He is able to save from all sin to the uttermost, in all places, at all times, and under all circumstances. The condition of salvation is coming to God by Him.

‘Intercession’ [Greek: entungchano] to light upon; fall in with; meet with; intercede with and for (8:27, 34; 11:2; Heb. 7:25) and “deal with” (Acts 25:24).

Seven purposes of intercession: To come to or meet a person for any cause whatever (8:27, 34; Heb. 7:25); to plead the cause of others as in a civil court (Isa. 59:9-18; 1Tim. 2:1); to pray for others (8:26-27, 34; Isa. 53:12; Luke 22:44; Heb. 7:25); to defend or vindicate a person or thing (Jer. 7:16; 27:18; 36:25); to commend others to a person (8:26-27); to furnish any kind of assistance or help (8:26-27); to accuse or act against a person in a judicial way (11:2; Acts 25:24).

‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ’ not who shall keep Christ from loving us, but who or what shall keep us from loving Him? This is the true idea, for the things listed here might affect people, but not Christ. If we will not permit them to affect our love for Christ, then we are safe from all danger of backsliding.

Predestinate to be Conformed

Romans 8:29-30 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 

‘Foreknow’ [Greek: proginosko] to know beforehand. Knew before (2Pet. 3:17); foreknew (8:29; 11:2); foreordain (1Pet. 1:20; Rom. 11:1); and know (Acts 26:5). 

God’s foreknowledge [Greek: prognosis] a perceiving beforehand. It refers to God seeing ahead that He would have to send a Saviour to redeem man from the fall. No single individual is chosen, elected, foreknown, or predestined to be saved or lost without his personal choice and responsibility in the matter (John 3:16; 1Tim. 2:4; 2Pet. 3:9; Rev. 22:17). It would be cruel impartiality – unjust regard for one and an unjust disregard for another – and not divine justice for one to be chosen by God to be saved and another to be damned. God offers grace to all alike. His invitations, promises, provision, and warnings of punishment are general. All people are invited to choose life and are warned of eternal punishment if they do not do so. It is inconsistent with man’s probation for God to elect some to be saved and some to be lost.

‘Predestinate’ [Greek: proorizo] foreordain. Determine before (Acts 4:28); ordain (1Cor. 2:7); and predestinate (8:29-30; Eph. 1:5, 11). It is God’s plan that He has foreknown and predestined, not the individual conformity of free wills to the plan. He has called all people and all are free to accept or reject the call. All who do accept, He has foreknown and predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son that His Son might be the firstborn among many brethren (8:29). Those who reject the plan, He has foreknown and predestined to be consigned to eternal hell as an everlasting monument of His wrath on rebels (Isa. 66:22-24; Rev. 14:9-11; Matt. 25:41, 46). This is the sum of foreknowledge and predestination.

‘Conformed’ [Greek: summorphos] where the resurrected body will be made like His glorious body. This is what God has foreknown and predestined for all who conform to the gospel.

‘Firstborn’ [Greek: prototokos] firstborn (Col. 1:15, 18; Matt. 1:25; Luke 2:7; Rom. 8:29; Heb. 11:28; 12:23) and first-begotten (Heb. 1:6; Rev. 1:5). It is used of Jesus the firstborn of Mary (Matt. 1:25; Luke 2:7) and of the firstborn of Egyptians (Heb. 11:28). It means the first one born in the family. It must also be understood in this literal sense in connection with Jesus being the firstborn in God’s family. However, Sonship in this case refers to humanity and not to deity. These facts must be understood in connection with the following: The only begotten of the Father (John 1:14); the only begotten Son (John 1:18); His only begotten Son (John 3:16; 1Jn. 4:9); the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18); this day have I begotten Thee (Ps. 2:7; Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5); I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son (Heb. 1:5).

It is used of Jesus: As the firstborn of every creature (Col. 1:15); firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18); firstborn of many brethren (Rom. 8:29); the Head of the congregation of the firstborn (Heb. 12:23); His first-begotten (Heb. 1:5-6); first-begotten of the dead (Rev. 1:5).

With these facts it is clear in what sense Jesus is “the firstborn of every creature” or of all creation (Col. 1:15), and “the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). All creation came into existence by creative acts, not by a begetting as in the case of Jesus. Even the “many brethren” are not begotten in the sense Jesus was by the Holy Spirit. They were begotten by people, not by God, and were thus brought into the human family, not the family of God. The only way one gets into God’s family is by adoption (8:14-16; Gal. 4:5-6; Eph. 1:5). Jesus is the only begotten Son … the first of all creatures to be begotten of God, the only one of all beings begotten of God, the first and only one of the family of adopted and “created” brethren begotten of God (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), the first-begotten of or from the dead, and the firstfruit of the resurrection of all men (1Cor. 15:23-33; Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5). The church is the called-out people of the one who is the firstborn (Heb. 12:23). Adam and angels were by creation, not by begetting (Luke 3:38; Gen. 6:1-4; Job 1:6; 38:4-7)

‘Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified’ God has foreordained, determined, and predestined that all people be called to salvation, but that only the ones who accept become genuine called ones to be justified and glorified. None are glorified, but those who, according to His purpose, meet the terms of the gospel. Who they will be is left up to the individual (Mark 16:16; John 3:16; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 1Tim. 2:4; 2Pet. 3:9; Rev. 22:17). All things depend upon meeting the conditions of the gospel (8:1-13, 28).

The Spirit Also Helps

Romans 8:25-28 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 

‘Spirit also helps our infirmities’  the blessings of the Holy Spirit are noted as follows: He sets free from sin (8:2); He cancels death penalty (8:2); He fulfils righteousness (8:4-5); He indwells believers (8:9-11); He gives life (8:10); He quickens the mortal body (8:11); He mortifies sinful members (8:13); He leads children of God (8:14); He adopts into God’s family (8:15); He bears witness of sonship (8:16); He helps infirmities (8:26) and He makes intercession for saints (8:26).

‘Helps’ [Greek: sunantilambanomai] joint help. It is the assistance afforded by any two persons to each other, who mutually bear the same load or carry it between them.

‘Infirmities’ our physical, mental, or moral weakness or flaws.

‘For we know not what we should pray for as we ought’ we would make many mistakes in prayer if the Spirit did not inspire us with proper desires and help us fulfil those desires in the will of God.

‘Itself’ Himself, for He is a person. It is of the greatest importance that we believe in the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and also His personality. It is only when we learn these truths that we can give Him the honour, worship, adoration, and personal respect that we give to God. We must learn that the Holy Spirit is not a mere power that we need to get hold of and use, but we must learn that He is a person who is infinitely wise, holy, just, and gracious, and who seeks to get hold of us and use us. We must become acquainted with Him as a person and not merely as an influence or power derived from a person. The following points prove that He is a real person: Personal names are given to Him; personal pronouns are used of Him (John 14:16-26; 15:26; 16:7-15); personal attributes are ascribed to Him; personal works are ascribed to Him; personal references are made concerning Him; personal treatment is ascribed to Him. He can be resisted (Acts 7:51); tempted (Acts 5:9); grieved (Eph. 4:30); lied to (Acts 5:3-4); blasphemed (Matt. 12:31-32); insulted (Matt. 12:31-32; Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-29); quenched (1Thess. 5:19); vexed (Ps. 78:40; Isa. 63:10); quieted (Zech 6:8); fellowshipped (Php. 2:1); and otherwise mistreated or obeyed like any other person. In the Holy Spirit’s relationship to men, He is spoken of as searching hearts, regenerating, sanctifying, helping, convicting, teaching, quickening, guiding, witnessing, interceding, revealing, working, hearing, speaking, helping, communing, appointing, commanding, counselling, comforting, inspiring, assuring, calling, hearing, and in many ways acting as a real person.

‘Intercession’ [Greek: huperentungchano] to apply one’s self to intercede for another.

‘Groanings’ [Greek: stenagmos] unutterable gushing of the heart.

‘He that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit’ this is no doubt Christ who knows the mind of the Spirit. It would seem out of place to state that the Spirit knows His own mind. All three persons of the Trinity search hearts: God the Father (1Chron. 28:9; Jer. 17:10); the Son (Rev. 2:23); and the Spirit (1Cor. 2:10).

‘Intercession’ [Greek: entungchano] to intercede; to act as an agent or manager in all phases of salvation and dealings with God (8:27, 34; 11:2; Heb. 7:25). Translated “deal with” in Acts 25:24.

‘Work together’ [Greek: sunergeo] While all things are working, God’s providence is working on behalf of them who love God and who walk obediently according to His purpose.