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Romans 9 Good News Translation (GNT)

God and His People

I am speaking the truth; I belong to Christ and I do not lie. My conscience, ruled by the Holy Spirit, also assures me that I am not lying when I say how great is my sorrow, how endless the pain in my heart for my people, my own flesh and blood! For their sake I could wish that I myself were under God's curse and separated from Christ. They are God's people; he made them his children and revealed his glory to them; he made his covenants[a] with them and gave them the Law; they have the true worship; they have received God's promises; they are descended from the famous Hebrew ancestors; and Christ, as a human being, belongs to their race. May God, who rules over all, be praised forever![b] Amen.

I am not saying that the promise of God has failed; for not all the people of Israel are the people of God. Nor are all of Abraham's descendants the children of God. God said to Abraham, “It is through Isaac that you will have the descendants I promised you.” This means that the children born in the usual way[c] are not the children of God; instead, the children born as a result of God's promise are regarded as the true descendants. For God's promise was made in these words: “At the right time[d] I will come back, and Sarah will have a son.”

10 And this is not all. For Rebecca's two sons had the same father, our ancestor Isaac. 11-12 But in order that the choice of one son might be completely the result of God's own purpose, God said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” He said this before they were born, before they had done anything either good or bad; so God's choice was based on his call, and not on anything they had done. 13 As the scripture says, “I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.”

14 Shall we say, then, that God is unjust? Not at all. 15 For he said to Moses, “I will have mercy on anyone I wish; I will take pity on anyone I wish.” 16 So then, everything depends, not on what we humans want or do, but only on God's mercy. 17 For the scripture says to the king of Egypt, “I made you king in order to use you to show my power and to spread my fame over the whole world.” 18 So then, God has mercy on anyone he wishes, and he makes stubborn anyone he wishes.

God's Anger and Mercy

19 But one of you will say to me, “If this is so, how can God find fault with anyone? Who can resist God's will?” 20 But who are you, my friend, to talk back to God? A clay pot does not ask the man who made it, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 After all, the man who makes the pots has the right to use the clay as he wishes, and to make two pots from the same lump of clay, one for special occasions and the other for ordinary use.

22 And the same is true of what God has done. He wanted to show his anger and to make his power known. But he was very patient in enduring those who were the objects of his anger, who were doomed to destruction. 23 And he also wanted to reveal his abundant glory, which was poured out on us who are the objects of his mercy, those of us whom he has prepared to receive his glory. 24 For we are the people he called, not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles. 25 This is what he says in the book of Hosea:

“The people who were not mine
    I will call ‘My People.’
The nation that I did not love
    I will call ‘My Beloved.’
26 And in the very place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’
    there they will be called the children of the living God.”

27 And Isaiah exclaims about Israel: “Even if the people of Israel are as many as the grains of sand by the sea, yet only a few of them will be saved; 28 for the Lord will quickly settle his full account with the world.” 29 It is as Isaiah had said before, “If the Lord Almighty had not left us some descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”

Israel and the Gospel

30 So we say that the Gentiles, who were not trying to put themselves right with God, were put right with him through faith; 31 while God's people, who were seeking a law that would put them right with God, did not find it. 32 And why not? Because they did not depend on faith but on what they did. And so they stumbled over the “stumbling stone” 33 that the scripture speaks of:

“Look, I place in Zion a stone
    that will make people stumble,
    a rock that will make them fall.
But whoever believes in him will not be disappointed.”

Footnotes:

  1. Romans 9:4 covenants; some manuscripts have covenant.
  2. Romans 9:5 May God, who rules over all, be praised forever!; or And may he, who is God ruling over all, be praised forever!
  3. Romans 9:8 This refers to the descendants Abraham had through Ishmael, his son by Hagar (see Ga 4.22-23).
  4. Romans 9:9 At the right time; or At this time next year.
Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Romans 9 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Solicitude for Israel

I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could [a]wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is [b]the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed [c]forever. Amen.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s [d]descendants, but: “[e]through Isaac your [f]descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as [g]descendants. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would [h]stand, not [i]because of works but [j]because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed [k]throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel [l]for honorable use and another [m]for common use? 22 [n]What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. 25 As 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.”

27 Isaiah 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; 28 for the Lord will execute His word on the earth, [o]thoroughly and [p]quickly.” 29 And just as Isaiah foretold,

Unless the Lord of [q]Sabaoth had left to us a [r]posterity,
We would have become like Sodom, and would have [s]resembled Gomorrah.”

30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is [t]by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it [u]by faith, but as though it were [v]by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written,

Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,
And he who believes in Him will not be [w]disappointed.”

Footnotes:

  1. Romans 9:3 Lit pray
  2. Romans 9:5 I.e. the Messiah
  3. Romans 9:5 Lit unto the ages
  4. Romans 9:7 Lit seed
  5. Romans 9:7 Lit in
  6. Romans 9:7 Lit seed
  7. Romans 9:8 Lit seed
  8. Romans 9:11 Lit remain
  9. Romans 9:11 Lit from
  10. Romans 9:11 Lit from
  11. Romans 9:17 Lit in
  12. Romans 9:21 Lit for honor
  13. Romans 9:21 Lit for dishonor
  14. Romans 9:22 Lit But
  15. Romans 9:28 Lit finishing it
  16. Romans 9:28 Lit cutting it short
  17. Romans 9:29 I.e. Hosts
  18. Romans 9:29 Lit seed
  19. Romans 9:29 Lit been made like
  20. Romans 9:30 Lit out of
  21. Romans 9:32 Lit out of
  22. Romans 9:32 Lit out of
  23. Romans 9:33 Lit put to shame
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Romans 9 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

I am speaking the truth — as one who belongs to the Messiah, I do not lie; and also bearing witness is my conscience, governed by the Ruach HaKodesh: my grief is so great, the pain in my heart so constant, that I could wish myself actually under God’s curse and separated from the Messiah, if it would help my brothers, my own flesh and blood, the people of Isra’el! They were made God’s children, the Sh’khinah has been with them, the covenants are theirs, likewise the giving of the Torah, the Temple service and the promises; the Patriarchs are theirs; and from them, as far as his physical descent is concerned, came the Messiah, who is over all. Praised be Adonai for ever! Amen.

But the present condition of Isra’el does not mean that the Word of God has failed.

For not everyone from Isra’el is truly part of Isra’el; indeed, not all the descendants are seed of Avraham;[a] rather, “What is to be called your ‘seed’ will be in Yitz’chak.”[b] In other words, it is not the physical children who are children of God, but the children the promise refers to who are considered seed. For this is what the promise said: “At the time set, I will come; and Sarah will have a son.”[c] 10 And even more to the point is the case of Rivkah; for both her children were conceived in a single act with Yitz’chak, our father; 11 and before they were born, before they had done anything at all, either good or bad (so that God’s plan might remain a matter of his sovereign choice, not dependent on what they did, but on God, who does the calling), 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.”[d] 13 This accords with where it is written, “Ya‘akov I loved, but Esav I hated.”[e]

14 So are we to say, “It is unjust for God to do this”? Heaven forbid! 15 For to Moshe he says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will pity whom I pity.”[f] 16 Thus it doesn’t depend on human desires or efforts, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Tanakh says to Pharaoh, “It is for this very reason that I raised you up, so that in connection with you I might demonstrate my power, so that my name might be known throughout the world.”[g] 18 So then, he has mercy on whom he wants, and he hardens whom he wants.

19 But you will say to me, “Then why does he still find fault with us? After all, who resists his will?” 20 Who are you, a mere human being, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to him who formed it, “Why did you make me this way?”[h] 21 Or has the potter no right to make from a given lump of clay this pot for honorable use and that one for dishonorable? 22 Now what if God, even though he was quite willing to demonstrate his anger and make known his power, patiently put up with people who deserved punishment and were ripe for destruction? 23 What if he did this in order to make known the riches of his glory to those who are the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — 24 that is, to us, whom he called not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hoshea,

“Those who were not my people I will call my people;
her who was not loved I will call loved;
26 and in the very place where they were told,
‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called sons of the living God!”[i]

27 But Yesha‘yahu, referring to Isra’el, cries out,

“Even if the number of people in Isra’el is as large
as the number of grains of sand by the sea,
only a remnant will be saved.
28 For Adonai will fulfill his word on the earth
with certainty and without delay.”[j]

29 Also, as Yesha‘yahu said earlier,

“If Adonai-Tzva’ot had not left us a seed,
we would have become like S’dom,
we would have resembled ‘Amora.”[k]

30 So, what are we to say? This: that Gentiles, even though they were not striving for righteousness, have obtained righteousness; but it is a righteousness grounded in trusting! 31 However, Isra’el, even though they kept pursuing a Torah that offers righteousness, did not reach what the Torah offers. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue righteousness as being grounded in trusting but as if it were grounded in doing legalistic works. They stumbled over the stone that makes people stumble.[l] 33 As the Tanakh puts it,

“Look, I am laying in Tziyon
a stone that will make people stumble,
a rock that will trip them up.
But he who rests his trust on it
will not be humiliated.”[m]

Footnotes:

  1. Romans 9:7 2 Chronicles 20:7, Psalm 105:6
  2. Romans 9:7 Genesis 21:12
  3. Romans 9:9 Genesis 18:14
  4. Romans 9:12 Genesis 25:23
  5. Romans 9:13 Malachi 1:2–3
  6. Romans 9:15 Exodus 33:19
  7. Romans 9:17 Exodus 9:16
  8. Romans 9:20 Isaiah 29:16, 45:9
  9. Romans 9:26 Hosea 2:25 (23), 2:1(1:10)
  10. Romans 9:28 Isaiah 10:22–23
  11. Romans 9:29 Isaiah 1:9
  12. Romans 9:32 Isaiah 8:14
  13. Romans 9:33 Isaiah 28:16
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Romans 9 The Message (MSG)

God Is Calling His People

1-5 At the same time, you need to know that I carry with me at all times a huge sorrow. It’s an enormous pain deep within me, and I’m never free of it. I’m not exaggerating—Christ and the Holy Spirit are my witnesses. It’s the Israelites . . . If there were any way I could be cursed by the Messiah so they could be blessed by him, I’d do it in a minute. They’re my family. I grew up with them. They had everything going for them—family, glory, covenants, revelation, worship, promises, to say nothing of being the race that produced the Messiah, the Christ, who is God over everything, always. Oh, yes!

6-9 Don’t suppose for a moment, though, that God’s Word has malfunctioned in some way or other. The problem goes back a long way. From the outset, not all Israelites of the flesh were Israelites of the spirit. It wasn’t Abraham’s sperm that gave identity here, but God’s promise. Remember how it was put: “Your family will be defined by Isaac”? That means that Israelite identity was never racially determined by sexual transmission, but it was God-determined by promise. Remember that promise, “When I come back next year at this time, Sarah will have a son”?

10-13 And that’s not the only time. To Rebecca, also, a promise was made that took priority over genetics. When she became pregnant by our one-of-a-kind ancestor, Isaac, and her babies were still innocent in the womb—incapable of good or bad—she received a special assurance from God. What God did in this case made it perfectly plain that his purpose is not a hit-or-miss thing dependent on what we do or don’t do, but a sure thing determined by his decision, flowing steadily from his initiative. God told Rebecca, “The firstborn of your twins will take second place.” Later that was turned into a stark epigram: “I loved Jacob; I hated Esau.”

14-18 Is that grounds for complaining that God is unfair? Not so fast, please. God told Moses, “I’m in charge of mercy. I’m in charge of compassion.” Compassion doesn’t originate in our bleeding hearts or moral sweat, but in God’s mercy. The same point was made when God said to Pharaoh, “I picked you as a bit player in this drama of my salvation power.” All we’re saying is that God has the first word, initiating the action in which we play our part for good or ill.

19 Are you going to object, “So how can God blame us for anything since he’s in charge of everything? If the big decisions are already made, what say do we have in it?”

20-33 Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well:

I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies;
    I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.
In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!”
    they’re calling you “God’s living children.”

Isaiah maintained this same emphasis:

If each grain of sand on the seashore were numbered
    and the sum labeled “chosen of God,”
They’d be numbers still, not names;
    salvation comes by personal selection.
God doesn’t count us; he calls us by name.
    Arithmetic is not his focus.

Isaiah had looked ahead and spoken the truth:

If our powerful God
    had not provided us a legacy of living children,
We would have ended up like ghost towns,
    like Sodom and Gomorrah.

How can we sum this up? All those people who didn’t seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:

Careful! I’ve put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion,
    a stone you can’t get around.
But the stone is me! If you’re looking for me,
    you’ll find me on the way, not in the way.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

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