Romans 9:10
And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
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(10, 11) Nor was the restriction and special selection confined to the case of Abraham alone. It also appeared when Rebecca bore sons to Isaac. It was indeed pure selection. The children themselves had done nothing to make a preference be given to one over the other. There was no merit in the case. The object of the declaration was to ratify the divine electing purpose which had already chosen Jacob to be the inheritor of the Messianic blessings.

Here we have the doctrine of election and predestination stated in a very unqualified and uncompromising form. And it does indeed necessarily follow from one train of thought. However much we lay stress on freewill, still actions are the result of character—the will itself is a part of character; and character is born in us. Of the two elements which go to determine action, outward circumstances, and inward disposition, neither can be said strictly to be made by the man himself. If we follow this train of thought, then it would certainly appear that God, or the chain of natural causes set in motion and directed by God, made him what he is. In other words, he is elected and predetermined to a certain line of conduct. This is the logic of one set of inferences. On the other hand, the logic of the other set of inferences is just as strong—that man is free. There is an opposition irreconcilable to us with our present means of judging. We can only take the one proposition as qualified by the other.

9:6-13 The rejection of the Jews by the gospel dispensation, did not break God's promise to the patriarchs. The promises and threatenings shall be fulfilled. Grace does not run in the blood; nor are saving benefits always found with outward church privileges. Not only some of Abraham's seed were chosen, and others not, but God therein wrought according to the counsel of his own will. God foresaw both Esau and Jacob as born in sin, by nature children of wrath even as others. If left to themselves they would have continued in sin through life; but for wise and holy reasons, not made known to us, he purposed to change Jacob's heart, and to leave Esau to his perverseness. This instance of Esau and Jacob throws light upon the Divine conduct to the fallen race of man. The whole Scripture shows the difference between the professed Christian and the real believer. Outward privileges are bestowed on many who are not the children of God. There is, however, full encouragement to diligent use of the means of grace which God has appointed.And not only this - Not only is the principle of making a distinction among the natural descendants of Abraham thus settled by the promise, but it is still further seen and illustrated in the birth of the two sons of Isaac. He had shown that the principle of thus making a distinction among the posterity of Abraham was recognised in the original promise, thus proving that all the descendants of Abraham were not of course to be saved; and he now proceeds to show that the principle was recognised in the case of his posterity in the family of Isaac. And he shows that it is not according to any natural principles that the selection was made; that he not only made a distinction between Jacob and Esau, but that he did it according to his good pleasure, choosing the younger to be the object of his favor, and rejecting the older, who, according to the custom of the times, was supposed to be entitled to special honor and rights. And in order to prove that this was done according to his own pleasure, he shows that the distinction was made before they were born; before they had formed any character; and, consequently, in such a way that it could not be pretended that it was in consequence of any works which they had performed.

But when Rebecca - The wife of Isaac; see Genesis 25:21, Genesis 25:23.

10-13. And not only this; but when Rebecca, &c.—It might be thought that there was a natural reason for preferring the child of Sarah, as being Abraham's true and first wife, both to the child of Hagar, Sarah's maid, and to the children of Keturah, his second wife. But there could be no such reason in the case of Rebecca, Isaac's only wife; for the choice of her son Jacob was the choice of one of two sons by the same mother and of the younger in preference to the elder, and before either of them was born, and consequently before either had done good or evil to be a ground of preference: and all to show that the sole ground of distinction lay in the unconditional choice of God—"not of works, but of Him that calleth." And not only this; some read it, And not only she; the particle this is not in the Greek.

When Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac: this instance is added, because there might be some objection against the former; as if there were some reason why God chose Isaac, and refused Ishmael. Isaac was born of a free-woman, and when Abraham was uncircumcised: besides, Ishmael no sooner came to years, but he showed some tokens of perverseness, and of a wicked spirit. Therefore, in this and the three following verses, he gives another, which was beyond all exception; and that is in Esau and Jacob, betwixt whom there was no disparity, either in birth or in works: they had both one and the same mother; Rebecca conceived with them at one and the same time, and that by no other person than our father Isaac; and yet the one of these is chosen, and the other refused. Tills now was an undeniable proof, that the promise belongs not to all the children of Abraham, or of Isaac, according to the flesh; all the seed of neither are the children of the promise.

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", Romans 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.

{7} And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

(7) Another strong and persuasive proof taken from the example of Esau and Jacob, who were both born of the same Isaac, who was the son of promise of one mother, and were born at the same time, and not at different times as Ishmael and Isaac were: and yet nonetheless, as Esau was cast off, only Jacob was chosen: and that before their birth, that neither any goodness of Jacob's might be thought to be the cause of his election, neither any wickedness of Esau to be the cause of his casting away.

Romans 9:10. A fresh and still more decisive proof (for it might be objected that, of Abraham’s children, Sarah’s son only was legitimate) that only the divine disposal constituted the succession to Abraham which was true and valid in the sight of God. Comp. Barnab. 13. The more definite notion of promise, which was retained in the preceding, is here expanded into the more general one of the appointment of the divine will as made known.

οὐ μόνον δέ] See generally on Romans 5:3. What is supplied must be something that is gathered from the preceding, that fits the nominative Ῥεβέκκα, and that answers as regards sense to the following ἐῤῥέθη αὐτῇ. Hence, because τῇ Σάῤῥᾳ precedes, and with ἀλλὰ καί another mother’s name is introduced, we must supply, as subject, not Abraham (Augustine, Beza, Calvin, Reithmayr, van Hengel; comp. also Hofmann, who however thinks any completing supplement useless), but Σάῤῥα; and moreover, not indeed the definite λόγον ἐπαγγελίας εἶχεν or ἐπηγγελμένη ἦν (Vatablus, Fritzsche, Winer, Krehl, Baumgarten-Crusius), but the more general λόγον or ῥῆμα Θεοῦ εἶχεν, which is suitable to the subsequent ἐῤῥέθη, as well as to the contents of the sayings adduced in Romans 9:12-13 : “But not only had Sarah a saying of God, but also Rebecca, etc.” We must therefore throw aside the manifold arbitrary supplements suggested, some of which are inconsistent with the construction, not suiting the nominative Ῥεβ., as e.g.: “non solum id, quod jam diximus, documentum est ejus, quod inferre volumus; Rebecca idem nos docet” (so Grotius, also Seb. Schmid, Semler, Ch. Schmid, Cramer, Rosenmüller, and several others; comp. Tholuck and Philippi); or: τοῦτο ἦν (Rückert, de Wette), so that the nominative Ῥεβ. forms an anacoluthon, and the period begun enters with Romans 9:11 upon quite another form (how forced, seeing that Romans 9:11-12 in themselves stand in perfectly regular construction!). It is only the semblance of an objection against our view, that not Sarah, but Abraham, received the word of promise, Romans 9:9; for Sarah was, by the nature of the case, and also according to the representation of Genesis, the co-recipient of the promise, and was mixed up in the conversation of God with Abraham in reference to it (Genesis 18:13-15); so that Paul, without incurring the charge of contradicting history, might have no scruple in stating the contrast as between the mothers, as he has done.

ἐξ ἑνὸς κοίτην ἔχουσα] Who had cohabitation of one (man), the effect of which was the conception of the twin children. The contextual importance of this addition does not consist in its denying that there was a breach of conjugal fidelity, but in its making palpably apparent the invalidity—for the history of salvation—of bodily descent. She was pregnant by one man, and yet how different was the divine determination with respect to the two children!

ἐξ ἑνός] masculine, without anything being supplied; for Ἰς. τ. π. ἡμ. is in apposition. κοίτη, couch, bed, often marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4), is found seldom in the classical writers (Eur. Med. 151, Hippol. 154; not Anacr. 23, see Valck. Schol. II. p. 594), with whom εὐνή and λέχος often have the same sense, euphemistically used as equivalent to concubitus, but frequently in the LXX. See Schleusner, Thes. III. p. 347. Comp. Wis 3:13; Wis 3:16.

τοῦ πατρ. ἡμ.] from the Jewish consciousness; for the discourse has primarily to do with the Jews. Comp. Romans 4:1. If Isaac were to be designated as the father of Christians (Reiche, Fritzsche), the context must have necessarily and definitely indicated this, since believers are Abraham’s (spiritual) children. We may add that Ἰς. τοῦ πατρ. ἡμῶν is not without a significant bearing on the argument, inasmuch as it contributes to make us feel the independence of the determination of the divine will on the theocratic descent, however legitimate.

Romans 9:10 ff. But the argument can be made more decisive. A Jewish opponent might say, “Ishmael was an illegitimate child, who naturally had no rights as against Isaac; we are the legitimate descendants of the patriarch, and our right to the inheritance is indefeasible”. To this the Apostle replies in Romans 9:10-13. Not only did God make the distinction already referred to, but in the case of Isaac’s children, where there seemed no ground for making any distinction whatever, He distinguished again, and said, The elder shall serve the younger. Jacob and Esau had one father, one mother, and were twin sons; the only ground on which either could have been preferred was that of priority of birth, and this was disregarded by God; Esau, the elder, was rejected, and Jacob, the younger, was made heir of the promises. Further, this was done by God of His sovereign freedom: the decisive word was spoken to their mother while they were as yet unborn and had achieved neither good nor evil. Claims as of right, therefore, made against God, are futile, whether they are based on descent or on works. There is no way in which they can be established; and, as we have just seen, God acts in entire disregard of them. God’s purpose to save men, and make them heirs of His kingdom—a purpose which is characterised as κατʼ ἐκλογήν, or involving a choice—is not determined at all by consideration of such claims as the Jews put forward. In forming it, and carrying it out, God acts with perfect freedom. In the case in question His action in regard to Jacob and Esau agrees with His word in the prophet Malachi: Jacob I loved but Esau I hated; and further than this we cannot go. To avoid misapprehending this, however, it is necessary to keep the Apostle’s purpose in view. He wishes to show that God’s promise has not broken down, though many of the children of Abraham have no part in its fulfilment in Christ. He does so by showing that there has always been a distinction, among the descendants of the patriarchs, between those who have merely the natural connection to boast of, and those who are the Israel of God; and, as against Jewish pretensions, he shows at the same time that this distinction can be traced to nothing but God’s sovereignty. It is not of works, but of Him Who effectually calls men. We may say, if we please, that sovereignty in this sense is “just a name for what is unrevealed of God” (T. Erskine, The Brazen Serpent, p. 259), but though it is unrevealed we must not conceive of it as arbitrary—i.e., as non-rational or non-moral. It is the sovereignty of God, and God is not exlex; He is a law to Himself—a law all love and holiness and truth—in all His purposes towards men. So Calvin: “ubi mentionem gloriæ Dei audis, illic justitiam cogita”. Paul has mentioned in an earlier chapter, among the notes of true religion, the exclusion of boasting (Romans 3:27); and in substance that is the argument he is using here. No Jewish birth, no legal works, can give a man a claim which God is bound to honour; and no man urging such claims can say that God’s word has become of no effect though his claims are disallowed, and he gets no part in the inheritance of God’s people.

οὐ μόνον δέ: cf. Romans 5:11, Romans 8:23 = Not only is this so, but a more striking and convincing illustration can be given. ἀλλὰ καὶ Ῥεβέκκα: the sentence thus begun is never finished, but the sense is continued in Romans 9:12. Ἰσαὰκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν: Paul speaks here out of his own consciousness as a Jew, addressing himself to a problem which greatly exercised other Jews; and calls Isaac “father” as the person from whom the inheritance was to come.

10. And not only this] Here a still stronger example of sovereign choice occurs. Isaac and Ishmael had only one parent in common; Jacob and Esau had both. In the former case, the choice of Isaac was declared only after Ishmael’s birth and childhood; in the latter, the choice of Jacob was declared while both brothers were in the womb.—The Greek construction in Romans 9:10-12 is irregular, but perfectly clear.

by one] In contrast to the divided parentage of Abraham’s sons.

our father Isaac] Here named with emphasis, as shewing that even within the inner circle of promise (“In Isaac shall thy seed, &c.,”) there was still an election.

Romans 9:10. Οὐ μόνον δὲ, and not only so) That is: it is wonderful, what I have said; what follows is still more wonderful. Ishmael under Abraham, Esau under Isaac, and those, who resembled Ishmael and Esau under Israel, rebelled.—Ῥεβέκκα, Rebecca) viz., ἐστὶν, is, i.e. occurs in this place. She, the mother, and presently after Isaac the father, are named.—ἐξ ἑνὸς, by one) Isaac was now separated from Ishmael, and yet under Isaac himself, in whom Abraham’s seed is called, Esau also is separated from Jacob. Ishmael and Isaac were born not of the same mother, nor at the same time,—and Ishmael was the son too of a bondmaid, Isaac of a free woman. Jacob and Esau were born both of the same mother, and she a free woman, and at the same time.—κοίτην) so LXX. for שכבה; it often occurs, e.g. Leviticus 18:20, οὐ δώσεις κοίτην σπέρματος, said of the man, which is opposed to the phrase ἔχειν κοίτην, of the woman in this passage.

Verse 10. - But not only this; but Rebecca also, when she had conceived by one, even by Isaac our father. The sentence thus begun is not formally completed, being taken up - after the parenthetical ver. 11 - by "It was said unto her" in ver. 12. Romans 9:10And not only so

The thought to be supplied is: Not only have we an example of the election of a son of Abraham by one woman, and a rejection of his son by another, but also of the election and rejection of the children of the same woman.

By one

Though of one father, a different destiny was divinely appointed for each of the twins. Hence only the divine disposal constitutes the true and valid succession, and not the bodily descent.

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