Romans 9:8
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.
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(8) They which are the children.—The Apostle explains this restriction in a spiritual sense. Mere natural descent gives no claim to membership in the theocracy.

Of the promisei.e., not merely “promised children,” but “children born through the miraculous agency of the promise;” the promise is regarded as being possessed of creative power. (Comp. Romans 4:18-20.)

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.They which are the children of the flesh - The natural descendants.

These are not the children of God - Are not of necessity the adopted children of God; or are not so in virtue of their descent merely. This was in opposition to one of the most settled and deeply cherished opinions of the Jews. They supposed that the mere fact of being a Jew, entitled a man to the blessings of the covenant, and to be regarded as a child of God. But the apostle shows them that it was not by their natural descent that these spiritual privileges were granted; that they were not conferred on people simply from the fact that they were Jews; and that consequently those who were not Jews might become interested in those spiritual blessings.

But the children of the promise - The descendants of Abraham on whom the promised blessings would be bestowed. The sense is, that God at first contemplated a distinction among the descendants of Abraham, and intended to confine his blessings to such as he chose; that is, to those to whom the promise particularly appertained, to the descendants of Isaac. The argument of the apostle is, that "the principle" was thus established that a distinction might be made among those who were Jews; and as that distinction had been made in former times, so it might be under the Messiah.

Are counted - Are regarded, or reckoned. God reckons things as they are; and therefore designed that they should be his true children.

As the seed - The spiritual children of God; the partakers of his mercy and salvation. This refers, doubtless, to spiritual privileges and to salvation; and therefore has relation not to nations as such, but to individuals.

7-9. Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children—"Not in the line of mere fleshly descent from Abraham does the election run; else Ishmael, Hagar's child, and even Keturah's children, would be included, which they were not."

but—the true election are such of Abraham's seed as God unconditionally chooses, as exemplified in that promise.

in Isaac shall thy seed be called—(Ge 21:12).

q.d. That I may speak more plainly, all those that are the children of Abraham according to the flesh, are not therefore the adopted children of God; it is not their blood, but their faith, must make them such. There are some of Abraham’s seed, that are selected from the rest, to whom the promise was made, who are therefore called

children of the promise; and of this sort are all they who are born after the Spirit, ( as Isaac is said to be, Galatians 4:29), whether Jews or Gentiles. The sense of this verse is fully expressed, Galatians 3:8,14,29: see Galatians 4:28. 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; "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, , "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", Genesis 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", Galatians 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", Galatians 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.

{5} That is, They which are the children of the {k} flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the {l} promise are counted for the seed.

(5) A general application of the former proof or example.

(k) Who are born of Abraham by the course of nature.

(l) Who are born by virtue of the promise.

Romans 9:8 f. τοῦτʼ ἔστιν: the meaning of this action of God is now made clear. It signifies that not mere bodily descent from Abraham makes one a child of God—that was never the case, not even in Abraham’s time; it is the children of the promise who are reckoned a seed to Abraham, for the word in virtue of which Isaac, the true son and heir, was born, was a word of promise. He was born, to use the language of the Gospel, from above; and something analogous to this is necessary, whenever a man (even a descendant of Abraham) claims to be a child of God and an heir of His kingdom. From Galatians 4:28 (Now we, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise) we see that the relation to God in question here is one open to Gentiles as well as Jews: if we are Christ’s, then we too are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to promise. The argumentative suggestion in Romans 9:6-9 is that just as God discriminated at the first between the children of Abraham, so He is discriminating still; the fact that many do not receive the Gospel no more proves that the promise has failed than the fact that God chose Isaac only and set aside Ishmael.8. That is, &c.] We may paraphrase this verse, after the Gr.; “That is,” (in view of both the Romans 9:6-7,) “the children of God” (it being implied in the Promise that Abraham’s children should be also His,) “are not the mere bodily offspring of Abraham, no more and no fewer; rather, the children defined by special promise are taken to be the whole posterity in question.”

children of the promise] Perhaps in this phrase the Promise is quasi-personified; so St Chrysostom in Meyer. But see Luke 20:36 for a somewhat similar case. There the phrase “children of the resurrection” must mean “persons who partake resurrection glory;” but the special form of words is modified by the phrase “children of God” just preceding. So probably here the phrase “children of the promise,” for “persons defined by the promise,” is suggested by “children of the flesh” just preceding.Romans 9:8. Τουτέστιν) The apostle, using boldness in speaking, puts that is for therefore.—ταῦτα) הם, that is, are. The substantive pronoun for the substantive verb; so οὗτοι, these, Romans 9:6 : and frequently οὗτος this, Romans 9:9. The mode of expression in this chapter becomingly assumes the Hebrew idiom, so Romans 9:28, etc.Verses 8, 9. - 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 seed. For the word of promise is this, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son (Genesis 18:10). In other words, it is not in virtue of mere carnal descent, but of the promise, that any are so counted; mere carnal descent establishes no claim. It is to be observed that in the first recorded promises to Abraham (Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:5; Genesis 17:7) there was no restriction; and so through Ishmael, who is also called Abraham's seed (Genesis 21:13), as well as through Isaac, the fulfilment might have been. But the subsequent promise (Genesis 17:19, 21; Genesis 18:10, 14) limited it to Isaac; which limiting promise is, therefore, in ver. 9, referred to. With τέκνα τοῦ Θεοῦ in ver. 8 Compare ἡ υἱοθεσίαα (ver. 4), and also Isaiah 63:16. The apostle may have been led to use the expression here in view of the spiritual sonship to God of Christians (cf. Romans 8:15, etc.)which was typified and prepared for by the υἱοθεσία of the chosen seed. A still further limitation of "the children of the promise" is next referred to; and one still more telling for the apostle's argument. It might be said that Ishmael was not, even carnally, the true seed, as being born, not of the wife, but of the bondwoman; or perhaps that he had forfeited any claim he might have had by his proved unworthiness (Genesis 21:9, etc.). But Esau and Jacob were twin children, not only of the same patriarch (ἐξ ἑνοι`ς), but also of the same wedded wife; and yet one was chosen and the other rejected, and this even before birth; so that, as the selection was not due to carnal descent, so neither could it be due to proved desert. Thus by this second consideration is disposed of the Jew's assertion of an indefeasible claim to inheritance of the promises on the ground of his boasted works, as by the other is disposed of his claim on the ground of his race. St. Paul's argument to the Jews of his own day would be - You cannot set up a claim to be all of you the necessary inheritors of the promises for all time on the ground either of your carnal descent or of your works, since the selection of Israel himself did not depend on either of these grounds; nor can you say that my position (viz. that Christian believers, to the exclusion of most of you, are now the true inheritors of the promises) implies unfaithfulness in God to his ancient promises; for it is in accordance with the principle on which, according to your own Scriptures, he fulfilled of old his promises to the patriarchs. St. Paul, however, is not to be understood here as writing with a direct polemical intention, but rather as discussing a problem which had at one time perplexed himself, and which seemed to him to call for solution. That is

The Old-Testament saying amounts to this.

Children of the promise

Originating from the divine promise. See Galatians 4:23.

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