God’s Sovereign Choice, Rom. 9:1-29
In chapters 9-11 Paul launches into the deep end of theological study. The background is this. The Jews, the nation of Israel, had long enjoyed the status of being God’s elect nation, his chosen people. With the coming of the Messiah/Christ, Gentiles were included. As the record of Acts indicates, salvation through Jesus is offered to Jew and Gentile alike, “to all creation” (Mark 16:15; Acts 2:38-39). Salvation has always been a matter of God’s grace along with man’s faith and obedience. The New Testament message emphasizes man’s willing acceptance of God’s message of salvation. Anyone who believes and obeys Christ will be saved.
The Jews had often broken God’s covenant, yet they still expected to be included in his plan of salvation, regardless of their unbelief and disobedience. The inclusion of the Gentiles was an insult to the proud, exclusive Jewish mind. “God chose us. What part do these nations have in the plan of salvation?” Paul often includes the thoughts of objectors, whether real or imagined, in his discussion of the way to salvation. The gospel was first preached to the Jews, but Paul often turned quickly to the Gentiles, who were more eager to hear the gospel.
The Jewish nation of the 1st century was not ready or willing to accept the identity and the message of Jesus Christ. When John the Baptist worked to prepare the way for Jesus, he chastised the Jews for their pompous stance. As they came to inspect his work near the Jordan, John warned them not to say, “We have Abraham as our father” (Matt. 3:9). Physical Jews were a multitude. God could make more from rocks if he wished. Those who truly trusted God were few. They stood in need of the gospel as much as the Gentiles did.
God is sovereign. He does what he pleases, and his good pleasure is to save those who love him and obey his will. God acts according to his nature and his will. He is almighty, and answers to no one. God does not need and does not take counsel from anyone regarding his creation and his plan for salvation. He makes no mistakes, and everything he does is good. God is flawless, perfect in his judgments and actions. His plan of salvation through Jesus is perfect.
Paul expertly refers to God’s Old Testament actions to demonstrate his sovereign and flawless choices. In physical matters, God was arbitrary. He chose one son of Abraham as the child of covenant promise—Isaac. He raised up and then defeated Pharaoh of Egypt to demonstrate to the world that he would protect his people. Yet in spiritual matters, God always gave mankind a choice. God determined that we could be saved only through obedience to Jesus Christ.
God had not been untrue to Israel. They had been untrue to him. Mankind has always been divided between those who trust God and those who do not. Many physical Israelites were unfaithful. As the Gospel Age arrived, some Jews would fulfill the purpose of God; many would not. As the great potter works with human clay, some will be molded to his will but multitudes will not. Salvation is God’s great and eternal project. It is our choice whether to let God make us a vessel of value or one that crumbles. What shall we say to the potter?
My comments are not an inspired commentary, but rather a few words to draw attention to the background, context, and dynamic situation of the book of Acts. May God bless your reading of His Word. T.C.