The Epistle of ROMANS
*** It is important to note that Romans Chapters 9, 10 and 11 are a parenthetical statement (i.e. they are in parenthesis which is a figure of speech indicating an EXPLANATION.)
1. (I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.
Literal: New English Translation -- I am speaking the truth as a Christian, and my own conscience, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, assures me it is no lie.
2. That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
Literal: That I have great heaviness (grief) and continual and unceasing sorrow (pain of body and mind, distress) in my heart.
3. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
Literal: For I used to pray that myself were separated from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
Paul's kinsman were the Israelites as is stated clearly in verse four.
4. Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
Literal: Who are Israelites? To whom the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants (agreements, testaments), and the giving of the law, and the divine service, and the promises?
New English Translation -- They are Israelites: they were made God's sons; theirs is the splendor of the divine presence, theirs the covenants, the law, the temple worship, and the promises. [This was addressed to the Israelites.]
5. Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
Literal: Whose are the fathers (in the Word), and of whom as concerning the flesh? Christ. Who is over all? God blessed forever. Amen.
New English Translation -- Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them, in natural descent, sprang the Messiah. May God, supreme above all; be blessed forever! Amen.
You can see the drastic changes in the understanding of the Word that can come about when the punctuation is changed. Remember that all punctuation was added by man. And don't ever forget that God will help you to understand any difficult verses -- especially those that you need to understand.
6. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
Literal: New English Translation -- It is impossible that the Word of God should have proved false. For not all descendants of Israel are truly Israel:
7. Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
Literal: Nor, because they are Abraham's offspring, are they all his true children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
This is from Genesis 21: 12b . . . . . . . . "for in Isaac shall thy seed be called."
New English Translation -- Through the line of Isaac your descendants shall be traced.
It means nothing just because someone is a descendant of Abraham but is not born again. An example of this situation is given in the gospel of John:
John 8: 37, 38, 39 -- I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
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.
Literal: That is, the children of the flesh (not born again and walking by the five senses) are not the children of God; it is the children born through God's promise who are reckoned as Abraham's descendants (seed).
The promise was that God would send a redeemer and that has happened and that whosoever would believe on him would be saved. We are born through or as a result of that promise by confessing Jesus Christ as Lord in our life and believing that God raised him from the dead.
Romans 4: 16 -- Therefore it is of faith (believing), that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith (believing) of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
9. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.
Literal: For of promise, the word is this: At the opportune point of time, I will come, and there shall be to Sarah a son.
Remember that 'opportune time' -- the exact point in time when a thing should be done.
10 - 13 -- 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 calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
Literal: 10 – 13 New English Translation -- But that is not all, for Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our ancestor Isaac; and yet, in order that God's selective purpose might stand, based not upon men's deeds but upon the call of God, she was told, even before they were born, when as yet they had done nothing, good or ill, 'The elder shall be servant to the younger'; and that accords with the text of Scripture, 'Jacob have I loved and Esau I hated.'
14. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
Literal: What then shall we say? Is there unrighteousness with God? By no means.
15. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Literal: For He (God) says to Moses, I will show mercy to whomsoever I show mercy, and I will feel compassion on whomsoever I feel compassion.
The word 'mercy' means striving to relieve the distressed. This could be combined with forgiveness. The word 'compassion' means to have a sense of unhappiness for the ills of others; to have a subjective distress at witnessing misfortune. It is quite a blessing to have God show mercy and feel compassion for you.
16. So then it is not of him that [who] willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Note: There are a number of helps here concerning the understanding of this Scripture.
Literal: The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament -- So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God who shows mercy.
Literal: New English Translation -- Thus it does not depend on man's will or effort, but on God's mercy.
Figures of Speech Used In The Bible by E. W. Bullinger not only helps us with the understanding of the verse, but uses the past history of the Word concerning this subject to do so. The figure of speech used here is an 'ellipsis' named BRACHYLOGIA and it means brevity of speech or writing, in which the words are omitted chiefly for the sake of brevity (i.e. the quality of being brief); which words may easily be supplied from the nature of the subject. With this in mind, now to verse sixteen (16) according to Figures Of Speech:
Literal: Figures Of Speech Used In The Bible -- So then (election is) not of him who willeth (as Isaac wished to bless Esau according to the will of the flesh), nor of him that runneth (as Esau ran for venison that his father might eat, and bless him), but of God who showeth mercy.
17. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
Literal: For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, Even for this very purpose, I have raised you up or made you to stand, to exhibit my power (dunamis) in my dealings with you, and that my name might be made known in all the earth.
Exodus 9: 16 -- And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.
Unger's Bible Dictionary defines 'pharaoh' as being the title of Egyptian kings.
New English Translation -- Exodus 9: 16 -- I have let you live only to show you my power and to spread my fame throughout the land.
18. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
Literal: So then to whom he will he shows mercy (relieving the miserable), and whom he will he hardens (to make dry, hard, or stiff).
New English Translation -- Thus he not only shows mercy as he chooses, but also makes men stubborn as he chooses.
19. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
Literal: Thou wilt say then to me, Why does He yet find fault or why does God blame a man? For who has resisted (either in words or deeds or both) His will or the purpose of Him?
20. Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Literal: The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament -- Yea, rather, O man, who art thou that answerest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why me madest thou thus?
New English Translation -- Who are you, sir, to answer God back? Can the pot speak to the potter and say, 'Why did you make me like this?’
Isaiah 29: 16 -- Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?
Henry made the Ford -- the Ford did not make Henry. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God in the Spirit. Remember God has a purpose for everything that is happening.
21. Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
Literal: Or has not the potter power or authority over the clay? Is he not free to make out of the same lump (a kneaded mass of potter's clay or dough) one vessel (implement, utensil, instrument) to honor or to be treasured, and another to dishonor?
New English Translation -- Surely the potter can do what he likes with the clay. Is he not free to make out of the same lump two vessels, one to be treasured, the other for common use?
II Timothy 2: 20 -- But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
22. What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
New English Translation -- But what if God, desiring to exhibit his retribution (or although He had the will to exhibit) at work and to make His power known, tolerated very patiently those vessels which were objects of retribution due for destruction,
23. And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Literal: And did so in order to make known the riches of His glory and brilliance upon vessels which were objects of His mercy, which from the first (made ready beforehand) had been prepared for his glory, splendor, and brilliance.
You were chosen from before the foundations of the world. According to the Lexicon, another occurrence of this Greek word for 'prepare afore' is in Ephesians.
Ephesians 2: 10 -- For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. [emphasis added]
God had first, in His foreknowledge, prepared us for His glory. Also, remember what the vessels of wrath are as compared to the vessels of mercy. The vessels of wrath or dishonor (impious and reprobate) are fitted or due for destruction while the vessels of mercy or honor have been prepared for His glory -- this is, of course, referring to the born again believers. This is a great example of how the Word of God interprets itself in the context.
24. Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Literal: Such vessels are we whom also he called not only from among the Judeans, but also from among the nations (Gentiles -- those who are neither of Israel or the Church of God)?
25. As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
Literal: As also in Hosea he says, Those who were not my people, I will call my people, and those who were not my beloved, my beloved.
The word 'beloved' means giving decided preference to one object or persons out of many, most often implying regard and satisfaction, rather than affection.
26. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.
Literal: And it shall come to pass in the very place where they were told 'you are no people of mine', there they shall be called the children of the living God.
27. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:
Literal: Esaias also crieth concerning Israel making this proclamation, "Though the number of the children be as the sand of the sea, a remnant (the less of two parts) shall be saved."
New English Translation -- Though the Israelites be countless as the sands of the sea, only a remnant shall be saved.
28. For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
Literal: For he will finish the work (the account), and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
New English Translation -- For the Lord's sentence on the land will be summary and final.
29. And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.
Literal: And as Esaias said before: If the Lord of Hosts (Sabaoth-Greek spelling) had not left us the mere germ/seed of a nation, we should have become like Sodom, and no better than Gomorrha.
30. What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.
Literal: What shall we say then? That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness and made no effort to attain it, nevertheless achieved righteousness by their faith [pistis -- BELIEVING].
31. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
Literal: But Israel made great efforts after a law of righteousness but were never able to attain it.
32. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
Literal: Why was this so? Because their efforts were not based on faith (believing) but by the works of the law -- on deeds. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone.
They were trying to work for righteousness as compared to the Gentiles who BELIEVED for it, and attained it.
33. As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Literal: As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion (Zion) a stone to trip over, a rock of offence, but whosoever believeth on him (Jesus Christ) shall not be ashamed.
Sion is the Greek of the Hebrew name Zion. Because it is a quote from the Old Testament in Isaiah 28: 16, it is referring to David's city which is Jerusalem. The other uses of Zion in the Bible make reference to either the Millennial City in a prophetic sense or the Heavenly City (SEE The New Unger's 'Bible Dictionary, page 1389). The terms 'stone of stumbling' and 'rock of offence' is referring both to the houses of Israel and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem because they rejected Christ as the Savior. It should also be pointed out in this verse that there are two figures of speech used. One is ‘Synonymia’ where the words "stumblingstone and rock of offence" is used. This is a repetition of words different in sound and origin, but similar in shades of meaning. Another figure is ‘Quotation’ where Isaiah 8: 14 and 28: 16 are mostly quoted here in verse 33. Again, take note of the context here. God pointed out that by believing, and not by works, the Gentiles received righteousness while the Judeans did not because they tried to attain it by works. Then again, God is pointing out that Israel would find Christ to be a stumblingstone because they did not accept him as the Messiah. In contrast to this, God says that those who believe in Him shall not be ashamed or ever disappointed in his expectation. God had His Word sent to the Gentiles and they accepted Christ and did not reject him as the Judeans did. You were either a Gentile or a Judean before you were born again.
This concludes this great Chapter Nine of Romans. Remember that this Chapter is a PARENTHESIS and that verses 3 through 33 are addressed to the Judeans.