These small group studies of Romans contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Romans 9:1-13 Inductive Bible Study
I. Paul’s love for the Israelites (verses 1-5)
II. God’s sovereign plan OR History is His Story (verses 6-13)
1. Why does Paul affirm three times that this is really true?
2. Why did Paul have such great sorry? When did he feel this grief? Did this feeling effect his actions? How?
3. What is Paul saying in verse 3? Do you feel sorrowful about the lost state of your kinsmen? How sorrowful? Does it reach the level of anguish Paul felt? How many lost Chinese do you think there are? If you truly grieve because of this, what will you do? Is this exchange of Paul for the Israelites possible?
4. What does it mean that adoption as sons belongs to the Israelites? How about the glory? What covenants? What promises?
6. Did God’s plan fail because Israel as a whole rejected Christ? What does it mean that “they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel?”
7. Who then is the real Israel? What is the significance that through Isaac their descendants will be named? (Not even all of Abraham’s descendants received the promises as he had other sons and daughters.)
8.How can someone be a child of the promise?
11. Was God’s choice based on foreknowledge? Why or why not? What does verse 11 teach us about salvation? Whose choice was it for Jacob to receive God’s special promises, Jacob’s, Isaac’s, or God’s? Why would God make this choice? Is it fair? Was Jacob a very good and righteous person? Examples? Do God’s choices/purposes ever fail? Scripture verses to confirm this? How does the knowledge that salvation is based on God’s choice, Him who calls, and not our works effect our attitudes and lifestyle now?
13. Where is this verse quoted from? Malachi 1:2-3. When? 1500 years after Esau and Jacob lived? What does this verse mean? Did God really hate Esau? Is this talking in comparative terms? Does this mean that Esau (and by implication) many people today are elected for divine punishment and hell? Is Esau void of responsibility for his actions because God hated him?
Israel- Much of the history in the Old Testament centers around Israel. God chose Israel as a nation to be His special people. Only by following God in faith could they be His true children.
Children- God chose each of His children before the world began. He chose us before we did anything good or bad (verse 11). He chose us long before we were born. Think of that a minute and realize this is not a reason to complain or say God is unfair as some might do. It is a reason to rejoice. GOD CHOSE YOU and ME! We are a special part of His plan and that plan would not be complete without us. Since He chose us we don’t need to have fear of anything (John 10:27-30, Hebrews 13:5). Remember that Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Both were children, but only one was considered the true child of God, Isaac. Why? He was child of the promise. What does that mean? God promised Abraham a son and He chose this son to be part of His special plan and He chose this son to follow Him in his life. That was Isaac. So there are many people in the world, many “good” people. Only those specially chosen of God are His true children.
Purpose in election (verse 11)- I think this is the key key word of the chapter. The whole chapter is talking about election. What is election? Election is the word used to describe God’s choosing of His children. In an election I can cast a vote for President. Well, in God’s election He casts a vote, or makes a choice, about who His special children will be. Thank God He chose us!
Verse by Verse Commentary
The first thirteen verses of this chapter are split into two sections.
Verses 1-5 In this section we can clearly see Paul’s great love and concern for his brothers, the other Israelites. These are the very people who continued to try to kill him again and again. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” The Israelites weren’t even Paul’s friends. They were his enemies. I would think it was amazing if Paul was willing to die for them. But Paul was willing to do much more than that! Paul says he would be willing to be accursed and separated from Christ if it would save his brothers, the Israelites. What does that mean? It means Paul would be willing to go to hell, the outer darkness, separated from Christ for all of eternity if it would help to save the Jews!
Isn’t that great great love? I will be honest with you. I don’t think I have enough courage to go to hell forever, even if it would save my family. Paul had this kind of courage and this deep love. Verse two tells us of the great sorrow he feels in his heart all of the time for his countrymen. What about you? Do you have this kind of sorrow in your heart for your family and for the rest of China? I am certain all of you have family members that haven’t believed yet. And China is the largest country in the world (right?), but most people in it have never heard of the gospel of Jesus even once. Does this concern you? It should! You shouldn’t be content to stand by and watch as millions of people die without hearing about Christ. I keep saying “you”, but I tell myself the same thing as well. Each of us take the opportunities we have to tell others the good news. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Therefore be careful how to walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time because the days are evil.” We must follow Paul’s example by showing our love for others and making the most of our time on the earth by sharing the gospel with others.
Paul not only felt a great burden for his kinsmen, he acted on it. He didn’t sit around grieving and wondering what to do. He witnessed to the Jews countless times. It was normally his practice on entering a city to go the synagogue first. Paul devoted his life to sharing the gospel with the lost even when they hated him every minute of it. He didn’t allow the offense they felt for him or their enmity or hatred for him to stop him from sharing. If you share with your parents or family or friends and they respond angrily, do you persist in sharing with them or give up because of their negative reactions? Paul couldn’t actually his exchange his soul for the souls of his countrymen, but he did the next best thing. He dedicated his entire life to getting the gospel out to give opportunities to as many people as he could so that they could repent and be saved.
I implore you to take action now. Today is the day of salvation. There is not guarantee to be a tomorrow. In addition to sharing the gospel, you can tell your family, like David has, about the rapture events so that if that comes in your families lifetime it will confirm the truth of the gospel to them.
Verses 4-5. Verse 4 lists out many of the benefits given to the Jews because of God’s divine election on their behalf. Adoption doesn’t mean actual salvation to every physical descendant, but that God chose the entire nation to receive His calling and covenant.
Verses 6-13 Paul was disappointed because even though God gave Israel so many opportunities and so many blessings like the covenant or promise, the law, the temple service, the prophets, the promises and etc. they still didn’t follow Him. Some people may have asked if that meant God’s word or His plan for Israel had failed. In verse 6 Paul says that plan did not fail. It was never in God’s plan for EVERY Jew to be saved. It was not enough for them to be a Jew. No good deed was enough. And just as James said, don’t even think about trying to get into heaven just because Abraham is your father! God’s promise was given to Isaac, not Ishmael. Later it was given to Jacob, not Esau. Why? They had done nothing in their lives when He decided to give Isaac and Jacob the promise. He did it because it was HIS PLAN. His choice would stand. The last part of the verse makes it more than clear. It says that God is the one who “calls”. God calls us; we don’t call Him (John 15:16, Romans 10:20, Romans 3:10-12, Ephesians 1:3-4). God has had His purpose from the beginning. He chose us from the beginning. He had His plan from the beginning. History is His Story J The following verse shows that very clearly.
Isaiah 46:10-11 says, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.” Isaiah 55:9.
This firm purpose is something we can be thankful for because we know what is His purpose. If His purpose was for evil we would have great reason to fear because nothing we can do could stop the evil. But God’s purpose is for great good for those who He called (Romans 8:28). Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose fore me; your love O Lord endures forever” and Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you — plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” So God does have a purpose that will not be changed. That is to love us with His deepest love, the love which we learned about in the last chapter. He did elect each of us to His family. Thank Him for that, don’t complain about it! He also prepares good works (Ephesians 2:10) for each of us to do in our lives. Let’s be sure to do them.
Some might ask me why God hated Esau (verse 13). There would be several possible interpretations of this verse. See Malachi 1:1-5 for more details.
1. God actually emotionally hated Esau. He chose and predestined Esau to divine judgment just as he chose Isaac to and predestined Isaac to divine judgment. This view would show support in history in that the Edomites were punished by God and became extinct as a people. It would also go a long way towards proving that God elects people both to heaven and to hell.
2. The meaning is comparative in similar way that Jesus tells believers they must “hate” their own father and mother. We all know that means compared to their love for Christ. In other words, God specifically chose Isaac, but basically left Esau alone. Compared to His great love for Isaac His actions toward Esau may seem like hatred. If you look at the story in Genesis you may find God blessed Esau as well. However, Esau did not have strong faith in God and He wasn’t specially chosen by God to be given God’s covenant or promise.
3. This verse was originally written by Malachi 1500 years after Jacob and Esau walked the earth. Genesis itself does not record God’s hate for Esau, which first shows itself in the writings of Obadiah. So the love/hate is for the descendants of the two nations. God has sovereignly elected the Israelites, but did not so choose the descendants of Esau. Therefore because they were not chosen, their sins brought about the divine punishment from God. So love means basically “chose for intimate fellowship”, while hate means “not choosing for intimate fellowship.” Based on the context in Romans and Malachi, I believe that this choice is the best one. The focus of these passages is not God condemning certain people or groups to hell, but rather that He specifically chose Israel and conveyed His blessings to them through no merit of their own. Based on the entire context of Scripture, it definitely appears that God gives opportunities to believe to all the lost, including those who aren’t elect. Invitations are repeatedly given throughout the time of the prophets and the New Testament for unbelievers to hear and repent. If indeed God had elected most to hell, this invitation would seem to be a sham, a farce. It would be asking them to do something that God had already made it impossible for them to do. Salvation seems available to all. Because people of their own accord will reject the gospel anyway, it seems unnecessary for God to even elect people to go to hell since they will make this choice on their own anyway.
The key verse of this part of the chapter is certainly verse eleven. God is the planner. If you can understand this verse it will really help you understand the whole chapter. If you have any questions about any part of these verses just post them. Look forward to reading each of your thoughts! If you have any encouraging experiences you can also share those.
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