Paul’s Sorrow for the Jews
(1) I speak the truth in Jesus Christ—I am not lying, my conscience assures me it is true in the Holy Spirit—(2) I have overwhelming sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. (3) For I wish that I was under God’s curse (anathema) and separated from the Messiah (Christ) for the sake of my people, my countrymen according to the flesh.
(4) For to the Israelites belongs the adoption as children, the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law of Moses, temple worship, and the promises. (5) Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human genealogy of the Messiah (Christ), who is God over all and forever praised! Amen (let it be).
The True Israel
(6) But it is not as though God’s word has failed. For not all who are physical descendants of Israel belong to Israel, (7) and not all are the children of Abraham because they are his physical descendants. On the contrary, as it says in Genesis 21:12, “Through Isaac will your offspring be named.” (8) In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are Abraham’s true offspring. (9) For this was how God’s promise to Abraham was written in Genesis 18:14, “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”
(10) Not only that, but Rebecca’s twins (Jacob and Esau) were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. (11) Yet before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s redemptive purpose of election would continue—(12) not by human works but by God’s divine calling, Rebecca was told in Genesis 25:23, “The older will serve the younger,” (13) and as Malachi 1:2-3 says, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
(14) Some will ask me, “What then should we say? Is God unjust?” Absolutely not! (15) For God told Moses in Exodus 33:19, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (16) Therefore, it does not depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. (17) For God told Pharaoh in Exodus 9:16, “I raised you up for this very purpose, so that I might display my power in you, and that my name would be proclaimed in all the earth.” (18) Therefore, God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens the hearts of those he wants to harden.
The Sovereign God
(19) Therefore, some will ask me, “How can God still find us guilty when we cannot resist his will?” (20) But who are you, a mere human; how can you question God? As it is written in Isaiah 29:16, “Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you create me like this?’ ” (21) Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for ordinary dishonorable use?
(22) What if God, deciding to show his just wrath and reveal his power, endured with great patience toward objects (vessels) of wrath prepared for destruction, (23) in order to show the treasures of his majestic glory to objects (vessels) of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—(24) even us, whom he has called, not only from among the Jews but also from among the non-Jews?
(25) As it is written in Hosea 2:23, “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; I will call ‘my loved one’ she who is not my loved one,” (26) and in Hosea 1:10, “You are not my people, but they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ ” (27) The prophet cries out concerning Israel in Isaiah 10:22-23, “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the seashore, only the remnant will be saved. (28) The Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.” (29) Also, as it is written in Isaiah 1:9, “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom and Gomorrah.”
(30) Therefore, what then shall we say? Non-Jews, who did not pursue God’s righteousness, have received it by faith; (31) but the Israelites who pursued the law of Moses as the means of receiving God’s righteousness did not succeed in their goal.
(32) Why not? Because the Israelites pursued God’s righteousness not by faith but as if it could be attained by works of the law of Moses. The Jews stumbled over the stumbling stone, (33) as it is written in Isaiah 28:16, “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. The one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”