The Children of The Promise
Romans 9:1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. 6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called." 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son." 10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger." 13 As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." (NKJV)






Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in Rome during a three month visit to the church in Corinth, Greece in late 56 and early 57 A.D. The letter is heavy with Christian Doctrine, Christian teaching.

This passage marks the beginning of a new topic from the Apostle Paul. He launches into the problem of Israel’s unbelief. Chapters 9-11 discuss this topic.

Paul begins by expressing his heartbreak over the fact that his people, the Jews, have rejected Christ as their long-awaited Messiah.

Paul writes “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.” (vv. 1-2). His heartbreak is genuine, and not fake. The Holy Spirit attests to his “great sorrow and continual grief”.

He continues by writing “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites” (vv. 3-4a). Paul would surrender his own salvation for the salvation of his blood relatives, the Israelites.

After all, the Israelites received the blessing of God. They were the objects of God’s “adoption, glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises” (v. 4b).  

They were “of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” (v. 5). The Hebrew patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were their forefathers. The Incarnate Jesus, God Himself, was Jewish according to His earthly heritage.

So, it was impossible that the Israelites would reject God. And yet that is exactly what has happened. And Paul is heartbroken.

But Paul finds a silver lining to this disaster. Some Jews have accepted Christ. Today, we call them Messianic Jews.

Paul describes this occurrence by writing “But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect.” (v. 6a). The word of God never returns empty (Isaiah 55:11).

Paul writes “For they are not all Israel who are of Israel” (v. 6b). Not all Israelites are children of God.

Paul continues “nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ " (v.7). Not all descendants of Abraham are children of God. Not even the descendants of Isaac, his son, are all children of God.

Paul writes: “That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God” (v. 8a). Our flesh, our bloodline, does not make us children of God.

 “But the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” (v. 8b). Only those “children of the promise” are children of God.

Paul then recounts the progression of the promise. “For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son." (v. 9). Sarah’s son from Abraham, Isaac, was given the promise.

Continuing, Paul also cites how the promise applied to Isaac’s children. He writes “And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac” (v. 10).

Isaac had twins by Rebecca, but only one of the twins received the promise. That was Jacob who later was named Israel.

This promise was given before Esau and Jacob were born. Paul writes “for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil” (v. 11a). The promise was not given because of anything Esau or Jacob did.

The promise was given “that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls” (v. 11b). The promise was given to those whom God would call, not because of their works but because of God’s sovereignty, specifically God’s grace. The promise is salvation.

Paul writes “it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger."  As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." (vv. 12-13). Paul is quoting Scripture here from Malachi 1. God loved Jacob.

In God’s sovereignty He chose the younger of Rebecca’s twins, Jacob. Normally the older child, Esau, would have the birthright, but God chose Jacob, the younger. Jacob had the heart of Abraham, the heart of God.

The promise of salvation is only to those who have the heart of Abraham. Abraham obeyed God. Our obedience proves our love of God.

Those who possess the promise of salvation are called children of God. They are the only children of God.

Being a child of God has nothing to do with our birthright. Being a child of God has everything to do with having the heart of Abraham. Those are the children of the promise.

Art Toombs Ministries

Online Bible Commentary