Tag Archive | romans 9

”I will have mercy on who I will have mercy”, but not unconditionally – Rom. 9:15

moses

Rom. 9:15 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

This is a very famous and popular verse, and there are some (reformed) christians who translate this verse into ”God says to us all; I will elect certain individuals for salvation, and I will place no conditions whatsoever on those that I choose…”. Just because God shows mercy to individuals, groups of people and entire nations, it doesn’t mean that they will be saved, and neither does it say anywhere in Romans. 9:15 that God shows mercy unconditionally. Paul is here making a reference to Exodus 33:19 where God is speaking to Moses, so in order to get Paul’s point we should both read both the context in Romans 9 (which is about God’s right to make the offer of salvation also to the gentiles and under the conditions that he himself chooses) as well as checking the passage that Paul is referring to in order to understand his full point.

Ex 33:2 (God) And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite:Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.For the Lord had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.—(Mose starts out)16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.17 And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

As we can see, Moses is having a huge problem with the people that he was a leader for, and that’s because they were stiff-necked and rebellious against the God who Moses was a true servant of. Man’s free will is fully displayed in this passage (and throughout the entire Bible) because naturally God doesn’t want people to be disobedient to him and to walk on their own evil ways. The only reason God is threatening to consume them, is due to their sinfulness and stubborn hearts. Moses is pleading with God to show mercy on his people and he is successful because God has indeed seen Moses’ heart and therefore decided to show him grace and listen to his requests. As we can see, the phrase that he ”will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy” is not in reference to God unconditionally electing people to salvation, and neither can this phrase be understood that way in Romans 9. Moreover, just because God decides to show mercy on a person, it doesn’t mean this person will necessarily be saved because mercy (or kindness or grace) might not even be in relation to the person’s soul. And even if it is in relation to the person’s soul, it doesn’t say ”Once God has shown mercy on a person, this person forever remains in his mercy and is forever saved”. Just like we people can choose to be kind or not to others depending on their actions, so can God.

That people are being stiff-necked in the Bible can be seen here with many examples.

We are told to be merciful as our Father is merciful

If the idea is that God has a certain lucky and elect elite that he has decided to show mercy on while he turns his back on all others, can we act in the same way by showing mercy (being kind) to only SOME? Not according to the Bible that says we are to be good to all. If we show mercy to others, we can be expected to get mercy ourselves, and God expects us to show mercy to others.

Luke:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Hosea 4:1 Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

Hosea 10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.

Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

1 Timothy 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

Ja. 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

Broader context from Romans 9. Read more about Romans 9 in this article.

Rom. 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.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.16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth 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.18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory

Mercy is often in relation to individuals who are being righteous

It makes sense that kind-hearted and obedient people are prone to receive mercy themselves.

Genesis. 19:18 And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord:19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

Genesis 24:27 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abrahamwho hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.

Genesis 39:21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

2 Samuel 22:51 He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.

1 Kings 3:6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.

Isaiah 14:1 For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.

Conditions that are required for getting mercy, and when God does NOT show mercyKärlek

It looks like God is keen to show mercy on people who LOVE HIM AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. We can see this requirement throughout the below verses.

Ex. 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Deut. 5:Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

Deut. 7:9 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;10 And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.11 Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers 

1 Kings 8:23 And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart

2 Chronicles 6:14 And said, O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts

Nehemiah 1:5 And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

Isaiah 9:16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.17 Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

Isaiah 27:11 When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour.

Isaiah 30:18 And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.

Isaiah 47:6 I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.

Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Daniel 9:4 And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;

Hosea 2:4 And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.

Jonah 2:8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

Luke 1:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

Luke 10:29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Romans 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Gal. 6 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 10:28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Psalms and Proverbs about mercy

In Psalms and Proverbs we can see the conditions for getting mercy, and they are the same as above.

Psalm 32:10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.

Psalm 33:18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

Psalm 37:21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.

Psalm 62:12 Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work

Psalm 86:5 For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.

Psalm 103:11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

Psalm 103:17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;

Psalm 118:4 Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 130:7 Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.

Psalm 147:11 The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

Psalm 145:The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

Proverbs 14:22 Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.

Proverbs 14:31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.

Proverbs 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.

Proverbs 21:21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.

Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

We are not saved because we have always done the right thing, but because we are able to be cleansed in the blood of Jesus upon our repentance and faith in his holy name.

Titus. 3:For we ourselves also WERE sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost

Also Romans 9 shows man’s free will

Romans 9 – the calvinists´favorite

Let’s go through the whole chapter.

1I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:4Who 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;  5Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. 

Paul apparently doesn’t believe that God has predestined some for heaven and some for hell, because he says he wish he were accursed for the sake of his kinsmen (the jews) even though not all of them have faith in Jesus as the Messiah. If God the Father didn’t intend for Jesus to die for ALL people but only SOME (the lucky elect) then why would Paul desire to die for people who are not christians? It wouldn’t make sense for Paul to be willing to die for people who Jesus would not be willing to die for. Paul also seems  to be unaware of that (if he were a calvinist) that things turn out exactly as God has planned from before the creation of the world, so to have ”heaviness” and ”continual sorrow” would be puzzling emotions. Why feeling sorry for people who will end up (heaven or hell) exactly where God wants them to end up? Paul has no business feeling sorry for people who God doesn’t feel sorry for.  Then again, limited atonement is not Biblical!

 6Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8That 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 9For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.

Not all jews are the children of Abraham even though they are related to him through his blood. Only those who are of the ”promise” are counted for the seed, and they are of FAITH. Abraham himself showed his faith through his deeds, and he was considered righteous for this reason. The promised Messiah came through his bloodline and through Sarah who was the free woman (and not through Hagar who was a servant and not free).

Gal. 3:7 Know ye therefore thatthey which are of FAITH, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.So then they which be of FAITH are blessed with faithful Abraham.

10And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11(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;)

The fact that children who are still in the womb have not done any good or evil, implies that the sinful nature is not true since babies are viewed as neutral. We can read about ”election” here, but note that it’s not about electing individuals TO BELIEVE. The children in question are Jacob and Esau and they are not only individuals but also NATIONS and PEOPLE. God chose the seed of Jacob to bring forth the Messiah. Esau rejected his birthright (which is usually given to the first born) but still expected to maintain it when it was time to get the blessing from his Father, whereas Jacob took actions to lay hold of the birthright. A parallel can be made with the jews who expected to inherit the Kingdom just because they were born as jews and ”God’s chosen people”. Paul tells them that salvation doesn’t work that way, but that we are rather saved by FAITH (proven by deeds) and this promise is also for the gentiles.

12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Did the person Esau ever serve the younger person Jacob? No, not at any point in his life did he serve him. However, the PEOPLE who came forth from Esau did serve the people who came forth from Jacob. God had good reasons to hate Esau, both as an individual and as a people. Read more about Jacob and Esau here.

14What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15For 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. 16So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

The point here is that it’s God’s prerogative to arrange his salvation plan in any way he wants, and he certainly doesn’t need to ask man for permission to do it. The jews might feel that they should have an advantage since they are the chosen ones who the Law was given to and since they are of the seed of Abraham and Jacob, but Paul explains that this is not so. The salvation offer is also given to the gentiles, and we are not saved by being born a jew or by obeying the jewish ceremonial Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ who died for the world. Notice also that it doesn’t say that God doesn’t want to show mercy on all. What it does say is that GOD decides on whom he will show mercy. Does God have the right to show mercy based on CONDITIONS? Yes absolutely,  and the text doesn’t say that he provides mercy on individuals UNCONDITIONALLY. We know from elsewhere in Romans and in the rest of the Bible that we are saved upon conditions, and those conditions are faith and repentance. If God wants to show mercy and compassion on those who have repentant hearts –  and not on those with unrepentant hearts – then he may do so, and he would not be unrighteous for doing so. We can read that God uttered those words (about mercy) to Moses, and we know that God had conditions on the Israelites and chose to not show mercy on those who rebelled against him.

17For 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. 18Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Pharao hardened his heart several times before God did. God has the right to harden hearts that are unwilling to conform to him (harden even more). See my blog post about Pharao here.

19Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20Nay 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?

”Who are thou that repliest against God?” we are asked. This means we should NOT reply against God and argue with him, right? Has it ever happened in history that people still HAVE replied against him? YES! There are numerous examples of this in the Bible, and not only that – but there are angels and human beings who have even REBELLED against him! Does God want people to rebel against him? Of course not! Each time people reply against God and rebel against him it’s AGAINST his will. We are being disobedient to God by rebelling against him. So this text is not what people cannot do, but what they SHOULD NOT do. And let’s not forget that the context is still that GOD alone has the right to bring about his salvation plan in any way he wants. The text doesn’t say that God always directs our steps and forces us (predestines us) to walk his way.

Isa 45:9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

Yes, woe unto him because he acts against the will of God by striving with his maker which he is not supposed to do.

21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

The context is still that the salvation offer is also given to the gentiles. We can read that God could have chosen to ”endure with much longsuffering” the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. Why would we read terms such as ”endure” and ”longsuffering” as though the vessels had a will of their own and put up a resistance against God? If God predestines all things that come to pass, then surely he is able to bring them to pass without struggle, and with no need to ”endure” with ”much longsuffering”? We can also read below that we are expected to purge ourselves, and if we choose to do so then we will be a vessel unto HONOR! If we struggle against God and make it hard for him to conform us to what he wants, then we are fitted for destruction (we have fitted ourselves for destruction) and our right place is on the scrap heap, BUT for our sake he might choose to endure with much long-suffering. Which vessels are the ones made unto honor? Could it be those who have repentant hearts and who are willing to conform? Which  vessels are the ones unto dishonor? Could it be those with rebellious hearts and who are unwilling to conform? The vessels who choose to conform are the same as the vessels of mercy, and they are the ones which are prepared beforehand to enter the Kingdom of God. Now, it’s up to us to purge ourselves so that we can become vessels of mercy, and the wonderful promises will then apply to us.

2 Tim 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. 21 If a man therefore PURGES HIMSELF from these, he shall be a vessel unto HONOUR,sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work

Jer 18:3Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4And the vessel that he made of clay WAS MARRED in the hand of the potter: so he made it again ANOTHER VESSEL, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

Read my blog post about the potter and the clay here.

25As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26And 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. 27Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: 28For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. 29And 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. 30What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Here we can see the crux of the problem spelled out. The stumblingstone which the jews stumbled upon and which can separate them from God is JESUS CHRIST. The jews were at risk to miss God’s salvation plan by continuing to reject the Messiah and that’s what Paul is so grieved about.  The condition for salvation is faith in Jesus and that might very well, to the jews’ surprise, exclude the jews and include the gentiles. The Jews assumed they were God’s chosen people and that salvation was limited to them. Above we can see that faith must precede in salvation and it’s the condition for salvation.  The Jews, who were God’s elect,  sought to reach salvation through keeping the law rather than by faith.  Nothing is said here about God’s choice in salvation but ONLY about ”men” having faith – NOT God giving faith to individuals. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Jew or Gentile, because God has sovereignly chosen to save all those who trust in Jesus for salvation.  

Romans 10:12-13 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  

Romans 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all.

Origen: “Therefore has He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens.” And certain of those who hold different opinions misuse these passages, themselves also almost destroying free-will by introducing ruined natures incapable of salvation, and others saved which it is impossible can be lost”

God did not hate Esau before he was born – Romans 9:13

As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated (Rom 9:13)

The question then becomes, did Esau behave the way he did because God hated him, or did God hate him because of the way Esau chose to behave?

Jacob and Esau are not only individuals but they are also PEOPLE and/or NATIONS. This is important to remember in order to not read things into Romans 9 which are not stated. Romans 9 is not about individuals being elected TO BELIEVE, but it’s about a people who has sprung up from individuals, and it’s the line of Jacob which is chosen (for good reasons) to bring forth the Messiah. Most importantly it’s about a person who rejected his birthright and still expected to get it when it was time to receive the blessing. Paul made the comparison with the jews – which Romans 9 is about – who expected to inherit the Kingdom because they are born jews. We can also read from the context that God did NOT arbitrarily hate one of the twin brothers for no reason at all.

The LORD said to her, ”Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” (Gen. 25:23)

There is no indication of anything good or bad about either of the children at this point. The nations arising from each will be separated, and one of these nations will be stronger than the other. The nation arising from the older of the two children will at some point end up serving the nation arising from the younger. The individual Esau never served the younger. Also note that God did not hate Esau before he was born, or while he was a child. Children are neutral and they can’t choose between good and bad. Paul says that they are not all Israel which are Israel, and by that he means that children of Abraham are those who BELIEVE like he did and who don’t live as the children of the flesh, and it was also the seed of Abraham which would bring forth the Messiah through Isaac. A person is not saved just because he is born a jew and has the law, but due to his choice to trust God and show fruit.

Rom 9:6Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8That 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.

According to Paul, babies are neutral and can’t do either good or bad, and Paul speaks about ”election” (which is not an election ”to believe”) and highlights that the jews should not believe that the law (works) can save them since they in that case must never break one single commandment. It’s accepting the call of God that saves a person.

Rom 9:11(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;) 12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

Gen. 25:27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Hebrews 12 15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright17For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Above in Hebrews we can see that Paul is warning people for not making the right decision when it comes to their lives styles, LEST they might fail of the grace of God, LEST they might be defiled and LEST they might end up like Esau who made a VERY bad choice to, among other things sold his birthright for a meal. We can see why Esau was rejected, and that is because ”he found no place of repentance”, indicating that something wasn’t right in his heart, and maybe he didn’t regret his choice to sell his birthright until he realized what was at stake and that it would slip out of his hands. Esau knew better than that but he had to accept the consequences of his actions. Esau was also known as Edom. There is a book called Obadiah and the focus of Obadiah is on Edom/Esau, and the reason God hated Esau is stated here:

Pride of heart, v. 3
Because of the violence against Jacob, v. 10
For not intervening on behalf of Jacob when that people was under attack, v. 11
For looking down on his brother in the day of his misfortune, v. 12
For entering the destroyed city and participating in the ransacking, v. 13
For ambushing their fugitives, v. 14

Obadiah 1: 8Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau? 9And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. 10For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.

Romans 9:13 refers back to Malachi and there we can read:

Mal 1:2I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, 3And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. 4Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.5And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.

”They”. The entire people that came from Esau are being spoken of as being hated. Thus, when Paul quotes Malachi in Romans 9, he is referring to what happened to the people, not to the individual sons. The quote ”Jacob I have loved but Esau have I hated” has to do with the nations that came from the brothers. In Obadiah, the reasons for this hatred from God are clearly shown. Did God hate Esau personally? He very well may have, and the despising of the birthright is used in Hebrews as evidence of his godlessness. This godlessness, and his marriage to pagan wives, would have affected not only his children, but their children and the children after them as well, in agreement with what we read in

Ex. 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them [idols], nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me

Amos 6:8 The Lord GOD has sworn by himself, says the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is in it.