Romans 9:10-15

God Is Never UnfairPrepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Being a descendant of Abraham does not automatically make a person a child of God. Paul had pressed home this fact by reminding the Jews that only one of Abraham’s eight sons was a child of promise. He now proceeded to answer what he knew would be raised as an objection to his premise.

Romans 9:10 And not only that, but also Rebekah received a promise

when she became pregnant by one man, our ancestor Isaac.

Paul was well aware that Abraham’s sons were the offspring of different mothers. Someone might say God chose Isaac because his mother was the first wife of Abraham. The Apostle countered this sentiment by pointing our attention to Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.

There was nothing different about the ancestry of these two boys. They had the same genealogy, same father, same mother, were conceived as an answer to the same prayer, and were born at the same time (Gen. 25:21). Nevertheless, one of them became a child of promise, but the other did not.

Romans 9:11 For though her sons had not been born yet or done

anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to election

might stand—

Before the twins were born, God had already decided which would be the chosen son of promise. This was to serve forever as a demonstration of the fact that spiritual merit is never bestowed on the ground of works.

Salvation always begins in God’s mind, totally “uncaused” by us. We cannot fathom what happens in His mind. Our human perspective does not give us adequate insight to make valid judgments regarding God’s motives.

Why was Jacob chosen? Solely because it was God’s will to do so. Why were you and I chosen? For the same reason. Here is the heart of grace. It is a reaching out to us solely because of God’s loving decision to do so.

Romans 9:12 not from works but from the One who calls—she was told:

The older will serve the younger.

This quote (Gen. 25:23) showed that God, when making His choice, even disregarded birth order. Jacob was the younger twin, but still received both the birthright and the blessing.

Paul went to great lengths to stress the fact salvation does not depend on any physical factors at all. This is good news for us Gentiles. Since our salvation is not dependent on genealogy, nationality, or religious affiliation, we cannot be excluded from salvation because of them either.

Not all Jews were saved, and not all the saved ones were Jews. God had never been limited solely to the descendants of Abraham. Melchizedek, Rahab, and Ruth testify to the fact that God was not limited to Israel. He found saints inside the Jewish nation, and outside it.

Romans 9:13 As it is written: I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau.

This quotation (Mal. 1:2-3) drove home the point that Esau was never as blessed as Jacob was. The words “hate” and “love” are not so much words of emotion as they are words of will and action. God showered on Jacob favors that Esau did not receive. Esau was obviously treated less favorably.

A man once said this was a strange statement, “I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau.” A minister replied, “Yes, it is strange, but what do you see as most strange about it?” “The part about God hating Esau, of course.” The minister countered, “The strangest part to me is; He could ever love Jacob. There is no mystery so glorious as the mystery of God’s love.”

It is astounding to realize God loved Jacob solely due to grace. We still, however, must decide why God did not choose Esau. Jacob was chosen due to sovereignty, but was Esau rejected for the same reason? No!

Esau’s rejection was based on what he deserved. God did not decide to act cruelly toward Esau. He merely let Esau have what he deserved.

Every condemned person receives only what is their due. The blame has to be placed at their own doorstep. God merely serves as a Judge who pronounces sentence on criminals that have brought about their own ruin.

We are saved by grace; people are condemned by their own obstinacy. No one constrains sinners to be lost. It is the result of their own choice.

Lost people condemn themselves. Do not blame lostness on God. He has done all that a just God can do to purchase salvation for sinners.

When contemplating Heaven, think of the grace and sovereignty of God. When thinking of Hell, think of people’s free will. Hell is a place reserved for people who commit spiritual suicide.

Romans 9:14a What should we say then? Is there injustice with God?

Paul now dealt with a supposed objection to his premise regarding the selection of Jacob over Esau. Neither brother had good moral qualities to brag about. Was it fair to choose one over the other, though neither was better than the other? Is God unrighteous in picking one undeserving person instead of another?

Romans 9:14b Absolutely not!

The Lord is never unfair. His decisions are based solely upon achieving His own predetermined purpose. God’s reasons are just and valid, but we do not know what they are. It is not for us to understand the mind of God; rather, our portion is to accept the Word of God as sufficient.

Seeming injustices must be blamed on human ignorance. There is no inconsistency in God, just incapacity in people. Whenever we think we see contradictions, let’s blame it on our blindness, not on God’s sovereignty. God is never unjust.

Romans 9:15 For He tells Moses: I will show mercy to whom I will

show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have


This quote is taken from Exodus 33:19, which follows the golden calf incident. Israel deserved to be destroyed, but they had not been chosen in the first place due to merit.

They had originally claimed they would accept the covenant and obey God (Exodus 19:8), but now it was obvious that such holiness was actually impossible. God knew that from the first. Hence, His mercies to them had been of grace all along. The incident of the golden calf gave God an excellent opportunity to display that fact for all history to see.

God loves because He loves. Explanations elude us when we try to fathom the depth of God’s mercy. Nothing in us calls it forth. He grants salvation solely because He wants to do so.

Lost friend, a lack of repentance forewarns disaster. Turn away from such a bleak picture. There is life to be enjoyed in Jesus. We are too weak to save ourselves and too sinful to merit salvation. But God through His Son offers us power for regeneration and grace for pardon. Receive it now.