I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me [enlightened and prompted] by the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For [if it were possible] I would wish that I myself were accursed, [separated, banished] from Christ for the sake [of the salvation] of my brothers, my natural kinsmen, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, the glory (Shekinah), the [special] covenants [with Abraham, Moses, and David], the giving of the Law, the [system of temple] worship, and the [original] promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to His natural descent, came the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), He who is exalted and supreme over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
However, it is not as though God’s word has failed [coming to nothing]. For not all who are descended from Israel (Jacob) are [the true] Israel; and they are not all the children of Abraham because they are his descendants [by blood], but [the promise was]: “YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED THROUGH ISAAC” [though Abraham had other sons]. That is, it is not the children of the body [Abraham’s natural descendants] who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are counted as [Abraham’s true] descendants. For this is what the promise said: “ABOUT THIS TIME [next year] I WILL COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON.” And not only that, but this too: Rebekah conceived twin sons by one man [under the same circumstances], by our father Isaac; and though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything either good or bad, so that God’s purpose [His choice, His election] would stand, not because of works [done by either child], but because of [the plan of] Him who calls them, it was said to her, “THE OLDER (Esau) WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER (Jacob).” As it is written and forever remains written, “JACOB I LOVED (chose, protected, blessed), BUT ESAU I HATED (held in disregard compared to Jacob).”
What shall we say then? Is there injustice with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOMEVER I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOMEVER I HAVE COMPASSION.” So then God’s choice is not dependent on human will, nor on human effort [the totality of human striving], but on God who shows mercy [to whomever He chooses—it is His sovereign gift]. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “I RAISED YOU UP FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE, TO DISPLAY MY POWER IN [dealing with] YOU, AND SO THAT MY NAME WOULD BE PROCLAIMED IN ALL THE EARTH.” So then, He has mercy on whom He wills (chooses), and He hardens [the heart of] whom He wills.
You will say to me then, “Why does He still blame me [for sinning]? For who [including myself] has [ever] resisted His will and purpose?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers [arrogantly] back to God and dares to defy Him? Will the thing which is formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does the potter not have the right over the clay, to make from the same lump [of clay] one object for honorable use [something beautiful or distinctive] and another for common use [something ordinary or menial]? What if God, although willing to show His [terrible] wrath and to make His power known, has tolerated with great patience the objects of His wrath [which are] prepared for destruction? And what if He has done so to make known the riches of His glory to the objects of His mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory, including us, whom He also called, not only from among the Jews, but also from among the Gentiles? Just as He says in [the writings of the prophet] Hosea:
“I WILL CALL THOSE WHO WERE NOT MY PEOPLE, ‘MY PEOPLE,’
AND [I will call] HER WHO WAS NOT BELOVED, ‘BELOVED.’ ”
“AND IT SHALL BE THAT IN THE PLACE WHERE IT WAS SAID TO THEM, ‘YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE,’
THERE THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF THE LIVING GOD.”
And Isaiah calls out concerning Israel: “THOUGH THE NUMBER OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL BE LIKE THE SAND OF THE SEA, IT IS ONLY THE REMNANT [a small believing minority] THAT WILL BE SAVED [from God’s judgment]; FOR THE LORD WILL EXECUTE HIS WORD UPON THE EARTH [He will conclude His dealings with mankind] COMPLETELY AND WITHOUT DELAY.” It is as Isaiah foretold,
“IF THE LORD OF HOSTS HAD NOT LEFT US SEED [future generations from which a believing remnant of Israelites came],
WE WOULD HAVE BECOME LIKE SODOM, AND WOULD HAVE RESEMBLED GOMORRAH [totally rejected and destroyed]!”
What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness [who did not seek salvation and a right relationship with God, nevertheless] obtained righteousness, that is, the righteousness which is produced by faith; whereas Israel, [though always] pursuing the law of righteousness, did not succeed in fulfilling the law. And why not? Because it was not by faith [that they pursued it], but as though it were by works [relying on the merit of their works instead of their faith]. They stumbled over the stumbling Stone [Jesus Christ]. As it is written and forever remains written,
“BEHOLD I AM LAYING IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE;
AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED [in his expectations].”