9:1 I say 1 the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also
bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
(1) The third part of this epistle, which goes to the twelfth
chapter, in which Paul ascends to the higher causes of
faith: and first of all, because he purposed to speak much
of the casting off of the Jews, he uses a declaration,
saying by a double or triple oath, and by witnessing of his
great desire towards their salvation, his singular love
towards them, and in addition granting to them all their
9:3 For I could wish that myself were a accursed from Christ
for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the b flesh:
(a) The apostle loved his brethren so completely that if it
had been possible he would have been ready to have
redeemed the castaways of the Israelites with the
loss of his own soul forever: for this word "accursed"
signifies as much in this place.
(b) Being brethren by flesh, as from one nation and country.
9:4 Who are Israelites; to whom [pertaineth] the adoption, and
the c glory, and the d covenants, and the giving of the
e law, and the f service [of God], and the g promises;
(c) The ark of the covenant, which was a token of God's
(d) The tables of the covenant, and this is spoken by the
figure of speech metonymy.
(e) Of the judicial law.
(f) The ceremonial law.
(g) Which were made to Abraham and to his posterity.
9:5 Whose [are] the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh
Christ [came], 2 who is over all, God blessed for ever.
(2) Or, "who is God over all, blessed for ever." A most
manifest testimony of the Godhead and divinity of Christ.
9:63 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.
For they [are] not all h Israel, which are of Israel:
(3) He enters into the handling of predestination, by means of
presenting an objection: How may it be that Israel is cast
off, and that in addition we must also make the covenant
which God made with Abraham and his seed, frustrated and
void? He answers therefore that God's word is true,
although Israel is cast off: for the election of the people
of Israel is so general and common, that nonetheless the
same God chooses by his secret council those as it pleases
him. So then this is the proposition and state of this
treatise: the grace of salvation is offered generally in
such a way, that in spite of how it is offered, the
efficacy of it pertains only to the elect.
(h) Israel in the first place, is taken for Jacob: and in
the second, for the Israelites.
9:7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they]
all children: 4 but, In i Isaac shall thy seed be
(4) The first proof is taken from the example of Abraham's own
house, in which Isaac only was considered the son, and that
by God's ordinance: although Ishmael also was born of
Abraham, and circumcised before Isaac.
(i) Isaac will be your true and natural son, and therefore
heir of the blessing.
9:85 That is, They which are the children of the k flesh,
these [are] not the children of God: but the children of the
l promise are counted for the seed.
(5) A general application of the former proof or example.
(k) Who are born of Abraham by the course of nature.
(l) Who are born by virtue of the promise.
9:96 For this [is] the word of promise, At this time will I
come, and Sara shall have a son.
(6) A reason of that application: because Isaac was born by the
power of the promise, and therefore he was not chosen, no,
he was not at all, except by the free will of God: by which
it follows that the promise is the fountain of
predestination, and not the flesh, from which promise the
particular election proceeds, that is, that the elect are
born elect, and not that they are first born, and then
after elected, by God who predestinates.
9:107 And not only [this]; but when Rebecca also had
conceived by one, [even] by our father Isaac;
(7) Another strong and persuasive proof taken from the example
of Esau and Jacob, who were both born of the same Isaac,
who was the son of promise of one mother, and were born at
the same time, and not at different times as Ishmael and
Isaac were: and yet nonetheless, as Esau was cast off, only
Jacob was chosen: and that before their birth, that neither
any goodness of Jacob's might be thought to be the cause of
his election, neither any wickedness of Esau to be the
cause of his casting away.
9:11 (For [the children] being not yet born, neither having done
any good or evil, that the m purpose of God according to
election might 8 stand, not of works, but of him that
(m) God's decree which proceeds from only his good will, by
which it pleases him to choose one, and refuse the
(8) Paul does not say, "might be made", but "being made might
remain". Therefore they are deceived who make foreseen
faith the cause of election, and foreknown infidelity the
cause of reprobation.
9:129 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the
(9) He proves the casting away of Esau in that he was made
servant to his brother: and proves the choosing of Jacob in
that he was made lord of his brother, although his brother
was the first begotten. And in order that no man might
take what God had said, and refer it to external things,
the apostle shows out of Malachi, who is a good interpreter
of Moses, that the servitude of Esau was joined with the
hatred of God, and the lordship of Jacob with the love of
9:1410 What shall we say then? [Is there] n unrighteousness
with God? God forbid.
(10) The first objection: if God loves or hates without any
consideration of worthiness or unworthiness, then is he
unjust, because he may love those who are unworthy, and
hate those who are worthy? The apostle detests this
blasphemy, and afterward responds to it in depth, point by
(n) Man knows no other causes of love or hatred, but those
that are in the persons, and thereupon this objection
9:1511 For he saith to Moses, I will o have mercy on whom I
will have mercy, and I will have p compassion on whom I
will have compassion.
(11) He answers first with regard to those who are chosen to
salvation, in the choosing of whom he denies that God may
seem unjust, although he chooses and predestinates to
salvation those that are not yet born, without any respect
of worthiness: because he does not bring the chosen to the
appointed end except by the means of his mercy, which is a
cause discussed under predestination. Now mercy
presupposes misery, and again, misery presupposes sin or
voluntary corruption of mankind, and corruption
presupposes a pure and perfect creation. Moreover, mercy
is shown by her degrees: that is, by calling, by faith, by
justification and sanctification, so that at length we
come to glorification, as the apostle will show afterwards.
Now all these things orderly following the purpose of God,
do clearly prove that he can by no means seem unjust in
loving and saving his.
(o) I will be merciful and favourable to whom I wish to be
(p) I will have compassion on whoever I wish to have
9:1612 So then [it is] not of him that q willeth, nor of
him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
(12) The conclusion of the answer: therefore God is not unjust
in choosing and saving from his free goodness, such as it
pleases him: as he also answered Moses when he prayed for
all of the people.
(q) By "will" he means the thought and endeavour of heart,
and by "running", good works, to neither of which he
gives the praise, but only to the mercy of God.
9:1713 For the r scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for
this same purpose have I s raised thee up, that I might
14 shew my power in thee, and that my name might be
declared throughout all the earth.
(13) Now he answers concerning the reprobate, or those whom God
hates who are not yet born, and has appointed to
destruction, without any respect of unworthiness. And
first of all he proves this to be true, by alleging the
testimony of God himself concerning Pharaoh, whom he
stirred up to this purpose, that he might be glorified in
Pharaoh's hardening and just punishing.
(r) God speaks unto Pharaoh in the scripture, or, the
scripture in talking about God, in this way talks to
(s) Brought you into this world.
(14) Secondly, he brings the goal of God's counsel, to show
that there is no unrighteousness in him. Now the main
goal is not properly and simply the destruction of the
wicked, but God's glory which appears in their rightful
9:1815 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he t will [have
mercy], and whom he will he hardeneth.
(15) A conclusion of the full answer to the first objection:
therefore seeing that God does not save those whom he
freely chose according to his good will and pleasure, but
by justifying and sanctifying them by his grace, his
counsels in saving them cannot seem unjust. And again,
there is not injustice in the everlasting counsel of God,
with regard to the destruction of those whom he lifts to
destroy, because he hardens before he destroys: therefore
the third answer for the maintenance of God's justice in
the everlasting counsel of reprobation, consists in this
word "hardening": which nonetheless he concealed in the
former verse, because the history of Pharaoh was well
known. But the force of the word is great, for hardening,
which is set against "mercy", presupposes the same things
that mercy did, that is, a voluntary corruption, in which
the reprobate are hardened: and again, corruption
presupposes a perfect state of creation. Moreover, this
hardening also is voluntary, for God hardens in such a
way, being offended with corruption, that he uses their
own will whom he hardens, for the executing of that
judgment. Then follow the fruits of hardening, that is,
unbelief and sin, which are the true and proper causes of
the condemnation of the reprobate. Why does he then
appoint to destruction? Because he wishes: why does he
harden? Because they are corrupt: why does he condemn?
Because they are sinners. Where then is unrighteousness?
Nay, if he would destroy all after this manner, to whom
would he do injury?
(t) Whom it pleased him to appoint, to show his favour
9:1916 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find
fault? For who hath resisted his will?
(16) Another objection, but only for the reprobate, rising upon
the former answer. If God appoints to everlasting
destruction, such as he wishes, and if that which he has
decreed cannot be hindered nor withstood, how does he
justly condemn those who perish by his will?
9:2017 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against
God? 18 Shall the thing u formed say to him that formed
[it], Why hast thou made me thus?
(17) The apostle does not answer that it is not God's will, or
that God does not either reject or elect according to his
pleasure, which thing the wicked call blasphemy, but he
rather grants his adversary both the antecedents, that is,
that it is God's will, and that is must of necessity so
happen, yet he denies that God is therefore to be thought
an unjust avenger of the wicked: for seeing that it
appears by manifest proof that this is the will of God,
and his doing, what impudency is it for man, who is but
dust and ashes, to dispute with God, and as it were to
call him into judgment? Now if any man say that the doubt
is not so dissolved and answered, I answer, that there is
no surer demonstration in any matter, because it is
grounded upon this principle, that the will of God is the
rule of righteousness.
(18) An amplification of the former answer, taken from a
comparison, by which it also appears that God's
determinate counsel is set by Paul as the highest of all
causes: so that it depends not in any way on the second
causes, but rather shapes and directs them.
(u) This similitude agrees very properly to the first
creation of mankind.
9:2119 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same
lump to make one 20 vessel unto x honour, and another
unto 21 dishonour?
(19) Alluding to the creation of Adam, he compares mankind not
yet made (but who are in the creators mind) to a lump of
clay: who afterwards God made, and daily makes, according
as he purposed from everlasting, both such as should be
elect, and such as should be reprobate, as also this word
(20) Whereas in the objection propounded, mention was only made
of vessels to dishonour, yet he speaks of the others also
in this answer, because he proves the Creator to be just
in either of them.
(x) To honest uses.
(21) Seeing then, that in the name of dishonour the shame of
everlasting death is signified, those agree with Paul, who
say that some are made by God for most just destruction:
and they that are offended with this kind of speech betray
their own folly.
9:2222 [What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to
make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the
y vessels of wrath fitted to 23 destruction:
(22) The second answer is this, that God, moreover and besides
that he justly decrees whatever he decrees, uses that
moderation in executing his decrees, as is declared his
singular mercifulness even in the reprobate, in that he
endures them a long time, and permits them to enjoy many
and singular benefits, until at length he justly condemns
them: and that to good end and purpose, that is, to show
himself to be an enemy and avenger of wickedness, that it
may appear what power he has by these severe judgments,
and finally by comparison of contraries to set forth
indeed, how great his mercy is towards the elect.
(y) By vessels, the Hebrews understand all types of
(23) Therefore again, we may say with Paul, that some men are
made by God the creator for destruction.
9:23 And that he might make known the z riches of his glory on
the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto
(z) The unmeasurable and marvellous greatness.
9:2424 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the a Jews
only, but also of the Gentiles?
(24) Having established the doctrine of the eternal
predestination of God on both parts, that is, on the part
of the reprobate as well as of the elect, he comes now to
show its use, teaching us that we ought not to seek its
testimony in the secret counsel of God, but by the calling
which is made manifest, and set forth in the Church,
propounding to us the example of the Jews and Gentiles,
that the doctrine may be better perceived.
(a) He does not say that each and every one of the Jews
are called, but some of the Jews, and some of the
9:2525 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people,
which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not
(25) Our vocation or calling is free, and of grace, even as our
predestination is: and therefore there is no reason why
either our own unworthiness, or the unworthiness of our
ancestors should cause us to think that we are not the
elect and chosen of God, if we are called by him, and so
embrace through faith the salvation that is offered us.
9:2726 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the
number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea,
a remnant shall be saved:
(26) Contrary to this, neither any outward general calling,
neither any worthiness of our ancestors, is a sufficient
witness of election, unless by faith and belief we answer
God's calling: which thing came to pass in the Jews, as
the Lord had foretold.
9:28 For he will finish the work, and cut [it] b short in
righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon
(b) God chooses and goes about to reduce the unkind and
unthankful people to a very small number.
9:29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of c Sabaoth
had left us a d seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been
made like unto Gomorrha.
(c) Armies, by which word the greatest power that exists is
attributed to God.
(d) Even as very few.
9:3027 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which
followed e not after righteousness, have attained to
righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.
(27) The declaration and manifestation of our election is our
calling apprehended by faith, as it came to pass in the
(e) So then, the Gentiles had no works to prepare and
procure God's mercy before hand: and that the Gentiles
attained to that which they did not seek, the mercy of
God is to be thanked for it: and in that the Jews did
not attain that which they sought after, they can only
thank themselves, because they did not seek for it in
the proper way.
9:3128 But Israel, which followed after the law of
righteousness, hath not attained to the law of
(28) The pride of men is the reason that they reject their
calling, so that the cause of their damnation need not to
be sought for in any other place but themselves.
9:32 Wherefore? Because [they sought it] not by faith, but as it
were by the s works of the law. For they stumbled at that
(s) Seeking to attain righteousness, they followed the law