Paul was heartbroken over the reality that there were those within ethnic Israel that didn’t believe in Messiah Jesus (1-3) even though they had been given so many blessings leading them to do so (4-5). He then answered the question as to whether the Word of God had failed them with a passionate NO, followed by a detailed illustration explaining and defending the righteousness of God and his unfailing Word. We learned through the illustration of Ishmael and Isaac that God never intended to save all of ethnic Israel and indeed had always been a God of election (6-9). We saw last week that the purpose of God’s election remains or continues to stand as illustrated in the lives of Jacob and Esau. This week Paul responds to an objection that comes on the heels of verse 13. When you say the phrase, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” people tend to respond with accusations from two angles. First, it doesn’t seem that God is just if he is giving righteousness to some and not others and he judges those who haven’t even been born. Secondly, Paul probably got it all wrong. This isn’t really the way that God has operated through the Scriptures, so we can disregard his teaching on this matter. Paul responds clearly and biblically to these questions and there is stability in these verses if your mind and heart is ready for it.
The main point of these verses is to answer the question, “Is God just?” The answer is a very clear, “yes”. The Question comes in verse 14: Paul answers the question from the negative side, that is, “Is God unjust, or unrighteous?” The word for “unrighteous” here means a violator of the law in the broadest sense, but particularly it means legal injustice, or partiality. This accusation has been made in the history of the church and will be made until Christ returns. When we look at this in light of a democratic society where everyone gets a vote, we find this unfair and an infringement upon our freedom and so we ask if God is really just. This is the argument of Job’s wife in Job 2:9 when she gives him the awesome advice to curse God and die since God had no reason to treat him this way! So the assumption is that God isn’t just.
The Answer comes back in verse 14: May it never be! The strongest Greek negative. No, no a thousand times no. Paul answers this question with authority, but tomorrow we will see his argument as well.