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Chapter 2 Section 2.

- Romans 9:10-13

Part 2 Chapter 2
Section 2—Romans 9:10-13.
[With Romans 8:33].
And not only this, but where Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac, (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) it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the
younger; as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

The design of the apostle, in this chapter, is to show, that though the Israelites in general were a chosen people, had
peculiar privileges, to whom the promises were made; yet, the word of God was not made void, or took no effect;
notwithstanding few of them believed in Christ, the greater part were rejected of God, and the Gentiles shared the
blessings of the new covenant; seeing there were then, as there always had been, two sorts among them; the one were
children of the flesh, the natural descendants of Abraham only; the other also children of the promise, who were
counted for the spiritual seed. To the latter of which the promises were always made good; and these always shared,
as they then did, the spiritual blessings of grace; wherefore, the word of God had its designed accomplishment. And,
lest this should seem any new, or strange thing, the apostle instances in the immediate offspring of Abraham, Isaac,
and Ishmael; the one was born after the Spirit, the other after the flesh; the one was the son of the free, the other of
the bond-woman; the one continued in the house, the other was cast out. And to prevent any objection that might be
taken from Ishmael’s being born, not of the lawful wife, but of the bond-woman, as being the reason of his rejection,
the apostle proceeds, to mention the case of Jacob and Esau, who not only had the same father, but the same mother,
Isaac’s lawful wife; these were conceived at once, were in the womb together, were twins; and if any had the
preference, Esau by birth had it, being born first; and a yet a difference was made between these two by God himself;
who said to the mother of them, The elder shall serve the younger; which is interpreted of God’s loving the one, and
hating the other; and this was notified to her, in consequence of an eternal purpose, before the children were born, and
when they had done neither good nor evil; so that it could not be said, that Jacob was loved for his good works, nor
Esau hated for his evil ones; wherefore the purpose of God, respecting the election of Jacob, fully appears to depend
not of works, but of the grace of him that calleth. From all this we conclude, that the predestination of men, either to
life or death, is personal: that the objects of either branch of predestination are alike, or are considered in the same
situation or condition, whether, in the pure, or corrupt mass, or in both; that God was not influenced or moved, in the
election of the one, by their good works, or in the rejection of the other, by their bad ones; that God’s decree of
election stands firm and immoveable, not upon the feet of works, but of the grace of God; and, that love and hatred
are the real springs and source of predestination in its respective branches. But the grand exception to this instance
and example of personal election and rejection, is, that these words do not "respect the persons of Jacob and Esau, but
their whole nation and posterity; and this is said to be plain,"[1]
1. From the words of God to Rebecca, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated
from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people, and the elder shall serve the younger. To
which I reply, that this oracle primarily respects the persons of Jacob and Esau as the roots of their respective
offspring; and only, secondarily, their posterity, as branches that should sprout from them; it properly regards their
persons, and only in an improper, figurative, and metonymical sense, their seed; for, in no other sense could two
nations, or two manner of people, be in Rebecca’s womb, than as there were two persons there, who would be the
authors of two nations and people; and, admitting that their respective posterities are in ever so strict and close a sense
intended, this can never be understood to the exclusion of their persons; any more than they can be thought to be
personally excluded from any concern in the loss or enjoyment of the birthright and blessing; for, were the posterity of
Esau only deprived of the birthright and blessing? Was not he himself personally supplanted with respect to both? Did
the posterity of Jacob only enjoy the birthright and the blessing? Did not Jacob himself, in his own person, purchase
the birthright, and receive the blessing?
2. This is said[2] to be plain, "from this observation, that, as to the persons of Jacob and Esau, this was never true,
that the elder did serve the younger; but only, as to their posterity, when the Edomites became tributaries to David, (2
Sam. 8:14)." But this observation supposes that this is to be understood of outward temporal servitude; and, indeed, in
this sense, it was never true of their persons; so far from being so, that Jacob, as soon as he had got the birthright and
the blessing, was obliged to flee from Esau; and when, after many years, he returned, he sends messengers to his[11/2/2010 10:09:55 AM]
Chapter 2 Section 2. - Romans 9:10-13

brother, in a very submissive manner, charging them, saying, Thus shall ye say to my lord Esau, thus etc. And, when
he found that his brother was coming to meet him, it threw him into a panic fear, lest he should smite him, and the
mother with the children; he prepares presents for him; and when he came to him, bowed himself to the ground seven
times, and so his wives and children all bowed to him; and the language in which he addressed him, while they
conversed together, was that of my lord (Gen. 27:43; 32:3, 4,11,13; 33:5-8,13-15.) Now it is not credible, that if this
oracle is to be understood of temporal servitude, that it should have no appearance, nor the least shadow of an
accomplishment, in their persons, supposing it was to have a greater in their posterity; and, indeed, the completion of
it in this sense, in their posterity, is not so exceeding evident. It is certain, that there was a long train of dukes and
kings in Esau’s posterity before there was any king in Israel (Gen. 36:31). They were in lordly grandeur and splendor,
when the children of Israel were oppressed with hard bondage in Egypt. The single instance referred to, when the
Edomites became tributaries to David, was near a thousand years after the giving out of this oracle: and this servitude
did not continue long; for, in Joram’s time, they revolted (2 Kings 8:22), and so continued; and it is plain, that, at the
time of the Babylonish captivity, the children of Edom were prosperous and triumphant; who said (Ps. 137:7),
concerning Jerusalem, Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation thereof. This servitude, therefore is to be understood in a
spiritual sense of Esau’s exclusion from the favor of God, and the blessings of grace: for these two phrases, The elder
shall serve the younger, and Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated, are of the same signification: the one is
explanative of the other. When Jacob got the birth-right, and received the blessing, this oracle began to have a visible
accomplishment, Esau then appeared not to be the son and heir of promise, who was to abide in the house; and
therefore departs, and pitches his dwelling elsewhere; all which showed he had no interest in spiritual adoption—no
right to the blessings of the covenant of grace—nor was he an heir of heaven; these belonged to Jacob. Esau was a
servant of sin, under the dominion of it, and in bondage to it; whilst Jacob was the Lord’s freeman, and, as a prince,
had power with God, and with men, and prevailed. Esau was serviceable to Jacob, even in spiritual things, as
reprobates are to the elect; for all things are for their sake, and all things work together for their good. Jacob’s being
obliged to flee from his brother, was for his good; by this providence, he got him a suitable wife, and large substance.
His brother’s meeting him on his return, which gave him so much pain and uneasiness, issued in his spiritual good;
this sent him to the throne of grace, to humble himself before God, acknowledge his mercies and dependence on him,
to implore his help, and plead his promises. And thus the oracle was verified in the persons of Jacob and Esau.
3. It is urged,[3] that "what is here offered, as a proof or confirmation of this, is cited from the prophet Malachi,
who prophesied long after Jacob and Esau were personally dead, and speaks expressly of the nation of the Edomites."
It is very true, that Malachi prophesied long after Jacob and Esau were dead personally; and it is as true, that what
God there says by Malachi so long after they were dead, is only an explanation of what he had said to Rebecca before
they were born; as appears from the apostle’s citing both passages as of like import, and the one as interpreting the
other. It is plain that the Lord, in the prophecy of Malachi directs the murmuring Jews to the personal regard he had to
Jacob and Esau; and which had continued in numberless instances to their respective posterities, in order to stop their
mouths, and reprove their ingratitude: and though he speaks of the nation of the Edomites, and also to the posterity of
Israel, yet it is evident that he has a respect to the persons of Jacob and Esau, from whence they sprung, when he says,
was not Esau Jacob’s brother? Now, though an Edomite may be said to be brother to an Israelite, yet Esau is never
said, nor can he, with any propriety, be said to be the brother of Jacob’s posterity.
4. That the persons, and not the posterity of Jacob and Esau, are here designed, is evident from the personal account
that is given of them; for whatever may be said for their taking their rise from one common father, Isaac, or for their
being chosen or rejected as nations before they were born, or had done good or evil; yet it cannot be said with any
propriety at all, that Rebecca conceived their respective posterities by one, even by our father Isaac. Moreover, the
Scriptural account of these two accords with a personal rejection of the one, and an election of the other. Esau is
represented as a profane person; yea, is expressly (Heb. 12:17) said to be apedokimasqh, rejected, that is, from
inheriting the blessing. Jacob, on the other hand, is spoken of as a plain and upright man; one interested in the
covenant of grace, and a chosen vessel of salvation. Besides, this sense of the words only agrees with the scope and
design of the apostle, which is to prove, that all were not Israel which were of Israel, and that all the natural seed of
Abraham were not the children of God: this he could not better exemplify, than in the persons of Jacob and Esau; for
to have instanced in the posterity of Esau, would have been foreign to his purpose. Add to all this, that the apostle
continues his discourse, in the following verses, upon the subject of personal election and rejection; he observes (vv.
15,18), that God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardeneth; which respects
persons, and not nations; and instances in Pharaoh, which surely cannot be understood of the posterity, but of the
person of Pharaoh; and in verses 22, 23, speaks of vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, and of vessels of mercy afore
prepared for glory; which design, neither nations, nor churches, nor Jewish converts only, but particular persons
among Jews and Gentiles; which latter appear to be the people and beloved of God, and vessels of mercy, by their
being called by grace. Hence,
5. It does not clearly follow, as is said,[4] that the apostle cannot here discourse of any personal election to eternal
life, or of any personal love or hatred with respect to eternal interests; since he manifestly speaks of the persons, and
not the posterity of Jacob and Esau: and did he, it would not follow, as is suggested, that according to this opinion, the[11/2/2010 10:09:55 AM]
Chapter 2 Section 2. - Romans 9:10-13

whole nation of Israel must be elected to eternal lifts, and the whole posterity of Esau he the objects of God’s hatred
and reprobation; since the people of Israel in general might be said to be loved and chosen of God, the far greater part
of them being so, the line of election running among them as it did for many hundreds of years; and yet some of them
be instances of God’s displeasure and hatred: and on the other hand, the posterity of Esau in general might be said to
be rejected, the far greater part being so, the line of rejection running among them as it did for many hundreds of
years; and yet some of them, as Job and his friends, be chosen vessels of mercy. Nor,
6. "Is it certain,[5] That the apostle here only speaks of the election of one seed and nation before another, to be
accounted and treated by him as the seed of Abraham, or owned for his peculiar people. For nothing is more certain
than that the apostle here speaks of the election of some of the same seed, and of the same nation, before others, who
were to be accounted and treated as the spiritual seed of Abraham; and owned for God’s peculiar, special people,
before others who were, equally with them, the natural seed of Abraham.
7. The last instance of the sense of the word elect, when applied to Jewish converts, is in Romans 8:33, Who shall
lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? And, "here again it is said,[6] that the elect and true believers are the
same." I see no reason why the elect here should be confined to Jewish converts; for though the apostle speaks of
himself and others, he is writing to the Romans. And be it so, that the elect design true believers, it is plain they were
such who were predestinated before they were called; and so were the elect of God antecedent to their being true
believers, and therefore are not denominated God’s elect from their being so; and besides, they were such as were
chosen not barely to external means of grace, and outward privileges, but to grace here and glory hereafter, verse 30,
and so were not whole nations, or churches, or communities, but particular persons.


[1] Whitby p. 45; ed. 2. 44. So Curcellaeus’ p. 378; Limborch, p. 350.

[2] Whitby, p. 45; ed. 2.44.

[3] Whitby p. 45; ed. 2.44; Limborch, p. 350.

[4] Whitby, p. 45; ed. 2.44.

[5] Ibid. p. 46; ed. 2.45.

[6] Whitby, p. 45; ed. 2.44.[11/2/2010 10:09:55 AM]