Romans 9:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 9:14, NIV: What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!

Romans 9:14, ESV: What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!

Romans 9:14, KJV: What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

Romans 9:14, NASB: What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? Far from it!

Romans 9:14, NLT: Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not!

Romans 9:14, CSB: What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not!

What does Romans 9:14 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

"What shall we say then?" That's the phrase Paul often uses to address an objection his readers might be having in response to what he has just written. Then he will phrase the imagined objection in the form of a question, as he does here. As is his custom in the book of Romans, Paul follows up by rejecting the idea with the Greek phrase mē genoito, translated as "by no means" or "may it never be!"

In this case the question is about God's fairness or justice. Paul has just described how God chose to whom His covenant promises to Israel would be given—and to whom they would not be given. In the case of Rebekah's twins, God made this decision before they were even born. God's judgment was in no way based on either Jacob's or Esau's actions or birth order or parents. It was entirely a matter of His omniscience and sovereignty.

In the previous verse, Paul quoted the Old Testament prophet Malachi, who recorded God's words saying that He "loved Jacob" and "hated Esau" even before they were born. This was not a reference to the emotion we describe using the English word "hate" today. "Love" in Scripture is usually a reference to how one acts, and "hate" here is meant as a contrast to it. Exaggerated parallels were common in speech of ancient times (Luke 14:26). God simply chose to give extreme blessings to Jacob, and—relatively speaking—none to Esau.

Now Paul puts the question in the mouth of his readers, "Is that injustice on God's part?" By no means! But this naturally leads one to ask how is it just, then? Paul will address that in the following verses.