What does Romans 9:27 mean?
ESV: And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved,
NIV: Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.
NASB: Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, 'THOUGH THE NUMBER OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL MAY BE LIKE THE SAND OF THE SEA, ONLY the remnant will be saved;
CSB: But Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, Though the number of Israelites is like the sand of the sea, only the remnant will be saved;
NLT: And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out, 'Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved.
KJV: Isaiah also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:
NKJV: Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is showing that God shows mercy to whomever He will, including some Jews and not others, as well as to some Gentiles. God has declared that the deciding factor about who will be spared from His wrath and receive His mercy is by faith in Christ, not human action (Romans 6:23). God's choice in how, when, or if that happens for any particular person is a decision He can make according to His own sovereign purposes (Romans 9:20–21).

In the previous verse, Paul used Hosea's words to describe how some Gentiles have now been called by God and included as His beloved children. Now Paul quotes from Isaiah 10:22–23, regarding the Jewish people.

First, God has kept His promise to Abraham. The sons of Israel have become as the sands of the sea (Genesis 22:17). That promise did not obligate God, however, to eternally save every son and daughter of Israel. In fact, Isaiah writes that only a remnant will be saved.

This and the following verses bring us back around to where Paul began this chapter. God does and will continue to keep His promises to His chosen nation Israel. However, He will not show the same mercy to every descendant of Abraham, as many of the Jews assumed. They must come to Him through faith in Christ to be saved from the penalty of their sin, and a remnant of Israelites will do just that.
Verse Context:
Romans 9:19–29 deals with the issue of whether or not God's sovereign choice to bless some, and not others, is ''fair,'' in the way we often use that term. Paul's essential argument is that God is God, and as the Creator, He has the right to do as He wishes with His own creation. A potter can choose how to use clay, and that clay has no cause to complain that it was chosen for one purpose or another. In the same way, God has the absolute right to choose whom He will save. Quotations from Hosea and Isaiah are used to show that this sovereignty extends to God's plan to include Gentiles in the plan of salvation.
Chapter Summary:
Romans 9 begins with Paul describing his anguish for his people Israel in their rejection of Christ. After describing all the privileges God has given to the Jewish people as a nation, Paul insists that God will keep those promises. However, not every person born to Israel belongs to Israel, he writes. God reserves the right to show mercy to some and not others, as Paul demonstrates from Scripture. God is like a potter who creates some vessels for destruction and others for glory. God has called out His people from both the Gentiles and the Jews to faith in Christ, the stumbling stone.
Chapter Context:
Romans 8 ended with Paul's grand declaration that nothing can separate those who are in Christ Jesus from the love of God. Romans 9 turns a sharp corner and finds Paul heartbroken that his people, the Jews, have rejected Christ. He insists that God will keep His promises to Israel, but that not everyone born to Israel is truly Israel. God will show mercy to whomever He wishes, calling out His people from both the Jews and the Gentiles to faith in Christ. Romans 10 will find Paul discussing how Jewish people can be saved.
Book Summary:
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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