The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Epistle of the Blessed Apostle Paul to the Romans
I am not deceiving you, I am telling you the truth in Christ’s name, with the full assurance of a conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit,
when I tell you of the great sorrow, the continual anguish I feel in my heart,
and how it has ever been my wish that I myself might be doomed to separation from Christ, if that would benefit my brethren, my own kinsmen by race.✻
They are Israelites, adopted as God’s sons; the visible presence, and the covenant, and the giving of the law, and the Temple worship, and the promises, are their inheritance;
the patriarchs belong to them, and theirs is the human stock from which Christ came; Christ, who rules as God over all things, blessed for ever, Amen.✻
And yet it is not as if God’s promise had failed of its effect. Not all those who are sprung from Israel are truly Israelites;
not all the posterity of Abraham are Abraham’s children; It is through Isaac, he was told, that thy posterity shall be traced.
That is to say, God’s sonship is not for all those who are Abraham’s children by natural descent; it is only the children given to him as the result of God’s promise that are to be counted as his posterity.
It was a promise God made, when he said, When this season comes round again, I will visit thee, and Sara shall have a son.
And not only she, but Rebecca too received a promise, when she bore two sons to the same husband, our father Isaac.
They had not yet been born; they had done nothing, good or evil; and already, so that God’s purpose might stand out clearly as his own choice,
with no action of theirs to account for it, nothing but his will, from whom the call came, she was told, The elder is to be the servant of the younger.✻
So it is that we read, I have been a friend to Jacob, and an enemy to Esau.✻
What does this mean? That God acts unjustly? That is not to be thought of.
I will shew pity, he tells Moses, on those whom I pity; I will shew mercy where I am merciful;✻
the effect comes, then, from God’s mercy, not from man’s will, or man’s alacrity.
Pharao, too, is told in scripture, This is the very reason why I have made thee what thou art, so as to give proof, in thee, of my power, and to let my name be known all over the earth.✻
Thus he shews mercy where it is his will, and where it is his will he hardens men’s hearts.✻
Hereupon thou wilt ask, If that is so, how can he find fault with us, since there is no resisting his will?
Nay, but who art thou, friend, to bandy words with God? Is the pot to ask the potter, Why hast thou fashioned me thus?✻
Is not the potter free to do what he will with the clay, using the same lump to make two objects, one for noble and one for ignoble use?
It may be that God has borne, long and patiently, with those who are the objects of his vengeance, fit only for destruction, meaning to give proof of that vengeance, and display his power at last;✻
meaning also to display, in those who are the objects of his mercy, how rich is the glory he bestows, that glory for which he has destined them.✻
We are the objects of his mercy; we, whom he has called, Jews and Gentiles alike.
That is what he says in the book of Osee, Those who were no people of mine, I will call my people; she who was unpitied and unloved shall be loved and pitied.✻
In places where they used to be told, You are no people of mine, they will be called, now, sons of the living God.✻
And, where Israel is concerned, Isaias cries out, The number of the sons of Israel may be like the sand of the sea, but it is a remnant that will be left;
the Lord is making up his reckoning and cutting it short in his justice; it is a short reckoning that he will make upon earth.✻
So Isaias had said earlier on, If the Lord of Hosts had not left us a stock to breed from, we should have been like Sodom, we should have gone the way of Gomorrah.✻
What do we conclude, then? Why, that the Gentiles, who never aimed at justifying themselves, attained justification, the justification which comes of faith;
whereas the Israelites aimed at a disposition which should justify them, and never reached it.
Why was this? Because they hoped to derive their justification from observance, not from faith. They tripped on the stone which trips men’s feet;
so we read in scripture, Behold, I am setting down in Sion one who is a stone to trip men’s feet, a boulder to catch them unawares; those who believe in him will not be disappointed.✻
The Holy Bible