The Word of God Has Not Failed

Romans 9:1–5, Part 1

Principle for Bible Reading

Romans 9 potentially creates a massive problem for the glorious promises of Romans 8. In this lab, John Piper begins a series through this difficult, but critical chapter by explaining the crisis of unbelieving Israel and the sure hope of the new people of God in the word of God.

View the outline.


Prayer/Introduction to Romans 9 (00:00–02:27)

Romans 9 is the massive, unshakeable, often unnoticed foundation of the beautiful, glorious house of Romans 8 and all its promises.

Paul’s Pain Over Israel (02:27–04:19)

  1. Paul is utterly heartbroken over the faithlessness of his fellow Jews. He loves them desperately. (Romans 9:2–3)
  2. Despite the privileges they were given by God, Israel spurned him and his Messiah. (Romans 9:3–5)
  3. Israel’s failure to inherit the kingdom raises questions about God and his faithfulness to his word.

Confirmation in the New Testament (04:19–06:53)

  1. Not all of the Jewish people will receive Jesus as the Messiah, and therefore many of them will not be saved. (Romans 9:27)
  2. Gentiles will join the Jewish patriarchs in the kingdom of heaven, but many you would expect — many of the Jews — will spurn their Messiah, and therefore will be left out of the kingdom and cast into hell. (Matthew 8:11–12)
  3. Even the Jewish leaders must be born again, or they will not be saved. They must experience Jesus Christ as their Messiah. (John 3:3, 5)
  4. The builders — the Jewish leaders — reject their cornerstone — Christ. Therefore, the kingdom is taken away from Israel and given to the church. (Matthew 21:42–43)

Has God’s Word Failed? (06:53–08:58)

  1. Romans 8 hangs entirely on whether God’s word stands.
  2. If God’s word hasn’t stood for Israel despite all of God’s promises, why should we think his word will stand for us, the church?
  3. “But it is not as though the word of God has failed” (Romans 9:6). All of our hope in Romans 8 hangs on Romans 9:6 being true.

Study Questions

  1. After all the promises of Romans 8, what is the crisis in Romans 9:1–5? Why is Paul so distraught after explaining the glories of all God has promised to us in Christ?
  2. Read Romans 9:27, Matthew 8:11–12, John 3:3–5, and Matthew 21:42–43. What do you learn about the state and future of Israel from these verses?
  3. How does Paul address his own pain over Israel in Romans 9:6? How does this begin to resolve the crisis he is feeling in Romans 9:1–5?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Piper: “Romans 9 is the massive, often unnoticed foundation of the glorious house of Romans 8 and all its promises.”