by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3 January 7, 2018 Humble, Texas
10 And not only [this]; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, [even] by our father Isaac;
11 (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;)
12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
1901 ASV Translation:
10 And not only so; but Rebecca also having conceived by one, [even] by our father Isaac--
11 for [the children] being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth,
12 it was said unto her,The elder shall serve the younger.
13 Even as it is written,Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.
I. And Not Only [That]...
A. Paul's earlier point: the "seed" are "Israelites" who had one attribute added to them alongside their "natural" conception (they are actual genetic offspring of egg/sperm from "Israel"/Jacob): the attribute of having been supernaturally produced byGod as a direct consequence of His promise/faith principle of operation within His "relational universe").
1. The "in Isaac shall thy seed be called" and the "at this time will I come and Sarah shall have a son" declarations exist as an explanation/commitment couplet.
a. The "in Isaac..." declaration was made in Genesis 21:12 where the setting was Abraham's distress because of Sarah's demand that his "son of his flesh with Hagar" be driven away from his household and proximity. This was "explanation" because God clarified to him that driving Ishmael away would not compromise God's Plan, but not driving him away would. God's Plan was to develop the fundamental principle of promise/faith through Isaac without the complication of Abraham's insertion of the contradictory principle of performance/merited-reward into the process.
b. The "at this time..." declaration was made earlier (in Genesis 18:10) where the setting was Sarah's cynical laughter of disbelief. This was the setting wherein God brought Sarah our of her cynical self into "faith" by forcefully confronting her unbelief (a confrontation that, according to Hebrews 11:11, finally brought her to "faith"). This is a crucial step in the promise/faith principle of operation within God's "relational universe". God does not act to fulfill promises for those who reject those promises in unbelief (Hebrews 4:2/Acts 13:4). Thus, this is the "promise" element of the couplet with the "explanation" element preceding it in Paul's presentation of our text. The historical timeline is reversed by Paul in order to serve his explanation; an explanation that put the "explanation" ahead of the historically prior "promise".
c. This is an enormously crucial issue: promises made by God are intended, by Him, to summon forth the faith that is required for fulfillment, and if they do not (because the existence of faith is necessary) He will do whatever is required beyond "promise" to get the person "to" faith. Sarah was a necessary partner to God's fulfillment of His promise to Abraham, so God "forced the issue" with Sarah in her cynical disbelief until she "saw" the truth and capitulated and "believed". There was a "Sarah-including" promise of God to Abraham in Genesis 17:16 that "required" faith from Sarah, and since Abraham believed God, God was "on the hook" to bring Sarah into the faith also. So, in an analogy, "Sarah" was, like Isaac, a "child of promise" in the sense that "promises" are kept by God without regard for the oppositional tactics of the cynical. In Paul's case, he was a "child of promise" because God simply steam-rolled him on the road to Damascus to overcome his rather determined opposition to the promise(s). God does what He has to do to fulfill the promises His declared Plan requires.
2. The point: Paul's argument is that to be "Israel" ("...not all that are out of Israel are Israel...") requires both genetic descent from Israel and participation in "faith" as the required element in a working "relational universe".
a. At the heart of this entire theological construct is the bottom line reality that God's Plan consists, at its heart, of the intention to produce "eternal life" for some of the offspring of Adam. This intention requires participation from both the Author of Eternal Life and the recipient(s) of that Life. On the Author's side is, first, "promise" because the actual, full-orbed, experience of that Life is yet in the future for the recipients. Promises are for "future" considerations ("...hope that is seen is not hope..."). And on the recipient(s) side is, of absolute necessity, "faith" because there can be no "transfer" of Life from its Author to anyone who does not "trust" Him.
b. Then, there is this: "faith", being a necessity, but not a natural human capacity, is, therefore, something that the Author must bring about in the recipient(s). Hemust overcome all of the natural oppositional issues within fallen humanity (blindness, ignorance, wilfulness, hatefulness, pride, fear, etc., etc.).
c. Thus, the central thesis of "a child of promise" is that God is fully engaged and completely responsible to do everything to produce the "child" by whatever means (sex, as with Abraham and Sarah, or not, as with Mary, the virgin). No man can claim to have come to the identity of "child of promise" by any of his own activities (overt, as in "works", or internal, as in coming up with the necessary "love" and "faith" on his own). Saul did not become Paul by reason of anything within himself except the finally captivating despair of "self-production" at all levels caused by the God-induced realization that he was absolutely disqualified; and, even this was not produced by him: it was "forced" upon him by the confrontation of him that Jesus created on his way to Damascus.
B. The additional information...
1. Rebecca also...
a. The "also" refers back to Sarah.
b. Rebecca was not conceiving. She married Isaac when he was forty years old (Genesis 25:20). She conceived and bore him Jacob and Esau when he was sixty years old (Genesis 25:26). She had no other children and settled her affections upon Jacob (Genesis 25:28). The twins were "fraternal" not "identical" (two different eggs fertilized and attached to her womb).
2. The "greater" shall serve the "smaller" (Genesis 25:23; comment told her while pregnant but before delivery).
a. The choice to translate "the elder shall serve the younger" is most likely ("greater" in status as born first and "smaller" in status as second born), but the terms used might also imply that the "greater in strength" shall serve the "smaller in strength" and might explain why Rebecca's affections went to Jacob.
b. Paul makes a case for "the children of promise" being "productions of God" by arguing that this declaration of Esau serving Jacob was made to Rebecca before either of the sons had done "any good or evil". His declaration is that the underlying issue was the stability of the "election" that undergirds God's "purpose". Paul's phrase is "the according-to-election-purpose of The God". This was so that everything hinges upon "Him Who calls" rather than the human "works" of men. God does not put His integrity into the hands of creatures so that if they fail He fails.