Chapter 9:6-8 – In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. ~ Romans 9:6-8
Here Paul makes a striking distinction between the Israelites, applying the promise God made to Abraham which says “in Isaac shall thy seed be called” (KJV) to those within Israel who are of faith, and not to those who were of natural descent only.
Paul here echos that which he has already stated in chapter 2:
25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. ~ Romans 2:25-29
In Paul’s doctrine, one who was a Jew in the flesh (the circumcision) but did not keep the law, was as an uncircumcised person in the eyes of God “if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.” And the uncircumcised (Gentile) who obeyed the law was counted as a Jew in the eyes of God, “So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?”
Abraham’s family has always been a household of “faith” in the eyes of God. Being Jewish (Israel) has never been about race only. In his letter to the Galatians Paul tells the Gentile brethren, “if ye belong to Christ, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” ~ Galatians 3::29. In the next chapter, Paul tells the Galatians, “For we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.” ~ Galatians 4:28
Notice that Paul does not say to the Gentiles at Galatia, “ye, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise.” Paul uses the pronoun “we” which would include himself, a physically circumcised Jew.
This is where many often stumble over Paul’s teachings. They think that the Gentiles have become the “spiritual children” of Abraham, while the Jews remain as the “true children” of Abraham because of their physical descent. This sort of thinking is out of sync with Paul’s.
The promise God made to Abraham was a family from “all nations,” for the children God promised to Abraham would be those who would follow his faith. They are the heirs of the promise which God made to Abraham. Abraham is the father of all who believe and that is why Paul makes the distinction that he does between the Israelites who sought righteousness through faith, and those who sought it through the works of the Law.
In Romans 9-11, Paul tells us that only a remnant of the people of Israel truly found God’s way of righteousness and that the people of Israel, as a whole, did not obtain righteousness because they did not seek it by faith. Instead, they sought it by the works of the Law, i.e., through their national identity.
In Romans 4, Paul tells us that because of Abraham’s faith, he was declared righteous in the sight of God, apart from the works of the law. Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness. In Galatians Paul says, “…the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed.” ~ Galatians 3:8
Abraham believed the gospel in advance which was God’s promise to justify all who believe. Therefore all who are of faith (faith in Jesus) are the children of Abraham and heirs to the promise – this is true for the Jew and the Gentile.