The apostle Paul showed in the first part of his letter to the Romans that righteousness and salvation are obtained only through faith in Jesus Christ. He had shown how the Jews had rejected this salvation and how it had been offered to the Gentiles.
As he began this second part of this letter, Paul explained that it was not he, but God who had condemned the Jews. He stated that he could even wish that he himself would be rejected from salvation if it would mean the saving of his Jewish countrymen.
Paul recounted how God had chosen His people, the fleshly Israel. After the age of natural childbearing of Abraham and his wife, Sarah, Abraham had been chosen as the father of all—fleshly Israel and spiritual Israel. Not all of Abraham’s sons had been chosen. Ishmael was rejected but Isaac became the chosen son.
Even before Isaac’s twin sons, Esau and Jacob were born, it was prophesied that the descendants of the older would serve the descendants of the younger. Jacob, being the younger, became the father of twelve sons who were the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Paul stated that some might question the righteousness of God. He had told Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” God used those who were best fitted for His service and were obedient to Him as He formulated His plan of redemption for man. He willed to show mercy to those who obeyed and He willed to harden those who disobeyed.
In explaining how people digress from the purpose for which God has made them, Paul referred to the potter and the clay in the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament.
God had chosen the Jews to be His people, but because they had rejected Christ, He, the Potter had reshaped them into a vessel of dishonor. The Gentiles had been disobedient, but after becoming obedient, they had been reshaped into a vessel of honor. God will make the best thing possible out of each piece of clay. His will is that all of mankind would be saved.
Paul quoted from prophecies of Hosea and Isaiah to show that the Gentiles would eventually receive the gospel, but only a few of the Jews would be obedient. The Gentiles were accepted because of their faith. Refusing to turn from works of the Law of Moses caused the Jews to stumble at the teaching of the gospel—the stumbling stone of Zion.