Paul is teaching that Godís decisions are very different from peopleís decisions. When people choose someone for a special purpose, they consider that personís importance, his character and his strength. They are trying to choose the person who can succeed by his own efforts.
On the other hand, the matters that God considers are very different. The Jewish people are Godís special people who come from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We may ask how God chose Isaac and Jacob. It was the usual custom at that time for the first son in the family to receive special honour. However, Isaac was Abrahamís second son, and Jacob was Isaacís second son.
Paul has just explained why God chose Isaac. It was because of Godís promise to Abraham. We might think, however, that there was a natural reason to choose Isaac. Isaacís mother was Sarah, a free woman - but the mother of Ishmael, Abrahamís first son, was a slave. However, God does not make his decisions by natural, human reasons. He is not trying to find the person who will succeed by his (that personís) own human efforts. Instead, God chooses the person who will allow God to work in and through him.
To prove this, Paul reminds us that there was no natural, human reason to choose Jacob instead of his older brother, Esau. They were both born to the same mother; in fact, they were twins (two babies born at the same time). However, even before they were born, God chose Jacob and not Esau (Genesis 25:21-23). Godís special nation, called Israel or the Jewish people, came not from Esauís family, but from Jacobís family.
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© 2017, Keith Simons.