Do You Belong?


Honestly, you might be tempted to read today’s passage and sigh, “What in the world is Paul talking about?” It might help to remember that Chapter 9 started with Paul’s lament for the people of Israel. They are the people of promise and so near to God, yet they have rejected Jesus the savior. So, they are now outside of God’s people looking in. How can that be? Has God’s promise failed? Has God gone back on his word?

  • In today’s passage, Paul discusses true membership in God’s family. How would you answer someone who asked you how to be a child of God?


6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7and 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. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Paul made the argument that “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel.” He illustrated that with two examples from Israel’s history. Identify and describe in your own words the examples Paul used.
  2. A little background—Abraham had two sons from two different women: Isaac, the child of promise through Sarah, and Ishmael through Hagar. It was only Abraham’s descendants through Isaac that were considered true Israel. Given that, explain Paul’s first argument in verses 6-9. What does it mean that not all flesh are the children of God (vs. 8)?
  3. Identify the details Paul gave concerning the two children of Rebekah, Jacob and Esau. How is this example the same and different than the example of Abraham’s sons?
  4. We become God’s people not because our deeds are good or bad or due to our family lineage, but because of God’s call. What is the encouragement for us in this truth?


In Ephesians, Paul tells us that we are children of God not because of our good works, but by faith through God’s grace (2:8-9). We don’t earn our membership in the family of God by anything we do, nor by association with any group, people, or ethnicity. If we are children of God, it is because God has called us, graced us, and freed us from our sin. We are not in because we have a certain mother, father, heritage, or capacity to be good. We belong to God because the blood of Christ was given for you and me. If we receive it by faith, we belong in the family.

  • Thank God for his grace today. Thank God for making a way for you to be a full member of the family of God.
  • Pray for the people of Israel today, that they might have their hearts opened to see that Jesus is the one and only promised Messiah. Pray for them the same grace that you have received in Christ Jesus.