And if he chose them by grace, it is not ·for the things they have done [by works]. If they could be made God’s people by ·what they did [works], God’s gift of grace would ·not really [or no longer] be a gift.
In just the same way, there is at the present time a minority chosen by the grace of God. And if it is a matter of the grace of God, it cannot be a question of their actions especially deserving God’s favour, for that would make grace meaningless.
Does this mean, then, that God is so fed up with Israel that he’ll have nothing more to do with them? Hardly. Remember that I, the one writing these things, am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham out of the tribe of Benjamin. You can’t get much more Semitic than that! So we’re not talking about repudiation. God has been too long involved with Israel, has too much invested, to simply wash his hands of them. Do you remember that time Elijah was agonizing over this same Israel and cried out in prayer? God, they murdered your prophets, They trashed your altars; I’m the only one left and now they’re after me! And do you remember God’s answer? I still have seven thousand who haven’t quit, Seven thousand who are loyal to the finish. It’s the same today. There’s a fiercely loyal minority still—not many, perhaps, but probably more than you think. They’re holding on, not because of what they think they’re going to get out of it, but because they’re convinced of God’s grace and purpose in choosing them. If they were only thinking of their own immediate self-interest, they would have left long ago.
But if on the mekor (basis) of chen v’chesed (unmerited favor, grace), then not on the mekor (basis) of [loin (wages), batsolen (pay) for] ma’asim (works), vi-bahlt (since) otherwise chesed would no longer be chesed (4:4-5).
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