Reflect back on chapter 8 —
(Rom 8:29-31) For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Read this from Paul’s perspective, as a Jew who sees Jesus as the culmination of God’s redemptive plan that had been worked out through Israel. Whom, then, did God foreknow? Well, the same people whom God will glorify, right? And that means believers in Jesus. And that means very few Jews.
Thus, at this point in Paul’s epistle, he realizes that God foreknew and predestined only a remnant from among the Jews to be glorified. And this is a serious issue because it goes so contrary to expectations — and Paul’s wishes for his countrymen.
You see, we have to be careful not read “us” as “me”! We unconsciously translate in our minds as —
(Rom 8:29-31) For [me whom] God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn [with this] brother[(me)]. 30 And [me whom] he predestined, he also called; [me whom] he called, he also justified; [me whom]he justified, he also glorified. 31 What, then, shall [I] say in response to this? If God is for [me], who can be against [me]?
We read it as being about individuals, but Romans 9 is about nations, and Romans 9 is in response to the problem arising from Romans 8. We tend to take Rom 9 – 11 as a gigantic parenthesis, interrupting the flow from chapter 8 to chapter 12, but if we read Rom 1 – 8 as having as its theme —
(Rom 1:16) I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
— then we see that Paul’s discussion of Jews and Gentiles in chapters 1 – 8 culminates in chapters 9 -11. Thus, these chapters are no interruption. Rather, they wrestle with the very problem created by chapter 8.