Romans 9:8

That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

That is, they which are the children of the flesh,.... This is an explanation of the foregoing verse, and shows, that by "the seed of" Abraham are meant, the natural seed of Abraham, who are born after the flesh, or descend from him by carnal generation:

these are not the children of God; that is, not all of them, nor any of them, on account of their being children of the flesh, or Abraham's natural seed; for adoption does not come this way; men do not commence children of God by their fleshly descent; they are not "born of blood", but of God, who are the sons of God:

but the children of the promise are counted for the seed; tyrb ynb "children of the covenant", is a common phrase with the Jews; who reckoned themselves as such, because they were the seed of Abraham: thus in their prayers they say {e} to God,

"we are thy people, Ktyrb ynb, "the children of thy covenant", the children of Abraham thy friend.''

And so they were the children of the covenant, or promise, which God made with Abraham and his natural seed, respecting the land of Canaan, and their enjoyment of temporal good things in it; but they were not all of them the children of the promise, which God made to Abraham and his spiritual seed, whether Jews or Gentiles, respecting spiritual and eternal things; to whom alone the promises of God, being their God in a spiritual sense, of spiritual and eternal salvation by Christ, and of the grace of the Spirit of God, and of eternal life belong; and who are the seed which were promised to Abraham by God, saying, "thou shalt be a father of many nations",

Genesis 17:4: for which reasons, because these spiritual promises belong to them, and because they themselves were promised to Abraham, as his children, therefore they are called "children of the promise": or rather, because as Isaac was a child of promise, being born after the Spirit, by virtue of the promise of God, through his divine power and goodness, when there were no ground or foundation in nature, for Abraham and Sarah to hope for a son; so these are called "children of promise", Galatians 4:28, because they are born again, not through the power of nature, and strength of their own free will; they are not born of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, according to the will of God and his abundant mercy, by the word of truth, through his power, Spirit, and grace; and by faith receive the promises made unto them; and are counted and reckoned as "Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise", Galatians 3:29, whether they be Jews, or whether they be Gentiles: and since now the promises of God are all made good to these persons, the word of God is not without effect, or is not made void, by the casting off the children of the flesh, or the carnal seed of Abraham, who were not children of the promise in the sense now given.

{e} Seder Tephillot, fol. 3. 2. Ed. Basil. fol. 6. 1. Ed. Amstelod.