Romans 9 -- What Is It Saying?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Marcia, Mar 30, 2006.

  1. Marcia

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    I see a lot of Calvinists quote from Romans 9 to try to prove their points -- it almost seems like Rom. 9 is mostly what they quote. But isn't Rom. 9 about the Jewish nation not recognizing Jesus as the Messiah and how God used that for his own purposes?

    The chapter ends with Paul saying that
    God says that Israel pursued righteousness by works and not by faith and that is why they did not attain it. Do you think God forced the Israelistes to pursue it by works? I don't think so. I think that because they hardened their hearts, which God knew would happen, he gave them over to it and let them be deceived.

    The NET Bible says this about Rom. 9-11:
    I'm going to try to restrain myself ;) and see what others say.
     
  2. Calvibaptist

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    OK, I'll bite! And I'll try to be nice and not bite too hard.

    Here's my take on Romans 9-11. While it discusses the national aspect of Israel's rejection and the fact that Gentiles in general are brought in to the promises, it is based on the fact that individual Israelites are not saved. Look at the following verses:

    Romans 9:1-3 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.

    Paul is talking about the fact that Israelites (individually) are accursed and he would take their place if he could.

    Romans 9:6-7 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called."

    In case anyone might misunderstand what he is saying, he takes it down to the individual level. They are not all Israel who are of Israel. In other words, not every individual Israelite was meant to be part of the promise.

    He uses the stories of individuals such as Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Moses and Pharaoh. He talks about individual vessels of mercy and individual vessels of wrath. He talks about God having mercy and compassion on individuals and God hardening individuals.

    Romans 9:24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

    Yes, he uses the categories of Jews and Gentiles, but he talks about "us whom He called." He is speaking of individuals.

    Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.

    He is talking about the salvation of Israelites.

    Romans 10:9-10 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    The subject is individual salvation.

    Romans 11:1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

    Again, the subject is the salvation of Israel. Evidence of God's faithfulness to His promises to His people is the fact that an individual Israelite, Paul, is saved.

    Romans 11:3-5 LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life"? 4 But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

    Using the case of 7000 individuals who had been kept faithful by God, Paul relates it to the current remnant of individuals that are elected (chosen) by God's grace.

    Romans 11:7 What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

    Israel, the nation, did not obtain the righteousness it sought, but the elect (both Jewish and Gentile individuals) obtained it. The rest (Jewish and Gentile individuals) were hardened.

    Romans 11:25-27 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins."

    Speaking to individual Gentiles, Paul tells them that some individual Israelites have been hardened until all the individual Gentiles who are going to be saved (gee, how does God know that number?) are, and then all Israel will be saved. It is interesting that most Dispensationalists point to this verse to say that every Israelite that is still alive at the end of the Tribulation turns to Christ. Even they admit it is about salvation of individuals.

    This is a brief tour of Romans 9-11. This is why I consider this section to be about individual salvation and, therefore, God's sovereignty in that process. This is the passage that made me a Calvinist.
     
  3. Joseph_Botwinick

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    The one flaw I see in your argument is that he is not only speaking of the nation of Israel...as Pharaoh (the leader of Egypt) was the object of wrath whom he hardened. Now, a question for you, Marcia:

    Why does it state in Romans 9 that God hardened Pharaoh's heart?

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  4. whatever

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    Just another thought - just for the sake of argument, suppose Romans 9 is discussing the destiny of Israel the nation. If God can determine the destiny of nations then why can't He determine the destiny of individuals? I've heard people make this argument before and I do not follow their logic.
     
  5. J.D.

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    Rom 9-11 can only be properly understood as a TRANSITION from national election to individual election. This is only in the sense of covenant, for individual salvation has always been based on individual election.

    The old covenenant (moses) was based on national election. The new covenenant (grace) is based on individual election. He shows that the Abrahamic covenent was a foreshadow of grace, not law. So then not all that are of Israel are Israel. And this can only speak to individual person, BOTH of Jews and Gentiles.

    Rom 9:24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

    Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. 11 Wherefore remember, that ye [being] in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone]; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
     
  6. npetreley

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    IMO this is on target, especially because it is explained in Galatians basically the same way.
     
  7. Humblesmith

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    In the entire book of Romans, context is king. You have to consider things in context. Chapter 9 starts and ends with national Israel, therefore that is the context. But as has been pointed out here, this does not preclude it making a point about individual salvation. Romans is a very logical, very structured book, and the salvation question is settled in Ch. 1 to 8. There is an obvious break in the subject matter between 8 to 9, while 9 to 11 deal with the same idea: Israel.

    Paul didn't stop with Romans 9. He goes on to Chapter 10, and the chapter divisions are not inspired. Romans 10:3 says:
    "For not knowing about God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God."

    So while Rom. 9 primarily is dealing with nations, it also deals with election by God, and very possibly individual election. But equally as importantly, the same passage (Rom. 10:3) says that it is possible for people to "subject themselves" to the righteousness of God. Subjecting oneself to God is a self-caused action....the self is doing the subjecting. So while yes, the verse says they didn't subject themselves, it says they should have, which means it is possible.

    Bottom line: Ch. 9 is mainly national Israel. Personal election is mentioned, but is not the main topic. If personal election were the point, it would have been mentioned prior to ch. 8. Rom. 10:3 says it is possible for lost folks to subject themselves to the will of God.

    (ducks for cover)
     
  8. Calvibaptist

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    I disagree that there is a major break between chapters 8 and 9. I have heard this argument before and don't think it holds water.

    Paul had just spent chapter 8, from verses 28-39 talking about the security of believers. He bases their security on the fact that they have been chosen and predestined.

    Romans 8:29-31 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

    Romans 8:33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.

    The he make the bold promise that nothing in heaven, earth or under the earth can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

    But what about Israel? Weren't they chosen by God and promised a destiny? Didn't God say He loved them? Why is it that they have been rejected? If it is possible for God to go back on his Word to Israel, is it possible for God to go back on His Word to us?

    This is the subject matter of chapters 9-11. This is why Paul makes such a major point of the fact that God was never promising a destiny to "national Israel." He was only promising it to those who were elect (children of promise). It is showing that the promise was meant to be individualized, not nationalized. Election is a personal thing, just as salvation is, just as perseverance is.
     
  9. Calvibaptist

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    BTW, if you have the stomach for it, John Piper has done an excellent book on the exegesis of this chapter called The Justification of God. It is a very hard read, because it is written like a doctoral thesis. But it is very well done.
     
  10. Humblesmith

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    Hmmmm, maybe. I'll have to study on it.
     
  11. Calvibaptist

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    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  12. Calvibaptist

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    I still don't see why saying that someone didn't do something suggests the possibility that they could have. It just says they were ignorant of it and didn't submit to it.

    If anyone should have had the ability to submit to the righteousness of God, it would have been the Israelites. And yet they didn't. The point of Romans 10:3 is that even with all the privileges they had, they were ignorant of the true nature of God and didn't submit to His righteousness. Sounds like the Calvinist definition of total depravity to me.
     
  13. Mel Miller

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    Marcia,

    You singled out Rom.9 for discussion; but then
    referred to the NET Bible and the issue of the
    relation of Israel and the Church in Rom.9-11.

    Reformed doctrine on Chapter 9 is one matter in
    respect to election. But the relation of Israel
    to the Church in Chapter 11 is another matter.

    Traditional Dispies depart from the Reformers
    by denying that the Church is the NEW Israel.

    Progressive Dispies agree with the Reformers
    but they are divided among themselves as to
    whether Israel will be restored at the head of
    the nations during the Millennium.

    I go one step beyond both groups by noting the
    Plan of God, stated in Rom.11:27-32, requires
    the literal restoration of 1/3 of the entire Nation accepting Christ on the Day He comes
    "in the name of Jehovah" to redeem them and
    to restore their Kingdom. Luke 21:28,31.

    The "one step further" is that God plans to
    employ Israel to bring the knowledge of God to
    all the world through the New Covenant so that everyone will know Him, from the least to the
    greatest".

    In other words, I believe the "new covenant"
    of Jer.31 and 33 and Heb.8:8-12 have a future
    fulfillment during the Millennial Reign of
    Christ with Israel at the head of the nations.

    On the Lastday and during the "Hour of Trial on
    all the inhabitants on all the face of all the earth" (Luke 21:34-35), the Jews will "mourn
    and pray to escape and will prevail by begging
    to stand before the Son of Man". Luke 21:36.

    Mel Miller www.lastday.net
     
  14. Humblesmith

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    Regarding Rom. 9: if you start a passage with a nation, and end it with a nation, then the primary topic is the nation.

    Regarding 10:3: It just strikes me that the plain meaning of the verse, without interpreting it through a theological lens, is that they should have subjected themselves, and because they could have but didn't, then they can be blamed. He was speaking of a self-caused action of submission. I submit that you're reading someone's definition of depravity into the text to make it fit a pre-conceived system.

    From here, the 10:3 discussion will degenerate into one of the classic disagreements. So I'm done with this one.
     
  15. npetreley

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    I disagree. You said, rightly, context is king. But the mistake most people make with Romans is to narrow the context to little slices. Almost all of the book of Romans is a LONG logical thought process, with one thought leading to another. The immediate contexts are contexts Pauls uses for his methods of illustration, but that's all -- no more, no less.

    Where (IMO) people go wrong is when they start looking at the immediate context and paying attention to the context and not the entire message of Romans. That's when you start reading (IMO silly) things like "Well, here Paul is talking about himself only...here is where he's talking about everyone....here is where he's talking only about Israel...here is...etc."

    That's missing the forest for the trees.
     
  16. Calvibaptist

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    I just don't think he starts with the nation. I think he starts with the fact that the majority of individual Israelites have rejected Jesus Christ even though they had all the benefits of being connected to Israel.

    I agree that the plain meaning is that they should have but didn't and can be blamed for not doing it. I don't agree that it is plain that they could have. Paul said every other part of it but that part.

    I submit that it is reading into it someone's definition of choice to make it fit a philosophical system to suggest that a command means that there must be an ability to obey the command. This is obviously the crux of the matter as far as this issue is concerned, and I don't expect you, or any other non-Calvinist, to agree with me. It was the debate between Augustine and Pelagius and the debate continues to rage.

    I respect your restraint. Sometimes I wish I had as much! ;)
     
  17. J.D.

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    Romans 11:1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, [of] the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, 3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to [the image of] Baal. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

    Notice the election of GRACE pertains to the remnant, not to the nation.

    Notice the people whom God foreknew were those whom He reserved unto himself.

    When Paul says has God cast away His people whome he foreknew, we assume the foreknown are National Israel. But then Paul refers to those INIDIVIDUALS, which includes himself, that are of the election of GRACE.

    The problem with the whole national/corporate election theory is that it is all or none. If national Israel has fallen, then what of those jews that believe? And likewise, if O.T. gentiles were altogether accursed, then what of those that believed (i.e. Rahab, Ruth, et al.)?

    Election of grace can not pertain to corporate or national election. Grace is the means of individual salvation. That is not to say that the election of the jews was not of grace, for it was; but its objective was different.

    It sounds like I just contradicted myself, and no doubt I have not done a good job of communicating here. But it's simple:

    Was national Israel elected? Yes.
    Was it by grace? Yes.
    But who are the people in this passage that Paul is applying the election of grace to?

    "a remnant".
     
  18. J.D.

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    Here's John Gill's commentary on Rom 11:

    he begins with an objection he saw would be made upon what he had said, concerning the calling of the Gentiles, and the unbelief of the Jews, that then God had wholly cast off his people, Ro 11:1, to which he answers with a "God forbid", by way of detestation; and by instancing in himself, who was of the people of the Jews, and yet was called; and by distinguishing between some and others among them: there were some who were foreknown, loved, and chosen of God from everlasting: these were not cast off, but others who were not foreknown, Ro 11:2, and then he illustrates the present case of the Jews by observing how it was with them in the times of Elias; who though he complained of their apostasy and cruelty, and imagined that there were none left but himself that worshipped the true God, yet there were then seven thousand, which were preserved from the idolatry of Baal, Ro 11:2, and so the apostle observes it was now,
    Ro 11:5, there was a small number whom God of his free grace had chosen, and reserved for himself, and so were not all cast away, as the objection suggested; and having called this choice an election of grace, he argues the contrariety and inconsistency of grace and works in this affair, Ro 11:6, and since it appeared that there were two sorts of people among them, one that were chosen and the other not, hence it was, that though Israel did not obtain the righteousness they sought for, yet they that were chosen obtained it, and so were not cast away, when the rest were, Ro 11:7, and that so it should be, or that this should be the case of the greater part of the Jews, that they should be given up to blindness and hardness of heart, the apostle proves by some testimonies of Isaiah and David, which he produces,
    ...
     
  19. Me4Him

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    Mt 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

    Ro 11:19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.

    20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

    21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

    22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

    Jesus was only sent to Israel, but because of "THEIR" unbelief, they were "Broken off".


    Calvinist have said that God give the "FAITH" to be saved.

    If God's not willing that any should perish, then God "failed" to give these "unbelievers" the Faith they needed to be saved, and broke them off, and then accused them of being guilty of the unbelief that prevented them from being saved.

    If God's not willing for any to perish, would God not do everything necessary for him to do so that "none perish"??

    Calvin accuses God of being responsible for these going to hell, but God prefers that men turn from their evil and live, God has done all that's necessary to "Save the whole world", but the "CHOICE" to turn is left up to man.
     
  20. Plain Old Bill

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    Gill is a good choice if you want a Calvinist interpretaion.
     

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