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Featured Romans 9 Isn't What You Think It Is

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by CJP69, May 16, 2024.

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  1. CJP69

    CJP69 Active Member

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    So many people think that Romans 9 is about predestination and that it has a lot to say about how or why or whether someone is saved. The fact is, it doesn't have anything to do with either. Romans 9 is about Israel - the nation of Israel.

    Before I get started, let me say first that I think that the Bible interprets itself and must be taken as a whole but that I also believe that individual passages of Scripture must stand on their own without being logically incoherent. In other words, we are able to determine what a passage of Scripture is saying based solely on the context of the passage itself. We do not need a theological system in place before it is possible to figure out what a section of Scripture is saying. Now, there could be, I suppose, exceptions to this general rule but Romans chapter 9 is certainly not one of them. I'm saying this at the outset because I want to draw attention to the fact that I do not draw upon any theology to interpret this chapter but only upon other Bible passages which the text of Romans 9 makes reference to, all of which couldn't be any clearer and easy to understand than they are. I also bring this up now because I think that this will become important as the conversation goes on because I do not think that the Calvinist take on this chapter makes any logical sense whatsoever. Paul would have to be nearly schizophrenic to write what Calvinists generally say that he wrote in this passage.

    Now, with that in mind let's get to it...

    The ninth chapter of Romans is speaking about the cutting off of Israel. It is quite clear that Paul is making a case that God cut off Israel and turned instead to the gentiles, and that God is justified in having done so. It will become equally clear that this is all that the chapter is about, and that it has nothing to do with predestination (or salvation) at all.

    It helps to see it if one looks at the introduction and summation of the chapter. In the first few verses it is clear that Paul is speaking of Israel and that he is upset by their condition of unbelief...

    Romans 9:1 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, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.​

    And then in the last few verses Paul sums up the point of what he's just been saying in the previous several verses...

    Romans 9:30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law *of righteousness. 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, *by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 33 As it is written: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."​

    Now, that by itself is probably enough to make it clear what Paul is talking about but what really nails it down is his reference in the body of the chapter to a couple of Old Testament passages, those being Jacob and Esau and then the Potter and the clay story.

    It's always a good idea to read any Old Testament passage that is quoted or made reference to in the New, in order to maintain the context of what's being said. (Remember the whole "Bible interpreting the Bible" thing.) So let's take a look at them so that we can be on the same page that Paul was on when he made these references. Doing so will undoubtedly shed additional light on the point he was making.

    Romans 9:13 As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated."​

    This is a direct quote from Malachi 1:2-3 but even the Malachi passage is not referencing the two boys themselves but the nations which came from them. I won't bother quoting it here but even a surface reading of Malachi 1 will confirm that it is talking about a nation not a person.
    Likewise, Paul is talking also about a nation. We can tell this for certain because of what is quoted just before in verse 12...

    Romans 9:12 "it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger.""​

    This is a direct quote from Genesis chapter 25 where it says explicitly that there are two nations in Rebecca's womb...

    Genesis 25:23 "And the LORD said to her: "Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger."​

    Additionally, even if it didn't explicitly state that it's talking about two nations we could still know for certain that it is anyway because Esau (the older) never served Jacob (the younger). That did not happen, ever.

    This passage is very clearly talking about nations and about how God deals with nations not about individuals or how God deals with individuals and Paul by referencing this material was making the exact same point. That's the reason why he referenced it.

    Now let's move on to the Potter and the clay story. It is on the same topic and is found in Jeremiah chapter 18...

    Jeremiah 18:1The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: 2 "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear My words." 3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.
    5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: 6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?" says the LORD. "Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! 7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, 8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. 9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, 10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.​

    Okay, that couldn't be any clearer! Jeremiah was making the very point that Paul is making! No wonder Paul referenced this passage, it applies directly to the subject he was dealing with! It IS the subject he was dealing with! Romans 9 and Jeremiah 18 are making the exact same point; they both use the same analogy for the same reasons. For all intent and purposes Romans 9 and Jeremiah 18 are the exact same chapter! The only difference is that in Romans 9 Paul is saying that the principle described in Jeremiah 18 has been carried out by God on the nation of Israel.

    Romans 9 is not about predestination at all. Paul didn't start talking about Israel and then suddenly change the subject to predestination and then just as suddenly change the subject back again to Israel. The whole chapter is on one issue and one issue only. That issue being God's absolute right to change His mind concerning His blessing of a nation that had done evil in His sight.

    It's no more complicated than that. In a nutshell, Paul was simply saying that Israel's promised kingdom wasn't coming because they had rejected the King and Romans 9 is all about how God was justified in having changed His mind about giving them that kingdom. That's all it's about; nothing more, nothing less.

    Resting in Him,
    Clete
     
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  2. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Say a passage makes three points, the main point and then two other points. Bible study will not result in nullifying the other points because they are not the main point, that is simply an argument from Scripture nullifyers.
     
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  3. Baptizo

    Baptizo Member

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    The only flaw with your argument is that the chapter and verse divisions are modern innovations. Romans 9 is a continuation of Romans 8.

    Romans 8:30 - Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

    I'm not a Calvinist but I can't ignore verses that do speak of predestination and I wouldn't be honest to the text if I isolated Romans 9 from the rest of the picture.
     
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  4. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    Have you ever read the chapter through v 24?

    23 and that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he afore prepared unto glory,
    24 even us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles? Ro 9
     
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  5. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Romans 8:28 says God causes all His blessings to work together for good for those are transferred into Christ. These are ones God planned for beforehand, including His plan for those transferred into Christ to be conformed to the image or likeness of Christ. And these which He planned for, He transferred into His kingdom in Christ, and when transferred were justified by the washing of regeneration, and those justified He also glorified, allowing them to spiritually enter heaven as part of the spiritual body of Christ. Thus the aspects of the plan, are what is predestinated, and the plan included conditional election based on God crediting the believers faith.
     
  6. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    One point made by Romans 9 is that God's election of Jacob and Esau where not based on anything they had done, but on the fact Esau was older (by a short time span) than Jacob. Thus God made foolish the wisdom of men (the younger serve the older) by having the nation descended from Esau the older serve the nation descended from Jacob the younger. Still a conditional election not based on merit, a point that cannot be nullified.
     
  7. Baptizo

    Baptizo Member

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    Does this apply to an unsaved person? Why would there be the possibility that He predestine those who would not believe? God does not passively take in knowledge by looking into the future to see who would and would not believe.

    Ephesians 1:4-6 - According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

    This was all determined before time began. I'm a 4-pointer so my stance is that election is conditional in the sense that every individual person has the responsibility to believe the Gospel, but ultimately God's predetermined plan can't be thwarted by our free will.
     
    #7 Baptizo, May 16, 2024
    Last edited: May 16, 2024
  8. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    You missed my point, because God did not predestine individuals for salvation or damnation.
    I did not say nor suggest God looked into the future to conditionally elect individuals in the future. That is just another fiction.
    God chooses individuals for salvation through faith in the truth. Thus their faith existed before individual election. You apparently think Ephesian 1:4 says individuals were elected before creation. It does not. It says God chose us (believers at the time of Paul's writing) "in Him" What does that mean? It means when God chose Logos to be His Lamb of God (His Redeemer) before creation, He corporately chose those His Redeemer would redeem, thus He chose us in Him. Everyone individually chosen during their lifetime after they believed, was chosen corporately according to God's purpose established before creation when God in accordance with His Redemption Plan, chose His redeemer.

    And those chosen when chosen are indeed predestined to their bodily redemption at Christ's second coming. Also in accordance with God's redemption plan.

    If you are a 4 point Calvinist, at least 3 of those points are unbiblical in my opinion. But lets take conditional election. Individual election occurs during the lifetime of those chosen through faith in the truth.

    We agree, God's predetermined plan, what it is, cannot be thwarted by any human effort, or lack of effort. We disagree on what is God's actual redemption plan, my view is His plan is to redeem believers whose faith He credits as righteousness.
     
    #8 Van, May 16, 2024
    Last edited: May 16, 2024
  9. CJP69

    CJP69 Active Member

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    That isn't a flaw in my argument, it is my argument!

    Romans 9 is the proof that Romans 8 is not about God predestining individual people for salvation.

    God is just. Therefore, Calvinism is false.
     
  10. CJP69

    CJP69 Active Member

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    I feel like there are probably details hidden in some of this that I'd quibble with but in general, I agree with this post entirely.

    It is groups of people who are corporately predestined to one fate or another, not individuals. Individuals get to choose which group they will be in, at least in the ultimate sense. Jews were in a covenant relationship with God by virtue of their birth as a descendant of Jacob. Levites could serve as priests, even as the high priest, whether they loved God or they hated God. This is because God honored the office rather than the man because of what that office represented, which was Christ (and the rest of the whole redemptive plan of God).

    In short, it is Christ that has been predestined for glory, which is all that God could rightly (justly) predestine because Christ is God Himself. One can get on board with God and accept His free gift of Christ's life or not. Those that do are identified in Him and will thus share in His predestined glory. Those who don't, won't and God has predestined that they will be dealt with according to their actions.

    God is just! Therefore, Calvinism is false! (all five points of it!)
     
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  11. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    In Romans 9, Esau and Jacob were chosen so that the younger would serve the older. This point is valid and be given heed, just as the fact both were chosen before they had done anything good or bad, thus not chosen based on merit. This point should not be nullified because of the other point.
     
  12. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Eternal Security, once saved always saved is a valid aspect of their slightly off the mark "P" (Perseverance of the Saints).
     
  13. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    You are right, and Romans 9 is an often misused "proof text" by Calvinists.

    Romans 9 is Paul explaining why all of Israel (according to the flesh) will not be saved yet God remains just.
     
  14. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    Have you ever read the chapter through v 24?

    23 and that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he afore prepared unto glory,
    24 even us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles? Ro 9
     
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  15. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Yes. But we have to take the entire section as a whole.

    I'm not denying predestination. I'm simply questioning whether we should extract tha5 fact from the context.

    Even here we are looking at a predestined true Israel (those of the Seed of Abraham) vs a predestined lost Israel (the physical descendents of Jacob).
     
  16. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified Ro 8

    23 and that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he afore prepared unto glory,
    24 even us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles? Ro 9

    I've no problem at all extracting the fact of predestination of Jews AND non-Jews from the context, because it's plainly there.
     
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  17. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Great insight!
     
  18. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    The extraction by some is out of context, claiming something other than those born anew being predestined to being conformed to the image of Christ and predestined to bodily redemption at Christ' second coming.
     
  19. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I have no problem with the extracting.

    It's how some people apply the extraction that I find problematic.

    The subject throughout remains Israel (we will see this in the next couple chapters of the epistle). Israel is chosen, branches chosen to be cut off and branches from a wild tree chosen to be grafted in.

    The larger picture is Christ as Israel (as the vine....with branches).

    I think it would be better if Christians would focus on election in that way - Christ IS Israel, IS the Vine, IS the Elect....and we are partakers in that election.

    In other words, that verse does not say what Calvinists think it means, but that particular passage doesn't negate Calvinism either.

    It depends on whether we look to Christ or ourselves as Paul's ultimate focus of that particular passage.

    Is Paul saying Christ is God's Elect and those branches a part of the Vine (their election a result of being a branch) OR is Paul speaking of individual election?

    The Calvinist automatically assumes the latter, but the passage itself could mean the former.
     
  20. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Election through faith in the truth must be individual, unless the claim is made faith in the truth is not faith in God and His Christ.
    2 Thessalonians 2:13. Or James 2:5 chosen as poor to the world, rich in faith and heirs to the kingdom promised to those who love God. Or 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 where "calling" and "chosen" are used interchangeably with both referring to our individual election for salvation.
     
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