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Romans Chapter 9

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  • Romans Chapter 9

    One of the huge difficulties with Romans Chapter 9 is that it seems to suggest predestination which would sound unfair. But I have thought of a way to get around it: yes it talks about predestination -- but not pertaining to ALL people but only pertaining to SOME people. In that particular case, it would be Pharaoh and Jews. But, more generally, it is anyone who plays a key role to historic events. So if you take any politician, then yes their actions are probably predestined; but if you take a normal person like you and me, then we have free choice.

    Let me explain. So I was born in communism USSR, and I wittnessed the end of communism, perestroyka, and so forth. So to me the 1990-s are associated with Yeltsin. So were the actions of Yeltsin predetermined? You bet! Without Yeltsin there won't be 1990-s. I was more or less just a spectator of a historic events -- that were aforegiven -- and I just happened to have lived at that time. Yet people didn't know it was all predetermined, to them it seemed like they were electing Yeltsin. But how could it have possibly been a real vote? Were they voting for whether or not they wanted to enter the 90-s?! Sounds ridiculous.

    But if you take an actions of individuals like me and you then its quite different. In this case yes I made choices and no, none of what I did was predetermined.

    So here you go. The key historical figures (Pharaoh, Jews, Yeltsin, any other politician thats your favorite) is the "clay" that Paul was speaking of and THEY might be predetermined for hell or whatever. But that doesn't apply to ordinary people like me and you, so we have nothing to worry about

  • #2
    Re: Romans Chapter 9

    Okay, let's read Romans 9 in full and extract the main idea of what Paul is saying. I also like to read before and after. Chapter 8 is where he shares the joys of being saved by the gospel.


    There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death [...] What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? [...] Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died - more than that, who was raised - who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us [...] [Nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 8)

    • Then Paul begins to lament the fact that not everyone believes the gospel, and so cannot experience this freedom:

    I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh [...] And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved. (Romans 9)

    • The subject matter is God's sovereignty over the gospel and salvation. About this, he goes on to say:

    For he [God] says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy [...] So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. (Romans 9)

    • To prove his case, Paul gives EXAMPLES of God's sovereignty:

    “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” [...] As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” [...] For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Romans 9)

    • And finally, he preemptively answered the question that he knew people would ask after hearing something so controversial. In fact you had the same response in your OP:

    Originally posted by Subriemannian View Post
    It seems to suggest predestination which would sound unfair. But I have thought of a way to get around it:
    What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! [...] You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory. (Romans 9)

    So I firmly believe in predestination for every single person, especially when it comes to forgiveness of sins, because as the Spirit says, "it depends not on human exertion." Here are other Scriptures outside of Paul's writings which say the same:

    Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. (Proverbs 19)

    The LORD of Hosts has purposed, and who can thwart Him? His hand is outstretched, so who can turn it back? (Isaiah 14)

    I distinguish the end from the beginning, and ancient times from what is still to come, saying: 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.' (Isaiah 46)

    All the peoples of the earth are counted as nothing, and He does as He pleases with the army of heaven and the peoples of the earth. There is no one who can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Daniel 4)

    If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof. (Psalm 50)

    Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Everything under heaven is Mine. (Job 41)

    I think it would be better to see what God's word says directly about the subject (any subject, really), and base your interpretation on that - rather than attempt to "work around" something uncomfortable that He has said.
    撒母耳記上 (1 Samuel) 2:2


    • #3
      Re: Romans Chapter 9

      Originally posted by Subriemannian View Post
      The key historical figures (Pharaoh, Jews, Yeltsin, any other politician thats your favorite) is the "clay" that Paul was speaking of and THEY might be predetermined for hell or whatever.
      Just a quick final point on this. The clay/potter analogy is not actually Paul's original idea; he's alluding to Isaiah 45, which says:

      Let the earth open up that salvation may sprout and righteousness spring up with it; I, the LORD, have created it. Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker - one clay pot among many. Does the clay ask the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’? Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What have you begotten?’ or to his mother, ‘What have you brought forth? (45:8-10)

      Clay is representative of being human in general, a creation of God - the Potter. It's as universal as having a father and mother.
      撒母耳記上 (1 Samuel) 2:2


      • #4
        Re: Romans Chapter 9

        Romans 9

        By oldhermit
        Part one

        I. The Privileges of Being a Jew, 1-5
        “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and
        unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my
        kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites...”

        A. Paul's concern for Israel, 1-3.
        This was a source of great consternation for Paul.

        1. For the Jews, Paul felt “great sorrow and unceasing grief” to the extent that he says,
        2. “I could wish that I myself were accursed.” Ἀνάθεμα – That which is devoted to destruction.
        3. “I could wish that I myself were separated from Christ.” (imperfect tense, involving potential or condition).
        Paul's desire for the Jew was out of a genuine love for the lost. This is the epitome of a self-sacrificing spirit. This reflects the
        seriousness and the intensity of the matter. Remember, these are not regarded by Paul as his brothers in the Spirit, rather, he refers to them as “my kinsmen according to the flesh.” He is talking abut his desire for the unsaved Jewish people.

        What does Paul's desire for the salvation of the Jews have to say about the position of unconditional election? Why would Paul have such sorrowful grief over Israel being lost if the doctrine of unconditional election were true? If God had predetermined for the Jews to be saved then Paul's concern over the Jew was for nothing. If God had predetermined for the Jew to be lost, then Paul's concern over the Jew was for nothing.

        Paul did not grieve for them because they were chosen, elect, predestined, or saved. He grieved for them because they were lost and going to hell because they had rejected their Messiah and it was tearing him apart.

        B. Paul begins his defense of the faithfulness and sovereignty of God by reminding the Jews of what a truly privileged people God had made them to be, 4-5,
        “ whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”

        Paul has already addressed the question in 3:1 of, “what advantage has the Jew?” In the mind of the Jew, if the Gentile is to be privy to the same blessings and salvation from God as the Jew, then what is the advantage in being a Jew? What is the point? The point the Jew seemed to always miss was that the advantage of the Jew was that it was through them that salvation would come to the world. The advantage was not in who they were but in WHAT they were to the purposes of God. This advantage gave them certain privileges.

        1. “ whom belongs the adoption as sons.”
        Paul is speaking to a Jewish audience whom he declares to be privileged as having received the adoption of sonship, but this privilege of adoption is not exclusive to the Jew. Paul says the same things to the Gentiles in Ephesians 2. The difference between the Jew and the Gentile was that the Jews were the first-fruit among God's children. This is confirmed in the pattern of the preaching of the gospel – “To the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.”
        2. To the Jew belonged “the glory”
        3. To the Jew belonged “the covenants and the giving of the Law.” From among all the people of the earth, God has chosen Israel to be the recipient and bearer of the words of God.
        4. To the Jew belonged “the temple service.” This was indeed a unique privilege because God had appointed to the Jew the altar as the place where he would meet with his people. There he would meet with them, there he would bless them, and there he would forgive their sins.
        5. To the Jew belonged “the promises.” They were to be the instrument through which God would bring salvation to
        all men.
        6. It was the Jews “from whom is the Christ according to the flesh.”
        Here is the intent in the mind of God for Israel. The truth however, is that privilege does not guarantee relationship and the history of the Jews is case in point. No other people on the face of the earth was more privileged than the nation of Israel yet, that privileged status did not ensure their faithfulness to God nor did it protect them from the wrath of God as their history repeatedly demonstrates. So, how did this promise begin?


        • #5
          Re: Romans Chapter 9

          Part two

          II. It Began with God Making Certain Choices, 6-13
          This demonstrates the sovereignty of God to choose those through whom he wishes to accomplish his will, not who will be saved or lost. God runs the universe. He controls human history. He determines the destinies of men and nations. Nothing just happens. Time and human history are structured to conform to the will of God. The only reason the Jews existed was to carry out the purposes of God.

          A. Paul sets the record straight concerning what constitutes the children of the promise and it had absolutely nothing to do with
          genetics. Paul says in verse seven that as far as the promise is concerned, not all who are descended from Abraham are Abraham's descendants. This is what presented the problem for the Jews. They thought that all the physical descendants of Isaac were the children of promise and no one else was entitled. Paul then goes a step further to say that in the same way, not all who are descended from Isaac are considered of Isaac. In these two generations of the seed line, God narrows the field for just who are to be considered children of the promise.
          1. Abraham had eight sons in all.

          a. Hagar – Ishmael
          b. Sarah – Isaac
          c. Keturah – Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishan and Shuah
          Of these eight sons, only Isaac is the descendant of Abraham according to the promise. The other seven were simply not part of the promise.

          2. Isaac had only two sons – Jacob and Esau.
          Here, God made another choice between these two sons concerning the promise and it was Jacob through whom God would build the nation of Israel. God said regarding these two sons, that “the older will serve the younger.”

          Here is a question for those who hold the idea of unconditional election. Was this talking about individuals or nations. Unconditional election theorists insists that it is speaking of individuals. If this is true, then the words of the Lord failed in this point because the man Esau never served the man Jacob. So how then was this prophesy of the Lord fulfilled?

          If you will also recall, Edom, the descendants of Esau, later became superior to Israel as a nation and refused Israel passage through their lands in Numbers 20. Edom would continue to be a thorn in the side of Judah after the conquest until the time of Nebuchadnezzar. David conquered Edom in II Samuel 8 and made them subjects of Israel but, for centuries after, Edom continued to rebel against Judah which fulfilled the prophesy of Isaac concerning Esau in Genesis 27:40. “You shall serve your brother but you shall become restless and you will break his yoke from your neck.”

          This conflict with Judah would continue until both nations were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Later, after Judah returned from captivity, those of Edom who remained were absorbed into the Israelite nation hence, Edom is no more. This was prophesied by the Lord in Amos 9:11-12 where he says that Judah would possess the remnant of Edom.

          So, God's choice of Jacob over Esau pertained not to an election of individuals to salvation as Calvinism insists,but to the role each nation would play in God's scheme to fulfill the promises to Abraham that through Isaac, “all the nations of the earth will be blessed." What Paul has been talking about up to this point is NOT the election of individuals but the election of nations.
          3. From Jacob, it was through the line of Judah that the Messiah would come. Yet still, not all who would come from Jacob would be heirs of the promise. All of this is what the Jews really took exception to. This is what gave rise to the Jew's charge that God was unfaithful in his promise.

          Part three

          III. Charges Made by the Jews against God, 6-33

          A. The first objection of the Jews was that “God is unfaithful. If the gospel is true, then God has not kept his promise to Israel.”

          1. The questions before us is, who is Israel, who are the ones to whom the promise was actually made, and whom does the promise concern? 6-9

          “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: 'Through Isaac your descendants will be named.' That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is the word of promise: 'At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.”

          God had not failed in his promise as the Jews charged. The problem was two-fold and the problem is not the character of God. The Jews did not properly understand the promise, nor did they understand what a Jew was. The answer is that not all who descended from Israel are truly Israel. Not all who were members of physical Israel were a part of spiritual Israel.

          Paul makes a very clear distinction between physical Israel and spiritual Israel which he refers to as the “children of the flesh” and the “children of the promise” respectively. The Jews failed to understand that God’s promises did not apply to all of physical Israel and never did. Paul has already reminded them of this fact in 2:28-29, “A person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”

          In 4:9-12, Paul tells the Jews that Abraham is not only the father of the circumcised but also of the uncircumcised who follow the same FAITH as Abraham, not the ones who merely possessed the same physical genetics and followed the written code. Paul confirms this again in Galatians 3:7-9 and 29. “Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'All the nations will be blessed in you.' So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”

          “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, and heirs according to promise.” Belonging to Christis the ONLY requisite for being Abraham's descendant and an heir to the promise. THERE ARE NO OTHER RELEVANT FACTORS. Paul is making a distinction between believers (whoever they are) whom he says are the “children of God,” and the unbelieving Jews whom Paul says are the “children of the flesh.” The reality is that if you do not belong to Christ then you are NOT Abraham's descendant, you are not Isaac's descendant, you are not Jacob's descendant, and you are NOT heirs of the promise no matter what your linage is.

          Paul is going to explain later in verse 27 that “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved.” (See Isaiah 10:21-22; 11:16; and 37:2). The promises were not made to physical Israel but to true Israel and only a remnant of physical Israel would believe on their Messiah. (And we will look more at the remnant when we get to that point in the chapter.)
          2. What precisely was the promise? 6-9 “For this is the word of promise: 'At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have
          a son.” The foreknowledge of Isaac in the mind of God does not mean that God had personally and unconditionally chosen Isaac for salvation. Paul is not discussing Isaac's personal salvation, he is merely pointing out to his Jewish readers that God had determined even before Isaac was born that Isaac would be the one through whom Messiah would come; that through his line all nations of the earth would be blessed

          As far as the promise of God is concerned, descendancy is not a matter of genetics. As Paul says, “They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants.” So, what does it mean that Esau's descendants were not children of promise even though they too were descended from Isaac? What it does NOT mean is that Esau's descendants were pre-selected or predetermined by God to be condemned. It means simply that this was not the linage God selected through which Messiah would come. The Jews did not understand the promise.

          Part four

          B. The second charge from the Jews was that God is unjust in showing mercy, 10-15. Paul then uses the selection of Jacob over Esau to demonstrate the foolishness of this charge.

          1. God's choice of Jacob over Esau,
          “And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, 'The older will serve the younger.' Just as it is written, 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.' What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'”

          The choice of God between these two sons had absolutely nothing to do with either Jacob or Esau. Paul asks, “For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” He then confirms, “for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that (and here is the reason for the choice, that) God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls.” So,what was the purpose of his choice? It was not to save Isaac and condemn Esau. It was to establish a seed line for the blessing to all nations.

          Neither the faith of Jacob nor the unbelief of Esau would in any way affect the choice of God between them, nor would it affect the functional destiny of either nation. This choice was determined by God according to his purposes and the choice was not about salvation; it was about purpose and function.
          2. God's sovereignty demonstrated an extraordinary exorcise of mercy.
          “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” To understand the point Paul is making with this quote, it is imperative that we understand the context out of which God uttered these words.

          The context of this quote is rooted in the idolatrous rebellion of Israel in Exodus 32. Because of their idolatry, God said that he would not go up with the people to the land of promise lest he destroy them. Moses however, fulfills his role as mediator and pleads their case before the Lord. God promises that this matter is not closed. Punishment for this blasphemous behavior was not averted, it was only postponed but there were still immediate consequences. “Then the Lord sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made.”

          Later, God agrees with Moses to go before the people. He promises to do this thing for Moses based on the intimate relationship he had with Moses. “This thing I will do also.” “Also,” represents an additional clause to the agreement. In addition to going before Moses, he also agrees to go before the people. In all of this, Moses fulfilled his function as the mediatotial type. He had petitioned the Lord on behalf of the people and God accepted.

          Moses then seeks confirmation from God as a sealing of the terms of the agreement – “Show me your glory.” This is not a simple matter of curiosity on the part of Moses. This was a means of confirming the restoration of God's covenant with Israel. God always confirms his covenant.

          What Moses requested was a revelation of Jehovah himself that went beyond any encounter Moses had previously had with God. He wanted to see God without any protective barriers between himself and the unshielded presence of the Almighty. Moses did not simply wish to see another manifestation of God. He wanted to see God in his actual glory, not just a representational form of God. Moses is not requesting to see some anthropomorphic form or some form that accommodates the frailty of the human frame such as the burning bush or the pillar of cloud or of fire. Moses wants to see God himself, and God agrees with certain limitations.

          On the mountain, while God was passing all his goodness before Moses, he speaks these words, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” Of all the qualities God posses both intrinsically and as extended properties, it is only his quality of goodness that God allows Moses to see but, even this could not be seen unshielded and even still, it was more than the human frame can comprehend.

          These words spoken by the Lord were contextual to the preceding events. God had just shown great mercy to Israel rather than utterly destroying them as the threatened to do. God allows grace and mercy triumphs over justice. Israel did not deserve such a display of mercy nor did they deserve such a pouring out of God's grace. This mean that God was unjust in extending such mercy to Israel. I am sure the Jews would understand this and not count such a display of mercy toward Israel as injustice, but for some reason, they considered God's rejection of unbelieving Israel and his mercy toward the Gentiles as unjust. “It is not unjust for God to show mercy to us but it is unjust for him to show mercy to the Gentiles.” They also felt it was unjust for God to reject the Jew who rejected the Christ.