Adam Clarke on God’s Rejection of the Jews (Romans 9-11)

, posted by drwayman

Adam Clarke on God’s Rejection of the Jews (Romans 9-11)

written by SEA member, Roy Ingle

I was listening to a Calvinist Bible teacher teach on Romans 9:20 and saying that Romans 9-11 teaches God’s unconditional election of people to salvation but he side stepped the issue of reprobation (though Calvin didn’t) by saying that God merely passes over the non-elect. He concluded that to teach that Romans 9-11 is not about unconditional election to salvation would be almost heretical.

Ironically, Adam Clarke and the early Methodists interpreted Romans 9-11 to be Paul giving God’s justification for His rejection of national Israel. Dr. Vic Reasoner points out that Methodist theologians such as Richard Watson taught that God predestined to election all who had faith. This amounts to the personal election of every believer and the corporate predestination of all who believe. Watson taught that there were three kinds of election in Scripture: the election of individuals to service, the election of nations or corporate, and personal election which is conditioned upon faith. Our election is conditioned upon our faith regardless of our race. This is Paul’s main point in Romans 9-11, that the Jews were rejected by God because they did not believe and were not saved simply because they are Jews.

Adam Clarke comments further,

It is observable that, agreeably to his delicate manner of writing, and his nice and tender treatment of his countrymen, he never mentions their rejection-a subject extremely painful to his thoughts-otherwise than in a wish that he himself were accursed from Christ for them, or to prevent them from being accursed from Christ, (ver. 3,) till he comes to chap. 11, where he has much to say in their favour, even considered, as at present, rejected. But it is very evident that his arguments in this chapter rest on the supposition that the main body of the Jewish nation would be cast out of the visible kingdom of God; and it is for this reason that in this and the two following chapters he considers the reception of any people into the kingdom and covenant of God under the relative notion of inviting and choosing, or of calling and election. The Jews were rejected and reprobated; the Gentiles were chosen and called, or elected. As this is most obviously the apostle’s meaning, it is strange that any should apply his doctrine to the particular and unconditional reprobation and election of individuals.

It is upon this rejection of the Jews that the calling and election of the Gentiles rest. If the Jews be not rejected, but are still the visible Church and kingdom of God, then the Gentiles, according to the most proper inference from the apostle’s doctrine, have no right to the blessings of the kingdom. Instead of being invited or called, they are intruders at the heavenly feast; and this the unbelieving Jews laboured to prove, and thus unhinge the believing Gentiles by persuading them that they were not duly taken into the Church of God; that the Jews were, and ever must continue to be, the only Church and kingdom of God, and that they could not be cast off so long as God was faithful to his promise to Abraham; and that the Gentiles were most miserably deceived when they supposed they were brought into that kingdom by faith in Christ, whereas there was no way of entering it, or of being entitled to its privileges, but by submitting to the law of Moses. This being the fixed opinion of the Jews, and the ground on which they opposed the Gentiles and endeavoured to sap the foundation of their hope of salvation from the Gospel of Christ, it was therefore a matter of the utmost importance to be able to prove that the Jews, by rejecting Christ and his Gospel, were themselves cast out of the Church, and this in a way perfectly consistent with the truth of the promise made to Abraham. He had slightly touched on this subject at the beginning of the third chapter; but it would have broken in too much on the thread of his discourse to have pursued the argument there, for which reason he appears to have reserved it to this place, where he (1) solemnly declares his tenderest affection for his countrymen, and his real grief of heart for their infidelity and consequent rejection, ver. 1-5; (2) Answers objections against this rejection, ver. 6-23; (3) Proves the calling of the Gentiles from their own Scriptures, ver. 24- 30; (4) Gives the true state and reasons of the rejection of the Jews and the calling of the Gentiles, ver. 30 to chap. x. 14; (5) Proves the necessity of the apostolic mission to the Gentiles in order to their salvation, chap. x. 14-21.

I agree with Dr. Reasoner further when he writes, “Because Calvinists ask the wrong question, they arrive at the wrong answer.” Arminius stated that the real question before Romans 9-11 is, “Is not God’s word made of no effect if those Jews who seek salvation by keeping the law, not by faith, are rejected?”

The point then of Romans 9-11 is not predestination of individuals to salvation but about the Jews rejection of the gospel of God’s grace (Romans 11:28-32). Arminius was right!

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