Robert Picirilli’s Short Outline of Romans 9-11
written by SEA member, Roy Ingle
One of my favorite Arminian theologians is Dr. Robert Picirilli. His book, Grace, Faith, Free Will is a solid Arminian book that deals with the issues of salvation and the contrast between Arminianism and Calvinism. It is a well thought out book and I have enjoyed it over the years.
Let me borrow from Dr. Picirilli’s book and his brief outline that he gives for Romans 9-11 (pp. 71-72). The outline helps us to see Paul’s thinking regarding the Jews and the sovereign choice of God in choosing to save the Gentiles in Christ Jesus.
Dr. Picirilli regards Romans 9:14 as the key to the passage. Romans 9:14 says, “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!” (NKJV). Paul’s point in Romans 9-11 is to show that the answer is no! God has not failed in His promises to Israel nor is He unjust in rejecting Israel because of their lack of faith.
So Paul’s main point: God is not unrighteous in His present rejection of Israel.
Sub-points in developing this main point:
- God elects and rejects whom He pleases (Romans 9-10)
- He never promised, unconditionally, to save all the fleshly descendants of Abraham, Isaac, or Israel (9:6-13).
- He is Sovereign and has the right to save (or damn) whomever He pleases (9:15-24).
- He always made clear (in prophecy) that not all of “Israel” would be saved (9:25-29).
- He has rejected Israel because Israel has rejected salvation by faith in favor of salvation by works (9:30-10:21).
- God has not rejected Israel after all (Romans 11)
- In fact, God has not rejected Israelites: any who will can be saved by grace through faith (11:1-10).
- The present rejection of Israel opens the door of salvation for all nations (11:11-22).
- Indeed, the present rejection of Israel is not “final”: Israel will yet be converted (11:23-32).
One point that Dr. Picirilli makes that I found comforting was that God desires to show mercy (Romans 9:18). If we can show that His mercy is extended on the basis of faith in His Son then we can likewise conclude that His damnation is based on the rejection of His mercy. It would follow that if Paul is establishing conditional salvation upon faith in Jesus (Romans 10:13) then he would not conclude that God would predestine the reprobate. His desire is to show His grace and mercy to all (Romans 11:32; 2 Peter 3:9) and to save all who come to Him in faith (John 6:37; Acts 13:38-39; 1 Timothy 2:3-6).
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