Working Through Romans 9

, posted by SEA

Working Through Romans 9

written by SEA member, Roy Ingle

No doubt Calvinists come to Romans 9 and they read into the text “unconditional election unto salvation” all through the text. One Calvinist brother stated that the text is so clear about God’s sovereign choice in salvation that to miss it should be borderline heresy. I, of course, disagree.

This morning I spent the morning reading and re-reading Romans 9. Over and over again I was struck by how clear it is that Paul is not speaking about election unto salvation. It is clear to me that Paul the Apostle is arguing against the Jews who would argue that by virtue of race, they are the promised elect of God. Paul is saying “no” to that. He is arguing that God is sovereign in His choice to reject Israel whom He had previously chosen because they rejected His righteousness because of their pursuit of it through the Law.

Let us briefly cover the chapter. Notice how Paul begins in Romans 9:1-5. It is clear from these verses that Paul is not speaking about individual unconditional election to salvation. Not once in Romans 9:1-5 does he mention salvation. He mentions the blessings that have come to his people, his kinsmen (v. 3) because of God’s choice (vv. 4-5) but he never mentions salvation. His point is national Israel and not individual salvation.

To back this up, notice Romans 9:6-13. When we read these verses the idea that Paul is speaking of national Israel is clear. When we come to verses 10-13 and compare these verses to Genesis 25:19-26 we find the story is clearly speaking of nations or peoples and not individual salvation. Malachi 1:2-3 is cited in Romans 9:13 and when we read Malachi 1:2-3 in its context, we see that again God is speaking of nations and not individual salvation.

When we come to Romans 9:14, we find the passage that Arminius felt demonstrated best the question which should be asked about the text. The question asked by Calvinists is whether God is just or unjust to sovereignly choose individuals to salvation or damnation. Arminius states that Romans 9:14 is the key question to ask: is God unjust to reject Israel because of their rejection of His Messiah? Paul establishes in Romans 9:14-29 that God is not unjust and in fact He has raised up a remnant among the Gentiles and the Jews (v. 24). Paul points out that this remnant of the faithful were prophesied about by Isaiah in Romans 9:27-29.

Romans 9:30-33 closes by powerfully showing that Romans 9 has been about God’s rejection of national Israel for His remnant of grace (the Church we might say). The only way, argues Paul, to be part of this remnant is by faith. This is the Arminian argument. God’s elect are those who are justified through faith (Romans 5:1; 1 Timothy 4:10). The elect is not an arbitrary number that God choose before time but rather He elected His Son who died so that through faith we might enter into this remnant of grace (Romans 11:5).

I am thankful to bepart of the remnant of grace by faith! I praise God for the gift of His Son who died in my place for my sins (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). What a wonderful salvation is found in the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:27-28). I rejoice in God’s sovereign choice to save all who come to Christ in faith (John 6:37, 40). Surely our Savior is mighty to save!

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