Romans 9 proves the heresy of calvinism
Calvinists will oh-so-often thrust this chapter in your face as if it is the holy grail of calvinism, the definitive answer to all objections! But, it is not! You see, because calvinists do not believe in the Bible alone (that is, they do not believe in sola scriptura), they are forced to either have to admit their heresies, or manipulate the Bible so that it appears to support those heresies. If the people they are talking to do not have a firm grasp of the Bible and its truths, then some passages are relatively easy for them to manipulate in order to present their lies cleverly disguised as the truth. (It’s called deception, the favourite trick of satan. After all, satan is the father of lies, so why be so surprised that his servants should also practice lies and deception?)
Such favourable passages for calvinists include John 6, Ephesians 1 & 2, Acts 13:48, and, of course, Romans 9. Its truth actually denies calvinism its heresies, yet lends itself to their verbal gymnastics such that those who lack good grounding in the Bible may be easily swayed by their deceptions. In order to “prove” the unconditional election, they will spout forth with Romans 9, expecting that it will quell all opposition. (Of course, the election and predestination are biblical truths, but conditional upon the foreknowledge of God – please read the Bible and not their lies – 1 Peter 1:2 and Romans 8:29.)
The real truth is that Romans 9 is not the support for calvinism that calvinists try to say it is. And, generally, when I use the term “election” or similar in this document, then I will mean the calvinist unconditional election unless otherwise specified. This is a longish document because there is much calvinism to refute. However, never take my word or anyone else’s for what you believe. Always think things out for yourself and believe what you know to be right, not what someone else says is right! The one thing that calvinists fear the most is the person who knows his Bible well enough to ask difficult questions. [When this happens, they usually try avoidance tactics such as (a) only God knows, for it’s a mystery hidden in the secret counsels of God, (b) you aren’t spiritual enough to discern such spiritual answers, (c) you haven’t been to Bible school, (d) so many calvinist heroes such as Calvin, Spurgeon, Edwards, Piper, MacArthur etc etc etc ….. say the same thing, or, if you still insist on arguing the point, (e) I don’t really want to talk to you about that (that is, they’ll ignore you)]
1/. Romans 9:1-5 – 1I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4Who are Israelites; to whom [pertaineth] the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service [of God], and the promises; 5Whose [are] the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ [came], who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
Paul wishes himself accursed for the sake of his fellow Israelites. If the calvinist unconditional election is true, then what is the point of Paul trying to lose his salvation for those who have not been chosen? Or losing his salvation for those who will be saved anyway because they are of the election of God? Paul’s comments here cannot be reconciled with calvinism. If calvinism is right, then Paul can do absolutely nothing to ever change the eternal fate of every one of his fellow Israelites! Calvinism just doesn’t make sense here.
Calvinism teaches that from the beginning, God chose without any conditions at all who would go to heaven, and who would go to hell. No-one may change that list. No-one may change the list they’re on. Whatever list you’re on, it is your destiny! Get used to it!
No-one may change anyone on either list by any amount of evangelism, for nothing will ever change what the calvinist God has chosen for every person who will ever live. And even the elect cannot respond to the gospel and be saved until after they have been born again. So why does Paul not appear to know this basic “truth” of calvinism? (Unless, of course, he wasn’t a calvinist! And, if he weren’t a calvinist, then why would he write this chapter in favour of it? The simple answer is that this chapter is not in favour of calvinism!)
2/. Romans 9:6-13 – 6Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these [are] not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. 9For this [is] the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. 10And not only [this]; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, [even] by our father Isaac; 11(For [the children] being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated (miseo).
Paul explains how Israel became the chosen nation over Esau who was therefore rejected. The election of Israel cannot be used to prove the election of individuals in any way! It is totally illogical, but then, calvinists are illogical.
(a) Note that the word “hated” (Vs 13) is miseo. Note what this word means and that it is usually a comparative term, meaning “loved less”.
Note what biblehub.com says about this word.
3404 miséō – properly, to detest (on a comparative basis); hence, denounce; to love someone or something less than someone (something) else, i.e. to renounce one choice in favor of another.
Lk 14:26: “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate (3404 /miséō, ‘love less’ than the Lord) his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (NASU).
[Note the comparative meaning of 3404 (miséō) which centers in moral choice, elevating one value over another.] (https://biblehub.com/greek/3404.htm)
Also compare these two equivalent verses, which demonstrate this point. Clearly “hate” must be translated as “love less”, because both these verses are telling us to love God more than anyone else.
Luke 14:26 – If any [man] come to me, and hate (miseo) not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Matthew 10:37 – He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
(b) This passage in Romans talks about the election of a special nation for God. Logically the choice of one nation means no other nation may be chosen. Only one nation can be chosen as God’s people! But calvinists try to say that this somehow proves the election of individuals, which is totally incorrect, for if that were so, then only one might be chosen at the expense of everyone else! The choice of a nation cannot ever be used to prove the choice of individuals! Think about it!
(c) If Israel were God’s elect nation, and they sinned more than the other nations around them (2 Chronicles 33:9), and most of them were eternally condemned (this is what Paul is saying at the start of Romans 9), then we must conclude that being chosen by God is likely to lead to sin and eternal punishment. How far are calvinists willing to carry their analogy here?
(d) Calvinists are forced to concede that, without free will, God must have ordained Israel to fall into sin and error, thus causing Him to reject them. Do calvinists understand that by using this passage in Romans to prove the unconditional election, they have to assume that God might also have chosen them (the elect of God) in order to also ordain them to sin against Him and be sent to hell?
3/. Romans 9:14-16 – 14What shall we say then? [Is there] unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16So then [it is] not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Calvinists claim that showing mercy is of God, not man, and that it is God’s decision to whom He shows mercy (Exodus 20:5-6). However, this does not in any way deny the free will of man to call upon God for mercy. Luke 18:13-14 demonstrates that God shows mercy because of the cry of a sinner for mercy. God can still choose to refuse mercy; He is God, after all. But He does show mercy to those who repent and desire forgiveness; this is His promise (Psalm 103:8-13). The calvinists say this is due to God’s will alone, but where does it say that God’s will ignores man’s plea for mercy? Where does it teach that man’s desire to be forgiven is entirely and always by the decree of God alone? Where is man’s free will specifically denied here?
The truth about this is that Israel, being God’s chosen nation, thought that they were automatically the beneficiaries of God’s mercy. They believed that it was their right to be shown God’s mercy, and that God’s covenant with them meant that they couldn’t be denied this mercy. Paul is simply saying that even God’s chosen nation couldn’t demand mercy of God, that it remained God’s right to choose to withhold that mercy if He so desired. You cannot gain God’s mercy by demanding it as your right. Israel had chosen to reject their Christ when He came to them (John 1:11 – He came unto his own and his own received him not.), and after the resurrection they had continued to reject their Christ (Acts 13:44-48), and God had rejected them by turning instead to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46-48). Israel had chosen to break their covenant with God, not the other way around!
4/. Romans 9:17-18 – 17For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will [have mercy], and whom he will he hardeneth.
Calvinists teach that God made Pharaoh to do what he did without any input from the will of Pharaoh. Certainly God is able to do this if He desires, but does this passage deny Pharaoh any free will in the matter? So let’s look at the facts and you decide for yourself what you want to believe.
(a) God has raised Pharaoh up. “raised up” can mean “to arouse; raise up (from sleep); to rouse up; stir up; incite”. It literally means to have made Pharaoh to stand where he did, probably figuratively. It neither accepts nor denies the free will of Pharaoh in this matter. Either Pharaoh was literally made to do this (like a puppet) or else Pharaoh had already chosen to be opposed to God’s will, and God merely then caused those choices to remain in position until the battle with Moses was over. This statement alone cannot determine whether God just made Pharaoh do it, or raised up the person who had already previously chosen to oppose God in such matters. God simply says that He will show His power through this situation.
It is similar to the statement: “The devil made me do it!” Does that mean that the devil actually took control of that person’s life such that the person, like a puppet, had literally no say in the matter, or did the devil so influence that person because of that person’s previous free will choices to serve the devil?
Was God’s will concerning Pharaoh the cause of his wilful rebellion, or was it the consequence of Pharaoh’s wilful rebellion? The context demonstrates the latter.
(b) “whom he will he hardeneth” – That word “hardeneth” is “skleruno” from which we get sclerosis, a term that all medical people will readily understand. It is a process that hardens bodily parts (like arteries) and takes away their flexibility. It literally sets them in the shape they were in before. After sclerosis occurs, the body part cannot be easily moved around without damage.
This is similar to the Old Testament meanings for “harden”. We’ll look at chazak and kabad; both are used in relation to Pharaoh.
chazaq – strengthen, harden, prevail, sustain, encourage, grow rigid. It has the idea of reinforcing something so that it is able to maintain its position. It is used in the KJV 290 times, including “strong” 48, “repair” 47 “strengthened” 28, “strengthen” 14, “stronger” 5, yet “harden” only 13 times. It is clear that its main meaning has to do with strengthening or reinforcing a position.
This is much like the setting of something in a mould, such as jelly or plaster, clay or even concrete. For instance, until the clay sets, it can be reshaped over and over, but once it has been left to dry and especially hardened in a fire, it cannot be remoulded into any other shape. The Old Testament context of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart has this meaning: that Pharaoh was hardened in the position that he (Pharaoh) had been in before the hardening. He no longer had the ability to change! He had chosen and now God required him to remain that way.
Exodus 9:12 – And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had spoken unto Moses.
kabad – to make heavy, dull, unresponsive – more of an act of Pharaoh’s will here, relating to his lack of response to God’s requirements.
Exodus 8:15 – But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.
5/. Romans 9:19-24 – 19Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus? 21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22[What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
(a) No-one has the right to argue with God. This neither proves nor negates the free will of man. If man were to have free will, God may overrule this at any time if and when He so chooses. But this alone cannot deny the free will of man in general. The truth is that man does contend with the Almighty; free will permits him to do so, even though it may be sin.
Job 40:2 – Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct [him]? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.
Sin is man doing that which God has forbidden him to do. But forbidding man to sin has not prevented man from sinning.
(b) Yes, God, as the potter, does have the right to make people in any way He desires. But the calvinists try to use this to somehow prove that God made people the way they are without any free will input from those people. Thus we have the vessels of honour and vessels of dishonour. They then teach that this proves the unconditional election of man to either salvation (the elect, the honourable vessels) or to eternal condemnation (the non-elect, the dishonourable vessels).
However, look at this passage in Timothy and ask yourself whether or not vessels of dishonour can, in fact, be cleansed to become vessels of honour! (Calvinists rarely teach the whole truth but pick and choose what they think will support their teachings.)
2 Timothy 2:20-21 – 20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, [and] prepared unto every good work.
If vessels of dishonour may be cleansed to become vessels of honour, then calvinists must agree that the non-elect may become the elect, according to their analogy!
It really comes down to your priority: the truth of the Bible, or teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (Matthew 15:9). So, read and learn the truths of the Bible. Those who read their Bibles properly and study carefully are not likely to be taken in by the half-truths and false teachings of calvinists.