30/08/15 – Romans 9:1-13 “The Choosing of the Nation of God”
This chapter is often used as a weapon to belt non-calvinists who would dare presume that calvinism is false. They point to certain buzzwords such as “election” (Vs 11) and the choosing between Jacob and Esau (Vs 13). For those who tend to take at face value what a so-called (often self-professed) “expert teacher” says, not enough research is done testing all the things these alleged “teachers” say. If people did test all things scripturally, they would certainly find that calvinist teaching, especially in this chapter, cannot be supported in any way through word meaning, context, nor consistency of Scripture. So, my message today is to make sure you test all things to your satisfaction, and do not take the word of any “teacher”, especially if they say, “Believe me!” because, believe me, that is often the only evidence of their correctness – their word on it!
In reality, Romans 9 is actually a condemnation of calvinist doctrines. So why are they so aggressively confident about it? The truth is that calvinism aggressively pushes this so hard at people that they put them on the defensive. This is all good to calvinists who would rather not have to actually defend this chapter, so, as they say, the best defence is an offense. So present it confidently, turn your weaknesses into weapons, and soon even the calvinists will believe the lies in it.
The first three verses of this chapter set the context of this passage. Paul is talking about a nation called Israel. Throughout this passage today we see this context continue. And so, when we arrive at Vs 13, why would Paul suddenly change from the election of a nation to the election of individuals when he mentions Jacob and Esau? Yet, the calvinists would claim that Vs 13 “proves” the election of those to salvation versus the election of the rest to damnation.
Romans 9:1-3 – 1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: (Compare with Exodus 32:32 – Moses said similar)
Paul says he is telling the truth, and then emphasizes it by saying he is not lying. If this isn’t enough, he also says his conscience is guided by the Holy Spirit. This is therefore so important that Paul wants to avoid any misunderstanding at all. And what is he telling the truth about, not lying about, and guided into this by the Holy Spirit? – that he has great sorrow and continual grief in his heart (Vs 2). And why is he experiencing such sorrow and grief? Vs 3 tells it all, a cry from the heart of Paul: “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
The truth is that Paul is wishing he could lose his salvation in Christ just so his fellow Jews can be saved. Could Paul lose his salvation? The calvinists have to teach that if Paul were one of the elect, then he cannot lose his salvation. So, according to the calvinist, how can Paul be in his right mind and also desire to be lost, if he can’t be lost? However, whether or not Paul could trade his salvation for another isn’t the point though. Paul is wishing, not with hot air and boasting words, but with the genuineness of the strength of his feelings (backed up by the Holy Spirit) for his countrymen.
Firstly, he wouldn’t be feeling grief and sorrow for those who weren’t lost! So these fellow countrymen are truly lost souls (or else Paul is giving his salvation away for those who truly don’t need it!). The calvinists have to teach that these are either not-yet-saved elect, or never-to-be-saved non-elect. They prefer the first option, for obvious reasons: if these are the never-to-be-saved non-elect, why would Paul, with the backing of the Holy Spirit, desire to be lost for those who could never be saved, ever, according to calvinists? Remember that the calvinist believes that God, through the kind intentions of His sovereign will, and without the use of foreknowledge, chose a small group of people to be His own, thereby condemning a vastly bigger remainder to eternal condemnation in hell. And not one person can be transferred from one group to the other, ever, under any circumstances. These groups are set in permanent eternal concrete, impossible to alter for all time! For the calvinist, you are either “elect” or “non-elect”, and you have absolutely no say in it.
Therefore, according to calvinism, Paul, in desiring to be lost for his fellow non-elect countrymen, would then be desiring to be lost for no purpose at all, other than that he would join those lost souls in their condemnation to hell! Calvinism cannot support any thought of Paul losing his salvation for anyone whom God has eternally denied heaven! Thus, the calvinists are logically forced to take the option that these are not-yet-saved elect; there is no further option available. So why would Paul desire to be lost for the sake of those who would go to heaven in the end anyway? (Remember, if their names are on that list of the unconditionally elect, they can never be removed from it, ever!)
In fact, the only logical (and scriptural) conclusion is that these lost countrymen are all lost, needing a Saviour to seek and save them who are lost, that they may choose life instead of death. Paul desires to be accursed from Christ in order to give those countrymen new life, a life Paul knows they would otherwise be incapable of experiencing, regardless of whether they are elect or non-elect according to the calvinist! But how can those who are destined for hell (being non-elect) become the elect who are destined for heaven? This has to assume the necessity of a change in the lists of elect and non-elect somewhere; the non-elect can become the elect! A choice would have to be made somewhere to permit people to change from one list to the other, yet the calvinist has to teach that no such thing may occur.
In fact, this is exactly what the Bible teaches, that no-one becomes a Christian automatically without the person firstly desiring it. People must change from “lost” to “saved” if they are to go to heaven. But the calvinist God has chosen his elect from the beginning of time, and nothing is to be permitted to change that choice, ever! Calvinism just cannot satisfactorily explain this passage! It should remain a mystery to them; most things they cannot explain they just term “mysteries”!
MacArthur tries to divert attention in Vs 1 by accusing Paul of having an imperfect conscience. “Only when the Spirit controls the conscience can it be trusted – but it remains imperfect and its warnings must always be evaluated against the Word of God.” (MacArthur, notes on Romans). Clearly it’s in MacArthur’s interests if the Holy Spirit’s input into Paul’s conscience can be reduced! But this teaching borders on blasphemy! However, note the consistency of the Bible – Jesus apparently felt sorrow for those whom the calvinists would call non-elect! Why would Jesus, as God, feel sorrow for that which He (according to the calvinists) ordained to be condemned to hell from the beginning by the kind intentions of His good will?
Luke 13:34 – O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen [doth gather] her brood under [her] wings, and ye would not!
(It is very important to note that “would” and “would not” are the same word with one of them used in the negative.)
Romans 9:4-5 – 4 Who 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; 5 Whose [are] the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ [came], who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
Nevertheless, Israel still has the promises, the covenants and the law of God, etc. To Israel, also, Christ was born, a physical descendant of Israel. This is God’s Israel!
Note that the Israelites who are seemingly lost in Vs 3 are noted as having these promises and blessings of God pertaining to them?? This is why the calvinists have to teach that they are the not-yet-saved elect. These Israelites had been given the promises of God, and such can only be promised to the “elect”. This refers to the Abrahamic covenant, the Mosaic law and related promises (Vs 4); they had been called God’s people, and God had said he was their God. In particular, they were chosen to be the nation from whom the Messiah would come (Vs 5), and the nation that would declare His glory and salvation.
Israel had been chosen to be a priesthood to the nations: Exodus 19:6 – And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These [are] the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
However, not one person was guaranteed to go to heaven just because he/she was born a Jew….. Romans 2:28-29 – 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.
In other words, the election (or choosing) of the nation of Israel was not necessarily merely for their salvation but to reach out with that salvation to the rest of the world. The plan of salvation was laid upon the Israel. They had the responsibility to reach out as a missionary nation to the world. This is why they were chosen (the elect). Instead, the Jews thought they themselves were saved and the rest of the world lost, and considered it their right as Jews to go to heaven. Nothing could be further from the truth! Let’s change that a little…..Instead, the calvinists thought they themselves were saved and the rest of the world lost, and considered it their right as calvinists to go to heaven…..!!?
Note also that a nation was chosen, not necessarily individuals within that nation. (Remember the context!) That is, the nation could carry out the task while some (in fact, many) of its citizens still went to hell. In fact, if we look at their leaders, out of 42 kings, only around a quarter appear to have qualified for heaven. And that includes 8 good kings of Judah, probably Manasseh (who repented in prison) as well, plus David and maybe Solomon – between 9 and 11 out of 42! Also, if the prophets’ words are any indication, most of the Levites (priesthood) were probably corrupt and most prophecies seem to be focused upon the sins of Israel (and Judah). Therefore, the election of Israel as God’s nation couldn’t have been for the sole purpose of choosing the members of that nation for heaven! See Vs 6 – “For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel.”
Note that if Israel is God’s chosen country in the same way that calvinists claim they are God’s people, then how come most individuals of God’s elect nation are not heading for heaven. If calvinists claim the election of Israel demonstrates their election as calvinists, then most calvinists must also be heading for hell!
Note Deuteronomy 7:6 – For thou [art] an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen (bachar) thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that [are] upon the face of the earth.
And yet many of this nation would perish in hell? This cannot be the same picture the calvinists are seeing! The elect of God going to hell? chosen (bachar) = to choose, elect, decide for.
Note also Matthew 24:22 – And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s (eklektos = elect, chosen) sake those days shall be shortened.
Romans 9:6-8 – 6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That 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.
Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect – That is, God’s word hasn’t failed for Israel. The promise of God will not entirely fail, even if not all Israelites are of Israel (spiritually), not even if all Abraham’s physical descendants are his true children (spiritually).
In Isaac shall thy seed be called – (from Genesis 21:12 – And God said unto Abraham, “…. for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” While Isaac’s descendants would include God’s people, Israel, Isaac’s descendants would also include those who were not spiritual (only physical) children of Abraham. They would, of course, ultimately include Jesus the Messiah, the Seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16 – Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.) Note that the seed here in Vs 8 are the children of the promise, those who are the children of God through Jesus Christ. They aren’t children of God because they are born of Abraham but also only if they are children of the promise as well, that is, through Jesus Christ the Seed.
For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel – Not all physical Israelites belong to spiritual Israel. Note “Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children” – Just because they are physical descendants doesn’t make them God’s children! Just because you were born of the flesh of Abraham didn’t make you a child of God. Only children of the promise are counted as seed! Israelites (born of the flesh of Israel) were part of the elect country of God, yet many went to hell as unbelievers in Christ. That is, many Israelites were never God’s children.
Jesus told the pharisees that even though they were descended (in the flesh, that is) from Abraham, they still weren’t children of Abraham, but children of the devil.
John 8:37; 39-41; 44a – 37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. ……
39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. 41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, [even] God. ….
44 Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.
Righteousness came from obedience to God, not being born into God’s chosen nation. See Romans 2:28-29 above. Belief overrules physical descent!
The Messiah would come from Abraham’s seed – this is most important.
Note Genesis 12:2-3 (the Abrahamic covenant), also Romans 4:13 – For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, [was] not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith, concerning the promise of God through Abraham.
Especially note Galatians 3:16 – Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (See Vs 5 above)
If you don’t have Christ, then you are not children of the promise. And if you don’t have Christ, you cannot have the Spirit of Christ!
Romans 8:8-9 – 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
How can a person be none of His yet still be elect? Yet the calvinist claims that we must be regenerated (born again) before we are able to believe in Jesus Christ (and then to be saved? – some calvinists actually make a distinction between being born again and being saved.) Yet how can we be His until we believe in Him?? Or does God give us His Spirit before we believe in Christ?
Romans 9:9-13 – 9 For this [is] the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. 10 And 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;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
This passage is one that the calvinists love to quote as evidence that God does indeed elect one whom He loved (Jacob) and reject the other whom He hated (Esau). However, understanding just the meaning of the word “hated” reveals a quite different story. miseo can mean “hate” and is translated as such 41 times out of 42 occurrences in the New Testament. (The one other occurrence means “hateful”.) However, the word is a comparative term and can be translated as “loved less”. Look at where Vs 13 is quoted from, in the following:-
Malachi 1:2-3a – 2 I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? [Was] not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, 3 And I hated Esau, (sane).
But sane, while it means “hated”, is also a comparative term, noting the following:
Genesis 29:30-31 – 30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years. 31 And when the Lord saw that Leah [was] hated (sane), he opened her womb: but Rachel [was] barren.
Note that the same word used for “hate” could also be translated “unloved”. It refers to Jacob loving Rachel more than Leah, that is, not “hated” as we commonly think of that word! Thus, the word “hated” also means “loved less”, as in comparison with “loved more”.
Barnes – This does not mean any positive hatred; but that he had preferred Jacob, and had withheld from Esau those privileges and blessings which he had conferred on the posterity of Jacob.
Poole – God loved Jacob, i.e. he gave him the Land of Promise; but hated Esau, i.e. he gave him a dry and barren country, and made his mountain waste: that by God’s hating Esau, is only meant he loved him less than Jacob, &c.
Pulpit Commentary – In Malachi 1:2 the prophet's entire drift is to set forth the Divine favour shown……to the race of Israel as compared with the race of Edom. Hence, as well as from the purport of the chapter as announced at its beginning, it is evident that the subject of individual predestination does not really come in, as it did in ch. 8, but only that of nations or races of men to a position of privilege as inheritors of promises……The strong expression, "Esau I hated" (applicable, as shown above, not to the individual Esau, but to the race of Edom) is capable of being explained as meaning, "I excluded him from the love I showed to Israel."….
As to the necessary force of the word in the Hebrew (שכא), we may compare Genesis 29:30, 31, where in ver. 30 it is said that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, and in ver. 31, as meaning the same thing, that Leah was hated; and Deuteronomy 21:15, "If a man have two wives, one beloved and another hated." In both these passages the same verb is used as in Malachi, and need not, in either case, mean more than disregarding one in comparison with another who is loved.
In the New Testament, note the use of miseo (= hate) as a comparative term.
Luke 14:26 – If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Compare with 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. Clearly, “hate not” can also mean “loveth more, and thus “hate” can also mean “love less”.
So all it is saying is that God loved Jacob more than He loved Esau (Edom).
Note also that because of the context of this passage, it is clearly discussing nations rather than individual people, and thus cannot be applied to individual people within those nations when many of Israel would be considered lost, while some individuals of Edom might have found salvation, especially after Edom more or less merged with Israel in the period between Malachi and the coming of Jesus. After a massive defeat, the Edomites were given the choice: to become good Jews, or die! Many of them became good Jews! (Note that Herod was an Idumean, or an Edomite.) As a nation, Israel was chosen (elect) for the purposes of God’s plan of salvation being presented to the world. Only one nation could be chosen for this purpose, thus only one was chosen. Choosing one nation logically excludes all other nations, yet choosing one individual person for election cannot exclude all others from being also elected! Jacob’s nation was chosen to bear the seed, that is, the children of the promise, and how are they children but through the ultimate Seed of Abraham, Jesus the Messiah! (Galatians 3:16)
that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth – That is, through the One who died on the cross to provide the ultimate gift (the unspeakable gift – 2 Corinthians 9:15) of justification for all mankind, a gift that could be accepted or rejected, resulting in either a debt of works, or being accounted as righteous (Romans 4:4-5). And of the two that were to be born, Jacob and Esau, one would be chosen (as the rightful spiritual heir of Abraham) to bear the line from which would come the Messiah. Only one could be chosen for this purpose! That nation which was to bear the Messiah would also be the nation chosen to proclaim His salvation to the rest of the world. One nation (Jacob) would be accepted, because only one nation could be accepted. The other nation (Esau), therefore, had to be rejected from God’s covenant, but not necessarily the individuals within that nation. The physical seed (from Jacob’s nation) would eventually bear the Messiah, and the spiritual seed would be the Messiah (Galatians 3:16) and the children of God who believe in that Messiah and His promises of salvation (Vs 8 above).
Note Romans 8:9 – But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
We cannot be the children of the promise, the seed of God (Vs 8), unless we have the Spirit of Christ, which automatically cancels out all who are elect if they haven’t received Jesus as Saviour. And it is hard to see how someone can be saved (they prefer the term “regenerated”) before he believes (as many calvinists claim)! One would have to be saved without Christ, and then receive the Spirit of Christ later on.
MacArthur claims (along with Piper) that the justification following regeneration is more or less instantaneous, but nevertheless he believes that you have to be saved (regenerated) before you can be justified through belief in Christ (for how may you be justified without believing in Christ?). So how can you be saved and yet not have the Spirit of Christ? Thus the calvinist claims that you are saved (or regenerated) yet you are not one of Christ’s until you then hear and believe the gospel! This presents some serious problems of logic, so serious, in fact, that one would have to be spiritually blind to believe that the Bible teaches that you can be saved (regenerated) while not yet being one of Christ’s! For how can you receive the Spirit of Christ before you receive Christ Himself?
Thus the purpose of God here according to election has to do with the nation that would be chosen to bear the Messiah and His message of reconciliation. Vs 13 then supports this fully: Jacob (with his descendant nation Israel) was loved enough in order to bear the Messiah and His message, while Esau (with his descendant nation Edom) was loved less (= “hated”) in that God could only choose one nation, and that one nation was going to be Jacob (Israel). This election (choice) is of a nation! And that is the nation for the sake of which Paul desires to be accursed from Christ! This is what makes sense of what Paul is writing without twisting, adding or taking away meanings from the Bible. The election here is of a nation, not individuals, for how may a nation be chosen, yet most of that nation be condemned to hell? Does this mean that being the calvinist elect of God may be detrimental to your existence in eternity?
Note, though, that the election of God does exist; however, it is not unconditional, but conditional instead upon the foreknowledge of God, which is exactly what the Bible states all so clearly: 1 Peter 1:2a – Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. It’s amazing that people just can’t see the clarity in that statement (or other ones like 1 John 2:2 where the propitiation was for the whole world, yet calvinists like MacArthur are forced to teach that the whole world is only those who believe).
There are none so blind as those who will not see!