Friday, August 27, 2010

A Short Exposition of Romans Chapter 9

This is a short exposition of Romans chapter 9

All scriptures came from BibleGateway

Romans 9:10-13
""10Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our
father Isaac. 11Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or
bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: 12not by works but by
him who calls—she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13Just as it is
written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

Who does God love? God already told us!!!
Psalm 103:17
"But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children-"

Also keep in mind that God's love and compassion is universal:
Psalm 145:8-9
"The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made."

Is Faith a work?

Romans chapter 3:27-28
"27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law."

and Romans chapter 4
"1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness."

Not to mention the last few verses of Romans chapter 9
"30What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. 32Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works."

According to SAINT PAUL, Faith is not a work!!! Also since God is love, and has compassion on everything He has made (Psalms 145:9) we know that whenever a text says God "hates" a person we have to look at it in context of God's Omni-Benevolence.

So through God's Foreknowledge He called Jacob before the foundation of the World.

God is Omniscient so He knew Jacob would believe in the promise inheritance.

Romans chapter 8 shows us the process of that event.
""29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.""

God's foreknowledge precedes both His predestination and calling.

For those that would like to make "Foreknowledge" a "fore-loving" assume that this has nothing to do with the actions of a person, but they assume wrong. To love someone implies action. It implies loving something about that person.

Acts chapter 26:4-5
"The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. 5They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.

The Jews knew Paul. To know someone implies to know things about that person. Or else you can't know them. Knowing implies action and moral agents are animated beings not mannequins.

Also if one tries to make "Foreknowledge" = "predestination" then I would say that such a thing in Romans chapter 8 would be tautology(redundant language)

It would make the text read like this:
""29For those God predestined he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."

It's obvious the text makes a distinction between the two words.

A look at Augustine, Chrysostom, and Theodore in regards to this passage.


"Therefore God did not choose anyone's works (which he himself will give) by
foreknowledge, but by foreknowledge he chose faith. He chose the one whom he
knew in advance would believe in him, and to him he has given the Holy Spirit,
so that by doing good works he may attain everlasting life." Belief is our work,
but good deeds belong to him who gives the Holy Spirit to believers."

Augustine on Romans as quoted from the Ancient Christian commentary on scripture, N.T. volume 6 Romans, edited by Gerold Bray page 251


"God does not have to wait, as we do, to see which one will turn out good and
which one will turn out bad. He knew this in advance and decided accordingly."

Saint John Chrysostom, Homilies on quoted from the Ancient Christian commentary on scripture volume 6, edited by Gerold Bray and Thomas C. Oden page 250


"Thus God chose Isaac and rejected Ishmael and the children of Keturah. So also
he chose Jacob over Esau, even though both were formed together in the womb. Why
be surprised then, if God does the same thing nowadays, by accepting those of
you who believe and rejecting those who have not seen the light?"

Theodoret of Cyr: interpretation of the letter to the quoted by Ancient christian commentary on scripture edited by Gerold Bray and Thomas C. Oden page 253

Romans 9:14
"14What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15For he says to
Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on
whom I have compassion."

The scripture tells us who God likes to have mercy and compassion on so it's no hidden secret that nobody knows.

Psalm 103:13
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

Psalm 25:14
The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.

Psalm 18:27
You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

Proverbs 28:13
He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Isaiah 55:7
Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.


Romans chapter 3:21-22
"21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe."

God’s choice is not based on human merit, but on His mercy and inscrutable purposes.
Faith is not a merit, Humbleness is not a merit, fear is not a merit and repentance is not a merit. or else faith wouldn't be would be a work.....and we know Paul made a contrast between "faith" and "works". God's purpose was to save those who believe in His Son. That was His choice!

Romans 9:16
16It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's

Paul speaks elswhere about us doing stuff and how that relates to what God does.

1 Corinthians 3:5-7
"5Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

So as you see Romans 9:16 affirms our free will!!! It doesn't say we can't will or somehow not able to will.......NO!!! It just shows that our desire and effort in and of itself doesn't make us citizens of ISRAEL!!! NO!!! It takes God's mercy!

John says the samething in John 1:12-13
"12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."

SEE!!! Our willing alone will not make us born again!!! This verse is not saying we are not able to will, not able to make human decisions nor the husband not able to will......verse twelve shows us willing!!!

This verse is saying the samething 1st Corinth is saying!!! It's saying that it is God who brings the increase!!! It is God who makes us born again!!! It is not saying we are not able to plant!!! It is not saying we are not able to water!!! It is just saying that despite what we do it is what God does that matters!!! It is God who makes us grow!!!

It is God who makes us Citizens of ISRAEL because it is God who makes us born again!!! And how are we Born Again / Born from Above / Born a new? Simple! Baptismal Regeneration!

Titus 3:5
he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

John 3:3-5
In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.

Acts 22:16
And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'

Short testimony of a couple Church Fathers about water Baptism
This meaneth, that we indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and trust in Jesus in our spirit.

"As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, "Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Evidence in the Nicene Creed about the Grace of water Baptism:
The Nicene Creed
The Symbol of Faith of Orthodox Christians

I Confess one Baptism for the remission of sins.

So it is not that free will doesn't's just without God in the mix our free will is nothing!!!

Thus sayeth the scripture!!!

Psalm 127:1
"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain."

It doesn't depend on the builders labor nor the watchers standing guard but on God's mercy. Thus the same is true with Romans 9:16

A look at what Saints Augustine and Jerome said about this passage
"Paul does not take away the freedom of the will but says that our
will is not sufficient unless God helps us, making us compassionate so that we
might do good works by the gift of the Holy Spirit.....We cannot will unless we
are called, and when we will after our calling neither our will nor our striving
is enough unless God gives strength to our striving and leads us where he calls.
It is therefore clear that it is not by willing nor by striving but by the mercy
of God that we do good works, even though our will (which by itself can do
nothing) is also present."
Augustine on Romans from the book Ancient Christian commentary on scripture: New Testament VI Romans edited by Gerald Bray & Thomas C. Oden page 256

Man's Will and Running
"It is clear from this passage that the willing and running are ours,
but the fulfillment of our willing and running belongs to the mercy of God. So
it is that free will is preserved as far as our willing and running is concerned
and that everything depends on the power of God as far as the fulfillment of our
willing and running is concerned."
Jerome in the work "Against the Pelagians" 1.5 as quoted in the book Ancient Christian Commentary on scripture New Testament VI Romans page 256 edited by Gerald Bray & Thomas C. Oden

Romans 9:17
17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very
purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be
proclaimed in all the earth." 18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have
mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

This is a form of Prevenient GRACE for God was proclaiming His name thoughout the whole Earth. The more people can know of the God of Abraham the more they are able to fear God.

Thus sayeth the scriptures!!!

Psalm 33:8
"Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him."

Psalm 102:15
"The nations will fear the name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory"

Psalm 76:12
"He breaks the spirit of rulers; he is feared by the kings of the earth."

Psalm 79:6
"Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name;"

As seen in Psalms 103:13 and 25:14 God makes Himself known to those who fear Him. He also has compassion on those who fear Him as well.

Now in regards to Pharaoh being raised up by God. I will say that we all are raised up by God.

Hebrews chapter 6:7-8 shows us being rasied like crops.

God rasies all
7For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

Hebrews chapter 4:13 shows how everything is seen by God

God sees all
"13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

And Psalms 33:15 shows how God's Providential hand molds the hearts of "all men".

God molds all
"15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do."

Pharaoh had no excuse as seen in Romans chapter 1
"20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened."

God gave Pharaoh up to uncleanness as seen in Romans chapter 1
"24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,"

God gave Pharaoh over as seen in Romans chapter 1
"28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;"

Thus, God has Mercy on the humble and Hardens the proud as seen in Psalms 18:27
"You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty."

Romans 9:19-21
19One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who
resists his will?" 20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is
formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' " 21Does not
the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for
noble purposes and some for common use?

The whole chapter of Jeremiah 18 talks about God being the Potter. God being the Potter doesn't negate conditions. Infact, it includes them.

Jeremiah 18
"5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the LORD. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! 7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, 8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. 9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, 10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it. 11 “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.”’”

God being the Potter and us being the clay does not have to mean an unconditional bending to the will of God. As seen from Jeremiah chapter 18 we are freely bent to His will through conditions.

As also seen in 2nd Timothy 2:20-21
20In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Lets look at what Saints Augustine and Chrysostom had to say about this passage
"Having given his conclusion [in the last verse] Paul plays devil's
advocate by asking a rhetorical question........He responds to this question in
a sensible way so that we might understand that the basic rewards of faith and
of unbelief are made plain only to spiritual people and not to those who live
according to the earthly man. Likewise with the way God in his foreknowledge
elects those who will believe and condemns unbelievers. He neither elects the
ones because of their works nor condemns the other because of theirs, but he
grants to the faith of the ones the ability to do good works and hardens the
unbelief of the others by deserting them, so that they do evil. This
understanding, as I have said, is given only to spiritual people and is very
different from the wisdom of the flesh. Thus Paul counters his inquirer so that
he may understand that he first must put away the man of clay in order to be
worthy to investigate these things by the Spirit."
Augustine on Romans from the book Ancient Christian commentary on scripture: New Testament VI Romans edited by Gerald Bray page 259

"We read in Exodus[10:1] that Pharaoh's heart was hardened, so that he
was not moved even by clear signs. Therefore, because Pharaoh did not obey the
commands of God he was punished. No one can say that this hardness of heart came
upon Pharaoh undeservedly; it came by the judgment of God who was giving him
just punishment for his unbelief. Nor should it be thought that Pharaoh did not
obey because he could not, on the ground that his heart had already been
hardened. On the contrary, Pharaoh had deserved his hardness of heart by his
earlier unbelief. For in those whom God has chosen it is not works but faith
which is the beginning of merit, so that they might do good works by the gift of
God. And in those whom he condemns unbelief and unfaithfulness are the beginning
of punishment, so that by that very punishment they are permitted to do what is
Augustine on Romans from the book Ancient Christian commentary on scripture: New Testament VI Romans edited by Gerald Bray page 257

The Faithful freely yield to the Potter's Hands.

"Paul says this in order not to do away with free will but
rather to show to what extent we ought to obey God. We should be as little
inclined to call God to account as a piece of clay is. We ought to abstain not
only from complaining or questioning but from even speaking or thinking about it
at all, and instead we should become like that lifeless matter which follows the
Potter's hands and lets itself be shaped in whatever the Potter wills."

John Chrysostom, "Homilies on Romans" 16Ancient Christian Commentary on scripture New Testament VI Romans page 260 edited by Gerald Bray

Romans chapter 9:22-24
22What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore
with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction.23What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles

Pharough's heart was hardened through God's great patience!!! HE turns people over to their nature after patiently waiting for them to repent....He does this through great long suffering.

Origen maybe a little long winded in talking about the issue in De Principiis (Book III). But what he says is very necessary and insightful:

10. But since we acknowledge the God who spoke by Moses to be not only just, but also good, let us carefully inquire how it is in keeping with the character of a just and good Deity to have hardened the heart of Pharaoh. And let us see whether, following the example of the Apostle Paul, we are able to solve the difficulty by help of some parallel instances: if we can show, e.g., that by one and the same act God has pity upon one individual, but hardens another; not purposing or desiring that he who is hardened should be so, but because, in the manifestation of His goodness and patience, the heart of those who treat His kindness and forbearance with contempt and insolence is hardened by the punishment of their crimes being delayed; while those, on the other hand, who make His goodness and patience the occasion of their repentance and reformation, obtain compassion. To show more clearly, however, what we mean, let us take the illustration employed by the Apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where he says, "For the earth, which drinks in the rain that comes oft upon it, and brings forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, will receive blessing from God; but that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is near unto cursing, whose end is to be burned." Now from those words of Paul which we have quoted, it is clearly shown that by one and the same act on the part of God— that, viz., by which He sends rain upon the earth— one portion of the ground, when carefully cultivated, brings forth good fruits; while another, neglected and uncared for, produces thorns and thistles. And if one, speaking as it were in the person of the rain, were to say, "It is I, the rain, that have made the good fruits, and it is I that have caused the thorns and thistles to grow," however hard the statement might appear, it would nevertheless be true; for unless the rain had fallen, neither fruits, nor thorns, nor thistles would have sprung up, whereas by the coming of the rain the earth gave birth to both. Now, although it is due to the beneficial action of the rain that the earth has produced herbs of both kinds, it is not to the rain that the diversity of the herbs is properly to be ascribed; but on those will justly rest the blame for the bad seed, who, although they might have turned up the ground by frequent ploughing, and have broken the clods by repeated harrowing, and have extirpated all useless and noxious weeds, and have cleared and prepared the fields for the coming showers by all the labour and toil which cultivation demands, have nevertheless neglected to do this, and who will accordingly reap briers and thorns, the most appropriate fruit of their sloth. And the consequence therefore is, that while the rain falls in kindness and impartiality equally upon the whole earth, yet, by one and the same operation of the rain, that soil which is cultivated yields with a blessing useful fruits to the diligent and careful cultivators, while that which has become hardened through the neglect of the husbandman brings forth only thorns and thistles. Let us therefore view those signs and miracles which were done by God, as the showers furnished by Him from above; and the purpose and desires of men, as the cultivated and uncultivated soil, which is of one and the same nature indeed, as is every soil compared with another, but not in one and the same state of cultivation. From which it follows that every one's will, if untrained, and fierce, and barbarous, is either hardened by the miracles and wonders of God, growing more savage and thorny than ever, or it becomes more pliant, and yields itself up with the whole mind to obedience, if it be cleared from vice and subjected to training.

11. But, to establish the point more clearly, it will not be superfluous to employ another illustration, as if, e.g., one were to say that it is the sun which hardens and liquefies, although liquefying and hardening are things of an opposite nature. Now it is not incorrect to say that the sun, by one and the same power of its heat, melts wax indeed, but dries up and hardens mud: not that its power operates one way upon mud, and in another way upon wax; but that the qualities of mud and wax are different, although according to nature they are one thing, both being from the earth. In this way, then, one and the same working upon the part of God, which was administered by Moses in signs and wonders, made manifest the hardness of Pharaoh, which he had conceived in the intensity of his wickedness but exhibited the obedience of those other Egyptians who were intermingled with the Israelites, and who are recorded to have quitted Egypt at the same time with the Hebrews."

And last but not least God's calling is for both Jews and gentiles.

Related links on the issue:
This is taken from the podcast Pilgrims from Paradise by Matthew Gallatin's commentary on Romans chapter 9

Origen on Pharaoh, his hard heart, free will, and Romans chapter 9

Kyrie, Eleison!: Romans 9 Expounded by St. John Chrysostom







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