Saturday, February 4, 2012

Another Look at Romans Chapter 9

A conversation I had with someone else:

I see Thee Elect One as being Jesus Christ and so the Elect group are all those Elected In Christ. In this sense I believe in corporate election.

Quote Originally Posted by lonehunter View Post
Right. Just wondering, but what makes you think that Christ is being elected as opposed to those in Christ being elected?

Because Christ is the starting point. Let's look at some Old Testament prophesies about Christ being chosen:
Isaiah 42:1
"“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations."

For a fuller typological context you can read to verse 7. But this shows that the Messiah is also Chosen or seen as Thee Chosen One. Let's look at another passage in Isaiah:

Isaiah 49:1
"Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the LORD called me;
from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name."

To get the fuller typological context read all the way to verse 13. In this we see He is thee Called One. He is also a Nation, the True Nation of Israel, but I don't want to get into that right now. But yes, Jesus is the Elect One! This is seen more clearly in the New Testament.

1st Peter 1:20
(read verses 18,19, and 21 too)
"He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake."


1st Peter 2:4(you can read up to verse 6)
"As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him"

Jesus being Thee Elect/Chosen One can also be seen by Clement of Rome, one of the Apostolic Fathers

Clement of Rome
"May God, who seeth all things, and who is the Ruler of all spirits and the Lord of all flesh—who chose our Lord Jesus Christ and us through Him to be a peculia people—grant to every soul that calleth upon His glorious and holy Name, faith, fear, peace, patience, long-suffering, self-control, purity, and sobriety, to the well-pleasing of His Name, through our High Priest and Protector, Jesus Christ, by whom be to Him glory, and majesty, and power, and honour, both now and for evermore. Amen."

You are(I assume) a protestant and so you may not like the Book of Wisdom and the Book of Enoch, but if you read them then you will also see what I'm saying here. Election is Christ-Centric! For there can be no Election apart from Christ. Thus, He is thee Elect/Chosen One, and it is by way of Him that we become elect. Election in Christ is primarily Corporate and secondarily individualistic because the Covenant Community is inherently pluralistic. There is no such thing as a lone ranger Christian, correct?

Jesus said:
Matthew 18:20
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Noticed that Jesus never said wherever one is gathered in my name. Thus being In Christ is inherently Communal. It is inherently Koinonia.

Eph 2:11-19 shows that it is pluralistic. That it is covenant community based. And so it is the community that exist in Christ that is primary. The individual who is united to the community is secondary.

For more info about Christ being Thee Chosen one and how we are chosen by way of Him, well, you can listen to this mp3 if you want:
Jesus - The Chosen and Beloved

Quote Originally Posted by lonehunter View Post
Right, I'm not arguing that Christ is not the chosen one. I am referring specifically to Romans 9, and what it means. From what I read in the post that TheKenster posted (though I haven't read all of it quite yet) I think we were in general agreement here. That God's promise is given to those in Christ, as opposed to the literal descendants of Jacob. Now you are saying that Christ is the recipient of this promise?"

Yes, I agree with you that God's promise is given to those in Christ, as opposed to (all) the literal descendants of Jacob. However, the word Chosen is another way of saying Elect, and so Christ is the Elect One. And so I don't believe He is the recipient of the promise. What I believe is that He is the promise itself.

Christ is the promised seed as seen in Galatians.
Galatians 3:16
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.

Christ is also a Nation, the true Nation of Israel. If you look at the typology used by the Apostles in reference to Jesus then you will be able to see how Jesus is Israel.

Matthew 2:14-15
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Hosea 11:1
“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son."

The Church, which is His body, is also seen as the Israel of God:

Galatians 6:16
"Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God"

And so in this way we can see the connection between the Promised Seed(Who is Jesus) and all those who believe in the Promise.

We can see the connection between the Nation of Israel (Who is Jesus) and all those who want to be citizens of this Nation. Which is also the Kingdom of God for the Kingdom of God is connected to the Person of Christ. Christ is the very core, the very foundation of it all.

So what does this have to do with Romans chapter 9 you ask? Well, even-though there is no such thing as an infallible hermeneutic, I will make use of a common one in where Scripture is interpreted by Scripture, and so lets Interpret Romans Chapter 9 with not only other chapters from the book of Romans, but also Galatians chapter 3, Ephesians chapter 2, and maybe a few other sources from the Old Testament.

I truly believe that when we do it this way then we will see what Paul is trying to say more clearly.

Let's interpret a good portion of Romans chapter 9 through the lens of Galatians chapter 3.

Galatians 3:19
"Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator."

Galatians 3:22
"But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe."

Galatians 3:23-29
"Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise."

Now, if we look at Romans chapter 9 then we will see that there were certain periods of time in where it was about which lineage would be the one to carry the promise seed.

Romans 9:5
"Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen."

Now let's look at what I quoted from Galatians with what I underlined in Romans 9:5 and let's compare them to the two examples given by the Apostle in verses 6 to 13.

For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”"

In this we see that the lineage of the promise seed would go down Isaac's family line and not Ismael's for in Galatians it says that Isaac was a son based on a divine promise while Ismael a son of a bond-servant woman. Now let's look at the next example.

"Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”"

In this we see that the lineage of the promise seed would go to Jacob instead of Esau. Why? Faith! God foresaw that Jacob would believe while Esau wouldn't. In Paul's terminology, faith is not a work. We can see this all throughout the book of Romans, and Galatians.

A couple patristic quotes about the issue:

"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

"What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For 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.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden."

God is not unjust on which lineage gets to carry the promise seed. The carrier of the promise seed is based on God's Mercy! And the Apostles already told us who God has Mercy on. He has Mercy on those who Believe!

Galatians 3:14
"He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit."

Romans 9:30-33

"What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written:

“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”"

Romans 11:1-10
"I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written:

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that could not see
and ears that could not hear,
to this very day.”

And David says:

“May their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent forever.”"

God's Mercy and Hardening is conditional:

Romans 11:19-23
"You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again."

And so, what I see in Romans chapter 9 is mostly what happens in regards to who gets to carry the promise seed in their lineage before the first advent, and then towards the end of Romans chapter 9 I see what happens after the first Advent. The one consistent theme in both pre and post 1st Advent is being embraced because of Faith.

Election is primarily corporate for me because it's all based on the Person of Christ who is also the Promise Seed and Israel! The Gentiles get a chance to become Citizens of the Nation of Israel, the Kingdom of God when they are united to Christ. And for me, this happens by way of Belief, Repentance, and Baptism(Water and Spirit).


Drake Shelton said...

Put this in your pipe and smoke it

RbrtMPwll said...

Yes, Jesus is the chosen One; but its through what Jesus accomplished on the cross that enables "the promise" to reach to every man, eventually, *every man* in his own order (1Cor.15:*22-24). What promise...? "eternal life" of course (Titus 1:2). The "elect" are "chosen" for a purpose; to co-labor with God's all-encompassing goal: in due time, to become "All in all" of His creatures (1Cor.15:28). By the way: the "Israel of God" is not "the church, which is His body"; the "Israel of God" is constituted by the Jewish believers of 'the gospel of the kingdom' which Peter and the eleven preached in that day (distinct from Paul's gospel) and includes believers today who are preoccupied with (and dominated by) that Jewish-national-centric message today.


Anonymous said...


I seem to be very close to your view as you present it here. I have been saying for quite some time now that Christ's sacrifice is what was predestined, not certain individuals for salvation. Thank you for this post. I stumbled upon it while doing research on early church fathers and their view of predestination.

Looking at the titles of some of your other posts, I am sure we disagree about several things. However, I appreciate this post. Live in obedience to the Spirit, reverence to the Father, and thankfulness to Christ.





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