No Mercy For the Non-Elect? Romans 9

Romans 9:1-18 is (by common consent) a rough spot. Some go in with theological girding in place and a skewed reading is bound to occur while others go in thinking they have to walk away convinced with Something because of the foreboding rumblings in the Christian atmosphere way above them. People might look at my (rather Paul’s) Pharaoh versus Israel model and think that Israel was eternally saved and Pharaoh eternally damned from the get-go. I beg to differ.

Romans 9:1-18 is (by common consent) a rough spot. Some go in with theological girding in place and a skewed reading is bound to occur while others go in thinking they have to walk away convinced with Something because of the foreboding rumblings in the Christian atmosphere way above them. People might look at my (rather Paul’s) Pharaoh versus Israel model and think that Israel was eternally saved and Pharaoh eternally damned from the get-go. I beg to differ.

Remember; back when Moses was told to bring God’s message to Pharaoh including how he would perform signs after being asked for proof? God told Moses to explain to Pharoah that Israel was His Son, His firstborn (Exodus 4:21-22). Years later, when the nation has fallen into desperate sin and they’re being carried off by enemies God speaks to Isaiah and the words are penned that Israel is His Elect. (Isaiah 45:4). The rebellion of Israel and God’s subsequent wrath on Israel (while falling short of total obliteration) is a constant theme in the Old Testament (and which we’ll get to in Romans 10) but I want to underscore that even during those times they were still marked out as being Choice or Elect.

To clarify: the same people that God calls His Son are the generation that drops dead in the wilderness because of the disobedient hearts and stiff necks. The same people that God calls His Elect are the same ones carted off to Assyria and Babylon because of their hardened hearts. The same people that in Paul’s day (and ours) nationally reject their Messiah Paul calls brothers, acknowledges that they have great zeal for God and indeed calls them God’s foreknown people.

So this portion (in pointing out a believing remnant of Elect Israel and an unbelieving majority of elect Israel) is not dealing with God saving the elect and not saving the rest (as in God choosing the elect over the non-elect) but rather in God’s absolute freedom to show mercy (currently to the Gentiles and to Elect Unbelieving Israel) or to harden (currently happening to Elect Israel but later to happen to the Elect Church) for the purpose of showing even more mercy.

In other words, Romans 9 thus far is dealing with God’s freedom in mercy while struggling with the unbelieving partially hardened Elect Israel. We’d be doing Paul’s carefully structured argument, allusions and quotations a huge disservice by painting over them with a thick coat of individualistic theology.

Series Link.

Facebook Comments

1 thought on “No Mercy For the Non-Elect? Romans 9

Leave a Reply