In today’s episode we talk about the 9th chapter of Romans, specifically regarding soteriology.

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“It’s Your Grace” Words and Music by Bob Kauflin and Doug Plank. © 2013 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI). All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Here are some of the resources mentioned in the episode:

Bauer, W., Danker, W., Arndt, F. W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago, IL: Accordance electronic edition, version 2.7. University of Chicago Press.

Carson, D. A., & Moo, D. J. (2005). An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Harvey, J. D. (2017). Exegetical Guide to the Greek: Romans. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic.

Quarles, C., Butler, Trent, C., Chad, B., Charles, D., & England, A. (2003). Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Accordance electronic edition, version 1.8. B&H Publishing Group.

Reumann, J., Freedman, D., Noel, A., Allen, M., & Astrid, B. (2000). Romans. In Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Accordance electronic edition, version 3.7. Eerdmans.

Wallace, D. (2012, November 30). Romans 9.1 and Asyndeton. Retrieved from



2 Responses

  1. In trying to understand how you could come up with these conclusions from Romans 9, your line by line explanation may have provided a clue. In your line by line exegesis you skipped verse 9 by saying only it mirrored verse 7 in talking about Isaac. This misses a huge turn in Paul’s argument and allows you to continue on the path of eisegesis of the rest of this chapter.

    When Paul quotes Genesis 18 he is not doing so to affirm God’s freedom to unconditionally elect a select few, rather he is drawing the unbelieving Jews’ mind to the promise given that held many implications: 1.) they used this to support their (wrong) belief that God only chose to love them and did not choose to love the Gentiles but 2.) the promise had Messianic inferences that have now been shown to be true. Paul is quoting the promise because he has been teaching the Jews about Jesus but they refuse to believe. The son that was promised to Sarah is also Jesus. AND the appointed time is now (in Paul’s day). Paul has been teaching that the Messiah has come but the Jews have been objecting “Now!? You think that the Messiah has come now?! After all these years?! In our old age 2,000 years since Moses?! AND you say he’s letting in the Gentiles?!?!”

    If you both miss this objection of the Jews and you miss Paul’s what should be obvious references in verse 9, you’re free to interpret the rest of this chapter Calvinisticly. If not, the entire meaning flips (but stays more consistent with chapters 1-8 and 10-11).

    In verse 10 Paul is making a subject change that is brought to mind *because* of what he just alluded to in verse 9. Calvinist interpretation skips over this, instead positing that the usage of Rebekah is just another example of Gods unconditional election to the Isaac reference just given. But Paul’s “not only that” language should be a clear marker of a change in the train of thought, and it is. Paul was talking about who true Israel is, using the promise to Sarah as proof, and in so doing remembers the temporality of the promise and Abraham and Sarah’s mocking of God. And he recognized that the Messiah was also foretold and came at a later time and the Jews mocked him and now mocked Paul. So Paul saw the symmetry with the OT. He also saw the Jews behavior as symmetrical with some other OT participants and he’s going to make the point, albeit snarkily.

    In verse 10 he moves on to the Jacob-Esau story to make his point which is at the end of the sentence in verse 12, ‘the elder will serve the younger’ and is not verse 13 as Calvinists attempt to argue. Stemming from the temporality of the promise to Sarah and the Jews objection to the timing of Jesus, Paul sees that the Jews now are acting like Esau, complaining about the younger brother, the Gentiles, now getting the inheritance and themselves seemingly being cut out of the inheritance.

    So Paul isn’t using Jacob or Isaac, or later Pharaoh or the potter, to prove unconditional election. He’s reversing the roles in those OT identity stories and using them to show the Jews that their some-chosen-some-not-chosen theology (similar to Calvinism) is wrong, unbiblical, and defamatory of God. He’s saying, if you believe that God only chose some then you’re the unchosen! What if what you’re saying is true? Would you like the implications of that? That maybe you’re the unchosen ones, predestined for hell? (That’s why Paul starts verse 22 with what if, another thing Calvinists miss). But, he goes, on, the good news is that’s not due, your some-chosen theology is dead wrong, all have been loved/forgiven by God. No one is predestined-out, all can be grafted back in through their faith, their abandonment of self, their humility and repentance.

    • Hello! Thank you for the thought provoking comment. I think you raise some interesting points. Here are my initial thoughts (emphasis on my thoughts) to your comments and I hope they don’t come off as rude, because I know this can be seen as a heated discussion and the internet doesn’t allow for tone. I could very well be wrong on this subject, and so it is worth stating that I have studied a number of perspectives on this passage (which were all outside of the calvinist camp) and found them all disagreeing and lacking in different areas. I, personally, have found this to be the most clear and consistent reading of Romans 9 within the context of the letter as a whole.

      When examining the text, I think that you cannot disconnect the verses leading up to verse nine, which sets a salvific context for the passage. I don’t see a major shift in theme or argument, but rather a flow of arguments that sticks with the same theme. I think that if the exegete cannot answer this question, “why haven’t all Jews been saved?” then the exegete fails. I did think that pointing out that verse nine was a part of a chiasm was significant because of the focus of the text, and Paul’s use of a chiasm cannot be ignored because it emphasizes his point. I think there are a lot of theories that interject into the text, instead of letting the text speak for itself, pulling from outside sources, and so I really tried to stay within the text itself. The only times I examined other biblical texts was to see how Paul used his language. I think your explanation detaches the text from the context of Romans 8 and verses 1-7. I think most of the explanations for the rest of Romans nine fall extremely short outside of the consistent context. You said that if your view is correct than the viewing of Romans 9 is more consistent with chapters 1-8, and I would heartily disagree given the context of the letter, what was said in chapter eight, the grammatical structure prior to chapter nine, and the salvific nature that Paul has anguish over leading to verse 6. I would disagree that Paul switches gears in the way you suggest, and I think that is where we obviously disagree on. I believe Paul continued his train of thought. Throughout the New Testament, the Apostles have applied the Old Testament in the ways they were led to, I think the big inconsistency with many on this particular chapter is that they do not let Paul handle the OT as he intended. I thought I included an example of Paul’s application of a Old Testament text in a way that wouldn’t make sense with the OT itself (In Galatians) without his specific application, but I don’t remember if I did.

      I would note that the only engagement with my points has been on the usage of the OT, not the context prior, nor the slavific language Paul uses, nor the individualistic attributions. This is a consistent observation with those who take the opposite view on Romans 9, there never seems to be an address of anything but the citations and the rest of the text is ‘covered’ with broad statements. I do think Romans 9 speaks fairly straight forward when you read it without an anti-calvinistic mainframe. Many individuals read it with the goal to find a reading outside of calvinism, and I think that is particularly sad that ANY theological system is effecting the text. I do not agree when calvinists interject into a text as much as anyone else. Anytime we approach a text with our theological presuppositions, we will fail to correct any mistakes. I do think that your last paragraph is interesting, but it disregards the realities found elsewhere in scripture. Your reply, though, completely passes the context in which God’s work is laid out (Romans 8), and if “all have been forgiven” then why do any perish? Was Christ’s work of forgiving all not enough to actually save them? If I may be straight forward, it seems as if you’re more interested in arguing against Calvinism then discussing what Romans 9 says. I would end by saying, I don’t think our disagreement is actually on Romans 9, but it’s found in Romans 8:28-30.

      I appreciate your time and discussion. And thank you for being polite, it is always wonderful to just discuss things like this! I’d be happy to discuss further via email 🙂

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