Romans 9:10-13 – Who Is Jacob? Who Is Esau?

In this series we are not going through Romans chapter 9 in depth. My goal is merely to give us some key cross-reference passages to help us come to a clear understanding of what Paul is communication in Romans 9. Most of these passages come from Paul in the book of Romans, Galatians or Ephesians. But we will also look to some of Old Testament passages he cites, as well as other related passages. 

In the last post we saw that Paul, in Romans 9:6-9, uses Isaac, the child of promise, to represent the Church of Jesus Christ made up of Jewish and Gentile believers. And he points his finger at his unbelieving countrymen and suggests that they are like Ishmael, the son of a slave women. This was clarified by referring to Galatians 4:21-31 and Romans 4:13-16. Now we want to turn to the next section in his argument found in 9:10-13.

10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” 

Rom 9:10-13 NKJV

Continue reading “Romans 9:10-13 – Who Is Jacob? Who Is Esau?”

Romans 9:6-9 – Who Are The “Children of Promise”?

In this series, we are not going through Romans chapter 9 in depth. My goal is merely to give us some key cross-reference passages to help us come to a clear understanding of what Paul is communicating in Romans 9. Most of these passages come from Paul in the book of Romans, Galatians, or Ephesians. But we will also look at some of the Old Testament passages he cites, as well as other related passages. 

6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.” 

Rom 9:6-9 NKJV

In the last post, we looked at Romans 9:1-6 and noted what issue Paul intends to discuss in the chapter. He is asking and answering two primary questions. He is pointing out to the reader that Israel was promised the New Covenant, and yet they have for the most part rejected it. Firstly, he wants to answer why it is that Israel has rejected Christ and the New Covenant in Him. And secondly, he wants to let us know with confidence that this has not hindered God’s promise and plan. In 9:6 he told us that the unbelief of Israel did not thwart God’s promise to Israel because Israel is not reckoned according to natural descent. In 9:7-9 he is going to expand on this idea and present evidence for his assertion. 

Continue reading “Romans 9:6-9 – Who Are The “Children of Promise”?”

Romans 9:1-6 Who Is Israel?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

Romans 1:16

Romans 9 is often used as a proof-text for determinism. It is as though Paul is presenting the Gospel for Jew and Gentile from Romans chapter 1 to chapter 8, and then becomes a fatalistic philosopher all of a sudden in chapter 9. This would really be a strange detour for the apostle to take. But, there is no detour. Paul continues to preach the universal message of salvation in Romans chapter 9. This chapter will become clear to us if we let Scripture interpret Scripture. So in the next several posts, we will look for a few key passages from Scripture, primarily from Paul’s epistles, in order to understand what Paul is arguing in Romans 9.

I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,…

Romans 9:1-6

Continue reading “Romans 9:1-6 Who Is Israel?”

Is Calvinism the Standard of Historic Christianity?

Calvinism is often portrayed as the standard of historic Christianity, but is this true?

If we imagine that Christianity started in the 16th century we might be able to make that claim. This is when its doctrines were widely embraced, and some of them were created. But of course, the Church of Jesus Christ began in the 1st century.

Calvinism’s distinct doctrines consist of the TULIP acronym, namely Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. 3 of these doctrines were created by Augustine in the 5th century. Before that, Christian writers did not teach these doctrines. These 3 doctrines were Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, and Irresistible Grace. Though Augustine invented them in the 5th century, they were not embraced by many until the Reformation. Luther and Calvin accepted and promoted these doctrines. But until then, most Christians had rejected them.

The other 2 doctrines, namely Limited Atonement and Perseverance of the Saints were not heard of until Calvin’s day. And in fact, it is debatable whether or not Calvin himself held to the doctrine of Limited Atonment. Some argue that it was created later by his disciples.

So Calvinism is only historic and orthodox if we change the definitions of the terms orthodox and historic.

This is discussed more in this video:

Why Do People Become Calvinists?

There are several reasons why people gravitate towards the Calvinistic theological system.

Calvinism has a reputation for being a standard of historic Christianity, even though some of its core doctrines were not known in the early church and were not invented until the 5th century, and some not until the 16th century. So many are open to Calvinism because of this reputation, but most do not commit to it for that reason.

Others are drawn to Calvinism because it is an airtight theological system. People with a philosophical bent gravitate towards this aspect of Calvinism. But again, this is not usually what causes people to fully embrace Reformed Theology.

The #1 reason people commit to Calvinism is a misunderstanding of a few passages of Scripture. Once a false interpretation of some passages like Romans 9, Ephesians 1, and others are embraced, the rest is history. The false interpretation of these passages then becomes the lens through which all other passages in the Bible are interpreted. For this reason, it is imperative that biblical interpretations are made available to those on the fence.

So, what is the big deal? Well, the most dangerous aspect of Calvinism is that it replaces the correct interpretation of Scripture with a false interpretation. This causes many important passages of God’s word to be made null and void. There are other dangers as well, but this is the key problem.

This is discussed in the video below:

What Is Calvinism?

Calvinism is a system of thought that has been embraced by many since the time of the Reformation. And some of its philosophical concepts go back all the way to Augustine.

The first main concept is a form of soft determinism called “compatibilism.” Simply put, compatibilism teaches that God unilaterally determines every thought, word, and deed of every creature in all of history, and yet this determinism is deemed to be compatible with the idea that each creature is still morally responsible for their thoughts, words, and deeds.

The acronym TULIP sums up the 5 points of Calvinism’s idea about the nature of salvation.

T stands for Total Depravity. This doctrine teaches that each person is so corrupt from birth that they could never respond in repentance or faith towards God and Christ even if the Holy Spirit comes to the person and convicts them of their sin.

U stands for Unconditional Election. This doctrine teaches that God unilaterally chose before the world began whom He would give the gift of faith and repentance to so they could be saved. And it further teaches that He left the rest of mankind without the ability to repent or believe so that He could show His wrath on them forever.

L stands for Limited Atonement. This doctrine teaches that Jesus paid the penalty for specific sinners and their sins. He only died for those whom God unconditionally elected for His own purposes.

I stands for Irresistible Grace. This doctrine teaches that God unilaterally causes a person to be born again, and made into a new creature in Christ, without the will of the sinner being involved. And then, since the person is made new, he then naturally repents and believes unto justification.

P stands for Perseverance of the Saints. This doctrine teaches that God will make sure that those whom He saves, will continue in holiness until the end of their lives and thus inherit eternal life.

The last main perspective in the Calvinistic philosophy is Covenant Theology. This paradigm teaches that God has saved people in history, both in the Old and New Testaments through faith. And that in the Old Testament they had different signs, but the same salvation as those in the New. For example, in the Old Testament, male children were made part of God’s people by being circumcised as babies. In the same way, people are now made part of God’s people through baptism as babies. (Note: Baptist Calvinists have adjusted their view on Covenant Theology for obvious reasons)

Here is a short video on this topic:

God So Loved The World & Hated Esau

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 NKJV

…(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

Romans 9:11-13 NKJV

These 2 passages are often used in the good old-fashioned Free Will vs. Sovereignty debate. Maybe a Calvinist will post the Romans 9:11-13 passage to stump the non-Calvinist, and then the Free-Willer will respond by saying, “Well, what about John 3:16?! Aha!” It would be a humorous exchange if it was not so depressing. First of all, both are setting up one passage of Holy Writ against another, which seems a strange thing for Christians who believe in the inspiration of Scripture to do. But, to be fair, each of them thinks that their opponent is misinterpreting the passage they reference, and so they attempt to give them a clearer passage that they cannot possibly fail to understand. But instead of dealing with the first passage quoted, each side runs to its storehouse of verses with which to respond.

Continue reading “God So Loved The World & Hated Esau”

Romans 9:1-13 – God’s Sovereign Prerogative

1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. 

– Romans 9:1-5 NKJV

Paul is grieved over the unbelief and spiritual danger of the nation of Israel in general. The New Covenant was specifically promised to the nation of Israel, though it was foretold to include Gentiles as well. But the situation in Paul’s day was that the majority of Jews had rejected the Jewish Messiah and the New Covenant in Him. In these verses Paul expresses his desire for their salvation and rehearses the reason why the promises are for Israelites first and foremost. Continue reading “Romans 9:1-13 – God’s Sovereign Prerogative”

Are You Sure You Wanna Use That Verse? (Ephesians 2:5-6 – Part 4)

Gratefully, this is my last post on Ephesians 2:5-6 for the foreseeable future. We have been considering this passage in order to make one simple point: These verses are not a proof-text for monergistic regeneration. 

Exegesis first & last

I am keenly aware that since Calvinists hold to their particular form of Total Depravity, monergistic regeneration is a logical necessity if anyone is going to be saved. This doctrine is closely tied to other doctrines in their system as well, which is why focusing on one doctrine and one verse at a time can be difficult for my Calvinist brethren. 

They tend to see individual Scriptures through the lens of systematic theology, and often say something to the effect of “The passage cannot say people are saved by choosing to believe, because other verses teach Total Depravity, and therefore they cannot choose to believe.” If we take the bait and go to those passages to look at the context, and find their exegesis is faulty, we will soon find ourselves looking into the context of verses related to Unconditional Election. This will lead to verses on Divine Sovereignty, Limited Atonement and sooner or later back to Monergism. But it is a difficult task to deal with one verse at a time in context.

Continue reading “Are You Sure You Wanna Use That Verse? (Ephesians 2:5-6 – Part 4)”

Are You Sure You Wanna Use That Verse? (Ephesians 2:5-6 – Part 3)

This is the continuation of my last post. We are still addressing the Calvinist argument that Ephesians 2:5-6 teaches monergistic regeneration because the text does not show any action on the part of man. In the last post we brought our first witness against this argument, namely the immediate context. In verse 5 it includes the phrase “by grace you have been saved.” We noted that Paul expands on this phrase in verses 8. In those verses he teaches that we are saved (i.e. justified) through faith. The grace of God saves us, and we receive that grace through believing. The fact that the same phrase is used in verse 5 and verse 8 shows us that the same topic is being taught in both verses.

But we have another witnesses against the monergistic reading of Ephesians 2:5-6. So without further ado, let’s put our second witness on the stand.

Witness #2 – Colossians 2:11-13

The context of Paul’s letter to the Colossians is very similar to his letter to the Ephesians. There are some slight differences, but the topics he covers are basically the same. What is pertinent for us is the parallel passage to Ephesians 2:5-6 found in Colossians 2:11-13. 

Colossians 2:11-13

11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 

Continue reading “Are You Sure You Wanna Use That Verse? (Ephesians 2:5-6 – Part 3)”