Does Romans 9-11 Teach Calvinist Predestination?

Does Romans 9-11 teach Calvinist predestination?

In these few chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans, Ben Witherington explains that Paul’s aim is to refute certain assumptions that the Gentiles in Rome appear to have believed. Namely, Roman Christians assumed that God now favored the Romans, or Gentiles, rather than the Jews (read more about the church at Rome here). The argument as a whole in Rom. 9-11 then is about corporate election, not individual election.

What about the issues of predestination and salvation, and how do they relate to election? Ben Witherington reminds us that these terms should not be conflated—they each have different meanings. First, you can be part of an elect group and not be saved. That’s because election is about God calling a specific people for specific tasks on earth. For example, Cyrus was God’s anointed servant to release Israel from captivity, but he was a pagan and not saved (Isa. 45:1). Also, although God foreknew Israel corporately, not all were necessarily saved. Only two among God’s elect from Egypt made it to Canaan after wandering the desert.

So does Romans 9-11 teach Calvinist predestination? The point seems to be a different one. It is about not boasting in your status before God, because ultimately, your behavior will affect your standing before God. As Ben Witherington likes to say, “You’re not eternally secure until your securely in eternity.” Indeed, if God has grafted in the Gentiles because of Israel’s failure, should the Gentiles fail, they too can be broken off (Rom. 11:11-24).

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7 Responses

  1. I see there is a video on Romans 7 on sinning and this one on chapters 9-11 but wish there was one on Romans 8 because verses 29-30 are keeping me from agreeing with Ben’s phrase at 5:10 “foreknowledge does not predetermine who is saved.”

    Romans 8:29-30(RSV)

    29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

    1. The Golden chain of salvation cannot be broken. People chosen from the foundation of the world is seen everywhere throughout the Bible.

    2. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. . Before Christ we were under the law. Not of grace. . “foreknowledge does not predetermine who is saved.” I agree, because of Christ we are saved by grace through faith. Because Christ was raised we can do greater works than he did through the Spirit in us through Christ.. Predestined would remove freewill. Blessed are those who believe and have not seen.

  2. For knowledge does not equal divine command. This is a good distinction to learn for those hyper Calvinist that claim all known outcomes are commanded to happen.

    Proof: Jeremiah 19:5
    God explicitly states Israel did “something I did not command, nor was it of my mind”.

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