Thursday, December 31, 2009

Romans 9-11 (Part 14)

Conclusion

So in conclusion, Paul is teaching how the doctrine of justification by faith is impacting both Jews and Gentiles. He reconciles justification by faith and the rejection of the Jews who do not believe with the promises God gave Israel. Israel is chosen and blessed, but with national blessings. The spiritual Israel consists of believers in Christ. Both of these truths are taught through God’s choice of the patriarchs. And both illustrate how God’s promises did not fail, even though unbelieving Israelites are rejected.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Romans 9-11 (Part 13)

25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.

Greeks at the time had religions which restricted membership and did not disclose their “mysteries” till you got inside. Paul uses that concept here and other places to demonstrate to the Gentiles that God had a plan that He is now fulfilling. The Israelites didn’t know ahead of time that salvation would apply to Gentiles. Now everyone was realizing that the Gentiles could be saved.

The fullness of the Gentiles refers to the spread of the Gospel thought out the world. The partial hardening implies that not all Jews are hardened, but there is a remnant left. The “until” hints that the end of the hardening is upcoming.

26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

Israel as a nation will be recovered to God. Paul bases this on the covenant God made with Abraham. The three R’s show us that Paul is talking about physically Israel and not believers. Paul has been talking about a remnant of physical Israel, the replacement of physical Israel by the Gentiles and the restoration of physical Israel in the end. Israel will once again become Israel.

In the future, when God is restoring all things, both the national and spiritual blessings promised to Abraham will come together. The national Jews will be spiritual Jews, as the Jews turn away from their sins and back to God and are made righteous through the promise to Abraham.

Paul quotes from Isaiah 59:20:
59:20 And a Redeemer will come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith Jehovah. 21 And as for me, this is my covenant with them, saith Jehovah: my Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith Jehovah, from henceforth and for ever.

The context of which is Israel sins and God’s coming judgment. The Lord is depicted as a warrior coming to clean house. After that He will come as a redeemer to save. Isaiah is talking about the future restoration of Israel from their sins and salvation through Christ the Redeemer. Physical Israel in the end will not be saved through the Law but God’s grace provided to believers in Christ Jesus.

Paul also quotes from Jeremiah 31:31-34:
31" Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. 33"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34"They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

The Jews’ salvation will not come through following the Law, but through the declaration of the Gospel, the new birth through the Holy Spirit, and the forgiveness of sins through the blood of the Redeemer.

28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

The Jews were now rejected, because they did not believe this Gospel. Because of this the Gentiles were added in, so the Gentiles benefited from the Jews’ rejection. However, the Jews are still a special people, who God loves and will restore. Not because of any merit of the Patriarchs, but God’s promise to them. Rather than God taking back his promise to Abraham because of the Jews’ unfaithfulness, God will fulfill His promise in saving believers, which will include national Jews in the end.

30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

All of mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, are or were unbelievers. God’s will to have mercy extends to all. God uses even unbelief, to bring people to faith. Concluded in the Greek is sugkleio and has the sense of imprisoned. God hardened Jews and Gentiles in their sins so that He could provide mercy to everyone. This is all part of fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham. When both Jews and Gentiles believe all the nations of the world will be blessed through him.

33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

God’s plan to bring salvation to all is a mystery now revealed to us.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Romans 9-11 (Part 12)

16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

“Firstfruit” refers to the Israel’s practice of offering the first and best of a crop to God. Through that offering the entire crop was sanctified unto God. “Firstfruit” and “root” are Abraham and the “lump” and “branches” are all the Jews. Holiness is the natural state for Jews, given their origins in Abraham. Jews are special to God, so their conversion back to God will be even more special than the Gentiles conversion. Their being formed out of the lump into vessels of wrath is unnatural.

17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

The Jews are the branches broken off from the root, which is Abraham and the promise God made to Abraham. They are no longer spiritual Jews. When Christ came and the Jews rejected Him and God cut them off. God grafted the believing Gentiles into the Jews place.

Most translations insert an implied “remember” between “if thou boast” and “thou bearest not the root, but the root thee”. So the NKJV, NIV, NET, ESV and NRSV. The thought is that the Gentiles are not to forget where they came from. The promise given to Abraham is the reason they are righteous.

The Jews had been saying they were spiritually superior to their Gentile neighbors because they received blessings as God’s chosen people. The Gentiles were fighting back, say the Jews were now rejected and they accepted. In a way that was true, but certainly not a reason to boast. Paul explains that it’s not due to Gentiles’ superiority that they are now blessed, but due to God’s original promise.

19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

Paul affirms that God’s purpose in hardening the Jews was to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles. While it’s true that the reason the Jews are rejected and don’t get to participate in the blessings God promised to Abraham is their unbelief and that the Gentiles do is their faith, they are still not to boast. Why not? They should be afraid. Because if God didn’t spare the Jews for unbelief, He would not spare them either.

22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.

God punished the Jews severely by hardening them. He showed great kindness to the Gentiles, by justifying them through faith. But the Gentiles need to continue in God’s kindness which justifies, otherwise God will handle them like the Jews. And if the Jews don’t stay unbelievers, they will be blessed again, God is able to make them righteous through the promise to Abraham.

The same word for God’s ability here is used on Romans 9:22: chestotes “although willing to demonstrate His wrath and make his power known”. God’s power that hardens is also His power that heals.

24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?

The reason for Israel’s hardening is given as unbelief. They were being cut off and hardened, because they were rejecting Christ. They were in a state of blessing beforehand, but they are now removed. However, they are not past hope, God is able to add them back in. Israel, as a nation, will be added back.

The Gentiles on the other hand were being added in their place because they were accepting the Gospel. However, they too will be cut off if they stop believing.
This passage demonstrates that the election is God’s plan to save people through faith. Note that the election:

- Does not exclude the Jews or Gentiles
- Started and was established among the Jews but is now spreading
- Is only effective for those who have faith
- Rejection of the Gospel requires cutting off or hardening

God chose to work through the Patriarchs which did two things; it established Israel as a nation and established the Gospel. Christ’s lineage passed directly through the fathers. God’s choice of them led to the blessings of the Jews nationally and the blessings of both Jews and Gentiles spiritually. The Jews are now cut off, because they are Israel nationally, but not spiritually.

Since they are national Jews, it will be quite natural for them to be restored. This is the converse of verse 21. Just as it’s natural for the Gentiles to be rejected, because they are not from Abraham, so to it’s natural for the Jews to be accepted, because they are from Abraham.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Romans 9-11 (Part 11)

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14 if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

There is a minor textual variant at the beginning of verse 13. The Textus Receptus has “gar” (for) and the Westcott and Hort has “de” (but). Gar carries the sense of additional rational for what was just discussed. De can be either continuative or disjunctive. If it’s continuative, the sense is basically the same as gar. If it’s disjunctive it typically enters a new, but related topic. Gar is witnessed in the Byzantine majority text as well as the Bezae Cantabrigiensis (approximately 500 AD) as well as the Vulgate and Cyrillic translations. So, since it has both a majority as well as ancient witness, and it fits the rest of the passage, a compelling case can be made for gar.

So gar indicates Paul’s provision of additional rational for his prior claim that God hardened the Jews, not to destroy them, but rather to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles and thereby provoke the Jews to jealousy. What is the reason? Paul’s ministry. God sent Paul to preach to the Gentiles so that the Jews would become jealous of their conversion to God and be saved themselves.

Paul in verse 15 affirms what he denied in verse 1, that the Jews are cast away. But he has already spelled out the differences. The Jews’ casting away is not complete, because there is a remnant, it’s not permanent because they will be restored, and it was not God’s intention to cast them away for the sake of destroying them.
Israel’s hardening did not put them past the reach of God’s saving arm. Paul strives that they may yet be saved. The resurrection is not a literal resurrection, but a demonstration of the power of God in breathing back spiritual life into a dead nation.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Romans 9-11 (Part 10)

7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded

This passage heralds back to 9:30-32: 30What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works.

Israel sought righteousness through the Law, but did not obtain righteousness. Rather, God’s choice imputes righteousness to believers. Paul introduces the concept of “the rest”. God’s election creates a group that excludes the rest.

8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. 9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them: 10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always.

Here Paul quotes from Isaiah 29:10: 10 For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.

Here God pronounces judgment on Jerusalem for their sins. He is about to allow the Assyrians to capture Jerusalem. As part of this capture and punishment, God blinds Israel.

Paul is also quoting from Deuteronomy 29:4: Yet the LORD hath not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.

Again, God is punishing Israel by hardening them. This time it’s because they did not believe that God could turn over Canaan to them. God punished the Jews unbelief by having them wander around the desert for 40 years. Following wandering around for unbelief, God addresses those who did not learn from that punishment by hardening their hearts.

Paul also quotes Psalms 69:22 Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap. 23 Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake. 24 Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them. 25 Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents. 26 For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten; and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded. 27 Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness. 28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.

This Psalm is about Christ and His crucifixion. As a punishment for their sins, the Jews that crucified Christ were hardened and iniquity was added to their iniquity.
Paul uses these three examples to demonstrate that Israel was hardened before because of their sins and unbelief and they are being hardened now for their sins, unbelief and rejection of Christ.

11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?

The phase me eptaisan hina pesosin is difficult to translate and can either be understood as have they stumbled that they should merely fall or have they stumbled that they should irrevocably fall? Paul is not denying that the Jews fell, which he states in verse 22 using the same word in Greek pipto. Paul is asking a rhetorical question about God’s intention of hardening the Jews. This is too be understood either as a denial of God’s intention being falling for the sake of falling or a denial that a irrevocable fall was part of God’s plan. A denial of an irrevocable fall makes more sense given the rest of the verse and the overall theme of restoration. So the passage is saying: “Have they stumbled that they should irrevocably fall? God forbid!”

The “them” refers back to Israel, so salvation came to the Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy. God is using the Gentiles to bring the Jews back to Him. Paul contrasts the Jews diminishing with their fullness. The number of saved Jewish nationals is down, but in the future the number of saved Jews will increase to the fullest. The phrase “riches of the world” is talking about the spread of the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul and others turned to the Gentiles from the Jews, because of the Jews rejection. Acts 13:46 would be a classic example of this.

Paul gives the reason and extent of the hardening of Israel. God uses their hardening to add the Gentiles into the promise, but that does not mean Israel is entirely rejected. God’s purpose in hardening Israel and making them vessels of wrath was not destroying them for destruction’s sake, but rather to bring salvation to the Gentiles. Their hardening was not permanent.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Romans 9-11 (Part 9)

11:1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, 3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Here Paul quotes from 1 Kings 19:10-18:
10He said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." 11So He said, "Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD " And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave And behold, a voice came to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 14Then he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." 15The LORD said to him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram; 16and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17"It shall come about, the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death. 18"Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him."

Elijah, God’s prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Judah, had just won a great victory over the prophets of Baal. God sent fire down from heaven to consume Elijah’s sacrifice, demonstrating that He is God. As a result many of the prophets of Baal were killed, but right on the heels of this victory, Jezebel resolves to kill Elijah and so Elijah was on the run and under a great depression. Elijah asked God to take his life, but God sent an angel to Elijah to provide for him. God asked Elijah what he was doing at Mount Horeb and Elijah told God that Israel had forsaken God’s covenant. God tells Elijah of a coming judgment at the hands of Hazael, future king of Aram, Jehu, future king of Israel and Elisha, God’s future prophet. But God will not destroy everyone. He will spare 7,000 men in the upcoming judgment. Who will He spare? Those that did not bow to Baal back in Elijah’s recent contest with the prophets of Baal.

Paul’s choice of verb tenses for “reserved” is interesting. Paul uses aorist tense, but the Hebrew and Septuagint use a future tense. Aorist tense often indicates an action in the past, but the text and context in the Hebrew does not allow for an understanding of past action. God is going to deliver 7,000 people out of the upcoming judgment. Aorist often conveys the sense of definitiveness of purpose and that’s what it means here. God’s choice to spare the 7,000 people who trusted in Him and did not bow down to Baal from the upcoming judgment is so firm, it’s as if God has already spared them.

The 7,000 not bowing the knee to Baal didn’t earn God’s sparing them, but God chose to reserve them because He loved Israel. As Elijah pointed out, the rest of Israel abandoned God’s covenant with Abraham, but these 7,000 hadn’t. They believed God’s promise and awaited its fulfillment. In the same way, God’s love for Israel was why He saves believing Jews. God chose to save by grace through faith, so those with faith are His chosen people. The remnant within Israel demonstrates God’s abiding love towards them.

Paul brings the example of Elijah into the context for the Jews of his day with the phrase “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace”. Paul focuses on the present time. Christ came to the Jews bringing salvation and they, by and large, rejected Him. But not all did. Some believed Christ and followed Him, such as Paul and the other apostles and those at Pentecost and so forth. Those believing Jews formed a remnant that God had chosen to have mercy on.

6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Paul argues that the Jewish viewpoint is both wrong and illogical. If remaining within God’s covenant is earned, it’s not a gift, if it’s a gift it’s not earned.
Not all Jews are rejected. The lump has been broken into believing Jews who comprise the remnant and unbelieving Jews who are rejected. The Jews who are following the Law for salvation are not under grace. God had chosen to save by grace through faith. Those that don’t believe are of Israel, but not Israel. The remnant is saved by God’s election to save by grace through the Gospel.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Romans 9-11 (Part 8)

Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. 2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

Paul loves the Jews, despite the fact they are lost. Paul confirms his statements in Romans 9 that the Jews seek salvation through the Law. Paul also claims that they are not hardened beyond salvation, just as he did in Romans 9:25.

4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6 But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: "DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, `WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?' (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or `WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)." 8 But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."

Again, Paul confirms the Gospel message was God’s message all along. The Israelites are rejected because they seek salvation through the Law and not the free offer of the Gospel as God had originally established. Those that believe the Gospel are saved.

12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."

Paul here affirms that salvation is for both Jews and Gentiles, based on faith in Christ. Salvation was never for the Jews alone or based on nationality. Rather, God had planned to save believers.

14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!" 16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?" 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. 18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; "THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD ." 19 But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says, "I WILL MAKE YOU JEALOUS BY THAT WHICH IS NOT A NATION, BY A NATION WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WILL I ANGER YOU." 20 And Isaiah is very bold and says, "I WAS FOUND BY THOSE WHO DID NOT SEEK ME, I BECAME MANIFEST TO THOSE WHO DID NOT ASK FOR ME." 21 But as for Israel He says, "ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE."

The call of God must be heard throughout the world. God is willing to have mercy on both Jews and Gentiles so the Gospel must spread. Israel’s rejection is affirmed to be due to their own obstinate unbelief and rejection of the Gospel call.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Romans 9-11 (Part 7)

Connection between Romans 9 and Romans 10-11

The 10th chapter of Romans expands on justification by faith and the 11th chapter expands on the national election and subsequent rejection of Israel. In chapter 10, Paul goes into detail as to why the Jews are being hardened and also Paul explains God’s choice to save by grace through faith. In chapter 11, Paul explains the implications of the Jews hardening on the Gentiles and also talks about their future restoration.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Romans 9-11 (Part 6)

24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

So God has chosen to save those who follow His call through faith without discriminating between nationalities. Now even Gentiles are blessed through God’s call of the Gospel.

The “even us” demonstrates that Paul’s illustration of the potter was about the Jews but applies to the Gentiles as well.

25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

Here Paul quotes from Hosea 2:23: “"I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they will say, 'You are my God!' " And Hosea 1:10: “Yet the number of the sons of Israel Will be like the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered; And in the place Where it is said to them, "You are not My people ," It will be said to them, "You are the sons of the living God."

The context of which is Hosea’s ministry to the 10 northern tribes in Israel which were about to go into captivity. God declares that He is about to destroy them for their sins, but He also promises a future restoration. Hosea uses the analogy of a prostitute wife, who leaves her husband, but is attracted back and reconciled with her spouse. The Jews have been rejected, but not totally. God will bring them back.

Romans 9, if read in isolation of original context of the quotation, might suggest the people who are not God’s people are the Gentiles, who were before excluded, but now included in the promise. The quotation in its original context in Hosea, references the restoration of Israel, not Gentiles. So what Paul is saying here is that Israel is rejected, but even those that are rejected will be restored. So even thought God has made Israel a vessel of dishonor, they will become a vessel of honor.

Here as in verse 7, we see calling again, not used in the sense of vocation, but that of designation or naming. Again, as in verses 7 and 8, God names those who believe His children. Believers are God’s covenant people.

27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: 28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

Here Paul quotes Isaiah 10:22-23: For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, Only a remnant within them will return; A destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness. For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord GOD of hosts will execute in the midst of the whole land.

The context here is the remnant that God saved in Isaiah’s time from the Assyrian king, and physically returned to Jerusalem. They were being punished, but were promised to be returned to the land. God had decreed destruction for the Assyrians, but the returning Jews would be spared.

The application here is that the Jews, although nationally cut off, punished and hardened, not all will be destroyed. They are not completely rejected. Punishment (hardening) has been declared for those around the remnant, but not all are cast away.

29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodom, and been made like unto Gomorrah.

Here Paul quotes from Isaiah 1:9: Unless the LORD of hosts had left us a few survivors, we would be like Sodom, We would be like Gomorrah.

The historical setting for this passage is somewhat unclear. It either took place at Jerusalem’s siege at the hands of Israel and Damascus or Jerusalem’s siege at the hands of Sennacherib of the Assyrians. The first time period seems more likely based on 1) Isaiah 6:1’s discussion of Uzziah’s death, as well as 2) the account of Sennacherib coming much later in chapter 36. This was a time of massive loss, death, suffering and destruction for the nation of Judah and was just before the fall of the Nation of Israel to the Assyrians.

The immediate context of the passage is God’s allowing the nation of Judah to undergo suffering and death, but He preserves a remnant. God sends Isaiah to tell the people to repent of their sins and turn back to God, or even the remnant will also be punished for their sins.

Again, Paul’s point is that although the Jews have been nationally rejected and condemned for their sins, not all Jews are rejected. Most of Israel is lost, but a remnant remains. This is the element of spiritual Israel within national Israel. Paul’s use of “seed” or remnant corresponds to his use of the word and point in verses 7 and 8. Not all national Israel will be saved, there’s a subgroup within Israel that God mercifully saves.

Isaiah and Hosea were contemporaries, both witnessing and prophesying about the Assyrian captivity. Both Isaiah’s quotes and Hosea’s related to Israel in their original contexts and here in Romans 9 are seen by the transition word “also”. However, Hosea is saying the rejected Jews will be restored in the future, but Isaiah is saying that some Jews are actually accepted now. In combination they demonstrate that though the Jews national are rejected and the Gentiles added in, yet the Jews are not altogether rejected or beyond God’s mercy.

30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.

Paul starts the conclusion of this section. The Gentiles were not the original recipients of the law and the promises as the national Jews were, nor did they struggle under the Law, but they have obtained righteousness. They are now embracing the Gospel and being justified by faith and have imputed righteousness.

31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

Israel, though they were the original recipients of the Law and promises which they steadily pursued is being rejected. They are not embracing the Gospel, so they are not being justified by faith, so they have no imputed righteousness. Rather they are pursuing righteousness through the Law, but they have not obtained the Law either (i.e. kept the law perfectly), so they are not righteous either by keeping the Law or by imputation. This is the reason they are being hardened as a punishment and turned into a vessel of wrath. But it’s not irreversible.

32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone;

The reason the Jews are rejected is that they are seeking righteousness through the Law, not the imputed righteousness which is by faith. God has decided only to have mercy on those who have faith in the Gospel.

33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Here Paul quotes Isaiah 8:14: "Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, and a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And Isaiah 28:16: Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.

Both these passages are prophetic about Christ and the two effects His ministry had. To believers, Christ brings salvation. To those that reject Him, their unbelief becomes their downfall, for which they become rejected and hardened by God.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Romans 9-11 (Part 5)

19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

The term in Greek for “resisted” is anthistemi. It’s used 12 times in the New Testament; most typically meaning talking back to or opposing one in authority. We are told to resist the Devil (James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:9 and Ephesians 6:13) and the disciples were told that no one would be able to resist their speech (Luke 21:15 and Acts 6:10). Quite often anthistemi carries the connotation of evil insubordination as is the case of Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:8), apostates following Jannes’ and Jambres’ example of withstanding Moses (2 Timothy 3:8) and Alexander the coppersmith that opposed Paul (2 Timothy 4:15). However, sometimes it just means opposing one in authority, as Paul opposed Peter (Galatians 2:11). So resistance here is talking back or opposing.

This understanding of anthistemi is confirmed in the subsequent verse (verse 20) by looking at the phrase “repliest against God”. In verse 19 anthistemi means talking back to God regarding His purpose and promise given to Abraham.

“Find fault” in the Greek is in the middle voice. God found fault with the Jews for Himself. This connects the action of hardening with God’s purpose. So the idea is that God’s finding fault with the Jews is in line with His plan and He punishes them with hardening.

The Jews were admitting that they didn’t have the authority to oppose God regarding His plan for Abraham (who has resisted His will). They knew God has the right to make plans. So what are they objecting to? Being blamed. In other words they were saying: “you have the right to make a plan to have mercy though the call of the Gospel, but not the right to blame us for rejecting”. The complaint isn’t about the plan per se, but they’re being punished for not going along with the plan.

They also admitted God was finding fault with them, but they thought God shouldn’t do so, because no one had the right to tell God off for making such a plan in the first place. They would have come up with a different plan than God did. A plan that would not leave them rejected. But they cannot oppose God’s plan, so God does not have the right to find fault with them and punish them by hardening them.

This objection goes a bit further than the objection in verse 14. In verse 14, the justice of God’s plan was challenged. Here, the Jews challenge God’s justice in punishing those who don’t go along with His plan. Paul’s opponent retreats from the position that God’s plan is unfair, to the position that God’s blaming them for rejecting His plan is unfair.

20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

Here Paul quotes from Isaiah 45:9:

" Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands??

Isaiah 40-48 provides a sequence of trial speeches in which God proves that He alone is God, because He alone can tell the future. The most detailed prophecy is given in chapter 45, where God foretells His specific working through Cyrus, a gentile King, to restore Israel and the surrounding nations from captivity. God is doing this so that everyone, everywhere may know that the Lord alone is God and that He created everything and that He providentially runs the world. In knowing the Lord, righteousness and salvation will abound. But God pronounces woe on those that struggle against their Maker (who just provided additional revelation and salvation) by complaining about the way God is running the world. The analogy given is that of clay and a potter. God, as Creator, has a right to run the world the way He wants. They had no right to talk back and are both impudent and ungrateful.

Paul uses this quote to demonstrate that God as Creator has the right to save who he chooses and it is disrespectful to ask this question. Man does not have the right to question God in this manor. The Jews are both impudent for questioning God’s right to hold them accountable and ungrateful for the salvation God has offered them through the call of the Gospel. They are doubly to blame. No wonder God is now hardening them.

The Greek we have a play on words here between plasma (the thing molded) & plasanti (the molder). Plasma is a subject case noun. Plasanti is a substantive participle, focused on the implied person performing the action and taking the timing of the main verb, which in this case is erei (will speak) which is future tense. So the sense is God will be molding at the same time the question is asked. The action of molding then is not one of creation, but rather of God’s providential dealings in men’s lives by forming them through either calling or discontinuing the call (i.e. hardening).

So the Jew’s objection that God doesn’t have the right to blame them is answered by Paul as: 1) no you are wrong, 2) you are impertinent and 3) God as Creator has the right to not only plan as He want, but also to punish those who reject His plan. Just as God used Cyrus to reveal Himself and bring salvation, but punished those that reject, so to, God can use Israel to bring salvation, but punish those that reject.

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?

The language here is very similar to Jeremiah 18 and is probably a paraphrase:

2 Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. 3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he was making a work on the wheels. 4 And when the vessel that he made of the clay was marred in the hand of the potter, he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. 5 Then the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, 6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith Jehovah. Behold, as the clay in the potter's hand, so are ye in my hand, O house of Israel. 7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy it; 8 if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. 9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 10 if they do that which is evil in my sight, that they obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

The context of which is God was working in the Nation of Israel, but because of their sin God punishes the Jews with captivity. God had already permitted the ten northern tribes to be destroyed, and Jeremiah is warning Judah that God is about to punish both them and the surrounding nations, if they don’t repent. God had been forming Israel into a vessel of honor but because of their disobedience despite repeated warnings, God made them into a vessel of dishonor.

God’s right to punish sinful Israel is like a potter’s rights over clay. By using the example of a potter, Paul shows that by the fact God as the creator of man that He has the right to punish sinners. The word power does not mean force, but right or authority. God makes vessels unto honor though the Gospel and makes then unto dishonor by hardening them.

The Jews are the lump of clay. Just as Rebecca was one woman who gave birth to two children, so one lump is the source of two types of vessels. But whereas Rebecca’s children represent God’s choice to save through faith, not nationality or the law, the example of the potter demonstrates God’s right in acting in accordance with that choice.

God was dividing the Jews into two groups, believers through the Gospel’s call and unbelievers through hardening. The verses below explain that God makes vessels unto dishonor (hardens them) through His longsuffering.

22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

The word “fitted” in Greek is katartiso in a passive form. The idea here is that of completion or making something complete. The usage is similar to that of 1 Thessalonians 3:10 “might perfect that which is lacking in your faith” or Galatians 6:1 “restore such an one in the spirit of meekness” or Luke 6:40 “after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher”. The concept here is that God’s hardening the Jews completes the path they started towards their own destruction.

Through God’s longsuffering with the vessels of wrath (i.e. the Jews that rejected Christ and were punished by hardening), God is showing His power and wrath. This takes us back to the example of Pharaoh in verse 17. How did God act towards Pharaoh? God 1) gave Pharaoh a high position, 2) didn’t immediately destroy Pharaoh for his refusal to let Israel go and 3) hardened Pharaoh to demonstrate His wrath and power and finally 4) used Pharaoh to deliver Israel. How did God act towards the Jews? God 1) gave the Jews national blessings, 2) didn’t immediately destroy them for their rejecting Him and 3) He was hardening them to demonstrate His wrath and power and 4) used national Israel to deliver spiritual Israel.

How does God’s longsuffering show His wrath, when He’s forbearing His wrath? If God had destroyed Pharaoh right away, at least it would have been over with. As things progressed they just got worse and worse for Pharaoh. We knew God was angry with Pharaoh because instead of immediately destroying him, God hardened Pharaoh. The same is true of the Jews. We stand in awe of God’s anger and power as He hardens them as a punishment for their rejection of Christ.

23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

God prepares, out of the lump of the nation of Israel, a remnant, by calling them to faith and having mercy them.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Romans 9-11 (Part 4)

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

The Jewish objection is it unfair for God to reject the Jew’s who are earnestly seeking salvation through the law. God choose to reject those who follow the law, which leads to the condemnation of most Jews. Further, God chose without considering how hard they were trying.

Paul’s response is that God is not unrighteous. God is righteousness.

15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

In the Greek, Paul follows the Septuagint. The KJV has “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy”, but the second mercy in the Greek and Septuagint is present tense. So it should be translated “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy”. The same is true of compassion.

There is a second translation problem in the KJV translation. It doesn’t capture the indefiniteness in the Greek related to “whom”. In both the Greek and Septuagint “whom” is followed by the particle “an” which denotes uncertainty. Thus, “whom” should be translated whomsoever. So the correct translation should be: “I will have mercy on whomsoever I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomsoever I have compassion.”

So how can the passage be both indefinite (i.e. whomsoever) and also definite (i.e. God’s future mercy is as definite as His present mercy)? By God’s definite promise to save whosoever calls on the name of the Lord. God has declared an unchanging formula: if you believe, you will be saved.

Here Paul quotes from Exodus 33:19:

And He said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious , and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion."

This quotation is taken from Exodus 32-34, the infamous golden calf episode. Just after God had rescued Israel from Egyptian bondage and while Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the law from God, the people were down below forming an idol to worship. God tells Moses that He will destroy Israel as a punishment. Moses intercedes by appealing to God’s character and promise to Abraham. Paul’s argument is quite similar.

Exodus 32:11-14:

Then Moses entreated the LORD his God, and said, "O LORD, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? "Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, 'With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth'? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. "Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'" So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.

This was Moses’ first of three intercessions in Exodus 32-34. God had said He was going to destroy Israel and Moses appeals to God’s promise to Abraham and faithfulness. God changes His mind. The first intercession deals with the total destruction of the nation of Israel, the second requests forgiveness for the nation and the third requests God’s continued presence among the people.

The second intercession is the one alluded to above in Romans 9:3. Moses request forgiveness for the nation, but God says no, He will punish those that sinned. After God punishes the people He stays He will leave the children of Israel, because they are obstinate. Moses intercedes for them, and God decides to have mercy on them and continue to stay with them. Israel did not deserve or earn God’s presence, but He freely gave it to them in His mercy.

Paul uses this passage forcefully in Romans 9. God’s promise to Abraham and His faithful character spared the Jews of destruction, but not all of them. Nationality was not enough, the obstinate had to be punished and cut off from God’s blessings. Those that were blessed by God’s presence didn’t deserve God’s presence. Rather God was being merciful towards His people.

In the same way, now, not all Jews are blessed based on their nationality or God’s promise to Abraham. Those that are sinning by rejecting the Gospel are not part of God’s covenanted blessings. Those that are in Spiritual Israel don’t deserve God’s presence, but God had chosen to be merciful with them.

Why is it not unfair for God to choose to give salvation to those who believe and reject those who are trying to be saved through the law, even though He requires perfect obedience to the law for salvation? Two reasons, because He is sovereign with respect to planning to show mercy on believers if he wants to and second because He is showing mercy. Mercy and fairness are not at the same level. It would be fair for God not to save anyone. But mercy goes beyond fairness, so God is at liberty to show mercy in the manner He sees fit without the charge of unfairness. Only out of mercy has God chosen to save anyone, so He is not unrighteous. His election to save based not on works, but on him who called is not unrighteous because the election’s basis is mercy.

16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

Salvation is not based on desire to follow the law (him that willeth), or actually following the law (him that runneth) but on God’s plan of mercy. Those who follow the law for salvation are not seeking God’s mercy. They intend to earn it by their own strength. They are children of the flesh and God does not show them mercy.

Paul argues against both willing and running, that is both desire to obey and obedience. This answers the Jewish argument that I know I don’t keep the law perfectly, but if I try hard God will make up the difference.

Some church fathers say him that “willeth” relates to Isaac’s choice to give Esau the birthright, but mistakenly blessing Jacob. “Him that runneth” relates to Esau’s running for his birthright. That explanation seems unlikely, because Paul seems to be addressing the Jews directly, outside the allegory.

17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

Here Paul quotes from Exodus 9:15-16:

"For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.”

The context of which is Moses goes to Pharaoh and requests him to let Israel go. Pharaoh refuses. God started to send plagues. Perhaps Pharaoh through fear of the plagues would have let the Israelites go, but God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and the plagues continue.

By using the example of Pharaoh, Paul shows that if God’s sovereignty allows Him to raise up Pharaoh and then harden him to show His power, He is allowed to have compassion on those who He calls and harden the Jews who work for their salvation. Paul implies that God hardened the Jews based on their refusal of His call. If God had the right to harden Pharaoh, He has the right to harden them.

It’s important to understand that Pharaoh was not hardened by God causing him to sin, but by God removing His grace which softens men’s hearts and hinders sin. God stopped calling Pharaoh as a punishment for his sins. As seen below, God hardens through His longsuffering.

18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Paul sums up versed 15-17. Pharaoh and Moses were both used by God to deliver the nation of Israel - Moses through mercy, Pharaoh, who rejected mercy, through hardening. God had the right to do both, so God has the right to have mercy on believing Jews and reject unbelieving Jews. This answers the question does God have the right harden and punish the children of the flesh and accept the children of the promise?

Another Middle Knowledge Passage

Middle knowledge is mostly an implication of the scriptural truths of God's providential governance of the world and man's choices, but there are some passages that do directly teach God knows what we would do in various circumstances. I came across a passage supporting middle knowledge this week:

In Deuteronomy 28, Moses first tells of all the blessings the people will receive if the follow God's commands 1 “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth...

Then he lays down all the curses they will receive if they don't obey "15 “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you...

One of the curses caught my eye. It's gross, but it also supports middle knowledge as it tells what people would do under a siege:

52 “They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the LORD your God has given you. 53 You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you. 54 The sensitive and very refined man among you will be hostile toward his brother, toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the rest of his children whom he leaves behind, 55 so that he will not give any of them the flesh of his children whom he will eat, because he has nothing left in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you at all your gates. 56 The tender and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because of her delicateness and sensitivity, will refuse to the husband of her bosom, and to her son and her daughter, 57 her placenta which comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of everything in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you at all your gates.

One of the interesting things about the passage is that the action goes against the personality and character of the people doing it. This is the opposite of some of the more classic passages supporting middle knowledge such as Matthew 11:21:

21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

In Matthew, Christ is chiding the Jews for being obstinate. So while the passage in Matthew, what the Jews would do was 'in character", in Deuteronomy, what they would do is out of character.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Romans 9-11 (Part 3)

10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

Paul strengthens the argument he explained through Isaac and Ishmael with the example of Jacob and Esau. He also confirms his identity with Israel nationally. The phrase “and not only this” indicates Paul continuation of his previous point.

11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

Paul’s argument crescendos.

God’s purpose was the reason He said to Rebecca, “the older will serve the younger”. Paul says this comment to Rebecca was made in order for God’s purpose to stand. Might stand (or remain) is the subjunctive of meno. Here the subjunctive indicates God’s intention. Thus a hyper-literal translation might be God’s purpose was to make His purpose stand. In other words, there are two purposes or intentions. The first is God’s purpose for telling Rebecca the older will serve the younger. The second is God’s purpose for promising Abraham that all the nations of the world will be blessed through him. God’s promise to Abraham is the foundation for His statement to Rebecca.

This tying back to God’s original purpose is similar to verses 7, 8 and 9. In 7 we see that through Isaac, Abraham’s seed will be named. This of course relates back to God’s promise to Abraham to make him a great nation. In verse 8 we see that the children of the flesh are counted for the seed. This also points back to God’s original promise to give Abraham descendents. Likewise, in verse 9 we have the word of the promise or the promise’s word. The declaration to Sarah was made based on God’s original promise to Abraham. Here in verses 11 and 12, it’s no different. God’s purpose for telling Rebecca the older will serve the younger was to establish His original promise to Abraham. The purpose according to election then, is God’s choice to make Abraham a promise.

While the direct subject is God’s choice to promise blessings to Abraham, it’s also true that implicitly God is choosing Jacob. In fact, we have three sets of pairs: two choices, two declarations/promises, and two fulfillments. These pairs are of course related, but they are also distinct. God’s promise to Abraham is primary and the source His promise to Rebecca. His promise to Rebecca is secondary and dependent on His promise to Abraham. The relation between God’s promise to Abraham and His declaration to Rebecca is one of reaffirmation and additional revelation.

Just as the two promises are related, so also the two choices are related. The relation between’s God’s choosing to bless Abraham and His choice to bless Jacob is that of fulfillment. God choose to make Abraham a great nation and His choice of Jacob was in fulfillment of the purpose. What fulfilled God’s promise to Rebecca? God’s blessing Jacob by giving him the birthright, making him the father of the nation of Israel, and passing the line of Christ through him fulfilled both God’s original promise to Abraham and His reaffirmation of that promise to Rebecca.

Paul claims God’s declaration to Rebecca that the older will serve the younger established His promise to Abraham not of works, but of Him that calls. Three questions remain for us to fully understand this text. First, what does not of works, but of Him that calls mean? Second, how does God’s declaration to Rebecca establish God’s promise to Abraham not of works but of Him that calls? Third, how does this whole argument answer the Jewish rejection?

Paul’s statement not of works, but of Him that calls is both a negation and an affirmation. Not of works means not via the works of the law. Him that calls is God, who calls us through the Gospel to faith in Christ. God names those that believe His children.

How does God’s declaration to Rebecca establish God’s promise to Abraham not of works but of Him that calls? By showing the insufficiency of national lineage for entrance into the covenant and works for remaining in the covenant, Paul shows the promise to Abraham was not of works. By showing God was reaffirming His promise to Abraham, which was the call of the Gospel, Paul was showing it is of Him that calls.

Paul is denying that national lineage is sufficient for entrance into God’s covenant with Abraham. This much is clear from the fact that Ishmael is rejected, despite being Abraham’s son. But Paul further clarifies this point using the declaration to Rebecca. Ishmael was Abraham’s son, but not Sarah’s. So perhaps there was not enough purity in his blood for God to use him. But in the case of Rebecca, the children had the same father and mother. Not only that, Esau was older then Jacob and the rightful heir. Yet he still didn’t receive the birthright. This firmly demonstrates the insufficiency of national lineage.

Having demonstrated the insufficiency of national lineage for entrance into the covenant, Paul also shows that the works of the law do not keep people in the covenant. God’s declaration to Rebecca was before the children had done good or evil. This shows God was not establishing His promise to Abraham based on Abraham’s descendents keeping the law. God was establishing His promise to Abraham in another way, by reaffirming His promise, which is the call of the Gospel.

So how does this whole argument answer the Jewish rejection? Paul’s argument denies and disproves their assertion regarding God’s word and also explains what God’s word is really all about. The Jews were claiming that national lineage brought people into the covenant and the works of the law kept people in the covenant. Paul disproves that paternity brings people into the covenant, through the examples of Ishmael and Esau. Paul further proves that works don’t keep people in the covenant, because the declaration to Rebecca was given in order to establish God’s promise to Abraham before the children were born and did anything good or evil. So what the Jews are saying is God’s word is not in fact God’s word. So God’s word can’t be failing in the way the Jews think it has failed.

Having dispatched the Jews’ false notion, which was Paul’s principle aim, he also sets forward the truth regarding God’s word. God’s word has established a spiritual Israel, those He named Abraham’s descended, the children of the promise. This establishment is through His promising blessings and calling through the Gospel. This was God’s intention all along, so God’s word has not failed.

12 It was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger.

God’s declaration to Rebecca makes His promise to Abraham stand.

Here Paul quotes from Genesis 25:23:

The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples will be separated from your body; and one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger."

The context of which is Rebecca’s asking the Lord about the struggle she felt in her womb. She was informed that she would have twins who would father two different nations. The declaration that the older will serve the younger actually was not fulfilled during Jacob and Esau’s lifetime. Rather it was fulfilled in the nations that each man fathered.

Two facts demonstrate that the literal sense of this election was national not individual. First, Jacob and Esau are spoken of as the heads of nations in the passage in Genesis, not individually. Second, the service was not performed by Esau, but by the nation that descended from him. So the literal sense of the choice of God is clearly seen as the election of Nations. This proves that physical lineage does not guarantee blessings.

The spiritual sense of the passage, which Paul uses to further disprove the Jew’s objection that the plan of God failed if they are rejected because of unbelief, is that God chose to save through the gospel, not the law. The elder is Esau who represents the law which was given before Christ. The younger is Jacob who represents the promise of the gospel. Those who follow the gospel will be stronger and will rule over those who follow the law.

Here a question comes up as to how the election of Jacob as a nation answers the question the Jews posed of their rights to salvation through nationality? Wasn’t Jacob and the nation of Israel blessed with divine love and didn’t Esau have to serve him? Jacob in representing the Gospel answers the Jewish objection, but does Jacob in representing the nation of Israel answer the Jewish argument? Yes. Because Jacob and Esau were brothers, natural birth is not the differentiator. Rather God’s promise is the difference maker. So both the literal and allegorical examples of Jacob address the Jewish argument.

The election is first and foremost about the condition of salvation, faith. Only secondarily is individual included in membership. In the choice of Jacob, he was considered as a nation, not an individual. In the spiritual choice, the Gospel as a means is first included, then those individuals who believe.

Another question that arises is how can we have a “bi-level” meaning to the text? In other words, if the example itself deals with national blessings, and what it represents deals with spiritual blessings Paul is simultaneously communicating two truths through the same vehicle. But this approach opens up a can of worms to biblical interpretation. It would be simpler to look for ether the literal or the symbolic interpretation to the text, but not both.

Normally, if the literal meaning makes sense, there is no need to look for a figurative sense. But in this case we have Paul introducing another sense when he said not all Israel is of Israel. Also, we have Paul in Galatians 4 revealing to us that in the Old Testament texts, God was teaching a spiritual truth. So we cannot add our own spiritual meaning to a text wherever we like, but if God’s adds a spiritual meaning, we need to learn from it.

So can we throw out the literal sense and understand Romans 9 with the spiritual meaning? No. God was also teaching the election of Ishmael and Jacob for national blessings in the Old Testament texts. God’s choice conferred both blessings and both blessings deal with the Jewish argument.

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Here Paul quotes from: Malachi 1:2-5:

"I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have You loved us?" "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness. Though Edom says, "We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins"; thus says the LORD of hosts, "They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the LORD is indignant forever."
Your eyes will see this and you will say, "The LORD be magnified beyond the border of Israel!"

The context is Malachi’s prophesy against the sins Israel lapsed into after rebuilding the temple. Israel had fallen into sin, so God permitted their captivity. Israel was not the only nation God had judged with captivity. God also permitted the Edomites to fall. (Ezekiel 25:12-14, Jeremiah 49:7-22) However, the Persians had allowed Zerubbabel to return to Jerusalem and rebuild and had allowed Ezra to return and reinstitute temple worship. Nehemiah had also been allowed to return as a leader of the nation of Israel. So there had been significant rebuilding by this point. Yet Israel fell into sin once again, which Nehemiah and Malachi were addressing. Malachi reminds Israel of God’s favor towards them as a nation over and above the Edomites, in that God blessed Israel’s reconstruction efforts, but did not bless the Edomites reconstruction efforts. This all goes back to God’s choice make Jacob not Esau the father of Israel.

Paul’s quotation of Malachi confirms that God did in fact establish His promise to Abraham through Jacob, not Esau. Jacob’s children became Israel and received God’s national blessings. Spiritual Israel also receives God’s spiritual blessings.

The statements, “the elder shall serve the younger” and “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” are parallel. The hatred of Esau was not demonstrated in him personally, but his posterity as a nation. The hatred is a matter of relative amount blessings Jacob received from God compared to Esau, not an emotion on God’s part.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Grounding Objection (Part 3)

The core grounding objection is 'how can counterfactual statements about a persons libertarian free will be true, given they do not actually make the choices in the real world?' Molinists may respond that God's unique ability to hypothesis enables Him to know what hypothetical people would do in various circumstances. At this point grounding objectors may take two distinct approaches to furthering the grounding objection. The most forceful is that asserting grounding for counterfactuals of freedom is illogical, because it entails a contradiction. The weaker response the grounding objector may take is to say that such grounding is implausible and it contains counterintuitive elements.

Plantinga and Craig have refuted the stronger grounding objection. Thus Plantinga states "It seems to me much clearer that some counterfactuals of freedom are at least possibly true than that the truth of propositions must, in general, be grounded in this way."(link) This move may seem like a shift of the burden of proof, but keep what the grounding objector is doing is asserting that only realities and possibilities may be the basis of truth for propositions. Thus they must carry the burden of proof of their assertion. And what proof can they offer? What reality or possibility grounds the truth that only reality or possibilities can ground truth? The grounding objector cannot even claim that such a principle in an axiom, because the very principle if true, requires grounding. The grounding objection is ungrounded.

Next, God willing, we will look at the weaker objection, that the grounding asserted by Molinists is implausible.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Romans 9-11 (Part 2)

7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children: but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

Here Paul quotes Genesis 21:12-13:

But God said to Abraham, "Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named. And of the son of the maid I will make a nation also, because he is your descendant. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed."

This is the context: after Isaac had been born, Sarah wanted Abraham to throw out Ishmael and make Isaac his heir. Abraham at first worried about this, but God said go ahead and do it, Isaac will be your heir and so the nation of Israel will be established through him. To comfort Abraham, God also let him know that Ishmael would be fine and would become a nation. This is God’s reaffirmation of His original promise to make Abraham a great nation. God is revealing a bit more about how He will fulfill His promise.

Physically, God’s choice was to make Isaac and not Ishmael Abraham’s heir. Paul is using this example of a son of Abraham who was rejected. The Jews are sons of Abraham who are rejected. So God’s choice does not bless people just because they are Israelites.

Paul teaches a deeper spiritual truth though this example. In the passage in Genesis, at a spiritual level, Isaac represents the Gospel and Ishmael the law. (Galatians 4:22-31) God chose to save through the gospel, not the law. The children of Abraham are those that believe. (Galatians 3:6-7, 39) This answers the Jew’s question as to why they are rejected. It was always God’s plan to reject unbelievers, even Jewish ones who earnestly follow the law. The Jews, who were attempting to gain salvation through the law are Israel (physically), but not of Israel (spiritually).

The concept of “calling” (Greek κληθησεται), or as it can be translated “naming”, is important. The idea is not one of invitation, but rather designation. A group was to receive a special designation by God, a designation which would set them apart from other people. Physically that was the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people. Spiritually, God calls believers His children. The concept of naming ties this declaration back to God’s original promise to Abraham that he would become the father of a great nation. Isaac and his offspring were to be identified as the great nation God established through Abraham.

It is important to see this as a three step process. First, God gives a promise. Second, people believe God’s promise. Then third, God fulfills His promise. The promise to Abraham was “I will make you a great nation and in you all the nations of the world will be blessed”. Then Abraham believed God’s promise. Finally, God made Abraham a great nation. Implicit within the promise to Abraham is the Gospel. God would send Christ through Abraham to bless the world. When Abraham believed God, God justified Abraham. Today that same promise given to Abraham is even more explicit. God promises that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Then people believe. Finally, God saves them.

8 That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

Physically, not all of Abraham’s children (the children of the flesh) were blessed. Isaac was; Ishmael was not. This removes the objection that descent guarantees blessings.

Spiritually, Paul distinguishes between the children of the flesh (Jews who follow the law) and the promise (those who have faith). The flesh represents those who through human endeavor follow the law. (Galatians 3:2-3) The children of the flesh are those who were seeking salvation through their own strength using the law. Not all national Israelites are rejected or children of the flesh, Paul himself being a prime example. In other words, Paul is subdividing Israel into spiritual Israel (the children of the promise) and the Israel that is rejected (the children of the flesh).

The children of the promise are those who follow Christ through faith. (Galatians 3:8) They, as Abraham, believe God’s promises and are declared righteous and adopted into God’s family as His children. (Romans 4:1-5) God chose to give the promise to Isaac, not Ishmael. Just because they are Abraham’s children by nature does not make them God’s children.

Verse 8 summarizes Paul’s argument from verses 6 and 7. Paul removes the false notion regarding national Judaism. The statement here in verse 8 “they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God” corresponds to his earlier statements: “for they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” and “neither, because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children”. Paul denies firmly that national Jews are: 1) Spiritual Israel 2) Abraham’s spiritual children and 3) the children of God. Thus the Jewish argument that nationality brings them within God’s covenant is false. Being a national Jew is insufficient.

9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.

Here Paul quotes from Genesis 18:10:

He said, "I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him.

God had already promised that He would make Abraham a great nation. Later God would explain to Abraham that Isaac would be his heir. But in between, He tells Abraham that Sarah, who is barren, will have a son. Not only did God confirm His plan but He clarified the promise. Each clarification reveals more and more to Abraham about how he will be made a great nation.

Promise, in the Greek, is genitive. It’s literally the promise’s word or the word the promise possesses. The point is that these words (i.e. that Sarah will have a son) are based on the original promise to Abraham that God would make him a great nation and through him all the nations of the world would be blessed.

Physically, Isaac would become the father of the nation of Israel. Through him the law and promises would be passed and God would work with the nation of Israel. God chose to work through Abraham and make him a great nation. God could have chosen Ishmael, the firstborn, to be the nation of Israel and Abraham’s heir, but He did not. So the Jews cannot count on the fact that they are Abraham’s natural children, because it does not guarantee blessings.

Paul is also teaching a deeper spiritual truth. Isaac was born blessed with being in the lineage of Christ because of the promise. The foundation of the blessing was not the flesh, but God’s promise. The promise to Abraham was more than that he would have a son, but it is the promise of the Gospel. (Galatians 3:22)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Romans 9–11 (Part 1)

Summary

Paul’s overall message is that not all Jews are saved, but only those who believe. He explains that it has always been God’s plan to save those who believe the gospel and not those who perform the works of the law. He also handles objections raised by the Jews. The primary objection Paul deals with is that God’s plan to save Israel would have failed if God accepted those who have faith and rejected those who follow the law. Paul also deals with the subsequent objection that God is unfair to reject the Jews that follow the law to obtain salvation, because it was God’s choice to reject those who follow the law.

Verse by Verse Analysis

9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

Paul takes this matter very seriously. He is addressing Jews, and showing his great love for the Jewish people. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, which may have given rise to the question of his loyalty to the Jews. Paul affirms here that they are on his heart.

3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

There are very few parallels to this great of a love or burden for soul winning. Paul would literally stand in the Jews’ place if he could. Besides Christ, Moses was the only other who made a statement like this.

Exodus 32:32-33: "But now, if You will, forgive their sin --and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written! And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book."

The parallel is so strong that Paul seems to allude to this Old Testament passage. Exodus 32-34 describes the Israelites’ rebellion of worshiping the golden calf, just after God rescued them from bondage in Egypt and gave Moses the law.

This allusion is Paul’s first of two from Exodus 32-34. The second is upcoming in verse 15. More will be said about this important text in that place, but one point should be made here. Paul and Moses were unable to substitute for their people. Why not? God’s justice. God punishes the sinner. God’s justice did not allow Him to punish Moses in place of those that actually committed idolatry. Because of God’s justice in punishing sinners, only Christ’s death and the imputation of His righteousness can save.

Paul is speaking about the Jews as a nation, but specifically lost Jews. Paul identifies himself with the Jews nationally (kinsmen according to the flesh), but contrasts himself with them as it relates to their standing before God (accursed from Christ).

What is Paul’s basis for saying that the Jews are rejected? In the preceding chapters, Paul has firmly established that salvation is not through the works of the law, but through faith in Christ. The Jews were rejecting Christ and the Gospel and so were cut off.

4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

‘Israelites’ is the special name for Jews, derived from the special name God gave Jacob. Paul is talking about national adoption, not adoption into the family of God. Paul is about to make this point abundantly clear. The reference to glory likely refers to the cloud or the Shekinah glory that surrounded the temple and the ark. The covenants refer to the promises made to the patriarchs, kings and prophets. The giving of the Law is the Law of Moses, which guided Jewish life and conduct from morality to dietary customs, legal system, and medical system. In short, the law visibly set Israel apart from other nations. The service of God references temple worship and the priesthood. The promises refer to the promise of the Messiah and the blessings to follow.
5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

The fathers here are a reference to the Patriarchs. Christ came to the Jews specifically and His ministry centered around the Jews. What greater blessing than the highest revelation of God coming to that nation? Christ was God. Of note, this list provides many wonderful blessings from God, but not eternal life.

In this introductory section, Paul is basically saying that the Jews nationally have been rejecting Christ and are now being punished. They had been the recipients of many, many blessings from God, but because of their unbelief, they now stand rejected.

6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

Paul echoes chapter 4:13-16:

“For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all”

Paul had already taught that 1) God’s promise to Abraham would be on none effect if keeping the law was the condition for being made heir of the world and 2) those that believe are Abraham’s children.

Imagine for a second the response a Jew might give to Paul’s argument in Romans 1-8. I know I don’t perfectly keep the law. I sin. The whole book of Leviticus tells me what to do when I sin. It is not about me perfectly keeping the law; it is about God’s covenant. God made a covenant with my people. It was His doing that I was born a Jew, which put me into the covenant. God’s covenantal promises provide me with forgiveness of my sins, since I was born a Jew and remain a Jew by keeping the law. So if I am unforgiven despite God’s putting me into His covenant by making me a Jew, then His word has taken none effect.

This is the objection Paul is dealing with. He has to rule out not just the works of the law, but also national Judaism. Paul has already shown that becoming a Jew is unnecessary, but he also has to show that it is insufficient. Paul also has to show that God’s promise to Abraham did not fail even if many Jews are lost.

How does Paul rise to the challenge? Paul states that God’s word (adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises) given to national Israel, were effective in providing a spiritual blessing to a subset of spiritual Israelites. Simple physical descent from Israel was not enough. Spiritual descent was necessary for the blessings to take effect.

Paul introduces the Old Testament for the first time with this verse in the form of allegory. The same term Israel has two meanings. Israel physically is contrasted with Israel spiritually. The nation of Israel was subdivided into those in whom the word of God had taken effect and those whom it had not.

Physically, the Jews were Israel. They were in fact the recipients of the Law and promises. They were the natural descendants of Abraham. They were God’s chosen people. But physical descent from Abraham was not enough.

Spiritually, the Jews were rejected. They did not believe the Gospel and were now cut off from Christ. They were not the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16)

The verse describes that not everyone who in Jewish is saved. This is the answer to the objection that if salvation is through faith in Christ and not Jewish nationality God’s plan would have failed in trying to save them. Paul’s answer is not that God’s plan could never change or fail, but that they misunderstood the plan. The plan was never to save national Jews or those who follow the law, but only to save those who have faith.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Two Exchanges on Foreknowledge and the Necessity of the Past

Below are two recent exchanges I had with Paul Manata and Ron Di Gacomo on foreknowledge and freedom; specifically the argument from the necessity of the past. In both I argued that the classic argument based on the necessity of the past conflates truths and the basis of truth; there's a difference between me and propositions about me. In Paul's case I asked him to try to reformulate the argument, but he declined. In Ron's case I tried to reformulate the argument for him and he rejected my reformulation. Either way, these exchanges lead me to be more convinced of my hunch that the classic formulation is a train wreck in light of the distinction between truth and the basis of truth.

I will be in blue; Paul and Ron in red.

Exchange with Paul:

The ability to do ~A being consistent with God's forebelief that you will A strikes me as obviously false given the foreknowledge argument. In the least, that's what is up for debate.

Apparently, what you mean is that you have the "ability to do otherwise" in the sense that you have the ability to do something, such that if you were to do it, the past would have been different. Classical compatibilists say the same.

The argument mirrors Van Inwagen's transfer of powerlessness argument against compatibilists. TOP: If P is true, and P entails Q, then if no one has the power to bring it about that not-P, and no one has the power to bring it about that it is not the case that P entails Q, then no one has the power to bring it about that not-Q.

P stands for either propositions about the history of the world conjoined with the laws of nature, and Q stands for some action that obtains. P can also stand for God's forebelief.Thus, we can argue:1. P is true.2. No one has the power to bring it about that not-P (no one can change the past).3. P entails Q.4. No one has the power to bring it about that P does not entail Q.5. Therefore, no one has the power to bring it about that not-Q.(1 states God has always had a particular belief; 2 states Plantinga and Flint &co. claim that no one has the power to bring about God's past belief; 3 states a necessary connection between omniscience and truth; if 3 is true, then 7 is necessarily true, and 8 goes through)

This argument has been championed by incompatibilists. It has also been champtions by incompatibilists of another stripe, incompatibilists about foreknowledge and LFW.

Clearly you don't like TOP, so you, like Flint, will offer TOP*TOP* If P is true, and P entails Q, then if no one has the pwer to bring about not-P, and no one has the power to bring it about that it is not the case that P entails Q, one may nevertheless have the power to bring it about that not-Q.Butr TOP* can be used by compatibilists of another variety. Just switch out P = God's forebelief with P = God's decree/ the history of thr world and laws of nature/ etc.Both compatibilists will claim that one has the power to do soemthing such that if he were to do it the past would have been different.Both sides reduce to claiming to have a power that is, given the current circumstances, impossible to be exercised.

I made two distinctions that your arguments don't take into account. The first was the difference between doing otherwise and the ability to do otherwise. The second was between truth and the basis of truth. Compatiblist define the ability to do otherwise in terms of a counterfacual past I could have chosen otherwise if I had wanted to or I could have done otherwise if I had chosen to. Libertarians (Occhamists) do not. They say that given the actual past doing otherwise is within my power. So comatiblists posit an ability requiring a counterfactual past, but Occhamists do not. So comptiblists face the consequence argument but Occhamists don't.

Q is an event. P is a proposition. How could a proposition entail an event? It could entail a proposition about an event but not an event. If you try to rephrase keeping the distinction in mind I think you will see the issue with the argument. Or if you try to construct a new argument based on the relationship between propositions and events, I think you will see the force of Daniel N’s point about the relationship between God’s foreknowledge and the event. (Daniel N had said "I think we need to make a distinction between logical and chronological order. God knows you will do A at t3 because you will choose A, (rather than you choosing A because God knew it).


"Q is an event. P is a proposition. How could a proposition entail an event?"

In the anti-determinist argument, P is propositions about the history of the world, conjoined with laws of nature. In the foreknowledge argument, P was God's belief.

"If you try to rephrase keeping the distinction in mind I think you will see the issue with the argument."

Sorry, but I took my phrasing from Plantinga, Flint, Freddoso, Hasker, Hunt, Zagzebski, etc. Every one of them agrees that "If God believes that Q will happen, then Q will happen." This argument is then used, as the logical steps made clear, to show that you do not now have the power to do otherwise.P entails q =df ~Poss(p & ~q).

If you disagree then you must hold to Open Theism.

I agree "if God believes that Q will happen, then Q will happen." But what is entailed is not Q; rather it’s the proposition PQ: ‘Q will happen’. Events are not the same as truths about events. I understand that this distinction is not consistently maintained by all parties in the literature, but that doesn’t mean it should not be.

-------------------------
Exchange with Ron:

This argument is from your previous post:http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2007/12/molinists-and-calvinists-agree-in.html

Establish the necessity of God’s belief about Tom’s choice:
1. 100 years ago God believed that Tom will do x tomorrow
2. If x is believed in the past, it is now necessary that x was believed then
3. It is now necessary that 100 years ago God believed that Tom will do x tomorrow

Establish the necessity of Tom’s choice, given the necessity of God’s belief:
4. Necessarily, if 100 years ago God believed Tom will do x tomorrow, then Tom will do x tomorrow
5. If p {i.e. God's historical belief about Tom's choice} is now necessary (3), and necessarily if p, then q; then q {i.e. Tom's choice of x tomorrow: (consequent from 4)} is now necessary [transfer of necessity principle]
6. Therefore, it is now necessary that Tom will do x tomorrow [3, 4 and 5]
Establish that Tom does not act freely, given the necessity of Tom’s choice:
7. If it is now necessary that Tom will do x tomorrow, then Tom cannot do otherwise
8. Therefore, Tom cannot do otherwise than x tomorrow
9. If one cannot do otherwise, then one does not act freely
10. Therefore, when Tom does x tomorrow, he will not do it freely

The problem I see with it is in 4 & 5; specifically, it conflates truth with the basis of truth. The proposition 'Tom does X' isn't the same thing as Tom doing X; one is a proposition, the other is a person performing an action.

4 should state:

4~. Necessarily, if 100 years ago God believed Tom will do x tomorrow, then the proposition 'Tom will do x tomorrow' is true.

4~ is true, but 4 is not. A truth cannot entail an event, only another truth. 4 conflates truths with the basis of truths. 4 also slides from God’s belief (which is a historic event or state) to the truth of God’s belief. It moves from ‘the necessity of the past’ as argued in 1-3 to necessity based on God’s essential omniscience. The necessity of the past is causal; since it assumes causation works forward in time. God’s essential omniscience means it’s not logically possible for God’s beliefs to be false (i.e. ‘God’s false beliefs’ implies a contradiction). So the argument has changed its basis from causal necessity to logical necessity.

With 4~ in mind, 5 should be revised to:
5~. If p {i.e. God's historical belief about Tom's choice} is now necessary (given God’s essential omniscience), and necessarily if p, then q; then q {i.e. that the proposition 'Tom will choose x tomorrow' is true: (consequent from 4~)} is now necessary [transfer of necessity principle]

5 subtly and invalidly moved from the logical necessity of the combination of two truths to the causal necessity of a past and future event.

From this, it should be reasonably clear that the type of necessity transferred is not causal necessity or the necessity of the past. Rather it's the logical necessity of the combination. P and not-Q are logically incompossible. But this does not threaten libertarian freedom. LFW assumes the causal possibility of choosing otherwise (i.e. it’s with Tom’s power to choose X or nonX and the logical possibility (i.e. ‘Tom chooses X’ is not a contradiction.)

The rest of the argument does not follow after 5 is corrected.

"The problem I see with it is in 4 & 5; specifically, it conflates truth with the basis of truth. The proposition 'Tom does X' isn't the same thing as Tom doing X; one is a proposition, the other is a person performing an action. 4 should state: 4~. Necessarily, if 100 years ago God believed Tom will do x tomorrow, then the proposition 'Tom will do x tomorrow' is true.4~ is true, but 4 is not. A truth cannot entail an event, only another truth. 4 conflates truths with the basis of truths.”

First off, given the antecedent of 4, that which the consequent contemplates is true, regardless of any metaphysical cause of the consequent. Secondly, your strictures regarding the proposition “Tom will do x tomorrow” and the proposition: “the proposition Tom will do x tomorrow is true” affords you nothing. Neither addresses the metaphysical question that is apparently driving your arbitrariness.

4 also slides from God’s belief (which is a historic event or state) to the truth of God’s belief.”

I’m happy to state the argument in terms of God’s knowledge because what he believes he knows. Moreover, God can be taken out of the argument because the issue pertains to truth, which so happens to be believed and known.

It moves from ‘the necessity of the past’ as argued in 1-3 to necessity based on God’s essential omniscience.”

My argument has nothing to do with God’s essential omniscience. That’s something you’ve imposed upon it. All that is in view is one bit of knowledge, not omniscience. Moreover, God’s knowledge of a past proposition that contemplates an act still future could just as easily been worded as your knowledge of a past proposition that contemplates an act still future; knowledge presupposes the truth of the proposition, no matter who knows it, which is why we can leave knowledge out of it; the issue is that the proposition is true and not whether it is known.

“The necessity of the past is causal; since it assumes causation works forward in time.”

That’s a bit ambiguous.

“God’s essential omniscience means it’s not logically possible for God’s beliefs to be false (i.e. ‘God’s false beliefs’ implies a contradiction). So the argument has changed its basis from causal necessity to logical necessity.”

Even allowing for your premise that my argument somehow pivots on omniscience, you have just taken a quantum leap in reason. Allow me to jump down to the bottom of the funnel. You closed with: “LFW assumes the causal possibility of choosing otherwise (i.e. it’s with Tom’s power to choose X or nonX and the logical possibility (i.e. ‘Tom chooses X’ is not a contradiction.)

Why should we believe that if it is “logically impossible” for x to be caused that it is indeed true that x might be caused? You are left with something that is logically impossible to be caused, yet metaphysically possible to be caused! Need not your metaphysic comport with your logic, or may the two be isolated and independent? In sum, you have an illogical metaphysic because it need not comport with what you would like to call logical truth.

You seem to be arguing that the truth of the proposition is part of the past and therefore necessary. I disagree. Even if we grant that the truth of propositions is part of the past (which seems true in one sense and not in another) I don't think we can conclude they are necessary. Past events and states are necessary because they have been caused to be and also because there is no such thing as retro causation but past truths are not necessary.

Perhaps we also disagree on the definition of logical necessity. A truth is logically necessary if its negation is self contradictory. This applies to a truth by itself or multiple truths taken in combination. But if two truths in combination are logically necessary that does not mean each is separately. Assuming that they are is a division fallacy. So I maintain 'Tom does A at T 'is logically possible but the combo of 'Tom will do A' and 'God's past belief that Tom will do B at T was true' is logically impossible. Similarly, the combo of 'Tom will do A' and 'Tom will do non-A' is logically impossible, even if 'Tom will do A' is logically possible.

So looking at 4 & 5 once more and with your kind permission changing God's past belief with a true proposition and also understanding the consequent as a propositional truth as well we get:

4*. Necessarily, if 100 years ago 'Tom will do x at T' was true, then 'Tom will do x T' is true

Thus 4 is reduced to a totology and we can get rid of it.

Now 5, in light of 3...

3. It is now necessary that 100 years ago God believed that Tom will do x a T5. If p {i.e. God's historical belief about Tom's choice} is now necessary (3), and necessarily if p, then q; then q {i.e. Tom's choice of x tomorrow: (consequent from 4)} is now necessary [transfer of necessity principle]

First, 5 should be changed to:

5.* If p {i.e.'Tom will do x at T' was true} is now necessary (3), and necessarily if p, then q; then q {i.e. 'Tom will do x T' is true} is now necessary [transfer of necessity principle]

Second, to assume 5 follows from 3 is an invalid conflation of a truth ('Tom will do x at T'was true) and a past event (God's past belief). So 5 as it stands should be rejected and it doesn't seem in can be repaired.


You are not interacting with the refutation that is before you.

“You seem to be arguing that the truth of the proposition is part of the past and therefore necessary.”

Yes, that is the argument but it is not assumed; it is deduced. You have yet to interact with the proof. You are simply presupposing that it cannot be true and then simply asserting the same, that it cannot be true.

“I disagree.”

Of course you disagree - you’re an Arminian. I’m waiting upon your interaction with the refutation of your assertions which, by the way, never addressed the original proof.

“Even if we grant that the truth of propositions is part of the past (which seems true in one sense and not in another) I don't think we can conclude they are necessary.”

Ah, but a proof with a valid form concludes they are necessary. The only question is whether the premises within the proof are true, which you have yet to deal with.

“Past events and states are necessary because they have been caused to be.””

In this discussion the only thing that is past is the future tense truth proposition about a future creaturely choice. That the proposition is caused is irrelevant to the question of whether the action the proposition contemplates will be caused. That this escapes you indicates that you are a novice in this matter. That, of course, is not shameful (apart from the fact that you are posturing yourself as one who has something significant to offer).

“Perhaps we also disagree on the definition of logical necessity. A truth is logically necessary if its negation is self contradictory.”

Dan, I’m well aware of what a logical necessity entails. What you fail to grasp is that a logical necessity about a metaphysical occurrence implies the necessity of the occurrence. To assume the contrary is to affirm that something that must logically occur need not metaphysically occur; which is to assert that causality is not logically relevant – which is to suggest that causality is not logical. No Molinist has dealt with the weight of the quandry. They assume contradictory truths, that something will occur yet might not occur. As for the rest of your post, you’re simply repeating yourself and in doing so showing yourself unwilling (or unable) to deal with your internal inconsistencies and the clear argument that remains before you.

Dan, that is strike 2. One more time and you're out and if you do nothing more than repeat yourself, don't expect to for your post to be published.