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Simple answer: Yes, and so do other verses in scripture, if a person is looking for biblical evidence to substantiate predestination. When people bring an idea or belief to the Bible searching for verses to support their idea, they will find them. In fact, that is why there has been so many debates in church history over predestination; because people on both sides of the issue have pulled verses out of the Bible that they are convinced support their argument. It is important that we recognize when people come to the Scriptures in order to prove an idea they already believe, as opposed to coming to the Bible with an open heart and mind to receive its truth. There's a big difference between the two. For a Bible student, the important questions include: What is Paul's main point in this passage? Which of the following does the verse in question do: state his point? Explain his point? Illustrate his point? Give an example of his point? How does his statement fit in the context of the passage? In this case, we have to return to Romans chapter 9 (in fact, the whole Book of Romans with a close reading of chapters 9-11) to appreciate his message here. Was it Paul's intention to teach predestination in this passage? Does he argue predestination (or even mention it)? Or does Paul use Jacob and Esau, Moses and Pharaoh, vessels of honor and vessels of dishonor to answer a different question--one that has more relevance to the theme of these chapters, this letter, and issues that were pertinent to the church in Rome? I leave it to you to read, study, and decide.
No. The passage is not about God creating specific individuals for glory in heaven while creating others for wrath in hell. Rather, this passage is about God's just mercy in choosing a people for Himself. Reading the passage in context is key: Rom 9:1-5: Paul's heart aches for the ethnic Jews. He lists how Israel was the recipient of the law, the covenants, the temple worship, the adoption to sonship, the promises, and the genealogy of the Messiah. Rom 9:6-9: God's word has not failed. Not all descendants of Abraham are Israel, but only the descendants of Isaac. Paul compares this as 'children of physical descent' vs. 'children of the promise'. Rom 9:10-13: In order that God's purpose in election might stand (Him choosing a people for Himself, not by works but by His calling), He preferred Jacob over Esau, favoring the nation if Israel above all others. (Psalm 135:4, Mal 1:2-5, Ezek 20:4-6) [These two are representing their respective nations in this context, as Jacob personally never held any power over Esau, but God favored Israel above Edom. Paul is also using it as a historical example of the nations in the OT. In Christ, a descendant of Esau can be saved as equally as a descendant of Jacob, the Gentiles are no longer estranged (Rom 9:26).] Rom 9:14-16: God is not unjust in offering favor or mercy, for He may have mercy/compassion on anyone He chooses. (Ex 33:12-23) God's mercy is not dependent on man's desire or effort. [Paul is speaking here, as elsewhere in the passage, of God's mercy in making a chosen people of God.] Rom 9:17-18: (See Ex 9 for further context). God freed the Israelites from Egypt, not by the Israelite's will or effort but by His own mercy. By the same token, in his mercy he did not utterly wipe out the Egyptians. "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. You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go." Ex 9:15-19 Those who feared the Lord were spared, those who ignored the LORD were affected by the plague (Ex 9:20-21). Pharoah, though he made a show of repenting, still did not fear the Lord (Ex 9:27-30). Pharoah hardened his own heart (Ex 9:7, Ex 9:34-35), but God also hardened his heart (Ex 9:12, Rom 9:18) This leads into the part about the Potter and the clay: Rom 9:19-21: Is 45, Jer 18:17, and other passages give further context. God brings prosperity, calamity, salvation, righteousness, created the Earth, takes care of His children, is just in punishment, etc. Man should not 'quarrel with His maker', as if the creation was higher than the creator. "“Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. If at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it." Jer 18:5-10 This passage speaks to how man cannot control God's purpose in History, but should not blame God for His plans. Rom 9:22-26: The 'objects of mercy' here are once again His people, called from both the Jews and Gentiles (Rom 9:24-26. The 'objects of wrath' here are unbelievers, even those among the Jews (Rom 9:27-28). It is not merely just that God punish the wicked, but that He should be willing to punish the wicked and make His power known. Rom 9:30-33: The gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have obtained it by faith, the Jews who pursued it did not for they sought it by works.
God predestined before the world began that those who conform to His will would be saved.
Romans 9 through 11 is the "Jewish Interlude," where Paul pauses from the end of 8 to insert his lament for the Jews who rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah, and now are rejecting Him as Savior by grace through faith. Paul picks up his letter in 8 in 12:1.
There is no question that the Bible speaks to predestination. The question is, to what degree, i.e. does it go so far as to say that God made one perfectly innocent person (from birth) destined for eternity in hell, and another destined for eternal life? If you believe that, you are in the same class as a Five Point Calvinist. Two of their points are: 1. Unconditional election: “God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will (Eph. 1:4-8; Rom. 9:11) without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him. Also, as some are elected into salvation, others are not (Rom. 9:15, 21).” 2. Limited Atonement: “Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect.” These tenets run counter-point to 2 Peter 3:9 where Peter states that God does not wish that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. However, the Five Point Calvinist would say that Peter was speaking only to those of the same faith as he, and they would be correct, but does this address the justification of God’s choices before the Foundation of the World? A major theme of the Bible is that God’s choices before the Foundation of the World will, at the consummation of the age, be shown to be just and true (Rev. 19:1-2, 15:2-3, 4). Is it just of God to “prepare for destruction” some individuals and not others? Look closely at the words in Rom. 9:22, and take into account the fact that God’s choices were made before the Foundation of the World. Do they not seem to imply that it was God’s desire to demonstrate His Wrath back then, but their folly has been endured to the point where they have exercised all their options? I like the Amplified version’s choice of words in Rom. 9:22. They read: “What if God…has tolerated with much patience the vessels of [His] anger which are ripe for destruction?” And this is what you find from Strong’s definition of the word, ‘prepared’. It is “to complete thoroughly”. In other words, God could have destroyed these bad actors at the Foundation of the World, but he has since given them eons of time to rectify themselves in the sight of the Lord. If God is truly just, how could he purposefully make one individual destined for an eternity of torment in hell, and not another? That just does not compute! Even if you take the Arminian approach and say that God “looked into the future to see who would pick him and then He chose them”, you are still left with God making a supposedly innocent person with no option but to go to hell. There has to be a better explanation, and I think it lies in a better understanding of the parameters of God’s choices at the Foundation of the World. BTW, I have a book by the title, “The Foundation of the World”. It is not as you would presume, the beginning of the creation of the earth. It is when God made His choices for the Lamb’s book of Life, and as far as I can discern, it occurred around the year 3634 BC. Understand that this is a somewhat arbitrary date, but a far cry from the beginning of the earth. Is there a place in the Bible that gives the parameters of God’s choices? There may have been multiple reasons behind God’s choices, but I believe the major parameter is defined in Matthew 25:41. Gehenna, the Lake of Fire, was prepared (predestined if you will) for the Devil and his angels. God’s choices were based on one’s allegiance, either to Jehovah God, the rock of our salvation, or to Satan, the origin of iniquity. Is it fair of God to arbitrarily destine some for hell, or does He have a more just case if infidelity was involved? Babylon receives the brunt of God’s Wrath. They are Satan’s angels. Isaiah 1:18
Please note carefully that all the passage on predestination in Romans are constantly couched in Paul's lament for Israel's fallen condition in reference to the appearance of her Messiah. He seems to be implicitly addressing a frustrated audience of Jewish believers who are perplexed at the alienated state of the Jewish people while the gentiles are showered in grace. Paul assures them that God has in fact hardened Israel for a time, but that will come to an end. He compares them to Pharaoh because the Jews in power were being so hateful to the church. Check Acts for lots of examples. I believe it is a huge mistake to draw from these writings a doctrine of soteriological double predestination whereby God mysteriously ordains most people to burn in hell. John Calvin got his nose stuck in a hole in a tree and couldn't see the beautiful forest of God's grace.
Predestination is obvious, but then comes a question are we able to interpret predestination? No one can understand predestination and why some people are vessels of glory and some are vessels of destruction as Paul says, but we can hold on our trust in God and believe he is just as he says he is. Who knows, all the vessels of destruction might as well be fallen angels and the demons attacking them might not even know they are not of God. No man can fully understand God and probably never will. Deuteronomy 29:29
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