3c - The Flow of Argument Regarding Election [9:6-23]

  • The problem the Jews has was that they regarded God’s blessing at their birthright
    • God owed it to them to bless them
  • In order to deal with them, Paul needs to point out the difference between
    • what is a free gift and what is a right
    • If someone gives a gift, then they can chose whom to give it to
  • Abraham was given a promise and this was to apply to his “seed” as well
    • But God is free to chose which child to give the gift to
    • If this were not true, then it woundn’t really be a free gift, but earned
  • We must be very clear that God was extremely kind to Esau and blessed him massively
    • (This is also true of Ishmael)
  • So the expression “Esau I hated” must be taken as comparative with Jacob, for the sake of emphasis

The argument flows like this:

  1. Because of the Jewish misconceptions, Paul needs to discuss election
    • otherwise it looks like God’s promises have failed
  2. The promise to Abraham didn’t apply to all his physical children
    • only the promised one, Isaac
  3. The promise then fell on Jacob
    • but this was nothing to do with his performance else it would be works, not grace
  4. This raises the question: Is God unjust not to treat everyone the same?
    • No, God has a right to give out his gifts of mercy to whomever he desires—it is his gift
  5. If God choses not to show mercy on someone, then they become “hard”
    • the way it is written could look like God’s fault that Pharaoh is hard
      • this is the hardest bit of the whole passage!!!
    • but Exodus tells us he hardened himself willingly
      • Here we up against the mystery of Pharaoh’s free will, and God’s overall sovereignty
      • both of them are true—God never compelled Pharaoh in any way, but showed only grace to him
      • however God is said to have “hardened him” —God “gave up” communicating with him in the end, which allowed him to go his own way
      • Parents might reluctantly give up trying to discipline a rebellious teenager
        • This action could cause the teenager to go into sin, but they are still responsible
    • Nobody forced Pharaoh to take the actions he did—it was from his own free volition
      • Yet doing what he did allowed God to give Israel the greatest picture of freedom from Satan’s power
    • There was a free choice about who was on the ark or not—Noah didn’t have to turn anyone away
      • God punished them all with destruction, but it was their own fault
      • Yet it was all in God’s plan
  6. In God’s sovereign plan, even rebellious people end up by causing good things to happen
    • Just because God used Pharaoh’s evil to accomplish so much good, doesn’t mean Pharaoh should be rewarded
    • e.g. Judas!
    • The same logic would reward Satan for his evil which allows God’s love to shine so brightly
  7. How then can God punish such a person, since good came of it?
    • God has a right to do what he likes, just like a potter
      • But God is not actually a hard-hearted potter (although he has a right to be), but is longsuffering.
    • Some people have come up with the idea of “double predestination”. Two reasons why not taught here:
      1. Paul does not say “God Does”, but “what if God”
      2. different words are chosen to describe the two groups.
        • The first is prepared (Greek: made-ready) for destruction
        • while the second is prepared beforehand, a different word in Greek.
      • Although the effect of God choosing some must mean that others are damned, it is not the same as saying that God has chosen some for damnation.