Rom 11:1–12 – Scripture & Logic – Election

Romans 11:1–12 – Those Selected By Grace

 

11 Therefore I say, God has not rejected his people, has he?* May it never be! For I also am an Israelite, from the descendants of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people, whom he foreknew! Or do you not know, in the passage about* Elijah, what the scripture says—how he appeals to God against Israel? 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have torn down your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life!” 4 But what does the divine response say to him? “I have left for myself seven thousand people who have not bent the knee to Baal.” 5 So in this way also at the present time, there is a remnant ⌊selected by grace⌋. 6 But if by grace, it is no longer by works, for otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

7 What then? What Israel was searching for, this it did not obtain. But the elect obtained it, and the rest were hardened,

8 just as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear, until this very day.”

9 And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, and a cause for stumbling and a retribution to them; 10 let their eyes be darkened so that they do not see, and cause their backs to bend ⌊continually⌋.”

11 I say then, they did not stumble so that they fell, did they?* May it never be! But by their trespass, salvation has come to the Gentiles, in order to provoke them to jealousy.* 12 And if their trespass means riches for the world and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fullness mean? [1]

 

In defining our terms for the argument, we need to see how the Bible defines its own terms and interprets its own manner of speaking.

First, Paul is still addressing the issue first given in Romans 9, regarding why so few Jews are believing God’s word.  Paul returns to this directly in verses 1-5 by highlighting how the prophet Elijah made a similar passionate statement.  God responds by saying, “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand people.” This is an interesting statement, for some might irrationally infer this means God is keeping 7 thousand safe, who have already chosen not to bow.  Now, if I knew little to nothing of the Scripture and this statement was given to me, I would be unclear in how to define the terms, and thus I would not know how to make a sound argument from it. But this is not the case, for Paul has been defining these terms now for a few chapters; and so, there is no room for misunderstanding or excuse for unbelief. (See chapter on Romans 9:11-18).

This is a good point to go over for many make mistakes in thinking at points like this. The underlining causes is due to their wicked unbelief and loyalty to traditions over God. However, for a logical focus it is important to look at how to define terms. When God says “He has reserved for Himself 7,000 people,” does it mean God reserved them first so that the necessary consequent is that they have not bowed to Baal, or was it that they did not bow (apart from God’s sovereign control?), and then God reserved them? Those who have read through this book know this answer and I will not defend it here.

Still, we will deal with a few quick points. The immediate context (from Romans 9) is speaking of the ultimate level and not the relative. Thus, on this alone we know God means He chose the remnant first for Himself; and thus, as a consequent He causes them not to bow. When dealing with definitions we need to deal with systematic theology as Paul has been doing. We need to know what it is and what it is not. Thus, since a contradiction is impossible, we know that a definition of Christian ontology cannot include a contradiction to God’s direct and absolute sovereignty.

With reprobation Paul mentions Pharaoh. In Exodus, the first recording of Pharaoh’s heart is that God hardened it first. On this ultimate level, it is not attributed to Pharaoh’s choice, but to God’s control for why Pharaoh’s heart was unable to submit to God’s command. God did not foresee Pharaoh’s choice and then respond (before they were born or had done good or evil); rather, God wanted a specific outcome, and so God first hardened Pharaoh’s heart to achieve this. Thus, in doing systematic theology, in the immediate context—which is about the ultimate level, we know when the Scripture says phrases like, “I have reserved for myself,” it means God first made the choice, separate from the person, and then controls them to make a specific outcome He wants to be completed.

Also we ought to see how they are defined in the whole Scripture. Think about how God killed King Ahab. It was said God “put a lying spirit into the mouth.” In context we learn that it was not a demon, but God who first asks the demons, who wants to help Him kill Ahab. God has a specific end that is not in motion, and so God puts into motion what was not there before. He entices some demons to destroy a person(who love to destroy people), and God merely picks out one zealous demon and gave it His decree of success. This is what it means that God put a lying demon into a person. This same level of control is with Joseph and his brothers. The same is with Samuel and his sons. The Scripture says God wanted to kill them; He causes the sons to play with profane fire, and then kills them for it. [2] The same is with false prophets who give a false prophecy, “But if the [false] prophet is prevailed upon to speak a word, it is I, the LORD, who have prevailed upon that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel.” (NASB). The same is said of believers for they must be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God, let alone believe it. “And all those who were designated for eternal life believed,” Acts 13:48.  Those are categorical statements; and thus, specific statements also deduce or apply in this way, for example when the Scripture also says, “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was being said by Paul,” Acts 16:14.

At any rate, every time the Bible goes behind the scenes and answers what the ultimate level is, it never attributes it to man or man’s choices; rather, it always ascribes it to God’s decree and control. And so, the Scripture interprets its phrases like “I have reserved for myself,” in reference to God, as on the ultimate level. We will do the same.

Paul’s presupposition is that being chosen by God to be a remnant, so that one does not bow down to an idol, is a good thing; this seems obvious, but it needs to be said. Being sovereignly chosen to be of reprobation is by God’s direct sovereign choice as the remnant are. Thus, what matters is the outcome of this choice. Being under God’s kindness and receiving His inheritance is indeed a very good thing, and not bowing to Baal(idol) is one way to test this. Thus, two things can be seen by being included in the remnant of God. One, is that the outcome is of good things and blessings. Secondly, the manner of one being a partaker of this is by God’s free sovereign choice and sovereign control. This ultimate reliance on God’s power and kindness is magnified in the context of man’s sin. And so, we are told “all have fallen short of God’s glory.”

Thus, Paul defines the remnant as “selected by Grace.” The selection is by sovereign choice, and the outcome is an undeserved, unmeasurable blessing.

And so, rather than dealing with quantifiers, like in first order predicate logic, we have already dealt with defining our terms in long hand.

Second, having already dealt with the twins (Jacob and Esau; and Moses and Pharaoh), and with the same neutral(i.e. non-sinful) lump that comes both the remnant and reprobation, and now the 7 thousand in Elijah’s time, Paul has added to his systematic theology more comprehension and precision about the doctrine of election.   Now Paul turns the argument to be about the present tense remnant.  “So in this way also at the present time, there is a remnant ⌊selected by grace.” The first part of verse 5 says, “So in this way also.” By divine inspiration Paul’s unspoken categorical statement, is that “ALL [remnant] are [those selected by grace].” It means past, present and future. Paul’s minor premise is that there is a remnant (present tense) today.  In summary, first Paul has defined the terms, then made big categorical statements, and lastly is applying them to the present, so that we who read this can apply ourselves to it.

Argument 1

D.1. All [ the remnant ] are [those selected by grace].
D.2. All [present remnant] are [remnant].
D.3. Thus, all [present remnant] are [those selected by grace].

Argument 2

This second argument is about the law of identity and contradiction. The laws of logic are not just laws of thought, but they are also laws of reality. Thus, if something breaks these laws, then we know the system of thinking that produced them is not only a wrong way of thinking, but is also incompatible with reality.

So also, is the Law of Identity. It is because what is must be determinately what it is, that I must so think. That is why we find a difficulty in admitting the reality of absolute change, change when nothing remains the same; for then we cannot say what it is which changes.[3]

Paul says the remnant is about God selection of grace. They were first chosen to be loved, from the same neutral lump which the people of reprobation came from; that is, before any had done good or evil God chose their destinies to be good. No one deserves by nature to be chosen, even from this neutral lump state, to be a benefactor of God’s endless life and sonship. But there is even more to it. After the fall, the remnant were born into sin, so that they were by pragmatic nature, children of God’s punishment. Thus, the choice to make these God’s chosen ones, is a double grace.

Grace is contrasted against works. Scripture says that without a certain level of holiness no one enters heaven. In this light, grace and works are a contradiction to each other, in regards to needing a payment to get into heaven and fellowship with God. This payment is a perfect level of holiness and righteousness lived by a human.  Works is defined as a human living this perfect righteousness. The Scripture also says no person has ever lived this. The one exception is Jesus Christ, who had a human body, but whose soul was of the Trinity. God is the judge; and so, He makes up and defines the rules, as He so wants. His ruling is that, if Jesus gives His perfect lived righteousness to a person, then God the Judge will publicly declare them as perfect, as if they had lived Jesus’ life. Upon this God will treat and relate to them as perfect, as identified with Christ. God will relate to them even as a son and an heir of God, for this is what Jesus is to Him. This is called grace, because relative to the person, it was free and undeserved.  It was earned by Jesus, accepted by God Himself, and then it is received by faith, which is itself sovereignly caused by God.

Thus, if one is true then the other cannot logically be true. This becomes clear if we quickly consider the “square of opposition.” A contradiction, when considered by the same proposition, is when a “All (a) is (b),” is also said, “Some (a) is not (b)[4].” If only one work is added to why God chose the Elect to inherit His glory then, “All God’s selection is that which is based on grace,” is contradicted by “Some of God’s selection is not that which is based on grace.”

Therefore, God’s chosen people are a people by grace, and so it is impossible they are a choice by works.

E.1. (P) If salvation is by grace, (~Q) then necessarily salvation is not works.
E.2. (P) Salvation is by Grace.
E.3. Therefore, (~Q) salvation is not work.

Argument 3

This is talking about a necessary connection, rather than mere categorical statements. Possessing a darkened intellect, necessarily results in a mind that will not be able to perceive certain things.  Paul said the Jews were zealous for God.  Their zeal was without knowledge, despite being surrounded by knowledge. God caused their minds to be darkened. This led to a necessary result; it led them to being unable to perceive the knowledge of “righteousness by faith.” John opens his gospel with the Logos doctrine teaching us Jesus is the intellectual light of man’s soul. If man does not throw aside his human starting points and rather start with the Logos, then man lives in an intellectual dark abyss. And so, since a particular result was desired, David prays for a cause that would result in the intended goal. The cause is a darkened mind, and the result is the inability to submit to God’s precepts and truth.

T.1. (P) If mind is darkened by God, (~Q) then no perceiving of “righteousness of faith.”
T.2. (P) God has/will darken their minds. [God will answer my prayer]
T.3. (~Q) Thus, no understanding of the righteousness of faith.

Argument 4

Verse 11 is a chain of ultimate causality, and verse 12 is a “fortiori argument.”

This is about the order of God’s decrees or the logical order of what God is causing. (logic of ontology) Paul tells us what God “did” do, “is” doing, and “will” do. God had a preordained purpose, and is now, in reverse order, executing this plan in history. And so, we are still in the ultimate level ontology.

God did caused the Jews to stumble over righteousness by faith. God is causing salvation to Gentiles. God will cause the Jews (being provoked by jealousy) to accept righteousness by faith.

Verse 12 is like a fortiori argument where if the lesser is good, then how much more is the greater good!

J.1. (P) If Jew’s sinning is riches for the world, (Q) then much more Jews salvation is greater riches for the world.
J.2. Jew’s sinning is riches for the world.
J.3. Thus, Jews salvation is greater riches.

 

——Endnotes——-

[1] Emphasis added by Author.

[2] The Bible says that Eli’s son did not heed the warning, because it was God’s will to kill them. They could not listen, and they could not repent, because God decided that they would remain in wickedness so that he could punish them according to his own justice.t listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the LORD’s will to put them to death. (1 Samuel 2:25) Vincent Cheung. God Wanted to Kill Them. Sermonettes Vol. 6. 2012. Page 18.

[3] H.W.B. Joseph. 1906. An introduction to LOGIC. Pg.13

[4] When “All a is b,” is contrasted to “No a is b,” then we have a contrariety by definition. If one is true, then the other cannot be. But both can be false. So even if we are dealing with a contrariety, because we are told it is true God’s selection of the elect is by grace, then it cannot be by works. A contradiction is stronger in that if just one tiny bit of a “some,” is thrown in, then we have a contradiction; and thus, it is implausible with reality.