The Book of Romans - Week 18 - omans 9:1-18


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ROMANS 9:1-18 (See also Exodus 9:13-17)

The Valentinian Myth (A Christian Gnostic Heresy, Valentinius AD 100- AD 160)

  • God is the ultimate being, he generated 30 different beings (silence, truth, wisdom, etc). Christ was one of these beings referred to as Aeons. All of these beings formed together to create a perfect world known as Pleroma.
  • A disruption occurred within the Pleroma when one of the beings (Wisdom) began seeking to understand how she came to be. As a result, a fall occurred, creating a distorted/lower form of Wisdom that created the Demiurge (God of the material world), the universe, the Devil, earth, and mankind.
  • Most humans are only composed of matter and soul, but the pneumatic element from the true wisdom trickled down into a select number of humans, giving them a sense of enlightment, desire for something more, and that they really belong to another world.
  • As such, according to the Valentinian myth, humanity is divided at birth into the pneumatics and the non-pneumatics. Certain people are, by their very nature, destined for salvation while others are damned.

Early Christian Perspective on Romans 9

-Many of the most prominent Patristic thinkers (early church fathers), including Origen and Irenaeus held that Romans 9:6-13 was describing God's foreknowledge, rather than some form of deterministic work, meaning that God's election was based upon God's ability to see in advance man's faith and freewill, rather than God deciding for him.

-The fact that Paul expresses concern for his brothers and sisters here, yet provides that these same individuals have opportunity to return to Christ in Romans 11:23, provides further evidence that God's work here isn't deterministic.

-Calvin (and to some degree Luther), extrapolated on Augustine's strong teachings on grace (which was in contrast to Pelagianism/Salvation by merit), to use Romans 9 as evidence of God's sovereignty choice in salvation, rather than the will of man.

Commentary on Romans 9

-Paul introduces the idea of a true Israel, those that children of the promise or reckoned through Isaac (the child of the promise and a "type" of Christ.)

-Romans 9:12-13, see Genesis 25:23 and Malachi 1:2-3, two nations, Israel and Edom, written centuries after the boys deaths.

-The older (Israel) will serve the younger (Gentiles).

-Romans 9:15-18, see Exodus 33:19 and Exodus 9:13-17

-Because of depravity, there is an addition of mercy, rather than a subtraction of grace.

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