But what does it mean to choose a group, as in “I choose those who choose me, to be mine”? That’s practically a tautology! As if a politician should say “I choose those who vote for me to be my supporters.” Now if the reply is that God chooses people for service, or for glory, then this is God choosing what a group of people will have, instead of choosing people. But Paul writes “He chose us,” and though God does choose what people will have, he also chooses people, and this is a primary focus in the passages on election:
1 Thessalonians 1:4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you…
And if it is said that conditions are being specified in election, rather than actual choices, where are conditions for election stated in Romans 9? Where are entrance criteria mentioned in reference to Isaac, and Jacob, and Pharaoh?
Romans 9:12 … not by works but by him who calls …
Romans 9:15-16 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
The plain point here is that God is choosing, not man, and the choice is not based on anything they do or will do.
Also, in corporate election, it is held that God is choosing one group now, and then a different group later, but are there different conditions? In both cases, isn’t God choosing those who choose him, in the Arminian view? So how is this changing which group is elected?
So corporate election, even if it is true, cannot be a choice between groups, however then it seems not to have a very clear meaning.
It would also seem that God is not choosing from all whom he sees would believe, rather, he is choosing who will believe.
Romans 9:13-16 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
And this passage is about God’s choice for salvation (see 9:3,15,18,22-27).
Romans 9:27-28 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”
Not his perception! His sentence, this is God’s decision, and he will carry it out. And how can it be God’s sentence that only a remnant will be saved, if what is happening here is that people’s choices are the ultimate ones? This could only be God’s conclusion in that case, and not his sentence.
Romans 9:19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?”
If the basis of salvation is people’s decision, then how is God unjust? The question should not come up.
And the answer Paul gives is not a list of people who indeed resist God’s will, instead his answer is “no one!”
Romans 9:21-22 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? What if God, choosing…
Is Romans 9 talking about a choice for service, instead of a choice of who will be saved?
Romans 9:3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers…
How is this speaking of Paul’s service? No, it clearly refers to his salvation. This is clearly saying “Paul not saved, and my brothers saved.” This is at the head of the chapter, and thus sets the tone for the whole discussion. Romans 9:7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children.
This is not talking about service! It’s speaking of belonging, and really belonging to Abraham means salvation.
Romans 9:9 “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”
Not a servant!
Romans 9:15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
This must also mean salvation, how could compassion refer to a choice for service?
Romans 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
Pharaoh is serving God’s purpose! Though he was hardened, and not chosen.
Romans 9:21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
All these vessels are for a purpose, they are serving, but again, some are not chosen for belonging:
Romans 9:25 As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people.”
Not “I will call them ‘my servants’ etc.”
Romans 9:23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory–
For glory! Not for service.
Romans 9:31 but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.
Service? No, they did not attain righteousness, which means … salvation.
Is Paul only talking about belonging to a specified group here, instead of salvation?
RO 9:18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
This, I think, Paul refers to in verses 21-23:
RO 9:22 … the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction?
Surely this refers to issue of salvation, not just to belonging to an ethnic group.
RO 9:23 … the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory …
And again, here, this is certainly referring to salvation, not to just an honor of being chosen as part of a nation.
RO 9:27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.”
And here we have a clear reference to salvation itself. And here:
RO 9:30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it…
Righteousness, again, is part of salvation, and not part of citizenship.
Romans 9:6 For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.
This is not about corporate election, for the people in the group (Paul even underlines this very point) are not all chosen, in any of the cases where he mentions a group.
Does Romans 9 mean choosing Jews versus Gentiles?
Romans 9:23-24 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory–even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?
Let us note that this is both groups! And which group does Isaac correspond to? Does Pharaoh represent Egypt? Now some Egyptians went with Israel in the Exodus, so now what does it mean, if God corporately rejected Egypt?
And regardless, God really chose here! If God chooses one real nation, and rejects another, how does this explain choosing those who would choose him? And does not a choice of a whole, present nation, affect individuals, subsequent to this choice? That would not seem to depict choosing people based on foreseen faith, or choosing conditions for a group.
And thus if Romans 9 speaks of corporate election, do we also have corporate reprobation?
And “who resists God’s will?” is singular, not plural! This has individuals in view, one individual, even, and not a group, we do not read here “Which group resists his will?”
Acts 22:14 Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth.’
This implies God chose Paul before speaking to him, God chose him, not only to hear his word, but to believe! “To know his will.” So this is individual election.
However you place the time of “know his will,” this phrase certainly requires salvation! Then we can note that “chose you” in “chose you to know his will and see the Righteous One” cannot mean “chose you corporately,” for not everyone is chosen corporately, to have a vision of Jesus, thus we have a reference to salvation, yet the choice here must be of Paul as an individual, and thus again, individual election.
“It is a dangerous presumption for men to take upon themselves, with unwashed hands, to unriddle the deep mysteries of God with their carnal reason; where the great apostle stands at the gaze, crying, ‘O the depth, how unsearchable!’ and ‘Who knoweth the mind of the Lord!’ … Had foreseen faith and perseverance been the causes and conditions of election, there had been no mystery in it.” (Christopher Ness)