James Arminius + Paul’s Romans 9:14-25 Case

James Arminius

James Arminius correctly captured the contribution of Romans 9:14-25 to the overall argument of “whole epistle.” He viewed the scope of Romans 9 is the same as that of the whole epistle, viz.,

[…] the Gospel, not the law, is the power of God unto salvation, not to him that worketh, but to him that believeth, since, in the Gospel the righteousness of God is manifested in the obtainment of salvation by faith in Christ. (Arminius 1853: 528 emphasis original)

Concurring with Arminius, Romans 9 defends the proposition against the objections of the Jews that could be deduce as:

“If righteousness and salvation consist in faith in Christ, whom Paul preaches, it follows that the Jews, for the most part, are rejected from the covenant. The reason of this conclusion is this. “Because most of the Jews do not believe in Christ.”(ibid 529)

Paul showed that the word of convent has not fail, even if most of the Jews, “who, with the greatest zeal, seek the righteousness of the Law” since “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel”(verse 6b ESV) and that word of convent applies to and fulfilled in “the children of the promise”, both Jews and Gentiles who pursue righteousness that is by faith in finish work of Christ Jesus.

Paul in Romans 9:14-25 aims to defend the righteous of God in fulfillment of his convent promise to those whom He has eternally elected as “the children of the promise” not because of the righteousness of the Law, namely merits, but God’s own free grace poured through faith in Christ Jesus and also to show that “God always works by the method of election.”(Morris 1988: 358).

Paul argument can be formulated as follows:

  1. God is just in all His acts.
  2. God’s act of electing some and pass others prima facie seems injustice.
  3. God is merciful to whom He pleases and hardens whom He pleases according to His will.
  4. Thus, God is not unjust.

Bibliography:

Arminius, J. (1853). The Works of Arminius, Volume 3 (J. Nichols & W. R. Bagnall, Trans.) Auburn; Buffalo: Derby, and Miller; Derby, Orton and Mulligan.

Morris, L. (1988). The Epistle to the Romans. The Pillar New Testament Commentary Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.

NB: Though I hold to a reformed tradition, I am continually edified by Arminius powerful thinking. I am open for correcting, comments, and critics as we try to glorify God through our thinking.

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About Prayson Daniel

Prayson Daniel is a Tanzanian, married to Lea and a father to Eloise. Reformed theology, philosophy of religion, apologetics and church history are areas he enjoy reading, pondering and sharing with a motto "when love comes first, disagreement follows at its right and proper place".

9 comments

  1. nietzschesdownfall

    Good thoughts, man. Would love to read your paper on the NPoP when you’re done.

  2. Prayson,

    I believe John Calvin would have agreed 100% with the Arminius quote in your article.

    • I think he would as I am also Reformed, hold Augustinian view that Calvin and Luther held on the doctrine of grace :)

    • Roy

      I don’t think anyone can safely say, “The Messiah came, Israel rejected Him, so it follows that the Jews, for the most part, are rejected from the covenant.”

      There are numerous professing Christians today, especially those under the influence of Reformed / Covenant Theology, who deny that the nation Israel has any hope of a future kingdom on earth under their Messiah as predicted in hundreds of Old Testament prophecies. Some teach that the CHURCH has inherited the promises that were made to ISRAEL. Others teach that the kingdom is here and now and that Christ is spiritually reigning in the hearts of His believers. Even though there is a sense in which this is true, it still does not solve the problem of hundreds of specific kingdom promises and predictions which have not yet been fulfilled. Did God really mean what He said about the kingdom and the coming Messiah or not? Romans chapters 9-11 are then vitally important chapters in rightly understanding the place of Israel in God’s program. Chapters 9, 10 and 11 all deal with these issues and have to be studied as a unit.

      What is it I see God doing with the nation Israel? The answer is basically twofold:

      1. God has a wonderful plan and purpose for the Jew TODAY, but this plan and purpose cannot be realized until the Jewish person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. See Romans 10:9-13; 11:1-5.

      2. God has a wonderful plan and purpose for the Jew TOMORROW, but this plan and purpose cannot be realized until the true Messiah of the Jews comes to this earth a second time. See Romans 11:25-28. Israel’s present unbelief and rejection of the gospel will not keep God from fulfilling any of His kingdom promises to this nation (Rom. 11:28).

      It should be noted that our present church age (which has lasted about 2000 years) was not revealed in the Old Testament. The Old Testament prophets were given a look ahead into the distant future and they saw a mountain peak which was the coming of the Messiah and the great kingdom age. What they were not given was that actually there are two mountain peaks (a 2nd coming) with a valley in between:

      When the Old Testament Jew read His Bible he could only see one coming. Today we are living in the period between the two comings of Christ during which time He is building HIS CHURCH (Matt. 16:18) and taking out of the nations a people for His Name (Acts 15:14). As we read our Bible today we have the advantage of being better able to see two distinct comings of Christ–one is now history and one is still prophecy (He has come and He will come again)! It’s not over.

  3. I used to call myself an Arminian in the sense of losing one’s salvation, but when I was in this school of thought I was also bound up by legalism. When God started showing me His grace, that since His grace was great enough to save me it was great enough to keep me, I have long-since moved to Calvin’s “perseverance of the saints.” However, I am not a five-point Calvinist. I believe his doctrine has some errors, too. I do agree with Arminius that our election and predestination has its foundation in God’s foreknowledge and that our election is conditional upon our choosing Christ. Arminius also taught that it was possible to resist God’s grace, something which I, too, believe. To me, the truth is somewhere in the middle of their doctrines. To take either doctrine to its extreme is, for me, error.

    Enjoyed your post, Brother Prayson.

  4. Recent scholarship on Paul questions the Augustianian interpretation of Leon Morris, James Denny, and other Evangelical scholars. E. P. Sanders questions the Reformed interpretation with reference to Paul’s background in rabbinic Judaism and those against whom he was reacting. Salvation is certainly by grace–no one deserves salvation. But that does not imply a Calvinist interpretation of Paul or of the New Testament message. In my opinion, Augustine messed up the soteriology of the Western Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church is superior in that regard. Since I do not believe that the Augustinian/Calvinist God is the God of the Bible, I do not believe that my previous post was questioning the justice of the true God.

    • Hej there :) Thank you for your input. I have written a paper on the New Perspective on Paul aiming mostly on the works of Dunn, Sanders and Wright and I believe I have a post or two here in my blog.

      I would love to understand your position Gratiaetnatura before I attempt to respond to your comments.

      Would you be kind to help know if you have read original Augustine’, Luther and Calvin works on election? What in their works you find messed up?

      Yours in Christ,
      Prayson

  5. kenny

    Furthermore, it is not for any man to question or demand any different of His Theodicy.

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