The Potter’s Love
(section taken from The Potter’s Promise by Leighton Flowers)
Commentary on Romans 9:1-5
by Leighton Flowers
In the first eight chapters of this letter to Rome, Paul made man’s need and God’s gracious provision through Christ abundantly clear. Paul ends chapter 8 on a high note in reflection of the endless, inseparable love God has for those who are in an abiding love relationship with Him (8:9, 28). If God was so trustworthy and faithful to those of Israel who loved and served Him in ages past, those formerly known, then who could stand against those of us who love Him today?
Notable New Testament scholar, N.T. Wright, comments on Romans 8:28-30, saying in part:
“[This passage] is a sharp, close-up, compressed telling of the story of Israel, as the chosen people, whose identity and destiny is then brought into sharp focus on Jesus. Jesus, in a sense, is the one ‘chosen one.’ But, then that identity is shared with all of those who are ‘in Christ.’ And he [Paul] isn’t talking primarily there about salvation. He is talking primarily about the way God is healing the whole creation. There is a danger here. What has happened in so many theological circles over the years is that people have come to the text assuming that it is really saying how we are to get to heaven, and what is the mechanism and how does that work. And if you do that, interestingly, many exegetes will more or less skip over Romans 8:18-27, which is about the renewing of creation…”
The saints of old were the chosen means by which God would sovereignly bring the Word to the world. It is through the life of men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and many other saints of old that Christ comes “so that He would be the firstborn of many brethren” (8:29b). Paul is reflecting on God’s redemptive purpose being accomplished through those who loved God in former generations. That redemptive purpose included the bringing of the Messiah into this world through Israel (Rom 9:4-5), or more specifically those Israelites set apart for that noble purpose (Rom. 9:21). This was God’s “predestined” plan of redemption, which was brought to pass through those “who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (vs. 28). As Pastor and author Tim Warner describes:
“Paul was not referring to some prior knowledge in the mind of God before creation. Nor was He speaking about predetermining their fate. He was referring to those whom God knew personally and intimately, men like Abraham and David. The term “foreknew” does not mean to have knowledge of someone before they were conceived. The verb “proegnw” is the word for “know” (in an intimate sense) with the preposition “pro” (before) prefixed to it. It refers to having an intimate relationship with someone in the past…Literally, we could render Rom. 8:29 as follows: “For those God formerly knew intimately, He previously determined them to be conformed to the image of His Son.” The individual saints of old, with whom God had a personal relationship, were predestined by Him to be conformed to the image of Christ. That is, God predetermined to bring their salvation to completion by the sacrifice of Christ on their behalf.”
If God worked out the good for the Israelites of old, those “foreknown,” (8:29) then Paul’s readers can rest assured this is a trustworthy God. He will stand with those “who love him and are called according to His purpose” and “work out all things together for their good” (8:28). Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate those who love God from “the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (8:39).
Suddenly, at the conclusion of this climatic declaration of God’s ceaseless love, the objector in Paul’s mind asks a question:
“Paul, you have made a good case regarding God’s faithfulness to the Israelites in the past, but what about the Israelites today? Have God’s promises for Israel failed? Why are the Israelites today refusing to accept their own Messiah?”
The Apostle sets out to answer these very questions in chapters 9-11.
Exegesis of Romans 9:1-5
1 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh
Paul, modeling the very nature of his self-sacrificial Savior, begins this chapter with a heartfelt, anguished plea for the souls of his fellow kinsmen. Despite the fact that they have become his enemies, the apostle follows the example of Christ by sincerely loving them with a sacrificial passion that could only come from the Spirit Himself (Mt. 5:43-48). As with Jesus, this went far beyond lip service. Paul expresses, in all sincerity, the very nature of Christ in him by his willingness to take the place of wrath for his fellow countrymen. In time, Paul’s life, like that of his Savior, is given “so that the world may believe” (Jn. 17:21b).
The apostle emphasizes the fact that his feelings are in full agreement with that of the Holy Spirit Himself, as distinguished from his own limited human emotion or opinion, as some may attempt to suggest (ref. 1 Cor. 7:12). This divine pleading, patience, and longsuffering toward the nation of Israel is reflected in this context and throughout all of scripture (Hosea 3:1; Rm. 9:22; 10:1, 21, 11:1, 11-14; Mt. 23:37; Lk. 19:41-42). Paul begins and ends the very next chapter by clearly expressing this same divine intention:
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation… But as for Israel He says, “ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE” (Rm. 10:1,21).
Even in light of Paul’s clearly expressed desires to perish in the place of these hardened Jews, some Calvinists teach that Christ does not share Paul’s expressed intentions. One has to assume that “five point Calvinists” believe Paul was more merciful and self-sacrificial than the Savior who inspired these very words. It is inexplicable, given Paul’s Spirit-led appeal of self-sacrificial love, to promote a doctrine that teaches Jesus did not intend to sacrifice Himself for these hardened Jews (1 Jn. 2:2; 2 Pt. 2:1).
4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
The apostle picks back up on the objection introduced in the second and third chapters where the question is, “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision,” given that salvation is for all nations? To which he answers, “Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God” (Rm. 3:1-2). This anticipated inquiry is in response to the same matter Paul is about to tackle in chapters 9 through 11:
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God” (Rm. 2:28-29).
Notice the two major points the apostle introduces in chapters 2 and 3:
- Salvation is intended for whoever believes, regardless of nationality. (Rm. 2:28-29)
- There is still a blessing or benefit for being of ethnic Israel: “the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God” (Rm 3:2, NIV)
In Romans 9, Paul sets out to unpack these two points in light of the fact that so many Israelites do not believe the very words that have been entrusted to them. By showing that not every Israelite from the seed of Abraham is chosen for the noble purpose of carrying the words of God, Paul seeks to prove that God’s promise to Abraham has not failed: “…in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:3b).
Paul’s reference to “Israel” carries significance. Some linguistic scholars point to the root meaning of this new name given to Jacob as relating to the primitive root verb “sarar” (שָׂרַר), which refers to the given authority of a prince. The ultimate authority is reserved for the king, but the prince often speaks on behalf of his king and is given authority over others. This illustrates the special role assigned to this elect nation of God. Through this blessed people comes the manifestations of God, His promises, His law, His covenants, and most significantly, His only begotten Son.
In other words, there is a blessing to being an Israelite but not all of the Israelites are the ones chosen to carry that blessing. Not all Israelites are given to be prophets or apostles to bring the Word to the world. Not every Jew will be in the lineage of the Messiah or be entrusted to carry his inspired message. So, there is a benefit to being a Jew, but not every Jew has been chosen for that benefit.
In fact, some of these Israelites were left in their calloused condition for the ignoble purpose of crying out “crucify him,” on the day the Lord’s promise for redemption was fulfilled (Acts 2:23). Some Jews were even given a “spirit of stupor” meant to blind them from the clearly revealed truth of their own Messiah’s identity (Rm. 11:8, Mk. 4:11, Mt. 11:25, Lk. 19:42).
“When He [Jesus] approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.” (Lk. 19:42)
Is it fair that God has chosen to entrust some unfaithful Israelites to bring His Word, while blinding other equally unfaithful Israelites from seeing it in order to fulfill His redemptive promise? Paul spends the next three chapters telling his audience why this is not only just, but abundantly merciful (Rom. 11:32).
The rest of this chapter cannot be separated from Paul’s opening remarks. The “amen” that concludes verse 5 does not mean “the end” as many modern day believers have to come to understand it. For the early church the term “amen” is not proclaimed to bring an end to a thought but to declare a hope that the thought never ends. So, Paul is continuing in the same line of reason despite the paragraph break and new title heading added by many modern translations. The conjunction (δέ), meaning “but” or “moreover,” beginning verse 6 clearly confirms Paul’s thought has not been broken from the previous verses.
What is that thought? The purpose for God’s electing and blessing Israel has not failed. As explained, this is the same objection introduced by Paul to begin the third chapter, “What then? If some [Israelites] did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it” (Rm. 3:3)? In other words, will the unbelief of most Israelites thwart the promise of God to bless all nations with His Word (Gen. 12:3)?
It might appear to the casual, first-century observer that God’s choice of Israel to bring His Word to the rest of the world has completely failed. Most Jews, especially the notable leaders, stood in direct opposition to the Word of God, yet it was a known fact in that day that God had chosen Israel to be “entrusted with the very words of God” (Rm. 3:2). This is what earned the Jews their nickname, “the elect.”
As verses 4 and 5 indicate, from them was the law, the prophets, the scriptures, the patriarchs, but has that now come to a complete halt? Is God no longer revealing his word through Israel? Has God’s word failed? Has the Potter broken his promise to Abraham? This point is key in understanding the rest of Paul’s argument in this chapter. One cannot overemphasize how vital it is to rightly understand the question Paul is attempting to answer at this point in his letter. Many great minds, well intended in their efforts, have failed to follow Paul’s line of thought in this hotly contested passage, leading to many erroneous conclusions.
Despite what some suggest, Paul does not appear to be answering the question: “Since most Jews remain in unbelief, has the word of God failed in effectually saving the Jews?” Instead, he is asking, “Has God’s word failed since those chosen to carry it are standing in opposition to it?”
1) So, are you suggesting this chapter has nothing to do with salvation?
No. It has everything to do with salvation. God’s redemptive plan, promised to Abraham, is brought to pass through Israel. No one is saved apart from the fulfillment of God’s promise. If God’s word fails to come through Israel then no individual in the world has any hope of salvation.
2) Are you suggesting this chapter has nothing to do with election?
No. It has everything to do with election. God unconditionally chose a nation and many individuals from that nation to bring about his redemptive plan. Apart from that plan being fulfilled, God cannot justly choose to save anyone who repents and believes. God is only free to bestow his saving grace to whosoever He chooses solely because of the redemptive work of Christ brought to pass by His purpose in election.
When some hear the word “election” they immediately think “individuals chosen for effectual salvation before creation,” but even Calvinistic scholars must admit that not all biblical references to election are rightly understood in this manner. God elects nations and individuals to carry out both noble and ignoble purposes in His redemptive plan without regard to the morality of those involved. Likewise, He chooses where His message will be sent without regard to the morality of the people hearing it (Jonah 1:2; Matt. 22:10). God indeed does make choices unconditioned upon the character or even desires of those involved (Rom. 9:16). Therefore, when approaching the scripture one must seek to discern what kind of divine election is being referenced, without merely assuming every choice of God is about individuals being chosen for salvation.
3) Are you suggesting individuals are not in view?
No. Individuals are very much in view throughout the entirety of this text. Acknowledging the national components clearly evident in this passage does not negate the reference to the individuals involved. Too often Calvinists presume a corporate approach ignores the individuals when in reality it actually involves more individuals than the perspective they seek to defend.
When approaching chapter 9, Calvinists are forced to change their hermeneutical approach from an individual application of salvation to a corporate application somewhere before they get to the end of the chapter and into the following two chapters. Otherwise they have the dilemma of explaining why the same individual hardened Israelites who are stumbling have not stumbled beyond recovery or the hope of being grafted back in for salvation (Rom. 11:11-23).
We all can agree that Romans 9 involves individuals and covers the topics of election and salvation, but we have to look at the entire context in order understand the apostle’s intention. We also must ask the right question in order to find the right answer. We must understand the apostle’s proposed dilemma in order to rightly interpret his given solution. So, what is the context of Paul’s stated dilemma?
Jews had come to believe that eternal life was guaranteed to any law-abiding citizen of Israel simply on the basis of their being of Israel. They wrongly assumed that being the elect people of God had to do with their own individual salvation. Ironically, the root of this same erroneous conclusion still leads many to misinterpret Paul’s intentions. Israel was elected to carry the word of God so that anyone may believe and be blessed; they were not guaranteed salvation on the basis of their being a descendent of Abraham.
The question Paul is asking is this:
“If God has entrusted his Word to Israelites (vs. 4-5) and the Israelites are standing in opposition to His Word (vs. 2-3), then has God’s promise to deliver His Word through Israel failed (vs. 6)?”
Paul’s answer is two-fold. Not every descendant of Israel is entrusted with the words of God, nor is everyone who is a child of God made a child on the basis that he or she is a natural decedent of Abraham (9:6-7).
NOTE: In the third chapter of Peter’s second epistle, he warned that some of Paul’s teachings were difficult to understand and could be misinterpreted (2 Peter 3:16). If an inspired apostle, known to be associated with the church in Rome, came to this conclusion about Paul’s teaching, it would be wise for all Christians to tread lightly before adopting interpretations first introduced to the church in the fifth century by Augustine. This warning is especially applicable given that the Augustinian interpretations have lead to unique conflicts throughout the history of the Western church.
God would have little reason to endure anything or anyone with “much patience” if there is nothing outside Himself on which to wait or endure. This clearly implies God’s willingness to hold off from destroying vessels that well deserve to be destroyed immediately. Paul, under inspiration, expresses his assurance that these same vessels, though stumbling have not stumbled beyond hope of recovery (Rm. 11:11-14). The apostle Peter picks up on this same theme in Paul’s teachings when he writes:
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up… Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.” (2 Peter 3:9-10, 14-16, emphasis added)
Peter warned Paul’s readers not to be deceived by misapplied distortions of Paul’s letters. He did so in the context of teaching that patience is to be regarded as salvation, which may very well serve as an inspired commentary on Romans 9 itself.
Preaching From Romans 9:1-5
(1) God self-sacrificially loves everyone, even those who rebel to the point of being cut off.
In Hosea 3:1 we learn, “…the Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods.” And in Romans 10:21, God Himself says, “All day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” Peter taught, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Jesus passionately declared, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt. 23:37). “When He [Jesus] approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes’” (Lk. 19:42).
This clearly indicates that God does not give up loving people due to their stubborn rebellion. He is “slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness” (Ex. 34:6). He does not hate most of humanity unconditionally from before the foundation of the earth, as some high Calvinists wrongly interpret Romans chapter 9 to mean.
Those judicially hardened or cut off are not born in this condition, as the Calvinistic concept of Total Inability would suggest. Instead, the Israelites referenced here have “grown hardened” over years of rebellion (Acts 28:27), they are cut off for unbelief (11:20) and the hope of the apostle is that they may be grafted back in and saved (11:11-32). Remember the question Paul is answering: Given that Israel is unfaithful, has God’s promise to deliver His Word through them failed?
Answer: No, in order to fulfill His promise and bring His word to light, God will show mercy to the unfaithful when necessary and He will harden the unfaithful when necessary (9:18). The fulfillment of God’s promise is not dependent on their faithfulness (Rom. 3:3). Whatever the Potter has to do to fulfill His promise, He will do, even if that means blinding Israelites in their stubborn rebellion or compelling other sinful Israelites to carry His redemptive message to the world (Acts 9:1-19; Jonah).
In short, Israel’s unfaithfulness does not thwart God’s word! Paul, like Jonah before him, was chosen to take God’s word to those on the outside. Both messengers needed convincing, but God did what was necessary to ensure His Word was delivered. He used externally persuasive means (a big fish and a blinding light) to accomplish this redemptive purpose, not inwardly irresistible means. God’s promise to deliver His word through Israel did not depend on the messengers being faithful, which is exactly why God’s word has not failed (vs. 6).
What is God’s motive in all this? Is it to glorify Himself at the expense of His creation, or is it genuine love, the most self-glorifying characteristic of God? Dr. Jerry Walls argues:
“In a nutshell, our case against Calvinism is that it doesn’t do justice to the character of God revealed in Scripture. It does not accurately portray the holy One who is ‘compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love’ (Ps. 103:8), the God for whom love is not merely an option or sovereign choice, but who is such that his eternal nature is love (1 Jn 4:8).” 
Walls goes on to make a case that God’s very nature is love therefore it is not even an option for Him to “not love His creation.” For example, someone who breeds puppies for the purpose of torturing any of them would repulse us. Likewise, we would consider it evil for a father or mother to hate any of their own children who they chose to conceive. And, in the same way, it would appear to be evil for God to hate those who He chose to create. Walls argues:
“God cannot fail to be perfectly loving any more so than He can lie. You don’t have to have children, but if you do you take on an obligation to love them. God’s freedom was in the freedom to create, or not. He didn’t have to create. But once having created, as a necessarily good and loving Being, He cannot but love what He has created. Love is not an option with God…It’s not a question of whether or not God chooses to love, it is WHO HE IS…HE IS LOVE.”
This is not a weakness of God, Walls insists, but His greatest and most self-glorifying strength. Would you consider it a strength or a weakness that my character will not allow me to be cruel to my pets?
Is it a weakness that I am unable to willingly strangle one of my own children to death, as Walls argues? No! That is a strength!
God’s inability to be unloving is not a short coming of God’s strength and power, but the greatest most glorifying characteristic of His eternal nature! To declare God’s universal self-sacrificial love to the entire world reveals God for what makes Him so abundantly glorious!
Therefore, the question Calvinists are asking is backwards. Instead of asking, as John Piper does, “How does a sovereign God express His love?” We should be asking, “How does a loving God express His sovereignty?”
(2) Pray that the Holy Spirit will inspire you, like He did Paul, to have this kind of self-sacrificial love for those who are still in rebellion against God.
Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, expresses his willingness to take the place of his rebellious kinsmen. He sounds just like Jesus, who was willing to lay down his own life in the place of rebellious sinners. This kind of self-sacrificial love only comes from the Holy Spirit.
We see this same kind of compassion from Moses in Exodus 33, which is also referenced by Paul in this very same chapter (9:15). Paul quotes from a conversation between God and Moses after Israel had just built a golden calf. God was set on destroying them for their rebellion so as to start fresh with Moses. But instead of accepting this honor, Moses pleads with God, saying:
“Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written” (Ex. 32:31-32).
Though God does relent He is still angry at Israel and goes on to instruct Moses to travel into the Promised Land without Him lest He destroy the Israelites before they arrive due to their stubbornness (Ex. 33:1-3). Once again, Moses pleads with God saying:
“’If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?’” The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name.’ Then Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion’” (Ex. 33:15-19).
Remember the original question raised in verses 4-6? If Israelites, the ones entrusted with the very words of God, are unfaithful, then has God’s word failed? Or, similarly stated earlier in chapter 3, “[Israelites] were entrusted with the oracles of God. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?” (Rom. 3:2-3)
Is there a better biblical example of God’s merciful faithfulness to carry out His promise through unfaithful Israelites, led by a divinely appointed mediator, than the story of Exodus 32 and 33? If so, I cannot think of one. God’s words to Moses were a reaffirmation to fulfill His promise through Israel despite the fact that they deserved to be destroyed immediately. Moses, a chosen type for the coming Messiah, stood in to intercede for unfaithful, calloused Israelites so that God’s redemptive promise would be fulfilled through them (Deut. 18:18). Do Moses’ self-sacrificial pleas for unfaithful Jews sound familiar? If not, go back and re-read the first three verses of Romans 9.
When you see the rebellious actions of the lost do you have compassion on them like Jesus did when he looked upon the crowd of sinners (Matt. 9:36)? Or do you get angry and eagerly look forward to God’s wrath falling upon them?
Would you express a sincere willingness to sacrifice yourself for the sake of your rebellious neighbors like Moses and Paul did? If not, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give you His compassion for the lost so that you too could say as Paul did, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation” (Rom. 10:1).
For the entire Romans 9 commentary CLICK HERE:
 Some well-respected classical Arminian scholars take Romans 8:29-30 to mean that God foresees those who will believe and predestines them to salvation. This is known as the “foresight faith view” and while it certainly is a viable interpretation, it is not the view supported by those, like myself and many other Traditionalists, who hold to the “corporate view.” For more information on the corporate view of election please visit www.soteriology101.com.
 Foxe’s Books of Martyrs, pg. 5: “For the cause of Christ, the Apostle Paul was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero in Rome in A.D. 67.”
 Note: Some Calvinists are “four pointers” (Amyraldism) and deny the teaching of “Limited Atonement,” the view that Christ’s intention on the cross was only to give himself up for those unconditionally elected before the foundation of the world and not for everyone. Reference to: http://vintage.aomin.org/Was%20Anyone%20Saved.html [date accessed: 3/24/15]
 Reference to: http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Israel.html#.VQ3aO2TF_EI [date accessed: 3/12/15]
 James White states, “Only one issue needs to be raised regarding the previous sections: the key to the passage that I hardly ever see addressed by non-Reformed exegetes is the relationship between 9:6 and the rest of the chapter. Paul is addressing one particular issue in this passage, that being, how is it that so many of Abraham’s physical descendants reject the Messiah? Why do the great body of Jews reject their Messiah? This is a personal question. Paul, as a Jew, embraced the Messiah personally. Most of his brethren rejected Christ personally. Why? This issue is paramount.” – quoted from: http://vintage.aomin.org/Lenskirep.html [date accessed: 3/22/15]
 John Piper stated, “And since the church is not an ethnic group like Israel was, God doesn’t elect a whole nation for earthly purposes like he did Israel at the Red Sea.” – quoted from: http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/the-pleasure-of-god-in-election [date accessed: 4/2/15]
 James White argued in his Diving Line broadcast (11/13/2014) in response to Austin Fischer’s debate rebuttal referencing Romans 11:11: “See he leaves the section that is about individual salvation and he wants to go to groups, because in Romans 11 what you have is the general statement, ‘Look, the Gentiles, and the church ignored this, the Gentiles cannot boast against the Jews who have been cut off for their unbelief, obviously not all Jews, right? Paul is a Jew. So, he [Fischer] has left the specific individual focus of election in Romans 9 and now he is talking groups, that have individual exceptions to the rule, that is all the Jews that are being gathered and saved…the Paul’s, the Lydia’s, so on and so forth…and now he is just going to the groups to try and create a theology that will somehow get rid of the specific teaching that is found in Romans chapter 9. So he [Paul] is saying to the Gentiles, don’t boast against the Jews because if you’re filled with unbelief you will be cut off as well, just as they were. Which really only makes sense if you recognize that faith is the gift of God and a work of the Holy Spirit of God, and there wouldn’t be boasting anyways…” Dr. White shifts from an individual interpretation to a corporate interpretation of the passage. In doing so, he ignores verse 7 where Paul clearly contrasts the “remnant” from “the rest” who “were hardened” and who have “stumbled,” but not “stumbled beyond recovery.” What is true of the nation must be true of individuals within that nation, thus of those who “stumbled” and were “hardened” or “cut off,” some of those individuals clearly recovered from their stumbling (vs. 11) and were provoked out of hardening by envy (vs. 14) or “grafted back in” after leaving their unbelief (vs. 23). Therefore, being hardened or cut off cannot be intended as in reference to the individual non-elect reprobate of the Calvinistic interpretation.
 Loraine Boettner, Calvinism in History: Before the Reformation (a Reformed Historian and Theologian): “It may occasion some surprise to discover that the doctrine of Predestination was not made a matter of special study until near the end of the fourth century. The earlier church fathers placed chief emphasis on good works such as faith, repentance, almsgiving, prayers, submission to baptism, etc., as the basis of salvation. They of course taught that salvation was through Christ; yet they assumed that man had full power to accept or reject the gospel. Some of their writings contain passages in which the sovereignty of God is recognized; yet along side of those are others which teach the absolute freedom of the human will. Since they could not reconcile the two they would have denied the doctrine of Predestination and perhaps also that of God’s absolute Foreknowledge. They taught a kind of synergism in which there was a co-operation between grace and free will. It was hard for man to give up the idea that he could work out his own salvation. But at last, as a result of a long, slow process, he came to the great truth that salvation is a sovereign gift which has been bestowed irrespective of merit; that it was fixed in eternity; and that God is the author in all of its stages. This cardinal truth of Christianity was first clearly seen by Augustine, the great Spirit-filled theologian of the West. In his doctrines of sin and grace, he went far beyond the earlier theologians, taught an unconditional election of grace, and restricted the purposes of redemption to the definite circle of the elect.”– quoted from: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/boettner/boettner_calvinism.html [date accessed: 3/12/15]
 James Leo Garrett, Systematic Theology: Biblical Historical, and Evangelical Vol. 2. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1995), 500: “From Augustine of Hippo to the twentieth century, Western Christianity has tended to interpret the doctrine of election from the perspective of and with regard to individual human beings. During those same centuries the doctrine has been far less emphasized and seldom ever controversial in Eastern Orthodoxy. Is it possible that Augustine and later Calvin, with the help of many others, contributed to a hyper individualization of this doctrine that was hardly warranted by Romans 9-11, Eph. 1, and I Peter 2? Is it not true that the major emphasis in both testaments falls upon an elect people — Israel (OT) and disciples or church (NT)?”
 Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1930), 29-30: Pink wrote, “God loves whom He chooses. He does not love everybody.”
 The Village Church, pastored by Calvinistic author and teach, Matt Chandler, has a statement of faith which reads in part, “We are born into a realm of enslavement to self, sin and Satan, wholly unable or unwilling to respond positively to our Maker.” http://www.thevillagechurch.net/mediafiles/uploaded/a/0e1140777_article-membership-class-sovereignty.pdf accessed 10/16/2015