Election According to Scripture, Pt. 6

Election and Hardening

As I noted yesterday, any discussion of divine election must account for Romans 9.  In this section of Romans Paul is not necessarily dealing with the questions we might have regarding divine election.  He isn’t addressing why I have received mercy but my friend hasn’t.

He’s addressing specific issues related to Israel’s rejection of the gospel and how that relates to God’s faithfulness.

I intend to discuss Romans 9 over the next two days and then draw things to a close with some conclusions about divine election later this week.

Paul makes two big points in Romans 9:6-18.  First, the only basis by which a person enjoys God’s salvation is God’s merciful initiative that comes prior to anything a person does.  Second, God is so committed to his mission of saving (both Israel and the nations) that he will harden in unbelief those who choose to become obstacles to God’s salvation.

After expressing personal grief at the unbelief of Israel (vv. 1-5), Paul claims in 9:6 that Israel’s rejection of the gospel does not point to a failure in God’s saving power or in his mission to reclaim the nations of the world.

God has always worked among a remnant of Israel, not the nation as a whole (9:6-13).  That is, being Jewish does not give a person the inside track with God for salvation.

In v. 11, Paul says that salvation is not “from works, but because of him who calls.”  Salvation isn’t granted to one who faithfully conforms to the social expectations of what constitutes a good Jewish person.  Salvation, rather, is dependent on God’s calling.

Paul states this succinctly with regard to God’s choosing Jacob in v. 11.  Before either of the twins had done anything good or bad, God made his choice of Jacob, which highlights the dynamic of divine election.  God’s commitment to show mercy in salvation comes prior to anything a person does.

Paul restates this in vv. 14-16.  Is God unjust because all Israel hasn’t been saved?  Not at all.  God has the prerogative to have mercy upon whom he desires.  Salvation—and God’s mercy—does not depend on human efforts but on God’s mercy and he can dispense that how he wishes (v. 16).

We must keep in mind that Paul is speaking with direct reference here to God’s choice to call and save Israel and not any other nation.  Israel did nothing to earn God’s favor and was among the least impressive nations of the earth at that time, but God chose to save them and bring them up out of Egypt (v. 15).

Paul’s reference to God’s divine prerogative in saving Israel leads into his discussion of God’s “hardening.”  He is making reference to Pharaoh (vv. 17-18) but we must remember that the larger topic Paul is addressing is God’s “hardening” of Israel (cf. Rom. 11:25).

God’s “hardening” works differently than his showing mercy.  Whereas God chooses to show mercy prior to any human action, God’s “hardening” is his confirming a person in his already-decided-upon rejection of God for the purposes of God’s universal saving mission.

Paul makes reference to the Exodus narrative and God’s confirming Pharaoh in his rejection of God’s command to free his people.  Again, his larger aim is to shed light on what is currently happening with Israel and their rejection of God’s agent of salvation, Jesus Christ.

Israel has rejected Jesus and the gospel call of God to re-engage their commission to be the agent of God’s salvation of the nations.  Because of this, God has hardened them in unbelief so that he can fulfill his universal saving purposes in the new creation people of God.  God won’t be stopped in his passionate committment to save, which he is doing in the church of Jesus Christ, made up of believing Jews and Jesus-followers of all nations.

There is obviously much to discuss in this difficult passage, but just a few preliminary conclusions with regard to divine election.

In this passage, “election” refers to God’s mode of saving.  God saves prior to anything a person (or a nation—Israel!) does.  God sets his love upon a nation or a person before time begins and commits himself to saving them apart from anything they might present to God to place a claim on his mercy.

Election does not refer to God’s treatment of Pharaoh or unbelieving Israel.  Unlike God’s mercy, God’s “hardening” comes subsequent to Pharaoh’s hardening of his heart against God. Pharaoh chose to become an obstacle to God’s redemption of Israel.  And God was so committed to saving this undeserving nation that he “hardened” Pharaoh in his rejection in order to save. And, as Paul notes in v. 17, God did this to Pharaoh with specific reference to God’s promise to Abraham to redeem Israel and make them an agent of reclaiming the nations of the world.

Paul’s larger point in Romans 9-11 is that God is so committed to his program of reclaiming the nations for the glory of his name that when either Pharaoh or Israel become obstacles to that, God reserves the right to harden them in their already-decided-upon course of unbelief in order to accomplish his universal saving purposes.

18 thoughts on “Election According to Scripture, Pt. 6

  1. James Miller

    I’m getting a little confused now, Tim. I thought you were arguing for a kind of corporate election up till now, but now you sound like more traditional unconditional election – God chooses and commits to save a person (or nation) before they do anything. Yet not everyone is saved. So how come? Is it because of God’s choice is not of everyone or is it because of human capacity to thwart God’s choice? Surely it must be one or the other?

    1. timgombis


      The big point I’ve been hitting in this series is just that election language functions in Scripture as God’s love language for his people. It is not to be used to speak of those outside of Christ at all. God does not elect anyone unto damnation.

      I’m not sure that I’ve been arguing for a corporate view of election. I’m only advocating that election is indeed the language of celebration on the part of God’s people regarding God’s special love for them–though it also involves resopnsibility and mission.

      I wanted to treat Romans 9 to demonstrate that Paul doesn’t here use election language to speak of Pharaoh or contemporary Israel. They are hardened in unbelief, but this hardening isn’t something God did to them before time began. It comes subsequent to their rejection.

      “Election” still remains the language that shapes the people of God. It answers the question only the people of God can ask themselves: “on what basis are we God’s specially sought out people?” The answer is, “the only basis is God’s grace.”

      If the next question is, then why isn’t everyone saved? Answering that question will require that we set aside election language and use other language to answer it. If people are part of the people of God by faith, then they can begin to talk like this.

      I should add that I’m not sure we can draw many contemporary theological conclusions from this discussion. Paul can theologize about a hardening of Pharaoh (because Exodus does) and he can theologize about a hardening of Israel, but I’m not sure we should use that theological notion since our judgment is so faulty.

      In addition, Paul is speaking of the large moves of Israel and the gentiles here, and not of the salvation of this or that person. I used individualistic language in the post, but maybe should modify that a bit.

  2. Jaime Hancock

    I think that we’re going to have to define what we mean by salvation, before we can take this argument much further. I agree wholeheartedly with what you are laying out and explaining here, the problem is that from a “soterian” concept (to use McKnight’s term), salvation means going to heaven when you die, and does not mean God’s work to “in this life” to redeem, rescue, conform to the “eikon” of his Son, etc. Soterians see salvation as how I get into heaven, thus the talk about who’s in and who’s out. A truly biblical view of salvation is not focused on “going to heaven when you die”, but being rescued to be in God’s Kingdom, and a part of God’s work and plan in and for this world.
    I think someone is going to have to write the follow-up to McKnight’s “The King Jesus Gospel” and deal with recovering a biblical view of salvation.
    Maybe you?

    Grace and Peace,

    1. timgombis

      You may be right, Jaime, but I must say that I’m doing my best to be concise and only deal with the dynamics of election. Just that topic opens up many cans of theological worms, but I’ll have to leave some things left to the side . . .

  3. Andrew

    Respectfully ….. fluff.

    I pointed out previously, that people ‘twist’ and ‘turn’ election any way they see fit to force this square peg into that round hole. This is an example of that.

    Election is personal in exactly one instance – that of Christ (whose name wasn’t actually Greek but Hebrew meaning ‘Salvation is of God’). Christ exemplifies the perfect Israelite, kinsman redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. In all other instances Election is precisely corporate; known as House of …, or Kingdom of, and portrayed as a mountain.

    “Israel” means to have power with God (from the Hebrew שָׂרָה) [Gen 32:28], and only Christ, as the perfect Israelite, has power with God (because he IS God). Otherwise, Israel, the elect, corporately ‘have power with God’ only because God blesses those who bless them and curses those who curse them as part of the Abraham covenant [Gen 12:3][Num 24:9]. Christ believing, Holy Spirit filled Israelite become like Christ.

    Paul is saying FAITH determines whether ONE is blessed or cursed under the New Covenant (for the Covenant, and therefore the election itself, carries with it both a blessing and a curse; hence the Jacob Esau reference – Jacob possessed faith and was blessed – Esau did not possess faith and was cursed – both were children of Abraham)

    Yet people make Paul’s argument out to be that the election is not inherited through bloodlines!? What is not passed on through bloodlines (inherited) ARE ‘curses’ AND ‘blessings’ since ‘curses’ AND ‘blessings’ are a function of faith.

    God’s election was promised to Abraham and his SEED forever more, hence the promise to make Abraham the father of many nations [Gen 17:5-6]. This election (ultimately fulfilled in Christ) was promised to Abraham’s offspring [Gen 22:18][Gen 26:4], and to Isaac’s offspring [Heb 11:18][Gen 21:12] and to Jacobs offspring [Genesis 46:28-49:33].

    [Revelation 21:7] says “The one who conquers will have this HERITAGE, and I shall be his God and she will be my son.” A HERITAGE is something one inherits from the previous generation, kindred, not strangers. If the heritage carries with it both ‘blessings and curses’ and faith determines which is received, this is the pruning spoken of in [John 15:2] AND [Rom 11]. Notice that this metaphor of a the vineyard of the Lord was a metaphor for Israel [Isa 5:5][Hos 2:6] (where the vineyard is cursed) and [Hos 9:10].

    “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.” [Rom 9:4]

    Believe it or don’t. Any theology that explains it away, trivializes it, ignores it, or denies it outright – is un-biblical.

    ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ [Matt 15:24]
    (Just because stuff raises questions in our minds doesn’t mean it’s false or that there aren’t answers)

    1. timgombis

      I’d like to take seriously your comments, Andrew, but I find much of what you have to say tangential and somewhat incoherent. I’m not sure I can detect any actual assertions or helpful contributions in this comment. It seems to me that you’ve linked together a load of texts in questionable fashion and are citing them to dismiss what I’ve written, but I’m not sure what you’re saying, how you think I’m wrong, or what point you’ve made.

      Li’l help?

      1. Luke

        Ditto to what Tim said. Bold & presumptuous assertions backed up by a few proof-texts do not make a logical or coherent argument. Conversations never get anywhere when you come across like that anyway (e.g. “fluff”? Is there not a more mature way to handle a disagreement other than to type adolescent come-backs?)

  4. Andrew T.

    timgombis – I’ve cited biblical references, and don’t doubt that you struggle with it because it doesn’t fit nicely with the theology these blog entries have up. But .. might I suggest this – if I’ve not taken biblical quotes out of context, perhaps it’s worth considering a bit.

    About coherence, the theology of ‘election’ recently blogged about is incoherent. As you portray it – election applies to Christians when you wish it to .. it applies to Israelites when you wish it to, it does whatever you need it to do except reflect the Bible. This is a good sign that it needs to be re-examined. What is the election? The promise “I will be your God, and you will be my people” IS the election. If we read the context of that promise every instance in the bible it is not the election your blogs reflect, at least not consistently.

    You say my argument links together text in unhelpful or unrelated ways – yet my use text is precisely the same as Pauls; and reflects the same context. I assert I have been consistent with Paul. On the other hand can you say your own arguments use Paul’s OT citations (found in Romans) faithfully with respect to the election? You may be able to say it is well within Christian orthodoxy (meaning tradition), and it is – but I assert to construct ‘election’ as you do so – must ignore the bible, Paul’s use of scripture, history (meaning history of the House of Israel), and loads of prophets who wrote about it.

    If my argument is incoherent, it is ONLY incoherent against election as you’ve been portraying it. It is not incoherent against the bible. On the other hand, your portrayal of the ‘election’ though consistent with tradition, is not consistent with the Bible because your presuppositions detach it from Israel and bind it unconditionally to ‘salvation’. This last assertion is testable. I assert God’s choice of Israel IS the election. If I am wrong, show me the election IS NOT God’s choice of Israel – biblically. Show me how the New Covenant is not the restoration of that marriage (and I will show you all of the OT prophets who say it is, and the NT apostles who agree). Don’t SAY my argument is incoherent – SHOW that it is.

    The election was never simply about ‘salvation’ or ‘sanctification’ or even ‘blessings’ since the election carries curses. (Moses knew this [Deut 29:27] and so did Jesus). The pascal lamb (which is Christ) once offered has forever brought both blessing and curse – if we accept (through faith) that Christ saves, the covenant is a blessing, but to those who reject (i.e. those perishing) it is folly, indeed a curse since it delivers them into the wrath to come [1 Thess 1:10]. This is the sword that Christ wields. Damnation and Salvation are both of Christ.

    Furthermore, if you look at the ‘elect’, look at ‘Israel’, salvation was never restricted to the election (or defined by it). It is not MY presupposition that we cannot distinguish election from salvation; it is YOURS – but this is more evidence that the tension here is not how I see election, but how you do). Salvation, even under the old covenant, belonged to more than the elect. Read [Isaiah 56] which says non-Israelites could be saved, and given a place in Abraham’s bosom and receive glory greater than that even of Israelites. Does [Isaiah 56] mean the Israelites were NOT God’s elect just because foreigners were given sanctuary in the promises of the Lord? Does it mean non-Israelites were elect? No .. Israel was still God’s elect even if those who had no faith were cursed, and those who ‘held fast to God’s covenant (promises to Israel)’ whatever their background [Isa 56:4] were included. Paul says this in [Romans 9:4]. Yet the covenant still passed (both blessings and curses) down through the children of Abraham of faith, and Israel had a role to play in the world carrying this burden.

    That is why Jeremiah says “I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah” [Jer 31:31] and Paul says all of Israel will be saved [Rom 11:26]. Unlike you, Paul understood the new covenant prophecies of Hosea, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and how they applied to Israel and Judah (who are not the same), and how the House of Israel’s salvation has brought Christ’s Gospel to the world. Paul understood [Isa 2:2-3] to be the kingdom of God Christ spoke of. You don’t recognise this. You probably can’t even explain it – but indeed Israel has been saved (even if not the Israel you think you recognise), and this salvation is what spreads the Gospel throughout the world. Paul promised this (in Greek) after a time:

    “For I would not have you ignorant of this mystery, brothers, lest you be wise in your own conceits; that a partial blindness has befallen Israel, until the ˻multitude of nations˼ comes about.” [Rom 11:25] (commenting on [Romans 11:11-12] except that ‘ethnos’ mean what it meant in Greek – nations)

    The multitude of nations Paul spoke about, has come about, and if you can’t see Israel’s salvation and the role being playing as the Kingdom of God bringing the Gospel to the world (how the light of Israel has become a fire [Isa 10:17] as the Holy One became a flame) perhaps you need ponder if you indeed perceive the election correctly since this is evidence such an understanding is incoherent with the bible.

    Neither [Romans 9 or 11] is difficult. They are plain, but we need to understood them against the context of scripture Paul cited, and not in spite of it. Paul was speaking to the House of Judah about the role the nations of the House of Israel would play spreading the Gospel (who were never known as Jews).

    If I’m wrong, show it.

    1. timgombis

      I’m not sure your argument is incoherent, Andrew, I just can’t figure out what it is, nor exactly how we disagree.

      I think you’re saying that election language is only used of Judahite Jews and that Paul’s ministry is only to the nations of Israel. So, Paul does not use such language with reference to gentiles who have no connection whatsoever to Israel or Judah. Is that right? If so, we indeed may end up disagreeing.

  5. Andrew

    I suppose if there is a controversy it is this – I completely reject ‘election’ as Arminians and Calvinists represent it (I’m not saying you’re an Arminian or Calvinist incidentally); that use of ‘election’ has proliferated modern thinking about the matter, and I believe it is erroneous. The reformation produced much good thinking, but this isn’t an example. This particular reformation view has become so accepted that it obscures (IMO) the biblical election.

    I very nearly agree with your second paragraph. Here’s why – take the English word ‘gentiles’, most capitalize it when they use it ‘Gentiles’, I notice you do not; would you agree that it is neigh impossible to read a theological summary of Romans (or pick your book) without reference to ‘Gentiles’ (and their relationship to Israel)? If so, you can see the concept of ‘gentiles’ at the heart of our understanding of Pauline theology (at least in our modern European language discussions of it).

    So, if ‘Gentiles’ are at the heart of our understanding of Pauline theology, we need to ensure that this is not merely inappropriate presupposition. It seems a small thing, but take the Greek word translated (for centuries) ‘Gentiles’ – ἔθνος (ethnos G1484) and simply ask the question what did ἔθνος mean in Greek (to a Greek speaker, Christian or not). Our theology is built off answering this question. If (hypothetically) we have imparted meaning to a Greek word where none existed – would you not agree our theology (in our own language) is suspect if it doesn’t accurately reflect the original language?

    One might say “Bah! It’s only one word”, but what if it isn’t? What if it’s a number of words, each the kernel of some important theology?

    A fairly good representation of ancient Greek word usage can be found in the Oxyrhynchus and Tebtunis Papyri (available online) representing 60 million words of Greek literature from Homer through to 1453 AD. Did you know that never once is ἔθνος translated into English (German, French, whatever) as ‘Gentiles’? Did you know that ἔθνος possessed exactly one meaning in ALL ancient secular Greek literature, and that the word represented a collective (never an individual)?

    Perhaps, but isn’t it possible ἔθνος took on new meaning in the Bible? In Biblical translation, ἔθνος has been translated (properly) as ‘nations’ 64 times, and as ‘Gentiles’ (capitalized) 93 times. So in all of Greek usage, (and a repository of 60 million Greek words) I’m haggling over 93 specific translation instances? Absolutely because it constitutes the heart of our understanding and the pillar of other doctrine. If we have ‘invented’ meaning where none existed – I would think this would be of interest.

    Lets look at some of the instance where it has been translated ‘Gentiles’:

    [Matt 4:15] says “The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, [by] the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles”.

    Fortunately we know how this was suppose to be translated because it is an OT quote (see [Isa 9:1-2][Isa 42:7]) which we have Hebrew for. [Matt 4:15] quotes [Isa 9:1] which says:

    [Isa 9:1] “Nevertheless the dimness [shall] not [be] such as [was] in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict [her by] the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. ” (the nations being Ephraim, the House of Israel, AKA Joesph).

    Perhaps in this instance ἔθνος should have been ‘nations’ not ‘gentiles’ since Galilee of the nations were Israelite tribes, Benjamin etc. Let’s look at another:

    [Matt 12:18] “Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.”

    [Matt 12:18] quotes [Isa 42:1] which says “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.”

    Again we have the word ἔθνος being translated ‘Gentiles’ when it should have been ‘nations’. In fact, in every instance of OT quotes involving the word ἔθνος in the NT – I can show that the meaning of the word ἔθνος in Greek has had false meaning imparted (not there in the Greek), ‘Gentiles’ rather than ‘nations’.

    So what? What if ἔθνος has been translated incorrectly, is this worth worrying about? It is if we seek to understand the Greek portion of the bible; it is if all of our philosophy is built off something false. When we say someone is a gentile – what do we mean (are they a nation since that is what ἔθνος means).

    It matters because Gentile carries unfounded bagage meaning non-Israelite. But that baggage is not present in the Greek so automatically we are disadvantaged. Where the English bible says ‘Gentiles’, if it instead said ‘nations’ we would have to ask ‘which nations’? The nations that would come from Abraham’s loins? The nations constituting the Kingdom of God? The nations the House of Israel would become? Which nations?

    This is whole different way of look at the election – and much more aligned with OT Prophecy, and not embedding falsity and false meaning. Our conversation about the election would be very different because we would not have presuppositions getting in the way (all this from looking at the meaning of one word ἔθνος – where there are others!)

    1. timgombis

      Thanks for this, Andrew.

      I do not find this convincing viz. the referent of ‘nations’ in the NT, and I do not see how what you’ve said has any implications for the structure of divine election.

  6. Andrew T.

    timgombi – not surprising – the linguistic argument is really peripheral to the point. Coherence with the bible (specifically {the} OT prophecy {Paul cites} and the fidelity to God’s promises to Israel) is the issue. Whether I persuade you or not is also not the issue – hopefully at least you will ponder your presuppositions and question the ones that may not be justified.

    Even so what are implications for the structure of divine election? Well what if conventional theology says that Paul’s conversation about ‘election’ is about how anyone can be considered ‘sheep’ now; about how Israel was God’s elect, but ‘Gentiles’ are included (because they have been joined); about how God has changed the scope of the election and by this we mean ‘salvation’? We’d be firmly within the structure of divine election as these posts present it. Not only, but I concede, we’d be well within divine election in an ecclesiastical orthodoxy sense as well.

    BUT (and this IS AN IMPORTANT BUT) what if the bible makes it clear GOD’s sheepfold is the same now as it has always been; what if there is no such thing as ‘gentiles’ (it’s a made up concept we accept unconditionally) but that the nations spoken of in Greek are nations clearly identified in OT prophecy; what if the scope of the election is the same as it has always been, but what has changed is the heart of the people previously cast off?

    If we hold false beliefs our theology is false.

    Convention speaks of ‘Jews’ and ‘Gentiles’ as though those are Paul’s two groups, yet who was Paul quoting?

    * Ezekiel’s ‘two sticks’ [Eze 37:16];
    * Isaiah’s two ‘vineyards’ [Isa 5:7], or how about his ‘Holy cities’ [Isa 48:1];
    * Hosea’s ‘two children’ [Hos 1:6];
    *Jeremiahs ‘holy kingdoms’ [Jer 3:18] or perhaps his ‘new covenant’ [Jer 31:27,31];
    * Zechariah’s two curses (turned into blessing) [Zech 8:13].

    Was the structure of the election ‘Jews’ and ‘Gentiles’ in each of these cases – the prodigal sons? (Or if we actually read these verses, who else might the prodigal sons be?)

    Incidentally I didn’t chose the above references, Paul did.
    For example :
    [Rom 9:25-26] <– [Hos 1:10][Hos 2:23] (same children from [Hos 1:6])
    [2 Cor 6:16] <– [Eze 37:27] (speaking of God's people [Eze 37:16])
    [Eph 4:25] <– [Zech 8:16] ( evidence of Christ in his people [Zech 8:13])

    Therefore look up the 'structure of the divine election' in the above quotes, and let me know if it matches your understanding and how you understand the election.

    I'll be you'll find that Israel was never a unified kingdom ( save for 4 kings ) as your version of the election seems to assume. The entire bible (save for 4 kings) has Israel split into two distinguishable halves (the House of Israel, the House of Judah). All of the OT prophets seem to have concerned themselves with, and prophesied about the this division as evidence of the Messiah's arrival as you can see from Paul's quote. If you verify these words by confirming Pauls' quotes, I doubt you find even one instance where the new covenant, the election, was about unifying 'Jews' and 'Gentiles' (unless we make up 'meaning' like 'Gentiles', and apply it to words that don't mean that, like 'ethnos' – in that case we can make up which ever theology we like)

    One of two things must be true (as far as I can tell):
    1. The OT prophets were all wrong; the new covenant, and the election is really not about uniting the House of Israel with the House of Judah, but instead about uniting 'Jews' and 'Gentiles'. Paul could apparently see their error though they were wrong, used their false prophecies to correct our doctrine – our accepted understanding is correct; OR

    2. The OT prophets (and Paul) were correct; the new covenant, and the new covenant election resulted in the Messiah uniting that which divided Israel and Judah into a nation and a company of nations (in accordance with the original Abrahamic promises [Gen 35:11]) also known as the 'Kingdom of God' (a multitude of nations [Gen 17:4][Gen 48:19][Rom 11:25]). Our understanding might be false – perhaps because we don't understand the prophet's Paul cited, or maybe we can't see how this unification took place (perhaps blindness is upon us and we don't recognize the House of Israel historically).

    If I've erred in understanding the text (or Paul's use of it), I'm open to instruction. Show me what I've missed.

    1. timgombis

      I’ll give this some consideration, Andrew, but I won’t engage it at length. I’m too loaded down with various other projects that are coming due! I don’t see how the meaning of ethnos affects what I’m saying, and I’m not quite convinced that you’re giving it the appropriate sense in NT contexts.

  7. Andrew T.

    timgombis – your response is gracious, but your time is your own; consider it as you will.

    The business about ‘ethnos’ simply shows that the concept of ‘gentiles’ is ‘made up’. The biblical Greek says ‘ethnos’ which means nations, nothing more (no connotations or idiomatic encumbrances of ‘non-Israelite’).

    Therefore, I argue, any talk of ‘Gentiles’ is theology without foundation, and evidence of false meaning. I wasn’t emphasizing that though. I was emphasizing that Paul, and our understanding of election must be consistent with the entire scripture (old and new). I tried to show that our common understanding of ‘election’ is not, and that this should concern us – especially if it is without foundation.

    Now, at least, if you brandy talk of ‘Gentiles’ about knowing that it may not be legitimate doctrine, you no longer do so in ignorance and are thus accountable for your speech. In any event – I’ve already monopolized enough of your time. Thanks for polite responses, and rebuttals.

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