The If-Condition in the Epistles of Paul

Romans

 

 We come now to the 9th chapter of Romans and enter the stronghold of Augustine, Calvin, and the Eternal Security teachers. This is the passage most argued by them in defense of their predestination doctrine. So, let us give them a fair hearing. Let us not evade or twist anything as they often do. We shall examine the passage by fair rules of interpretation, and let truth be whatever it is. If salvation is unconditional, let us believe it.

 These Roman texts do not disprove the long chain of if-facts we have seen all the way from Genesis. A few Scriptures do not disprove many Scriptures. The Bible is not a house divided against itself. The whole Bible is a unit of truth, and a true interpreter will impartially seek the truth in all parts of this unit. Each part fits into the whole unit. It is a vicious system of interpretation that picks and chooses those parts of Scripture that seem to affirm a doctrine but ignores other parts. Every false doctrine in Christianity today is defended by this method of interpretation.

 

 Romans 9 does not teach differently about election or predestination than do other Scriptures about this doctrine. We must understand Paul in Romans 9 by Paul in his other Epistles. Paul is not at variance with himself, nor is he at variance with the if-condition of Moses, Jesus, and the prophets. When all Scriptures on a doctrine are fairly examined, a single thought emerges and predominates.

 This rule of unity has been grossly violated by Augustine, Calvin, and the Eternal Security teachers. And if they are allowed to do this, then as Young says in the Preface of his Literal Translation of the Bible: “We cannot deny the same privilege to others who may twist other passages in like manner.” The hopeless mass of doctrine confusion among Christian denominations today is the result of distorted interpretation.

 Dr. F. W. Farrar, Dean of Canterbury, stands in the first rank of Bible scholars. He spent 20 years on his valuable work, History of Interpretation.

 He said on page 39:

 The misinterpretation of Scripture must be reckoned among the gravest calamities of Christendom.

 The misinterpretation of election and predestination is among these grave calamities. Let us now get the facts and see why this is true.

 First, it is highly important that we establish the definitions of election, predestination, and foreknowledge. In the Appendix you can see that the first rule of interpretation is the Rule of definition. If you haven’t studied the history of Christian doctrines, you may not know that the great doctrinal debates of the theologians since the second century were mostly disputes about the meaning of Biblical words.

 The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia is widely referred to as “the best Bible encyclopedia.”

I quote:

 …election never appears as a violation of human will. For never in the Bible is man treated as irresponsible. In the Bible the relation of the human and Divine wills is inscrutable; the reality of both is assured. Never is the doctrine presented apart from a moral context.

 More authorities could be quoted but these should be sufficient. We look now at the meaning of “predestination.”

 Predestination (proorizo). To predetermine, decide beforehand.

 Predestinate (pro-orizo). This verb is to be distinguished from pro-ginosko, to foreknow; the latter has special reference to the persons foreknown by God; pro-orizo (predestination) has special reference to that to which the subjects of His foreknowledge are predestinated.

 During my researches on Biblical subjects I found Hastings Dictionary of the Bible in the reference sections of great libraries. It has been an outstanding authority for two generations. I quote on predestination:

 The English word ‘predestination’ in the AV is, in the few cases in which it occurs (Rom. 8:29-30; Eph. 1:5,11) exchanged in the RV for ‘foreordain,’ a return to the use of the order Versions. The Greek word pro-orizo (predestination) con-

5 V. 2, p. 927. Eerdmans, 1952.

6 A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Arndt & Gingrich, p. 716. University of Chicago Press, 1957.

Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 541.

7Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Vine, W.E., V. 3, p. 203.

8pp. 747-49. 1918 edition.