In Greek Bible, Romans, today, we read Romans 9, as well as the last part of chapter 8. The primary goal was to improve our skills at reading the Greek NT. But of course these are also the verses where Paul talks the most baldly about predestination.
One of the questions I perennially ask myself of Romans 8:29 is what the relationship was in Paul's mind between foreknowledge and predestination. Paul presents it in a foreknowledge then predestination format, but what is being foreknown and what is being predestined.
1. I do feel relative clarity that what is being predestined is resurrection. The expression "conformed to the image of His Son" evokes images of other passages like Philippians 3:10-11--
"I want to know the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death if somehow I might attain the resurrection of the dead."
also 1 Corinthians 15:49--
"Just as we have born the image of the earthly man [Adam], we also will bear the image of the heavenly man [Christ]"
The context of Romans 8 in the lead up to this verse is about how the sufferings of this present time don't hold a candle to the glory that is coming (8:18). And Paul has been talking about how we await the redemption of our bodies (8:23). And of course Jesus is the firstborn from the dead (1 Cor. 15; Col. 1), imagery that echoes in Rom. 8:29 when it says that our [later] conforming to his image makes him the firstborn among many brothers [and sisters].
So I feel a high degree of confidence that what God has predestined here is the resurrection of those He foreknew.
2. Of course he has also called, justified, and will eventually "glorify" these as well.
I presented the problematic syllogism:
1. If God completely determines who will be saved.
2. And God wants everyone to be saved, then
3. Everyone will be saved.
The typical Wesleyan and Calvinist both deny 3, which is universalism--everyone will, in the end, be saved. But using the logic of this universe, that means that they must deny either 1 or 2. The Wesleyan-Arminian denies the first. The multi-point Calvinist denies the 2nd.
I did not mention it in this class, but I have suggested as a possibility at other times another option, which I do not embrace but at least consider a possibility. That is that God might be able to reconcile outside this universe what is logically impossible within this universe. When I have drawn this picture, I draw a universe and a horizon above the earth. One dotted line I draw going up at an angle is that of predestination. Another dotted line going up at the opposite angle is free will. Then I draw the two dotted lines meeting above and outside the circle of this universe in God.
Of course we haven't got there, but we will see in Romans 11 that those who were "hardened" in Romans 9 can still be saved in Romans 11.
Greek Romans class, Friday, March 23, 2007