The Protestant Reformers’ Readings of Romans 9-11, with Modern Critical Response

Although the Protestant Reformers’ exegetical principle of sola scriptura assumed that the meaning of scripture never changes, their approach to scripture in lectures and commentaries owed much to the innovative interpretive methods of humanism. According to the study of Paul Oskar Kristeller, Renaissance humanism was primarily concerned with how ideas were obtained and expressed and then secondarily with the actual content of those ideas.[1] The Christian humanists of the sixteenth century—like John Colet of England, Erasmus of Rotterdam, and Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples (Stapulensis) of France—were primarily interested in how to interpret the scriptures, which for them meant a close reading of texts in their original language, with special attention to syntax and literary technique. Already with Martin Luther’s 1516 lectures on Romans, one finds the influence of humanist method on the Protestant exegesis of that epistle (if it is fair to speak of Luther as a Protestant at that early date), and it is even more prevalent in the momentous commentaries on Romans written in the following quarter-century by Philip Melanchthon and John Calvin. Yet, one detects in some of these same writings an apprehension against an excessive reliance on humanism that might depreciate Paul’s theological substance. It was out of this concern that certain Reformers appealed to Augustine—often against Origen and Jerome, who were the favorite patristic writers of the humanists—to ensure that a “literal” reading of the text was also a literal-theological reading. Thus, humanist method and Augustinian theology were the poles between which early Protestant readings of Romans 9-11 moved, with different commentators leaning by various degrees to one pole or the other.

Regarding Romans 9-11, it is gratuitous to ask about the themes of the Reformers’ interpretation. There was only one theme: predestination, or election. This central issue raised for the Reformers important corollary questions, which will serve as the section headings of my elaboration of their various readings in the first part of this essay. These questions are:

I. What is the occasion of predestination/election?

  • What is the relationship between God’s will and human will in election?
  • Did God consider foreseen faith or merit in election?

II. What is the occasion of reprobation?

  • What is the relationship between God’s will and human will in reprobation?
  • Is God directly accountable for reprobation?

III. Are the Jews elect?

  • What is the difference between corporate and individual election?
  • What is the difference between election and calling?

On some aspects of these questions, there was general consensus among Lutheran and Reformed expositors; where there was not, one can account for the variations in terms of the humanist/ Augustinian polarity, with the different answers demonstrating more attraction to one side than the other. What disagreements existed did not necessarily segregate along a strict Lutheran/ Reformed divide, for there was a diversity of opinion within each camp.

The second part of this essay will be an evaluation of the Reformers’ exegesis of Romans 9-11 based upon the critical research of contemporary New Testament scholars. This section will ask the same three main questions that the Reformers brought to the text, but with the purpose of exploring to what degree their questions remain valid in the current academic climate. While such an approach obviously fails to deal with all of the more recent questions which scholars have posed about the integrity and meaning of these three chapters, its advantage is that it clarifies the advances and enduring significance of the Reformers’ interpretations while it simultaneously suggests where the Reformers’ theological agendas may have prejudiced their readings of Paul.

Part One: The Protestant Reformers’ Readings of Romans 9-11

Since the Reformers wrote for students who primarily worked in Latin, they based their interpretation of Romans upon the Vulgate, but they frequently performed special word studies in Greek. Because they used Erasmus’s Greek New Testament as their text in those instances, and since they often cited Erasmus himself for blame or praise in the midst of their exegesis, I will regularly invoke Erasmus’s writings to illuminate the Reformers’ opinions. The primary representatives of the Lutheran understanding of Romans 9-11 were Luther’s printed lectures on Romans along with relevant selections from his other works, Philip Melanchthon’s Annotations (1522) and its revisions, and various later commentaries by lesser-known writers. The most significant Reformed statements on predestination in Romans 9-11 came from Ulrich Zwingli, Heinrich Bullinger, Martin Bucer, and, at their apex, the Commentaries on Romans (1539) and other writings by John Calvin, who once said that “all the ancients, save Augustine, so differ, waver, or speak confusedly on this subject, that almost nothing certain can be derived from their writings.”[2] My focus is primarily on Luther and Calvin for three reasons: a) they had the most enduring influence on their respective traditions and Protestant theology generally; b) they bracket the period 1516-1539 during which the Reformers focused most intently on Romans; c) they also accentuate the maturation of early Protestant exposition on Romans from the glosses and scholia[3] written for classroom lectures in Luther’s case to the commentary style of Calvin, in which, says his translator John Owen, he was “not so much an expounder of words, as of principles.”[4]

I. What is the Occasion of Predestination/Election?

The Reformers unanimously believed that Romans 9-11—particularly the excursus on Jacob and Esau in 9:6-13, the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart in 9:17-18, and the metaphor of potter and clay in 9:21—provided the foundation for a doctrine of predestination (understood as God’s election of certain persons to salvation). The first question that followed was whether God based election upon foreknowledge of human merit or faith, or whether instead He had no basis beyond His sheer will. Erasmus’s exegesis of Romans 9 freely drew not only from his fellow linguist Jerome and the anonymous disciple of another Doctor of the Church, whom Erasmus called Ambrosiaster, but from the unorthodox Origen and Pelagius as well. Their common concern was to establish that the ground of divine election could not be the divine will alone since that would negate human responsibility for faith. Thus, Erasmus in his Annotations on Romans (1516) argued that God’s elective choice occurred post praevisa merita [following foreseen merit].[5] Although Romans 9 appears to ascribe election solely to divine initiative, Erasmus said, since Romans 11 speaks of the excision of Jews from and incision of Gentiles into the “tree of faith” for their respective unbelief and belief, free will must be a determinant in election.[6]


Luther’s humanist desire to achieve a “literal” reading of the text was evident in studies of individual words (e.g., “anathema” in 9:3, “strength” in 9:17), idioms (“I will show mercy” in 9:15 means “to forgive” in Hebrew; “feet” in 10:15 is the proclaiming of God’s word), and verb tenses (he agreed with Erasmus that the verb memphetai (Greek)/queritur (Latin) in 9:19 is deponent, not passive). Wilhelm Pauck has proven Luther’s fondness for the historical interpretations of the Old Testament by Nicholas of Lyra, as well as Luther’s reliance on Johannes Reuchlin’s Hebrew grammar, the commentaries of Stapulensis, and especially the Greek New Testament of Erasmus.[7] Against Erasmus’s cloud of witnesses to free will, however, Luther set Augustine’s Enchiridion, which “shows very clearly why the apostle speaks as he does, namely, in order that he might instruct us in humility.”[8] Luther stated that Jacob and Esau both shared in the universal evil of original sin, and so it was impossible that Jacob could have had any goodness as the precondition of God’s election.[9] Quite simply, because the nature of all humanity has been corrupted and could never be acceptable to God on its own, there could be no other cause for election other than God’s will. The prime “example of this is Jacob, who was made good because God had mercy on him; but if God is not merciful, no one becomes good, as in the case of Pharaoh.”[10]

Likewise of Romans 11:29 could Luther affirm, “For the counsel of God is not changed by either the merits or demerits of anyone.”[11] And in his formal reply to Erasmus’s teaching on free will, De servo arbitrio [The Bondage of the Will] (1525), Luther advised, “It is enough to know that God so wills, and it is becoming for us to reverence, love, and adore his will, putting a restraint on the rashness of Reason.”[12] David C. Steinmetz points out that in the lecture on Romans 9, Luther cited Erasmus and Stapulensis more often Augustine,[13] and this is a good reminder of Luther’s humanist bearings. But Luther demonstrated that he could leave humanism as readily as he could take from it, and his ascription of election to the divine will alone was a clear departure from how Erasmus and other humanists interpreted Romans 9. In sum, Luther said of 9:14 that “there neither is nor can be any other reason for His righteousness than His will,” and he hoped this would humble the elect to trust in God’s mercy alone for their salvation.[14] Unconvinced, the Anabaptist Hans Denck defended free will in Whether God is the Cause of Evil (1526) by saying, “They would like thus in their mind to leave to God all honor even though in the eyes of pagans he has nothing from us but shame and outrage. How gross this rogue [Luther] is to look at, however subtile and facile he is!”[15]

Philip Melanchthon assumed from Luther the responsibility to lecture on Romans at Wittenberg University in 1518. In 1521, he published his best-known work, Loci communes, and in 1522, Luther arranged for the publication of Melanchthon’s lectures as Annotations of Philip Melanchthon on the Epistles of Paul to the Romans and the Corinthians. Correctly presuming that Melanchthon would be displeased that his unrevised lectures were printed, Luther encouraged him to issue an expanded re-edition for wider Protestant use. So Melanchthon did in 1524, but still unsatisfied, he wrote a completely new commentary on Romans in 1529 and then expanded it in 1532, 1533, 1535, and 1540.[16] Timothy J. Wengert believes that the influence of the humanists on Melanchthon’s method was already evident in the 1522 Annotations, for Melanchthon made their insistence that Romans was a rhetorical letter central to his interpretation.[17] And in the 1532 commentary, Melanchthon carefully explained important terms, phrases, and literary techniques in the humanist style. But Melanchthon’s theology was also closer to the humanists than that of Luther. Especially in the 1532 commentary, Melanchthon tried to avoid identifying the occasion of predestination by saying that the larger purpose of Romans 9-11 was to identify the true people of God. He warned against speculating over the cause of election and maintained that human beings have free will even in matters of salvation since to deny as much would imply God’s culpability for non-belief.[18]

Robert Kolb’s research has shown that the majority of Lutheran expositors after Melanchthon followed Melanchthon rather than Luther in saying that Romans 9, while not exalting human merit, does not deny a general atonement that human beings must appropriate by a free decision.[19] These included former students of Melanchthon like George Major, Niels Hemmingsen, and Cyriakus Spangenberg. The only exception among Lutheran writers who knew Luther and Melanchthon personally was Nikolaus von Amsdorf, who thought he was recovering the original insight of Luther when he attributed election to the unsearchable will of God alone (Romans 11:33).[20] Amsdorf found supporting evidence both from Paul’s potter/clay example and Luther’s illustration in De servo arbitrio that every person is like a beast of burden who is ridden either by God or the devil. But as Kolb says, “Amsdorf stood alone, isolated among Luther’s followers.”[21] Most Lutheran interpreters after Luther, owing to Melanchthon’s influence, not only adopted humanist methodology but an Erasmian theological reading of Romans 9 as well, conceding the mystery of election but still insisting on some human role in salvation.


In the introduction to his Commentaries on Romans, Calvin expressed awareness of previous commentaries by Melanchthon, Bullinger, and Bucer. While Calvin had general praise for the works of all three men—particularly so for Bucer, who was Calvin’s close confidante in Strasbourg while Calvin was in exile from Geneva, 1538-1541—his tone belied a belief that their attempts had been inadequate. For example, Melanchthon “designedly passed by many things,” and though Bullinger “has justly attained no small praise,” Calvin’s own praise of him was precisely that: small.[22] Perhaps Calvin’s ambiguous praise of these two was because Bullinger no less than Melanchthon followed Erasmus in expressing strong reservations about ascribing election in Romans 9:6-29 to the will of God alone.[23] Bucer’s interpretation of Romans 9 would have been somewhat more satisfactory to Calvin, for, believing that Jacob and Esau were types of the righteous and unrighteous, Bucer cited from Augustine that “Romans 9 also shows as plainly as possible the gratuitous nature of election . . .; therefore, preparatory or other works have not saved those who have been saved, but grace alone.” But Bucer still fell short of the stricter interpretation which Calvin shared with Luther when he said that election did “not abolish man’s free will whereby we freely assent to God’s word through God’s Spirit dwelling in us.”[24] Even if the free choice for Bucer was enabled by the Spirit of the electing God, the emphasis on human cooperation was more than Calvin granted in his own reading of Romans 9-11.

Like the other Protestant Reformers, Calvin’s exegetical style owed much to humanism. Although the commentary on Romans was his first exposition of a book of the Bible, he had already established himself as an able humanist expositor with the Commentary on Seneca’s De clementia (1532). Joseph Haroutunian, who has translated Calvin’s biblical commentaries, believes that “Erasmus’ influence on Calvin as critic and exegete was far-reaching.”[25] Calvin’s indebtedness to humanism, if not to Erasmus specifically, included his insistence on dealing with the original languages, his preference for a literal or historical interpretation, his mentioning of variant manuscript readings, and his willingness to allow different strands of biblical narrative to stand unharmonized.[26] Calvin’s concern for a literal meaning revealed itself in his willingness to notice flaws in Paul’s Greek (such as in 9:10 and 11:12), discussion of literary techniques (“feet” is a use of metonymy in 9:6; Abraham’s “seed” is an example of paronomasia), and even allowance of the reader to decide the best interpretation (9:24).[27] On Romans 10:6-7, Calvin even admitted that Paul quoted Deuteronomy 30:12-13 out of context, but he then explained that rather than violating the text’s integrity, Paul’s adaptation only gave it a spiritual application.[28] This last point highlights Calvin’s belief that exegesis should be in the service of the church, imitating what Paul himself did when he interpreted the Old Testament in a way that facilitated his message to the Roman Christians. That was also Calvin’s own approach when he said that Romans 9:4-5 (“They are Israelites, . . . and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”) was proof of the two-natures Christology.[29] And it was why Calvin rejected the humanist explanation of election.

For Calvin, the certainty of election depended upon its grounding in the divine will alone: “We call predestination God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each man.”[30] The basis of election was not God’s foreknowledge of human worthiness, for no person was worthy (9:11). If it were to any degree predicated on human merit or receptiveness, it would be untrustworthy, since human freedom, tainted by original sin, is untrustworthy. Thus, salvation based upon an untrustworthy use of freedom was not good news for Calvin. In his commentary on 9:16, he quoted with approval from Augustine’s anti-Pelagian writings, and in Defensio sanae et orthodoxae doctrinae de servitute & liberatione humani arbitrii [The Bondage and Liberation of the Will] (1543), he upbraided a false reading of that same verse by his Lutheran accuser, Albertus Pighius:

But I see what is happening. Pighius has been taken in by that widespread delusion that because it is ‘not of him who wills or him who runs,’ it follows that willing and running are ours. [Pighius has been taken in] despite the fact that Paul argues in the opposite direction that the reason why we do not obtain the grace of God by willing or running is that there is not good will in us, no good running, which could merit it in advance.[31]

Calvin punctuated his commentary on Romans 9 with lucidly brief defenses of election by God’s will alone, e.g.: “There is no other basis for election than God’s goodness” (9:11); “We have the whole stability of our election inclosed in the purpose of God alone” (9:11); “The cause is not to be found in anything else but in his own purpose” (9:14); “It is evident that no cause is adduced higher than the will of God” (9:20). Thus, with Luther but against other Reformed and Lutheran commentators of his era who adopted not only the style but the interpretations of humanism, Calvin eliminated a priori any role of human freedom in predestination.

II. What is the Occasion of Reprobation?

How did the Reformers account for the rejection of Esau and the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart in Romans 9? Generally speaking, those Reformers who tried to make room for human will in election tried even harder to exonerate God from willing reprobation, and those who insisted that election flowed from the divine will alone maintained the same about reprobation. In his annotation on Romans 9:21, Erasmus emphasized that the individual, not God, was responsible for sin and admitted he was following Origen (who believed in universal salvation). He cited Origen again in De libero arbitrio [The Freedom of the Will] in approval of Origen’s teaching that “an occasion of hardening was given by God” to Pharaoh but that the actual hardening, and thus its guilt, belonged only to Pharaoh himself.[32] For Erasmus, Jacob and Esau in Romans 9 were representative figures of believing and unbelieving Israelites, which meant that God’s hatred of Esau was not an eternal decree but a reaction to Esau’s unbelief.


Within early Lutheranism, Luther himself again stood largely alone in his rejection of the humanist interpretation of reprobation for an Augustinian one. Luther concurred with Augustine that God’s rejection of Esau no less than His blessing of Jacob had no human occasion: “For there is no doubt that both of them were evil because of the disease of original sin, although regarding Jacob some feel that he had been sanctified in the womb. But by their own merit they were the same and equal and belonged to the same mass of perdition.”[33] Kolb notes that Luther did not emphasize that God fashioned “vessels of wrath made for destruction” in either the lectures or De servo arbitrio,[34] and so it appears in some places that Luther thought reprobation was God’s withholding of mercy from some rather than condemning them by decree. Luther said that “all men are equally a part of the mass of perdition [massa perditionis], and no one is righteous before God unless he receives mercy,” and he quoted from Augustine’s Enchiridion, “For grace alone distinguishes the redeemed from the condemned, all having been mingled in one mass of perdition, by the common cause of their common origin.”[35] Luther also criticized Erasmus for relying on Jerome’s “impious” reading of 9:11 that did not attribute the separation of Jacob from Esau to God’s will alone.[36]

In Luther’s treatment of Romans 9, he did not emphasize double predestination but instead that since it would be damnacione iustissima[37] [“most just damnation”] for God to condemn all, election was therefore the gracious lifting of some from the damnable mass. He used a somewhat flippant German colloquialism to convey this point: Wem es wirt, dem wirt es; wen es trifft, den trifft es [“to whom it comes it comes, and whom it hits it hits”].[38] Luther was more forceful, however, when treating Romans 11:1, where God’s preserving of some knees from bowing to Baal “indicates indirectly that He Himself is the author of the reprobation of the others, just as He Himself drove Israel into the Babylonian exile in their time.”[39]

Not surprisingly, Melanchthon’s explanation of Romans 9 was less Augustinian than Luther’s. Believing that God could not justly condemn evil if He were the very cause of reprobation, Melanchthon suggested with Erasmus that Paul never meant that predestination was the occasion for the rejection of Esau and Pharaoh. God rejected only those who rejected Him, and beyond that truth, it was useless to speculate.[40] Subsequent Lutheran interpreters agreed with Melanchthon that there was no predestination to damnation, with the exception again being Nikolaus von Amsdorf. Amsdorf’s early writings spoke of God’s decree of election along the lines of Luther’s interpretation of Romans 11:4, and his later writings indicated that reprobation came from God declining to save all from original sin, à la Luther on Romans 9:17, 21-24. But early or late, “Amsdorf’s doctrine of double predestination is a dead end in Lutheran dogmatic history: one of several approaches made by Luther’s followers to the crux theologorum, but a decidedly unpopular one within Lutheranism.”[41]


Of the Reformed theologians, Bullinger and Bucer shared Melanchthon’s denial that God could have issued a decree of reprobation. Bullinger gave scant treatment to the hardening of Pharaoh, saying only that God used Pharaoh’s hard heart to reveal the divine glory.[42] Bucer believed that Pharaoh abused the divine impulse within him.[43] But Calvin, on Romans 9:17, complained that “many interpreters, striving to modify this passage, pervert it.”[44] Calvin defended not the permissive will of God toward the self-hardened but the active will of God by which God ordained their hardness and ultimate rejection. On Romans 9:18, he added,

That our mind may be satisfied with the difference which exists between the elect and the reprobate, and may not inquire for any cause higher than the divine will, his [Paul’s] purpose was to convince us of this—that it seems good to God to illuminate some that they may be saved, and to blind others that they may perish: for we ought particularly to notice these words, to whom he wills, and, whom he wills: beyond this he allows us not to proceed. . . . The ruin of the wicked is not only foreseen by the Lord, but also ordained by his counsel and his will.[45]

This final statement reveals Calvin’s lack of interest in exonerating God from ordaining some to be disobedient to him.[46] Whereas Erasmus, Melanchthon, Bullinger, and Bucer warned that attributing the occasion of reprobation to the divine will was idle speculation, Calvin boldly affirmed the “dreadful decree”[47] but then advised the futility of reconciling it with God’s justice to human satisfaction. If Jacob and Esau were types of believing and unbelieving Israelites for Erasmus, they were types of election and non-election for Calvin. But Paul “does not indeed give a reason for divine election,” said Calvin of 9:22, “and, besides, this mystery is inexplicable.”[48]

Steinmetz calls this Calvin’s “severely antiapologetic stance.”[49] Indeed, Calvin found refuge in the idea that one should never question the reasons for God’s decisions but should only accept them. And so, he frequently advised his readers not to attempt to penetrate the “secret plan” of God. In the Institutes of the Christian Religion, he supported the claim that for Pharaoh, “God’s secret plan is the cause of hardening,” by invoking Augustine’s De praedestinatione sanctorum [On the Predestination of the Saints],[50] and in the commentaries on Romans 9:22; 11:2, 5, 8, 34, he spoke of the “secret and inexplorable counsel of God,” “secret election,” “secret providence,” “hidden purpose,” “secret judgment,” “secrets of God,” and “hidden counsel” which distinguished the elect from the reprobate. Likewise, in the Institutes and The Eternal Predestination of God, Calvin proclaimed God’s “secret plan” and “secret judgment and counsel” by which He ordained the reprobate not to receive eternal life.[51] Calvin only clarified that “perdition depends upon the predestination of God in such a way that the cause and occasion of it are found in ourselves.”[52] The one who becomes overly curious about God’s rationale in predestination enters an inescapable labyrinth (9:14; 11:33); it is better to “let this then be our sacred rule, to seek to know nothing concerning it, except what Scripture teaches us: when the Lord closes his holy mouth, let us also stop the way, that we may not go farther.”[53] The Anabaptist Balthasar Hubmaier countered in On Free Will (1527) that although God’s secret will could consign a person justly to hell, Christian ministry should only deal with God’s revealed will, which “does not want to drive away any struggling Jacob without a blessing.”[54]

Though Calvin did not cite Zwingli, Zwingli’s opinion was similar to that of Calvin and Luther when he said of 9:18, “What else does he [Paul] show by these words than that election and rejection are the work of God’s free will?”[55] In the Church of England, Article 17 of the Forty-Two (later 39) Articles (1553) approved of the secret counsel of God in election without mentioning reprobation,[56] while half a century later, the early Puritans like William Perkins and William Ames explicitly endorsed the double decree. The definitive statement of post-Calvin Reformed theology on reprobation was Canon 1.15 of the Synod of Dort (1619): “Not all, but some only are elected, while others are passed by in the eternal decree; . . . and this is the decree of reprobation which by no means makes God the author of sin (the very thought of which is blasphemy), but declares him to be an awful, irreprehensible and righteous judge and avenger.”[57]

III. Are the Jews Elect?

In Romans 11, Paul speaks of the election of Israel, and the Protestant Reformers were primarily concerned with whether there was a distinction between the individual election that they saw figured in Jacob and Esau in chapter 9 and the apparently corporate election of Israel in chapter 11. Calvin added a related issue: was there a difference between a general calling by God and election by God? Erasmus believed that the breaking off of the Jews from the holy olive tree in 11:20 was not permanent but temporary since 11:26 predicts that all Israel will be saved.[58] In the terms of his overall argument, this meant that Erasmus believed that God foreknew all Israel would believe in Christ and then added His election to their faith as confirmation. Since Erasmus had interpreted Jacob and Esau in 9:13 as types of believing and unbelieving Israel all along, he did not need to explain any difference between corporate and individual election.


Luther agreed that it was important for the Jews to express overt faith in Christ, but if they did not, it was not due to human freedom but to the elective decision of God (9:10). As far as he could tell at the moment, “now the Jews have gone into the true Babylonian exile of unbelief” (9:27).[59] Luther took the “snare” of the Jews’ table in 11:9 as a reference to heresy, similar to how “blessed Augustine in his Confessions describes Faustus the Manichaean as a great snare of the devil.”[60] But how could the people of God elected in the Abrahamic covenant despise God’s work in Christ? This was exactly what Paul wondered, said Luther, and neither of them could find a satisfactory answer. Thus, Paul’s use of musterion in 11:25 to describe the place of the Jews in election was most appropriate: “On the basis of this text it is commonly accepted that the Jews at the end of the world will return to the faith, although the text is so obscure that unless one is willing to follow the authority of the fathers who explain the apostle in this way, no one would seem to be convinced of this purely on the basis of the text.”[61]

However, the Augustinian Luther did not then explore patristic explications of Israel’s eschatological faith. He indicated that only some Jews fell (11:27), meaning that others also believed in Christ, but he could not decide whether every last Jew would one day know Christ’s salvation: “Although some among them are lost, yet the mass of them must be respected because of the elect.”[62] Luther could not determine if God conducted Gentile election individually and Jewish election corporately because he did not think Paul could decide either. “This sounds,” he said of the Jews, “as if the apostle wished the same people to be considered both his personal friends and personal enemies”[63] In De servo arbitrio, Luther seemed to take comfort that even Paul believed God’s ways to be incomprehensible (11:33).[64] And with this agnosticism could the Lutheran and Reformed interpreters who otherwise preferred humanist interpretations to Luther’s find themselves in agreement. The Anabaptist Denck said that God “is still the God who wills to save the whole of Israel, as Paul says,”[65] but he did not pursue how this might become actuality.


The place of the Jews in God’s election was a particularly important question for Calvin since he did not think of the relationship of Christianity to ancient Judaism as one of new covenant to old covenant. Instead, it was the covenant with Abraham that through his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed which was still in place for Christians through Christ. The issue of Romans 9 for Calvin in regard to the Jews was that if the Jews were rejected by God for not believing in Christ, either God’s promise that they would be His people was untrue, or perhaps Jesus was not the Messiah whom God had promised to them. Romans 10 amounts to an excursus for Calvin, proving that salvation does not come through the law, and then chapter 11 considers whether God truly intended for the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant to extend to every Jew. Calvin responded to these issues by concluding that instead of two covenants (old and new), there were two elections—one for temporal blessings for the descendants of Abraham, and the other for eternal blessings for the elect, who have saving faith.

Calvin built his argument on Romans 9:6b-7a (“For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants”). Since these verses indicate that not all the Jews were included in election to salvation, there is a difference between God’s chosen people on earth and God’s elect. Calvin sometimes described this distinction as one between calling and election and, at other times, one between two kinds of election. In other words, the corporate election of the nation of Israel was to earthly blessing, but the individual election of “spiritual” Israel was to salvation. So Calvin said of Romans 9:7,

Paul mentions this, to show that the hidden election of God overrules the outward calling, and that it is yet by no means inconsistent with it . . . . That he might then in due order prove both, he in the first place assumes, that the election of God is not tied to the natural descendants of Abraham, and that it is not a thing included in the conditions of the covenant . . . . It hence follows, that some men are by special privilege elected out of the chosen people, in whom the common adoption becomes efficacious and valid.[66]

Those Jews who were not elect deserved God’s rejection because they did not fulfill the Mosaic law (9:31) and forsook God (10:21). Yet, God nonetheless preserved a remnant of the Jews by election in order to verify that He had not abrogated the covenant with Abraham (11:5).

Mary Potter Engel claims that Calvin’s use of the “remnant theory” is logically inconsistent. If he insisted that reprobation was by divine ordination, then why did he emphasize human response as the occasion for the reprobation of some of the Jews?[67] Did Calvin’s distinction of national and eternal election amount not to a “mystery” (11:25) but, as Alexandre Ganoczy says, to no more than sophistischen Spitzfindigkeiten [“sophistical hairsplitting”]?[68] Calvin’s idea of two elections was his attempt to resolve the impasse of Luther between Paul’s simultaneous desire for Israel to be saved and his realization that not all individual Israelites would be. Thus, Paul expressed his hope that many Jews would in the end be saved (11:11) and encouraged his Gentile readers once again to remain humble before God (11:21) (an exemplar of the latter for Calvin was Augustine, who honored Romans 11:33 by simply admiring the depth of God’s wisdom). “Israel” in Romans 11:26 means not the Jewish race but all the people of God, both Jew and Gentile, so neither group should deny that God’s grace extends to the other (11:32). After studying Calvin’s sermons alongside his Romans commentary, Engel is unable to resolve Calvin’s double-talk of the Jews as simultaneously faithless and favored. But, she adds, this was probably Calvin’s way of being true to the tensions and paradoxes already present in Paul.[69]

Part Two: Critical Response

Martin Luther’s reading of Romans as the locus classicus for the rejection of works righteousness has so long influenced Protestant exegesis of this epistle that many Protestants have grown up assuming that Paul’s problem was the same as Luther’s problem. Specifically, many have assumed that Paul sought to reject a “Jewish” understanding of salvation by merit, even as Luther condemned its parallel in his own day, the buying of papal indulgences for forgiveness of sins. Philip Melanchthon was the first to say that Luther’s interpretation of Romans as ground zero for the distinction of faith and works, gospel and law, vindicated Paul’s longest letter as a christianae religionis compendium. Perhaps the most memorable effect of the rhetorical power of this conception was the “strange warming” of John Wesley’s heart while listening to a public reading of Luther’s preface to Romans at Aldersgate, London, in 1738, but the influence of Luther’s ideas on Wesley were far from unique to him. Some Protestant scholars today continue to recognize the rightful emphasis in Christian faith of Luther’s conception of salvation sola gratia, sola fide. But a majority of modern researchers, both Protestant and Catholic, are now convinced at best that Luther over-read his own situation back into Romans, or at worst that Luther’s emphases were not the same as Paul’s at all and so should be in large measure discarded.

An advocate of Luther’s approach to Romans is C. E. B. Cranfield, who applauds the clarity of Luther’s exegesis and Luther’s recovery of Pauline notions of justification and election from medieval Catholicism. Cranfield further appreciates the skillful use of languages and humanist interpretive methodology—which constitute, of course, the standard approach by scholars today—by both Luther and Calvin.[70] In Calvin’s commentary on Romans, moreover, Cranfield finds the model of all responsible exegesis, “for it seems to us to display to an outstanding degree that humility before the text which is shared to some degree by every commentator on a historical document who is of any worth, the humility which seeks, not to master and manipulate, but to understand and to elucidate.”[71] Cranfield does not think that Calvin always honored his own standard of humility, but Calvin’s lapses only reinforce the importance of his principle. Ironically, then, it is the method of Luther and Calvin which matters more to Cranfield than the actual content of their exegesis, even though Luther and Calvin themselves held content as their greater priority. Karl P. Donfried, Peter Stuhlmacher, and J. Christian Beker all speak of the difference between the critical and christianae religionis compendium approaches to Romans as though it were an irreparable breach.[72]

Therefore, the interpretation by Luther and Calvin of certain images of Romans 9-11— e.g., chosen Jacob and rejected Esau, hardened Pharaoh, the remnant chosen from among unbelieving Israel—in terms of individual election are now largely in disrepute among scholars. E. P. Sanders and James D. G. Dunn have argued to the satisfaction of many that the Jews of Paul’s day did not try to merit salvation by works but rather sought to turn God’s favor into a mark of ethnic superiority to the Gentiles. The implication of this reading of Paul for Romans, says Dunn, is the disallowance of “a typically Lutheran emphasis on justification by faith to impose a hermeneutical grid on the text” and a new focus on Paul’s dealing with the specific question of why so few of the chosen people expressed faith in Christ.[73] According to Dunn, typical Protestant exegesis of Romans “has for too long” allowed Luther to define its project.[74] Lloyd Gaston agrees, saying that “it is simply wrongheaded to try to read these verses as a definition of ‘justification by faith.’”[75] Krister Stendahl also accuses the Reformers of reading Paul’s treatment of faith in works with late medieval legalism in mind and mistakenly projecting their own crises of conscience onto him.[76] Thus, N. T. Wright and Richard B. Hays conclude that the Sanders/Dunn school has effectively replaced Luther’s view as the predominant way to read Romans, and Leander E. Keck labels that replacement as a widespread scholarly assumption de rigueur.[77]

Against Calvin’s exegesis, reports Thomas R. Schreiner, many contend that finding a doctrine of individual election in Romans 9-11 is critically indefensible.[78] P. M.-J. Lagrange also warns that the Calvinist reading of Romans 9-11 runs the danger of not interpreting its parts in the context of the whole.[79]   Schreiner and John Stott are among those who expend the greatest effort in affirming portions of Calvin’s theology even when they are willing to critique the conclusions Calvin draws from certain word studies. Correlatively, they are also more willing than most commentators to identify themselves as evangelicals, and so they seek to stand astride the divide mapped by Donfried, Stuhlmacher, and Beker. For example, Stott suggests that exegesis should grow out of theology, rather than the reverse, when he writes, “I think the Jews (like all human beings) were more self-righteous than Professors Sanders and Dunn allow. As Calvin justly commented, ‘the first step to obtaining the righteousness of God is to renounce our own righteousness.’”[80] Thus, Stott emphasizes Calvin’s humility before God while Cranfield emphasizes Calvin’s humility before the text. For those who strongly accentuate the former, a doctrine of individual election can become a logical, almost necessary inference from Paul’s statements about divine sovereignty and human contingency. But does such a deduction not only lose humility before the text but also in fact distort its contextualized meaning? Let us revisit the Reformers’ questions of Romans 9-11 to search for answers.

I. What is the Occasion of Predestination/Election?

For most modern interpreters, Romans 9-11 refer to the historic destiny of Jews and Gentiles in God’s purposes, so insofar as it is appropriate to speak at all about election in these chapters, such election is corporate and not individual.[81] Thus, Hays says that “Romans addresses God’s election and transformation of a people, not just individuals coram Deo,” and Wright asserts that “Paul is not talking about a double predestination of the Calvinist type.”[82] But even though modern interpreters view election in Romans 9-11 as the corporate election of God’s people, they still debate, as did the Reformers, whether election is grounded in the divine will alone or on the basis of a foreseen response to the gospel. According to Douglas Moo, however, election and human choice exist side by side in the text and so should each be retained. Moo’s resolution of divine sovereignty and human freedom in election sounds much more like Melanchthon than either Luther or Calvin: “God’s control of all things and the full seriousness and integrity of human decision making are found together throughout the scriptures and in many Jewish writings.”[83] Joseph A. Fitzmyer, on the other hand, emphasizes neither component rather than both and says that Paul’s statement that election is “not because of works” in 9:12 favors neither divine foreknowledge of human response or Calvinistic predestination.[84] Dunn further supports such agnosticism, explaining that Paul has no intention to raise a debate over predestination and free will.[85]

Therefore, the modern approach to interpreting election in Romans 9-11 assumes that election in these chapters is corporate, not individual, although the same tension between predestination and human freedom that made Melanchthon uncomfortable still persists. How, then, do modern scholars treat the individuals Jacob, Esau, and Pharaoh in Romans 9, who played a central role in the double predestinarianism of Luther and Calvin? Charles H. Talbert follows Erasmus’ lead in understanding Jacob and Esau as typological representatives of groups who (at least temporarily) either believe or do not believe in God’s promises, and Fitzmyer confirms that Paul’s “emphasis is on corporate Israel despite the examples of individuals that he uses.”[86] Likewise does Pharaoh, to whom we will return in the following section on reprobation, represent disobedient Israel, according to Talbert and Cranfield.[87] Ernst Käsemann admits that the term “double predestination” is not inappropriate when discussing Romans 9, but since Paul is talking about corporate Israel, the election and reprobation that concern Paul is only within history.[88]

There are some few scholars, however, who, like Luther and Calvin, admit that the implications of individual election and double predestination in Romans 9-11 are not so easily avoided. It is not a great surprise, considering that he teaches at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where the president is an outspoken Calvinist, that Schreiner would be one of them. Yet, Schreiner’s arguments should not be automatically dismissed as so much fundamentalist rhetoric. Schreiner’s careful study of Romans 9-11 suggests that the division between corporate election and individual election cannot be so cleanly made as some claim. If one were to buy a professional baseball team, for example, that person could not avoid at the same time buying and assuming responsibility for the contracts of the individual players on that team.[89] Likewise, how can corporate election not include the individual election of those who belong to the favored group? While Paul may make more of Pharaoh’s hardening in 9:14-18 than does the Exodus text to which Paul alludes, Paul certainly attributes Pharaoh’s resistance to God to God’s own activity, and there is no convincing reason to state that Pharaoh’s fate must only be representative and cannot be individual and eternal. Moo supports Schreiner’s case by rejecting Käsemann’s limitation of election to history and reproving those who deny that Pharaoh’s damnation could be eternal.[90] Moo also believes that an overemphasis on corporate election in Romans 9 is as erroneous a reading as the reverse tendency—which modern scholars attributes to Calvinism—to overemphasize individual election.[91]

Moreover, continues Schreiner, Paul’s attribution of the ultimate cause of every person’s destiny to God’s directing will, through the analogy of the potter and the clay in 9:19-23, gives no basis for thinking that a person can resist God’s will: as in Sirach 33:7-13, Schreiner says, the work of the potter is to choose some for blessing of life and others for curse (a conception which Cranfield calls “perverse”[92]). Schreiner agrees with Dunn that Paul is not interested in arbitrating the relationship between predestination and free will, but rather than being agnostic about the reason, Schreiner holds the Calvinist line that “Paul believes that God is absolutely sovereign and determines all things and at the same time posits that human beings are [culpably] responsible for their choices and actions.”[93] Schreiner’s largely wholesale adaptation of Calvin’s reconciliation of Romans 9 and election certainly stands out among contemporary scholars who accept only the Reformers’ humanist method or, at most, only limited aspects of their theological purpose. Since it was the doctrine of reprobation that Calvin shared with Luther which often draws the most criticism from non-Calvinists, it is now appropriate to investigate modern scholarly responses to the Reformers’ views on this subject and its corollary assumption that divine sovereignty overrides human freedom in those who are to be damned.

II. What is the Occasion of Reprobation?

Tout le monde connaît l’opinion de Calvin, lequel concède d’ailleurs volontiers le caractère odieux de sa doctrine.”[94] Indeed, if the Lutheran emphasis on justification by faith is the outdated lens through which to interpret all of Romans, then Calvin’s “odious” notion of reprobation is the particular bane of modern attempts to understand chapters 9-11. Once again, many scholars today concede that these chapters deal with God’s rejection of some to a degree, but they are typically unwilling to attribute that rejection to the divine will alone or to see it as individual and permanent. Thus does Dunn predictably say that the object of wrath is the body of unbelieving Israel, Käsemann that reprobation is not grounded in an eternal decree, and Cranfield that “the assumption that Paul is here thinking of the ultimate destiny of the individual, of his final salvation or ruin, is not justified by the text.”[95] F. F. Bruce maintains that Jacob and Esau represent the nations of Israel and Edom but not individual believers.[96] E. Elizabeth Johnson follows Dunn’s lead by suggesting that the passage really is not so much about the inclusion or exclusion of some from God’s people but about God’s trustworthy control of history.[97] But does that not beg the question of how God’s control does in fact affect individual human lives?

Modern concerns about reprobation in Romans 9-11 break down into three issues: Is reprobation individual or corporate? Is reprobation temporary or eternal? Is reprobation predicated upon human freedom or divine predestination? The second question, about the temporary or eternal nature of reprobation, will be a significant concern in the next section on whether the Jews are elect, and so I focus here on the first and third questions. Dunn and Bruce advocate the idea of unbelief in Romans 9-11 being a corporate condition. Fitzmyer concurs, pointing out that God’s “hatred” of Esau (Esau emisesa) in 9:13 is an idiomatic Near Eastern expression suggesting that God loves corporate Edom less than corporate Israel.[98] But what evidence substantiates Lyonnet’s observation that Calvin’s teaching is “à première vue no sans raison”?[99] Schreiner suggests that the word for “destruction” in 9:22, apoleia, has overtones of eternality in Philip 1:28; 3:19 (cf. 2 Thess 2:3; 1 Tim 6:9), as does doxa, “glory,” which appears in 9:23, in Rom 2:10; 8:18; 1 Thess 2:12 (cf. Col 3:4; 2 Tim 2:10).[100] Thus, there is some critical basis for the Calvinist contention that God’s fashioning of vessels either to destruction or glory illustrates eternal election or reprobation. Nor is Schreiner willing to let the majority opinion on Esau’s corporate figuration stand unchallenged. Pointing to Hebrews 12:16-17, which compares Esau’s selling of his birthright to the danger of apostasy from salvation, Schreiner argues that if another early Christian writer understood Esau’s rejection by God as both individual and eternally damning, it is plausible that Paul could have thought likewise.[101] And the construction “on whom” (on an) in Romans 9:15, speaking of those “on whom” God has mercy or compassion, is singular in form.[102] Even if the point made by Fitzmyer and others that Paul spoke of Esau in a corporate sense stands, the observation that a corporate decision must unavoidably deal with every individual affected by it still has force.

How do modern scholars respond to the assertion of Luther and Calvin that Paul locates the source of reprobation within the divine will alone? As I showed in the previous section, some are uncomfortable with the Reformers’ belief and prefer to reserve a role for human cooperation, even if by foreknowledge, in divine election. Stott takes a Melanchthonian position, for instance, when he rejects the thought that God ever “prepares” anyone for destruction and instead says that God leaves the self-hardened to the destruction that they prepare for themselves.[103] Fitzmyer offers a similar explanation that the real cause of God’s decision is not in God but in Israel.[104] Since few modern scholars, however, believe that reprobation in Romans 9-11 carries eternal weight, some are willing to accept God’s proactive reprobation of some (Jews) in history precisely because it fits their theological agenda that reprobation is not actually eternal. So Fitzmyer, who says that 11:22 obviates any connotation of absolute predestination in 9:23, says of 9:17-18, “When human beings react against God, they think that they are acting on their own and believe that they are thus limiting God’s power or thwarting his plans; but actually he is in that reaction making them obdurate against him, as he did with Pharaoh.”[105] Bruce agrees that God does not predicate mercy on human decisions.[106] Moo offers statements that seem both to locate reprobation in God’s will alone and in human rebelliousness. At first, he holds out that 9:22-23 could indeed encompass individual election and provides “important exegetical support for the controversial doctrine of ‘double predestination:’ just as God decides, on the basis of nothing but his own sovereign pleasure, to bestow his grace and so save some individuals, so he also decides, on the basis of nothing but his own sovereign pleasure, to pass over others and so to damn them.”[107] But then Moo says that God’s hardens only those who are already resisting Him.[108] Yet, Moo sees himself as honestly representing the paradox of the text: in 9:6-19, Paul attributes Israel’s failure to respond to the gospel to God; in 9:30-10:21, he attributes it to Israel’s choice.[109]

Dunn still maintains, however, that the very question of eternal election or rejection in Romans 9-11 is an unfortunate detour from Paul’s central concern over Israel’s (temporary?) historical rejection of Christ.[110] The issue for Dunn is that a close and fair reading of Paul’s text does not allow for theological extrapolation to an issue (e.g., eternal reprobation) that Paul was not considering. But by that reasoning, biblical theology would be a very limited enterprise. There could be no formulation of the Trinity or two-natures Christology, for example, if reasonable inferences were not taken from clearer scriptural statements. It is indeed responsible to assert that Paul is primarily concerned with the “Jewish question” in Romans 9-11, but is it irresponsible to maintain that corporate election precludes individual, that God’s dealing with the Jews precludes illustrating how God deals with all, or that temporal reprobation precludes eternal reprobation? Luther, Calvin, and many others in the Augustinian tradition have believed that these were logical moves to make. Karl Barth surely exaggerates when he says that Isaiah’s cry in 9:27 is to announce the secret of double predestination, but the truth is, as Fitzmyer admits, Paul himself, in midrashic style also applied the Isaianic quotation about the remnant in 9:28 to a quite new context.[111]

The “logic” of Luther and Calvin was that each human will is in bondage to sin; therefore, salvation must be a gracious act of God, and those who do not receive the divine gift have obviously been bypassed. They found illustrations of each of these points in Romans 9-11. Lyonnet says that it is important not to forget that Calvin did not simply deduce his system from non-biblical philosophers but “seulement d’une interprétation de Paul.”[112] So at what point did Calvin become a logician rather than an expositor? In fact, every interpretation has an internal logic, or it is no longer coherent. Zeller even calls predestination “Logik Gottes.”[113] The belief that human beings must freely choose salvation is also based upon a kind of logic, for example— one consistent with the individualism that so pervades the modern West.[114] Elizabeth Johnson mentions (though with some skepticism) some whose “logic” is to read 9-11 “backwards,” allowing Paul’s hope for Israel’s full salvation in chapter 11 to become evidence that the “hardening” of some in chapter 9 could be only temporary.[115] Some may think that Calvin went too far astray from the biblical evidence, but he, too, tried to honor the line between logic and mystery.

As the first part of this essay demonstrated, on numerous occasions did Calvin suggest that it was impious to pursue the reason, or logic, of double predestination beyond the limited information God revealed in scripture. Other expositors may draw the line of unknowable mystery at a different point than did Calvin or Luther, but is the text of Romans 9-11 so self-evidently clear that the Reformers’ interpretation must be incorrect or overdrawn? I suggest that a truly Pauline understanding of Romans 9-11 draws from the principle laid down in Romans 14, that on matters where different, legitimate interpretations exist, it is best not to turn one’s own position into a mark of ascendancy so long as fundamental principles of faith (e.g., Trinity, Incarnation, atonement) are not violated. This should apply both to those who think that divine sovereignty and human freedom must remain in tension and to those who wish to attribute the whole of the salvific/elective process to God alone.

III. Are the Jews Elect?

Fitzmyer regards that “centuries ago Calvin succinctly stated the connection of Romans 9-11 with the preceding chapters: ‘If this . . . be the doctrine of the Law and the Prophets, why is it that the Jews reject it?”[116] The Judenfrage, or Israelfrage, as the secondary literature sometimes calls it, remains the primary issue in the exegesis of these three chapters.[117] Donfried reports that scholars since Rudolf Bultmann in the middle of the twentieth century have generally not doubted the integrity of 9-11 as a unit, or their importance for Paul’s overall concern in the epistle for his fellow Jews.[118] During the Reformation, Luther could not decide whether Paul thought all Jews would be saved, and Calvin equated “all Israel” in 11:26 with believers in Christ, both Jewish and Gentile.[119] What insights have come from modern scholarship on the matter of Israel’s salvation?

Elizabeth Johnson cautions against confusing Paul’s concern that the Jews be saved with modern sensitivity to avoid anti-Semitism: i.e., one should not read Paul’s sympathy for the Jews as his minimizing of the seriousness of their rejection of Christ.[120] Thus, she and several other scholars reject the theory of Krister Stendahl that Paul offers two salvific covenants, one for the Jews apart from Christ, and one for Gentiles through faith.[121] What, then, does the salvation of pas Israel involve in 11:26? Lagrange says that Luther was correct to hold that not every individual Jew is included in the “all,” and Dunn, Moo, Stott, Schreiner, Bruce, Cranfield, Fitzmyer, Beker, Barth, and André Viard agree.[122] Yet, “all” surely includes a good number of Jews who will presumably be stirred by jealousy of God’s favor to Gentiles and will come to faith in Christ (11:14).[123] This presumes, of course, that Israel’s prior hardening by God was only temporary within history.[124]

Wright and Hays contend an issue that little concerned the Reformers, which is whether the final salvation of the Jews will be historical or eschatological. Wright assumes the former and Hays the latter.[125] However, Luther and Calvin disagreed over the precise identity of “all Israel,” and modern scholarship retains their interest in the question. As Otto Michel notes, Luther thought that “all Israel” was an ethnic designation, while Calvin proposed that it denotes all believers in Christ, Jew and Gentile.[126] Barth still follows Calvin that “Israel” in 11:26 is the combination of historic Israel and the church, though his fellow Reformed thinkers Stott and Schreiner, as well as Charles Hodge from the nineteenth century, disagree, based upon the distinction of “Israel” from the Gentiles in 11:25.[127] Dunn and Moo are in accord with this.[128]


Thomas D. Parker’s comparison of Luther and Calvin’s commentaries on Galatians also has relevance for these Reformers’ studies of Romans: while they emphasized the literal meaning of the text and embraced humanist methodology, they nonetheless read the text primarily for theological rather than critical ends and tried to relate their findings to the concerns of the church.[129] Luther’s style was a product of his belief that the Holy Spirit is an aid to biblical interpretation and prompts this kind of theological/spiritual exegesis.[130] If Marc Lienhard is correct that the primary themes of Luther’s lectures on Romans were the cross and Christology, the place of humiliation in the structure of justification, and the presence of Christ in saving faith,[131] then Luther’s lectures on chapters 9-11 emphasized most of all the role of humility before the electing decree of God, even and especially when it seemed to violate human autonomy. Calvin believed that Paul’s questions about election were the same questions raised in every age, and so his emphasis on Romans 9-11 was exacting conformity to Paul’s inspired words. “For it is better, as Augustine says, even to go limping in the right way than to run with all our might out of the way.”[132] The Lutheran attitude toward Romans 9-11 after Melanchthon became more humanistic theologically than Luther had been, but Calvin reversed the same tendency in Bullinger and Bucer and kept his tradition on a more strictly Augustinian course. Modern scholars are significantly indebted to the humanist measures of the sixteenth century, though they are often conscious to reject the Augustinianism of Luther and Calvin. In this they join perhaps the majority of interpreters in these Reformers’ own lifetimes.

Fitzmyer wonders if Paul himself did not completely resolve the problems he raised about Israel in Romans 9-11, perhaps interpreters after Paul cannot expect to do much better,[133] yet the consensus that modern scholars have in fact achieved over some aspects of the Israelfrage—“all Israel” refers to historic Israel, not the church, and does not necessarily include every single Jew—gives one hope that if they demonstrate the humility which Cranfield saw in Calvin, even if they do not repeat Calvin’s answers, they may yet come to greater clarity on the still much-disputed matters of election and reprobation.


Part One: The Protestant Reformers’ Readings of Romans 9-11

Bible, The. Revised Standard Version. New York: American Bible Society, 1973.

Bray, Gerald, ed. Documents of the English Reformation. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994.

Bucer, Martin. Common Places. The Courtenay Library of Reformation Classics. Edited by

D. F. Wright, no. 4. Appleford, England: The Sutton Courtenay Press, 1972.

Calvin, John. The Bondage and Liberation of the Will: A Defence of the Orthodox Doctrine of Human Choice Against Pighius. Edited by A. N. S. Lane. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996.

        . Calvin: Commentaries. The Library of Christian Classics. Translated by Joseph Haroutunian, no. 23. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1958.

        . Calvin’s Calvinism: Treatises on the Eternal Predestination & the Secret Providence of God. Translated by Henry Cole. Grand Rapids: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1950.

        . Calvin’s Commentaries. Vol. 19, Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans. Translated by John Owen. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993.

        . Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 volumes. The Library of Christian Classics. Edited by John T. McNeill, nos. 20-21. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960.

        . Opera Quae Supersunt Omnia. Edited by Guilielmus Baum, Eduardus Cunitz, and Eduardus Reuss. Corpus Reformatorum, vol. 77, Epist. Pauli ad Romanos. New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1892.

        . Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Against the Libertines. Translated by Benjamin Wirt Farley. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982.

Engel, Mary Potter. “Calvin and the Jews: A Textual Puzzle?” The Princeton Seminary Bulletin, Supplementary Issue 1 (1990): 106-123.

Erasmus, Desiderius. Collected Works of Erasmus. Vol. 56, Annotations on Romans. Edited by Robert D. Sidder. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994.

Fitzmyer, Joseph A. Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. The Anchor Bible, no. 33. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

Ganoczy, Alexandre. “Calvin als paulinischer Theologie: Ein Forschungsansatz zur Hermeneutik Calvins.” In Calvinus Theologus. Edited by W. H. Neuser, 39-65. Amsterdam: Neukirchener Verlag, 1974.

Junghans, Helmar. “Die Schäflein, die ihres Hirten Stimme hören: Luthers Beschreibung der Kirche.” Luther: Mitteilungen der Luthergesellschaft 57:1 (1986): 19-34.

Kok, Joel E. “Heinrich Bullinger’s Exegetical Method: The Model for Calvin?” In Biblical Interpretation in the Era of the Reformation: Essays Presented to David C. Steinmetz in Honor of His Sixtieth Birthday. Edited by Richard A. Muller and John L. Thompson, 241-254. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996.

Kolb, Robert. “Melanchthon’s Influence on the Exegesis of His Students: The Case of Romans 9.” In Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) and the Commentary. Edited by Timothy J. Wengert and M. Patrick Graham, 194-215. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997.

        . “Nikolaus von Amsdorf on Vessels of Wrath and Vessels of Mercy: A Lutheran’s Doctrine of Double Predestination.” Harvard Theological Review 69:3-4 (July-October 1976): 325-343.

Lienhard, Marc. “Christologie et humilité dans la Theologia Crucis du commentaire de l’Epître aux Romains de Luther.” Revue d’Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuses 42:4 (1962): 304-315.

Lindhardt, Mogens. “Magna pars iustitiae, velle esse iustum: Eine augustinische Sentens und Luthers Römerbriefvorlesung.” Studia Theologica 27 (1973): 127-149.

Luther, Martin. D. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe (Weimarer Ausgabe). Vol. 57, Diui Pauli apostoli ad Roma. Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger - Weimar Akademische Druck, 1939.

        . Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation. The Library of Christian Classics. Edited by E. Gordon Rupp and Philip S. Watson, no. 17. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969.

        . Luther: Lectures on Romans. The Library of Christian Classics. Edited by Wilhelm Pauck, no. 15. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1961.

        . Luther’s Works. Edited by Hilton C. Oswald. Vol. 25, Lectures on Romans: Glosses and Scholia. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1972.

        . Sermons of Martin Luther: The Church Postils. Edited by John Nicholas Lenker. Vol. 8, Sermons on Epistle Texts for Trinity Sunday to Advent. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995.

McGrath, Alister E. Reformation Thought: An Introduction, 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1993.

Parker, T. H. L. Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993.

        . Commentaries on the Epistle to the Romans, 1532-1542. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark Ltd., 1986.

Parker, Thomas D. “The Interpretation of Scripture: A Comparison of Calvin and Luther on Galatians.” Interpretation 17:1 (January 1963): 61-75.

Payne, John B. “Erasmus on Romans 9:6-24.” In The Bible in the Sixteenth Century. Edited by David C. Steinmetz, 119-135. Durham: Duke University Press, 1990.

Puckett, David L. John Calvin’s Exegesis of the Old Testament. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995.

Steinmetz, David C. Calvin in Context. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

        .   Luther in Context. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995.

Wengert, Timothy J. “Philip Melanchthon’s 1522 Annotations on Romans and the Lutheran Origins of Rhetorical Criticism.” In Biblical Interpretation in the Era of the Reformation: Essays Presented to David C. Steinmetz in Honor of His Sixtieth Birthday. Edited by Richard A. Muller and John L. Thompson, 118-140. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996.

Wierenga, Robert. “Calvin the Commentator.” Reformed Review 39:1 (Fall 1978): 4-13.

Williams, George H., and Angel M. Mergal, eds. Spiritual and Anabaptist Writers. The Library of Christian Classics, no. 25. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1957.

Zwingli, Ulrich. “On Providence” and Other Essays. Edited by William John Hinke. Durham: The Labyrinth Press, 1983.

Part Two: Critical Response

Althaus, Paul. Der Brief an die Römer. Göttingen: Bandenhoect and Ruprecht, 1959.

Aune, David E. “Romans as a Logos Protreptikos.” In The Romans Debate, revised edition. Edited by Karl P. Donfried, 278-296. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.

Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics. Vol. II.2, The Doctrine of the Word of God. Edited by G. W. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1987.

        . The Epistle to the Romans. Translated by Edwyn C. Hoskyns. London: Oxford University Press, 1968.

Beker, J. Christian. “The Faithfulness of God and the Priority of Israel in Paul’s Letter to the Romans.” In The Romans Debate, revised edition. Edited by Karl P. Donfried, 327-332. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.

Bruce, F. F. The Letter of Paul to the Romans: An Introduction and Commentary. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1985.

Bultmann, Rudolf. Theology of the New Testament. Translated by Kendrick Grobel. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1955.

Coenen, Lothar. “Elect.” In The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. Volume 1, A-F. Edited by Colin Brown, 536-543. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986.

Cranfield, C. E. B. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. Volume 1: Introduction and Commentary on Romans 1-8. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1975.

        . A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. Volume 2: Commentary on Romans 9-16 and Essays. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1979.

Donfried, Karl P. “Introduction 1977: The Nature and Scope of the Romans Debate.” In The Romans Debate, revised edition. Edited by Karl P. Donfried, xli-xlvii. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.

        . “Introduction 1991: The Romans Debate Since 1977.” In The Romans Debate, revised edition. Edited by Karl P. Donfried, xlix-lxxii. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.

Dunn, James D. G. “The New Perspective on Paul: Paul and the Law.” In The Romans Debate, revised edition. Edited by Karl P. Donfried, 299-309. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.

        . Romans 1-8. Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 38A. Dallas: Word Books, 1988.

        . Romans 9-16. Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 38B. Dallas: Word Books, 1988.

Fitzmyer, Joseph A. Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. The Anchor Bible, no. 33.New York: Doubleday, 1993.

Gaston, Lloyd. “Israel’s Misstep in the Eyes of Paul.” In The Romans Debate, revised edition. Edited by Karl P. Donfried, 309-326. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.

Hays, Richard B. “Adam, Israel, Christ: The Question of Covenant in the Theology of Romans: A Response to Leander E. Keck and N. T. Wright.” In Pauline Theology, Volume III: Romans. Edited by David M. Hay and E. Elizabeth Johnson, 68-86. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.

Hodge, Charles. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, revised edition. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1981.

Johnson, E. Elizabeth. “Romans 9-11: The Faithfulness and Impartiality of God.” In Pauline Theology, Volume III: Romans. Edited by David M. Hay and E. Elizabeth Johnson, 211-239. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.

Johnson, Luke Timothy. Reading Romans: A Literary and Theological Commentary. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997.

Käsemann, Ernst. Commentary on Romans. Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980.

Keck, Leander E. “What Makes Romans Tick?” In Pauline Theology, Volume III: Romans. Edited by David M. Hay and E. Elizabeth Johnson, 3-29. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.

Lagrange, P. M.-J. Saint Paul Épitre aux Romains. Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1950.

Lietzmann, D. Hans. Einführung in die Textgeschichte der Paulusbriefe an die Römer. Tübingen: Verlag von J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1993.

Lyonnet, Stanislas. Etudes sur l’Epître aux Romains. Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1990.

Michel, Otto. Der Brief an die Römer. Göttingen: Bandenhoect and Ruprecht, 1963.

Moo, Douglas. The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996.

        . “The Theology of Romans 9-11: A Response to E. Elizabeth Johnson.” In Pauline Theology, Volume III: Romans. Edited by David M. Hay and E. Elizabeth Johnson, 240-258. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.

Nygren, Anders. Commentary on Romans. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988.

Schreiner, Thomas R. “Does Romans 9 Teach Individual Election Unto Salvation?” In The Grace of God, the Bondage of the Will, Volume I: Biblical and Practical Perspectives on Calvinism. Edited by Thomas R. Schreiner and Bruce A. Ware, 89-106. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995.

        . Romans. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998.

Stendahl, Krister. “The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West.” Paul Among Jews and Gentiles and Other Essays. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976.

Stott, John. Romans: God’s Good News for the World. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994.

Stuhlmacher, Peter. “The Purpose of Romans.” In The Romans Debate, revised edition. Edited by Karl P. Donfried, 231-242. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.

Talbert, Charles H. Romans. Macon, GA: Smyth and Helwys Publishing Incorporated, 2002.

Viard, André. Saint Paul Épitre aux Romains. Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1975.

Wilckens, Ulrich. Der Brief an die Römer. Vol. 1. Benziger Verlag/Neukirchener Verlag, 1997.

Wright, N. T. “Romans and the Theology of Paul.” In Pauline Theology, Volume III: Romans. Edited by David M. Hay and E. Elizabeth Johnson, 30-67. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.

Zeller, Dieter. Der Brief an die Römer. Freiburg: Verlag Friedrich Pustet Regensburg, 1984.

[1]Alister E. McGrath, Reformation Thought: An Introduction, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), 45.

[2]John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 vol., The Library of Christian Classics, no. 20-21, ed. John T. McNeill (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960), II.ii.4; 1.259.

[3]Luther requested that the printer Johann Grunenberg provide him copies of the Vulgate with ample space between lines of text for him to write his lecture notes. These notes were called glosses. If Luther needed additional writing space to complete his explanation of a verse, he would do so on separate paper; these were called scholia. Cf. Hilton C. Oswald, ed., in Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 25, Lectures on Romans: Glosses and Scholia (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1972), ix.

[4]John Owen, trans., in John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, vol. 19, Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993), viii. Calvin’s approach was to deal with units of material individually, and so he divided Romans 9-11 into many sections: 9:1-5; 9:6-9; 9:10-13; 9:14-18; 9:19-21; 9:22-23; 9:24-29; 9:30-33; 10:1-4; 10:5-10; 10:11-13; 10:14-17; 10:18-21; 11:1-6; 11:7-10; 11:11-15; 11:16-21; 11:22-24; 11:25-32; 11:33-35.

[5]John B. Payne, “Erasmus on Romans 9:6-24,” in The Bible in the Sixteenth Century, ed. David C. Steinmetz (Durham: Duke University Press, 1990), 121.

[6]Ibid., 127.

[7]Wilhelm Pauck, ed., Luther: Lectures on Romans, The Library of Christian Classics, no. 15 (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1961), xxix; cf. 267, ft. 13. Cf. Oswald, in Luther, Luther’s Works, xi, xxiv-xxv.

[8]Luther, Luther’s Works, 25.394. Cf. David C. Steinmetz, Luther in Context (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995), 21: “The immediate context for his [Luther’s] exegesis of Romans 9 is the universal context of the predicament of the human race before God rather than the more particular context of the relationship of Israel and the Church. In that approach to the text he is following lines already suggested by Augustine.”

[9]Steinmetz, 17.

[10]Luther, Luther’s Works, 25.394-395.

[11]Ibid., 432.

[12]Luther, Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation, The Library of Christian Classics no. 17, ed. E. Gordon Rupp and Philip S. Watson (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969), 214.

[13]Steinmetz, Luther in Context, 17. Morgens Lindhardt says that Luther nonetheless cites Augustine over one hundred times in the Romans lectures. Lindhardt, “Magna pars iustitiae, velle esse iustum: Eine augustinische Sentens und Luthers Römerbriefvorlesung,” Studia Theologica 27 (1973): 127.

[14]Luther, Luther’s Works, 25.386, 392.

[15]Hans Denck, in Spiritual and Anabaptist Writers, The Library of Christian Classics, no. 25, ed. George H. Williams and Angel M. Mergal (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1957), 104.

[16]Cf. T. H. L. Parker, Commentaries on the Epistle to the Romans, 1532-1542 (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark Ltd., 1986), 1-3.

[17]Timothy J. Wengert, “Philip Melanchthon’s 1522 Annotations on Romans and the Lutheran Origins of Rhetorical Criticism,” Biblical Interpretation in the Era of the Reformation: Essays Presented to David C. Steinmetz in Honor of His Sixtieth Birthday, ed. Richard A. Muller and John L. Thompson (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 126.

[18]Robert Kolb, “Melanchthon’s Influence on the Exegesis of His Students: The Case of Romans 9,” Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) and the Commentary, ed. Timothy J. Wengert and M. Patrick Graham (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997), 201-205; Kolb, “Nikolaus von Amsdorf on Vessels of Wrath and Vessels of Mercy: A Lutheran’s Doctrine of Double Predestination,” Harvard Theological Review 69:3-4 (July-October 1976): 329. John B. Payne even thinks that Melanchthon and Erasmus may have collaborated on interpreting Romans (135).

[19]Kolb, “Melanchthon’s Influence,” 208-209.

[20]Kolb, “Nikolaus von Amsdorf,” 331-333.

[21]Ibid., 343.

[22]Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, 19.xxv.

[23]Joel E. Kok, “Heinrich Bullinger’s Exegetical Method: The Model for Calvin?” Biblical Interpretation in the Era of the Reformation: Essays Presented to David C. Steinmetz in Honor of His Sixtieth Birthday, ed. Richard A. Muller and John L. Thompson (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 250-251.

[24]Martin Bucer, Common Places, The Courtenay Library of Reformation Classics no. 4, ed. D. F. Wright (Appleford, England: The Sutton Courtenay Press, 1972), 115-116.

[25]Joseph Haroutunian, trans., in John Calvin, Calvin: Commentaries, The Library of Christian Classics, no. 23 (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1958), 19

[26]Ibid., 19; Robert Wierenga, “Calvin the Commentator,” Reformed Review 39:1 (Fall 1978): 6.

[27]Wierenga, 11-12, 6-7.

[28]David L. Puckett, John Calvin’s Exegesis of the Old Testament (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), 98-99.

[29]Calvin, Commentaries on Romans, 19.342. The enemy here is the Anabaptist notion of Jesus’ “celestial flesh.” Cf. Calvin’s Brief Instruction for Arming All the Good Faithful Against the Errors of the Common Sect of the Anabaptists (1544), in which he cites Romans 9:5, along with 1 Timothy 3:16, 1 Peter 4:1, and John 1:14 to refute the Anabaptists. Calvin, Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Against the Libertines, trans. Benjamin Wirt Farley (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982), 111. Erasmus, Annotations, mentioned that some patristic writers, such as Theophylact, turned Romans 9:5 against the Arians, but that did not seem to be his own interest (243). T. H. L. Parker notes that the increasing number of negative references to Erasmus in the 1546 revision of Calvin’s commentary on Romans demonstrates Calvin’s willingness to think outside of humanist terms. T. H. L. Parker, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), 167.

[30]Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.xxi.5; 2.926.

[31]Calvin, The Bondage and Liberation of the Will: A Defence of the Orthodox Doctrine of Human Choice Against Pighius, ed. A. N. S. Lane (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), 161-162.

[32]Erasmus, in Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation, 65.

[33]Luther, Luther’s Works, 25.386.

[34]Kolb, “Nikolaus von Amsdorf,” 335. Curiously, in De servo arbitrio, Luther denied that Paul took the image of the potter and clay from the Old Testament [Isaiah 45:9] and said he was employing a “common simile” for a spiritual purpose. Luther, Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation, 255.

[35]Luther, Luther’s Works, 25.391, 394-395. “The Greek word phyrama [“lump,” 9:21], which also occurs at 11:16 . . ., was translated into Latin as massa, from which came the pejorative term massa damnata in the predestination controversies of the Augustinian period (Augustine, Ep. 190.3-9).” Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible, no. 33 (New York: Doubleday, 1993), 569. Cf. Steinmetz, Luther in Context, 21: “All of these Augustinian ideas are so firmly embedded in Luther’s mind that Luther does not seem to notice that St. Paul never mentions a massa perditionis or massa peccati. Augustine has encapsulated for Luther the substance, if not the exact language, of Pauline teaching.”

[36]Luther, Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation, 249-250.

[37]Luther, D. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe (Weimarer Ausgabe), vol. 57, Diui Pauli apostoli ad Roma (Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger - Weimar Akademische Druck, 1939), 205.

[38]Luther, Lectures on Romans, 269, ft. 17; Luther’s Works, 25.387.

[39]Luther, Luther’s Works, 25.421.

[40]Kolb, “Melanchthon’s Influence,” 204-205.

[41]Kolb, “Nikolaus von Amsdorf,” 343.

[42]Kok, 250-251.

[43]Steinmetz, Calvin in Context (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 151-152.

[44]Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, 19.360. Calvin did, however, say in The Bondage and Liberation of the Will that he agreed with Luther’s understanding of fallen human nature (40).

[45]Ibid., 19.361-362.

[46]Nowhere did Calvin state his case more forcefully than when he said of Romans 11:7: “Paulus autem probare hic contendit, excaecari non eos, qui sua malitia iam id meriti sint, sed qui ante mundi creationem reprobati sunt a Deo. Hunc nodum ita breviter solvas, quod origo impietatis, quae ita in se provocat Dei furorem, est perversitas naturae a Deo derelictae.” Calvin, Opera Quae Supersunt Omnia, Corpus Reformatorum, vol. 77, Epist. Pauli ad Romanos, ed. Guilielmus Baum, Eduardus Cunitz, and Eduardus Reuss (New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1892), 216.

[47]“The decree is dreadful indeed, I confess” [Decretum quidem horribile, fateor]. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.xxiii.7; 2.955.

[48]Calvin, Commentaries, 19.367.

[49]Steinmetz, Calvin in Context, 151.

[50]Calvin, Institutes, III.xxiii.1; 2.949; Calvin, Commentaries, 19.410-412, 418, 446-447.

[51]Calvin, Institutes, III.xxiii.1; 2.949; Calvin’s Calvinism: Treatises on the Eternal Predestination & the Secret Providence of God, trans. Henry Cole (Grand Rapids: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1950), 141.

[52]Calvin, Institutes, III.xxiii.8; 2.957. Cf. Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, 19.350: “It is indeed true, that the proximate cause of reprobation is the curse we all inherit from Adam; yet, that we may learn to acquiesce in the bare and simple good pleasure of God, Paul withdraws us from this view, until he has established this doctrine,—That God has a sufficiently just reason for electing and for reprobating, in his own will.” Elsewhere, Calvin’s writing would fit the later term “supralapsarian:” “But they reason absurdly who, whenever a word is said of the proximate causes, strive, by bringing forth these, to cover the first, which is hid from our view; as though God had not, before the fall of Adam, freely determined to do what seemed good to him with respect to the whole human race on this account,—because he condemns his corrupt and depraved seed, and also, because he repays to individuals the reward which their sins have deserved.” Calvin, Commentaries, 19.417.

[53]Calvin, Commentaries, 19.354.

[54]Balthasar Hubmaier, in Spiritual and Anabaptist Writers, 133.

[55]Ulrich Zwingli, “On Providence” and Other Essays, ed. William John Hinke (Durham: The Labyrinth Press, 1983), 188.

[56]Gerald Bray, ed., Documents of the English Reformation (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994), 294-295.

[57]Ibid., 459-460.

[58]Payne, 129.

[59]Luther, Luther’s Works, 25.396. Cf. a sermon by Luther on Romans 11:33-36: “That attitude Saint Paul encountered, especially when the arrogant Jews opposed themselves so sternly and stubbornly to the preaching of the Gospel. Filled with astonishment, he exclaimed: What shall I say more? I see indeed that it is but the deep unsearchable wisdom of God, his incomprehensible judgment, his inscrutable ways.” Luther, “Sermon on Trinity Sunday,” Sermons of Martin Luther: The Church Postils, vol. 8, Sermons on Epistle Texts for Trinity Sunday to Advent, ed. John Nicholas Lenker (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995), 17.

[60]Luther, Luther’s Works, 25.425.

[61]Ibid., 25.429. Cf. 429-430: “It is a holy secret why the Jews fell, a secret which no man knows, namely, that the Jews who are now fallen shall return and be saved.”

[62]Ibid., 429.


[64]Luther, Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation, 236.

[65]Denck, in Spiritual and Anabaptist Writers, 109.

[66]Calvin, Commentaries, 19.345-346. Calvin elaborated in the Institutes, “It is easy to explain why the general election of a people is not always firm and effectual: to those with whom God makes a covenant, he does not at once give the spirit of regeneration that would enable them to persevere in the covenant to the very end. Rather, the outward change, without the working of inner grace, which might have availed to keep them, is intermediate, between the rejection of mankind and the election of a meager number of the godly” (III.xxi.7; 2.930-931).

[67]Mary Potter Engel, “Calvin and the Jews: A Textual Puzzle?” The Princeton Seminary Bulletin, Supplementary Issue 1 (1990): 114.

[68]Alexandre Ganoczy, “Calvin als paulinischer Theologie: Ein Forschungsansatz zur Hermeneutik Calvins” in Calvinus Theologus, ed. W. H. Neuser (Amsterdam: Neukirchener Verlag, 1974): 65.

[69]Engel, 123. Haroutunian finds it ironic that Calvin often spoke of the “blindness of the Jews” when his Lutheran critics called him a “Judaizer” for saying that not every Old Testament passage which others read Christologically in fact referred to Christ. In Calvin, Calvin: Commentaries, 23.

[70]C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, vol. 1: Introduction and Commentary on Romans 1-8 (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1975), 38-39. Dieter Zeller, Der Brief an die Römer (Freiburg: Verlag Friedrich Pustet Regensberg, 1984), 181, also concedes that Augustine, Luther, and Calvin correctly understood Paul’s rejection of all human work in salvation. Cf. the approval of Calvin’s Greek word studies by Stanislas Lyonnet, Etudes sur l’Epître aux Romains (Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1990), 281, 290.

[71]Ibid., 40.

[72]Karl P. Donfried, “Introduction 1977: The Nature and Scope of the Romans Debate,” in The Romans Debate, rev. ed., ed. Karl P. Donfried (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), xli; Peter Stuhlmacher, “The Purpose of Romans,” in ibid., 231; J. Christian Beker, “The Faithfulness of God and the Priority of Israel in Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” in ibid., 327.

[73]James D. G. Dunn, Romans 1-8, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 38A (Dallas: Word Books, 1988), lxv.

[74]James D. G. Dunn, “The New Perspective on Paul: Paul and the Law,” in The Romans Debate, 299.

[75]Lloyd Gaston, “Israel’s Misstep in the Eyes of Paul,” in The Romans Debate, 316.

[76]Krister Stendahl, “The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West,” Paul Among Jews and Gentiles and Other Essays (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976), 85-87.

[77]N. T. Wright, “Romans and the Theology of Paul,” in Pauline Theology, Volume III: Romans, ed. David M. Hay and E. Elizabeth Johnson (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995); Richard B. Hays, “Adam, Israel, Christ: The Question of Covenant in the Theology of Romans: A Response to Leander E. Keck and N. T. Wright,” in ibid., 84; Leander E. Keck, “What Makes Romans Tick?” in ibid., 3.

[78]Thomas R. Schreiner, “Does Romans 9 Teach Individual Election Unto Salvation?” in The Grace of God, the Bondage of the Will, vol. 1: Biblical and Practical Perspectives on Calvinism, ed. Thomas R. Schreiner and Bruce A. Ware (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995), 89. The Lutheran Anders Nygren, Commentary on Romans (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), 354, suggests that Romans 8:28-30 is a better starting point than 9-11 for constructing a doctrine of predestination.

[79]P. M.-J. Lagrange, Saint Paul Épitre aux Romains (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1950), 245.

[80]John Stott, Romans: God’s Good News for the World (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 281.

[81]Cf. Schreiner, “Does Romans,” 90.

[82]Hays, 84; Wright, 57; cf. Elizabeth Johnson, 224; Käsemann, 315.

[83]Douglas Moo, “The Theology of Romans 9-11: A Response to E. Elizabeth Johnson,” in Pauline Theology, Volume III: Romans, 250.

[84]Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible, no. 33 (New York: Doubleday, 1993), 562.

[85]James D. G. Dunn, Romans 9-16, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 38B (Dallas: Word Books, 1988), 567.

[86]Charles H. Talbert, Romans (Macon, GA: Smyth and Helwys Publishing Incorporated, 2002), 253. Cf. Luke Timothy Johnson, Reading Romans: A Literary and Theological Commentary (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 140: “Paul’s topic is not the eternal predestination of individual human souls to heaven or hell.”

[87]Talbert, 253; C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, vol. 2: Commentary on Romans 9-16 and Essays (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1979), 485.

[88]Ernst Käsemann, Commentary on Romans, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980), 265.

[89]Schreiner, “Does Romans,” 102.

[90]Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 596-597.

[91]Moo, “The Theology of Romans 9-11,” 255.

[92]Cranfield, Commentary, vol. 2, 492.

[93]Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 514-515, 517. Cf. Moo, Romans, 599.

[94]Lyonnet,, 284.

[95]Dunn, Romans 9-16, 568; Käsemann, 315; Cranfield, Commentary, vol. 2, 489.

[96]F. F. Bruce, The Letter of Paul to the Romans: An Introduction and Commentary (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1985), 182.

[97]E. Elizabeth Johnson, “Romans 9-11: The Faithfulness and Impartiality of God,” in Pauline Theology, Volume III: Romans, 225; cf. Dunn, Romans 9-16, 567. Cf. Wright, 56; Rudolf Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, trans. Kendrick Grobel (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1955), I.229: “The closing sentence of chapters 9-11 . . . serves the purpose of expressing Paul’s theology of history: The history of nations is salvation-history, and its origin, its guidance, and its goal are all in God.”

[98]Fitzmyer, 563.

[99]Lyonnet, 279.

[100]Schreiner, “Does Romans,” 93.

[101]Ibid., 97; Romans, 618.

[102]Schreiner, “Does Romans,” 99.

[103]Stott, 272-273, 276, 293.

[104]Fitzmyer, 602.

[105]Fitzmyer, 568, 570.

[106]Bruce, 183.

[107]Moo, Romans, 598-599. Cf. Moo, “The Theology of Romans,” 257.

[108]Moo, Romans, 599.

[109]Moo, “The Theology of Romans 9-11,” 249.

[110]Dunn, Romans 9-16, 566.

[111]Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, trans. Edwyn C. Hoskyns (London: Oxford University Press, 1968), 360; cf. 415; Fitzmyer, 575; cf. 579. Cf. Luke Johnson, 141.

[112]Lyonnet, 285.

[113]Zeller, 181.

[114]Cf. Schreiner, “Does Romans,” 104.

[115]Elizabeth Johnson, 225-226.

[116]Fitzmyer, 541.

[117]Cf. Paul Althaus, Der Brief an die Römer (Göttingen: Bandenhoect and Ruprecht, 1959), 111; Elizabeth Johnson, 211, 220.

[118]Karl P. Donfried, “Introduction 1991: The Romans Debate Since 1977,” in The Romans Debate, lxx. David E. Aune, “Romans as a Logos Protreptikos,” in The Romans Debate, 294-295 concedes the coherence of Romans 9-11 but views it as “a kind of excursus or digression.” Fitzmyer, 541, by contrast, sees 9-11 as the climax of the doctrinal section of the letter. Ulrich Wilckens, Der Brief an die Römer, vol. 1 (Benzinger Verlag/Neukirchener Verlag, 1997), 19, implies agreement when he says that 9-11 expand on the many questions Paul raises in 3:1-8.

[119]On Luther’s comment that “mystery” (11:25) is exactly the right word to describe Paul’s project in Romans 9-11, cf. the opinion of Moo, “The Theology of Romans 9-11,” 240, that “the number and influence of scholars claiming that Paul’s argument in this section of Romans is incoherent are increasingly rapidly.” Bruce, 207, references those who, since Adolf von Harnack, have presumed that “Paul lets his patriotism override his logic.”

[120]Elizabeth Johnson, 212; cf. Moo, “The Theology of Romans 9-11,” 240.

[121]Moo, “The Theology of Romans 9-11,” 258; Stott, 304; Fitzmyer, 620; Schreiner, Romans, 616.

[122]Lagrange, 285; Dunn, Romans 9-16, 681; Moo, “The Theology of Romans 9-11,” 257; Moo, Romans, 722; Stott, 303; Schreiner, Romans, 615; Bruce, 209; Cranfield, Commentary, vol. 2, 577; Fitzmyer, 623; Beker, 332; Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, vol. II.2: The Doctrine of the Word of God, ed. G. W. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1987), 300; André Viard, Saint Paul Épitre aux Romains (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1975), 248.

[123]Gaston, 315, equates “all Israel” with the remnant of 9:27; similarly, Nygren, 393-394, holds “remnant” and “election” to be equivalent terms.

[124]Cf. Fitzmyer, 617; Aune, 294; Wright, 57; Cranfield, Commentary, vol. 2, 495; Talbert, 253.

[125]Wright, 61; Hays, 83. Schreiner, Romans, 621-622, also takes the eschatological position. Paul’s use of :LFJ²D4@< in 1 Corinthians 15:51 is unquestionably eschatological, as D. Hans Lietzmann, Einführung in die Textgeschichte der Paulusbriefe an die Römer (Tübingen: Verlag von J. C. B. Mohr, 1993), 105, says, although there the “mystery” refers specifically to bodily resurrection and does not consider the question of Israel’s salvation.

[126]Otto Michel, Der Brief an die Römer (Göttingen: Bandenhoect and Ruprecht, 1963), 281.

[127]Barth, Church Dogmatics II.2, 199, 300; Romans, 416; Schreiner, Romans, 615; Stott, 303; Schreiner, Romans, 615; Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1981), 374. Lothar Coenen, “Elect,” in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 1: A-F, ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 540, points that the word for election in Romans 9:11; 11:5,7,28, eklogé, while referring to Israel on each occasion, does also refer to the church in 1 Thess 1:4 and 2 Pet 1:10.

[128]Dunn, Romans 9-16, 681; Moo, Romans, 720-721.

[129]Thomas D. Parker, “The Interpretation of Scripture: A Comparison of Calvin and Luther on Galatians,” Interpretation 17:1 (January 1963): 72-73. Cf. Steinmetz, Luther in Context, 18: “The pastoral problem which seems uppermost in Luther’s mind [on Romans] is the problem of certitude of salvation. He touches on it several times.” Luther also turned his rejection of works righteousness in 10:6 into a condemnation of papal indulgences. Luther, Luther’s Works, 25.409.

[130]Helmar Junghans, “Die Schäflein, die ihres Hirten Stimme hören: Luthers Beschreibung der Kirche,” Luther: Mitteilungen der Luthergesellschaft 57:1 (1986): 29.

[131]Marc Lienhard, “Christologie et humilité dans la Theologia Crucis du commentaire de l’Epître aux Romains de Luther,” Revue d’Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuses 42:4 (1962): 304.

[132]Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, 19.382.

[133]Fitzmyer, 633.

Galen K. Johnson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Theology
John Brown University
Siloam Springs, AR 72761

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There are too many errors in this book for unsophisticated readers. McLaren’s book has value only to readers who recognize the mistakes but are willing to learn about a position that springs from ideology and a theological framework. For me, the emerging church movement is enough to consider by itself without flawed economics intertwined

Mordecai Kaplan: Rethinking Judaism for the New World

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