The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead - Commentary

... Meredith G. Kline. The First Resurrection.
  • ^ Davis, The High King of Heaven. p. 493. Words within square brackets are mine.
  • ...

    Extensive review of Jonathan Menn's Biblical Eschatology

    ...nsive. The author is widely read as the 20 pages of the bibliography can testify. In one sense, the book accumulates the best scholarship and summarizes it. This book is filled footnotes to all kinds of authors from various eschatological viewpoints.

    Note: Unless otherwise stated, all the ellipses, square brackets and italics in citations are not my own, but Dr. Menn’s.

    Hermeneutical issues

    In the Introduction, Dr. Menn explains the distinction between individual and corporate eschatology. He then proceeds to define the major hermeneutical issues which must be decided when thinking about eschatology. These are:

    • Do the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection and judgment of all humanity, and the inauguration of the eternal kingdom, occur as aspects of one great event, or are they separated by a temporary messianic kingdom that lasts a thousand years?
    • Are we able to predict when any of the “end-time” events will occur by paying attention to the events transpiring in the Middle East or other geopolitical occurrences?
    • What is the role of the church in all of this?

    The major eschatological positions (premillennialism, postmillennialism and amillennialism) differ on the nature and timing of the kingdom in Revelation 20. He then proceeds to briefly lay out the eschatological positions and words which are often used.

    Interpreting prophecy

    Nature of Prophecy

    In chapter 2, entitled “Interpreting Prophecy and Apocalyptic” he lays out the hermeneutics needed which will be used in interpreting prophecy. This is mainly directed against dispensational premillennialism with its insistence on “consistent literal interpretation,” especially of prophecy. Before we a priori decide upon a “literal interpretation” of prophecy, we must first understand the nature of prophecy. The prophets primarily did two things: “(1) They warned God’s people of the consequences of disobedience to the Lord’s ways by oracles of judgment; and (2) They called God’s people back to faithfulness by oracles of salvation” (pp. 6-7). Their purpose was to change the behavior of people and call them to repentance rather than give them things interesting to think about or a map of the future. Their primary function was forth-telling rather than fore-telling. What makes prophecy difficult is the medium in which it was given to the prophets. They are sometimes given in a dream or visionary form. This means that such a prophecy must be interpreted in line with its literature, and not the same as Genesis or Exodus which is narrated history. The way that God talks to the prophets is said to be “in dark sayings” (Ps. 78:2; cf. Num. 12:6-8), which obviously does not mean that such a prophecy is clear on first sight. Prophecy, in comparison with didactic (teaching) or historical portion of the Bible, is less clear.


    Another important factor to keep in mind when dealing with prophecy is that, because it is concerned with the behavior of God’s people, it is therefore contingent. “God announced this principle of contingency in Jer 18:6–11; 26:12–13; 36:1–3; Ezek 18:1–32; 33:10–20” (p. 8). Sometimes this principle is explicitly stated (Menn adduces Jer 38:17–18; 42:7–17; Acts 27:21–44; Rom 11:17&n


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary

    ...e. God is preserving the world with everyone in it, and the unbeliever has just as much a right to the promise of common kindness as the believer because we are both citizens of a common cursed kingdom of common grace.[42]

    Shadows & Types

    The Scriptures are numerous which mention Noah and allude to the account of the global Flood. We will consider the aspect of judgment here.

    Judgment and Salvation

    While speaking of His awesome Second Coming, our Lord compares it to the days of Noah–

    Matt. 24:37-39 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

    Just like in the time of Noah, daily life was “normal” until that moment when he entered the ark and the Lord brought rain upon the earth and broke the fountains of the deep. There are two groups of people: those who were outside of the ark and thus were destroyed, and those who were in the ark and were saved from destruction. This is a glorious picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone who is in Him will be saved from God’s wrath. There is no more condemnation for them who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1). But anyone who is not in Christ, God’s wrath burns hot against them. Destruction and the Second Coming will come suddenly, at a time when people don’t expect them, just like the Flood did. Jesus Christ is the Ark of Salvation.

    The Flood should function as a clear sign that God is not kidding when He says that He will come and He will bring judgment upon the ungodly. Indeed, read what Peter says–

    2 Pet. 2:5-6 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

    The Lord’s great judgments when He cast the fallen angels to hell when He brought the Flood to destroy the godless world, when He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness function as types and shadows of the greater destruction that is to come. These events assure us that God will judge the world in righteousness. Let us also not forget the important aspect of salvation by grace as we noted above. It was not because Noah was good that He was saved. It was because he found grace in the eyes of the LORD (Gen. 6:8 KJV). In short, anyone who is not hidden in Christ will face the wrath of God. Therefore, come and take shelter in Christ as your Ark of Salvation.

    The Abrahamic Covenant

    The next revelation of the Covenant of Grace is the Abrahamic Covenant. Certainly, the Abrahamic Covenant is one of the most important covenants in the Bible. There are many questions that need to be answered when dealing with the Abrahamic Covenant.

    God’s Story

    After flooding the world, “the greatest story ever told” continues. The earth is populated by the descendants of Noah, but mankind has not become better. Sin was still rampant among them. God commanded Noah and his descendants to fill and subdue the earth, but people wanted to stay in one place and thereby disobey God’s commission. Therefore, they wanted to build a tower which reached to heaven to make a name for themselves. God was not ...

    Review of Dean Davis' The High King of Heaven on Amillennialism is the classic eschatology of Church History and the Reformation.

    The word amillennialism means no millennium. However, amillennarians do not deny the existence of a millennium, only that it begins after the Parousia and that it will last for a literal thousand years. Instead, they teach that the thousand years of Revelation 20 symbolize the present Era of Proclamation, during which time Christ reigns with (the departed spirits of) his saints in heaven. Amillennarians are, then, “present-millennarians.” Pages 23-24

    Basically, Amillennialism teaches that the Millennium of Revelation 20 started from the cross and will end at the Second Coming of our Lord, spanning over 2 millennia up till now and is thus to be interpreted symbolically, rather than literally. The Millennium is the Gospel Era, or as Dean likes to call it, the Era of Proclamation.

    This is a simple chart laying out the Amillennial vision of Salvation History.

    The Kingdom of God

    One of the very ups of this book was the extensive study of the Kingdom of God in the New and Old Testaments. My understanding of the Kingdom of God was really expanded.

    A Definition of the Kingdom of God

    Dean Davis defines the Kingdom of God as:

    In essence, the Kingdom of God is the direct reign of God the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit, over his redeemed creatures; creatures who have been rescued from every spiritual and physical enemy, and restored to every spiritual and physical friend that God planned for them in the beginning. Also, the Kingdom is the blessed realm that this redemptive reign creates, and over which it forever rules. Page 65.

    This he does not merely assume, but ably goes to prove it from the Bible, here is a summary of his five points:

    1. The Kingdom is the direct reign of God the Father (Mt 6:10)
    2. The Kingdom is a sphere of wholeness and blessing (Mt 9:35; 10:7-8; 12:28)
    3. The Kingdom is mediated by the Son of God (John 5:19, 30; 6:38;  8:28; 12:49; 14:10)
    4. The Kingdom is effected by the Spirit of God (Mt 12:28; Acts 1:4-8)
    5. The Kingdom is a realm beneath a reign (Mt 13:41-42; Rev 11:15)

    Thereby is indeed the definition that he gives is justified and satisfactory.

    The Two-Staged Kingdom

    Amillennarians see the Kingdom of God coming in two stages, separated by the Parousia of our Lord:

    1. The Kingdom of the Son (already, the present Era of Proclamation)
    2. The Kingdom of the Father (not yet, the future World/Age to Come)

    Now, the terminology used here is not meant to give the idea that the Son has no share in the second stage of the Kingdom or that the Father has no share in the first, but rather is taken from 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 where we learn that at the Coming of our Lord, the Lord Jesus will deliver His Kingdom, His consummated Kingdom to God the Father and will be subjected to Him. Thus, seeing a difference between the present Kingdom of the Son (which is to be delivered up to the Father) and the coming Kingdom of the Father (which is the eternal World to Come). This terminology is also supported by Matthew 13:41-43.

    The two-staged Kingdom is seen from Jesus’ own contrast of this present age and the age to come. Here is a table I made for myself:            

    Verse This age The age to come
    Mt 12:32 …will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come (compare Mk 3:28-30)
    Mk 10:30 …receive many times more in this time,

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary

    ...bsp;acteth according to both natures. He is not a mediator only in His divine nature neither only by His human nature. But He is a mediator in His one person, which is both man and God. Sometimes, Scripture attributes that which is properly human to the divine nature and vice versa. Acts 20:28, for example, says “to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood”. The reference to “his” is God. But we know that God does not have blood. Yet by reason of the unity of the person, that which is properly human is attributed to the divine Son. Another example concerns the day and the hour of the Second Coming. Matthew 24:36 says, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” The Son, as divine, surely knows the day and the hour, but in the state of His humiliation and as a human, He did not know the day and the hour. Yet this ignorance is attributed to the Son as if it belonged to His divine nature.

    As man, He is able to truly and faithfully represent us. The Epistle to the Hebrews encourages us to run to Christ with these words—

    Heb. 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

    The fact that Jesus was made man, though without sin, does not mean that He does not understand our sin and temptation. In fact, to resist temptation is much stronger than giving in and therefore, the Lord Who was tempted in every way is able to represent us before God and understands our struggle. He is not angry with His people, but He gives us confidence that if we come through Him we will indeed receive forgiveness and grace (1 John 1:8-9). As God, He is able to satisfy the justice of God by pointing back to His perfect work on behalf of the elect on the cross. He is also able to represent the offended party, namely—God.

    §8 Particular Atonement

    1. To all those for whom Christ hath obtained eternal redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same, 1 making intercession for themuniting them to himself by his Spirit, revealing unto them, in and by his Word, the mystery of salvation, 4 persuading them to believe and obey, 5 governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit, 6 and overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, 7 in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation; and all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it. 9
      1. John 6:37, 39; 10:15-16; 17:9
      2. 1 John 2:1-2; Rom. 8:34
      3. Rom. 8:1-2
      4. John 15:13, 15; 17:6; Eph. 1:7-9
      5. 1 John 5:20
      6. John 14:16; Heb. 12:2; Rom. 8:9, 14; 2 Cor. 4:13; Rom. 15:18-19; John 17:17
      7. Ps. 110:1; 1 Cor. 15:25-26; Col. 2:15
      8. Eph. 1:9-11
      9. John 3:8; Eph. 1:8

    The benefits of Christ redemption are applied to all for whom it was purchased. He doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the eternal redemption which was obtained for them by His passive and active obedience (paragraph 5). He makes intercession for them (1 John 2:1-2; Rom. 8:34), pleading on their behalf on the basis of His sacrifice. They are united to...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 3: Of God's Decree - Commentary

    ...ut. 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

    Here we see that Moses tells the children of Israel that there are things, which God in His freedom has not revealed unto them. He has not revealed unto us the day of our death; He has not revealed the future aside from what He has said in the Bible; He has not revealed completely how the Trinity actually works or the Hypostatic Union; He has not revealed the Day of Christ’s Second Coming and many other things which we may want to know. But not all the doings of the Lord are secret. There are things which He has been pleased to reveal to man. His existence and Law are an example of this and to this are men held accountable. We are not judged according to God’s decretive will, but His preceptive will. We are judged according to His Law. John Gill observes about the first part of Deuteronomy 29:29:

    The secret [things belong] unto the Lord our God,.... Respecting the people of Israel, and the providential dealings of God with them, and especially the final rejection of them; with respect to which, the apostle’s exclamation agrees with this, Ro 11:33; and though the Lord had revealed many things which should befall them, there were others still secret with him, and the reasons of others; and particularly the times and seasons of their accomplishment, which he retains in his own power, Ac 1:6. There are many secret things in nature, which cannot be found out and accounted for by men, which the Lord only knows; and there are many things in Providence, which are unsearchable, and past finding out by finite minds, especially the true causes and reasons of them; and there are many things relating to God himself, which remain secret with him; notwithstanding the revelation he has made of himself; for not only some of his perfections, as eternity, immensity, c. are beyond our comprehension but the mode of subsistence of the three divine Persons in the Godhead, the paternity of the one, the generation of the other, and the procession of the Spirit from them both; the union of the two natures, divine and human, in the person of Christ; the thoughts, purposes, and decrees of God within himself, until brought into execution; and so there are many things relating to his creatures, as the particular persons predestinated unto eternal life, what becomes of such who die in infancy, what will befall us in life, when we shall die, where and in what manner, and also the day and hour of the last judgment.[2]

    Moving forward from Deuteronomy 29:29, we see examples of the Lord decreeing that which He forbids in His Law. Take for example the incident in 1 Samuel 2. The sons of Eli the priest were worthless men (1 Sam. 2:12), the Scriptures tell us. They disgraced their father by their wickedness and messed with the prescribed way of worship and sacrifice that God has determined and given Israel through Moses (1 Sam. 2:17, 22). The Lord wanted them dead. How did He accomplish His purpose?

    1 Sam. 2:22-25 Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24 No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the LORD spreading abroad. 25 If ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 32: Of the Last Judgment - Commentary

    ...cting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (v. 8), through which they will suffer “eternal destruction” (v. 9), and that will happen “when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints” (v. 10). Notice that on a singular day and with the same singular Parousia of Christ, two opposite things happen: His coming brings joy and relief to His people, but it also brings eternal destruction and misery to those who do not know the gospel of our God. This is the Final Judgment at the Second Coming of our Lord. 1 Corinthians 4:5 connects the time of judgment with the coming of Christ saying, “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” The time for judgment is after the Lord comes, and when the Lord comes He will bring to light the things now hidden. John 12:48 says that the judgment will take place “on the last day.” Matthew 25:31ff begins with the coming of the Lord in glory before going into the Final Judgment. The Day of the Lord is often connected with judgment, which is the day on which Christ will return (see here for more). There is a day and an hour fixed by God for the revelation of His perfect justice, which will certainly come and men should live with the knowledge of that. If they are outside of Christ, they have no hope, but if they are in Christ they will have confidence on that awesome day (1 John 4:17).

    The Standard

    God will judge the world by His own standard. He is His own standard. 1 Samuel 2:3 says that “the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” He is the standard that determines what is right and what is wrong. The Law which He has given us in the Ten Commandments—the moral law—is a reflection of His morally excellent character and the standard which we will be judged by. God is the Judge and He will do no one any wrong, for He is Just (Gen. 18:25). The Bible repeatedly declares that God is just and He will judge the world by righteousness (e.g., Ps. 9:7-8; 96:10-13). He will not be bribed or be partial in His judgment (Rom. 2:9-11), but will give each man according to his works. No man outside of Christ can have any confidence of fulfilling God’s righteous standard or coming anywhere near that perfect standard. Therefore, there is no peace for those outside of Christ. On the other hand, believers have confidence (1 John 4:17). The standard of judgment is the revealed will of God. There are several ways which we may know the revealed will of God. We have the will of God in 1) the law of nature, the moral law; 2) we have the revealed will of God in the Bible; and 3) we have the revealed will of God in the gospel. Each will be judged according to the measure of knowledge they have of the will of God. This is evident from such passages as Matthew 11:21-24; Luke 12:47-48; 20:47; 2 Corinthians 9:6. Luke 12:47 explicitly speaks about the Master’s will. With the knowledge that we have of God’s will, with that also we will be judged. This does not mean that people who have not heard the gospel will not be judged, that would be contrary to the argument of Romans 1:18-32. But rather, the standard of judgment is the Law of God and the knowledge that we had of His will. This is why the apostle Paul is harsher against Jews in Romans 2 than he was against t...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures - Commentary is infallible and completely truthful (see below for more on this). Pastor John MacArthur writes that

    the Greek word order is crucial in that it does not say that [the ESV translation of “more sure”]. It says, “And we have more sure the prophetic word.” That original arrangement of the sentence supports the interpretation that Peter is ranking Scripture over experience. The prophetic word (Scripture) is more complete, more permanent, and more authoritative than the experience of anyone. More specifically, the word of God is a more reliable verification of the teachings about the person, atonement, and Second Coming of Christ than even the genuine first-hand experiences of the apostles themselves.[20]

    The reason that this word is firm and sure is that “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation” (2 Pet. 1:20). This passage speaks about the origin of prophecy, but in church history, this phrase has been variously understood. Dr. Philip Schaff explains, “The verse has been largely taken advantage of by Roman Catholic divines in the interest of their theory of the relation in which Scripture stands to the Church. It has been regarded as a protest against the right of private judgment. Some Protestant commentators read it as a caution against interpreting particular prophecies separately by themselves, instead of interpreting them in the full light of prophecy as a whole. Others discover in it a re-statement of what Peter has already said in the former Epistle (chap. 2Pe 1:11-12) about the inability of the prophets to understand all that was in the prophecies which they uttered. Others suppose it to mean that prophecy is not its own interpreter but can be fully understood only in the light of the event.” But he admits that “It cannot be said, however, that any one of these views falls in naturally with the context”[21], which is true. The Catholic interpretation is the most absurd option given. They want to take away the Bible, in fact, the Bible was away from the people and that’s why they were able to hold their sway, but as soon as Scripture came into the hands of common man, he understood the lies of the Roman church and recognized the true Savior from Scripture. The passage is not about our own interpretation, rather the prophet’s. The readers of Scripture simply cannot be meant because the passage goes on to explain the origin of prophecy and the Word of God and not its proper interpretation.

    The KJV translation is here very weak in translating the word γίνομαι (ginomai, G1096) simply with “is” when the word actually means “to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being”[22], which demonstrates the passage to be about the origin of Scripture, rather than its interpretation by people, which is the sense given by the KJV rendering.

    As for the word “interpretation,” it is the Greek ἐπίλυσις (epilusis, G1955), which is literally “a loosening, unloosing” and metaphorically “interpretation”[22], only used here in the Bible. Pastor MacArthur explains, ‘The Greek word for “interpretation” has the idea of a “loosing,” as if to say no Scripture is the result of any human being privately “untying” and “loosing” the truth. Peter’s point is not so much about how to interpret Scripture, but rather how Scripture originated, and what its source was.’[20] Dr. Schaff explains that

    This noun is found only this once in the N. T. It is used, however, by one of the ancient Greek Versions of th...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith - Commentary

    ...ut that didn’t appear possible, since Abraham and Sarah were far too old. Yet he believed anyway (Rom. 4:19–21). His faith was based on knowledge of God’s promise. But until Isaac was born, he didn’t see the fulfillment of the promise. Similarly the saints of Hebrews 11: they didn’t see the city that God had promised his people. They didn’t see the fulfillment. But they continued believing, because they knew that God’s promise was sure—more sure, even, than the evidence of their eyes.[24]

    So we also believe in the Second Coming of our Lord in glory to raise all the dead, judge and reward, and usher in the eternal state. All these are promises of God in Scripture given to us. To be in Christ is to have “all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Cor. 1:20).

    This object of faith is sometimes called fides generalis. Berkhof remarks that “By this is meant saving faith in the more general sense of the word.”[25]

    The Son of God

    Next to fides generalis is fides specialis. This is faith in a specific and special sense. The Confession speaks of “the principal acts of saving faith have immediate relation to Christ”. The word principal here means “most important; main”[26]. This aspect of saving faith is focused on Christ. It acknowledges what it believes in fides generalis that the Word of God calls upon us to put our hope and trust in Christ to be saved. Therefore, the Confession speaks of this faith as “accepting, receiving, and resting upon” Christ (see above for the expressions for faith). Christ is offered to us in the gospel as the object of faith. When the gospel of Christ is preached, the expected response is to repent and believe in that gospel (John 4:39, 41; Acts 11:21; 14:1; Rom. 10:14-17). Obviously, the expected response from fallen man is rejection unless God works in his heart. Yet this does not take their culpability away. The Lord taught that the Pharisees were in sin because they saw the works of Jesus and rejected them:

    John 9:39-41 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

    Not believing in Christ will result in condemnation (John 3:16-18, 33). Charles Hodge explains, “The special object of faith, therefore, is Christ, and the promise of salvation through Him. And the special definite act of faith which secures our salvation is the act of receiving and resting on Him as He is offered to us in the Gospel.”[27]

    We see that Christ and His work are everywhere said to be the principal objects of faith. We may take note of the passages with the pisteuo and eis construction with Christ as their object (e.g. John 1:12; 3:16; 6:35; 11:25; Acts 10:43; 16:31; Gal. 2:16, 20). For example, the most popular Bible verse says “that whoever believes in [Christ] should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It is not merely believing in Christ, but also believe in Christ as the sacrifice to atone for our sins. Romans 3:25 says that Christ was put “forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith”. The preaching of the gospel was the preaching of Christ crucified and risen (Acts 17:18; 1 Cor. 1:23; Col. 1:27). It is said that Felix called Paul and “heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus” (Acts 24:24). Ther...

    A Review of O. Palmer Robertson's The Israel of God

    ...r more on Amillennialism and the Two-Staged Kingdom of God.

    In this chapter Dr. Robertson shows the important and crucial place of Israel in the plan of God as related to the coming of the Kingdom and how Scripture connects the coming of the Kingdom with Israel. But as argued earlier and continually throughout the book, the Israel of God is not defined by ethnicity, but by faith in the Messiah.

    There is a very helpful discussion on the Kingdom of God in Acts as it relates to the disciples’ question in Acts 1:6. He shows how the New Testament vision of the Kingdom is that it is spiritual in the present age and non-consummate, but it will have its consummation at the Second Coming of its King. The Kingdom comes in two stages and no more. What some (e.g. Dean Davis) have called the Kingdom of the Son and the Kingdom of the Father. There was also a helpful discussion on Revelation and an Amillennial interpretation of chapter 20.

    Romans 11

    Chapter six deals with the question of Israel’s future. Dr. Robertson maintains that ethnic Israelites are and will always be part of God’s people and in God’s plan, but he denies that there will be distinctive future for ethnic Israel, as envision by Dispensationalists for example. There will never be a distinction between believing Jews and Gentiles ever again. Both are on an equal footing and both are together heirs to the promises of God in Christ.

    Dr. Robertson stresses throughout this chapter how Paul is actually concerned with what is to happen with Israel in the present and no so much in the future. He stresses how Paul is seeking to save some Israelites now and how he is seeking to save them through his ministry and not at some future date (Rom 11:5, 7, 14-15, 23, 30-31). All this emphasis is right and warranted by the context and it was helpful to have that pointed out because some act as if Romans 11 largely or wholly has to do with the future. Dr. Robertson shows that the emphasis of Romans 11 itself is upon the present time. He rightly notes that the “references in Romans 11 to God’s present intention for Israel are pervasive and are highly significant for the total thrust of the chapter” (p. 171). This point must not be overlooked.

    It is not the purpose of God to save every Jew. He has always had the freedom to pick and choose according to His sovereign pleasure and He has never bound Himself to save every ethnic Israelite. The mystery of God in this is that the rejection of Israel serves the purpose to bring Gentiles in. But even this is for the purpose of moving elect ethnic Israelites to jealously so that they would cling to their Messiah and in this way the world will be blessed (Rom 11:11-15).

    Then there is a very interesting discussion on the most controversial verses in the chapter, namely, vv. 25-26. I will make this short. Dr. Robertson argues that the “partial hardening” (Rom 11:25) means that a part of Israel after the flesh has been hardened, i.e., not elected and given a hard heart (Rom 11:7-8). Then he argues that the word “until” in the Greek does not necessitate a change of course after its termination. In another words, the word “until” in itself cannot indicate that there will be a day when the decree of reprobation will not be in effect in Israel. This is something which he hammers on throughout this section. The word “until” in itself is not enough to indicate a change of course after “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” He argues that