A Velvet Glove on Predestination

Noting our 5 devices of speech, Romans 8 ends with Paul’s device of raising our emotions for the purpose of giving his readers confidence.

So, what is it that Paul is trying to deal with by transitioning so hard into Romans 9? He has just been dealing with the security and strength of God towards all those who are united to Christ and then moves straight into dealing with sadness and grief for those who are not united to Christ and ultimately on the road to damnation.

But, disregarding this connection just mentioned, let’s look at what Cicero has to say about compassion/pity as a solution…“‘Conquestio (lament or complaint) is a passage seeking to arouse the pity of the audience. In this the first necessity is to make the auditor’s spirit gentle and merciful that he may be more easily moved by the conquestio. This ought to be done by the use of “commonplaces” which set forth the power of fortune over all men and the weakness of the human race. When such a passage is delivered gravely and sententiously, the spirit of man is greatly abased and prepared for pity, for in viewing the misfortune of another he will contemplate his own weakness.’ (Cicero, Inv. 1.54.106)”

At the end of Romans 8, Paul is asking all sorts of questions in order to prepare his reader to pity the Jewish people!

Therefore, when Romans 9 comes Paul is able to begin dealing with Israel in more detail. But what is the purpose of predestination in the chapter?

This is the purpose… Predestination vindicates God and His own actions throughout history and tells us why it is that Israel has become what it has become. John Piper calls it the “Justification of God.”But once again, this does follow up on the concept up pity and helps Paul’s audience gain more pity for the Jewish people so that the Gentiles have the right mindset to go where he is going next. What does this mean?

1) Paul believes in a sovereign God who chooses and saves… (Romans 8!)

2) But why does he choose to present the bleak position of the non-elect in Romans 9? (Vindicate God? YES, Triumphalism? NO)

3) From gospel debt to pastoral challenge

4) …beginning to try and stir pity!

This passage is meant to give a greater concern and pity for others because of the sadness of their lives. That, were it not for the grace of God, you yourself would be no better off than the other people who have these sad lives and destiny towards death.