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Romans 9:17

17 In the Scriptures God says to Pharaoh: “I made you king so that you could do this for me. I wanted to show my power through you. I wanted my name to be announced throughout the world.” [d]

God purposefully created the Pharaoh, the Canaanites, and every other enemy in real life at that time — to challenge His people to show His Glory.

Are his creations who are made enemies, have His salvation and blessings or are they cursed?

Does this have anything to do with why we are commanded to love our enemies?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I think the rest of the letter to the Romans can give a thorough answer to this question. Let's bear in mind, first of all, that the book is written by Paul (who formerly persecuted Christians, but was called by God to become his apostle to the Gentiles) to the church in Rome, the capital of the Empire that was occupying the Holy Land, persecuted Jews and Christians, and was the symbolic successor of all the big bad empires of the Old Testament. It's safe to say that the people who first read the letter would be very interested in knowing whether they, as Romans, could be saved, and what might happen to the other Romans who counted themselves against Christianity.

The theme of the book is set out in the first lines:

I have an obligation to Greeks as well as barbarians, to the educated as well as the ignorant, and hence the eagerness on my part to preach the gospel to you in Rome too. For I see no reason to be ashamed of the gospel; it is God's power for the salvation of everyone who has faith - Jews first, but Greeks as well - for in it is revealed the saving justice of God: a justice based on faith and addressed to faith. As it says in scripture: Anyone who is upright through faith will live. (Romans 1:14-17, NJB)

So the text affirms, strongly, that salvation is available to anyone; and Paul's personal history proves that even previously being an "enemy" does not mean that one is cursed forever. Paul goes on to say that "there is no favoritism with God" (2:11), quoting Deuteronomy 10:17 (which goes on in v19 to say "Love the stranger then, for you were once strangers in Egypt"). Even worse,

Are we any better off [than the condemned]? Not at all: we have already indicted Jews and Greeks as being all alike under the dominion of sin. (3:9-10)

However, faith is available to everybody - it is not the case that acting as an enemy of God cuts one off from salvation. If this were true then there would be no hope for anybody, since we are all slaves of sin. This theme is expounded throughout the letter. In 9:25-26, Paul loosely quotes Hosea, saying

I shall tell those who were not my people, "You are my people," and I shall take pity on those on whom I had no pity. And in the very place where they were told, "You are not my people," they will be told that they are "children of the living God."

Even the governing authorities of Rome are meant to be respected (13:1-7, and likewise 2 Timothy 2:1-2, Titus 3:1). So it is clear from these passages that even those who set themselves up against God may be saved, in the same way as anybody else. This doesn't mean that they necessarily do enjoy salvation, just that they are not "cursed". Paul says in 13:14, "Bless your persecutors; never curse them, bless them," which is of course a direct echo of the words of Christ, in Matthew 5:43-44, "You have heard how it was said, You will love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

The remaining issue from your question is whether people like Pharaoh might be "automatically" saved or blessed because they are carrying out God's will. Paul dismisses this possibility in Romans 3:7-8,

You might as well say that if my untruthfulness makes God demonstrate his truthfulness, to his greater glory, then I should not be judged to be a sinner at all. In this case, the slanderous report some people are spreading would be true, that we teach that one should do evil that good may come of it. In fact such people are justly condemned.

So, no such luck for Pharaoh: just because God managed to make something good out of the bad things he did, doesn't mean he gets a free pass. But, much more importantly, the "enemies" of your question have just as much access to salvation as anybody else.

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This is such great insight, thank you for taking the time to explain this. As you pointed out, the Romans reading Paul's writing might have the same questions themselves and that there is salvation for all. Not sure why there was no such luck for Pharaoh? He wasn't justifying his bad as a means to good, he was just doing what God designed Him to do, which happens to be bad..... – Greg McNulty Jun 1 '12 at 0:33
@GregMcNulty: Well, I was being a bit flippant. But whether or not Pharaoh might have actually argued the case, it's still true that doing bad things is bad, even if something good comes out of it. – James T Jun 2 '12 at 2:32

If you observe the Biblical text carefully, you will find out that God didn't just arbitrarily make Pharaoh an enemy as though Pharaoh had no choice in that matter. God first extended to him a peaceful offer (Exodus 5:1). But Pharaoh did not listen. God then proceeded to harden Pharaoh's heart. This subject was discussed at length in this debate on free will. Here is the exact location where the section on Pharaoh begins.

Bottom line is, God does not make anyone a sinner (or enemy). But if one persists in sin, God allows him to sin more and become more miserable by "giving them over" (Romans 1:24) to more sin.

Salvation is open to all (John 3:16). Even to those who have made themselves enemies of God. We are called to love our enemies, "so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:45). This means that our Father in heaven also loves his enemies, or else why would we be his sons by loving our enemies? A son inherits his Father's nature. This verse gives us an insight into the nature of God, who is love (1 John 4:8). Since God loves even his enemies, it is therefore obvious that the offer of salvation is open to them.

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I'd be careful with your current understanding of the formula you've put together. Paul says in Ephesians that we were once, by nature, children of wrath who followed the "Spirit of the Air." As an adopted son of God, would you like to make the claim that God's nature is that of an object of due wrath and one who follows Satan? (I know your answer; I'm just being rhetorical.) – San Jacinto Jun 1 '12 at 11:46
@SanJacinto Of course my answer is no. Ephesians says we WERE so. Now we aren't. – LoveTheFaith Jun 4 '12 at 2:23

first off- my previous answer- no offence, but the bible you practically worship can not possibly be considered 'Gods Word'. it has been edited countless times and written by whoever felt like they were 'touched by god'. then there was the meeting of Nicea, a bunch of old men literally took the bible apart and put it back together.

At this 'religious council' they removed books and who says they didn't add or edit further. And thats only a microscopic part of the flaws in your 'divine' 'godsent' idol you call The Holy Bible -btw, im 17 and i can prove i know more about Xian beliefs then most who whole-heartedly give thier lives to it (well they say they do)-

And if you want to say it like that, then everyone else has no souls seeing your god made them to challenge you. not only that, say they do.. the chance of repent should be nearly impossible seeing your god killed most of them to 'save his people'

And again, if its like half of you say, whoever ((rapers, killers, abusers, people who might deserve death)yes all of them) can just repent and POOF all sins are washied away and they can go to heaven to be happy and smiling forever. if you died in childbirth... fiery torment forever. so yes, that is what is being said.

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@J Engel: thanks. you may be onto something but can you make your answers more concise and support it with examples, materials, text, etc. – Greg McNulty Jun 18 '12 at 0:24

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