Romans 9:11-23 is often used by Reformed Theologians to support the idea that God created part of the human race for salvation and the other part for damnation.

How do those who are not Reformed (i.e. Arminians but also non-Protestants) interpret these verses?

  • 1
    Please quote the relevant verses for us, and perhaps explain a little more about what makes you think of asking.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 15, 2015 at 11:57
  • The way you have asked this question means that there will be two answers: Reformed Theologians will say yes, Arminians will say no. This means your question will most likely be closed as opinion based. Instead it would be better to ask why Reformed Theology interprets it this way, and a separate question to ask about the other interpretation.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 16, 2015 at 0:33
  • @curiousdannii I just want to know how the people against the idea of reformed theology would interprete the scripture.
    – Sray
    Mar 18, 2015 at 10:41
  • Ah, in that case it will be easy to edit the question to make it more focused.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 18, 2015 at 14:11

1 Answer 1


Many interpret it in light of the rest of the larger section, Romans 9-11, which indicates that Paul's language of election is about Jews and Gentiles. In fact, cutting off that section at verse 23 is quite artificial, and even the Reformed-leaning ESV translation groups 9:1-29 into a single pericope. On this interpretation, election is not a choice by God of an individual for salvation but of a group. Arminians believe that God elected the Church, but that he did not preordain exactly which individuals would compose the Church.

Others (myself included) interpret election as a primarily missional term, not a primarily salvific one. This, too, takes into account Paul's assertion of Israel as the original elect and interprets that as a restatement of the covenant in Genesis 12, in which Israel was appointed as the nation through whom "all the families of the earth will be blessed." The elect, then, are not the only people who will be saved, but rather are the people through whom God will work to bring about the salvation of many (or, to some interpreters, of all).

Sources for further reading:

N.T. Wright - Justificiation, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, and other writings. (This blog post has some relevant excerpts from PFG). Justification is part of a larger dialogue with John Piper, so I recommend that book if you're looking for something that specifically addresses the claims of neo-Calvinism.

Douglas J. Moo - The Epistle to the Romans (New International Commentary on the New Testament series). Moo provides one of the most comprehensive catalogues of the various views held on this passage.

Corporate Election on Wikipedia.


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