Paul's understanding and use of the concept of election in Romans 9-11
This thesis contends that Paul is wholly consistent in his understanding and use of the concept of election in Romans 9-11. Drawing upon both Old Testament teaching and a double predestinarian tradition finding its most coherent and reasoned expression in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Paul employs the concept of election in Romans 9 to demonstrate how God may be considered faithful to His covenant with Israel. At present, the Creator honors His word by selecting out of ethnic Israel those whom He has predestined as children of promise. These comprise true Israel, and are recognized in Paul's day as Jews embracing Jesus as Messiah. Along with believing Gentiles, they constitute the "vessels of mercy predestined to eschatological glory." The remainder of Israel is hardened into unbelief, and viewed as "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction." Thus, in Romans 9 Paul dismisses a purely nationalistic concept of election in favor of an Israel formed by God's sovereign election of individuals to salvation. Romans 11, however, seems to overrule this individualized perspective of election. Paul declares that God has not completely or finally rejected unbelieving, ethnic Israel. As a corporate entity, through the existence of 'the remnant' she enjoys the continuity of both a theocratic and soteriological election. Although most of his contemporary, unbelieving kinsmen have not been chosen to salvation, Paul holds firmly to the mystery that at the close of the age God will bring future Israel into His mercy. Here, at the consummation of history, God's individualized, electing purpose (Rom 9) and His corporate election of all Israel (Rom 11) dovetail, and God is fully glorified as both Jew and Gentile are rescued from disobedience solely through the sovereign, elective mercy of God.