I don't know if ts intended to just bring up the question to get me posting, but basically he posted the following comment, which leads me directly to what I was intending to post on next.
But isn't Paul talking about Jews and Gentiles in this chapter? He's talking about nations, not individuals.When I've brought up Romans 9 to people who have disagreed with my interpretation affirming the unconditional nature of God's election, the chief objection is that the passage is speaking of national election, that of Israel and Edom. They would reference Malachi 1, which is where Jacob and Esau are spoken of.
Now, there is a case for God speaking of nations here. He moves from speaking of Esau and Jacob to Edom and Israel. But this case is by no means airtight. It is entirely possible that God hated Jacob and Esau as individuals, and as a result, their seed are cursed as well.
1The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.[a]2"I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have you loved us?" "Is not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob 3but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert." 4If Edom says, "We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins," the LORD of hosts says, "They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called 'the wicked country,' and 'the people with whom the LORD is angry forever.'" 5Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, "Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!"
But anyways, the objection of national election is one that I think can (must?) be dealt with in Romans 9 directly.
My answer to the objection that God is speaking of nations and not individuals is that national election is the problem, not the solution.
1I am speaking the truth in Christ--I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit-- 2that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,[a] my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.See my previous post on the problem. Paul is dealing with the issue of why his kinsmen are cut off from the mercy of God. After all, weren't they God's chosen people? Didn't they have the promises and the covenants, the adoptions and the patriarchs? What went wrong? How can Paul now say that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8) if it is so clear that the Jews are separated from the love of God?
6But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." 8This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return and Sarah shall have a son." 10And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad--in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call-- 12she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."Paul's answer to the problem isn't that "God loves Israel as a nation," his answer is that "Not all Israel is Israel," with the two examples being his proof. God chose to love Isaac and not to love Ishmael (at least, not in the covenant-making sense). In the same way, before they had born, before they had done anything good or bad, God says "the older will serve the younger...Jacob I loved and Esau I hated." The case for national election ignores the problem that Paul is wrestling with altogether.
I'm debating whether or not to finish up Romans 9, or at least address the objection that Paul addresses, or just to move on to (L). This series of blogposts was intended to span maybe a quarter, but now I doubt if I'll finish it by the end of two. Votes in the comments encouraged.