This is another repost of an old post in the Called According to Paul series. I’m reposting them all, one per week (sort of), so I can link to them in the sidebar under Favorite Posts. An explanation of this series can be found here, and the already reposted pieces are here.
Some form of the word called is found five times in Romans 9, first in verse 11:
And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though 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—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9:10-13 ESV)
There’s no need for me to explain all of Romans 9 here, since these posts have a very specific purpose, and that’s to understand the way Paul uses the word call. Here are a few things I see in these verses:
- Here again, the call is linked with God’s purpose. In this case, it’s God’s purpose of election. God’s call, according to Paul, is based in God’s will or plan or purpose.
- Paul contrasts God’s call and “works”: not because of works but because of his call. God’s call is the determining factor in the older son serving the younger, and not the good or bad deeds of the sons. We might say that God’s call (in the way Paul uses the term) works freely to accomplish God’s purpose. God’s call brings about God’s plan, and in this case, God planned for Esau to serve Jacob. It is God’s call that causes his plan to become a reality.
- Just as we’ve seen in some of the other passages, God call is related to God’s love for a particular person, and with God’s choice (election).
Later in Romans 9, Paul uses called again:
What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.
In these verses
- God’s call is associated with God’s mercy. Those who are called are “vessels of mercy.”
- God’s call is also connected to a prior plan of God. The “vessels of mercy” who are called are “prepared beforehand for glory.”
- God’s call causes things to happen. Those who were not God’s people become his people, become “beloved”, and become “sons of the living God” because of God’s call. God’s call is a call with power.
What do you see that I missed? What can you see in this passage about the way Paul uses the word “called” when he uses it in regards to the call of God?