How do you respond to Romans 11:36?

“For from him [God] and through him and to him are all things.”

Calvinists sometimes cite this doxology as evidence that Paul believed that every single event in world history was from, through and for God. In light of the fact that the verses leading up to this doxology address God’s genuine frustration with Israel’s unbelief (Rom. 11:7, 20–23, cf. 9:30–32; 10:3) this seems like an extremely odd conclusion to draw.

If the Israelites’ unbelief came from God, why would God be frustrated over it? Paul’s primary goal throughout Romans 9-11 is to show that even though both Jews and Gentiles can and do resist God’s will, God’s overall purposes for history will be achieved. It is in this sense that we should understand Paul’s doxology. All things—including free will—come from God and, in one way or another, will eventually end up glorifying God.

Related Reading

What is the significance of Matthew 25:41?

The Lord teaches that on the judgment day he will say to the wicked, “Depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…” Hell was expressly prepared for “the devil and his angels”; humans were never meant to go there. But if God eternally knew that certain persons would end…

Topics:

Will people get married in heaven?

Question: I lead a Bible study group for teenagers. One recently asked a question: “Will there be marriage in Heaven? And if not, why? God created marriage when He created the perfect earth, so why won’t there also be marriage in the New Earth after the resurrection? Surely the New Earth will be a restored…

Topics:

How do you respond to Acts 17:26?

“From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live.” (cf. Dan. 2:21) In this passage Paul is preaching to Epicurean and Stoic philosophers (17:18). His goal is to show them that, in contrast to…

Tragedy Strikes and Coherence Goes Out the Window

I encourage you to read Aurora shooting inspires various perspectives on God and belief, written by Electa Draper and published on the front page of the Denver Post Monday. The article shows how differently believers process tragedies, and illustrates the centrally important role one’s picture of God plays in these responses. For today, I’d like…

How do you respond to Genesis 16:12?

The Lord describes Ishmael as “…a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him.” According to most Old Testament scholars the Lord is describing Ishmael’s descendants as much as he is describing Ishmael himself. The Lord foresaw that the nation which would descend from Ishmael (cf. 21:18) would…

Are Christians supposed to tithe?

Question: I and my husband have become increasingly uncomfortable with the many sermons on tithing we’ve been recently hearing at our church. Our pastor insists we tithe 10% to the church regardless of what else we give to other ministries. It seems like it has been reduced to a formula: Give ten percent and be…