Thursday, August 20, 2020
That's NOT the point!
Although philosophical consistency suggests that it is almost certainly the case that God—who transcends ordinary categories of space and time—knows in advance the eternal destiny of each individual person, this is not Paul’s point here or elsewhere (contra Calvin and others). Even Paul’s example vis-a—vis Pharaoh in Romans 9:16-23 does not speak directly about Pharaoh’s eternal fate, but only shows that God may harden individuals in order to assist others and to bring greater glory to God’s own self. God retains the prerogative to reshape that vessel of wrath into something new even as he uses it as an instrument of his mercy. Misshapen potter’s clay was not generally thrown away or destroyed in antiquity but rather put back on the wheel and crafted afresh (for evidence, see Jer. 18:4-6 as the background to Rom. 9:16-23). Even in this particular case, as the Bible presents the matter, God’s hardening is in full cooperation with Pharaoh’s free will, as the God-ordained consequences of Pharaoh’s own choices move him to a state of ever—greater (but from his vantage point still potentially revocable) hard-heartedness.—Matthew Bates in Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 106