Constructing The Classical Arminian Study Bible

Ever wonder what The Classical Arminian Study Bible might look like? Here is an imaginative and fantastical sampling. I picture the biblical text as single column, as well as the footnotes, for easier reading -- though the footnotes could be presented in column format. The biblical text used here is the 2011 NIV, New International Version, and the passage is Romans 9:1-7. This study Bible should also be produced in the KJV, NKJV, NASB, HCSB, ESV and NRSV for wider acceptance. A version with the Apocrypha would be presented in the ESV, and the NRSV, since both of those translations already have a translation of the Apocryphal books.

I also envision, along with practical-theological commentary, theological articles detailing the subjects of the Trinity, Christology, and the work of the Holy Spirit, the reliability of Scripture, Free Will, Election and Predestination, the atonement, grace, mercy, salvation, baptism and the sacraments, perseverance and apostasy, as well as historical Arminian and Remonstrant documents such as Arminius' Declaration of Sentiments, the Remonstrance of 1610, The Opinions of the Remonstrants of 1618 and the Arminian Confession of 1621. I am a believer in that, if one is going to dream, dream big!


God is Faithful to His Promises

9 I speak the truth in Christ -- I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit -- 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiaha, who is God over all, forever praised!b Amen.

God's Word of Promise Has Not Failed

6 It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned."c

a 5 Or Christ. b 5 Or Messiah, who is over all. God be forever praised! Or Messiah, God who is over all be forever praised! c 7 Gen. 21:12.

9:1-7 Arminius begins his Analysis of Romans 9 by noting that "the Gospel, not the law, is the power of God to salvation [Rom. 1:16], not to him that worketh, but to him that believeth [Rom. 4:4-5]; because in the Gospel is made manifest the righteousness of God [Rom. 1:17], by which salvation is obtained through faith exercised on Christ [Rom. 5:1]." Paul lays the foundation at Romans 9:1-5: the immediate context refers to the Jewish people and not to all people in general.

9:1 Paul's conscience is clear as he communicates the truth in Christ of God's salvific work among the Jewish people (and, by implication, also among the Gentiles), through the direct agency of the Holy Spirit. Thus what he writes here is inspired of the Spirit of God.

9:2 The apostle's great sorrow and unceasing anguish pertains to the love of his own Jewish people who have rejected the grace of God through their unbelief in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah (Hebrew), or Christ (Greek). That Paul, a human being, could generate such love and concern for the salvation of (his Jewish) people pales by comparison to God's love and concern for the salvation of all people, Jew and Gentile (cf. Ezek. 18:33; 33:11; John 3:16, 17; 1 Tim. 2:4, 6; 4:10; 2 Pet. 3:9).

9:3 If possible, Paul is willing to be cut off from Christ if the Jewish people could thereby be saved from sin. Yet he knows the impossibility of salvation by proxy, as he uses the phrase, I could wish. No one but Jesus Christ can die in the place of another. Each person must trust in Christ, turning from their old sinful life, for him- or herself.

9:4-5 To the Jewish people belongs (present tense) all that God has bestowed upon them, including the promises, through Abraham (the one whose faith was in God's future Christ). But if this is true, so some Jews were thinking, then faith in Christ (and being united in the Christian faith) is gratuitous and irrelevant. In truth, they stumbled over the Rock of offense, which is Jesus Christ Himself (Rom. 9:32-33). For the Jew who relies upon the law, the word and promises of God have seemingly failed, that is if salvation depends upon faith in Christ. Paul corrects that error and challenges the Jewish people (and, by implication, all people) toward saving faith in Christ.

9:6 Regarding the supposed failure of the word of God, this would also implicate a failure of all the promises of God as well, for the Greek word is λόγος and refers to a saying or teaching of God, as well as to a decree or promise. God is a covenant-keeping God (Deut. 7:9), One who always keeps His promise or word (Titus 1:2). God has "by no means" rejected to save His Jewish people (Rom. 11:1). However, He saves no one unconditionally. An individual is only saved from the wrath of God by trusting (or having faith in) Jesus Christ (John 3:36). God's promise to the Jewish people remains: though not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. The true Israel is represented by those who trust in Christ (Rom. 2:29). Have you trusted in Christ?

9:7 Are there some Jews, those of Abraham's children, who have been rejected? Yes, the Jews who reject Christ are rejected by God. However, God also adds: "And even those of Israel, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again" (Rom. 11:23). God does not want the Jewish people (or Gentiles) to persist in their unbelief. If the Jewish people will trust in Christ by His enabling, sufficient, prevenient grace, then He will welcome them back into the fold, graft them back into the olive tree (Rom. 11:23). The condition for salvation, and thus election, is conditional. Will you, by the proactive grace of God, trust in Christ today?


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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.