Equal Ultimacy: A Consideration of Romans 9:11-13

The problem of equal ultimacy is something that I have spoken on decisively in the past. It is a position that I endorse and I am not ashamed that I hold to what some consider to be a “horrible doctrine.” For those who have not read my previous post, equal ultimacy is the doctrine that God’s decree of election is symmetrical. Today we will be taking a look at the strongest Scriptural support for this belief: Romans 9:11-13. This passage relies on a symmetrical parallel in order to make the desired point, and, unlike Dr. Sproul, we will not avoid the possibility of an equal ultimacy interpretation simply because of a detestation of the doctrine. Let us begin with our exegesis.

before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

There are a few important points to note about this striking passage of Scripture. Before the twins had done any good or bad (prior to their birth) God selected which one would be the object of His holy hatred and which would be the object of His holy love. We know that human beings are born in sin (Psalm 51:5) and so it must be the case that the twins have truly done no evil or have been tainted by sin in any way. 

We then read that God begins at the moment of moral neutrality so that “His purpose according to election might stand.” If God began at a moment of moral inneutrality then there would be some condition inherent in man that would cause God to choose whom He would judge and whom He would love.

Finally, we see the symmetry between love and hate in vs 13. Jacob became, through God’s elective decree, the object of divine love and Esau, through the same decree, became the object of divine hate.


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