Is God Just to Choose Some?

Romans 9:14–18, Part 1

Principle for Bible Reading

God’s unconditional election causes many to say that he must be unrighteous. He can’t choose some and not others, and be good and just. In this lab, John Piper begins to address this objection by studying the surface structure of Paul’s argument.

View the outline.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:00)

The Righteousness of God (01:00–03:37)

  1. There is no unrighteousness with God. (Romans 9:14)
  2. Paul feels the need to defend God’s righteousness because he has just said God chose Jacob over Esau before they were even born or had done anything good or bad. (Romans 9:11–13)
  3. Some might interpret this kind of election — not based on anything in the person — as an unjust way for God to save or not save people. (Romans 9:14)

The Surface Structure (03:37–07:16)

  1. Main Point: Romans 9:14
  2. Grounding Statement (“For”): Romans 9:15
  3. Inference (“So then”): Romans 9:16
  4. Grounding Statement (“For”): Romans 9:17
  5. Inference (“So then”): Romans 9:18

The Deeper Structure: An Illustration (07:16–10:15)

Study Questions

  1. Why would someone suggest God is unrighteous at this point in Paul’s argument (Romans 9:14)?
  2. Identify the relationship between each verse in Romans 9:14–18. Explain the relationship between verses fourteen and fifteen, fifteen and sixteen, and so on.
  3. Write a couple examples of statements with ground clauses (“for” or “because”) and then a couple examples of statements with inferences (“therefore” or “so then”).

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

“Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” Is God just or unjust?