Paul & Justin Martyr on God’s sovereignty over human actions

In the biblical book of Romans, in particular chapter 9, verses 1-23, Paul says that God hardens some people against him and has mercy on others. Paul supports his statements by quoting the Old Testament. One of his quotations of the Old Testament was Romans 9:13 :

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Paul is basically saying that Jacob was destined by God to be in His favor, while Esau was destined to His wrath. He also quotes God’s words to Moses in Romans 9:15 :

15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Paul says that by God’s predestination of things, He makes the act of salvation by Himself, and not of human works, but of God. Paul then talks about how God hardened Pharaoh’s heart against the Israelites. God did this so that he could show his power through him. He says that God will have mercy on who He will, and hardens who He will. He argues that God is not evil by doing this, for God is our maker and he is the one who has ownership of our lives and what we do with our lives. According to Paul, those people who resist God are for His wrath, that he might make his power known; if it is His will. Those who accept God he says are for making known the riches of His glory.

Justin Martyr, an early Christian writer and apologist, wrote his First Apology to the emperor Antoninus Pius in the mid-second century. The word “Apology”, from the Greek word apologia, is not meant to mean “I’m sorry”, but rather a systematic defense. He was an early Christian writer and apologist. His name is also where the the word “martyr” comes from.

In Chapter XLIII of his First Apology, Justin Martyr argues that if man is fated to do good or evil, then the good he does has no value, and the evil he does is not blamed. He argues that if the human race did not have the choice to choose their actions, then they are not accountable for them. He says that those who choose good will get worthy rewards and those who choose evil will have others. He says that man is different from animals and trees in that he can make a choice. In the next chapter, he quotes God’s sayings to Moses “Behold, before thy face are good and evil, choose the good”. Justin later quotes many other Biblical passages where mankind is given a choice: Good or evil.

I think that the Bible teaches both predestination and free will, and that both are true. They can be reconciled by God, because he knows everything, including what people will choose and what their hearts are like. The Bible has many passages where it is indicated that God both predestines the events in life and gives men a choice of what their actions are. I think that God is in control and gives men free will at the same time.

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