What did Paul mean in Romans 11:29?

“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”What do you think this means? Is the calling of God referred to here have any reference to ministry or is he simply refering to our calling to be saints? This has troubled me for some time and this week as I have been reading Paul’s teaching on the ministry, I re-read it again. “without repentance” seems to imply “no going back” “no turning around” and the reference to “gifts” seems important to the “calling” as well. I know the smartest guys in the Kingdom read here so I’m confident my learning opportunities are potentially good! Bishop Bill

5 thoughts on “What did Paul mean in Romans 11:29?

  1. Wow! You are catching on with the “controversial” stuff, aren’t you? 🙂
    I like that.

    I have also wondered about the REAL meaning of this phrase. Sometimes, we preach and throw out quotes (or almost quotes) that seem to be incontrovertible evidence of our supposed doctrine. However, upon deeper study, these Scriptures may not be as simple as we first thought. This likely is one of those profound issues.

    I do not (yet) have a good reply. Only that the NIV, RSV & several other versions translate the “repentance” as “irrevocable.” I don’t exactly agree with that however

    My Greek dictionary defines the word as “not repentant of, unregretted.” In that sense, it would seem that the Scripture is demanding something of US, rather than giving us a statement of what God does.

    Until I receive more light, I have to believe that the gifts and calling of God must be “unregretted” by us. Am I alone in my interpretation?

  2. When I’ve read this, I’ve always kind of put it in my own vernacular. (If it’s a sin, I repent. But it’s helped me to focus more on the REAL issue of the passage.) This is the “PCV” – the “Pastor Chris Version.”

    “God has never been sorry that He called you. He’s never regretted one gift He’s ever given you.”

    We tend to make the passage more about us. It’s not really. The point is that God doesn’t back-peddle. He doesn’t regret His investments.

    Does it tie in to the parable of the talents? Perhaps. What did we do with the gifts? What did we do with the calling? Are they invested in a great way? Are they invested in a small way? Are they buried in a napkin?

    Now a study on the Greek, I confess; I’ve never done it. Perhaps with the passage called to question, I shall. Who knows. But that’s my take.

  3. I absolutely agreed with your comment that “God has never been sorry that He called you. He’s never regretted one gift He’s ever given you.”

    That is part of the concept of God that I have been working on for about a year now – that God has a plan for me (& for the entire human race.) A related issue is that if God is omniscient then NOTHING TAKES HIM BY SURPRISE!

    Those two issues, taken in context, have revolutionized my thinking about what goes on in my life. NOTHING that I experience takes God by surprise. And, if He knew beforehand that it was going to happen, then He has a plan for me to get though it. Not only does He intend for me to survive through my circumstances, it has to be that He wants me to THRIVE as a result of those experiences!

    As to your understanding that the focus is on God being the one who does not “repent” over the gifts… I can certainly accept that but I have difficulty with those who use this verse to pervert the administration of the Spiritual gifts. I have heard some “prophets” make statements such as, “Even if I were to backslide, I would still have the gift of prophecy (or whatever their supposed gift might be).” That is a total misunderstanding (imho) of how the spiritual gifts are given and administered. But that needs to be discussed in another thread – later.

    Regardless of whether the verse is pointing to us or to God concerning who is NOT to repent over the gifts, the result is the same: God does NOT repent (or regret) bestowing His gifts on us AND He does not wish for US to regret having received His gifts and calling either.

    Thanks for the insights brother.

    BTW, we are praying for Brother Raburn. I trust that God will bring release from his intense pain. Is he your father-in-law?

  4. Oh, I completely agree. Romans 11:29 can NEVER be a cart blanche assurance that God endorses us regardless of our failings. That’s bordering on the unconditional election tenet of Calvinism – regardless of what we do, it’s already decided. Now, I’m not of the school that we lose our salvation every time we sneeze wrong. But I do believe that our decisions have an impact on God’s liberty to work in us and through us. King Saul was God’s king in the beginning. He was his own king in the end. And God rejected him.

    I believe that the Lord can still reject the individual who’s operating with his own agenda. It makes me fearful for the hyper-faith harlotry that’s being called “Christian” today.

    And yes… Brother Raburn is my wife’s father. He might actually go home from the hospital on Monday, if he can keep down some food. My wife is in duress. She loves her mother, but her father is her heart. They are looking for him to build his strength for diagnosis and treatment at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. To build his strength, he has to eat. It’s complex.

    With pancreatic cancer, the prognosis is not good. 95% mortality. Less than 5% living beyond five years. Most dying within 3 to 6 months of diagnosis. I appreciate the prayers. This was a faithful man of God, who is suffering tremendously, as this is excruciatingly painful. I know God won’t allow him to suffer for long.

    Isaiah 57:1-2
    The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.

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