“God’s Purpose According to Election”

“Be not highminded, but fear” (Rom 11:20 KJV). That’s the verse I think of as I anticipate posting the following little thought that came to me as I studied Genesis for Bible Truths B, the 8th grade Bible textbook I’m now rewriting:

If you think about it, God could have easily given Abraham lots of sons. Seven would not be impossible. Seventy would not even be impossible for the God who gave a child to a woman past childbearing age. Instead, He gives both Abraham and Isaac two sons each. And in each set of two brothers, only one gets picked. It’s really as if God organized the family tree of the patriarchs to make a point: I choose Abraham, and no one else in the world. And even within Abraham’s line of descendants, I choose some and not others.

This is not going beyond the Scripture; this is exactly what Paul concludes in Romans 9. Neither Isaac nor Jacob earned their election by good works—Jacob wasn’t even born when he was elected.

Be not highminded, but fear.


Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.


  1. Don Johnson on December 1, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Actually… God gave Abraham 8 sons, see Gen 25.2.

    It’s a quibble, I know.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  2. Mark L Ward Jr on December 2, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Hey, good point! I remembered that he remarried, but not that he had more sons. Your comment actually sharpens the point in my post: those eight sons, along with Ishmael, appear to have been left out of the line of the promised seed. In other words, none of their descendants (apparently) became part of the Jewish nation.

    I say “apparently” because the text isn’t explicit but suggestive: Abraham gave everything to Isaac and sent those other sons away to the east.

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