And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according go His purpose. 29) For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30) and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
This text is one of the most amazing pictures of the process of redemption in the Bible. It is typically referred to as a Chain because each link on the change hangs on the preceeding link. Those whom He foreknew, He predestined. Those whom he predestined, He called. Those whom He called, He justified. Those whom he justified, he also glorified.
There are many thing that should be addressed when looking at a marvelous text like this. However, time and space permit only a few observations. I will try to choose relevant observations that deal with things that are typically addressed when these verses come into play.
1) The verse note is that we are dealing here with parallelism. All in category A belong to B. All in B belong in C. Etc. The alternative is to suggest that Some who belong in A belong in B (granted, there is nothing in the text that would lead us in this direction). Some who belong in B also belong in C. Etc. In either case, we must be consistent. If we are going to say "Some of whom he Called, he also Justified" then we must be prepared to claim equally as boldly that "Some of whom he Justified will be glorified (and we would also need to find soemthing in the text that would allow us to do this)."
2) We note that this chain begins with "For whom He foreknew". Some here insist that the text reads, "For whom He foreknew would choose to place faith in Jesus". We must note that the text does not say that, nor does it hint at it. The text simply speaks of a group of people who are foreknown. That is, they were known before. At this point, an Arminian, Calvinist, Molinist, or most other people can readily affirm the text. God knew us (personally) before the foundation of the world. That is all this text teaches at this point and that is all we must affirm.
3) Next, the group of people who were foreknown in the first link are predestined. That is, they were destined/ordained beforehand. English uses the word "Destiny" correctly. When speaking of something that is Destined we are speaking of someone who has a fixed outcome that is chosen based on eternal considerations. We could have naturalistic determinism which says that the forces of nature necessarily determine what will happen. The biblical alternative is God choosing and bringing about His end according to His purpose. In either case, this destining takes place beforehand (Ephesians tells us before the foundation of the world). The act of destining is the people who were foreknown and the result is to be perfectly conformed to the image of His son. So far, I would still say that most Theological viewpoints could affirm this point.
4) However, this is the point in the chain where Reformed Theologians must break with other traditions. The text now states that who whom He Predestined, He also were called. Now, the dagger in the heart of Arminian (and similar) Theology is the next part of the verse. Those whom He called, He also justified. Again, all who were foreknown were predestined. All whom were predestined were called. Now, all who were called were also justified. Now, unless our Arminian friends happen to also be Universalist then they run into a problem here. All who have been called are justified. This, unfortunately, is not what typical Evangelicalism is teaching right now. Most Churches are teaching that God has equally called all people and then they "respond". Those who respond correctly are justified. Those who do not will die in their sins. However, this is not what the text is teaching. We must affirm with the text that those whom God has called He will justify. This now begins to give us a better understanding of what Paul is speaking of when referecing Predestining (here and in Ephesians). This also sheds light on Paul's statements in Chapter 9 where he declares that it is not according to the man who wills but to God who shows mercy. It explains what is happening when Paul speaks of objects destined for glory and objects destined for wrath.
Lastly, those whom He justified, He also glorified. This is the great truth of Salvation. It is God alone who has saved us and it is God alone who will bring us to glorification. All that God has Justified He will also Glorify. Why? Because God has not merely predestined us to be saved and then we are on our own. Rather, we are predestined to ultimately be conformed to the beautiful image of Jesus. Thank God! This ought to bring us great joy.
In Christ alone,