And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the LORD
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the LORD has said,
Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.
- Joel 2:32
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.“
Who’s Calling Whom?
When Paul the Apostle quotes Joel 2:32 in Romans 10:13, it is customary for Arminians to see in this verse implicit justification for their belief in conditional election, seeing as Paul states that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. And in at least one respect the Arminians are correct: Everyone that calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. It is those who call upon the name of the Lord who will be saved. Since there are many who will not call upon the name of the Lord, the Arminians must account for this phenomenon. The bigger problem for Armininianism, however, is that in its original context, which Paul could not have violated seeing as he was moved by the Holy Spirit to write about these matters, the human calling (quoted in Romans 10:11-13) has a divine correlate. Joel mentions two callings: (i.)whoever calls on the name of the LORD, and (ii.)the LORD who is calling His remnant to Himself. The whoever, therefore, does not lend itself to the Arminian doctrine of conditional election, as a Gospel proposition correlative to the one found in John 3:16. Rather, the whoever is the external call, which is effectual only for the remnant that the LORD is already calling.
The whoever is given some flesh in vv. 28-29:
“ And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days….”
Here the Lord tells us that He will pour His Spirit upon: (i.)sons, (ii.)daughters, (iii.)old men, (iv.)young men, (v.)menservants, and (vi.)maidservants. The broad range of individuals mentioned here is intended to signify all types of people – whoever, regardless of gender, age, or class differences. The Lord is not a respecter of persons, and He has chosen a remnant, found among all types of people, whom He is calling to Himself in Christ.
We see, then, that far from supporting the doctrine of conditional election, this verse supports God’s unconditional election of all types of sinners, from every nation, tribe, and tongue unto salvation in Christ. They will have the Holy Spirit of God poured out upon them, and be the recipients, by God’s electing grace alone, of the New Covenant blessings laid out in Ezekiel 36:24-27 and Jeremiah 31:31-34. It is true that God says to all men that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, but not all will. God has chosen a remnant, and it is they who will call upon the name of the LORD, for He is calling them.