Calvinism and Ezekiel 36:22


I originally posted this question in the Sacred Scripture forum , but I’ve since realized the broader apologetics importance of it, so I have created this topic in the hopes of drawing a greater response and of reframing the question to better deal with the actual issue.

Ezekiel 36:22-23 states:

Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.

23And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.

Herein, God says that He is going to save Israel not for their sakes - not for any benefit of their own - but merely for the sake of restoring the reputation of His name that they have harmed by their behavior. This is one of the key texts for Calvanism, for it seems to state clearly that God saves for no reason other than His own glory, rather than out of Love for His people and the desire for their happiness.

Some interpretations suggest that “for your sakes” means that God will not save them because they deserve it, but rather freely because of His Holy Name. Others hold - as perhaps Dr. Hahn would suggest - that the reference to His Name means that it is because of the Covenant He has made that He will save Israel.

However, to suggest that “not for your sakes” refers to the merit of Israel does not seem to match the rest of the passage. In the rest of it, God says that His reason for this is so that His name will not be profaned among the nations. He puts things in terms of the reputation of His name. Were “for your sakes” merely a reference to the lack of Israel’s derserving salvation and an affirmation that He was saving of His own will, then the view of His Name amongst the nations would be irrelevant. He would be saving them anyways because of His Holiness and Love, regardless of what the nations thought of Him. The same holds if we interpret this based on the Covenant: the Covenant would be the reason for the salvation, not the restitution of God’s reputation amongst the nations.

Further, the word “sake” is one that does not refer to one’s deserving, but to one’s benefit. For God to say He saves not for Israel’s sake, but that of His Name, is to say it is not for Israel’s benefit, but for the benefit of His Name.

How might we escape the Calvinist implications of this?


From what I remember, God made a covenant with Abraham to make a name for himself. Then when he was at Horeb, and the Isrealites had raised up the Golden Calf, Moses interceded with him, and one of the reasons he gave for not destroying them was so that the nations would not have contempt for his name. Moses also interceded for them.

In these cases, one of the purposes of the covenant is to make a name for God among the nations. Many times in the history of Isreal, God seems on the verge of abandoning his people, but you get hints of his great love being a motivating factor in his not doing so. The book of Hosea comes to mind. God is all about ready to put away Isreal, his wife, but he relents because he is God and not man, but the reason for his relenting in this situation was because of “his great love for his bride Isreal” and not because of an arbitrary decision on his part to spare her.

I wish I had more time to look up the passages I’m citing. Anyway, Ezekiel must be read in the context of the entire Bible which can balance some extreme interpretations.

God bless,



Calvin believed in the Trinity. How might you escape the Calvinist implcations of this? Sometimes Calvinists and Catholics agree.

God will act for His own glory. The passage also does not say that that is His only reason for acting.


Right, but it explicitly rejects that God is acting out of any concern for Israel.

Peace and God bless


The argument in Numbers is very similar.

Numbers 14:11-16 11 And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn me? How long will they refuse to believe in me, despite all the signs I have performed among them? I will strike them with pestilence and wipe them out. Then I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.” But Moses said to the LORD: "Are the Egyptians to hear of this? For by your power you brought out this people from among them. And are they to tell of it to the inhabitants of this land? It has been heard that you, O LORD, are in the midst of this people; you, LORD, who plainly reveal yourself! Your cloud stands over them, and you go before them by day in a column of cloud and by night in a column of fire. If now you slay this whole people, the nations who have heard such reports of you will say, 'The LORD was not able to bring this people into the land he swore to give them; that is why he slaughtered them in the desert.'Now then, let the power of my Lord be displayed in its greatness, even as you have said, ‘The LORD is slow to anger and rich in kindness, forgiving wickedness and crime; yet not declaring the guilty guiltless, but punishing children to the third and fourth generation for their fathers’ wickedness.’ Pardon, then, the wickedness of this people in keeping with your great kindness, even as you have forgiven them from Egypt until now." The LORD answered: "I pardon them as you have asked.

This is a very similar situation. The Lord acts to save the reputation of his holy name with reguard to the nations, but note the content of that reputation as stated by Moses. “Pardon the wickedness in keeping with your great kindness…even as you have forgiven them from Egypt until now.” In this situation, it is not an arbitrary act to preserve the honour of his name, but to show him as a merciful forgiving God, capable of saving his people. This is what the glory of his name consists of. Showing himself as merciful, kind, and forgiving. Yes he punishes, but he does so only to save and reform.

When you say the following:

This is one of the key texts for Calvanism, for it seems to state clearly that God saves for no reason other than His own glory, rather than out of Love for His people and the desire for their happiness.

I would counter with what I quoted out of Numbers that the very glory of God is to show love for his people and a desire for their happiness. I don’t understand that Calvinistic concept of God because it does not square with any understanding of love that I’ve heard of. Doesn’t the Gosepls say God is Love?

I also think the passage is refering to the new covenant. A prophetic forshadowing of the covenant of Christ. The surrounding passages seem to support this:

Ezekiel 34:22-27 I will save my sheep so that they may no longer be despoiled, and I will judge between one sheep and another. I will appoint one shepherd over them to pasture them, my servant David; he shall pasture them and be their shepherd. I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I, the LORD, have spoken. **I will make a covenant of peace with them, **and rid the country of ravenous beasts, that they may dwell securely in the desert and sleep in the forests. I will place them about my hill, sending rain in due season, rains that shall be a blessing to them. The trees of the field shall bear their fruits, and the land its crops, and they shall dwell securely on their own soil. Thus they shall know that I am the LORD when I break the bonds of their yoke and free them from the power of those who enslaved them. They shall no longer be despoiled by the nations or devoured by beasts of the earth, but shall dwell secure, with no one to frighten them. I will prepare for them peaceful fields for planting; they shall no longer be carried off by famine in the land, or bear the reproaches of the nations. Thus they shall know that I, the LORD, am their God, and they are my people, the house of Israel, says the Lord GOD. (You, my sheep, you are the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, says the Lord GOD.)


Ezekiel 37:23-28 No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols, their abominations, and all their transgressions. I will deliver them from all their sins of apostasy, and cleanse them so that they may be my people and I may be their God. My servant David shall be prince over them, and there shall be one shepherd for them all; they shall live by my statutes and carefully observe my decrees. They shall live on the land which I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where their fathers lived; they shall live on it forever, they, and their children, and their children’s children, with my servant David their prince forever. I will make with them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the LORD, who make Israel holy, when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.

If I take anything from this passage, it is that God’s love is greater than human wickedness. It is not capricious or arbitrary, but constantly offered to an unworthy and sinful people, to the point of dying on a cross, the very sacrifice for sins that brings about this new covenant of peace. Do the people merit this love, do they deserve it? Absolutely not. It is a free gift from God that shows his justice and his mercy. A justice that turns on itself for the sake of God`s mercy.

God bless,


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