“They stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this stumbling they were also appointed.”
This is a hard verse to read.
Conversely, Acts 13:48 states that “…and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”
What an interesting contrast. Those “appointed to eternal life” are elected through no merit of their own. Yet mercifully, God grants them eternal salvation through His sovereign will, who are “born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
On the other hand, the same divine purpose which, on the basis of God’s foreknowledge, chose some as His own children, has sadly ordained the disobedient to their only alternative.
As such, “free will” is fully capable of rejecting Christ and suffering eternal punishment, but only God’s determination is capable of conferring eternal salvation.
John 3:18 explains “…the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
God is not responsible for men’s disbelief and his eventual eternal punishment, but man is, as John states “he had not believed.”