Romans 9:15
For he said to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) For he saith to Moses.—In the most characteristic period of the Old Testament the divine favour was promised in this way to Moses and denied to Pharaoh. The original of the first quotation has reference to the special revelation vouchsafed to Moses on Sinai, “I will show grace to whom I will show grace.”

9:14-24 Whatever God does, must be just. Wherein the holy, happy people of God differ from others, God's grace alone makes them differ. In this preventing, effectual, distinguishing grace, he acts as a benefactor, whose grace is his own. None have deserved it; so that those who are saved, must thank God only; and those who perish, must blame themselves only, Hos 13:9. God is bound no further than he has been pleased to bind himself by his own covenant and promise, which is his revealed will. And this is, that he will receive, and not cast out, those that come to Christ; but the drawing of souls in order to that coming, is an anticipating, distinguishing favour to whom he will. Why does he yet find fault? This is not an objection to be made by the creature against his Creator, by man against God. The truth, as it is in Jesus, abases man as nothing, as less than nothing, and advances God as sovereign Lord of all. Who art thou that art so foolish, so feeble, so unable to judge the Divine counsels? It becomes us to submit to him, not to reply against him. Would not men allow the infinite God the same sovereign right to manage the affairs of the creation, as the potter exercises in disposing of his clay, when of the same lump he makes one vessel to a more honourable, and one to a meaner use? God could do no wrong, however it might appear to men. God will make it appear that he hates sin. Also, he formed vessels filled with mercy. Sanctification is the preparation of the soul for glory. This is God's work. Sinners fit themselves for hell, but it is God who prepares saints for heaven; and all whom God designs for heaven hereafter, he fits for heaven now. Would we know who these vessels of mercy are? Those whom God has called; and these not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles. Surely there can be no unrighteousness in any of these Divine dispensations. Nor in God's exercising long-suffering, patience, and forbearance towards sinners under increasing guilt, before he brings utter destruction upon them. The fault is in the hardened sinner himself. As to all who love and fear God, however such truths appear beyond their reason to fathom, yet they should keep silence before him. It is the Lord alone who made us to differ; we should adore his pardoning mercy and new-creating grace, and give diligence to make our calling and election sure.For he saith to Moses - Exodus 33:19.

I will have mercy - This is said by God when he declared expressly that he would make all his goodness pass before Moses Exodus 33:19, and when, therefore, it was regarded, not as a proof of stern and inexorable justice, but as "the very proof of his benevolence," and the highest which he thought proper to exhibit. When people, therefore, under the influence of an unrenewed and hosthe heart, charge this as an unjust and arbitrary proceeding, they are resisting and perverting what God regards as the very demonstration of his benevolence. The sense of the passage clearly is, that he would choose the objects of his favor, and bestow his mercies as he chose. None of the human race deserved his favor; and he had a right to pardon whom he pleased, and to save people on his own terms, and according to his sovereign will and pleasure.

On whom I will have mercy - On whom I choose to bestow mercy. The mode he does not explain. But there could not be a more positive declaration of these truths,

(1) That he does it as a sovereign, without giving an account of the reason of his choice to any.

(2) that he does it without regard to any claim on the part of man; or that man is regarded as destitute of merit, and as having no right to his mercy.

(3) that he will do it to any extent which he pleases, and in whatever time and manner may best accord with his own good pleasure.

(4) that he has regard to a definite number and that on that number he intends to bestow eternal life; and,

(5) That no one has a right to complain.

It is proof of his benevolence that any are saved; and where none have a claim, where all are justly condemned, he has a right to pardon whom he pleases. The executive of a country may select any number of criminals whom he may see fit to pardon, or who may be forgiven in consistency with the supremacy of the laws and the welfare of the community and none has a right to complain, but every good citizen should rejoice that any may be pardoned with safety. So in the moral world, and under the administration of its holy Sovereign, it should be a matter of joy that any can be pardoned and saved; and not a subject of murmuring and complaint that those who shall finally deserve to die shall be consigned to woe.

15. For he saith to Moses—(Ex 33:19).

I will have mercy on whom I will have—"on whom I have"

mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have—"on whom I have"

compassion—"There can be no unrighteousness in God's choosing whom He will, for to Moses He expressly claims the right to do so." Yet it is worthy of notice that this is expressed in the positive rather than the negative form: not, "I will have mercy on none but whom I will"; but, "I will have mercy on whomsoever I will."

q.d. God is not chargeable with any injustice in electing some, and not others; for this is an act of mere mercy and compassion, and that can be no violation of justice. To prove this, he cites a testimony out of Exodus 33:19, which see. There he tells Moses, that the good pleasure of his will was the only rule of all his favourable and merciful dealings with the children of men. The same thing is intended and expressed in two several phrases: and the ingemination imports the freeness of God’s mercy; nothing moves him thereunto, but his own gracious inclination; and also the arbitrariness thereof; it depends only upon his good will and pleasure. The sum is, if God show mercy to some, and not to others, he cannot be accused of injustice, because he injures none; nor is he obliged or indebted to any. For he saith to Moses,.... That is, God said to Moses. The apostle goes on to answer to the above objections, by producing some testimonies out of the writings of Moses, in favour of both branches of predestination; showing, that the doctrine he had advanced, was no other than what God himself had delivered to Moses, whose name and writings were in great esteem with the Jews, whereby the apostle might hope to give full satisfaction in this point. The first passage he cites, is in Exodus 33:19.

And will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. This is produced, in favour of special, particular, and personal election, and to clear it from any charge of unrighteousness; and by it, it appears, that God bestows his grace and mercy in time, on such persons he has willed and determined from all eternity to bestow it; this, is clear from hence, for since all this is dependent on his will, it must be as this was his will from eternity, seeing no new will can possibly arise in God, God wills nothing in time, but what he willed before time; that this grace and mercy are shown only to some persons, and that the only reason of this is his sovereign will and pleasure, and not the works and merits of men; wherefore since this grace and mercy rise out of his own free good will and pleasure, and are by no means the creature's due, it most clearly follows, that God in determining to bestow his grace and mercy, and in the actual doing of it, whilst he determines to deny it, and does deny it to others, cannot possibly be chargeable with any unrighteousness.

{11} For he saith to Moses, I will {o} have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have {p} compassion on whom I will have compassion.

(11) He answers first with regard to those who are chosen to salvation, in the choosing of whom he denies that God may seem unjust, although he chooses and predestinates to salvation those that are not yet born, without any respect of worthiness: because he does not bring the chosen to the appointed end except by the means of his mercy, which is a cause discussed under predestination. Now mercy presupposes misery, and again, misery presupposes sin or voluntary corruption of mankind, and corruption presupposes a pure and perfect creation. Moreover, mercy is shown by her degrees: that is, by calling, by faith, by justification and sanctification, so that at length we come to glorification, as the apostle will show afterwards. Now all these things orderly following the purpose of God, do clearly prove that he can by no means seem unjust in loving and saving his.

(o) I will be merciful and favourable to whom I wish to be favourable.

(p) I will have compassion on whoever I wish to have compassion.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 9:15. Reason assigned for the μὴ γένοιτο, not for the legitimacy of the question μὴ ἀδικία π. τ. Θ. (Mangold, p. 134), so that the opponent’s language continues, until it “culminates in the audacious exclamation of Romans 9:19.” Γάρ after μὴ γένοιτο always relates to this. Bengel rightly remarks on γάρ: “Nam quod asserimus, Dei assertum est irrefragabile.”

τῷ Μωϋς. γ. (see critical remarks) brings into strong relief the venerated recipient of the word, which makes it appear the more weighty (comp. Romans 10:5; Romans 10:19). The citation is Exodus 33:19, verbally following the LXX. (which would have more closely translated the Heb. by ἐλεῶ ὃν ἂν ἐλεήσω κ.τ.λ.). In the original text it is an assurance by God to Moses of His favour now directly extended towards him, but expressed in the form of a divine axiom. Hence Paul, following the LXX., was justified in employing the passage as a scriptural statement of the general proposition: God’s mercy, in respect of the persons concerned, whose lot it should be to experience it, lets itself be determined solely by His own free will of grace: “I will have mercy upon whosoever is the object of my mercy;” so that I am therefore in this matter dependent on nothing external to myself. This is the sovereignty of the divine compassionating will. Observe that the future denotes the actual compassion, fulfilling itself in point of fact, which God promises to show to the persons concerned, towards whom He stands in the mental relation (ἐλεῶ, present) of pity. The distinction between ἐλεῶ and οἰκτείρω is not, as Tittmann, Synon. p. 69 f., defines it, that ἐλ. denotes the active mercy, and οἰκτ. the compassionate kindness, but that the same notion misereri is more strongly expressed by οἰκτ. See Fritzsche. Comp. Plat. Euthyd. p. 288 D: ἐλεήσαντέ με καὶ οἰκτείραντε. The latter denotes originally bewailing sympathy, as opposed to μακαρίζειν (Xen. Anab. iii. 1. 19). Comp. οἶκτος (to which ὀδυρμός, Plat. Rep. iii. p. 387 D, corresponds), οἰκτίζω, οἰκτρός κ.τ.λ. On the form οἰκτειρήσω, see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 741.

ὃ ἂν] The ἂν is that everywhere usual with the relative in the sense of cunque. Hence conditionally expressed: if to any one I am gracious, etc. See generally Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 293 f.; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 119. Consequently, not merely the mercy in itself, but also the determination of those who should be its objects, is designated as a free act of God, resting on nothing except on His elective purpose, and affecting the persons according to it; for the emphasis lies in the relative clause on the repeated ὃν ἄν, as ἄν generally has its place after the emphatic word.Romans 9:15. τῷ Μωυσεῖ γὰρ λέγει. τῷ Μωυσεῖ is emphatic by position: the person to whom this declaration was made, as well as the voice which made it, render it peculiarly significant to a Jew. The words (exactly as LXX, Exodus 33:19) occur in the answer to a prayer of Moses, and may have been regarded by Paul as having special reference to him; as if the point of the quotation were, Even one who had deserved so well as Moses experienced God’s mercy solely because God willed that He should. But that is not necessary, and is not what the original means. The emphasis is on ὃν ἂν, and the point is that in showing mercy God is determined by nothing outside of His mercy itself. οἰκτείρειν is stronger than ἐλεεῖν; it suggests more strongly the emotion attendant on pity, and even its expression in voice or gesture.15. For] The connexion is; “The thought of injustice in these acts of the Eternal Judge is all the more to be rejected because they follow a principle expressed in His own words; for He says to Moses, &c.” That the principle, so expressed, is absolutely right, is taken for granted. To the Apostle, God’s word is final and absolute. With Him nothing indeed can be capricious, but none the less His “judgments” must, to a vast degree, be “past finding out,” just because He is the Eternal.

I will have mercy, &c.] Exodus 33:19. Verbatim from LXX.—The English exactly represents the Hebrew, if it is noted that “will” throughout this verse might equally well be “shall.” In both Hebrew and Greek there is no explicit reference to “willing,” in the sense of “choosing.” However, the general sense plainly is, “In any case, through human history, wherein I shall be seen to have mercy, the one account I give of the radical cause is this—I have mercy.” It is to be thankfully remembered, by the way, that close to this awful utterance occurs that other equally sovereign proclamation, (Exodus 34:6, &c.) “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, &c.”Romans 9:15. Τῳ γὰρ Μωσῇ, for to Moses) Many are of opinion, that the objection extends from this verse to Romans 9:18; in which view the for, is used, as in ch. Romans 3:7, and thus thou wilt say then, Romans 9:19, concludes the objection, which was begun at Romans 9:14. And indeed by this introduction of a person speaking there would be a fitting expression of that ἀνταπόκρισις (rejoinder of the opponent), which is censured at Romans 9:20, and is subsequently refuted by taking up the words themselves or their synonyms. In the meantime Paul so expresses himself, as to make ὁ ἀνταποκρινόμενος, the objector whilst replying at the same time answer himself; and therefore the words in this verse may be also taken, without injury to the sense, as spoken in the person of the apostle, as we shall now endeavour to show. Moses, Exodus 33, had prayed for himself and the people by חן, the grace of the Lord, Romans 9:12-13; Romans 9:16-17, and had concluded with, show me thy glory. The Lord answered: I will make all My goodness pass in the presence of thy face, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thy face. וחנתי את־אשר אחן ורחמתי את־אשר ארחם, And will be gracious, to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy, to whom I will show mercy, Romans 9:19. The Lord did not disclose even to Moses without some time intervening, to whom He would show grace and mercy, although the question was respecting Moses and the people of Israel alone, not respecting the Gentiles. To this Moses, then, not merely to others by Moses (Μωσῇ, says Paul, as presently after, τῷ Φαραὼ) the Lord spoke thus: By My proclamation, and by My most abundant working, subsequently, I will designate [mark out] him, as the object of grace and mercy, whosoever he be, whom I make the object of grace and mercy. By these words He intimated, that He would make proclamation [would reveal His own character] as regards grace and mercy; and He shortly after accordingly made proclamation. Exodus 34:5, רחום וחנון [ΟΙΚΤΙΡΜΩΝ καὶ ΕΛΕΗΜΩΝ κ.τ.λ. εἰς χιλιάδας], merciful and gracious, etc., to thousands; and added [καὶ τὸν ἔιοχον οὐ καθαριεῖ, ἐπάγων ἁμαρτίας πατέρων, κ.τ.λ.], and He will not clear the guilty, etc. Therefore according to the subsequent proclamation itself, the following meaning of the previous promise comes clearly out: I will show thee the most abundant grace, even to that degree that thou mayest see concerning Me [see centred in Me] all whatsoever thou dost both desire and canst receive [comprehend] in order that thou mayest furthermore understand, that it is [all of] grace; and for this reason inasmuch as I have once for all embraced thee in grace, which thou acknowledgest to be grace; and as to the rest of the people, I will show them the most abundant mercy, in not visiting them with immediate destruction for their idolatry, that they may further understand it to be mercy; and for this reason inasmuch as I have once for all embraced them in mercy, which thou in their behalf acknowledgest to be mercy. The LXX. Int. and Paul have expressed the meaning of this sentence by the difference between the present and future tense: ἐλεήσω ὅν ἂν ἐλεῶ, καὶ οἰκτειρήσω ὅν ἂν οἰκτείρω, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. And there is the figure Ploce [en.], which nearly signifies the same as below, ch. Romans 13:7, and here it expresses the liberty of the Agent, of whom the apostle is speaking, as in Exodus 16:23. Moreover, each of the two verbs, placed in the two clauses [i.e. repeated twice], contains the emphasis in the former clause; [i.e. the emphasis is on the verb in each of the two clauses on its first mention, not on it when repeated; I will have mercy, on whom I have mercy, etc.]: although generally in other passages the emphasis is on the verb in the latter clause [i.e. on its repetition] Genesis 27:33; Genesis 43:14; 2 Kings 7:4. That the acknowledgment of grace and mercy, on the part of Moses, and the true Israelites, is entwined together, is evident from this, that Paul, Romans 9:16, speaks, on the opposite side, of the man that willeth and that runneth, to whom grace is not grace, and mercy is not mercy. את אשר ὅν ἄν is put twice, and intimates in the former passage that Moses (to whom the word חן, grace, is repeated in reply, taken from his own very prayers from Exodus 33. Romans 9:13 : where there occurs the same Ploce), and that in the latter passage, the others, were εἰς χιλιάδας among the thousands [as to whom God said of Himself, keeping mercy for thousands], to whom sinners, their children, grandchildren, etc., are opposed, Exodus 34:7. And thus, this testimony is extremely well fitted to prove, that there is no unrighteousness with God. This sentiment is manifest to believers. But in regard to those, who maintain the efficacy of good works, it sounds too abrupt: the reason why God should be merciful, is none other than His own mercy, for no other is mentioned in the writings of Moses, concerning Moses and Israel. I will have mercy, i.e. no one can extort anything by force; all things are in My hand, under My authority, and dependent on My will, if I act otherwise, no one can charge Me with injustice. This answer is sufficient to give to the defender of good works; and if any farther answer is given to him, it is superfluous.I will have mercy - compassion (ἐλεήσω - οἰκτειρήσω)

See Exodus 33:19. For mercy see on 2 John 1:3; see on Luke 1:50. The former verb emphasizes the sense of human wretchedness in its active manifestation; the latter the inward feeling expressing itself in sighs and tears. Have mercy therefore contemplates, not merely the sentiment in itself, but the determination of those who should be its objects. The words were spoken to Moses in connection with his prayer for a general forgiveness of the people, which was refused, and his request to behold God's glory, which was granted. With reference to the latter, God asserts that His gift is of His own free grace, without any recognition of Moses' right to claim it on the ground of merit or service.

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