Romans 9:22
What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
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(22-29) These verses supply the concluding section of the vindication. All this scheme of God’s dealings, apparently so severe, is really most merciful. To those who really deserved His wrath, He showed longsuffering. While for us who now believe, Gentiles as well as Jews, He had mercy and glory in store. But in both cases the final result was strictly in accordance with prophecy. Hosea had foretold the admission of the Gentiles. Isaiah the exclusion of the greater part of the Jews.

(22) What if . . .—The sentence in the original is incomplete. In its full form it would run, “If God willing to show His wrath” . . . (what can man reply?) This latter clause is dropped or lost in the course of the argument. The best and simplest expedient to supply its place is that adopted in the Authorised version, inserting “what” in italics at the beginning: “What if,” &c. There is a second suppression later in the sentence. At the end of Romans 9:23 we should have to insert some such clause as “He reserved His glory for them,” in order to make the sentence strictly grammatical. These irregularities are due to the Apostle’s habit of dictating, and to the lively flow of his thoughts.

Willing.—While His will was (ultimately) to execute His wrath and display His sovereign judicial power, nevertheless He bore with evildoers, and gave them time for repentance.

Romans 9:22-23. What if God, willing, &c. — Referring to Romans 9:18-19. That is, Although it were now his will, because of their obstinate unbelief; to show his wrath — Which necessarily presupposes sin; and to make his power known — This is repeated from Romans 9:17; yet endured — As he did Pharaoh — With much long-suffering — Which should have led them to repentance; the vessels of wrath — Those who had moved his wrath, by still rejecting his mercy; fitted for destruction — By their own wilful and final impenitence: is there any injustice in this? And that he might make known — What if, by showing such long-suffering even to the vessels of his wrath, he did the more abundantly show the greatness of his glorious goodness, wisdom, and power; on the vessels of mercy — On those whom he had himself, by his grace; prepared for glory — Is this injustice? By vessels of mercy he means such persons as were formerly miserable by being dead in trespasses and sins, but had afterward, through believing the gospel, obtained mercy, even the great mercy of the forgiveness of sins, with the fruits and consequences of it; and by the term προητοιμασεν, he means, God’s fitting them for glory, by working in them true repentance and living faith, by justifying and sanctifying them, and giving them all those qualifications necessary for the attainment of it.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.What if God ... - If God does what the apostle supposes, what then? Is it not right? This is the second point in the answer to the objection in Romans 9:19. The answer has respect to the "two classes" of people which actually exist on the earth - the righteous and the wicked. And the question is, whether "in regard to these two classes God does in fact do wrong?" If he does not, then the doctrine of the apostle is established, and the objection is not valid. It is assumed here, as it must be, that the world is "in fact" divided into two classes - saints and sinners. The apostle considers the case of sinners in Romans 9:22.

Willing - Being disposed; having an inclination to. It denotes an inclination of mind toward the thing proposed. If the thing itself was right; if it was proper to "show his wrath," then it was proper to be willing to do it. If it is right to do a thing, it is right to purpose or intend to do it.

His wrath - τὴν ὀργὴν tēn orgēn. This word occurs thirty-five times in the New Testament. Its meaning is derived from the idea of earnestly desiring or reaching for an object, and properly denotes, in its general sense, a vehement desire of attaining anything. Hence, it comes to denote an earnest desire of revenge, or of inflicting suffering on those who have injured us; Ephesians 4:31, "Let all bitterness and wrath, etc." Colossians 3:8; 1 Timothy 2:8. Hence, it denotes indignation in general, which is not joined with a desire of revenge; Mark 3:5, "He looked round about on them with anger." It also denotes punishment for sin; the anger or displeasure of God against transgression; Note, Romans 1:18; Luke 3:7; Luke 21:23, etc. In this place it is evidently used to denote "severe displeasure against sin."sin is an evil of so great magnitude, "it is right" for God to be willing to evince his displeasure against it; and just in proportion to the extent of the evil. This displeasure, or wrath, it is proper that God should always be willing to show; nay, it would not be right for him not to show it, for that would be the same thing as to be indifferent to it, or to approve it. In this place, however, it is not affirmed,

(1) That God has any pleasure in sin, or its punishment; nor,

(2) That he exerted any agency to compel man to sin. It affirms only that God is willing to show his hatred of incorrigible and long-continued wickedness when it actually exists.

To make his power known - This language is the same as what was used in relation to Pharaoh; Romans 9:17; Exodus 9:16. But it is not probable that the apostle intended to confine it to the Egyptians only. In the following verse he speaks of "the vessels of mercy prepared "unto glory;" which cannot be supposed to be language adapted to the temporal deliverance of the Jews. The case of Pharaoh was "one instance, or illustration" of the general principle on which God would deal with people. His government is conducted on great and uniform principles; and the case of Pharaoh was a development of the great laws on which he governs the universe.

Endured - Bore with; was patient, or forbearing; Revelation 2:3. "And hast borne, and hast patience, etc." 1 Corinthians 13:7, "charity, (love) beareth all things." Luke 18:7, "will not God avenge his elect. though he bear long with theme?"

With much long-suffering - With much patience. He suffered them to live while they deserved to die. God bears with all sinners with much patience; he spares them amid all their provocations, to give them opportunity of repentance; and though they are suited for destruction, yet he prolongs their lives, and offers them pardon, and loads them with benefits. This fact is a complete vindication of the government of God from the aspersions of all his enemies.

Vessels of wrath - The word "vessel" means a cup, etc. made of earth. As the human body is frail, easily broken and destroyed, it comes to signify also the body. 2 Corinthians 4:7; "we have this treasure in earthen vessels." 1 Thessalonians 4:4, "that everyone of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor" - that everyone should keep his body from the indulgence of unlawful passions; compare Romans 9:3. Hence, also it means "the man himself." Acts 9:15, "he is a chosen vessel unto me, etc." compare Isaiah 13:5. In this place there is doubtless, allusion to what he had just said of clay in the hands of the potter. The phrase "vessels of wrath" denotes wicked people against whom it is fit or proper that wrath should be shown; as Judas is called "the son of perdition," see the note at John 17:12. This does not mean that people by their very creation, or their physical nature, are thus denominated; but people who, from long continuance in iniquity, deserve to experience wrath; as Judas was not called "son of perdition" by any arbitrary appointment, or as an original designation, but because in consequence of his avarice and treason this was the name which "in fact" actually described him, or suited his case.

Fitted - κατηρτισμένα katērtismena. This word properly means to "restore; to place in order; to render complete; to supply a defect; to fit to, or adapt to, or prepare for;" see Matthew 4:21, "Were mending their nets." Galatians 6:1, "restore such an one, etc." In this place it is a participle, and means those who are suited for or "adapted to" destruction; those whose characters are such as to deserve destruction, or as to make destruction proper. See the same use of the word in Hebrews 11:3, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed" - beautifully suited up in proper proportions, one part adapted to another - "by the Word of God." Hebrews 10:5, "a body hast thou prepared for me;" suited, or adapted to me; compare Psalm 68:10; Psalm 74:16. In this place there is not the semblance of a declaration that "God had prepared them, or fitted them for destruction." It is a simple declaration that they were in fact suited for it, without making an affirmation about the manner in which they became so.

A reader of the English Bible may, perhaps, sometimes draw the impression that God had suited them for this. But this is not affirmed; and there is an evident design in not affirming it, and a distinction made between them and the vessels of mercy which ought to be regarded. In relation to the latter it is expressly affirmed that God suited or prepared them for glory; see Romans 9:23, "Which he had afore prepared unto glory." The same distinction is remarkably striking in the account of the last judgment in Matthew 25:34, Matthew 25:41. To the righteous, Christ will say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, etc." To the wicked, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels;" not said to have been originally prepared "for them." It is clear, therefore, that God intends to keep the great truth in view, that he prepares his people "by direct agency" for heaven; but that he exerts "no such agency" in preparing the wicked for destruction.

For destruction - εἰς ἀπώλειαν eis apōleian. This word occurs in the New Testament no less than 20 times; Matthew 7:13, "Which leadeth to destruction." John 17:12, "son of perdition." Acts 8:20, "thy money perish with thee;" Greek, be for destruction with thee, Acts 25:16; Philippians 1:28, "Token of perdition." Philippians 3:19, "whose end is destruction." 2 Thessalonians 2:3, "the son of perdition." 1 Timothy 5:9, "which drown men in destruction and perdition." Hebrews 10:39, "which draw back into perdition; see also 2 Peter 2:1, 2 Peter 2:3; 2 Peter 3:7, 2 Peter 3:16, etc. In these places it is clear that the reference is to the future punishment of wicked people, and in "no instance" to national calamities. No such use of the word is to be found in the New Testament; and this is further clear from the contrast with the word "glory" in the next verse. We may remark here, that if people are suited or prepared for destruction; if future torment is adapted to them, and they to it; if it is fit that they should be subjected to it; then God will do what is fit or right to be done, and, unless they repent, they must perish. Nor would it be right for God to take them to heaven as they are; to a place for which they are not suited, and which is not adapted to their feelings, their character, or their conduct.

22, 23. What if God, willing to show—"designing to manifest"

his wrath—His holy displeasure against sin.

and to make his power—to punish it

known endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath—that is, "destined to wrath"; just as "vessels of mercy," in Ro 9:23, mean "vessels destined to mercy"; compare Eph 2:3, "children of wrath."

fitted for destruction—It is well remarked by Stuart that the "difficulties which such statements involve are not to be got rid of by softening the language of one text, while so many others meet us which are of the same tenor; and even if we give up the Bible itself, so long as we acknowledge an omnipotent and omniscient God we cannot abate in the least degree from any of the difficulties which such texts make." Be it observed, however, that if God, as the apostle teaches, expressly "designed to manifest His wrath, and to make His power (in the way of wrath) known," it could only be by punishing some, while He pardons others; and if the choice between the two classes was not to be founded, as our apostle also teaches, on their own doings but on God's good pleasure, the decision behooved ultimately to rest with God. Yet, even in the necessary punishment of the wicked, as Hodge observes, so far from proceeding with undue severity, the apostle would have it remarked that God "endures with much long-suffering" those objects of His righteous displeasure.

In this and in the next verse, is a real answer to the cavil in Romans 9:19. The apostle having spoken before of God’s absolute right and power over his creatures, to dispose of them at his pleasure, as the potter doth his clay; lest any should tax God with tyranny and partiality towards his creatures, he subjoineth the reasons of his different proceedings with the one and with the other. q.d. What hast thou to answer or object against God, if he take a severe course with some? Seeing:

1. He thereby manifesteth his great displeasure against sin, and his power to take vengeance of sinners. Seeing:

2. He bears long with them in their sins; exerciseth great patience towards them in the midst of their provocations, giving them space to repent, if they call or will. And seeing:

3. They are vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction; partly by themselves, and their own sensual courses; partly by God’s righteous judgment, who gives them up thereunto. What if God, willing to show his wrath,.... The apostle proceeds to clear God from any charge of cruelty and unmercifulness, by observing his conduct in time, both towards those he passes by, and towards those he chooses; for in this and the following verse, nothing is said relating to any act of God before time, everything of that kind being considered already. In this verse, the apostle considers the conduct of God towards the vessels of dishonour; and let it be observed, that these are called

vessels of wrath fitted for destruction; they are said to be vessels, and so no longer considered in the clay, in the mass and heap of creatureship, but as creatures formed and made, and brought into being; and so to be used as instruments in God's hands, to subserve his ends and purposes, and therefore called "vessels"; and not only so, but "vessels of wrath", fallen sinful creatures, and so deserving of the wrath of God, and objects of his vindictive justice, in whom he may righteously display his wrath and vengeance: hence they may be so called, being as vessels filled with his wrath; as such who are the instruments and executioners of his wrath are called, in Isaiah 13:5, , "vessels of his wrath"; and in Jeremiah 50:25; where the Septuagint use the same phrase as here: and they are moreover said to be "fitted for destruction", as Haman is said to be by the Jews (o); whom they affirm to be the same with Memucan, and ask why is his name called Memucan? and answer, , "because he was fitted for punishment": so these are said to be "fitted for destruction", that is, eternal damnation; not by God, for this does not respect God's act of ordination to punishment; but by Satan, the god of this world, that blinds them, who works effectually in them, and leads them captive at his will; and by themselves, by their own wickedness, hardness of heart, and impenitence, do they treasure up to themselves wrath, against the day of wrath, so that their destruction is of themselves: a phrase somewhat like this is used in Psalm 31:12, where the Psalmist, under some dismal apprehensions of himself, says, that he was like , "a perishing vessel", or "a vessel of perdition"; the Septuagint render it, , "a lost vessel". Now what is the method of the divine conduct towards such persons? he

endures them with much longsuffering; as he did the old world, before he destroyed it; and as he did Pharaoh, before he cut him off: God not only supports such persons in their beings, amidst all their impieties and iniquities, but follows and fills them with his providential goodness, insomuch that many of them have more than heart can wish; nay, to many he affords the outward means of grace, which they slight and despise; externally calls them, but they refuse, loving darkness rather than light, and therefore are inexcusable: now if after all this patience, indulgence, and forbearance, when he could in justice have sent them to hell long ago, he is "willing to show his wrath"; his displicency at sin and sinners, his vindictive justice, his righteous vengeance:

and to make his power known; what it is he can do, by the utter destruction and damnation of such persons; what man in his senses can ever find fault with such a procedure, or charge it with tyranny, cruelty, and unmercifulness?

(o) T. Bab. Megilia, fol. 12. 2.

{22} What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the {y} vessels of wrath fitted to {23} destruction:

(22) The second answer is this, that God, moreover and besides that he justly decrees whatever he decrees, uses that moderation in executing his decrees, as is declared his singular mercifulness even in the reprobate, in that he endures them a long time, and permits them to enjoy many and singular benefits, until at length he justly condemns them: and that to good end and purpose, that is, to show himself to be an enemy and avenger of wickedness, that it may appear what power he has by these severe judgments, and finally by comparison of contraries to set forth indeed, how great his mercy is towards the elect.

(y) By vessels, the Hebrews understand all types of instruments.

(23) Therefore again, we may say with Paul, that some men are made by God the creator for destruction.

Romans 9:22 f. forms a conditional interrogative sentence, the apodosis of which is not expressed, but is gathered from the context, viz.: Wilt thou still be able to venture the ἀνταποκρίνεσθαι τῷ Θεῷ of Romans 9:20 f.? Must thou not utterly become dumb with thy replies? Comp. on John 6:61; Acts 23:9; Luke 19:41 : see also Calvin and Calovius, in loc.; Fritzsche, Conject. p. 30; Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 212; Dissen, ad Dem. de cor. p. 297. This aposiopesis with εἰ δὲ corresponds perfectly to our: but how if, etc. It is to be translated: “But how if God, although minded to manifest His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much long-suffering vessels of wrath, which are nevertheless adjusted for destruction, in order also to make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory?Paraphrased, the sense is: “But if God, notwithstanding that His holy will disposes Him not to leave unmanifested His wrath and His power, but practically to make them known, has nevertheless hitherto, full of long-suffering, endured such as are objects of His wrath, and spared them from the destruction, to incur which they are nevertheless constituted and fitted like a vessel by the potterendured them and spared them not merely as a proof of such great long-suffering towards them, but also with the purpose in view of making known, during the period of this forbearance, the fulness of His glorious perfection in respect to such as are objects of His mercy, whom He, as the potter fashions a vessel, has prepared beforehand, and put in order for eternal glory,—how, in presence of that self-denying long-suffering of God towards vessels of wrath, and in presence of this gracious purpose, which He withal, at the same time, cherishes towards the vessels of mercy, must any desire to dispute with God completely depart from thee!”

In detail the following points are to be observed: δὲ is neither equivalent to οὖν, nor resumptive, but the simple μεταβατικόν, making the transition to something further, namely, from the previous dismissal of the objector to the refutation which puts him to shame. Tholuck (comp. also Weiss, Reithmayr, and others) takes it antithetically, so that the sequence of thought would be: “I assert this as God’s absolute right against you, if you choose to take your stand on the point of right; but how if God has not so much as even dealt thus, etc.?” But such an interpretation, which would require the contrast to be much more strongly marked than by the mere δὲ, is at variance with the retention in the sequel of the figurative ΣΚΕΎΗ and their preparedness; because it is thence evident, that what Paul had previously said concerning the freedom of God to prepare men of different character and destiny like potters’ vessels, he by no means intended to cancel, as if God had not thus dealt. Θέλων is, with Fritzsche, Philippi, Lamping, and several others, to be resolved by although, because only thus is there yielded the logically correct preparation for the notion of πολλὴ μακροθυμία, which is a self-denying one; the θέλειν ἐνδείξασθαι κ.τ.λ. is the constant essential characteristic of the holy God, and yet He has borne, etc. The analysis: because God willed (so most, including de Wette, Rückert, van Hengel), yields the sense that God has, in order thereupon to issue all the more evident a penal judgment, endured patiently, etc.; but this would not amount to a πολλὴ μακροθυμία, but in fact to a delay occasioned by an ungodlike motive, and having in view the heaping up of wrath. Unworthy of God, and only rendered possible by the importation of parenthetical thoughts, is the sense which Hofmann educes: God has not so borne with those men, that He would first see how it would be with them, in order then to deal with them accordingly; but He has done so with the will already withal firmly settled, to prove, etc. That negative and this already firm settlement of will are read between the lines.

Θέλων is placed at the head of the sentence, in order by contrast the more forcibly to prepare the mind for the notion for which it is intended to prepare, that of the μακροθυμία. ΤῸ ΔΥΝΑΤῸΝ ΑὐΤΟῦ is what is possible to Him, what He is in a position to do. Comp. Romans 8:3, τὸ ἀδύνατον τοῦ νόμου. Xen. Hell. i. 4. 13, τοῦ τῆς πόλεως δυνατοῦ. As to the matter itself, see 3Ma 2:6. The aorist ἬΝΕΓΚΕΝ does not refer to the long forbearance with Pharaoh (Chrysostom, de Wette, and most); the reference to him has been already concluded with Romans 9:18; but Paul intends generally the time hitherto (which will in like manner run on under this divine long-suffering up to the Parousia), when God has still restrained the will of His holiness, and has not yet accomplished the destruction of the objects of His wrath, which He will do for the first time in judgment. The σκεύη ὀργῆς, without the article, vessels of wrath, denotes not some, but such σκεύη generally, qualitatively understood, namely, vessels which are prepared (Romans 9:20 f.) to experience God’s wrath on themselves, to be the objects of it. The effect of this wrath, which will go forth at the judgment, is everlasting destruction; hence κατηρτ. εἰς ἀπώλ., adjusted for destruction (not “ripe for destruction,” as Weiss and Hofmann explain), serves to bring the μακροθυμία into still clearer relief, which is not that which waits for the self-decision of human freedom (Beyschlag), especially for amendment (in opposition to Bengel, Tholuck, and others), but that which delays the penal judgment (comp. on Luke 18:7), the prolongatio irae, Jeremiah 15:15, et al. The passage Romans 2:4 f. is no protest against this view, since the apostle does not there, as in the present passage, place himself at the standpoint of the absolute divine will. The subject who has adjusted those concerned for ἀπώλεια is God; and any saving clause whereby the passive sense is made to disappear, or the passive expression—which, after Romans 9:20 f., not even a certain refinement of piety is to be suggested as underlying—is made to yield the sense that they had adjusted themselves for destruction, or had deserved it (see Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Grotius, Calovius, Bengel, and many; also Steudel, Olshausen, Reithmayr, Beck, Hofmann, and Krummacher), is opposed to the literal meaning and to the context (Romans 9:21). See also Lamping, p. 213. Hofmann’s interpretation especially: “who had advanced to that point, and found themselves therein,” is wrecked on his incorrect explanation of τί με ἐποίησας οὕτως, Romans 9:20. In καὶ ἵνα κ.τ.λ., καί is also, introducing, in addition to the object involved in the previous ἐν πολλῇ μακροθυμίᾳ, that accessory object which God had in view in enduring the vessels of wrath in reference to vessels of mercy (the use of the genit. ἐλέους corresponds to that of ὀργῆς, Romans 9:22). Besides His great long-suffering towards those, He would also make known how rich in glory He was towards these. For had He not so patiently tolerated the σκεύη ὀργῆς, but already caused the penal judgment to set in upon them (which is to be thought of as setting in along with the Parousia, not antecedently to this, like the destruction of Jerusalem), He would have had no space in which to make known His glory on σκεύεσιν ἐλέους. But this purpose was to be served exactly by that long period of forbearance, during which such σκεύη as were prepared beforehand by God for eternal δόξα should through their calling (Romans 9:24) be led to Christ, and thereby the fulness of the divine glory should be made known in respect to them; which making known is matter of fact (Ephesians 3:10). In τῆς δόξ. αὐτοῦ, the context directs us to think of the divine majesty in relation to its beneficent glory, its glory in the bestowal of blessing; but εἰς δόξαν, as the opposite of εἰς ἀπώλ., denotes the everlasting Messianic glory (Romans 8:21; Romans 8:30). The verbs ἑτοιμάζειν and καταρτίζειν are not as different from one another as existence (Dasein) is from mode of existence (Sosein),—an assertion of Hofmann’s as incorrect as it is devoid of proof,—but ἑτοιμάζειν also denotes to constitute qualitatively, to prepare in the corresponding quality (1 Corinthians 2:9; Ephesians 2:10; Philemon 1:22; Matthew 3:3; Luke 1:17; Luke 2:31; John 14:2, et al.). Comp. here especially 2 Timothy 2:21. Against such an error the well-known reflexive use of ἑτοιμάζειν ἑαυτόν (Revelation 8:6; Revelation 19:7) should have warned him, as well as the equivalent use of the middle (1Ma 5:11; 1Ma 12:27, and very frequently in the classics). It is solely with a view to variety and illustration that Paul uses for the same notion the two verbs, of which Hofmann rationalizes the ἑτοιμάζειν to mean: “that it is God who has caused those who attain to glory to come into being for the end of possessing the glory, to which they thereupon attain by the fact that He pours forth His own upon them.” Nor is there anything peculiar to be sought behind the change from passive to active; the transition to the active was more readily suggested by the thought of the activity of love. The προ in προητοίμασεν is not to be disregarded (see on Ephesians 2:10); nor is it to be referred to the time before birth, nor to the aeterna electio (the latter is the act of God, which before time preceded the praeparatio); but to the fact that God has so previously fashioned the σκεύη ἐλέους, before He makes known His glory on them (just as the potter fashions the vessel), that is, has constituted in them that ethical personality, which corresponds to their destination to obtain eternal δόξα through Christ. In ἐπὶ the act of making known is contemplated as extending over the men, who are its objects. If, with Beza and Fritzsche (Conject. p. 29; not abandoned in his Comment. p. 343 f., but placed alongside of the ordinary mode of connection), we should make καὶ ἵνα γνωρίσῃ κ.τ.λ. dependent, if not simply on κατηρτισμένα (Rückert), yet on κατηρτ. εἰς ἀπώλειαν (so also Beyschlag), in which case καὶ would have to be taken most simply as and, the entire balance of the discourse would be deranged, inasmuch as the important thought καὶ ἵνα γνωρίσῃ κ.τ.λ., on which the whole sequel depends, would be subordinated to a mere secondary definition. The centre of gravity of the argument lies in the bearing with the vessels of wrath on the part of the divine long-suffering; and thereof in Romans 9:23 there is brought forward an explanation glorifying God, which is added in respect to the σκεύη ἐλέους. The connection above referred to would also certainly yield a severity of thought, a rigour of telic view, which, granting all the boldness of deduction with which Paul follows out the idea of predestination, yet finds nothing further in accord with it in the whole treatise; the thought, namely, that God has made ready the σκεύη ὀργῆς for destruction, in order, through the effect of the contrast, the more fully to make known His glory in the σκεύεσι ἐλέους.

It is further to be remarked, (1) That the interrogative conditional sentence forming an aposiopesis terminates with Romans 9:23, and is not (with Fritzsche) to be extended to Romans 9:24, since all that follows from Romans 9:25 onward belongs to the topic started in Romans 9:24. (2) That we are not, following Reithmayr and older commentators with Philippi, to supply a second εἰ between ΚΑῚ and ἽΝΑ in Romans 9:23, and to assume that Paul had intended at the close of Romans 9:23 to say ἘΚΆΛΕΣΕΝ ΑὐΤΟΎς, but that he at once directed his glance at the concretes, and therefore wrote ΟὛς ΚΑῚ ἘΚΆΛΕΣΕΝ ἩΜᾶς instead of ἘΚΆΛΕΣΕΝ ΑὐΤΟΎς. Thereby a rambling and confusion in the presenting of his thoughts is, quite unnecessarily, imputed to the apostle, which would be very glaring, particularly in a dialectic passage so stamped throughout with clearness, definiteness, and precision as the present. Similarly, but still more confusedly, Tholuck. The language in Romans 9:22-23 is condensed and rich in thought, but runs on according to plan and rule in its form. (3) The apodosis (which on our understanding is not expressed) is not to be found in Romans 9:23, because this would only be possible by arbitrarily supplying hoc fecit, or the whole preceding chief sentence. So Ewald: “so He did that also, in order that He might make known, on the other hand, the riches of His glory, etc.;” so also Th. Schott and Hofmann.

With our explanation agree substantially Calvin, Grotius, and several others; including Winer, p. 530 [E. T. 713]; Baur, in the Theol. Jahrb. 1857, p. 200; Lamping and van Hengel, whilst Umbreit educes something which has no existence in the passage, as though it ran: εἰ δὲ ἔθελεν ὁ Θεὸςἀλλʼ ἤνεγκεν κ.τ.λ. (He has, on the contrary, endured, etc.)Romans 9:22-29. Paul’s argument, to speak plainly, has got into an impasse. He is not able to carry it through, and to maintain the sovereign freedom of God as the whole and sole explanation of human destiny, whether in men or nations. He does, indeed, assert that freedom to the last, against the presumptuousness of man; but in this third section of his theodicy, he begins to withdraw from the ground of speculation to that of fact, and to exhibit God’s action, not as a bare unintelligible exercise of will, which inevitably provokes rebellion, but as an exercise of will of such a character that man can have nothing to urge against it. εἰ δὲ: the δὲ marks the transition to the new point of view. It is as if Paul said: You may find this abstract presentation of God’s relations to man a hard doctrine, but if His actual treatment of men, even of those who are σκεύη ὀργῆς κατ. εἰς ἀπώλειαν, is distinguished by longsuffering and patience, what can you say against that? θέλων has been rendered (1) because it is His will; (2) although it is His will. In the former case, God bears long with the vessels of wrath in order that the display of His wrath and power may be more tremendous at last. But (a) such an idea is inconsistent with the contrast implied in δέ: it is an aggravation of the very difficulty from which the Apostle is making his escape; (b) it is inconsistent with the words ἐν πολλῇ μακροθυμίᾳ; it is not longsuffering if the end in view is a more awful display of wrath; there is no real longsuffering unless the end in view is to give the sinner place for repentance. Hence the other view (2) is substantially right. Although it is God’s will to display His wrath and to show what He can do, still He does not proceed precipitately, but gives ample opportunity to the sinner to repent and escape. We are entitled to say “the sinner,” though Paul does not say so explicitly, for ἡ ὀργή, the wrath of God, is relative to sin, and to nothing else: except as against sin, there is no such thing as wrath in God. In σκεύη ὀργῆς the word σκεύη is perhaps prompted by the previous verse, but the whole associations of the potter and the clay are not to be carried over: they are expressly precluded by ἤνεγκεν ἐν πολλῇ μακροθυμία. Paul does not say how the σκεύη ὀργῆς came to be what they are, the objects upon which the wrath and power of God are to be revealed; he only says that such as they are, God has shown great patience with them. It seems a mistake in W. and H. to print σκεύη ὀργῆς as a quotation from Jeremiah 50 (LXX 27):25; for there the words mean “the instruments by which God executes His wrath,” les armes de sa colère (Reuss). κατηρτισμένα εἰς ἀπώλειαν: ἀπώλεια (Php 1:28; Php 3:19) means perdition, final ruin; by what agency the persons referred to have been fitted for it Paul does not say; what he does say is, that fitted for such a doom as they are, God has nevertheless endured them in much longsuffering, so that they at least cannot say, Why dost thou find fault? For κατηρτισμένος = perfected, made quite fit or ripe, see Luke 6:40, 1 Corinthians 1:10 : cf. also 2 Timothy 3:17.22. What if God, &c.] The Gr. construction in Romans 9:22-23 is broken and peculiar. Rendered nearly lit., the verses run: But if God, choosing to demonstrate His wrath, and make known what He can do, bore with much longsuffering vessels of wrath, fitted unto ruin; and that He might make known the wealth of His glory on vessels of mercy, which He fore-prepared unto glory? The general drift of the passage, though thus grammatically peculiar, is yet clear.—The “but” suggests a certain difference between the potter’s work and that of the Creator and Judge; q. d., “If the potter’s right is so absolute, while the clay is mere matter and so has no demerit, the right of God over guilty humanity is at least as absolute; and meantime, even so, it is exercised with longsuffering.”

willing] having the will to. The Gr. verb is frequent of the sovereign Divine will and pleasure. See e.g. Matthew 8:3; 1 Corinthians 12:18.

to shew] to demonstrate. Same word as Romans 9:17 (“shew my power”), and Romans 3:25 (“to declare,” &c.). The justice and energy of His wrath against sin are both demonstrated in the doom of the impenitent.

endured, &c.] The special case of Pharaoh is in St Paul’s view, and is to be taken as an example. There we see on the one hand the sovereign will permitting sin to run its course, but on the other hand, in equal reality, warnings and appeals are addressed by God to a human conscience and will, time after time. From our point of view the two things are incompatible; but the Apostle assures us that both are real, and therefore compatible.

the vessels] Lit. vessels. But the article is rightly supplied. The two classes of “vessels” are exhaustive of mankind.—The word “vessel” is doubtless suggested here by the language of Romans 9:21. See next note.

of wrath] i.e. “connected with, devoted to, wrath.” So below, “connected with, marked out for, mercy.” The genitive need not imply a metaphor, as if the “vessels” were “filled with” wrath or mercy; such an explanation would be needlessly remote.—The same word in same construction occurs Acts 9:15, where lit. “a vessel of choice;” and probably the metaphor does there appear in the next words—“to bear my Name.” Cp. also 2 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:4, (where “vessel” = “body”;) 1 Peter 3:7. In those passages the metaphor is traceable to the idea of the body as the receptacle and casket, as it were, of the spirit. Here, as above said, the whole reference appears to be to the imagery of the potter’s work.

fitted] Made ready, suitable. Such indeed every “vessel of wrath” will prove to have been. It is remarkable that St Paul does not say “which He fitted.” A seemingly rigid logic may say that the lost must be as truly predestined to death as the saved to life; but such logic is faulty in its premisses: we do not know enough of the Eternal Mind and the nature of things to reason so[42]. It is at least to be noted that here, while the “preparation” of the saved for glory is expressly ascribed to God, that of the lost for ruin is so stated as to avoid such ascription. Meanwhile the deepest consciousness of human hearts, awakened to eternal realities, acquits God and accuses self.—St Paul, however, does not dwell on this. To relieve mystery is only a passing aim with him here.

[42] See further, Appendix H.

destruction] Ruin, perdition, the loss of the soul. See note on Romans 2:12 (on the word “perish;” where the Gr. is the verb cognate to the noun here).Romans 9:22. Εἰ δὲ, but if) This particle has this as its apodosis to be supplied at the end of Romans 9:23 from Romans 9:20 : God has much greater cause to complain concerning man, and man has less cause to expostulate with God [than the potter concerning the clay, and the clay with the potter]. Comp. ἐὰν, John 6:62, where also the apodosis is to be supplied. It is a question, but one implied, not expressed, with an ellipsis, What reply hast thou to make [if God willing to show, etc., endured, etc.].—θέλων, willing) Corresponds to the, His will, Romans 9:19, and to, He will, Romans 9:18. Paul speaks κατʼ ἄνθρωπον, [“after the manner of man:” or, taking advantage of his opponent’s unavoidable admission] in the words of his opponent; and so εἰ signifies whereas, [since, as you must grant]. At the same time, we must observe that what he says of the vessels of wrath is more scanty, and of the vessels of mercy more copious; willing to show, he says, not, [willing, putting forth His will] that he might show, comp. next verse [where in the case of the vessels of mercy, he says, ἵνα γνωρίσῃ, though here Romans 9:22 in the case of the vessels of wrath, he says, γνωρίσαι], and Ephesians 2:7ἐνδείξασθαιτὀ δύνατον αὐτοῦ, to show His power) These words are repeated from Romans 9:17.—τὴν δργὴν, wrath) He does not say, the riches of his wrath; comp. Romans 9:23.—τὸ δυνατὸν) This signifies, what He can do (potentiam ‘might’) not what He may do (potestatem ‘right’ [ἐζουσία]).—ἢνεγκεν, endured) as He endured Pharaoh.—ἐν πολλῇ μακροθυμίᾳ, with much long-suffering) viz: in order that it might allure the wicked [the reprobate] from their state of alienation from Him to repentance, ch. Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9. God endures many bad men, in the enjoyment of great and long continued good fortune in this life, when He might at the very first have consigned them to death. The gate of mercy and grace is still open to them. This long-suffering, humanly speaking, precedes His “will to show His wrath,” nor does it merely follow it. His enduring is not wont to be exercised until He is about to show His wrath]: wherefore ἤνεγκεν should be translated, had endured [previous to His will to show His wrath.] By this very circumstance the question, who hath resisted? Romans 9:19, is most powerfully refuted.—ὀργῆς) of wrath, which is not indeed without cause, but presupposes sins; he does not say, of disgrace, nor unto wrath, but of wrath, [i.e. the fault is in themselves.]—κατηρτισμένα, fitted) It denotes the disposition [fitness] internal and full, but now no longer free [no longer now liable to change], not the destination; he does not say, which He προκατήρτισε, previously fitted, although he says in the next verse, which he prepared, comp. Romans 9:19, ch. Romans 11:22, note; Matthew 25:34, with Matthew 25:41, and Acts 13:46, with Acts 13:48. This is distinct from the efficient cause; what is said merely refers to the state in which God finds the reprobate, when He brings upon them His wrath.—εἰς ἀπώλειαν, to destruction) The antithesis is, Romans 9:23, unto glory.Verses 22-24. - What if (literally, but if, involving an anacoluthon) God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering vessels (not, as in the Authorized Version, the vessels) of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy which he afore prepared unto glory; whom he also called, even us, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. "And" at the beginning of ver. 23 is omitted in the uncial B, and there is considerable authority of versions and Fathers for rejecting it. Without it the sentence runs better, and its drift becomes more apparent. The purpose expressed in ver. 23 thus comes out distinctly as the grand ultimate Divine purpose, to which the display of wrath and power spoken of in the previous verse is but subsidiary; and this drift becomes the more apparent, if we supply in English, as we may do, "while" before "willing" in ver. 22. Thus the drift would be, "What If God, while willing to exhibit his wrath and manifest his power, endured with much long-suffering vessels of wrath that had become fitted for destruction, in order that he might manifest the riches of his glory," etc. The idea expressed by "endured," etc., seems suggested by Pharaoh's case (see on ver. 17 with regard to the word διετηρήθης in the LXX., which the apostle appears here to retain the idea of, though he varied from it); but it is the Jewish nation of his own day that he has now in view. They were rejected from inheritance of the promises, and under Divine wrath; as he says in another place, "The wrath had come upon them to the uttermost" (1 Thessalonians 2:16). But they were still borne with; they were not finally cut off; and what if their present rejection were but subservient to the great purpose of mercy to the true Israel? The thought, hinted here, is carried out in ch. 11, where even the idea is further entertained of Israel itself as a nation, after judgment endured, coming into God's true fold at last, according to the design of God, through ways inscrutable by us, to "have mercy upon all." The forms of expression used in the passage before us are to be noted in support of the view we have taken of St. Paul's general meaning. "The vessels of wrath" are said to be "fitted to destruction" (κατηρτισμένα εἰς ἀπώλειαν); of the "vessels of mercy" it is said that God "afore prepared" them unto glory. Predestination to salvation is certainly a doctrine of St. Paul, but he nowhere intimates predestination to reprobation. Further, "Non dicit quae προκατήρτισε, sod κατηρτισμένα: praescinditur a causa efficiente: tantum dicitur quales inveniat Deus quibus tram infert" (Bengel). Lastly, it may be observed that, though α} προπητοίμασεν εἰς δόξαν carries with it the idea of individual salvation, yet this only comes in as the outcome and ultimate purpose of the calling of nations or races of men. The drift of the preceding argument remains still what it has been stated to be. Willing (θέλων)

Although willing, not because. Referring not to the determinate purpose of God, but to His spontaneous will growing out of His holy character. In the former sense, the meaning would be that God's long-suffering was designed to enhance the final penalty. The emphatic position of willing prepares the way for the contrast with long-suffering. Though this holy will would lead Him to show His wrath, yet He withheld His wrath and endured.

Vessels of wrath (σκεύη ὀργῆς)

Not filled with wrath, nor prepared to serve for a manifestation of divine wrath; but appertaining to wrath. Such as by their own acts have fallen under His wrath. Compare Psalm 2:9.

Fitted (κατηρτισμένα)

Lit., adjusted. See on mending, Matthew 4:21; perfect, see on Matthew 21:16; see on Luke 6:40; see on 1 Peter 5:10. Not fitted by God for destruction, but in an adjectival sense, ready, ripe for destruction, the participle denoting a present state previously formed, but giving no hint of how it has been formed. An agency of some kind must be assumed. That the objects of final wrath had themselves a hand in the matter may be seen from 1 Thessalonians 2:15, 1 Thessalonians 2:16. That the hand of God is also operative may be inferred from the whole drift of the chapter. "The apostle has probably chosen this form because the being ready certainly arises from a continual reciprocal action between human sin and the divine judgment of blindness and hardness. Every development of sin is a net-work of human offenses and divine judgments" (Lange).

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