As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
"For He saith to Moses, I will," etc. As if He should have said, "My doctrine of justification, by the free grace and pleasure of God through believing, is so far from rendering Him unrighteous, that Himself plainly asserteth the substance of it in saying thus unto Moses. Meaning that inasmuch as all men having sinned are become obnoxious unto Me, I am resolved to use my prerogative, and to show mercy unto whom I please, not upon such who shall be obtruded upon Me by men, or who shall judge themselves worthy. The repetitions are very emphatical, and import in the highest degree a resolvedness in God to dispense His favour according to His own pleasure, and not according to the thoughts of men. When the clouds pour out rain in abundance it is a sign they were full of water. In like manner, when a man reiterates any purpose, it argueth a fulness of that which is thus uttered, and that the heart could not discharge itself by one expression. Now we know who those are on whom God is everlastingly resolved to show mercy, viz., those who believe in His Son (2 Corinthians 1:19, 20). And upon this account the gospel, which asserteth this purpose of God, is termed the everlasting gospel (Revelation 14:6), i.e., one the tenor and contents whereof shall never be altered. Here God fully declares who they are on whom He will have mercy, viz., believers. Neither are all the angels in heaven nor men upon earth able to take Him off from this His purpose. For that is to be considered by the way that the apostle clearly speaketh here of that grace or mercy of God which relateth to the salvation of men. But whereas the Scripture speaks of two sorts or degrees of grace, one which precedes faith, and consists partly in the gift of His Son, partly in calling them by the gospel, and vouchsafing means and opportunities unto them for repenting and believing; and another, which is subsequent. The question may be, of which the apostle speaks. I answer of the latter.
1. God makes no such difference or distinction of men in His preventing grace as the words before us manifestly imply (Hebrews 2:9; 1 Timothy 2:6; Acts 17:30; Matthew 20:16, etc.).
2. The whole discourse of the apostle in the context is not concerning preventing grace or mercy, but subsequent, as, viz., concerning justification, adoption, etc.
3. And evident it is that the apostle's intent is to declare the Jews to be excluded from that grace and mercy, as in telling them that the children of the flesh are not the children of God, but the children of the promise (ver. 8), that "the elder should serve the younger," and that the "purpose of God stands not of works," etc. Certain it is that these Jews were not excluded from preventing grace, for they were called of God by the apostles, yea, and by Christ Himself, and this by means so efficacious that our Saviour affirmeth that even the men of Tyre and Sidon might or would have been converted by them (Matthew 11:21). Therefore the grace or mercy spoken of in the words in hand must needs be subsequent. And if so it cannot be understood of any such mercy in God towards men by which men, yet unregenerate, are enabled, much less necessitated, to repent or believe, but of that mercy which is vouchsafed unto them who do now repent and believe. So that the meaning of the words, "I will have mercy on whom," etc., is as if God should have said, I will justify, adopt, and glorify persons under what qualifications soever I Myself please, and will not be ordered or taught by men what I have to do, or what becometh Me to do, in this kind. As regards what God actually said to Moses (Exodus 33:16), it appears that Moses (Exodus 33:13, 16)had desired of God that He would consider that the Jews were His people, and that He would please lead them that so it might be known in the world that both he and his people had found grace in His sight. This God grants. Upon this Moses makes a further request, viz., that God would show him His glory (Exodus 33:18). To this God answers, "I will make all My goodness pass before thee," etc., giving the reason hereof in the words cited by the apostle, "Let no man take offence that I should do that in a way of favour for thee, which I neither shall do to any of the people besides, nor ever did to any of thy fathers, nor to any man after thee; nor do thou imagine that I am anyways a debtor unto thee of that grace which I deny unto others, for I am debtor unto no man, and will dispense My favours, and so My mercies, only unto such persons as I please." Now many of those whom God decreed upon their believing from eternity to justify, and adopt, apostatise from, and make shipwreck of their faith (as the Scripture in many places testifieth), from whom He hath peremptorily threatened to take away the grace of justification which before He had conferred upon them. Therefore the emphatical import of the apostle's expression, "I will have mercy on whom I have" (now or at present) "mercy," respects the same species, not the same persons of men; being as if He had said, To that sort or kind of men to whom at this day I show mercy (viz., in pardoning their sin and justifying their persons, meaning believers), I will show the like mercy at all times hereafter to the world's end. Or rather thus, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy," i.e., I will not be taken off by men or by angels from showing the grace or mercy of justification and adoption unto those (i.e., that kind of men) to whom I at this day show this grace or mercy, and these are such who believe.
Parallel VersesKJV: As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.