on Romans 9 :22
What if God, willing to show his wrath - The apostle refers here to the case of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and to which he applies Jeremiah's parable of the potter, and, from them, to the then state of the Jews. Pharaoh and the Egyptians were vessels of wrath - persons deeply guilty before God; and by their obstinate refusal of his grace, and abuse of his goodness, they had fitted themselves for that destruction which the wrath, the vindictive justice of God, inflicted, after he had endured their obstinate rebellion with much long-suffering; which is a most absolute proof that the hardening of their hearts, and their ultimate punishment, were the consequences of their obstinate refusal of his grace and abuse of his goodness; as the history in Exodus sufficiently shows. As the Jews of the apostle's time had sinned after the similitude of the Egyptians, hardening their hearts and abusing his goodness, after every display of his long-suffering kindness, being now fitted for destruction, they were ripe for punishment; and that power, which God was making known for their salvation, having been so long and so much abused and provoked, was now about to show itself in their destruction as a nation. But even in this case there is not a word of their final damnation; much less that either they or any others were, by a sovereign decree, reprobated from all eternity; and that their very sins, the proximate cause of their punishment, were the necessary effect of that decree which had from all eternity doomed them to endless torments. As such a doctrine could never come from God, so it never can be found in the words of his apostle.
on Romans 9 :22
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.
on Romans 9 :22
9:22 What if God, being willing - Referring to Ro 9:18,19. That is, although it was 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 the seventeenth verse . Yet endured - As he did Pharaoh. With much longsuffering - 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 ?