Romans 9:14-21

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Text: Romans 9:14-33

ISRAEL'S REJECTION

AND GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS

INTRODUCTION:

We have noted the theme of Romans. It is the gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.

We have seen that all people lack righteousness.

We have seen that God has provided righteousness for all when He sent Christ to die for our sins on the cross and raised Him from the dead. It is called Justification by Faith.

We have seen God's provision for godly living - Sanctification

A question arises, however: what is going to happen to Israel? Since Israel as a nation has rejected Christ as Messiah, has the nation as a whole been set aside by God forever? Paul answers this question in Romans 9-11 .

With the salvation of the Gentiles and the temporary setting aside of Israel, what does this do with God's character? What does it do for His righteousness? Can God do this and still be righteous? In Romans 9:14-33 we see that, although the Gentiles are being saved during this age, and although the Jews had been temporarily set aside, God is still righteous. God had intended to save Gentiles all along, and the Jews have only themselves to blame for their rejection of Christ as their Messiah.

I. THE QUESTIONING OF GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS - 9:14-18

Romans 9:14-16 - (14) What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. (15) For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (16) So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

It Is Not a Matter of Injustice on God's Part (9:14)

A question is raised in verse 14 regarding God's personal righteousness, and it is answered in verses 15-18.

What shall we say then? is an inference based upon what Paul has just finished writing.

Then is understood in the sense of accordingly, therefore, consequently, or so. What shall we say, therefore?

Is there unrighteousness with God? expects a negative answer. There is no unrighteousness (i.e. wickedness or injustice) with God in the way He deals with man, is there? No, there is not.

Paul makes this abundantly clear by the words God forbid, which expresses a very strong negative wish. In fact, it expresses abhorrence at the very idea of something. It is literally may it never come to pass, may it never be, or may it never become; and it is to be understood in the sense of absolutely not, perish the thought, or no way!

What shall we say, therefore? God is not unrighteous, is He? No, He is not. Perish the thought!

It Is a Matter of God's Choice on Whom He Will Have Mercy (9:15-18)

Romans 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

In verses 15-18 Paul explains what he has stated in verse 14, i.e. why there is no unrighteousness with God. This explanation is introduced by for.

He saith refers to God. God said to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

This is a quotation from Exodus 33:19 . Moses had been interceding on behalf of Israel, and God said to Moses,

Exodus 33:19 - . . . I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

The point of the verse is that God will choose those on whom He will have mercy. His will is going to be the determining factor.

I will have mercy (i.e. pity) on whom I will have mercy (i.e. pity) indicates that the choice is God's.

I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion is a restatement of the same thing except that compassion is generally a stronger word than mercy, but both words mean approximately the same thing. This phrase also indicates that the choice is entirely God's to make. It is up to God whether He will have mercy on someone.

Romans 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

So then is as a result or consequently.

Paul states two things which do not bring about mercy.

1. It is not of him that willeth (v. 16a) = It is not the individual's will which matters. Someone cannot just will this mercy from God; it is up to God if He will have mercy on someone. It is not up to an individual's will.

2. Nor of him that runneth (v. 16b) = i.e. It is not of someone who makes a strong effort to accomplish something - salvation cannot be earned.

But of God that sheweth mercy means that it is by means of God that mercy comes.

Pharaoh is cited as an illustration that it is a matter of God's choice on whom He will have mercy (v.17).

Romans 9:17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

Verse 17 gives Scriptural confirmation to what Paul has said in verses 15 and 16.

For introduces this Scriptural confirmation.

The scripture refers to the Old Testament, and the reference is to Exodus 9:16 where Moses is speaking to Pharaoh and saying the things that God told him to say. What he said is: Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

Even for this same purpose is simply for this same cause (or reason), in respect to this same cause (or reason), or for just this same cause (or reason).

I is the Lord and thee refers to Pharaoh.

Raised thee up suggests brought you into being or caused you to appear.

God's purpose for raising up Pharaoh is in order that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

I might shew suggests I might demonstrate.

My power, i.e. the Lord's power, is the Lord's might or the Lord's strength.

In thee is in you and refers to Pharaoh.

And that is and in order that.

My name refers to the Lord's name.

Might be declared means might be proclaimed.

Throughout all the earth is literally in all the earth and suggests how far and how wide the Lord's name should be declared. It is everywhere.

God's purpose in raising Pharaoh up is that God's name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

The Conclusion (9:18).

Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Verse 18 draws a conclusion from verse 17.

Therefore is the same phrase translated so then in verse 16 and is understood in the sense of as a result or consequently.

Hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy indicates that God is the One Who determines on Whom He will have mercy.

Hath he mercy suggests He has pity (or compassion), He is merciful to, or He shows mercy to.

On whom he will have mercy on whom He wills. As indicated by the italics, the translators have supplied have mercy.

Will indicates the wish (or will) of purpose (or resolve) rather than the wish of desire.

And introduces a statement in mild contrast to hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy and is understood in the sense of but.

Whom he will is the same phrase used in the previous clause and is understood in the sense of whom He wills.

He hardeneth is reminiscent of God's hardening of Pharaoh's heart.

He hardeneth, where He is God, suggests He hardens in the sense that He causes to be unyielding in resisting information or He makes stubborn.

The point of the passage is that the choice is up to God.

II. THE QUESTIONING OF GOD'S PURPOSE - 9:19-33

From eternity past it has been God's purpose to save Jews as well as Gentiles.

The Question - 9:19

In verses 19-29 Paul answers another objection. This one is based on the false notion that an individual cannot help himself and, therefore, that God should not punish him when he was only doing God's will. The one who has been created has no right to object to anything the Creator in His sovereignty has done.

Romans 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

Verse 19 introduces a new line of reasoning. Paul's imaginary objector suggests that God should not punish him when he could not help himself because he was only doing God's will. It is based on an inference from what Paul has written in verses 14-18.

Thou wilt say is you will say, you will speak, or you will assert.

Then introduces an inference and is understood in the sense of therefore, consequently, accordingly, or so.

To me refers to Paul. It could be that Paul was anticipating this argument. It could also be possible that he had heard this argument before.

That argument is Why doth he (i.e. God) yet find fault?

It suggests, Why is he (i.e. God) still finding fault? or, Why is he still blaming (me)?

For who hath resisted his will? is asked as an explanation for this question. Who hath resisted? means who has set himself against? (i.e. who has opposed? or who has withstood) God's will? It pictures one who has deliberately taken up a position in opposition to God and who remains set against God. The implication of the question is that no one has resisted God's will and that he simply could not help himself. He is excusing himself from any wrongdoing and blaming his wrongdoing on God as if he were a robot who was completely controlled by God and had no choice but to do wrong in accordance with God's will. This, however, is an incorrect understanding of what Paul intended.

Paul's reply (9:20-24)

Romans 9:20-24 - (20) Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? (21) Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (22) What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: (23) And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, (24) Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

Verses 20-24 are written in reply to the objection raised in verse 19.

Nay but is used to correct something which has been said. It is understood in the sense of rather or on the contrary. Here it is an emphatic contradiction. Paul does not accept the idea that God should not find fault because no one has resisted God's will.

O man directly addresses this objector. It is the generic word for human being and can, therefore, refer to a female as well as to a male. It is singular here, but it represents any and every man or woman who would reply against God in this fashion.

In who art thou that thou repliest against God?, thou is used for emphasis and is also in a position of emphasis. It is you singular and refers to man.

The flavor of this emphasis might be gathered if it were understood in the sense, You, who are you that replies against God? That thou repliest against God is used in the sense that you are answering God by contradicting Him.

Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?, implies a negative answer in the sense of the thing formed shall not say to Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus, shall it? No, it shall not. It makes no sense for something or someone that is made to reply against its maker and to question His decision for making it in the way He made it.

The thing formed is what is formed or molded, and him that formed it is the One who molded it.

Say suggests speak, assert, or declare.

Why hast thou made me thus? suggests why have you made me in this manner? or why have you made me so? The implication of the entire verse is that something which has been made has no right to question the purpose for which it was made. This is entirely the decision of the one who made it, and God is the One Who made man. He has the right, therefore, to decide for what purpose He made each man. Although we do not understand God's purpose in everything, we do understand that He has the right to do whatever He chooses with those whom He has made or with those things which He has made because they are His.

Romans 9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Verse 21 continues the thought begun in verse 20.

Hath not the potter power over the clay of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour? expects a positive answer. It should, therefore, be understood in the sense the potter has power over the clay of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor, does he not? Yes, he does.

A potter is one who shapes clay into various objects which he will later use for whatever purposes he chooses.

Power is a legal technical term used especially in wills meaning freedom of choice or the right to act, the right to decide, the right to dispose of his property as he chooses. It is the same word translated power in John 1:12 .

John 1:12 - But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

The clay is the material which the potter shapes into whatever vessel or container he is making

Clay is also implied with the same lump. It is of the same lump (of clay).

To make one vessel is to make (or produce) one jar, to make (or produce) one dish, or to make (or produce) one container of some sort. It can have a number of uses depending on what the owner needs or wishes.

Unto honour is which is for honor, i.e. which is for reverence or which is for respect.

Another unto dishonour suggests the opposite of honor in the sense of another unto disrespect, another unto disgrace, or another unto shame.

A vessel unto honor might be used to eat or drink from; whereas, a vessel unto dishonor might be used for something such as garbage or trash. The one making it can make it for whatever purpose he pleases. Similarly, God can make anyone for whatever purpose He pleases.