Romans 9:19-21 Commentary

 

 

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Romans 9:19-21 Commentary
Commentary Updated July 18, 2014

Romans 9:19  You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?"  (NASB: Lockman)
Greek: Ereis (2SFAI) moi oun, Ti [oun] eti memphetai? (3SPMI) to gar boulemati autou tis anthesteken? (3SRAI
Amplified: You will say to me, Why then does He still find fault and blame us [for sinning]? For who can resist and withstand His will?
 (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: But, then, you may ask, “If this is so how can God go on blaming men if they do not take his way? Who can withstand God’s purpose?
 (Westminster Press)
ESV: You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"
 (ESV)
NIV: One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?"
 (NIV - IBS)
NKJV: You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?"
NLT: Well then, you might say, "Why does God blame people for not listening? Haven't they simply done what he made them do?"
 (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Of course I can almost hear your retort: "If this is so, and God's will is irresistible, why does God blame men for what they do?"
 (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Then you will say to me, Why does He still persist in finding fault? 
 (Eerdmans
Young's Literal: Thou wilt say, then, to me, 'Why yet doth He find fault? for His counsel who hath resisted?'
REFERENCES
Updated July 18, 2014

Henry Alford
Albert Barnes
Wayne Barber
Wayne Barber
Wayne Barber
Wayne Barber
Wayne Barber
Wayne Barber
William Barclay
Brian Bell
Johann Bengel
Joseph Beet
Joseph Benson
Biblical Illustrator
John Calvin
Cambridge Bible
Expositor's Dictionary
Cambridge Greek
Alan Carr
Alan Carr
B H Carroll
Rich Cathers
Steven Cole
Steven Cole
Steven Cole
Steven Cole
Steven Cole
Steven Cole
Thomas Constable
W A Criswell
W A Criswell
W A Criswell
W A Criswell
W A Criswell
W A Criswell
W A Criswell
W A Criswell
Bob Deffinbaugh
Bob Deffinbaugh
Bob Deffinbaugh
John Dummelow
Jonathan Edwards
Charles Ellicott
Explore the Bible
Explore the Bible
Expositor's Bible
Expositor's Greek
A C Gaebelein
Tony Garland
Tony Garland
Tony Garland
Tony Garland
Tony Garland
John Gill
Frederic Godet

Bruce Goettsche
Bruce Goettsche
Bruce Goettsche
L M Grant
Scott Grant
Scott Grant
James Gray
David Guzik
Robert Haldane
Richard Halverson
Robert Hawker
Matthew Henry
Charles Hodge
F B Hole
HCSB Study Bible
Homiletics
Barry Horner
H A Ironside
Jamieson, F, B
S Lewis Johnson
William Kelly
Keith Krell
Keith Krell
Steve Kreloff
Steve Kreloff

Steve Kreloff
Steve Kreloff
Steve Kreloff
Steve Kreloff

Steve Kreloff
Steve Kreloff

Paul Kretzmann
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
John MacArthur
Henry Mahan
Lange Commentary
J Vernon McGee
Heinrich Meyer
Middletown
G Campbell Morgan
Robert Morgan
Henry Morris
H C G Moule
Robert Neighbour
Net Bible Notes
William Newell
Phil Newton
Phil Newton
Phil Newton
Phil Newton

Phil Newton
Phil Newton

John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
John Piper
Matthew Poole
Preacher's Homiletical
Ray Pritchard
Ray Pritchard
Pulpit Commentary
A T Robertson
Don Robinson
Alan Ross
Phillip Schaff
Rob Salvato
Sermon Bible
Sermons by Verse
Charles Simeon
Charles Simeon
Charles Simeon
Charles Simeon
Charles Simeon
Charles Simeon
Chuck Smith

Claude Stauffer
Ray Stedman
Ray Stedman
Ron Teed
Ron Teed

John Trapp
Marvin Vincent
Daniel Whedon
Drew Worthen
Drew Worthen
Drew Worthen
Drew Worthen
Steve Zeisler
Steve Zeisler
Precept Ministries
Gil Rugh
David Baron

Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9:1-3: The Attributes of God
Romans 9:1-5: Israel: A Privileged People
Romans 9:6-13: Israel: A Proud People

Romans 9:14-19: God is a God of Purpose
Romans 9:19-24: God is God of Purpose-Pt2
Romans 9:30-10:5:Righteousness Precious Possession

Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Sovereignly Selected!
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary (Dictionary of Texts)
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9:1-5 Burdened For A Lost People
Romans 9:6-33 Bound By The Lord's Purposes

Romans: Studies (1935)
Romans 9 Sermon; Ro 9:1-5 Sermon; Ro 9:6-16 Sermon; Ro 9:17-33 Sermon
Romans 9:1-5: A Burden for the Lost

Romans 9:6-13: Why God’s Word Cannot Fail

Romans 9:14-18: Is God Unfair?

Romans 9:19-23: God’s Glory in Judgment and Mercy

Romans 9:24-29: God’s Great Mercy in Salvation

Romans 9:30-33: The Right and Wrong Ways to God

Romans 9 Expository Notes
Romans 9:10-28 Election-The Hardest Passage In The Bible
Romans 9:1-3 The Passion for Souls
Romans 9:1-5 Israel in the Remembrance of God
Romans 9:1-3 That They Might Be Saved
Romans 9:1-3 The Burning Heart
Romans 9:15-16 The Bible Kind of Salvation
Romans 9:15-16 The Effectual Calling of God
Romans 9:1-3 A Burden for Our Own Families
Romans 9:1-13 Man Opposes; God Disposes

Romans 9:14-23 Divine Election is Questioned

Romans 9:24-33 Israel’s Failure Is the Scripture’s Fulfillment
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9:18: The Sovereignty of God in Salvation
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9:1-29 Need for Mercy
Romans 9:30-10:21 Call to Faith

Romans 9 Commentary (H C G Moule)
Romans 9 Commentary (James Denney)
Romans 9:1-33 Commentary

Romans 9-11 What Will Happen to Israel- Recommended
Romans 9:1-5 Paul's Sorrow Concerning Israel
Romans 9:6-13 Children of the Promise
Romans 9:14-24 The Potter and the Clay
Romans 9:25-33 A Remnant Will be Saved

Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9:1-9 True and False Believers

Romans 9:7-21 God's Choice and Salvation

Romans 9:22-33 God's Patience and Mercy
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9:1-29 The Stage for Christ

Romans 9:30-10:21 has God Proved Himself?
Romans 9 Commentary

Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9:14-24 Justice and Mercy.
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Study Notes - Enter Scripture - Click "Read" in Study Bible in right column
Romans 9 Homilies
Romans 9:1-33 The Gospel and Israel's Election
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary (Unabridged)
Romans 9:1-5, Romans 9:6-13, Romans 9:14-33
Romans Commentary
Romans 9:1-13 The Roller Coaster Ride
Romans 9:14-29 The Great Brain Teaser
Romans 9:1-5 Paul's Passion for Israel (Kreloff - Jewish Believer) - Mp3
Romans 9:1-5 Paul's Passion for a Privileged People (Kreloff - Jewish Believer) - Mp3
Romans 9:6-13 The Israel of Israel (Kreloff - Jewish Believer) - Mp3
Romans 9:6-13 God's Righteous Dealings with Israel (Kreloff - Jewish Believer) - Mp3
Romans 9:14-24 Objections to Election Answered (Kreloff - Jewish Believer) - Mp3
Romans 9:14-18 Does Election Destroy God's Righteousness? (Kreloff - Jewish Believer) - Mp3
Romans 9:19-24 Does Election Destroy God's Responsibility? (Kreloff - Jewish Believer) - Mp3
Romans 9:25-33 Does Election Destroy God's Responsibility? (Kreloff - Jewish Believer) - Mp3

Romans 9 Commentary

Romans 9-11 Is God Finished With Israel? Part 1

Romans 9-11 Is God Finished With Israel? Part 2

Romans 9:1-4 The Sorrowful Unbelief of Israel, Part 1

Romans 9:4-5 The Sorrowful Unbelief of Israel, Part 2
Romans 9:6-13 Is Israel's Unbelief Inconsistent with God's Plan? 1
Romans 9:14-18 Is Israel's Unbelief Inconsistent with God's Plan? 2

Romans 9:19-24 Is Israel's Unbelief Inconsistent with God's Plan? 3

Romans 9:25-33 Is Israel's Unbelief Inconsistent with God's Plan? 4
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary

Romans 9 Thru the Bible Mp3's (Click for 9 separate Mp3's on Romans 9)
Romans 9 Commentary

Romans 9 Notes
Romans 9 Analyzed Bible-1909 (Read comment on "His Hope for Israel")
Romans 9, 10 & 11 What's Ahead for Israel?
Romans 9 Commentary Defender's Study Bible - Notes on links on Right side of page
The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary (also includes Constable's Notes in Right Panel)
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9:1-5 Honor without Righteousness
Romans 9:6-13 Children of the Promise
Romans 9:14-18 Sovereign Mercy

Romans 9:19-23 Objections to Sovereign Mercy

Romans 9:22-29 An Explanation of Sovereign Mercy

Romans 9:30-33 Have You Stumbled Over the Stumbling Stone?

Romans 9:1-5  The Absolute Sovereignty of God: What Is Romans Nine About
Romans 9:1-5 My Anguish: My Kinsmen Are Accursed
Romans 9:1-5 How Great Is the Honor of Israel
Romans 9:6-12  God's Word Stands: Not All Israel is Israel, Part 1
Romans 9:6-12 God's Word Stands: Not All Israel Is Israel, Part 2
Romans 9:6-13 Unconditional Election and the Invincible Purpose of God
Romans 9:8-17 The Hardening of Pharaoh and the Hope of the World

Romans 9:14-18 The Freedom and Justice of God in Unconditional Election
Romans 9:14-18 The Fame of His Name and the Freedom of Mercy
Romans 9:19-23 How God Makes Known the Riches of His Glory
Romans 9:17 A Passion for the Supremacy of Christ--Where He Is Not Named
Romans 9:23,24 God's Ultimate Purpose: Vessels of Mercy
Romans 9:24-29 The Gentiles Are Included
Romans 9:30-33 The Gentiles Have Obtained Righteousness by Faith
Romans 9:30-10:10 Believe in Your Heart that God Raised Jesus

Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9:6-18 God's Freedom
Romans 9:6-18 God's Word Has Not Failed
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Word Pictures in the New Testament
Romans 9:1-5 Why Did God Choose the Jews?
Romans 9:1-10:21 Vindication or God’s Righteousness in His Relationship with Israel
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9:1-33 Jacob I Have Loved
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Sermons - hit arrow to advance to next verse
Romans 9:1-4 The Privileges of Jews and Christians
Romans 9:1-5 Our Duty Towards the Jews
Romans 9:6 Israel in the Midst of Israel

Romans 9:16 God's Sovereign Mercy the Source of All Our Blessings
Romans 9:19-24 God's Sovereignty Not to be Arraigned by Men
Romans 9:30-33 Christ Rejected by the Jews and Believed on by the Gentiles
Romans 9 Comments

Romans 9:1-11:36 The Sovereignty of God
Romans 9:1-29: Who Chose Whom?

Romans 9:14-33  Let God Be God
Romans 9 God Will Judge Everyone With Perfect Fairness
Romans 9:14-33 Salvation is For Everyone
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9 Greek Word Studies
Romans 9 Commentary
Romans 9:1-8 For They Are Not All Israel, Who Are Descended From Israel
Romans 9:9-13 Jacob I Loved, But Esau I Hated
Romans 9:14-23 What Then Shall We Say? Is God Unjust? Not At All!
Romans 9:24-33 I Will Call Them My People, Who Were Not My People
Romans 9:1-13 Fatal False Assumptions

Romans 9:14-33 Out of Our League

Romans 9-11 - Part 3 Download Lesson 1
Romans 11 Does God Have a Future for Israel? by Gil Rugh - 46 page booklet
The Jewish Problem -  by Jewish believer David Baron in 1891-interesting!)

ROMANS ROAD
to RIGHTEOUSNESS
Romans
1
:18-3:20
Romans
3:21-5:21
Romans
6:1-8:39
Romans
9:1-11:36
Romans
12:1-16:27
SIN SALVATION SANCTIFICATION SOVEREIGNTY SERVICE
NEED
FOR
SALVATION
WAY
OF
SALVATION
LIFE
OF
SALVATION
SCOPE
OF
SALVATION
WORK
OF
SALVATION
 
Summary of
Romans 9-11
Romans 9 Romans 10 Romans 11
Past
Election
Present
Rejection
Future
Reception
God's Sovereignty
Israel's Election by God
Man's responsibility
Israel's Rejection of God
God's Ways Higher
God Not Rejecting Israel


Related resources
...

Summary on the Attributes of God
Spurgeon on the Attributes of God

Israel of God - Is God "Finished" with Israel in His prophetic plan?

Off Site - Table Comparing/contrasting Israel & Church
Off Site - Does the Church Fulfill Israel's Program? - John Walvoord

The Jewish People, Jesus Christ and World History - S Lewis Johnson

Are you confused about God's plan for Israel? Then I highly recommend Tony Garland's 12 Hour Course on Romans 9-11 in which he addresses in depth the question of  What Will Happen to Israel?  (click) or see the individual lectures below)

Romans 9:1-5 Paul's Sorrow Concerning Israel
Romans 9:6-13 Children of the Promise
Romans 9:14-24 The Potter and the Clay
Romans 9:25-33 A Remnant Will be Saved
Romans 10:1-13 The Righteousness of God
Romans 10:14-21 Has Israel Not Heard?
Romans 11:1-6  God Has Not Cast Away The Jews
Romans 11:7-15 Life from the Dead
Romans 11:16-24 Two Olive Trees
Romans 11:25-36 The Salvation of Israel

Note that when you click the preceding links, each link will in turn give you several choices including an Mp3 message and brief transcript notes. The Mp3's are long (avg 70+ min) but are in depth and thoroughly Scriptural with many quotations from the Old Testament, which is often much less well understood than the NT by many in the church today. Tony Garland takes a literal approach to Scripture, and his love for the Jews and passion to see them saved comes through very clearly in these 12 hours of teaching! Take your home Bible Study group through this series if you dare! Take notes on the tapes as the transcripts are a very abbreviated version of the audio messages. This course is highly recommended for all who love Israel! I think you will agree that Tony Garland, despite coming to faith after age 30 as an engineer, clearly has been given a special anointing by God to proclaim the truth concerning Israel and God's glorious future plan for the Jews. Garland has also produced more than 20 hours of superb audio teaching in his verse by verse commentary on the Revelation (in depth transcripts also available) which will unravel (in a way you did not think was possible considering the plethora of divergent interpretations) God's final message of the triumph and return of the our Lord Jesus Christ as the King of kings and Lord of lords! Maranatha!

YOU WILL SAY TO ME THEN WHY DOES HE STILL FIND FAULT: Ereis (2SFAI) moi oun  ti (oun) eti memphetai (3SPMI): (Ro 3:8; 1Corinthians 15:12,35; James 1:13) (Ro 3:5, 6, 7; Genesis 50:20; 2Chronicles 20:6; Job 9:12, 13, 14, 15,19; 23:13,14; Psalms 76:10; Isaiah 10:6,7; 46:10,11; Daniel 4:35; Mark 14:21; Acts 2:23; 4:27,28)

You will say to me - Paul anticipates the argument based on the prior passages.

Find fault (3201) (memphomai ) means to blame, to censure, to accuse, to be dissatisfied with someone most commonly due to errors of omission. Impute as blameworthy.

TDNT - means “to blame,” “to scold,” “to upbraid,”...“to chide,” “to reproach,”...to declare oneself dissatisfied with something,”

NIDNTT - In Ro. 9:19 the word is used by Paul in a rhetorical question that occurs in an exposition of the sovereignty of God: “Why does He yet find fault?” In the light of God’s sovereign inexorable purposes one may raise the question of human responsibility. The word memphomai clearly connotes “guilt” or blameworthiness in this context for Paul’s argument is that God’s sovereignty does not free sinful men of fault or guilt before God.

Webster - censure - : the act of blaming or condemning sternly. The act of blaming or finding fault and condemning as wrong; applicable to the moral conduct, or to the works of men. When applied to persons, it is nearly equivalent to blame, reproof, reprehension, reprimand. It is an expression of disapprobation, which often implies reproof.

Webster - blame -  to find fault with; to express disapprobation of; to find fault with; opposed to praise or commend, and applicable most properly to persons, but applied also to things.

The only other NT use of memphomai is Hebrews 8:8 (apocryphal Lxx uses - 2Macc 2:7, Sir 11:7, Sir 41:7)...

For (see term of explanation - which forces you to observe Heb 8:6-7) finding fault with them, He says, “BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH;

Warren Wiersbe tells the following story: "I recall sharing in a street meeting in Chicago and passing out tracts at the corner of Madison and Kedzie. Most of the people graciously accepted the tracts, but one man took the tract and with a snarl crumpled it up and threw it in the gutter. The name of the tract was “Four Things God Wants You to Know.” “There are a few things I would like God to know!” the man said. “Why is there so much sorrow and tragedy in this world? Why do the innocent suffer while the rich go free? Bah! Don’t tell me there’s a God! If there is, then God is the biggest sinner that ever lived!” And he turned away with a sneer and was lost in the crowd."

Wuest - (Ro 9:19–21) “Hath resisted” is the perfect tense verb of anthistēmi, “to set one’s self against, to withstand, resist, oppose.” The simple verb is histēmi, “to stand,” the prefixed preposition, anti, “against,” thus, “to stand against.” The use of the perfect tense here speaks of a process of standing against God’s will which has come to a finished end, and the resulting state, that of a confirmed and permanent stand against God. Vincent says; “more correctly, withstandeth. The idea is the result rather than the process of resistance. A man may resist God’s will, but cannot maintain his resistance. The question means who can resist Him? Paul leaves the question unanswered, for there is no answer which a finite mind can either reason out nor understand, since it involves the sovereignty of God and the fact of man as a free moral agent. The point where both of these touch each other has never been found by man.”  (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader)

Denney - But human nature is not so easily silenced. This interpretation of all human life, with all its diversities of character and experience, through the will of God alone, as if that will by itself explained everything, is not adequate to the facts. If Moses and Pharaoh alike are to be explained by reference to that will—that is, are to be explained in precisely the same way—then the difference between Moses and Pharaoh disappears. The moral interpretation of the world is annulled by the religious one. If God is equally behind the most opposite moral phenomena, then it is open to anyone to say, what Paul here anticipates will be said; why does He still find fault? For who withstands His resolve? To this objection there is really no answer, and it ought to be frankly admitted that the apostle does not answer it. The attempt to understand the relation between the human will and the divine seems to lead of necessity to an antinomy (the opposition of one law to another) which thought has not yet succeeded in transcending. To assert the absoluteness of God in the unexplained, unqualified sense of Ro 9:18 makes the moral life unintelligible; but to explain the moral life by ascribing to man a freedom over against God reduces the universe to anarchy. Up to this point Paul has been insisting on the former point of view, and he insists on it still as against the human presumption which would plead its rights against God; but in the very act of doing so he passes over (in Ro 9:22) to an intermediate standpoint, showing that God has not in point of fact acted arbitrarily, in a freedom uncontrolled by moral law; and from that again he advances in the following chapter to do full justice to the other side of the antinomy—the liberty and responsibility of man. The act of Israel, as well as the will of God, lies behind the painful situation he is trying to understand. (Expositor's Greek Testament)

FOR WHO RESISTS HIS WILL: to gar boulemati autou tis anthesteken (3SRAI):

For - term of explanation - what is Paul explaining?

Resists (436) (anthistemi [word study] from anti = against + histemi = to cause to stand) is literally to stand or set against.  To set one's self against. To withstand.

Anthistemi means to arrange in battle against and so pictures a face to face confrontation. It means to set one's self against, to stand firm against someone else's onset, to oppose (place opposite or against), to resist by actively opposing pressure or power, to withstand (oppose with firm determination). It involves not only a psychological attitude but also a corresponding behavior. It was used to refer to an army arranging in battle against the enemy force and so to array against.

Anthistemi - 14x in 12v - Matt 5:39; Luke 21:15; Acts 6:10; 13:8; Rom 9:19; 13:2; Gal 2:11; Eph 6:13; 2 Tim 3:8; 4:15; Jas 4:7; 1 Pet 5:9

An opponent might say that Paul's conclusion in [Ro 9:18] leads to fatalism. Paul, however, does not give an analytical answer but in Romans 9:20 rebukes the questioner for such a preposterous conclusion. If a potter can do what he wishes with his vessels, certainly God can with His.

GOD'S BUSINESS!
NOT OURS!

What one might say based on the preceding truths about God's choice is that if God does what He wills then its not our fault – we don't really have a choice. WRONG! Read on...

William Newell explains - In His infinite wisdom and knowledge God reads with unerring accuracy the operations of the human heart: “Man looks on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looks on the heart.” Man says, "If I am not one of God's elect, an object of His mercy, then I cannot do right, and God should not blame me." I asked an intelligent man in western Michigan if he had believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. He burst out into loud laughing, saying,

If I am elect, I will go to heaven; and if I am not elect, there is no use in my worrying about the question!”

I rebuked him sternly, with these words:

God commands men that they should all everywhere repent: inasmuch as He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He hath ordained.'  (Acts 17:30-31KJV) God's commands are God's enablings,' and if you will hearken to Him, you will be saved. But you will not dare to say to God in that day, I could not come because I was not of the elect; for that will not be true! The reason you refused to come, will be found to be your love of sin, not your non-election!

God says, “Whosoever will,”  (Ro 10:13KJV) and the door is open to all, absolutely all. God means “Whosoever”: and that is the word for you, sinner; and not election, which is God's business, not yours! (Newell's Commentary on Romans)

 

Romans 9:20  On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it?

Greek: o anthrope, menounge su tis ei (2SPAI) o antapokrinomenos (PMPMSN) to theo? me erei (3SFAI) to plasma to plasanti, (AAPMSD) Ti me epoiesav (2SAAI) houtos? 
Amplified: But who are you, a mere man, to criticize and contradict and answer back to God? Will what is formed say to him that formed it, Why have you made me thus? [Isa. 29:16; 45:9.]
Barclay: Fellow! Who are you to be arguing with God? Surely the thing that is molded into shape cannot say to the man who molds it, “Why did you make me like this?”
ESV: But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"
ICB: Do not ask that. You are only human. And human beings have no right to question God. An object cannot tell the person who made it, "Why did you make me like this?"
NIV: But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'"
NKJV: But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?"
NLT: No, don't say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to criticize God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who made it, "Why have you made me like this?"
Phillips: But the question really is this: "Who are you, a man, to make any such reply to God?" When a craftsman makes anything he doesn't expect it to turn round and say, 'Why did you make me like this?'
Wuest: For, with respect to His counsel, who has taken a permanent stand against it? O man, nay, surely, as for you, who are you who contradicts God? The moldable material shall not say to the one who molds it, Why did you make me thus, shall it?
Young's Literal: nay, but, O man, who art thou that art answering again to God? shall the thing formed say to Him who did form it, Why me didst thou make thus?
ON THE CONTRARY, WHO ARE YOU, O MAN, WHO ANSWERS BACK TO GOD: o anthrope, menounge su tis ei (2SPAI) o antapokrinomenos (PMPMSN) to theo: (Ro 2:1; Micah 6:8; 1Corinthians 7:16; James 2:20) (Job 33:13; 36:23; 38:2,3; 40:2,5,8; 42:2, 3, 4, 5, 6; Matthew 20:15) (Job 16:3; Titus 2:9; 1Corinthians 1:20; 1Timothy 6:5)

Amplified - But who are you, a mere man, to criticize and contradict and answer back to God?

The thrust of Paul's question is powerful - Who do you think you are to criticize, argue with, reply against and talk back to God like that? Can an object that was made say to its maker, "Why did you make me like this?"

Answers back (470)(antapokrinomai from antí = against + apokrinomai = to give off a judgment, to answer <> apó = from + kríno = separate, discern, judge) means to reply to something, especially by making a declaratory and argumentative reply. To make unjustified accusations. Answer back, demand one's right (so to speak). Talk back. Contradict. To reply in contradiction to the speaker. Robertson says the idea is "to answer to one's face" (emphasizing the prefix "anti-" meaning against). In modern slang we might say "he was in his opponent's face!"

Wuest explains that "antapokrinomai  is made up of apokrinomai “to give off a judgment,” thus, “to answer,” and the prefixed preposition anti - “against,” thus, “to answer by contradicting.”

Vincent on antapokrinomai - “The word signifies here to reply to an answer which God had already given, and implies, as Godet observes, a spirit of contention.”

The only other use of antapokrinomai is by Luke describing the Pharisees who tried to trap Jesus regarding the breaking of the Sabbath. His replies silenced His hypocritical adversaries "And they could make no reply to this." (Lk 14:6) There are 2 uses in the Lxx - Job 16:8 ("my leanness rises up against me. It testifies [Heb = anah = to answer, respond] to my face) and Job 32:12 ("no one refuted Job").

Denney -  the objector is reminded emphatically of what he is, and of the person to whom he is speaking. It is not for a man to adopt this tone toward God....Paul...does not refute, but repels the objection. It is inconsistent, he urges, with the relation of the creature to the Creator.

Newell - Literally, this reads: “O man, yes! but rather,--you! who are you, replying against God?” Alford well says: “The words yea, rather,' take the ground from under the previous assertion and supersede it by another: implying that it has a certain show of truth, but that the proper view of the matter is yet to be stated. They thus convey, as in Luke 11:28, a rebuke,--here, with severity: That which thou hast said may be correct human reasoning,--but as against God's sovereignty, thy reasoning is out of place and irrelevant; the verse implying. Thou hast neither right nor power to call God to account in this matter.' These verses are a rebuke administered to the spirit of the objection, which forgets the immeasurable distance between us and God, and the relation of Creator and Disposer in which He stands to us.” And Stifler warns: “He who replies against God must mean that it is God's hardening that deprives a soul of salvation; that if God did not interpose with an election and take some and leave others to be hardened, all men would have at least an equal opportunity of salvation. This is false. If God did not elect, none would be saved, for there is none that seek after God' (Romans 3:11). And, men are not lost because they are hardened; they are hardened because they are lost; they are lost because they are sinners. “God is not responsible for sin. He is under no obligation to save any one. Obligation and sovereignty cannot both be predicated of God. If He saves any one it is a sovereign act of mercy.” (Commentary on Romans)

Henry Morris - We have no right to ask God: "Why?" Remember that He answered Job's pleas for understanding merely by reminding Job of the fact of creation (Job 38-41). As our great Potter, He has the right to make His pottery vessels both for honor and dishonor (Ro 9:21). We who have been redeemed by His mercy should be grateful that He chose us even before the world began (Ep1:3, 4, 2Ti1:9), confident that He--by whatever means He chooses--is preparing His "vessels of mercy" (Ro 9:23) to receive the full manifestation of His glory in the ages to come (Ep 2:10). The fact that our finite minds cannot comprehend the simultaneous operation of divine election and human responsibility is irrelevant. Both Scripture and human experience demonstrate both to be true. We must both rest in that fact and act in light of it.

THE THING MOLDED WILL NOT SAY TO THE MOLDER, "WHY DID YOU MAKE ME LIKE THIS WILL IT: me erei (3SFAI) to plasma to plasanti (AAPMSD) ti me epoiesas (2SAAI) houtos: (Isaiah 29:16; 45:9-11)

Paul quotes in part from Isaiah - Isa 29:16 You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, That what is made should say to its maker, “He did not make me”; Or what is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

Don't you know that God is sovereign, just, merciful & by all rights should have condemned all men & yet He has sovereignly chosen to save some.

Then Paul describes 2 different vessels both made from the "same clay" (v21 "same lump") so to speak. Both deserve destruction & I have had mercy on some. God determines whether a man will be a Moses or a Pharaoh. Neither Moses, nor Pharaoh, nor anyone else, could choose his parents, his genetic structure, or his time and place of birth. We have to believe that these matters are in the hands of God. However, this does not excuse us from responsibility. Pharaoh had great opportunities to learn about the true God and trust Him, and yet he chose to rebel. Paul did not develop this aspect of truth because his theme was divine sovereignty, not human responsibility. The one does not deny the other, even though our finite minds may not fully grasp them both.

Newell - In the Scriptures, those who meet God, fall into the dust. “I am but dust and ashes,” said Abraham, and Job: “Mine eye seeth Thee, and I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” A “thing,” yea, and a formed thing, owing its very being to a Creator! Have we thus considered ourselves? Our only proper creature-attitude is one of faith, not questioning. These are days of man-vaunting, and God-despising. But they shall soon end, and the very earth on which man's legions marched in such pride, shall flee away “before the face of Him who sits upon the Throne”! (Revelation 20:11) (Commentary on Romans)

 

Romans 9:21  Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another * for common use?  (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: e ouk echei (3SPAI) exousian o kerameus tou pelou ek tou autou phuramatos poiesai (AAN) o men eis timen skeuos, o de eis atimian? 
Amplified: Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same mass (lump) one vessel for beauty and distinction and honorable use, and another for menial or ignoble and dishonorable use?
 (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: Has not the potter complete authority over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for an honourable use and another for a menial service?   (Westminster Press)
ESV: Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?
ICB: The man who makes a jar can make anything he wants to make. He can use the same clay to make different things. He can make one thing for special use and another thing for daily use.
NIV: Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
 (NIV - IBS)
NKJV: Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
NLT: When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn't he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?
 (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: The potter, for instance, is always assumed to have complete control over the clay, making with one part of the lump a lovely vase, and with another a pipe for sewage.
 (Phillips: Touchstone
Wuest: Or, does not the potter possess authority over the clay, out of the same lump to make, on the one hand, an instrument which is for honorable purposes and, on the other hand, one which is for dishonorable uses?
 (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal:  hath not the potter authority over the clay, out of the same lump to make the one vessel to honour, and the one to dishonour?
OR DOES NOT THE POTTER HAVE A RIGHT OVER THE CLAY: e ouk echei (3SPAI) exousian o kerameus tou pelou: (Ro 9:11,18; Proverbs 16:4; Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 18:3-6)

Read John MacArthur's response to the question "How do we understand Romans 9-22, -vessels of wrath prepared for destruction"?"

Potter (2763)(kerameus > English "ceramic") is ne who makes earthenware pots

Potter - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Potter - Hastings' Dictionary

Potter - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words

Potter - Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

It is not said that we are as clay in the potter’s hands, but that God has the right over us that the potter has over his clay. One lump the potter can use for a splendid vase; another for a vessel for base uses.

Newell - As concerns the right of the Divine Potter over the human clay, we need to go with Jeremiah to “the potter's house”: “I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he was making a work on the wheels. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? Such as is the clay in the potter's hands, so are ye in my hand, O house of Israel” (Jeremiah 18:3-6). God called man “dust” in Eden (Ge 2:7; 3:19). And, “The nations are as a drop of a bucket and are accounted as the small dust of the balance” (Isaiah 40:15). When the apothecary would weigh an article accurately, he whisks out with a breath from the balances any former dust remaining therein: and there go the nations, all,--as regards greatness before God! Yet here is one atom of this “small dust” replying against God, saying, “What right has He to do thus with me?” Now it will not do to answer, “God is love”; “God so loved the world.” True, indeed. But God is God, and the nations are “less than nothing, and vanity,” as you read in Isaiah 40:17, and in many other Scriptures. God has rights high above all our poor comprehension. We know that God will always act righteously. We are not God's judges! God has a right “from the same lump of human clay to make one part a vessel unto honor, another unto dishonor.” No godly person challenges that right. Nay, godly people most reverently bow to it! “What would the ability to fashion be worth, if it were under the dictation of that which is to be fashioned?”  (Commentary on Romans)

TO MAKE FROM THE SAME LUMP ONE VESSEL FOR HONORABLE USE, AND ANOTHER FOR COMMON USE: ek tou autou phuramatos poiesai (AAN)  o men eis timen skeuos o de eis atimian: (Ro 9:22,23; Jeremiah 22:28; Hosea 8:8; Acts 9:15; 2Timothy 2:20,21-
note)

All men come from the same "lump" of clay so to speak for...

just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned (Ro 5:12-note)

Thus all are lost and destined for perdition. God does not have to choose them for hell. They are already headed there because of their inherent and imputed sin and the sins they commit.

God in His sovereignty chooses some to be vessels of mercy and with the others exhibits a long fuse even though He has every right to destroy them. The vessels of wrath are not foreordained by God or chosen by God to go to hell. They prepare themselves for their ultimate destiny, which they receive because they have rejected the truth about God and His righteousness available only in Christ.

Honorable (5092)(time akin to tio = to value, honor) is "basically, the worth ascribed to a person or the value ascribed to a thing; (1) as the recognition of another’s worth; (a) active honor, reverence, respect (Ro 12.10); (b) passive recognition, esteem, dignity bestowed (Jn 4.44); concretely, as a position of honor office, place of honor (Heb 2.9; 5.4); (c) honorarium, compensation, payment received for service (1Ti 5.17); (2) as the value ascribed to a thing; (a) price, value, price received or paid back (Acts 4.34); (b) figuratively value, benefit, usefulness (Col 2.23) (Friberg, et al: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament)

NAS Usage - Usage: honor(28), honorable use(1), marks of respect(1), precious value(1), price(7), proceeds(1), sum(1), value(1).

Time - 41x in 40v - Matt 27:6, 9; John 4:44; Acts 4:34; 5:2f; 7:16; 19:19; 28:10; Rom 2:7, 10; 9:21; 12:10; 13:7; 1 Cor 6:20; 7:23; 12:23f; Col 2:23; 1 Thess 4:4; 1 Tim 1:17; 5:17; 6:1, 16; 2 Tim 2:20f; Heb 2:7, 9; 3:3; 5:4; 1 Pet 1:7; 2:7; 3:7; 2 Pet 1:17; Rev 4:9, 11; 5:12f; 7:12; 21:26

Believer's Study Bible - Although the illustration of the right of the potter to do with the vessel as he wishes, whether to honor or dishonor it, may certainly be applied to individual election, nevertheless, the election of the nation of Israel is the primary subject under discussion in ch9-11, and the principal application of the passage is to Israel.
(Believer's Bible Commentary)

Denney - Either you must recognize this absoluteness of God in silence, or you must make the preposterous assertion that the potter has not power over the clay, etc. The power of the potter over the clay is of course undoubted: he takes the same lump, and makes one vessel for noble and another for ignoble uses; it is not the quality of the clay, but the will of the potter, that decides to what use each part of the lump is to be put. True, the objector might say, but irrelevant. For man is not clay, and the relation of God to man is not that of the potter to dead matter. To say that it is, is just to concede the objector’s point—the moral significance is taken out of life, and God has no room any longer to pronounce moral judgments, or to speak of man in terms of praise or blame. (Expositor's Greek Testament)

William Newell has an interesting note...

In His infinite wisdom and knowledge God reads with unerring accuracy the operations of the human heart:

"Man looketh on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looketh on the heart."

Man says,

"If I am not one of God's elect, an object of His mercy, then I cannot do right, and God should not blame me."

I asked an intelligent man in western Michigan if he had believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. He burst out into loud laughing, saying,

"If I am elect, I will go to heaven; and if I am not elect, there is no use in my worrying about the question!"

I rebuked him sternly, with these words:

"'God commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: inasmuch as He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He hath ordained.' 'God's commands are God's enablings, 'and if you will hearken to Him, you will be saved. But you will not dare to say to God in that day, I could not come because I was not of the elect; for that will not be true! The reason you refused to come, will be found to be your love of sin, not your non-election!"

God says, "Whosoever will" and the door is open to all, absolutely all. God means "Whosoever": and that is the word for you, sinner; and not election, which is God's business, not yours. (Romans Commentary)


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