Main point summary
God's sovereign freedom to have mercy on whomever he wills and to harden whomever he wills further establishes his purpose of election in order to preserve and proclaim his righteous glory, the enjoyment of which is the rich inheritance of his chosen vessels of mercy.
ἄρα οὖν ὃν θέλει ἐλεεῖ, ὃν δὲ θέλει σκληρύνει.
So then, he has mercy on whomever he wills and he hardens whomever he wills.
Ἐρεῖς μοι οὖν•
Then you will say to me,
τί [οὖν] ἔτι μέμφεται;
"Then he cannot still find fault,
τῷ γὰρ βουλήματι αὐτοῦ τίς ἀνθέστηκεν;
for no one can resist his will."
ὦ ἄνθρωπε, μενοῦνγε σὺ τίς εἶ ὁ ἀνταποκρινόμενος τῷ θεῷ;
O man, on the contrary, you are unable to contend with God.
μὴ ἐρεῖ τὸ πλάσμα τῷ πλάσαντι• τί με ἐποίησας οὕτως;
The creation does not say to the Creator, "Why did you make me this way?"
ἢ οὐκ ἔχει ἐξουσίαν ὁ κεραμεὺς τοῦ πηλοῦ ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ φυράματος ποιῆσαι ὃ μὲν εἰς τιμὴν σκεῦος
And the potter indeed has authority over the clay to make from one lump on the one hand an object which is for honor
ὃ δὲ εἰς ἀτιμίαν;
and on the other hand an object which is for dishonor
εἰ δὲ θέλων ... ἐνδείξασθαι τὴν ὀργὴν καὶ γνωρίσαι τὸ δυνατὸν αὐτοῦ
But if, desiring to reveal wrath and to show his power,
...ὁ θεὸς...ἤνεγκεν ἐν πολλῇ μακροθυμίᾳ σκεύη ὀργῆς κατηρτισμένα εἰς ἀπώλειαν,
God endured with great forbearance objects of wrath having been designed for destruction,
[ then he further establishes his sovereign purpose of election
[ in order to preserve and proclaim his righteousness]
καὶ ἵνα γνωρίσῃ τὸν πλοῦτον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ σκεύη ἐλέους ἃ προητοίμασεν εἰς δόξαν;
and in order that he might make known the riches of his glory upon objects of mercy which he prepared beforehand for glory.
Some sort of illustration in order to explain what we should say about the assertion of v. 18 . Could be a Sit/R or a Q/A.
Think about this as a GROUND relationship. What are the implications of it being an Alt or a G?
Genitive of destination
22c-d represent an assumed apodosis. HOWEVER, think about the possibility that he is just asserting the protasis and leaving the apodosis blank not to be assumed but to suggest that there is no justification for man to ask such a question of God.
Some other implied purpose?
When you have a to be verb, there is a "pecking order" for which is subject and which is predicate nominative. Pronouns always tend to be the subject except for interrogative pronouns.
It makes more sense in response to the question "Why did you make me this way?" to have a genitive of subordination here. The Potter has authority over the clay to make it however he decides.
Grammer Notes, Questions
Parsing -ερεις - fut act ind 2 sg - from λεγω -ανθεστηκεν - perf act ind 3 sg - to answer back - ερει - fut act ind 3 sg - from λεγω -σκευος - neut sg acc - thing/object/vessel -ηνεγκεν - aor act ind 3 sg - from φερω - to bring/carry or endure - σκευ η - neut pl acc - things/objects/vessels -κατηρτισμενα - stative mid/pas part neut pl acc -ελεους - neut sg gen Translation Then you will say to me, "Why then does he still find fault, for who has resisted his will?" O, man, on the contrary, who are you who is answering back to God? What is formed will not say to the one who forms, "Why have you made me in this way," will it? Or does not the potter of the clay have authority from one lump of clay to make on the one hand a vessel which is for honor and on the other hand a vessel which is for dishonor? But if God, desiring to reveal wrath and to make known his power, endured with great forbearance objects of wrath having been designed for destruction, [then he did so] in order that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy which he prepared beforehand for glory. Grammatical Notes -I am on the fence regarding the text issue with the second ουν in v. 19. Attestation seems strong for either side, and there seems to be some room for accidental scribal error with the words "ουν τι ουν ετι" having a very similar sequence of letters all very close to each other. At this point I choose to leave it in with the following explanation. The first ουν in this verse represents Paul's inference that his audience will have an objection to his restatement of the "problem" in v. 18. The second ουν, which lies within the quoted words of Paul's audience, represents the inference that Paul believes his audience will make about the "problem" in v. 18. -The μη in v. 20b assumes a negative answer, and the ουκ in v. 21 assumes a positive answer. "What is formed will not say to the one who forms, 'Why have you made me this way?' And the potter of the clay indeed has the authority from one lump of clay to make on the one hand a vessel which is for honor and on the other hand a vessel which is for dishonor." -και in v. 23 is puzzling. Perhaps it suggests that there might be an unstated, assumed parallel purpose alongside this stated purpose. Questions 1. Continuing from the last assignment, I have a hypothesis that v. 18 begins a new sub-section that is continued through v.26 and consists of the 3rd response to the question of v. 14, "What then shall we say [in response to vv. 6-13]?" My question here is simply whether or not this is a tenable understanding of the text. 2. The ει δε appears to function exclusively as an introduction to a conditional sentence that is concluded with a "then" statement in Paul's usage. However, there doesn't seem to be a conclusive "then" statement here. Also the ινα clause seems to further complicate the issue. What is the complete thought of the conditional sentence, and how is it functioning in this argument?
Exegetical Notes -What is the relationship between κατηρτισμενα and προητοιμασεν? How do the passive vs. middle readings affect the interpretation? προητοιμασεν is aorist active 3 sg, and its subject seems to be God, reaching back to v. 22. It also seems to be clearly part of a parallel construction designed to draw a distinction between two different groups of vessels: vessels of wrath prepared for destruction and vessels of mercy prepared for glory. It would make sense then, that προητοιμασεν and κατηρτισμενα have the same subject, especially since the context is referring to God's actions. Also if κατηρτισμενα was to have the middle reading, one might expect an intensive pronoun, "having prepared themselves..." The difference in the theology is that the middle reading gives responsibility to the vessels of wrath and the passive reading gives responsibility to God. -It seems as though the use of the unusual word μενουνγε may be the opening of a two part response to the reader's question finding its conclusion in vv. 22-23. The construction looks similar to the μεν...δε constructions which introduce "on the one hand...on the other..." statements. This coordinate relationship will receive further analysis under Q#1 below. Questions 1. Continuing from the last assignment, I have a hypothesis that v. 18 begins a new sub-section that is continued through v.26 and constitutes the 3rd response to the question of v. 14, "What then shall we say [in response to vv. 6-13]?" My question here is simply whether or not this is a tenable understanding of the text. -Paul's first response to the question which again seeks to blame God and impugn his righteousness is that human beings have no ground to stand on if they seek to question God. The contrast is made perfectly clear, ανθρωπος...θεος, creation...Creator, clay...Potter. So his first task is to remind the reader of the frailty of humans with respect to God and show them the foolishness of attempting to bring charges against him. This seems to be a blatant reminder of what was said in vv. 14-18, where Paul asserted God's righteous, sovereign freedom, his absolute independence from any influence outside of himself on all of his actions. So, in his initial response, he calls the reader to remember where we have already been through the course of the argument. That is, we the created and finite cannot call into question the justice of the infinite Creator because as God he is by nature sovereignly free to do what pleases him. -His next sentence, introduced with a common conditional sentence construction, takes up the question of divine motive. If we can't call God unjust for his sovereign choice to have mercy on whomever he has mercy and to harden whomever he hardens, then we can only ask what he is trying to accomplish through his actions? Question #2 needs to be answered here in order to proceed. The conditional sentence seems to be missing at least part of its apodosis, reading literally, "Now if God, desiring to to reveal wrath and to make known his power, endured with much forbearance objects of wrath having been designed for destruction...and in order that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy which he prepared beforehand for glory." It is almost as if part of the verse has been chopped off. One explanation could be to suggest that the prenuclear participle "desiring" could be a purpose participle. This would solve the problem of και ινα... but does not address the absence of the apodosis. Perhaps the apodosis is simply a reaffirmation of what God did..."Now if God endured...then he did so in order to reveal wrath...and in order that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy." Although this is plausible, it seems unlikely that a prenuclear participle would be functioning as a purpose participle. It is more likely to be explaining background desires that led to God's action. "Because he desired to reveal wrath..." -More likely is that Paul is leaving his apodosis implied. This makes the most sense if the argument has been going on for some time such that he can safely assume that his audience will be able to make the connection. This provides support for my understanding of the flow of vv. 6-26. Bit by bit, Paul has asserted God's sovereign freedom to do what pleases him [vv. 14-15], and he has established God's divine purpose in doing what he does [vv.16-17]. Here, he reasserts God's divine freedom, and he develops God's purposes to include the benefit to be received by his creation as a result of his actions. He does so by returning to the theme of his purpose of election, stemming all the way back to vv. 10-13. -So I propose, that the intention of the conditional sentence is best expressed according to the following translation: " But if God, desiring to reveal wrath and to make known his power, endured with great forbearance objects of wrath having been designed for destruction, [then he further establishes his sovereign purpose of election in order to preserve and proclaim his righteousness] and in order that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy which he prepared beforehand for glory. 2. The ει δε appears to function exclusively as an introduction to a conditional sentence that is concluded with a "then" statement in Paul's usage. However, there doesn't seem to be a conclusive "then" statement here. Also the ινα clause seems to further complicate the issue. What is the complete thought of the conditional sentence, and how is it functioning in this argument? -See explanation beginning in paragraph 2 of Q#1. Doxological Response -Not only is God 100% sovereign, but he is absolutely committed to the good of those who love him, of those who are called according to his purpose. If God were only sovereign and not good, he would be more terrible than anything imaginable. We would live in constant fear of his capricious mind, wondering when the next stroke of wrath would come our way. If God were only good but not sovereign, then trusting in him would be nothing more than wishful thinking. We would have no reason to be confident that his purposes will prevail, no matter how earnestly he desired them too. What a glorious and wonderful reality that he is both absolutely sovereign and absolutely committed to the good of his chosen ones. As his Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are his children, we receive the assurance that the omnipotent God of the universe is for us, and we declare in defiance of the uncertain times to come, "Who then can be against us?" We see with ever increasing clarity that the actions of God to glorify himself are not at odds with his actions to bless his people, and the clarity is clearest when we realize that the glory of God is the blessing of his people (v. 23). This is why Paul orders his argument the way he does, first asserting God's divine freedom (his God-ness), then declaring his ultimate purpose (preserving his glorious righteousness), then declaring his secondary yet connected purpose (blessing his objects of mercy who have been prepared for glory ).