What if God, although he desired to show his wrath and make known his power, endured with much patience, vessels of wrath made for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory to vessels of mercy, whom he made beforehand for glory.
What if God, because he desired to show his wrath and make known his power, endured with much patience, vessels of wrath made for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory to vessels of mercy, whom he made beforehand for glory
Possible Interpretations from translation 1 (concessive):
1.1 God wants to show his wrath and his power but , by patiently enduring with vessels of wrath he could instead show his glory to vessels of mercy. Or...he didn't just destroy the vessels of wrath after the fall, but instead let his plan continue so that he could show his mercy by saving the vessels of mercy through his redemptive plan with Christ at the center, - therefore two sets of vessels, some have been prepared for destruction, some prepared for mercy. Elect and reprobate.
1.2 God wanted to show his wrath and his but instead gives the vessels of wrath chance to repent and become vessels of mercy. So ... vessels of mercy come out of vessels of wrath. All were 'made' for destruction as all fall short of the glory of God, but some were made beforehand for glory, those who God foreknew would repent, those whom he predestined for glory. God also knew those vessels of wrath that would not become vessels of mercy, however, just as in the case of Pharaoh, they are responsible for their lack of repentance. So God elects them as 'reprobate' however their own responsibility confirms them in that. God is sovereign, yet man responsible.
Possible Interpretations from translation 2 (causal):
2.1 God wants to show his wrath and power, and does so against vessels of wrath made for destruction and this also allows God to show glory more especially by showing his mercy to vessels of mercy made beforehand for glory. Two groups of vessels, one for glory, the other for wrath, shows more fully God's character, therefore shows more of His glory.
2.2 God wants to show his wrath and power, and does against vessels of wrath made for destruction. However, as in 1.2, some of those vessels, in God's foreknowledge repent and become the vessels of mercy. Therefore all made as vessels of wrath (cf. Eph. 2:3 – we were all children of wrath), yet out of these, through Jesus, God chose a people for himself who would repent through his grace and become vessels of mercy...as they were prepared for beforehand. So again, God is sovereign, yet man still fully responsible.
Its my feeling that either 1.2 or 2.2 is the most likely in the context of Paul, the teaching of Jesus and further systematic implications. This obviously though leads us with some difficulties:.
> If God truly does elect before the foundations of the earth, why is man still held responsible?
For the answer to this I direct you to Rom. 9:19f., noting particularly that our sense of justice and morality is soaked in the tree we ate from, and therefore apart from grace, warped.
> Is God completely just in holding us responsible if he moulded us this way?
See Rom. 9:14f. Noting that our sense of justice too is 'tree-justice' and we know that God is completely just, and his actions must also therefore be just. To further understand the depth of true justice we must submit to God's word as it teaches us about himself. God's justice often doesn't make sense to us, especially if we are unwilling to submit to his word, who would have thought that justice meant the Father pouring his wrath upon his Sinless Son to call us into his glory as vessels of mercy.
> How is God completely Sovereign in predetermining vessels if man is held fully responsible for his actions?
This is a complicated question in which there is no easy answer. I believe it to be a working, biblical paradox which is held in the counsel of God but cannot be fully grasped by human-kind. However there are things that help us, such as first, we know that it must work with God's character, therefore must be totally holy, and just, and loving, and righteous...etc. And also second, this biblical paradox is not unique, we see another closely related working biblical paradox in God's means of grace...such as shown in in Jude. - v. 21 says 'keep yourselves in the love of God,' and v. 24 says 'to him who is able to keep you.' So you keep yourself...in him who keeps you.