The Epistle to the Romans Study 24 Romans 9: 19-33




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The Epistle to the Romans

Study 24

Romans 9:19-33

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

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?

25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.

26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:

28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.

30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.

31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.


Beware of Wrongful Presumptions
Some years ago, a vessel was in the Arctic Region. It came very close to a very beautiful iceberg. The rainbow colours of the iceberg and the glittering icy towers and pinnacles looked very inviting. So a group of passengers decided to climb the iceberg. They presumed that it was stable enough because everything looked so peaceful. They got on the top of it and had a picnic there. Everything felt peaceful and secure. After the picnic they started their descent. Just when they got into the vessel what they saw was unbelievable. The icy towers and pinnacles came crashing down and the iceberg which they presumed very secure and stable rolled over. Fortunately there was no loss of life.
The point is: Those adventurous people made a wrongful presumption. We are very capable of making wrongful presumptions. They can be dangerous. In regards to the Jews which Paul talks about in Romans 9, they had made a wrongful presumption which was a fatal, namely that they were saved when they were not. Let’s not make any wrongful presumption particularly in regards to our salvation. Don’t make the same mistake as the Jews did. It’s fatal. We presume we are saved when we are not. How sad it is when we presume we are saved and on the day of reckoning hear the Lord say to us, “I never knew you. Depart from me ye that iniquity.”

Paul explained to the Jews how wrong their presumption was. They presumed they were saved because they were physical descendents of Abraham.


Verses 7&8 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
Qn: How did Paul explain to the Jews that their presumption was wrong based on verses 7 & 8?
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Verses 12 & 13 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
Qn: Again based on verses 12 & 13, how did Paul further show that the Jews’ presumption was wrong?
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Qn: So based on the record concerning these 2 generations, could the Jews presume that they were saved based on physical descent?


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Verses 11-13, "(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." Verse 16: "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."
Qn: What were the Jews’ other wrongful assumptions in regards to salvation as shown by Paul in the above verses?
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Comments:

With reference to the election of Jacob and the passing by of Esau we read in 11-13, Romans 9:11-13, "(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." The truth is God is sovereign. He is absolutely in control. He predestinated everything from eternity. From eternity He had already predestinated who would be saved and in regards to the rest He was pleased to pass.

Then to further show the sovereignty of God, Paul cites the example of Pharaoh. 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. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. The Word of God tells us that God withheld His mercy from Pharaoh, and hardened his heart. But we also read that Pharaoh actually hardened his own heart. What it means is that Pharaoh actively hardened his own heart. At first he did evil but was not doing as much evil as he could have done because God was restraining him. But, he persisted in his evil and what God finally did was to remove the restraint from him. By removing that restraint God hardened his heart – God did so passively. The result was the evil in Pharaoh’s heart went rampant. He was given over to a reprobate mind, one that was incapable of repenting. He received punitive judgment from God. As it were God hardened his heart, but passively.

Let’s learn this truth: God is sovereign. He chooses whom He wills. He has mercy on whom He has mercy. It is a wrongful presumption to think He is not sovereign. The Jews’ presumption of God’s sovereignty was wrong. They thought they were Abraham’s physical descendents, and they were observing the laws of Moses, therefore God must save them. Thank God, He chose us. He chose even me. That is not a wrongful presumption if we have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.


Now the next question is this – the Jews might ask and people today do ask: If God is sovereign, if He chose some and passed by others, how could people be held responsible for their unbelief and sins … when their destiny has already been determined by Him? Paul says it this way: 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
Qn: What is the implication of this question concerning God?
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Qn: “God, you are unjust.” This is a very audacious presumption – it is a very bold and disrespectful presumption. The truth is God is absolutely holy and righteous. Why is man so audaciously presumptious?
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Qn: How can God be said to be just when He elected some and condemned the rest? (Think in terms of a fallen humanity and God’s showing His mercy).
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Qn: Could those who are passed by, by God cry out to God, “God, you are unfair you owe us mercy?”
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Verses 20 & 21: 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 by the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?


Qn: Comment on the prerogative of God and the “right” of man to talk back to God and say, “Why blame us when you made us like this or that?” Consider the potter and the clay in your comment.
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Qn: Does the sovereignty of God mean that He also chose for men to become sinful? Consider James 1:13, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:" When man sins, who makes the choice to sin? Consider Acts 2:22-23, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:"
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Qn: What should our response be seeing that He elected us from eternity?
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Comment: Another audacious assumption people might make is that God is not just because wicked people are not punished the way they should be punished. Take for example the way God punished Pharaoh. People might say, “God should not even tolerate Pharaoh for one minute. The moment he refused to let the children of Israel go, God should have zapped him right away. But, God tolerated him through 10 plagues before He finished him. What kind of justice was that? I don’t want to believe in such an unjust God.”
Verse 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:
Qn: What does verse 22 tell us about God in regards to the question, “What kind of justice was that?” when He didn’t finish Pharaoh straightaway when He refused to let the children of Israel go?
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Qn: Do you think we are better than Pharaoh when we think that he should be zapped by God right away when he refused to let the children of Israel go?

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Qn: Quote a verse in scripture which says He deals with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath waiting for them to repent. When God shows His justice what does He also longsufferingly show at the same time?
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Comment: Let’s never ever think He is not just. But if the wicked choose not to repent, God will endure their wickedness until their wickedness fills up to full measure and they become vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. At which time, God will make His power known and pour down His wrath as He did in the case of Pharaoh. God finally destroyed all the first-born males in the homes of the Egyptians and destroyed also Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea when they pursued the children of Israel.
Now let us see that He endures the wickedness of the wicked for a very gracious end. Look at verse 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?
Now when Paul comes to these 2 verses, there is a change in his drift when he talks about God’s enduring with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. His attention is now focused on the Jews and not so much on Pharaoh. The Lord had endured the wickedness and the rebellion of the Jews with longsuffering as He did Pharaoh, but they chose not to repent. Finally, the time was ripe – they made themselves vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. God’s judgment came upon them. And we know what happened in history. In the year AD 70, the Romans destroyed the city of Jerusalem, and the Jews were scattered all by the world for the next 2000 years. The nation of Israel was cast aside for a time - that was the judgment for their wickedness.
But as we said earlier, He endures the wickedness of the wicked for a very gracious end. And so we read in verse 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? The Lord bore with longsuffering the vessels of wrath till their wickedness filled up to full measure. The Jews’ greatest wickedness was that by their wicked hands they crucified their Messiah.
Qn: What was the gracious end which resulted from God’s enduring the wickedness of the Jews?
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Qn: When did God prepare these ‘vessels of mercy’ unto glory?
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Qn: Who were the vessels of mercy?

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Comment: So it’s an audacious presumption to think that God is not just because He does not appear to punish the wicked quick enough. The truth as we have seen is that He is very longsuffering waiting for the wicked to repent. Also He endures the wickedness of the wicked for a very gracious end, as shown by His enduring the wickedness of the Jews so that the Gospel might be made known to those whom He had from eternity chosen to receive the riches of His glory.
Qn: As those who have been chosen by the Lord to receive His mercy, what should our response be to this truth?
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Qn: When we look at the unsaved, those who choose to live according to their sinful ways, do you think there is a time limit at which God’s judgment will come upon them?
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Next, let us see that the presumptions made by the Jews were unbiblical. They presumed that God could never have passed by the Jews and could never have elected the Gentiles. How wrong that presumption was biblically because scripture records that God would cast aside the Jews and save the Gentiles. 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?
See also the prophecy in the book of Hosea. 25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. God would call the Gentiles which were not His people, His people. He would call them beloved who were not His beloved. In other words, He would save the Gentiles.
Then with regards to the Jews who were supposed to be His people, the majority would be lost. Only a remnant would be saved. Jews, your presumption is wrong. It is not biblical. 27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: 28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. When God’s judgment came to cast aside the Jews, His judgment was swift and decisively. In AD 70, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and for the next 2000 years the Jews were practically nationless. 29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha. Not all Jews will be saved, only a remnant. Paul warned the Jews against making the unbiblical presumption that all Jews would be saved and that the Gentiles had no place in the God’s kingdom. Friends, let us be warned against making unbiblical presumptions.
Comment on these assumptions (Are they biblical or unbiblical? Provide Bible references where possible).


  1. I am saved because I come from a Christian home and am baptized.

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  1. We may be saved without showing repentance.

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  1. We feel good going to certain churches and hearing the health and wealth Gospel. We feel good therefore we are saved.

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  1. Now another unbiblical presumption relates to evangelism. We presume that God has already elected those to be saved to be saved, therefore we don’t have to go out to save people.

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  1. Another unbiblical presumption is in regards to our Christian growth. People say, “Let go and let God.”

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Yes, it is true, our Christian growth is a work of grace. But it is also true that if we are truly saved, God’s Holy Spirit will work in us to cause us to will and to do of His good pleasure. In response to His working in us we will work out our salvation with fear and with trembling.
Verses 30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Qn: What did the Gentiles do which was right for obtaining righteousness and what did the Jews do which was wrong for obtaining righteousness? What happened to them (Jews and Gentiles) when God laid this ‘stone’?
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Concluding Comments:

Let’s not be guilty of wrongful, audacious and unbiblical presumptions. Know the truth and apply it. The truth is God is sovereign. He will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy. He is perfectly just. If He condemns people to hell, He is perfectly just in doing so, because He is dealing with a fallen humanity. If He saves some, He is not unfair. He is simply showing His mercy. All those who are condemned get what they deserve, justice. Those who are spared get what they get because of His mercy. Let’s be careful that we not make unbiblical presumptions. The most tragic one: We think we are saved when we are not.



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