19You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?… Paul anticipates yet another objection. Here the sinful mind is so quick to question the authority and justice of God. The question, plainly stated is “How can God hold unbelievers responsible for their sin if it is God who had already predestined them to destruction?” The objection is charging God with tyranny, and thus argues that God would not be just in condemning men, neither would he be just in putting the blame on man as no one can thwart His will.
20But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?… Paul’s reply is a sobering reminder of who we are before a Holy God. We are to know our place, who is man, and how arrogant is it for man to think he can contest with God? As sinners before God we deserve nothing but condemnation, and are therefore not entitled to anything. Paul’s response places the ontology of God as the only and highest reason, content and knowing that such a reason would suffice. Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Paul further emphasizes that our very life is dependent upon His will and this should greatly humble us. As He had made us, He has full authority and power over our lives and we have no right in challenging our Creator.
21Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? … Here Paul lays out the reason to which the formed has no right to content to its former – that is that the former has complete right to do what He wants with what He had formed. An owner has the right to do what he wants with the things that he owns, so is God with His creation. We have no claim on His grace and nothing is ours except for what He had given us, and neither are we entitled to any of His merits. Therefore God has the right to make one individual for honorable use and another for dishonorable use.
22What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power,… Though Paul does not give an explicit reason to why one was chosen over the other, except that the reason was not any goodness or initiative of the elect, Paul reasons that God would have the perfect right to prepare some for destruction. This would be fully just for God to do, as it would show His righteous wrath on undeserving sinners, thus making known His power among the rest of creation. Has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction… Some of the reprobates, God deals with patiently, suspending judgment upon them for a time being to make known the severity of His wrath and power. These reprobates, though seemingly rampant in disobedience to God for a time being are ultimately under His very will and are dependent upon His sustaining power, and will be thrown into utter destruction at a time that seems most pleasing to God.
23in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy,… The vessels of destruction which reveal the wrath of God amplifies the glory of God as He chooses to be merciful to His elect. For the mercy of God will shine far more radiantly in the midst of His wrath, as His elect sees the wrath of God befalling upon the reprobates. Which he has prepared beforehand for glory— … God, just as He had prepared some for destruction beforehand, has prepared some for glory beforehand. Thus this coheres with the rest of Paul’s argument that the mercy of God rests solely on His will and had already been determined before the foundation of the world.