1I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
2That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
3For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
[u]4Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;[/u]
5Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
6Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
8That 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.
9For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.
10And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
[u]11(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;)
12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
13As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.[/u]
14What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
15For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
16So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
17For 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.
18Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
19Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
20Nay 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?
21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump [u]to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?[/u]
22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
25As he saith also in Osee, [u]I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
26And 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.[/u]
27Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:
28For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
29And 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.
30What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.
31But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
33[u]As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.[/u][/b]
Ok, every time this passage is brought up, the debate goes immediately to predestination vs free will. Which I'm sure it may be bound to even now as I am writing this. However, I do not believe that that is what Paul is addressing at all.
I believe that Paul was addressing the issue of why God made a New Covenant and did not make it to be for the Jews alone. And also of why the Jews were so hard hearted. If you read it with this in mind, suddenly all the controversy of the entire passage is eliminated, and it starts to make sense with the rest of scripture, rather than contradicting it. I am not going to attempt a verse by vers explanation, but rather a brief overview of my opinion, it is then up to anyone to read the chapter with my opinion in mind and decide for themselves whether it is right or wrong.
The first thing to notice is that he is not talking about the gentiles to begin with, he is talking about the Jews. That is why he later in the passage references the prophecies of Elijah. He says he wishes he could be accursed from God so that by some means the Jews would hear the gospel and repent. Yet he cannot. After having read this prophecy his whole life, and then becoming a Christian, he begins with the Jews, why? Because they are his brothers whom he loves and wishes them to be saved, yet he cannot understand why they are so hard hearted until he reads the prophecy of Elijah.
The remnant he speaks of is a few of the Jews, as refrenced in the prophecy.
Now let me say that I am no scholar on the subject, neither am I an apologetics major, but I am sure that this is what Paul was talking about.
When Paul says "The vessels of wrath" who is he talking about? Common Christians would probably say: "Sinners".
And then they would say that "The vessels of mercy" are the "Christians".
But it is not so, the vessels of wrath reffered to are the Jews remaining from the Old Covenant that had hard hearts and would not accept the gospel as true.
The vessels of mercy are both the Jews that believed, and then also the gentiles that would come to believe.
Now, this is the only time in which Paul uses the phrase "Vessels of wrath". Yet he is constantly dealing with the issues of the saved, the unsaved, spirit vs flesh, and many other topics. How come it is then picked out, disected, and three verses chosen from the whole chapter to be a focal point of predestination?
The chapter has been done a disservice.