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Romans 9:22

What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction?

In my country language when a person say "what if" generally means that this person doesn't know whether the next sentence he say is true or not. (Either about the past or the future).

For example :

  • what if he is not the one who stole Rita's money ? (past)
  • what if Don's mother won't get angry ? (future)

But in some occasion,

  • the person already knew that he is not the one who stole Rita's money or the person has a strong believe that he is not the one who stole Rita's money
  • the person has a strong believe that Don's mother won't get angry

About the verse above, I can't figure out

  • whether (A) Paul doesn't know that "to the one God already prepared for destruction - He bore with great patience this object of His wrath" is true or not
  • or (B) Paul does know that "to the one God already prepared for destruction - He bore with great patience this object of His wrath"
  • or (C) Paul has a strong believe that "to the one God already prepared for destruction - He bore with great patience this object of His wrath"

So, what does it mean "what if" in Romans 9:22 ? A or B or C ?

Also, because the verse used the past tense "bore" - does it mean that at the time Paul said that, God already didn't bear patience His objects of wrath ?

I put my question here as Caleb suggest me in this link

Thank you.

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The answer to your question is 'B,' and Paul is saying that God did exercise patience.

Paul is known for asking questions, often rhetorical, and most of the time, he answers them. His mission was to get the Greeks (the Gentiles) to believe in Christ. For the most part, the church in Corinth was Greek. Like the ancient Greeks that came before him, Paul uses questions to provoke people to think. This is exactly what Socrates did. The Socratic method is a little different than what Paul is doing because Paul is answering his own questions, but keep in mind, this is a letter. Paul wants the church on the straight and narrow path so he asks them question after question, in order to prove his point. Sometimes, he answers with more and more questions but even when he does that, the new questions are asked in such a way that his answers are clear.

From Chapter 9, KJV:

"What shall we say then? Is their unrighteousness with God?
God forbid." (v 14)

"Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who has resisted his will?
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? (v 19-20)

Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?" (v 20-21)

Back to your verse:

"What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And
that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, (v 22-23)

Above, Paul is saying that God is capable of absolute power (the way the flood in Noah's time destroyed everything) and yet God is refraining from using that power because of God's mercy (patience) in waiting for those who have faith. What if God endures suffering that God doesn't have to endure? (v 22) God endures for those with faith. (v 23) Paul reaffirms this answer (below), specifically with Gentiles that have faith over Israelites without faith.

"I will call them my people which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 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." (v 24-26)

Regarding "bore" -it's not used in every translation and it's not used in the Greek. But you're right that the phrase is in the past tense and "bore" is an excellent word to explain Paul's point.

"What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath -prepared for destruction." (NIV)

It's fair to argue that Paul's comments here apply to us in the present tense because what he is saying is a universal theme. That said, Paul is speaking in his lifetime, and in this verse, he's using the past tense. So it's accurate for Paul to say that God bore the patience, bore the suffering, bore the hell it must have been to have watched people turn away from God and never come to faith. That's why the Gentiles have God's mercy and glory -because God bore through that suffering and patience. If there was no bearing of suffering and patience, who would be able to come to faith? It takes time to come to faith, as Paul knows best of all. It's also almost like a pregnancy. "Bore" is used in pregnancies throughout the bible. A woman bears the pain and lack of comfort being pregnant for nine months, and then she bears the pain of labor, but she does it because she knows that it will bring about something good. This is how Paul is referring to God.

  • thank you for your explanation. Could you please tell me why the verse used past tense "bore" ? – karma Feb 28 '17 at 6:11
  • hi karma, I added to the answer. Hope it helps. Sorry, forgot to upvote you, just fixed that. I keep forgetting to do that. – Gigi Sanchez Feb 28 '17 at 6:48
  • Gigi Sanchez, thank you for your respond about "bore". This is quite difficult for me because I'm not from an English speaking country, it made me think that at the time Paul said that - it means that God didn't bear patience the objects of His wrath anymore. It's done after He showed his wrath and made His power known. – karma Feb 28 '17 at 7:02
  • No, that's not it. It's not just you, either. This isn't easy. This is almost like reading Shakespeare. It's tedious and the words don't always make sense. But it's good of you to plow forward. That's a great quality. What language do you speak? – Gigi Sanchez Feb 28 '17 at 7:06
  • Gigi, I speak Indonesian language :). Now another question raised inside my mind : what does it mean "show His wrath and make His power known" ? When this event happen ? Am I correct to think something like this : it already happen in Noah's flood. Then after that Noah's flood event until now, nothing happen. But in the future time, it will happen again when He show His wrath and make His power known. But this is just my guessing. I don't know how it is in the point of view Christianity. – karma Feb 28 '17 at 7:26

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