When Paul asked: “ “You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?”” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭9:19‬

Is Paul asking in the context of Romans 9:1-24, but specifically in Romans 9:19: “Who has resisted His(God) will(moral law)? (Answer: everybody universally within mankind) then is Paul asking rhetorically: Why does He still find fault? (Because they are always resisting God’s will?).

Can we answer it like that based on Paul’s rhetorical structure? Saying that: “all beings are still found to be at fault with God because everyone resists His will?”

Pardon any redundancy.

For a little broader context:

“Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. You will say to me then,

Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?

Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭9:18-24‬

  • Just one correction. Technically Paul is not asking those questions. He's contemplating a hypothetical situation where someone other than him might ask him such questions as those(i.e. "why does He still find fault, for who has resisted His will?). The questions themselves aren't Paul's, in that he's not looking for an answer to them(which is why one asks questions in the first place; to get answers). But +1 on the question.
    – Rajesh
    Jan 16, 2022 at 0:59
  • @Rajesh I totally agree, I forgot to mention that. I am aware Paul is presenting an argumentation based on him saying “You will say to me then…” So maybe I had some brain fog with addressing it like that. What I am confused with, is can we answer such rhetorical questions? I assume they are rhetorical based on everything Paul had been arguing in the preceding chapters of Romans, namely 1-8 (chapters).
    – Cork88
    Jan 16, 2022 at 2:41

2 Answers 2


When Paul asked: “ “You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?”” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭9:19‬‬

‭‭This word "will" (boulema) is used only three times in the New Testament:‬‬

‭‭This particular word means something different than just will. ‬‬

‭‭It can mean purpose, intention, counsel. ‬‬ : the thing that you plan to do or achieve : an aim or purpose‭‭,‬‬ : what one intends to do or bring about‭‭.‬‬

Berean Literal Bible

Then you will say to me, "Why then does He still find fault? For who is resisting His purpose?"

Literal Standard Version You will say, then, to me, “Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His counsel?”

Young's Literal Translation Thou wilt say, then, to me, 'Why yet doth He find fault? for His counsel who hath resisted?'

  1. bouléma ► Strong's Concordance bouléma: purpose, will Original Word: βούλημα, Definition: purpose, will Usage: will, counsel, purpose.

Cognate: 1013 boúlēma (a neuter noun) – a pre-set, fully-resolved plan. 1013 (boúlēma) only occurs three times (critical text, Ac 27:43; Ro 9:19; 1 Pet 4:3). See 1012 (boulē)

‭‭It helps to understand that this means more of God's intention, purpose, counsel in mind. ‬‬

‭‭We know God tells the end from the beginning and He has a purpose, and intention for all things.‬‬

‭‭Here is an example showing the difference between His will and His intention.‬‬

‭‭He gave the law to Israel as it was His will. However His intention was not that they would keep it but that they themselves were to discover that sin lived inside of them and and kept them from keeping the law. God's intention was hidden from them at the time and we see how Paul revealed what the purpose of the Law was for.‬‬

For by the law is the knowledge of sin. Rom.3:20 It provided no remedy for sin but only an awareness of it.

Why, then, the Law? It was added on account of the transgressions, until the Seed might come to which the promise has been made, Gal. 3:19

Pharaoh is another example of how he was elevated by God, not that his name might be great, but that God's name might be made known throughout all the earth. A great man was needed for this for God could not have made his power known.

It is God's Sovereign privilege to display Himself through any of His creatures, or any way best suited to the purpose.

Studying Romans 9-11 not only shows God's sovereignty over the nations, Individuals, also one can see
one of His purpose's revealed at then end of chapter 11: 30-36

  • Great answer, thanks! I wonder though if it’s possible to interpret to Romans 9:18 vs 9:19 as a reference to the fact that God still holds mankind guilty despite His hardening. Since Romans 9:18 wasn’t mentioned directly in my question I will have to ponder that via resources. Your answer was well rounded, appreciate it!
    – Cork88
    Jan 16, 2022 at 23:40
  • @Cork88 Thanks. God has taken away the sin of the world through the lamb He provided. God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s trespasses against them. All mankind will be justified eventually Rom.5:18. Being hardened by God for Israel in the flesh is only temporary as the chapters unfold their destiny. Here is the definition of Destruction: Cognate: 684 apṓleia (from 622 /apóllymi, "cut off") – destruction, causing someone (something) to be completely severed – cut off (entirely) from what could or should have been.
    – Sherrie
    Jan 17, 2022 at 18:21
  • 684 /apṓleia ("perdition") does not imply "annihilation" (see the meaning of the root-verb, 622 /apóllymi, "cut off") but instead "loss of well-being" rather than being (Vine's Expository Dictionary, 165; cf. Jn 11:50; Ac 5:37; 1 Cor 10:9-10; Jude 11). The Loss of well-being, the judgments that they have and will go through are for corrective purposes. It will be these sufferings that will prepare them for their destiny as being a light to the nations in the future. God has only had mercy on a few of them at this time totally an election of grace.
    – Sherrie
    Jan 17, 2022 at 18:22
  • They are living by faith in Christ and are counted as a seed now. They are first fruits. The rest will come later after they have gone through some tough times and are humbled and prepared to have their eyes open to their Savior Jesus Christ. He has not rejected His People.
    – Sherrie
    Jan 17, 2022 at 18:22
  • what did you mean by: "All mankind will be justified eventually Rom.5:18." ?? Are you implying universalism? Whether you want to call it that or not?
    – Cork88
    Jan 17, 2022 at 18:26

The argument that Paul was refuting here is not a correct interpretation of what he had said. This is comparable to his statement in Romans 6:1 where he said, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” Paul knew someone would interpret his teaching on grace to be advocating sin; therefore, he spoke their wrong conclusion and then refuted it.

Likewise here, Romans 9:19, he stated an abusive interpretation of his statements and then proceeded to counter it.

The truth that Paul was expressing here is the overall point that was made in the book of Job. God never did explain Himself to Job as Job had insisted that He do. Instead, God rebuked Job for his “know-it-all” attitude (Job 38:18).

God basically asked Job what right he had to maintain his own integrity at the expense of God’s (Job 40:8). Job got the message when God spoke to him from a whirlwind, and he humbled himself (Job 42:2-6). Paul’s message should draw the same response from us.

  • Your response makes sense to me, except for the part I might not have clarified. Even though Paul responds to such an abusive argument against him, is it even possible to answer the questions in Romans 9:19? Are they even rhetorical? I assumed they were, so if there is nothing left to answer on Romans 9:19 as you said, so be it. I just wonder.
    – Cork88
    Jan 16, 2022 at 2:44
  • 1
    @Cork88 There may be some Qs we would like answered, but the answer is not meant for us.
    – Dave
    Jan 16, 2022 at 3:14

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