Ezekiel 33:11

11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel [ESV]

Ezekiel chapter 18 echoes the same idea:

23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? [ESV]

32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” [ESV]

However, Romans 9 says:

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? [ESV]

Why would God mold vessels of wrath prepared for destruction if He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked?

Related: Do the 'vessels of wrath' have libertarian free will? Romans 9:14-24

  • 3
    I think your question can be simplified to: "Why would God create something he has no pleasure in?" Because, we know there are wicked people who die, and we know God is displeased by it, and yet he still created this situation.
    – Matthias
    Feb 21, 2022 at 19:10
  • 1
    ummm, remember original sin, was man's idea. He didn't create that aspect, but He did foreknow that mankind would be judged, before creating man.
    – nickalh
    Feb 22, 2022 at 3:08
  • 1
    There exists higher biblical concepts that lay in a deeper understanding of the bible that are derived from a greater contextual view. Example being free will. God respects our decisions. Even when they are bad. God gave us deciding power. He respects our decisions. But he also makes room for repentance and tries to facilitate it through spiritual operant conditioning. If we make bad decisions and refuse to hear his voice he takes no pleasure in it but punishes it hoping for change. This an overly simple an answer but necessary to understand above mentioned texts.
    – Joshuabell
    Mar 2, 2022 at 12:40
  • @Joshuabell, as we are "in the year of the Lord's favor" (Isaiah 61:1-2; Luke 4:16-21), it might be more appropriate to say that God allows us to bear the consequences of our bad decisions rather than Him actively punishing us, hoping for change.
    – pbarney
    Mar 16, 2023 at 18:07

10 Answers 10


Paul was drawing an illustration from an Old Testament passage of Scripture, Jeremiah 18:3-6. In that passage, God sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house to learn a lesson. The potter was making a vessel; it was marred, so he remade it. The Lord spoke to Jeremiah and said, “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter?...Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel” (Jeremiah 18:6).

From this illustration, some people have drawn a wrong conclusion that the Lord creates some people evil and predestined to a life of damnation, not by their choice, but by God’s. However, a closer look at the passage in Jeremiah and its context will show that is not the case.

First of all, the potter started to create a good vessel, but the clay was marred. Whose fault was that? It wasn’t the potter’s fault. The clay was faulty. The potter took this imperfect clay, and instead of discarding it, he refashioned it into another vessel that may not have been worth nearly as much as his original design but was still useful.

Likewise, the Lord does not create certain individuals for destruction. However, some do become marred by their own choices, not due to any fault of the Creator. Instead of just removing them from the earth, the Lord will endure (Romans 9:22) their atrocities. He may even put them in great positions of authority, such as He did with Pharaoh, so that He may manifest His great power through His victory over them and their devices. God can still use someone who has rejected Him, in the same way that a potter can take a marred piece of clay and find some use for it.

By continuing to read the context of Jeremiah’s experience with the potter, it can be clearly seen that the Lord does not do these things against the will of the individual. In Jeremiah 18:7-10, the Lord said that when He purposes evil or good against a nation, if that nation repents, then God will change His plans for them. That undeniably states that man’s choice influences God’s choice.

  • 1
    You said: “some people have drawn a wrong conclusion that the Lord creates some people evil and predestined to a life of damnation, not by their choice, but by God’s.” There is certainly a difference between God granting breath & life to all mankind(1 Timothy 6:13) & Adam making us sinners by His disobedience. (Rom 5:12-21) God crafts out of the same lump (Rom 9:21), & any leaving people in sin would be to due to His prerogative of where to place His grace amongst the sons of men. So your statement is slightly off based on the Reformed Doctrine. Still, People are fitted to destruction
    – Cork88
    Feb 21, 2022 at 1:42
  • 4
    @Cork88 That statement was in relation to this particular verse(s). That is, you exegetically can not use this verse to support that conclusion.
    – Dave
    Feb 21, 2022 at 2:15
  • There is chronology. God wrote the name of every human born from Adam’s loins in the book of life before He started Creation. Men opt to have their names removed. God adds no one which means from the start God wanted everyone in heaven with Him. If a person resists the truth, then God will make him into a vessel of wrath. Mar 2, 2022 at 2:17

The central question here is whether the will of God is absolute or not. Calvin believed that God’s will was absolute and thus, irresistible, but the Bible is far more nuanced. I have previously listed many verses saying that God wants all people to be saved but we know that not all will be saved. Here are some further examples.

  • Matt 6:10 – “God’s will be done on earth”; we know this often not the case. See also Luke 11:2.
  • Matt 18:14 – “In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” However, we know that some will perish because all grow up to be sinners.
  • Mark 3:35 – “For whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother.”” This means that many do not do the will of God.
  • John 7:17 – “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” This specifically allows for our wills to be different from God’s will.
  • Eph 5:17 – “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” That is, many do not do the will of God.
  • 1 Thess 4:3 – “For it is God’s will that you should be holy: You must abstain from sexual immorality”. However, we know that many do not.
  • 1 Peter 2:15 – “ For it is God’s will that you should be holy: You must abstain from sexual immorality;” Again, this is not always the case.
  • 1 Peter 4:2 – “Consequently, he does not live out his remaining time on earth for human passions, but for the will of God.” That is, we have a choice as to whether we follow human will/passions or God’s will.
  • 1 John 2:17 – “The world is passing away, along with its desires; but whoever does the will of God remains forever.” That is, we choose whether to do God’s will or not.

The message here is profound – doing God’s will is not forced upon people. Service to God should be because of love and thus entirely voluntary. God is still sovereign but man is responsible.

This appears to be the whole subject of scripture from Adam and Eve’s fall (who sinned against God’s will), to Joseph’s betrayal when he famously said: Gen 50:20 - As for you, what you intended against me for evil, God intended for good, in order to accomplish a day like this—to preserve the lives of many people.

Back to Romans 9

The big "problem" is that most people use Rom 9 as a discussion about who is to be saved or not. However, the subject of Rom 9 is stated in the text itself - in V1-9 - about God's choice of the chosen people, "Israel"

For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.

That is, Paul is discussing the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant which involved a change of people as Heb 8:8, "But God found fault with the people"

Despite all the above, some still insist that Rom 9 teaches limited atonement (or predestination) and deciding who would be saved or lost and "fitting some for destruction" as some express it. For example, some will specifically quote v13: “Jacob I loved and Esau I hated”; and v14, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion”. V19-23 appears to be the “magna carta” of limited atonement. Therefore, is Rom 9 really discussing limited atonement, despite all the many Bible references listed earlier? How should we understand this passage?

We should observe the following facts:

  • The chosen nation status of Israel was about their vocation as evangelists to teach the world, not their status as saved. This is confirmed by the analogy of the potter in v21.
  • Romans 9 is NOT discussing individuals. God chose the nation that came from Jacob to do the job of providing the spiritual enlightenment to the world and being the progenitors of Christ. See v 3-5.
  • If Paul is teaching limited atonement in Rom 9 then he is very confused because v6 and v7 teaches the opposite. “… not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children.” That is, being “chosen” (or “elect”) descendant of Abraham does not make a person a member of spiritual Israel; rather it was whether that person becomes a person of the promise, that choses to accept God’s grace.
  • Paul’s summary and conclusion to his long (and admittedly difficult) argument in Rom 9:30-32 is equally clear – being a physical member of literal Israel does not make a person a real spiritual Israelite. The real question is whether a person becomes a person “of the promise”, that is, decides to accept Jesus. (See also v24 where Paul again confirms that the chosen are called from both Jews and Gentiles.)
  • Loved vs hated (v13): This is a piece of classic Hebrew idiom that employs rhetorical hyperbole. It is obvious that God loves all people and hates no one because “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). See “Love”. A simple comparison with Mal 1:2, 3 (that v13 quotes), Luke 14:26, 27 and Gen 29:31-33 (where the word “hated” is used) shows this Hebrew idiom well.
  • Background: Passages like Jer 7:4 clearly show that the Jews regarded their position as the chosen people of God as the source of their spiritual pride. That is, because of all that God had bestowed on them, they believed they must be saved and were guaranteed God’s favour and eternal life. Thus, the doctrine of free grace came as a very big shock. Paul is at pains to point out that not all who are (physical or genetic) Israelites are (spiritual) Israelites. Gentiles could become spiritual Israelites by “the promise”. God was now selecting gentiles to be His representatives without excluding the Jews. Even in ancient literal Israel, membership of Israel was entirely voluntary not genetic.

Thus, God wants us to be doers of His will but does not force us to be. God wants all people to be saved but many will choose not to be saved.

  • If God wants all people to be saved as per (1 Tim 2:4) have you considered the grammatical historical method & considered the context of v.1-3 that Paul {might} be referring instead to all people groups or types? For if God desires to save all mankind, He could, because God said He would accomplish all His pleasure(Isaiah 46:9-10) & John 6:37-40 shows that all that The Father gives to Christ will in fact come to Him for eternal life. Furthermore, John 17:2 shows that God will give eternal life to “as many as” the Father had given to Him. Again, a definite number of people.
    – Cork88
    Feb 21, 2022 at 1:52
  • @Cork88 - do you believe that salvation can be lost? Relevant debate: youtu.be/72TRODe8BdA
    – user38524
    Feb 21, 2022 at 18:53
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    @Cork88 - we have been here before and this is not the place for debate - I believe in a compassionate God of love that wants all to be saved as the Scripture. Many will reject that inviation.
    – Dottard
    Feb 21, 2022 at 20:35
  • @Dottard Hey Dottard, no worries. We at least know where we both stand on matters of Sotieriology, I can understand where you come from doctrinally. We can leave it at that. Peace & Grace to you brother. ;)
    – Cork88
    Feb 21, 2022 at 22:24
  • 1
    @HoldToTheRod - many thanks for fixing my typos, yet again.
    – Dottard
    Feb 21, 2022 at 23:18

Paul cannot imply that God whom he says to wish all humans to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) prepares some humans to be destroyed so that they even cannot do anything against this. If Paul holds both ideas then he, poor guy, suffers from schizophrenia. But it will be a gross calumny on Paul, for he holds that God wishes all to be saved, and if so, then He in principle cannot create some humans for ultimate destruction; then not only Paul but also God will have schizophrenia and this will be even unimaginably greater a calumny.

Thus, if "vessels of destruction" cannot in principle mean that God creates some for ultimate destruction, then the vessel of destruction means that God allows for human freedom to be abused to a destruction of this human, and even ultimate destruction, that is to say, eternal damnation, but this is not and cannot be His will, for abuse of freedom is 100% from man, not from God, analytically so, for "abuse" in this context means "usage against God's will". Yes, we are really and frighteningly free to the extent that can even defy God's salvific will for us.


For God to take no delight in the death of the wicked doesn’t mean that God will not have to exercise justice. In other words, just because God creates people who are ultimately “fitted to destruction”; doesn’t mean that they aren’t justly deserving of condemnation.

We read:

“What then? Are we better off? Certainly not, for we have already charged that Jews and Greeks alike are all under sin, just as it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, not even one.”” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:9-12‬

The reason why there is “none righteous, not even one” is because all have “sinned in Adam”.

We read the following excerpts from Romans 5 on the nature of Adam’s imputation of sin & guilt:

“So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned –” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:12

Paul continues:

“…For if the many died through the transgression of the one man…” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:15‬

“…For judgment, resulting from the one transgression, led to condemnation…” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:16

“For if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one…” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:17‬‬

“Consequently, just as condemnation for all people came through one transgression…” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:18‬ ‭

For just as through the disobedience of the one man many were made sinners…” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:19‬

In other words, Paul shows that one man’s disobedience made many sinners.

God chooses to, for His own purposes & glory to create Mankind from this fallen lump of clay:

“Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use?” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭9:21‬

The Calvinist would argue God does it for His glory & for the purpose of displaying His Wrath; the Armenian may usually argue that Romans 9 has nothing to do with salvation. However, Romans 9:1-24 makes a strong case against the idea of mere “election of Nations”. However, I will digress from further debate here.

Furthermore, God has the prerogative to create human beings:

“for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him.” ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:16‬

The purpose of man, whether you accept the Armenian view of salvation or the Calvinist view; is Theo-centric, or God centered.

We also read:

“The Lord works everything for its own ends – even the wicked for the day of disaster.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:4‬

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created!”” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭4:11‬

So in the end, Romans 9:19-24 doesn’t contradict Ezekiel 33:11.

God can have displeasure that the wicked be damned & die; yet He must execute His justice, because He is righteous:

But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is he? (I am speaking in human terms.) Absolutely not! For otherwise how could God judge the world?” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:5-6‬

Furthermore, people despise God’s patience leading to salvation & repentance: See Romans 2:4

  • 2
    I think you are missing the point - why does God create people who have no choice but to be sinful?
    – Dottard
    Feb 20, 2022 at 21:40
  • @Dottard The original post asked: “ Why would God mold vessels of wrath prepared for destruction if He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked?”. He didn’t ask about the choice or ability to be saved or not.
    – Cork88
    Feb 20, 2022 at 23:34
  • That is the same question - if people have choice then God does not mold vessels for destruction!!!
    – Dottard
    Feb 21, 2022 at 1:22
  • 1
    @Dottard Whoever said Man had a choice in salvation? “None seek after God” (Rom 3:11). What difference is there between God creating all things (including humans), and Him being the sovereign potter over who receives mercy & who doesn’t? Who are we to decide who gets to be saved out of the mass of fallen humanity? (Rev 4:11, Rom 9:21). The issue with the interpretation against God’s sovereignty over His grace is a matter of emotion. Jesus said: “ “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” ‭‭John‬ ‭6:44‬. That’s what Jesus said
    – Cork88
    Feb 21, 2022 at 1:35
  • I wonder if you should not skip 5:13 For until the law sin was in the world but sin is not imputed when there is no law. So sin did enter the world through one man, but it did so before the law. Man is able to recognize sin only in retrospect, after the law. Hence Christ died for the ungodly (5:1). Death is a result of sin after the law, becuase death was already in the world. So in the same way death was permitted to remain, despite being contrary to God’s will, vessels are “made perfect” for destruction, not by God’s will but by one’s continued rejection of God’s grace. Mar 7 at 18:12

What about the vessels fitted for destruction?

This verse seems to be at the heart of Romans 9-12 . It speaks about God's sovereignty over man will. Is God fair? Is He just? Are some saved, and others are destroyed so God can display Himself through any of His creatures? He wants to display His mercy so He needs to have vessels to express His wrath as well. How would one appreciate His mercy if there was not the opposite. So vessels of wrath.... What are these? Does destruction mean death or something else?

Destruction: ognate: 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. 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.

Death is not implied here. It is loss of well being.

These vessels are hardened by God.

Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden. Rom. 9:18

We see an example where God hardened Pharaohs heart mentioned 10 times in the in the book of Exodus.

Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

It was God who hardened Pharaohs heart against his stated will to let His people go.

Pharaoh was raised up by God for a specific purpose. God wanted to make known His name throughout the whole earth. He needed a great man that all the gods of Egypt are shown to be nothing. Gods name was proclaimed in the world back then. This was a very necessary vessel for God to display His power. This was vessel specifically for His purpose.

Romans 9-11 Gives more examples of the nations that are hardened and those that are shown mercy. In the end we see that all have been Imprisoned in Disobedience by God himself.

For God has bound everyone over to disobedience. Rom. 11:32

and why is that?

so that he may have mercy on all. Rom. 11:32

Oh, the depth of riches, both of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and untraceable His ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?” Or who has first given to Him, and it will be recompensed to him?” For from Him and through Him and unto Him are all things. To Him be the glory to the ages! Amen. Rom. 11:33-36

God is perfect, His creation is learning that even one sin ruins and destroys everything. We are seeing more of that our in world today. Jesus has taken away the sin of the world we just don't see it yet.

  • Interesting thoughts on Romans, but what about Ezekiel 18 & 33? How does this answer address the Ezekiel part of my question?
    – user38524
    Feb 22, 2022 at 3:47
  • God has no pleasure in death, Jesus himself self wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. Something gleaned from looking at Gods people Israel in Ez. 11:37 . They were warned if they would not turn from their abominations, and idols that death was coming in various forms to them. God wanted them to turn, worned them yet the people refused. Why? Even the people that God had redeemed for himself as a people, redeemed them from their enemies, their gods, gave them incredible signs, and eventuality brought their Savior to them in the flesh. Even then the majority of them did not believe.
    – Sherrie
    Feb 22, 2022 at 19:36
  • Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling! Look at what their judgment was. Look, your house is left to you desolate. ...until...I think Israel is a good example of all flesh, the same lump of clay we all come from. Because even with the best of outside care, the human heart is still in-prisoned in unbelief, sin and death. It was “God that gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear.
    – Sherrie
    Feb 22, 2022 at 19:37
  • We see in Romans 11:26-27 God will completely save His people when they are given a new heart with God's laws and hearts inscribed on them. I Often wonder if Ezekiel 37 has to do with this nation being born again in one day. The LORD puts to death and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and brings up. 1 Sam. 2:6 God is the savior of all mankind and only He can save...There are still many chapters left in his book, with His purpose and plans and judgments that will come about the next few ages. He has a goal in mind. Only His is life of perfection in His creation well keep it perfect
    – Sherrie
    Feb 22, 2022 at 19:39
  • Only His is life of perfection in His creation well keep it from ever going through sin, and death ever again. His last enemy death will be abolished.
    – Sherrie
    Feb 22, 2022 at 19:39

I honestly don't see the need for much Biblical scriptures and unrelated messasges. But I am non the wiser.

I can't emphasize this enough A God's want, need, wish is to be glorified or exalted, the manner doesn't matter. The good and evil sense of morals we pre-medicate is just due to Adam & Eve eating it.

Moreover, without darkness, light doesn't coexist. Deu 29:29 ends all

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    May 14, 2022 at 19:39

In Hebrew literature or thought, active verbs or voice is often used to describe passive events such as divine permission. This is common to show God's sovereignty.

God does not wish anyone should perish, however sin & suffering are byproducts of free creatures having ability to sin. Thus, God's original will for man is frustrated by man's rebellion against his will or word. Man's decisions are caused by his own will (it is logically prior to God's predestination, since his predestination and foreknowledge are based based on free choices of man, and not vise-versa, see refutation of fatalism). God's will to predestine sins are only his secondary & compromised will. He cannot be blamed for evil, he is not the author of evil, Satan is.

Paul was not as advanced in philosophy as Luis Molina of 16th century.

Molinist perspective is based on the work of Luis Molina, who was a sixteenth century counter-Reformer who developed a theory of divine providence and human freedom in response to the determinism that he saw in Calvin and Luther.

It is not necessary however, to be philosophically advanced to balance divine sovereignty with sin. Paul assumes philosophical ignorance of how does it happen or how to explain by simply rebuking the idea of questioning God's plan, in his fear of God (who are you, O man to ask and answer back to God on justice, "why have you made me like this?"). He suggests to simply trust God and accept his plan: some are created for his wrath and some for his reward. This is called justice, not his pleasure. Some belong to the devil, some to God. Everyone is accountable for his own works, by his own free will.

Example of the active voice Hebrew idiom for passive permissions:

Active verbs were used by the Hebrews to express, not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do. Thus: Exodus 4:21.-"I will harden his heart (i.e., I will permit or suffer his heart to be hardened), that he shall not let the people go." So in all the passages which speak of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. As is clear from the common use of the same Idiom in the following passages.

Active Verbs are used to declare that the thing has been or shall be done, and not the actual doing of the thing said to be done The Priest is said to cleanse or pollute according as he declares that the thing is clean or polluted. See Lev 13:6; Lev 13:8; Lev 13:11; Lev 13:13; Lev 13:17; Lev 13:20, etc., where it is actually translated “pronounce.”

Act 10:15.-“What God hath cleansed (i.e., declared to be clean) do not thou pollute

In Mat 13:15, this idiomatic use of the verb is not literally translated, but is idiomatically rendered “the heart of this people is waxed gross.” So in Act 28:27. While, in Joh 12:40, it is rendered literally according to the Hebrew idiom: “He hath blinded,” etc.; but who hath done so is not said. (Bullinger, Figure of Speech)


The issue, as I see it, is a misunderstanding Paul's use of the Greek word πλάσμα (Strong's G4110 - plasma). God doesn't knit together each and every human being in the womb, but moulds/shapes/fashions the character of those who are willing to be led by Him.

6... 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. ... 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; 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.
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 πλάσμα say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?

Romans 9:6-21 (KJV)

Paul says in this passage, "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?". The lump he is referring to is Isaac, and the two vessels are Jacob and Esau.

God took pleasure in (loved) Jacob because his character (foreknown to God) compelled him to advertise God's goodness to him. However, God took no pleasure in (hated) Esau because his character was compelled in no such way. This is evidenced in the passage where Jacob meets Esau on his return from Laban:

4And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept. 5And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.
6Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves. 7And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves. 8And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met?
And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.
9And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.
10And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me. 11Take, I pray thee,my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.
And he urged him, and he took it.

Genesis 33:6-11 (KJV)

Jacob gives God the credit for his family: "The children which God hath graciously given thy servant."; and the credit for the abundance of the blessing he presented to Esau: "because God hath dealt graciously with me." Esau, on the other hand, simply says of the things that are his: "I have enough, my brother."

God did not 'make' either of these men -- they were born, as are all men ( apart from Adam and Jesus) by means of the process of human reproduction that was included in God's design of Adam. What God did do, though, was mould/shape/fashion Jacob's character to raise him up as a patriarch of Israel (a vessel of honour), and left Esau to be moulded by his inclinations and the world around him, thus becoming a vessel of dishonour.

The truth is: all men begin as vessels of dishonour fit for destruction, but by God's leading one can become a vessel of honour:

1And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins 2Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by ( grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Ephesians 2:1-6 (KJV)

Paul also says this:

19Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

2 Timothy 2:19-21 (KJV)

So, if a man is willing to be led by God, then God will quicken him -- invest him with life that leads to honour.

There is no contradiction here, only a misunderstanding brought about by a disconnected reading of Paul's theology.


[This was prepared originally as an answer to this question Can God really want the salvation of those whom He determined beforehand not to save but doom to destroy? 1 Timothy 2:3; Romans 9:22 but it was closed]


There is no contradiction between Romans 9:22 and 1 Timothy 2:3, provided we understand the different time settings of the two verses.


1 Timothy 2:3:

This talks about the whole time frame or the ultimate purpose of God, which is that “all men to be saved”. This again is clearly expressed in Ephesians 1:10:

“for the administration of the fullness of the times (notice the plural times) to head up all things in Christ, both the things in the heavens, and the things on earth, in Him”.

God wishes that nobody has to face the second death (the eternal death) from which there is no return or resurrection (Rev 2:11; 20:6; 20:14; 21:8).

First death is only a physical death from which there is going to be a resurrection of both good and evil people (Acts 24:15).

The Scripture says that God’s “judgments are true and righteous” (Rev 16:7). So, if He predestinates some to be destroyed in the second and eternal death, then He is an unjust god, according to His own standard!

Romans 9:22:

This talks only about the present age in which the Patriarchs, prophets, apostles and we all live or lived. The only death that can happen now is the first death – the physical death – from which there is a return through a resurrection.

God has a time table to call people (Ephesians 1:10). According to this time table, He doesn’t call all the men in this present age. He calls only a “firstfruit” (Rom 8:23) in this age; “the little flock” of Jesus (Luke 12:32); the “election” described by Paul (Rom 11:5). The others He locked up all in disbelief to be shown mercy later (Rom 11:32).

Evidences from Romans chapter 9

  • God loved Jacob and hated Esau (verse 13) as part of election; not because Esau did anything good or bad before his birth (verse 11). In the ultimate sense God cannot hate Esau because he is God’s child. Except in the case of “election”, God does not show partiality (Acts 10:34; Rom 2:11; 1 Pet 1:17). So He will show mercy to Esau just as He showed mercy to Jacob.

  • Pharaoh never knew the true God and he cannot be blamed for it, because unless called by God, no one can know God on his own (Rom 8:30). Yet, God “hardened” his heart, for a special historical purpose in this age (verse 19). Yes, according to the Scripture, God locked up Pharaoh and Esau in unbelief so that He will show mercy to them later (Rom 11:32; Mat 10:15).

  • In this current age, the election of the chosen flock is entirely dependent upon God’s sole discretion; no man has any role at all in this:

“So then, everything depends, not on what we humans want or do, but only on God's mercy” (verse 16).

Verses 15 and 18, where it says God will show mercy on whomever He wants and hardens whomever He wants, deals only with the election of the present age.

Ultimately God will call and elect all but at different times, as we have seen in Ephesians 1:10.

“That's how it is with your Father in heaven. He doesn't want any of these little ones to be lost” (Mat 18:14).

“The Lord isn't slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost” (2 Pet 3:9).


Romans 9:22 is talking about the destruction in the present age. It talks only about the first and temporary death; not the eternal second death. Specifically it talks about people like Esau, Pharaoh et al who never knew the true God. It was not their fault that they didn’t know God. God simply didn’t call them in this age (John 6:44). But He will call them and elect them, according to His time table because He is a merciful and righteous Judge of all. This is God’s good news.

The Greek word used for “destruction is “apoleia” which is translated in Acts 25:16 to refer to physical death at the hands of the Roman law.

So, the conclusion is this:

Romans 9:22 – God allows first death to the majority temporarily;

1 Timothy 2:3 – God does not will that anyone has the second and eternal death.


God's wrath is the Tribulation. This is the way Paul always used the nouns ὀργή and θυμός. The "vessels of wrath" are those who undergo the Tribulation. The "vessels of mercy" are members of the Church, the body of Christ, specifically, those whom the Lord rescues from God's wrath, the Tribulation (Romans 5.9; 1 Thessalonians 1.10). Paul's language of wrath, vessels of wrath is therefore extremely limited to the seven-year timeframe of the Tribulation. His language has nothing to do with God's punishment outside this timeframe, e.g., hell, lake of fire. Other writers wrote the same, e.g., Matthew 3.7; Luke 3.7, John's use of ὀργή and θυμός--all used for the Tribulation.

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