Skip to content

c) The parable of the potter and his vessel belongs to the Jews and Christians
(Romans 9:19-29)
19You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?"20But 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?"21Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?22What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,23and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,24even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?25As He says also in Hosea: "I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved."26"And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' There they shall be called sons of the living God."27Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved.28For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth."29And as Isaiah said before: "Unless the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have been made like Gomorrah."

The will of man, his pride, and his sense of justice revolt against God’s selection, will and acts. The disobedient man is like the ant which says to the elephant: “Why do you tread on me?” (Isaiah 45:9).
Man has no right to question God or be infuriated with him, because the horizon of man and his inherited human capacity is very limited and much less adequate than God’s unlimited wisdom, his holiness and his love.
He who puts his full trust in God in an age where the hearts of individuals and nations have become hardened, has to have blind obedience to the Lord of the world and bow to him with thankfulness. Only this way can we accept the fact that a man like Hitler was allowed to kill six million Jews in his furnaces, without anyone being able to stop or question him. In the same way can we understand why Stalin was allowed to kill 20 million peasants during the implementation of his national plans without any person taking notice of it.
Paul gives us a comparison to explain the judgments of God: the potter may make out of the same lump of clay a vessel fit for creditable and honorable uses, and another contemptible one for carrying away refuse (Jeremiah 18:4-6).
The apostle deepened this parable, and spoke about the vessels of God’s wrath, which God endured patiently for a long time, and finally dropped them down into destruction. Paul also said that God had planned the vessels of his mercy from old, and prepared them for the glory to come. Therefore, the vessels of his mercy come from the expanses of glory of their creator, and will return to them.
Paul does not develop a philosophy void of mercy, out of his life-experienced knowledge, but he explains that the separation between those who are driven away under the wrath of God, and those who are glorified in his mercy, does not only concern the Gentiles, but also the chosen Jews. To clarify this point, he mentions God’s revelation to Hosea (2:23) that he would make of those who were not his people his own people. The apostle Peter also confirmed in his first epistle to the believers of the Gentiles: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
According to Paul, this purpose is a divine one; that God chooses those who were not chosen, and calls those who were not called to become children of God (Romans 9:26; 1 John: 3:1-3). The apostle clarifies, at the same time, that the prophet Isaiah recognized that God would lead disobedient chosen ones to great distress, and if they continued in their obstinacy he would allow them to be destroyed, although he had already said that they would become as numerous as the sand of the sea.
The living Lord cares for his obstinate people. Not all of them will perish, but a small holy remnant will be crystallized, in whom the spiritual promises of God will be realized (Isaiah 11:5); while the majority of the called ones will become like Sodom and Gomorrah, which were annihilated (Isaiah 1:9).
Paul, in his love, wanted to teach the Jews in Rome that God has the right to save the unchosen Gentiles, and to sanctify them completely, while he hardens the believing Jews until they are destroyed. This experience did not come as theoretical logic, but was realized in the heart of the apostle with regard to the Jews who boasted of their self-righteousness. He sought to lead them to repentance that they might confess that Jesus was the promised Messiah who offers them salvation. But the majority of the Jews still reject Jesus even today.

O heavenly Father, forgive us our superficiality if we have not recognized the great deal of patience that you have exercised with us. You have loved us for a long time, and have not punished or destroyed us. Sanctify us completely that we may reciprocate your love with thanksgiving and gratitude, and joyfully obey the guidance of your Holy Spirit.
Who are the vessels of God’s wrath, and what is the reason for their disobedience? What is the purpose of the vessels of God’s mercy, and what is their starting point?