Romans 9:14
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
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(14-18) These verses contain the second part of the vindication. This power of choosing one and refusing another has always been reserved to Himself by God; as is seen by the examples of Moses and Pharaoh.

(14) Is there unrighteousness?—Again, as in Romans 3:5, the Apostle anticipates a possible objection. Does not this apparently arbitrary choice of one and rejection of another imply injustice in Him who exercises it? The thought is not to be entertained.

Romans 9:14-16. What shall we say then? — To this. The apostle now introduces and refutes an objection. Is there unrighteousness, or injustice, with God? — In the distribution of his providential blessings, in this or any other instance that can be produced? Was it unjust in God to choose Jacob and his posterity to be the members of his visible church on earth, and to inherit the promises in their literal meaning, rather than Esau and his posterity? Or to accept believers who imitate the faith of Jacob, and them only? God forbid — In no wise: this is well consistent with justice. For he saith to Moses, &c. — For he has a right to fix the terms on which he will show mercy; according to his declaration to Moses, petitioning for all the people, after they had been guilty of idolatry in worshipping the golden calf; I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy — According to the terms I myself have fixed; and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion — Namely, on those only who submit to my terms; who accept of it in the way that I have appointed. So then — The inference to be drawn is; It — The blessing; therefore is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth — It is not the effect either of the will or the works of man, but of the grace and power of God. The will of man is here opposed to the grace of God, and man’s running, to the divine operation. And this general declaration respects not only Isaac and Jacob, and the Israelites in the time of Moses, but likewise all the spiritual children of Abraham, even to the end of the world.9:14-24 Whatever God does, must be just. Wherein the holy, happy people of God differ from others, God's grace alone makes them differ. In this preventing, effectual, distinguishing grace, he acts as a benefactor, whose grace is his own. None have deserved it; so that those who are saved, must thank God only; and those who perish, must blame themselves only, Hos 13:9. God is bound no further than he has been pleased to bind himself by his own covenant and promise, which is his revealed will. And this is, that he will receive, and not cast out, those that come to Christ; but the drawing of souls in order to that coming, is an anticipating, distinguishing favour to whom he will. Why does he yet find fault? This is not an objection to be made by the creature against his Creator, by man against God. The truth, as it is in Jesus, abases man as nothing, as less than nothing, and advances God as sovereign Lord of all. Who art thou that art so foolish, so feeble, so unable to judge the Divine counsels? It becomes us to submit to him, not to reply against him. Would not men allow the infinite God the same sovereign right to manage the affairs of the creation, as the potter exercises in disposing of his clay, when of the same lump he makes one vessel to a more honourable, and one to a meaner use? God could do no wrong, however it might appear to men. God will make it appear that he hates sin. Also, he formed vessels filled with mercy. Sanctification is the preparation of the soul for glory. This is God's work. Sinners fit themselves for hell, but it is God who prepares saints for heaven; and all whom God designs for heaven hereafter, he fits for heaven now. Would we know who these vessels of mercy are? Those whom God has called; and these not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles. Surely there can be no unrighteousness in any of these Divine dispensations. Nor in God's exercising long-suffering, patience, and forbearance towards sinners under increasing guilt, before he brings utter destruction upon them. The fault is in the hardened sinner himself. As to all who love and fear God, however such truths appear beyond their reason to fathom, yet they should keep silence before him. It is the Lord alone who made us to differ; we should adore his pardoning mercy and new-creating grace, and give diligence to make our calling and election sure.What shall we say then? - What conclusion shall we draw from these acknowledged facts, and from these positive declarations of Scripture.

Is there unrighteousness with God? - Does God do injustice or wrong? This charge has often been brought against the doctrine here advanced. But this charge the apostle strongly repels. He meets it by further showing that it is the doctrine explicitly taught in the Old Testament Romans 9:15, Romans 9:17, and that it is founded on the principles of equity, and on just views of the sovereignty of God; Romans 9:19-23.

God forbid - Note, Romans 3:4.

14. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid—This is the first of two objections to the foregoing doctrine, that God chooses one and rejects another, not on account of their works, but purely in the exercise of His own good pleasure: "This doctrine is inconsistent with the justice of God." The answer to this objection extends to Ro 9:19, where we have the second objection. Another anticipation of an objection. Some might object and say: If God elect some, and reject others, their case being the same, or their persons being in themselves equal and alike, then he is unjust and partial. To this he answers,

1. More generally, with his repeated note of detestation: God forbid; the Syriac translator reads it, God forgive; noting thereby the heinousness of such a thought and then he answers this cavil more particularly; showing:

1. That God is not unjust in electing some, Romans 9:15,16. And,

2. That he is not unjust in rejecting others, Romans 9:17. What shall we say then?.... A form of expression the apostle frequently uses, when he is about to introduce an objection, as is what follows:

is there unrighteousness with God? This is not an objection of his own, but of an adversary, which he takes up and returns an answer to; and which itself greatly serves to settle and confirm the true sense and meaning of the apostle in this place; as that it could not be, that election and rejection of men should proceed according to their merits; or that God chooses some for their good works, and rejects others for their wicked works, because no man could ever pretend to charge God with unrighteousness on this account; nor could it be that God chose and rejected men, upon a foresight of their good and evil works, for this also would not be liable to such an objection; nor that the Jews, having made the law of none effect by their traditions, despised the Gospel, crucified Christ, and persecuted his disciples, are therefore cast off, and the Gentiles, being obedient both in word and deed, are received into favour, for this likewise would not be chargeable with unrighteousness by men; but that two persons, as Jacob and Esau, and the same may be said of all mankind, being upon an equal foot, not being yet born, nor having done either good or evil, an inequality, a difference is made between them, by God himself; the one is chose, the other passed by: now in this is some show, some pretence at least, for such an objection; nor is it any wonder to meet with it from the carnal reason of men; wherefore we may be sure that the latter, and not either of the former, is the true sense of the apostle; since only this, and not either of them, is liable to such an exception: let us attend to the apostle's answer, which is "first" in his usual manner, by way of detestation and abhorrence,

God forbid: God is not unrighteous in his nature; nor in any of his ways and works; nor in this, in choosing some and rejecting others. There is no unrighteousness with God in that part of predestination, commonly called election; for this is neither an act of justice, nor injustice; not of justice, but of grace and mercy; of undue and undeserved grace and mercy, of mere sovereign grace and mercy; and is what God was not obliged to do; wherefore to choose some and not others, is no act of injustice; for injustice is a violation of justice, which has no place in this affair: if it is an act of injustice, it must be either to them that are chosen, or to them that are not; not to them that are chosen, to them it is an act of favour and good will, they are chosen to grace and glory, to holiness here, and happiness hereafter; not to them that are passed by, because they had no right nor claim to the grace and glory, which by this act are denied them, and therefore no injustice is done them. Every prince may choose his own ministers and favourites, and who he will have of his privy council, without doing any injustice, to those he takes no notice of; every man may choose his own company who he will converse with, without doing any wrong to such he does not think fit to admit to an intimacy with him; and yet men are not willing to allow the Most High that liberty, which every man daily takes, and may lawfully make use of: nor is there any unrighteousness with God in the other branch of predestination, commonly called reprobation, which is either negative or positive; negative reprobation is the act of preterition, or God's passing by, leaving, taking no notice of some, while he chose others: now the objects of this act are to be considered either in the pure, or in the corrupt mass; if in the pure mass, i.e. of creatureship, which seems to be the apostle's meaning, as being not yet created, made, or born, and having done neither good nor evil; no injustice is done by this act, for as it found them, it left them; it put nothing into them, no evil in them, nor appointed them to any, of any kind; man after, and notwithstanding this act, came into the world an upright creature, and became sinful, not by virtue of this act, but by their own inventions: or if considered as in the corrupt mass, as fallen creatures, sunk into sin and misery, which is the case of all mankind; since God was not obliged to save any of the sinful race of men, whose destruction was of themselves, it could be no injustice to pass by some of them in this condition, when he chose others; for if it would have been no injustice to have condemned all, as he did the angels that sinned, whom he spared not, it can be no act of injustice in him, to leave some of them in that condition, which sin had brought them into, whilst he has mercy on others; unless to have mercy on any, can be thought to be an act of injustice: what unrighteousness can there be in this procedure, any more than in drowning the world of the ungodly, whilst Noah and his family were saved in the ark? or in raining showers of fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities of the plain, whilst Lot, his wife, and two daughters, were delivered from the same? Positive reprobation is the decree, or appointment to damnation: now as God damns no man but for sin, so he has decreed to damn no man but for sin; and if it is no unrighteousness in him to damn men for sin, as to be sure it is not, so it can be no unrighteousness in him to decree to damn any for it: upon the whole it appears, that whatever show, upon first sight, there may be for a charge of unrighteousness against such a procedure of the Divine Being, there is no real foundation for it. The objection is to be treated with abhorrence and indignation.

{10} What shall we say then? Is there {n} unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

(10) The first objection: if God loves or hates without any consideration of worthiness or unworthiness, then is he unjust, because he may love those who are unworthy, and hate those who are worthy? The apostle detests this blasphemy, and afterward responds to it in depth, point by point.

(n) Man knows no other causes of love or hatred, but those that are in the persons, and thereupon this objection arises.

Romans 9:14. A possible inference, unfavourable to the character of God, from Romans 9:11-13, is suggested by Paul himself, and repelled.

μὴ ἀδικ. παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ;] But is there not unrighteousness with God? Comp. the question in Romans 3:5. παρὰ, with qualities, corresponds to the Latin in. See Matthiae, § 588. 6. Comp. Romans 2:11.

Romans 9:14-18. Second part of the Theodicée: God does not deal unrighteously, in that His πρόθεσις according to election is to have its subsistence, not ἐξ ἔργων, but ἐκ τοῦ καλοῦντος; for He Himself maintains in the Scripture His own freedom to have mercy upon or to harden whom He will.

This reason has probative force, in so far as it is justly presupposed in it, that the axiom which God expresses respecting Himself is absolutely worthy of Him. Hence we are not, with Beyschlag, to refer the alleged injustice to the fact that God now prefers the Gentiles to the Jews, which is simply imported into the preceding text, and along with which, no less gratuitously, the following receives the sense: “the Jews have indeed become what they are out of pure grace; this grace may therefore once again be directed towards others, and be withdrawn from, them” (Beyschlag).Romans 9:14-21. In the second part of his theodicy Paul meets the objection that this sovereign freedom of God is essentially unjust.14–33. Electing Sovereignty: Vindication, Restatement and application

(A) Is God unrighteous?

14. What shall we say then?] Same words as Romans 3:5, Romans 4:1, Romans 6:1, Romans 7:7, Romans 8:31, Romans 9:30. St Paul often introduces thus an objection which is to be solved. The objection here is twofold; (1) “Is God righteous so to act?” (Romans 9:14,) and (2) “Is man responsible if He so acts?” (Romans 9:19.)

Is there unrighteousness with God?] On the Gr. rendered “with” see note on Romans 1:11. The words here, as the words there, may refer to a court of justice: “Is there injustice at His bar?

God forbid] See on Romans 3:4.—On the principle of the reply here, see long Note on Romans 9:11.Romans 9:14. Τί οὖν, what then?) Can we then on this ground be accused of charging God with unrighteousness and iniquity by this assertion? By no means; for what we assert is the irrefragable assertion of God; see the following verse.—Μὴ γένοιτο, God forbid) The Jews thought, that they could by no means be rejected by God; that the Gentiles could by no means be received. As therefore an honest man acts even with greater severity [ἀποτομίᾳ] towards those who are harshly and spitefully importunate, than he really feels (that he may defend his own rights, and those of his patron, and may not at an unseasonable time betray and cast away his character for liberality) so Paul defends the power and justice of God against the Israelites, who trusted to their mere name and their own merits; and on this subject, he sometimes uses those appropriate phrases, to which he seems to have been accustomed in former times in the school of the Pharisees. This is his language: No man can prescribe anything to the Lord God, nor demand and somewhat insolently extort anything from Him as a debt, nor can he interdict Him in anything [which He pleases to do] or require a reason, why He shows Himself kind also to others [as well as to himself]. Therefore Paul somewhat abruptly checks by a rather severe answer the peevish and spiteful objectors. Luke 19:22-23, is a similar case. For no man is allowed to deal with God as if by virtue of a bond of agreement, [as if he were His creditor], but even if there were such a bond, God even deals more strictly with man [i.e. with a man of such a hireling spirit]; let the parable, Matthew 20:13-15, which is quite parallel, be compared: I do thee no wrong, etc. There is therefore one meaning of Paul’s language, by which he gives an answer to those who contend for good works: another, of a milder description, in behalf of believers, lies hid under the veil of the words. In the Sacred Scriptures too, especially when we have come from the thesis [the proposition] to the hypothesis [that on which the proposition rests], the manners, τὰ ἤθη, as well as the reasonings, οἱ λόγοι, ought to be considered; and yet there can be no commentary so plain, which he, who contends for justification by good works, may more easily understand than the text of Paul.Verses 14-24. - (b) In the next section injustice on the part of God, in thus electing the objects of his mercy according to the good pleasure of his will, is repudiated. As in Romans 6:1 and Romans 7:7, a false inference from what has been said is introduced by τί οῦν ἐροῦμεν, and indignantly rejected by μὴ γένοιτο, followed by reasons against the inference. Verses 14-16. - What shall we say then? Unrighteousness with God? ("Is there" supplied in the Authorized Version somewhat weakens the force of the expression.) God forbid! For to Moses he saith, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. The argument (thus introduced by γὰρ) requires two understood premisses - that God cannot possibly be unrighteous, and that what he himself said to Moses must be true. These premisses assumed, the apostle reasons thus: "What I have said of God's way of dealing with men does not imply unrighteousness in him; for it agrees with what he said of himself to Moses." The quotation is from Exodus 33:19. Moses had besought the LORD to show him his glory, as a token that he and the people had found grace in his sight (vers. 16, 18). The LORD, in answer to his prayer, makes "all his goodness pass before him," in token that such grace had been found; but declares, in the words quoted, that all such grace accorded was not due to any claim on the part of man, but to his own good pleasure. In the verses that follow (17, 18) it is further shown, by the same kind of argument, that, as God declares himself to accept whom he will, so he also declares himself to reject whom he will; and hence, as his power is absolute, so is his justice unimpeachable, in himself determining the objects of his reprobation no less than the objects of his mercy. This appears from what he is recorded (Exodus 9:16) to have said through Moses to Pharaoh.
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