Romans 9:21
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

King James Bible
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Darby Bible Translation
Or has not the potter authority over the clay, out of the same lump to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour?

World English Bible
Or hasn't the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel for honor, and another for dishonor?

Young's Literal Translation
hath not the potter authority over the clay, out of the same lump to make the one vessel to honour, and the one to dishonour?

Romans 9:21 Parallel
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Hath not the potter ... - This same sovereign right of God the apostle proceeds to urge from another illustration, and another passage from the Old Testament; Isaiah 64:8, "But now, O Lord, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." This passage is preceded in Isaiah by one declaring "the depravity of man;" Isaiah 64:6, "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." As they were polluted with sin, as they had transgressed the Law of God, and had no claim and no merit, God might bestow his favors as he pleased, and mould them as the potter did the clay. He would do no injury to those who were left, and "who had no claim to his mercy," if he bestowed favors on others, any more than the potter would do injustice to one part of the mass, if he put it to an ignoble use, and moulded another part into a vessel of honor.

This is still the condition of sinful people. God does no injustice to a man if he leaves him to take his own course to ruin, and makes another, equally undeserving, the recipient of his mercy. He violated none of my rights by not conferring on me the talents of Newton or of Bacon; or by not placing me in circumstances like those of Peter and Paul. Where all are undeserving, the utmost that can be demanded is that he should not treat them with injustice. And this is secured even in the case of the lost. No man will suffer more than he deserves; nor will any man go to perdition feeling that he has "a claim" to better treatment than he receives. The same sentiment is found in Jeremiah 18:6, "O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in my hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, etc."

The passage in Isaiah proves that God has the right of a sovereign over guilty individuals; that in Jeremiah, that he has the same right over nations; thus meeting the whole case as it was in the mind of the apostle. These passages, however, assert only the right of God to do it, without affirming anything about the manner in which it is done. In fact, God bestows his favors in a mode very different from that in which a potter moulds his clay. God does not create holiness by a mere act of power, but he produces it in a manner consistent with the moral agency of people; and bestows his favors not to compel people, but to incline them to be willing to receive them; Psalm 110:3, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." It should be further remarked, that the argument of the apostle here does not refer to "the original creation" of people, as if God had then made them one for honor and another for dishonor. He refers to man as fallen and lost. His argument is this: "Man is in ruins: he is fallen; he has no claim on God; all deserve to die; on this mass, where none have any claim, he may bestow life on whom he pleases, without injury to others; he may exercise the right of a sovereign to pardon whom he pleases; or of a potter to mould any part of the useless mass to purposes of utility and beauty."

Potter - One whose occupation it is to make earthen vessels.

Power - This word denotes here not merely "physical power," but authority, right; see Matthew 7:29, translated "authority;" Matthew 21:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24, "The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, etc."

Lump - Mass. It denotes anything that is reduced to a fine consistency, and mixed, and made soft by water; either clay, as in this place, or the mass produced of grain pounded and mixed with water; Romans 11:16, "If the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy;" 1 Corinthians 5:6, "Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?"

One vessel - A cup, or other utensil, made of clay.

Unto honour - Fitted to an honorable use, or designed for a more useful and refined purpose.

Unto dishonour - To a meaner service, or more common use. This is a common mode of expression among the Hebrews. The lump here denotes the mass of people, sinners, having no claim on God. The potter illustrates God's right over that mass, to dispose of it as seems good in his sight. The doctrine of the passage is, that people have no right to complain if God bestows his blessings where and when he chooses.

Romans 9:21 Parallel Commentaries

God's Will and Man's Will
The great controversy which for many ages has divided the Christian Church has hinged upon the difficult question of "the will." I need not say of that conflict that it has done much mischief to the Christian Church, undoubtedly it has; but I will rather say, that it has been fraught with incalculable usefulness; for it has thrust forward before the minds of Christians, precious truths, which but for it, might have been kept in the shade. I believe that the two great doctrines of human responsibility
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 8: 1863

The Coming of the Called.
"That the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth."--Rom. ix. 11. The question is, whether the elect cooperate in the call. We say, Yes; for the call is no call, in the fullest sense of the word, unless the called one can hear and hears so distinctly that it impresses him, causes him to rise and to obey God. For this reason our fathers, for the sake of clearness, used to distinguish between the ordinary call and the effectual call. God's call does not
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

Whence Also the Just of Old, Before the Incarnation of the Word...
18. Whence also the just of old, before the Incarnation of the Word, in this faith of Christ, and in this true righteousness, (which thing Christ is unto us,) were justified; believing this to come which we believe come: and they themselves by grace were saved through faith, not of themselves, but by the gift of God, not of works, lest haply they should be lifted up. [2679] For their good works did not come before God's mercy, but followed it. For to them was it said, and by them written, long ere
St. Augustine—On Patience

The Sum and Substance of all Theology
Note: On Tuesday, June 25th, 1861, the beloved C. H. Spurgeon visited Swansea. The day was wet, so the services could not be held in the open-air; and, as no building in the town was large enough to hold the vast concourses of people who had come from all parts to hear the renowned preacher, he consented to deliver two discourses in the morning; first at Bethesda, and then at Trinity Chapel. At each place he preached for an hour and a quarter. The weather cleared up during the day; so, in the evening,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 62: 1916

Cross References
Isaiah 10:15
Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it? Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it? That would be like a club wielding those who lift it, Or like a rod lifting him who is not wood.

Isaiah 45:9
"Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker-- An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, 'What are you doing?' Or the thing you are making say, 'He has no hands '?

Jeremiah 18:6
"Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.

Romans 9:20
On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it?

Romans 9:22
What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

2 Timothy 2:20
Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.

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