Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
BELIEVERS ARE THE OBJECTS OF GOD'S MERCY (14-19)
The question of fairness arises whenever someone makes a choice to favor one person or group over another. Paul dealt with the justice of God in doing what He did in this section.
Paul reverts to the diatribe style, with its question-and-answer format and references to a dialogue partner, that he has utilized earlier in the letter (see 2:1—3:8; 3:27-31; 6—7)."
Salvation is only possible only through His Mercy (14-16)
“God is unjust if He chooses one and leaves another!” ignorant people often say. But the purpose of God goes beyond justice; for if God did only what was just, He would have to condemn all of us! Paul uses Moses (Ex. 33:19) and Pharaoh (Ex. 9:16) as proof that God can do what He wishes in dispensing His grace and mercy.
Nobody deserves God’s mercy, and nobody can condemn God for His choice of Israel or His bypassing of other nations.
14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!
The apostle first flatly denied the charge that God is unjust. God cannot be unjust because He is God
As soon as Paul asks the question, “What then shall we say? Is God unjust?” he answers by an emphatic denial: “Not at all!” It is the strongest denial he can muster. The King James Bible has “God forbid!”
15 For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion."
Paul quoted Exodus 33:19 to show that God’s mercy and compassion are extended according to God’s will and not man’s will. All of us deserve condemnation—not mercy.
The reference in Exodus 33 deals with Israel’s idolatry that occurred in chapter 32 while Moses was on the mount receiving the Law. The whole nation deserved to be destroyed, yet God killed only 3,000 people—not because they were more wicked or less godly, but purely because of His grace and mercy.
"The grace of God has been spoken of in this Epistle often before; but not until these chapters is mercy named; and until mercy is understood, grace cannot be fully appreciated."
16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.
God is under no obligation to show mercy or extend grace to anyone. If we insist on receiving just treatment from God, what we will get is condemnation (3:23).
- Just as Pharaoh was the object of His Wrath (17-18)
17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth."
God said He raised Pharaoh up. God had mercifully spared Pharaoh up to the moment when He said these words to him, through six plagues and in spite of his consistent opposition to God. God did not mean that He had created Pharaoh and allowed him to sit on Egypt's throne, though He had done that too. This is clear from Exodus 9:16, which Paul quoted.
The NASB translation of raised you up makes this clear by translating Exodus 9:16, ". . . for this cause I have allowed you to remain." Pharaoh deserved death for his opposition and disrespect. However, God would not take his life in the remaining plagues so his continuing opposition and God's victory over him would result in greater glory for God (cf. Jos 9:9 So they said to him: "From a very far country your servants have come, because of the name of the LORD your God; for we have heard of His fame, and all that He did in Egypt;
Ps 76:10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise You; With the remainder of wrath You shall gird Yourself. Here is another example similar to the one in verse 15 of God not giving people what they deserve but extending mercy to them instead.
Paul then quoted Exodus 9:16, using Pharaoh as an illustration. Moses was a Jew; Pharaoh was a Gentile; yet both were sinners. In fact, both were murderers! Both saw God’s wonders. Yet Moses was saved and Pharaoh was lost. God raised up Pharaoh that He might reveal His glory and power; and He had mercy on Moses that He might use him to deliver the people of Israel. Pharaoh was a ruler, and Moses was a slave; yet it was Moses who experienced the mercy and compassion of God—because God willed it that way
18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens
This statement summarizes Paul's point. In chapter 1, the apostle had spoken about the way God gives people over to their own evil desires as a form of punishment for their sins. This is how God hardens people's hearts. In Pharaoh's case, we see this working out clearly. God was not unjust because He allowed the hardening process to continue. His justice demanded punishment. Similarly, a person may choose to drink poison or he may choose not to, but if he chooses to drink it, inevitable consequences will follow.
"Neither here nor anywhere else is God said to harden anyone who had not first hardened himself."
God's hardening does not, then, cause spiritual insensitivity to the things of God; it maintains people in the state of sin that already characterizes them."357
Before leaving this section, we need to discuss the “hardening” of Pharaoh (Rom. 9:18). This hardening process is referred to at least fifteen times in Exodus 7–14. Sometimes we are told that Pharaoh hardened his heart (Ex. 8:15, 19, 32), and other times that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Ex. 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27).
By declaring His Word and revealing His power, God gave Pharaoh opportunity to repent; but instead, Pharaoh resisted God and hardened his heart. The fault lay not with God but Pharaoh.
The same sunlight that melts the ice also hardens the clay.
God was not unrighteous in His dealings with Pharaoh because He gave him many opportunities to repent and believe.
God speaks to what was going to happen
Ex 4:21 And the LORD said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. (NKJV)
Ex 7:13 And Pharaoh's heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the LORD had said.
Ex 7:14 So the LORD said to Moses: "Pharaoh's heart is hard; he refuses to let the people go.
Ex 7:22 Then the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments; and Pharaoh's heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the LORD had said.
Ex 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the LORD had said.
Ex 8:19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had said.
Ex 8:32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also; neither would he let the people go.
Ex 9:7 Then Pharaoh sent, and indeed, not even one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh became hard, and he did not let the people go.
Ex 9:12 But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had spoken to Moses.
Ex 9:34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants.
Ex 9:35 So the heart of Pharaoh was hard; neither would he let the children of Israel go, as the LORD had spoken by Moses.
Ex 10:1 Now the LORD said to Moses, "Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him,
Ex 10:20 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go.
Ex 10:27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go.
Ex 14:4 "Then I will harden Pharaoh's heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD." And they did so.
Ex 14:8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness.
2Ch 36:13 And he also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear an oath by God; but he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel.
"Neither here nor anywhere else is God said to harden anyone who had not first hardened himself."
"God's hardening, then, is an action that renders a person insensitive to God and his word and that, if not reversed, culminates in eternal damnation."
God's hardening does not, then, cause spiritual insensitivity to the things of God; it maintains people in the state of sin that already characterizes them."
We say boldly, that a believer's heart is not fully yielded to God until it accepts without question, and without demanding softening, this eighteenth verse.
Paul did not mention the fact that Pharaoh hardened his own heart, which Moses stated in Exodus. Paul's point was simply that God can freely and justly extend mercy or not extend mercy to those who deserve His judgment.
"The reconciliation of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility is beyond our power. The Bible states and emphasizes both, and then leaves them. We shall be wise if we do the same."
- It’s foolish to test God’s patience
- It is unbelief to doubt the love of God
- One day you will stand before God. Do you know Him as your Savior?