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Romans 9:22-23

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 9:22
  • Romans 9:23

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.


In Chapter 9, Paul addresses Israel’s relationship with God. He makes it clear that he is grieved the Israelites have rejected God’s offer of grace through faith, they have rejected Christ. Israel is God’s chosen nation, with whom He has made covenants and promises. So, even though Israel’s fellowship with God is suffering, this is not due to God breaking His word. As humans, we deserve nothing from God, yet He chooses to extend mercy to us. He is our maker, and we have no right or power to demand anything from Him. Yet, He chooses to show mercy to whom He chooses to show mercy. We cannot earn His favor; He gives it to whom He chooses. God does not care about our works apart from obedience to Him, and when He sent His Son to die for the world, all He required from us was faith. The Gentiles have been reconciled to Him because of their faith, but the Jews have alienated themselves from Him by only pursuing works. The fault lies with Israel. God has not abandoned them.


God is willing to retrofit those who choose to reject Him as vessels of destruction, just as He did when Pharaoh continued to reject Him. But, God has created other vessels (believers) to demonstrate His glory through His mercy – to us who believe in His son.

In the Greek, the two words translated to English as “prepared” (the first in verse 22 and the second in 23) are two different words. The first “prepare” is the word katartizo which translates mend or retrofit. This original word is in the “middle voice” which means something acting upon itself. Paul was telling his audience that those vessels (or people) who reject God, will be like those in Romans 1 who incur God’s wrath when they are turned over by God to their own passions, resulting in being prepared for destruction. Paul makes it clear that God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known endured with much patience waiting for these vessels to change, but when they do not (just as Pharaoh did not), God will turn them over to destruction. God made a very powerful example of Pharaoh by freeing the Israelites from him and destroying his army, but that was made possible by Pharaoh’s own choices to follow after his own hardened heart.

The second use of “prepare,” in verse 23 is the word proetoimazo, which means prepared beforehand. Here, Paul is discussing believers who were prepared by God, chosen for mercy and glory through faith in Jesus.

In verse 23 we see that God has prepared beforehand individuals for mercy and glory to make His glory known.

While God is willing to hand people who reject Him over to destruction, as Pharaoh experienced by the destruction of his army, He has also prepared believers to demonstrate His glory through His mercy to us. He is making known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.

Biblical text

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? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

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