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Chapter: 9 | Verse: 21


Note 12 on Romans 9:21

Paul was drawing an illustration from an Old Testament passage of Scripture, Jeremiah 18:3-6. In that passage, God sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house to learn a lesson. The potter was making a vessel; it was marred, so he remade it. The Lord spoke to Jeremiah and said, “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter?...Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel” (Jeremiah 18:6).

From this illustration, some people have drawn a wrong conclusion that the Lord creates some people evil and predestined to a life of damnation, not by their choice, but by God’s. However, a closer look at the passage in Jeremiah and its context will show that is not the case.

First of all, the potter started to create a good vessel, but the clay was marred. Whose fault was that? It wasn’t the potter’s fault. The clay was faulty. The potter took this imperfect clay, and instead of discarding it, he refashioned it into another vessel that may not have been worth nearly as much as his original design but was still useful.

Likewise, the Lord does not create certain individuals for destruction. However, some do become marred by their own choices, not due to any fault of the Creator. Instead of just removing them from the earth, the Lord will endure (Romans 9:22) their atrocities. He may even put them in great positions of authority, such as He did with Pharaoh, so that He may manifest His great power through His victory over them and their devices. God can still use someone who has rejected Him, in the same way that a potter can take a marred piece of clay and find some use for it.

By continuing to read the context of Jeremiah’s experience with the potter, it can be clearly seen that the Lord does not do these things against the will of the individual. In Jeremiah 18:7-10, the Lord said that when He purposes evil or good against a nation, if that nation repents, then God will change His plans for them. That undeniably states that man’s choice influences God’s choice.

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Q: Are there notes for every verse?
A: Andrew’s free online Bible commentary contains notes from the Life for Today commentaries which provides notes for about half of the verses. Additional notes are available in the expanded Living Commentary, containing footnotes on over 23,000 of the 31,000 Bible verses.
Q: Why is it called "Note 20 at Acts 2:11" when there is only one note for that verse?
A: The Life for Today Commentary notes on this web site are taken from the printed Life for Today Study Bible series. The system of numbering notes was designed for the printed book and is used throughout the text to refer to other notes. Because of this, it would be very difficult to try and change them.
Q: Why are there references to page numbers?
A: As mentioned above, the commentary notes are taken from a printed study Bible. The page numbers are useful in the printed book but not the web pages.
Q: What is this a reference to? "(see ref. b at v. 37)"
A: There are more features to the printed study Bible than we can include on this web site. We have many marginal references in the printed version with word definitions and related verses. This is a reference to one of these marginal notes.