Romans 9:18-33 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom
he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why
doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing
formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one
vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if
God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured
with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of
mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us,
whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
As he saith also in Hosea, I will call them my people, which were not my
people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it
shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye
are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living
God. Isaiah also crieth concerning Israel, Though the
number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant
shall be saved: For he will finish the work, and cut it
short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the
earth. And as Isaiah said before, Except the Lord of
Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like
unto Gomorrha. What shall we say then? That the Gentiles,
which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness,
even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel,
which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the
law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it
not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled
at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay
in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on
him shall not be ashamed.
Chrysostom in his Homily XVI on Romans IX says:
"Here is not to do away with free-will that he says this, but to show, up to what point we ought to obey God. For in respect of calling God to account, we ought to be as little disposed to it as the clay is….abtain not from gainsaying or questioning only, but even from speaking or thinking of it at all, and to become like that lifeless matter, which followeth the potter's hands, and lets itself be drawn about anywhere he may please."
"…to persuade the hearer to yield entirely to God, and at no time to call Him to account for anything whatever. For as the potter (he says) of the same lump makes what he pleaseth, and no one forbids it; thus also when God, of the same race of men, punisheth some, and honoreth others, be not thou curious nor meddlesome herein, but worship only, and imitate the clay.
(referring to v22ff) "What he means is more or less as
follows: Pharaoh was a vessel of wrath, that is, a man who by his own
hard-heartedness had kindled the wrath of God. For after enjoying much
long-suffering, he became not better, but remained unimproved…As then
Pharoah became a vessel of wrath by his own lawlessness, so did [the
Gentiles] become vessels of mercy by their own readiness to obey. For
though the greater part is of God, still they have also contributed a
little themselves. For this reason he does not say either vessels of
well doing, or vessels of boldness, but 'vessels of mercy,' to show that
the whole is of God…Because when he says, 'it is not of him who
wills, nor of him who runs,' he does not deprive us of free will, but
shows that all is not one's own, in that it requires grace from
above…The wonder in the Prophet is that he foretells not only that
they should believe, but also that they should not believe. For to
stumble is to disbelieve…So here he implies that some will believe,
and some will stumble. But stumbling comes of not taking heed, of gaping
after other things. Since then they did give heed to the Law, they
stumbled on the stone."