Vessels Of Wrath

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

In his letter to the church of Christ at Rome, the Apostle Paul addressed some in the congregation who believed that unsaved Hebrews had a special status with God, despite their disobedience to His Word.

Why did they believe this?

Partly because of the specific bloodline of the Hebrews.

As a result, in Romans 9-11 Paul deals with these claims.

He starts out in Romans 9 by pointing out that God has the right to determine who will be saved, and by what means this salvation will be meted out.

In Romans 9:1-13, he points out that bloodlines themselves do not determine salvation.

After all, Abraham had other children besides Isaac; but God determined that the Savior would come through Isaac’s seed.

In Romans 9:13, Paul refers to the Edomites. They were also descendants of Abraham, but were not the ones through whom God would bring redemption. (Please note that in Romans 9;13, Paul is referencing Malachi 1:1-4, where the Bible is talking about the nation that was descended from Esau. The word “hate” is often used throughout the Bible to have reference to one who is “loved less” or who is not “favored” or “chosen”).  

Paul then talks about the Pharaoh of Egypt as an example.

In this context, he writes:

Romans 9:22-24-22    What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23    and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24    even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

What is especially fascinating is that Paul talks about “vessels of wrath” which are prepared for destruction.

Many claim that God arbitrarily chooses who will be saved, and who will be lost. They claim that man’s freewill is irrelevant; even if you wanted to be saved, you could not be unless you were one of the favored (it is claimed).

Yet this passage refutes such a concept.

How so?

In the Greek New Testament, certain verbs are in the middle voice. The middle voice indicates action that an object carries out for itself.

With that in mind, please notice the significance of these tenses:

“28 They are , “objects of wrath.” They are “prepared for destruction” in the sense that by their life and conduct they have determined their own destiny. Murray comments that “there is an exact correspondence between what they were in this life and the perdition to which they are consigned. This is another way of saying that there is continuity between this life and their lot of the life to come” ( Romans , 2:36).” (Robert Mounce, The New American Commentary Volume 27: Romans, 234 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group)

Pharaoh, of course, is a perfect example of being a “vessel of wrath.”

While God hardened Pharaoh’s heart as well (Exodus 4:21), we are repeatedly told that Pharaoh hardened his own heart as well (Exodus 8:15, 32).

Furthermore, we see in Romans 11:19-27 that these “vessels of wrath” may still be redeemed IF they will continue not in unbelief (i.e., repent).

It is important to remember that the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was not to such a degree that he could not have repented; for we read that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh’s servants (Exodus 10:1), and yet they later repented of (Exodus 10:7).

In the exact same way, the vessels of wrath may still be redeemed.

How? If they will repent!

My friends, God has not predestined you individually to go to Heaven or to Hell. Instead, He has predestined that those in the church will be redeemed (Ephesians 1:3).

The atoning death, burial, and Resurrection of Christ from the dead on the third day allowed the Son of God to purchase the church (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Acts 20:28).

God adds the saved to this blood-bought family when they as believers repent of their sins and are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:37-41, 47).

Why not submit your heart and life to Christ today?

The grace of The Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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