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Romans 9:22

ESV What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
NIV What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction?
NASB What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with great patience objects of wrath prepared for destruction?
CSB And what if God, wanting to display his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath prepared for destruction?
NLT In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction.
KJV 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:

What does Romans 9:22 mean?

This is a difficult verse both in its subject matter and because it forces translation choices for scholars trying to adapt the text into English. In the previous verse, Paul made the case that God can do as He wishes with any human being. He pointed out that a potter could take the same lump of clay and make either containers for "honorable" purposes or ones for "dishonorable" purposes. The implication was that God has every right to do the same with people, whom He created with even more authority than a potter who molds clay.

Now Paul asks a question about God's actions towards vessels prepared for destruction. What if God desires to show His wrath and power towards them, but has instead patiently endured these vessels—the reason being described in the following verse?

Paul seems to mean by these "vessels" all those who will not receive God's mercy. These are those who will instead be separated from Him forever in hell. These vessels—these people—are objects of God's anger. This is one area where theology and doctrine begin to take different views of Paul's meaning. Is God patiently enduring these persons until the time comes for them to be destroyed? Or, is God patiently enduring to make time for some to repent and be revealed as the "vessels of mercy" described in the following verse? Bible teachers disagree based both on translation and doctrinal beliefs.

It interesting to note that, in Ephesians 2, Paul refers to himself as having previously been a child of wrath: We "were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:3–5). Some take that, along with verses such as 2 Peter 3:9, as evidence for the idea that God's "patience" is aimed at mercifully giving some of these unsaved persons more time to repent.

In either case, Paul seems to be making two larger points. First, God is the Maker, and he has the right to make people to serve His own purposes. Secondly, God endures with great patience even those people who are destined for destruction. In the following verses, Paul explains how God mercifully makes known the riches of His glory to all of those whom He calls to be in Christ.
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