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Prepared Beforehand

aymon de albatrus

"What if God, willing to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath fitted (prepared) for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for gloryĖĖ even us whom He has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?" (Rom 9:22-24)

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:10)


prepared beforehand (proetoimazo in the Greek)
Appears twice in the NT with the meaning: prepare afore or before ordain; that is: to prepare before, to make ready beforehand.

The idea here means literally to prepare beforehand, make fit in advance, ordain before, "predestinate" or appoint before. "Proetoimazo" is used in Rom 9:23 referring to His elect and in Eph 2:10 referring to the works afore prepared for His elect people to walk in them.

These He chose in Christ beforehand, long before the world was made, by His grace and for His glory: "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love:" (Eph 1:4)

Before God ever created the heavens and the earth, He prepared some men and women for glory, choosing them in Christ before the foundation of the world. He was not obligated to choose any in Christ, but He did so nevertheless to glorify Himself.

It pleased God to reveal His Son in His elect turning them from darkness to light, from Satan to God. Salvation is exclusively of the Lord (Gal 1:15,16). We came to Him because He chose to have mercy on some. He is the Sovereign Omnipotent God. We cannot dispute His right to do this as He has every right possible, for He is the Sovereign creator. We cannot judge Him as unjust. We are to simply bow, in all humility, to this truth about the sovereignty of God in salvation.

What some people try to do to justify God's sovereignty in salvation is to say that God knew that someday I would choose Him and so He predestined me to be saved. If that is true then the "control" for salvation rests in man not God and He orders the events based on what I will do. In other words, I am sovereign not Him. This faulty reasoning stems from trying to rationalize God's sovereignty and man's free will, for haughty man wants to be in control of the life God granted to him.

What if God
What if God does what Scripture states here, what then? Is it not right? This is the Biblical answer to the objection in Rom 9:19. These 3 Romans verses refer to the two classes of men which actually exist on the earth, e.g. the righteous and the wicked. And the question is, whether in regard to these two classes God does indeed do wrong? If he does not, then the doctrine expounded in Scripture is established, and the objection is not valid and the world is in fact divided into two classes: saints and sinners.

Willing. Being disposed; having an inclination to. It denotes an inclination of mind towards the thing proposed. If the thing itself was right; if it was proper to "show His wrath," then it was proper to be WILLING to do it. If it is right to do a thing, it is right to purpose or intend to do it.

In this place it is evidently used to denote severe displeasure against sin. As sin is an evil of so great magnitude, it is right for God to be willing to demonstrate His displeasure against it; and just in proportion to the extent of the evil. This displeasure, or wrath, it is proper that God should always be willing to show; furthermore, it would not be right for Him not to show it, for that would be the same thing as to be indifferent to it, or to approve it.

to make known his power. This language is the same as that which was used in relation to Pharaoh, Rom 9:17; Exo 9:16. But it is not probable that the Apostle intended to confine it to the Egyptians only. In the following verse he speaks of "the vessels of mercy prepared unto glory;" which cannot be supposed to be language adapted to the temporal deliverance of the Jews. The case of Pharaoh was one instance, or illustration, of the general principle on which God would deal with men. His government is conducted on great and uniform principles; and the case of Pharaoh was a development of the great laws on which He governs the universe.

has endured with much patience. With much patience He suffered them to live, while they deserved to die. God bears with all sinners with much patience; He spares them amid all their provocations, to give them opportunity of repentance; and though they are fitted for destruction, yet He prolongs their lives, and offers them pardon, and loads them with benefits. This assertion is a complete vindication of the workings of God from the slanders of all His detractors.

vessels of wrath. The word vessel means a cup, a vase made of earth which in Scripture is used often as a synonym of the human body as frail, easily broken and destroyed as depicted in 2Co 4:7; 1Th 4:4; Act 9:15. The phrase "vessels of wrath" denotes wicked men against whom it is fit or proper that wrath should be shown and enacted; as Judas is called "the son of perdition." (Joh 17:12). This does not mean that men by their very creation, or their physical nature, are thus denominated; but men who, from long continuance in iniquity, deserve to experience wrath; as Judas was not called "son of perdition" by any arbitrary appointment, or as an original designation, but because, in consequence of his avarice and treason, this was the name which in fact actually described him, or fitted his case. (Joh 3:36)

Fitted, (kathrtismena). This word properly means to make perfect for; to place in order; to render complete for a purpose, to fit to, or adapt to, or prepare for. In this place it is a participle, and means those who are fitted for or adapted to destruction, those whose characters are such as to deserve destruction, or as to make destruction proper. In this place there is not a declaration that God had prepared them, or fitted them for destruction. It is a simple declaration that they were IN FACT perfectly fitted for it, without making an affirmation about the manner in which they became so, but a distinction is made between them and the vessels of mercy which ought to be noted. In relation to the latter it is expressly affirmed that God fitted or prepared them for glory. See Rom 9:23, "Which He had afore prepared unto glory."

The same distinction is remarkably striking in the account of the last judgment in Mat 25:34-41. To the righteous, Christ will say, " Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" etc. To the wicked, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels;" not said to have been originally prepared for them. It is clear, therefore, that God intends to keep the great truth in view, that He prepares His people by His direct agency for heaven; but that He does not say whether or not He exerts such agency in preparing the wicked for destruction (Deu 29:29).

All we can say is that He definitely has direct intervention in the saving of His people (Exo 36:26,27) but He lets the others go along their evil nature (Gen 6:5).

For destruction. It is clear that the reference is to the future punishment of wicked men, and in no instance to national calamities. No such use of the word is to be found in the New Testament; and this is further clear from the contrast with the word "glory" in the next verse. We may remark here, that if men are fitted or prepared for destruction; if future torment is adapted to them, and they to it; if it is fit that they should be subjected to it; then God will do what is fit or right to be done, and, unless they repent, they must perish. Nor would it be right for God to take them to heaven as they are; to a place for which they are not fitted, and which is not adapted to their feelings, their character, or their conduct.

in order to make known. That He might manifest or display to all. Paul had showed in (Rom 9:22) that Godís acting towards the wicked was not under legal obligation to the objection made in (Rom 9:19). In this verse he proceeds to show that the objection could not lie against His dealings with the other class of men, viz. the righteous. If His dealings towards either were not liable to the objection, then He has satisfied the whole case, and the Divine government is justified. This he proves by showing that for God to show the riches of His glory towards those whom He has prepared for it cannot be regarded as unjust.

The riches of His glory. This is a form of expression common among the Jews, meaning the same as His rich or His abundant glory. The same expression is found in (Eph 1:18).

for vessels of mercy. People towards whom His mercy was to be displayed, (Rom 9:22) that is, on those towards whom He has purposed to display His mercy, favour, or pity shown to the miserable. Grace is favour to the undeserving; mercy, favour to those in distress.

which He has prepared beforehand for glory. We are here brought to a remarkable difference between Godís mode of dealing with them and with the wicked. Here it is expressly affirmed that God himself had prepared them for glory. In regard to the wicked, it is simply affirmed that they were fitted for destruction, without specifying anything of the agency by which it was done.

That God prepares His people for glory, even before the world began, is abundantly taught in Scripture: "For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ," (1Th 5:9) "Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," (2Ti 1:9) Also: (Eph 1:4,5,11; Rom 8:28,29,30; Act 13:48; Joh 1:13).

As the renewing of the heart (Eze 36:26,27) and the sanctifying of the soul is an act of goodness, definitely worthy of God, and of course no objection could be charged against it. No man could complain of a course of dealings designed to make men better; and as this is the sole design of the electing love of God, His dealings with this class of men are easily vindicated. No Christian can complain that God has chosen him, renewed him, and made him pure and happy, for if he does, then he is no Christian at all. And as this was an important part of the plan of God, it is easily defended from the objection of unbelievers in Rom 9:19.

It has pleased the Lord to bring His elect to this magnificent eternal state called "glory," (Heb 2:10,11) this situation blends together everything that constitutes: honour, dignity, purity, love, and happiness. All these attributes are included in the eternal state of those made righteous by a sovereign act of God. Salvation is from God, from beginning to end, (Heb 12:2).

God has a right to bestow His blessings as He chooses. Where all are undeserving, where none have any claim, He may confer His favours on which He pleases and let other go their evil way.

CONCLUSION

We see in these verses two kinds of people: the un-righteous and the righteous, the former fitted for destruction and the latter prepared for glory. God has absolute right and power over His creatures, to dispose of them at His pleasure, as the potter does with his clay (Rom 9:21). No one can object against Godís dealings with His own creatures given that besides having created them for His own pleasure, He is also the Sovereign of their lives.

To the vessels fitted for destruction:

  • He bears long with them in their sins; exercises great patience towards them in the midst of their provocations, giving them space to repent, if they call or will, and

  • They are vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction perpetuated by their own sensual courses; deserving Godís righteous judgment, who gives them up thereunto.

To the vessels prepared for glory:

  • He thereby manifest the riches of His glory, or His glorious grace, and

  • Are vessels of mercy, vessels of honour, which He had afore prepared unto glory; i.e. He had done it by election from eternity, and by regeneration and sanctification of the Spirit in time.

Here's the reason God endured with longsuffering; here we see the heart of God. His desire is to bless richly those elect vessels of mercy prepared for glory. This is the antithesis of the wrath He will apply to the vessels prepared for destruction.

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (Rom 11:33)