What if God, willing to show his wrath
The apostle proceeds to clear God from any charge of cruelty and unmercifulness, by observing his conduct in time, both towards those he passes by, and towards those he chooses; for in this and the following verse, nothing is said relating to any act of God before time, everything of that kind being considered already. In this verse, the apostle considers the conduct of God towards the vessels of dishonour; and let it be observed, that these are called
vessels of wrath fitted for destruction;
they are said to be vessels, and so no longer considered in the clay, in the mass and heap of creatureship, but as creatures formed and made, and brought into being; and so to be used as instruments in God's hands, to subserve his ends and purposes, and therefore called "vessels"; and not only so, but "vessels of wrath", fallen sinful creatures, and so deserving of the wrath of God, and objects of his vindictive justice, in whom he may righteously display his wrath and vengeance: hence they may be so called, being as vessels filled with his wrath; as such who are the instruments and executioners of his wrath are called, in ( Isaiah 13:5 ) , (wmez ylk) , "vessels of his wrath"; and in ( Jeremiah 50:25 ) ; where the Septuagint use the same phrase as here: and they are moreover said to be "fitted for destruction", as Haman is said to be by the Jews F15; whom they affirm to be the same with Memucan, and ask why is his name called Memucan? and answer, (twnerwpl Nkwmv) , "because he was fitted for punishment": so these are said to be "fitted for destruction", that is, eternal damnation; not by God, for this does not respect God's act of ordination to punishment; but by Satan, the god of this world, that blinds them, who works effectually in them, and leads them captive at his will; and by themselves, by their own wickedness, hardness of heart, and impenitence, do they treasure up to themselves wrath, against the day of wrath, so that their destruction is of themselves: a phrase somewhat like this is used in ( Psalms 31:12 ) , where the Psalmist, under some dismal apprehensions of himself, says, that he was like (dba ylk) , "a perishing vessel", or "a vessel of perdition"; the Septuagint render it, (skeuov apolwlov) , "a lost vessel". Now what is the method of the divine conduct towards such persons? he
endures [them] with much longsuffering;
as he did the old world, before he destroyed it; and as he did Pharaoh, before he cut him off: God not only supports such persons in their beings, amidst all their impieties and iniquities, but follows and fills them with his providential goodness, insomuch that many of them have more than heart can wish; nay, to many he affords the outward means of grace, which they slight and despise; externally calls them, but they refuse, loving darkness rather than light, and therefore are inexcusable: now if after all this patience, indulgence, and forbearance, when he could in justice have sent them to hell long ago, he is "willing to show his wrath"; his displicency at sin and sinners, his vindictive justice, his righteous vengeance:
and to make his power known;
what it is he can do, by the utter destruction and damnation of such persons; what man in his senses can ever find fault with such a procedure, or charge it with tyranny, cruelty, and unmercifulness?
F15 T. Bab. Megilia, fol. 12. 2.