Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Murray on Reprobation in Romans 9:22

I've been continuing to preach through Romans 9.  In the last two messages (The Inscrutible Mercy of God [Romans 9:14-18]; The Impertinency of Man [Romans 9:19-26]), we've rubbed up against the perennial questions of double predestination and equal ultimacy.

In last Sunday's message I spent some time reflecting on Paul's statement in v. 22 that "the vessels of wrath" were "fitted for destruction."  This declaration is parallel to Paul's statement in v. 23 that "the vessels of mercy ... he had afore prepared unto glory."

I found John Murray's comments on v. 22 to be interesting (see Romans, Vol. 2, p. 36).  He begins:  "The vessels of wrath are 'fitted for destruction.'  The question disputed is whether they are represented as fitted or prepared by God for destruction or whether they are viewed as fitting themselves for destruction."

He continues with this very nuanced statement (especially the second sentence here):  "It may be that he purposely refrained from making God the subject.  However, we may not insist that God is not viewed as fitting them for destruction."

He adds, "For these reasons there is nothing contrary to the teaching of the context if we regard God as the agent in fitting for destruction.  At the same time we may not dogmatize that the apostle intended to convey this notion in this case."

So, Murray's conclusion is that Paul describes the Lord as actively fitting the reprobate for destruction, but the evidence is not so clear as to lead one to a a dogmatic affirmation of equal ultimacy in Paul.


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