Does every person have a choice, at some point in their life, to choose Christ and live forever? Or, are all people, from the moment they are born, created for either honor or dishonor, life or destruction?
If the latter is the case, then the scriptures lie, and from the moment of conception, we are all locked into either the life caste or the death caste.
If we are all, from birth, predestined to honor or dishonor, eternal life, or eternal destruction, why bother preaching the gospel to anyone, or attempting to live lives pleasing to God—our fate is already sealed…correct?
Fortunately, the scriptures do not lie, and the above hypothesis is incorrect.
The God of the Bible is a God of redemption—not of caste.
Romans 9:21, says that God makes some vessels to honor and other vessels are made to dishonor (KJV). Romans 9:22 says God endures with “much long suffering” the vessels fitted to destruction.
Pay close attention to what these verses say. They say that some vessels are made to honor or dishonor—not that they are made for these things.
This is an important distinction. The vessels, in verse 22, are fitted to destruction and not for destruction. That is relevant distinction.
Remember, every word of scripture is God breathed, even the little words.
The word “makes,” in verse 21, comes from the Greek word, poieo. Poieo, is a root word with a literal meaning of “make” or “do.” But, depending on context, the word has a wide variety of applications, some of which include the meanings of, commit, ordain, raise up, or appoint.
Someone can be committed, ordained, raised up, or appointed to something at any point in their lives. It is not necessary that they committed to it at birth.
It would not contradict the context of Romans chapter nine, or the definition of the Greek word, poieo, to translate verse 21 as, “God commits” some vessels to honor, rather than, “God makes [or creates] some vessels to honor...”
The alternate reading gives a different and clearer perspective on the passage.
A case in point, is King Saul. God raised up and appointed a righteous young man, Saul, to become his ordained King over Israel (even though it was not God’s perfect will that Israel have a king at all). After coming to power, Saul made some personally destructive choices. Yet, he was also given freedom to make righteous choices. Few will argue that King Saul was given both option and opportunity to do things differently—to become a vessel of honor rather than dishonor.
Pharaoh could have done things differently, as well. Did the apostle really write that Pharaoh was made for dishonor and destruction? That, from the moment of his birth, he was locked into a cosmic caste system from which there was no escape?
Was Pharaoh really created for the sole purpose of condemnation?
Was the prophet, Jeremiah, lying when he wrote that God had a plan and purpose for all of us—plans to do us good and not evil?
No. He was not.
So, we see that the Word of God must be rightly discerned.
Romans 9:22 speaks of vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.
The Greek word translated “fitted” (in the King James Bible) is, “Katartizo.” Katartizo has a literal translation of “complete thoroughly,” “adjust” or “repair,” which makes perfect sense within the context of Romans 9:22. Deeper study reveals the word, Katartizo, is derived from yet another Greek word, “Katah.”
Katah is a root word, meaning “down.”
The meanings of the words, Katartizo and Katah, when combined, mean that Romans 9:17-22 ) is saying, that vessels are adjusted down to destruction. They are committed to that destruction only after God endures their sinful choices with “much long suffering.”
Taking the “thoroughly complete” definition of the word, Katartizo, into account, it becomes clear that God’s plan for Pharaoh, because of Pharaoh’s own choices, was adjusted down. And it was at that point, he became committed [or ordained] to dishonor and destruction.
Setting aside English-Translation-Theology (our Bibles were not written in English), a careful reading of Romans 9:17-22, makes it clear that Pharaoh was not committed to dishonor and destruction until after God had endured his sinful choices with “much long suffering.”
1 Timothy 2:3-5 states that it is not God’s will that any should perish but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth. If it is not God’s will that any should perish, then He is not going to violate His own will by creating anyone for the specific purpose of deliberately destroying them.
However, in his foreknowledge of all things, God knows who will, and who will not, choose life and godliness Romans 8:29.
According to 1 Timothy 2:3-5, It is God’s explicit written will that we are all given [at least one] opportunity to choose life. The Word of God also states that Jesus died for the sins of the world—not just for the sins of a few predestined elect.
Romans 8:29 says that predestination is according to foreknowledge. And 2 Corinthians 6:2, states that there is a period of Grace in which the door to salvation remains open (today is the accepted time...today is the day of salvation 2 Corinthians 6:2).
But, if any refuse to accept Christ, the Bible says the period of “much long suffering” can pass. And, as with Pharaoh, the opportunity can be withdrawn.
The door can close.
It is at that point—and not one moment before—that God’s perfect plan for a life can be adjusted down. From that point on, one can be committed to, or ordained to…destruction.
God’s power will be revealed, his purpose will be accomplished, and his name will be declared throughout all the earth, regardless of what individual choices are made by his human creation.
But we must always remember that God gives us a choice. He is the one who said, “I have set before you blessing and cursing, life and death…Choose life, so that you and your children may live.