In this passage, Paul explains why God is just in saving some people, and damning others. He begins by presenting a possible accusation against God: “God is unjust in saving some, and damning others.” Paul answers with a Scripture that records God as saying that He saves who He saves. In other words, God is the only One who has the choice of who is saved, and who is not saved. Therefore, Paul says in verse 16, salvation does not depend upon people, but upon God. In the next verse, he gives an example of this, which is a Scripture that records God as telling Pharaoh that He made him Pharaoh to demonstrate His power in his evil and death. In verse 18, Paul implies that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, making him unable to repent. Therefore, God is the One has the choice of who is saved, and who is damned.
In verse 19, Paul introduces another possible complaint against God: “why does He find fault with man if man cannot resist His will?” Paul answers this question by asking the questioner, “who are you to answer back to God?” Then, Paul explains why it is absurd for people to find fault with God’s dealings with them. He begins by comparing God to a molder, and comparing people to things molded. Then, he asks if the thing molded will ask the molder why he made it as he did. The assumed answer is “no.” Then, Paul compares God to a potter, and people as clay, and asks whether the potter has the right to make some pottery for honorable use, and some for common use. The assumed answer is “yes.” Then, Paul poses the scenario of God enduring people who are prepared for destruction to save people prepared for glory, not destruction, among whom are Gentiles and Jews. The reason that Paul poses this scenario is to return to His point that God is just in saving some, and not saving others.
In verses 25-26, Paul presents Scriptural proof that God promised that Gentiles would be saved. In verses 27-29, Paul proves that not all of Israel would trust in the gospel, but only a remnant. Therefore, he concludes that Gentiles, rather than Jews, were the people that composed the majority of those who trusted in the gospel in the early church. He explains that Jews did not receive God’s righteousness because they attempted to do so by obeying the Law, rather than trusting in the promise of the Messiah. In fact, Paul uses Scripture to say that Israel refused to trust in the Messiah, who is the stone of stumbling and the rock of offense.