God Acts for the Sake of His Glory

Romans 9:14–18, Part 2

Principle for Bible Reading

Many in Paul’s day were accusing God of being unrighteous in electing some and not others. In this lab, John Piper explains what the righteousness of God is, showing his definition from several texts. In doing so, he shows that God indeed does all he does for the glory of his own name.

View the outline.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:46)

The Crisis of God’s Election (00:46–03:45)

  1. God is righteous because (“For”) he said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Romans 9:15)
  2. Election is not because of works — or anything in man outside of God — but because of him who calls. (Romans 9:11)
  3. Paul quotes Exodus 33:19 into the controversy in Romans 9 over election. (Romans 9:15)

God’s Freedom (03:45–07:06)

  1. Moses asks God to show him his glory, and responds that he will proclaim his own name (Exodus 33:18–19). This means there is a close connection between the glory of God and the name of God.
  2. A vital piece of Yahweh’s identity is his complete freedom and independence from outside influence. He acts only according to his own dispositions. This freedom is his glory. (Exodus 33:19)
  3. “I am who I am” is saying the same thing about God’s freedom and independence (Exodus 3:13–15). God is not dependent on or subject to anyone.

God’s Righteousness (07:06–10:17)

  1. Paul says this freedom of God to choose Jacob and not Esau is not unrighteous. (Romans 9:14)
  2. Unrighteousness suppresses the truth about God, specifically it trades his glory away for images. (Romans 1:18–23)
  3. Sin is anything that falls short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
  4. God looks unrighteous in passing over sins (Romans 3:25), because it looks like he does not value his own glory.
  5. His righteousness is his esteeming, valuing, and upholding the value of the glory of God.
  6. For God, to be righteous is to uphold his name and his glory. (Psalm 143:11)

Summary (10:17–12:53)

Study Questions

  1. Read Exodus 33:18–19. When Moses asks to see God’s glory, why might God say he will proclaim his name? What was he declaring about himself in 33:19?
  2. Read Romans 1:18–23. How is Paul defining unrighteousness? How does unrighteousness relate to the glory of God in these verses?
  3. Romans 3:23–25 takes up the same issue Paul is wrestling with in Romans 8:14–18. How does Romans 3 help enlighten the dilemma and Paul’s argument in Romans 9 concerning God’s righteousness?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

“God’s righteousness is his esteeming, valuing, and upholding the value of the glory of God.”