God Wants to Show His Wrath

Romans 9:22–23, Part 1

Principle for Bible Reading

John Piper says, “In all the Bible, there are no more weighty, or ultimate, or difficult words than Romans 9:22–23.” These verse tackle the issues of God’s sovereignty and God’s wrath. How can God judge those whom he has hardened?

View the outline.


Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–02:04)

God’s Purpose in God’s Wrath (02:04–07:30)

  1. Why is there judgment or wrath if none can resist God’s will (Romans 9:19)? How can God fault Esau or Pharaoh, if he hardened them?
  2. Paul does not refuse the questions, as if it is not okay to wonder why God created and rules the world the way he does. He answers the question. (Romans 9:21)
  3. If God endured vessels of wrath in order to make known his glory to the vessels of mercy (Romans 9:22–23), then no legitimate objection can be raised. He has clearly and sufficiently answered the question being raised.

Confirmation from Romans 9 (07:30–11:41)

  1. What kind of participle is “desiring” (Romans 9:22)? Is it communicating “although” or “because”?
  2. Romans 9:17 suggest the same motive: God wants to show his power, and make known his name. Because that’s God’s desire, he raises Pharaoh up, hardens him, and crushes him.
  3. That same motive and structure exists in Romans 9:22–23 regarding how God deals with all people, and not just Esau and Pharaoh.

Study Questions

  1. Explain Romans 9:22–23 in your own words. How is Paul answering the question of whether God can judge those he has hardened?
  2. Is the participle “desiring” in Romans 9:22 communicating “although” or “because”? Is his desire a concession or the purpose of his dealing with the vessels of wrath and the vessels of mercy?
  3. Reread Romans 9:14–18. How does that confirm or deny how you are reading Romans 9:22–23?

‘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.

Piper: “In all the Bible, there are no more weighty, or ultimate, or difficult words than Romans 9:22–23.”