19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?”
Verses 14 to 29 show that God’s rejection of Israel is consistent with God’s justice. In this immediate section (vv. 19-21) the creature cannot complain against the Creator any more than a vase can complain against the person who made the vase; Israel cannot complain against her Creator.
Paul explained why God has the prerogative to choose His own scheme of salvation by grace. This section is a defense of God’s sovereign justice by grace. Paul had just demonstrated that man cannot come to God by works, but that God chose the order of grace. God is free to choose the grace principle for salvation based on His eternal perspective.
Paul then proceeded to demonstrate that the rejection of Israel was clear from a number of quotes from the Old Testament. God always deals with man on His own conditions. Thus, God reserves to Himself freedom to deal with man on His own terms.
19 You will say to me then,
Paul anticipated a question from the Romans about who is to blame, since God is the initiator of salvation by grace and by that hardens those who reject that plan.
The “then” harks back to God’s showing mercy and hardening (vv. 14-18). If God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, then why did He find fault with him?
“Why does He still find fault?
If God causes the hardness, where is the responsibility of man in this? This is a legitimate question, so Paul did not avoid the difficulty that it caused. If God hardens, why does He find fault when His creatures have no choice in the matter? This makes it appear as if God must be held responsible rather than man because His decisions are arbitrary and unjust.
For who has resisted His will?”
“Resisted” carries the idea of one having resisted in the past and continuing to resist God’s will. “Will” is God’s deliberate purpose. The question is, who can resist a sovereign God? If God is so utterly controlling, how can man establish his own system of salvation? No one can withstand an infinite God.
The Greek word for “will” is strong, carrying the idea of enacted purpose. God’s will here is something that has been put in place. Who can set his will against God’s enacted plan?
The context of chapters 9 to 11 has to do with the nation Israel. Israel as a nation cannot resist God’s will. Thus, the argument has to do with the failure of Israel as a whole to believe in the Messiah. God’s purpose in choosing Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is to demonstrate His scheme of salvation. The hardening of Israel against God in the time of the writing of Romans did not defeat God’s plan of salvation.
God has the right to establish His own order of salvation.
God chose the system of salvation by grace because that was the only hope of man depraved in sin. If it would have been by works, then a purely human standard would be the norm for going to heaven. Since no human norm can do this, then man is at the mercy of the grace of God for salvation. Both Israel and the church have to come to God by grace:
Ro 11: 5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.