22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
Verses 22 to 26 show how God sovereignly applies His plan to both non-believers and believers. This section continues Paul’s anguish over the nation Israel, who did not believe in the Messiah.
God has three purposes in His plan:
To show God’s wrath to unbelievers for rejecting His plan of salvation, v. 22
To show God’s sovereign power to unbelievers for rejecting His plan, v. 22
To make known the plan of the riches of His glory to those who believe, vv. 23-24
These purposes demonstrate a piece of the theodicy in Romans 9 through 11. Everything comes back to the person and work of God. This section corresponds to how God showed His power to Pharaoh. God delayed demonstrating His power to Pharaoh and to Israel.
The principle of demonstration carries over to everyone in His economy. God always defers His wrath so He can unveil the full extent of His wrath and power. This is an argument for revelation. People are accountable to God’s revelation of Himself.
The ultimate appeal in verses 22 to 26 in defending God’s integrity is to God’s glory. He is faithful to Himself in the way He deals with Israel. God has the sovereign right to establish His plan for salvation and it is always consistent with Himself.
22 What if [although] God,
This “if” question continues the three previous questions and amounts to a rebuke. The creature does not know better than the Creator. This question casts a rebuke on Israel’s intransigence in the face of God’s provision of the Messiah.
Paul did not outright state the conclusion to this question that deals with God’s right to execute His prerogative on establishing His plan of salvation. He left the reader to fill in the blank. The answer to the question is that God saves some and condemns to ruin others, based on the way He chooses to set up the system of salvation (by grace).
wanting [willing] to show His wrath
The word “wanting” (willing) is emphatic in the Greek text. This emphasis prepares for the stress on His longsuffering later in this verse, where He withholds His wrath for a time. The word “wanting” does not connote the idea of God’s determinative will. If non-believers go negative toward God, then He is willing to show His wrath against them. Also, the word “wanting” is simultaneous or concurrent with the word “endured,” used later in this verse (Greek).
The way God deals with non-believers in history is to “show” His wrath in divine judgment. God showed His wrath in the case of Pharaoh, for example. God’s wrath is primarily upon rebellion against His revelation. This is God’s displeasure with rebellion against His revealed will.
and to make His power known,
Paul’s appeal was to those who accept revelation. If people do not accept His revealed will, then He will execute justice on them.
God executes His wrath as a result of rebellion against His revealed plan of salvation.
God is not arbitrary with His wrath. There is always coherence to why He does what He does. He offers, by revelation, salvation to everyone, but if some rebel against God’s revelation, then He executes His wrath upon the recalcitrant. It is an issue of being obstinate and negative in volition toward God’s revelation of His grace that issues forth His wrath.
Ro 2: 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
God is not willing that any perish:
2 Pe 3: 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.