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,
endured with much longsuffering the vessels [utensils] of wrath
“Vessels” continues the metaphor of the sovereign Potter (vv. 20-21).
“Endured” has the idea of to bear patiently or to put up with. This “endured” pertains to both non-believers (v. 22) and believers (v. 23). God withheld His judgment because He wanted to show His wrath, power, and mercy. “Vessels of wrath,” then, is in the context of Israel, Esau, and Pharaoh. These people were responsible for their own judgment. God endured them in history but will not in eternity.
God’s longsuffering comes out of His character and not from anything within an individual or group. His longsuffering heightened the final verdict.
prepared [themselves] for destruction [ruin, loss],
This phrase does not indicate who it was that prepared or made them ripe for “destruction” (loss). It does not explicitly say that it was God who did this. “Prepared” might indicate that they prepared themselves for destruction. It could have been their own wills that did this (middle voice). Because of their previous culpability, they were ripe for the purpose of destruction. They hardened themselves toward God. The idea here might be that Israel temporarily lost its status as God’s chosen people during the church period.
The Greek grammar indicates that they were prepared for destruction in the past with the abiding result of ruin. Non-believers are in a state prepared to receive the wrath of God because they do not accept His plan of salvation.
“Prepared” means to fit together, make ready or complete. The essential idea is to put a thing in its appropriate place, that is, to arrange, mend. God will complete His justice one way or another—either by judgment or by mercy. The idea is of an action performed on something already in hand, to put it in proper order. God has an outworking of sovereign order. “Vessels of wrath” refers to unbelieving and rebellious Israel. He allowed them to set the order to which they belonged—lost.
Israel was originally designed for blessing but God refitted them for “destruction.” “Destruction” is ruin. The objects of ruin are not only unbelieving people in general, but unbelieving Israel. The basis for destruction was their unbelief.
Ro 2: 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
God finds fault because men are at fault.
This verse does not say that God reduces people to useless automatons. They are what they are because of their own volition. It is His will to demonstrate His wrath against rebellion and to demonstrate His power to the defiant. The purpose of His show of power is to show people who He is and to bring them to Himself. He postpones final action against rebellious people, making Himself clearly known (chapter 1).
Ac 14: 16 who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.
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 responsible for men’s lost situation. The reason for their lost condition is their revolt against the gospel.
1 Th 5: 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
1 Pe 2: 8 and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.
Jn 1: 11 He came to His own [things], and His own [people] did not receive Him.
Jn 3: 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
Mankind is not ignorant of God’s truth but rather in outright rebellion against it:
Ro 1: 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
Ro 1: 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;