9:23 which he has prepared beforehand. See “The Purpose of God: Predestination and Foreknowledge” at Mal. 1:2. Paul does not elaborate on the preparation in view. The addition of “beforehand” in connection with the vessels of mercy may be pointing to the mercy that originates in God’s good pleasure from eternity (8:29, 30), while the wrath in view is in direct response to existing ungodliness and unrighteousness (cf. 1:18–32). The distinction between elect and reprobate does not lie in anything in themselves (all deserve wrath), but exclusively in the will of God. Within that context, however, the objects prepared for destruction experience wrath that is the only possible and just reward for sin.