9:14What shall we say then. Cf. 8:31. Paul recognizes that his previous statement cannot be allowed to pass without further comment. Could the distinguishing sovereign purpose of God throw into jeopardy His attribute of perfect righteousness? The idea is clearly unthinkable—“By no means!” (6:2, 15; 7:7). Paul explains why by citing two biblical texts (Ex. 33:19; 9:16) in vv. 15, 17, from which he concludes that God is righteous in showing mercy to some while He hardens the hearts of others. When God shows mercy it is not a person receiving a reward earned by one’s own efforts, but God’s sovereign free grace extended to persons who are morally incapable of any acceptable effort (1:18–3:20). God owes mercy to none, so there is no injustice when mercy is not shown. Mercy is a divine prerogative; it rests on God’s good pleasure. When God “hardens” Pharaoh’s heart (v. 18), He does not create fresh evil in it, but gives Pharaoh over to his already evil desires as an act of judgment, resulting eventually in God’s display of “power” (v. 22) in the destruction of Pharaoh’s army (Ex. 14:17, 18, 23–28).
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