Here, Paul discusses a conversation with a man who was arguing with him. There are similar passages in chapters 2 and 3. In each place, the man is complaining about Godís judgements.
In this passage, the man argues that nobody could oppose Godís decision about him. Therefore, the man says that God is behaving wrongly. In the manís opinion, God is causing people to suffer punishment for a decision that God himself has made.
The man has accused God of very evil behaviour, so Paul answers severely. Paul uses words from the Bible, but not from a single passage. Instead, in his answer he seems to refer to a few different passages in the Books of Isaiah and Jeremiah. He reminds the man that God made all people. Therefore, it is very wrong when people oppose God. When they do that, God is right to make his judgement against them.
These are the passages that Paul is referring to:
(1) Firstly, Paul refers to Isaiah 29:15-16. That passage is about people who only pretend to obey God. In their hearts (minds), they make plans against him. However, God, as their maker, knows their secret thoughts (Psalm 139:4). His judgement is rightly against them.
(2) Isaiah 45:9 describes how God would use a foreign king, Cyrus, to carry out his (Godís) plan (Isaiah 45:1-13). Cyrus would do this although he did not know the real God (Isaiah 45:4-5). In fact, God carries out his plans even through the lives of people who oppose him (8:28; 9:17-18).
(3) In Jeremiah 18:1-10, God told Jeremiah to watch a man who was making pots. The man shaped and reshaped his pots in the same way that God works in peopleís lives. God explained the lesson to Jeremiah. When God decides to punish people he often gives those people an opportunity to turn back to him first. If they do that, he will forgive them. However, if they suffer that punishment, they should not blame God. He acted rightly but they were evil.
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© 2017, Keith Simons.