16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
1901 ASV Translation:
16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy.
17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, For this very purpose did I raise thee up, that I might show in thee my power, and that my name might be published abroad in all the earth.
18 So then he hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will be hardeneth.
I. The Conclusion(s) to Sovereign "Mercy".
A. The Greek text is a verb-less declaration that begins with what LOGOS calls "an untranslatable interrogative particle that implies anxiety or impatience" and strings three declarations together. Robertson says this particle means "fittingly", or "accordingly" but references Baumlein as considering it "a particle giving point to what is immediately and necessarily conclusive" (AGrammaroftheGreekNewTestament, pps. 1189-1190).
B. The issue is that one which brought about the question of 9:14 in the first place: whose actions are ultimately determinative in the issue of the divine integrity? The answer is a no-brainer in that the divine integrity cannot be left to "rest upon" anything other than divine actions. This may well be why Baumlein said that Paul's choice of words gives "... point to what is ... necessarily conclusive" (emphasis mine). The "problem" is that this context is dealing with issues that are critical to the well-being of human beings and that well-being is denied by God's activities. "Esau I hated" is not a "well-received" declaration in the context of the human rebellion. It does not seem to "bother" men that the vast majority of them live out the "God I hated" life-theme, but they go ballistic if God returns the favor. Some may be perceptive enough to argue that God is not "returning the favor" because He started it all; if anything, men are "returning the favor". But, this one thing escapes their notice: nothing justifies a creature's rebellion against its Creator. Thus, even if "God started this", the creature's place in the "this" that is required by every law known to, and used willingly by, men is submission, not rebellion. It is totally illogical for men to demand to be treated according to a standard of "love" that puts them at the center of the universe while they are actively refusing to "love" the Real Center of the universe. Even if God were the devil, the Creator's prerogative would remain sacrosanct by virtue of its "necessity". If "creators" have no ultimate prerogative, nothing can exist because the "creator" could not "create" without first getting "permission" from the only other in such a scenario who would have the "ultimate prerogative" -- the creature -- and that "permission" cannot be given until after the "creature" exists. Thus, it behooves stupid men to yield to the reality of their stupidity and return the "right" of ultimate determination to the God Whose highest level of "stupidity" is so far greater than their highest level of understanding that there is simply no comparison. God, after all is said, is over all whether they like it or not.
C. This brings us to Paul's three-fold declaration.
1. "It" is "not of him that willeth".
a. Nothing in the divine plan is ultimately "of him that willeth". The term used here has to do with "desire". Technically, since Paul said, even of God, that "desire" is often frustrated by other considerations, "it" is not even of "him that willeth" when the one "willing" is God Himself (1 Timothy 2:4).
b. When it is not God that is under consideration, "him that willeth" is invariably a "person" of "less of everything godly" so that the greater considerations are often inexplicable. If a created "person" does not have "omniscience" and is, thus, "less than God" in that realm, who can explain the mind of the omniscient to him?
c. When ignorance bumps up against omniscience, humility requires that ignorance yield rather than demand that omniscience yield. But even omniscience is not the bottom line; wisdom trumps data.
2. "It" is "not of him that runneth".
a. The Online Bible says that this word sometimes indicates "maximum exertion". This is certainly not true in some of the biblical texts, but in this text it may be in the consideration of the apostle since the results are so "consequential" (i.e., significant in terms of loss).
b. Since the core issue is the expenditure of effort, the realm of the word touches the concept of omnipotence. And here, as with "desire", not even God's "running" is the root of "it". The divine plan is not a matter of "power"; it is a matter of "love" and "wisdom" and their dominion over "power" so that it flows as they decide.
3. "It" is "of the mercy-extending God".
a. "Mercy", as we have argued in other places, is an "optional" exercise when it comes to God or men making decisions about how He/they will address any given situation.
b. Being "optional", God is under no constraints to extend it unless the refusal impinges upon His integrity. If that is the case, "mercy" is no longer an "option". Thus, we can argue that if a man was so inclined as to seek mercy in humility, God would have to extend it as an outworking of His own integrity. But, Paul's point in Romans regarding the nature of man is that God will never face that "possibility" because it is an impossibility, given the distortion of man by Sin. Thus, if God's plan to redeem human beings is going to have any "integrity", He must not be the "responder" in the extension of "mercy", but the "initiator" with sufficient "purpose" to actually bring the plan to fruition.
1) In the non-self-perpetuating realm of angels, each individual angel has a personal responsibility and capability.
2) In the derived-existence realm of man, only the original had a personal responsibility and capability setting; all others have a derived incapacity and a diminished responsibility. In Adam all sinned. None escaped the impact. All enter their derived existence already diminished.