I have a Calvinist friend who told me that before the creation, God already knows the objects of His wrath. (I'm not a Christian).

I question him

  1. "the objects of His wrath" is in a point of view in the beginning or in the end.
  2. whether God wants His objects of wrath to repent or not

He gave me Romans 9:20-21 and told me the verse is telling that "in the beginning God has decided to make some are the objects of His wrath and some are the objects if His mercy".

But when I read the verses, I found in verse 22 is telling

What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction?

So I said to my friend that even the writer of Romans still not sure about what he said in verse 20 and 21. This can be concluded when he say "What IF" in the verse 22.

Thanks for his pointing me out Romans 9:20-21 which made me also read the verse 22, it seems to me the answer of my question #2 is more likely (still not sure though) that God wants the objects of His wrath to repent, as the writer of Romans himself put a question on this case in his verse 22.

But then he starts to speak "bla-bla-bla" which to me is vague and not clear. He told me something like this : "Before the creation God knows that ALL (every) man is the objects of His wrath. Still in before the creation, THEN He choose some of them to repent ... so, after the creation He made His chosen one to repent."

To me, his explanation is more chronological in nature. Which raises the question: "Before the creation, before He knows that all man is the objects of His wrath, before He choose some of them to repent, didn't God know who are the one in Heaven and Hell at the end of the world already ?" From this question, it maybe can answer my question #1 : "the objects of His wrath is in the point of view in the end (judgement day)". (still not sure though if this is what Calvinist think or not).

I'm asking here hoping to get a clear answer from an English speaking Calvinist.

  • 2
    Your interpretation of Romans and conclusion that Paul wasn't sure what he was writing is completely unjustified. There is a rhetorical device being used there and the "what if" is not an indication that the author is speculating. You could perhaps ask about this on Biblical Hermeneutics if you want to know what's going on there.
    – Caleb
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 6:43
  • 3
    But I'm concerned with this question that you seem to be trying to disprove something more than you are trying to understand it. Some parts of your friend's explanation may be unclear, but the issue with some seems more like you just disagree with him. This is a common problem when people try to understand bits of Reformed theology by examining just one piece transplanted into their own theological framework rather than in context of the other pieces of Reformed theology. Keep this in mind when reviewing answers: being "clear" and being "acceptable to your way of thinking" might not mesh.
    – Caleb
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 6:44
  • @Caleb, thanks for your respond. I just follow what my friend told me that before the creation, God is already have His objects of wrath. Suppose I am a newbie Calvinist, can't I ask that two questions in my first post ? If yes I can, then I think on the time I ask that two questions to him, it hasn't involved about I'm disagree or agree of what he said yet. Also it hasn't involved that I'm already trying to disprove (or not) of what he said yet.
    – karma
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 7:32
  • @Caleb, Oke... the author is not speculating on verse 22. So, God wants His objects of wrath to repent or not from this verse ?
    – karma
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 7:33
  • I'm not sure what you're asking. And particularly for your question at the end: "Before the creation, before He knows that all man is the objects of His wrath, before He choose some of them to repent, didn't God know who are the one in Heaven and Hell at the end of the world already?" This doesn't really make sense if God is omniscient and knows the future, then he knows all the future. It doesn't make sense to talk about "before God knows something".
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 10:52

1 Answer 1


Firstly, the use of "And what if" at the start of the sentence is a rhetorical device. It is not asking a question, thus making Paul unsure as to whether this is or is not the case. Rather, it follows on from his other rhetorical questions, e.g. "But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?"

John Calvin addresses this in his commentary on Romans (emphasis mine):

A second answer, by which he briefly shows, that though the counsel of God is in fact incomprehensible, yet his unblamable justice shines forth no less in the perdition of the reprobate than in the salvation of the elect. He does not indeed give a reason for divine election, so as to assign a cause why this man is chosen and that man rejected; for it was not meet that the things contained in the secret counsel of God should be subjected to the judgment of men; and, besides, this mystery is inexplicable. He therefore keeps us from curiously examining those things which exceed human comprehension. He yet shows, that as far as God’s predestination manifests itself, it appears perfectly just.

The particles, εἰ δὲ, used by Paul, I take to mean, And what if? so that the whole sentence is a question; and thus the sense will be more evident: and there is here an ellipsis, when we are to consider this as being understood, — “Who then can charge him with unrighteousness, or arraign him?” for here appears nothing but the most perfect course of justice.

Secondly, the objects of His wrath do not become the objects of His wrath AFTER their creation, because it says He prepares them. Taking into account also the context of Jacob and Esau being loved/hated before their birth, it is not a case of them being born, doing deeds, and then becoming objects of wrath. They are objects of wrath prepared for destruction from before their birth.

In Calvin's commentary on Romans, he also says the following:

But if we wish fully to understand Paul, almost every word must be examined. He then argues thus, — There are vessels prepared for destruction, that is, given up and appointed to destruction: they are also vessels of wrath, that is, made and formed for this end, that they may be examples of God’s vengeance and displeasure. If the Lord bears patiently for a time with these, not destroying them at the first moment, but deferring the judgment prepared for them, and this in order to set forth the decisions of his severity, that others may be terrified by so dreadful examples, and also to make known his power, to exhibit which he makes them in various ways to serve; and, further, that the amplitude of his mercy towards the elect may hence be more fully known and more brightly shine forth; — what is there worthy of being reprehended in this dispensation? But that he is silent as to the reason, why they are vessels appointed to destruction, is no matter of wonder. He indeed takes it as granted, according to what has been already said, that the reason is hid in the secret and inexplorable counsel of God; whose justice it behoves us rather to adore than to scrutinize.

From this we can understand that God does intend from the beginning to destroy those He has elected to be vessels of wrath, but He doesn't destroy them immediately. Rather, His wrath is deferred until the Day of Judgment.

Thirdly, your second question asks "Does God wants His objects of wrath to repent or not?" While this could be perhaps more thoroughly addressed, essentially He does not intend for His objects of wrath to ever repent. There is a general sense in which His will is for all men to repent, but His effective will is clear here; there are those chosen who will never repent, because God creates them such that they will never repent. We know that the gospel is for all men from various parts of the Bible, but we also know from various parts of the Bible that God has chosen those who will be saved and those who will not be saved.

  • thank you for your clear explanation from the Calvinist point of view. So, the answer of #1 is "from the start". For example baby Cain soon as he was born, this baby is the object of His wrath... while baby Abel soon as he was born, this baby is the object of His mercy. Consequently, the answer of#2 is "God never wants Cain (the object of His wrath) to repent". Am I correct here in interpreting your answers ? Thank you once again, Birdie.
    – karma
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 6:39
  • @karma There is a real sense that God always wants every sinner to repent. But Calvinists would say that that desire does not result in everyone being elect.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 8:50
  • @curiousdannii, I understand that the Calvinisit would say that God desires does not result in everyone being elect, because the election itself already done before God interact with any human in the Calvinist pov. One thing that I still don't understand, why did God still bother to "warn" Cain which actually God himself knows that since a baby - Cain is His object of wrath ?
    – karma
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 9:11
  • Isn't it just like an analogy that we know someone was born in completely stupid (absolute lack the ability to understand), yet we still bother to teach him ? Well I think the logical answer from Calvinist will be : we still bother to teach him is to prove that he was born completely stupid. Make sense :).
    – karma
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 9:19
  • All are born dead in sin and justly deserve God's condemnation. It is all the more deserved when the non-elect are exposed to, but reject, the free offer of grace presented in the gospel. That God determined to save some by the blood of his son shows his great mercy to the elect.
    – Robwest
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 6:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .