Rom 9:23 "What if He did this to make the riches of His glory known to the vessels of His mercy, whom He prepared beforehand for glory"

I'm trying to better understand various interpretations of this verse. Those adhering to Reformed theology will likely say "God prepared some people ahead of time for salvation, and for glory (or for displaying His glory)." But how would non-Reformed theologians interpret this?

I've seen a couple of ideas:

  1. God is preparing Christians ahead of time for their entrance into heaven (God is preparing us for a place)
  2. This is speaking about Christians who have already died, saying God prepared them (vessels of mercy) ahead of time for heaven/glory, and He is preparing even us also ahead of time for heaven/glory (verse 24: "even us, whom He also called, not only from the Jews, but also from the Gentiles?")
  3. God, when creating people, prepared fragility in us beforehand, so that His glory would shine in those that freely choose to accept Christ (2 Cor 4:7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves (NLT).)
  • It would probably be best to specific exactly which non-Reformed viewpoint you're interested in. Arminianism is the obvious option, as it's the usual comparison to Reformed, but Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox would be options too.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 8, 2021 at 13:52
  • Thanks for the suggestion. This is now tagged with "Arminianism", though I am seeking any non-Reformed viewpoint.
    – andrew g
    Oct 9, 2021 at 12:35
  • I suggest the answer is rooted in Romans 8:29. Nov 12, 2021 at 2:09

1 Answer 1


A few more interpretations:

  • A Molinist might say that God prepares all people by placing them in circumstances in which He knew their free choices would lead them to be saved, ie glory, and that this is a general statement rather than a reference to specific people in the past

  • Some would say that this verse refers to the transition from the old covenant to the new one; the vessels of destruction in v. 22 would then be the Israelites who rebelled against him constantly in the desert, ie those He endured with much patience, who He then took the promise from and gave to those He had prepared through the Prophets and the teachings of Christ himself. This general idea of the covenant transferring (excuse my imprecise terminology) from the Jews to all nations is common among non-Reformed takes on Romans 9

  • It could be referring to all those who will be saved prepared simply by virtue of the fact that God's plan includes their being saved and has done from eternity past

As a non-Reformed, these are possible ways I might interpret it, I lean towards the first and second one

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