Romans 9:16


King James Version (KJV)

So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy.

American King James Version (AKJV)

So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy.

American Standard Version (ASV)

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy.

Basic English Translation (BBE)

So then, it is not by the desire or by the attempt of man, but by the mercy of God.

Webster's Revision

So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.

World English Bible

So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy.

English Revised Version (ERV)

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy.

Clarke's Romans 9:16 Bible Commentary

So then it is not of him that willeth, etc. - I conclude, therefore, from these several instances, that the making or continuing any body of men the peculiar people of God, is righteously determined; not by the judgment, hopes, or wishes of men, but by the will and wisdom of God alone. For Abraham judged that the blessing ought, and he willed, desired, that it might be given to Ishmael; and Isaac also willed, designed, it for his first-born, Esau: and Esau, wishing and hoping that it might be his, readily went, ran a hunting for venison, that he might have the blessing regularly conveyed to him: but they were all disappointed - Abraham and Isaac, who willed, and Esau who ran: for God had originally intended that the blessing of being a great nation and distinguished people should, of his mere good pleasure, be given to Isaac and Jacob, and be confirmed in their posterity; and to them it was given. And when by their apostasy they had forfeited this privilege, it was not Moses' willing, nor any prior obligation God was under, but his own sovereign mercy, which continued it to them.

Barnes's Romans 9:16 Bible Commentary

So then - It follows as a consequence from this statement of God to Moses. Or it is a doctrine established by that statement.

Not of him that willeth - This does not mean that he that becomes a Christian, and is saved, does not choose eternal life; or is not made willing; or that he is compelled to enter heaven against his own choice. It is true that people by nature have no desire of holiness, and do not choose eternal life. But the effect of the influences of God's Spirit on the heart is to make it "willing in the day of his power;" Psalm 110:3. The meaning here is evidently, that eternal life is not bestowed because man had any original willingness or disposition to be saved; it is not because he commences the work, and is himself disposed to it; but it is because God inclines him to it, and disposes him to seek for mercy, and then confers it in his own way. The word "willeth" here denotes wish or desire.

Nor of him that runneth - This denotes "strenuous, intense effort," as when a man is anxious to obtain an object, or hastens from danger. The meaning is not that the sinner does not make an effort to be saved; nor that all who become Christians do not "in fact" strive to enter into the kingdom, or earnestly desire salvation, for the Scriptures teach the contrary; Luke 16:16; Luke 13:24. There is no effort more intense and persevering, no struggle more arduous or agonizing, than when a sinner seeks eternal life. Nor does it mean that they who strive in a proper way, and with proper effort, shall not obtain eternal life; Matthew 7:7. But the sense is,

(1) That the sinner would not put forth any effort himself. If left to his own course, he would never seek to be saved.

(2) that he is pardoned, not "on account" of his effort; not because he makes an exertion; but because God chooses to pardon him.

There is no merit in his anxiety, and prayers, and agony, on account of which God would forgive him; but he is still dependent on the mere mercy of God to save or destroy him at his will. The sinner, however anxious he may be, and however much or long he may strive, does not bring God under an obligation to pardon him any more than the condemned criminal, trembling with the fear of execution, and the consciousness of crime, lays the judge or the jury under an obligation to acquit him. This fact, it is of great importance for an awakened sinner to know. Deeply anxious he should be, but there is no merit in his distress. Pray he should, but there is no merit in his prayers. Weep and strive he may, but in this there is no ground of claim on God for pardon; and, after all, he is dependent on his mere sovereign mercy, as a lost, ruined, and helpless sinner, to be saved or lost at his will.

But of God that showeth mercy - Salvation in its beginning, its progress, and its close, is of him. He has a right, therefore, to bestow it when and where he pleases. All our mercies flow from his mere love and compassion, and not from our deserts. The essential idea here is, that God is the original fountain of all the blessings of salvation.

Wesley's Romans 9:16 Bible Commentary

9:16 It — The blessing.

Therefore is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth — It is not the effect either of the will or the works of man, but of the grace and power of God. The will of man is here opposed to the grace of God, and man's running, to the divine operation. And this general declaration respects not only Isaac and Jacob, and the Israelites in the time of Moses, but likewise all the spiritual children of Abraham, even to the end of the world.

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