Does the potter control his clay? (Rom 9:21)

“Has the potter

No right

Over his clay

To make out

Of the same lump

One object

For special use

And another

For ordinary menial use?”

ἢ οὐκ ἔχει ἐξουσίαν ὁ κεραμεὺς τοῦ πηλοῦ ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ φυράματος ποιῆσαι ὃ μὲν εἰς τιμὴν σκεῦος, ὃ δὲ εἰς ἀτιμίαν;

Paul asked again.  “Has the potter (ὁ κεραμεὺς) no right or authority (ἢ οὐκ ἔχει ἐξουσίαν) over his clay (τοῦ πηλοῦ) to make (ποιῆσαι) out of this same lump of clay (ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ φυράματος) one vessel for a special or honorable use (ὃ μὲν εἰς τιμὴν σκεῦος) and another for ordinary menial or dishonorable use (ὃ δὲ εἰς ἀτιμίαν)?”  Only the Pauline letters used these words, φυράματος, that means mixed, a mass, or a lump, and the word, ἀτιμίαν, that means dishonor, disgrace, or a dishonorable use.  Paul continued with his ironic questions.  Doesn’t the potter have the right to do whatever he wants with his clay?  He can make some beautiful honorable vase or just some menial everyday dishonorable cup.  It is his clay and he can make it as beautiful or not as he pleases.  No one can tell him what kind of container he should make from his clay.  It’s his choice, not ours.  God, the potter, has the right to do whatever he wants.  He is not constrained by us human vessels.  Do you ever complain about your human clay body?

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