Does God Accomplish All He Desires?


#1

One can argue that if God desires (based on the Greek word thelo) all be saved and God accomplishes all He desires (again based on the Greek word thelo), then all will be saved. As part of the support for this argument, establishing that God accomplishes all He desires or wills (when expressed through the Greek word thelo) is critical.

After reviewing all verses I could find that include thelo, when used to describe God, in the New Testament and the Septuagint (Greek) version of the Old Testament, I found these examples that seem to support the view that what God desires, wills, etc., expressed through the word thelo, He accomplishes.

2 Chronicles 9:8 “Blessed be the LORD your God who delighted in you, setting you on His throne as king for the LORD your God; because your God loved Israel establishing them forever, therefore He made you king over them, to do justice and righteousness.”

Job 23:13 “But He is unique and who can turn Him? And what His soul desires, that He does.”

Psalm 18:19 “He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.”

Psalm 115:3 “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”

Psalm 135:6 “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.”

Proverbs 21:1 “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

Isaiah 55:11 “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

Matthew 26:39 “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’”

Mark 14:36 “And He was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.’”

John 5:21 ”For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.”

Acts 18:21 “but taking leave of them and saying, ‘I will return to you again if God wills,’ he set sail from Ephesus.”

Romans 9:18 “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”

1 Corinthians 4:19 “But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power.”

1 Corinthians 12:18 “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.”

1 Corinthians 15:38 “But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.”

Colossians 1:27 “to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

But there is at least one potential counterexample: Romans 9:22. (There is a second possible counterexample that I’m still looking at.)

“What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?” (NSB)

That surely does look like a counterexample. Given that God wills to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, this verse seems to say God does not demonstrate His wrath and make His power known because He endures with much patience the objects of wrath.

But consider the verse as it appears in the NKJV.

“What if God, willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath prepared for destruction?" (NKJV)

Again, given that God wills to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, this verse seems to say God does demonstrate His wrath and make His power known because He endures with much patience the objects of wrath. If that’s what the verse says, there is no failure to accomplish what He wills. But when although precedes the “willing to demonstrate his wrath” phrase, the meaning changes dramatically, making this verse appear to be a counterexample.

Many more Bible versions omit the word although than include it.

Does anybody care to explain why there are two distinctly different versions of this verse in the Bible, yielding different and even opposing interpretations?


#2

What are your explanations so far?


#3

I checked my CLNT. Rom 9:22 doesn’t include the word “although” or anything like it. I’m not a big fan of reading the CLNT, but it is helpful in that it doesn’t leave out any words.


#4

I cannot explain it. It seems really unusual to have these alternate forms of the verse represented in different Bible versions, given that the alternatives seem to lead to opposing meanings with respect to God’s accomplishing what He desires or wills.


#5

The Greek doesn’t contain “although.” But it doesn’t contain “what if” either. Young’s literal translation follows the Greek pretty well:

And if God, willing to shew the wrath and to make known His power, did endure, in much long suffering, vessels of wrath fitted for destruction…

However, in today’s English we would spell the word as “show” rather than “shew.”
Also “patience” is the modern word for “long suffering.”


#6

:question: I’m not sure that it does make any difference. God simply holds back His wrath for the sake of blessing “the vessels of mercy— of which Gentiles at that time were being included.


#7

davo,

I think it does make a difference.

“What if God, willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath prepared for destruction?" (NKJV)

This verse seems to say the writer/translator believes God does demonstrate His wrath because He endures with much patience the objects of wrath. That is, the objects of wrath are allowed by God in His endurance and patience to live on in the hardness that they themselves created. His willingness to demonstrate His wrath is accomplished in that way.

On the other hand, the other version of the verse, with the word although, i.e.,

“What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?”

seems to say that the writer/translator believes God does not demonstrate His wrath, though willing to do so, by enduring objects of wrath.

Let me draw an analogy with more familiar terms.

“I, wanting my teenage son to learn restraint, allowed him to go to the overnight party.”

“I, although wanting my teenage son to learn restraint, allowed him to go to the overnight party.”

Don’t you think these two versions say different things?

Doesn’t the first imply that I believed my wants were accomplished by allowing him to go to the party, that I believed, for example, the party experience would teach him valuable lessons on restraint?

And doesn’t the second imply that I believed my wants were not accomplished by allowing him to go to the party, that I believed, for example, going to the party would cause him to miss a valuable lesson in restraint that he could learn only by missing a party experience he wanted to have?


#8

Paidion,

That’s very helpful. Thanks.

So, if the original Greek does not contain although and an English translation of the verse includes it, does it follow that the translator believed the meaning would be clearer if the word although were inserted? If that’s the case, then the translator is risking ambiguity or, worse, forcing a meaning that may not have been intended originally, because, as I hope I have shown, inclusion of the word although in a sentence can lead to a different, even opposing, interpretation than can non-inclusion of it.


#9

Hmm well for mine, I’d just go with the translation above anyway.

This might need clarifying. Their hardness was God’s doing not theirs, as per the context…

Rom 9:18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.


#10

davo,

Well, simply deleting the offending clause “that they themselves created” is fine with me. The explanation minus that clause still makes the point I’m trying to make.

But consider the issue of God vs. Pharaoh in hardening Pharaoh’s heart. There is ample evidence in the Bible that Pharaoh himself hardened his own heart (see verses below from Exodus). Perhaps the role of God in hardening Pharaoh’s heart is simply allowing him to do just that. And maybe that explanation extends to other mentions of hardened hearts in the Bible. But, whatever, that is not the main issue I’m addressing here.

“But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.” Ex. 8:15

“But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.” Ex. 8:32

“But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned again and hardened his heart, he and his servants.” Ex. 9:34


#11

It wasn’t an “offending clause”… it was simply incorrect. As for deflecting to Pharaoh… that has NOTHING the to do with Rom 9:18 BUT everything to do with Israel AND is in the CONTEXT of the very passage under discussion — one that you yourself cite!


#12

Correction: It can be both an offending clause and incorrect. So, please stop being so uncharitable here.

But the clause may not even be incorrect. This whole issue of who is responsible for hardening of hearts as mentioned often in the Bible certainly could be illuminated by looking at what the Bible says about the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. So, it’s not a deflection; it’s not irrelevant.

But again, the issue of hardened hearts is not the issue I wish to address here. That issue is the correct interpretation of the verse in question, namely, Romans 9:22.


#13

Why am not surprised… :roll_eyes:


#14

For a previous discussion on this topic:


#15

Now that the first one has been addressed, would you like to reveal the second possibility?


#16

The second possible counterexample is 1 Peter 3:17: “For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”

To the extent that one could do what is wrong, despite God’s willing that you suffer for doing what is right, then it is a counterexample. But I’m not sure that the verse is saying exactly that.