The Objection Raised in Romans 9:14
First, Paul asks in verse 14, "What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part?" And he answers, "By no means!"
Where did the objection in Romans 9:14 come from? Paul knew the kind of objections that were typically raised against his teachings. He had preached and taught publicly for years in synagogues and churches and market places. He knew what he had to deal with. So he raises the questions that people typically raise and dealt with them.
What had he said to raise this objection that God is unjust or unrighteous? The main thing he had said was that God chose Isaac not Ishmael, and Jacob not Esau before they had born or had done anything good or evil. That was the point of verses 7-13.
Recall verses 11-13, "Though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad - in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not [conditionally] because of works but [unconditionally] because of him who calls - 12 [Rebecca] was told, â€˜The older will serve the younger.â€™ 13 As it is written, â€˜Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.â€™" The point is that Godâ€™s favor in election is not based on what we do or what we think or what we feel or what we choose, but on God alone - the one who calls.
And we need to stress - because it is so often denied - that the issue Paul is dealing with in this chapter is election for our personal, eternal destinies - individual Jews and Gentiles, not just the Jewish people as a whole and the Gentile peoples, and eternal destinies, not just historical roles. The problem he is wrestling with is stated in verse 3: many of his Jewish kinsmen are accursed and cut off from Christ. That is what creates the crisis - not the historical role of a nation, but the eternal destiny of individual Jewish people who rejected the gospel as he preached from synagogue to synagogue.
So the answer to our first question is that the objection in verse 14 rose from Paulâ€™s teaching of unconditional election - that God chooses whom he will graciously save before we are born or have done anything good or evil. Our election to eternal life is not based on what we choose or what we do. It is based on God alone. Which person chooses to trust Christ and be saved, and which one chooses to reject Christ and be lost, is finally Godâ€™s choice.
And so some of Paulâ€™s listeners objected and said, "God is unjust - he is unrighteous - to base his election on nothing in us. It is unrighteous in God to choose who will believe and be saved or who will rebel and be lost. So goes the objection that Paul raises in verse 14. "Is there injustice on God's part? Is there unrighteousness with God?" Paul answers, "By no means." There is no unrighteousness with God when he unconditionally elects whom he will.
(excerpt from John Piper's sermon on this passage found here)