The Mind of the Lord —The Potter and the Clay


“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways… for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

In parallel to the quote from the Hebrew Bible above, the New Testament also refers to the analogy in Isaiah of the potter and the clay.

1 Corinthians 1:19:

Paul asserts that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25). He quotes from Isaiah where God says, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and set aside the cleverness of the clever” (1 Corinthians 1:19). He did this through the preaching of the gospel which is “the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Romans 9:19-21

Paul quotes from the same passage in Isaiah when he discusses the basis on which God shows mercy and compassion. Paul uses the analogy in Isaiah of the potter and the clay (Isaiah 29:16, Romans 9:20-21). The potter can do what he wishes with the clay, and the clay must yield to the will of the potter. Imagine a pot saying to the potter who made it, “You did not make me!” or even, “Why did you make me like this?” The wisdom of God compared to the wisdom of man is like the wisdom of a potter compared to the wisdom of a lump of clay.

Romans 11:34

Paul exclaims, “O the depth of the riches and the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and unfathomable his ways!”(Romans 11:33). He then quotes Isaiah’s rhetorical question, “For who has known (measured) the mind of the Lord or who has become his counselor?”(Romans 11:34)

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