World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
28. Things that are not He makes use of similar terms in Romans 4:17, but in a different sense. For in that passage, when describing the universal call of the pious, he says, that we are nothing previously to our being called, which must be understood as referring to reality in the sight of God, however we may appear to be something in the eyes of men. Here, the nothingness (οὐδενεια) of which he speaks must be viewed as referring to the opinion of men, as is manifest from the corresponding clause, in which he says that this is done in order that the things that are may be brought to naught For there is nothing except in appearance, because in reality we are all nothing. Things that are, therefore, you must explain to mean things that appear, so that this passage corresponds with such statements as these: —
He raiseth up the poor out of the dunghill, (Psalm 113:7.)
He raiseth up them that are cast down, (Psalm 146:8,)
and the like. Hence we may clearly see how great is the folly of those who imagine that there is in mankind some degree of merit or worthiness, which would hold a place antecedent to God’s choice.