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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Romans 11

 

 

Introduction

11. GOD has still not rejected Israel. [1] A remnant is saved now as in the time of Elijah, [8] the hardening of the rest has for its object the salvation of the Gentiles and ultimately of Israel itself. [15] The privilege of the Gentiles is the same as the privilege of Israel; [17] in their case also it may be forfeited, [25] and even for Israel it points beyond the time of hardening to their ultimate salvation. [29] For the gifts of GOD are irreversible; His purpose is comprehensive mercy; His wisdom, knowledge and judgments are deeper than man can fathom, because they underlie the very origin, process and end of all creation.


Verse 1

1. λέγω οὖν κ.τ.λ. picks up the thought of Romans 9:6. The reference to Psalms 114:1-4, 1 Samuel 12:22, enforces a negative answer.

μὴ ἀπώσατο κ.τ.λ. The form of the question involves a negative answer.

καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ κ.τ.λ. explains the vehemence of μὴ γένοιτο; in such a rejection he himself would be involved and his whole position, that the Gospel is the climax and fulfilment of the earlier dispensation in its true spirituality, undermined.

Ἰσραηλείτης κ.τ.λ. Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:22; Philippians 3:5.


Verses 1-12

1–12. The failure of Israel does not even now constitute a rejection by GOD. As in former times of apostasy there is a faithful remnant in whom the faithfulness and graciousness of GOD is still seen. And in this remnant lies the hope of restoration.


Verses 1-36

E. Romans 9:1 to Romans 11:36. THE REJECTION OF THE GOSPEL BY ISRAEL

The theme of Romans 1:16-17 has been worked out; it has been shown that the Gospel is a power of GOD unto salvation for them that believe, a power needed by Gentile and Jew alike, guaranteed on condition of faith and in response to faith by the love of GOD, and adequate to man’s needs as shown in history and in individual experience; and a brief description has been given of the actual state of the Christian in Christ and of the certainty and splendour of his hope, resting upon the love of GOD. Naturally at this point the question of the Jews arises: they were the typical instance of a people brought into close and peculiar relation to GOD, and they therefore afford a crucial case of GOD’S dealings with such. How then did it come to pass that they rejected the Gospel? What is their present state? their future destiny? and how does this affect Christians? The answer is found in the conditions under which GOD selects men for the execution of His purposes. It is important to bear in mind that the selection throughout is regarded as having reference not to the final salvation of persons but to the execution of the purpose of GOD. Underlying the whole section is the special object of S. Paul to justify himself in preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles.


Verse 2

2. προέγνω. Cf. Romans 8:29 n.

ἤ οὐκ οἴδατε κ.τ.λ. The point is that in a notorious case of a great apostasy there was no rejection by GOD, but a preservation of a remnant. So it is now.

ἐν Ἠλείᾳ “in the section which deals with Elijah,” S. H. q.v.

ἐντυγχάνεικατὰ. Cf. Acts 25:24 περί, 1 Mace. Romans 11:25 κατὰ; lit. approaches, and petitions, GOD against.…


Verse 3

3, 4., 1 Kings 19:10; 1 Kings 19:18.


Verse 4

4. ὁ χρηματισμός subst.: here only in N. T.; cf. v[208], Matthew 2:12; Acts 10:22; Hebrews 12:25; LXX[209], 2 Maccabees 2:4, app. in the sense of an oracle = χρησμός: but here, in direct reference to ἐντυγχάνειν, = reply; cf. Deissmann B. S. p. 118, “ἕντευξις is a technical term for a petition to a king, χρηματίζειν the t.t. for the reply”; cf. Milligan, Grk Pap. 5, 5, 21; Polyb. 28. 14, 10 = answers to ἐντεύξεις of ambassadors (Schw. Lex.).

τῇ Βάαλ, on the fem. (LXX[210] τῷ) cf. S. H.: “the feminine article with the masc. name was due to the desire to avoid the utterance of the forbidden name Baal (Hosea 2:16-17) and the substitution in reading of αἰσχύνη, just as the name Jehovah was written with the pointing of Adonai; usage most common in Jeremiah, occurs also in 1 and 2 Kings, Chronicles, and other Prophets; not in Pentateuch” (summarised).


Verse 5

5. λίμμα only here in N. T.; cf. Romans 9:27 (ὑπολ. or καταλ. seems to be the usual word in LXX[211]).

κατ' ἐκλογὴν χάριτος on a principle of selection made by GOD’s free grace, cf. Romans 9:11. The genitive marks the ground of selection and forestalls at once any sense of superiority or merit. It is GOD’s free generosity, not their own deserts, which preserves the remnant; cf. Ephesians 2:9. The statement seems to rest on the words κατέλιπον ἐμαυτῷ.


Verse 6

6. εἰ δὲ χάριτι, SC. γέγονεν ἡ ἐκλογή.

οὐκέτι ἐξ ἔργων. The ‘remnant’ are not saved in consequence of their works.

ἐπεὶ, otherwise, cf. 22; 1 Corinthians 15:9; v. Field ad h.l. ἡ χάρις the grace we are speaking of; οὐ. γ. χ., loses its character of grace, cf. Romans 4:4.


Verse 7

7. τί οὖν; sums up the argument: Israel missed its aim; but not all Israel; the select remnant gained it; the rest were blinded; cf. Romans 9:31.

ἐπωρώθησαν were ‘dulled’ or ‘blinded’; they failed to perceive the true way of attaining their aim; exactly |[212], Romans 10:3 ἀγνοοῦντες, not |[213] σκληρύνει, Romans 9:18. Robinson, Eph. 264 f., points out that πώρωσις, πωροῦν are used in N. T. not of the hardness of the will or obstinacy (σκληροκαρδία) but of the dullness of the understanding, dullness of sight or feeling being applied to the heart as the seat of intelligence; cf. Mark 8:17; John 12:40; 2 Corinthians 3:14; Ephesians 4:18; where the context is decisive, as here, Romans 11:8; Romans 11:10. The whole discussion should be read.


Verse 8

8. καθάπερ γέγρ. Isaiah 29:10, Deuteronomy 29:4, a free conflation.

πνεῦμα κατανύξεως, καταν. Isa. l.c[214], Psalms 9:3 only. ‘Torpor’ seems to be the meaning of the noun, but is not easily paralleled by the uses of the verb (Isaiah 6:5, Daniel 10:15 are nearest): perhaps produced by the influence of κατανυστάζω, cf. S. H. n., Field. In any case the idea is of the dulling of the spiritual sense as in ἐπωρώθησαν.

ὀφθ. κ.τ.λ. Cf. Mark 4:12 qu. Isaiah 6:9 f.


Verse 9

9., Psalms 69:22 f., Psalms 35:8 (θήρα). A terrible quotation: it implies that the Jews are to be reckoned among those enemies of GOD and persecutors of His suffering people on whom the Psalmist imprecates these curses, the sustenance of their lives is to become a snare and trap and retribution for them, their eyes are to be darkened and their strength broken. The justification of this use of the passage is that to the Psalmist also the persecutors were his own people. The punishment is inevitably found in the very privileges and faculties which they had misused. So the situation described is typical of the present situation = now, as then, the wrath of GOD works side by side with His grace.

θήρα = a net; cf. Psalms 35:8 only. ἀνταπόδομα, cf. Luke 14:12 (only in N.T.).


Verse 11

11. λέγω οὖν. The moral of the situation is drawn; it does not end in the ruin of the Jews; it has for its first result the offer of salvation to Gentiles, and that gives a hope of a still wider purpose; cf. Romans 11:25 f. Their ruin may be disciplinary.

ἔπταισαν κ.τ.λ. The context sharpens the meanings of the words: ἔπταισαν and πέσωσι thus contrasted = stumbled to their final ruin, though the two words are much more nearly synonymous in common use; ἔπταισαν is also defined by the use of παράπτωμα, a slip aside, a trespass, as it is suggested by σκάνδαλον [9] (S. H.). ἴνα ranges in its use from definite purpose to simple result (cf. Moulton, p. 206), so paraphrase: Is the ruin of Israel the only and final result of their fall? Not at all; the immediate result is the offer of salvation to the Gentiles; this should rouse Israel to competition, and we can see that if Israel’s defeat has enriched the world, their restoration and completion may still enormously increase that gain. That is the end we may anticipate; cf. 15.

παράπτωμα, a slip from the straight. Pauline except Mark 11:25 f. (|[215], Matthew 6:14 f.). The dative = the occasion.

ἡ σωτηρία τ. . = the salvation which we preach has come to the Gentiles.

παραζηλῶσαι echoes Romans 10:19.


Verse 12

12. ἥττημα = defeat: they have been defeated in their efforts after righteousness (so 1 Corinthians 6:7 of defeat in a case at law); cf. Field ad loc[216] He points out that there is a lack of correspondence between ἥττημα and πλήρωμα as there is between παράπτωμα and πλοῦτος. There is no justification for translating ἥττημα by ‘loss.’

πόσῳ μᾶλλον. Sc. πλοῦτος ἔσται.

πλήρωμα. cf. Robinson, Eph. p. 255 f.: he shows that substantives in -μα represent the result of the action of the verb, and may be either active or passive. Here = the completing of Israel, i.e. the adding the rest to the remnant; cf. Romans 11:15; Romans 11:26.


Verse 13

13. ὑμῖν δὲτοῖς ἔθνεσιν. A dramatic turn: not, of course, implying that those to whom he was writing were all Gentiles; cf. Romans 2:1; Romans 2:17.

ἐφ' ὅσον μὲν οὖν κ.τ.λ. The particles must be separated. οὖν = well then, introducing what he has to say to Gentiles. μὲν finds its antithesis in δὲ, Romans 11:17. His stress upon the mission to the Gentiles does not prevent him seeing their real position. There is still the note of apologia: from Romans 9:1 he has been defending his position as apostle of the Gentiles; and here he completes the defence. Hence the emphatic ἐγώ.

ἐφ' ὅσον, so far as I am …; the description does not exhaust the meaning of his office; it has a bearing upon Jews as well.

ἐθνῶν ἀπόστολος. This seems to be the only instance in N.T. of the gen. after ἀπ. describing the persons to whom the apostle is sent.

τὴν διακονίαν. Of the apostolic office; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 5:18; 1 Timothy 1:12.

δοξάζω. Cf. John 8:54; Hebrews 5:5; Revelation 18:7 = magnify. The Apostle may magnify his office, for the purpose which he states; but this must not lead his converts to exult over the excluded (κατακαυχῶ, Romans 11:17).


Verses 13-33

13–33. The relative positions of Jews and Gentiles, which have just been described in brief, are now elaborated, to show that they both Stand or fall on the same principle, of GOD’s grace and man’s faith; bare privilege cannot save either. The argument of 1–3 is thus completed. There it was shown that both failed in the same way; here that both must be saved in the same way. [13] Now my word to the Gentiles: though I make much of my office as preacher to the Gentiles, in the hope of stimulating Israel to take up their place in the Gospel—an end of supreme value and [16] natural—[17] yet Gentiles must remember that they owe their present state to their being included in the true life of Israel, [19] and may, as did Israel, by lack of faith in the goodness of GOD, come under His severity. [23] Israel, too, by recovery of faith may be reinstated. [25] The truth is that the love of GOD persists over all: Israel’s partial blindness leads to the call of the Gentiles, that, when completed, to restoration of Israel; [30] all have been shown to need, that they may receive, GOD’s mercy. [33] So we get a glimpse of the unfathomable wisdom and knowledge of GOD, His impenetrable judgments and untracked ways, in His supreme government of all things and elements in the universal plan: His is the glory for ever.


Verse 14

14. παραζηλώσω. Another echo of Romans 10:19.


Verse 15

15. ἀποβολὴ, Acts 27:22 only. Romans 11:15-16 are parenthetic, justifying the statement of purpose in 14 and repeating the idea of 12.

καταλλαγὴ κόσμου. Cf. Romans 5:10-11; Ephesians 2:12-16, and 2 Corinthians 5:18-19. καταλλ. verb and subst. only in Romans , 1 and 2 Cor. (ἀποκ., Eph., Col.).

ἡ πρόσλημψις. The reception of them (see Hart, Ecclus. p. 302; cf. 1 Samuel 12:22).

ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρῶν = life after death: the sharpest contrast that human experience affords. In what reference? It must include not merely the recovered Israel but the reconciled world. It seems therefore to point to the final consummation at the second coming, cf. Romans 8:18 f., and esp. Acts 3:19 ff., where the repentance of Israel is the necessary preliminary of that coming; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:28. So S. H., who point out the same reference in Romans 1:26. It explains then the πόσῳ μᾶλλον of Romans 11:12.


Verse 16

16. εἰ δὲ ἡ ἀπαρχὴ, κ.τ.λ. The metaphor is from Numbers 15:20-21. ἁγία in both clauses is used in its technical sense of consecrated to GOD’s use, without immediate reference to the character of the thing or person consecrated: but the consecration shows the true destiny of the thing consecrated. The verse gives the ground for the hope of a πρόσλημψις of Israel. The consecration of the firstfruits, of the root, involves the consecration of the whole organism. It is not annulled by the lapse of some members. New members are brought in by the mercy of GOD but this does not exclude the possibility of the recall of those who fell away; such is the resourcefulness of the mercies of GOD. Thus ἀπαρχὴ and ῥίζα = the patriarchs (cf. S. H. and Giff.); the φύραμα and the κλαδοὶ = the generality of Israel; those that remain faithful are the true Israel, the remnant on which faithful Gentiles are grafted. So the true life of Israel persists in the Church in Christ. For this use of ἀπαρχή, cf. 1 Corinthians 16:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:13 (v.l.), James 1:18, Revelation 14:4. The thought is present in Romans 8:19.


Verse 17

17. εἰ δέ τινες κ.τ.λ. δέ introduces the antithesis to μὲν of 13; μὴ κατακαυχῶ τῶν κλάδων )[217] τὴν διακονίαν μου δοξάξω. The point of the simile is that the Gentiles owe their present inclusion in the stock of Israel, the chosen people, solely to that mercy of GOD which first made a chosen people: the condition of permanence for them is the same as it has been for Israel, namely, faith; they have no reason then to boast over the discarded members of that stock, but rather to fear for themselves, lest they too should fail in the condition, and further to hope for those members, that the same creative act of GOD, which has brought them, the Gentiles, into union with this source of life, may also restore those who have cut themselves off from it. The argument is closely |[218], 1 Corinthians 10:1-13.

The true Israel is the root or stock with the branches, individual members, whether new or old. The underlying thought is the unity of the life in and from Christ, constituting the unity of the new Church. We have the elements here of the thought of the ‘one man in Christ’ which is developed in Eph.; of. Hort, R. and E., p. 179; cf. John 15:1 ff.; Jeremiah 11:16.

τινες τῶν κλάδων. Not all Israel were apostate; the remnant remained as a stock with some branches.

σὺἐγένου. The singular emphasises the obligation of the individual.

ἀγριέλαιος. See Ramsay, Pauline Studies, p. 223 f. He refers to Prof. Fischer ‘Der Oelbaum’ to show that two processes of grafting were used in the cultivation of the olive: [1] the ordinary process of grafting a noble olive shoot on a stock of the same kind, all original branches of the stock being cut away, and the grafted shoot forming the tree. This was done when the stock was still young. [2] An exceptional process was employed to invigorate an old olive tree which was failing: the failing branches only were cut away, and a shoot of wild olive was grafted. The effect was both to invigorate the old tree and its remaining branches and to ennoble the new graft. According to Prof. Fischer this process is in practice in Palestine at the present day. If we may suppose it to have been in use in S. Paul’s time, it affords an admirable illustration for his subject. The fact seems to have been discovered first by Prof. Fischer and commentators from Origen downwards appear to have no knowledge of it.

ἐν αὐτοῖς. Among the branches which remained.

συνκοινωνὸς. Partner with the remaining branches in the root which supplies the richness of the olive. The root here too is the ‘remnant’ as in Christ; cf. 18.


Verse 18

18. μὴ κατακαυχῶ. ‘Do not triumph over’ (as you are in danger of doing (cf. Moulton, p. 125)).


Verse 19

19. οὖν. The Gentile is represented as justifying his triumph by the fact that his inclusion was the purpose of their rejection.


Verse 20

20. τῇ ἀπιστίᾳτῇ πίστει, dative marking the cause or occasion. Cf. Romans 11:30, Romans 4:20; 2 Corinthians 2:13; Blass, § 38. 2 [1898]. For ἀπ. π., cf. Mark 9:24.

μὴ ὑ. φ. Give up these high thoughts of yourself; school yourself to the humility of fear; cf. 1 Timothy 6:17.


Verse 22

22. ἴδε οὖν. This being so observe how in GOD there is both goodness and severity, meeting in each case the position taken by man.

ἴδε only here w. accus. N. the absence of articles.

ἐπιμένῃς. With dat., Romans 6:1; Philippians 1:24; Colossians 1:23; 1 Timothy 4:16 only. He says τῇ χρ. not τῇ πίστει to emphasise this absence of all merit and the need of dependence on GOD’s grace exclusively; the thought of πίστει is included in ἐπιμένῃς.

ἐπεὶ, otherwise; cf. Romans 11:6.


Verse 23

23. As the Gentiles came to share in the hope of Israel, so fallen Israel may share the hope of the redeemed Gentile. He now explicitly declares his hope for Israel, hinted in Romans 11:12.

δυνατὸς γάρ κ.τ.λ. The same power which grafted the Gentile branches can graft again the broken branches of Israel, and indeed [24] the exercise of power is less, as they naturally belong to the stock.


Verse 24

24. ἐκ τῆς κατὰ φ. ἀγρ. From the wild olive to which you naturally belonged. So παρὰ φύσιν contrary to your natural origin, οἱ κατὰ φύσιν those who naturally belong to it.


Verse 25

25. οὐ θέλω ὑ. ἀγνοεῖν. Cf. Romans 1:13; 1 Corinthians 10:1; 1 Corinthians 12:1 alibi, always with ἀδελφοί; a solemn emphasis of a fundamental truth.

τὸ μυστήριον τοῦτο. This secret of GOD’s providential government; cf. Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians 15:51. The word in S. Paul always has the sense of a secret of GOD’s purpose now revealed. In its fullest sense, it is the purpose of redemption in Christ, especially as including all mankind: so of the Incarnation (1 Timothy 3:16), of the crucifixion (1 Corinthians 2:1; 1 Corinthians 2:7), of the consummation (Ephesians 1:9), of the inclusion of the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:3-4; Colossians 1:26-27, infra Romans 16:25); here of the final reunion of Jew and Gentile in one Church (cf. Ephesians 2:11 f.). S. H.

ἐν ἑαυτοῖς φρόνιμοι. φρ. has special reference to plans devised for effecting their salvation: they must take GOD’s plan, not find one in their own imaginings; cf. Romans 12:16, 1 Corinthians 4:10. There is nothing quite parallel in the use of the verb; but cf. σοφός, 1 Corinthians 1:19 f., and σοφίας, Romans 11:33.

ὅτι πώρωσις κ.τ.λ. The briefest possible summary of the whole argument.

ἄχρι οὗ κ.τ.λ. Cf. Luke 21:24.

τὸ πλήρωμα. Cf. on Romans 11:12.

εἰσέλθῃ. Of entering into the kingdom; cf. Matthew 7:21; Matthew 7:13; Luke 13:24, S. H.; so also σωθήσεται.


Verses 25-32

25–32. The argument is summed up in a picture of the wide and patient purpose of GOD: the end is to bring both Jew and Gentile under His mercy: in the process both have sinned (cc. Romans 1:18-23) and experienced His wrath, owing to the same cause in them. But the waywardness of man has no counterpart in GOD: His gifts and calling are not withdrawn or changed, and will triumph in the end.


Verse 26

26. καὶ οὕτως, so and only so: πᾶς Ἰ = τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῶν, Romans 11:12. The idea is that Israel as a nation will have its part fully in the consummated kingdom of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 15) and in this final reconciliation S. Paul sees the fulfilment of the promises. What fate awaits those Israelites who fell away, he does not consider. Jewish eschatology seems to have provided for the inclusion of all Israel in the Messianic kingdom by means of a general resurrection. But this question of the ultimate salvation of individuals is as completely ignored at this point, as it has been throughout these chapters.

καθὼς γέγραπται κ.τ.λ., Isaiah 59:20. ἐκ Σιὼν is substituted for ἕνεκεν Σ. LXX[220] and ‘to S.’ Hebr.; the last clause is from Isaiah 28:9. The context in Isa. concerns the sins of Israel, and the verses quoted give the promise of redemption. This hope, which contemporary Judaism applied to a restoration of Israel by the establishment of the Messianic kingdom in Jerusalem, S. Paul sees fulfilled in the final return of the Christ and the establishment of His spiritual kingdom. For Sion thus spiritualised cf. Galatians 4:26; for the new covenant, 2 Corinthians 3:6 f. For the Jewish interpretation of these passages, cf. S. H. The context is quoted in c. 3.


Verse 28

28. κατὰ μὲν. The verse states in another form the fact laid down in 25 b. Hence the asyndeton. The Gospel preached by S. Paul, by its abolition of law and inclusion of Gentiles, involved, as a matter of fact, the throwing of the greater part of Israel into a state of hostility to GOD: that hostility was incurred for the sake of the Gentiles: but that does not involve a change in GOD’s original purpose in selecting Israel; His love still holds towards them for the sake of the fathers in whom that purpose found its first expression and a true response; cf. above Romans 11:1.

τὴν ἐκλογὴν. The choice made long before—of Abraham and Israel; cf. Romans 11:5, Romans 9:11.

τοὺς πατέρας, Romans 9:5; Acts 3:25; Acts 13:17; Acts 13:32; infra, Romans 15:8; 1 Corinthians 10:1; Hebrews 1:1; Hebrews 8:9 (qu.). There seems no strong reason for limiting the reference to the Patriarchs. The plural seems to include the whole ancestry of Israel, here regarded as the object of GOD’s love shown in His earlier dispensation. It is for the sake of them, on whom He had lavished so much, that their wayward descendants are still not allowed to travel beyond the range of His love.


Verse 29

29. ἀμεταμέλητα γὰρ κ.τ.λ. ἀμεταμ., 2 Corinthians 7:10 only.

τὰ χαρίσματα, only here of GOD’s gifts outside the Gospel dispensation; its use for the privileges of the Jew (Romans 9:4-6) is a remarkable instance of S. Paul’s sense of the unity of revelation: the use of the words marks the fact that the privileges of the Jew were the free gifts of GOD’s love, and, as such, could not be forfeited by rejection, though their operation might be suspended. The love which gave is still there. So

ἡ κλῆσις. The call to service, and ultimately to the kingdom, still holds, if Israel will hear.


Verse 30

30. ὥσπερ γὰρ. Another ground for the hope in 25 b found in a parallel between the actual experiences of Gentiles and Jews.

ὑμεῖς. Cf. Romans 11:13; the whole section is addressed to Gentiles.

ποτὲ ἠπειθήσατε. Cf. Ephesians 2:12; Ephesians 4:18 : the Gentile state was due to the refusal to obey the voice of GOD speaking to them; Romans 1:19 f.

νῦν δὲ, now that you have heard and received the Gospel.

ἠλεήθητε τῇ τ. ἀπ. You came under the mercy of GOD owing to their disobedience = 28 a. As a matter of fact the opposition of the Jews led to the preaching of the Gospel to Gentiles; cf. Acts 12:9 f., Acts 13:46 alibi


Verse 31

31. νῦν, again under the Gospel, ἠπείθησαν refused to obey GOD’s voice speaking in the Gospel, τῷ ὑ. . owing to the mercy shown to the Gentiles: the wide range of the Gospel was in S. Paul’s experience the principal cause of offence to the Jews. This construction gives a clear and fitting sense: others take τῷ ὑ. . with ἐλεηθῶσιν; but this involves a very awkward order and does not give a quite clear sense.

ἵνα καὶ αὐ. νῦν ἐλ. In order that they in their turn under the Gospel may experience the mercies of God, in contrast, that is, with their present subjection to His wrath, not with their former covenant relation, as that also was a state of mercy.


Verse 32

32. συνέκλεισεν γὰρ κ.τ.λ. Cf. Romans 3:9; Romans 3:19; Romans 3:23; Galatians 3:22.

τοὺς πάντας. Jew and Gentile alike, regarded as classes: in both classes there were numerous exceptions, but neither class as such was exempt from the doom of disobedience; both need the mercy which is GOD’s ultimate purpose. The point here, as throughout, is to set aside any claim for special consideration on the ground of privilege. Privilege is a sign of GOD’s love but not a guarantee of man’s response; and in the failure of that response men fall under the judgment of GOD.

ἵναἐλεήσῃ. “There is a Divine purpose in the sin of mankind, and in the disobedience of the Jew: the object of both alike is to give occasion for the exhibition of the Divine mercy,” S. H. Man’s disobedience is GOD’s opportunity.


Verse 33

33. , the only place where S. Paul uses the exclamation except with a vocative.

βάθος. Cf. Romans 8:39; 1 Corinthians 2:10; Ephesians 3:18 : there is the suggestion of depth impenetrable to human thought.

πλούτου. If coordinate with σοφίας and γνώσεως, represents χάρις or ἀγαπή, and this might be justified by Romans 2:4, Romans 10:12, Romans 11:12; cf. Philippians 4:19; it is a favourite word in Eph.; cf. esp. Romans 1:7, Romans 2:7, Romans 3:8. The argument of the preceding chapters has developed the thought both of the love and of the wisdom of GOD. Yet here the dominant thought seems to be rather of the ways in which GOD conceives and brings about, if we may so speak, His ends; and consequently it is better to take πλούτου as governing the other genitives.

καὶ σοφίας καὶ γυώσεως. Combined also Colossians 2:3. σοφία is attributed to GOD by S. Paul with special reference to the wisdom with which the divine dispensations are ordered for the execution of His purpose, especially in the culminating dispensation of the Gospel, the means taken for the redemption of man from sin. |[222] δι' αὐτοῦ, 36; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:19 f., Romans 2:7; Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 2:3. This is in accordance with the current use of the word, which applied specially to the philosophy of conduct, rather than to metaphysical speculation.

καὶ γνώσεως. Knowledge of what men and things really are, the necessary basis of σοφία as thus used. This is probably the only place where the subst. is used of GOD’s knowledge, cf. Acts 1:24; Acts 15:8, nor is the verb commonly so used; 1 Corinthians 3:20; 1 John 3:20 (1 Corinthians 8:3; Galatians 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:19, slightly different, cf. Romans 8:29 n.). The thought seems to be of that complete knowledge of the nature of man and the issues of action which the wisdom of His dispensation reveals; so |[223] εἰς αὐτόν, Romans 11:36.

θεοῦ. The absence of the article emphasises the character of GOD as GOD.

ἀνεξεραύνητα. Cf. 1 Peter 1:10 ἐξηραύνησαν; the simple verb not uncommon in N. T. (Jo. Pa. Pet. Rev.); an Ionic word preserved in Trag. and revived in the κοινή; cf. Milligan Pap. 139: on the form ἐραυν- for ἐρευν- cf. Thackeray Gr. I. p. 78. This adj. in Proverbs 25:3 Symm. = that cannot be completely probed by searching; cf. ἀνεκδιήγητος, 2 Corinthians 9:15; 2 Corinthians 9:5. Nägeli, p. 23.

τὰ κρίματα. Cf. Romans 2:2; John 9:39. His judgments have been the subject of these chapters.

ἀνεξιχνίαστοι. Ephesians 3:8, LXX[224] (Job); not found elsewhere (ἐξιχνεύω, Trag.), Nägeli, p. 62.

αἱ ὁδοὶ. Cf. Revelation 15:3 (qu.); Hebrews 3:10 (qu.); Acts 13:10; Acts 18:26; John 14:6. Here of the ways along which GOD moves in His government of creation.


Verses 33-36

33–36. In dealing with this awful problem the last and deepest thought is, how infinite is the wealth and wisdom and knowledge in GOD, how far we are from being able to explore all His judgments or to track out all His ways; He reveals, but to none is His mind open, from none is His counsel drawn, to none is He in debt: He is the source, the ruler, the end of all: man can offer him nothing but the glory which is His due: so let us offer.

These verses contain at once a profound confession of faith in the goodness and wisdom of GOD, in spite of all the problems which experience raises and does not solve, and a confession of humility and reserve as regards the reasoning which has been given. Something has been seen and said of the purpose and ways of GOD, but not all: enough to confirm faith and to awake worship and praise; but not to explain everything: glimpses of the end to encourage man in the time of probation; but not more than glimpses. The fundamental postulates of faith are the wisdom of GOD and His all-embracing and loving purpose; these are the only sure guide among all the problems of experience, and they are a sufficient guide.


Verse 34

34., Isaiah 40:13 f., qu. 1 Corinthians 2:16; cf. Wisdom of Solomon 9:13; Wisdom of Solomon 9:17.


Verse 35

35., Job 41:11 (Heb.).


Verse 36

36. ὅτι refers not to the preceding verse only but to the whole explanation Romans 11:33-35.

ἐξ αὐτοῦ κ.τ.λ. In close relation to the context, ascribing to GOD as GOD the whole origin, direction, and end of all these elements in the ordering of creation, and in particular of human life and destiny which have been under discussion. The thought gives strength and hope to faith. The nearest parallel in thought is 2 Corinthians 5:18, in language 1 Corinthians 11:12.

ἐξ αὐτοῦ. From Him as creator and giver. |[225] πλούτος, Romans 11:33.

δι' αὐτοῦ. Through Him as ruler and guide, cf. Romans 16:26; |[226] σοφία, Romans 11:33. The same rare use of διὰ as is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (= under the guidance of Jesus), Hebrews 3:16 (διὰ ΄ωυσέως); cf. Kuhring, Diss, de Praepos. (Bonn, 1906) who quotes from Papyri only. So Hebrews 2:10. In 1 Corinthians 8:6 the use is different; cf. John 1:3; διὰ being used of the Son as agent of creation = Hebrews 1:2. Blass (p. 132) qu. Aesch. Ag. 1486.

εἰς αὐτὸν. 1 Corinthians 8:6. He is the end to which all this leads, |[227] γνώσις, Romans 11:33; of. 2 Corinthians 5:18 θεὸς ἦν ἐν Χρ. κόσμον καταλλάσσων ἑαυτῷ.

αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα. Cf. Romans 16:27; Ephesians 3:21; Galatians 1:5; Philippians 4:20; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2 Timothy 4:18. In all cases evolved by the thought of GOD’s mercies, either general or special, ἡ δόξα, sc. ἐστίν; cf. 1 Peter 4:11 and Lft ad Galatians 1:5 : = to Him belongs the glory seen in all His works.

ἀμήν. The word at the end of prayers and praises marks the assent of others to the utterance. In these passages it emphasises the statement by the express assent given to it by the Apostle. cf. Dalman, p. 227, Swete on Revelation 1:5 (ref. to Chase on Lord’s Prayer p. 168 f.).

 


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Romans 11:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/romans-11.html. 1896.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 24th, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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