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Romans 11

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical CommentaryAlford's Greek Testament Commentary

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CHAP. 9 11 ] The Gospel being now established, in its fulness and freeness, as the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, a question naturally arises, not unaccompanied with painful difficulty, respecting the exclusion of that people, as a people, to whom God’s ancient promises were made. With this national rejection of Israel the Apostle now deals: first ( Rom 9:1-5 ) expressing his deep sympathy with his own people : then ( Rom 11:6-29 ) justifying Good, Who has not ( Rom 11:6-13 ) broken His promise, but from the first chose a portion only of Abraham’s seed, and that ( Rom 11:14-29 ) by His undoubted elective right, not to be murmured at nor disputed by us His creatures: according to which election a remnant shall now also be saved . Then, as to the rejection of so large a portion of Israel, their own self-righteousness ( Rom 11:30-33 ) has been the cause of it, and ( Rom 10:1-12 ) their ignorance of God’s righteousness, notwithstanding that ( Rom 11:13-21 ) their Scriptures plainly declared to them the nature of the Gospel, and its results with regard to themselves and the Gentiles, with which declarations Paul’s preaching was in perfect accordance. Has God then cast off his people ( Rom 11:1-10 )? No for a remnant shall be saved according to the election of grace, but the rest hardened, not however for the purpose of their destruction, but ( Rom 11:11-24 ) of mercy to the Gentiles: which purpose of mercy being fulfilled, Israel shall be brought in again to its proper place of blessing ( Rom 11:25-32 ). He concludes the whole with a humble admiration of the unsearchable depth of God’s ways, and the riches of His Wisdom ( Rom 11:33-36 ).

In no part of the Epistles of Paul is it more requisite than in this portion, to bear in mind his habit of INSULATING the one view of the subject under consideration, with which he is at the time dealing . The divine side of the history of Israel and the world is in the greater part of this portion thus insulated : the facts of the divine dealings and the divine decrees insisted on, and the mundane or human side of that history kept for the most part out of sight, and only so much shewn, as to make it manifest that the Jews, on their part, failed of attaining God’s righteousness, and so lost their share in the Gospel.

It must also be remembered, that, whatever inferences, with regard to God’s disposal of individuals , may justly lie from the Apostle’s arguments, the assertions here made by him are universally spoken with a national reference. Of the eternal salvation or rejection of any individual Jew there is here no question: and however logically true of any individual the same conclusion may be shewn to be, we know as matter of fact, that in such cases not the divine, but the human side , is that ever held up by the Apostle the universality of free grace for all the riches of God’s mercy to all who call on Him, and consequent exhortations to all, to look to Him and be saved.

De Wette has well shewn, against Reiche and others, that the apparent inconsistencies of the Apostle, at one time speaking of absolute decrees of God, and at another of culpability in man, at one time of the election of some, at another of a hope of the conversion of all, resolve themselves into the necessary conditions of thought under which we all are placed, being compelled to acknowledge the divine Sovereignty on the one hand, and human free will on the other, and alternately appearing to lose sight of one of these, as often as for the time we confine our view to the other.

Verse 1

1 .] I say then (a false inference from ch. Romans 10:19-21 , made in order to be refuted), Did ( μή , it cannot surely be, that) God cast off His people (as would almost appear from the severe words just adduced)? Be it not so: for I also am an Israelite ( ἐκ γένους Ἰσρ ., Php 3:5 ), of the seed of Abraham (mentioned probably for solemnity’s sake, as bringing to mind all the promises made to Abraham), of the tribe of Benjamin (so Php 3:5 ). There is some question with what intent the Apostle here brings forward himself . Three ways are open to us: either (1) it is as a case in point , as an example of an Israelite who has not been rejected but is still one of God’s people : so almost all the Commentators but this is hardly probable, for in this case ( α ) he would not surely bring one only example to prove his point, when thousands might have been alleged ( β ) it would be hardly consistent with the humble mind of Paul to put himself alone in such a place, and ( γ ) μὴ γένοιτο does not go simply to deny a hypothetical fact , but applies to some deprecated consequence of that which is hypothetically put: or (2) as De Wette, al., he implies, ‘ How can I say such a thing, who am myself an Israelite , &c.?’ ‘Does not my very nationality furnish a security against my entertaining such an idea?’ or (3) which I believe to be the right view, but which I have found only in the commentary of Mr. Ewbank, as implying that if such a hypothesis were to be conceded, it would exclude from God’s kingdom the writer himself, as an Israelite . This seems better to agree with μὴ γένοιτο , as deprecating the consequence of such an assertion.

But a question even more important arises, not unconnected with that just discussed: viz. who are ὁ λαὸς αὐτοῦ ? In order for the sentence καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ κ . τ . λ . to bear the meaning just assigned to it, it is obvious that ὁ λαὸς αὐτ . must mean the people of God nationally considered. If Paul deprecated such a proposition as the rejection of God’s people , because he himself would thus be as an Israelite cut off from God’s favour, the rejection assumed in the hypothesis must be a national rejection . It is against this that he puts in his strong protest. It is this which he disproves by a cogent historical parallel from Scripture, shewing that there is a remnant καὶ ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ according to the election of grace: and not only so, but that that part of Israel (considered as having continuity of national existence) which is for a time hardened, shall ultimately come in, and so all Israel (nationally considered again, Israel as a nation ) shall be saved. Thus the covenant of God with Israel, having been national , shall ultimately be fulfilled to them as a nation : not by the gathering in merely of individual Jews, or of all the Jews individually , into the Christian church, but by the national restoration of the Jews, not in unbelief, but as a Christian believing nation, to all that can, under the gospel, represent their ancient pre-eminence , and to the fulness of those promises which have never yet in their plain sense been accomplished to them . I have entered on this matter here, because a clear understanding of it underlies all intelligent appreciation of the argument of the chapter. Those who hold no national restoration of the Jews to pre-eminence , must necessarily confound the ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ remnant according to the election of grace, with the οἱ λοιποί , who nationally shall be grafted in again. See this more fully illustrated where that image occurs, Romans 11:17 ff.

Verses 1-10

1 10. ] Yet God has not cast off His people, but there is a remnant according to the election of grace ( Rom 11:1-6 ), the rest being hardened ( Rom 11:7-10 ).

Verses 1-36

Rom 1:18 to Romans 11:36 . ] THE DOCTRINAL EXPOSITION OF THE ABOVE TRUTH: THAT THE GOSPEL IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH. And herein, ch. Rom 1:18 to Romans 3:20 , inasmuch as this power of God consists in the revelation of God’s righteousness in man by faith, and in order to faith the first requisite is the recognition of man’s unworthiness, and incapability to work a righteousness for himself, the Apostle begins by proving that all, Gentiles and Jews, are GUILTY before God, as holding back the truth in unrighteousness. And FIRST, ch. Romans 1:18-32 , OF THE GENTILES.

Verse 2

2 .] God did not cast off his people which he foreknew ( προέγνω as in reff.: ‘ which, in His own eternal decree before the world, He selected as the chosen nation, to be His own, the depositary of His law, the vehicle of the theocracy, from its first revelation to Moses, to its completion in Christ’s future kingdom .’ It is plain that this must here be the sense, and that the words must not be limited, with Orig [97] , Aug [98] , Chrys., Calv., al., to the elect Christian people of God from among the Jews, with Paul as their representative: see on Romans 11:1 . On this explanation, the question of Rom 11:1 would be self-contradictory , and this negation a truism . It would be inconceivable, that God should cast off His elect ).

[97] Origen, b. 185, d. 254

[98] Augustine, Bp. of Hippo , 395 430

Or (see ch. Rom 9:21 al.: introduces a new objection to the matter impugned) know ye not what the Scripture saith in (the history of) Elias (better thus than ‘ with regard to ,’ as Luth., Erasm., Calv., Beza, al. Tholuck gives examples: from Pausan. viii. 37. 3, ἔστιν ἐν Ἥρας ὅρκῳ τὰ ἔπη , i.e. in that part of the Iliad ( ξ . 278) where Hera swears by the Titans: from Thucyd. i. 9, καὶ ἐν τοῦ σκήπτρου ἅμα τῇ παραδόσει εἴρηκεν αὐτὸν πολλῇσι νήσοισι κ . Ἄργεϊ παντὶ ἀνάσσειν , i.e. in that part of the Iliad ( β . 108) where the transmission of the sceptre is related)? how (depends on οὐκ οἴδατε ) he pleads with see reff. and note, ch. Rom 8:26 ) God against Israel , &c. The citation is a free one from the LXX. The clauses τοὺς προφ ., and τὰ θυσιαστ . are inverted, ἐν ῥομφαίᾳ is omitted, and κἀγὼ ὑπελείφθ . μόνος is put for καὶ ὑπολέλειμμαι ἐγὼ μονώτατος . The altars, as De W. observes, were those on the high places, dedicated to God.

Verse 4

4 .] But what saith the divine response to him ( χρηματισμός , see reff. and reff. to the verb, Act 10:22 )? I have left to myself (here the Apostle corrects a mistake of the LXX, who have for κατέλιπον καταλείψεις , in the Complut. ed. κατλείψω . He has added to the Heb. הִשְׁאַרְתִּי , ‘ I have left,’ ‘kept as a remainder ,’ ἐμαυτῷ , a simple and obvious filling up of the sense) seven thousand men, who (the sense of the saying, as far as regards the present purpose, viz. to shew that all these were faithful men ; in the original text and LXX, it is implied that these were all the faithful men, ἑπτὰ χιλιάδας ἀνδρῶν , πάντα γόνατα ἃ οὐκ ὤκλασαν γόνυ (om. γόνυ A) τῷ B. κ . πᾶν στόμα ὃ οὐ προσεκύνησεν ( προσκυνήσει A) αὐτῷ . But this was not necessary to be brought out here) never bowed knee to Baal . “Here the LXX, according to the present text, have τῷ , not τῇ Βάαλ : but elsewhere (see reff.) they write the fem.: and probably the Apostle read it so in his copy.” Fritz. According to this Commentator, they wrote the fem., taking Baal for a female deity; according to Beyer, Addit. ad Seld. de diis Syr., Wetst., Koppe, Olsh., Meyer, because Baal was an androgynous deity; according to Gesenius, in Rosenmüller, Rep. i. 39, to designate feebleness , compare the Rabbinical אֱלוֹהוֹת , ‘false gods,’ and other analogous expressions in Tholuck. “The regarding τῇ Βάαλ as put for τῇ τοῦ Βάαλ , scil. εἰκόνι or στήλῃ , as Erasm., Beza, Grot., Estius, al., and Bretschneider, is perfectly arbitrary.” De Wette. In Tob 1:5 [99] [100] , we have, πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ αἱ συναποστᾶσαι ἔθυον τῇ Βάαλ τῇ δαμάλει , where the golden calves of the ten tribes seem to be identified with Baal, and where a curious addition in [101] (in this part published by Tischdf. as Codex Friderico-Augustanus) refers expressly to their establishment by Jeroboam.

[99] The MS. referred to by this symbol is that commonly called the Alexandrine, or CODEX ALEXANDRINUS. It once belonged to Cyrillus Lucaris, patriarch of Alexandria and then of Constantinople, who in the year 1628 presented it to our King Charles I. It is now in the British Museum. It is on parchment in four volumes, of which three contain the Old, and one the New Testament, with the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. This fourth volume is exhibited open in a glass case. It will be seen by the letters in the inner margin of this edition, that the first 24 chapters of Matthew are wanting in it, its first leaf commencing ὁ νυμφίος , ch. Matthew 25:6 : as also the leaves containing ἵνα , John 6:50 , to καὶ σύ , John 8:52 . It is generally agreed that it was written at Alexandria; it does not, however, in the Gospels , represent that commonly known as the Alexandrine text, but approaches much more nearly to the Constantinopolitan, or generally received text. The New Testament, according to its text, was edited, in uncial types cast to imitate those of the MS., by Woide, London, 1786, the Old Testament by Baber, London, 1819: and its N.T. text has now been edited in common type by Mr. B. H. Cowper, London, 1861. The date of this MS. has been variously assigned, but it is now pretty generally agreed to be the fifth century .

[100] The CODEX VATICANUS, No. 1209 in the Vatican Library at Rome; and proved, by the old catalogues, to have been there from the foundation of the library in the 16th century. It was apparently, from internal evidence, copied in Egypt. It is on vellum, and contains the Old and New Testaments. In the latter, it is deficient from Heb 9:14 to the end of the Epistle; it does not contain the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon; nor the Apocalypse. An edition of this celebrated codex, undertaken as long ago as 1828 by Cardinal Angelo Mai, has since his death been published at Rome. The defects of this edition are such, that it can hardly be ranked higher in usefulness than a tolerably complete collation, entirely untrustworthy in those places where it differs from former collations in representing the MS. as agreeing with the received text. An 8vo edition of the N.T. portion, newly revised by Vercellone, was published at Rome in 1859 (referred to as ‘Verc’): and of course superseded the English reprint of the 1st edition. Even in this 2nd edition there were imperfections which rendered it necessary to have recourse to the MS. itself, and to the partial collations made in former times. These are (1) that of Bartolocci (under the name of Giulio de St. Anastasia), once librarian at the Vatican, made in 1669, and preserved in manuscript in the Imperial Library (MSS. Gr. Suppl. 53) at Paris (referred to as ‘Blc’); (2) that of Birch (‘Bch’), published in various readings to the Acts and Epistles, Copenhagen, 1798, Apocalypse, 1800, Gospels, 1801; (3) that made for the great Bentley (‘Btly’), by the Abbate Mico, published in Ford’s Appendix to Woide’s edition of the Codex Alexandrinus, 1799 (it was made on the margin of a copy of Cephalæus’ Greek Testament, Argentorati, 1524, still amongst Bentley’s books in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge); (4) notes of alterations by the original scribe and other correctors. These notes were procured for Bentley by the Abbé de Stosch, and were till lately supposed to be lost. They were made by the Abbate Rulotta (‘Rl’), and are preserved amongst Bentley’s papers in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (B. 17. 20) 1 . The Codex has been occasionally consulted for the verification of certain readings by Tregelles, Tischendorf, and others. A list of readings examined at Rome by the present editor (Feb. 1861), and by the Rev. E. C. Cure, Fellow of Merton College, Oxford (April 1862), will be found at the end of these prolegomena. A description, with an engraving from a photograph of a portion of a page, is given in Burgon’s “Letters from Rome,” London 1861. This most important MS. was probably written in the fourth century (Hug, Tischendorf, al.).

[101] The CODEX SINAITICUS. Procured by Tischendorf, in 1859, from the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai. The Codex Frederico-Augustanus (now at Leipsic), obtained in 1844 from the same monastery, is a portion of the same copy of the Greek Bible, the 148 leaves of which, containing the entire New Testament, the Ep. of Barnabas, parts of Hermas, and 199 more leaves of the Septuagint, have now been edited by the discoverer. A magnificent edition prepared at the expense of the Emperor of Russia appeared in January, 1863, and a smaller edition containing the N.T. &c., has been published by Dr. Tischendorf. The MS. has four columns on a page, and has been altered by several different correctors, one or more of whom Tischendorf considers to have lived in the sixth century. The work of the original scribe has been examined, not only by Tischendorf, but by Tregelles and other competent judges, and is by them assigned to the fourth century . The internal character of the text agrees with the external, as the student may judge for himself from the readings given in the digest. The principal correctors as distinguished by Tischendorf are: A, of the same age with the MS. itself, probably the corrector who revised the book, before it left the hands of the scribe, denoted therefore by us א -corr 1 ; B (cited as א 2 ), who in the first page of Matt. began inserting breathings, accents, &c., but did not carry out his design, and touched only a few later passages; C a (cited as א 3a ) has corrected very largely throughout the book. Wherever in our digest a reading is cited as found in א 1 , it is to be understood, if no further statement is given, that C a altered it to that which is found in our text; C b (cited as א 3b ) lived about the same time as C a , i.e. some centuries later than the original scribe. These are all that we need notice here 6 .

Verse 5

5 .] Thus then (analogical inference from the example just cited) in the present time also (or, even in the present time , scil. of Israel’s national rejection) there is a remnant (a part has remained faithful, which thus has become a λεῖμμα ) according to (in virtue of, in pursuance of) the election (selection, choice of a few out of many) of grace (made not for their desert, nor their foreseen congruity, but of God’s free unmerited favour).

Verse 6

6 .] ‘And let us remember, when we say an election of grace , how much those words imply: viz. nothing short of the entire exclusion of all human work from the question. Let these two terms be regarded as, and kept, distinct from one another, and do not let us attempt to mix them and so destroy the meaning of each.’ So that the meaning of the verse is to clear up and remove all doubt concerning the meaning of ‘ election of grace ,’ and to profess on the part of the Apostle perfect readiness to accept his own words in their full sense, and to abide by them. This casts some light on the question of the genuineness of the bracketed clause (see authorities in var. readd.). The object being precision , it is much more probable that the Apostle should have written both clauses in their present formal parallelism, and that the second should have been early omitted from its seeming superfluity, than that it should have been inserted from the margin. Besides which, as Fritz. has remarked, the words do not correspond sufficiently with those of the first clause to warrant the supposition of their having been constructed to tally with it: we have for χάριτι in the first, ἐξ ἔργων in the second, for γίνεται χάρις , ἐστὶν ἔργον ; and the plur. ἔργα would probably have been retained in the inference of clause 2. But (directing attention to the consequence of the admission, ἐκλ . χάριτος ) if by grace (the selection has been made), it is no longer (when we have conceded that, we have excluded its being) of (arising out of, as its source) works: for ( in that case ) grace no longer becomes (i.e. becomes no longer loses its efficacy and character as) grace (the freedom and ‘proprio motu’ character, absolutely necessary to the idea of grace , are lost, the act having been prompted from without): but if of (arising out of, as the cause and source of the selection) works, no longer is it (the act of selection) grace; for (in that case) work no longer is work (the essence of work, in our present argument, being ‘ that which earns reward ,’ and the reward being, as supposed, the election to be of the remnant , if so earned, there can be no admixture of divine favour in the matter; it must be all earned, or none: none conferred by free grace, or all ). These cautions of the Apostle are decisive against all attempts at compromise between the two great antagonist hypotheses, of salvation by God’s free grace, and salvation by man’s meritorious works. The two cannot be combined without destroying the plain meaning of words. If now the Apostle’s object in this verse be to guard carefully the doctrine of election by free grace from any attempt at an admixture of man’s work, why is he anxious to do this just at this point ? I conceive, because he is immediately about to enter on a course of exposition of the divine dealings, in which, more than ever before, he rests all upon God’s sovereign purpose , while at the same time he shews that purpose, though apparently severe, to be one, on the whole, of grace and love .

Verse 7

7 .] What then (what therefore must be our conclusion from what has been stated? We have seen that God hath not cast off his own chosen nation, but that even now there is a remnant. This being so, what aspect do matters present? This he asks to bring out an answer which may set in view the οἱ λοιποί )? That which Israel is in search of (viz. δικαιοσύνη , see ch. Romans 9:31 ; Romans 10:1 ff.), this it (as a nation) found not (on ἐπιτυγχάνω w. an acc., see Matthiæ, Gr. Gr. § 363 obs.), but the election (the abstract, because Israel has been spoken of in the abstract, and to keep out of view for the present the mere individual cases of converted Jews in the idea of an elected remnant ) found it:

Verse 8

8. ] but the rest were hardened (not ‘ blinded ;’ see note on Ephesians 4:18 : σκληροτέραν ἡ ἀπιστία τὴν καρδίαν αὐτῶν ἀπειργάσατο . Theodoret. It is passive, and implies God as the agent . This for the sake of the context, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ὁ θεὸς κ . τ . λ ., not necessarily for the meaning of the word itself, which might indicate ‘became hard,’ but certainly does not here ), as it is written (if we are to regard these passages as merely analogous instances of the divine dealings, we must remember that the perspective of prophecy , in stating such cases, embraces all analogous ones , the divine dealings being self-consistent, and especially that great one , in which the words are most prominently fulfilled), God gave to them (LXX and Heb., πεπότικεν ὑμᾶς ) a spirit (see reff.) of stupor (there is at the end of Fritzsche’s commentary on this chapter an elaborate excursus on κατάνυξις , in which he has thoroughly investigated its derivation and meaning. He comes to the conclusion that it is derived from κατανύσσω , ‘compungo,’ and might signify any excitement of mind, pity, sadness, &c., but in the few places where it occurs, it does import stupor or numbness : so ref. Ps. ἐπότισας ἡμᾶς οἶνον κατανύξεως , which Hammond explains to mean the stupifying wine given to them that were to be put to death. Hamm. also cites from Marcus Eremita, νουθες . ψυχ . p. 948, a passage where he describes πόνον τῆς κατανύξεως as the consequence of οἰνοποσίαι . Tholuck compares the similar meanings of ‘frappé,’ struck , betroffen ), eyes that they should not see (such eyes that they might not see: in the Heb. and LXX the negative is joined with the verb, καὶ οὐκ ἔδωκεν κύριος ὁ θ . ὑμῶν κ . τ . λ .) and ears that they should not hear unto this present day . These last words are not, as Beza, E. V., Griesb., Knapp, to be separated from the citation, and joined to ἐπωρώθησαν : they belong to the words in Deut. and are adduced by St. Paul as applying to the day then present, as they did to the day when Moses spoke them: see 2 Corinthians 3:15 .

Verse 9

9. ] And David saith, Let their table be for a snare and for a net ( θήρα more usually ‘a hunt,’ or the act of taking or catching, but here and in ref. a net , the instrument of capture. It is not in the Heb. nor in the LXX, and is perhaps inserted by the Apostle to give emphasis by the accumulation of synonymes), and for a stumbling-block and for a recompense to them (the LXX have εἰς παγίδα κ . εἰς ἀνταπόδοσιν κ . εἰς σκάνδαλον . The Heb. of εἰς ἀνταπόδοσιν , as at present pointed, is לִשְׁלוֹמִים , ‘to the secure.’ It has been supposed that the LXX pointed לִשִׁלּוּמִים or לְשִׁלּוֹמִים , ‘for retributions.’ See Psalms 91:8 ; but qu.?):

Verse 10

10. ] let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and their back bow thou down always . “Instead of bending the back, the Heb. text speaks of making the loins to tremble, מָתְנֵיהֶם הַמְעַד . This elsewhere is a sign of great terror , Nahum 2:10 ; Daniel 5:6 ; and the darkening of the eyes betokens in the Psalm, a weakened, humbled, servile condition, just as in Deuteronomy 28:65-67 . It is plain from διὰ παντός , that we must not suppose the infirmities of age to be meant. The Apostle might well apply such a description to the servile condition of the bondmen of the law, see Galatians 4:24 .” Tholuck.

Verse 11

11. ] I say then (see on Rom 11:1 ), Did they (who? see below) stumble in order that they should fall (not ‘ sic, ut caderent ’ as Vulg., so Orig [102] , Chrys., Grot., al., denoting the result merely: neither the grammar nor the context will bear this: the Apostle is arguing respecting God’s intent in the παράπτωμα of the Jewish nation. He here calls it by this mild name to set forth that it is not final. The subject of ἔπταισαν is the αὐτοί of the following verses, i.e. the Jews, as a people : not the unbelieving individuals , who are characterized as πεσόντες , Romans 11:22 . He regards the λοιποί as the representatives of the Jewish people, who have nationally stumbled , but not in order to their final fall , seeing that God has a gracious purpose towards the Gentiles even in this πταῖσμα of theirs, and intends to raise them nationally from it in the end. This distinction, between the πταίσαντες , the whole nation as a nation , and the πεσόντες , the unbelieving branches who have been cut off , is most important to the right understanding of the chapter, and to the keeping in mind the separate ideas, of the restoration of individuals here and there throughout time, and the restoration of Israel at the end.

[102] Origen, b. 185, d. 254

The stress is on πέσωσιν , and it is the fall which is denied: not on ἵνα πέσωσιν , so that the purpose merely should be denied, and the fall admitted)? God forbid: but (the truer account of the matter is) by their trespass (not fall , as E. V.) salvation (has come) to the Gentiles, for to provoke them (Israel) to jealousy . Two gracious purposes of God are here stated, the latter wrought out through the former. By this stumble of the Jews out of their national place in God’s favour, and the admission of the Gentiles into it, the very people thus excluded are to be stirred up to set themselves in the end effectually to regain, as a nation, that pre-eminence from which they are now degraded.

Verses 11-24

11 24 .] Yet this exclusion and hardening has not been for their destruction, but for mercy to the Gentiles, and eventually for their own restoration .

Verse 12

12. ] Then the Apostle argues on this, as Meyer well says, ‘a felici effectu causæ pejoris ad feliciorem effectum causæ melioris;’ But (‘ posito , that’ as in last verse taking for granted the historical fact, that the stumble of the Jews has been coincident with the admission of the Gentiles) if their trespass is the world’s wealth (the occasion of that wealth, the wealth itself being the participation in the unsearchable riches of Christ), and (this latter clause parallel to and explanatory of the less plainly expressed one before it) their loss, the wealth of the Gentiles, how much more (shall) their replenishment (be all this)? On ἥττημα and πλήρωμα much question has been raised. I have taken both as answering strictly to the comparison here before the Apostle’s mind, viz. that of impoverishing and enriching, and the genitives αὐτῶν [&c.] as subjective : q. d. ‘ if their impoverishment be the wealth of the Gentiles, how much more shall their enrichment be !’

But several other interpretations are possible. (1) ἥττημα may mean as in ref. 1 Cor., degradation , and πλήρωμα would then be fulness, re-exaltation to the former measure of favour, or perhaps, as where Herod. iii. 22 says ὀγδώκοντα ἔτεα ζόης πλήρωμα , ‘their completion ,’ ‘their highest degree of favour.’ (2) If we regard the meaning of πλήρωμα in Romans 11:25 , we shall be tempted here to render it, ‘ full number ,’ and similarly ἥττημα , ‘ small number .’ So the majority of Commentators: Chrys., Theodoret, Erasmus, Beza, Bucer, Grot., Bengel, Reiche, De W. (but only as regards πλήρ .: he renders ἥττ . with Luther, Schade ) and Olsh. (see below). Thus the argument will stand: ‘If their unbelief (i.e. of one part of them) is the world’s wealth, and their small number (i.e. of believers, the other part of them), the wealth of the Gentiles, how much more their full (restored) number!’ i.e. as Olsh. explains it, ‘If so few Jews can do so much for the Gentile world, what will not the whole number do?’ But thus we shall lose the ‘ a minori ad majus ’ argument ‘if their sin has done so much, how much more their conversion ?’ unless indeed it be said that τὸ ἥττημα implies a national παράπτωμα . Besides, it can hardly be shewn that ἥττημα will bear this meaning of ‘a small number.’ (3) Tholuck, from whom mostly this note is taken, notices at length the view of Olsh., after Origen, that the idea of a definite number of the elect is here in the Apostle’s mind, that the falling off of the Jews produces a deficiency in the number, which is filled up by the elect from the Gentiles, as Romans 11:25 ; understanding by πλήρωμα both there and here, if I take his meaning aright, the number required to fill up the roll of the elect , whether of Jews, as here, or Gentiles, as there. Tholuck, while he concedes the legitimacy of the idea of a πλήρωμα τῶν σωζομένων , maintains, and rightly, that in this section no such idea is brought forward : and that it would not have been intended, without some more definite expression of it than we now find .

I have thought it best as above, considering the very various meanings and difficulty of the word πλήρωμα , to keep here to that which seems to be indicated by the immediate context, which is, besides, the primitive meaning of the word.

It must be noticed, that the fact, of Israel being the chosen people of God , lies at the root of all this argument. Israel is the nation , the covenant people, the vehicle of God’s gracious purposes to mankind. Israel, nationally, is deposed from present favour. That very deposition is, however, accompanied by an outpouring of God’s riches of mercy on the Gentiles; not as rivals to Israel, but still considered as further from God, formally and nationally, than Israel . If then the disgrace of Israel has had such a blessed accompaniment, how much more blessed a one shall Israel’s honour bring with it, when His own people shall once more be set as a praise in the midst of the earth, and the glory of the nations.

Verse 13

13 .] ‘Why, in an argument concerning the Jews , dwell so much on the reference to the Gentiles discernible in the divine œconomy regarding Israel? Why make it appear as if the treatment of God’s chosen people were regulated not by a consideration of them , but of the less favoured Gentiles?’ The present verse gives an answer to this question. But (apology for the foregoing verse: if γάρ be read, the sense will be much the same For (i.e. let it be understood, that), &c.) I am speaking to you the Gentiles. Inasmuch therefore ( μὲν οὖν is surely not to be rejected as yielding no sense, as De Wette and Tholuck, who object to it as proceeding from those who hold a new sentence to begin at ἐφ ʼ ὅσον , and ὑμῖν .… ἔθνεσιν to refer to the foregoing: but the usage of μὲν οὖν in 1Co 6:4 seems strictly analogous to that in our text, where no new sentence is begun in any sense which may not be true here.

ἐφ ʼ ὅσον , not ‘ as long as ,’ as Orig [103] and Vulg.) as I am Apostle of the Gentiles, I honour mine office (by striving for their conversion and edification at all times, by introducing a reference to them and their part in the divine counsels, even when speaking of mine own people), if by any means I may (regarding it as a real service done on behalf of Israel, thus to honour mine office by mentioning the Gentiles, if this mention may) provoke to jealousy mine own flesh (the Jews) and may save some of them.

[103] Origen, b. 185, d. 254

Verse 15

15. ] For (a reason for my anxiety for the salvation of Israel: not merely for the sake of mine own kinsmen, but because their recovery will bring about the blessed consummation of all believers. Rom 11:13-14 should not then be in a parenthesis) if the rejection of them (not ‘ their loss ,’ as Luth. and Beng., by which the antithesis to πρόσλημψις is weakened) be (the occasion of) the reconciliation of the world (of the Gentiles, viz. to God), what (‘ qualis ,’ ‘of what kind,’ in its effect) ( will be) their reception, but (the occasion of) life from the dead! ξωὴ ἐκ νεκρ . may be variously taken. (1) it may be metaphorical, as in ch. Romans 6:13 , and may import, that so general a conversion of the world would take place, as would be like life from the dead. So, more or less, Calv., Calov., Estius, Bengel, Stuart, Hodge, al., and Theophyl., Phot [104] , who explain it of a joy like that of the resurrection. But against this interpretation lies the objection, that this is already involved in καταλλαγὴ κόσμ ., and thus no new idea would be brought out by the words, which stand in the most emphatic position. (2) it may mean that ‘life from the dead’ literally should follow on the restoration of the Jewish people; i.e. that the Resurrection, the great consummation, is bound up with it. So Chrys., Orig [105] (“tunc enim erit assumptio Israel, quando jam et mortui vitam recipient, et mundus ex corruptibili incorruptibilis fiet, et mortales immortalitate donabuntur”), Theodoret, Reiche, Meyer, Fritzsche, Rückert Exodus 2:0 , Tholuck, al. The objection to this view seems to be, that the Apostle would hardly have used ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρῶν thus predicatively, if he had meant by it a fixed and predetermined event ; but that, standing as it does, it must be qualitative , implying some further blessed state of the reconciled world, over and above the mere reconciliation. This might well be designated ‘ life from the dead ,’ and in it may be implied the glories of the first resurrection, and deliverance from the bondage of corruption, without supposing the words ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρῶν = ἡ ἀνάστασις τῶν νεκ . Stuart well compares Ezekiel 37:1-14 , which was perhaps before the mind of the Apostle: but he gives a mere ethical interpretation to it.

[104] Photius, Bp. of Constantinople, 858 891

[105] Origen, b. 185, d. 254

Verses 16-24

16 24. ] Such a restoration of Israel was to be expected from a consideration of their destination and history. This is set forth in similitudes, that of the root and branches being followed out at some length, and their own position, as engrafted Gentiles, brought to the mind of the readers . But (a further argument for their restoration following on ἀλλά , Rom 11:11 ) if the firstfruit be holy, so also the Iump (not here the firstfruit of the field , as Grot., Rosenm. (nor is φύραμα the cake made by the priests out of the firstfruits which fell to them, Deuteronomy 18:4 , as Estius, Koppe, Köllner, Olsh., al.); but the portion of the kneaded lump of dough ( φύρω ), which was offered as a heave-offering to the Lord, and so sanctified for use the rest: see ref. Num. where the same words occur); and if the root be holy, so also the branches . Who are the ἀπαρχή and the ῥίζα ? First of all, there is no impropriety in the two words applying to the same thing . For though, as Olsh. remarks, the branches being evolved from the root , it rather answers to the φύραμα than to the ἀπαρχή , and, as Rückert, the firstfruit succeeds the lump in time, while the root precedes the branches, yet, as Thol. replies, the ἁγιότης is the point of comparison , and in ἁγιότης the ἀπαρχή precedes and gives existence to the φύραμα . This being so, (1) the ἀπαρχή and ῥίζα have generally been taken to represent the patriarchs ; and I believe rightly (except that perhaps it would be more strictly correct to say, Abraham himself ). The ἀγαπητοὶ διὰ τοὺς πατέρας of Rom 11:28 places this reference almost beyond doubt. Origen explains the ῥίζα to be our Lord . But He is Himself a branch , by descent from Abraham and David (Isaiah 11:1 ; Mat 1:1 ), if genealogically considered; and if mystically, the whole tree ( Joh 15:1 ). De Wette prefers to take as the firstfruit and root, the ideal theocracy founded on the patriarchs, the true, faithful children of the patriarchs, and as the branches, those united by mere external relationship to these others. This he does, because in the common acceptation , the κλάδοι who are cut off ought to be severed from their physical connexion with Abraham, &c., which they are not . This objection I do not conceive applicable here: because, as we see evidently from Romans 11:23 , the severing and re-engrafting are types, not of genealogical disunion and reunion, but of spiritual . Meanwhile, De W.’s view appears less simple than the ordinary one, which, as I hope to shew, is borne out by the whole passage. (2) Then, who are indicated by the φύραμα and the κλάδοι ? ISRAEL, considered as the people of God. The lump, which has received its ἁγιότης from the ἀπαρχή , = Israel, beloved for the fathers’ sakes: the assemblage of branches, evolved from Abraham, and partaking of his holiness. But one thing must be especially borne in mind. As Abraham himself had an outer and an inner life, so have the branches. They have an outer life , derived from Abraham by physical descent . Of this, no cutting off can deprive them . It may be compared to the very organization of the wood itself, which subsists even after its separation from the tree. But they have, while they remain in the tree, an inner life , nourished by the circulating sap, by virtue of which they are constituted living parts of the tree: see our Lord’s parable of the vine and the branches, John 15:1 ff. It is of this life , that their severance from the tree deprives them: it is this life , which they will re-acquire if grafted in again.

See a very ingenious but artificial explanation in Olsh., who agrees in the main with De W.: and the whole question admirably discussed in Tholuck. The ἁγιότης then here spoken of, consists in their dedication to God as a people in their being physically evolved from a holy root . This peculiar ἁγιότης (see 1 Corinthians 7:14 , where the children of one Christian parent are similarly called ἅγια ) renders their restoration to their own stock a matter, not of wonder and difficulty, but of reasonable hope and probability. I may notice in passing, that those expositors who do not hold a restoration of the Jewish people to national preeminence, find this passage exceedingly in their way, if we may judge by their explanations of this ἁγιότης . E.g. Mr. Ewbank remarks: ‘Holy they are, inasmuch as there is no decree against their restoration to their place of life and fruitfulness.’ Surely this is a new meaning of ‘holy:’ the same would be true of a Hottentot: in his case, too, there is no decree against his reception into a place (and in Mr. E.’s view, the restoration of the Jew is nothing more) of life and fruitfulness in the Church of God.

Verse 17

17 .] But (introduces a hypothesis involving a seeming inconsistency with the ἁγιότης just mentioned) if some of the branches (the τινες , as Thol. remarks, depreciates the number, in order to check the Gentile pride) were broken out (from the tree), and thou (a Gentile believer) being a wild olive ( ἀγριέλαιος , the tree, spoken of a sprout or branch of it. Better so than, as Fritz., Meyer, to make ἀγρ . an adj., ‘of wild olive,’ which can only be used of that which is made out of the wood , as ἀγριέλαιος σκυτάλη . Thol.) wast grafted in (Clem [106] Alex. Strom. vi. [15] § 119, p. 799 P., enumerates four different kinds of ἐγκεντρισμός , using it as a general term for grafting and budding. The difficulty here is, that the Apostle reverses the natural process. It is the wilding , in practice, which is the stock , and the graft inserted is a sprout of the better tree . I believe that he does not here regard what is the fact in nature: but makes a supposition perfectly legitimate, that a wilding graft on being inserted into a good tree, thereby becomes partaker of its qualities. No allusion can be intended to a practice mentioned by Columella, de Re Rust. Romans 11:9 , of inserting a wilding graft into a good tree to increase the vigour and growth of the tree: for this would completely stultify the illustration the point of which is, a benefit received by the wilding from the tree, not one conferred by the wilding on it) among them (i.e. among the branches, τοῖς κλάδοις : or perhaps αὐτοῖς may imply the remnants of the branches broken off. The renderings, ‘ in their stead ,’ ‘ in locum ,’ as De W. after Chrys., Theophyl., Beza, and ‘ in their place ,’ ‘ in loco ,’ Meyer, Olsh., are surely inadmissible), and becamest a fellow-partaker (with the branches: or perhaps simply ‘a partaker,’ σύν not implying fellows in participation , but merely the participation itself) of the root of the fatness (of that root, on union with which all the development of life and its fertility depend: which is the source of the fatness. With καί , it will mean, of the source of life, and also of the development of that life itself in all richness of blessing) of the olive-tree ,

[106] Clement of Alexandria, fl. 194

Verse 18

18. ] do not boast against the branches (which were broken off): but if thou boastest against them (know that … or let this consideration humble thee, that … Similarly 1 Corinthians 11:16 , εἰ δέ τις δοκεῖ φιλόνεικος εἶναι , ἡμεῖς τοιαύτην συνήθειαν οὐκ ἔχομεν , κ . τ . λ . See Winer, edn. 6, § 66.1 a) it is not thou that bearest the root, but the root thee . The ground of humiliation is “Thou partakest of thy blessings solely by union with God’s spiritual church, which church has for its root that Father of the faithful, from whom they are descended. Regard them not therefore with scorn.” This is expanded further in Romans 11:20 .

Verse 19

19. ] Thou wilt then ( posito , that thou boastest, and defendest it) say, Branches (it would look as if the art. had been erased, to square this sentence with Romans 11:17 , where τινὲς τ . κλάδων only were broken off. Or we might think, as Matthäi has remarked (Thol.), that, ‘Gentilis loquitur arrogantius,’ using οἱ κλ . in his pride, to signify that the branches, generically, have now become subject to excision on his account. But the fact, now ascertained by Tischdf., that [107] omits the art., makes nearly the whole manuscript authority against it) were broken off that I (emphatic) might be grafted in.

[107] The CODEX VATICANUS, No. 1209 in the Vatican Library at Rome; and proved, by the old catalogues, to have been there from the foundation of the library in the 16th century. It was apparently, from internal evidence, copied in Egypt. It is on vellum, and contains the Old and New Testaments. In the latter, it is deficient from Heb 9:14 to the end of the Epistle; it does not contain the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon; nor the Apocalypse. An edition of this celebrated codex, undertaken as long ago as 1828 by Cardinal Angelo Mai, has since his death been published at Rome. The defects of this edition are such, that it can hardly be ranked higher in usefulness than a tolerably complete collation, entirely untrustworthy in those places where it differs from former collations in representing the MS. as agreeing with the received text. An 8vo edition of the N.T. portion, newly revised by Vercellone, was published at Rome in 1859 (referred to as ‘Verc’): and of course superseded the English reprint of the 1st edition. Even in this 2nd edition there were imperfections which rendered it necessary to have recourse to the MS. itself, and to the partial collations made in former times. These are (1) that of Bartolocci (under the name of Giulio de St. Anastasia), once librarian at the Vatican, made in 1669, and preserved in manuscript in the Imperial Library (MSS. Gr. Suppl. 53) at Paris (referred to as ‘Blc’); (2) that of Birch (‘Bch’), published in various readings to the Acts and Epistles, Copenhagen, 1798, Apocalypse, 1800, Gospels, 1801; (3) that made for the great Bentley (‘Btly’), by the Abbate Mico, published in Ford’s Appendix to Woide’s edition of the Codex Alexandrinus, 1799 (it was made on the margin of a copy of Cephalæus’ Greek Testament, Argentorati, 1524, still amongst Bentley’s books in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge); (4) notes of alterations by the original scribe and other correctors. These notes were procured for Bentley by the Abbé de Stosch, and were till lately supposed to be lost. They were made by the Abbate Rulotta (‘Rl’), and are preserved amongst Bentley’s papers in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (B. 17. 20) 1 . The Codex has been occasionally consulted for the verification of certain readings by Tregelles, Tischendorf, and others. A list of readings examined at Rome by the present editor (Feb. 1861), and by the Rev. E. C. Cure, Fellow of Merton College, Oxford (April 1862), will be found at the end of these prolegomena. A description, with an engraving from a photograph of a portion of a page, is given in Burgon’s “Letters from Rome,” London 1861. This most important MS. was probably written in the fourth century (Hug, Tischendorf, al.).

Verse 20

20. ] Well (the fact, involving even the purpose , assumed in ἵνα , is conceded. When Thol. denies this, he forgets that the prompting cause of their excision, their unbelief, is distinct from the divine purpose of their excision, the admission of the Gentiles, and belongs to a different side of the subject): through their unbelief (or perhaps, ‘ through unbelief ,’ abstract. There is often a difficulty in distinguishing the possessive from the abstract (i.e. generic) article.

Thol. observes that the instrumental use of the dat. and that of διὰ with the gen. differ in this, that the latter expresses more the immediate cause, the former the mediate and more remote. The explanation of this would be, that the dative only acquires its instrumental use through another, more proper attribute of the case, that of reference to, form or manner in which : see Bernhardy, Syntax, ch. iii. 14, pp. 100 105) they were broken off, but thou by thy faith (see above: ‘ through ’ indicates better the prompting cause of a definite act, ‘by ,’ the sustaining condition of a continued state . Thus we should always say that we are justified through , not by , faith, but that we stand by , not through , faith) standest (in thy place, in the tree, opposed to ἐξεκλάσθησαν . Thol. prefers the sense in ch. Romans 14:4 , and certainly the adoption of πεσόντες Romans 11:22 , seems to shew that the figurative diction is not strictly preserved). Be not high-minded, but fear:

Verse 21

21. ] for if God did not spare the natural branches (the branches which grew according to natural development, and were not engrafted), (supply ‘I fear,’ or ‘it is to be feared,’ or simply ‘fear,’ or ‘take heed,’ as in ref.) lest He shall also not spare THEE. The fut. ind. with μή πως , the apparent incongruity of which has probably caused the variety of reading, implies, as Herm., Soph. Aj. 272, observes with regard to the ind. pres., ‘ μὴ ἐστὶ ( ἔσται ) verentis quidem est ne quid nunc sit ( futurum sit ), sed indicantis simul, putare, se ita esse ( futurum esse ), ut veretur.’ See Winer, edn. 6, § 56. 2. b. β , and 64. i. 7. a, also Colossians 2:8 ; Hebrews 3:12 .

Verse 22

22 .] The caution of the preceding verse is unfolded into a setting before the Gentile of the true state of the matter. Behold therefore ( posito , that thou enterest into the feeling prompted by the last verse) the goodness and the severity (no allusion to ἀποτέμνω in its literal sense) of God: towards those who fell (see on Rom 11:11 ).

Here the πεσόντες are opposed to σύ , the figure being for the moment dropped: for πίπτειν can hardly be used of the branches , but of men ) severity; but towards thee, the goodness of God (the nominatives here, as involving a departure from the construction, are preferable: and the repetition of θεοῦ is quite in the manner of the Apostle: see 1 Corinthians 1:24-25 . Rückert thinks that because Clem [108] Alex. Pædag. i. 8 [70], p. 140 P., understands χρηστότης , in ἐὰν ἐπιμείνῃς τῇ χρηστότητι , of the χρηστότης of men ( τουτέστι τῇ εἰς χριστὸν πίστει ), θεοῦ may have been a marginal gloss to guard against this mistake, and may have found its way into the text, misplaced. But this is hardly probable: θεοῦ is much more likely to have been erased as unnecessary), if thou abide by (reff.) that goodness; for ([supply otherwise :] assuming that thou dost not abide by that goodness) thou also shalt be cut off (ind. fut. The placing only a comma at ἐκκοπήσῃ , as Meyer, not Lachm. (Exodus 2:0 ) and Tischend.(Exodus 7:0 [and 8]), prevents the break evidently intended between the treatment of the case of the Gentile and that of the Jews).

[108] Clement of Alexandria, fl. 194

Verse 23

23. ] And they moreover, if they continue not (not exactly the same meaning as before: the χρηστότης before being external and objective, this, as in ch. Romans 6:1 , a subjective state) in their (see on Rom 11:20 ) unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again . Some, e.g. Grot., represent this last clause as implying, that God’s power to graft them in again has always been the same, but has waited for their change of mind, to act: ‘Nihil est præter incredulitatem quod Deum impediat eos rursum pro suis assumere et paterne tractare:’ but surely De W.’s interpretation is far better: ‘The Apostle obscurely includes in the ἐγκεντρ . the removal of their unbelief and the awakening of faith, and this last especially he looks for from above:’ for, as he observes, the power of God would not be put forward, if the other were the meaning.

Verse 24

24. ] For (proof that, besides God’s undoubted power to re-engraft them, the idea of their being so re-engrafted is not an unreasonable one) if THOU wast cut off from the olive-tree which is by nature wild, and wast grafted contrary to nature into a good olive-tree, how much more shall these, the natural branches, be engrafted in their own olive-tree ? It is a question, as Tholuck remarks, whether κατὰ φύσιν and παρὰ φύσιν denote merely growth in the natural manner and growth (by engrafting) in an unnatural (i.e. artificial) manner , or that the wild is the nature of the Gentile , and the good olive that of the Jew , so that the sense would be ‘If thou wert cut out of the wild olive which is thine naturally, and wert engrafted contrary to (thy) nature into the good olive, how much more shall these, the natural branches,’ &c. But then the latter part of the sentence does not correspond with the former. We either should expect the οἱ to be omitted (as is done in some mss.), or must, with Fritz., place a comma after οὗτοι , and, taking οἱ as the relative, construe, ‘How much more these, who shall, agreeably to (their) nature, be grafted,’ &c. Tholuck describes the question as being between a comparison of engrafting and not engrafting , and one of engrafting the congruous and the incongruous : and, on the above ground, decides in favour of the former, κατὰ φύσιν signifying merely natural growth , παρὰ φ ., unnatural growth , i.e. the growth of the grafted scion . But however this may fit the former part of the sentence, it surely cannot satisfy the requirements of the latter , where the κατὰ φύσιν ( κλάδοι ) are described as being engrafted (which would be παρὰ φύσιν ) into their own olive-tree. We must at least assume a mixture of the two meanings, the antithesis of κατὰ and παρὰ φ . being rather verbal than logical, as is so common in the writings of the Apostle. Thus in the former case, that of the Gentile, the fact of natural growth is set against that of engrafted growth : whereas in the latter, the fact of congruity of nature ( τῇ ἰδίᾳ ἐλαίᾳ ) is set against incongruity , as making the re-engrafting more probable.

Verse 25

25. ] For (I do not rest this on mere hope or probability, but have direct revelation of the Holy Spirit as to its certainty) I would not have you ignorant, brethren (see reff., used by the Apostle to announce, either as here some authoritative declaration of divine truth, or some facts in his own history not previously known to his readers), of this mystery ( μυστ . Tholuck in his 4th edition classifies the meanings thus: (1) such matters of fact, as are inaccessible to reason, and can only be known through revelation : (2) such matters as are patent facts, but the process of which cannot be entirely taken in by the reason . He adds a third sense, that, which is no mystery in itself , but by its figurative import . Of the first, he cites chap. Romans 16:25 ; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10 ; Ephesians 1:9 ; Ephesians 3:4 ; Ephesians 6:19 ; Colossians 1:26 , al., as examples: of the second, 1Co 14:2 ; 1 Corinthians 13:2 ; Ephesians 5:32 ; 1 Timothy 3:9 ; 1 Timothy 3:16 ; of the third, Matthew 13:11 ; Revelation 1:20 ; Revelation 17:5 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:7 .

The first meaning is evidently that in our text: ‘a prophetic event, unattainable by human knowledge, but revealed from the secrets of God’) that ye be not wise in your own conceits (that ye do not take to yourselves the credit for wisdom superior to that of the Jews, in having acknowledged and accepted Jesus as the Son of God, seeing that ye merely ἠλεήθητε τῇ τούτων ἀπειθείᾳ , Rom 11:30 ), that hardening (not ‘ blindness :’ see above on Romans 11:7 , and Eph 4:18 note) has happened in part (Calvin explains it ‘ quodammodo .… qua particula voluisse mihi duntaxat videtur temperare verbum alioqui per se asperum,’ but there is no trace of such a desire above, Romans 11:7 ; the τινες Rom 11:17 establishes the ordinary acceptation, that a portion of Israel have been hardened. ἀπὸ μ . may be joined with πώρωσις , or with γέγονεν : from the arrangement of the words, best with the former) to Israel, until ( ἄχρις οὗ has been variously rendered by those who wish to escape from the prophetic assertion of the restoration of Israel. So Calv.: “ donec non infert temporis progressum vel ordinem, sed potius valet perinde ac si dictum foret, ut plenitudo gentium;” al., “while … shall come in:’ but Thol. well observes that ἄχρ . οὗ with an ind., if any thing actually happening is spoken of, may have the meaning of ‘while,’ even with an aor.: but with a subj. of the aorist, a possible future event is indicated, which when it enters puts an end to the former: see reff.) the completion of the Gentiles shall have come in (scil. to the Church or Kingdom of God, where we, the Apostle and those whom he addresses, are already: as we use the word ‘come in’ absolutely, with reference to the place in which we are. Or the word may be used absolutely, as it seems to be in Luke 11:52 , of entering into the Kingdom of God .

In order to understand τὸ πλήρ . τ . ἐθν ., we must bear in mind the character of the Apostle’s present argument. He is dealing with nations : with the Gentile nations, and the Jewish nation. And thus dealing, he speaks of τὸ πλήρ . τ . ἐθν . coming in, and of πᾶς Ἰσραήλ being saved: having no regard for the time to the individual destinies of Gentiles or Jews, but regarding nations as each included under the common bond of consanguinity according to the flesh. The πλήρωμα τῶν ἐθνῶν I would regard then as signifying ‘ the full number,’ ‘the totality ,’ of the nations, i.e. every nation under heaven , the prophetic subjects ( Mat 24:14 ) of the preaching of the gospel. Stuart denies that πλήρωμα will admit of this meaning. But the sense which he allows to it of “completion, i. q. πλήρωσις ” (?), amounts in this case to the same thing: that completion not arriving till all have come in: the πλήρωμα τῶν ἐθνῶν importing that which πληροῖ τὰ ἔθνη . The idea of an elect number, however true in itself (‘plenitudo gentium in his intrat, qui secundum propositum vocati,’ Aug [109] cited by Tholuck), does not seem to belong to this passage).

[109] Augustine, Bp. of Hippo , 395 430

Verses 25-32

25 32 .] Prophetic announcement that this re-engrafting SHALL ACTUALLY TAKE PLACE ( Rom 11:25-27 ), and explanatory justification of this divine arrangement ( Rom 11:28-32 ).

Verse 26

26. ] And thus (when this condition shall have been fulfilled) all Israel shall be saved ( Israel as a nation , see above: not individuals, nor is there the slightest ground for the notion of the ἀποκατάστασις ).

This prophecy has been very variously regarded. Origen, understanding by the ‘omnis Israel qui salvus fiet,’ the ‘reliquiæ quæ electæ sunt,’ yet afterwards appears to find in the passage his notion of the final purification of all men, of the believing, by the word and doctrine: of the unbelieving, by purgatorial fire. Chrysostom gives no explanation: but on our Lord’s words in Matthew 17:11 , he says, ὅταν εἴπῃ ὅτι Ἠλίας μὲν ἔρχεται κ . ἀποκαταστήσει πάντα , αὐτὸν Ἠλίαν φησί , κ . τὴν τότε ἐσομένην τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἐπιστροφήν , and shortly after calls him τῆς δευτέρας παρουσίας πρόδρομος . Similarly Theodoret and Gregory of Nyssa (in Thol.); so also Augustine, de Civ. Dei xx. 29, vol. vii. p. 704, ‘ultimo tempore ante judicium (per Eliam, exposita sibi lege) Judæos in Christum verum esse credituros, celeberrimum est in sermonibus cordibusve fidelium.’ Similarly most of the fathers (Estius), and schoolmen (Thol.); Jerome, however, on Isaiah 11:11 , vol. iv. p. 162, says, ‘Nequaquam juxta nostros Judaizantes, in fine mundi quum intraverit plenitudo gentium, tunc omnis Israel salvus fiet: sed hæc omnia de primo intelligamus adventu.’ Grotius and Wetst. believe it to have been fulfilled after the destruction of Jerusalem, when μυρίοι ἐκ περιτομῆς became believers in Christ (Eus [110] H. E. iii. 35). But Thol. has shewn that neither could the number of Gentiles received into the Church before that time have answered to the πλήρωμα τ . ἐθνῶν , nor those Jews to πᾶς Ἰσραήλ , which expression accordingly Grotius endeavours to explain by a Rabbinical formula, that “all Israel have a part in the Messiah;” which saying he supposes the Apostle to have used in a spiritual sense, meaning the Israel of God, as Galatians 6:16 . The Reformers for the most part, in their zeal to impugn the millenarian superstitions then current, denied the future general conversion of the Jews, and would not recognize it even in this passage: Luther did so [recognize it], at one time, but towards the end of his life spoke most characteristically and strongly of what he conceived to be the impossibility of such national conversion (see extract in Tholuck’s note, p. 616): Calvin says: ‘Multi accipiunt de populo Judaico, ac si Paulus diceret instaurandum adhuc in religionem ut prius: sed ego Israelis nomen ad totum Dei populum extendo, hoc sensu, Quum Gentes ingressæ fuerint, simul et Judæi ex defectione se ad fidei obedientiam recipient. Atque ita complebitur salus totius Israelis Dei, quem ex utrisque colligi oportet: sic tamen ut priorem locum Judæi obtineant, ceu in familia Dei primogeniti.’ Calovius, Bengel, and Olshausen, interpret πᾶς Ἰσρ . of the elect believers of Israel : Beza, Estius, Koppe, Reiche, Köllner, Meyer, Tholuck, De Wette, al., hold that the words refer, as I have explained them above, to a national restoration of Israel to God’s favour.

[110] Eusebius, Bp. of Cæsarea, 315 320

I have not mixed with the consideration of this prophecy the question of the restoration of the Jews to Palestine , as being clearly irrelevant to it: the matter here treated being, their reception into the Church of God .

καθὼς γέγρ .] This quotation appears to have for its object to shew that the Redeemer was to come for the behoof of God’s own chosen people .

For ἐκ Σιών , the LXX have ἕνεκεν Σιών ( לְצִיּוֹן ), the E. V. ‘ to Zion .’ The Apostle frequently varies from the LXX, and a sufficient reason can generally be assigned for the variation: here, though this reason is not apparent, we cannot doubt that such existed, for the LXX would surely have suited his purpose even better than ἐκ , had there been no objection to it. It may be that the whole citation is intended to express the sense of prophecy rather than the wording of any particular passage, and that the Apostle has, in ἐκ Σιών , summed up the prophecies which declare that the Redeemer should spring out of Israel .

ὁ ῥυόμ . is in the Heb. ‘a deliverer’ the Apostle adopts the LXX, probably as appropriating the expression to Christ.

ἀποστρ . κ . τ . λ .] Heb. and E. V. ‘ and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob .’

ὅταν ἀφέλ . from another place in Isa.(ref.), hardly from Jeremiah 31:0 (LXX, 38.) 34, as Stuart; and also containing a general reference to the character of God’s new covenant with them, rather than a strict reproduction of the original meaning of any particular words of the prophet. “How came the Apostle, if he wished only to express the general thought, that the Messiah was come for Israel, to choose just this citation, consisting of two combined passages, when the same is expressed more directly in other passages of the Old Testament? I believe that the ἥξει gave occasion for the quotation: if he did not refer this directly to the second coming of the Messiah, yet it allowed of being indirectly applied to it.” Tholuck.

Verse 28

28. ] With regard indeed to the gospel (i.e. ‘viewed from the gospel side,’ looked on as we must look on them if we confine our view solely to the principles and character of the Gospel), they (the Jewish people considered as a whole) are enemies ( θεοῦ : not μου , as Theodoret, Luther, Grot., al. scil. in a state of exclusion from God’s favour: not active, ‘enemies to God,’ as Grot., Bengel) for your sakes; but with regard to the election (viz. of Israel to be God’s people, see Rom 11:1-2 not that of Christians, as Aug [111] al.: i.e. ‘looked on as God’s elect people’), they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes (i.e. not for the merits of the fathers, but because of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so often referred to by God as a cause for His favourable remembrance of Israel).

[111] Augustine, Bp. of Hippo , 395 430

Verse 29

29. ] For (explanation how God’s favour regards them still, though for the present cast off) the gifts (generally) and calling (as the most excellent of those gifts. That calling seems to be intended ‘qua posteros Abrahæ in fœdus adoptavit Deus,’ Calv. A very similar sentiment is found ch. Romans 3:3 , where the same is called ἡ πίστις τ . θεοῦ . But the words are true not only of this calling, but of every other. Bengel says, ‘dona, erga Judæos: vocatio, erga gentes:’ similarly of κλῆσις , De W., ‘ die Berufung durch das Ev. ’ But thus the point of the argument seems to be lost, which is, that the Jews being once chosen as God’s people, will never be entirely cast off) [ of God cannot be repented of , i.e.] are irretractable (do not admit of a change of purpose. The E. V., ‘ without repentance ,’ is likely to mislead. Compare Hos 13:14 ).

Verse 30

30 .] For (illustration of the above position) as ye (manuscript evidence is too decided against the καί to allow of its being retained: but we may suspect that it has been struck out as superfluous, in ignorance (Thoh) of the Greek usage which often doubles καί in two parallel clauses) in times past were disobedient to God (nationally as Gentiles, before the Gospel) but now have (lit. ‘were compassionated,’ historical) received mercy (scil. by admission into the church of God) through (as the occasion; the breaking off of the natural branches giving opportunity for the grafting in of you) the disobedience of these (i.e. unbelief, considered as an act of resistance to the divine will: see 1Jn 3:23 ), so these also have now (under the Gospel) disobeyed (are now in a state of unbelieving disobedience), in order that through the mercy shewed to you (viz. on occasion of the fulness of the Gentiles coming in) they also may have mercy shewn them (‘the objective view corresponding to the subjective εἰς τὸ παραζηλῶσαι αὐτούς , Romans 11:11 .’ De W.).

Some place the comma after ἐλέει instead of ἠπείθησαν , and construe, either, as Erasm., Calv., al., ‘ they have disobeyed through (upon occasion of) the mercy shewn to you ,’ or as Vulg., Luth., Estius, al., ‘ they have become disobedient to the mercy shewn to you .’ But thus the parallelism is weakened, and the μυστήριον of Rom 11:25 lost sight of. Examples of the emphatic word being placed before ἵνα are found in reff.

Verse 32

32. ] For (foundation of the last stated arrangement in the divine purposes) God shut up (not shut up together ; σύν , as in so many cases, implying, not cο -participation on the part of the subjects of the action, but the character of the action itself: so in ‘concludere.’ The sense is here as in the examples, which might be multiplied by consulting Schweig. hæuser’s Index to Polyb., ‘ to involve in,’ ‘to subject to .’ The aor., which should be kept in the rendering, refers to the time of the act in the divine procedure) all (the reading τὰ πάντα has probably been introduced from Gal 3:22 ) men in (into) disobedience (general here, every form, unbelief included), that He may have mercy on all . No mere permissive act of God must here be understood. The Apostle is speaking of the divine arrangement by which the guilt of sin and the mercy of God were to be made manifest. He treats it, as elsewhere (see ch. Rom 9:18 and note), entirely with reference to the act of God , taking no account, for the time, of human agency; which however, when treating of us and our responsibilities, he brings out into as prominent a position: see as the most eminent example of this, the closely following ch. Romans 12:1-2 .

But there remains some question, who are the οἱ πάντες of both clauses ? Are they the same ? And if so, is any support given to the notion of an ἀποκατάστασις of all men ? Certainly they are identical: and signify all men , without limitation. But the ultimate difference between the all men who are shut up under disobedience, and the all men upon whom mercy is shewn is, that by all men this mercy is not accepted , and so men become self-excluded from the salvation of God. GOD’S ACT remains the same, equally gracious, equally universal, whether men accept His mercy or not. This contingency is here not in view : but simply God’s act itself .

We can hardly understand the οἱ πάντες nationally . The marked universality of the expression recalls the beginning of the Epistle, and makes it a solemn conclusion to the argumentative portion, after which the Apostle, overpowered with the view of the divine Mercy and Wisdom, breaks forth into the sublimest apostrophe existing even in the pages of Inspiration itself.

Verse 33

33 .] There is some doubt whether σοφίας and γνώσεως are genitives after πλούτου , as in E. V., or parallel with it. The former view is adopted by Thom. Aquin., Luther, Beza, Calvin, Estius, Reiche, and al. The grounds on which Reiche supports it are thus given and refuted by Tholuck: (1) “If these three genitives are co-ordinate, καί must stand either before all , or before the last only.” But in the case of three nouns placed co-ordinately in this manner, καί is prefixed to the two latter only, see ch. Romans 2:7 ; Romans 12:2 ; Luke 5:17 . (2) “ πλοῦτος is no qualitative idea, but only a quantitative idea.” But wherein the riches consist , is ordinarily indicated by the context; and here there can be but little doubt on the matter, if we compare ch. Romans 10:12 ; in Php 4:19 we also read of the πλοῦτος of God. This also answers (3) “that πλοῦτος without an adjunct expresses no definite attribute of God.” (4) “in the following citation, Romans 11:34-35 , two only of these, σοφία and γνῶσις , are mentioned.” But this may be doubted. Chrys. says, on Romans 11:36 , αὐτὸς εὗρεν , αὐτὸς ἐποίησεν , αὐτὸς συγκροτεῖ . καὶ γὰρ καὶ πλούσιός ἐστι , καὶ οὐ δεῖται παρ ʼ ἑτέρου λαβεῖν · καὶ σοφός ἐστι , καὶ οὐ δεῖται συμβούλου . τί λέγω συμβούλου ; οὐδὲ εἰδέναι τις δύναται τὰ αὐτοῦ , ἀλλ ʼ ἢ μόνος αὐτὸς ὁ πλούσιος κ . σοφός . Hom. xix. p. 653. Perhaps this latter is altogether too finedrawn: but it is favoured by Bengel, Olsh., and Tholuck.

I prefer therefore the view of Chrys., Theodoret, Grot., Bengel, Tholuck, Köllner, and Olsh., to take πλούτου , σοφίας , γνώσεως , as three co-ordinate genitives: πλ . denoting the riches of the divine goodness , in the whole, and in the result just arrived at, Romans 11:32 ; σοφ ., the divine wisdom of proceeding in the apparently intricate vicissitudes of nations and individuals: γνώσ . (if a distinction be necessary, which can hardly be doubted) the divine knowledge of all things from the beginning, God’s comprehension of the end and means together in one unfathomable depth of Omniscience.

How unsearchable are His judgments (the determinations of His wisdom, regarded as in the divine Mind; answering perhaps to γνῶσις . So Thol.: De W. however denies this meaning to κρίματα , and renders it decrees , referring it to the blinding of the Jews) and His ways unable to be traced out (His methods of proceeding, answering to σοφία , Thol. But this is perhaps too subtle).

Verses 33-36

33 36 .] Admiration of the goodness and wisdom of God, and humble ascription of praise to Him .

Verse 34

34. ] For (confirmation of ἀνεξερ . and ἀνεξιχν . by a citation from Scripture. It is made from two separate places in the LXX, more perhaps as a reminiscence than as a direct quotation) who hath known the mind ( γνῶσις , but see above) of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor ( σοφία ?)?

Verse 35

35. ] or who hath previously given to Him, and it shall be repaid to him ? from Job 41:3 (11 E. V.), where the LXX ( Job 41:2 ) have τίς (add ἐστιν ὃς Α) ἀντιστήσεταί μοι , κ . ὑπομενεῖ ; But the Heb. is מִי הִקְדִּימַנִי וַאֲשַׁלִּם , ‘ who hath anticipated (i.e. by the context, conferred a benefit on) me, that I may repay him ?’ And to this the Apostle alludes, using the third person.

We can hardly doubt that this question refers to the freeness and richness of God’s mercy and love.

Verse 36

36. ] For (ground of Romans 11:33-35 . Well may all this be true of Him, for) of Him (in their origin: ‘quod dicit, “ex ipso,” hoc ipsum, quod sumus indicat:’ Orig [112] Chrys. somewhat differently: see above on Rom 11:33 ), and through Him (in their subsistence and disposal: ‘ “per Ipsum,” quod per ejus providentiam dispensamur in vita:” Orig [113] ), and unto Him (‘ “in Ipso,” (so Vulg. and some other vss.) quod perfectio omnium et finis in Ipso erit tunc, cum erit Deus omnia in omnibus:’ Orig [114] ) are all things (not only, though chiefly, men , but the whole creation). Origen remarks, ‘Vides, quomodo in ultimis ostendit, quod in omnibus quæ supra dixit signaverit, mysterium Trinitatis. Sicut enim in præsenti loco quod ait, “quoniam ex Ipso, et per Ipsum, et in Ipso sunt omnia:” convenit illis dictis, quæ idem Apostolus in aliis memorat locis, cum dicit ( 1Co 8:6 ): “Unus Deus Pater ex quo omnia, et unus Dominus noster Jesus Christus, per quem omnia:” et item in Spiritu Dei dicit revelari omnia, et per hæc designat, in omnibus esse providentiam Trinitatis: ita et cum dicit “altitudo divitiarum,” Patrem, ex quo omnia dicit esse, significat: et sapientiæ altitudinem, Christum, qui est sapientia ejus, ostendit: et scientiæ altitudinem, Spiritum Sanctum, qui etiam alta Dei novit, declarat.’ And, if this be rightly understood, not of a formal allusion to the Three Persons in the Holy Trinity, but of an implicit reference (as Thol.) to the three attributes of Jehovah respectively manifested to us by the three coequal and coeternal Persons, there can hardly be a doubt of its correctness. The objection of De Wette, that not εἰς , but ἐν , would be the designation of the Holy Spirit and His relation to the Universe, applies to that part of Origen’s Commentary which rests on the Vulg. in ipso and to the idea of a formal recognition : but not to Tholuck’s remark, illustrated from ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων κ . διὰ πάντων κ . ἐν πᾶσιν ἡμῖν , Ephesians 4:6 , as referring to εἷς θεός , εἷς κύριος , ἓν πνεῦμα . Only those who are dogmatically prejudiced can miss seeing that, though St. Paul has never definitively expressed the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in a definite formula, yet he was conscious of it as a living reality.

[112] Origen, b. 185, d. 254

[113] Origen, b. 185, d. 254

[114] Origen, b. 185, d. 254

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Romans 11". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/romans-11.html. 1863-1878.
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