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Bible Commentaries
Romans 11

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-36

Romans 11:1 . Hath God cast away his people? The jews would say, what else can we infer? If the gentiles are now become the Israel of God, and if we are rejected for not embracing what Paul calls the righteousness of God? St. Paul denies this, for he himself, and the thousands which believed in Judea, as well as the thousands dispersed on Stephen’s persecution, were all jews, and afforded proof to the contrary. Though God had denationalized them, and sentenced them to dispersion; and though no nation was so inveterate against the christians; yet the door of hope was ever open for their conversion.

Romans 11:5 . Even so then at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace. In Elijah’s time, when the prophets were murdered, there was a remnant of seven thousand men, for whose sakes the nation was spared. When king Ahaz had lost the whole of his kingdom, except Jerusalem, there was a small remnant that saved them from being destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah. Isaiah 1:9. In Paul’s time the remnant obtained mercy for their city; but when they fled, the Romans burned it.

Romans 11:6 . If by grace, then is it no more of works. The whole of the new covenant is grace; nothing remains for impotent man but consent, and as the article says, “God working with us when we have that will,” to look, to believe, or come to Christ. God so loved the world that he gave his only- begotten Son. Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but by his mercy he saveth us. Titus 3:5.

I, a wretch undone and lost, Am freely saved by grace. C. WESLEY.

Romans 11:9 . Let their table be made a snare and a trap. So David prayed in his troubles; and thence was transported in the Spirit to speak of Christ. Psalms 69:23. When the jewish sanhedrim were specially convened on the resurrection of Lazarus, they took counsel to put Jesus to death, and effectuated their purpose at the feast of the passover. In thirty seven years more, the blood of saints and prophets still crying to heaven, when they thought themselves strong enough to throw off the Roman yoke, they assembled all the young men they could, under the pretense of a great passover, and involved them in the rebellion. So their table was made a snare and a trap; and “judgment came upon them to the uttermost.”

Romans 11:17 . If some of the branches be broken off, and thou wert grafted in. The art of grafting trees is coëval with horticultural science, and it is therefore no wonder that it should be improved by inspired men. But grafts and buds are always of the choicest fruits; here they are of the sour, degenerate, and vilest species. They are cut off from the old stock by the knife of excision, a law-work on the mind, of weeping, grief, and pain. Then their nature is changed by grace; for Adam’s sin cannot be grafted on the stock of Christ. Faith joins us in Christ to all that is holy, glorious, and divine. We become one with him, and bring forth fruit to God.

What a transfer of covenant favour, from the unbelieving jews to the believing gentiles. But let not the gentile graft boast against the natural branches. There is no merit in the graft; it bears not the root, but the root supports the graft. Thou standest by faith. The jew may yet come in again, and the haughty gentile may again be cut off, and perish with Gog and Magog, fighting against the truth. What forms does grace assume, and all to bring the soul to God.

Romans 11:22 . Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God. St. Paul, as a prophet, and the first of prophets, often names the destruction of Jerusalem with as much certainty as though it had been accomplished. Hebrews 10:25. On them we see the severity of God in requiring blood for blood. Acts 8:4. How great then was his goodness in calling the gentiles to be his new or peculiar people. But if they should substitute Arian philosophy for the gospel, the Lord would cut them off also, by the bloody armies of Mahomedan fury, or by hell let loose upon the earth, Revelation 9:1-12, and substitute mosques instead of churches. Zion spoiled by vain philosophy, has her candlestick removed. In the conquests of Mahomed, we see the utopian glory of natural religion realized.

Romans 11:25 . Blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the gentiles be come in. This great prophet, this doctor taught in the third heaven, clearly foresaw that the jews would remain in unbelief, until christian missionaries should have succeeded in largely converting the gentiles of every name and nation, and in disseminating the holy scriptures in every language. He foresaw that the veil would then be taken away by the lucid comments which providence would give to prophecy. He saw that the jews, struck with this work of heaven in causing the stumbling-stone, the rock cut out of the mountain without hands and filling the whole earth, would read their prophets with new eyes; would study their ancient targums or paraphrases with divine light, and perceive that their elder rabbins were in effect all christians. What then shall the receiving them back be, but life from the dead? David Kimchi speaks to the same effect. “When Rome shall be laid waste, then salvation shall come to Israel.”

Now as the jews, estimated at seven millions of people, wander in all countries, and speak all languages, heaven has reserved them in store as a world of missionaries, to look on Him whom their fathers have pierced, and glory only in the cross of the great Redeemer.

The first christians, after they came into power, retaliated on the jews the blood of Christ, and the persecution of their two thousand brethren, Acts 8:4: but now they nowhere find friends like the true believers in Christ. Let us continue that kindness towards them, till the full accomplishment of our Redeemer’s promise of one fold, and one shepherd. John 10:16.

Romans 11:28 . As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. By consequence, the election of the Hebrews, and the election of the Gentiles was identically the same in covenant, in promises, in calling, and in all its characters.

Romans 11:29 . For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. The Lord changeth not. Malachi 3:6. He repents not of the designations of grace in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ. The covenant declares his grace; it has its oath, its promises, its conditions, as in the preseding words: Romans 11:20-22. 1 Samuel 2:30. 1 Chronicles 28:10. It is enough for a child to rest on a father’s love, lending a willing ear to all the cautions in the christian scriptures.

Romans 11:33 . Oh the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, in the recovery of fallen man. What a harmony of the divine attributes in this work; what a display of the righteousness of God. Salvation is all of grace, and not by works of righteousness that we have done. The salvation which comprises the gentile as well as the jew, is by faith. Behold in this plan the goodness of God to every creature, goodness which leads to repentance, which debars no one from righteousness and life. Oh the depth also of his severity! He cut off the ancient gentiles for idolatry. He called Abraham, and chose Israel. He rejected the jews, because of unbelief. All is the impartial administration of justice and of grace. How else could God judge the world. Why then should mortal men take the gracious predestinations of providence and grace in an ill sense? God hateth nothing that he hath made.


The believing jews were a remnant according to the election of grace: the rest of the nation were blinded. God sent them the spirit of slumber, Isaiah 30:10, which the LXX read, a spirit of grief, compunction, or sorrow. When they saw the gentiles converted, and endowed with gifts and every grace, it was enough to provoke them to jealousy, and move them to embrace the same faith and worship.

What can be more apparent than that the blinding, and casting off of Israel was temporary. It was designed to promote their conversion by jealousy. The apostle still took all possible pains to remove their prejudice and to promote their conversion, well knowing that God was able to graft them in again, if they abode not still in unbelief.

The caution, not to be highminded, Romans 11:20, is applicable to every christian; a sanctifying fear is the guard of sanctifying joy. Let us flee apostasy, pride, and all the errors which ruined the jews, and come daily to the atoning righteousness of our Redeemer and Lord.

But while we fear, let us be comforted, for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. He never repented of the gift of his Son, and of the new covenant, comprising pardon and every good. His only reproof is because we do not ask enough, that our joy may be full. Let us be assured that no father ever repented of doing good to his children, and who did not think himself more than paid if they do well. But let not apostates, and the unregenerate, wrest this text; for God called the jews out of Egypt, yet because of their rebellion he sware that they should not enter into his rest. God called Eli to the mitre, and Saul to the throne, and afterwards rejected them for disobedience. Yea, and our Lord, in the parable of the talents, warns every wicked and slothful servant in the church, that he will resume his gifts, and cast the unprofitable into outer darkness.

The apostrophe in Romans 11:33-34, is sublime, judicious, and happy beyond example. Oh the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. What a flood of day burst on the apostle’s mind. What kindness to Israel, what corrections for their sins, what paternal objects of judgment. God had now concluded them all in unbelief, not for a dire reprobation, but that he might have mercy upon them all. Oh what grace, and what riches of goodness also to the gentile world. Oh the depth, the depth unfathomable. Here is an intellectual feast for angels. Prepare fresh songs of praise, oh celestial world, and close them with the ancient chorus, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. Oh the depth, how unsearchable. Here, christian, is the study of thy life. Here is the food of thy devotion, leading to rapture and joy. His ways are past finding out. Here is a reserve of studies for glory, and of employment for eternity. Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither have entered the heart of man the things that God hath prepared for them that love him.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Romans 11". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/romans-11.html. 1835.
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