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Third Section.—The final gracious solution of the enigma, or the overruling of judgment for the salvation of Israel. God’s judgment on Israel is not one of reprobation. God’s saving economy in His Providence over Jews and Gentiles, over the election and the great majority of Israel, and over the concatenation of judgment and salvation, by virtue of which all Israel shall finally attain to faith and salvation through the fulness of the Gentiles. The universality of judgment and mercy. Doxology
1I say then, Hath [Did] God cast away his people? God forbid. [Let it not be!] For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of 2Benjamin. God hath [did] not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot [Or know] ye not what the Scripture saith of Elias [ἐν Ἠλίᾳ, in the story of Elijah]? how he maketh intercession to [pleadeth with] God against Israel, 3saying [omit saying],1 Lord,2 they have killed thy prophets, and [omit and; insert they have]3 digged down thine altars; and I am left alone [the only one],4 and they seek my life. 4But what saith the answer of God [the divine response] unto him? I have reserved5 to myself seven thousand men, who have not [who never] bowed the knee to the image of [omit the image of] Baal. 5Even so then at [ἐν, in] this present time also there is a remnant according to6the election of grace. And [Now] if by grace, then is it no more [no longer] of works: otherwise6 grace is no more [no longer becomes] grace. But7 if it be of works, then Isaiah 8:0 it no more [longer] grace: otherwise work is no more [longer] work.9
7What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for [That which Israel seeketh for, he obtained not]; but the election hath [omit hath] obtained 8it, and the rest were blinded [hardened], ([omit parenthesis] According as it is written, God10 hath given [gave] them the [a] spirit of slumber [or, stupor], eyes11 that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto 9[not hear, unto] this day. And David saith,
Let12 their table be made [become] a snare, and a trap,
And a stumbling-block, and a recompense unto them:
10Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see
And bow down their back alway.13
11I say then, Have they stumbled that [Did they stumble in order that] they should fall? God forbid: [Let it not be!] but rather through [but by] their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke [in order to excite] them to jealousy [or, emulation]. 12Now if the fall of them [their fall] be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them [their diminishing] the riches 13of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? For14 I speak [I am speaking] to you Gentiles [;], inasmuch [then]15 as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify [glorify] mine office: 14If by any means I may provoke [excite] to emulation them which are [omit them which are] my [own] flesh, and might save some of them. 15For if the casting away of them be the reconciling [reconciliation] of the world, what shall the receiving [reception] of them be, but life 16from the dead. For [Moreover] if the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy [so also is the lump]: and if the root be holy, so are the branches [also].
17And [But] if some of the branches be [were] broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed [grafted] in among them, and with them partakest [and made fellow-partaker] of the root and16 fatness of the olive tree; 18Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19Thou wilt say then, The17 branches were broken off, that Imight be graffed [grafted] in. 20Well; because of unbelief they were broke off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded,18 but fear: 21For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed [fear] lest19 he also spare not thee. 22Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which [those who] fell, severity;20 but toward thee, goodness [God’s goodness],21 if thoucontinue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23And they also [moreover], if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed [grafted] in: forGod is able to graff [graft] them in again. 24For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed [grafted] contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed [grafted] into their own olive tree?
25For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits,22 that blindness [hardening] in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be [omit be] come in. 26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written,23 There shall come out of Sion the 27Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant [the covenant from me, παὀ ἐμοῦ] unto them, when I shall take away their28sins. As concerning [touching]24 the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes:29but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the30gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as25 ye in times past have not believed [were disobedient to]26 God, yet have now obtained mercythrough their unbelief [the disobedience of these]: 31Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy [i.e., mercy shown to you] they also mayobtain mercy. 32For God hath concluded them all [shut up27 all] in unbelief [disobedience], that [in order that] he might [may] have mercy upon all.33O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom [riches and wisdom] and knowledge of God! how unsearchable28 are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34For who hath29 known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his 35counsellor? Or30 who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36For of him, and through him, and to [unto] him, are all things: to whom [him] be glory for ever. Amen.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Summary.—A. Israel is not rejected; the kernel of it—the election—is saved; Romans 11:1-6. B. The great proportion of Israel, all except the essentially important remnant, the “rest,” are hardened, as was described by the Spirit in the Old Testament beforehand; but its hardness has become a condition for the conversion of the Gentiles; Romans 11:7 to Romans 11:31 C. Yet, on the other hand, the conversion of the Gentiles is in turn a means for the conversion of Israel, and thereby for the revivification of the world. The saving effect of their rejection gives ground for expecting a still more saving effect of their reception. The significance of the first-fruits and of the root; Romans 11:12-16. D. The very fact that the Gentiles believe, and the Jews do not believe, is largely conditional. Gentiles, as individuals, can become unbelievers; and Jews, as individuals, can become believers. For: a. The Gentiles are grafted on the stem of the Jewish theocracy among believing Jews. b. They can just as readily be cut off by unbelief, as the Jews can be grafted in by faith, because the latter have a greater historical relationship with the kingdom of God; Romans 11:17-24. E. The last word, or the mystery of Divine Providence in the economy of salvation. Every thing will redound to the glory of God. God’s saving economy for the world: The unbelieving Gentiles have been converted by believing Israel; unbelieving Israel shall be converted by believing Gentiles. The judgment on all, that mercy might be shown to all. Praise offered to God for His plan of salvation, for its execution, for its end, and for its ground; Romans 11:25-36. [Dr. Hodge divides the chapter into two parts: Romans 11:1-36. (1) The rejection of the Jews was not total. A remnant (and a larger one than many might suppose) remained, though the mass was rejected. (2) This rejection is not final. The restoration of the Jews is a desirable and probable event; Romans 11:11-24. It is one which God has determined to bring about; Romans 11:25-32. A sublime declaration of the unsearchable wisdom of God, manifested in all His dealings with men; Romans 11:33-36. So Forbes.—R.]
Romans 11:1-6 : Israel is not rejected. The real kernel of it is already saved.
Romans 11:1. I say then [Αέγω οῦ̓ν]. The οῦ̓ν may appear to be merely an inference from what was said last: All day long God stretched forth His hand. But as, in Romans 11:11, he makes a further assertion, designed to forestall a false conclusion, it has here the same meaning, in antithesis to the strong judgment pronounced on Israel at the conclusion of the previous chapter. Meyer maintains a more definite reference to the λέγω in Romans 11:10; Romans 11:18-19.
[Did God cast away his people? μὴ ; When Reiche remarks the absence of an ἅπαντα from λαὸν, and Semler an omnino from ἀπώσατο, they both fail to appreciate the emphasis of the expressions. The people and his people are different ones, just as an economic giving over to judgment and an eonic casting away (Psalms 94:14; Psalms 95:7). Bengel: Ipsa populi ejus appellatio rationem negandi continet. The Apostle repels such a thought with religious horror: μὴ γένοιτο.
For I also [καὶ γὰρ ἐγώ]. According to the usual acceptation, he adduces his own call as an example; but Meyer, with De Wette and Baumgarten-Crusius, on the contrary, hold that Paul, on account of his patriotic sense as a true Israelite, could not concede that casting away.32 But it was just this inference from a feeling of national patriotism that was the standpoint of his opponents. A single example, it is said, can prove nothing. But by Paul’s using the καί, he refers to the other examples which were numerously represented by the Jewish Christians among his readers.
Am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin [Ἰσραηλίτης εἰμί, ἐκ σπέρματος Ἀβραάμ, φυλῆς Βενιαμείν. The spelling Βενιαμίν (LXX., Rec.) is poorly supported here and in Philippians 3:5.] As a true scion of Abraham and Benjamin—the tribe which., together with Judah, constituted the real substance of the people which returned from the captivity—he is conscious that he does not belong to the election as a mere proselyte; if he would speak of a casting away of God’s people, he must therefore deny himself and his faith (Philippians 3:5). [Alford distinguishes between the popular view, and another which implies, “that if such a hypothesis were to be conceded, it would exclude from God’s kingdom the writer himself, as an Israelite.” This agrees, apparently, with Lange’s view, but implies also that “his people” is used in the national sense, not of the spiritual Israel. See below.—R.]
Romans 11:2. God did not cast away [οὐκ ]. He follows with a solemn declaration founded upon the testimony of his own conscientiousness and of examples.
His people [τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ]. He is as definite in characterizing His people, ὅν προέγνω, as he is grand in his declaration of the not casting away. On the idea of προγινώσκειν, see Romans 8:29. Two explanations here come in conflict with each other:
1. The spiritual people of God are spoken of, the Ἰσραὴλ θεοῦ; Romans 9:6; Galatians 6:16 (Origen, Augustine, Luther, Calvin [Hodge], &c.).
2. Meyer says, on the contrary: The subject of the whole chapter is not the spiritual Israel, but the fate of the nation in regard to the salvation effected by the Messiah. Tholuck and Philippi [De Wette, Stuart, Alford], are of the same view. But the idea of “people” which the Apostle presents is so very dynamical, that it might be said: to him the election is the people, and God’s true people is an election. This is evidently the thought in chap. 9, and also in Romans 11:4-5 of the present chapter. But if we emphasize properly the idea of casting away, the idea of election does not any more stand in antithesis to it; that is, it is not thereby settled that there is an election. But as the defenders of view (1) mistake the full import of the further elaboration, especially Romans 11:26, so do the defenders of (2) pass too lightly over the gradations made by the Apostle. [Against the interpretation: spiritual people, it may well be urged, that all along the Apostle has been speaking of the nation; that this very chapter treats of the final salvation of Israel as a nation, and Paul says he is an Israelite, &c., of this historical (not spiritual) people. Besides, the Scriptures have suffered very much from assumptions respecting spiritual references. The only argument in favor of this meaning is the phrase: “Whom he foreknew.” It is held that this defines the people as those referred to in Romans 8:29 ff.; but may there not be a foreknowledge of a nation resulting in national privileges, such as the Jews enjoyed, as really as foreknowledge of an individual and consequent blessing? The whole current of thought in the chapter—in fact, in chaps. 9–11—is against any such interpretation as shall make “His people” = His spiritual Israel, over against Israel as a nation. If any limitation be made, it should be thus expressed: the real people of God among the Jewish people, recognizing them as the pith and kernel of the nation, not as isolated individuals from out the mass. This seems to be Dr. Lange’s view, and is probably that of many who are quoted in favor of (I). We thus retain the weight of the Apostle’s proof: For I also am an Israelite, and avoid weakening the main thought of the chapter, which undoubtedly is: the ultimate national restoration of the Jews. Were it not this, the whole argument of chaps. 9–11 ends with a non sequitur. Comp. Alford, in loco.—R.]
What is meant by God casting away His people? 1. There is an election of believers, and it is far greater than one of little faith may think. (How many Jews themselves, of all periods, would like to have been friends of Jesus!) 2. The call of the Gentiles is even designed indirectly for the conversion of Israel, and individuals can always be gained. 3. The whole Divine disposition is designed for the final salvation of all Israel. Here, therefore, the thought of the mercy controlling this whole economy, comes in contrast with the thought of the great economical judgment of hardening. If, however, the expression all Israel be urged, and there be found in individuals of it an assurance of the salvation of the empirical totality, we would have to be indifferent to the idea of election with reference to Israel as a people, and let it consist in the idea of an absolute restoration.
Which he foreknew [ὃν προέγνω]. This limits the meaning, in so far as the empirical mass of the people is not meant; but, on the other hand, the small empirical number of believing Jews is also not meant, but the people in their whole regal idea and nature. In this eternal destination of Israel, God cannot contradict himself. [Alford (so Tholuck, De Wette, Meyer) thus paraphrases: “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.” Toward this national reference later commentators generally incline. See Hodge, on the other side.—R.]
Or know ye not, &c. [Ἤ οὐκ οἴδατε ἐν Ἠλίᾳ, κ.τ.λ. Ἤ introduces a new objection to the matter impugned (Alford). Comp. Romans 9:21; Romans 6:3.—R.] Tholuck: “Ἐν Ἠλίᾳ, quotation of the section treating of Elijah, as Mark 12:26 : ἐπὶ τῆς βάτου. Examples from the classics in Fritzsche, to which may be added Thucydides i.9, and proofs from Philo, in Grossmann,” &c. (see 1 Kings 19:10; 1 Kings 19:14). Incorrect view: ἐν Ἠλίᾳ, of Elijah (Erasmus, Luther [E. V.], and others). [Upon this point all modern commentators and translators agree, though they differ about the proper word to be supplied, whether section, history, or story; the last is simplest.—R.]
Romans 11:3. Lord, they have killed thy prophets, &c. [Κύριε, τοὐς προφήτας σου , κ.τ.λ. See Textual Note2.] The Apostle has quoted freely the real meaning of the words of the text. It makes no difference in the thing itself that, in the complaint which Elijah makes, he understands by the μόνος33 the only remaining prophet, while the present passage understands the only worshipper of God. For the prophet, in his state of mind, was not inclined to acknowledge dumb or absconding worshippers of God as God’s true worshippers. But Paul, in conformity with his view, has transposed the words meaning altars and prophets. Meyer pays attention to the plural, the altars, “as the temple at Jerusalem was the only place exclusively designed for service.” But even in the temple at Jerusalem there were two altars. Yet the question here is concerning the kingdom of Israel, and therefore the remark of Estius is almost superfluous, that it was even blasphemy to throw down God’s altars on the high places.34
Romans 11:4. But what saith the Divine response unto him? ἀλλὰ τί λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ κρηματισμός; On κρηματισμός, see the Lexicons. [The substantive occurs only here in the New Testament. The cognate verb is used in Matthew 2:12; Matthew 2:22; Acts 10:22; Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 11:7, in the sense: to be warned of God, as the E. V. expresses it. The obvious meaning here: Divine response, seems to have been thus derived: the word first meant business, then formal audience given to an ambassador, and then an oracular response, though this was not the classical sense. See Malachi 2:4; Malachi 2:4; 2Ma 11:17.—R.]
I have reserved to myself [Κατέλιπον ἐμαυτῷ. See Textual Note.5To myself, as my possession and for my service, over against the apostasy into idolatrous service (Meyer).—R.] The original expression: “I will leave me,” has been changed by the Apostle into the past tense, without thereby altering the sense, as has been done by the LXX.
Seven thousand men [ἑπτακιζχιλίους ἄνδρας]. It is sufficient to regard the number seven as the sacred number in relation to the services, and the number thousand as a designation of a popular assembly. Tholuck, after Kurtz (p. 591), considers the number seven as the perfect and covenant number. There are different ideas of perfection, according to which the Numbers 3:4, Numbers 3:7, Numbers 3:10, , Numbers 3:12, may be together regarded as numbers denoting perfection.35 The Mohammedan saying, quoted by Tholuck, is interesting: that “God never allows the world to be without a remainder of seventy righteous people, for whose sake He preserves it.”
[Who never bowed, οἵτινες οὐκ ἔκαμψαν. Alford remarks on οἵτινες, which is a variation from the original, that it gives “the sense of the saying, as far as regards the present purpose, viz., to show that all these were faithful men; in the original text and LXX., it is implied that these were all the faithful men.”—R.]
To Baal. The feminine τῇ Βάαλ has given occasion for much discussion. In the LXX. the name has sometimes the masculine and sometimes the feminine article. Why does it have the latter? As the LXX. of this passage has τῷ Βάαλ, Meyer has admitted a mistake of Paul’s memory; Fritzsche holds that the codex which Paul read, contained a different reading. According to Olshausen, Philippi, Meyer [Stuart, Hodge], and others, the feminine form may be explained by the fact that Baal was regarded as an androgynous deity; but this is not sufficiently proved. According to Gesenius, the feminine form was understood as a contemptuous expression of idols; which view is also favored by Tholuck. The elder critics (Erasmus, Beza, Grotius) understood the word as applying to the statue of Baal. [So E. V.] Tholuck replies to this, by saying: without analogy. But the idol is the contemptible image or statue of the false god. Yet, if we hold that Baal had no reality as god to the Jews, but merely as an idol, the whole series of feminine forms used in designating Baal becomes clear at once (1 Samuel 7:4; Zephaniah 1:4; Hosea 2:8). Meyer is of the opinion that, in that case, it would have to read τῇ τοῦ Βάαλ; but this would fully destroy the probably designed effect of the feminine form. Tholuck observes: “In the Gothic language, Guth, as masculine, means God; but gud, as neuter, means idols;” and by this means he again approaches the explanation which, in passing, he has rejected. He does the same thing in his preceding remark: “In the rabbinical writings, idols are contemptuously called הֶאֶלוֹת.” On Baal,36 comp. Winer, das Wörterbuch für das christliche Volk, and the Hebrew Antiquities, by De Wette, Ewald, and Keil.
Romans 11:5. Even so then in this present time [οὕτως οῦ̓ν καὶ ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῶ. Alford suggests: “even in the present time, sc., of Israel’s national rejection.—R.] God, according to that example, secures for himself a certain remnant [λεῖμμα] of the elect, according to His constant law of election—that is, according to the election of grace [κατ’ ἐκλογὴν καριτος. Comp. Romans 9:11. Stuart: “an election, not on the ground of merit, but of mercy.—R.]
Ver 6. Now if by grace [εἰ δὲ κάριτι. Δέ logical, now.—R.] Namely, that a λεῖμμα existed, and always continues to exist. Grace, or the gift of grace, cannot be divided and supplemented by, or confounded with, a merit of works. Augustine: Gratia, nisi gratis sit, gratia non est.
[Then it is no longer of works: otherwise grace no longer becomes grace, οὐκ ἔτι ἐξ ἔργων, ἐπεὶ ἡ καρις οὐκ ἔτι γίνεται χάρις.—But if it be of works, then it is no longer grace: otherwise work is no longer work, εἰ δὲ ἐξ ἔργων, οὐκ ἔτι χάρις, ἐπεὶ τὸ ἔργον οὐκ ἔτι ἐστὶν ἔργον. The critical questions respecting the second clause are discussed in Textual Notes7, 8, 9, and at some length below. The discussion requires us to insert the verse in full.—R.] We may now ask how we must understand the parallel clauses? The usual explanation places the following in antithesis to each other: Now if it is by grace (that remnant, or its causality, the election), then it is simply not by the merit of works, otherwise grace is no more grace.—But if it be by works, then is it no more grace, otherwise work would be no true work, but mercenary work. In connection with this antithesis, clear and significant in itself, there arise, however, three questions: 1. Why does the Apostle enlarge the first proposition by the second, since the latter seems to be quite self-evident from the former? 2. What should the γίνεται (χάρις) mean, where ἐστι should be so positively expected that the Vulgate [E. V.], and other versions, have even substituted ?Esther 3:0. Why is χάρις used instead of ἐκ χάριτος [to correspond with ἐξ ἔργων] in the second sentence?
As far as the first point is concerned, Tholuck says: “The genuineness of the antithesis ‘εἰ δὲ ἐξ ἔργων,’ &c., is more than doubtful. Its oldest authorities are Cod. B., Peshito, Chrysostom, Theodoret (in the text). On the contrary, it is wanting in A. C. D. F. G., Origen (according to Rufinus), Vulgate, the Coptic Translation, and others. Yet Fritzsche has undertaken to defend this reading, and lately Reiche also, in the Comm. Crit., p. 67; Tischendorf has preserved it in the text,” &c. According to Tholuck, the addition has the character of a glossarial reflection. This appearance of such a self-evident amplification could, however, have also occasioned the omission.37
The γίνεται in the first sentence means, according to Tholuck: to result, to come out as. This explanation is just as doubtful as that of Meyer: “in its concrete appearance it ceases to be what it is by nature.” [So De. Wette, Alford, Philippi. The distinction between γίνεται and ἐστίν is ignored by many commentators.—R.] The χάρις, in the second sentence, must be understood, according to the current explanation, as the effect of the χάρις in the first sentence. In addition to this, we have the question: What is the meaning of “work is no more work?” Does the Apostle regard only mercenary work as a true work? We attempt the following explanation: If it is of grace, then it is no more of works; for grace does not first exist, or is not first in process of existence by works. Grace, according to its very nature, must be complete before works. But if of works, then no further grace exists,38 because the work is not yet complete, and never will be complete as meritorious work. Works, considered as meritorious, are always an incomplete infinitude. But if grace should first be the result of works, it would not be present until the boundless future. If we accept this view, the literal expression is saved; and to the first declaration, that grace and the merit of works preclude each other, there is gained a second: Grace is naturally a prepared ground before the existing work, &c. (see also the continuation in Romans 11:7). The reading of Cod. B.: εἰ δὲ ἐξ ἔργων, οὐκέτι χάρις, ἐπεὶ τὸ ἔργον οὐκέτι ἐστὶ χάρις, seems also to be a special attempt at an explanation. The real purpose of the antithesis is, that the Apostle proves that the election of the people could only consist of those who establish themselves on grace, but not in the party which establishes itself on works. If the matter were as those who rely on the righteousness of works desire, there would not be any grace; and grace would never be accomplished, because the righteousness of works is never accomplished, just as little as the tower of Babel was ever finished.39
Romans 11:7-11. The great body of unbelievers who have not been able to obtain grace by works, are not the real substance of the people. They are essentially an apostate remnant of hardened ones. Yet their stumbling was not designed for their ruin, but for the salvation of the Gentiles.
Romans 11:7. What then. Τί οῦ̓ν. This inference, as well as the ἐπιζητεῖ, becomes quite definite, if we refer to the conclusion of the previous verse.—That which Israel seeketh for, he obtained not [ὃ ἐπιζητεῖ σραήλ, τοῦτο οὐκ ἐπέτυχεν. The latter verb is usually followed by the genitive; rarely, in the classics, by the accusative, as here. Hence we find, in Rec. (no MSS.), τούτου. See Meyer for the authorities for this use of the accusative. The meaning is not: to find, but to attain to, to obtain.—R.] Israel did not obtain that which it sought to obtain by works—grace, as the end of the finished work. Like a phantom beyond the ever unfinished work, grace had to recede ever further in the distance. The ἐπιζητεῖν can, at all events, also mean zealous striving [Fritzsche, Philippi, Hodge]; but it is clear that this idea would not be in place here. [Meyer says it indicates the direction.—R.] The present properly denotes “the permanence of the effort”—the permanence of the effort to find the city of grace at the end of the long road of self-righteousness.
But the election obtained it [ἡδὲ ἐκλογὴ ἐπέτυχεν. The election for the elect, as the circumcision for those circumcised. Vivacious expression.—R.] Meyer says: “For they were subjects of Divine grace.” Paul has already said, in other words: For the elect are distinguished by having received God’s grace in faith.
And the rest were hardened [οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ ἐπωρώθησαν. The verb is rendered blinded in the E. V., here, and 2 Corinthians 3:14; in other places, hardened, which is decidedly preferable.—R.] Israel is divided into two parts. One part is the ἐκλογή, although it is the minority; the other is the λοιποί, the τινές, although they are the majority. Meyer says, they were hardened by God. [So Hodge, Stuart, Philippi (with a reservation), and Tholuck, in later editions; comp. Romans 9:18. The passive certainly, includes this thought.—R.] Paul says, they have been hardened by a reciprocal process between their unbelief and God’s judgments. The sense undoubtedly is, that those who remain for the incalculable periods of judgment have become, “in understanding and will, insusceptible of the appropriation of salvation in Christ” (Meyer), and insusceptible, above all, in their heart and spirit; because the last sparks of the spiritual life in them, which alone can understand the gospel of the Spirit, have expired; just as a sapless plant is no more supported by the sunshine, but is reduced to a dried-up stalk.
Romans 11:8. According as it is written. [Stuart is disposed to find in καθὼς (א. B., Tregelles: καθάπερ) γέγραπται a declaration of analogy, rather than a citation of prophecy. So Tholuck; but Fritzsche, Meyer, and others, hold the latter view. “The perspective of prophecy, in stating such cases, embraces all the analogous ones, especially that great one, in which the words are most prominently fulfilled” (Alford). See below, note on Romans 11:10. On the free citation, see Textual Notes9, 10.—R.] The citation is freely collated from Isaiah 29:10; Isaiah 6:9; Deuteronomy 29:4. Meyer denies that Isaiah 6:9 is taken into consideration; but if we compare the two other passages, they do not suffice for Paul’s citation, since the assertion in Deuteronomy 29:4 contains merely negations.
God gave them. By no means a mere permission (Chrysostom), but likewise not simply activity, without something further. The ground of the judgment of a spirit of slumber [πνεῦμακα τανύξεως], or of deep sleep (רוּחַ תַּרְדֵּמָה), on Israel, is definitely declared, in Isaiah 29:10, to be the guilt of the people; Romans 11:13 ff.—But the passage in Isaiah 6:9 ff., which constitutes the principal part of the present quotation, is explained immediately afterward in the conduct of Ahaz, in chap. 7. The third passage from Deuteronomy brings out more definitely the negative element in this hardening process: “Yet the Lord hath not given you a heart to perceive,” &c. On the meaning and interpretations of κατάνυξις, see Meyer, p. 420; Tholuck, p. 596.40—[Unto this day; to be joined with what immediately precedes, since they are substantially from Deuteronomy 29:4. So modern editors and commentators generally.—R.]
Romans 11:9. And David saith. The second passage is taken freely from Psalms 69:22 (LXX.). Meyer says: “David is not the author of this Psalm (against Hengstenberg), which must be judged analogously to the expression in Matthew 22:43.” Comp. on that passage the Commentary on Matthew, p. 404. First of all, it is quite easy to prove that the sufferings of the people in exile could not have been in mind in writing either the lamentations of Psalms 19:0., or the “imprecations” on enemies. First, the theocratic exiles did not say that they had to suffer for the Lord’s sake (Romans 11:7), and for zeal for His house (Romans 11:9). But they said just the contrary (see Psalms 106:0; Isaiah 64:0; Daniel 9:0.). And though the exile could also invoke God’s wrath on the heathen, and wish them evil (Psalms 79:6; Psalms 137:9), the prophetic imprecations are very different, for they portray the judgments of blindness that are invoked on the spiritual adversaries of the theocratic faith, and of the house and name of the Lord, who proved their enmity by persecuting God’s servant. Comp., in this respect, Psalms 59:0; Psalms 64:0; Psalms 69:22-28; Psalms 109:0. In such Psalms, either the personal, collective, or ideal41 David chiefly speaks, because David has become the type of God’s suffering servant. We therefore hold, with Luther, Rosenmüller, and others, that the concluding words (from Romans 11:32) are a later addition.42
The imprecations themselves are a propheticoethical view, clad in the sombre drapery of the Old Testament. [Dr. J. Add. Alexander remarks, on this verse of Psalms 69:0 : “The imprecations in this verse, and those following it, are revolting only when considered as the expression of malignant selfishness. If uttered by God, they shock no reader’s sensibilities; nor should they, when considered as the language of an ideal person, representing the whole class of righteous sufferers, and particularly Him who, though He prayed for His murderers while dying (Luke 23:34), had before applied the words of this very passage to the unbelieving Jews (Matthew 23:38), as Paul did afterwards.”—R.]
Let their table become a snare [Γενηθήτω ἡ τράπεζα αὐτῶν εἰς παγίδα]. Philippi, with Origen, Tholuck, and others, has referred the table to the law and its works. But when Melanchthon says: doctrina ipsorum, the latter must be very carefully distinguished from the law itself. Chrysostom: their enjoyments; Michaelis, and others: the Jewish passover meal, at which the Jews were besieged, and which was followed by the destruction of Jerusalem; Grotius: the altar in the temple itself. The point of the figure becomes blunted, if we hold, with Tholuck, that table is mentioned, because it is at the table that surprise by an enemy is most dangerous. Rather, the table, or the enjoyment of life by the ungodly, becomes itself their snare, &c. Now this table can be something different at different times; generally, it is the symbol of comfortable banqueting in wicked security over the ungodly enjoyment of life (see Matthew 24:38). With the Jews of the Apostle’s day, this table was their statutes, and, above all, their illusion that the earthly glory of the kingdom of Israel would be manifested by triumph over the Romans. It is a fact that the table, the ungodly enjoyment of life, becomes a snare for the ruin of the adversaries of the Holy One; just as the pious man’s table becomes a sign of blessing and victory (Psalms 23:0.). While they think they are consuming the spoils of their earthly sense, they become themselves a spoil to every form of retribution; just as the bird is led into the snare, and the deer is hunted, or perishes by a stumbling-block—that is, a trap.
[And a trap, and a stumbling-block, and a recompense unto them, καὶ εἰς θήραν καὶ εἰς σκάνδαλον καὶ . See Textual Note11.—R.] Paul has freely elaborated the original forms still further, by inserting καὶ εἰς θήραν. Likewise σκάνδαλον follows ἀνταπόδοσις in the LXX. The Vulgate interprets θήρα by captio; Fritzsche and Meyer adopt the same, while Tholuck and Philippi prefer the instrument [Ewald, Alford: net] of hunting, which applies to both the other means of capture, and not merely as a “hunting-spear.” Meyer is incorrect in saying that this ruin is explained in what follows. For the following words describe the inward relations of the judgment of the ungodly, in antithesis to the judgment in the outward relations of life, which have been described by the foregoing words.
Romans 11:10. Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see [ακοτισθήτωσαν οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ αὐτῶν τοῦ μὴ βλέπειν]. Spiritual blindness is one form of the inward judgment, and total despondency of spirit is the other.
And bow down their back alway [καὶ τὸν νῶτον αὐτῶν διὰ π.αντὸς σύγκαμψον. See Textual Note12.—R.] The LXX. has translated the words of the original text, “and make their loins continually to shake,” by: “make their backs crooked always;” a change to which the Apostle adheres, probably because it gives the expression of permanent dejection a somewhat more general character.—By bowed-down backs, Meyer understands spiritual slavery, while the early expositors understood Roman slavery. Yet this would be an important deviation from the original text. But, in reality, the bowed-down backs should mean the same thing as shaking or tottering loins.
Tholuck and Philippi have correctly observed, against Fritzsche, and others, that in Romans 11:8 (and the same thing applies also to Romans 11:9) the question is not the citation of a prophecy, according to which the unbelief of the Jews at the time of Christ must be a necessary result. Yet this remark does not suffice to show that the quotation takes place as in the citations in Matthew 13:14; John 12:40; Acts 28:26; which “refer, vi analogiœ, to the classical passage for the unbelieving conduct of Israel toward God, in Isaiah 6:0.” The most direct practical purpose of these citations in the New Testament is to prove to the Jews, from their own Holy Scriptures and history, that there was always in Israel an inclination to apostasy; and that it is therefore not contrary to faith in prophecy to charge the present Israel with apostasy (see the defence of Stephen). But then a really typical prophecy also underlies this purpose; yet it is not a fatalistic prophecy, but the idea of the consequence of ruin even to its historical consummation (see Matthew 23:32 ff.).
Romans 11:11. I say then, Did they stumble in order that they should fall? [λέγω οὖν, μὴ ἔπταισαν ἵνα πέσωσιν;] A qualification to guard against a false conclusion. They have certainly stumbled and fallen; but the purpose of their guilty stumbling and falling under the previously described judgment of hardness was not that they should fall, in the absolute sense, into the ruin of the ἀπώλεια. Their falling is economically limited, and economically turned and applied, to the salvation of the Gentiles (see Romans 9:17; Romans 9:23). The stumbling of the λοιποί took place against the stone of offence (Romans 9:32-33; Romans 10:11). The ἵνα denotes the final purpose of the Divine judicial government, and is not merely ἐκβατικῶς, as Chrysostom, Augustine, and others, would have it.43 Tholuck makes the noteworthy remark, that πταίειν, to stumble (which must not be referred, with De Wette, and others, to the σκάνδαλον mentioned in Romans 11:9, but rather to the λίθος προςκόμματος in Romans 9:33), has the sense of moral stumbling; James 2:10; James 3:2; and that πίπτειν, on the contrary, has this ethically figurative sense neither in the Hebrew, nor Greek, nor Latin, but only the sense of yielding to, sinking under.
But by their fall [ἀλλὰ τῷ αὐτῶν παραπτώματι. On παράπτωμα, see p. 184, Dr. Schaff’s note.—R.] Meyer has no ground for not finding in παραπτ. the meaning of falling, but only the delictum (Vulgate) [so Alford], for they have really fallen, yet that was not the object (see also Tholuck, p. 600). Tholuck properly opposes, also, the view that here the principal thought is, that Israel should be restored, although an intimation of the restitution of Israel is included in the words. It is evident that the conversion of the Gentiles is primarily designated as the final object of Israel’s fall; with this final object there is, indeed, again associated the final object of the preliminarily isolated and of the finally total conversion of Israel. The παραπτ. here can as little mean a mere “passing away,” as a mere infortunium, which Reiche and Rückert, with others, would render it.44
Salvation is come. Ἡ σωτηρία. Γέγονεν must be supplied, according to the connection. The Apostle cannot have regarded this tragical condition as an absolute necessity; but he may very well have considered it an historical one. Israel, having been placed in its existing condition by its own guilt, did not desire the Gentiles, under the most favorable circumstances, to participate in the messianic salvation, except as proselytes of the Jews; and still more did it indulge the thought of vengeance on, and dominion over, the Gentiles; but it was impossible for Christianity, as Jewish Christianity, to become universal in the Gentile world. In addition to this came the experience of the Apostle, that he was always driven more decidedly to missionary labors among the Gentiles by the unbelief of the Jews; Matthew 21:43; Acts 13:46; Acts 28:28. The negative condition of this transition was apostolic preaching, and especially that of Paul.
In order to excite them to jealousy [εἰς τὸ παραζηλῶσαι αὐτούς. Instead of jealousy, we may substitute emulation, as the word is not used in a bad sense (Hodge). The clause is telic; the purpose was not the total fall, but that their moral fall might be used to further the salvation of the Gentiles, and this, in turn, bring about their own salvation as a nation.—R.] This purpose was associated from the outset, and the mention of it is here in place for the removal of the fatalistic thought, that their fall was decreed for their ruin.
Romans 11:12-16. As the unbelief of the Jews has been the means of effecting the conversion of the Gentiles, so shall the conversion of the Gentiles be still more not only the means of effecting the belief of the Jews, but, with this return of Israel, still greater things shall occur.
Now if their fall … and their diminishing the riches of the Gentiles [εἰ δὲ τὸ παράπτωμα αὐτῶν ... τὸ ἥττημα αὐτῶν πλοῦτος ἐθνῶν. In order to explain this difficult verse, we must start with the ἥττημα in Isaiah 31:8, which does not occur in classical language, but is there represented by ἧττα [Attic for ἧσσα, a defeat], the contrary of νίκη. In the passage cited, ἥττημα means not merely the being overcome, but the military diminution which is the result of defeat. At all events, it is to be taken here as diminution in captivity, according to the original text, for menial servitude. Likewise, in 1 Corinthians 6:7, the word means a moral loss, a diminution of the power of believers in opposition to the world. We therefore hold that the expression ἥττημα places the two other ideas in a more definite light, and that the whole expression alludes to the scene of a routed army. Even in military affairs, the dynamical antithesis of broken power and of the full sense of power is connected with the ideas of numerical diminution and numerical fulness; as, in the present instance, the weakening is connected with the loss of men, and full power with the complete number. Tholuck bases his explanation on the meaning of πλήρωμα in Romans 11:25.
Explanations of the ἥττημα: diminutio (Vulgate); minority, defectus (Chrysostom, and most commentators); injury, loss, fall (De Wette, and others). De Wette brings this explanation in exclusive antithesis to the first, with reference to 2 Corinthians 12:13. Fritzsche: Diminution of messianic salvation. Philippi: The damage to God’s kingdom by their falling away. But Meyer remarks, with good reason, that the thrice-repeated αὐτῶν is in the same relation, the subjective genitive. Tholuck: Reduced state.45 According to Tholuck, Meyer’s explanation is: the minority; but Meyer himself pronounces against this explanation, and understands the word to mean, sinking and ruin. Ulfilas has interpreted the word, which means at the same time the loss of men and the weakening, by the deficiency. There is a real difference made by the reference to the believing Jews as the minority of believers (paucitas Judœorum credentium; Grotius), and the antithetical body of unbelievers, the moral field of the dead, or the captured, those subjected to slavery. But here, too, both parts cannot be separated. The αὐτοί are the whole people; the believers are the sound remainder of the army; while the unbelievers, the same as the fallen, or captives, are its ἥττημα.
How much more their fulness [πόσῳ μᾶλλον τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῶν]. The πλήρωμα. Explanations: The whole body (Tholuck); the full number (Meyer); the restoration of Israel to its proper position (Rückert, Köllner); [Hodge: their full restoration or blessedness; Alford: their replenishment.—R.] Philippi: the filling up of the gap caused in God’s kingdom by their unbelief. The latter view, which was first set forth by Origen, is discussed at length by Tholuck, p. 606 ff. But this view confounds in a twofold way: 1. The idea of the full number of God’s eternal community in general, and the idea of material fulness (πλήρωμα), the whole number of the Jewish people; 2. The idea of the economic completeness in the present passage, and that of eonic completeness.46
Tholuck very properly calls attention to the apparent tautology in πλοῦτος κόσμου, πλοῦτος ἐθνῶν, which has been very much neglected by expositors. In κόσμος, he says, there seems to be comprised the idea of the whole extent of humanity; and in πλοῦτ. ἐθν. there appears the more concrete designation: “The reduction of the chosen people turned to an enrichment of the profane nations.” The former definition regards the qualitative, intensive, and teleological relation in an altogether universal sense: The fall of the historical Israel redounded to the advantage of the world, even including the ideal Israel. The latter definition describes the quantitative and extensive character of the historical course. Jewish tribes, or Jewish communities, drop out of the people, while, on the other hand, whole heathen nations are gained. But if their fall has thus been a gain to the world, how much more their fulness—that is, a believing Israel!
Romans 11:13. For I am speaking to you Gentiles [ὑμῖν δὲ λέγω τοῖς ἔθνεσιν. The sense is the same whether we read γάρ or δέ. A colon should follow this clause; the pointing of the E. V. obscures the proper connection.—R.] The declared prospect of the full conversion of Israel leads him to the further explanation, that he regards even the conversion of the Gentiles, though an object in itself, as a means for accomplishing the object of Israel’s conversion. [According to Alford, this verse answers the question: “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 favored Gentiles?”—R.]—You Gentiles; that is, Gentile Christians.—[Inasmuch then ἐφ̓ ὅσον μὲν οὖν. See Textual Note14. The corresponding δέ is wanting, as often in the Apostle’s writings.—R.] Ἐφ̓ ὅσον, not quamdiu (Origen, Vulgate, Luther).
I glorify mine office [τὴν διακονίαν μου δοξάζω]. Not: I praise my office (Luther, Grotius, and Reiche); but: I strive to glorify my office by its faithful discharge (De Wette, Meyer, and others); in which, indeed, he also says, that he esteems his office as a glorious one.47
Romans 11:14. My own flesh [μου τήν σάρκα. On μου in this peculiar position, see Meyer. D. F. put it after the noun. It is sufficiently emphatic to justify the emendation, my own flesh.—R.] An expression of inward participation with Israel in natural descent. Theodoret: The word leads us to understand the denial of spiritual participation. Romans 11:28 proves that this antithesis is not very remote; yet the inward attachment to his people here appears in the foreground.
Romans 11:15. For if the casting away of them [εἰ γὰρ ]. Ἀποβολή, throwing away, an antithesis to πρόσλημψις; see Romans 11:17. Therefore not their diminution (Vulgate, Luther). [So Bengel, Philippi, who find here also an allusion to the loss in numbers sustained by the kingdom of God.—R.] Tholuck alludes to the use of language in the LXX., and the Church (ἀποβολή, expulsion).
Be the reconciliation of the world [καταλλαγή κόσμου]. Not as causality, but as condition, without which the word of reconciliation did not reach the Gentiles without obstruction. [It is perhaps to express this shade of thought that the E. V. renders: reconciling; but reconciliation is more literal, and shows how important Paul deemed the fact in question, which could thus be characterized.—R.] In this free use of language Paul also says σώσω, in Romans 11:14, because he is the herald of σωτηρία.
What shall the reception of them be [τίς ἡ πρόζλημψις]. Reception to salvation, and to participation in salvation by their conversion.
But life from the dead? [εἰ μὴ ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρῶν;] It is clear that the Apostle awaits a boundless effect of blessing on the world from the future conversion of the Jews. We ask, What is it? We must first look at the antithesis: Their casting away became the reconciling of the world; that is, only conditionally, therefore as if, and indirectly. Thus, we continue, the conversion of the whole people of Israel will also be conditionally, as if, and indirectly, a life from the dead. With the appropriated καταλλαγή, there now begins, first, the spiritual resurrection, which is succeeded, second, by the future bodily resurrection. Hence different explanations:
1. Figurative expression of the new spiritual life (Augustine, Calvin, and others) of the Gentile world, or of the world in general, but not of the Jews (as Cocceius, Bengel, and others, explain), since the new life of the latter is regarded as an antecedent means. But this new life is also regarded in different senses: The further extension of God’s kingdom, and the new subjective vivification (Philippi, and others), increase, and advance of piety (Bucer, Bengel). “A new life in the higher charismatic fulness of the Spirit shall extend from God’s people to the nations of the world, compared with which the previous life of the nations must be considered dead;” Auberlen (calculated to mislead, and over-drawn, so far as the Christian life of the previous world is meant). Other modifications: Highest joy [Grotius, Hodge apparently], highest blessedness. [Stuart: something great, wonderful, surprising, like to what a general resurrection of the dead would be. He thinks it probable Paul had in mind Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones.—R.]
2. The literal view: The resurrection of the dead is meant—the oldest ecclesiastical explanation (Origen, Chrysostom, Rückert, Tholuck, Meyer, De Wette, &c.). Tholuck says that the meaning of this view is, that the conversion of Israel is regarded as the final act in the world’s drama; but then he makes the objection, that ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρ. nowhere stands in the New Testament for the ἀνάστασις, and thus the expositor finds himself compelled to prefer the metaphorical exposition.
But it has not been sufficiently considered how very conditional the first proposition in the comparison is: for if the casting away of them be the reconciliation of the world. As this is a fact which is realized first up to and in the conversion of the Pleroma of the Gentiles, and then of the Jews, so is the consequence of their reacceptance a fact which is continued from the higher spiritual new life of the world to its consummation, particularly in the first resurrection. To the Apostle, the ideas of spiritual resurrection and bodily resurrection do not lie so far apart (see Romans 8:11) as to our expositors; therefore Olshausen is right in applying the word to a spiritual resurrection, which takes place in the bodily resurrection. [Alford also combines the two views: “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 to be = the resurrection from the dead.”—R.]
Romans 11:16. Moreover, if the first-fruit be holy, so also is the lump [εἰ δὲ ἡ , καὶ τὸ φύραμα. Lange: das Earstlingsbrod, the bread of the first-fruits—i. e., the portion of the dough taken as a heave-offering.—R.]. After the Apostle has disclosed his prospect of the glorious results of Israel’s conversion, he returns to the grounds for the hope of this conversion itself. He uses two similes. The first is taken from the significance of the bread of the first-fruit (Numbers 15:19-21). Ἀπαρχή can, indeed, denote the first-fruit, as well as the bread of the first-fruit; but it receives this meaning from the corresponding idea of the harvest; while, on the other hand, the baking of the first-fruit must correspond to the φύραμα, the kneaded dough. Therefore the expression here can neither mean first-fruit (Estius, Olshausen, and others), nor the grain for the bread of the first-fruit (Grotius). But the ὰπαρχή in general denotes the representative offering by which the whole, mass, to which ὰπαρχή belongs, is consecrated to God. Thus is the consecration of the first-born to the priesthood (with which Levi was charged), the consecration of the people; the consecration of the first-fruit is the consecration of the harvest; and the consecration of the bread of the first-fruit is the consecration of the whole lump, which was afterwards prepared. [So Stuart, Hodge, Alford, De Wette, Tholuck, Meyer, Ἀπαρχή is necessarily defined by its correlative term φύραμα, the mass of dough for baking.—R.]
And if the root be holy, so are the branches also [καὶ εἰ ἡ ῥίζα ἁγία, καὶ οἱ κλάδοι]. This second simile is clear in itself: The branches correspond to the root (anomalous exceptions to this agreement, which may be found in nature, do not here come into consideration). The general fundamental thought of both figures is, undoubtedly, as Reiche holds, that the whole people is designated as good by its first-fruits as well as by its root. Interpretation of the particular parts:
1. Both figures mean the same thing. The ἀπαρχή are the patriarchs (Abraham, &c.); τὸ φύραμα, is the whole body of the people. The same relation applies to root and branches (the Greek fathers, Erasmus, Calvin, Tholuck, Meyer [Stuart, Hodge, Alford], &c.).
2. The figures are different. The second figure undoubtedly applies to the patriarchs and their posterity; but the first, by ἀπαρχή, describes the believing Jews, and, by φύραμα, the rest (Toletus, Cramer, and others. [So Wordsworth, who understands, by φύραμα, the whole mass of the world which is to be converted.—R.] Also, in reference to the first figure, Ambrosius, and others). Modifications: According to Origen and Theodoret. ἀπαρχή means Christ himself, and φύραμα, Christians. Meyer has two objections to the different rendering of the figures. First, it is contrary to the parallelism of the two passages. But apart from the fact that Paul’s prose is not subject to the rules of the poetical parallelism of the Old Testament, this reasoning betrays a defective idea of the Old Testament parallelism itself. His second reason, that the Apostle elaborates the second figure only, is of just as little force; for, with the further resumption of the second figure, there is presented a perfectly new thought. The most untenable explanation is, that ῥίζα means the original Christian Church, and κλάδοι are the individual believing Jews.
We hold that the antithesis is very decided. From what follows, it is clear that the ideal theocracy, though represented by the patriarchs, yet not identical with them (see Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 11:10; Revelation 5:5; Revelation 22:16), must be regarded as the roof of Israel. In fact, from the foregoing citations, the same Christ is certainly the root of the old theocracy, as He is the ἀρκή in the ἀπαρκή of the new Jewish believing Church, and the causa efficiens of the sanctification of both. But according to the antithesis here presented, ῥίζα is the patriarchal foundation of the theocracy as the natural disposition consecrated to God; while the ἀπαρκή, on the contrary, is the first Jewish body of believers prepared by God as the bread of the first-fruit for the first harvest festival of the time of fulfilment, the Christian Pentecost. The present passage is related to Romans 9:5, the fathers being regarded as the root, and Christ as the miraculous fruit of the branches.
[It is evident, from Dr. Lange’s note, how difficult it is to support the twofold sense of the verse. As Tholuck remarks, the ἁγιότης is the point of comparison. Holy here means not only as consecrated to God, but as actually pure. If a distinction must be made between the two figures, it seems natural to find these two ideas of holiness given prominence in each respectively. Those certainly miss the point of both figures, and the argument of the Apostle as well, who do not find here, in “lump” and “branches,” a reference to Israel, considered as the people of God. Alford: “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. 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. It is of this life that their severance from the tree deprives them; it is this life which they will reacquire if grafted in again.” This obviates some difficulties, and is, on the whole, the simplest explanation.—R.]
Romans 11:17-24. The conditionality of the new antithesis of believing Gentiles and unbelieving Jews. The figure of the wild and the good olive tree. Warning for the Gentiles, and hope for the Jews.
Romans 11:17. But if some of the branches were broken off [εἰ δέ τινες τῶν κλάδων ἐξεκλάσθησαν. The E. V. is too conditional in its form.—R.] Although there were many of them, they were nevertheless a small minority, compared with the incorruptible tree of God’s kingdom. With this fact, the heathen should also prize the value of the theocratic institution itself.
And thou being a wild olive tree [σὺ δὲ ]. As the expression ἀγριέλαιοςὤν can mean, as a substantive, the wild olive tree itself, but, as an adjective, the belonging to the wild olive tree, we prefer, with Fritzsche and Meyer, this latter view to the former, which is defended by Luther, Philippi, and Tholuck, with this explanation: The address, “thou being a wild olive tree,” views the individual Gentiles as a collective person.48 Meyer objects to this, by saying, that “not whole trees, and also not quite young ones (against De Wette), are grafted in.” Against this we may remark: 1. That the wild olive tree of the Gentile world is destined to be transferred, in all its branches, to the good olive tree; 2. This has already taken place incipiently by Paul’s mission to the Gentiles. Meanwhile, the Apostle was as far from supposing a total apostasy of the Gentile Church, as from admitting the possibility of a total apostasy of the Jews. Likewise, he speaks of a being grafted in having already occurred, with reference to the probable boasting of Gentile Christians over Jewish Christians. Besides, the Apostle considers the wild olive tree to be converted in all its branches just as little as in the case of the good olive tree. Likewise, Romans 11:24 must be kept in mind, where the same subject is not the wild olive tree itself, but only one branch of it. On the wild olive tree, or oleaster, comp. Natural History of the Bible, and the Dictionaries. Pareus: oleaster habet quidem formam oleœ, sed caret succo generoso et fructibus.
On the Oriental custom of strengthening olive trees that had become weak by grafting them, with the wild olive, comp. the citations in Tholuck, p. 617; in Meyer, p. 343. Now, if this custom were frequent, and occurred in various ways, there would be apparently an incongruity in the figure, in so far as the cuttings of the wild olive are designed to strengthen the olive tree; but the question here is a communication of the sap of the good olive tree to the branch of the wild olive. Therefore Tholuck remarks: “Paul was either not acquainted with the arboricultural relation of the matter, or—which is more probable, when we look at the triviality of this notice—he designed to say, that has here taken place by grace, which otherwise is contrary to nature.”49 But, in our opinion, this does not settle the question. First, the tertium comparationis does not lie in the breaking off and grafting in of the branches. In relation to this point, the figure is of perfect application. Secondly, though the branches of the wild olive tree communicate to the good olive tree a new and fresher life, and a vegetative vital nourishment (such as, for example, the Germans, at the time of the Reformation, gave to the Christian Church), this does not preclude the necessity of their receiving from the root and stem of the olive tree the good sap and productive power which produce the olive fruit.
Wert grafted in among them [ἐνεκεντρίθης ἐν αὐτοῖς]. The ἐν αὐτοῖς is differently rendered. The most simple rendering is: among them. [So Meyer, Alford, and most. Stuart, De Wette, Olshausen: in place of them. The former is preferable on account of συγκοινωνός.—R.]
And made fellow-partaker of the root and fatness [καὶ συγκοινωνὸς τῆς ῥίζης καὶ τῆς πιότητος. See Textual Note15.—R.] Not ἕν διὰ δυοῖν (Grotius, and others). The communication with the root secures participation in the good sap.
Romans 11:18. Boast not against the branches [μὴ κατακαυχῶ τῶν κλάδων]. The Jews in general were the branches of the olive tree; thus Jewish Christians are as much meant as the unbelieving Jews; not the latter alone (according to Chrysostom [Alford, Stuart, De Wette], and others), but rather the former principally, as is indicated by the ἐν αὐτοῖς. [Meyer: the Jews in general. He rightly adds, that not all Jews, who were not converts as yet, were to be regarded as broken off; only those who had rejected Christ.—R.]
But if thou boast [εἰ δὲ κατακαυχᾶσαι. The verb, occurring twice in this verse, is unusual.—R.] Meyer: Triumphest against them. According to the assumed figure of the wild olive tree, they could be tempted to boast that the members of the Jewish believing Church had received new life through heathenism, just as the boast has been made that Germanism, and especially Lutheranism, has reformed Christianity itself; while Christianity, operating from its very foundation, has reformed, and still reforms, its phenomenal forms. [Mutatis mutandis, of special application everywhere.—R.]
Thou bearest not the root [οὐ σὺ τὴν ῥίζαν βαστάζεις. Supply: know that, or, let this humble thee, that. See Winer, p. 575.—R.] Thou, as a grafted branch, standest in no more favorable relation to the root than those which are broken off and remain standing. Thou remainest thoroughly conditioned by an inward fellowship with the root, which must be confirmed in the humble knowledge of this dependence, and in inward union with the natural branches. The brief explanation is strengthened by the fact that it forms an immediate conclusion. Tholuck remarks: Such a presumption toward the branches could not be without presumption toward the root.
Romans 11:19. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, &c. [ἐρεῖς οὖν Ἐξεκλάσθησαν [οἱ] κλάδοι, κ.τ.λ. See Textual Note16.] The genuineness of the article οἱ is rendered very probable by the intention of the Gentile speaking. After this religious warning, he will appeal to a religious decree, to a fait accompli of predestination. He accordingly abuses the truth which the Apostle himself has taught, by saying, negatively: the fate of the branches is irrevocably settled—there is no more salvation for the Jewish people; but he also abuses it, positively, by believing that he himself stands firm through the privilege which he presumes he has acquired. Here, then, we clearly see how the Apostle dismisses such a predestinarian presumption.
Romans 11:20. Well [καλῶς]. Ironical, as if he would say: a fine application of the doctrine of Divine predestination, by overleaping the ethical elements brought into the account by it! [With Stuart, Hodge, Meyer, Alford, and others, it must be held that the Apostle here admits the purpose in the breaking off, as stated in Romans 11:19; but he admits it only to protest against the wrong use made of it.—R.]
Because of unbelief they were broken off [τῇ . On the dative, see Tholuck and Alford in loco. The latter suggests their unbelief, thy faith (so Amer. Bible Union), but it seems better to take the nouns as abstract.—R.] The earnest declaration. That is, because of unbelief, expressed in strengthened form by the dative. That, therefore, is the decisive cause of their hurt, the real hindrance to their salvation.
[And thou standest by faith, σὺ δὲ τῇ πίστει ἕστηκας.] And thus thou also standest and endurest only by50 faith. The standing means here the being grafted in, and not, standing in the absolute sense, as Meyer correctly observes, against Tholuck, and others. For the opposite of it is not falling, but the being cut off. Essentially, the idea certainly coincides with standing and falling.
[Be not high-minded, μὴ ὑψηλοφρόνει. See Textual Note17.—R.] Be not therefore proud of an imaginary privilege, but fear [ἀλλὰ φοβοῦ]; that is, be all the more afraid of falling, because thou art inclined to boast. Bengel: timor opponitur non fiduciœ, sed supercilio et securitati.
Romans 11:21. For if God spared not the natural branches[εἰγὰρ ὁ Θεὸς τῶν κατὰ φύσιν κλάδων οὐκ ἐφείσατο]. Nature here evidently denotes the elevated, consecrated, and ennobled nature of the Abrahamic race.—Lest he also spare not thee [μήπως οὐδὲ σοῦ φείσεται. See Textual Note18. Supply fear, or, it is to be feared. See Winer, pp. 442, 470, 556. On the future, Buttmann, N. T. Gram., p. 303.—R.] Thou at least hast no claim to this genealogical nobility of Israel. Meyer: “The future is more definite and certain than the conjunctive.”
Romans 11:22. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God[ἴδε οὖν χρηστότητα καὶ ὰποτομίαν Θεοῦ]. The usual predestinarian system would say: The grace and justice of God. Paul says something quite different. The period [E. V., colon] gives grammatical support to the reading ἀποτομία, &c., accepted by Lachmann.
On those. Ἐπὶ μὲν τούς. The goodness, as well as the severity or sharpness of God in continual movement, corresponds to human conduct.—[Severity, ἀποτομία. See Textual Note19.—R.]
[But toward thee, God’s goodness,ἐπὶ δὲ σὲ κρηστότης θεοῦ. See Textual Note20. The nominatives give an elliptical construction: there is severity, there is the goodness of God.—R.]—If thou continue in his goodness [ἐὰν ἐπιμείνης τῇ χρηστότητι. That goodness. Alford: If thou abide by.—R.] On the living ground of God’s free grace and mercy. Meyer: Wilt have continued. Should the goodness have first begun then?—Otherwise thou also shalt be [ἐπεὶ καὶ σὺ ἐκκοπήσῃ. Comp. Romans 11:6. The E. V. conveys the correct meaning of ἐπεί.—R.] Meyer very appropriately calls attention to the stronger expression: ἐκκοπήσῃ.
Romans 11:23. [And they moreover, κἀκ εῖ νοιδέ. This is the reading adopted by Griesbach, Scholz, Lachmann, Tischendorf, and critical editors generally, on the authority of א. A. B. C. D. F. The rendering is that of Alford, who is unusually happy in expressing the exact force of δέ.—R.]—For God is able to graft them in again [δυνατὸς γάρ ἐστιν, κ.τ.λ.]. He will not apply His power to compel unbelievers to believe; but if they only do not continue in unbelief, He will graft them in again. He is not wanting in power, and certainly He will not be wanting in the application of it. The becoming strong for faith, and in faith, as well as the being planted in again, is exercised by the power of Divine grace.51
Romans 11:24. For if thou wert cut out. The γάρ serves to establish the δυνατὸς γάρ (Meyer). Likewise the stronger expression here: ἐξεχόπης.—Of the olive tree which is wild by nature. This is the idea of the oleaster, or wild olive.—And wert grafted contrary to nature [καὶ παρὰφύσιν ἐνεκεντρίσθης]. We doubt the propriety of translating παρὰ φύσιν exactly by against nature (contra naturam; Vulgate). Comp. Romans 1:26, p. 87. There exists no absolute opposition between the oleaster and the good olive tree; otherwise the grafting in would have no result. The application is clear.52
How much more. Nevertheless, a greater natural relation exists between the branches which are cut out of the good olive tree, and this olive tree as peculiar to them; so that they, after all, can be grafted more easily into them than the branches of the wild olive are grafted into it. The difficulty which arises from the consideration that the (Jewish) obduratio is more difficult to be overcome than the (Gentile) ignorantia, is removed by Tholuck, when he says that he regards the γάρ of the present verse as coördinate with the δυνατὸς γάρ, so that it would relate to the ἐγκεντρισθήσονται (Romans 11:23). But this changes the matter very little; the Apostle’s supposition is, that the economy of God’s government will accomplish the dissolution of the Jewish obduratio.
[Alford clearly defines the meaning: In the case of the Gentile, the Apostle sets the fact of natural growth over against that of engrafted growth; here, the fact of congruity of nature (τῇ ἰδίᾳ ἐλαίᾳ) is set against incongruity, as making the reingrafting more probable. Hodge: “The simple meaning of this verse is, that the future restoration of the Jews is, in itself, a more probable event than the introduction of the Gentiles into the Church of God.”—R.]
Romans 11:25-36. The last word, or the mystery of the Divine government.
Romans 11:25. For I would not, brethren. The γάρ confirms the previous πόσῳ μᾶλλον; according to Tholuck, the address, “brethren,” is directed this time to the Gentile Christians. But why not to all? Οὐ ... ἀγνοεῖν, Romans 1:13 [p. 70], &c. An announcement of an important communication.
Of this mystery. Τὸ μυστήριον τοῦτο. [See Tholuck and Alford in loco on the word mystery.—R.] On the basis of the general mystery of the Christian εὐσεβεία, 1 Timothy 3:16, revealed to Christians by their becoming believers, there are displayed the individual mysteries which concern the development of Christian life in the world, particularly the universal development of Christianity. In regard to these, the Apostles are illuminated in advance by revelation, in order to communicate them to the Church. Thus Paul communicates, in many ways, to believers, the mystery that the Gentiles shall be joint-heirs of life, without legal conditions, Ephesians 3:6; also the mystery that, in the last times, the transformation of persons still living will take place, 1 Corinthians 15:51; and so here he communicates the mystery of the Divine economy in relation to the results of the conversion of Jews and Gentiles, and especially of the final, universal conversion of Israel.
Lest ye should be wise in your own conceits[ἱ̓να μὴ ἦτε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς φρόνιμοι. See Textual Note21.—R.] Meyer: According to your own judgment. The Apostle foresees that, in the Gentile Christian Church, there will arise respecting Israel’s future contemptuous decisions of the unilluminated and self-sufficient judgment. [Calvin, Beza, Stuart, refer it to pride in their own position; but Meyer, De Wette, Hodge, and most, agree, with Dr. Lange, in applying it to a wrong view of the exclusion of the Jews.—R.]
That hardening in part is happened to Israel[ὅτι πώρωσις . On πώρωσις, see Romans 11:7.—R.]Ἀπὸ μέρους; according to Calvin, qualitative, quodammodo, and not total hardening; yet it evidently refers to the unbelieving portion of Israel. [De Wette, Meyer, Hodge, join it with γέγονεν, not with πώρωσις or τῷ Ἰσραήλ (Estius, Fritzsche): Hardening has happened in part. Most commentators now adopt the extensive, rather than the intensive signification.—R.] This hardening of a part has befallen all Israel.
Until the fulness of the Gentiles [ἄκρις οὗ τὸ πλήρωμα τῶν ἐθνῶν]. For then the hardening shall cease. Meyer: “Calvin’s ita ut is alleged, in spite of the language, to remove the thought of a final object; on which account Calovius, and most, elaborate here a good deal, in order to bring out the sense that partial blindness, and therefore partial conversion, will last until the end of the world.” [With Tholuck, Hodge, Alford, and others, we must insist that a terminus ad quem is here affirmed.—R.]
The fulness of the Gentiles. Interpretations: 1. The completion of the Israelitish people of God by believing Gentiles (Michaelis, Olshausen, and others); 2. The great majority of the Gentiles (Fritzsche) [Stuart, Hodge: the multitude of the Gentiles.—R.]; 3. Meyer, strikingly: “The filling up of the Gentiles—that is, that by which the body of the Gentiles (only a part of whom have as yet been converted) is full—the fulness of the Gentiles.” [So De Wette. This makes it = πλήρωσις.—R.] As the Apostle could not have meant an indefinite mass of Gentiles, nor yet all the Gentiles down to the last man, he evidently had in view an organically dynamic totality of the heathen world, in which he unquestionably bethought himself of the conversion of the Gentile world. [Alford: The totality of the Gentiles, as nations, not as individuals. This is substantially the view of Lange, and differs but little from that of Meyer. “The idea of an elect number, however true in itself, does not seem to belong to this passage.” Wordsworth is not likely to favor a predestinarian view, and yet he finds in πλὴρωμα the notion of the complement of a ship’s crew—i. e., of the Church, the Ark of Salvation!—R.]
Come in [εἰσελθῃ. Shall have come in (Noyes)]. In the absolute sense; therefore, into the kingdom of God (Matthew 7:13, &c.). Meyer says, oddly enough: “The kingdom of the Messiah, the establishment of which is later, is not yet in question.” [Meyer refers to the personal reign of the Messiah, beginning with the Second Advent. This period, on which he lays great stress in his commentary, will come in, he thinks, after the event here predicted.—R.]
Romans 11:26. And so. Οὕτως, in this order and succession, and in this mode of accomplishment; after the conversion of the Gentiles, and by means of it.
All Israel [πᾶς Ἰσραήλ]. This is not spoken of all Israel in isolated examples, nor of the “totality” without exception. The former supposition, for example, that only the elect part, the true λεῖμμα, is meant (Bengel, Olshausen, and others), or only the greater number and mass (Rückert and Fritzsche), does not arrive at the idea of the nation, which here, in its totality, as all Israel, comes just in antithesis to the mere λεῖμμα. The latter supposition (Gennadius, Meyer, and others) transcends the idea of the Pleroma, which will suffice here in the case of the Jews as in that of the Gentiles.
This simple apostolic prophecy, pronounced directly in the future, has been much criticized, and much fanaticism has played about it.
Definitions narrowing the meaning: (1) The spiritual Israel of the elect, from Jews and Gentiles (Augustine, Theodoret, Calvin, Bengel, Olshausen [Wordsworth], &c.); (2) An election from Israel will be saved in the millennial kingdom (Baldwin, Bengel). “The one hundred and forty-four thousand of Revelation 7:4, in which the number is literally interpreted as the principal citizens of the city of Jerusalem;” (3) Israel will be able to be saved (Episcopius, Semler, and others); (4) The prophecy has already been fulfilled by the myriads of Jews, of whom Eusebius speaks, 3:35 (Wetstein, and others); (5) Luther, as Jerome before him, has fallen into glaring contradictions in relation to this question (see Tholuck, pp. 629, 630, and the quotation in Meyer, note, on p. 439); and on this point Melanchthon has proved, by his vacillations, his fear of Luther’s decisive declarations on the hopelessness of the Jews (Tholuck, p. 630). On the further shape which Lutheran exegesis has taken on this point, see the same. With Spener there came a change.
In opposition to all these, there are definitions exaggerating the meaning: (1) The πᾶς must be so much emphasized, as to lead us to suppose that Israel, dying in unbelief, will be raised from the dead for the realization of this hope (Petersen, Mystische Posaune; see Tholuck, p. 628). (2) We do not include here the idea of a return of the main part of the Israelites, as a nation, to Palestine, but the ideas that a special Jewish Church will again arise—that a temple will be built in Jerusalem, in which a sort of restitution of the Israelitish worship will take place, and that then the Jewish people will stand as the preferred priestly and noble people in the midst of the believing Gentile world (comp. Tholuck’s quotations, p. 625, in addition to which many others might be easily collected).
These fanatical apologists for Judaism should not forget that Israel has fallen so deeply, just because of such aristocratic and priestly claims to the messianic sphere of salvation, and that the only help for it is to acquiesce modestly in the glory of the New Testament spirit of Christ, and to take its place among the Gentile Christian nations as a fully authorized Christian nation, without legal privileges, but full of an humble sense of its long apostasy, yet in the power and demonstration of the Spirit, which will then be imparted to it according to its gift—that is, according to its great natural state transformed by grace. The scholastics Abelard, Thomas Aquinas, and others, had in view the proper mean, a conversion of the collective tribes, or tribal fragment, of the nation, but not the conversion of each individual, which is qualified as such by free self-determination. The hope of Israel’s conversion has been warmly defended in the Reformed Church; first by Beza. See Tholuck, p. 629 ff.53
The question of the source from which Paul drew this μυστήριον has engaged much attention. Tholuck, following in the wake of others, properly calls attention to the fact that the Apostle’s quotations from the prophets were given by him as a warrant of his hope, but not as its ground; p. 625 ff. Paul, as an Apostle, was also a prophet, apart from the consideration that he could already find the germs of this prophecy in the gospel tradition (see Matthew 23:39; John 12:32). However, we take for granted that he could have drawn his warrants from the Old Testament as freely as he desired, though Tholuck raises the question why he did not do this, but contented himself with citing two passages not belonging to that class, and of doubtful relevancy (the declarations cited by Auberlen, p. 625). We must here refer to biblical theology, as well as to the writings which have treated especially on this eschatological part of the theology of the Old Testament.54
There shall come out of Zion, &c. [Ἥξει ἐκ Σιών, κ.τ.λ. Forbes makes the four lines of the quotations correspond alternately: covenant-promise—removal of sin.—R.] The two connected quotations are from Isaiah 59:20; Isaiah 27:9; not (according to Calvin [Stuart], and others) from Jeremiah 31:33, although there is a kindred sense.55 They are freely treated, and joined together (from the LXX.). Yet, in reality, they perfectly answer to their application. We must not forget that the armor of deliverance which the Lord puts on, according to Isaiah 59:17 ff., is a further enlargement of the armor of the Messiah in Isaiah 11:5 ff. Now, if we adhere to the position that prophecy makes no retrograde movement—that therefore Jehovah, instead of the Messiah, must denote a progress—the passage cannot be understood merely to denote the first appearance of the Messiah, as Isaiah 11:0, but, in any case, the eschatological appearance of Jehovah is also conjoined in the Messiah. This is favored by the grand expression in Romans 11:19. The Apostle, with his usual masterly skill, therefore makes use of the proper passage here, similarly to the exegesis of Christ, which has also been a subject of surprise to many expositors.
The original text (Isaiah 59:20-21) reads: “And the God (Redeemer) shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression (פֶשַׁצ) in Jacob, saith the Lord. As for me (on my side), this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord: My Spirit,” &c. The Septuagint: καὶ ἥξωι ἕνεκεν Ζιὼν ὁ ῥυόμενος, καὶ , ειπεν χύριος. Καὶ αὕτη αὐτοῖς ἡ παρ’ ἐμοῦ διαθήκη, εἶπεν κύριος, τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἐμόν, κ.τ.λ. Chap. 27. also treats of the restoration of Israel. Romans 11:6 gives the more definite starting-point. The sense of Romans 11:8 is: God punishes Israel with moderation. The form of this punishment is hardening, and being carried off as by an east-wind storm. Then we read: “Therefore (by this means) shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit (the use) to take away his sin.” The LXX.: Αιὰ τοῦτο , καὶ τοῦτό ἐστιν ἡ εὐλογία αὐτοῦ, ὅταν . Paul took into consideration three modifications: (1) From Zion, instead of for Zion, in which we must not forget that also in Isaiah Jehovah must come from Zion for Zion; (2) The original text assumes conversion at the announced redemption; with the Apostle it was self-evident that the redemption precedes the conversion; (3) The Apostle describes the new covenant with Israel, by inserting the passage from Isaiah 29:0; that is, he here describes the purging and taking away of Jacob’s sin as the essential part of the covenant, instead of the promise of the impartation of the Spirit, in Isaiah 59:0, because he knows that both are indissolubly connected. Yet these modifications of form do not prevent the citation from being a proof, as Tholuck supposes. See, on the further exposition of this passage, Tholuck, p. 631.
[Tholuck: “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 admitted of being indirectly applied to it.”—R.]
Romans 11:28. As touching the gospel, they are enemies [κατὰ μὲν τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἐχθροί]. As enemies, they are said, by Meyer and Tholuck, to be hostilely treated by God [Alford, Hodge] (Tholuck: invisi deo). But it is difficult to establish the antithesis, that they can be simultaneously odious to, and beloved by, God, except in different relations. See the Exeg. Notes on Romans 5:10 [p. 165]. Other explanations: regarded by Paul as enemies (Grotius, Luther); enemies of God (Thomas Aquinas, Bengel). According to the gospel—that is, according to the relation of the gospel to believers and unbelievers—they are enemies; this means not merely that they are adversaries of the gospel (Chrysostom, and others), but that, as adversaries of the gospel, they are regarded by God as adversaries, and then by His messengers also—for your sakes [δι’ ὑμᾶς]: from the ground of the saving economy already set forth.
But as touching the election, they are beloved [κατὰ δὲ τὴν ἐκλογὴν ]. We would here also protest against the favorite division: beloved of God, or of the Apostle, or of Christians. They are enemies in their falling out with the gospel, yet they are favorites according to the election, but simply for the sake of their connection with the fathers.—For the fathers’ sakes [διὰ τοὺς πατέρας]. Meyer says: in favor of the patriarchs; the sense is, because they are included in general in the election of the fathers; according to Romans 11:28, are made partakers in the gifts of the fathers, in the call of Israel.56
Romans 11:29. Without repentance [ἀμεταμέλητα. The reference here is evidently national, not individual, though the proposition is general in its form and force.—R.]. Unrepented. Irrevocable in the sense of a Divine, ethical, and self-conditional result (see 2 Corinthians 7:10).
Romans 11:30. For as ye, &c. [ὥσπερ γὰρὑμεῖς. See Textual Notes24, 25.] The Gentiles.—Formerly disobedient. The ἀπιστία is ἀπείθεια toward God’s word, which was promulgated to the Gentiles by the creation (Romans 1:21). [Forbes finds, in Romans 11:30-32, a six-lined stanza, two lines in each verse, with the alternating thoughts: Disobedience—mercy, recurring three times.—R.]
Romans 11:31. That through the mercy shown to you they also may obtain mercy [τῷ ὑμετέρῳ ἐλέει ἵνα καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐλεηθῶσιν. We accept (with E. V., Hodge, Meyer, De Wette, Alford, and most) a trajection of the ἵνα.—R.] Meyer would join τῷ ὑμετέρῳ ἐλέει to what follows: “In order that, by the mercy manifested to you (which mercy provokes them to jealousy of your faith; Romans 11:11), mercy might be shown to you.” This construction must be rejected outright, because by it the Apostle would say to the Gentiles what is both ill-bred and untruthful, namely, that their conversion was merely a means for the purpose of the further conversion of the Jews.57 The opposite construction: non crediderunt in vestram misericordiam (Vulgate), emphasizes the conversion of the Gentiles as an end in itself, and then makes the further purpose of the conversion of the Jews, thereby brought about, to follow.
Romans 11:32. For God hath shut up all under disobedience [συνέκλεισεν γὰρ ὁ θεὸς τοὑς πά ντας εἰς . On the verb, comp. Galatians 3:22-23, Textual Note26, and below.—R.] That is, the Jews as well as the Gentiles. According to Meyer, all and every Gentile and Jew are meant, and not merely the masses of both (according to Tholuck, and others). True, the masses are, in a certain sense, the all-concluding; yet, strictly emphasized, all and every one cannot be spoken of, because the question is not simply the fall of man, but the generic consequences of the fall (Vulgate and Luther have the neuter). [The neuter is probably borrowed from Galatians 3:22. The sense is the same, whether we accept the view of Meyer or that of Tholuck; but by pressing the former in the second clause, a conclusion might be inserted, which Meyer himself does not accept, viz., the actual exercise of saving mercy in the case of every individual.—R.]
But what does shut up mean? Meyer would explain it, according to the peculiarity of the later Greek: to give over to, or under, the effective power, but not merely a declarative (Chrysostom, and others), or permissive power (Origen, and others). [Meyer, Alford, and others, remark that the συν in composition strengthens the simple verb, without, however, introducing the idea of shutting up together.—R.] The real explanation of the expression is contained in Romans 5:12 and Galatians 3:22. The state of the totality of men (their being shut up under disobedience) is based on the organic (generic, social, political, and sympathetical) connection. By the organic connection, all men are shut up in the consequences of the fall. Then, by the organic connection, the Gentiles are first shut up in the process of unbelief (see chap. 1); and in the same way are the Jews also shut up by means of this organic connection (chap. 2). In the collective character of the history of the world, this makes a collective conclusion [Zusammengeschlossenheit]. Thus the Jews, by their organic connection (according to Galatians 3:22), were shut up under the law, as it were, in a prison or place of custody58 (ἐφρουρούμεθα συγκεκλεισμένοι); although, after the confinement was abolished, it turned out that they consisted of two parts, the children of the bondwoman and the children of the freewoman. Thus it could only come to pass, by the fearful power of the connection of the universal currents, that sin should be consummated in unbelief under God’s judgment, in order that sinners might become receptive of Divine mercy (Romans 5:20; Romans 7:13).
In order that he may have mercy upon all[ἵνα τοὐς πάντας ἐλεήσῃ]. The purpose of this authoritative judgment of God (that is, of this Divine hardening, which was carried constantly further by the reciprocal action with human guilt) was, first, that fulfilment in the ancient time, when the heathen world was ripe for mercy, and will be hereafter the fulfilment of the New Testament time, when Israel shall be ripe for mercy.
[Alford remarks on τούς πάντας in the two 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 the mercy is shown, 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.” Comp. Doctr. Note 21.—R.]
Romans 11:33. Oh the depth of the riches, and Wisdom, &c.[ὦ βάθος πλούτου καὶ σοφίας, κ.τ.λ. In the English, that interpretation has been followed which regards the three genitives, πλούτο υ, σοφία ς, γνώσεως, as coördinate. Θεοῦ is joined with all three.—R.] Constructions:
A. What a depth: 1. Of riches; 2. Of Wisdom 3. Of knowledge (Chrysostom, Grotius, Olshausen, Philippi [Hodge, Alford, De Wette], &c.
B. What a depth of riches: 1. Of Wisdom 2. Of knowledge (Luther, Calvin, Reiche).59 Meyer says, in favor of the first construction: “As Romans 11:33-34 portray the σοφία and γνῶσις, but Romans 11:35-36 the πλοῦτος θεοῦ, the former construction is preferable.” Besides, the depth of the riches would be, in a certain measure, tautological. But βάθος can also not (according to the same writer) mean “the great fulness and superabundance,” because there would merely result such a tautology. The depth, whose outward figure is the ocean, is also a spiritual depth (see the quotations in Meyer). There is also another sort of fulness, as a rich and fruitful plain. Here God’s miracles are obscured by a holy darkness. But the riches of God are not merely God’s riches of grace in the special sense, for the fulness of creation and the treasures of redemption constitute a more general unity in the all-sufficiency of God. This is the entire ontological and soteriological foundation of God’s kingdom. If, now, σοφία be defined as the exercise of God’s designing attribute, the idea also usually includes the knowledge and choice of means; here, however (according to Meyer, for example), γνῶσις denotes the knowledge of means. Proof: αἱ ὁδοὶ αὐτοῦ, His measures, must be referred to the latter. But the ways have just as decided a relation to the starting-points as to the final points, and we would here also hold to the distinction: γνῶσις relates chiefly to the ἀρχαί and its consequences, and σοφία chiefly to τέλη and their premises.60
How unsearchable, &c. [ὡς , κ.τ.λ. See Textual Note27. Meyer refers αἱ ὁδοὶ αὐτοῦ to γνῶσις, τὰ χρίματα αὐτοῦ to σοφία; the former in the sense of His modes of dealing, His economies, the latter, His judicial decisions (as Romans 11:32). So Tholuck, but the distinctions are very subtle. See below.—R.] The most unsearchable character of God’s judgments consists in His causing redeeming acts to arise from them (Genesis 3:0 : the flood; the Egyptian plagues; the Babylonian captivity; the cross of Christ); and the peculiarity of His ways as past finding out, consists in His leading the minds which He has created through byways, circuitous paths, apparently contrary roads, and even impassable roads, safely to their object (see Job 5:9; Job 9:10; Job 34:24).
Romans 11:34. For who hath known the mind of the Lord? &c. [τίς γὰρ ἔγνω νοῦν κυρίου; κ.τ.λ.] Isaiah 40:13, “almost exactly” from the LXX. The mind took knowledge of the object; the counsel took knowledge of the ways. Or, the former word applies to the γνῶσις, the latter to the σοφία (Theodoret, and others). In wisdom He is exalted even above the understanding of man (“My thoughts are not your thoughts”), with respect to His counsel, above the necessity of man’s being a counsellor with Him; finally, with respect to His riches, no one has enriched Him or given to Him so that He had to recompense unto him again; He is the absolute source of all good things.
Romans 11:35. Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? [ἣ τίς προέδωκεν αὐτῷ καὶ ; See Textual Note29, for the text of the Hebrew and LXX.—R.] From the original text of Job 41:11. No gift must be regarded as a recompensing of God.
Romans 11:36. For of him, and through him [ὅτι ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ δἰ αὐτοῦ]. The negation of the previous proposition is carried out positively in the completion of the doxology. All things are of Him. He is the original fountain, original ground and author.—Through Him. Preservation, government, redemption.
And unto him [καὶ εἰς αὐτόν]. Toward Him as end. That He may become all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28); He is glorified in all, and all is glorified in Him. Meyer says: “In so far as every thing serves God’s purposes (not merely God’s honor, as many would have it).” But every thing always serves God’s purpose. Yet the final, absolute glorification of God cannot be separated from the purpose of the revelation of His δόξα in Christ, and by Him in His children, His inheritance.
Ambrose, Hilary, Olshausen, Philippi, and others, have regarded this passage as an expression of the relation of Father, Son, and Spirit.61 Meyer opposes this, by urging that neither Chrysostom, Œcumenius, Theophylact, Calvin, nor Beza, have referred to the Trinity in their expositions. The context speaks simply of God the Father. Yet it cannot be doubted, if we take into consideration other passages of the Apostle (for example, 1 Corinthians 15:0; Colossians 1:0), that Paul here had in mind at least the difference of the revelations of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is certain that the view of God’s absolute unity predominates here, but not therefore in the exclusive, doctrinal definiteness of God the Father. The Trinitarian relation lies beyond subordinationism.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. While the whole of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans has been called a “christological philosophy of the history of the world and of salvation,” the term applies more specially to the section chap. 9–11, and preëminently to chap. 11.
2. God has not cast away His people: Proofs: (1) The public history of Israel: Paul and his Jewish companions in faith; (2) Israel’s concealed history, disclosed by God’s declaration to Elijah; (3) The teleology of the partial blindness of Israel: a. a condition for the conversion of the Gentiles; b. then this a condition for the conversion of the Jews; c. then this, finally, a condition for the completion of God’s saving work on earth; (4) God’s exercise of judgment on all humanity has always a merciful purpose—that is, deliverance and restoration. The history of proselytes proves that the attraction of the Jews to faith is constantly fulfilled in the individual.
3. The history of the seven thousand hidden worshippers of God at the time of Elijah, a type of similar cases in all ages. Not merely the heroic witnesses for God’s honor are His people, but all who do not bow the knee to idols. The kingdom of God has not merely its lions, but also its doves. The mildness of the Divine judgment on the remnant of piety on earth, in antithesis to the severity and indignation of the human zeal of the well-meaning servants of God.
4. God preserves at all periods, even in the worst, a λεῖμμα κατ̓ ἐκλογὴν χάριτος. When the enemies of the gospel think that Christianity will soon decline, they miscalculate, especially on two or three points: (1) They do not observe that the blight of division is unavoidable in their own camp; (2) That a new Divine seed of Divinely chosen children, of sincere adversaries converted and led by God, and of courageous witnesses for God, are in His plan; (3) That every direction which apostasy takes, leads to a dispersion and taint like that of the Jews, while the deep current of the world’s history takes its course with God’s kingdom. This confidence is resplendent even throughout the Old Testament, and especially in the prophets.
5.Romans 11:6-7. The unanswerable syllogism of the evangelical Church against the decree of the Council of Trent (see Exeg. Notes). To seek grace beyond works is an ἐπιζητεῖν, comprising in itself a self-contradiction.
6. Romans 11:8-11. The twofold judgment of blindness: a. By external, seeming happiness (see Romans 2:4); b. By inward disobedience, whose fundamental characteristics are presumptuous blindness and inconsolable, cowardly despondency in relation to the highest good.—On the process of hardening as a continual reciprocity between human offence and God’s sovereign judgment, see Exeg. Notes on chap. 9. On Jelaledin Rumi’s doctrine of predestination, see Tholuck, p. 595.
7. From the fact that judgments on unbelievers are remedial judgments, which are the means of producing faith in the elect, there follows the expectation that the judgments are not of an eonic, but of an economic nature. God always seeks, through the believers, indirectly to reach again the unbelievers. Therefore the messengers of salvation must shake the dust from their feet when they are not received. That is, they must go farther and farther! The gospel went from Mesopotamia to Jerusalem, from Jerusalem to Rome, from Rome to Wittenberg and Geneva; and in roundabout ways and circles it again goes from New York to Jerusalem and Mesopotamia. Nearness and farness in God’s kingdom are not determined by geographical and national proximity and remoteness, but by the relations of spiritual life.
8. The idea of the temporary filling up of the breaches made by the unbelief of the Jews by means of the heathen, has penetrated, though in obscure form, even the Talmud (see Tholuck, p. 600).
9. On the reflection of the truth of the historical character of the Acts of the Apostles, in Romans 11:11, see Tholuck, against Baur, p. 602. See the same, p. 606, for Origen’s view that the number of saints is definite; which, indeed, only has an incidental importance for the question before us (see Exeg. Notes).
10. The tragical fate of the Jews. Their fall the riches of the world, notwithstanding they number among them the richest people; their casting away the reconciling of the world. This latter thought refers to the crucifixion of Christ. Such a tragical judicial fate is such a profound enigma of Divine sovereignty, that not only the whole course of the world, but also the future world and eternity, belong to its full glorification in the light of Divine mercy.
11. As the wild olive tree enters into a relation of exchange with the good olive tree by giving to it earthly nutriment, or nutriment for development and for strengthening the stock, while, on its part, its branches are made good, so have the nations brought new organs to Christianity, in order to receive from it the Divine spirit of life. Germany may exult, in a special sense, in having done this, but nothing further. If we arrogantly identify German Christianity with Lutheranism,62 the boast has a German Catholic sound; it is a boast of the branches—of only the grafted branches against those branches previously standing—yea, against the root itself.
12. The figure of the relation between the root and the branches condemns that entire theory of the development of Christianity, which the school of Baur has colored according to the Hegelian principles of history.
13.Romans 11:20-21. Tholuck: The predestinarian view here becomes involved in difficulty, in so far as it traces not only faith, but also unbelief, to the Divine causality. Evidently, the exclusion of the Jews is here designated as the result of their own guilt, &c.
14. On the possibility of falling from grace, see Meyer, p. 435, on Romans 11:23. Sealed believers are not here specially spoken of, but, in a general way, the called, the awakened.
15. There subsists not only an antithesis and a relation of degree between the wild olive tree and the good olive tree, but also a natural affinity, which, as well as the heterogeneousness, comes into consideration in the application of the figure.
16. On the discussions of recent theology respecting the relation of the Old Testament to the prophecy of the Apostle about the restoration of Israel, see Tholuck, p. 625.
17. In spite of the Apostle’s warning, the grafted branches have in many ways boasted against the natural branches. Under this head belong the conduct of Christians toward the Jews, the judgments passed upon the capability of the Jews for conversion, and, finally, the opinion pronounced on converted Jews. Here belong also the predestinarian appeals to God’s decree, under a disregard of the ethical conditions.
18. The mystery. Tholuck: “According to the ecclesiastical definition, res captum humanœ rationis tum regenitœ quum irregenitœ transcendens (Quenstedt, 1:44). According to the later expositors, on the contrary, it means, at least in Paul, unknown truths, hitherto concealed from humanity, and only known by revelation (Rückert, Fritzsche, Meyer, and Philippi).” The latter, or formal idea of the mystery, underlies the former, the material one. This is proved by 1 Timothy 3:16. But it is clear, from Romans 11:33, that a mystery, in the material sense, is so called because it is of unfathomable depth; not because it merely extends beyond the human understanding in the abstract sense—or, in other words, because it is not attainable by the understanding—but only by the believing intellectual perception, because it ever reveals itself, in its Divine depth, in infinitum, but not because it should remain in infinitum an unsolved enigma.
19. Meyer acknowledges that the conversion of all Israel has not yet taken place; but he adds, that it lies in a very distant time, although the Apostle has regarded the matter as already near at hand; p. 442. This is the usual misconception arising from the failure to distinguish between the religious and chronological idea of the nearness and remoteness of time!
20. On the different renderings of χάρισμα and κλῆσις, see Tholuck, p. 633. A series of insufficient explanations of the συνέκλεισεν in Romans 11:32, is on p. 635; and discussions on the meaning of τοὺς τάντας, on p. 637.
21. It is worthy of note, that the usual doctrine of predestination, as well as the doctrine of restoration, has been connected with the present chapter, particularly with Romans 11:33. This contradiction is adjusted, if, with Schleiermacher, we regard predestination as economical, and restoration as eonic. True, even in that case, the consequence of the former idea is strongly affected by the reference to faith and unbelief as ethical motives for the Divine sovereignty. Against the latter idea, viz., the usual doctrine of the ἀποκατάστασις, Meyer observes, that the universality of the Divine intention does not preclude the partially finite non-realization of it through the guilt of human individuals. But this observation applies also to yesterday and to-day. Important weight rests upon the fact that the συνέκλεισεν, which is similar to fate in the organic connection of men (for example, a Jewish child, born in a Jewish alley, &c.), should be removed by God’s sovereign grace; yea, that the currents of unbelief should give place to a current of faith. Judas has proved that a false individual can, at all events, swim against the stream of salvation. The eons of God and the freedom of man tower above the usual ideas of the apocatastasis, as well as above the usual ideas of eternal = endless condemnation.63
22. The anthology of distinctions between σοφία and γνῶσις, see Tholuck, p. 641. The former (Abelard) constitutes just the reverse of ours: sapientia quantum ad prœscientiam ipsius scientia quantum ad ipsius operis effectum, &c. Tholuck defines the σοφία, according to Proverbs, as the economic and architectural wisdom of God, and the γνῶσις as the knowledge of the nature of the universe. He, in opposition to Meyer, refers the κρίματα to the γνῶσις, and the ὁδοί to the σοφία. On the latter point, we must coincide with Meyer. The ideas: κρίματα and the essence of things, and ὁδοί and architectural dispositions, do not fit very well together. The κρίματα refer to final points; the ὁδοί are at least connected with starting-points. See Exeg. Notes. We must also refer, in reference to Romans 11:36, to Tholuck’s instructive statements.
23.Romans 11:36; comp. 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 2:10; also the doxologies in the New Testament, and especially those in Revelation. [Stuart: “Such is the conclusion of the doctrinal part of our Epistle; a powerful expression of profound wonder, reverence, and adoration, in regard to the unsearchable ways of God in His dealings with men; and an assertion of the highest intensity respecting His sovereign right to control all things so as to accomplish His own designs. A doctrine truly humbling to the proud and towering hopes and claims of self-justifying men; a stumbling-block to haughty Jews, and foolishness to unhumbled Greeks. I scarcely know of any thing in the whole Bible which strikes deeper at the root of human pride than Romans 11:33-36.—But sovereignty in God does not imply what is arbitrary, nor that He does any thing without the best of reasons. It only implies that those reasons are unknown to us.—And if our hearts are ever tempted to rise up against the distinctions which God has made, either in a temporal or spiritual respect, in the bestowment of His favors, let us bow them down to the dust, as well as silence and satisfy them, with the humbling, consoling, animating, glorious truth, that ‘of God, and through Him, and for Him, are all things.’ To Him, then, be the glory forever and ever! Amen.”—R.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
A. Romans 11:1-6. Has God cast away His people? God forbid! 1. The thought is intolerable to the Apostle as a true Israelite. 2. He repudiates the fact in the most positive manner; because, a. God has provided for His people beforehand; b. In times of great apostasy He has preserved His remnant of seven thousand who did not bow the knee to Baal; c. He will deal likewise with those who have been reserved through grace.—Paul, as a model of truly national feeling. 1. He was a Christian with all his heart; 2. But he was also an Israelite with all his heart (Romans 11:1-2).—The example of the Apostle Paul shows how Christianity and national feeling not only do not preclude each other, but agree very well together.—I also am an Israelite! An expression: 1. Full of manly power; 2. Full of Christian love (Romans 11:1-2).—The example of Elijah. 1. His complaint against Israel; 2. God’s answer for Israel (Romans 11:2-4).—God still has His seven thousand who have not bowed their knee to Baal (Romans 11:4-6).—Let the apostasy be never so great, God never wholly casts away His people (Romans 11:4-6).
Luther: Not all are God’s people who are called God’s people; therefore not all will be cast away, though the greater portion be cast away.
Starke: God’s children often make unnecessary complaints, and if the Lord should answer them, He would not reply in any other way than: “Ye know not what ye should pray for as ye ought” (Romans 11:2).—God can permit no such confusion of ideas, as that we are to be saved partly through grace and partly through merit; Romans 3:28 (Romans 11:6).—Hedinger: God has more saints in the world than we often imagine. Much of the good seed lies under the ground; in the Spring, when the right time comes, it germinates. Be comforted by this truth, ye faithful teachers; Isaiah 49:1; Isaiah 1:0 Kings 19:48 (1 Kings 11:1-3).—Nova Bibl. Tüb.: God does not cast us away, if we have not previously cast Him away (Romans 11:1).—You regard that church and congregation as the best one to which the most belong, which the great men in the world honor, and which, therefore, has the most splendor, show, and consideration. Oh, no; it is the small and insignificant number which God has preserved for salvation according to the election. “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Romans 11:5).—Spener: God looks with other eyes than men’s, and perceives those who were imperceptible to others. Yet such persons did not exist by their own strength, but the Lord has reserved them (Romans 11:4).
Lisco: The fall of Israel is neither altogether universal nor perpetual. The Gentiles’ becoming God’s people, and participants in His kingdom, is a fulfilment of Genesis 9:27, that Japheth shall dwell in the tents of Shem.—As surely as unbelief, according to chap. 10, is an offence, so sure is the better disposition of these better ones among the people not any work of theirs, but a work of Divine grace (Romans 11:5-6).
Heubner: There is a divine casting away, the most terrible penal judgment of God, in which He takes His Holy Spirit from man, and quenches the spark of good within him, so that he morally dies out, is without the feeling and power for good, and, shut out from heaven, must bear misery and torment.—This is what pious people since the fall have been anxiously praying God to ward off; Psalms 51:0 (Romans 11:1).—Elijah believed that he was the only one left. How often does many a pious person believe himself alone! This is a divine trial; but in such hours there also comes equal consolation (Romans 11:3).—There is a seed of good people which never dies out. (Indefectibilitas ecclesiœ.)
B. Romans 11:7-10. The judgment of hardening on the Israelites not belonging to the election. 1. Why is this judgment inflicted upon them? a. Not because it was determined from eternity against them; but, b. Because they, according to Romans 9:30 ff., sought righteousness by works and not by faith, and, accordingly, became guilty themselves. 2. In what does this judgment consist? God fulfils in them what He, a. Has said by Isaiah; b. By David.
Nova Bibl. Tüb.: The terrible judgment of hardening! They have hell, who are smitten and do not feel it; who have eyes, and do not see; who have ears, and do not hear; who have poison and death instead of the bread of life; who have ruin, punishment, and condemnation, instead of strength, joy, and comfort; who have darkness instead of light, and earth instead of heaven.—Cramer: O God, Thou beautiful and clear light, Thou wouldst blind no one; and Thou only dost it as a righteous Judge after one has blinded himself in the power of the devil; 2 Corinthians 4:4 (Romans 11:10).—Roos: When the table (where they concoct mischievous devices), where they usually sit unconcernedly and eat good things, becomes a rope, a trap, ruin, and a recompense for the unfaithfulness and violence which they have exercised against others, it is a symbol of all the means by which men unexpectedly become involved in dangers by their words, or, by their deception or power, are led into the hands of their enemies, and sustain real injury (Romans 11:9).
Lisco: The burdens of age—dim-sightedness and crookedness—are likewise a symbol of ruin (Romans 11:10).
Heubner: God has given them such a spirit; that is, He has permitted it to visit them as a necessary consequence, as a righteous punishment, because they made such resistance to the strivings of the Divine Spirit (Romans 11:8). Comp. Acts 2:37; Acts 7:51.—Man, both the individual and the people, declines into wretched slavery by apostasy from God (Romans 11:10).
C. Romans 11:11-12. The fall of the Jews is the salvation of the Gentiles. 1. No dark fatality rules here; but, 2. The loving providence of God, which continually turns every thing evil to a good purpose.—Nothing is so bad that God cannot make it serve a good purpose.—Providential sovereignty: 1. It is mysterious, in so far as we often cannot understand why it permits evil; 2. It is clear and plain, in so far as it always causes good to come from evil. Comp. Genesis 1:20.
Starke, Hedinger: What a great Artificer is God! He makes good out of evil, medicine out of poison, and something out of nothing.—Roos: Has God brought nothing good out of this evil? God forbid! From their fall there has taken place the salvation of the nations, to which the gospel was directed after it had been scorned by the Jews (Matthew 21:43; Acts 13:46-48; Acts 22:18-21; Acts 28:27-28), that the latter might be provoked to jealousy by the former.
Gerlach, Calvin: “As a wife who has been cast away from her husband because of her guilt is so inflamed by jealousy that she feels herself impelled by it to become reconciled again to her husband, so shall it now come to pass that the Jews, having seen the Gentiles taking their place, and being pained by their being cast away, shall strive after reconciliation with God;” comp. Ephesians 5:25-33.
Lisco: God’s wisdom brings good out of Israel’s perversity. Paul does not say that the individual unbelieving Israelite cannot be lost; but there is quite a difference between the individual and the people (Romans 11:11).
D. Romans 11:13-28. How does Paul wish to be regarded by the Gentiles? 1. By all means as their Apostle, who magnifies this his office; 2. But yet, at the same time, as a true friend of his lineal kindred, who wishes to be the means of saving some of them, because they are destined for life (Romans 11:13-16).—The rich mercy shown to Israel; perceptible, 1. From its rejection, which is the reconciling of the world; 2. From its reception, which is life from the dead (Romans 11:13-15).—The figure of the first-fruits as related to the justification of infant baptism; comp. 1 Corinthians 7:14 (Romans 11:16).—Likewise the figure of the root and the branches. (Comp. also the Zurich Catechism, Question 73, b.) The figure of the olive tree. 1. The Apostle warns the Gentile Christians against pernicious presumption (Romans 11:17-18); 2. He takes away the strength from such a possible and proud objection on their part (Romans 11:19-21); 3. He exhorts them to behold God’s goodness and severity (Romans 11:22); 4. He also declares to them his joyous hope of the future conversion of Israel (Romans 11:23-24).—The branches do not bear the root, but the root bears the branches. Application: 1. To the relation of children and parents; 2. To the unconfirmed and the Church (Romans 11:18).—Do you stand by faith? Then do not be proud, but fear (Romans 11:20).—God’s goodness and severity (Romans 11:22).—God can graft them in again; as this was the Apostle’s hope for the children of Israel, so is it ours (Romans 11:24).—The future conversion of all Israel. 1. When will it take place? When the fulness of the Gentiles is come into the kingdom of God, and the time of the blindness in part of Israel is past. 2. Why will it take place? a. Because God has promised it by the prophets; b. Because God has once chosen His people; c. Because He does not repent His gifts and call (Romans 11:25-29).—The future conversion of Israel is a mystery, in the sense of Matthew 13:11; 1 Corinthians 15:51.—The entrance of the fulness of the Gentiles into God’s kingdom. 1. It will be effected by the preaching of the gospel among them; 2. It will take place amid praise and thanksgiving (Romans 11:25).
Starke: It is part of a teacher’s wisdom to address himself especially to every class of men in an assembly (Romans 11:13).—One often falls, and yet by his fall another rises; oh, wonderful and yet holy government of God (Romans 11:15)!—A whole church, a whole ministry, a whole community, and a whole generation, must not be rejected on account of a few fools (Romans 11:16).—The living of the Jews among us in a dispersed way can be of use to us, for the frequent sight of a Jew, and his intercourse with us, remind us frequently of this Pauline admonition (Romans 11:21).—Why should you trouble yourself if you are not remembered in any earthly will as an inheritor of corruptible goods? If you stand in God’s covenant of grace, you are more than rich (Romans 11:27).—Cramer: Let no one forget his origin, for that will teach him to be humble (Romans 11:17).—The human heart is guilty of two sins: it is deceitful, and desperately wicked; Jeremiah 17:9. Therefore God must oppose it by goodness and righteousness (Romans 11:22).—Hedinger: Do not cast away so soon what does not please you. Many sin by doing this. God has many ways to souls. Your neighbor is guilty, and so are you. Shall the Lord cast both away? Bear and forbear. Time produces roses even from thorn-bushes (Romans 11:17).—Oh, how I wish that no one would sin against the poor Jews! Are they not Abraham’s seed, and the lineal kindred of the Church? O God, take compassion on these hardened ones, and remember thy covenant!—The Jews, you say, only steal and cheat; they are a frivolous people! Are you better than they? Cannot God convert them? They hear the word, and so do you; neither you nor they are pious. Which has the greater condemnation—you, or these who are under a judgment? The same blindness will come over you, if you do not turn to Christ (Romans 11:23).—If it is a mystery, who would be so daring as to desire to fathom it? If it is a revealed mystery, who will deny the conversion of the Jews? Though you cannot imagine how it will come to pass, neither can I imagine how those who were formerly Gentiles and servants of the devil, shall now be God’s children and the temple of His Spirit (Romans 11:25).—Nova Bibl. Tüb.: Every thing which God does must be regarded as for our improvement; His judgments to lead us to it, and His mercy and grace to keep us to it, even to the end. Because thy loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee; Psalms 63:3 (Romans 11:22).—Quesnel: Let no sinner despair! There is no abyss of sin from which God cannot rescue him. He who returns to Him with faith and confidence, will find His bosom open to him (Romans 11:23).
Spener, on Romans 11:23 : We have here the clear testimony that the poor castaway people shall hereafter be received to grace, and be converted to their Saviour; and the promises once given them repeatedly in the prophets, shall be fulfilled in them. From the beginning of the Christian Church down to the present time, this has been taught and believed by its dearest teachers, from many passages of the Old and New Testament Scriptures; and we, too, have no ground of departing from it, or looking more at the hardness of those hearts which appear impossible to be converted, than at God’s promise. Yet the time and manner of God’s effecting the work we should as well commit to Divine wisdom, as rejoice with thanksgiving for Divine grace because of the thing itself; and when such a result is effected, we hope for all the more blessed condition of the Church, but meanwhile heartily pray for the fulfilment of such hope.
Gerlach, on Romans 11:16 : The first figure says, the part has the nature of the whole; the second, the derived has the nature of its origin. The Apostle lays greatest stress upon the latter figure, for he dwells upon it afterward, and portrays it in clearer colors.—The Apostle purposely uses here a very striking figure, from a transaction which did not in reality occur—the grafting of the branch of a wild olive tree on a good stock—in order to show that the Gentiles, in a higher sense than the Jews, are called to salvation “contrary to nature” (Romans 11:24)—that is, by supernatural grace overcoming their nature; comp. Luke 12:37 (Romans 11:18).—Paul calls every thing mystery which man cannot know of himself, and can only perceive by Divine revelation. Previously it was the call of the Gentiles (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:3), but now it is that of the Jews. Comp. Col 2:2; 1 Corinthians 15:51 (Romans 11:25).—The continued existence of the Israelites among all the remaining nations—this perfectly isolated phenomenon in history—is therefore designed by God to glorify hereafter His covenant faithfulness by a future total conversion of the people (Romans 11:26).
Lisco: Under what conditions we become and remain participants of God’s grace (Romans 11:22-24).
Heubner, on Romans 11:16 : Honorable forefathers an earnest admonition to their posterity (Romans 11:16).—Nothing more clearly proves the strict righteousness of God, than His judgment on the fallen angels and the unbelieving people of Israel. This should inspire every one with awe, and with solicitude for himself (Romans 11:21).—It is very necessary to bear in mind both God’s severity and goodness; His severity, in order to be preserved from indulgence, false security, and backsliding; and His goodness, in order to be encouraged, and to hope for forgiveness and improvement. God has revealed both. Without the two together there would be no training of men (Romans 11:22).—Israel is without God, because it is without Christ; God has disappeared from the synagogue. He who would find God, must be converted to Christ (Romans 11:26).—The true deliverance of Israel does not take place by civil, but by spiritual, emancipation—the mercy of God. Mercy is the object of the reception of the Jews into the Christian Church (Romans 11:27).—God’s friendship with the patriarchs endures eternally (Romans 11:28).
Besser: It is with Mary, with the shepherds, with Simeon, with the first-called disciples, with the Galilean women, with the Apostles, and with the pentecostal Church of Jerusalem, and not without or separated from them, that thou, Gentile, hast a share in the root and sap of the olive tree. “Paul loves the little word ‘with,’’ says Bengel, in speaking of the Gentiles; Romans 15:10; Ephesians 2:19; Ephesians 2:22; Ephesians 3:6 (Romans 11:17-18).—See that you are not led into the folly of planting the top of the tree in the earth, and imagining that you bear the root, and that first from you, German blood, the good sap of the olive tree has really received strength and impulse (Romans 11:18).
Deichert (Romans 11:11-21): What serves for the fall of some, must serve for the support of others. 1. Corroboration of this experience generally and particularly; 2. For what should it serve both the fallen and the raised?
E. Romans 11:29-36. God’s general compassion on all. 1. On the Gentiles, who formerly did not believe, but now believe; 2. On the Jews, who do not believe, but shall hereafter believe (Romans 11:29-32).—All concluded in unbelief. 1. How far? 2. To what end? (Romans 11:32.)—The universality of Divine grace (Romans 11:32).—An apostolical song of praise: 1. For God’s fulness of grace; 2. For His Wisdom 3. For His knowledge (Romans 11:33-36).—Every thing is of, through, and in (to) God (Romans 11:36).—To God alone be the honor (Romans 11:36)!
Luther, on Romans 11:32 : Observe this principal declaration, which condemns all righteousness of man and of works, and praises only God’s compassion in our obtaining it by faith.—Starke: God must be the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things (Romans 11:36).—Hedinger: How audacious not only to look upon God’s council-chamber, but to become master of it! Men do not allow their political follies to be known; should we blind ones, then—we who are of yesterday and know nothing—invade God’s wisdom? Job 8:9. O man, be acute with the Scriptures, but not on and beside the Scriptures. Hypercritics mount high, and fall low; and it all amounts to nothing with the Divine Being (Romans 11:33).
Spener: The loftiness of the divine Majesty (Romans 11:33-36).—Roos: What Paul has called the election, he immediately afterward divides into two ideas, gifts and calling, and says that God does not repent them. God has chosen Israel, and remains firm to it. He has from the beginning shown great mercy to this people; and He does not repent of all this. Single branches can, indeed, be cut off, and individual Jews can be lost in great numbers; but the whole tree will not be cut off, the whole people cannot be cast away (Romans 11:29).
Gerlach: God’s purposes for Israel will continue uninterruptedly until the end of the present course of the world; as the fulfilment of all the promises, there is yet to take place a great popular conversion, and a mighty activity within the Church itself. But from all this we cannot conclude that there will be an external restoration of the Jews to a people in the political sense, and their return to the land of Canaan (Romans 11:29).—The survey of the wonderfully glorious saving purpose of God, as He gradually unfolded it in the foregoing verses to the eyes of the Apostle, leads the latter to make, from the bottom of his heart, this exclamation of amazed and adoring wonder. The wisdom of God comprehended the purpose which His love had prompted; and God’s knowledge marked out the way, defined the measure, and ordered the course for its execution. His judgments even on His own children, when they wish to set up their own righteousness, and the ways in which He draws the most remote Gentiles and most hardened Pharisees to himself, are unsearchable; but they are not absolutely and eternally concealed, but the light of revelation is disclosed to man by the Spirit, which searcheth after the deep things of God, and reveals them to those who love God (Romans 11:33-36).
Schleiermacher: The contemplation of the order of salvation, that God has concluded all in unbelief, is also necessary to us for wonder at Divine Wisdom 1. God’s concluding all in unbelief, constitutes the nature of this Divine order of salvation and of redemption through Christ. 2. In this, Divine wisdom is most to be perceived and admired (Romans 11:32-33).—Schweizer: The unfathomable depth of God’s Wisdom 1. We represent this unfathomable depth to ourselves in humility; 2. We lift ourselves up in faith, since therein the ways of Divine wisdom are concealed (Romans 11:33).
The Pericope for the Sunday after Trinity (Romans 11:33-36).—Wolf: How our reflection should be directed to the unsearchable purposes of God. We see, 1. From whence it should proceed; and, 2. To what it must lead.—Ranke: How one can learn to submit to God’s incomprehensible ways: 1. By being humble; 2. By being confident.—Petri: How should we act in regard to the incomprehensibility of God? 1. We should be discreet in our opinions; 2. We should be humble in our disposition: 3. We should be faithful in our work.—Kapff: The Holy Trinity: 1. An unfathomable depth; 2. But an inexhaustible fountain of life.—Florey: Our inability to comprehend God is a reminder that should lead us to a careful reflection. It is: 1. A reminder of the narrowness of our mind, that we should be warned by it against useless subtleties; 2. A reminder respecting the Scriptures, that we should be moved thereby to hold fast to God’s revealed word; 3. A reminder of eternity, that we should thereby think of the perfect knowledge which awaits us in the future world.—Schultz: The Lord’s ways: 1. How God glorifies them before our eyes; 2. To what end God’s glory, which is declared in His ways, summons us.
[Bishop Hall: On Divine severity. With how envious eyes did the Jews look upon those first heralds of the gospel, who carried the glad tidings of salvation to the despised Gentiles! What cruel storms of persecution did they raise against those blessed messengers, whose feet deserved to be beautiful! wherein their obstinate unbelief turned to our advantage; for, after they had made themselves unworthy of that gospel of peace, that blessing was instantly derived upon us Gentiles, and we happily changed conditions with them.—The Jews were once the children, and we the dogs under the table: the crumbs were our lot, the bread was theirs. Now is the case, through their wilful incredulity, altered: they are the dogs, and we the children; we sit at a full table, while their hunger is not satisfied with scraps.—On the necessity of a living faith in Christ. If ever, therefore, we look for any consolation in Christ, or to have any part in this beautiful union, it must be the main care of our hearts to make sure of a lively faith in the Lord Jesus; to lay fast hold upon Him; to clasp Him close to us; yea, to receive Him inwardly into our bosoms, and so to make Him ours, and ourselves His, that we may be joined to Him as our Head, espoused to Him as our Husband, incorporated into Him as our Nourishment, engrafted in Him as our Stock, and laid upon Him as a sure Foundation.—On the incomprehensibility of Divine wisdom. It is unfitting for the vulgar mind to attempt with profane foot to ascend the highest pinnacles of heaven, and there to scrutinize with presumptuous eyes the holy innermost places of God, and to pronounce an opinion on the most profound secrets of the Divine wisdom!—Shall we dare to measure the depths of the Divine law with the diminutive standard of our intellect? Shall we trample on things which even the angels gaze on with awe? But in this respect I do not so much blame the people as the teachers themselves, who have so inopportunely supplied the ears and minds of the multitude with these subjects.
[Farindon: What better spectacle for the Church than the synagogue, in whose ruins and desolation she may read the dangerous effects of spiritual pride and haughtiness of mind, and thence learn not to insult, but tremble?—Take virtue in its own shape, and it seems to call for fear and trembling, and to bespeak us to be careful and watchful that we forfeit not so fair an estate for false riches; but take it, as from the devil’s forge, and then, contrary to its own nature, it helps to blind and hoodwink us, that we see not the danger we are in, how that not only the way, but our feet, are slippery. It unfortunately occasions its own ruin, whilst we, with Nero in Tacitus, spend riotously upon presumption of treasure.—Leighton: Our only way to know that our names are not in that black line, and to be persuaded that He hath chosen us to be saved by His Son, is this, to find that we have chosen Him, and are built on Him by faith, which is the fruit of His love who first chooseth us, and which we may read in our esteem of Him.
[Charnock: On regeneration. The increasing the perfection of one species, can never mount the thing so increased, to the perfection of another species. If you could vastly increase the heat of fire, you could never make it ascend to the perfection of a star. If you could increase mere moral works to the highest pitch they are capable of, they can never make you gracious, because grace is another species, and the nature of them must be changed to make them of another kind. All the moral actions in the world will never make our hearts of themselves of another kind than moral. Works make not the heart good, but a good heart makes the works good. It is not our walking in God’s statutes materially, which procures us a new heart, but a new heart is necessary before walking in God’s statutes.—On the misery of unbelief. Some humbled souls think God is not so merciful as He declares; He swears to expel their doubts. Presumptuous persons think God is not so just; He swears to expel their vain conceits. This sin ties up, as it were, the hands of an omnipotent mercy from saving such a one.
[Tillotson: We are apt to attribute all things to the next and immediate agent, and to look no higher than second causes; not considering that all the motions of natural causes are directly subordinate to the first cause, and all the actions of free creatures are under the government of God’s wise providence, so that nothing happens to us besides the design and intention of God.—If God be the last end of all, let us make Him our last end, and refer all our actions to His glory. This is that which is due to Him, as He is the first cause, and therefore He does most reasonably require it of us.
[Hopkins: Fear God, lest at any time, through any neglect or miscarriage of yours, He should be provoked to suspend His influence, and withdraw His grace from you, and to leave you to your own weakness and impotency, upon whose influence all your obedience doth depend.
[Henry: The best evidence of integrity is a freedom from the present prevailing corruptions of the times and places that we live in;
to swim against the stream when it is strong. Those God will own for His faithful witnesses that are bold in bearing their testimony to the present truth. This is thankworthy: not to bow to Baal when every body bows. Sober singularity is commonly the badge of true sincerity.
[J. Wesley: God always reserved a seed for himself; a few that worshipped Him in spirit and in truth. I have often doubted whether these were not the very persons whom the rich and honorable Christians, who will always have number as well as power on their side, did not stigmatize, from time to time, with the title of heretics. Perhaps it was chiefly by this artifice of the devil and his children, that the good which was in them being evil spoken of, they were prevented from being so extensively useful as otherwise they might have been. Nay, I have doubted whether that arch-heretic, Montanus, was not one of the holiest men in the second century.
[Clarke: The designs are the offspring of infinite wisdom, and therefore they are all right; the means are the most proper, as being the choice of an infinite knowledge that cannot err: we may safely credit the goodness of the design, founded in infinite wisdom; we may rely on the due accomplishment of the end, because the means are chosen and applied by infinite knowledge and skill.
[Barnes, on Romans 11:14 : We may see here, 1. That it is the earnest wish of the ministry to save the souls of men; 2. That they should urge every argument and appeal with reference to this; 3. That even the most awful and humbling truths may have this tendency; 4. It is right to use all the means in our power, not absolutely wicked, to save men. Paul was full of devices; and much of the success of the ministry will depend on a wise use of plans, that may, by the Divine blessing, arrest and save the souls of men.—J. F. H.]
Romans 11:2; Romans 11:2.—[The Rec. inserts λέγων; supported by א1. L. It is omitted in א3. A. B. C. D. F., versions and fathers. The probability of an interpolation is so great, that modern editors unhesitatingly reject it.—Some MSS. insert ὃν προέγνω (from the first clause of Romans 11:2) in the first clause of Romans 11:2. The similarity of the clauses readily explains this.
Romans 11:3; Romans 11:3.—[A free citation from the LXX., 3 (1) 1 Kings 19:10 (1 Kings 11:14 is almost a repetition of 1 Kings 11:10): τὰ θυσιαστήριά σου κατέσκαψαν (Romans 11:14 : καθεῖλαν), καὶ τοὺς προφήτας σου ̀ομφαιᾳ, καὶ ὑπολέλειμμαι ἐγὼ μονώτατος, καὶ ζητοῦσι τὴν ψυχήν μου λαβεῖν σὐτήν. The Apostle has omitted a few unimportant words, transposed the clauses, substituted μόνος for μονώτατος, and the aorist ὑπελείφθην for the perfect. The LXX. follows the Hebrew closely.
Romans 11:3; Romans 11:3.—[Καί (Rec א3. D. L.) is omitted in א1. A. B. C. F., by recent editors. The vivacious form of the Greek is restored by the above emendation. So Noyes, Alford, Five Ang. Clergymen, and Dr. Lange in his German text. “Lord, they have killed thy prophets, they have digged down thine altars.”
Romans 11:3; Romans 11:3.—[Five Ang. Clergymen: I only am left. The above emendation is more strictly literal, although it would answer still better to the μονώτατος of the LXX.
Romans 11:4; Romans 11:4.—[From 1 Kings 19:18, but varying from both the Hebrew and the LXX.; not materially, however. The LXX. reads: καὶ καταλείψεις (complut. ed., καταλείψω) ἐν ̓Ισραὴλ έπτὰ χιλιάδας , πάντα γονατα ἂ οὐκῶκλασαν γόνυ τῷ Βάαλ. Alford: “The Apostle here corrects a mistake of the LXX., who have, for κατέλιπο ν, καταλείψεις. He has added to the Hebrew, הִשְׁאִרְחִי.—‘I have left,’ ‘kept as a remainder,’—ἐμαυτῷ, a simple and obvious filling up of the sense.—Onτῇ Βάαλ, instead of τῷ, see Exeg. Notes. “The italicized words of the E. V. are omitted, although defended to some extent by Dr. Lange, who supplies, in his German text: [der Säule.—מַצֵּכָה—des]. It seems unnecessary to insert a comment of such doubtful correctness.
Romans 11:6; Romans 11:6.—[Otherwise is sufficiently correct, although ἐπεί, literally, means: since in that case.—Γίνεται, which has been altered in one MS., and taken as = ἐστί, in most versions, is to be rendered exactly. On the meaning, see Exeg. Notes. The simplest view is: ceaseth to be; but Dr. Lange finds more in the expression.
Romans 11:6; Romans 11:6.—[The whole clause: εί δὲ ἐξ ἒργων. … ἐστὶν ἒργον, is omitted in א1. A. C. D. F., versions and fathers; it is rejected by Erasmus, Grotius, Wetstein, Griesbach, Scholz, Lachmann, Meyer, Tregelles; bracketted by Alford, and in version of Amer. Bible Union (rejected by Five Ang. Clergymen). On the other hand, it is found (with some variations noticed in the following notes) in א3. B. L., the older versions, in Chrysostom and Theodoret (text, not commentary). It is retained by Beza, Bengel, Rinck, Fritzsche, Reiche, Tholuck, by Tischendorf in later editions, Wordsworth, Hodge, Lange. It is difficult to decide, but the critical ground for retaining it is very strong. See Exeg. Notes.
Romans 11:6; Romans 11:6.—[Rec.: ἐστί, on very slight authority.
Romans 11:6; Romans 11:6.—[B. has χάρις for ἒργον; either a mistake of the transcriber, or an attempt at explanation. See Exeg. Notes.
Romans 11:8; Romans 11:8.—[The first clause is a free citation from Isaiah 29:10. LXX: ὂτι πεπότικεν ὑμᾶς κύριος πνεύματικατανύξεως. Hebrew: כִּי־נָסַךְ עֲלֵיכם יְהוָֹה יוּחַ תַּרְדֵּמָה.
Romans 11:8; Romans 11:8.—[It is much disputed whether these words are borrowed from Deuteronomy 29:4, or from Isaiah 6:9. The former passage reads thus (LXX.): καὶ οὐκ ἒδωκε...καὶ ὀφθαλμοὐς βλέπειν, καὶ ῶτα . The latter contains the same idea, but still further removed in form from Paul’s language. Dr. Lange thinks both were in mind. In that case, as well as if Deuteronomy is cited, the parentheses must be omitted, so as to join “unto this day” with the rest of the verse. Noyes tones down the telic force thus: “eyes that were not to see, and ears that were not to hear.”
Romans 11:9; Romans 11:9.—[From Psalms 69:23 (E. V., 22). The LXX. is followed more closely than the Hebrew text. The latter is literally: “Let their table before them be for a snare, and to those secure (לִשְלומים), a trap.” (The E. V. in loco, gives an unnecessarily forced and circuitous rendering.) The LXX. renders: γενηθήτω ὴ τράπεζα αὐτῶν ἐνώπιον αὐτῶν εἰς παγίδα, καὶ εὶς , καὶ εὶς σκάνδαλον. The Apostle follows the first clause quite closely, then inserts εὶς θήπαν, and putting σκάνδαλον next, substitutes ἀνταπόδομα for the LXX. equivalent. The main difficulty is with the expression last named. The Hebrew word, according to the present pointing (given above), does not mean requitals, recompense; “although this sense may be deduced from the verbal root (שָׁלַם), and belongs to several collateral derivatives, it has no existence in the usage of the one before us” (J. A. Alexander). The usual explanation is, that the LXX. pointed the word thus, לְשִלּוּמים; for retributions, and the Apostle, finding this meaning in keeping with the spirit of the original, adopted it in the varied form of the text.
Romans 11:10; Romans 11:10.—[The LXX. version of Psalms 69:24 (23) is followed with great exactness. But it varies from the Hebrew text (מָתְנֵיהֶם הַמְצַי, make their loins to waver, or tremble) in the last clause. The meaning is preserved, however. See Exeg. Notes.
Romans 11:13; Romans 11:13.—[The Rec. D. F. L., fathers, read γάρ א, A. B., versions, δέ. Lange adopts the former, mainly on exegetical grounds; Lachmann, Alford, Tregelles, the latter. C. has οὐν; hence Meyer thinks it impossible to decide which is the genuine particle; nor is it of importance.
Romans 11:13; Romans 11:13.—[In Rec., L., some versions and fathers, οὐν is omitted; in D. F., μἐν οὐν; both are found in א. A. B. C. De Wette and Tholuck reject both, on exegetical grounds; most critical editors retain μέν, and Meyer accounts for οὐν as inserted because the corresponding δέ was wanting. On the whole, it is safest to retain both, with Lachmann and Alford. Tregelles brackets οὖν.
Romans 11:17; Romans 11:17.—[The καί (Rec.) is omitted in א1. B. C., but found in א3. A. L. Still another reading in D1. F. Alford rejects, Tregelles brackets, but most editors retain it. If retained, the note of Dr. Lange in loco is correct.—The E. V. has paraphrased συνκοινωνός: with them partakest. The above emendation is more literal.
Romans 11:19; Romans 11:19.—[The article οί before κλάδοι is omitted in א. A. C. D3. L.; rejected by Scholz, Lachmann, Meyer, Wordsworth (who incorrectly cites B. as omitting it), Tregelles; bracketted by Alford. It is found in B. D1.; retained by Tischendorf, De Wette, Tholuck, Lange. Meyer thinks it is a mechanical repetition from Romans 11:17-18; while De Wette thinks it was omitted on account of the euphony: ὲξεκλάσθησαν κλάδοι. In any case, the reference is to the branches broken off.
Romans 11:20; Romans 11:20.—[Instead of ὑψηλοφρόνει (Rec., C. D. F. G.), Lachmann and Tregelles adopt ὐψηλὰ φρόνει, on the authority of א. A. B. The first word is so unusual that it was likely to be changed. Most editors follow the Rec.
Romans 11:21; Romans 11:21.—[The uncial authority is against μήπως. It is omitted in א. A. B. C., but found in D. F. L. It is rejected by Lachmann and Tregelles, bracketted by Alford. But the probability of an omission, because of the future (φείσεται) which follows, is so great, that most critical editors retain it. To obviate the same difficulty, the subj. φείσηται is substituted in Rec., but with no uncial support.
Romans 11:22; Romans 11:22.—[Instead of the accusative ἀπρτομίαν (Rec., D. F. L.) most editors adopt the nominative, on the authority of א1. A. B. C. The punctuation favors the latter, as the former would be governed by ἲδε, which is separated from it by a colon. The absence of a predicate for the nominatives led to the change. So Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford, De Wette, Tregelles, Lange. The same remarks apply to χρηστότης.
Romans 11:22; Romans 11:22.—[Instead of χρηστότητα (Rec., D3. F. L.), χρηστότης on the authority of A. B. C. D1. א. has χρηστότητος.—Rec., D2 3. F. L. omit θεοῦ, which is found in א. A. B. C. D1. The critical editors generally adopt it, on the ground that it was likely to have been omitted as unnecessary. The later revisions retain and render as above, except Amer. Bible Union, which follows the E. V.
Romans 11:25; Romans 11:25.—[Rec., with א. C. D, L., reads παῤ ἑαυτοῖς. A. B. have ἐν. The preposition is omitted in F. and some cursives. Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Hodge, Tregelles, adopt ἐν; but the sense is much the same, whichever preposition be adopted. The phrase παῤ ἑαυτοῖς is found in Romans 12:16, and Proverbs 3:7 (LXX.); hence the probability of an alteration to correspond.
Romans 11:26; Romans 11:26.—[According to the view of most of the best expositors, the citation is from Isaiah 59:20-21 (from Ἣξει to διαθήκη, Romans 11:27); the last clause of Romans 11:27 is from Isaiah 27:9. The text of the LXX., and the more important variations from the Hebrew, will be found in the Exeg. Notes.
Romans 11:28; Romans 11:28.—[Κατά, according to, as respects, &c. The version of Five Ang. Clergymen adopts as touching, in both clauses; Amer. Bible Union: as concerning. If a choice must be made between the two, the former is preferable, although neither is altogether exact.
Romans 11:30; Romans 11:30.—[The Rec. inserts καί, on the authority of א3. L., and some versions. It is omitted in א corr.1 A. B. C. D1., versions and fathers; rejected by modern editors generally. Scholz retains it.
Romans 11:30; Romans 11:30.—[The E. V. confounds here the nearly related ideas of unbelief and disobedience. Later revisions correct the rendering of both verb and noun. Dr. Hodge claims that the E. V. is correct; but it is only inferentially so. These remarks apply also to άπείθειαν (Romans 11:32).
Romans 11:32; Romans 11:32.—[Concluded, was once a literal rendering of συνέκλεισεν; included (Amer. Bible Union), while it expresses a part of the meaning, is not strong enough; delivered up (Noyes), is an interpretation rather than a translation. It seems best, then, to substitute the simple, literal Saxon: shut up. So E. V., Galatians 3:23, though concluded is found in Romans 11:22.—Instead of the masculine τοὺς πάντας, we find τὰ πάντα, and παντα (so Vulg.), but very weakly supported.
Romans 11:33; Romans 11:33.—[Both ἀνεξεραύνητα and ἀνεξερευνητα are found. The former is supported by א. A. B1.; adopted by Alford, Tregelles (Meyer, De Wette, adopt the latter).
Romans 11:34; Romans 11:34.—[The aorists of Romans 11:34-35 are rendered by simple past tenses in the Amer. Bible Union, at the expense both of rhythm and strict adherence to the sense of the Hebrew at least.—The LXX. (Isaiah 40:13) is followed very closely.
Romans 11:36; Romans 11:36.—[“From Job 41:3 ( Job 41:11, E. V.), where the LXX. (Job 41:2) have τίς , κ. ὑπομενεῖ; But the Hebrew is מִי הִקְדִּימַנִי וִאֲשַׁלֶּם, ‘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” (Alford).—R.]
[Dr. Lange divides the text so as to include only Romans 11:7-10 in this paragraph, which is the usual division; but here, and in the exegesis, he adds Romans 11:11.—R.]
[Wordsworth supposes that he is speaking as an Apostle: “Do not imagine (he says to the Jews) that God cast off His ancient people when He admitted the Gentiles to the Church. No; I, who am His chosen instrument for admitting them, am a Jew.” But this is an inference rather than an interpretation. He also explains “of the tribe of Benjamin:” “the son of Israel by his beloved wife Rachel, not by Leah, or by one of their handmaids 1”—R.]
[See Textual Note4: “I am left the only one.”—R.]
[Still with Estius, Philippi, Hodge, De Wette, and others, it must be noted that, although the erection of the altars on the high places was originally forbidden in the kingdom of Israel (where Elijah lived), they had become the only places of true worship; and neglect of these would be really neglect of Jehovah.—R.]
[The simplest explanation is that which takes this as a definite expression for an indefinite number (Stuart, Hodge, and others), without attaching any special significance to the number seven.—R.]
[Wordsworth combines all the explanations: “The reason why the Septuagint sometimes used the feminine, why St. Paul adopts it here, appears to be, because not only a heathen God, but a goddess also (Astarté), was worshipped under the name of Baal, and because, by this variety of gender, the reader is reminded that there was no principle of unity in this heathen worship; and thus the vanity of the worship itself is declared.” The fact that the LXX. uses both, seems to render the italics of the E. V. unnecessary, and to render the interpretation thus assumed very doubtful.—R.]
[Alford well remarks: “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.” The want of exact correspondence is also against the probability of an interpolation, as Fritzsche has remarked: χάριτι—ἐξ ἒργων; γίνεται χάρις—ἐστὶν ἒργον; ἒργον at the close, where ἒργα might have been expected.—R.]
[So Wordsworth, who accepts the very weakly-supported ἐστί of the Rec., and accenting it thus: ἒστι, renders: “there is no longer any place for the existence of grace.” But this is very doubtful.—R.]
[The following paraphrase (abridged from Alford) may give a clearer view: “But if (the selection has been made) by grace, it is no longer (we exclude its being) of works (as its source); for (in that case) grace no longer becomes (loses its efficacy as) grace (the freedom of the act is lost, it having been prompted from without): but if of works (as the cause and source of the selection), no longer is it (the act of selection) grace; for (in that case) work is no longer work (work being ‘that which earns reward,’ its character is contradicted).” The same author remarks, that this point is stated so fully just here, because the Apostle was to enter upon such an exposition of the Divine dealings as rendered it necessary to show that their severity did not contradict their general character of grace and love.—R.]
[Fritzsche has an Excursus on this word, pp. 588 ff. He makes it = stupor, numbness, as from stupefying wine. Only here, and not in the classics. Incorrect, according to this view; Calvin: spiritus compunctionis; Luther: einen erbitterten Geist.—R.]
[Philippi (following Keil) says that the subject in this Psalm is “not the ideal, but the concrete person of the righteous.” Hengstenberg (so J. A. Alexander) adopts the other view.—R.]
[The Psalm purports to be written by David. Dr. Lange’s remarks are in support of this view of the authorship, though he finds it necessary, in order to sustain it by internal evidence, to admit the later addition of the concluding verses. The question of authorship does not, indeed, affect the question of the propriety of the phrase: David saith; but when it is so likely that David did write the Psalm, inventing theories to prove that he did not, seems to be useless ingenuity.—R.]
[Although ἲνα is telic, as is now held by most commentators, the emphasis does not rest upon it, as though only the purpose were denied, and the fact admitted. Taking οἱ λοιποί as representatives of the whole nation, the Apostle admits the stumbling, and denies the final fall, intimating by his use of ἲνα, that another purpose was involved, viz., the salvation of the Gentiles.—R.]
[The fall here must be taken as a less strong expression than the verb which precedes, if the view be adopted that denies the fact of a final fall. We must, then, hold that the national fall into utter ruin is denied throughout, while the stumbling and the moral fall of the individuals are admitted. So Alford.—R.]
[So Hodge, Alford: their impoverishment. The numerical idea is quite objectionable, although Dr. Lange seems to think it is included also. The whole verse, according to this view, means: “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?” This arbitrarily changes the reference of αὐτῶν, puts a forced meaning on ἢττημα, and really weakens the force of the argument, which is: if their sin has done so much, how much more their conversion?—R.]
[The numerical idea is lexically admissible in πλήρωμα, whence it has been transferred to ἢττημα, but even here it is not the prominent one. It is, however, to be understood, that the spiritual fulness will necessarily include the conversion of the nation as a whole.—R.]
[Meyer thus paraphrases: “I seek, indeed, inasmuch as I am he, who has the apostolic mission to the Gentiles (notice the emphatic ἒγώ), to do honor to mine office, but purpose therewith to excite my kinsmen,” &c. This brings out the force of μέν, and the connection of thought.—R.]
[There is a lexical objection to taking ἀγρ. ὢν as an adjective, since, when thus used, it means: made out of the wood of the olive (Alford). The reason for adopting this view is to escape from the thought that the whole. Gentile world, as such, was grafted in. This is done quite as properly by supposing the whole tree here put for a branch of it. The tree, moreover, is introduced to recognize the fact of a distinctively Gentile life existing as a whole.—R.]
[This last view is that of the majority of the best commentators, and is so natural and obvious, that nothing is gained by departing from it. Meyer intimates that the Apostle’s illustration must be taken in accordance with the fact—i. e., the fact respecting the coming in of the Gentiles—which was undoubtedly the grafting of wild branches on a good tree, to partake of the life and bear the fruit of that good tree. Furthermore, as a fact, there was no new and fresher life imparted by the Gentiles at that time, as Dr. Lange intimates. The Roman and Greek civilization, continually decaying, was only preserved so long by the new religious life from the patriarchal root.—R.]
[Both datives are rendered: durch, by Dr. Lange. The E. V., however, varies from because of to by. Alford has the following discriminating note: “ ‘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.” Hence the propriety of the rendering of this verse in the E. V.—R.]
[As Stuart well remarks, this verse speaks of what can be done; the next, of what will be done. It is greatly to be doubted whether the verse has any bearing on the questions of perseverance, conversio resistibilis, &c., which Meyer, and others, find involved here.—R.]
[There seems no good ground for departing from the common rendering. Dr. Lange’s idea about real fresh life in the branches is not admissible. For, although fresh physical and intellectual life has again and again come into the Church from new races, it has always been, for a time, at the expense of spiritual vigor. Not until the new spiritual life, contrary to nature, had been felt, was there any gain by such grafting.—R.]
[The view now generally adopted, and supported by Beza, Estius, Koppe, Reiche, Köllner, Meyer, Tholuck, De Wette, Hodge, Stuart, Alford, and a host of others, is: that the ancient people of God (so marvellously preserved in their distinctive life, as if in earnest of this) shall be restored, as a nation, to God’s favor. With all the modifications of this view from other passages, we have not to do. Thus much ought to be admitted by all fair rules of exegesis.—R.]
[The Literature on this subject is very extensive. The passages bearing on this particular point are grouped by Demarest and Gordon, Christocracy, pp. 234 ff. Comp. Meyer, pp. 442 f.—R.]
[So Tholuck, De Wette, Meyer, Alford. Dr. Hodge thinks it probable “that here, as elsewhere, he does not intend to refer exclusively to any one prediction, but to give the general sense of many specific declarations of the ancient prophets.” The objections urged throughout against such a view of the Apostle’s citations are applicable here.—Philippi remarks that these citations support the affirmation: “so all Israel shall be saved,” not the continuance of the hardening “until the fulness of the Gentiles come in.”—R.]
[The obvious meaning is, that the election of Israel as the people of God involves such a hope of blessing to the children of Abraham, that the mercy will at last coins, even after “thousands of generations.” If the Abrahamie covenant is abrogated, the Apostle’s words have little force.—R.]
[Notwithstanding this very strong assertion of Dr. Lange, on the ground of the parallelism, as well as on account of the general thought of the whole passage, the construction of Meyer is to be preferred. The trajection gives emphasis to τῷ ὑμ. ἐλ. The other views are: They are disobedient through the mercy, &c. (Calvin, and others); they have not believed on the mercy shown to you, &c. (Luther, Estius, Lange). But to these there is the same grammatical objection. Tholuck says: with the same mercy; which obviates Dr. Lange’s difficulty, but is against the parallelism.—R.]
[Comp. Lange’s Comm. Galatians, p. 85 ff.—R.]
Reiche’s arguments, and the answers given by Tholuck, will be found in Alford in loco.—R.]
[Bengel: Sapientia dirigit omnia ad finem optimum: cognitio novit finem illum et exitum. See Doctr. Note22.—R.]
[Alford, who is unusually happy in his comments on this chapter, remarks: “If this be rightly understood—not of a formal allusion to the three Persons in the Holy Trinity, but of an implicit reference (as Tholuck) 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.” “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.”—R.]
[Lutherthum; Lutherism, rather than Lutheranism. There is no thought of the Lutheran Church, as such, but of that spirit which traces all evangelical Christianity to the great reformer and his associates. If the figure of the Apostle has any special application now, it is against that illogical ultra-Protestantism, which, on the one hand, boasts itself against the mediæval Christianity, and, on the other, denies that any advance can be made beyond the theological thought of the seventeenth century.—R.]
[A comparison of Romans 11:32 with Galatians 3:22 will assist us in arriving at a correct explanation of its meaning. It expresses a bold, genial, and comprehensive thought, and contains the key to the understanding of the fall, as well as of the whole history of the world. The profound mystery of sin is here solved in the lustre of the Divine wisdom and love. The temporary abasement and neglect of countless individuals, of whole races and nations, is here subordinated to a more profound and exalted plan for general blessing. The Apostle, here and in Galatians 3:22, teaches a universality of sin and disobedience, and a universality of Divine grace (so also Romans 5:12 ff.; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22), and so places them in bold contrast, that the former must subserve the latter. This universality of grace refers: (1) To the internal power and capability; (2) To the purpose and design; (3) To the proffering of the opportunity, or the calling. God can and will have mercy upon all men, and gives to all (at some period) this opportunity. But further than this we cannot go. Paul does not teach a universalism of actual redemption to all men. The acceptance or rejection of grace is made dependent on belief or unbelief. Hence, in Galatians 3:22, he does not say, in the second clause: that the promise might be given to all, but to believers. For redemption is no natural process, no work of necessity, but a free act of God in Christ, and must be apprehended and appropriated in a free moral manner by each individual subject.—P. S.]
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Romans 11". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30