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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 11

Verses 1-12

Romans 11:1-12 . The Elect Remnant.— Paul comes to the third part of his proof that “ God’ s word” to Israel “ has not fallen through,” despite the national rejection of Jesus Christ.

Romans 11:1 . Romans 11:2 a. That “ God has not cast away His people” ( cf. 1 Samuel 12:22, Psalms 94:14, etc.), the “ Israelite” Paul is a living proof— God’ s people, that is, “ whom He foreknew” ( cf. Romans 8:29 *, 1 Peter 1:2).

Romans 11:2 b – Romans 11:4 . One remembers how “ Elijah” mourned over “ prophets slain and altars overthrown” and cried, “ I alone am left,” though “ 7000” Israelites “ bent no knee to “ Baal!”

Romans 11:5 f. “ Even so to-day there is a remnant” in whom Israel lives on ( cf. Romans 9:29, etc.)— those chosen in God’ s “ grace, on no ground of works” and merit. “ Grace is grace no longer” when works” make their claim ( cf. Romans 4:4 f.).

Romans 11:7 . Thus finally the matter stands: “ Israel has missed the righteousness it sought” ( Romans 9:31 f., Romans 10:2 f.); only “ the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened.”— This “ hardening” is not that of Romans 9:18— imperviousness to fear of judgment; but that of 2 Corinthians 3:14, Ephesians 4:18, Mark 3:22-30, the imperviousness to conviction described in the OT sayings quoted in Romans 11:8-10. “ The spirit of deep slumber, eyes unseeing and ears unhearing,” mark a people sunk in spiritual lethargy: this condition “ God gave them” ( cf. Romans 1:18; Romans 1:24, etc.)— a penal consequence of habitual sin; and it is “ chronic” ( cf. 2 Corinthians 3:15, 1 Thessalonians 2:15, Acts 7:51 f., Matthew 23:31-36).— The imprecation cited from Psalms 69 ( cf. John 19:28 f., Acts 1:20, quoting the same context) implies treachery, as well as stupidity, in anti-Christian Jews.

Romans 11:11 f. Sad as it is, Israel’ s error is “ a stumble,” not a final “ fall,” “ a trespass” overruled for “ salvation to the Gentiles,” whose gain will in turn “ stir Israel’ s jealousy” ( cf. Romans 10:19). “ Now if their trespass is a world-enrichment, how much more their replenishment!” The calamity which distresses lovers of Israel, God turns into blessing for mankind; and in the world’ s blessedness Israel is bound to participate.

Verses 13-24

Romans 11:13-24 . The Ingrafting of the Gentiles.— From Romans 9:1 onwards, Paul has written as a Jew to Jews; here he turns to the other half of the Church (see Introd. § 3 ).

Romans 11:13 . “ But to you Gentiles I say.” Paul’ s labour in their evangelisation has an ulterior object; he would fain “ somehow stir to jealousy his own flesh and blood,” etc. ( cf. Romans 10:19; also 1 Corinthians 9:20-22). “ I glorify my ministry,” make it renowned ( cf. Romans 15:15-21, 1 Corinthians 15:10, etc.).

Romans 11:15 states more definitely the expectation raised in Romans 11:12: “ if their casting away meant a worldwide reconciliation” to God (see 2 Corinthians 5:19), “ what will their reception be but life from the dead!” cf. the climax of Romans 5:10.—“ Reception” (as in Romans 14:1; Romans 14:3, Romans 15:7, etc.). is the taking to one’ s home and heart.—“ Life from the dead” means nothing short of the final resurrection: Paul asks (he does not assert) whether Israel’ s salvation, completing the salvation of the world, will not conclude the mission of the Gospel and usher in the Lord’ s return, which ends the reign of death ( Romans 5:21; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23-26, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17); the spiritual resurrection is presupposed in “ reconciliation” ( cf. Romans 6:4-11). Sayings of Jesus like Matthew 23:39 prompted Paul’ s hope.

Romans 11:16 . The “ holy” beginning of Israel’ s history ( Romans 11:4; Romans 9:4 f.) prognosticates the ending: “ the” completed “ kneading” will match “ the first-fruit” of the dough (the handful taken for the ritual offering, Numbers 15:17-21); “ the branches” belong to “ the root.”

Romans 11:17 f. The metaphor just used suggests a warning to Gentile Christians, some of whom were repeating the Jewish mistake in imagining themselves God’ s favourites. “ Certain of the” native “ branches have been broken out” of the old tree; “ and thou, a wild-olive slip, wast grafted in,” etc.—“ You boast over” this? remember, “ The root carries you, not you the root!” You owe everything to the primitive people of God.

Romans 11:19 f. “ Faith secures you a standing” in the good tree; “ unbelief caused their breaking off: they were not broken off for the purpose of grafting you in! Be humble, and fearful” of a like fate.

Romans 11:21 . “ God will not spare you either,” if you relapse.

Romans 11:22-24 . The Gentiles who now experience “ His kindness,” may forfeit it; the Jews, now tasting “ God’ s severity, unless they persist in unbelief, will be re-engrafted. God is able” to do this; and their restoration is “ more natural” than your implantation. The “ nature” intended is the common strain of tree and branches; cf. Romans 11:16.— Paul was no expert in arboriculture; he states the moral probabilities of the case under the figure adopted, without too great concern about botanical accuracy. [See Ramsay, Pauline and Other Studies, pp. 219– 250 ; also Deissmann, St. Paul, ch. ii., where it is shown that the world of the apostle was that of the olive tree.— A. S. P. and A. J. G.]

Verses 25-36

Romans 11:25-36 . The Mystery of Israel’ s Future.

Romans 11:25-26 a . It may save Gentile believers from a dangerous “ self-conceit” ( cf. Romans 12:16) to learn “ the secret that the hardening” (see Romans 11:7) which “ has partially befallen Israel” (the remnant is exempt; Romans 11:5; Romans 11:7), will last only “ until the full complement of the nations enters” into God’ s kingdom; “ then all Israel will be saved.” A mystery is a secret truth concerning God’ s kingdom made known by express revelation; cf. Romans 16:25, Ephesians 1:9 * Ephesians 3:3 ff., Matthew 13:11, etc.

Romans 11:26 b, Romans 11:27 . The event is described in words blended from two passages of Isaiah, signifying chiefly two things: Israel’ s Saviour comes of Israel ( cf. Romans 9:5); and His salvation lies in the removal of Israel’ s sin ( cf. Romans 4:7 f. , Matthew 1:21, Hebrews 10:15-18).

Romans 11:28 f. The mass of the Jews are, in God’ s eyes, at once “ enemies” and “ beloved” : enemies, since they oppose the giving of “ the gospel” to Gentiles ( 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, etc.); beloved for their fathers’ sake,” in whom God “ chose” the nation. That election stands good; acting in sure foresight ( cf. Romans 8:29 *), “ God never regrets His grace-gifts,” etc.

Romans 11:30-32 marks out the line of vindication. “ You” and “ they” have both “ proved disobedient to God” (for the former, see Romans 1:20-23; for the latter, Romans 10:21, etc.). He has used each set of rebels to overcome the others: “ just as you were aforetime disobedient, and now by reason of their disobedience have become objects of mercy” ( cf. Romans 11:12; Romans 11:15), “ so they now have fallen into disobedience by reason of the mercy shown to you, that finally mercy may be shown to them too.” Universal disobedience ends in universal mercy! “ Shut up unto disobedience” ( cf. Galatians 3:22) means the precluding of every other issue; “ all” (not “ every man” ) signifies Jews and Gentiles as a whole: Paul is dealing with broad historical issues.— The difficulty of Romans 1:24, Romans 5:20, Romans 9:18 recurs, viz. that God should take measures to aggravate sin. But downright, unmistakable disobedience clears the moral atmosphere; brought to a crisis, the fever is curable.

Romans 11:33 . The apostle’ s sorrow ( Romans 9:1) is turned to rapture as he contemplates the unfolding of God’ s world-plan: “ O the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!” ( mg.) . His wealth is the infinitude of His resources His wisdom lies in the skill of His methods; His knowledge, in the mastery of all the facts and conditions! The beholder is lost in these depths and mazes! ( cf. Romans 8:38 f.). The sayings of Romans 11:34 f. (drawn from Isaiah, Job, and Jeremiah) impressively reflect upon the mystery of God’ s dealings with human life, in which He needs no creaturely counsel or aid.

Romans 11:36 . Alike transcendent and immanent, God is “ the source” (see 1 Corinthians 8:6), “ the operative Agent” ( 1 Corinthians 12:6), “ the final issue” of the being of mankind.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 11". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.