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Bible Commentaries
Romans 11

Vincent's Word StudiesVincent's Studies

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Verse 1

I say then [λεγω ουν] . Then introduces the question as an inference from the whole previous discussion, especially vers. 19 - 21.

Hath God cast away [μη απωσατο ο θεος] . A negative answer required. "Surely God has not, has He?" The aorist tense points to a definite act. Hence Rev., better, did God cast off. The verb means literally to thrust or shove. Thus Homer, of Sisyphus pushing his stone before him (" Odyssey, "11, 596). Oedipus says :" I charge you that no one shelter or speak to that murderer, but that all thrust him [ωθειν] from their homes "(" Oedipus Tyrannus," 241).

People [λαον] . See on 1 Peter 2:9; Acts 13:17.

An Israelite, etc. See on Philippians 3:5. Paul adduces his own case first, to show that God has not rejected His people en masse. An Israelite of pure descent, he is, nevertheless a true believer.

Verse 2

Foreknew. See on ch. Romans 8:29.

Or [η] . Compare ch. 6 3; Romans 7:1. Confirming what precedes by presenting the only alternative in the cave. Or is omitted in the A. V.

Wot ye not [ουκ οιδατε] . Why should the Revisers have retained the obsolete wot here, when they have rendered elsewhere, know ye not? See Romans 6:16; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 5:6, 1 Corinthians 6:2, etc. The phrase indicates that this cannot be thought of as true.

Of Elias [εν ηλια] Wrong; though Rev. has retained it : of Elijah, with in in margin; probably in order to avoid the awkward circumlocution in the passage treating of Elijah, or the ambiguous in Elijah. See on in the bush, Mark 12:26. Thucydides (1. 9) says : "Homer, in 'The handing down of the sceptre, ' said," etc.; i e., in the passage describing the transmission of the sceptre in the second book of the Iliad. A common form of quotation in the rabbinical writings. The passage cited is 1 Kings 19:10, 1 Kings 19:14. He maketh intercession [εντυγχανει] . See on ch. Romans 8:26. Rev., pleadeth.

Verse 3

They have killed thy prophets - and digged, etc. Paul gives the first two clauses in reverse order from both Septuagint and Hebrew.

Digged down [κατεσκαψαν] . Sept., kaqeilan pulled down.. The verb occurs only here and Acts 14:16. Compare on Matthew 6:19.

Altars [θυσιαστηρια] . See on Acts 17:23.

Alone [μονος] . Sept. has the superlative monwtatov utterly alone. Life [ψυχην] . From yucw to breathe or blow. In classical usage it signifies life in the distinctness of individual existence, especially of man, occasionally of brutes. Hence, generally, the life of the individual. In the further development of the idea it becomes, instead of the body, the seat of the will, dispositions, desires, passions; and, combined with the swma body, denotes the constituent parts of humanity. Hence the morally endowed individuality of man which continues after death.

SCRIPTURE. In the Old Testament, answering to nephesh, primarily life, breath; therefore life in its distinct individuality; life as such, distinguished from other men and from inanimate nature. 55 Not the principle of life, but that which bears in itself and manifests the life - principle. Hence spirit [ρυαχη, πνευμα] in the Old Testament never signifies the individual. Soul [ψυχη] , of itself, does not constitute personality, but only when it is the soul of a human being. Human personality is derived from spirit [πνευμα] , and finds expression in soul or life [ψυχη] .

The New - Testament usage follows the Old, in denoting all individuals from the point of view of individual life. Thus the phrase pasa yuch every soul, i e., every person (Romans 2:9; Romans 13:1), marking them off from inanimate nature. So Romans 11:3; Romans 16:4; 2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 12:15; Philippians 2:30; 1 Thessalonians 2:8, illustrate an Old - Testament usage whereby the soul is the seat of personality, and is employed instead of the personal pronoun, with a collateral notion of value as individual personality.

These and other passages are opposed to the view which limits the term to a mere animal life - principle. See Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:23; the compounds sumyucoi with one soul; ijsoyucon like - minded (Philippians 1:27; Philippians 2:20), where personal interest and accord of feeling are indicated, and not lower elements of personality. See, especially 1 Thessalonians 5:23. As to the distinction between yuch soul and pneuma spirit, it is to be said :

1. That there are cases where the meanings approach very closely, if they are not practically synonymous; especially where the individual life is referred to. See Luke 1:47; John 11:33, and John 12:27; Matthew 11:29, and 1 Corinthians 16:18.

2. That the distinction is to be rejected which rests on the restriction of yuch to the principle of animal life. This cannot be maintained in the face of 1 Corinthians 14:45; 1 Corinthians 2:14, in which latter the kindred adjective yucikov natural has reference to the faculty of discerning spiritual truth. In both cases the antithesis is pneuma spirit in the ethical sense, requiring an enlargement of the conception of yucikov natural beyond that of sarkikov fleshly.

3. That yuch soul must not be distinguished from pneuma; spirit as being alone subject to the dominion of sin, since the pneuma is described as being subject to such dominion. See 2 Corinthians 7:1. So 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 7:34, imply that the spirit needs sanctification. Compare Ephesians 4:23.

4. Yuch soul is never used of God like pneuma spirit. It is used of Christ, but always with reference to His humanity.

Whatever distinction there is, therefore, is not between a higher and a lower element in man. It is rather between two sides of the one immaterial nature which stands in contrast with the body. Spirit expresses the conception of that nature more generally, being used both of the earthly and of the non - earthly spirit, while soul designates it on the side of the creature. In this view yuch soul is akin to sarx, flesh, "not as respects the notion conveyed by them, but as respects their value as they both stand at the same stage of creatureliness in contradistinction to God." Hence the distinction follows that of the Old Testament between soul and spirit as viewed from two different points : the soul regarded as an individual possession, distinguishing the holder from other men and from inanimate nature; the spirit regarded as coming directly from God and returning to Him. "The former indicates the life - principle simply as subsistent, the latter marks its relation to God." Spirit and not soul is the point of contact with the regenerating forces of the Holy Spirit; the point from which the whole personality is moved round so as to face God. Yuch soul is thus :

1. The individual life, the seat of the personality.

2. The subject of the life, the person in which it dwells.

3. The mind as the sentient principle, the seat of sensation and desire.

4. Answer [χρηματισμος] . Only here in the New Testament. For the kindred verb crhmatizw warn, see on Matthew 2:12; Luke 2:26; Acts 12:26. Compare Romans 8:3. The word means an oracular answer. In the New Testament the verb is commonly rendered warn.

I have reserved [κατελιπον] . Varying from both Septuagint and Hebrew. Heb., I will reserve; Sept., thou wilt leave.

To Baal [τη βααλ] . The feminine article is used with the name instead of the masculine (as in Septuagint in this passage). It occurs, however, in the Septuagint with both the masculine and the feminine article. Various reasons are given for the use of the feminine, some supposing an ellipsis, the image of Baal; others that the deity was conceived as bisexual; others that the feminine article represents the feminine noun hJ aijscunh shame Heb., bosheth, which was used as a substitute for Baal when this name became odious to the Israelites.

Verse 6

Otherwise [επει] . Lit., since. Since, in that case.

Grace is no more, etc. [γινεται] . Lit., becomes. No longer comes into manifestation as what it really is. "It gives up its specific character" (Meyer).

But if of works, etc. The best texts omit to the end of the verse.

Verse 7

Obtained [επετυχεν] . The simple verb tugcanw means originally to hit the mark; hence to fall in with, light upon, attain.

The election [η εκλογη] . Abstract for concrete. Those elected; like hJ peritomh the circumcision for those uncircumcised (Ephesians 2:11. Compare thn katatomhn the concision, Philippians 3:3).

Were blinded [επωρωθησαν] . Rev., correctly, hardened, though the word is used of blindness when applied to the eyes, as Job 17:7, Sept. See on hardness, Mark 3:5. Compare sklhrunei hardeneth, Romans 9:18.

Verse 8

It is written. Three quotations follow, two of which we blended in this verse : Isaiah 29:10; Deuteronomy 29:3. Deuteronomy 29:55 Hath given [οδωκεν] . Heb., poured out. Sept., given to drink.

Slumber [κατανυξεως] . Heb., deep sleep. Only here in the New Testament. Lit., pricking or piercing, compunction. Compare the kindred verb katenughsan were pricked, Acts 2:37. Rev. renders stupor, the secondary meaning; properly the stupefaction following a wound or blow.

Verse 9

David saith. Psalms 69:23, Psalms 69:24. It is doubtful whether David was the author. Some high authorities are inclined to ascribe it to Jeremiah. David here may mean nothing more than the book of Psalms 56:0 Table. Representing material prosperity : feasting in wicked security. Some explain of the Jews ' presumptuous confidence in the law.

Snare [παγιδα] , From phgnumi to make fast. The anchor is called pagiv the maker - fast of the ships.

Trap (qhran). Lit., a hunting. Only here in the New Testament, and neither in the Hebrew nor Septuagint. Many render net, following Psalms 35:8, where the word is used for the Hebrew resheth net. No kind of snare will be wanting. Their presumptuous security will become to them a snare, a hunting, a stumbling - block.

A recompense [ανταποδομα] . Substituted by the Septuagint for the Hebrew, to them at ease. It carries the idea of a just retribution.

Verse 10

Bow down [συγκαμψον] . Lit., bend together. Hebrew, shake the loins.

Verse 12

Diminishing [ηττημα] . The literal translation. Rev. renders loss. Referring apparently to the diminution in numbers of the Jewish people. Other explanations are defeat, impoverishment, injury, minority. Fullness [πληρωμα] . See on John 1:16. The word may mean that with which anything is filled (1 Corinthians 10:26, 1 Corinthians 10:28; Matthew 9:16; Mark 6:43); that which is filled (Ephesians 1:23); possibly the act of filling (Romans 13:10), though this is doubtful. 57 Here in the first sense : the fullness of their number contrasted with the diminution. They will belong as an integral whole to the people of God.

Verse 13

For I speak. The best texts read de but instead of gar for. The sentence does not state the reason for the prominence of the Gentiles asserted in ver. 12, but makes a transition from the statement of the divine plan to the statement of Paul 's own course of working on the line of that plan. He labors the more earnestly for the Gentiles with a view to the salvation of his own race.

Inasmuch as I am. The best texts insert oun then. So Rev.; thus disconnecting the clause from the preceding, and connecting it with what follows.

I magnify mine office [την διακονιαν μου δοξαζω] . Lit., I glorify my ministry, as Rev. Not I praise, but I honor by the faithful discharge of its duties. He implies, however, that the office is a glorious one. The verb, which occurs about sixty times in the New Testament, most frequently in John, is used, with very few exceptions, of glorifying God or Christ. In ch. 8 30, of God 's elect. In 1 Corinthians 12:26, of the members of the body. In Revelation 18:7, of Babylon. For ministry, see on minister, Matthew 20:26.

Verse 14

Some of them. A modest expression which recalls Paul 's limited success among his own countrymen.

Verse 15

The casting away [η αποβολη] . In contrast with receiving. Only here and Acts 27:22, where it means loss. Here exclusion from God 's people. Reconciling of the world [καταλλαγη κοσμου] . See on ch. Romans 5:10, Romans 5:11. Defining the phrase riches of the world in ver. 12.

Life from the dead. The exact meaning cannot be determined. Some refer it to the resurrection to follow the conversion of Israel, including the new life which the resurrection will inaugurate. Others, a new spiritual life. Others combine the two views.

Verse 16

For [δε] . Better but, or now. A new paragraph begins.

The first - fruit - holy. See on James 1:18, Acts 26:10. Referring to the patriarchs.

Lump. See on ch. Romans 9:21. The whole body of the people. The apparent confusion of metaphor, first - fruit, lump, is resolved by the fact that first - fruit does not apply exclusively to harvest, but is the general term for the first portion of every thing which was offered to God. The reference here is to Numbers 14:18-21; according to which the Israelites were to set apart a portion of the dough of each baking of bread for a cake for the priests. This was called ajparch, first - fruits.

Root - branches. The same thought under another figure. The second figure is more comprehensive, since it admits an application to the conversion of the Gentiles. 58 The thought of both figures centres in holy. Both the first - fruits and the root represent the patriarchs (or Abraham singly, compare ver. 28). The holiness by call and destination of the nation as represented by its fathers (first - fruits, root) implies their future restoration, the holiness of the lump and branches.

Verse 17

Branches were broken off [κλαδων εξεκλασθησαν] . See on Matthew 24:32; Mark 11:8. The derivation of kladwn branches, from klaw to break, is exhibited in the word - play between the noun and the verb : kladon, exeklasthesan.

A wild olive - tree [αγριελαιος] . To be taken as an adjective, belonging to the wild olive. Hence Rev., correctly, rejects tree, since the Gentiles are addressed not as a whole but as individuals. Meyer says : "The ingrafting of the Gentiles took place at first only partially and in single instances; while the thou addressed cannot represent heathendom as a whole, and is also not appropriate to the figure itself; because, in fact, not whole trees, not even quite young ones are ingrafted, either with the stem or as to all their branches. Besides, ver. 24 contradicts this view."

Wert graffed in among them [ενεκεντρισθης εν αυτοις] . The verb occurs only in this chapter. From kentpon a sting, a goad. See on Revelation 9:9. Thus, in the verb to graft the incision is emphasized. Some render in their place, instead of among them; but the latter agrees better with partakest. Hence the reference is not to some of the broken off branches in whose place the Gentiles were grafted, but to the branches in general.

With them partakest [συγκοινωνος εγενου] . Lit., as Rev., didst become partaker with them. See on Revelation 1:9; and partners, Luke 5:10. With them, the natural branches.

Of the root and fatness [της ριζης και της πιοτητος] . The best texts omit kai and, and render of the root of the fatness : the root as the source of the fatness.

Paul 's figure is : The Jewish nation is a tree from which some branches have been cut, but which remains living because the root (and therefore all the branches connected with it) is still alive. Into this living tree the wild branch, the Gentile, is grafted among the living branches, and thus draws life from the root. The insertion of the wild branches takes place in connection with the cutting off of the natural branches (the bringing in of the Gentiles in connection with the rejection of the Jews). But the grafted branches should not glory over the natural branches because of the cutting off of some of the latter, since they derive their life from the common root. "The life - force and the blessing are received by the Gentile through the Jew, and not by the Jew through the Gentile. The spiritual plan moves from the Abrahamic covenant downward, and from the Israelitish nation outward" [δωιγητ] .

The figure is challenged on the ground that the process of grafting is the insertion of the good into the inferior stock, while here the case is reversed. It has been suggested in explanation that Paul took the figure merely at the point of inserting one piece into another; that he was ignorant of the agricultural process; that he was emphasizing the process of grace as contrary to that of nature. References to a custom of grafting wild upon good trees are not sufficiently decisive to warrant the belief that the practice was common. Dr. Thomson says : "In the kingdom of nature generally, certainly in the case of the olive, the process referred to by the apostle never succeeds. Graft the good upon the wild, and, as the Arabs say, 'it will conquer the wild; ' but you cannot reverse the process with success.... It is only in the kingdom of grace that a process thus contrary to nature can be successful; and it is this circumstance which the apostle has seized upon to magnify the mercy shown to the Gentiles by grafting them, a wild race, contrary to the nature of such operations, into the good olive tree of the church, and causing them to flourish there and bring forth fruit unto eternal life. The apostle lived in the land of the olive, and was in no danger of falling into a blunder in founding his argument upon such a circumstance in its cultivation" (" Land and Book, Lebanon, Damascus and Beyond Jordan, "p. 35). Meyer says :" The subject - matter did not require the figure of the ordinary grafting, but the converse - the grafting of the wild scion and its ennoblement thereby. The Gentile scion was to receive, not to impart, fertility. "

Verse 18

The branches, Of the olive - tree generally, Jewish Christians and unbelieving Jews. Not those that are broken off, who are specially indicated in ver. 19.

Verse 20

Well [καλως] . Admitting the fact. Thou art right. Compare Mark 12:32. Some take it as ironical.

Verse 22

Goodness and severity [χρηστοτητα και αποτομιαν] . For goodness, see on ch. Romans 3:12. Apotomia severity, only here in the New Testament. The kindred adverb, ajpotomwv sharply, occurs 2 Corinthians 13:10; Titus 1:13. From ajpotemnw to cut off. Hence that which is abrupt, sharp.

Thou shalt be cut off [εκκοπηση] . Lit., cut out. See on Luke 13:7.

Verse 23

Able [δυνατος] . See on ch. Romans 4:21.

Verse 24

Contrary to nature. See remarks on ver. 17.

Verse 25

Mystery [μυστηριον] . In the Septuagint only in Daniel. See ch. Romans 2:18, Romans 2:19, Romans 2:27, Romans 2:28, Romans 2:30, of the king's secret. It occurs frequently in the apocryphal books, mostly of secrets of state, or plans kept by a king in his own mind. This meaning illustrates the use of the word in passages like Matthew 13:11, "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" - secret purposes or counsels which God intends to carry into effect in His kingdom. So here; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26, Colossians 1:27; Colossians 2:2; Colossians 4:3; Revelation 10:7. In Justin Martyr (second century) it is commonly used in connection with sumbolon symbol, tupov type, parabolh parable, and so is evidently closely related in meaning to these words. Compare Revelation 1:20; Revelation 17:7, This meaning may possibly throw light on Ephesians 5:32. In early ecclesiastical Latin musthrion was rendered by sacramentum, which in classical Latin means the military oath. The explanation of the word sacrament, which is so often founded on this etymology, is therefore mistaken, since the meaning of sacrament belongs to musthrion and not to sacramentum in the classical sense.

In Ephesians 3:3-6, Paul uses the word as here, of the admission of the Gentiles.

Wise [φρονιμοι] . See on the kindred noun fronhsiv wisdom, Luke 1:17. Mostly in the New Testament of practical wisdom, prudence; thus distinguished from sofia which is mental excellence in its highest and fullest sense; and from sunesiv intelligence, which is combinative wisdom; wisdom in its critical applications. See Colossians 1:9, and compare Ephesians 1:8.

Blindness [πωρωσις] . See on ver. 7. Rev., hardening.

In part [απο μερους] . Merov part is never used adverbially in the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation. In the Epistles it is rarely used in any other way. The only exceptions are 2 Corinthians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 9:3; Ephesians 4:9, Ephesians 4:16. Paul employs it in several combinations. With ajpo from (1 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Corinthians 2:5), and ejk out of (1 Corinthians 12:27; 1 Corinthians 13:9, 1 Corinthians 13:10, 1 Corinthians 13:12), in which a thing is conceived as looked at from the part, either [απο] as a simple point of view, or [εκ] as a standard according to which the whole is estimated. Thus 1 Corinthians 12:27, " members ejk merouv severally, i e., members from a part of the whole point of view. Also with ejn in, as Colossians 2:16, with respect to, literally, in the matter of. With ajna up, the idea being of a series or column of parts reckoned upward, part by part. Merov ti with regard to some part, partly, occurs 1 Corinthians 11:18; and kata merov, reckoning part by part downward; according to part, particularly, Hebrews 9:5.

Construe here with hath happened : has partially befallen. Not partial hardening, but hardening extending over a part.

Verse 26

The deliverer [ο ρυομενος] . The Hebrew is goel redeemer, avenger. The nearest relative of a murdered person, on whom devolved the duty of avenger, was called goel haddam avenger of blood. So the goel was the nearest kinsman of a childless widow, and was required to marry her (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). It is the word used by Job in the celebrated passage Job 19:25. See, also, Ruth 3:12, Ruth 3:13; Ruth 4:1-10. Ruth 4:5 Ruth 4:9

Verse 29

Without repentance [αμεταμελητα] . Only here and 2 Corinthians 7:10. See on repented, Matthew 21:29. Not subject to recall.

Verse 32

Concluded [συνεκλεισεν] . Only here, Luke 5:6; Galatians 3:22, Galatians 3:23. A very literal rendering, etymologically considered; con together, claudere to shut. The A. V. followed the Vulgate conclusit. So Hooker : "The person of Christ was only touching bodily substance concluded within the grave." The word has lost this sense. Rev., hath shut up. Some explain in the later Greek sense, to hand over to a power which holds in ward.

All [τους παντας] . Lit., the all. The totality, Jews and Gentiles, jointly and severally.

Verse 33

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge. So both A. V. and Rev., making depth govern riches, and riches govern wisdom and knowledge. Others, more simply, make the three genitives coordinate, and all governed by depth : the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge. "Like a traveler who has reached the summit of an Alpine ascent, the apostle turns and contemplates. Depths are at his feet, but waves of light illumine them, and there spreads all around an immense horizon which his eye commands" (Godet). Compare the conclusion of ch 8.

"Therefore into the justice sempiternal The power of vision which your world receives As eye into the ocean penetrates; Which, though it see the bottom near the shore, Upon the deep perceives it not, and yet 'Tis there, but it is hidden by the depth. There is no light but comes from the serene That never is o'ercast, nay, it is darkness Or shadow of the flesh, or else its poison." DANTE, "Paradio," 19 59 - 62.

Compare also Sophocles :

"In words and deeds whose laws on high are set Through heaven 's clear ether spread, Whose birth Olympus boasts, Their one, their only sire, Whom man's frail flesh begat not, Nor in forgetfulness Shall lull to sleep of death; In them our God is great, In them he grows not old forevermore." " Oedipus Tyrannus, " 865 - 871.

Wisdom - knowledge [σοφιας - γνωσεως] . Used together only here, 1 Corinthians 12:8; Colossians 2:3. There is much difference of opinion as to the precise distinction. It is agreed on all hands that wisdom is the nobler attribute, being bound up with moral character as knowledge is not. Hence wisdom is ascribed in scripture only to God or to good men, unless it is used ironically. See 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:6; Luke 10:21. Cicero calls wisdom "the chief of all virtues." The earlier distinction, as Augustine, is unsatisfactory : that wisdom is concerned with eternal things, and knowledge with things of sense; for gnwsiv knowledge, is described as having for its object God (2 Corinthians 10:5); the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6); Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:8). As applied to human acquaintance with divine things, gnwsiv knowledge, is the lower, sofia wisdom, the higher stage. Knowledge may issue in self - conceit. It is wisdom that builds up the man (1 Corinthians 8:1). As attributes of God, the distinction appears to be between general and special : the wisdom of God ruling everything in the best way for the best end; the knowledge of God, His wisdom as it contemplates the relations of things, and adopts means and methods. The wisdom forms the plan; the knowledge knows the ways of carrying it out. 60 Past finding out [ανεξιχνιαστοι] . Only here and Ephesians 3:8. Appropriate to ways or paths. Lit., which cannot be tracked.

Verse 34

Who hath known, etc. From Isaiah 40:13. Heb., Who hath measured the Spirit? Though measured may be rendered tried, proved, regulated. Compare the same citation in 1 Corinthians 2:16. This is the only passage in the Septuagint where ruach spirit is translated by nouv mind. Known [εγνω] may refer to God 's gnwsiv knowledge and ways in ver. 33; counselor to His wisdom and judgments. No one has counseled with Him in forming His decisions.

Verse 35

Who hath first given, etc. From Job 41:3. Heb., Who has been beforehand with me that I should repay him? Paul here follows the Aramaic translation. The Septuagint is : Who shall resist me and abide ?

Verse 36

Of - through - to [εξ - δια - εις] . Of, proceeding from as the source : through, by means of, as maintainer, preserver, ruler : to or unto, He is the point to which all tends. All men and things are for His glory (1 Corinthians 14:28). Alford styles this doxology "the sublimest apostrophe existing even in the pages of inspiration itself."



These chapters, as they are the most difficult of Paul 's writings, have been most misunderstood and misapplied. Their most dangerous perversion is that which draws from them the doctrine of God 's arbitrary predestination of individuals to eternal life or eternal perdition.

It can be shown that such is not the intent of these chapters. They do not discuss the doctrine of individual election and reprobation with reference to eternal destiny. The treatment of this question is subordinate to a different purpose, and is not, as it is not intended to be, exhaustive. At the time when the epistle was written, this question was not agitating the Church at large nor the Roman church in particular. Had this been the case, we may be sure, from the analogy of other epistles of Paul, that he would have treated it specifically, as he does the doctrine of justification by faith, in this epistle, and the questions of idol - meats and the resurrection in first Corinthians.

Such a discussion would not have been germane to the design of this epistle, which was to unfold the Christian doctrine of justification by faith, as against the Jewish doctrine of justification by works.

The great question which was then agitating the Church was the relation of Judaism to Christianity. Paul declared that Christianity had superseded Judaism. The Jew maintained, either, that the Messiah had not come in the person of Jesus Christ, and that Christianity was therefore an imposture, or that, admitting Jesus to be the Messiah, He had come to maintain the law and the institutions of Judaism : that, therefore, entrance into the messianic kingdom was possible only through the gate of Judaism; and that the true Christian must remain constant to all the ordinances and commandments of the law of Moses.

According to the Jewish idea, all Gentiles were excluded from the kingdom of God unless they should enter it as Jewish proselytes. Paul himself, before his conversion, had undertaken to stamp out Christianity as heresy, verily thinking that he "ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9). Hence the Jew "compassed sea and land to make one proselyte" (Matthew 23:15). Every Gentile who should resist the conquest of the world by Israel would be destroyed by Messiah. The Jew had no doubts as to the absoluteness of the divine sovereignty, since its fancied application flattered his self - complacency and national pride. All Jews were elect, and all others were reprobate. Paul 's proclamation of Messianic privilege to the Gentiles did, perhaps, quite as much to evoke Jewish hatred against himself, as his allegiance to the Jesus whom the Jews had crucified as a malefactor.

The discussion in these three chapters fits perfectly into this question, It is aimed at the Jews ' national and religious conceit. It is designed to show them that, notwithstanding their claim to be God 's elect people, the great mass of their nation has been justly rejected by God; and further, that God 's elective purpose includes the Gentiles. Hence, while maintaining the truth of divine sovereignty in the strongest and most positive manner, it treats it on a grander scale, and brings it to bear against the very elect themselves.


Early in the discussion, Paul had asserted that the messianic salvation had been decreed to the Jew first (i. 16; Romans 2:10; compare John 1:11). In the face of this stood the fact that the Jewish people generally had rejected the offer of God in Christ. Paul himself, after offering the Gospel to the Jews at Antioch in Pisidia, had said : "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles" (Acts 13:46; compare Acts 18:6). The Jew had fallen under the judgment of God (Romans 2:1, Romans 2:2). Resting in the law, making his boast of God, claiming to be a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, and having the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law, he had made him self a scandal in the eyes of the Gentiles by his notorious depravity, and had proved himself to be not a Jew, since his circumcision was not of the heart (Romans 2:17-29) Notwithstanding these facts, the Jew claimed that because he was a Jew God could not reject him consistently with His own election and covenant promise. If the Gospel were true, and Jesus really the Messiah, the promises made to the Jewish people, who rejected the Messiah, were nullified. Or, if the election of God held, Israel was and forever remained the people of God, in which case the Gospel was false, and Jesus an impostor. "Thus the dilemma seemed to be : either to affirm God 's faithfulness to His own election and deny the Gospel, or to affirm the Gospel, but give the lie to the divine election and faithfulness." (Godet.) Paul must face this problem. It lies in the straight line of his argument. Hints of it have already appeared in Romans 3:1 sqq; Romans 4:1. The discussion necessarily involves the truth of the divine sovereignty and election. In studying Paul 's treatment of this question, mistake and misconstruction are easy, because the truths of divine sovereignty and electiv

Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Romans 11". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/romans-11.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.
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