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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
Romans 11

 

 

Verse 1

GOD’S COVENANT WITH THE JEWS INFALLIBLE

1. “Therefore I can say, Whither did God cast away his people? It could not be so; for truly I am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham of the tribe of Benjamin.” Here Paul utterly annihilates the popular dogma that Jesus has cast away the Jews. It is utterly untrue; his covenant still abides with the faithful remnant of which Paul himself was a member.


Verse 2

2. “God did not cast away his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah when he communed with God against Israel?


Verse 3

3. “Lord, they have slain thy prophets, they have digged down thine altars, I am left alone and they seek my life.


Verse 4

4. “But what saith the divine response to him? I have left unto myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.


Verse 5

5. “Thus indeed therefore there is at this time a remnant according to the election of grace.


Verse 6

6. “And if by grace it is not at all of works, then grace is no more grace.” The divine economy had conferred on the Jews the glorious honor of representing Christ on the earth during His excarnate, i. e., invisible reign, receiving Him in His incarnate personality, and introducing Him to the whole world as the: one-anticipated Savior of the lost millions. While this honor was forfeited by the formalistic and ritualized carnal masses of both clergy and laity, it was received and enjoyed by the faithful few, e. g., Joseph and Mary, Zacharias and Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, and others; the inspired Twelve, Paul and the Pentecostal nucleus of Jewish Christianity, who proved true to the covenant of Abraham and Moses, received their own Christ, proclaimed Him to the world, thus effecting the successful transition out of the Mosaic into the Gospel dispensation of God’s redeeming grace. Paul argues the case by the illustration of Elijah’s ministry, when the apostasy in Israel Was so tremendous that the prophet, giving up in utter desperation, falling down under a juniper tree, importuned God to let him die, as his ministry was a failure, thinking they had all gone off after Baal, i. e., into dead formalistic religion, except himself. Meanwhile God notifies him of his egregious mistake, as there are yet seven thousand true to him in different parts of the country, though unknown to the prophet. Let us not make the mistake of the prophet Elijah and conclude that ourselves are the only real saints, like the old Scotchman who said, “To tell you the truth, there are none right but myself and Sandy; and sometimes I seriously doubt whether Sandy will do.” While we bewail the current apostasy in the great Protestant churches of the present day, resultant from the rejection of the Holy Ghost under the preaching of entire sanctification, yet we must remember that there are myriads of true hearts in the Protestant denominations and some even in Romanism. The election of the progenitorship, normally expiring with the incarnation we here recognize the consolatory survival of the election of grace” out of Judaism to which Paul and his contemporary Jewish saints belonged, and destined to survive through the Gentile dispensation and hail the Lord in His second coming. As we contemplate this election problem, do not forget that the Greek eklogee, from ek, out, and lego, to choose, i. e., chosen out of the chosen, recognizing a selection from the chosen, not only runs through Judaism, but Christianity. As God chose the Jews out of all nations, conferring on them the honor of receiving His Son on His first advent and proclaiming Him to the world., and only a small remnant out of the great body succeeded in winning the prize and enjoying the exalted honor of the Savior’s introduction, so in the present Christianity is God’s people chosen out of the whole heathen world, to receive His Son in His second glorious advent, and become His conservators in the great Millennial Theocracy. While it is very sad to see the multitudes of Christendom failing and apostatizing, like the Jews in their desperation, yet look out for this election of grace, chosen from all the ranks and nations of the Christian world, now, as I verily believe, gathering in the Holiness Movement to meet my descending Lord and herald to the nations the glorious King of kings. We see in v.6 the impossibility of an admixture of grace and works in the plan of salvation. There is where the dead churches ruin everything and plunge into idolatry, thinking they are saved by faith and works, thus vitiating their faith, forfeiting their salvation, magnifying their works and becoming idolators, losing sight of God through church loyalty and conservatism to human institutions.


Verses 7-10

7-10. Here Paul deplores the sad apostasy of Israel, incurring judicial blindness, deafness and stupidity, forfeiting their inheritance, meanwhile the election received it all right.


Verse 11

11. “Therefore I say, Whether did they stumble that they may fall? It could not be so.” Then let the people who think that Israel is utterly fallen and gone, bear in mind Paul’s positive contradiction of such a possibility;

God’s covenant is as immutable as His throne. “But by their apostasy salvation came to the Gentiles to provoke them to jealousy.” The rejection of the Jews wonderfully expedited the transmission of the gospel to the Gentiles, e. g., Paul himself, anxious to preach to the Jews, was met by the glorified Savior in the temple during his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion (Acts 2:3-17), and notified that the Jews would not receive his testimony, and then and there commissioned to go and preach to the Gentiles.


Verse 12

12. “But if their collapse is the wealth of the world, and their reduction the riches of the Gentiles, how much more will be their fullness. Truly the conversion of the Jews, of which some brilliant scintillations are already flashing out, will prove a sunburst on Christendom.


Verse 13

13. “But I speak to you Gentiles. Therefore, indeed, as much as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry,


Verse 14

14. “If, perhaps, I may provoke my flesh to jealousy and save some of them.” As above specified, the glorified Savior appearing to Paul in the temple of Jerusalem actually sent him to the Gentiles. Hence he had his Gentile apostleship from headquarters.


Verse 15

15. “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what will the reception be but life from the dead?” With the collapse of the Jews a gospel sunburst came upon the Gentile world. In a similar manner the conversion of the Jews will stir all Christendom from center to circumference, giving an impetus unprecedented in the ages.


Verse 16

16. “But if the first fruit is holy, so also is the lump; and if the root be holy, so also are the branches.” God’s holy covenant with the patriarchs is as fresh in the divine mind this day as when He first spoke to Abraham in Chaldea.


Verses 17-24

GOD’S CHURCH IDENTICAL UNDER ALL DISPENSATIONS

17-24. Here we have revealed the indisputable fact that Christianity is not a de novo institution, as some erroneously claim, but simply another dispensation of God’s church founded in Eden when Jehovah preached the first gospel sermon to the fallen twain, serving as the herald of his own redemptive scheme, perpetuated under the Antediluvian, Patriarchal, Mosaic and Christian dispensations down to the present day. This, you see, clearly and unequivocally confirmed the statement, The Gentiles are cut out of the wild olive tree, i. e., Satan’s kingdom, and grafted into the good olive tree, i. e., the kingdom of God. So when the Jews are converted to God they are grafted into their own olive tree, i. e., just get back into the true church of God whence they were ejected when they rejected Christ. We see man’s failure in all of these dispensations He failed in Eden, winding up in the fall. He failed in the Antediluvian ages, winding up with the flood. He failed in the Patriarchal, winding up in Egyptian slavery. He failed in Judaism, winding up with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. He failed in our Savior’s ministry, rejecting it and crucifying Him. We are now in the Gentile dispensation, and there are a thousand reasons to believe that we are rapidly approaching the end. What will it be?


Verse 21

21. “If God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare thee.”

Hence we see the same awful fate awaiting the Gentile dispensation, and as Jesus says, “A time of trouble such as this world never saw,” i. e., the great tribulation (Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13). Not only is all this prophetical, but the unprecedented magnitude of God’s righteous retributive judgments coming on the apostate Gentile Church will not be local, as in the case of the Jews, but universal, co-extensive with Christendom. “God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” The fearfully rapid apostasy of the Protestant churches is an awful omen of the rapidly approaching end of the Gentile age, and the terrible retributive judgments predicted in both Testaments.


Verse 25

ALL ISRAEL TO BE SAVED

25. “For I do not wish you to be ignorant as to this mystery, in order that you may not be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part has happened unto Israel till the fullness of the Gentiles may come in.” The present awakening of the Jews is an argument that the end of the Gentile times is nigh. Thousands of Jews, especially in Russia, where they are more numerous than in any other country, are now being converted to Christ. Eleven colonization societies are working to bring the Jews back to Palestine. When I was there three years ago, one hundred and twenty thousand had already arrived, more than twice the whole number who returned under Nehemiah. The Jews in all lands are turning their eyes back to the prophetic hills of their holy patrimony. When I visited the wailing place of the Jews in Jerusalem and heard them crying to the God of their fathers to restore their inheritance, bring back the wandering children of Abraham and rebuild their temple, I felt that God heard that mournful cry and would answer those wailing martyrs. The Lunar Chronology runs out the Gentile times seven years ago, the Calendar thirty-five years hence, and the Solar seventy years hence. Daniel 12 gives the Tribulation forty-five years, which is to intervene between the rapture of the saints and the ushering in of the Millennium. According to all these chronologies we are rapidly approaching the end of the Gentile times and the coming of the Lord.


Verse 26

26. “So all Israel shall be saved.” The fulfillment of this mournful prophecy is to be with the faithful remnant. The remnant will be gathered back mainly unconverted (Ezekiel 57). Zachariah tells us two parts shall be cut off, i. e., two-thirds slain in the Tribulation. Finally the surviving third, passing through the fires of a terrible persecution, shall come out triumphant, hailing their glorious descending King with shouts of welcome: “Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord.” “Thus all Israel shall be saved” and come to the front of the world, where they stood before Nebuchadnezzar conquered the world and brought the Gentiles to the front. Thus the remnant of grace, all saved, shall come to the front of the world to lead all nations during the glorious oncoming Millennial Theocracy. Jerusalem, built out over all the interior highlands of Palestine, located at the juncture of Asia, Africa and Europe, and through the Mediterranean accessible to America, will become the capital of all nations and the joy of the whole earth. In a wonderful and mysterious way the Jews in all lands are now providentially being prepared for the metropolitanship of the world, when the nations shall beat their swords into plough-shares and their spears into pruning-hooks and learn war no more. If the difficulties of the late Spanish war had been submitted to a committee of sanctified men, both Spanish and American, thoroughly cultured in the laws, institutions and finances of both nations, in a short time they would have settled all the differences, raised a shout and sent terms of peaceful reconciliation to brother nations. The Jews now stand at the head of the finances, learning and jurisprudence in all nations, really by their money power today ruling the kings of the earth, thus getting ready to come to the front of the world. “A Leader shall come out of Zion, and shall turn ungodliness from Jacob.” When Christ ascended into heaven He was crowned King in Zion. David, His brightest type, was first crowned King of Judah at Hebron; seven and a half years subsequently he was crowned king of all the tribes of Israel at Jerusalem. So, when Christ ascended from His first advent, He was crowned King of saints at God’s right hand, and when He comes the second time He will be crowned King of kings in all the earth. Doubtless about the time He shall appear to take up His Bride He will in some way reveal Himself to His people, the Jews, giving an impetus to their speedy conversion.


Verse 27

27. “And this shall be the covenant to them with me when I shall take away their sins.” This glorious fulfillment is to take place with the remnant of grace.


Verse 28

28. “Indeed, they are enemies touching the gospel for your sakes, but beloved as touching election for the fathers’ sake.” The Jews are God’s miracle of providence. They are a wonder in every land, unlike any other people, with no country on which to accumulate, vagabonds in the earth, yet getting rich where all others come to poverty. They are God’s elect; His covenant is with them.


Verse 29

29. “For the gifts and calling of God are irretractable.” Repentance in E. V. is wrong in this sentence, the Greek having no such a meaning, but simply stating that the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable, i. e., they abide forever. Hence the fallacy of the conclusion that God has cast away the Jews.


Verses 30-36

30-36. In this beautiful elaboration Paul recognizes the Jews with their double election, i. e., that of the Messianic progenitorship and also the election of grace, blindly forfeiting all and plunging into sin, and the Gentiles, though reprobated from the progenitor ship, felicitous participants of the election of grace, also sunk deep in low debauchery, gross sensuality and idolatry, the obliquity and rebellion of both Jew and Gentile only preparing them alike to become the recipients of God’s wonderful and unfathomable commiseration and redeeming mercy. Hence the apostle exultantly breaks out in joyous exclamations while he contemplates the bright side in case of both Jews and Gentiles all alike caught in Satan’s lasso of unbelief, but gloriously redeemed by the sovereign mercy of the Father and the dying love of the Son.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 11:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/romans-11.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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