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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Romans 9

 

 

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Verse 1

Romans 9:1. ἀλήθειαν, truth) Concerning the connexion, see on ch. Romans 1:16; note. The article is not added here; comp. 2 Corinthians 7:14; 2 Corinthians 11:10, because his reference is not to the whole truth, but to something true in particular [a particular truth], and in this sense also ἀλήθειαι in the plural is used in Psalms 12:2, LXX.; 2 Maccabees 7:6. This asseveration chiefly relates to Romans 9:3, where for is put as in Matthew 1:18. Therefore in Romans 9:2 ὅτι denotes because [not as Engl. Vers. that], and indicates the cause of the prayer. For verse 2 was likely to obtain belief of itself without so great an asseveration [being needed; therefore ὅτι is not = that in Romans 9:2.]— λέγω, I speak) The apostle speaks deliberately.— ἐν χριστῷ) ב, ἐν, has sometimes the same force as an oath.— οὐ ψεύδομαι, I lie not) This is equivalent to that clause, I speak the truth. Its own confirmation is added to each [both to, I lie not, and to, I speak the truth]. This chapter throughout in its phrases and figures comes near to the Hebrew idiom.— συνειδήσεως, conscience) The criterion of truth lies in the conscience and in the heart, which the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit enlightens and confirms.


Verse 2

Romans 9:2. λύπη, grief, [heaviness]) In spiritual things grief and (see the end of the eighth chapter) joy in the highest degree may exist together. Paul was sensible, from how great benefits, already enumerated, the Jews excluded themselves, and at the same time he declares [makes it evident], that he does not say those things, which he has to say, in an unfriendly spirit towards his persecutors.— μοιτῇ καρδίᾳ μου, to me—in my heart) These are equivalent in each half of the verse.


Verse 3

Romans 9:3. ηὐχόμην, I could wish) A verb in the imperfect tense, involving in it a potential or conditional signification, involving the condition, if Christ would permit. His grief was unceasing [continual], but this prayer does not seem here to be asserted as unceasing, or absolute. Human words are not fully adequate to include in them [to express fully] the emotions of holy souls; nor are those emotions always the same; nor is it in the power of those souls always to elicit from themselves such a prayer as this. If the soul be not far advanced, it is incapable of [cannot comprehend] this. It is not easy to estimate the measure of love, in a Moses and a Paul. For the narrow boundary of our reasoning powers does not comprehend it; as the little child is unable to comprehend the courage of warlike heroes. In the case of those two men [duumvirs] themselves, the intervals in their lives, which may be in a good sense called extatic, were something sudden and extraordinary. It was not even in their own power to elicit from themselves such acts as these at any time they chose. Grief [heaviness] and sorrow for the danger and distress of the people; shame for their fault; zeal for their salvation, for the safety of so great a multitude, and for still farther promoting the glory of God through the preservation of such a people, so carried them away, as to make them for a time forget themselves, Exodus 32:32. I am inclined to give this paraphrase of that passage: Pardon them; if thou dost not pardon them, turn upon me the punishment destined for them, that is, as Moses elsewhere says, kill me, Numbers 11:15. It is therefore the book of temporal life, as distinguished from that of eternal life, according to the point of view, economy, and style of the Old Testament; comp. Exodus 33:3; Exodus 33:5. The book of temporal life is intended in Psalms 139:16.— αὐτὸς ἐγὼ, I myself) construe these words with to be [were].— ἀνάθεμα εἶναι, to be accursed) It will be enough to compare this passage with Galatians 3:13, where Christ is said to have been made a curse for us. The meaning is, I could have wished to bring the misery of the Jews on my own head, and to be in their place. The Jews, rejecting the faith, were accursed from Christ; comp. Galatians 1:8-9; Galatians 5:4. Whether he would have wished only the deprivation of all good, and his own destruction, and annihilation, or the suffering also of every evil, and that too both in body and in soul, and for ever, or whether, in the very excitement [paroxysm] of that prayer, he had the matter fully present before his understanding, who knows whether Paul himself, had he been questioned, would have been able exactly to define? At least that word [Ego] I [all thought of self] was entirely suppressed in him; he was looking only to others, for the sake of the Divine glory; comp. 2 Corinthians 12:15. From the loftiest pinnacle of faith (chap. 8) he now shows the highest degree of love, which was kindled by the Divine love. The thing, which he had wished, could not have been done, but his prayer was pious and solid, although under the tacit condition, if it were possible to be done; comp. Romans 8:38, I am persuaded; Exodus 32:33.— ἀπὸ τοῦ χριστοῦ, from Christ) So ἀπὸ from 1 Corinthians 1:30; or, as Christ, being made a curse, was abandoned by the Father; so Paul, filled with Christ, wished in place of the Jews to be forsaken by Christ, as if he had been accursed. He is not speaking of excommunication from the everlasting society of the church. There is a difference between these two things, for κατάρα קללה, curse, has the greater force of the two, and implies something more absolute: חרם, anathema, something relative, Galatians 1:8-9, 1 Corinthians 16:22, the former is rather more severe, the latter milder; the former expresses the power of reconciliation by the cross of Christ; the latter is more suitable to [more applicable as regards] Paul; nor can the one be substituted for the other, either here, or in the passages quoted.— τῶν) The apostle is speaking of the whole multitude, not of individuals.— ἀδελφῶν μου, for my brethren) This expresses the cause of his so great love toward them.— συγγενῶν μου κατὰ σάρκα, my kinsmen according to the flesh) This expresses the cause of his prayer, showing why the prayer, other things being supposed to be equal [cœteris paribus, supposing there were no objection on other grounds], was right; and by adding kinsmen, he shows that the word brethren is not to be understood, as it usually is, of Christians, but of the Jews. Christ was made a curse for us, because we were his kinsmen.


Verse 4

Romans 9:4. οἵτινες, inasmuch as being those who) He now explains the cause of his sorrow and grief: viz. the fact that Israel does not enjoy so great benefits. He uses great ‘euphemia’ [softening of an unwelcome truth. Append.] in words.— ὧν υἱοθεσίαἐπαγγελίαι, whose is the adoption of [as] sons—the promises) Six privileges are enumerated by three pairs of correlatives; and in the first pair, regard is had to God the Father; in the second, to Christ; in the third, to the Holy Spirit: with which comp. Ephesians 3:6, note.— υἱοθεσία καὶ δόξα, the adoption of sons and the glory) i.e. that Israel is the first-born son of God, and the God of glory is their God, Deuteronomy 4:7; Deuteronomy 4:33-34; Psalms 106:20, (Psalms 47:5); but by the force of the correlatives, God is at the same time the Father of Israel, and Israel is the people of God. In like manner this relation is expressed in abbreviated form (the two respective correlatives being left to be supplied. end. on locutio concisa) in Revelation 21:7; comp. Romans 8:18-19. Some understand δόξαν, the glory, of the ark of the covenant; but Paul is not speaking here of anything corporeal. God Himself is called the Glory of His people Israel, by the same metonymy, as He is called the Fear, instead of the God [the Object of fear], of Isaac, Genesis 31:42; Genesis 31:54.— καὶ αἱ διαθῆκαι, καὶ νομοθεσία, and the covenants and the giving of the law) comp. Hebrews 8:6. The reason why the covenants are put before the giving of the law, is evident from Galatians 3:17. διαθῆκαι is plural, because the testament, or covenant, both was frequently repeated, Leviticus 26:42; Leviticus 26:45; Ephesians 2:12; and was given in various modes [ πολυτρόπως], dispositions [one, the law received by the disposition of angels, the other the Gospel covenant under Jesus], Hebrews 1:1; and because there were two administrations of it, Galatians 4:24, the one promising, the other promised [the subject of the promise].— καὶ λατρεία καὶ αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι, and the service of God and the promises) Acts 26:6-7; Ephesians 1:13; Hebrews 8:5-6. Here the giving of the law and the service of God, the covenants and the promises correspond by chiasmus.(108) For the promises flow from the covenants; and the service of God was instituted by the giving of the law. [It was the promises that procured (gained) for the service of God its peculiar dignity. Moreover, the Holy Spirit was promised, Galatians 3:14.—V. g.]


Verse 5

Romans 9:5. ὧν οἱ πατέρες, κ. τ. λ.) whose are the fathers, etc. Baumgarten has both written a dissertation on this passage, and has added it to his Exposition of this Epistle. All, that is of importance to me in it, I have explained im Zeugniss, p. 157, etc. (ed. 1748), [c. 11, 28].— καὶ ἐξ ὧν, and of whom, i.e. of the Israelites, Acts 3:22. To the six privileges of the Israelites lately mentioned are added the seventh and eighth, respecting the fathers, and respecting the Messiah Himself. Israel is a noble and a holy people.— ὤν) i.e. ὅς ἐστι, but the participle has a more narrow meaning. Artemonius with great propriety proves from the grief of Paul, that there is no doxology in this passage: Part I. cap. 42; but at the same time he along with his associates contends, that Paul wrote ὧν ἐπὶ πάντων, θεὸς, κ. τ. λ. So that there may be denoted in the passage this privilege of the Israelites, that the Lord is their God; and he interprets the clause, ἐπὶ πάντων, thus: that this privilege is the greatest of all the honours conferred upon Israel. But such an interpretation of the ἐπὶ πάντων, with which comp. Ephesians 4:6 (that we may remove this out of our way in the first place), implies a meaning, which owes its birth merely to the support of an hypothesis, and which requires to be expressed rather by a phrase of this sort; τὸ δὴ πάντων μεῖζον. The conjecture itself, ὧν , carries with it an open violation of the text. For I. it dissevers τὸ κατὰ σάρκα from the antithetic member of the sentence, κατὰ πνεῦμα,(109) which is usually everywhere mentioned [expressed]. II. It at the same time divides the last member of the enumeration [of the catalogue of privileges], before which καὶ, and, is suitably placed, καὶ ἐξ ὧν, κ. τ. λ. into two members, and in the second of these the conjunction is by it harshly suppressed.

Artemonius objects: I. Christ is nowhere in the sacred Scriptures expressly called God. Ans. Nowhere? Doubtless because Artemonius endeavours to get rid of all those passages either by proposing a different reading, or by a different mode of interpretation. He himself admits, that too many proofs of one thing ought not to be demanded, page 225. In regard to the rest, see note on John 1:1. He objects, II. If Paul wrote ὤν, he omitted the principal privilege of the Israelites, that God, who is the Best and Greatest of all, was their God. Ans. The adoption and the glory had consisted in that very circumstance; therefore he did not omit it; nor is that idea, the Lord is the God of Israel, ever expressed in these words, Thine, O Israel, is God blessed for ever. He urges further; Christ is included even in the covenants, and yet Paul presently after makes mention of Christ; how much more would he be likely to make mention of God the Father Himself? Ans. The reason in the case of Christ for His being mentioned does not equally hold good in the case of God. Paul mentions in the order of time all the privileges of Israel (the fathers being by the way [incidentally] joined with Christ). He therefore mentions Christ, as He was manifested [last in order of time]; but it was not necessary that that should be in like manner mentioned of God. Moreover, Christ was in singularly near relationship to the Israelites; but God was also the God of the Gentiles, ch. Romans 3:29 : and it was not God, but Christ, whom the Jews rejected more openly. What? In the very root of the name Israel, and therefore of the Israelites, to which the apostle refers, Romans 9:4; Romans 9:6, the name El, God, is found. He objects, III. The style of the Fathers disagrees with this opinion: nay, the false Ignatius [pseudoignatius] reckons among the ministers of Satan those, who said, that Jesus Himself is God over all. Ans. By this phrase, he has somewhat incautiously described the Sabellians, and next to them he immediately places the Artemonites in the same class. In other respects the fathers often apply the phraseology of Paul respecting Christ to the Father, and by that very circumstance prove the true force of that phraseology [as expressing Divinity]; and yet the apostle is superior to [should have more weight than] the fathers. Wolfius refutes Artemonius at great length in vol. ii. Curar. ad N. T., p. 802, etc.— ἐπὶ πάντων, over all) The Father is certainly excepted, 1 Corinthians 15:27. Christ is of the fathers, according to the flesh; and at the same time was, is, and shall be over all, inasmuch as He is God blessed for ever. Amen! The same praise is ascribed to the Father and the Son, 2 Corinthians 11:31. Over all, which is antithetic to, of whom, shows both the pre-existence ( προὗπαρξιν) of Christ before the fathers, in opposition to His descent from the fathers according to the flesh, and His infinite majesty and dominion full of grace over Jews and Gentiles; comp. as to the phrase, Ephesians 4:6; as to the fact itself, John 8:58; Matthew 22:45. They are quite wrong, who fix the full stop either here [after πάντων], (for the comma may be placed with due respect to religion); for in that case the expression should have been, εὐλογητὸς θεός [not θεὸς εὐλογητός], if only there had been here any peculiar occasion for such a doxology; or [who fix a full stop] after σάρκα; for in this case τὸ κατὰ σάρκα would be without its proper antithesis [which is, “who in His divine nature is God over all”].— θεὸς, God) We should greatly rejoice, that in this solemn description Christ is so plainly called God. The apostles, who wrote before John, take for granted the deity of Christ, as a thing acknowledged; whence it is that they do not directly treat of it, but yet when it comes in their way, they mark it in a most glorious manner. Paul, ch. Romans 5:15, had called Jesus Christ man; but he now calls Him God; so also 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Timothy 3:16. The one appellation supports the other.— εὐλογητὸς, blessed) הקבה֞. By this epithet we unite in giving all praise to God, 2 Corinthians 11:31.— εἰς τους αἰῶνας, for ever) [He] Who is above all—for ever, is the first and the last, Revelation 1:17.


Verse 6

Romans 9:6. οὐχʼ οἷον,) This is not of that kind [not as though] The Jews were of opinion, that, if all the Jews were not saved, the word of God becomes of none effect. Paul refutes this opinion, and at the same time intimates, that the apostacy of the Jews had been foretold, rather than otherwise, by the word of God.— δὲ) but; namely, although I profess great sorrow for Israel, who continue without Christ.— ἐκπέπτωκεν, hath taken none effect) A suitable expression, 1 Corinthians 13:8, note. If all Israel had failed, the word of God would have failed; but the latter cannot occur, so neither can the former: for even now there are some, [Israelites believers], and in future times there will be all. For this sentence comprehends all the statements in Chapters 9 10 11, and is most aptly expressed. It is closely connected with what goes before in Romans 9:2, and yet in respect of what follows, where the word λόγος occurs again, there is a studied gentleness of expression and anticipatory caution(110) that whatever is said of a disagreeable description may be softened before it is expressed; as in 1 Corinthians 10:13.— λόγος, the word) of promise, which had been given to Israel.— οὐ γὰρ πάντες, for not all) γὰρ, for begins the discussion, not all, is mildly said instead of, there are not many. This was what the Jews held: We all and we alone are the people of God. Wherefore the all is refuted here; and the alone at Romans 9:24, etc. The Jews were Particularists (‘Particularistæ’); therefore Paul directly refutes them. His whole discussion will not only be considered as tolerable, but will even be much admired by those, and those alone, who have gone through the former chapters in faith and repentance; for in this the prior regard is had to faith [rather than to repentance]. The sum of this discussion, in the opinion of those who deny universal grace, is as follows. GOD gives FAITH to whom He will; He does not give it, to whom He will not; according to the mind of Paul, it is this: God gives RIGHTEOUSNESS to them that believe, He does not give it to them that work; and that is by no means contrary to His word. Nay, He himself has declared by types and testimonies, that those, the sons of the promise are received; that these, the children of the flesh are rejected. This decree of God is certain, irrefragable, just; as any man or people listens to this decree or strives against it, so that man or that people is either accepted in mercy or rejected in wrath. The analysis of Arminius, which has been gleaned from Calovius Theol. Apost. Rom. Oraculo lxviii., and adopted Oraculo lxix., comes back to this [amounts to this at last]. Compare by all means Romans 1:16, note. In the meantime Paul, in regard to those, whom he refutes, does not make any very wide separation between the former chapter [or head] concerning faith and the latter concerning righteousness; nor indeed was it necessary.— ἰσραήλ, ἰσραήλ, Israël, Israël) Ploce.(111)


Verse 7

Romans 9:7. ὅτι) because; this particle makes an epitasis(112) in respect of the preceding sentence.— αβραὰμ, of Abraham) That, which happened to the children of the Fathers in the most ancient times, may much more happen to their later descendants.— ἀλλʼ ἐν ἰσαὰκ, κ. τ. λ., but in Isaac, etc.) This clause is put as a “Suppositio Materialis” [end.]; for we supply, it was written, and it is being fulfilled, LXX., Genesis 21:12 : ὅτι ἐν σπέρμα. Here we even find a suitableness in the origin of the name Isaac; for they are the seed, who embrace the covenant of grace with a pure and noble-minded joy, Genesis 17:19 [Isaac Heb. = laughter, joy].


Verse 8

Romans 9:8. τουτέστιν) The apostle, using boldness in speaking, puts that is for therefore.— ταῦτα) הם, that is, are. The substantive pronoun for the substantive verb; so οὗτοι, these, Romans 9:6 : and frequently οὗτος this, Romans 9:9. The mode of expression in this chapter becomingly assumes the Hebrew idiom, so Romans 9:28, etc.


Verse 9

Romans 9:9. ἐπαγγελίας, of promise) It corresponds to the expression, of the promise, Romans 9:8.— οὗτος, this) viz., is.— κατὰ τὸν καιρὸν τοῦτον ἐλεύσομαι, καὶ ἔσται τῇ σάῤῥᾳ υἱός) At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. LXX., Genesis 18:10 : ἰδοὺ ἐπαναστρέφων ἥξω πρός σε κατὰ τὸν καιρὸν τοῦτον εἰς ὥρας, καὶ ἓξει υἱὸν σάῤῥα γυνή σου; comp. Genesis 17:21.


Verse 10

Romans 9:10. οὐ μόνον δὲ, and not only so) That is: it is wonderful, what I have said; what follows is still more wonderful. Ishmael under Abraham, Esau under Isaac, and those, who resembled Ishmael and Esau under Israel, rebelled.— ῥεβέκκα, Rebecca) viz., ἐστὶν, is, i.e. occurs in this place. She, the mother, and presently after Isaac the father, are named.— ἐξ ἑνὸς, by one) Isaac was now separated from Ishmael, and yet under Isaac himself, in whom Abraham’s seed is called, Esau also is separated from Jacob. Ishmael and Isaac were born not of the same mother, nor at the same time,—and Ishmael was the son too of a bondmaid, Isaac of a free woman. Jacob and Esau were born both of the same mother, and she a free woman, and at the same time.— κοίτην) so LXX. for שכבה; it often occurs, e.g. Leviticus 18:20, οὐ δώσεις κοίτην σπέρματος, said of the man, which is opposed to the phrase ἔχειν κοίτην, of the woman in this passage.


Verse 11

Romans 9:11. ΄ήπω γεννηθέντων, when they were not yet born) Carnal descent profiteth nothing, John 1:13.— μηδὲ πραξάντων, and when they had done nothing) This is added, because some one might think as to Ishmael, that he was driven out, not so much because he was the son of a bondmaid, as because he was a mocker; although this slave-like scurrility afterwards shows itself in [lays hold of] the son of the bondmaid, so that he [ מצחק, and κακόζηλος τοῦ יצחק] laughs and mocks at Isaac, whom he envies and insults.— κατʼ ἐκλογὴι) The purpose, which is quite free, has its reason founded on election alone; comp. κατὰ ch. Romans 16:25; Titus 1:9. It might be said, in Latin, propositum Dei electivum, the elective purpose of God.— μένῃ, might stand [remain]) incapable of being set aside. It is presupposed that the πρόθεσιν, the purpose, is prior to the, might stand.— οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, not of works) not even of works foreseen. Observe, it is not faith, which is opposed to election, but works.— ἐκ τοῦ καλοῦντος, of Him that calleth) even Him, who called Jacob to be the superior, Esau to be the servant: comp. Romans 9:25.


Verse 12

Romans 9:12. αὐτῇ, to her) It was often foretold to mothers before conception or birth, what would happen to their sons.— ὅτι ἐλάσσονι) Genesis 25:23, LXX., καὶ ἐλάσσονι.— μείζων) the elder, who, it might be reasonably thought, should command, as the younger should obey.— δουλεύσει, shall serve) and yet not so for ever, Genesis 27:40.


Verse 13

Romans 9:13. καθὼς, as) The word spoken by Malachi, at a period so long subsequent, agrees with that spoken in Genesis.— τὸν ἰακὼβ ἠγάπησα κ. τ. λ.) Malachi 1:2, LXX., ἠγάπησα τὸν ἰακὼβ κ. τ. λ.— ἠγάπησαἐμίσησα, I have loved—I have hated) The reference is not to the spiritual state of each of the two brothers: but the external condition of Jacob and Esau, in like manner as the corporeal birth of Isaac is a type of spiritual things, Romans 9:9. All Israelites are not saved, and all Edomites are not damned. But Paul intimates, that as there was a difference between the sons of Abraham and Isaac, so there was a difference among the posterity of Israel. So far has he demonstrated what he purposed; he in the next place introduces an objection, and refutes it; μισε͂ ιν properly signifies to hate, nay, to hate greatly. See Malachi 1:4, at the end.


Verse 14

Romans 9:14. τί οὖν, what then?) Can we then on this ground be accused of charging God with unrighteousness and iniquity by this assertion? By no means; for what we assert is the irrefragable assertion of God; see the following verse.— ΄ὴ γένοιτο, God forbid) The Jews thought, that they could by no means be rejected by God; that the Gentiles could by no means be received. As therefore an honest man acts even with greater severity [ ἀποτομίᾳ] towards those who are harshly and spitefully importunate, than he really feels (that he may defend his own rights, and those of his patron, and may not at an unseasonable time betray and cast away his character for liberality) so Paul defends the power and justice of God against the Israelites, who trusted to their mere name and their own merits; and on this subject, he sometimes uses those appropriate phrases, to which he seems to have been accustomed in former times in the school of the Pharisees. This is his language: No man can prescribe anything to the Lord God, nor demand and somewhat insolently extort anything from Him as a debt, nor can he interdict Him in anything [which He pleases to do] or require a reason, why He shows Himself kind also to others [as well as to himself]. Therefore Paul somewhat abruptly checks by a rather severe answer the peevish and spiteful objectors. Luke 19:22-23, is a similar case. For no man is allowed to deal with God as if by virtue of a bond of agreement, [as if he were His creditor], but even if there were such a bond, God even deals more strictly with man [i.e. with a man of such a hireling spirit]; let the parable, Matthew 20:13-15, which is quite parallel, be compared: I do thee no wrong, etc. There is therefore one meaning of Paul’s language, by which he gives an answer to those who contend for good works: another, of a milder description, in behalf of believers, lies hid under the veil of the words. In the Sacred Scriptures too, especially when we have come from the thesis [the proposition] to the hypothesis [that on which the proposition rests], the manners, τὰ ἤθη, as well as the reasonings, οἱ λόγοι, ought to be considered; and yet there can be no commentary so plain, which he, who contends for justification by good works, may more easily understand than the text of Paul.


Verse 15

Romans 9:15. τῳ γὰρ ΄ωσῇ, for to Moses) Many are of opinion, that the objection extends from this verse to Romans 9:18; in which view the for, is used, as in ch. Romans 3:7, and thus thou wilt say then, Romans 9:19, concludes the objection, which was begun at Romans 9:14. And indeed by this introduction of a person speaking there would be a fitting expression of that ἀνταπόκρισις (rejoinder of the opponent), which is censured at Romans 9:20, and is subsequently refuted by taking up the words themselves or their synonyms. In the meantime Paul so expresses himself, as to make ἀνταποκρινόμενος, the objector whilst replying at the same time answer himself; and therefore the words in this verse may be also taken, without injury to the sense, as spoken in the person of the apostle, as we shall now endeavour to show. Moses, Exodus 33, had prayed for himself and the people by חן, the grace of the Lord, Romans 9:12-13; Romans 9:16-17, and had concluded with, show me thy glory. The Lord answered: I will make all My goodness pass in the presence of thy face, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thy face. וחנתי את־אשר אחן ורחמתי את־אשר ארחם, And will be gracious, to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy, to whom I will show mercy, Romans 9:19. The Lord did not disclose even to Moses without some time intervening, to whom He would show grace and mercy, although the question was respecting Moses and the people of Israel alone, not respecting the Gentiles. To this Moses, then, not merely to others by Moses ( ΄ωσῇ, says Paul, as presently after, τῷ φαραὼ) the Lord spoke thus: By My proclamation, and by My most abundant working, subsequently, I will designate [mark out] him, as the object of grace and mercy, whosoever he be, whom I make the object of grace and mercy. By these words He intimated, that He would make proclamation [would reveal His own character] as regards grace and mercy; and He shortly after accordingly made proclamation. Exodus 34:5, רחום וחנון [ οικτιρ΄ων καὶ ελεη΄ων κ. τ. λ. εἰς χιλιάδας], merciful and gracious, etc., to thousands; and added [ καὶ τὸν ἔιοχον οὐ καθαριεῖ, ἐπάγων ἁμαρτίας πατέρων, κ. τ. λ.], and He will not clear the guilty, etc. Therefore according to the subsequent proclamation itself, the following meaning of the previous promise comes clearly out: I will show thee the most abundant grace, even to that degree that thou mayest see concerning Me [see centred in Me] all whatsoever thou dost both desire and canst receive [comprehend] in order that thou mayest furthermore understand, that it is [all of] grace; and for this reason inasmuch as I have once for all embraced thee in grace, which thou acknowledgest to be grace; and as to the rest of the people, I will show them the most abundant mercy, in not visiting them with immediate destruction for their idolatry, that they may further understand it to be mercy; and for this reason inasmuch as I have once for all embraced them in mercy, which thou in their behalf acknowledgest to be mercy. The LXX. Int. and Paul have expressed the meaning of this sentence by the difference between the present and future tense: ἐλεήσω ὅν ἂν ἐλεῶ, καὶ οἰκτειρήσω ὅν ἂν οἰκτείρω, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. And there is the figure Ploce [en.], which nearly signifies the same as below, ch. Romans 13:7, and here it expresses the liberty of the Agent, of whom the apostle is speaking, as in Exodus 16:23. Moreover, each of the two verbs, placed in the two clauses [i.e. repeated twice], contains the emphasis in the former clause; [i.e. the emphasis is on the verb in each of the two clauses on its first mention, not on it when repeated; I will have mercy, on whom I have mercy, etc.]: although generally in other passages the emphasis is on the verb in the latter clause [i.e. on its repetition] Genesis 27:33; Genesis 43:14; 2 Kings 7:4. That the acknowledgment of grace and mercy, on the part of Moses, and the true Israelites, is entwined together, is evident from this, that Paul, Romans 9:16, speaks, on the opposite side, of the man that willeth and that runneth, to whom grace is not grace, and mercy is not mercy. את אשר ὅν ἄν is put twice, and intimates in the former passage that Moses (to whom the word חן, grace, is repeated in reply, taken from his own very prayers from Exodus 33. Romans 9:13 : where there occurs the same Ploce), and that in the latter passage, the others, were εἰς χιλιάδας among the thousands [as to whom God said of Himself, keeping mercy for thousands], to whom sinners, their children, grandchildren, etc., are opposed, Exodus 34:7. And thus, this testimony is extremely well fitted to prove, that there is no unrighteousness with God. This sentiment is manifest to believers. But in regard to those, who maintain the efficacy of good works, it sounds too abrupt: the reason why God should be merciful, is none other than His own mercy, for no other is mentioned in the writings of Moses, concerning Moses and Israel. I will have mercy, i.e. no one can extort anything by force; all things are in My hand, under My authority, and dependent on My will, if I act otherwise, no one can charge Me with injustice. This answer is sufficient to give to the defender of good works; and if any farther answer is given to him, it is superfluous.


Verse 16

Romans 9:16. ἄρα οὖν, therefore) so also Romans 9:18. The inference of Paul here is not drawn from the particle ὃν ἂν, whomsoever, but from the words ἐλεῶ and οἰκτείρω, I have mercy, and I have compassion.— οὐ τοῦ) not of the man that willeth, nor of him that runneth, supply it is, the business, or, will, course [the race is not of him that runneth, etc.]; not that it is in vain to will rightly, and, what is of greater importance, to run, or strive rightly, 1 Corinthians 9:26; Philippians 3:14 : but because to will and to run produce none of the things aimed at by those, who trust to their works. The human will is opposed to divine grace, and the course [the run] of human conduct to divine operation.—Comp. Romans 9:30-31.


Verse 17

Romans 9:17. λέγει) saith, i.e. exhibits God speaking in this manner, comp. ch. Romans 10:20, saith.— γὰρ, for) He proves, that it is of Him who shows mercy, even God.— τῷ φαραὼ, to the Pharaoh) who lived in the time of Moses.— ὅτι εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο ἐξήγειρὰ σε, ὅπως ἐνδείξωμαι ἐν σοὶ τὴν δὑναμίν μον κ. τ. λ.) Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up that I might show my power in thee. The LXX, Exodus 9:16, καὶ ἒνεκεν τοὺτον διετηρήθης ἔως τοῦ νῦν, ἳνα ἐνδείξωμαι ἐν σοὶ τὴν ἰσχύν μου κ. τ. λ. For this cause, thou hast been preserved until now, that I might show my power, etc.— ἐξήγειρά σε) העמדתיך LXX. Int. διετηρήθης (as Exodus 21:21, עמד, διαβιοῦν, to pass one’s life), but Paul according to his custom says more significantly, ἐξήγειρά σε: but it should be carefully observed, that by ἐξεγείρω here the meaning of the word הקים is not expressed, as it is used in Zechariah 11:16, but העמיד, which in all cases presupposes the subject previously produced. See the difference of these two Hebrew verbs in 1 Kings 15:4. The meaning then is this: I have raised thee up to be a king very powerful (in whom I might show My power) and illustrious (by means of whom [owing to whom] My name might be proclaimed throughout all the earth). Therefore this ἐξέγερσις, raising up, includes the διατηρεῖν, preserving, as the LXX. render it, using the milder term: and also includes the ἐνεγκεῖν, which in Romans 9:22, is introduced from this very passage of Moses. The predecessor [the former Pharaoh] had previously begun rather to oppress Israel; Exodus 2:23 : nor yet did the successor repent. The Ordo Temporum, p. 161 [Ed. II. 142], determines his reign to have been very short, and therefore his whole administration was an experiencing of the Divine power. It must be added, that this was told to Pharaoh not at first, but after he had been frequently guilty of excessive obstinacy, and it was not even then intended to discourage him from acknowledging Jehovah and from letting the people go, but to bring about his reformation.— δύναμιν, power) by which Pharaoh with all his forces was drowned.— διαγγελῇ, might be declared) This is being done even to the present day.


Verse 18

Romans 9:18. ὃν θέλει) whom He will. Moreover, as regards the question, to whom God wills to show mercy, and whom He wills to harden; Paul shows that in other passages.— ἐλεεῖ, has mercy) as for example on Moses.— σκληρύνει, hardens) as He did Pharaoh. He uses, hardens, for, has not mercy, by metonymy of [substituting, for the antecedent,] the consequent, although not to have mercy has a somewhat harsher meaning: so, is sanctified, for, is not unclean, 1 Corinthians 7:14; and, you rescued from, [ ἐῤῥύσασθε], instead of you did not deliver up. Joshua 22:31.


Verse 19

Romans 9:19. ἔτι, as yet) even still. This particle well expresses the peevish outcry. To the objection here put, Paul answers in two ways. I. The power of God over men is greater than the power of the potter over the clay, Romans 9:20-21. Then II. He answers more mildly: God has not exercised His power, not even over the vessels of wrath, Romans 9:22.— αὐτοῦ, His) It is put for, of God, and expresses the feeling, by which objectors of this description show their aversion from God.


Verse 20

Romans 9:20.(113) ἀνθρωπε, O man) weak, ignorant of righteousness [i.e. the true way of justification].— μὴ ἐρεῖ, κ. τ. λ.) Isaiah 29:16. οὐχʼ ὠς πηλὸς τοῦ κεραμέως λογισθήσεσθε; μὴ ἐρεῖ τὸ πλάσμα τῳ πλάσαντι αὐτὸ, οὐ σὺ με ἔπλασας. The same prophet, Isaiah 45:9, μὴ ἐρεῖ πηλὸς τῷ κεράμει: τί ποιεῖς, ὅτι οὐκ ἐργάζη, οὐδε ἔχεις χείρας. μὴ ἀποκριθήσεται τὸ πλάσμα πρὸς τὸν πλάσαντα αὐτὸ; Shall ye not be reckoned as the potter’s clay? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Thou hast not formed me? Isaiah 45:9, Shall the clay say to the potter, what art thou doing, that thou dost not work, thou hast no hands? Shall the thing formed answer Him that formed it?—(Vers. LXX.)


Verse 21

Romans 9:21. ) particle of interrogation [an?].— ἐξουσίαν, power) construed with, over the clay. The potter does not make the clay but digs it out; God makes man, therefore He has greater power [over man], than the potter [over the clay]. But absolute power and liberty do not imply, that the will and decree are absolute. If God had left the whole human race under the power of sin and death, He would not have done unjustly, but He did not exercise that right. [Man is struck with the vivid exhibition of Divine power, so that he ever after unlearns all the outrageous (unreasonable) suspicions of his thoughts, against the justice [righteousness] of God, Matthew 20:15; Exodus 20:20; Job 42:2; Job 42:6.—V. g.].— φυράματος) lump, which has been prepared from clay and softened by steeping, and has its parts now more homogeneous.— εἰς ἀτιμίαν, to dishonour) Paul speaks circumspectly, he does not yet say, to wrath: vessel must be construed with these words [To make one, a vessel unto honour, etc.]


Verse 22

Romans 9:22. εἰ δὲ, but if) This particle has this as its apodosis to be supplied at the end of Romans 9:23 from Romans 9:20 : God has much greater cause to complain concerning man, and man has less cause to expostulate with God [than the potter concerning the clay, and the clay with the potter]. Comp. ἐὰν, John 6:62, where also the apodosis is to be supplied. It is a question, but one implied, not expressed, with an ellipsis, What reply hast thou to make [if God willing to show, etc., endured, etc.].— θέλων, willing) Corresponds to the, His will, Romans 9:19, and to, He will, Romans 9:18. Paul speaks κατʼ ἄνθρωπον, [“after the manner of man:” or, taking advantage of his opponent’s unavoidable admission] in the words of his opponent; and so εἰ signifies whereas, [since, as you must grant]. At the same time, we must observe that what he says of the vessels of wrath is more scanty, and of the vessels of mercy more copious; willing to show, he says, not, [willing, putting forth His will] that he might show, comp. next verse [where in the case of the vessels of mercy, he says, ἵνα γνωρίσῃ, though here Romans 9:22 in the case of the vessels of wrath, he says, γνωρίσαι], and Ephesians 2:7ἐνδείξασθαιτὀ δύνατον αὐτοῦ, to show His power) These words are repeated from Romans 9:17.— τὴν δργὴν, wrath) He does not say, the riches of his wrath; comp. Romans 9:23.— τὸ δυνατὸν) This signifies, what He can do (potentiam ‘might’) not what He may do (potestatem ‘right’ [ ἐζουσία]).— ἢνεγκεν, endured) as He endured Pharaoh.— ἐν πολλῇ μακροθυμίᾳ, with much long-suffering) viz: in order that it might allure the wicked [the reprobate] from their state of alienation from Him to repentance, ch. Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9. God endures many bad men, in the enjoyment of great and long continued good fortune in this life, when He might at the very first have consigned them to death. The gate of mercy and grace is still open to them. This long-suffering, humanly speaking, precedes His “will to show His wrath,” nor does it merely follow it. His enduring is not wont to be exercised until He is about to show His wrath]: wherefore ἤνεγκεν should be translated, had endured [previous to His will to show His wrath.] By this very circumstance the question, who hath resisted? Romans 9:19, is most powerfully refuted.— ὀργῆς) of wrath, which is not indeed without cause, but presupposes sins; he does not say, of disgrace, nor unto wrath, but of wrath, [i.e. the fault is in themselves.]— κατηρτισμένα, fitted) It denotes the disposition [fitness] internal and full, but now no longer free [no longer now liable to change], not the destination; he does not say, which He προκατήρτισε, previously fitted, although he says in the next verse, which he prepared, comp. Romans 9:19, ch. Romans 11:22, note; Matthew 25:34, with Matthew 25:41, and Acts 13:46, with Acts 13:48. This is distinct from the efficient cause; what is said merely refers to the state in which God finds the reprobate, when He brings upon them His wrath.— εἰς ἀπώλειαν, to destruction) The antithesis is, Romans 9:23, unto glory.


Verse 23

Romans 9:23. ἵνα, that) Denotes more distinctly the end and aim, without excluding means.— γνωρίσῃ, might make known) This verb is applied to things not formerly known; it is therefore put both here and in the preceding verse, but ἐνδείκνυσθαι, to show, is only used in verse 22 concerning wrath; of which even the Gentiles have some knowledge.— ἐπὶ, upon) The sentence is thus quite consistent. But if God that He might make known the riches of His glory, supply, did this, or, in other words, made known the riches [of His glory] on the vessels of mercy; respecting the apodosis, see the beginning of the note, Romans 9:22.— τῆς δόξης) of His glory: of His goodness, grace, mercy, wisdom, omnipotence, Ephesians 1:6.— ἐλέους) of mercy, Romans 9:15-16; Romans 9:18; Romans 9:25, which presupposes the former misery of those, styled vessels.— προητοίμασεν, previously prepared) antecedently to works, Romans 9:11, by the arrangement of all the external and internal circumstances, which he, who is called, finds tending to his salvation, at the first moment of his call. This is implied by the preposition in προητοίμασεν. So a vessel unto honour, prepared, 2 Timothy 2:21.


Verse 24

Romans 9:24. οὓς καὶ, whom also) καὶ, also, in chap. Romans 8:30, Cluverus: whom (having been previously prepared for glory) He hath also called.— ἐκάλεσεν, called) in some respects an antithesis to, He endured, Romans 9:22. Again, I will call, occurs in the next verse.— ἡμᾶς, us) This gnome(114) leads Paul to come to the proposition respecting grace, which is laid open to Jews and Gentiles; and he proceeds to refute the Jewish Particularism, and to defend the universality of grace.— οὐ μόνον ἐξ, not only from) The believing Jew is not called on the very ground that he is a Jew, but he is called from the Jews. This is the root of the word ἐκκλησία. [The epistle to the Ephesians most especially corresponds to this whole section, as well as to the exhortation, chapters 14, 15, deduced from it.—V. g.]— ἐξ ἰουδαίων, from the Jews) He treats of this at Romans 9:27.— ἐξ ἐθνῶν, from the Gentiles) He treats of this, Romans 9:25, etc.


Verse 25

Romans 9:25. λέγει, saith) God. Paul asserted the prior right of God in calling the Gentiles, and their actual calling, and now at last that the event is shown, he brings in one testimony from the Old Testament, and ch. Romans 15:9, etc., a number more in succession, by a method worthy of notice. The predictions, though numerous and quite clear from their fulfilment, yet in the first instance do not easily obtain belief. The strength of the following quotation is not in the verb καλέσω I will call [name], but in the other part of the expression: ἐκάλεσεν, He called, is used as in Romans 8:30. Nevertheless naming immediately accompanies calling, and in a manner precedes it.— καλέσω τὸν οὐ λαόν μον, λαόν μου. καὶ τὴν οὐκ ἠγαπημένην, ἠγαπημένην) I will call them my people, who were not my people, and her beloved who was not beloved, Hos. 2:25. The LXX. have, And I will have mercy on her, on whom I have not had mercy, and I will say to them who are not my people, thou art my people.—[ καὶ ἐλεήσω τὴν οὐκ ἠλεημένην. καὶ ἐρῶ τῷ οὐ λαῷ μου, λαός μου εἶ σύ.]— ἠγαπημένην loved) as one betrothed, as a bride.


Verse 26

Romans 9:26. καὶἐκεῖ κληθήσονταιζῶντος) Hosea 2:1, LXX. καὶκληθήσονται καὶ αὐτοὶζῶντος.— ἐκεῖ) there: So it is not necessary for them to change their country and betake themselves to Judaea, comp. Zephaniah 2:11.


Verse 27

Romans 9:27. κράζει) crieth. See Isaiah 10:22, where the accents also may be compared. Israel utters an opposing reclamation [cries against]: Isaiah with a still louder exclamation [cry] declares, a remnant shall be saved.— ὑπὲρ) for Israel, Fr. en faveur, in behalf of.— ἐὰν ἀριθμὸς τῶν νἱῶν ἰσραὴλκατάλειμμαποιήσει κύριος ἐπι τῆς γῆς) Isaiah 10:22-23, LXX., καὶ ἐὰν γένηται λαὸς ἰσραὴλκατάλειμμα αὐτῶκύριος ποιήσει ἐν τῇ οἰκουμένῃ ὅλῃ. In the last clause Symmachus and Theodotion have ἐν μέσῳ πάσης τῆς γῆς. The word ἀριθμὸς Paul introduced from Hosea 2:1 [Romans 1:10]. If Israel shall have been [or have been] as numerous as the sand, a remnant [only] shall be saved, namely, from the misery of the Babylonish captivity and from spiritual misery. That a remnant should remain in the multitude of the remnant [i.e. in a case where the body from which the remnant is taken is a multitude] is less wonderful. The Many are hardened; but the seed implies a small number, Romans 9:29, note. When the rebellion of Israel reaches its height, at that point salvation begins.


Verse 28

Romans 9:28. λόγον) a thing heard, and therefore spoken, Isaiah 28:22.— συντελῶν και συντέμνων) supply, as is often necessary in Hebrew, the word is, comp. Acts 24:5; 2 Peter 1:17; Heb. כלה ונהרצה and כליון הרוע. The Lord συντελεῖ, will consummate His λόγον word [decree] concerning Israel, in respect to the appointed [fixed] punishment (so that it becomes כלה, consummated, completed); and at the same time συντέμνει λόγον, cuts short His word, in respect to the termination [will make a speedy termination] of the punishment (so that נחרצה becomes כלה, this decree becomes consummated). The word Lord is to be supplied from the following clause; and the owrd συντελῶν may be taken either as the subject, or rather, since the article is wanting, as a part of the predicate [the Lord is about to consummate, etc.]— ἐν δικαιοσὑνη, שוטף צדקה. Isaiah 10:22.


Verse 29

Romans 9:29. εἰ μὴὡμοιώθημεν) Isaiah 1:9, LXX., καὶ εἰ μὴ ὡμοιώθημεν.— προείρηκεν, said before) Before the event, or before the prophecy quoted at Romans 9:28.— σαβαὼθ) In 1 Samuel and in Isaiah, σαβαὼθ is put for the Heb. word צבאת; in all the other books it is translated παντοκράτωρ, Ruler over all. From this circumstance there is strong ground for conjecturing, that one or perhaps several persons were employed to translate those two books, and that different persons translated the rest. And in the same first book of Sam. Scripture beings to give this title to God, although others had been formerly used as it were in its place.—Exodus 34:23.— σπέρμα, a seed) There is denoted 1) a small number at the present time, 2) the propagation of a multitude after deliverance from captivity.— ὡς σόδομα, as Sodom) where not a single citizen escaped; no seed was left.


Verse 30

Romans 9:30. τί, what) He returns from the digression, which he had commenced at the middle of Romans 9:24, and takes in summarily the whole subject, Romans 9:30-32. There is a mitigation of the severity of the discussion continued from Romans 9:6 to Romans 9:23; but it will only be comprehended by him, who is acquainted with the way of faith. In short, by this tone of feeling the foregoing remarks are judged of.— κατέλαβε) have attained [Luke 13:29; Luke 13:24.]— πίστεως, by faith), Romans 9:33, at its close.


Verse 31

Romans 9:31. νόμον δικαιοσύνης εἰς νόμον δικαιοσύνης, the law of righteousness to the law of righteousness) He did not use the word law, in the preceding verse, concerning the Gentiles; but now uses it in speaking of the Jews; and there is a ploce or repetition of the words in a different sense; concerning legal and also concerning evangelical righteousness. While Israel is following the one law, he does not attain to the other. The apostle appropriately uses the expression, the law of righteousness, for, the righteousness of the law. The Jews rather looked to the law, than to righteousness: νόμος, doctrine, תורה.— οὐκ ἔφθασε) did not attain.


Verse 32

Romans 9:32. ὃτι because) viz. they sought after it [followed after it].— οὐκἀλλʼ ὠς) The Basle Lexicon says: ὡς in comparing things dissimilar is doubled, and the one ὡς is elegantly understood in the former member, and ὡς is only joined to [expressed in] the latter part. Examples are there subjoined from Aristotle; we may compare John 7:10; 2 Corinthians 11:17; likewise Acts 28:19; Philemon 1:14; Philippians 2:12.


Verse 33

Romans 9:33. ἰδοὺ τίθημι ἐν σιὼν λίθον προσκόμματος, καὶ πέτραν σκανδάλου· καὶ πᾶς πιστεύων ἐπʼ αὐτῷ οὐ καταισχυνθήσεται) LXX., Isaiah 28:16, ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐμβαλῶ εἰς τὰ θεμέλια σιὼν λίθον πολντελῆ, ἐκλεκτὸν, ἀκρογωνιᾶιον, ἔντιμον εἰς τὰ θεμέλια αὐτῶν, καὶ πιστεύων ἐπʼ αὐτῷ οὐ καταισχυνθῇ ἐμβαλῶ εἰς τὰ θεμέλια σιὼον λίθον πολντελῆ, ἐκλεκτὸν, ἀκρογωνιᾶιον, ἔντιμον εἰς τὰ θεμέλια αὐτῶν, καὶ πιστεύων ἐπʼ αὐτῷ οὐ καταισχυνθῇ, Isaiah 8:14. καἰ οὐχ ὠς λίθου προσκόμματι συναντῆσεσθε, οὐδὲ ὡς πέτρας πτώματι. Such a one will not be made ashamed, and so will obtain glory; comp. ch. Romans 5:2; Romans 5:5. This denotes eternal life, Isaiah 45:17.

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Romans 9:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/romans-9.html. 1897.

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Monday, November 11th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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