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Remnant

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

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This word occurs only twice as a substantive in the English NT, both instances being in the Epistle to the Romans.

1. Romans 9:27, ὑπόλειμμα (WH [Note: H Westcott-Hort’s Greek Testament.] , ὑπόλιμμα with א AB Eus. The Textus Receptus reads κατάλειμμα with later authorities. The latter variant probably originated in the desire to make St. Paul’s word correspond exactly with that of the passage in Isaiah 10:22, which he is here quoting from the Septuagint : ‘And Isaiah crieth concerning Israel, If the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that shall be saved’ (Septuagint , τὸ κατάλειμμα αὐτῶν σωθήσεται).

The Apostle is expressing, in language adapted from the OT, his conviction that only a remnant of the Jews will be saved, a conviction forced upon him by the repeated experiences of his missionary journeys. This sad outlook on the immediate present is afterwards modified by his prophetic forecast of the ultimate return of the whole people, when ‘all Israel shall be saved’ (Romans 11:26).

The passage in Isaiah is one of central significance. The prophet is convinced that the Assyrians, the instruments of God’s punishment, will overthrow not only Samaria but Jerusalem. As a State, Judah will be destroyed. The only survivors will be the ‘remnant,’ the group of true-hearted believers who submit to God’s word spoken by the prophet. We have here for the first time the dissociation of the religious from the national life, the conception of a Church as free from political associations. Of this ‘remnant’ the prophet says that it ‘shall return’ (יָשׁוּב). The Septuagint rendering, σωθήσεται, lends itself more directly to St. Paul’s reference to the Messianic salvation. To show, as he does here, that not only the calling of the Gentiles, but also the partial rejection of the Jews, was foretold in the prophetic writings, was both a ground of assurance to himself and an effective answer to Jewish criticism.

2. Romans 11:5, λεῖμμα (WH [Note: H Westcott-Hort’s Greek Testament.] , λίμμα): ‘Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.’ The comparison here is with the ‘seven thousand men’ who during the religious persecution of Ahab’s reign had not ‘bowed the knee to Baal’ (1 Kings 19:18). The reference, as in 1 Kings 9:27, is to the small body of faithful believers who constituted the true Israel, in contrast with the recreant and disobedient majority. The ‘remnant’ in the time of Elijah and that in the time of Isaiah are prototypes of the believing minority of Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah.

Literature.-The Commentaries on Romans in loc.; F. Delitzsch, Jesaia2, Leipzig, 1869, on Isaiah 10:22; G. F. Cehler, Theology of the OT, Eng. translation , Edinburgh, 1874-75, ii. 381 ff.; G. A. Smith, Expositor’s Bible, ‘Isaiah,’ London, 1888-90, i. 126 ff.

Dawson Walker.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Remnant'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdn/​r/remnant.html. 1906-1918.
 
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