ICC New Testament Commentary
I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.THE REJECTION OF ISRAEL NOT COMPLETE
11:1-10. Israel then has refused to accept the salvation offered it; is it therefore rejected? No. At any rate the rejection is not complete. Now as always in the history of Israel, although the mass of the people may be condemned to disbelief, there is a remnant that shall be saved.
1 The conclusion of the preceding argument is this. It is through their own fault that Israel has rejected a salvation which was fully and freely offered. Now what does this imply? Does it mean that God has rejected His chosen people? Heaven forbid that I should say this! I who like them am an Israelite, an Israelite by birth and not a proselyte, a lineal descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe that with Judah formed the restored Israel after the exile. 2 No, God has not rejected His people. He chose them for His own before all time and nothing can make Him change His purpose. If you say He has rejected them, it only shows that you have not clearly grasped the teaching of Scripture concerning the Remnant. Elijah on Mt. Horeb brought just such an accusation against his countrymen. 3 He complained that they had forsaken the covenant, that they had overthrown God’s altars, that they had slain His Prophets; just as the Jews at the present day have slain the Messiah and persecuted His messengers. Elijah only was left, and his life they sought. The whole people, God’s chosen people, had been rejected. 4 So he thought; but the Divine response came to him, that there were seven thousand men left in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. There was a kernel of the nation that remained loyal. 5 Exactly the same circumstances exist now as then. Now as then the mass of the people are unfaithful, but there is a remnant of loyal adherents to the Divine message:—a remnant, be it remembered, chosen by God by an act of free favour: 6 that is to say those whom God has in His good pleasure selected for that position, who have in no way earned it by any works they have done, or any merit of their own. If that were possible Grace would lose all its meaning: there would be no occasion for God to show free favour to mankind.
7 It is necessary then at any rate to modify the broad statement that has been made. Israel, it is true, has failed to obtain the righteousness which it sought; but, although this is true of the nation as a whole, there is a Remnant of which it is not true. Those whom God selected have attained it. But what of the rest? Their hearts have been hardened. Here again we find the same conditions prevailing throughout Israel’s history. 8Isaiah declared (29:10; 6:9, 10) how God had thrown the people into a state of spiritual torpor. He had given them eyes which could not see, and ears which could not hear. All through their history the mass of the people has been destitute of spiritual insight. 9 And again in the book of Psalms, David (69:23, 24) declares the Divine wrath against the unfaithful of the nation: ‘May their table be their snare.’ It is just their position as God’s chosen people, it is the Law and the Scriptures, which are their boast, that are to be the cause of their ruin. They are to be punished by being allowed to cleave fast to that to which they have perversely adhered. 10 ‘Let their eyes be blinded, so that they cannot see light when it shines upon them: let their back be ever bent under the burden to which they have so obstinately clung.’ This was God’s judgement then on Israel for their faithlessness, and it is God’s judgement on them now.
1-36. St. Paul has now shown (1) (9:6-29) that God was perfectly free, whether as regards promise or His right as Creator, to reject Israel; (2) (9:30-10:21) that Israel on their side by neglecting the Divine method of salvation offered them have deserved this rejection. He now comes to the original question from which he started, but which he never expressed, and asks, Has God, as might be thought from the drift of the argument so far, really cast away His people? To this he gives a negative answer, which he proceeds to justify by showing (1) that this rejection is only partial (11:1-10), (2) only temporary (11:11-25), and (3) that in all this Divine action there has been a purpose deeper and wiser than man can altogether understand (11:26-36).
1. λέγω οὖν. This somewhat emphatic phrase occurring here and in ver. 11 seems to mark a stage in the argument, the οὖν as so often summing up the result so far arrived at. The change of particle shows that we have not here a third question parallel to the ἀλλὰ λέγω of 10:18, 19.
μὴ ἀπώσατο ὁ Θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ; ‘Is it possible that God has cast away His people?’ The form of the question implies necessarily a negative answer and suggests an argument against it. (1) By the juxtaposition of ὁ Θεός and τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ. Israel is God’s people and so He cannot reject them. Ipsa populi eius appellatio rationem negandi continet. Beng. (2) By the use made of the language of the O. T. Three times in the O. T. (1 Samuel 12:22; 93 , 14; 94 , 4) the promise οὐκ ἀπώσεται Κύριος τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ occurs. By using words which must be so well known St. Paul reminds his readers of the promise, and thus again implies an answer to the question.
This very clear instance of the merely literary use of the language of the O. T. makes it more probable that St. Paul should have adopted a similar method elsewhere, as in 10:6 ff., 18.
μὴ γένοιτο. St. Paul repudiates the thought with horror. All his feelings as an Israelite make it disloyal in him to hold it.
καὶ γὰρ κ.τ.λ. These words have been taken in two ways. (1) As a proof of the incorrectness of the suggestion. St. Paul was an Israelite, and he had been saved; therefore the people as a whole could not have been rejected. So the majority of commentators (Go. Va. Oltr. Weiss). But the answer to the question does not occur until St. Paul gives it in a solemn form at the beginning of the next verse; he would not therefore have previously given a reason for its incorrectness. Moreover it would be inconsistent with St. Paul’s tact and character to put himself forward so prominently.
(2) It is therefore better to take it as giving ‘the motive for his deprecation, not a proof of his denial’ (Mey. Gif. Lips.). Throughout this passage, St. Paul partly influenced by the reality of his own sympathy, partly by a desire to put his argument in a form as little offensive as possible, has more than once emphasized his own kinship with Israel (9:1-3; 10:1). Here for the first time, just when he is going to disprove it, he makes the statement which has really been the subject of the two previous passages, and at once, in order if possible to disarm criticism, reminds his readers that he is an Israelite, and that therefore to him, as much as to them, the supposition seems almost blasphemous.
Ἰσραηλίτης κ.τ.λ. Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:22; Php 3:5.
ὃν προέγνω, which is added by Lachmann after τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ, has the support of A D Chrys. and other authorities, but clearly came in from ver. 2.
2. οὐκ ἀπώσατο. St. Paul gives expressly and formally a negative answer to the question he has just asked, adding emphasis by repeating the very words he has used.
ὃν προέγνω. The addition of these words gives a reason for the emphatic denial of which they form a part. Israel was the race which God in His Divine foreknowledge had elected and chosen, and therefore He could not cast it off. The reference in this chapter is throughout to the election of the nation as a whole, and therefore the words cannot have a limiting sense (Orig. Chrys. Aug.), ‘that people whom He foreknew,’ i.e. those of His people whom He foreknew; nor again can they possibly refer to the spiritual Israel, as that would oblige a meaning to be given to λαός different from that in ver. 1. The word προέγνω may be taken, (1) as used in the Hebrew sense, to mean ‘whom He has known or chosen beforehand.’ So γινώσκειν in the LXX. Amos 3:2 ὑμᾶς ἔγνων ἐκ πασῶν τῶν φυλω1͂ν τῆς γῆς. And in St. Paul 1 Corinthians 8:3 εἰ δέ τις ἀγαπᾷ τὸν Θεόν, οὗτος ἔγνωσται ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ. Galatians 4:9 νῦν δὲ γνόντες Θεόν, μᾶλλον δὲ γνωσθέντες ὑπὸ Θεοῦ. 2 Timothy 2:19 ἔγνω Κύριος τοὺς ὄντας αὐτοῦ. Although there is no evidence for this use of προγινώσκειν it represents probably the idea which St. Paul had in his mind (see on 8:29). (2) But an alternative interpretation taking the word in its natural meaning of foreknowledge, must not be lost sight of, ‘that people of whose history and future destiny God had full foreknowledge.’ This seems to be the meaning with which the word is generally used (Wisd. 6:13; 8:8; 18:6; Just. Mart. Apol. i. 28; Dial. 42. p. 261 B.); so too πρόγνωσις is used definitely and almost technically of the Divine foreknowledge (Acts 2:23), and in this chapter St. Paul ends with vindicating the Divine wisdom which had prepared for Israel and the world a destiny which exceeds human comprehension.
ἤ οὐκ οἴδατε: cf. 2:4; 6:3; 7:1; 9:21. ‘You must admit this or be ignorant of what the Scripture says.’ The point of the quotation lies not in the words which immediately follow, but in the contrast between the two passages; a contrast which represented the distinction between the apparent and the real situation at the time when the Apostle wrote.
ἐν Ἠλίᾳ: ‘in the section of Scripture which narrates the story of Elijah.’ The O. T. Scriptures were divided into paragraphs to which were given titles derived from their subject-matter; and these came to be very commonly used in quotations as references. Many instances are quoted from the Talmud and from Hebrew commentators: Berachoth, fol. 2Ch_1, fol. 4.Col_2 id quod scriptum est apud Michäel, referring to Isaiah 6:6. So Taanijoth, ii. 1; Aboth de-Rabbi Nathan, c. 9; Shir hashirim rabbai. 6, where a phrase similar to that used here, ‘In Elijah,’ occurs, and the same passage is quoted, ‘I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of Hosts.’ So also Philo, De Agricultura, p. 203 (i. 317 Mang.) λέγει γὰρ ἐν ταῖς ἀραῖς, referring to Genesis 3:15. The phrase ἐπὶ τῆς βάτου Mark 12:26; Luke 20:37; Clem. Hom. xvi. 14; Apost. Const. v. 20, is often explained in a similar manner, but very probably incorrectly, the ἐπί being perhaps purely local. The usage exactly corresponds to the method used in quoting the Homeric poems. As the Rabbis divided the O. T. into sections so the Rhapsodists divided Homer, and these sections were quoted by their subjects, ἐν Ἔκτορος ἀναιρέσει, ἐν νεκυίᾳ. (See Fri. Delitzsch ad loc., Surenhusius, Βίβλος καταλλαγῆς, p. 31.)
ἐντυγχάνει: ‘he accuses Israel before God.’ The verb ἐντυγχάνειν means, (1) ‘to meet with,’ (2) ‘to meet with for the purposes of conversation,’ ‘have an interview with,’ Acts 25:24; hence (3) ‘to converse with,’ ‘plead with,’ Wisdom 8:21, either on behalf of some one (ὑπέρ τινος) Romans 8:27, Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; or against some one (κατά τινος), and so (4) definitely ‘to accuse’ as here and 1 Macc. 11:25 καὶ ἐνετύγχανον κατʼ αὐτοῦ τινες ἄνομοι τῶν ἐκ τοῦ ἔθνους: 8:32; 10:61, 63.
The TR. adds λέγων at the end of this verse with א*L al. pler., it is omitted by אc A B C D E F G P min. pauc., Vulg. Sah. Boh., and most Fathers.
3. Κύριε, τοὺς προφήτας κ.τ.λ. The two quotations come from 1 Kings 19:10, 1 Kings 19:14, 1 Kings 19:18; the first being repeated twice. Elijah has fled to Mt. Horeb from Jezebel, and accuses his countrymen before God of complete apostasy; he alone is faithful. God answers that even although the nation as a whole has deserted Him, yet there is a faithful remnant, 7,000 men who have not bowed the knee to Baal. There is an analogy, St. Paul argues, between this situation and that of his own day. The spiritual condition is the same. The nation as a whole has rejected God’s message, now as then; but now as then also there is a faithful remnant left, and if that be so God cannot be said to have cast away His people.
The quotation is somewhat shortened from the LXX, and the order of the clauses is inverted, perhaps to put in a prominent position the words τοὺς προφήτας σου ἀπέκτειναν to which there was most analogy during St. Paul’s time (cf. Acts 7:52; 1 Thessalonians 2:14). The καί between the clauses of the TR. is read by D E L and later MSS. Justin Martyr, Dial. 39. p. 257 D, quotes the words as in St. Paul and not as in the LXX: Καὶ γὰρ Ἠλίας περὶ ὑμῶν πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν ἐντυγχάνων οὕτως λέγει· Κύριε, τοὺς προφήτας σου ἀπέκτειναν καὶ τὰ θυσιαστήριά σου κατέσκαψαν κἀγὼ ὑπελείφθην μόνος καὶ ζητοῦσι τὴν ψυχήν μου. καὶ ἀποκρίνεται αὐτῷ, Ἔτι εἰσί μοι ἑπτακισχίλιοι ἄνδρες, οἳ οὐκ ἔκαμψαν γόνυ τῇ Βάαλ.
4. ὁ χρηματισμός: ‘the oracle.’ An unusual sense for the word, which occurs here only in the N. T., but is found in 2 Macc. 2:4; Clem.Rom; xvii. 5 and occasionally elsewhere. The verb χρηματίζειν meant (1) originally ‘to transact business’; then (2) ‘to consult,’ ‘deliberate’; hence (3) ‘to give audience,’ ‘answer after deliberation’; and so finally (4) of an oracle ‘to give a response, taking the place of the older χράω; and so it is used in the N. T. of the Divine warning Matthew 2:12, Matthew 2:22 χρηματισθέντες κατʼ ὄναρ: Luke 2:26; Acts 10:22; Hebrews 8:5; 11:7: cf. Jos. Antt. V. i. 14; X. i. 3; XI. iii. 4. From this usage of the verb χρηματίζω was derived χρηματισμός, as the more usual χρησμός from χράω. See also p. 173.
τῇ Βάαλ: substituted by St. Paul (as also by Justin Martyr, loc. cit.) for the LXX τῷ Βάαλ, according to a usage common in other passages in the Greek Version.
The word Baal, which means ‘Lord,’ appears to have been originally used as one of the names of the God of Israel, and as such became a part of many Jewish names, as for example Jerubbaal (Judges 1:6:32; Judges 1:7:1), Eshbaal (1 Chronicles 9:39), Meribbaal (1 Chronicles 9:40), &c. But gradually the special association of the name with the idolatrous worship of the Phoenician god caused the use of it to be forbidden. Hosea 2:16, Hosea 2:17 ‘and it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali. For I will take away the names of the Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be mentioned by their name.’ Owing to this motive a tendency arose to obliterate the name of Baal from the Scriptures: just as owing to a feeling of reverence ‘Elohim’ was substituted for ‘Jehovah’ in the second and third books of the Psalms. This usage took the form of substituting Bosheth, ‘abomination,’ for Baal. So Eshbaal (1 Chronicles 8:33, 1 Chronicles 9:39) became Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 2:8; 2 Samuel 3:8); Meribbaal (1 Chronicles 9:40) Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:6 ff.); Jerubbaal Jerubbesheth (2 Samuel 11:21). See also Hosea 9:10; Jeremiah 3:24; Jeremiah 11:13. Similarly in the LXX αἰσχύνη represents in one passage Baal of the Hebrew text, 3 Kings 18:19, 25. But it seems to have been more usual to substitute αἰσχύνη in reading for the written Βάαλ, and as a sign of this Qeri the feminine article was written; just as the name Jehovah was written with the pointing of Adonai. This usage is most common in Jeremiah, but occurs also in the books of Kings, Chronicles, and other Prophets. It appears not to occur in the Pentateuch. The plural ταῖς occurs 2 Chronicles 24:7; 2 Chronicles 33:3. This, the only satisfactory explanation of the feminine article with the masculine name, is given by Dillmann, Monatsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaft zu Berlin, 1881, p. 601 ff. and has superseded all others.
The LXX version is again shortened in the quotation, and for καταλείψω is substituted κατέλιπον ἐμαυτῷ, which is an alternative and perhaps more exact translation of the Hebrew.
5. οὓτως οὖν. The application of the preceding instance to the circumstances of the Apostle’s own time. The facts were the same. St. Paul would assume that his readers, some of whom were Jewish Christians, and all of whom were aware of the existence of such a class, would recognize this. And if this were so the same deduction might be made. As then the Jewish people were not rejected, because the remnant was saved; so now there is a remnant, and this implies that God has not cast away His people as such.
λεῖμμα (on the orthography cf. WH. ii. App. p. 154, who read λίμμα), ‘a remnant.’ The word does not occur elsewhere in the N. T., and in the O. T. only twice, and then not in the technical sense of the ‘remnant.’ The usual word for that is τὸ καταλειφθέν.
κατʼ ἐκλογὴν χάριτος. Predicate with γέγονεν. ‘There has come to be through the principle of selection which is dependent on the Divine grace or favour.’ This addition to the thought, which is further explained in ver. 6, reminds the reader of the result of the previous discussion: that ‘election’ on which the Jews had always laid so much stress had operated, but it was a selection on the part of God of those to whom He willed to give His grace, and not an election of those who had earned it by their works.
6. εἰ δὲ χάριτι κ.τ.λ. A further explanation of the principles of election. If the election had been on the basis of works, then the Jews might have demanded that God’s promise could only be fulfilled if all who had earned it had received it: St. Paul, by reminding them of the principles of election already laid down, implies that the promise is fulfilled if the remnant is saved. God’s people are those whom He has chosen; it is not that the Jews are chosen because they are His people.
ἐπεὶ ἡ χάρις οὐκέτι γίνεται χάρις: ‘this follows from the very meaning of the idea of grace.’ Gratia nisi gratis sit gratia non est. St. Augustine.
The TR. after γίνεται χάρις adds εἰ δὲ ἐξ ἔργων, οὐκέτι ἐστὶ χάρις· ἐπεὶ τὸ ἔργον οὐκέτι ἐστὶν ἔργον with אc (B) L and later MSS., Syrr., Chrys. and Thdrt. (in the text, but they do not refer to the words in their commentary). B reads εἰ δὲ ἐξ ἔργων, οὐκέτι χάρις·̀ ἐπεὶ τὸ ἔργον οὐκέτι ἐστὶ χάρις. The clause is omitted by א A C D E F G P, Vulg. Aegyptt. (Boh. Sah.) Arm., Orig.-lat. Jo.-Damasc. Ambrst Patr.-latt. There need be no doubt that it is a gloss, nor is the authority of B of any weight in support of a Western addition such as this against such preponderating authority. This is considered by WH. to be the solitary or almost the solitary case in which B possibly has a Syrian reading (Introd. ii. 150).
7. τί οὖν; This verse sums up the result of the discussion in vv. 2-6. ‘What then is the result? In what way can we modify the harsh statement made in ver. 1? It is indeed still true that Israel as a nation has failed to obtain what is its aim, namely righteousness: but at the same time there is one portion of it, the elect, who have attained it.’
ἡ δὲ ἐκλογή: i. e. οἱ ἐκλεκτοί. The abstract for the concrete suggests the reason for their success by laying stress on the idea rather than on the individuals.
οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ ἐπωρώθησαν: ‘while the elect have attained what they sought, those who have failed to attain it have been hardened.’ They have not failed because they have been hardened, but they have been hardened because they have failed; cf. 1:24 ff., where sin is represented as God’s punishment inflicted on man for their rebellion. Here St. Paul does not definitely say by whom, for that is not the point it interests him to discuss at present: he has represented the condition of Israel both as the result of God’s action (ch. 9) and of their own (ch. 10). Here as in κατηρτισμένα 9:22, he uses the colourless passive without laying stress on the cause: the quotation in ver. 8 represents God as the author, ἔπταισαν in ver. 11 suggests that they are free agents.
The verb πωρόω (derived from πῶρος a callus or stone formed in the bladder) is a medical term used in Hippocrates and elsewhere of a bone or hard substance growing when bones are fractured, or of a stone forming in the bladder. Hence metaphorically it is used in the N. T., and apparently there only of the heart becoming hardened or callous: so Mark 6:52; John 12:40; Romans 11:7; 2 Corinthians 3:14: while the noun πώρωσις occurs in the same sense, Mark 3:5; Romans 11:25; Ephesians 4:18. The idea is in all these places the same, that a covering has grown over the heart, making men incapable of receiving any new teaching however good, and making them oblivious of the wrong they are doing. In Job 17:7 (πεπώρωνται γὰρ ἀπὸ ὀργῆς οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου) the word is used of blindness, but again only of moral blindness; anger has caused as it were a covering to grow over the eyes. There is therefore no need to take the word to mean ‘blind,’ as do the grammarians (Suidas, πωρός, ὁ τυφλός: πεπώρωται, τετύφλωται: Hesychius, πεπωρωμένοι, τετυφλωμένοι) and the Latin Versions (excaecati, obcaecati). It is possible that this translation arose from a confusion with πηρός (see on κατανύξεως below) which was perhaps occasionally used of blindness (see Prof. Armitage Robinson in Academy, 1892, p. 305), although probably then as a specialized usage for the more general ‘maimed.’ Although the form πηρόω occurs in some MSS. of the N. T., yet the evidence against it is in every case absolutely conclusive, as it is also in the O. T. in the one passage where the word occurs.
8. καθὼς γέγραπται. St. Paul supports and explains his last statement οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ ἐπωρώθησαν by quotations from the O. T. The first which in form resembles Deuteronomy 29:4, modified by Isaiah 29:10; Isaiah 6:9, Isaiah 6:10, describes the spiritual dulness or torpor of which the prophet accuses the Israelites. This he says had been given them by God as a punishment for their faithlessness. These words will equally well apply to the spiritual condition of the Apostle’s own time, showing that it is not inconsistent with the position of Israel as God’s people, and suggesting a general law of God’s dealing with them.
The following extracts, in which the words that St. Paul has made use of are printed in spaced type, will give the source of the quotation. Deuteronomy 29:4 καὶ οὐκ ἓδωκεν Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ὑμῖν καρδίαν εἰδέναι καὶ ὀφθαλμοὺς βλέπειν καὶ ὦτα ἀκούειν ἕως τῆς ἡμέρας ταύτης. Isaiah 29:10 ὅτι πεπότικεν ὑμᾶς Κύριος πνεύματι κατανύξεως: cf. Isaiah 6:9, Isaiah 6:10 ἀκοῇ ἀκούσετε καὶ οὐ μὴ συνῆτε καὶ βλέποντες βλέψετε καὶ οὐ μὴ ἴδητε. … καὶ εἶπα Ἓως πότε, Κύριε; While the form resembles the words in Deut., the historical situation and meaning of the quotation are represented by the passages in Isaiah to which St. Paul is clearly referring.
πνεῦμα κατανύξεως: ‘a spirit of torpor,’ a state of dull insensibility to everything spiritual, such as would be produced by drunkenness, or stupor. Isaiah 29:10 (RV.) ‘For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes, the prophets; and your heads, the seers, hath He covered.’
The word κατάνυξις is derived from κατανύσσομαι. The simple verb νύσσω is used to mean to ‘prick’ or ‘strike’ or ‘dint.’ The compound verb would mean, (1) to ‘strike’ or ‘prick violently,’ and hence (2) to ‘stun’; no instance is quoted of it in its primary sense, but it is common (3) especially in the LXX of strong emotions, of the prickings of lust Susan. 10 (Theod.); of strong grief Genesis 34:7; Ecclus. 14:1; and so Acts 2:37 κατενύγησαν τῇ καρδίᾳ of being strongly moved by speaking. Then (4) it is used of the stunning effect of such emotion which results in speechlessness: Isaiah 6:5 ὢ τάλας ἐγὼ ὄτι κατανένυγμαι: Daniel 10:15 ἔδωκα τὸ πρόσωπόν μου ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ κατενύγην, and so the general idea of torpor would be derived. The noun κατάνυξις appears to occur only twice, Isaiah 29:10 πνεῦμα κατανύξεως, 59:4οἶνον κατανύξεως. In the former case it clearly means ‘torpor’ or ‘deep sleep,’ as both the context and the Hebrew show, in the latter case probably so. It may be noticed that this definite meaning of ‘torpor’ or ‘deep sleep’ which is found in the noun cannot be exactly paralleled in the verb; and it may be suggested that a certain confusion existed with the verb νυστάξω, which means ‘to nod in sleep,’ ‘be drowsy,’ just as the meaning of ἐριθεία was influenced by its resemblance to ἔρις (cf. 2:8). On the word generally see Fri. ii. p. 558 ff.
ἔως τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας: cf. Acts 7:51 ‘Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did so do ye.’ St. Stephen’s speech illustrates more in detail the logical assumptions which underlie St. Paul’s quotations. The chosen people have from the beginning shown the same obstinate adherence to their own views and a power of resisting the Holy Ghost; and God has throughout punished them for their obstinacy by giving them over to spiritual blindness.
9. καὶ Δαβὶδ λέγει κ.τ.λ: quoted from the LXX of 68 . 23, 24 γενηθήτω ἡ τράπεζα αὐτῶν ἐνώπιον αὐτῶν εἰς παγίδα, καὶ εἰς ἀνταπόδοσιν καὶ σκάνδαλον· σκοτισθήτωσαν κ.τ.λ. (which is ascribed in the title to David) with reminiscences of 34:8 , and 27:4. The Psalmist is represented as declaring the Divine wrath against those who have made themselves enemies of the Divine will. Those who in his days were the enemies of the spiritual life of the people are represented in the Apostle’s days by the Jews who have shut their ears to the Gospel message.
ἡ τράπεζα αὐτῶν: ‘their feast.’ The image is that of men feasting in careless security, and overtaken by their enemies, owing to the very prosperity which ought to be their strength. So to the Jews that Law and those Scriptures wherein they trusted are to become the very cause of their fall and the snare or hunting-net in which they are caught.
σκάνδαλον: ‘that over which they fall,’ ‘a cause of their destruction.’
ἀνταπόδομα: 27:4 [4.]. ‘A requital,’ ‘recompense.’ The Jews are to be punished for their want of spiritual insight by being given over to blind trust in their own law; in fact being given up entirely to their own wishes.
10. σκοτισθήτωσαν κ.τ.λ. ‘May their eyes become blind, so that they have no insight, and their backs bent like men who are continually groping about in the dark!’ They are to be like those described by Plato as fast bound in the cave: even if they are brought to the light they will only be blinded by it, and will be unable to see. The judgement upon them is that they are to be ever bent down with the weight of the burden which they have wilfully taken on their backs.
It may be worth noticing that Lipsius, who does not elsewhere accept the theory of interpolations in the text, suggests that vv. 9, 10 are a gloss added by some reader in the margin after the fall of Jerusalem (cf. Holsten, Z. f. w. T. 1872, p. 455; Michelsen, Th. T. 1887, p. 163; Protestanten-bibel, 1872, p. 589; E. T. ii. 154). It is suggested that διαπαντὸς is inconsistent with ver. 11 ff. But it has not been noticed that in ver. 11 we have a change of metaphor, ἔπταισαν, which would be singularly out of place if it came immediately after ver. 8. As it is, this word is suggested and accounted for by the metaphors employed in the quotation introduced in ver. 9 If we omit vv. 9, 10 we must also omit ver. 11. There is throughout the whole Epistle a continuous succession of thought running from verse to verse which makes any theory of interpolation impossible. (See Introduction, § 9.)
The Doctrine of the Remnant
The idea of the ‘Remnant’ is one of the most typical and significant in the prophetic portions of the O. T. We meet it first apparently in the prophetic narrative which forms the basis of the account of Elijah in the book of Kings, the passage which St. Paul is quoting. Here a new idea is introduced into Israel’s history, and it is introduced in one of the most solemn and impressive narratives of that history. The Prophet is taken into the desert to commune with God; he is taken to Sinai, the mountain of God, which played such a large part in the traditions of His people, and he receives the Divine message in that form which has ever marked off this as unique amongst theophanies, the ‘still small voice,’ contrasted with the thunder, and the storm, and the earthquake. And the idea that was thus introduced marks a stage in the religious history of the world, for it was the first revelation of the idea of personal as opposed to national consecration. Up to that time it was the nation as a whole that was bound to God, the nation as a whole for which sacrifices were offered, the nation as a whole for which kings had fought and judges legislated. But the nation as a whole had deserted Jehovah, and the Prophet records that it is the loyalty of the individual Israelites who had remained true to Him that must henceforth be reckoned. The nation will be chastised, but the remnant shall be saved.
The idea is a new one, but it is one which we find continuously from this time onwards; spiritualized with the more spiritual ideas of the later prophets. We find it in Amos (9:8-10), in Micah (2:12, 5:3, in Zephaniah (3:12, 13), in Jeremiah (23:3), in Ezekiel (14:14-20, 22), but most pointedly and markedly in Isaiah. The two great and prominent ideas of Isaiah’s prophecy are typified in the names given to his two sons,—the reality of the Divine vengeance (Maher-shalal-hash-baz) and the salvation of the Remnant (Shear-Jashub) and, through the Holy and Righteous Remnant, of the theocratic nation itself (7:3; 8:2, 18; 9:12; 10:21, 24); and both these ideas are prominent in the narrative of the call (6:9-13) ‘Hear ye indeed, but understand not, and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes … Then said I, Lord, how long? And He answered, Until cities be waste without inhabitant and homes without men, and the land become utterly waste.’ But this is only one side. There is a true stock left. ‘Like the terebinth and the oak, whose stock remains when they are cut down and sends forth new saplings, so the holy seed remains as a living stock and a new and better Israel shall spring from the ruin of the ancient state’ (Robertson Smith, Prophets of Israel, p. 234). This doctrine of a Remnant implied that it was the individual who was true to his God, and not the nation, that was the object of the Divine solicitude; that it was in this small body of individuals that the true life of the chosen nation dwelt, and that from them would spring that internal reformation, which, coming as the result of the Divine chastisement, would produce a whole people, pure and undefiled, to be offered to God (Isaiah 65:8, Isaiah 65:9).
The idea appealed with great force to the early Christians. It appealed to St. Stephen, in whose speech one of the main currents of thought seems to be the marvellous analogy which runs through all the history of Israel. The mass of the people has ever been unfaithful; it is the individual or the small body that has remained true to God in all the changes of Israel’s history, and these the people have always persecuted as they crucified the Messiah. And so St. Paul, musing over the sad problem of Israel’s unbelief, finds its explanation and justification in this consistent trait of the nation’s history. As in Elijah’s time, as in Isaiah’s time, so now the mass of the people have rejected the Divine call; but there always has been and still is the true Remnant, the Remnant whom God has selected, who have preserved the true life and ideal of the people and thus contain the elements of new and prolonged life.
And this doctrine of the ‘Remnant’ is as true to human nature as it is to Israel’s history. No church or nation is saved en masse, it is those members of it who are righteous. It is not the mass of the nation or church that has done its work, but the select few who have preserved the consciousness of its high calling. It is by the selection of individuals, even in the nation that has been chosen, that God has worked equally in religion and in all the different lines along which the path of human development has progressed.
[On the Remnant see especially Jowett, Contrasts of Prophecy, in Romans ii. p. 290; and Robertson Smith, The Prophets of Israel, pp. 106, 209, 234, 258. The references are collected in Oehler, Theologie des alten Testaments, p. 809.]
THE REJECTION OF ISRAEL NOT FINAL
11:11-24. The Rejection of Israel is not complete, nor will it be final. Its result has been the extension of the Church to the Gentiles. The salvation of these will stir the Jews to jealousy; they will return to the Kingdom, and this will mean the final consummation (vv. 10-15).
Of all this the guarantee is the holiness of the stock from which Israel comes. God has grafted you Gentiles into that stock against the natural order; far more easily can He restore them to a position which by nature and descent is theirs (vv. 16-24).
11The Rejection of Israel then is only partial. Yet still there is the great mass of the nation on whom God’s judgement has come: what of these? Is there no further hope for them? Is this stumbling of theirs such as will lead to a final and complete fall? By no means. It is only temporary, a working out of the Divine purpose. This purpose is partly fulfilled. It has resulted in the extension of the Messianic salvation to the Gentiles. It is partly in the future; that the inclusion of these in the Kingdom may rouse the Jews to emulation and bring them back to the place which should be theirs and from which so far they have been excluded. 12And consider what this means. Even the transgression of Israel has brought to the world a great wealth of spiritual blessings; their repulse has enriched the nations, how much greater then will be the result when the chosen people with their numbers completed have accepted the Messiah? 13In these speculations about my countrymen, I am not disregarding my proper mission to you Gentiles. It is with you in my mind that I am speaking. I will put it more strongly. I do all I can to glorify my ministry as Apostle to the Gentiles, 14and this in hopes that I may succeed in bringing salvation to some at any rate of my countrymen by thus moving them to emulation. 15And my reason for this is what I have implied just above, that by the return of the Jews the whole world will receive what it longs for. The rejection of them has been the means of reconciling the world to God by the preaching to the Gentiles; their reception into the Kingdom, the gathering together of the elect from the four winds of heaven, will inaugurate the final consummation, the resurrection of the dead, and the eternal life that follows.
16But what ground is there for thus believing in the return of the chosen people to the Kingdom? It is the holiness of the race. When you take from the kneading trough a piece of dough and offer it to the Lord as a heave-offering, do you not consecrate the whole mass? Do not the branches of a tree receive life and nourishment from the roots? So it is with Israel. Their forefathers the Patriarchs have been consecrated to the Lord, and in them the whole race; from that stock they obtain their spiritual life, a life which must be holy as its source is holy. 17For the Church of God is like a ‘green olive tree, fair with goodly fruit,’ as the Prophet Jeremiah described it. Its roots are the Patriarchs; its branches the people of the Lord. Some of these branches have been broken off; Israelites who by birth and descent were members of the Church. Into their place you Gentiles, by a process quite strange and unnatural, have been grafted, shoots from a wild olive, into a cultivated stock. Equally with the old branches which still remain on the tree you share in the rich sap which flows from its root. 18Do not for this reason think that you may insolently boast of the position of superiority which you occupy. If you are inclined to do so, remember that you have done nothing, that all the spiritual privileges that you possess simply belong to the stock on which you by no merit of your own have been grafted. 19But perhaps you say: ‘That I am the favoured one is shown by this that others were cut off that I might be grafted in.’ 20I grant what you say; but consider the reason. It was owing to their want of faith that they were broken off: you on the other hand owe your firm position to your faith, not to any natural superiority. 21It is an incentive therefore not to pride, as you seem to think, but to fear. For if God did not spare the holders of the birthright, no grafted branches but the natural growth of the tree, He certainly will be no more ready to spare you, who have no such privileges to plead. 22Learn the Divine goodness, but learn and understand the Divine severity as well. Those who have fallen have experienced the severity, you the goodness; a goodness which will be continued if you cease to be self-confident and simply trust: otherwise you too may be cut off as they were. 23Nor again is the rejection of the Jews irrevocable. They can be grafted again into the stock on which they grew, if only they will give up their unbelief. For they are in God’s hands; and God’s power is not limited. He is able to restore them to the position from which they have fallen. 24 For consider. You are the slip cut from the olive that grew wild, and yet, by a process which you must admit to be entirely unnatural, you were grafted into the cultivated stock. If God could do this, much more can He graft the natural branches of the cultivated olive on to their own stock from which they were cut. You Gentiles have no grounds for boasting, nor have the Jews for despair. Your position is less secure than was theirs, and if they only trust in God, their salvation will be easier than was yours.
11. St. Paul has modified the question of ver. 1 so far: the rejection of Israel is only partial. But yet it is true that the rest, that is the majority, of the nation are spiritually blind. They have stumbled and sinned. Does this imply their final exclusion from the Messianic salvation? St. Paul shows that it is not so. It is only temporary and it has a Divine purpose.
λέγω οὖν. A new stage in the argument. ‘I ask then as to this majority whose state the prophets have thus described.’ The question arises immediately out of the preceding verses, but is a stage in the argument running through the whole chapter, and raised by the discussion of Israel’s guilt in 9:30-10:21.
μὴ ἔπταισαν, ἵνα πέσωσι; ‘have they (i.e. those who have been hardened, ver. 8) stumbled so as to fall?’ Numquid sic offenderunt, ut caderent? Is their failure of such a character that they will be finally lost, and cut off from the Messianic salvation? ἵνα expresses the contemplated result. The metaphor in ἔπταισαν (which is often used elsewhere in a moral sense, Deuteronomy 7:25; Jam 2:10; Jam 3:2; 2 Peter 1:10) seems to be suggested by σκάδαλον of ver. 9. The meaning of the passage is given by the contrast between πταίειν and πεσεῖν; a man who stumbles may recover himself, or he may fall completely. Hence πέσωσιν is here used of a complete and irrevocable fall. Cf. Isaiah 24:20 κατίσχυσε γὰρ ἐπʼ αὐτῆς ἡ ἀνομία, καὶ πεσεῖται καὶ οὐ μὴ δύνηται ἀναστῆναι: Ps. Sol. 3:13 ἔπεσεν ὅτι πονηρὸν τὸ πτῶμα αὐτοῦ, καὶ οὐκ ἀναστήσεται: Hebrews 4:11. It is no argument against this that the same word is used in vv. 22, 23 of a fall which is not irrevocable: the ethical meaning must be in each case determined by the context, and here the contrast with ἔπταισαν suggests a fall that is irrevocable.
There is a good deal of controversy among grammarians as to the admission of a laxer use of ἴνα, a controversy which has a tendency to divide scholars by nations; the German grammarians with Winer at their head (§ liii. 10. 6, p. 573 E. T.) maintain that it always preserves, even in N. T. Greek, its classical meaning of purpose; on the other hand, English commentators such as Lightfoot (on Galatians 5:17), Ellicott (on 1 Thessalonians 5:4), and Evans (on 1 Corinthians 7:29) admit the laxer use. Evans says ‘that ἴνα, like our “that,” has three uses: (1) final (in order that he may go), (2) definitive (I advise that he go), (3) subjectively ecbatit (have they stumbled that they should fall)’; and it is quite clear that it is only by reading into passages a great deal which is not expressed that commentators can make ἵνα in all cases mean ‘in order that.’ In 1 Thessalonians 5:4 ὑμεῖς δέ, ἀδελφοί, οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐν σκότει, ἵνα ἡ ἡμέρα ὑμᾶς ὡς κλέπτης καταλάβῃ where Winer states that there is ‘a Divine purpose of God,’ this is not expressed either in the words or the context. In 1 Corinthians 7:29 ὀ καιρὸς συνεσταλμένος ἐστί, τὸ λοιπὸν ἴνα καὶ οἱ ἔχοντες γυναῖκας ὡς μὴ ἔχοντες ὧσι, ‘is it probable that a state of sitting loose to worldly interests should be described as the aim or purpose of God in curtailing the season of the great tribulation?’ (Evans.) Yet Winer asserts that the words ἵνα καὶ οἱ ἔχοντες κ.τ.λ. express the (Divine) purpose for which ὁ καιρὸς συνεσταλμένος ἐστί. So again in the present passage it is only a confusion of ideas that can see any purpose. If St. Paul had used a passive verb such as ἐπωρώθησαν then we might translate, ‘have they been hardened in order that they may fall?’ and there would be no objection in logic or grammar, but as St. Paul has written ἔπταισαν, if there is a purpose in the passage it ascribes stumbling as a deliberate act undertaken with the purpose of falling. We cannot here any more than elsewhere read in a Divine purpose where it is neither implied nor expressed, merely for the sake of defending an arbitrary grammatical rule.
μὴ γέοιτο. St. Paul indignantly denies that the final fall of Israel was the contemplated result of their transgression. The result of it has already been the calling of the Gentiles, and the final purpose is the restoration of the Jews also.
τῷ αὐτῶν παραπτώματι: ‘by their false step,’ continuing the metaphor of ἔπταισαν.
ἡ σωτηρία τοῖς ἔθνεσιν. St. Paul is here stating an historical fact. His own preaching to the Gentiles had been caused definitely by the rejection of his message on the part of the Jews. Acts 13:45-48; cf. 8:4; 11:19; 28:28.
εἰς τὸ παραζηλῶσαι αὐτούς: ‘to provoke them (the Jews) to jealousy.’ This idea had already been suggested (10:19) by the quotation from Deuteronomy Ἐγὼ παραζηλώσω ὑμᾶς ἐπʼ οὐκ ἔθνει.
St. Paul in these two statements sketches the lines on which the Divine action is explained and justified. God’s purpose has been to use the disobedience of the Jews in order to promote the calling of the Gentiles, and He will eventually arouse the Jews to give up their unbelief by emulation of the Gentiles. Εἶτα κατασκευάζει, ὄτι τὸ πταῖσμα αὐτῶν διπλῆν οἰκονομίαν ἐργάζεται· τά τε γὰρ ἔθνη ἀντεισάγει καὶ αὐτοὺς δὲ παρακνίζον καὶ ἐπθίζον ἐριστρέφει, μὴ φέροντας τὴν τοσαύτην τῶν ἐθνῶν τιμήν. Euthym.-Zig.
12. St. Paul strengthens his statement by an argument drawn from the spiritual character of the Jewish people. If an event which has been so disastrous to the nation has had such a beneficial result, how much more beneficial will be the result of the entrance of the full complement of the nation into the Messianic kingdom?
πλοῦτος κόσμου: the enriching of the world by the throwing open to it of the kingdom of the Messiah: cf. 10:12 ὁ γὰρ αὐτὸς Κύριος πάντων, πλουτῶν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἐπικαλουμένους αὐτόν.
τὸ ἤττημα αὐτῶν: ‘their defeat.’ From one point of view the unbelief of the Jews was a transgression (παράπτωμα), from another it was a defeat, for they were repulsed from the Messianic kingdom, since they had failed to obtain what they sought.
ἤττημα occurs only twice elsewhere: in Isaiah 31:8 οἱ δὲ νεανίσκοι ἔσονται εἰς ἥττημα, πέτρᾳ γὰρ περιληφθήσονται ὡς χάρακι καὶ ἡττηθήσονται: and in 1 Corinthians 6:7 ἤδη μὲν οὖν ὅλως ἤττημα ὑμῖν ἐστιν, ὅτι κρίματα ἔχετε μεθʼ ἑαυτῶν. The correct interpretation of the word as derived from the verb would be a ‘defeat,’ and this is clearly the meaning in Isaiah. It can equally well apply in 1 Cor., whether it be translated a ‘defeat’ in that it lowers the Church in the opinion of the world, or a ‘moral defeat,’ hence a ‘defect,’ The same meaning suits this passage. The majority of commentators however translate it here ‘diminution’ (see especially Gif. Sp. Comm. pp. 194, 203), in order to make the antithesis to πλήρωμα exact. But as Field points out (Otium Norv. iii. 97) there is no reason why the sentence should not be rhetorically faulty, and it is not much improved by giving ἤττημα the meaning of ‘impoverishment’ as opposed to ‘replenishment.’
τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῶν: ‘their complement,’ ‘their full and completed number.’ See on 11:25.
The exact meaning of πλήρωμα has still to be ascertained. 1. There is a long and elaborate note on the word in Lft. Col. p. 323 ff. He starts with asserting that ‘substantives in -μα formed from the perfect passive, appear always to have a passive sense. They may denote an abstract notion or a concrete thing; they may signify the action itself regarded as complete, or the product of the action: but in any case they give the result of the agency involved in the corresponding verb.’ He then takes the verb πληροῦν and shows that it has two senses, (i) ‘to fill,’ (ii) ‘to fulfil’ or ‘complete’; and deriving the fundamental meaning of the word πλήρωμα from the latter usage makes it mean in the N. T. always ‘that which is completed.’ 2. A somewhat different view of the termination -μα is given by the late T. S. Evans in a note on 1 Corinthians 5:6 in the Sp. Comm. (part of which is quoted above on Romans 4:2.) This would favour the active sense id quod implet or adimplet, which appears to be the proper sense of the English word ‘complement’ (see the Philological Society’s Eng. Dict. s. v.). Perhaps the term ‘concrete’ would most adequately express the normal meaning of the termination.
13, 14. These two verses present a good deal of difficulty, of rather a subtle kind.
1. What is the place occupied by the words ὑμῖν δὲ λέγω κ.τ.λ. in the argument? (i) Some (Hort, WH. Lips.) place here the beginning of a new paragraph, so Dr. Hort writes: ‘after a passage on the rejection of unbelieving Israel, and on God`s ultimate purpose involved in it, St. Paul turns swiftly round.’ But an examination of the context will show that there is really no break in the ideas. The thought raised by the question in ver. 11 runs through the whole paragraph to ver. 24, in fact really to ver. 32, and the reference to the Gentiles in ver. 17 ff. is clearly incidental. Again ver. 15 returns directly to ver. 12, repeating the same idea, but in a way to justify also ver. 13. (ii) These verses in their appeal to the Gentiles are therefore incidental, almost parenthetic, and are introduced to show that this argument has an application to Gentiles as well as Jews.
2. But what is the meaning of μὲν οὖν (that this is the correct reading see below)? It is usual to take οὖν in its ordinary sense of therefore, and then to explain μέν by supposing an anacoluthon. or by finding the contrast in some words that follow. So Gif. ‘St. Paul, with his usual delicate courtesy and perfect mastery of Greek, implies that this is but one part (μέν) of his ministry, chosen as he was to bear Christ’s name “before Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.” Winer and others find the antithesis in εἴ πως παραζηλώσω. But against these views may be urged two reasons, (i) the meaning of μὲν οὖν. The usage at any rate in the N. T. is clearly laid down by Evans on 1 Corinthians 6:3 (Speaker’s Comm. p. 285), ‘the οὖν may signify then or therefore only when the μέν falls back upon the preceding word, because it is expectant of a coming δέ or ἀτάρ, ’ otherwise, as is pointed out, the μέν must coalesce with the οὖν, and the idea is either ‘corrective and substitutive of a new thought, or confirmative of what has been stated and addititious.’ Now if there is this second use of μὲν οὖν possible, unless the δέ is clearly expressed the mind naturally would suggest it, especially in St. Paul’s writings where μὲν οὖν is generally so used: and as a matter of fact no instance is quoted in the N. T. where οὖν in μὲν οὖν has its natural force in a case where it is not followed by δέ (Hebrews 9:1 quoted by Winer does not apply, see Westcott ad loc.). But (ii) further οὖν is not the particle required here. What St. Paul requires is not an apology for referring to the Gentiles, but an apology to the Gentiles for devoting so much attention to the Jews.
If these two points are admitted the argument becomes much clearer. St. Paul remembers that the majority of his readers are Gentiles; he has come to a point where what he has to say touches them nearly; he therefore shows parenthetically how his love for his countrymen, and his zeal in carrying out his mission to the Gentiles, combine towards producing the same end. ‘Do not think that what I am saying has nothing to do with you Gentiles. It makes me even more zealous in my work for you. That ministry of mine to the Gentiles I do honour to and exalt, seeking in this way if perchance I may be able to move my countrymen to jealousy.’ Then in ver. 15 he shows how this again reacts upon the general scheme of his ministry. ‘And this I do, because their return to the Church will bring on that final consummation for which we all look forward.’
13. ὑμῖν δὲ λέγω κ.τ.λ. The δέ expresses a slight contrast in thought, and the ὑμῖν is emphatic: ‘But it is to you Gentiles I am speaking. Nay more, so far as I am an Apostle of Gentiles, I glorify my ministry: if thus by any means,’ &c.
ἐθνῶν ἀπόστολος: comp. Acts 22:21; Galatians 2:7, Galatians 2:9; 1 Timothy 2:7.
τὴν διακονίαν μου δοξάζω. He may glorify his ministry, either (i) by his words and speech; if he teaches everywhere the duty of preaching to the Gentiles he exalts that ministry: or (ii), perhaps better, by doing all in his power to make it successful: comp. 1 Corinthians 12:26 εἴτε δοξάζεται μέλος.
This verse and the references to the Gentiles that follow seem to show conclusively that St. Paul expected the majority of his readers to be Gentiles. Comp. Hort, Rom. and Eph. p. 22 ‘Though the Greek is ambiguous the context appears to me decisive for taking ὑμῖν as the Church itself, and not as a part of it. In all the long previous discussion bearing on the Jews, occupying nearly two and a half chapters, the Jews are invariably spoken of in the third person. In the half chapter that follows the Gentiles are constantly spoken of in the second person. Exposition has here passed into exhortation and warning, and the warning is exclusively addressed to Gentiles: to Christians who had once been Jews not a word is addressed.’
The variations in reading in the particles which occur in this verse suggest that considerable difficulties were felt in its interpretation. For ὑμῖν δέ א A B P minusc. pauc., Syrr. Boh. Arm., Theodrt. cod. Jo.-Damasc.; we find in C ὑμῖν οὖν; while the TR with D E F G L &c. Orig.-lat. Chrys. &c. has ὑμῖν γάρ. Again μὲν οὖν is read by א A B C P, Boh., Cyr.-Al. Jo.-Damasc.; μέν only by TR with L &c., Orig.-lat. Chrys. &c. (so Meyer); while the Western group D E F G and some minuscules omit both.
It may be noticed in the Epp. of St. Paul that wherever μὲν οὖν or μενοῦν γε occur there is considerable variation in the reading.
Romans 9:20: μενοῦνγε א A K L P &c., Syrr. Boh.; μὲν οἶν B; omit altogether D F G
10:18 μενοῦνγε om. F G d, Orig.-lat.
1 Corinthians 6:4: μὲν οὖν most authorities; F G γοῦν.
6:7: μὲν οὖν A B C &c.; μέν א D Boh.
Php 3:8: μὲν οὖν B D E F G K L &c.; μενοῦνγε א A P Boh.
The Western MSS. as a rule avoid the expression, while B is consistent in preferring it.
14. εἴ πως παραζηλώσω. εἴ πως is used here interrogatively with the aorist subjunctive (cp. Php 3:10, Php 3:11). The grammarians explain the expression by saying that we are to understand with it σκοπῶν. εἶ πως occurs Acts 27:12 with the optative, Romans 1:10 with the future.
15. The two previous verses have been to a certain extent parenthetical; in this verse the Apostle continues the argument of ver. 12, repeating in a stronger form what he has there said, but in such a way as to explain the statement made in vv. 13, 14, that by thus caring for his fellow-countrymen he is fulfilling his mission to the Gentile world. The casting away of the Jews has meant the reconciliation of the world to Christ. Henceforth there is no more a great wall of partition separating God’s people from the rest of the world. This is the first step in the founding of the Messianic kingdom; but when all the people of Israel shall have come in there will be the final consummation of all things, and this means the realization of the hope which the reconciliation of the world has made possible.ἀποβολή: the rejection of the Jews for their faithlessness. The meaning of the word is defined by the contrasted πρόσληψις.
καταλλαγὴ κόσμου: cf. vv. 10, 11. The reconciliation was the immediate result of St. Paul’s ministry, which he describes elsewhere (2 Corinthians 5:18, 2 Corinthians 5:19) as a ministry of reconciliation; its final result, the hope to which it looks forward, is salvation (καταλλαγέντες σωθησόμεθα): the realization of this hope is what every Gentile must long for, and therefore whatever will lead to its fulfilment must be part of St. Paul’s ministry.
πρόσληψις: the reception of the Jews into the kingdom of the Messiah. The noun is not used elsewhere in the N. T., but the meaning is shown by the parallel use of the verb (cf. 14:3; 15:7).
ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρῶν. The meaning of this phrase must be determined by that of καταλλαγὴ κόσμου. The argument demands something much stronger than that, which may be a climax to the section. It may either be (1) used in a figurative sense, cf. Ezekiel 37:3 ff.; Luke 15:24, Luke 15:32 ὁ ἀδελφός σου οὗτος νεκρὸς ἦν, καὶ ἔζησε· καὶ ἀπολωλώς, καὶ εὑρέθη. In this sense it would mean the universal diffusion of the Gospel message and a great awakening of spiritual life as the result of it. Or (2), it may mean the ‘general Resurrection’ as a sign of the inauguration of the Messianic Kingdom. In this sense it would make a suitable antithesis to καταλλαγή. The reconciliation of the heathen and their reception into the Church on earth was the first step in a process which led ultimately to their σωτηρία. It gave them grounds for hoping for that which they should enjoy in the final consummation. And this consummation would come when the kingdom was completed. In all contemporary Jewish literature the Resurrection (whether partial or general) is a sign of the inauguration of the new era. Schürer, Geschichte, &c. ii. p. 460; Jubilees xxiii. 29 ‘And at that time the Lord will heal his servants, and they will arise and will see great peace and will cast out their enemies; and the just shall see it and be thankful and rejoice in joy to all eternity.’ Enoch Lev_1 (p. 139 ed. Charles) ‘And in those days will the earth also give back those who are treasured up within it, and Sheôl also will give back that which it has received, and hell will give back that which it owes. And he will choose the righteous and holy from among them: for the day of their redemption has drawn nigh.’ As in the latter part of this chapter St. Paul seems to be largely influenced by the language and forms of the current eschatology, it is very probable that the second interpretation is the more correct; cf. Origen viii. 9, p. 257 Tunc enim erit assumtio Israel, quando iam et mortui vitam recipient et mundus ex corruptibili incorruptibilis fiet, et mortales immortalitate donabuntur; and see below ver. 26.
16. St. Paul gives in this verse the grounds of his confidence in the future of Israel. This is based upon the holiness of the Patriarchs from whom they are descended and the consecration to God which has been the result of this holiness. His argument is expressed in two different metaphors, both of which however have the same purpose.
ἀπαρχὴ … φύραμα. The metaphor in the first part of the verse is taken from Numbers 15:19, Numbers 15:20 ‘It shall be, that when ye eat of the bread of the land, ye shall offer up an heave offering unto the Lord. Of the first of your dough (ἀπαρχὴν φυράματος LXX) ye shall offer up a cake for an heave offering: as ye do the heave offering of the threshing floor, so shall ye heave it.’ By the offering of the first-fruits, the whole mass was considered to be consecrated; and so the holiness of the Patriarchs consecrated the whole people from whom they came. That the meaning of the ἀπαρχή is the Patriarchs (and not Christ or the select remnant) is shown by the parallelism with the second half of the verse, and by the explanation of St. Paul’s argument given in ver. 28 ἀγαπητοὶ διὰ τοὺς πατέρας.
ἁγία: ‘consecrated to God as the holy nation’ in the technical sense of ἃγιος, cf. 1:7.
ῥίζα … κλάδοι. The same idea expressed under a different image. Israel the Divine nation is looked upon as a tree; its roots are the Patriarchs; individual Israelites are the branches. As then the Patriarchs are holy, so are the Israelites who belong to the stock of the tree, and are nourished by the sap which flows up to them from those roots.
17-24. The metaphor used in the second part of ver. 16 suggests an image which the Apostle developes somewhat elaborately. The image of an olive tree to describe Israel is taken from the Prophets; Jeremiah 11:16 ‘The Lord called thy name, A green olive tree, fair with goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult He hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken’; Hosea 14:6 ‘His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.’ Similar is the image of the vine in Isaiah 5:7; Psalm 80:8; and (of the Christian Church) in John 15:1ff.
The main points in this simile are the following:—
The olive = the Church of God, looked at as one continuous body; the Christian Church being the inheritor of the privileges of the Jewish Church.
The root or stock (ῥίζα) = that stock from which Jews and Christians both alike receive their nourishment and strength, viz. the Patriarchs, for whose faith originally Israel was chosen (cf. vv. 28,29).
The branches (οἱ κλάδοι) are the individual members of the Church who derive their nourishment and virtue from the stock or body to which they belong. These are of two kinds:
The original branches; these represent the Jews. Some have been cut off from their want of faith, and no longer derive any nourishment from the stock.
The branches of the wild olive which have been grafted in. These are the Gentile Christians, who, by being so grafted in, have come to partake of the richness and virtue of the olive stem.
From this simile St. Paul draws two lessons. (1) The first is to a certain extent incidental. It is a warning to the heathen against undue exaltation and arrogance. By an entirely unnatural process they have been grafted into the tree. Any virtue that they may have comes by no merit of their own, but by the virtue of the stock to which they belong; and moreover at any moment they may be cut off. It will be a less violent process to cut off branches not in any way belonging to the tree, than it was to cut off the original branches. But (2)—and this is the more important result to be gained from the simile, as it is summed up in ver. 24—if God has had the power against all nature to graft in branches from a wild olive and enable them to bear fruit, how much more easily will He be able to restore to their original place the branches which have been cut off.
St. Paul thus deduces from his simile consolation for Israel, but incidentally also a warning to the Gentile members of the Church— a warning made necessary by the great importance ascribed to them in ver. 11f. Israel had been rejected for their sake.
17. τινές: a meiosis. Cf. 3:3 τί γὰρ εἰ ἠπίστησάν τινες; Τινὲς δὲ εἶπε, παραμυθούμενος αὐτούς, ὡς πολλάκις εἰρήκαμεν, ἐπεὶ πολλῷ πλείους οἱ ἀπιστήσαντες. Euthym.-Zig.
ἐξεκλάσθησαν. The same simile is used, with a different application, Enoch xxvi. 1 καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ἐφώδευσα εἰς τὸ μέσον τῆς γῆς, καὶ ἴδον τόπον ηὐλογημένον, ἐν ᾧ δένδρα ἕχοντα παραφυάδας μενούσας καὶ βλαστούσας τοῦ δένδρου ἐκκοπέντος.
ἀγριέλαιος: ‘the wild olive.’ The olive, like the apple and most other fruit trees, requires to have a graft from a cultivated tree, otherwise the fruit of the seedling or sucker will be small and valueless. The ungrafted tree is the natural or wild olive. It is often confused with the oleaster (Eleagnus angustifolius), but quite incorrectly, this being a plant of a different natural order, which however like the olive yields oil, although of an inferior character. See Tristram,Natural Hist. of the Bible, pp. 371-377.
ἐνεκεντρίσθης ἐν αὐτοῖς: ‘wert grafted in amongst the branches of the cultivated olive.’ St. Paul is here describing a wholly unnatural process. Grafts must necessarily be of branches from a cultivated olive inserted into a wild stock, the reverse process being one which would be valueless and is never performed. But the whole strength of St. Paul’s argument depends upon the process being an unnatural one (cf. ver. 24 καὶ παρὰ φύσιν ἐνεκεντρίσθης); it is beside the point therefore to quote passages from classical writers, which, even if they seem to support St. Paul’s language, describe a process which can never be actually used. They could only show the ignorance of others, they would not justify him. Cf. Origen viii. 10, p. 265 Sed ne hoc quidem lateat nos in hoc loco, quod non eo ordine Apostolus olivae et oleastri similitudinem posuit, quo apud agricolas habetur. Illi enim magis olivam oleastro inserere, et non olivae oleastrum solent: Paulus vero Apostolica auctoritate ordine commutato res magis causis, quam causas rebus aptavit.
συγκοινωνός: 1 Corinthians 9:23; Php 1:7; and cf. Ephesians 3:6 εἶναι τὰ ἔθνη συγκληρονόμα καὶ σύσσωμα καὶ συμμέτοχα τῆς ἐπαγγελίας ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου.
τῆς ῥίζης τῆς πιότητος τῆς ἐλαίας: comp. Judges 1:9:9 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ἡ ἐλαία, Μὴ ἀπολείψασα τὴν πιότητά μου … πορεύσομαι; Test. XII. Pat. Levi, 8 ὁ πέμπτος κλάδον μοι ἐλαίας ἕδωκε πιότητος. The genitive τῆς πιότητος is taken by Weiss as a genitive of quality, as in the quotation above, and so the phrase comes to mean ‘the fat root of the olive.’ Lips. explains ‘the root from which the fatness of the olive springs.’
The genitive τῆς πιότητος seemed clumsy and unnatural to later revisers, and so was modified either by the insertion of καί after ῥίζης, as in אc A and later MSS. with Vulg. Syrr. Arm. Aeth., Orig.-lat. Chrys., or by the omission of τῆς ῥίζης in Western authorities D F G Iren.-lat.
18. μὴ κατακαυχῶ τῶν κλάδων. St. Paul seems to be thinking of Gentile Christians who despised the Jews, both such as had become believers and such as had not. The Church of Corinth could furnish many instances of new converts who were carried away by a feeling of excessive confidence, and who, partly on grounds of race, partly because they had understood or thought they had understood the Pauline teaching of ἐλευθερία, were full of contempt for the Jewish Christians and the Jewish race. Incidentally St. Paul takes the opportunity of rebuking such as them.
οὐ σὺ τὴν ῥίζαν κ.τ.λ. ‘All your spiritual strength comes from the stock on which you have been grafted.’ In the ordinary process it may be when a graft of the cultivated olive is set on a wild stock the goodness of the fruit comes from the graft, but in this case it is the reverse; any merit, any virtue, any hope of salvation that the Gentiles may have arises entirely from the fact that they are grafted on a stock whose roots are the Patriarchs and to which the Jews, by virtue of their birth, belong.
19. ἐρεῖς οὖν. The Gentile Christian justifies his feeling of confidence by reminding St. Paul that branches (κλάδοι, not οἱ κλάδοι) had been cut off to let him in: therefore, he might argue, I am of more value than they, and have grounds for my self-confidence and contempt.
20. καλῶς. St. Paul admits the statement, but suggests that the Gentile Christian should remember what were the conditions on which he was admitted. The Jews were cast off for want of faith, he was admitted for faith. There was no merit of his own, therefore he has no grounds for over-confidence: ‘Be not high-minded; rather fear, for if you trust in your merit instead of showing faith in Christ, you will suffer as the Jews did for their self-confidence and want of faith.’
21. εἰ γὰρ ὁ Θεὸς κ.τ.λ. This explains the reason which made it right that they should fear. ‘The Jews—the natural branches— disbelieved and were not spared; is it in any way likely that you, if you disbelieve, will be spared when they were not—you who have not any natural right or claim to the position you now occupy?’
οὐδέ σου φείσεται is the correct reading (with א A B C P min. pauc., Boh., Orig.-lat., &c.); either because the direct future seemed too strong or under the influence of the Latin (ne forte nec tibi parcat Vulg. and Iren.-lat.) μήπως οὐδέ σου was read by D F G L &c., Syrr. Chrys. &c., then φείσεται was changed into φείσηται (min. pauc. and Chrys.) for the sake of the grammar, and found its way into the TR.
22. The Apostle sums up this part of his argument by deducing from this instance the two sides of the Divine character. God is full of goodness (χρηστότης, cf. 2:4) and loving-kindness towards mankind, and that has been shown by His conduct towards those Gentiles who have been received into the Christian society. That goodness will always be shown towards them if they repose their confidence on it, and do not trust in their own merits or the privileged position they enjoy. On the other hand the treatment of the Jews shows the severity which also belongs to the character of God; a severity exercised against them just because they trusted in themselves. God can show the same severity against the Gentiles and cut them off as well as the Jew.
ἀποτομία and χρηστότης should be read in the second part of the verse, with א A B C Orig. Jo.-Damasc. against the accusative of the Western and Syrian text. D has a mixed reading, ἀποτομίαν and χρηστότης: the assimilation was easier in the first word than in the second. The Θεοῦ after χρηστότης is omitted by later MSS. with Clem.-Alex., Orig. from a desire for uniformity.
ἐὰν ἐπιμείνῃς. The condition of their enjoying this goodness is that they trust in it, and not in their position.
καὶ σύ: emphatic like the ἐγώ of ver. 19 ‘You too as well as the Jews.’
23. St. Paul now turns from the warning to the Gentile Christians, which was to a certain extent incidental, to the main subject of the paragraph, the possibility of the return of the Jews to the Divine Kingdom; their grafting into the Divine stock.
καὶ ἐκεῖνοι δέ: ‘yes, and they too.’
24. This verse sums up the main argument. If God is so powerful that by a purely unnatural process (παρὰ φύσιν) He can graft a branch of wild olive into a stock of the cultivated plant, so that it should receive nourishment from it; can He not equally well, nay far more easily, reingraft branches which have been cut off the cultivated olive into their own stock? The restoration of Israel is an easier process than the call of the Gentiles.
The Merits of the Fathers
In what sense does St. Paul say that Israelites are holy because the stock from which they come is holy (ver. 16), that they are ἀγαπητοὶ διὰ τοὺς πατέρας (ver. 28)? He might almost seem to be taking up himself the argument he has so often condemned, that the descent of the Jews from Abraham is sufficient ground for their salvation.
The greatness of the Patriarchs had become one of the commonplaces of Jewish Theology. For them the world was created (Apoc. Baruch, xxi. 24). They had been surrounded by a halo of myth and romance in popular tradition and fancy (see the note on 4:3), and very early the idea seems to have prevailed that their virtues had a power for others as well as for themselves. Certainly Ezekiel in the interests of personal religion has to protest against some such view: ‘Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God’ (Ezekiel 14:14). We know how this had developed by the time of our Lord, and the cry had arisen: ‘We have Abraham for our father’ (see note on 2:3). At a later date the doctrine of the merits of the Fathers had been developed into a system. As Israel was an organic body, the several members of which were closely bound together, the superfluous merits of the one part might be transferred to another. Of Solomon before he sinned it was said that he earned all by his own merit, after he sinned by the merit of the Fathers (Kohel rabba 60c). A comment on the words of Song of Solomon 1:5 ‘I am black, but comely,’ closely resembles the dictum of St. Paul in ver. 18 ‘The congregation of Israel speaks: I am black through mine own works, but lovely through the works of my fathers’ (Shemoth rabba,c. 23). So again: ‘Israel lives and endures, because it supports itself on the fathers’ (ib. c. 44). A very close parallel to the metaphor of ver. 17 f. is given by Wajjikra rabba, c. 36 ‘As this vine supports itself on a trunk which is dry, while it is itself fresh and green, so Israel supports itself on the merit of the fathers, although they already sleep.’ So the merit of the fathers is a general possession of the whole people of Israel, and the protection of the whole people in the day of Redemption (Shemoth rabba, c. 44; Beresch rabba, c. 70). So Pesikta 153b ‘The Holy One spake to Israel: My sons, if ye will be justified by Me in the judgement, make mention to Me of the merits of your fathers, so shall ye be justified before Me in the judgement’ (see Weber, Altsyn. Theol. p. 280 f.).
Now, although St. Paul lays great stress on the merits of the Fathers, it becomes quite clear that he had no such idea as this in his mind; and it is convenient to put the developed Rabbinical idea side by side with his teaching in order to show at once the resemblance and the divergence of the two views. It is quite clear in the first place that the Jews will not be restored to the Kingdom on any ground but that of Faith; so ver. 23 ἐὰν μὴ ἐπιμείνωσι τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ. And in the second place St. Paul is dealing (as becomes quite clear below) not with the salvation of individuals, but with the restoration of the nation as a whole. The merits of the Fathers are not then looked upon as the cause of Israel’s salvation, but as a guarantee that Israel will attain that Faith which is a necessary condition of their being saved. It is a guarantee from either of two points of view. So far as our Faith is God’s gift, and so far as we can ascribe to Him feelings of preference or affection for one race as opposed to another (and we can do so just as much as Scripture does), it is evidence that Israel has those qualities which will attract to it the Divine Love. Those qualities of the founders of the race, those national qualities which Israel inherits, and which caused it to be selected as the Chosen People, these it still possesses. And on the other side so far as Faith comes by human effort or character, so far that Faith of Abraham, for which he was accounted righteous before God, is a guarantee that the same Faith can be developed in his descendants. After all it is because they are a religious race, clinging too blindly to their own views, that they are rejected, and not because they are irreligious. They have a zeal for God, if not according to knowledge. When the day comes that that zeal is enlisted in the cause of the Messiah, the world will be won for Christ; and that it will be so enlisted the sanctity and the deep religious instinct of the Jewish stock as exhibited by the Patriarchs is, if not certain proof, at any rate evidence which appeals with strong moral force.
MERCY TO ALL THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF GOD
11:25-36. All this is the unfolding of a mystery. The whole world, both Jew and Gentile, shall enter the Kingdom but a passing phase of disobedience has been allowed to the Jews now, as to the Gentiles in the past, that both alike, Jew as well as Gentile, may need and receive the Divine mercy (vv. 25-32). What a stupendous exhibition of the Divine mercy and wisdom (vv. 33-36)!
25But I must declare to you, my brethren, the purpose hitherto concealed, but now revealed in these dealings of God with His people. I must not leave you ignorant. I must guard you against self-conceit on this momentous subject. That hardening of heart which has come upon Israel is only partial and temporary. It is to last only until the full complement of the Gentiles has entered into Christ’s kingdom. 26When this has come about then the whole people of Israel shall be saved. So Isaiah (59:20) described the expected Redeemer as one who should come forth from the Holy city and should remove impieties from the descendants of Jacob, and purify Israel: 27 he would in fact fulfil God’s covenant with His people, and that would imply, as Isaiah elsewhere explains (27:9), a time when God would forgive Israel’s sins. This is our ground for believing that the Messiah who has come will bring salvation to Israel, and that He will do it by exercising the Divine prerogative of forgiveness; if Israel now needs forgiveness this only makes us more confident of the truth of the prophecy. 28 In the Divine plan, according to which the message of salvation has been preached, the Jews are treated as enemies of God, that room may be found for you Gentiles in the kingdom; but this does not alter the fact that by the Divine principle of selection, they are still the beloved of the Lord, chosen for the sake of their ancestors, the Patriarchs. 29 God has showered upon them His blessings and called them to His privileges, and He never revokes the choice He has made. 30 There is thus a parallelism between your case and theirs. You Gentiles were once disobedient to God. Now it has been Israel’s turn to be disobedient; and that disobedience has brought to you mercy. 31 In like manner their present disobedience will have this result: that they too will be recipients of the same mercy that you have received. 32 And the reason for the disobedience may be understood in both cases, if we look to the final purpose. God has, as it were, locked up all mankind, first Gentiles and then Jews, in the prison-house of unbelief, that He may be able at last to show His mercy on all alike.
33 When we contemplate a scheme like this spread out before us in vast panorama, how forcibly does it bring home to us the inexhaustible profundity of that Divine mind by which it was planned! The decisions which issue from that mind and the methods by which it works are alike inscrutable to man. 34 Into the secrets of the Almighty none can penetrate. No counsellor stands at His ear to whisper words of suggestion. 35 Nothing in Him is derived from without so as to be claimed back again by its owner. 36 He is the source of all things. Through Him all things flow. He is the final cause to which all things tend. Praised for ever be His name! Amen.
25-36. St. Paul’s argument is now drawing to a close. He has treated all the points that are necessary. He has proved that the rejection of Israel is not contrary to Divine justice or Divine promises. He has convicted Israel of its own responsibility. He has shown how historically the rejection of Israel had been the cause of preaching the Gospel to the heathen, and this has led to far-reaching speculation on the future of Israel and its ultimate restoration; a future which may be hoped for in view of the spiritual character of the Jewish race and the mercy and power of God. And now he seems to see all the mystery of the Divine purpose unfolded before him, and he breaks away from the restrained and formal method of argument he has hitherto imposed upon himself. Just as when treating of the Resurrection, his argument passes into revelation, ‘Behold, I tell you a mystery’ (1 Corinthians 15:51): so here he declares not merely as the result of his argument, but as an authoritative revelation, the mystery of the Divine purpose.
25. οὐ γὰρ θέλω ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν: cf. 1:13; 1 Corinthians 10:1; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13: a phrase used by St. Paul to emphasize something of especial importance which he wishes to bring home to his readers. It always has the impressive addition of ‘brethren.’ The γάρ connects the verse immediately with what precedes, but also with the general argument. St. Paul’s argument is like a ladder; each step follows from what precedes; but from time to time there are, as it were, resting-places which mark a definite point gained towards the end he has in view.
τὸ μυστήριον τοῦτο. On the meaning of ‘mystery’ in St. Paul see Lightfoot, Colossians, i. 26; Hatch, Ess. in Bibl. Gk. p. 57 ff. Just at the time when Christianity was spreading, the mysteries as professing to reveal something more than was generally known, especially about the future state, represented the most popular form of religion, and from them St. Paul borrows much of his phraseology. so in Colossians 1:28, 1 Corinthians 2:6 we have τέλειον, in Php 4:12 μεμύημαι, in Ephesians 1:13 σφραγίζεσθαι; so in Ign. Ephes. 12 Παύλου σύμμυσται. But whereas among the heathen μυστήριον was always used of a mystery concealed, with St. Paul it is a mystery revealed. It is his mission to make known the Word of God, the mystery which has been kept silent from eternal ages, but has now been revealed to mankind (1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 3:3, Ephesians 3:4; Romans 16:25). This mystery, which has been declared in Christianity, is the eternal purpose of God to redeem mankind in Christ, and all that is implied in that. Hence it is used of the Incarnation (1 Timothy 3:16), of the crucifixion of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:1,1 Corinthians 2:7), of the Divine purpose to sum up all things in Him (Ephesians 1:9), and especially of the inclusion of the Gentiles in the kingdom (Ephesians 3:3, Ephesians 3:4; Colossians 1:26, Colossians 1:27; Romans 16:25). Here it is used in a wide sense of the whole plan or scheme of redemption as revealed to St. Paul, by which Jews and Gentiles alike are to be included in the Divine Kingdom, and all things are working up, although in ways unseen and unknown, to that end.
ἵνα μὴ ἦτε παρʼ ἑαυτοῖς φρόνιμοι: ‘that you may not be wise in your own conceits,’ i. e. by imagining that it is in any way through your own merit that you have accepted what others have refused: it has been part of the eternal purpose of God.
ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ought probably to be read with A B, Jo.-Damasc. instead of παρʼ ἑαυτοῖς א C D L &c., Chrys. &c., as the latter would probably be introduced from 12:16. Both expressions occur in the LXX. Isaiah 5:21 οἱ συνετοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, Proverbs 3:7 μὴ ἴσθι φρόνιμος παρὰ σεαυτῷ.
πώρωσις κ.τ.λ.: ‘a hardening in part’ (cf. ἐκ μέρους 1 Corinthians 12:27). St. Paul asserts once more what he has constantly insisted on throughout this chapter, that this fall of the Jews is only partial (cf. vv. 5, 7, 17), but here he definitely adds a point to which he has been working up in the previous section, that it is only temporary and that the limitation in time is ‘until all nations of the earth come into the kingdom’; cf. Luke 21:24 ‘and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.’
τὸ πλήρωμα τῶν ἐθνῶν: the full completed number, the complement of the Gentiles, i. e. the Gentile world as a whole, just as in ver. 12 τὸ πλήρωμα is the Jewish nation as a whole.
There was a Jewish basis to these speculations on the completed number. Apoc. Baruch 23:4 quia quando peccavit Adam et decreta fuit mors contra eos qui gignerentur, tunc numerata est multitudo eorum qui gignerentur, et numero illi praeparatus est locus ubi habitarent viventes et ubi custodirentur mortui, nisi ergo compleatur numerus praedictus non vivet creatura … 4 (5) Ezra 2:40, Ezra 2:41 (where Jewish ideas underlie a Christian work) recipe, Sion, numerum tuum et conclude candidatos tuos, qui legem Domini compleverunt: filiorum tuorum, quos optabas, plenus est numerus: roga imperium Domini ut sanctificetur populus tuus qui vocatus est ab initio.
εἰσέλθῃ was used almost technically of entering into the Kingdom or the Divine glory or life (cf. Matthew 7:21; Matthew 18:8; Mark 9:43-47.), and so came to be used absolutely in the same sense (Matthew 7:13; Matthew 23:13; Luke 13:24).
26. καὶ οὕτω: ‘and so,’ i.e. by the whole Gentile world coming into the kingdom and thus rousing the Jews to jealousy, cf. ver. 11f. These words ought to form a new sentence and not be joined with the preceding, for the following reasons: (1) the reference of οὕτω is to the sentence ἄχρις οὗ κ.τ.λ. We must not therefore make οὕτω … σωθήσεται coordinate with πώρωσις … γέγονεν and subordinate to ὅτι, for if we did so οὕτω would be explained by the sentence with which it is coordinated, and this is clearly not St. Paul’s meaning. He does not mean that Israel will be saved because it is hardened. (2) The sentence, by being made independent, acquires much greater emphasis and force.
πᾶς Ἰσραήλ. In what sense are these words used? (1) The whole context shows clearly that it is the actual Israel of history that is referred to. This is quite clear from the contrast with τὸ πλήρωμα τῶν ἐθνῶν in ver. 25, the use of the term Israel in the same verse, and the drift of the argument in vv. 17-24. It cannot be interpreted either of the spiritual Israel, as by Calvin, or the remnant according to the election of grace, or such Jews as believe, or all who to the end of the world shall turn unto the Lord.
(2) πᾶς must be taken in the proper meaning of the word: ‘Israel as a whole, Israel as a nation,’ and not as necessarily including every individual Israelite. Cf. 1 Kings 12:1 καὶ εἶπε Σαμουὴλ πρὸς πάντα Ἰσραήλ: 2 Chronicles 12:1 ἐγκατελιπε τὰς ἐντολὰς Κυρίου καὶ πᾶς Ἰσραὴλ μετʼ αὐτοῦ: Daniel 9:11 καὶ πᾶς Ἰσραὴλ παρέβησαν τόν νουον σου καὶ ἐξέκλιναν τοῦ μὴ ἀκοῦσαι τῆς φωνῆς σου.
σωθήσεται: ‘shall attain the σωτηρία of the Messianic age by being received into the Christian Church’: the Jewish conception of the Messianic σωτηρία being fulfilled by the spiritual σωτηρία of Christianity. Cf. 10:13.
So the words of St. Paul mean simply this. The people of Israel as a nation, and no longer ἀπὸ μέρους, shall be united with the Christian Church. They do not mean that every Israelite shall finally be saved. Of final salvation St. Paul is not now thinking, nor of God’s dealings with individuals, nor does he ask about those who are already dead, or who will die before this salvation of Israel is attained. He is simply considering God’s dealings with the nation as a whole. As elsewhere throughout these chapters, St. Paul is dealing with peoples and classes of men. He looks forward in prophetic vision to a time when the whole earth, including the kingdoms of the Gentiles (τὸ πλήρωμα τῶν ἐθνῶν) and the people of Israel (πᾶς Ἰσραήλ), shall be united in the Church of God.
26, 27. καθὼς γέγραπται. The quotation is taken from the LXX of Isaiah 59:20, the concluding words being added from Isaiah 27:9. The quotation is free: the only important change, however, is the substitution of ἐκ Σιών for the ἕνεκεν Σιών of the LXX. The Hebrew reads ‘and a Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob.’ The variation apparently comes from Ps. 13:7, Psalm 52:7 (LXX) τίς δώσει ἐκ Σιὼν τὸ σωτήριον τοῦ Ἰσραήλ
God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,
Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counseller?
Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.