Romans 9:28
For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make on the earth.
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(28) For he will finish.—Literally, according to the correct reading, For a sentence, accomplishing and abridging it, will the Lord execute upon the earth; in other words, “A short and summary sentence will the Lord execute upon the earth.” The severity of the sentence is a proof that only a remnant can be saved from it. St. Paul follows the LXX., with but slight deviation. The sense of the Hebrew appears to be somewhat different:—“For though thy people. O Israel, were as the sand of the sea, but a remnant of them shall return: a destruction is decreed overflowing with righteousness—i.e., penal justice. For destruction by a sure decree will Jehovah of Hosts perform in the midst of all the earth.” (Cheyne.)

9:25-29 The rejecting of the Jews, and the taking in the Gentiles, were foretold in the Old Testament. It tends very much to the clearing of a truth, to observe how the Scripture is fulfilled in it. It is a wonder of Divine power and mercy that there are any saved: for even those left to be a seed, if God had dealt with them according to their sins, had perished with the rest. This great truth this Scripture teaches us. Even among the vast number of professing Christians it is to be feared that only a remnant will be saved.He will finish the work - This is taken from the Septuagint translation of Isaiah 10:23. The Hebrew is, "The Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land." Or, as it may be rendered, "Destruction is decreed which shall make justice overflow; yea, destruction is verily determined on; the Lord Yahweh will execute it in the midst of all the land." (Stuart.) The Septuagint and the apostle adhere to "the sense" of the passage, but do not follow the words. The phrase, "will finish the work," means "he will bring the thing to an end," or will accomplish it. It is an expression applicable to a firm purpose to accomplish an object. It refers here to his threat of cutting off the people; and means that he will fulfil it.

Cut it short - This word here means to "execute it speedily." The destruction shall not be delayed.

In righteousness - So as to manifest his own justice. The work, though apparently severe, yet shall be a just expression of God's abhorrence of the sins of the people.

Because a short work - The word here rendered "short" means properly that which is "determined on or decreed." This is the sense of the Hebrew; and the phrase here denotes "the purpose which was determined on" in relation to the Jews.

Upon the earth - Upon the land of Israel; see the notes at Matthew 5:4; Matthew 4:8. The design for which the apostle introduces this passage is to show that God of old destroyed many of the Jews for their sin; and that, therefore, the doctrine of the apostle was no new thing, that "the Jews" might be excluded from the special privileges of the children of God.

28. For he will finish the work, and cut—"is finishing the reckoning, and cutting it"

it short in righteousness; because a short work—"reckoning"

will the Lord make upon the earth—(Isa 10:22, 23), as in the Septuagint. The sense given to these words by the apostle may seem to differ from that intended by the prophet. But the sameness of sentiment in both places will at once appear, if we understand those words of the prophet, "the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness," to mean that while a remnant of Israel should be graciously spared to return from captivity, "the decreed consumption" of the impenitent majority should be "replete with righteousness," or illustriously display God's righteous vengeance against sin. The "short reckoning" seems to mean the speedy completing of His word, both in cutting off the one portion and saving the other.

This verse is also found in that forecited place, Isaiah 10:22,23. The apostle in this, and in the other citations, follows the Seventy, which was a received translation, and had been in request about three hundred years, though in this, and in other places, it is very different from the Hebrew text. That which God is said to finish, and cut short, is his work; the Greek is logov, which signifies his word, or the account, as some read it. This is brought in as a reason why a remnant only should be saved; because God would shorten the acconnt, or (as we read it) make a short work, in the Jewish World. He would bring a sudden destruction upon that people. Sennacherib and the Assyrians, or Titus Vespasian and the Romans, shall make a complete and speedy conquest of them; few of them shall remain, the greater part being involved, first in infidelity, then in destruction. The apostle makes those few to be a type of God’s elect among that people, that should be saved by faith in Jesus Christ. For he will finish the work,.... This passage has some difficulty in it: some, instead of "work", read "account", and suppose it is an allusion to the balancing of accounts, when the remainder is cut off, which commonly is but little; and so regards the small number of the Jews that shall be called and saved, as before: others read it "the word", and differently explain it; some understanding it of the incarnate Word, of his being emptied, and made of no reputation, of his being cut off in a very short time, a few years after he had entered upon his public ministry, and of the few persons converted under it; others of the law, of the cutting off, or abolishing the ceremonial law, perfecting or completing the moral law, and abbreviating it, or reducing it into a short compendium; others of the Gospel, bringing in and revealing a perfect righteousness, for the justification of sinners, which the law could not do; all foreign to the apostle's purpose. Those who think God's work, his strange work is meant, his work of punitive justice he will finish,

and cut it short in righteousness, because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth, when he cut off and destroyed the greater part of the people of the Jews, and saved a remnant, seem to come nearer the mind of the prophet and the apostle's design, in citing this passage. The words as in Isaiah, I would choose to render and explain thus; , "the absolute", or "precise degree", so Aben Ezra, interprets it, , "that which is decreed by God", the decree concerning the salvation of the remnant, , "he", i.e. God "shall cause to overflow in righteousness", Isaiah 10:22, as an overflowing river; that is, he shall abundantly execute it, he shall completely fulfil it, to finish and cut it short in the most righteous manner, consistent with all his divine perfections; , "for the decree and that determined", so Aben Ezra, , "the decree decreed" by God, "the Lord God of hosts", "shall execute", accomplish, make short and full work of it, "in the midst of all the land", Isaiah 10:23, that is, of Judea: so that the words contain a most strong and invincible reason, why the remnant shall be saved; because God has made an absolute decree, concerning the salvation of it, which he will accomplish in the fullest manner, agreeably to his justice and holiness: the or "word", the apostle from the prophet speaks of, that should be finished, and cut short and accomplished in righteousness, is the sentence, counsel, or decree, conceived in the divine mind, concerning this matter: hence as the decree of election stands firm and sure, not upon the works of men, but upon the absolute, sovereign, and efficacious will of God; so the salvation of his chosen people is not precarious, but a most sure and certain thing.

For he will finish the work, and cut it {b} short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

(b) God chooses and goes about to reduce the unkind and unthankful people to a very small number.

Romans 9:28. The Hebrew runs: כִּלָּיוֹן חָרוּץ שֹׁטֵף צְדָקָה כִּי כָלָה וְנֶֽחֱרָצָה אֲדֹנָי יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת עֹשֶׂה בְּקֶרֶב כָּלּ־הָאָרֶץ. Extirpation is decided, streaming justice (i.e. penal justice); for extirpation and decision (penal decision) the Lord Jehovah Zebaoth makes (i.e. is on the point of executing) in the midst of the whole earth (on Zion). The LXX. did not understand these words, and translated them incorrectly (on how they came to do so, see Fritzsche, also Maier, in the Theol. Jahrb. 1845, I. p. 190 f.). This cannot be denied; nor are we, with Olshausen, to attempt to conceal or smooth over the fact by arbitrary interpretation of the Hebrew. Paul has nevertheless felt no scruple in abiding by their translation with a few unimportant deviations, since its sense is not less suitable than that of the original to the connection and object which the declaration here subserves. The words, as Paul has them, mean: “For utterance-accomplishing and (as matter of fact, through a speedy execution of it) shortcutting in righteousness (is He); for a short-cut utterance (i.e. a saying in which the whole penal decision is summarily included) will the Lord bring to pass on the earth.” In reference to single expressions, remark: (1) λόγον, which belongs to both participles, is neither decree (usually so taken, but this is not its meaning), nor matter of fact (Beza, Melancthon, Castalio, Calvin, Koppe, Reithmayr, formerly also Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erf. II. p. 213, and various others), which it never denotes with Paul, nor reckoning, which, in connection with ποιεῖν, would be contrary to idiom, but dictum, an utterance, which He has delivered; and this indeed, in the first clause of the verse, which expresses the executive justice of God in general, is to be understood quite generally; comp. Erasmus, Paraphr.: “quicquid dixit, plene praestet et quidem compendio.” In the second clause, on the other hand, which adduces proof of that general description of God with the concrete case, the occurrence of which is predicted, the divine saying of Romans 9:27, delivered through the prophet, is intended. (2) συντέμνειν, used of something that is said (speeches, answers, and the like), like συναιρεῖν, never denotes in Greek anything else than to cut short (Plato, Protag. p. 334 D, Ephesians 3, p. 318 B; Aeschines, p. 32. 23; Euripides, Iph. A. 1249, Aeol. fr. v. 2; Lucian, bis. accus. 28; Soph. fragm. 411, Dind.; 2Ma 10:10; Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec. 1180), and it is therefore inadmissible to depart from this signification of the συντομία λόγων (Plato, Phaedr. p. 267 B). We must, however, observe that in συντέμνων this “comprising in short” must be a matter of fact, consisting in the short summary despatch of the matter (comp. LXX. Isaiah 28:22; Eur. Rhes. 450), like our “cut it short;” while, on the other hand, συντετμημένον (perfect) refers to the concise, short, and stern style in which the saying itself is conceived (τὸ ὑπόλειμμα σωθήσεται!). Passages in which συντέμνειν denotes overtake and the like (as Soph. Ant. 1090) have no bearing on the present one. Neither are we to adopt what Tholuck reads into it, that God will accomplish the promise delivered in Isaiah 10:20-21, only with great limitation of the number of the people, which would, besides, be not at all suitable to the perfect participle συντετμημένον. Moreover, the LXX. cannot have meant λόγον of the word of promise, but, according to the sense of the original, only of the penal judicial declaration. (3) ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ does not stand for the righteousness of faith (Fritzsche), but is to be referred, according to the context, as in the Hebrew, to the judicial righteousness of God. (4) The participles συντετ. and συντέμνων require only ἐστί to be supplied. See Hermann, ad Viger. p. 776; Bernhardy, p. 470; Kühner, II. 1, p. 37. And (5) as respects the argumentative force of the γάρ, it lies in the fact that, if God causes such a penal judgment to be issued on Israel, the part of the people remaining spared, which obtains salvation, can only be the ὑπόλειμμα out of the mass, that which remains over. Incorrectly Hofmann, in accordance with his erroneous interpretation of Romans 9:27-28, explains: So long as this present world-period endures, Israel’s final salvation might remain in suspense; “but Jehovah leaves it not on this footing, He makes an end, and settles accounts with the world, and the remnant which is then Israel’s people returns to Him and attains to salvation.”28. for he will finish, &c.] These words agree closely with the letter of the LXX., but not with that of the Heb. They convey the point of the Heb., however, quite enough for the purpose of the quotation; and St Paul thus adopts them.—In some important documents the quotation ends with “cut it short;” but the evidence is not conclusive.—The main purport of this verse is clear: the Prophet foretells summary and severe judgments on Israel, such as to leave ere long only a “remnant” able and willing to “return.”—“In righteousness:”—i.e. “in righteous severityRomans 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.For the reading of the A.V. read as Rev. The Lord will execute His word upon the earth, finishing and cutting it short. Difficulty arises on account of the variation in the Greek text and the difference between the reading adopted by the best authorities and the Septuagint, and again on account of the variation of the latter from the Hebrew. The Hebrew reads: Extirpation is decided, flowing with righteousness, for a consumption and decree shall the Lord of hosts make in the midst of all the land. The Rev. adopts the shorter reading of the Septuagint.

Work (λόγον)

It does not mean work, but word, utterance, doctrine; not decree, which λόγος never means, though the idea may underlie it. Better reckoning.

Finish - cut short (συντελῶν - συντέμνων)

The preposition σύν together signifies summarily; bringing to an end at the same time. Compare the peculiar word ἐκολοβώθησαν should be shortened, in Matthew 24:22, and see note. Omit in righteousness.

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