Regarding the gospel, they are enemies on your account; but regarding election, they are loved on account of the patriarchs.
I. THE DUALISM. As Godet very strikingly says, "The entire course of the religious history of the world is determined by the antagomsm created among mankind by the calling of Abraham, between a people specially destined by God to receive his revelations, and the other nations given over to themselves. From that moment (Genesis 12.) there begin to be described those two immense curves which traverse the ages of antiquity in opposite directions, and which, crossing one another at the advent of Christianity, are prolonged from that period in inverse directions, and shall terminate by uniting and losing themselves in one another at the goal of history."
1. The early period of the history of the world, after the call of Abraham, consisted of the contrast between believing Israel and the unbelieving nations. The Gentiles, as the beginning of the Epistle reminded us, were given over to their ignorance and sin. Why? Because they "were disobedient to God." Theirs was a negative discipline to fit them for the reception of the truth. They were "shut up unto disobedience," that they might be prepared to receive unmerited mercy at the hands of God. And the discipline did its work. For them there came a "fulness of the times." They became sick of their own endeavours after wisdom and righteousness, and when Christ was preached unto them they received him. How had it been with the Jews? They were chosen by God to receive his truth, and the preparations for his salvation, in trust for the world. Theirs was a positive discipline. But the same sinful nature was in them as in the Gentiles, and it operated against the truth. They became hardened. Their very privileges became a snare to them. And at last, the "fulness of the times" having arrived for them also, when their own Christ came unto them, they received him not!
2. The later period of the world's history, after Christ, consisted of a contrast, which itself was in contrast with the former one. The Jews were given over, are given over still, to their hardness of unbelief. They are the stoutest opponents of the gospel. They are "enemies." God was compelled to cast them off, that the gospel which they refused might be set free for the acceptance of the world. And the Gentiles are reaping the benefits of their rejection still. Not as dogs, eating the crumbs from the children's table, but themselves admitted to the forsaken festal board.
II. THE UNIVERSALISM. The dualism shall not always last; God is preparing the way for the religious fusion of all the peoples of the world; they shall become one in Christ.
1. The gospel which the Jews despised, and the salvation of their own Saviour, is leavening the Gentile world; the nations, one by one, are passing out of heathendom into Christendom. Apart from the question of the conversion to true spiritual religion of individuals, the world is being won for Christ.
2. But what of Israel? "The fulness of the Gentiles" shall "come in; and so all Israel shall be saved." Oh, the strange irony of history! By the agency of the Israelites the world should have been won; now by the example and agency of Gentiles the Israelites shall be won. Yes; the hardening was but "in part," some being believers from the first; but likewise only temporary - "until." For they are still the people fitted by their gifts for God's great work, and therefore his call is not revoked. And the very working of their disobedience, as in the case of the heathen nations once, is but to fit them to receive his grace. And according to their own prophecies the Deliverer shall come, and "from Jacob" ungodliness shall be turned away. So then God will "have mercy upon all." Let us learn his ways of judgment. He will give us up to our sins, if we persist in cherishing them, till we repent. But let us learn also his marvellous love: repenting, he will receive us freely! - T.F.L.
As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes.I. PRIOR TO THE PROMULGATION OF THE GOSPEL. It was the relation of —
2. The channels for the transmission of the promised seed, in which all the nations of the earth were to be blessed. The tribe of Judah contained within it a sacred deposit, the God-man, the Saviour of the world. In this sense, "salvation is of the Jews," the world was preserved for their sake. 3 The main spring of the politics of the world. Kings and empires were set up and cast down for their sakes.
II. SINCE THE GOSPEL. This must be regarded —
1. As it respects the remnant of the Jewish people converted to the Christian faith, according to the election of grace. These formed the stem of the Christian Church, Jesus Christ Himself, the founder of the Christian system, being a Jew according to the flesh. They were the first to be taken into union with Him; the first branches from Him the living stem; the first members of the body of which He is the head. They were not taken into fellowship with Gentiles, but Gentile converts were taken into fellowship with them (Ephesians 2:12-22; Ephesians 3:10). The relation, therefore, is that of brethen in Christ Jesus. And the relation which the Church, thus formed, bears to the world around is of the same nature as that which the Jews once bare to the Gentiles. The Christian Church —(1) Is the sole depository of the truth. In this Church alone is Christ to be found; and in the Church alone, therefore, can God be known.(2) Has deposited within her the true seed which is to become a blessing to all the earth.(3) Is the main spring of the politics of the world. Can any man think on this subject with the Bible before him, and then deny that such men as Decius, Julian, Charlemagne, Napoleon, and others, were raised up for the promotion, in one way or other, of the interests of the Church.
2. As it respects the Jews as a nation. "As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes"; not the remnant — they are converted — but the nation. But though thus cast off for our sakes, they are not cast off beyond the reach of God; the same hand which put them off will protect and preserve them, for "the gift and calling of God are without repentance." But they are "enemies for our sakes": they bear the relation to us of poor outcasts — outcasts to make room for us; as if the tree could have but a certain number of branches, as if the body could have but a certain number of members, and God had cast off some of the branches, and removed some of the members, that we might become branches in Him who is the true Vine, and members united to Him who is the only head!
III. AFTER THE RESTORATION.
2. Spiritual blessing (Psalm 67.).
(H. M. McNeile, D.D.)I. ITS NATURE.
1. Enemies for your sakes.
2. Beloved for the fathers' sakes.
II. ITS IMMUTABLE CHARACTER
1. Depends on the immutable character of God.
2. And His unchangeable purpose.
(J. Lyth, D.D.)
Beloved for the fathers' sakes. — God loves when compelled to punish, and His affection for His ancient people should teach us to love them too. "For the fathers' sakes" is God's own reason for His love (Deuteronomy 7:7, 8). There was nothing in Israel to attract it, for they were obstinate transgressors from the womb (Isaiah 48:4, 8), and a disobedient and gainsaying people (Romans 10:21). So God loves sinners in Christ for His Son's sake. God's love to the fathers remembered in behalf of the children (Leviticus 26:42). Blessing of godly ancestors. Children loved for their parents' sakes. How privileged are the offspring of a godly stock; how great their responsibility; how deep should be their gratitude!
(T. Robinson, D.D.)
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. — Without change of mind on God's part; subject to no regret or change of purpose (2 Corinthians 7:10; Hebrews 12:17). God gives without variableness or shadow of turning (James 1:17). His gift to Israel only suspended or withdrawn for a season. He has not repented of calling Abraham and his seed as His people, nor regretted the promises made to the fathers. Man's conduct may change God's manner but not His mind. God's dealings may vary, but not His determinings; His providence may alter, but not His purposes. The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent (1 Samuel 15:29). God's unchangeableness the ground of Israel's safety (Malachi 3:6). God will not cast away His people (Deuteronomy 4:31; 1 Samuel 12:22). Israel is not to be permanently deprived of what God has promised them.
(T. Robinson, D. D.)
(P. B. Power, M.A.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
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