[Above: A Christmas card image (from ‘Jews for Jesus’, 2012.)]






It is extraordinary how our Lord’s return, and the “Thousand Years” reign to follow, can be openly denied today by countless Churches.  Dr. G. E. Gill once asked Pastor William Anderson, of Dallas, Texas, what his attitude was on the Lord’s Second Coming.  Pastor Anderson replied that he did not have any attitude on the subject, that he was not interested.  He said that he had been so busy preaching the first coming that he had not had time to think about the Second Coming.  “Well said Dr. Gill, “I only wanted to know whether you ‘love His Appearing’  Alone in his study, Pastor Anderson sat by his desk, asking himself over and over again, “Do I love His Appearing  Then, he took up his Bible and read many verses about the Lord’s Return.  Before he left his study, he was able to say, with a glowing heart, that he did love Christ’s Appearing.  From that time, Dr. Bill Anderson’s ministry was transformed.  His pastorate became so fruitful that great glory was brought to the Name of the Lord.



“O that the thought, the glorious hope of Millennial blessedness may animate me to perfect holiness in the fear of God, that I may be accounted worthy to escape the terrible judgments, which will prepare its way, to stand before the Son of man


– FLETCHER, of Madeley.


“O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy” (Hab. 3: 2).



The test of the last days, which may yet try us all, is now happening in some parts of the world, sharply dividing overcomers from those overcome.



“They that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus lived [again], AND REIGNED WITH CHRIST A THOUSAND YEARS” (Rev. 20: 4).






















Professor of New Testament Exegesis







(1) Israel’s rejection of Christ is a great sorrow of heart to the apostle of the Gentiles (vv. 1-5); (2) it is not inconsistent with God’s Word (vv. 6-13); (3) it is not inconsistent with His justice (vv. 14-29); (4) present state of the case (vv. 30-33).



[Romans 9:] 1-3, “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not  The transition from the eighth chapter is abrupt.  The sudden change may be accounted for psychologically.  The apostle had just been contemplating the certainty of the glory of the sons of God; his heart goes now to the other extreme, the failure and misery of his own countrymen.



This vehement language was necessary, because in giving the Gospel to the heathen Paul was looked upon by the Jew as an enemy of his own nation.  Some of the Roman church, knowing as they did the exclusiveness of the Jews, might be persuaded that Paul was an apostate rather than an apostle of God.  He must defend himself. He is about to outline Israel’s shame.  Let it be seen that the picture is drawn not by an enemy, but by a loving friend, whose heart is breaking as he paints.



“Accursed from Christ  This language is startling and has troubled many; but it is in the very spirit of Israel’s great leader, Moses (Exod. 32: 32), and may we not say, though the word is different, in the spirit of Christ? (Gal. 3: 13).  Besides, this is not the language of deliberation, but of heart-breaking passion, in which he says, “I could [were it permitted or were it possible] wish myself accursed [away] from [not “by”] Christ  It is this grief at the loss of men, this intense yearning for their salvation, that made Paul the preacher he was.



4, 5. “Who are Israelites or being such as are Israelites, a term of the highest honour, God’s princes (Gen. 32: 28).  He enumerates seven particulars which belong especially to them: (a) they were adopted as God’s people; (b) they alone had the Shekinah “glory”; (c) the “covenants made with the fathers (Gen. 6: 18; 15: 18; Exod. 2: 24) and renewed from time to time (hence the plural), were theirs alone; (d) the “law” amid imposing splendours was given to them; (e) the temple “service” was divinely prescribed for them; no other nation had an authorized worship; (f) they were the only people who had “promises” of the Messiah and of direct blessings through him; the other nations received them through Israel; (g) the “fathers” - Abraham, the head of many nations, Isaac, and Jacob - were theirs; other nations had great ancestors, but Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have the honour of being not merely natural, but divinely chosen chiefs.



Besides these seven all their own, the Israelites had one other honour in which they shared, an honour that overtops all the rest.  The “whose” changes now to “of whom  The fathers are theirs, but the Christ, though He came from them in His human relation, belongs to the world.  To show the greatness of this honour Christ is declared to be God over all, blessed forever.  Sanday (Commentary, in loc.), after an exhaustive examination of all the arguments bearing on the punctuation of this passage, “with some slight, but only slight, hesitation,” admits that Paul here applies the name God to Christ.  No other view gives the passage its climactic point.



Paul mentions all these things not only to set forth the Israelites’ pre-eminence, but to show the painfulness and difficulty of the problem now in hand.  They had the promises and the Christ sprang from them, and yet these covenant people were reaping nothing from these advantages.  Jesus belonged to them, but they did not belong to Jesus.  Could Paul’s doctrine of an elective justification for all nations be true?  Israel is rejected.



6.  Paul abruptly lays hold of the question.  The Jews have failed, but God’s Word has not.  The emphasis is on the phrase “the Word of God  The proof of no failure is that the promises were made to Israel, but they were not made to them on the ground of their natural descent from Abraham.  The real Israel is within the limits of the natural Israel.  For Paul is not now contemplating the Church composed of men from Jews and Gentiles alike.  These, though called “Abraham’s seed” (Gal. 3: 29) and “children of Abraham” (Gal. 3: 7), are never called Israel or Israelites.  Galatians 6: 16 is not an exception to this statement, but a proof. (See Ellicott, Commentary, in loc.)  Paul is defending God’s Word in view of the claim that Jesus is the Messiah with a true people following Him, and in view of the fact that Israel is not saved.  His answer is that “they are not all [true] Israel, which are of [from] Israel  The latter may mean the patriarch (Jacob) or it may mean the nation natural.  What Paul denies in either case is that the real Israel, contemplated in the Old Testament promise, is not identical in number with the nation of Israel.



7. That the real Israel should not be as wide numerically as the natural Israel is supported by the further statement that even Abraham’s natural seed were not all of them children of the covenant.  The promise was limited to Isaac, and Ishmael was left out, although he also is called Abraham’s “seed” (Gen. 21: 13).  Paul thus keeps the all-important point foremost, that the promise to Israel was a vital promise, still holding, but not on the condition of mere natural descent.  God did not surrender His prerogatives in the case to nature.  Note that to reach clearness in this and similar Scripture the phrase “seed of Abraham” must be properly referred.  It has three meanings, two of which occur in this verse, the natural seed (John 8: 37) and the real seed.  Its third, quite distinct from these, is the Church (Gal. 3: 29).



8. This verse shows the significance of the promise, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called  If God limited the promise to one of Abraham’s children, excluding Ishmael and the sons of Keturah, it follows that “they which are the children of the flesh are not the children of God  God’s children are not the product of nature; they are not begotten by man, but by Him.  Who, then, are His own, to whom the promises were spoken?  Not even the natural descendants of Isaac; for the principle already given, that the children of the flesh as such are excluded, excludes Isaac’s fleshly descent, excludes Esau.  God’s children are those of whom Isaac is a type. He was born not by the energy of nature, but was a supernatural creation in accordance with a divine promise. Hence “the children of the promise are counted [are reckoned, equal to “called” in v. 7] for the seed [or “as seed”]” (John 1: 13).  “Children of promise” is not equivalent to promised children.  The word is almost personified.  God’s promise is a potent energy, quickening those to whom His covenant pertains.  Thus the seed is found “in Isaac in his line.  They are all his offspring, but not all the offspring are “counted for the seed



9. If the children of the promise are the only ones “counted,” of whom Isaac is the apt type, it is necessary to show that he was a child of promise, as this verse does.  The original order brings out the force better: “For of promise is this word the quotation which follows.  The emphatic word is “promise  Accordingly, as Meyer strikingly observes, “We see that not the bodily descent, but the divine promise, constitutes the relation of belonging to Abraham’s fatherhood  But he fails to observe a subtle point in the quotation.  The child was to be not only the gift of God’s power, “will I come but given in His own time: “At this time will I come The happy season for the realization of the promise was not yet.  He selected the time as well as the child, and the time was when he should come with quickening power.  Paul intimates that Israel’s hour has not yet dawned.



10-12. “And not only this [or, fully expressed, “And not only Sarah received a divine promise concerning her son”]; but when Rebecca ..!”  In Rebecca’s case the divine action is still more pointed.  In saying that she was with child “by one Paul is not calling attention to the unity of the fatherhood, which would be absurd.  It does not mean by one man (Meyer), as though there might be two.  The “one” focuses the attention on him in whom the seed was called, “even our father Isaac  He is significantly called “our that is, Israel’s, “father  The promise was in Isaac’s line of descent, and yet even here there is a selection and a limitation.



The “for” (v. 11) bears on this clearly implied limitation, and brings in the statements that illustrate it.  The children were not yet born; they had done neither good nor evil; the selection, then, was not made either on the ground of their character or on the ground of their works.  To say that God foresaw the good character and good works of Jacob is to import an idea that is repugnant to the logic of the statement here made by Paul and contradicted by the subsequent facts.  Jacob’s history does not show him to be a better man morally than his brother; his very name indicates his character. (See below on v. 14.)  Human merit, present or foreseen, does not enter into God’s choice.  Again, if God chose Isaac and rejected Ishmael it might be said mistakenly that the selection was made because of the latter’s irregular parentage.  That mistake is not possible in the case of Jacob and Esau.  Isaac and Ishmael had only one parent in common; Jacob and Esau had both and the children were twins.



We are next told the reason for dealing thus with the twins: “that the purpose of God according to election might stand  It is an according-to-election purpose.  Paul finds the source of salvation in God alone.  He had a “purpose” to save.  This purpose cannot be of “none effect but must “stand because, first, it is not universal, but is limited to an “election a selection, as in the case of Isaac against Ishmael.  The one elected was the one He promised.  The idea of promise, with which Paul began, is the same as that in the word “election  And, second, God’s elective purpose will “stand” because it is determined “not by [or “of”] works, but by [or “of”] him that calleth that is, God himself.  Now, in order that God might show this purpose, a purpose that was elective and based on His own will, He said before the twins were born, “The elder shall serve the younger  By His own will He reversed the order of nature and took but one of the twin sons of Isaac, in whom the seed was promised.



If Paul began this chain of reasoning under the proposition (v. 6) that the Word of God has not failed in the case of the Jew, and now concludes it with the proposition that His purpose has not failed, but must “stand there is only an apparent shifting of terms.  It is the Word of God that embodies the purpose, and in speaking of the latter Paul means no other purpose but the one disclosed in the “Word  The propositions are logically identical.  The Jews erred, not knowing the Scripture.  They stuck to their baseless notion that because they were the natural descent of Abraham they were heirs of salvation, a notion against which Jesus solemnly warned them.  He admitted that they were Abraham’s natural “seed but denied that they were His promised “children” (John 8: 37, 39).



13. “As it is written, Jacob [have] I loved, but Esau [have] I hated  Omit “have” in both cases.  This scripture, which looks only logically at the original two, but directly at their descendants (Mal. 1: 1-4), is quoted to corroborate the original choice.  God’s motive in it was neither love of the one nor hate of the other, but simply “of him that calleth  But, the choice once made, God’s love followed Jacob’s seed, showing the reality of His election, and His hate followed Esau’s, showing the reality of His rejection.  The word “hated” need not be softened.



Paul has now so far vindicated God’s Word despite the failure of Israel.  Jesus is the Messiah, even if they as a nation have not participated in His blessings; for when Paul closely scans the source of the nation he finds it has no promise on the ground of lineal descent from Abraham.  That promise belongs only to chosen elect ones among the nation, chosen for nothing whatever pertaining to them, but solely after God’s own will.  This starts a serious objection about the divine justice, which Paul proceeds to answer. (See (3) above.)



14. “Is there unrighteousness with God  This question could not arise unless Paul wished himself to be understood as teaching that God chose Jacob and rejected Esau for no assignable reason outside His own will. If God chose Jacob because He foresaw his faith or his virtue, and rejected Esau for an opposite character, reason would approve and the question of this verse could not he asked.  But when it is taught that God chose Jacob for no good in him, and rejected (“hated”) Esau for no bad in him, man’s narrow heart feels that an injustice has been done.  This sentiment Paul repels: “God forbid



15, 16.  Paul finds the argument for his vehement denial of injustice in God not by abstract reasoning about the idea of justice, but in the Scriptures.  The quotation is from Exodus 33: 19.  The great Jewish captain is earnestly seeking grace from God.  It might be supposed that he could attain it on the ground of his office and merit; but even “to Moses God saith, He gives mercy not because he is Moses, or because he seeks it, but just because it is God’s “will” to do so.  It is a bold, crisp assertion of the divine freedom in bestowing grace. “In any case through human history wherein I shall be seen to have mercy, the one account I give of the radical cause is this - I have mercy” (Moule).  Mercy is the outward manifestation of the feeling of compassion.



The conclusion follows. God’s mercy is not the response to human desire nor to human effort.  It is not of him that “willeth” or wishes it, as Moses did, and not of him who “runneth” in the path of right.  Willing and running may indicate the possession of grace, but they are not the originating cause.  They may be the channel, but they are not the fountain.  The source of grace is God’s own will, that goes out to whom He will.  Mercy is “of God, that showeth mercy” independent of any motive in man.



17. “For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh  Moses’ history bears on the election of Jacob; Pharaoh’s on the rejection of Esau.  The latter is cited for the same purpose as the former - to show God’s freedom and sovereignty in dealing with men.  As He grants mercy after His own will, so also He withholds it, and hardens whom He will.  Ten times in the Scripture about Pharaoh it is said he hardened himself; but Paul makes no account of this, for his clear intention is to account for Pharaoh’s overthrow by the free purpose of God.  And yet God did not harden him for the sake of the hardening, but that the divine power might have a field of display and that the divine name might become known.  If Pharaoh had willingly and sweetly allowed the people to depart, there could have been no miracles “in Egypt and in the Red Sea” (Acts 7: 36), and the children of Israel would have had no fame as God’s own chosen, a fame that endured for centuries (1 Sam. 4: 8).  God’s glory is promoted in the overthrow of a sinner as much as in saving one.  God wished men to know Him and His power, and for this purpose “raised up” Pharaoh, which means neither that God created nor preserved him for His purpose, but that God brought about everything that belongs to the history of the king.



In selecting Pharaoh as an example of God’s hardening Paul shows his skill.  Pharaoh was a detestable heathen oppressor, and undue prejudice would not be excited against the doctrine in illustrating it by his case.



18.  This gives the solemn and awful conclusion of the section beginning at verse 14, or even as far back as verse 7.  The word “whom” is singular.  The subject is not one about nations, but about individuals, not one about ethnic supremacy or leadership, but about personal [eternal] salvation.  “Therefore hath he mercy on what man he will, and what man he will he hardeneth  God is absolute sovereign, allowing nothing to direct His activity but His own will.  His Word is true, as true as He is, but He has never uttered a word to abridge His freedom, nor can His Word, like a promissory note, be pleaded against His freedom.  This hardening process is going on today; it can be read as clearly in current history as in God’s Word.  And yet man is also free in choosing God and free in refusing Him.  The reconciliation of these two is a question of philosophy, and philosophy fails in the effort.  The Bible does not attempt it, but stops with asserting that both are realities.



19. “Why doth he yet find fault  This puts the query of verse 14 in a more aggravated form.  There it is a question about the justice of God; here it is virtually a charge of injustice.  He hardened Pharaoh; He willed to harden him.  Pharaoh did just what God willed; he did not resist His will; no one does whom He hardens.  “Why doth he yet find fault” and visit dire punishment upon sinners?



20. “Nay but, 0 man  Paul has already answered this question as far as possibly it ever can be answered.  The answer is to the point and practical.  It is that God is free to do as He will; He is a sovereign; and what is the idea of absolute sovereignty but that He who has it is under no obligation to give a reason for anything which He does?  If He must give a reason for His actions He is no longer sovereign, but the reason given enjoys that distinction, not to say the persons to whom it must be given.  This matter is not peculiar to the Gospel; it belongs to every religion that owns a personal God.  A God is one whose will is free, whose will is law.



The question, then, “Why doth he yet find fault is not only impious, but blasphemous.  The man sets himself up to condemn not only the decree of God, but to claim a higher justice for himself; he replies not merely against God’s judgment, but against the only possible conception given in the word “God  In complaining against God for hardening a man to do a wicked thing and then finding fault with that man for doing it, the complainant says, “There ought not to be such a God; that is, there ought to be what is really no God, one with such notions of justice toward men as I have  The man exalts himself above God in sitting in judgment upon the divine acts.  The fallacy is in his idea of what constitutes a God.  Godet weakens Paul’s rejoinder, “Who art thou that repliest by saying that he means “a reply to a reply  No; Paul’s whole argument is drawn from the nature of God.  His opponent is more than a debater; he is well-nigh atheistic. Shedd’s exposition here is better than Godet’s: “An irreverent equalizing of man with God



It must not be forgotten that whatever God does is necessarily just; because, if there is anything outside His own will by which to measure the actions of that will, that thing is higher than God.  For human reason or human sense of right to sit in judgment on God’s acts is as foolish as it is wicked.



Again, he who replies against God must mean, if he means anything, that it is God’s hardening that deprives a soul of salvation; that if God did not interpose with an election, and take some and leave others to be hardened, all men would at least have an equal opportunity of salvation.  This is false.  If God did not elect, none would be saved, for there is “none that seeketh after God” (3: 11).  And men are not lost because they are hardened; they are hardened because they are lost; they are lost because they are sinners (1: 21).



God is not responsible for sin.  He is under no obligation to save anyone.  Obligation and sovereignty cannot both be predicated of God.  If He saves anyone it is a sovereign act of mercy, and for that very reason His justification is tantamount to [eternal] salvation.



It must not be supposed (with Sanday, apparently) that Paul’s argument through this section is an ad hominem drawn from the Jew’s Old Testament conception of God.  It is drawn from the nature of sovereignty, the necessary conception of God.  Neither does Paul lay his hand on the mouth of the objector and cry, “Stop  He confutes him with one single logical shaft: God is God.



“Shall the thing formed say  Note that Paul does not say, “Shall the thing created say to him that created it.” It is not a question of original creation, but of subsequent destination.  What would the ability to fashion be worth if it were under the dictation of that which is to be fashioned?



21. “Hath not the potter power over the clay from the same lump to make one part a vessel to honour and another to dishonour? (Isa. 45: 9; 64: 8; Jer. 18: 1-10.)  This illustration enforces the idea of God’s sovereignty.  To be sure, men are not senseless clay but beings of feeling and will; and yet, with all feeling and will and intelligence, they are as helpless, being sinners, to fit themselves to please God as clay left to itself is helpless to become an ornamental vase.  The potter does not make the clay.  He takes it as he finds it and fashions out of the same lump - the “clay” and the “lump” are identical in character and quantity - one part a vessel to ornament the house and another part a vessel for some base use.  Originally the two were the same thing - clay; the potter determined their destination.  Pharaoh and Moses originally belonged to the same guilty lump of humanity.  Moses was inherently no better than the Egyptian king.  God had mercy on one and fashioned him into a glorious instrument of deliverance for His people; the other He hardened, and to deny God’s justice in so doing is as absurd as to deny that the potter has a right to turn base clay into a slop jar.  Why it is that men are sinners neither Paul nor the Bible anywhere teaches; but sinners under God’s wrath they are, and He is not responsible that they are sinners, and from the lump of sinful humanity may choose for His service whom He will and may harden at His pleasure.  To confess this is the very highest exercise of reason.



22.  Now, after Paul has vindicated the idea of God in vindicating His sovereignty - for a God who is not absolutely free to do as He will is no God - he shows next and in addition how graciously He exercised his freedom.  Though “willing to show his wrath [today], and to make his power known as in Pharaoh’s case, He, after all, endured in much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.  Paul does not now say that God fitted them.  He bore with them.  Jerusalem, that crucified His Son and slew His followers, was still standing after more than a quarter of a century.  God tempered His sovereign wrath with long-suffering.



This sentence, embracing verses 22-24, is not complete.  It is almost a worshipful exclamation, but may be read as in the King James Version, “What if or “What shall we say if



23. Closely connected with the last verse by means of the word “endured  The “vessels of mercy” called also for endurance.  The writer of the epistle could not forget that, had God’s just wrath fallen upon the Jews at the time that they earned it, he himself would have been lost.  But God with much long-suffering restrains His wrath against sinners, “and [he does so] that he might make known [by calling and justification] the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy [the elect], which he had afore prepared unto [eternal] glory  They are not vessels of favour, but of “mercy in that He showed them mercy.  These, it is said, “he prepared afore Paul is doubtless referring to 8: 29 in the word “afore



Men, being sinners, have no rights remaining before God; in His justice He might destroy them all.  But He chooses to save some sinners in the exercise of mercy, and for the time restrains His wrath toward the rest. These two verses bear on the idea of His sovereignty in showing how He exercises it; the next one with the quotations following shows toward whom He exercises it.



24. “Even us [the “vessels of mercy”], whom he hath called  This is His own sovereign call.  The rest heard the Gospel, but were not called by Him.  Unless the word has this special meaning here and in 1: 6; 8: 28, 30, it has no meaning.  The “called” were found not among the Jews only, but also among the Gentiles.  This is by no means the ultimate, but only the present, exhibition of His sovereignty.  Paul keeps the two classes separate here, for he still has God’s dealing with the Jew in mind, to whom the thought returns exclusively at verse 31 below.  The promise of [eternal] salvation was not conditioned on nationality, but is “of him that calleth” (v. 11 above) and may extend to all nations: “Even us, ... not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles  He supports this statement chiastically* from the Scriptures.


* Chiasmus: an inversion of the order of words in two corresponding parallel phrases or clauses, or of words when repeated. - Editor’s note.



25, 26. These quotations from Hosea 2: 23 and 1: 10 are combined, and predict the call of Gentiles.  The phrase “and it shall come to pass” (v. 26) is not Paul’s, but the prophet’s.  “Call” and “called” do not mean invited or named, but called with the call (v. 11 above and 8: 30).  The “place” is indefinite, and means any place in the world.  The prophecy originally seems to refer to the ten tribes, but as they had been excluded from the nation and were practically heathen, Paul refers to them as a type of the call of the Gentiles.



27-29. These verses look at the case of Israel as predicted in Isaiah to show that the mass would be reprobated and only a “remnant” saved.  The first quotation is from Isaiah 10: 22, 23, on which Paul puts a gloss, representing the prophet as “crying” in alarm and wonder, thus softening the stern prediction that, while Israel may be countless in number, only the elect few will be subjects of grace.  “For continues Isaiah, the Lord “will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness  The righteousness is that of Jehovah’s judgment or wrath upon Israel’s waywardness.  The Revised Version makes some large changes in this verse: “For the Lord will execute his word upon the earth, finishing it and cutting it short With either reading the meaning is clear.  Summary and severe judgments were to fall on Israel, and of such a character that only a remnant would be left to know God’s grace.  The original reference in Isaiah was to the return from the captivity; but Paul sees the applicability of the prophecy to his own time; it may come in force again in the future.



The apostle makes one more quotation (Isa. 1: 9), that brings his teaching about God’s sovereign and electing grace to a startling climax.  But for the divine interference Israel would have become as Sodom and been made like unto Gomorrah.  Depravity would have run its course to this tragic end.  But God “left unto us a very small remnant which “small remnant” Paul calls a “seed” in quoting from the Septuagint.   The cities of the plain were obliterated for their sin, and none were left to revive them; and so it would have been in Israel’s case had not God “left” (spared) some.  Israel has nothing of which to complain.  God’s election destroyed none; it is the sole reason why any were spared.  The covenant name Jehovah is not used here, but “Lord of Sabaoth or of hosts or armies, which suggests His sovereignty.



30-33. “What shall we say then (See (4) above.)  What are the facts so far as this discussion is concerned, the facts as seen wherever the Gospel has gone?  Not that the Word of God has failed, but that the prophecy has now become history, to be seen in history.  First, some Gentiles, who were making no effort (reminding the reader of verse 16 above, “it is not of him that runneth”) after righteousness, reached it.  They did not will, but God did.  Since these Gentiles had no works, God bestowed [His] righteousness upon them, that is, they had a righteousness of faith.  The article “the” before “Gentiles” in the King James Version is an error, strangely repeated in the Revised Version.  Paul, with the fact of election in his mind, could not and he did not write this illogical “the  That some Gentiles, those who believed, were righteous, was attested by their living. They had abandoned idolatry, worshiped God, and claimed no merit for themselves (Phil. 3: 3).



A second fact in accord with the argument above was (and is) that Israel as a whole, though following the (Mosaic) law of righteousness, the law that is connected with righteousness, did not attain to that law.  Omit “of righteousness” in the second instance.  Israel attained to the letter of the law, but not to the acquittal from sin.  Gentiles, who willed not, attained; Israel, who willed for themselves, failed, for salvation is not of man’s will.  Some take “law” here in the sense of rule, a rule of moral and religious life that would win righteousness.



That Israel had not become righteous was plain to everyone, and thus facts in both directions testify to the correctness of Paul’s logic and the aptness of his quotations from the Scriptures.  It was said that Gentiles would be saved, and Gentiles are saved.  It was said that the mass of Israel would be rejected, and so it is, and God is just in it all and His Word has not failed.



“Wherefore  Why did Israel not reach righteousness?  Paul does not say they failed because they were non-elect.  Election accounts for the saved, but non-election does not account for the lost.  The comprehensive reason for the latter is sin, and the essence of sin is self-will, self-will even in seeking God.  These Jews took their own way of being reconciled to God.  They did not even seek Him by the works of the law, but “as it were” by works of the law.  They decided for themselves what the works should be and so had flesh works.  In their self-will they practically denied God.



It is at this point that Paul passes from the sovereignty of God to the responsibility of man.  The two cannot be harmonized in the human understanding, except as the Scriptures harmonize them; that is, by insisting on and holding to both.  The Scriptures and reason assert the absolute sovereignty of God, and Scripture and the human conscience assert with equal force the responsibility of man; so that the practical error arises when either one of these is denied or when one is explained in a way to exclude the other.  It must also be remembered that, while man cannot save himself, moral inability does not relieve from responsibility.  Man’s inability lies in his sinful nature (8: 7), and God cannot be made responsible for sin.  The sinner’s inability to do right, to do God’s will, is the acme of his sin.



A world of sin is a world of confusion.  Sin introduced confusion between God and man, and confusion cannot be explained.  The real difficulty between God’s absolute sovereignty and man’s responsibility is metaphysical and not Biblical.  How can there be one sovereign free will and other free wills?  And when Fritzsche says that Paul’s view is “absolutely contradictory,” he is virtually demanding that Paul cease preaching and turn philosopher to solve the insoluble.  But Paul leaves the question where he found it, and goes on now in this and the next chapter to show that Israel’s failure [in finding eternal salvation through faith in Christ] was their own fault.



“They stumbled at that stumbling stone  The “for” is probably not genuine, but it shows the correct relation of the sentences.  They failed to believe because the Christ came in a way which their works disqualified them to approve (1 Pet. 2: 7, 8).



“As it is written  The quotation is a combination of Isaiah 8: 14 and 28: 16.  That which was applicable in the prophet’s time Paul sees to be applicable also in his time.  God’s enemies stumbled then because of Him; they stumble now at His gift of Christ.  At the same time Christ is a security for him that believeth on Him. The “whosoever” in the King James Version is not genuine and mars the sense.  Paul is quoting this Scripture not to show the universality of salvation, which the word “whosoever” would suggest, but in proof that the Jews failed by lack of faith.  The word “believeth” carries the main idea.  He that believeth shall not make haste to some other refuge for salvation, or, what is the same, he shall not be put to shame by trusting in this Stone.*


[* Acts 4: 10-12.]


The substance of the chapter is that, in spite of Israel’s rejection, in spite of the present mixed following of Jews and Gentiles as the Lord’s people, God’s Word has not failed, for God never pledged away His sovereignty in it, but, on the other hand, predicted that [eternal] salvation turned on His will and call.



*       *       *










Though God did not elect the mass of Israel for salvation at this time, their present rejection is not to be explained by His withholding grace, which was freely offered them, but by their sinful lack of discernment (Luke 12: 56; 19: 44; 21: 24).



The chapter contains four topics: (1) Israel failed to see that Christ was the end of the law (vv. 1-4); (2) the free character of salvation (vv. 5-11); (3) its universal character (vv. 12-18); and (4) they failed to see that all this, as well as their own rejection, was the prediction of their own Scriptures (vv. 19-21).



1. “Brethren, my heart’s desire …”  “Good pleasure” is preferable to the word “desire  It will be noticed that each one of the three chapters in this theodicy begins with a warm expression of the apostle’s own feeling. He will not let it be forgotten, in bringing these heavy charges against those of his own blood, that he is writing in pity and not in anger.  He is not an enemy of Israel.  Moreover, this prayer, as well as the sentiment beginning the ninth chapter, could not have been entertained by the apostle if he at the same time considered Israel’s case hopeless.  As Bengel says on this verse, “Paul would not have prayed had they been altogether reprobate  If he prayed “that they might be saved” he must have believed the possibility of their salvation (2 Cor. 3: 16).  In the next chapter he confidently predicts it (11: 26).



2. It was because Paul saw Israel’s zeal for God that he was so solicitous for them.  And yet zeal does not imply a right heart nor acceptance with God. Their zeal was not directed by “knowledge not regulated by spiritual discernment.  They had the means of knowledge, but not the knowledge.  This little phrase, “not according to knowledge is the key to the chapter.



3. “For they, being ignorant  Here are given the contents of their ignorance: “ignorant of God’s righteousness [by faith in Christ], and going about [seeking] to establish their own righteousness [by works of law, in zeal for the latter, they] have not submitted themselves” to the former.  Here the two kinds of righteousness are set in contrast.  These two are the sum of all on earth, and they are mutually exclusive in the human heart.  The Jews at this time were not unacquainted with the righteousness of God, but they were “ignorant” of it.



4. “For Christ is the end of the law  The Revised Version retains both articles.  “End” means termination.  It is true that he is also the aim and the fulfilment of the law.  Tholuck combines the two ideas of termination and aim; Alford stands for the latter.  But the sharp contrast here, as well as the (original) word, requires the meaning termination.  The law is no longer a means of righteousness.



Sanday surely errs in saying that this verse is a proof that the Jews were “wrong” in not submitting themselves to the righteousness of God.  It is not a question of right or wrong, but of fact.  The Jews claimed that in following the law they were submitting to God, for He gave the law.  No, says, Paul; in so doing you are not submitting to the righteousness of God.  “For Christ [whom God gave and you reject] is the end of the law for [with a view to] righteousness to every one that believeth  The Jew’s system was one of doing; but God’s was one of believing, one of grace.  Law and grace are mutually exclusive and antagonistic systems (4: 4, 5; 11: 6).  Because the Jew held to law he was not in subjection to God.  The proof that he was not is this great principle of grace recorded in this fourth verse.



5. That Christ ends the law in making nothing but faith necessary to righteousness is confirmed in the further contrast of the two systems. (See (2) above.)  Moses describes the righteousness of the law as one of doing – “the man that doeth those things  The point made here is not that no man can do those things prescribed by Moses, but that, in case he did do them, it would be his “own righteousness” and not God’s, which is next described at length.



6, 7.  “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise  Paul does not say that Moses describes this righteousness; he does not set Moses against Moses.  He says the righteousness itself speaks; it is self-descriptive.



It must be carefully noted what Paul is after.  The points are just two: first, that the Jew’s intense religious zeal in devotion to the law, a zeal that touches the apostle’s heart, is, after all, not God’s righteousness, but in flat contradiction to it.  This is seen in the nature or character of the two.  A faith-righteousness in Christ must end law-righteousness, for Moses describes the latter as one of doing.  But now arises just at this point a second question.  Admitting, as the Jew would, that the two are antagonistic, he would not admit that the righteousness in Christ was genuine; he would make that claim for his own.  Hence, beginning at this sixth verse, Paul not only completes his contrast between the righteousness by law and the righteousness by faith, but to the end of the section at verse 11 adds the other argument, that nothing but righteousness by faith is God’s.



“Say not in thy heart  This is a quotation from Deuteronomy 30: 11-14, with Paul’s interjected explanations by means of the equating phrase “that is  The difficulty that stands here is that Paul takes words that Moses seems to use of the law, and makes them descriptive of the righteousness of faith.



Two considerations relieve the difficulty.  First, the contrast is not between the law and faith, but between the righteousness proceeding from the two.  The law bears testimony to both kinds.  The righteousness of faith is witnessed by the law and the prophets (3: 21, 22).



The second consideration is that Paul interprets this passage in the original Mosaic intent of it.  This intent after the Gospel came was not difficult to see.  The thirtieth chapter of Deuteronomy refers to the ultimate gathering of all Israel.  Moses promises that in the future God will circumcise the “heart” of Israel.  He further says, “If thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul” (Deut. 30: 10). The very next verse introduces our quotation: “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.  It is not in heaven ...” The chapter itself speaks of both kinds of righteousness; it mentions not only the “commandments but “this commandment



This difference between singular and plural must not be overlooked.  It speaks both of keeping the commandments and also of turning to the Lord with the heart.  The Gospel gave Paul the key to the latter, and he quotes the passage as not applicable to the righteousness of the law, but descriptive only of the Gospel. When, therefore, Sanday implies that “words used by Moses of the law” are applied by Paul to the Gospel “as against the law” (Commentary on Romans, p. 288), and denies to Paul a “true interpretation” of this and similar passages (p. 306, id.), the only question is, Which is the safer expositor of the Old Testament, the professor or the apostle?



“The righteousness of the law is defined in terms that imply doing.  The passage quoted here by Paul defines the righteousness of faith in terms which shut out all doing.  No man need attempt the impossible thing of ascending to Heaven, which means to bring Christ down; He has already come.  And no one need go over the sea or, what is the same thing, descend to its depths, the abyss [i.e., ‘Hades’ / ‘Sheol’], to bring Christ again from the dead; He is already raised.  God’s “command” (Deut. 30: 11), His work, is not “hidden from thee”; it is already done (John 6: 29).



8. “But what saith it  This little question belongs not to the quotation, but is Paul’s, and serves both to pass from the negative to the positive side of the description of true righteousness [of God] and to call attention a second time to it.  It declares that God’s righteousness is not distant and difficult, but “the word [Moses did not say “commandments”] is nigh thee [like the air of heaven], in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith [referred to in Moses], which we [apostles] preach  It is a word or command not for doing, but for believing.



9, 10.  These two verses give the contents of the “word of faith  “That” is equivalent neither to “in order that” nor to “because  The first is forbidden by the original word (hote), and the second in that there is no need to prove the express assertion that “the word is nigh thee  Paul would not attempt to prove Scripture by his own assertion; but he may tell what it means.  This “word” by the preaching of it is brought to the mouth and the heart of the sinner as the atmosphere comes to the lungs.  Man does not make it; he breathes it and lives.



Since Christ has already come down from above, has died, and has been raised from the dead, nothing remains for the Jew or for anyone else to do but to confess it with his mouth and believe it in his heart.  Paul specifies the vital element in Christian faith, “that God hath raised him [out] from the dead He was raised for our justification (4: 25).  The faith that leaves this out, although it may accept everything else in the Christian’s creed, is not Christian and is not saving.  The Jew’s “doing” [to be justified] denied it.  The “for” of the tenth verse does not introduce a proof, but an analytic explanation, of the [eternal] salvation just mentioned – “thou shalt be saved  If one believes with the heart, that belief brings him into righteousness, right standing before God, and if now he confesses openly in his life his adherence to Jesus, that confession leads on to the final salvation.  Thus salvation is resolved into its two elements, a heart trust that provokes a true confession of His name.  And yet the two are one; for confession without belief is either self-deception or hypocrisy, while trust without confession may be cowardice (John 19: 38).



It sounds a little odd, in view of Paul’s words, “with the mouth confession is made to hear Sanday say the confession “is made in baptism  Paul links [water] baptism with faith (Col. 2: 12).



If the order of the words “mouth” and “heart” in verse 9 is reversed to “heart” and “mouth” in verse 10, this occurs because in the former Paul is following Moses’ order, who presents the “word” rather as a creed and climactically, not only in thy mouth, but in thy very heart.  The tenth verse presents the words in the order of experience.



11. This quotation from Isaiah 28: 16, with the expansion of “he” into “whosoever,” clearly implied in the original, is in proof of the last verse that [eternal] salvation is by faith.  The two words about believing and confessing in the last verse are here reduced to one, “believeth  (For “ashamed” see on 9: 33.)  Perhaps none but an apostle’s eyes could see salvation by faith in the quotation above from Deuteronomy 30.  But we must think the zealous Jews either obstinate or blind that could not see it in this verse in Isaiah, were it not for the same lack of perception attending men still.  Salvation by works, even in evangelical circles, is pursued today by all such as cannot unquestioningly, like a little child (Mark 10: 15), accept this same word in its sublime simplicity.



12. “For there is no difference  As Israel failed to perceive the character of the righteousness offered by God, but excluded by their own righteousness of works, so they necessarily failed to see the universality of God’s righteousness.  Works are not suited to sinful men (4: 14, 15).  It is with this failure that Paul now deals.  (See (3) at the head of the chapter.)  He moves off at the word “whosoever” in the last verse, and explains it in this one.  As there is “no difference” among men, Jew or Gentile, in their sinfulness (3: 22, 23), so there is no difference in God’s mercy toward all, Jew or Gentile.  The “call” of faith from the heart of any man is not merely answered, but richly answered.



13. “For, whosoever ...”  This, from Joel 2: 32, is the scriptural proof of the universality of God’s mercy.  The quotation is very much like that in verse 11 above, but there is a difference in use: there it confirms the believing, here the universality.  Hence here in the original it is not simply whosoever, but everyone whosoever.  The apostle seems fond of repeating the noble Gospel sentiment that believing prayer from any heart of man receives an answer rich in righteousness.



14. “How then shall they call  With these verses begins an argument extending through several verses, to prove from another point of view the universality of the Gospel.  If this Gospel is general and designed for all, if its language is that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (v. 13), it is then inevitable from the word “call” that the Gospel must be preached everywhere.  If such general preaching is predicted (v. 15) and has been accomplished, there is thereby evidence of the Gospel’s universal character; and if it is found that Israel has heard this world-wide Gospel and has not believed it, the responsibility of their rejection is upon themselves.  Says Cifford, “From the nature of the salvation just described (v. 13), it follows that the Gospel must be preached to all without distinction” (Speaker’s Com., in loc.).  If the universal condition of salvation is to call on the Lord, only the general spread of the Gospel can make such a call possible.



By successive steps Paul argues from Joel’s cardinal words, “Whosoever shall call to the sending out of the preachers.  Men, cannot call on Him in whom they have not believed, and, to be sure, they cannot believe in Him of whom they never heard.  And how can they ever hear without a preacher?  The spread of the Gospel is dependent on the living messenger.  The sending forth of Bibles is not sufficient; Israel had them, but did not profit by them.  The Ethiopian eunuch, earnest man though he was, did not understand even the luminous fifty-third chapter of Isaiah until the preacher sent to him opened the Scripture for him (Acts 8: 26-40).



15. “And how shall they preach, except they be sent sent by God?  The first heralds who formally and definitely went out either to the Jews or to the Gentiles were commissioned by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2; 10; 8: 2-4).  There is no clearer passage for the call into the ministry than this: “How shall they preach, except they be sent  (Gal. 1: 15, 16).  No matter how well a man be qualified otherwise, if he is not divinely “sent” he is a profane intruder.  No matter how humble and lacking in brilliance, if he has this credential he need not be discouraged.  The Father sends the Son, and the Son sends the preachers (John 17: 18).



Paul has now argued backward from the nature of the Gospel, which demands that men call on the name of the Lord, to that which this call implies, a general sending forth of ministers.  That such would be sent forth is confirmed by a passage from Isaiah 52: 7 (see Nahum 1: 15): “How beautiful are the feet of them [how welcome is their coming] that preach ... peace, that [not “and”] bring glad tidings of good things  There was a partial fulfilment of Isaiah’s words in the return from the captivity which the prophet foresaw.  Paul sees a deeper meaning, which points to the mission of the Gospel messengers, and now his argument so far is complete.  A Gospel intended for all requires ministers sent to all, and this harmonizes with the prediction that they would be sent.



16. “But they have not all obeyed the gospel” - the “glad tidings” mentioned above.  Paul restrains himself, as in 3: 3.  He might have said, “How few believed  This general disbelief, however, does not disprove that the “sent” messengers were God’s.  It actually confirms their authority.  For Isaiah foresaw this unbelief and predicted it in the sad words, “Lord, who hath believed our report or, “Who hath believed thy message heard from us  The prophet (Isa. 53: 1) is now speaking of the Messianic times, as the connection shows clearly. Paul says “they” have not obeyed.  The word is general, but he has Israel in mind, whom he soon mentions.  Israel’s rejection of the Gospel is a proof of its truthfulness.  Not only the few who in all time have believed revelation, but the many who reject it are a confirmation of its divinity.  A Gospel universally believed would not be God’s.  Jesus said, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5: 43).  And ever so God’s messenger is known by his general rejection.



17. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the [spoken] word of God  Paul is not referring to the act of listening as the source of faith.  Listening is itself faith, and all men listen to something.  Saving faith, of which he is speaking, comes from heeding saving doctrine; this is his vital point.  This verse can be paraphrased thus: Genuine faith comes by a message heard (from us [from God]), and the message heard (is) by means of the “Word of God the Word given the messenger, the Gospel.  The “Word of God or, as some read here, “of Christ does not mean His command to preach.



But why does Paul utter the words of this verse?  It is the logical conclusion of everything from verse 13 above.  The “call” that brings [eternal] salvation demands faith, and this faith comes from the Word of God sent through His messengers.  But, while this conclusion looks back to the beginning of this little section, it is drawn directly from the quotation immediately preceding, which itself comprehends what has gone before.



18. It being now shown that the Gospel which is necessary to faith has been universally given, could it be that they who have not obeyed (v. 16) did not hear?  “But I say, Have they not heard  The answer to this is a quotation from Psalm 19:  4. The quotation refers to the silent but effective message of the stars: “Their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the [inhabited] world Paul is not quoting these words in proof that men have heard.  In the verses immediately preceding there is already sufficient proof of the opportunity to hear.  By quoting the Psalmist it is beautifully suggested how vain would be the excuse that men have not heard.  The very stars declare God’s glory the world around (1: 20), and how much more must the preachers mentioned in verse 15 above!  Paul in using the Psalmist’s words does not mention him, and uses no formula of quotation.  If men have not believed it is not because they have not heard.  The opportunity of hearing was as wide as the star-studded heavens.  The believing was limited to a “few” (Matt. 7: 14).



19. “But I say, Did not Israel know  For emphasis Paul repeats the words “but I say” of verse 18.  “Israel” is not in contrast with others intended in the preceding verse, for Paul has had Israel in mind all along.  The whole chapter, as is shown at its beginning, refers primarily to nobody else.  He names them now because the very word “Israel” ought to answer the question in which it occurs.  Know what?  The Gospel or its universality?  Both; for he who knows the Gospel at all, very soon comes to know that it is for all.  In the third verse he denied that Israel knew: “For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness  If he here affirms that they did know he merely pronounces the former a wilful, guilty ignorance, (Cf. John 7: 28 with 8: 19).  The contradiction is only in form.



He answers the question, “Did not Israel know by three Scripture quotations.  “First Moses away back in his day, predicted the faith of the Gentiles, who were “no people and the guilty ignorance of Israel; because a “foolish” nation, one void of understanding, would see the truth of the Gospel to which Israel was blind, and embrace it, and thus “anger” Israel (Deut. 32: 21).  If the Gentile perceived, it is the Jew’s own fault that he did not.



20. “But Isaiah is very bold” in what he utters against Israel (Isa. 45: 1).  Where Israel was groping and failing to find the Messiah, those who sought Him not clearly discerned Him.  How can Israel be excused for ignorance of a world-wide Gospel, when even the heathen discovered it?



21. The third quotation, immediately following the one above from Isaiah, brings the matter of their guilt to a climax.  God never ceased to plead with them; but they were “disobedient and gainsaying  But even in this rebellious state he calls them “people,” a hopeful word with which to begin the next chapter.



*       *       *










This chapter from the historical point of view is logically necessary.  The Old Testament clearly promises Israel headship or leadership in the world’s worship.  This primacy they had held from the days of Moses until the days of Paul, when the latter became the chief instrument in transferring it to “another nation” (Matt. 21: 43), composed of elect persons called from all peoples (1 Pet. 2: 9, 10).  This promise of headship was made to Israel not on the ground of their national descent, as the ninth chapter above shows, but, after all, it was a national promise.  It belonged to the natural descent, and constituted their “advantage  It could not possibly be realized in the Church, because the latter knew no racial distinctions.  The essence of Judaism was separation from other people.  Two facts stood out prominently in Paul’s day: first, that the Church for the present had displaced Israel in the leadership of God’s worship in the world; second, that Israel had a promise in their “oracles” that was not realized in the Church and could not be; for the aim of the latter was not national separation, but diffusion, or, more exactly, election from all nations.  The first question Paul has already considered in the ninth and tenth chapters.  Israel was justly displaced, and by their own fault.  With the second fact the present chapter deals.  Israel as a separate people is to be restored and to realize the promises made to them in the Old Testament.  God’s far-reaching plans in the riches of His wisdom for the salvation of the world are here disclosed, provoking the exultant hymn in verses 33-36.  Israel’s present failure proves to be the world’s wealth now and their own finally.



Paul’s thought in this chapter moves around two points: (1) that the present rejection of Israel is not total (vv. 1-10), and (2) it is not final (vv. 11-36).  Under (1) he shows that as it was in the days of Elijah (vv. 2-4), so now there is an election of grace (v. 5), but not of works (v. 6), and that the rest, as the Scripture declares, were hardened (vv. 7-10).



Under (2) there are four items: (1) the rejection of Israel had a twofold aim, (a) to turn the stream of the Gospel to the Gentiles, and (b) by this means to provoke Israel to emulation (vv. 11-15); (2) the likelihood of Israel’s restoration should move the Gentiles to humility and maintenance of faith (vv. 16-24); (3) the apostle’s prediction of Israel’s restoration (vv. 25-32); and (4) the worshipful doxology (vv. 33-36).



1. “I say then, Hath God cast away his people  The preceding verse shows to whom Paul refers.  It is “gainsaying” and rejected Israel that is God’s “people  “For I also am an Israelite [of the purest blood, being] of the seed of Abraham, of [through] the tribe of Benjamin  Paul was an Israelite not by proselytism but by blood.  He asserts his pure Jewish descent not as evidence that Israel is not wholly rejected, for the proof of this proposition does not begin before the next verse is reached.  He has asked the question, “Hath God cast away his people in a negative, deprecating spirit, and his being an Israelite accounts for the manner of the question.  He is in full sympathy with his race and may be expected to answer the inquiry about Israel fairly. (See on 10: 1).



2. “God hath not cast off his people whom he foreknew  In the word “his” and the phrase “whom he foreknew” there is a double proof that Israel, though for the present rejected, is not cast off.  Among the nations of the world the Jews were the only one chosen by God for His own, with whom also He entered into covenant relations.  A king may be rejected by his subjects, but he does not reject them.  Moreover, God “foreknew” Israel.  For the meaning of this word see on 8: 29.  In this present Christian age God foreknows individuals in every nation, but Israel is the only nation He ever foreknew. He elected it as a whole to obtain the salvation in Christ when the appointed time for the blessing shall come (Matt. 23: 39).  This constitutes Israel’s “advantage” and makes it to be “much every way for no other nation has as a nation the promise of salvation before theirs.



3, 4.  And even for the present the case of Israel is not as bad as human observation would declare it to be.  By the phrase “of Elias or literally “in Elias” (1 Kings 19: 10-18), Paul resorts to the method of citation used before the Bible was divided into chapters and verses.  (See Mark 12: 26; Luke 20: 37.)  The prophet thought the nation ruined in his day; but the divine response assured him of thousands whom God had “reserved or left to Himself, from the flood of unbelief that had come upon the land.  The prophet saw the overwhelming, devouring tide, but he could not see the secret influence of the divine Spirit, who was leaving to God, and preserving from Baal, seven thousand faithful ones.



5. “Even so then at this present time  Paul was better acquainted with his days than the prophet had been with the period to which he belonged; for the apostle had the prophet’s experience to guide him and better means of observation.  He knew that in every church from Jerusalem to Rome there were always some Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, “a remnant according to the election of grace  They had not bowed the knee to the Baal of unbelief, because God’s Spirit now, as in the prophet’s day, had rescued them from the faithless sentiment of the nation against Jesus of Nazareth.  This remnant, this reserve from the unbelieving mass, has come to be and exists in accord with God’s electing grace, the phrase being added to show in what manner the remnant obtained salvation.



While the nation lies fallen and faithless, elect individuals are being brought into the Church, where, if they lose the national “advantage they get sweet access to God in the forgiveness of sins.



6. “And if by grace, then it is no more of works  The “no more” is not temporal, but logical.  Grace and works are mutually exclusive methods.  If the remnant was selected on the ground of grace, their legal works had no part whatever in the selection, else (the) grace would have lost its character as grace.  In this second mention of grace there is no article in the original.



This verse expands the phrase “election of grace  It serves also to show that the election, fully vindicated in chapter 9, is by means of grace.  This, which was implied before, is now clearly stated.  The Old Testament promised a remnant; it is shown now that nothing but grace secures it.  The latter half of this verse, “but if of works ...” is rejected by all modem editors.



7. “What then  How does the case now stand?  “Israel [the nation] hath not obtained that which he seeketh for [viz., righteousness (9: 31, 32)]; but the election [the elect remnant] hath obtained it  Paul uses the abstract “election” rather than the concrete “elect to throw the emphasis on the means and not on the result. “And the rest [the mass of natural Israel] were [not “blinded,” but] “hardened  Since the remnant was saved by grace, there was no injustice done to the “rest  For who can complain if salvation came to some where none deserved it?  And if the undeserving remnant was saved because God would and when He would, why may not the “rest” be saved in His own time and by the same free grace?



8-10.  Scripture is quoted not only in confirmation of the hardening of the “rest” of Israel, but also as descriptive of their sad spiritual condition during the time of their rejection (Isa. 29: 10; Deut. 29: 4; Ps. 69: 22, 23).  The parentheses in the King James Version in verse 8 must be removed.  The words “unto this day” are not Paul’s, but a part of the quotation.  What was true in their author’s day remained so in Paul’s, and is yet sadly true.  In the word “table” there is a picture of men feasting, eating and drinking, unconscious that their enemies are just upon them.  The Jew’s carnal security while trusting in the law proved his spiritual ruin.  But the quotation is poetic, and need not be rigidly defined.  “And bow [thou] down their back always” under the heavy legal yoke (Acts 15: 10).  The “always” does not mean forever, or the whole discussion concerning Israel must end here.  “Alway,” converted in a few cases by some editors into a phrase, occurs about seven times, and means continuously or without interruption (Luke 24: 53; Heb. 13: 15).  It is not an indefinite, but a limited term, limited by the circumstances of which it speaks.



11.  From this verse to the end of the discussion Paul considers the case of the great fallen mass of Israel.  (See under (2) above.)  He has already shown the cause of the fall (9: 31-10: 21) in their own sin, the result of which was their hardening.  It remains to speak of the divine purpose in their present moral condition and the outcome of the whole.



“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall  The question is put negatively and deprecatingly, as in the first verse above.  They did not stumble that they might fall, did they?  Was this the whole and only purpose?  They are fallen, but is this the intended outcome of their history?  “God forbid There was a gracious, far-reaching aim in their rejection.  The early preachers of the Gospel were so full of the Spirit that they must preach; the Gospel was like a fire in their bones; and since the Jews would not receive it, they turned elsewhere (Acts 11: 20; 13: 46, 47).  Through the Jews’ fall salvation went to the Gentiles, to provoke the former to emulation.  “Jealousy” is not the best word.  In time Israel will see that the world has gained what they lost by their obstinacy, and the salvation of the Gentiles will teach Israel what they did not learn before they saw that salvation.  Two happy results, then, flow from their fall: a world diffusion of the stream of life, a stream in which the fallen Jew may in time wash himself from the uncleanness of his own self-righteousness (Isa. 64: 6).



12. “Now if the [sinful] fall of them is the riches of the world [in that by the fall the world got the gospel], and [to repeat the same question in another form, if] the diminishing of them [is] the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness  Three words here demand attention.  Twice Paul calls the Gospel sent to the Gentiles their “riches  It was not their territory, not their armies, not their culture, not their treasures, that constituted their wealth (Rev. 2: 9; 3: 17).  Again, the word “diminishing” has had various renderings, “loss “diminution,” “defeat  It occurs in only one other instance in the New Testament (1 Cor. 6: 7), where it is translated “fault  Furthermore, has the word a moral or a numerical sense?  Sanday stands for the meaning “defeat which Godet says is impossible.  On the whole, the word seems to be numerical, and signifies diminution.  Israel was reduced to the small number of the elect.  And it must be noted, though it is but a shade, that it is not the elect that Paul has in mind, but the nation thus reduced.  It was the diminishing of the nation, and not the elect, that brought riches to the Gentiles.



Again, the meaning of this word determines that of the last one, “fullness  The latter is also numerical.  It denotes that which fills out or fills full an empty space.  Israel by their fall created a great void in their ranks. The “fullness” looks to the future reoccupation of this present vacancy.  Note how the salvation of the world turns on God’s dealing with Israel.  Their fall sent the Gospel to the Gentiles; their fullness is to issue in something vastly greater than the present riches; ultimate redemption is relative to them.  In a very wide sense “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4: 22).



13, 14. “I am the apostle of the Gentiles or, as the Revised Version, “I am an apostle of Gentiles  Paul has shown such an ardent desire for the welfare of the Jews, and has now, beginning at chapter 9, devoted so much of his epistle to them, that an explanation is due to the Roman church, which, as this passage implies, was Gentile.  Whatever Jews were in it had lost Jewish caste.  “I speak to you” (the whole Roman church), you, the “Gentiles,” about Israel, for their welfare mightily affects yours.  (At this point in the King James text insert a colon.)  But while I speak to you and am an apostle of Gentiles, this apostleship looks also toward Israel (Acts 9: 15; Rom. 1: 5).  “Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I glorify my [Gentile] ministry [I endeavour to give it a resplendent success]: if by any means I may provoke to emulation my flesh [the Jews], and might save some of them!'



The “for” introducing these two verses is not genuine; the approved reading is “but  The verses are not a parenthesis, but a logical part of Paul’s argument, answering an objection that might arise in the minds of his Gentile readers because he says so much about the Jews.  He is labouring for the Gentiles, glorifying his office to them, but with the salvation of at least “some” Jews in view.  For Gentile salvation cannot be accomplished directly, cannot be reached, without the “fullness” of the Jews.  Therefore he is interested in the Jews for the Gentiles’ sake, and the Romans ought to be interested in them for the same reason.  If Paul can in labouring for the Gentiles save “some” Jews, he has accomplished so much toward the “fullness” necessary to the completion of Gentile or world salvation.



15. “For if the casting away of them …” This verse gives the grand reason (“for”) for Paul’s labouring to reach the Jew through his Gentile ministry.  It is a kind of ministry little thought of today.  The condition of Gentile Christianity is not such now as to impress the Jew with its superiority.



The verse repeats the idea of the twelfth and brings this section of the argument to its climax.  The “casting away” is equivalent to “their fall” or “diminution”; the “reconciling of the world” is equivalent to the “riches of the world” or “of the Gentiles”; the “receiving of them” is tantamount to “their fullness”; and the “life from the dead” to the “how much more  For the significance of the phrase “reconciling of the world” see 2 Corinthians 5: 19.  In the verse before us it means that on the Jews’ rejection God was pleased to send the Gospel to the Gentiles.  This reconciliation on God’s part became the “riches of the Gentiles The difficult point in the verse is in the words “life from the dead  The question is twofold: Who receives this life, and what is it?



On the surface the answer to the first question seems plain.  In the first member of the sentence the clause “reconciling of the world” must mean the Gentiles.  The parallel demands the same meaning for this second clause.  The casting away of the Jews was the “reconciling of the world”; the receiving of the Jews into favour again will be “life from the dead” extending over the world.  Of course the phrase in question must mean something vastly more than the action contained in the words “reconciling of the world or there is no climax.  But what is that “how much more”?  Meyer contends that the words must have their literal meaning and that they refer to actual bodily resurrection.  If Paul says “life from the dead” instead of “resurrection from the dead it is because his eye is fixed upon the permanent and blessed state beyond the act which leads to it.  This answers Alford’s objection based on this word “life  Meyer’s view is favoured by Sanday, and “so many have understood it.” (Boise).  It has the advantage of preserving the literalness of the words and of being in harmony with that expectation of the Jews - an expectation of resurrection warranted, as they thought, by their own Scriptures.  If Paul, as above, makes his argument point toward the [first] resurrection of the Gentiles, it was because it was necessary to assure them also of this “hope” (Eph. 2: 12), without which they had lived in all time past.  But the resurrection of the Jew must occur at the same time.  He looked for it. Paul says the Jew [in the underworld] instantly served God day and night in hope of attaining to this promise (Acts 26: 6-8).  Jesus constantly held out this hope (Matt. 8: 11; Luke 13: 28-30; John 11: 25).  He showed Himself again and again the master of death.  The Jew looked for resurrection at the coming of the Messiah (Dan. 12: 1, 2), but he failed to see that Jesus was the Messiah and so failed of the [spiritual] resurrection.  When Israel shall be received again, then comes their own resurrection as well as that belonging to the world. And so Paul has adroitly but powerfully turned the attention of his Gentile readers to the Jews.  Until the latter are received the Gentile [dead] cannot hope for resurrection.



16. “For if the first-fruit be holy  The “for” is not in the original.  It ought to be “now” or “but (See 2 under (2) above.)  Paul has not yet asserted that Israel will be restored, but he has shown what blessed results would follow if they were restored.  It is their fall that is still before him, and on this he bases an exhortation to his Gentile readers.



“First fruit  For the figure see Numbers 15: 21.  The handful of dough offered to the Lord was evidence of the worthiness of the whole mass from which it was taken.  The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are the first fruits, and neither Christ nor the first Jewish Christians at Pentecost, for branches could not be said to be broken off from these.  “Holy not in the moral sense, but as consecrated to God for His own purpose.  For this technical sense see Deuteronomy 7: 6 and 1 Corinthians 7: 14.  The “lump” is the whole lineal descent from the patriarchs.  The “root  He changes his figure from a lump of dough to that of a tree, because the latter is easier of expansion in argument.  The root, again, is Abraham not merely as a man, but as one having the promises; and the branches are his descendants, the fleshly Israel, called “holy” in the sense given above.



What Paul is after in this discussion under the figure of the olive tree must be clearly kept in mind, or his parable dazzles without helping sight.  (a) He is not considering Abraham as the ground or root of salvation, for this is Christ.  The failure to understand Paul here has led some (Origen, Theodoret) to call Christ the “root (b) It is not a question of fruit-bearing, but of dependence, or his figure would not be true to nature. Fruit is in accord with the engrafted scion, and not with the nature of the root.  (c) It is not a question of the continuity of the Church.  Sanday’s statement, “The olive tree, the church of God looked at as one continuous body,” is confusing.  The olive tree is the Jewish nation as a whole, which was anything but a church. Moreover, the continuity of ancient Israel in the Church is both inconsistent with the character of Israel’s restoration and contradictory of the declared relation of the two.  The Church is not a branch sprung from the root, but a graft brought to it.  Israel is the basis of the Church, but not the source.  Israel is a development, the Church a creation (Eph. 2: 12; 3: 9).  (d) The only question considered is from what national sources and in what chronological order and relation God called men to be His own spiritual people.  He did call some Jews to be His, but they were not made His because they were Jews.  The olive tree had the promise of salvation first, and Paul here shows why that promise was not realized now, and that, while there remains a possibility of its future realization, meantime the branch from the wild olive, the Gentiles, came into relations with the good olive.



17.  “And if [But if] some of the branches [the “rest” in verse 7 above] be broken off [denied the covenant salvation of Abraham], and thou [the Gentile believer, addressed directly for emphasis], being a wild olive [not “tree,” but branch, a member of an alien race having no direct promise of salvation (cf. Eph. 2:12 with 19)], wert grafted in among them [made by faith a child of the covenant and of God], and with them [the believing Jews, the branches left standing] partakest [didst become a partaker] of the root and fatness of the olive tree  Some by rejecting the “and” read “partaker of the root of the fatness  The root is Abraham, not as a mere physical progenitor of Israel, but as the covenant father (Gal. 3: 16, 29; Rom. 4: 11, 12), and the root of the fatness is the covenant with Him which supplies the fatness, the salvation.  The Gentile was grafted in by means of his faith to which he was elected (Acts 13: 48).



18. The “if” beginning the last verse extends over the first part of this one.  [But] If some (a miosis) were broken off and thou wast grafted in, “boast not against the branches” that were broken off and are fallen.  The boasting of the Gentile in this case would be most painful to him who could wish himself accursed for his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh.  “But if thou boast” thou art absurd, for “thou bearest not the root, but the root thee  The covenant of salvation made with Abraham is not sustained by the Gentile, he is sustained and saved by the covenant.  It was clearly promised that the nations should be blessed, but blessed in Abraham (Gen. 22: 18).



19, 20.  From Paul’s admonition the Gentile believer would deduce (“then”) a reply: “Branches [omit “the”] were broken off, that I [emphatic] might be grafted in  Paul admits the fact (“well”), but warningly directs the proud Gentile’s attention to another side of it: by want of faith they we broken off, and only by faith do you stand as a wild branch on the       good stock.  You stand not because they fell and not because you are a Gentile, but solely by faith, having no direct covenant.  It might be well for Gentile Christianity to lay this to heart today.  When simple trust in God fails, what better is a Gentile church member than the wrongly despised Jew?  The admonition suits every age.  “Be not high-minded, but fear



21. Why fear?  Because “if God spared not the natural branches to whose ancestors the promises were made, and who were “his people” (v. 1 above) - if He spared not them because of their unbelief, why should He spare you, a wild branch, if you become faithless, as they are?  Why should God have any more regard for a faithless Gentile Christianity than for faithless Judaism?  The italic words in the King James Version add nothing to the sense, rather hinder. (See the Revised Version.)



22. “Behold therefore  Because the Gentile stands solely by his faith, let him “therefore” avoid boasting, and cease from high-mindedness, and stop saying “I to look rather at the action of God.  “Severity” and “goodness.”  On them which fell came severity, and on “thee, goodness [the Gentile merited nothing], if thou continue in his goodness  The contingency must not be overlooked.  This continuance depended largely on God’s favour toward the Gentile believer, but also upon his own conduct.  The relation of the two here, as elsewhere, is not given.  The Gentile is responsible for his conduct, and if he fails to honour God he will fall as did the Jew.  (See the letters addressed to the churches in Rev. 2: 3.)  “Otherwise thou also shalt be cut off  For why should God spare a hollow faithless Church that fails to appreciate its ineffable mercy (Eph. 2: 4, 5), when He spared not “his people”?



23, 24. “And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief  When God’s purpose in breaking them off is served their blindness will be removed (2 Cor. 3: 14-16), and they will come into the blessed “advantage” mentioned in 3: 2.  Here again there is a contingency.  God does all, but He acts also on the human conscience and will mediately.  He would influence the Gentile by fear lest he be broken off; He would move Israel by hope, the hope of regaining his lost standing.  His rejection is not absolute and final.  “God is able to graft them [the fallen branches] in again  Paul’s reference to God’s power is not to His abstract ability, which would be commonplace, but He is able, stubborn as Israel seems, to remove his unbelief, the real hindrance. The twenty-fourth verse elucidates (“for”) what Paul means in appealing to God’s concrete power as the means of Israel’s restoration.  He is able to graft them in again, because in love He can shape their circumstances, their religious education, and their history in a form to lead them to Christ.  The figure of the olive tree in this verse is not to be pressed, else his “how much more” becomes “how much less  For certainly it would be easier to graft in a living wild branch than a dead natural branch.  Israel lies sapless and withered.  The inherent condition of the branches, whether dead or alive, is just what does not come into view.  The point is the usual course taken in grafting.  The gardener for some purpose might graft a wild shoot on a good stock, but “how much more” likely is it that he will graft in good branches!  A man might leave by will a large portion of his estate to the son of a stranger, but how much more will he devise for his own children!  Divested of the figurative language, Paul’s thought is this: if God could wean some Gentiles from their idol-worship and their gross immorality and lead them to adopt the religion of another nation, can he not “much more” lead Israel to adopt their own ancestral worship when they are once brought to see what it is, and that it is their own, and that their ignorant works have been perverting it?  God’s ability is in His unfailing love toward Israel.



What is gained in the figure lies in its suggestion.  “Nature” seems to mean here the established course of things in the kingdom.  Its course lay through Israel. Gentile salvation is contrary to “nature,” and Jewish rejection is also contrary to “nature  The course of things, that is, nature, will in due time assert itself. Therefore let the Gentile fear; let the Jew hope.  The wild branch may be broken off, the fallen one grafted in a again.



25.  With this verse begins (see (2) 3 above) the direct prediction of fallen Israel’s restoration.  Paul has been speaking of the possibility of it.  Here he justifies (“for”) his assertion of the possibility by declaring that there is a temporal limit to Israel’s rejection.  It only lasts “until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in  This is revealed for moral purposes, that the brethren of the Roman church, being Gentiles, may not be “wise in their own conceits” and arrogate to themselves a religious supremacy that can never end.  How completely this very Roman church does this very thing today, and how fully Protestantism imitates her so far!  To the religious world this section of this chapter is a dead letter and is made “of none effect” (Mark 7: 13) by the current tradition.  This Jewish blindness with its limit in time is called a “mystery that is, a fact which could not be known except by revelation.  Religious history is not a natural development; its source is in the divine will and its explanation is in His Word.  History may throw some light on the Bible, but the Bible sheds much more on history.  It is not because the Jew is morally worse and the Gentile morally better that religious supremacy passed from one to the other; it came about because this was God’s plan to save both Jew and Gentile.  And the transfer having been made, human ken could not have dreamed that it is ever to be reversed; it is a “mystery” which the Gentile is slow to believe.



“That blindness [hardness] in part has happened to Israel  It is not a total, but a partial hardness; it exists not for all time, but only “until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in  This phrase, “fullness of the Gentiles is obscure.  It certainly does not mean that all the Gentiles are first to be saved.  The Scriptures nowhere promise this for the present age, for which Paul knows of nothing but an election, the idea of which excludes that of general and complete salvation.  Furthermore, Paul (in v. 15 above) puts the conversion of the world not before, but after, the “receiving” of Israel, their restoration being the chief condition in the salvation of the Gentiles.



The phrase may mean (so Govett) that the void made in Israel, by the hardening and fall of a part is filled up from the Gentiles.  In this case the “of” would, as it might, mean “from,” and the words “come in” would get a fair meaning - come into the vacancy.  In the parable in Luke 14: 16-24 the bidden guests refuse to come, after which the servant is sent into the highways and hedges (among the Gentiles), “that as the host said, “my house may be filled  He got the fullness for his house from these strange places.  In Matthew 22: 1-14, after the king has destroyed the city in which his first invitation was rejected, he finds a supply of guests by going beyond and bringing together as many as he found, “both bad and good a part only of whom were accepted, “for many are called, but few chosen  This view is not worthy of the harsh condemnation of Godet, that it “tortures at will” the words of the apostle.  It is plausible, but lacks support from anything in the context.



The explanation of the phrase is not to be found in any numerical, but in the temporal view.  “Until” suggests time.  The whole context brings up the notion of time.  Jerusalem is to be “trodden down until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21: 24).  This view has so much in its favour that it overbalances the difficulty left by it in the words “be come in  The phrase may be used metaphorically.



26. “And so all Israel shall be saved  “So” looks to the removal of the circumstances just mentioned, the partial blindness and the limit.  The illogical notion that “Israel” here is the spiritual Israel is no longer held.  It is the fallen, rejected, natural Israel, the only nation in this age that has the promise of salvation as a whole. It will not be merely Christianized, but Christian.  He gives a Scripture proof that Israel shall be saved: “It is written [in Isa 59: 20 after the Septuagint, and in other places substantially, Isa. 27: 9; Ps. 14: 7], There shall come out of Zion [Ps. 110: 2] [the place of God’s glory] the Deliverer [the Goel, a strong kinsman who avenges his weaker friends], and shall turn away ungodliness [Ps. 99] [impieties] from Jacob  The word “Jacob the fleshly name, found in the quotation, gives the meaning of the word “Israel  Whether the reference is to the first or to the second coming of the Messiah is not indicated.  The promise of deliverance for Jacob is connected with a coming of the Christ.  He has come; He will surely make good that for which He came.



27.  A second Scripture proof of Israel’s restoration.  “And [not “for”] this [which follows] is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins  The word “Jacob” looks at them in the mass; the word “their” looks at them individually.  The sense of the verse is, “When I shall take away their sins, this taking away of sins is my side of the covenant with them  God’s covenant promises the taking away of sins, and it cannot be broken.  The verse seems to be a condensation of Jeremiah 31: 31-34.



28, 29. Paul now reviews and sums up the previous discussion.  Israel in their relation to the Gospel are “enemies [regarded as such by God] for your sakes  He withheld the Gospel from them that you might have it.  But Israel in relation to their own election by God as His people are “beloved for the fathers’ sakes Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The election here does not refer to the elect remnant now in the Church, but to God’s choice of the Jewish nation as His own (Deut. 7: 6).  That Israel is beloved for the fathers’ sakes sounds strange in view of what John the Baptist said: “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father  But John was only denying salvation on the ground of natural descent, which Paul also denies. The covenant descent, which requires the faith of him with whom the covenant is made, is everywhere allowed (Luke 13: 16; 19: 9; Acts 3: 25).  “If the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches Israel is beloved not as the natural, but as the covenant descent.  God loved the fathers not alone as men, but as those who believed His promise about an innumerable progeny.  That love is a guaranty that God will make the descent like the fathers and worthy of them.  He will not mock the fathers’ faith about their progeny.  He will take away ungodliness from Jacob, and see to it (v. 23) that they “abide not still in unbelief  For while beloved for the fathers’ sakes, they will be saved by faith.  They are an intensely religious race, strangely preserved.  Their zeal will in due time be according to knowledge.



That Israel is still beloved is proved by the general principle of the kingdom, based on the divine character, that the “gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”  The “gifts” are not the “moral and intellectual aptitudes” with which God has endowed the Jews (Godet), but their own peculiar possessions, already enumerated (9: 4, 5).  The “calling” is that act of God in which He chose them for His people.  These gifts and this calling are “without repentance” on God’s part; He will never recall them.  Having once given them to Israel, He makes them theirs forever; He does not change (3: 3; Mal. 3: 6).



30, 31. “For” introduces these two verses not as a proof, but as indicating how the general principle just mentioned will be realized by Israel.  “For as ye in times past ...” The contrast between the “ye,” the Romans, and the “their” shows that the Roman church was in the main Gentile.  These Gentiles once disbelieved God and were dead in sins; but they obtained mercy by the unbelief of the Jews, as described in verses 11 and 12 above.  And just so “these” have not believed, “that through your mercy [the same mercy shown to you] they also may obtain mercy  As the Gentile’s disobedience brought him the mercy of God, so the Jew’s disobedience will bring him the same mercy, in which he will realize that God’s gifts and calling are changeless.



32. The “for” introducing this verse is hardly argumentative; it confirms nothing.  Verses 30 and 31 practically restate everything from verse 11 in a single sentence.  The verse before us puts these two verses, especially the thirty-first, in another form, almost that of a general principle of God’s dealing with men.  His whole action with both Jew and Gentile comes to this, that he “hath concluded [locked up as in a prison] them all in unbelief [with this grand purpose], that he might have mercy upon all  There is nothing richer than His mercy.  If the Jews, for instance, had obeyed Him they could have experienced only His fidelity.  Mercy, which wholly excludes privilege or merit, is the grand idea (Eph. 2: 4, 5).  The Jew will find His gifts and calling, but then come to Him as a matter of mercy - mercy that excludes “boasting” (3: 27).  Authorities are divided on the meaning of “all  It certainly does not refer to the elect; the whole context forbids that.  But does it mean all men, all individuals (Meyer, Alford), or all nations, the Jews and the Gentiles about whom Paul has been speaking?  The context is decisive for the latter.



This general principle, as some have failed to notice, describes God’s attitude toward men, and not the outcome of that attitude.  It does not contradict other plain Scriptures by teaching universal salvation, or salvation without faith.  “The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” (Gal. 3: 22).  The principle says nothing about the outcome of the divine mercy toward all.  It simply declares that God has actively and directly locked up all in sin so that He may have mercy toward all; that if they are saved they are saved by mercy.



This is the final and complete explanation of the Jew’s fall.  He was by nature a sinner; God hedged that nature about with a rigid law to show him what his real character was.  He tried to find liberty within its iron bars, but gets only slavery.  Mercy alone can deliver him.  The Gentile in Paul’s day had no law, but sought liberty in wisdom, his own wisdom (1: 21, 22), and in his quest became a fool and a slave to his lust.



God knows that man cannot save himself, that no form of civil government and no system of ethics, even though it be that of the Old or of the New Testament, can attain to liberty.  But Man does not know it; he is in the rough prison, shut up under sin to learn it, to learn that salvation cannot be reached by human effort, that it comes down from God, the absolute gift of His mercy.



This divine purpose of mercy is not only the explanation of the Jew’s fall, but of the continuance of the world in sin.  It is the key to those terrible first chapters of the epistle.  Universal condemnation leads to the universal principle of mercy.  And what Paul saw in his world-wide view in his day is still sadly true.  The nations are in sin; Israel still refuses the Christ.  The lesson of sin’s prison-house is not yet learned; but what the elect have found out all along - that there is no hope in themselves - the nations will learn in due time, and man’s works will cease, and God’s principle of mercy toward all will bring salvation.  God now elects men from both Jew and Gentile; Jew and Gentile will then elect God.  Verse 32 is the climax of the epistle.



33-36.  Having completed his argument, Paul, in reviewing God’s plans and purposes as they were unfolded to him, breaks forth in a lofty strain of adoration to Him who is guiding the nations and the world to salvation. “We have learned Paul’s meaning only when we can join in this ascription of praise” (M. B. Riddle).  It is a hymn of faith not in man, but in God.  To be sure, there was a chain of churches reaching from Jerusalem to Rome, but the world around was sunk in heathenish darkness; Satan was god of the world (2 Cor. 4: 4), “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2: 2); false professors were many (Phil. 3: 18) and false teachers were arising (Acts 20: 29, 30), while bonds and afflictions awaited the apostle himself (Acts 20: 23); but he saw the meaning of it all in seeing that God had an ultimate merciful purpose for all, and hence this optimistic worship.  (See 4 above under (2).)



“0 the depth  With most commentators, this should probably be translated, “0 the depth of the riches and of the wisdom and of the knowledge of GodHe unfolds these chiastically, treating of the wisdom and knowledge to the end of verse 34, and of the riches in the remaining two verses.  The word “depth as Chrysostom suggests, is the language of wondering admiration when one cannot see all.  “Riches” is to be taken absolutely.  It is not the riches of His grace, nor of any one thing, but of all.  God is inexpressibly rich. “Wisdom” adapts means to ends, and “knowledge” sees both in all their relations.  Paul, from the mountain height attained in his argument, beholds in one view the history of man from the beginning in Adam to the triumphant end in Christ as King of kings.  This history is not man’s, but God’s in His dealing with man, a history of God’s own wisdom and knowledge.  Paul is the true historian of the race as well as the true philosopher.  No man can be either who leaves God out.  Hence man’s history of himself is one of blood and failure.  The Bible teaches more real knowledge about mankind than is to be found in all other books.



“How unsearchable his judgments, and his ways past finding out  Mere human wisdom cannot understand them and so pronounces them folly (1 Cor. 2: 14).  His “judgments” are the product of His wisdom; His “ways” the mode of His procedure (Meyer) in making His decrees effective.  Here is the secret of profound reverence and devout worship.  This swelling doxology, this burst of praise, comes forth as Paul scans the “ways” of God and sees something of His wide purposes for men.  It comes not from a contemplation of God’s infinitely tender heart, but of His infinitely wise mind.  Men know God’s acts; the masters know His ways (Ps. 103: 7).



History and prophecy!  Without these, true reverence cannot be reached.  A mystery remains, for His judgments are unsearchable and His riches have a depth that is lost in darkness.  But it is the mystery of intelligence and not of superstition, a mystery that swathes reverence with a celestial glory.  Paul could not have worshiped here had he been able to see all; but he saw enough to console him for the present rejection of his kinsmen according to the flesh; enough to satisfy him that the Word of God had not failed, though Israel was not saved; enough to be sure that, while only a meagre elect number from both Jew and Gentile was as yet accepted, this was God’s way that ultimately He might have mercy on all.  Therefore, standing in the midst of a world full of idolatry and woe, Paul adored.



34. “For who hath known the mind of the Lord  A proof (“for”) from the Septuagint Scriptures (Isa. 40: 13) that God’s judgments and decrees are such as they are declared to be in the last verse.  It is well-nigh a challenge to produce the man outside the circle of the inspired prophets and apostles the wise man that understood God or that could give Him advice.  The religious element in uninspired history and philosophy is folly, and Paul has already (1: 22) in this epistle called its authors fools (1 Cor. 2: 8; 3: 19, 20).  This verse again looks chiastically at what precedes, “the mind of the Lord corresponding to the mention of “knowledge” above, and the word “counsellor” to “wisdom  God’s love explains God’s gifts, but His mind and wisdom alone explain His providence or the manner in which He makes the gifts of love effective.



Modern thought of the advanced sort fails here.  It attempts to explain everything by love, with an inadequate notion even of what that is, and so belittles the Book of divine history and prophecy by denying it any proper inspiration.  Who has known the mind of the Lord, except as it was divinely revealed to him?  “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy mind” - study His ways.



35.  With this verse Paul enlarges on the word “riches” above.  The reference is to Job 35: 7 or 51: 11.  No one ever gave to God.  Salvation and the whole plan of its administration are of grace.  No one ever receives God’s favour as a recompense for something done.  The “Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him” (10: 12). They call not to give, but as beggars (Matt. 5: 3) to receive out of His store.



36. “For of ... through ... to him, are all things  This verse is the proof that no one gives to God and therefore receives a recompense.  For “of him” are all things; He is their source, the Creator.  And “through him” are all things; He is the mediator of their existence; He upholds, rules, and directs.  And “to him are all things”; He is their final cause; they serve ultimately not man’s, but God’s, ends.  To Paul this was not a dry statement of theologic fact, as a matter of course, but a reason for worship.  All things, all events, are full of God.  To Him be the befitting glory to the ages.  Amen.



(1) It is to be noticed in this momentous discussion that Paul regards God’s covenant with Abraham as one embracing his natural seed and perpetually valid; that he uses the words “Jacob” and “Israel” not in reference to the Church, but to designate this natural seed.  In the Old Testament he must have read these words in the same way, so that he did not apply what concerns Jacob and Israel to the Church.  Much of the Old Testament remains unfulfilled.



(2) Again, he keeps up the sharp distinction between Jew and Gentile; but the ultimate salvation of both is vitally linked together, so that neither party can be saved without the other.  Paul, though an apostle to the Gentiles, laboured also to save the Jews on this very account.  Missions to the Jews are eminently scriptural. His own conception of the matter was “to the Jew first (See on 1: 16.)



(3) Again, neither the unbelief of Israel nor of the nations is estopping the current of God’s rich grace.  What the nations are losing, the “election” from all nations is gaining.  The Gospel disbelieved by races is saving), individuals.



(4) While Paul does not predict the breaking off of the engrafted wild olive branch, the Church, he warns it ominously.  It has no guaranty in a covenant, as has even fallen Israel.  It stands alone by faith.  The individuals of the Church, the elect, have the most comforting assurance of eternal salvation, but God has not promised to continue to elect.  Indeed, it is impossible to see how individual election, the source of the Church, is consistent with God’s ultimate “mercy upon all Election is a means to an end in God’s wide dealing with men.  When the end is reached, election will cease.



(5) And finally, Paul contents himself with predicting the fact of Israel’s restoration.  He has not one word to say about the details, whether the Jews will revive their ancient liturgy, rebuild Jerusalem, and possess their land; of these and similar questions he is instructively silent.