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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - ROMANS 11
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    CHAPTER 11

    Ro 11:1-36. SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED AND CONCLUDED--THE ULTIMATE INBRINGING OF ALL ISRAEL, TO BE, WITH THE GENTILES, ONE KINGDOM OF GOD ON THE EARTH.

    1. I say then, Hath--"Did"
    - God cast away his people? God forbid--Our Lord did indeed announce that "the kingdom of God should be taken from Israel" (Mt 21:41); and when asked by the Eleven, after His resurrection, if He would at that time "restore the kingdom to Israel," His reply is a virtual admission that Israel was in some sense already out of covenant (Ac 1:9). Yet here the apostle teaches that, in two respects, Israel was not "cast away"; First, Not totally; Second, Not finally. FIRST, Israel is not wholly cast away.
    - for I also am an Israelite--See Php 3:5, and so a living witness to the contrary.
    - of the seed of Abraham--of pure descent from the father of the faithful.
    - of the tribe of Benjamin-- (Php 3:5), that tribe which, on the revolt of the ten tribes, constituted, with Judah, the one faithful kingdom of God (1Ki 12:21), and after the captivity was, along with Judah, the kernel of the Jewish nation (Ezr 4:1; 10:9).

    2-4. God hath--"did"
    - not cast away his people--that is, wholly
    - which he foreknew--On the word "foreknew," see on Ro 8:29.
    - Wot--that is, "Know"
    - ye not that the scripture saith of--literally, "in," that is, in the section which relates to
    - Elias? how he maketh intercession--"pleadeth"
    - against Israel--(The word "saying," which follows, as also the particle "and" before "digged down," should be omitted, as without manuscript authority).

    3. and I am left alone--"I only am left."

    4. seven thousand, that have not bowed the knee to Baal--not "the image of Baal," according to the supplement of our version.

    5. Even so at this present time--"in this present season"; this period of Israel's rejection. (See Ac 1:7, Greek).
    - there is--"there obtains," or "hath remained"
    - a remnant according to the election of grace--"As in Elijah's time the apostasy of Israel was not so universal as it seemed to be, and as he in his despondency concluded it to be, so now, the rejection of Christ by Israel is not so appalling in extent as one would be apt to think: There is now, as there was then, a faithful remnant; not however of persons naturally better than the unbelieving mass, but of persons graciously chosen to salvation." (See 1Co 4:7; 2Th 2:13). This establishes our view of the argument on Election in Ro 9:1-29, as not being an election of Gentiles in the place of Jews, and merely to religious advantages, but a sovereign choice of some of Israel itself, from among others, to believe and be saved. (See on Ro 9:6.)

    6. And, &c.--better, "Now if it (the election) be by grace, it is no more of works; for [then] grace becomes no more grace: but if it be of works," &c. (The authority of ancient manuscripts against this latter clause, as superfluous and not originally in the text, though strong, is not sufficient, we think, to justify its exclusion. Such seeming redundancies are not unusual with our apostle). The general position here laid down is of vital importance: That there are but two possible sources of salvation--men's works, and God's grace; and that these are so essentially distinct and opposite, that salvation cannot be of any combination or mixture of both, but must be wholly either of the one or of the other. (See on Ro 4:3, Note 3.)

    7-10. What then?--How stands the fact?
    - Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for--better, "What Israel is in search of (that is, Justification, or acceptance with God--see on Ro 9:31); this he found not; but the election (the elect remnant of Israel) found it, and the rest were hardened," or judicially given over to the "hardness of their own hearts."

    8. as it is written-- (Isa 29:10; De 29:4).
    - God hath given--"gave"
    - them the spirit of slumber--"stupor"
    - unto this day--"this present day."

    9. And David saith-- (Ps 69:23), which in such a Messianic psalm must be meant of the rejecters of Christ.
    - Let their table, &c.--that is, Let their very blessings prove a curse to them, and their enjoyments only sting and take vengeance on them.

    10. Let their eyes be darkened . . . and bow down their back alway--expressive either of the decrepitude, or of the servile condition, to come on the nation through the just judgment of God. The apostle's object in making these quotations is to show that what he had been compelled to say of the then condition and prospects of his nation was more than borne out by their own Scriptures. But, SECONDLY, God has not cast away His people finally. The illustration of this point extends, Ro 11:11-31.

    11. I say then, Have they stumbled--"Did they stumble"
    - that they should fall? God forbid; but--the supplement "rather" is better omitted.
    - through their fall--literally, "trespass," but here best rendered "false step" [DE WETTE]; not "fall," as in our version.
    - salvation is come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy--Here, as also in Ro 10:19 (quoted from De 32:21), we see that emulation is a legitimate stimulus to what is good.

    12. Now if the fall of them--"But if their trespass," or "false step"
    - be the riches of the--Gentile
    - world--as being the occasion of their accession to Christ.
    - and the diminishing of them--that is, the reduction of the true Israel to so small a remnant.
    - the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness!--that is, their full recovery (see on Ro 11:26); that is, "If an event so untoward as Israel's fall was the occasion of such unspeakable good to the Gentile world, of how much greater good may we expect an event so blessed as their full recovery to be productive?"

    13, 14. I speak--"am speaking"
    - to you Gentiles--another proof that this Epistle was addressed to Gentile believers. (See on Ro 1:13).
    - I magnify--"glorify"
    - mine office--The clause beginning with "inasmuch" should be read as a parenthesis.

    14. If . . . I may provoke, &c. (See on Ro 11:11.)
    - my flesh--Compare Isa 58:7.

    15. For if the casting away of them--The apostle had denied that they were east away (Ro 11:1); here he affirms it. But both are true; they were cast away, though neither totally nor finally, and it is of this partial and temporary rejection that the apostle here speaks.
    - be the reconciling of the--Gentile
    - world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?--The reception of the whole family of Israel, scattered as they are among all nations under heaven, and the most inveterate enemies of the Lord Jesus, will be such a stupendous manifestation of the power of God upon the spirits of men, and of His glorious presence with the heralds of the Cross, as will not only kindle devout astonishment far and wide, but so change the dominant mode of thinking and feeling on all spiritual things as to seem like a resurrection from the dead.

    16. For--"But"
    - if the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root . . . so the branches--The Israelites were required to offer to God the first-fruits of the earth--both in their raw state, in a sheaf of newly reaped grain (Le 23:10, 11), and in their prepared state, made into cakes of dough (Nu 15:19-21) --by which the whole produce of that season was regarded as hallowed. It is probable that the latter of these offerings is here intended, as to it the word "lump" best applies; and the argument of the apostle is, that as the separation unto God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, from the rest of mankind, as the parent stem of their race, was as real an offering of first-fruits as that which hallowed the produce of the earth, so, in the divine estimation, it was as real a separation of the mass or "lump" of that nation in all time to God. The figure of the "root" and its "branches" is of like import--the consecration of the one of them extending to the other.

    17, 18. And if--rather, "But if"; that is, "If notwithstanding this consecration of Abraham's race to God.
    - some of the branches--The mass of the unbelieving and rejected Israelites are here called "some," not, as before, to meet Jewish prejudice (see on Ro 3:3, and on "not all" in Ro 10:16), but with the opposite view of checking Gentile pride.
    - and thou, being a wild olive, wert--"wast"
    - grafted in among them--Though it is more usual to graft the superior cutting upon the inferior stem, the opposite method, which is intended here, is not without example.
    - and with them partakest--"wast made partaker," along with the branches left, the believing remnant.
    - of the root and fatness of the olive tree--the rich grace secured by covenant to the true seed of Abraham.

    18. Boast not against the--rejected
    - branches. But if thou--"do"
    - boast--remember that
    - thou bearest not--"it is not thou that bearest"
    - the root, but the root thee--"If the branches may not boast over the root that bears them, then may not the Gentile boast over the seed of Abraham; for what is thy standing, O Gentile, in relation to Israel, but that of a branch in relation to the root? From Israel hath come all that thou art and hast in the family of God; for "salvation is of the Jews" (Joh 4:22).

    19-21. Thou wilt say then--as a plea for boasting.
    - The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.

    20. Well--"Be it so, but remember that"
    - because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest--not as a Gentile, but solely
    - by faith--But as faith cannot live in those "whose soul is lifted up" (Hab 2:4).
    - Be not high-minded, but fear-- (Pr 28:14; Php 2:12):

    21. For if God spared not the natural branches--sprung from the parent stem.
    - take heed lest he also spare not thee--a mere wild graft. The former might, beforehand, have been thought very improbable; but, after that, no one can wonder at the latter.

    22, 23. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them that fell, severity--in rejecting the chosen seed.
    - but toward thee, goodness--"God's goodness" is the true reading, that is, His sovereign goodness in admitting thee to a covenant standing who before wert a "stranger to the covenants of promise" (Eph 2:12-20).
    - if thou continue in his goodness--in believing dependence on that pure goodness which made thee what thou art.

    23. And they also--"Yea, and they"
    - if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again--This appeal to the power of God to effect the recovery of His ancient people implies the vast difficulty of it--which all who have ever labored for the conversion of the Jews are made depressingly to feel. That intelligent expositors should think that this was meant of individual Jews, reintroduced from time to time into the family of God on their believing on the Lord Jesus, is surprising; and yet those who deny the national recovery of Israel must and do so interpret the apostle. But this is to confound the two things which the apostle carefully distinguishes. Individual Jews have been at all times admissible, and have been admitted, to the Church through the gate of faith in the Lord Jesus. This is the "remnant, even at this present time, according to the election of grace," of which the apostle, in the first part of the chapter, had cited himself as one. But here he manifestly speaks of something not then existing, but to be looked forward to as a great future event in the economy of God, the reingrafting of the nation as such, when they "abide not in unbelief." And though this is here spoken of merely as a supposition (if their unbelief shall cease)--in order to set it over against the other supposition, of what will happen to the Gentiles if they shall not abide in the faith--the supposition is turned into an explicit prediction in the verses following.

    24. For if thou wert cut--"wert cut off"
    - from the olive tree, which is wild by

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