BE, WITH THE
GOD ON THE
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"
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
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
for I also am an Israelite--See
and so a living witness to the contrary.
of the seed of Abraham--of pure descent from the father of the
of the tribe of Benjamin--
that tribe which, on the revolt of the ten tribes, constituted, with
Judah, the one faithful kingdom of God
and after the captivity was, along with Judah, the kernel of the Jewish
(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
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
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
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
This establishes our view of the argument on Election in
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
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
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
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--
God hath given--"gave"
them the spirit of slumber--"stupor"
unto this day--"this present day."
9. And David saith--
which in such a Messianic psalm must be meant of the rejecters of
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,
11. I say then, Have they stumbled--"Did they stumble"
that they should fall? God forbid; but--the supplement "rather" is
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
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
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
13, 14. I speak--"am speaking"
to you Gentiles--another proof that this Epistle was addressed
to Gentile believers. (See on
mine office--The clause beginning with "inasmuch" should be read as
14. If . . . I may provoke, &c. (See on
15. For if the casting away of them--The apostle had denied that they
were east away
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.
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
--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
and on "not all" in
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"
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"
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
Be not high-minded, but fear--
21. For if God spared not the natural branches--sprung from the parent
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"
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