BEARING OF THE
TRUTHS UPON THE
DESTINY OF THE
CALLING OF THE
Too well aware that he was regarded as a traitor to the dearest
interests of his people
(Ac 21:33; 22:22; 25:24),
the apostle opens this division of his subject by giving vent to his
real feelings with extraordinary vehemence of protestation.
1, 2. I say the truth in Christ--as if steeped in the spirit of Him
who wept over impenitent and doomed Jerusalem (compare
my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost--"my conscience
as quickened, illuminated, and even now under the direct operation of
the Holy Ghost."
2. That I have, &c.--"That I have great grief (or, sorrow) and
unceasing anguish in my heart"--the bitter hostility of his nation to
the glorious Gospel, and the awful consequences of their unbelief,
weighing heavily and incessantly upon his spirit.
3. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for--"in
my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh--In proportion as he
felt himself severed from his nation, he seems to have realized all the
more vividly their natural relationship. To explain away the wish here
expressed, as too strong for any Christian to utter or conceive, some
have rendered the opening words, "I did wish," referring it to his
former unenlightened state; a sense of the words too tame to be endured:
others unwarrantably soften the sense of the word "accursed." But our
version gives the true import of the original; and if it be understood
as the language rather of "strong and indistinct emotions than of
definite ideas" [HODGE], expressing passionately how he felt his whole
being swallowed up in the salvation of his people, the difficulty will
vanish, and we shall be reminded of the similar idea so nobly expressed
4. Who are Israelites--See
to whom pertaineth--"whose is"
the adoption--It is true that, compared with the new economy, the old
was a state of minority and pupilage, and so far that of a bond-servant
yet, compared with the state of the surrounding heathen, the choice of
Abraham and his seed was a real separation of them to be a Family of
and the glory--that "glory of the Lord," or "visible token of the
Divine Presence in the midst of them," which rested on the ark and
filled the tabernacle during all their wanderings in the wilderness;
which in Jerusalem continued to be seen in the tabernacle and temple,
and only disappeared when, at the Captivity, the temple was demolished,
and the sun of the ancient economy began to go down. This was what the
Jews called the "Shekinah."
and the covenants--"the covenants of promise" to which the Gentiles
before Christ were "strangers"
meaning the one covenant with Abraham in its successive
Ga 3:16, 17).
and the giving of the law--from Mount Sinai, and the possession of
it thereafter, which the Jews justly deemed their peculiar honor
(De 26:18, 19;
Ps 147:19, 20;
and the service of God--or, of the sanctuary, meaning the whole
divinely instituted religious service, in the celebration of which they
were brought so nigh unto God.
and the promises--the great Abrahamic promises, successively unfolded,
and which had their fulfilment only in Christ; (see
Ga 3:16, 21;
Ac 26:6, 7).
5. Whose are the fathers--here, probably, the three great fathers of
the covenant--Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--by whom God condescended to
(Ex 8:6, 13;
and--most exalted privilege of all, and as such, reserved to the last.
of whom as concerning the flesh--(See on
Christ came--or, "is Christ"
who is over all, God--rather, "God over all."
blessed for ever. Amen--To get rid of the bright testimony here borne
to the supreme divinity of Christ, various expedients have been adopted:
(1) To place a period, either after the words "concerning the flesh
Christ came," rendering the next clause as a doxology to the
Father--"God who is over all be blessed for ever"; or after the word
"all"--thus, "Christ came, who is over all: God be blessed.", &c.
JOWETT, &c.]. But it is fatal to
this view, as even Socinus admits, that in other Scripture
doxologies the word "Blessed" precedes the name of God on whom the
blessing is invoked (thus: "Blessed be God,"
"Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,"
Besides, any such doxology here would be "unmeaning and frigid in the
extreme"; the sad subject on which he was entering suggesting anything
but a doxology, even in connection with Christ's Incarnation [ALFORD]. (2) To transpose the words rendered "who is";
in which case the rendering would be, "whose (that is, the fathers') is
Christ according to the flesh" [CRELLIUS, WHISTON, TAYLOR, WHITBY]. But this is a desperate expedient, in the face
of all manuscript authority; as is also the conjecture of GROTIUS and others, that the word "God" should be omitted
from the text. It remains then, that we have here no doxology at all,
but a naked statement of fact, that while Christ is "of" the
Israelitish nation "as concerning the flesh," He is, in
another respect, "God over all, blessed for ever." (In
the very Greek phrase which is here rendered "who is," is used
in the same sense; and compare
Greek). In this view of the passage, as a testimony to the
supreme divinity of Christ, besides all the orthodox fathers, some of
the ablest modern critics concur [BENGEL, THOLUCK, STUART, OLSHAUSEN, PHILIPPI, ALFORD, &c.]
6. Not as though the word of God had taken none effect--"hath fallen
to the ground," that is, failed: compare
for they are not all Israel which are of Israel--better, "for not
all they which are of Israel are Israel."
Here the apostle enters upon the profound subject of
treatment of which extends to the end of the eleventh chapter--"Think
not that I mourn over the total loss of Israel; for that would involve
the failure of God's word to Abraham; but not all that belong to the
natural seed, and go under the name of 'Israel,' are the Israel of
God's irrevocable choice." The difficulties which encompass this
subject lie not in the apostle's teaching, which is plain enough, but
in the truths themselves, the evidence for which, taken by themselves,
is overwhelming, but whose perfect harmony is beyond human
comprehension in the present state. The great source of error here lies
in hastily inferring (as THOLUCK and others), from the apostle's taking
tip, at the close of this chapter, the calling of the Gentiles in
connection with the rejection of Israel, and continuing this subject
through the two next chapters, that the Election treated of in the body
of this chapter is national, not personal Election, and
consequently is Election merely to religious advantages, not to
eternal salvation. In that case, the argument of
with which the subject of Election opens, would be this: "The choice of
Abraham and his seed has not failed; because though Israel has been
rejected, the Gentiles have taken their place; and God has a
right to choose what nation He will to the privileges of His visible
kingdom." But so far from this, the Gentiles are not so much as
mentioned at all till towards the close of the chapter; and the
argument of this verse is, that "all Israel is not rejected, but
only a portion of it, the remainder being the 'Israel' whom God
has chosen in the exercise of His sovereign right." And that this is a
choice not to mere external privileges, but to eternal salvation, will
abundantly appear from what follows.
7-9. Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all
children--"Not in the line of mere fleshly descent from Abraham does
the election run; else Ishmael, Hagar's child, and even Keturah's
children, would be included, which they were not."
but--the true election are such of Abraham's seed as God
unconditionally chooses, as exemplified in that promise.
in Isaac shall thy seed be called--
10-13. And not only this; but when Rebecca, &c.--It might be
thought that there was a natural reason for preferring the child of
Sarah, as being Abraham's true and first wife, both to the child of
Hagar, Sarah's maid, and to the children of Keturah, his second wife.
But there could be no such reason in the case of Rebecca, Isaac's only
wife; for the choice of her son Jacob was the choice of one of two sons
by the same mother and of the younger in preference to the elder, and
before either of them was born, and consequently before either had done
good or evil to be a ground of preference: and all to show that the
sole ground of distinction lay in the unconditional choice of
God--"not of works, but of Him that calleth."
14. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God
forbid--This is the first of two objections to the foregoing doctrine,
that God chooses one and rejects another, not on account of their works,
but purely in the exercise of His own good pleasure:
"This doctrine is inconsistent with the justice of God." The answer
to this objection extends to
where we have the second objection.
15. For he saith to Moses--
I will have mercy on whom I will have--"on whom I have"
mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have--"on whom I
compassion--"There can be no unrighteousness in God's choosing whom
He will, for to Moses He expressly claims the right to do so." Yet it is
worthy of notice that this is expressed in the positive rather than the
negative form: not, "I will have mercy on none but whom I will";
but, "I will have mercy on whomsoever I will."
16. So then it is not of him that willeth--hath the inward desire
nor of him that runneth--maketh active effort (compare
1Co 9:24, 26;
Php 2:16; 3:14).
Both these are indispensable to salvation, yet salvation is owing to
neither, but is purely "of God that showeth mercy." See on
Php 2:12, 13,
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God
which, out of His own good pleasure, worketh in you both to
will and to do."
17. For the scripture saith to Pharaoh--observe here the light in
which the Scripture is viewed by the apostle.
Even for this same--"this very"
purpose have I raised--"raised I"
thee up, &c.--The apostle had shown that God claims the right to
choose whom He will: here he shows by an example that God punishes whom
He will. But "God did not make Pharaoh wicked; He only forbore to make
him good, by the exercise of special and altogether unmerited grace"
that I might--"may"
show my power in thee--It was not that Pharaoh was worse than others
that he was so dealt with, but "in order that he might become a monument
of the penal justice of God, and it was with a view to this that God
provided that the evil which was in him should be manifested in this
definite form" [OLSHAUSEN].
and that my name might--"may"
in all the earth--"This is the principle on which all punishment is
inflicted, that the true character of the Divine Lawgiver should be
known. This is of all objects, where God is concerned, the highest and
most important; in itself the most worthy, and in its results the most
18. Therefore hath he--"So then he hath." The result then is that He
mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth--by
judicially abandoning them to the hardening influence of sin itself
(Ps 81:11, 12;
Ro 1:24, 26, 28;
Heb 3:8, 13),
and of the surrounding incentives to it
Second objection to the doctrine of Divine Sover