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  • VINCENT'S NEW TESTAMENT
    WORD STUDIES - ROMANS 9

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    CHAPTER IX

    Luther says: "Who hath not known passion, cross, and travail of death, cannot treat of foreknowledge (election of grace) without injury and inward enmity toward God. Wherefore take heed that thou drink not wine while thou art yet a sucking babe. Each several doctrine hath its own reason and measure and age."

    1. In Christ. Not by Christ, as the formula of an oath, Christ being never used by the apostles in such a formula, but God. Rom. i. 9; 2 Corinthians i. 23; xi. 31; Philip. i. 8. For this favorite expression of Paul, see Gal. ii. 17; 1 Cor. i. 2; 2 Cor. ii. 14, 17; xii. 19, etc.

    Conscience. See on 1 Pet. iii. 16.

    Bearing me witness. Rev., bearing witness with me. See on ch. viii. 16. Concurring with my testimony. Morison remarks that Paul speaks of conscience as if it were something distinct from himself, and he cites Adam Smith's phrase, "the man within the breast."

    In the Holy Ghost. So Rev. The concurrent testimony of his declaration and of conscience was "the echo of the voice of God's Holy Spirit" (Morison). 49

    2. Heaviness, sorrow (luph odunh). Heaviness, so Wyc. and Tynd., in the earlier sense of sorrow. So Chaucer:

    "Who feeleth double sorrow and heaviness But Palamon?"

    "Knight's Tale," 1456

    Shakespeare:

    "I am here, brother, full of heaviness."

    2 "Henry IV.," iv., 5, 8

    Rev., sorrow. Odunh is better rendered pain. Some derive it from the root ed eat, as indicating, consuming pain. Compare Horace, curae edares devouring cares. Only here and 1 Tim. vi. 10, Heart. See on ch. i. 21.

    3. I could wish (hucomhn). Or pray as 2 Cor. xiii. 7, 9; Jas. v. 16. Lit., I was wishing; but the imperfect here has a tentative force, implying the wish begun, but stopped at the outset by some antecedent consideration which renders it impossible, so that, practically, it was not entertained at all. So Paul of Onesimus: "Whom I could have wished (eboulomhn) to keep with me," if it had not been too much to ask (Philemon 13). Paul would wish to save his countrymen, even at such sacrifice, if it were morally possible. Others, however, explain the imperfect as stating an actual wish formerly entertained. 50 Accursed from Christ (anaqema apo tou cristou). Compare Gal. i. 8, 9; 1 Cor. xii. 3; xvi. 22. See on offerings, Luke xxi. 5. Set apart to destruction and so separated from Christ (Philip. i. 21; iii. 8, 20). An expression of deep devotion. "It is not easy to estimate the measure of love in a Moses and a Paul. For our limited reason does not grasp it, as the child cannot comprehend the courage of warriors" (Bengel). Compare Moses, Exod. xxxii. 32.

    4. Who (oitinev). The double relative characterizes the Israelites with their call and privileges as such that for them he could even wish himself accursed.

    Israelites. See on Acts iii. 12.

    Adoption. See on ch. viii. 15. Israel is always represented as the Lord's son or first-born among all peoples. Exod. iv. 22; Deut. xiv. 1; Hosea xi. 1.

    The glory. The visible, luminous appearance of the divine presence was called by the Israelites the glory of Jahveh, or, in rabbinical phrase, the Shekinah. See Exod. xxiv. 16; xl. 34, 35; Ezek. i. 28; Heb. ix. 5. Not the final glory of God's kingdom; for this belongs to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews.

    The covenants (ai diaqhkai). See on Matt. xxvi. 28. Those concluded with the patriarchs since Abraham. See Gal. iii. 16, 17; Eph. ii. 12. The plural never occurs in the Old Testament. See on Heb. ix. 16. The giving of the law (h nomoqesia). The act of giving, with a secondary reference to the substance of the law; legislation.

    The service (h latreia). See on John xvi. 2; Luke i. 74; Apoc. xxii. 3; Philip. iii. 3. Here the sum total of the Levitical services instituted by the law.

    The promises. The collective messianic promises on which the covenants were based. The word originally means announcement. See on Acts i. 4.

    5. Of whom (ex wn). From the midst of whom. But in order to guard the point that the reference is only to Christ's human origin, he adds, as concerning the flesh.

    Who is over all, God blessed for ever (o wn epi pantwn Qeov euloghtov eiv touv aiwnav). Authorities differ as to the punctuation; some placing a colon, and others a comma after flesh. This difference indicates the difference in the interpretation; some rendering as concerning the flesh Christ came. God who is over all be blessed for ever; thus making the words God, etc., a doxology: others, with the comma, the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever; i.e., Christ is God (For minor variations see margin of Rev.) 51 Amen. See on Apoc. i. 6.

    6. Not as though (ouc oion de oti). Rev., but it is not as though. The thought is abruptly introduced. I am not speaking of a matter of such a nature as that the doctrine of faith involves the failure of God's promises to Israel.

    Hath taken none effect (ekpeptwken). Lit., has fallen out. Rev., come to nought.

    7. In Isaac. Not in Ishmael, though Ishmael also was the seed of Abraham. The saying of Gen. xxi. 12 is directly added without it is written or it was said, because it is assumed to be well known to the readers as a saying of God. The Hebrew is: "in Isaac shall posterity be named to thee." In the person of Isaac the descendant of Abraham will be represented and recognized. The general principle asserted is that the true sonship of Abraham does not rest on bodily descent.

    Shall be called (klhqhsetai). Named. See on ch. iv. 17. Others, called from nothing. But the promise was made after Isaac was born.

    8. That is. The Old-Testament saying amounts to this.

    Children of the promise. Originating from the divine promise. See Gal. iv. 23.

    9. This is the word of promise. The A.V. obscures the true sense. There is no article, and the emphasis is on promise. "I say 'a word of promise,' for a word of promise is this which follows." Or, as Morison, "this word is one of promise."

    At this time (kata ton kairon touton). Rev., according to this season. The reference is to Gen. xviii. 14, where the Hebrew is when the season is renewed or revives; i.e., next year at this time. The season is represented as reviving periodically.

    10. And not only so. The thought to be supplied is: Not only have we an example of the election of a son of Abraham by one woman, and a rejection of his son by another, but also of the election and rejection of the children of the same woman.

    By one. Though of one father, a different destiny was divinely appointed for each of the twins. Hence only the divine disposal constitutes the true and valid succession, and not the bodily descent.

    11. Evil (faulon). See on John iii. 20; Jas. iii. 16.

    Purpose according to election (h kat ekloghn proqesiv) For proqesiv purpose, see on the kindred verb proeqeto, ch. iii. 25, and compare ch viii. 28. The phrase signifies a purpose so formed that in it an election was made. The opposite of one founded upon right or merit. For similar phrases see Acts xix. 20; kata kratov according to might, mightily; Rom. vii. 13, kaq' uJperbolhn according to excess, exceedingly See note Might stand (menh). Lit., abide, continue: remain unchangeable. This unchangeableness of purpose was conveyed in His declaration to Rebecca. Contrast with come to nought (ver. 6).

    Of works (ex). Lit., out of By virtue of.

    Calleth (kalountov). Eternal salvation is not contemplated. "The matter in question is the part they play regarded from the theocratic stand-point" (Godet).

    12. Elder - younger (meizwn - elassoni). Lit., greater - smaller. Compare Gen. xxvii. 1, here the Hebrew is: "Esau his great son;" Sept., presbuteron elder. Gen. xxix. 16, Sept., "The name of the greater was Leah, and the name of the younger (th newtera) Rachel." See a similar use in Aeschylus, "Agamemnon," 349, "Neither old (megan) nor young (nearwn) could escape the great net of slavery." While in these cases "greater" and "smaller" are evidently used as older and younger, yet the radical meaning is greater and less, and the reference is not to age, but to their relative position in the theocratic plan. Meizwn greater, occurs in forty-four passages in the New Testament, and in no case with the meaning elder. Compare Gen. xxv. 23 be stronger; Sept., uJperexei; shall surpass. The reference, if to the persons of Jacob and Esau, is to them as representatives of the two nations. See Gen. xxv. 23.

    Historically the Edomites, represented by Esau, were for a time the greater, and surpassed the Israelites in national and military development. Moses sent envoys to the king of Edom from Kadesh, asking permission to pass through his country, which was refused, and the Edomite army came out against Israel (Num. xx. 14-21). Later they were "vexed" by Saul (1 Sam. xiv. 47), and were conquered and made tributary by David (2 Sam. viii. 14). Their strength was shown in their subsequent attempts to recover independence (2 Kings viii. 20, 21; xiv. 7; 2 Chron. xxviii. 17). Their final subjugation was effected by John Hyrcanus, who incorporated them into the Jewish nation and compelled them to be circumcised.

    13. Jacob - Esau. See Gen. xxv. 23. Representing their respective nations, as often in the Old Testament. Num. xxiii. 7, 10, 23; xxiv. 5; Jer. xlix. 10; compare also the original of the citation, Mal. i. 2, 3, the burden of the word of the Lord to Israel. Compare also Edom in ver. 4, synonymous with Esau in ver. 3; and Israel, ver. 5, synonymous with Jacob, ver. 2.

    Hated (emishsa). The expression is intentionally strong as an expression of moral antipathy. Compare Matt. vi. 24; Luke xiv. 26. No idea of malice is implied of course.

    15. I will have mercy - compassion (elehsw - oikteirhsw), See Exod. xxxiii. 19. For mercy see on 2 John 3; Luke i. 50. The former verb emphasizes the sense of human wretchedness in its active manifestation; the latter the inward feeling expressing itself in sighs and tears. Have mercy therefore contemplates, not merely the sentiment in itself, but the determination of those who should be its objects. The words were spoken to Moses in connection with his prayer for a general forgiveness of the people, which was refused, and his request to behold God's glory, which was granted. With reference to the latter, God asserts that His gift is of His own free grace, without any recognition of Moses' right to claim it on the ground of merit or service.

    16. It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth. It, the participation in God's mercy. Of him, i.e., dependent upon. Runneth, denoting strenuous effort. The metaphor from the foot-race is a favorite one with Paul. See 1 Cor. ix. 24, 26; Gal. ii. 2; v. 7; Philippians ii. 16; 2 Thess. iii. 1. God is laid under no obligation by a human will or a human work.

    17. Saith. Present tense. "There is an element of tirelessness in the utterance. If the scripture ever spoke at all, it continued and continues to speak. It has never been struck dumb" (Morison).

    Pharaoh. The original meaning of the word is now supposed to be the double house or palace. Compare the Sublime Porte.

    Raised thee up (exhgeira). Hebrew, caused thee to stand. Sept., diethrhqhv thou wast preserved alive. Only once elsewhere in the New Testament, 1 Cor. vi. 14, of raising from the dead. The meaning here is general, allowed thee to appear; brought, thee forward on the stage of events, as Zech. xi. 16. So the simple verb in Matt. xi. 11; John vii. 52. Other explanations are, preserved thee alive, as Sept., excited thee to opposition, as Hab. i. 6; creded thee.

    Might be declared (diaggelh). Published abroad, thoroughly (dia). So Rev. See on Luke ix. 60. "Even to the present day, wherever throughout the world Exod. is read, the divine intervention is realized" (Godet).

    18. He will (qelei). In a decretory sense. See on Matt. i. 19.

    Hardeneth (sklhrunei). Only here by Paul. See on hard, Matthew xxv. 24; Jude 14; Jas. iii. 4. Three words are used in the Hebrew to describe the hardening of Pharaoh's heart. The one which occurs most frequently, properly means to be strong, and therefore represents the hardness as foolhardiness, infatuated insensibility to danger. See Exodus 14. The word is used in its positive sense, hardens, not merely permits to become hard. In Exodus the hardening is represented as self-produced (viii. 15, 32; ix. 34), and as produced by God (iv. 21; vii. 3; ix. 12; x. 20, 27; xi. 10). Paul here chooses the latter representation.

    19. Hath resisted (anqesthken). Rev., more correctly, with-standeth. The idea is the result rather than the process of resistance. A man may resist God's will, but cannot maintain his resistance. The question means, who can resist him?

    20. O man. Man as man, not Jew.

    That repliest (o antapokrinomenov). Only here and Luke xiv. 6. Lit., to contradict in reply: to answer by contradicting. Thus, in the case of the dropsical man (Luke 14.), Jesus answered (apokriqeiv) the thought in the minds of the lawyers and Pharisees by asking, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" Then He asked, "Who of you would refuse on the Sabbath to extricate his beast from the pit into which it has fallen?" And they were unable to answer Him in reply: to answer by contradicting Him. So here, the word signifies to reply to an answer which God had already given, and implies, as Godet observes, the spirit of contention.

    21. Power (exousian). Or right. See on Mark ii. 10; John i. 12.

    Lump (furamatov). From furaw to mix so as to make into dough.

    Hence any substance mixed with water and kneaded. Philo uses it of the human frame as compounded. By the lump is here meant human nature with its moral possibilities, "but not yet conceived of in its definite, individual, moral stamp" (Meyer). 52 The figure of man as clay molded by God carries us back to the earliest traditions of the creation of man (Gen. ii. 7). According to primitive ideas man is regarded as issuing from the earth. The traditions of Libya made the first human being spring from the plains heated by the sun. The Egyptians declared that the Nile mud, exposed to the heat of the sun, brought forth germs which sprang up as the bodies of men. A subsequent divine operation endowed these bodies with soul and intellect, and the divine fashioner appears upon some monuments molding clay, wherewith to form man, upon a potter's wheel. The Peruvians called the first man "animated earth;" and the Mandans of North America related that the Great Spirit molded two figures of clay, which he dried and animated with the breath of his mouth, one receiving the name of First Man, the other that of Companion. The Babylonian account, translated by Berosus, represents man as made of clay after the manner of a statue. See Francois Lenormant, "Beginnings of History."

    To make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor (poihsai o men eijv timhn skeuov, o de eijv ajtimian). Rev., more correctly, to make one part a vessel unto honor, and another part, etc. For vessel, see on 1 Pet. iii. 7; compare Matt. xii. 29; Acts ix. 15. The vessel here is the one which has just come from the potter's hand. Those in ver. 22 have been in household use.

    22. Willing (qelwn). Although willing, not because. Referring not to the determinate purpose of God, but to His spontaneous will growing out of His holy character. In the former sense, the meaning would be that God's long-suffering was designed to enhance the final penalty. The emphatic position of willing prepares the way for the contrast with long-suffering. Though this holy will would lead Him to show His wrath, yet He withheld His wrath and endured.

    Vessels of wrath (skeuh orghv). Not filled with wrath, nor prepared to serve for a manifestation of divine wrath; but appertaining to wrath. Such as by their own acts have fallen under His wrath. Compare Psalm ii. 9. Fitted (kathrtismena). Lit., adjusted. See on mending, Matt. iv. 21; perfect, Matt. xxi. 16; Luke vi. 40; 1 Pet. v. 10. Not fitted by God for destruction, but in an adjectival sense, ready, ripe for destruction, the participle denoting a present state previously formed, but giving no hint of how it has been formed. An agency of some kind must be assumed. That the objects of final wrath had themselves a hand in the matter may be seen from 1 Thess. ii. 15, 16. That the hand of God is also operative may be inferred from the whole drift of the chapter. "The apostle has probably chosen this form because the being ready certainly arises from a continual reciprocal action between human sin and the divine judgment of blindness and hardness. Every development of sin is a net-work of human offenses and divine judgments"

    23. And that He might make known. The connection is variously explained. Some make and that dependent on He endured: "If, willing to show His wrath.... God endured... and also that." Others make that dependent on fitted: "Vessels fitted to destruction and also that He might make known," etc. Godet supplies He called from ver. xxiv. "And called that He might make known," etc. The difficulty is resolved by the omission of kai and. So Westcott and Hort, on the single authority of B. See Rev., in margin.

    His glory. See on ch. iii. 23. Godet thinks the phrase was suggested by Moses' request, "Show me thy glory," Exod. xxxiii. 18.

    Afore prepared (prohtoimasen). Only here and Eph. ii. 10. The studied difference in the use of this term instead of katartizw to fit (ver. 22), cannot be overlooked. The verb is not equivalent to foreordained (proorizw). Fitted, by the adjustment of parts, emphasizes the concurrence of all the elements of the case to the final result. Prepared is more general. In the former case the result is indicated; in the latter, the previousness. Note before prepared, while before is wanting in ver. 22. In this passage the direct agency of God is distinctly stated; in the other the agency is left indefinite. Here a single act is indicated; there a process. The simple verb eJtoimazw often indicates, as Meyer remarks, to constitute qualitatively; i.e., to arrange with reference to the reciprocal quality of the thing prepared, and that for which it is prepared. See Luke i. 17; John xiv. 2; 1 Cor. ii. 9; 2 Tim. ii. 21. "Ah, truly," says Reuss, "if the last word of the christian revelation is contained in the image of the potter and the clay, it is a bitter derision of all the deep needs and legitimate desires of a soul aspiring toward its God. This would be at once a satire of reason upon herself and the suicide of revelation. But it is neither the last word nor the only word; nor has it any immediate observable bearing on the concrete development of our lives. It is not the only word, because, in nine-tenths of Scripture, it is as wholly excluded from the sphere of revelation as though it had been never revealed at all; and it is not the last word, because, throughout the whole of Scripture, and nowhere more than in the writings of the very apostle who has faced this problem with the most heroic inflexibility, we see bright glimpses of something beyond. How little we were intended to draw logical conclusions from the metaphor, is shown by the fact that we are living souls, not dead clay; and St. Paul elsewhere recognized a power, both within and without our beings, by which, as by an omnipotent alchemy, mean vessels can become precious, and vessels of earthenware be transmuted into vessels of gold" (Farrar). See note at end of ch. 11.

    24. Called - of. Compare ch. viii. 30. For of, read from (ex), as Rev. From among.

    25. That my people which was not my people (ton ouj laon mou, laon mou). The Greek is much more condensed. "I will call the not-my-people my-people." See Hos. i. 6-9. The reference is to the symbolical names given by the prophet to a son and daughter: Lo Ammi not my people, and Lo Ruhama not having obtained mercy. The new people whom God will call my people will be made up from both Jews and Gentiles. Hosea, it is true, is speaking of the scattered Israelites only, and not of the Gentiles; but the ten tribes, by their lapse into idolatry had put themselves upon the same footing with the Gentiles, so that the words could be applied to both. A principle of the divine government is enunciated "which comes into play everywhere when circumstances reappear similar to those to which the statement was originally applied. The exiled Israelites being mingled with the Gentiles, and forming one homogeneous mass with them, cannot be brought to God separately from them. Isa. xlix. 22 represents the Gentiles as carrying the sons of Israel in their arms, and their daughters on their shoulders, and consequently as being restored to grace along with them" (Godet).

    27. Crieth (krazei). An impassioned utterance. See on Luke xviii. 39; compare John vii. 28, 37; Acts xix. 28; xxiii. 6. Mostly of an inarticulate cry. "The prophet in awful earnestness, and as with a scream of anguish, cries over Israel" (Morison).

    Concerning (uper). Lit., over, as proclaiming a judgment which hangs over Israel.

    28. For the reading of the A.V. read as Rev. The Lord will execute His word upon the earth, finishing and cutting it short. Difficulty arises on account of the variation in the Greek text and the difference between the reading adopted by the best authorities and the Septuagint, and again on account of the variation of the latter from the Hebrew. The Hebrew reads: Extirpation is decided, flowing with righteousness, for a consumption and decree shall the Lord of hosts make in the midst of all the land. The Rev. adopts the shorter reading of the Septuagint.

    Work (logon). It does not mean work, but word, utterance, doctrine; not decree, which logov never means, though the idea may underlie it. Better reckoning.

    Finish - cut short (suntelwn - suntemnwn). The preposition sun together signifies summarily; bringing to an end at the same time. Compare the peculiar word ejkolobwqhsan should be shortened, in Matthew xxiv. 22, and see note. Omit in righteousness.

    29. Said before (proeirhken). Not in a previous passage, but by way of prediction.

    Seed. Following the Septuagint, which thus renders the Hebrew remnant. See ver. 27. Like the remnant of corn which the farmer leaves for seed.

    30. Attained (katelaben). See on perceived, Acts iv. 13, and taketh, Mark ix. 18; John i. 5. Compare attained (efqasen, ver. 31). Rev., arrive at. See on Matt. xii. 28. The meaning is substantially the same, only the imagery in the two words differs; the former being that of laying hold of a prize, and the latter of arriving at a goal. The latter is appropriate to following after, and is carried out in stumbling (ver. 32).

    Even (de) or and that. Subjoining something distinct and different from what precedes, though not sharply opposed to it. Attained righteousness, that is not that arising from these works, but from faith.

    32. Not by faith (ouk ek pistewv). A.V. and Rev. supply the ellipsis, they sought it not.

    They stumbled (prosekoyan). "In their foolish course Israel thought they were advancing on a clear path, and lo! all at once there was found in this way an obstacle upon which they were broken; and this obstacle was the very Messiah whom they had so long invoked in all their prayers" (Godet).

    33. Offense (skandalou). See on Matt. v. 29; xvi. 93.

    Shall not be ashamed (ou kataiscunqhsetai). The Hebrew in Isaiah xxviii. 16 is, shall not make haste, or flee hastily. The quotation combines Isa. viii. 4 and xxviii. 16.

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