Romans 11:25
For I would not, brothers, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(25-32) There was a deep meaning underlying the temporary rejection of Israel, of which he has been speaking—a meaning which has hitherto been kept secret, but now to be revealed as a corrective to any possible pride on the part of the Gentiles.

(25) Mystery.—The word always means throughout St. Paul’s writings something which, though not to be known or fully comprehended by unassisted human reason, has been made known by direct divine revelation. It is therefore not to be taken in this passage in its usual sense, of something hidden and concealed from all except a few, but rather of all such truths as though previously hidden, had been made manifest by the gospel.

It is thus applied to the whole or any part of the Christian system. To the whole, as in Romans 16:25; 1Corinthians 2:7-10; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 1:26-27; Colossians 2:2; 1Timothy 3:9; 1Timothy 3:16. To any part, as (a) the admission of the Gentiles, Ephesians 3:3 et seq., and partly here; (b) the mystical union of Christ and His Church which is typified in marriage, Ephesians 5:32; (c) the transformation of the “quick” at the resurrection, 1Corinthians 15:51; and (d) the opposition of Antichrist to the gospel, 2Thessalonians 2:7.

Here the reference is to the whole of the divine purpose as shown in the dealings with Jew and Gentile, and especially in the present exclusion and future re-admission of the former. This last point the Apostle goes on to prove.

Blindness.—Rather, as in the margin, hardness, a hardening of the heart so that the gospel could not find entrance into it.

In part.—These words qualify “Israel.” The hardness extends over some, but not over all. There were Jewish as well as Gentile converts in Rome itself.

The fulness of the Gentiles.—As above, the complete number; the full complement of the Gentiles.

Romans 11:25-27. For, &c. — And this I now declare, because I would not have you ignorant of this mystery — Of the mysterious dispensation under consideration, which, on the first view of it, may appear very unaccountable; lest you should be wise in your own conceits — Should have too high an opinion of yourselves, on account of your being made the people of God in place of the Jews. The apostle calls the rejection of the Jews for a time, and their restoration after the conversion of the Gentiles is completed, a mystery; because it was a matter of the greatest importance to mankind, and because it had hitherto been kept a secret, like the doctrine of the mysteries among the Greeks, which was discovered to none but the initiated. See on Ephesians 1:9. That blindness in part — That is, as to the greatest part of them, a remnant only being now brought to the faith; is happened to Israel — For a certain time, for Israel is neither totally nor finally rejected; until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in — Here the Christian Church is represented as a great temple, erected for all nations to worship in. And the coming of the Gentiles into this temple, or church, to worship, signifies their conversion to Christianity; a conversion which has hitherto only taken place in a small degree. For, as Whitby observes, (Appen. to Romans xi,) “If the known regions of the world be divided into thirty parts, the Christian part is only as five, the Mohammedan as six, and the idolatrous as nineteen.” And, alas! of the part said to be Christian, how few are Scriptural Christians, possessed of the Spirit of Christ, without which we are none of his! And so all Israel shall be saved — Shall be brought to believe in Jesus as the true Messiah, and so shall be put into the way of obtaining salvation, being convinced of the truth by the coming in of the Gentiles. As it is written, Isaiah 59:20, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer — Being the son of David, he is said, by the apostle, to come out of Sion, the city of David, and the seat of his kingdom, rather than ενεκεν Σιων, for the sake of Sion, the words used by the LXX.; whose translation of this passage, in other respects, the apostle adopts. It differs, however, in some degree, from the Hebrew original, both in this and the next clause; for that is, the Redeemer shall come to Sion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, which, no doubt, was the exact sense of the prophet’s words. But since the coming of Christ as a deliverer to the Jews was all that the apostle’s argument required, he quotes the passage merely to prove that point, and does not notice the variation of the Greek translation from the original Hebrew. It being certain, however, that the general tenor of God’s covenant with Israel gave no hope of their deliverance and restoration, after rejection and chastisement, but in a way of repentance and reformation, the apostle properly observes, that when the deliverer came, he should turn away ungodliness from Jacob — Which, as it was not done by Christ at his first coming, will doubtless be accomplished in some future period by an extraordinary display of his mercy and grace. For this is my covenant unto — Or rather with them, when I shall take away their sins — That is, when their sins, as a nation, are remitted, it shall be to bring them again into covenant with myself.11:22-32 Of all judgments, spiritual judgments are the sorest; of these the apostle is here speaking. The restoration of the Jews is, in the course of things, far less improbable than the call of the Gentiles to be the children of Abraham; and though others now possess these privileges, it will not hinder their being admitted again. By rejecting the gospel, and by their indignation at its being preached to the Gentiles, the Jews were become enemies to God; yet they are still to be favoured for the sake of their pious fathers. Though at present they are enemies to the gospel, for their hatred to the Gentiles; yet, when God's time is come, that will no longer exist, and God's love to their fathers will be remembered. True grace seeks not to confine God's favour. Those who find mercy themselves, should endeavour that through their mercy others also may obtain mercy. Not that the Jews will be restored to have their priesthood, and temple, and ceremonies again; an end is put to all these; but they are to be brought to believe in Christ, the true become one sheep-fold with the Gentiles, under Christ the Great Shepherd. The captivities of Israel, their dispersion, and their being shut out from the church, are emblems of the believer's corrections for doing wrong; and the continued care of the Lord towards that people, and the final mercy and blessed restoration intended for them, show the patience and love of God.Ignorant of this mystery - The word "mystery" means properly what is "concealed, hidden, or unknown." And it especially refers, in the New Testament, to the truths or doctrines which God had reserved to himself, or had not before communicated. It does not mean, as with us often, that there was anything unintelligible or inscrutible in the nature of the doctrine itself, for it was commonly perfectly plain when it was made known. Thus, the doctrine, that the division between the Jews and the Gentiles was to be broken down, is called a mystery, because it had been, to the times of the apostles, concealed, and was then revealed fully for the first time; Romans 16:25; Colossians 1:26-27; compare 1 Corinthians 15:51; Mark 4:11; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:3. Thus, the doctrine which the apostle was stating was one that until then had been concealed, or had not been made known. It does not mean that there was anything unintelligible or incomprehensive in it, but until then it had not been made known.

Lest ye should be wise in your own conceits - Paul communicated the truth in regard to this, lest they should attempt to inquire into it; should speculate about the reason why God had rejected the Jews; and should he elated with the belief that they had, by their own skill and genius, ascertained the cause. Rather than leave them to vain speculations and self-gratulation, he chose to cut short all inquiry, by stating the truth about; their present and future state.

Blindness - Or hardness; see Romans 11:7.

In part - Not totally, or entirely. They are not absolutely or completely blinded. This is a qualifying expression; but it does not denote what part or portion, or for what time it is to continue. It means that the blindness in respect to the whole nation was only partial. Some were then enlightened, and had become Christians; and many more would he.

To Israel - To the Jews.

Until the fulness of the Gentiles ... - The word "fulness" in relation to the Jews is used in Romans 11:12. It means until the abundance or the great multitude of the Gentiles shall be converted. The word is not used elsewhere in respect to the Gentiles; and it is difficult to fix its meaning definitely. It doubtless refers to the future spread of the Gospel among the nations; to the time when it may be said that the great mass, the abundance of the nations, shall be converted to God. At present, they are, as they were in the times of the apostle, idolators, so that the mass of mankind are far from God. But the Scriptures have spoken of a time when the gospel shall spread and prevail among the nations of the earth; and to this the apostle refers. He does not say, however, that the Jews may not be converted until all the Gentiles become Christians; for he expressly supposes Romans 11:12-15 that the conversion of the Jews will have an important influence in extending the gospel among the Gentiles. Probably the meaning is, that this blindness is to continue until great numbers of the Gentiles shall be converted; until the gospel shall be extensively spread; and then the conversion of the Jews will be a part of the rapid spread of the gospel, and will be among the most efficient and important aids in completing the work. If this is the case, then Christians may labor still for their conversion. They may seek that in connection with the effort to convert the pagan; and they may toil with the expectation that the conversion of the Jews and Gentiles will not be separate, independent, and distinct events; but will be inter-mingled, and will be perhaps simultaneous. The word "fulness" may denote such a general turning to God, without affirming that each individual shall be thus converted to the Christian faith.

25. For I would not … that ye should be ignorant of this mystery—The word "mystery," so often used by our apostle, does not mean (as with us) something incomprehensible, but "something before kept secret, either wholly or for the most part, and now only fully disclosed" (compare Ro 16:25; 1Co 2:7-10; Eph 1:9, 10; 3:3-6, 9, 10).

lest ye should be wise in your own conceits—as if ye alone were in all time coming to be the family of God.

that blindness—"hardness"

in part is happened to—"hath come upon"

Israel—that is, hath come partially, or upon a portion of Israel.

until the fulness of the Gentiles be—"have"

come in—that is, not the general conversion of the world to Christ, as many take it; for this would seem to contradict the latter part of this chapter, and throw the national recovery of Israel too far into the future: besides, in Ro 11:15, the apostle seems to speak of the receiving of Israel, not as following, but as contributing largely to bring about the general conversion of the world—but, "until the Gentiles have had their full time of the visible Church all to themselves while the Jews are out, which the Jews had till the Gentiles were brought in." (See Lu 21:24).

Here he shows there is not only a possibility and probability, but a certainty of the Jews’ conversion and calling. This he calleth a

mystery, or a secret; though it was revealed in the Scripture, (as you will hear), yet it was not understood; nay, the manner, the number, and the time of their conversion, is still concealed and hid from us. The calling of the Gentiles was a mystery, and a great secret; see Ephesians 3:3; and so is the calling and restoration of the Jews. There are three particulars of this mystery, which he makes known to the Gentiles (and he doth it the rather, lest they should swell with a high conceit of themselves, and proudly despise the Jews): two of them are in this verse; and the first is,

that blindness is happened to Israel in part only; i.e. they were not all blinded or hardened; or this blindness should not last always, but for a time. The latter sense agrees best with the word mystery; for it was no secret that some of the Jews believed; this was told them before, Romans 11:2,5,7. Secondly, another part of this mystery was, that this blindness of the Jews should continue till

the fulness of the Gentiles came in. By fulness here, (as in Romans 11:12), understand a great number or multitude of the Gentiles; greater, by far, than was in the apostles’ days. There is another exposition of this clause, which I submit to consideration: by the Gentiles, here, you may understand the Romans, or the Roman monarchy and power; {see Acts 4:27 21:11} and by the coming in of their fulness may be understood, the full time of their reign and continuance; after which their ruin follows. And so here is foretold the time of the calling of the Jews, which will be soon after the destruction of antichrist and the Roman monarchy.

Query: Whether this doth not agree with the prediction of our Saviour? Luke 21:24. For I would not, brethren,.... The apostle in order to raise the attention of the Gentiles to what he was about to deliver to them, not only styles them "brethren", expressing his affection for them, and their relation to him and other believing Jews, and to one another, being all one in Christ Jesus, partakers of the same grace, and heirs of the same glory; but also tells them, that what he had to acquaint them with was a "mystery", a thing secret and hidden, which had not been heard of and known, at least not so fully and clearly as he was about to reveal it; and because of his great respect for them, he was unwilling, as he says,

that ye should be ignorant of this mystery; he was desirous that they should abound and improve in all spiritual knowledge and judgment, and, among the rest, be better informed of this particular article, the call of the Jews: and his view in apprizing them of it is expressed in the following clause,

lest ye should be wise in your own conceits: lest they should imagine that they were the only wise and knowing persons, and be elated in their minds with their knowledge and understanding, and look with contempt upon the poor, blind, ignorant Jews, as if they were always to remain in such a state of darkness and infidelity. The thing he had to inform them of is,

that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; by Israel is meant the Jews, the descendants of Jacob, whose name was Israel. Philo the Jew observes (b), that this name signifies , "the vision of God"; indeed, Jacob had it given him when he wrestled with the angel, and saw God face to face, though it does not seem to be for that reason; however, blindness had now befallen the Jews, who had been favoured with a divine revelation, with the knowledge of God, his will and worship; and none were more blind than those who were called the servants and messengers of the Lord of hosts, as the Scribes and Pharisees, the priests and princes of the Jewish world. This "blindness" designs their unbelief, the hardness of their hearts, and darkness of their understandings with respect to God himself, whom they knew not in Christ; not as the Father of Christ; nor even the perfections of his nature, particularly his righteousness; which was the reason of their setting up their own righteousness, and of their non-submission to the righteousness of Christ: they were blind as to the Messiah; they knew him not, when he came; they saw no beauty and comeliness in him; could not discern the characters of him in Jesus, though they were so manifest; and rejected him notwithstanding the clear evidence of his ministry and miracles. They were in the dark about the sense of the prophecies of the Old Testament; a vail was upon their hearts when they read them, so that they understood them not, and could not see their accomplishment in Christ; they were even ignorant of the law, the spiritual nature, true use, and right end and scope of it; and it is no wonder that the Gospel should be hidden from them. This blindness "happened" to them not by chance, but befell them by the decree, and according to the will of God, who hardens whom he pleases; and according to various predictions in the Old Testament, cited in Matthew 13:14; and in righteous judgment, for since they liked not to retain God and his Christ in their knowledge, it was but just in God to give them up to reprobate minds, to judicial blindness, and hardness of heart: but then this blindness only happened to them "in part"; not that it was only in some measure or some degree, for it was total, they were darkness itself, and had no spiritual and evangelic light at all on whom it fell; but that this blindness was not general with respect to persons, there were some few, a seed, a remnant, that were delivered from it, though the far greater part of the nation were involved in it, and continue in it to this day; and will do, "until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in": that is, till the whole number of God's elect among them, be called and brought into the Gospel church state, which in the latter day will be very great; when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea; when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ; and the abundance of the sea shall be converted, and the forces of the Gentiles shall come to the church, and multitudes of them shall flock thither, as doves to their windows: and since the blindness of the Jews is not yet removed, it seems plain that the full number of God's chosen ones among the Gentiles is not yet completed in regeneration; for as soon as ever they are all called and brought in, the vail will be taken away from the Jews, and they will be turned unto the Lord.

(b) De Temulentia, p. 251. & De Sacrificiis Abel & Cain, p. 151.

{13} For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your {b} own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be {c} come in.

(13) The blindness of the Jews is neither so universal that the Lord has no elect in that nation, neither will it be continual: for there will be a time in which they also (as the prophets have foretold) will effectually embrace that which they now so stubbornly for the most part reject and refuse.

(b) That you are not proud within yourselves.

(c) Into the Church.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 11:25-32. The formal and unconditional promise of the collective conversion of the Jews, and the confirmatory proof of this promise, now follow down to Romans 11:32.

γάρ] introduces the corroboration of the previous ἐγκεντρισθήσονται: “they shall be grafted in, I say; for be it not withheld from you,” etc.

οὐ θέλω ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν] not a mere formula of announcement generally (Rückert), but always of something important, which Paul desires to be specially noticed, Romans 1:13; 1 Corinthians 10:1; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13. That which is addressed, under the fervent addition of the ἀδελφοί embracing all readers, is the whole church, although it stands before the apostle’s eyes such as it was, namely, in its predominantly Gentile-Christian character. Comp. Romans 11:13; Romans 11:28; Romans 11:30.

τὸ μυστήριον] has not in the N. T. the sense in which profane writers speak of mysteries (something mysterious in itself, comprehensible only by the initiated, and to be concealed from the profane). See on μύειν and μυστήρ., Creuzer on Plotin. de Pulcr. p. 357 f.; Lennep. Etymol. p. 441; comp. Lobeck, Aglaoph. I. p. 85 ff. But it signifies that which, undiscerned by men themselves, has been made known to them by divine ἀποκάλυψις, and always refers to the relations and the development of the Messianic kingdom (Matthew 13:11). Thus it frequently denotes with Paul the divine counsel of redemption through Christ,—as a whole, or in particular parts of it,—because it was veiled from men before God revealed it (Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10; Ephesians 3:3-5). Whether the contents of a mystery have already become known through the preaching of the gospel, may be gathered from the scope of the particular passages. That, however, which Paul here means by μυστήρ., is something the ἀποκάλυψις of which he is conscious of having received by divine illumination (just as in 1 Corinthians 15:51), and he declares it as a prophet ἐν ἀποκαλύψει (1 Corinthians 14:6; 1 Corinthians 14:30); without presupposing that the church, personally still strange to him, was already acquainted with the peculiar point of doctrine, as is evinced by ἵνα μὴ ἦτε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς φρόν. He desires, namely, by a disclosure of the μυστήριον, to take care that his readers, from their Gentile-Christian standpoint, should not, under a misapprehension of the divine counsel, hold for truth their own views on the exclusion of the Israelitish people, and therewith be wise in themselves (ἐν ἑαυτ., see the critical notes), i.e. in their own judgment (comp. Jam 2:4). What Luther has: “that ye be not proud” (comp. Erasmus, Beza, Calvin, Calovius), is not directly expressed, but is rightly pointed out by Theodoret as a consequence. Comp. Isaiah 5:21; Soph. El. 1055 f.

ὅτι κ.τ.λ.] Contents of the μυστήρ., namely, the duration of the hardening of Israel, which will not be permanent.

πώρωσις] See on Romans 11:7.

ἀπὸ μέρους] is to be connected with γέγονεν, not, as by Estius, Semler, Koppe, Fritzsche, contrary to the construction, with τῷ Ἰσραήλ. Hardening has partially befallen the people, in so far as οὐ πάντες ἠπίστευσαν· πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐξ ἐκείνων ἐπίστευσαν (Theodoret). Comp. Romans 15:15. It is therefore to be understood extensively (comp. οἱ λοιποί, Romans 11:7; τινές, Romans 11:17), not intensively, as Calvin takes it (attaching it to πώρωσις): quodammodo, which was intended to soften the severity of the notion. So taken, it would not modify the conception, but alter it (Romans 11:7 ff.). Köllner finds in ἀπὸ μ. the statement of a single ground of the divine arrangement, leaving it undecided whether other reasons, and what, were in the mind of the apostle: on the one part the hardening had been decreed by God over Israel only for the end, that first, etc. But in that case ἀπὸ μ. must have referred to an expressed ἵνα or the like. The temporal view, “for a while” (Hofmann), is here as contrary to usage as in 2 Corinthians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 2:5. Paul would have known how to express this sense possibly by τὸ νῦν, or by the classical τέως.

γέγονεν] from whom? is known from Romans 11:8.

ἄχρις οὗ] usque dum intraverit. Then—when this shall have taken place—the hardening of Israel shall cease. Calvin’s ita ut is intended, in spite of the language, to remove the idea of a terminus ad quem; and for the same reason Calovius and others employ much artifice in order to bring out the sense, that down to the end of the world the partial hardening will endure, and therefore, too, the partial conversion, but only that which is partial.

τὸ πλήρ. τῶν ἐθνῶν] In opposition to Gusset, Wolfburg, and others named by Wolf, also Wolf himself, Michaelis, Olshausen, Philippi, who understand only the complementum ethnicorum serving to make up for the unbelieving Jews (“the recruitment from the Gentiles,” Michaelis), the usus loquendi is not decisive; for according to usage that, with which something else is made full, might certainly be expressed by the genitive with πλήρωμα (Mark 8:20, and see on Mark 6:43; comp. Ecclesiastes 4:6). But how enigmatically, and in a manner how liable to misapprehension, would Paul have indicated the supposed thought, instead of simply and plainly writing τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτοῦ τὸ ἐκ τῶν ἐθνῶν! especially as already, in Romans 11:12, the analogous expression τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῶν was used in the sense of “their full number.” Fritzsche also finds too little: caterva gentilium, so that only a great multitude is meant. Comp. on Ephesians 3:19. We must observe the correlation of ἀπὸ μέρουςπλήρωμαπᾶς: a part of Israel is hardened, until the Gentiles collectively shall have come in, and, when that shall have taken place, then all Israel will be saved. The conversion of the Gentiles ensues by successive stages; but when their totality shall be converted, then the conversion of the Jews in their totality will also ensue; so that Paul sees the latter—which up to that epoch certainly also advances gradually in individual cases—ensuing, after the full conversion of the Gentiles, as the event completing the assemblage of the church and accomplishing itself probably in rapid development. All this, therefore, before the Parousia, not by means of it. Comp. on Acts 3:20. The expression τὸ πλήρωμα τ. ἐθνῶν is therefore to be taken numerically: the plena copia of the Gentiles (of whom in the first instance only a fraction has come and is coming in), their full number. Rightly Theophylact: πάντες, but with arbitrary limitation he adds: οἱ προεγνωσμένοι ἐθνικοί. Just so, in substance, Augustine, Oecumenius, and many others, including even van Hengel: “plenus numerus gentilium, quotquot comprehendebant proposita Dei,” comp. Krummacher: “only the elect among the Gentiles.” The collective multitude of the Gentiles in the strict sense Hofmann seeks to get rid of, by making τὸ πλήρωμα serve only to emphasize the fact that τὰ ἔθνη is to be thought of “in the full compass of the notion,” so that by τὸ πλήρ. τ. ἐθνῶν no other full amount is intended than that which would be expressed by τὰ ἔθνη itself. Thus there would result as the sense: until no people of the Gentile world is any longer found outside the church. This is decidedly at variance with Romans 11:12, and with the whole context down to its evident concluding verse (Romans 11:32), according to which not the peoples as such (in the lump, as it were), but all persons who compose them, must be the subjects of the entrance into the church and of the divine mercy. The above interpretation is a process of rationalizing, artificial and far-fetched, and contrary to the language and the context, by interpreting what is said of the individuals as applying to the nations; just as Beyschlag, p. 75, understands the two great groups of mankind to be thought of here and in Romans 11:26.

εἰσέλθῃ] namely, into the community prefigured by the holy olive tree, i.e. into the people of God. There is not yet mention of the kingdom of Messiah; its establishment is later. The passage Colossians 1:13 is wrongly employed with a view to supply εἰς τ. βασιλ. Θεοῦ. See in loc.Romans 11:25-32. In this concluding section Paul abandons the ground of argument for that of revelation. He has discussed the problems arising out of the rejection of Israel and the calling of the Gentiles, when taken in connection with the promises of God to His people; and he has tried to make it clear that in all His dealings with His people, God has acted righteously, that for all that has befallen them the Jews have full responsibility, and that a Divine purpose, with blessing in it to both Jew and Gentile, has indirectly been getting itself carried into effect through this perplexing history. The rejection of the Jews has led to the calling of the Gentiles, and the calling of the Gentiles, by provoking the Jews to jealousy, is eventually to lead to their conversion too. All this, it may be said, is matter of argument; it is more or less convincing as the argument appeals with less or greater force to our minds. It is Paul’s construction and interpretation of the facts before him, and his anticipation of the result in which they are likely to issue; but it has no greater authority than the reasoning by which he supports it, or the motives which suggest one line of reasoning upon the facts rather than another. We can understand how patriotism, and religious faith in God’s promise, and insight into the psychological influences which determine human conduct, all contribute some weight to his argument; but he is not content to rest upon argument alone the central truth he has been expounding—that the hardening of Israel is temporary as well as partial, and that when “the fulness of the Gentiles” has come in the hardening will cease, and all Israel be saved. He expressly puts this truth forward as a revelation (μυστήριον, Romans 11:25). What this means psychologically we cannot tell, but it is clear that for Paul it was an essential part of the true religion, so far as he could make out the manner of its working in the world. He might try to lead the mind up to it along various lines of argument, or to confirm it by considerations of various kinds; but for him it had a Divine authority, antecedent to argument and independent of it. He sought arguments to make it credible and intelligible, not for his own sake, but for the sake of others. How much a revelation of this kind will weigh with the modern reader depends on the extent to which on general grounds he can recognise in Paul an inspired interpreter of Christianity. History, it must be admitted, throws no light on his words. The Gentiles are not fully gathered in; the time to say whether Israel as a whole is to have any distinct or decisive place in the final fulfilment of God’s gracious purpose is therefore not yet. One feels as if the nationalism of the passage fell short of Paul’s great word, There is neither Greek nor Jew; but there the Jews are, a problem to unbelief as well as to faith; think what we will of it, it is of them salvation comes; and it is at least as credible as the reverse (without considering Paul’s arguments at all) that Providence is not preserving them for nothing, and that in some such way as is here indicated there is a close connection between their salvation and the salvation of the world.25. For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant] Same word as Romans 1:13; 1 Corinthians 10:1; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13.—Here St Paul leaves the image of the Olive Tree, which he had used to facilitate to his reader’s conception the idea of a restoration of Jews to the Church of the Messiah, now become the Universal Church. He now, in plain terms, reveals and predicts a great future Restoration.

For:”—the connexion indicated is somewhat thus: “My parable of the Olive Tree is no conjecture or peradventure, when it suggests a brighter future for Israel. For such a future is to come, in the purposes of God.”

ignorant] Whether for want of information, or want of reminders. Possibly the precise revelation of the future here made had never been made, in terms, before, though suggestions and intimations of it had often been heard. (Cp. perhaps Luke 21:24.) So in another place, (1 Thessalonians 4:13,) where the Apostle uses the same formula:—the hope of Resurrection had been abundantly revealed in a general way, but the precise fact that the buried saints should rise before the living saints should be transfigured was probably then first made known.

mystery] Here, as consistently in N. T., the Gr. word means a truth undiscoverable by reason, but now revealed. Our use of the words “mystery” and “mysterious,” is often misleading in these connexions, as it easily suggests the thought of what cannot be understood. The Gr. means, in fact, a secret, which, when told, may be found either partially to transcend the grasp of man’s conception, or to be quite within it. Thus in 1 Corinthians 15:51 we have a “mystery” revealed as a fact which yet (in detail at least) we cannot clearly conceive: in the present passage we have a “mystery” revealed which is far more within our reach of thought, viz. judicial blindness inflicted on the Jews as a body, and hereafter, at a definite point in the Plan of God, to be removed.

wise in your own conceits] Same word as Romans 12:16.—“Conceits:”—i.e. opinion. The Gr. is, more literally, wise, or sensible, at your own bar; i.e. judged in the court of self-complacency.—The “wisdom” or “thoughtfulness” here in view is such as that rebuked in Romans 11:19; that of a Gentile convert who thought much of his large insight into the Divine Plan because he saw in the rejection of the Jews not an accident but a deliberate opening of the door of grace to the world—and there dismissed the subject, careless whether there were, or not, any future mercy for Israel in the same Divine Plan.

blindness] See on Romans 11:7, “were blinded.” The noun here is cognate to the verb there. It occurs elsewhere in N. T., Mark 3:5; Ephesians 4:18.

in part] This gracious qualification is not necessary to the statement, in which the “blindness” or “hardening” is the emphatic thing. But St Paul will not omit to remind the Gentile Christian that even in the dark ages of Israel there ever has been, is, and will be, a “holy seed,” (Isaiah 6:13,) an “election,” who behold and welcome the promised Salvation. Thus the hardening is never total; it is partial, though, alas, the hardened “part” is the large majority, till the great call of grace.—See further, long note above on Romans 11:1.

until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in] The Gr. equally allows the rendering until the fulness &c. come in. This would not necessitate (as E. V. does) the inference that the call of grace to Israel was not to come till the in-coming of the “fulness of the Gentiles” was over. In Romans 11:15 (q. v.) we have had it intimated that the conversion of Israel should be a means of immense grace to the world; as indeed it must be, in the nature of the case. In view of this, it seems best to explain the present verse as predicting that the in-coming of the nations to the Church of Christ shall have largely, but not perfectly, taken place when Israel is restored to grace; so that the closing stages of the in-coming may be directly connected with the promised revival of Israel, and may follow it in respect of time.—“Come in:—to the Fold, the Refuge, the City, of Messiah’s salvation.

the fulness of the Gentiles] Cp. note on “fulness” in Romans 11:12. The word here plainly means the full destined number of the Gentile Church, with the underlying idea of the greatness of that number. Cp. Revelation 7:9.Romans 11:25. Μυστήριον, a mystery) Paul does not always apply the term, mysteries, to those doctrines, which from the very first are necessary to be known by believers, but to the secrets, which were unknown even to many believers, until, as the case required, for the sake of faith or love they were opened up to them from the Scriptures, heretofore in this respect sealed. Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:51, and on a similar occasion Ephesians 3:3. The calling of the Gentiles had been a mystery, ch. Romans 16:25. But now the conversion of Israel is likewise a mystery. [Therefore something different is intimated from such conversions, as were exhibited day by day in the times of Paul.—V. g.] Each of these forms a great part of that mystery, which is confirmed in Revelation 10:7. Furthermore, since it is a mystery, they ought to be treated with patient forbearance who do not recognise it so quickly, and we should hope for the time, when it will be recognised by all.—[123] φρόνιμοι, wise) dreaming, that the church at Rome cannot fail. Cluverus. The very term, mystery, checks the reader’s pride. Hence the admonition is repeated at. ch. Romans 12:16, which is already to be found at Romans 11:20, note.—ἀπὸ μέρους, in part) He speaks in a way softening the unwelcome truth; for οἱ πωρωθέντες, those, who were hardened, were as “the sand of the sea,” Romans 11:7; comp. with ch. Romans 9:27. Therefore, in the following verse, the conversion, which will not be in part [as their hardening was, which yet comprised as many as the sand], but will include all Israel (see foll. verse), will be by far the most abundant. And in the mean time also, there are always some being converted, and for this desirable object it becomes believers to be always on the watch.—πλήρωμα, fulness) a most abundant supply; the antithesis is in part. No nation shall remain, to which the Gospel shall not have been preached in the whole world; although a great part of mankind will still continue to be wicked.—εἰσέλθῃ, shall come in) John 10:9; John 10:16. For many ages, now, many obstacles retard [put a drag on the wheels of] this coming in, obstacles which will be broken through at the proper time, so that the fulness of the Gentiles, who have been long since called, may entirely come in; and then the hardening of Israel will terminate, Psalm 126:2-3. Paul provokes the Israelites to Christian jealousy; and this presupposes the conversion of the Gentiles before that of Israel, and yet the remaining abundance of the Gentiles may afterwards be gained by the full conversion of Israel, Romans 11:11-12; Romans 11:15; Romans 11:31; Ezekiel 39:7; Ezekiel 39:21-27.

[123] We should never consider a mystery for the sake of curiosity: we should always seek to be humbled before it.—V. g.Verses 25-27. - For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that hardness (πώρωσις; see ver. 8) in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles he come in. And so all Israel shall be saved. Πᾶς Ισραὴλ here must mean the whole nation; not, as Calvin explains, "com-plebitur salus totius Israel Dei [i.e. of the spiritual Israel, as in Galatians 6:16] quam ex utrisque [i.e. with Jews and Gentiles] colligi oportet;" for "Israel" must surely be understood in the same sense as in the preceding verse, where it denotes the Jewish nation as opposed to the Gentiles. Σωθήσεται, as seems required by the whole context, means coming into the Church (cf. Acts 2:47, Ὁ δὲ κύριος προσετίθει τοὺς σωζομένους καθ ἡμέραν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ). As it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: and this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. Referring, as throughout the Epistle, to the Old Testament for confirmation, St. Paul here, as in former instances, combines passages, and quotes freely, perhaps from memory. The main citation is from Isaiah 59:20, 21, with an addition from Isaiah 17:9, the LXX. being followed. The citations are relevant, being specimens of many others that might have been adduced, predicting the final pardon and restitution of the house of Israel itself, notwithstanding judgments, through the Redeemer who was to come. What follows, to ver. 33, is in the way of summary and further comment. Mystery (μυστήριον)

In the Septuagint only in Daniel. See Daniel 2:18, Daniel 2:19, Daniel 2:27, Daniel 2:28, Daniel 2:30, of the king's secret. It occurs frequently in the apocryphal books, mostly of secrets of state, or plans kept by a king in his own mind. This meaning illustrates the use of the word in passages like Matthew 13:11, "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" - secret purposes or counsels which God intends to carry into effect in His kingdom. So here; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26, Colossians 1:27; Colossians 2:2; Colossians 4:3; Revelation 10:7. In Justin Martyr (second century) it is commonly used in connection with σύμβολον symbol, τύπος type, παραβολή parable, and so is evidently closely related in meaning to these words. Compare Revelation 1:20; Revelation 17:7, This meaning may possibly throw light on Ephesians 5:32. In early ecclesiastical Latin μυστήριον was rendered by sacramentum, which in classical Latin means the military oath. The explanation of the word sacrament, which is so often founded on this etymology, is therefore mistaken, since the meaning of sacrament belongs to μυστήριον and not to sacramentum in the classical sense. In Ephesians 3:3-6, Paul uses the word as here, of the admission of the Gentiles.

Wise (φρόνιμοι)

See on the kindred noun φρόνησις wisdom, Luke 1:17. Mostly in the New Testament of practical wisdom, prudence; thus distinguished from σοφία which is mental excellence in its highest and fullest sense; and from σύνεσις intelligence, which is combinative wisdom; wisdom in its critical applications. See Colossians 1:9, and compare Ephesians 1:8.

Blindness (πώρωσις)

See on Romans 11:7. Rev., hardening.

In part (ἀπὸ μέρους)

Μέρος part is never used adverbially in the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation. In the Epistles it is rarely used in any other way. The only exceptions are 2 Corinthians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 9:3; Ephesians 4:9, Ephesians 4:16. Paul employs it in several combinations. With ἀπό from (1 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Corinthians 2:5), and ἐκ out of (1 Corinthians 12:27; 1 Corinthians 13:9, 1 Corinthians 13:10, 1 Corinthians 13:12), in which a thing is conceived as looked at from the part, either (ἀπὸ) as a simple point of view, or (ἐκ) as a standard according to which the whole is estimated. Thus 1 Corinthians 12:27, "members ἐκ μέρους severally, i.e., members from a part of the whole point of view. Also with ἐν in, as Colossians 2:16, with respect to, literally, in the matter of. With ἀνά up, the idea being of a series or column of parts reckoned upward, part by part. Μέρος τι with regard to some part, partly, occurs 1 Corinthians 11:18; and κατὰ μέρος, reckoning part by part downward; according to part, particularly, Hebrews 9:5.

Construe here with hath happened: has partially befallen. Not partial hardening, but hardening extending over a part.

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