Romans 10
Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
Chap. 10:1-13.] The Jews, though zealous for God, are yet ignorant of God’s righteousness (1-3), as revealed to them in their own Scriptures (4-13).

1.] Brethren (‘nunc quasi superata præcedentis tractationis severitate comiter appellat fratres.’ Bengel), the inclination of my heart (εὐδοκία is seldom, if ever, used to signify the motion of desire, but imports the rest of approving satisfaction. Possibly there is here a mixture of constructions: the Apostle’s εὐδοκία would be their salvation itself,—his δέησις πρὸς τὸν θ. ὑπὲρ αὐτ. was εἰς σωτ.

The μέν requires a corresponding δέ, not expressed, but implied in the course of vv. 2, 3, where the obstacle to their σωτήρ. is brought out), and my supplication to God on their behalf (Israel, see ch. 9:32, προσέκοψαν), (is) for (their) salvation (lit. ‘towards salvation.’

The insertion of the art. after δέησις has apparently been an overcareful grammatical correction: it is by no means universal in the N. T., even where the Greek writers insert it,—and here, seeing that there could be no δεήσεις to any other than God, the omission would be more natural. τοῦ Ἰσραήλ has been substituted by the adoption of a gloss: ἐστίν to complete the sense). The Apostle’s meaning seems to be, to destroy any impression which his readers may have received unfavourable to his love of his own people, from the stern argument of the former chapter.

2.] For (reason why I thus sympathize with their efforts, though misdirected) I bear witness to them that they have a zeal for God (for this meaning of the gen. see reff., especially 2Corinthians 11:2, and note there), but not according to (in accordance with, founded upon, and carried on with) knowledge (accurate apprehension of the way of righteousness as revealed to them).

3.] For (explanation of οὐ κατʼ ἐπίγν.) not recognizing (‘being ignorant of’ is liable to the objection, that it may represent to the reader a state of excusable ignorance, whereas they had it before them, and overlooked it) the righteousness of God (not, the way of justification appointed by God, as Stuart, al.: but that only righteousness which avails before God, which becomes ours in justification; see De Wette’s note, quoted on ch. 1:17), and seeking to set up their own righteousness (again, not justification, but righteousness: that, namely, described ver. 5; not that it was ever theirs, but the Apostle speaks subjectively. Notwithstanding the ms. authority against δικαι. after ἰδίαν, it would seem as if it had been written for emphasis’ sake by the Apostle, and omitted on account of the word occurring thrice in the sentence), they were not subjected (historical: implying, but not itself bearing, a perfect sense. The passage,—not in a middle sense, as De Wette and Thol.,—expresses the result only; it might be themselves, or it might be some other, that subjected them,—but the historical fact was, that they were not subjected) to the righteousness of God (the δικ. τ. θ. being considered as a rule or method, to which it was necessary to conform, but to which they were never subjected as they were to the law of Moses).

4-13.] The δικαιοσύνη τ. θ. is now explained to be summed up in that Saviour who was declared to them in their own Scriptures. For (establishing what was last said, and at the same time unfolding the δικ. τ. θ. in a form which rendered them inexcusable for its non-recognition) Christ is the end of the Law (i.e. the object at which the law aimed: see the similar expression 1Timothy 1:5, τὸ τέλος τῆς παραγγελίας ἐστὶν ἀγάπη. Various meanings have been given to τέλος. (1) End, finis, chronological: ‘Christ is the termination of the law.’ So the latt., Augustine, Luther, al., Olsh., Meyer, Fritz., De Wette, al. But this meaning, unless understood in its pregnant sense, that Christ, who has succeeded to the law, was also the object and aim of the law, says too little. In this pregnant sense Tholuck takes the word ‘end,’ the end in time and in aim. It may be so; but I prefer simply to take in the idea of Christ being the end, i.e. aim of the law, as borne out by the following citations, in which nothing is said of the transitoriness of the law, but much of the notices which it contains of righteousness by faith in Christ. (2) Alex.,—πλήραμα γὰρ ν. χρ. εἰς δικ. π. τῷ πιστ., De Div. Serv. § 9, p. 940 P. Theodoret, Calv., Grot., al., take τέλος for ‘accomplishment,’ a sense included in the general meaning, but not especially treated here,—the following quotations not having any reference to it. (3) The meaning, end in the sense of object or aim, above adopted, is that of the Syr., Chrys., Theophyl., Beza, Bengel, al. Chrys. observes: εἰ γὰρ τοῦ νόμου τέλος ὁ χριστός, ὁ τὸν χριστὸν οὐκ ἔχων, κἂν ἐκείνην (i.e. δικαιοσύνην) δοκῇ ἔχειν, οὐκ ἔχει· ὁ δὲ τὸν χριστὸν ἔχων, κἂν μὴ ᾖ κατωρθωκὼς τὸν νόμον, τὸ πᾶν εἴληφε. καὶ γὰρ τέλος ἰατρικῆς ὑγιεία. ὥσπερ οὖν ὁ δυνάμενος ὑγιῆ ποιεῖν, κἂν μὴ τὴν ἰατρικὴν ἔχῃ, τὸ πᾶν ἔχει. ὁ δὲ μὴ εἰδὼς θεραπεύειν, κἂν μετιέναι δοκῇ τὴν τέχνην, τοῦ παντὸς ἐξέπεσεν· οὕτω ἐπὶ τοῦ νόμου καὶ τῆς πίστεως, ὁ μὲν ταύτην ἔχων, καὶ τὸ ἐκείνου τέλος ἔχει· ὁ δὲ ταύτης ἔξω ὤν, ἀμφοτέρων ἐστὶν ἀλλότριος. Hom. xvii. p. 622.

νόμου is here plainly the law of Moses: see Middleton in loc.) unto righteousness (i.e. so as to bring about righteousness, which the law could not do) to (dat. commodi) every one that believeth. “Had they only used the law, instead of abusing it, it would have been their best preparation for the Saviour’s advent. For indeed, by reason of man’s natural weakness, it was always powerless to justify. It was never intended to make the sinner righteous before God; but rather to impart to him a knowledge of his sinfulness, and to awaken in his heart earnest longings for some powerful deliverer. Thus used, it would have ensured the reception of the Messiah by those who now reject Him. Striving to attain to real holiness, and increasingly conscious of the impossibility of becoming holy by an imperfect obedience to the law’s requirements, they would gladly have recognized the Saviour as the end of the law for righteousness.” Ewbank.

5.] For (proof of the impossibility of legal righteousness, as declared even in the law itself) Moses describes (reff.) the righteousness which is of (abstr.—not implying that it has ever been attained, but rather presupposing the contrary) the law, that (ὅτι recitantis, not γράφ. ὅτι, in which case we should have αὐτήν. The eam of some versions has apparently arisen from misunderstanding ὅτι) the man who hath done them (the ordinances of the law) shall live in (in the strength of, by means of, as his status) it (the righteousness accruing by such doing of them).

As regards the life here promised, the Jewish interpreters themselves included in it more than mere earthly felicity in Canaan, and extended their view to a better life hereafter: see Wetst. in loc. Earthly felicity it doubtless did impart, compare Deuteronomy 30:20; but even there, as Thol. observes, ‘life’seems to be a general promise, and length of days a particular species of felicity. “In the N. T.,” he continues, “this idea (of life) is always exalted into that of life blessed and eternal:—see Matthew 7:14; Matthew 18:8, Matthew 18:9; Luke 10:28.”

6-8.] The righteousness which is of faith is described, in the words spoken in Scripture by Moses of the commandment given by him,—as not dependent on a long and difficult process of search, but near to every man, and in every man’s power to attain. I believe the account of the following citation will be best found by bearing in mind that the Apostle is speaking of Christ as the end of the law for righteousness to the believer. He takes as a confirmation of this, a passage occurring in a prophetic part of Deut., where Moses is foretelling to the Jews the consequences of rejecting God’s law, and His mercy to them even when under chastisement, if they would return to Him. He then describes the law in nearly the words cited in this verse. Now the Apostle, regarding Christ as the end of the law, its great central aim and object, quotes these words not merely as suiting his purpose, but as bearing, where originally used, an à fortiori application to faith in Him who is the end of the law, and to the commandment to believe in Him, which (1John 3:23) is now ‘God’s commandment.’ If spoken of the law as a manifestation of God in man’s heart and mouth, much more were they spoken of Him, who is God manifest in the flesh, the end of the law and the prophets. This view is, it is true, different from that of almost all eminent Commentators, ancient and modern,—who regard the words as merely adapted or parodied by the Apostle as suiting his present purpose. Thus, with minor shades of difference, Chrys., Beza, Grot., Vatabl., Luther, Wolf, Bengel, Koppe, Flatt, Rückert, De Wette, Thol., Stuart, Hodge, al. But we must remember that it is in this passage Paul’s object not merely to describe the righteousness which is of faith in Christ, but to shew it described already in the words of the law. The Commentators who have taken more or less the view that the Apostle cites the words as bearing the sense put on them, are Calvin, Calovius, Reiche, Meyer, Fritz., Olsh.

But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise (personified, as Wisdom in the Prov.), Say not in thine heart (i.e. ‘think not,’ a Heb. idiom. The LXX has merely λέγων, לֵאמֹר. The Apostle cites freely, giving the explanation of λέγων, viz. thinking), who shall go up to heaven (LXX, ἀναβ. ἡμῖν(ἡμῶν, Α) εἰς τ. οὐρ., see Proverbs 30:4)?—that is (see note above:—that imports in its full and unfolded meaning), to bring down Christ:—or who shall go down into the abyss (LXX, τίς διαπεράσει ἡμῖν εἰς τὸ πέραν τῆς θαλάσσης; The Apostle substitutes τίς κατ. εἰς τ. ἄβ. as the direct contrast to τίς ἀν. εἰς τ. οὐρ., as in ref. Ps.; see also Amos 9:2:—and as better suiting the interpretation which follows)?—that is, to bring up Christ from the dead. There is some difficulty in assigning the precise view with which the Apostle introduces these questions. Tholuck remarks, “The different interpretations may be reduced to this, that the questions are regarded either (1) as questions of unbelief, or (2) as questions of embarrassment, or (3) as questions of anxiety.” The first view is represented by De Wette, who says, “In what sense these questions, from which the righteousness which is of faith dissuades men, are to be taken, is plain from ver. 9, where the Resurrection of Christ is asserted as the one most weighty point of historical Christian belief:—they would be questions of unbelief, which regards this fact as not accomplished, or as now first to be accomplished. Thus also, probably, are we to understand the first question, as applying to the Incarnation of Christ.” This is more or less also the view of Chrys., Theodoret, Theophyl., Œ, Erasm., Estius, Semler, Koppe, Meyer, al., Rückert (who refers the doubt or the unbelief to the full accomplishment of redemption by the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ), Reiche, and Köllner (who refer καταγ. to the ascended Saviour, thereby destroying the symmetry of the whole,—because the latter question undoubtedly refers to bringing Christ not from a present but from a past state, from which He has historically come). (2) The second view, that they are questions of embarrassment, is taken by L. Capellus, Wolf, Rosenm., and Stuart, which last says, “The whole (of Moses’s saying) may be summed up in one word, omitting all figurative expression: viz. the commandment is plain and accessible. You can have, therefore, no excuse for neglecting it. So in the case before us. Justification by faith in Christ is a plain and intelligible doctrine. It is not shut up in mysterious language.… It is like what Moses says of the statutes which he gave to Israel, plain, intelligible, accessible.… It is brought before the mind and heart of every man: and thus he is without excuse for unbelief.” (3) The third view, that they are questions of anxiety, is that of Calv., Beza, Pisc., Bengel, Knapp, Fritz., and Tholuck:—by none perhaps better expressed than by Ewbank, Comm. on the Ep. to the Rom., p. 74: “Personifying the great Christian doctrine of free justification through faith, he represents it as addressing every man who is anxious to obtain salvation, in the encouraging words of Moses: ‘Say not in thine heart, (it says to such an one) &c.…’ In other words, ‘Let not the man, who sighs for deliverance from his own sinfulness, suppose that the accomplishment of some impossible task is required of him, in order to enjoy the blessings of the Gospel. Let him not think that the personal presence of the Messiah is necessary to ensure his salvation. Christ needs not to be brought down from heaven, or up from the abyss, to impart to him forgiveness and holiness. No. Our Christian message contains no impossibilities. We do not mock the sinner by offering him happiness on conditions which we know that he is powerless to fulfil. We tell him that Christ’s word is near to him: so near, that he may speak of it with his mouth, and meditate on it with his heart.…’ Is there any thing above human power in such a confession, and in such a belief? Surely not. It is graciously adapted to the necessity of the very weakest and most sinful of God’s creatures.”

[I will now take up the three views afresh, and state the objections.] (1) The objection to this view, as alleged by Tholuck, is, that in it, the contrast with ver. 5 is lost sight of. And this is so far just, that it must be confessed we thus lose the ideas which the Apostle evidently intended us to grasp, those of insuperable difficulty in the acquisition of righteousness by the law, and of facility,—by the gospel. Also,—it puts too forward the allegation of the great matters of historical belief, which are not here the central point of the argument, but introduced as the objects which faith, itself that central point, apprehends. (2) The last objection has some force as against this view. The regarding the questions as mere questions of difficulty and intellectual bewilderment does not adequately represent the ζῆλος θεοῦ predicated of the Jews, on the assumption of which the whole passage proceeds. Here, however, it seems to me, we have more truth than in (1): for the plainness and simplicity of the truth to be believed is unquestionably one most important element in the righteousness which is of faith. (3) Here we have the important element just mentioned, not indeed made the prominent point of the questions, but, as it appears to me, properly and sufficiently kept in view. The anxious follower after righteousness is not disappointed by an impracticable code, nor mocked by an unintelligible revelation: the word is near him, therefore accessible; plain and simple, and therefore apprehensible; and, taking (1) into account, we may fairly add,—deals with definite historical fact, and therefore certain: so that his salvation is not contingent on an amount of performance which is beyond him, and therefore inaccessible: irrational, and therefore inapprehensible: undefined, and therefore involved in uncertainty. Thus, it seems to me, we satisfy all the conditions of the argument: and thus also it is clearly brought out, that the words themselves could never have been spoken by Moses of the righteousness which is of the law, but of that which is of faith.

8.] But what says it? The word is near thee, in thy mouth (to confess), and in thine heart (to believe): that is (see above), the word of faith (which forms the substratum and object of faith, see Galatians 3:2; 1Timothy 4:6) which we (ministers of Christ: or perhaps, I Paul) preach. This verse has been explained in dealing with vv. 6 and 7.

9.] Because (explanation of the word being near thee: so Thol., De Wette, Stuart, al. Others take ὅτι here as in ver. 5, merely recitantis, making ἐὰν κ.τ.λ. the ῥῆμα preached. But as Thol. observes, (1) the duty of confessing the Lord Jesus can hardly be called part of the contents of the preaching of faith, but the prominence given to that duty shews a reference to the words of Moses: (2) the making ὅτι render a reason for ἐγγύς σου κ.τ.λ. suits much better the context and form of the passage: (3) the fact of the confession with the mouth standing first, also shews a reference to what has gone before: for when the Apostle brings his own arrangement in ver. 10, he puts, as natural, the belief of the heart first), if thou shalt confess with thy mouth (same order as ver. 8) the Lord Jesus (not, I think, ‘Jesus as the Lord’ (see the readg of al.): this might very well be,—and κύριον might, as Thol., be the predicate placed first for emphasis, did not Paul frequently use κύριος Ἰησοῦς for ‘the Lord Jesus,’—see (ch. 14:14 after a prep.) 1Corinthians 1:3 al.; Phil. (2:19) 3:20; Colossians 3:17 (1Thessalonians 1:1; 1Thessalonians 4:1). 1Corinthians 12:3 is hardly an example on the other side: see not there, but 2Corinthians 4:5 is, cf. note there), and believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead (here, as in 1Corinthians 15:14, 1Corinthians 15:16, 1Corinthians 15:17, regarded as the great central fact of redemption), thou shalt be saved (inherit eternal life).

Here we have the two parts of the above question again introduced: the confession of the Lord Jesus implying his having come down from heaven, and the belief in His resurrection implying His having been brought up from the dead.

10.] For (refers back to ver. 6, where the above words were ascribed to ἡ ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοσύνη, and explains how πιστεύς. ἐν τῇ καρδ. refer to the acquiring of righteousness) with the heart faith is exercised (πιστεύεται, men believe) unto (so as to be available to the acquisition of) righteousness, but (q. d. ‘not only so: but there must be an outward confession, in order for justification to be carried forward to salvation’) with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Clearly the words δικ. and σωτ. are not used here, as De W., al., merely as different terms for the same thing, for the sake of the parallelism: but as Thol. quotes from Crell., σωτ. is the ‘terminus ultimus et apex justificationis,’ consequent not merely on the act of justifying faith as the other, but on a good confession before the world, maintained unto the end.

11.] For (proof of the former part of ver. 10) the Scripture saith, Every one who believeth on Him shall not be ashamed. πᾶς is neither in the LXX nor the Heb., but is implied in the indefinite participle. The Apostle seems to use it here as taking up παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι, ver. 4. See ch. 9:33.

12.] For (an explanation of the strong expression πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων, as implying the universal offer of the riches of God’s mercy in Christ) there is no distinction of Jew and Greek (Gentile. See ch. 3:22); for the same Lord of all (viz. Christ, who is the subject here: vv. 9, 11, 13 cannot be separated. So , Chrys., Œc., Calov., Wolf, Bengel, Rück., Meyer, Fritz., De Wette, Tholuck, al. So πάντων κύριος of Christ, Acts 10:36. Most modern Commentators make ὁ αὐτός the subject, and κύριος the predicate. But I prefer the usual rendering, both on account of the strangeness of ὁ αὐτός thus standing alone, and because this Apostle uses the expression ὁ αὐτὸς κύριος, 1Corinthians 12:5, and even ὁ αὐτὸς θεός, ib. 6, for ‘the same Lord,’ and ‘it is the same God.’ Stuart supplies, ‘(there is) the same Lord:’ but this is harsh,—and unnecessary, if the participle πλουτῶν be taken as συντελῶν κ. συντ. in ch. 9:28) is rich towards all (‘by εἰς is signified the direction in which the stream of grace rushes forth.’ Olsh.) who call upon Him.

13-21.] Proof from Scripture of this assertion, and argument thereon.

13.] For every one, whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord (Jehovah,—but used here of Christ beyond a doubt, as the next verse shews. There is hardly a stronger proof, or one more irrefragable by those who deny the Godhead of our Blessed Lord, of the unhesitating application to Him by the Apostle of the name and attributes of Jehovah) shall be saved.

14, 15.] It has been much doubted to whom these questions refer,—to Jews or to Gentiles? It must, I think, be answered, To neither exclusively. They are generalized by the πᾶς ὃς ἄν of the preceding verse, to mean all, both Jews and Gentiles. And the inference in what follows, though mainly concerning the rejection of the unbelieving Jews, has regard also to the reception of the Gentiles: see below on vv. 19, 20.

At the same time, as Meyer remarks, “the necessity of the Gospel ἀποστολή must first be laid down, in order to bring out in strong contrast the disobedience of some.” How then (i.e. posito, that the foregoing is so) can they (men, represented by the πᾶς ὃς ἄν of ver. 13) call on (I have followed the majority of the chief mss. in reading the aor. subjunctive instead of the future indic. So also ch. 6:1) Him in whom they have not believed (i.e. begun to believe: so ch. 13:11)? But how can they believe (in Him) of whom they have not heard (construction see reff.)? But how can they hear without a preacher? But how can men preach unless they shall have been sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who [publish glad tidings of peace, who] publish glad tidings of (τά is excluded by the strong manuscript testimony against it) good things. The Apostle is shewing the necessity and dignity of the preachers of the word, which leads on to the universality of their preaching, leaving all who disobey it without excuse. He therefore cites this, as shewing that their instrumentality was one recognized in the prophetic word, where their office is described and glorified.

The applicability of these words to the preachers of the Gospel is evident from the passage in Isaiah itself, which is spoken indeed of the return from captivity, but in that return has regard to a more glorious one under the future Redeemer. We need not therefore say that the Apostle uses Scripture words merely as expressing his own thoughts in a well-known garb;—he alleges the words as a prophetic description of the preachers of whom he is writing.

16.] In this preaching of the Gospel some have been found obedient, others disobedient: and this was before announced by Isaiah. The persons here meant are as yet kept indefinite,—but evidently the Apostle has in his mind the unbelieving Jews, about whom his main discourse is employed.

But not all hearkened to (historic: during the preaching) the glad tidings (οὐ πάντες, because πάντες, see vv. 11-13, were the objects of the preaching, and must hearken to it if they would be saved):—(and this too was no unlooked-for thing, but predetermined in the divine counsel) for Esaias saith, Lord (κύριε is not in the Heb.), who believed the hearing of us [(i.e. as in our Version,] our report)?

17.] Faith then (conclusion from ver. 16, τίς ἐπίστ. τῇ ἀκοῇ) is from hearing (the publication of the Gospel produces belief in it), and the hearing (the effect of the publication of the Gospel) is by means of (not, ‘in obedience to,’ but ‘by,’ as its instrument and vehicle) the word of Christ (θεοῦ has probably been a rationalizing correction, to suit better the sense of the prophecy. ῥήματος is used possibly, as De Wette suggests, as a preparation for τὰ ῥήματα αὐτ. in ver. 18).

18.] But (in anticipation of an objection that Israel, whom he has especially in view, had not sufficiently heard the good tidings) I say, Did they not hear (ἤκουσαν partly founded on the cognate ἀκοή of the last verse, partly recalling the ἤκουσαν of ver. 14)? nay rather (ch. 9:20, note) into all the earth went forth their voice, and to the ends of the world their words. It is remarkable that so few of the Commentators have noticed (I have found it only in Bengel, and there but faintly hinted: Olsh., who defends the applicability of the text, does not even allude to it) that Psa_19 is a comparison of the sun, and glory of the heavens, with the word of God. As far as ver. 6 the glories of nature are described: then the great subject is taken up, and the parallelism carried out to the end. So that the Apostle has not, as alleged in nearly all the Commentators, merely accommodated the text allegorically, but taken it in its context, and followed up the comparison of the Psalm.

As to the assertion of the preaching of the Gospel having gone out into all the world, when as yet a small part of it only had been evangelized,—we must remember that it is not the extent, so much as the universality in character, of this preaching, which the Apostle is here asserting; that word of God, hitherto confined within the limits of Judæa, had now broken those bounds, and was preached in all parts of the earth. See Colossians 1:6, Colossians 1:23.

19.] But (in anticipation of another objection, that this universal evangelizing and admission of all, had at any rate taken the Jews by surprise,—that they had not been forewarned of any such purpose of God) I say, Did Israel (no emphasis on Israel—they are not first here introduced, nor have the preceding verses been said only of the Gentiles; but they have been during those verses in the Apostle’s mind, and are now named for distinctness’ sake, because it is not now a question of their having heard, which they did in common with all, but of their having been aware from their Scriptures of God’s intention with regard to themselves and the Gentiles) not know (supply, not ‘the Gospel,’ τὴν ἀκοήν, as Chrys., Estius, Rückert, Olsh., al.,—but, the fact that such a general proclamation of the Gospel would be made as has been mentioned in the last verse, raising up the Gentiles into equality and rivalry with themselves—so Meyer, Fritz., Thol., De Wette, Stuart, al.—Others supply variously:—Calv. and Beza, ‘the truth of God,’—so as to have an advantage over the Gentiles:—Bengel, ‘justitiam Dei:’—Bretschneider and Reiche take Ἰσραήλ for the object of ἔγνω, and understand ὁ θεός as its subject: ‘Did not God know,—acknowledge, regard with love,—Israel?’ But surely the context will not allow this)?—First (in the order of the prophetic roll; q. d. their very earliest prophet: compare Matthew 10:2, πρῶτος Σίμων κ.τ.λ. Thol., after Rückert, observes, “The Apostle has in his mind a whole series of prophetic sayings which he might adduce, but gives only a few instead of all, and would shew by the πρῶτος, that even in the earliest period the same complaint (of Israel’s unbelief) is found”) Moses saith, I will provoke you (Heb. and LXX, ‘them’) to jealousy against (those who are) no nation (the Gentiles, as opposed to the people of God), against a nation that hath no understanding (נָבָל, the spiritual fool of Psalm 14:1; Psalm 53:1; Proverbs 17:21) will I anger you. The original reference of these words, as addressed to Israel by Moses, is exactly apposite to the Apostle’s argument. Moses prophetically assumes the departure of Israel from God, and his rejection of them, and denounces from God that as they had moved Him to jealousy with their ‘no-gods’ (idols) and provoked Him to anger by their vanities,—so He would, by receiving into his favour a ‘no-nation,’ make them jealous, and provoke them to anger by adopting instead of them a foolish nation. On the interpretation of De Wette, al., that the meaning is, God would deliver the children of Israel, as a prey to the idolatrous nations of Canaan, the parallels will not hold; nor do the following verses in Deut. (22-25) justify it.

20.] But (even more than this: there is stronger testimony yet) Esaias is very bold and says (i.e. as we say, ‘dares to say,’ ‘ventures to speak thus plainly.’ Thol. compares Æschin. de Falsa Leg. c. 45: κἂν ἐθελήσῃ σχετλιάζειν κ. λέγειν), I was found (so LXX, the Heb. is נִדְרַשְׁתִּי, ‘I was sought:’ but apparently in the sense of Ezekiel 14:3; Ezekiel 20:3, ‘enquired of:’ which amounts to εὑρέθην. In Eze_14 the LXX render it ἀποκρίνεσθαι—and so Stier here, Ich gebe Antwort …) by (or among) those who sought me not, I became manifest to those who asked not after me. The clauses are inverted in order from the LXX.

De Wette and other modern Commentators have maintained that Isaiah 65:1 is spoken of the Jews, and not of the Gentiles; their main argument for this view being the connexion of ch. 64 and 65 But even granting this connexion, it does not follow that God is not speaking in reproach to Israel in ch. 65:1, and reminding them prophetically, that while they, His own rebellious people, provoke Him to anger, the Gentiles which never sought Him have found Him. The whole passage is thoroughly gone into and its true meaning satisfactorily shewn, in Stier’s valuable work, “Tesaias, nicht Pseudo-Tesaias,” pp. 797 ff., who remarks that ‘the nation which was not called by my Name,’ in 65:1, can only primarily mean the Gentiles.

21.] But of (not ‘to,’ but ‘with regard to:’ see reff. The words are not an address) Israel (evidently emphatic;—the former words having been said of the Gentiles) he saith (ibid. ver. 2), All the day (after μου in LXX) I stretched forth my hands (the attitude of gracious invitation) to a people disobedient and gainsaying (rebellious; the same word סֹרֵר occurs Deuteronomy 21:18).

Henry Alford - Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

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