Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,THIRD DIVISION
SIN AND GRACE IN THEIR THIRD ANTITHESIS (IN THEIR THIRD POTENCY): HARDENING, AND THE ECONOMIC JUDGMENT OF HARDENING (THE HISTORICAL CURSE OF SIN), AND THE CHANGE OF JUDGMENT TO DELIVERANCE BY THE EXERCISE OF DIVINE COMPASSION ON THE COURSE OF THE WORLD’S HISTORY. THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF SIN TO THE EXECUTION OF JUDGMENT, AND OF THE REVELATION OF SALVATION TO THE EXHIBITION OF COMPASSION. THE INWARD CONJUNCTION OF GOD’S JUDICIAL AND SAVING ACTS, AND THE EFFECTING OF THE SECOND BY THE FORMER.
FIRST SECTION.—The dark problem of God’s judgment on Israel, and its solution
1I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness inthe Holy Ghost, 2That I have great heaviness [grief] and continual sorrow inmy heart. 3For I could wish1 that [I] myself2 were accursed from Christ formy brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth [whose is] the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants,3 and the giving of the law, and the service of God [of the sanctuary], and the promises;5Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning [as to] the flesh Christ came [is Christ], who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.4
6Not as though [It is not however so, that]5 the word of God hath taken none effect [come to nought]. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel [Fornot all who are of Israel, are Israel]:6 7Neither, because they are the seed ofAbraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.7 8That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God [Not those who are the children of the flesh, are children of God]: but the 9children of the promise are counted for the seed [reckoned as seed]. For this is the word of promise [this word was of promise], At this time [season]8 willI come, and Sarah shall have a son. 10And not only this;9 but when Rebecca11also had conceived by one, even by [omit even by] our father Isaac, (For the children being not yet born, neither having [Without their10 having as yet been born, or] done any [any thing] good or evil,11 that the purpose of God according12to election might stand, not of works, but of him that [who] calleth;) It wassaid unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.12 13As it is written,
Jacob have [omit have] I loved,
But Esau have [omit have] I hated.13
14What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.15For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will [omit will] have mercy,16and I will have compassion on whom I will [omit will] have compassion.14 So then it is not of him that [who] willeth, nor of him that [who] runneth, but ofGod that [who] sheweth mercy.15 17For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same [very] purpose have I raised [did I raise] thee up,16 that I might shew my power in thee [in thee my power],17 and that my name might bedeclared throughout all the earth. 18Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy [Therefore on whom he will he hath mercy], and whom he will he hardeneth.
19Thou wilt say then unto me, Why [then]18 doth he yet find fault? Forwho hath resisted [resisteth] his will? 20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed [or, moulded, πλάσμα] say to him21that formed it, Why h‘ thou made [didst thou make] me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour,22and another unto dishonour? What [But what] if God, [although]19 willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known [make known his power], endured with much long-suffering the [omit the] vessels of wrath fitted to [for]23destruction: And [Also, i. e., he endured for this purpose also]20 that he might make known the riches of his glory on the [omit the] vessels of mercy, which he hadafore prepared unto [before prepared for] glory, 24Even us, whom he hath called [As such, i. e., vessels of mercy, he also, besides preparing, called us] not of [from among the Gentiles ?
25As he saith also in Osee [Hosea],21
I will call them my people, which [who] were not my people;
And her beloved, which [who] was not beloved. [;]
26And it shall come to pass,22 that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children [called sons] of27the living God. Esaias also [And Isaiah] also crieth concerning Israel,
Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea,
A [The] remnant23 shall be saved:
28For24 he will finish the work [is finishing the word],25 and cut [cutting] it short in righteousness:
Because a short work [word]26 will the Lord make upon the earth.
29And as Esaias said before [And, as Isaiah hath said],
Except27 the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed,
We had been [become] as Sodoma [Sodom],
And been made like unto Gomorrah.
30What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not [who were not following] after righteousness, have [omit have] attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31But Israel, which followed [following] after the law of righteousness, hath not attained [attained not] to the law 32of righteousness [omit of righteousness].28 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law [or, as by works].29 For30they stumbled at that stumbling-stone [stone of stumbling]; 33As it is written, Behold,31 I lay in Sion a stumbling-stone [Zion a stone of stumbling] and [a] rock of offence: and whosoever believeth [he who believeth]32 on him shall not be ashamed [put to shame].
[PRELIMINARY NOTE on the whole chapter, and its connection with the rest of the Epistle.—In order to understand this chapter, which is in many respects the most difficult section of the whole Epistle, its connection with the preceding context, but especially with chaps. 10 and 11, must not be overlooked. Before passing from the doctrinal part, which reached its culmination in the song of triumph at the close of chap. 8, to the practical exhortations (chaps. 12 ff.), the Apostle institutes (in chaps. 9–11) a profound inquiry into the historical course of development of the kingdom of God, seeking especially to enlighten and satisfy his readers respecting the enigmatical phenomenon, that the greater part of the people of Israel rejected salvation in Christ.33 The thought might readily arise, that the promises given to the covenant-people had to come to nought, or that Jesus was not the Messiah, who had been promised principally to the Jews. After expressing his sorrow at the exclusion of so many of his people from the Christian salvation, he shows:
1. That God’s promise was not thereby rendered void; for (a.) it refers, not to all of Abraham’s descendants, but to those chosen by God of free grace, as Isaac and Jacob (Romans 9:6–13). (b.) God is not unjust in this election, for He is the Sovereign over His creatures, who can make no rightful demands of Him (Romans 9:14–29).
2. The ground of the exclusion lies in the unbelief of the Jews themselves, who despised the true way of salvation through the righteousness of faith, and substituted their own righteousness; while the gospel announced to them, as indeed the Old Testament frequently indicated, that salvation could be attained only through faith (Romans 9:30–10:21).
3. God had not, however, cast off His people; for (a.) there is a remnant elected of grace, though most are hardened (Romans 11:1–10); (b.) the unbelief and fall of Israel, in the wisdom and mercy of God, turns out for the salvation and reviving of the Gentiles, who should not, however, boast themselves (Romans 11:11–24); (c.) finally, the rejection is only temporary, since, after the conversion of all the Gentiles, grace will come to the whole of Israel (Romans 11:25–32). In conclusion, the Apostle breaks forth into a doxology to the grace and wisdom of God, who in such a manner will solve the enigma of the world’s history, and lead all things to the glory of His name and the best interest of His kingdom (Romans 11:33–36).—P. S.]
De Wette on chaps. 9–11: A supplement (!) to the foregoing discussion: lament, explanation, and comfort concerning the exclusion of the greater portion of the Jews from Christian salvation. Meyer, likewise: A supplement on the foregoing nonparticipation of the greater part of the Jews in the Christian institution of salvation, containing: a. The lament on it (Romans 9:1–5). b. The theodicy accounting for it (Romans 9:6–29). c. The guilt of it,which rests upon the Jews themselves (Romans 9:30–33, and Romans 10:1–21). d. The consolation arising from it (Romans 11:1–32), with praise offered to God (Romans 11:33–36). While De Wette regards the section of chaps. 9–11 as only a supplement, Baur considers it the real centre and kernel of the Epistle. If this be so, the kernel would indeed have a very massive shell.
[Forbes (following Olshausen) finds a parallel between Romans 1:18–3:20, and these three chapters. “We have here an instance of the Epanodos, the object of which is to bring the main subject into prominence by placing it first and last. In both sections the subject is the relation of Israel, and of the Gentiles, to the new way of salvation. But in Romans 1:18–3:20 it is regarded more on the side of the Law—as condemning Israel equally with the Gentiles, and necessitating them equally to have recourse to the gospel. In chaps. 9–11 it is regarded more on the side of Grace (on the part of God, as possessing a right to prescribe His own terms of acceptance), and of Faith (on the part of man, as the one only condition for attaining salvation, and which is demanded equally of Israel as of the Gentiles). Another point of resemblance between the two sections consists in the striking parallelism between the three objections of the Jew in Romans 3:1–8, and those in Romans 9:1–23.”—Jowett: “The Apostle himself seems for a time in doubt between contending feelings, in which he first prays for the restoration of Israel, and then reasons for their rejection, and then finally shows that, in a more extended view of the purposes of God, their salvation is included. He hears the echo of many voices in the Old Testament, by which the Spirit spoke to the Fathers, and in all of them there is a kind of unity, though but half expressed, which is not less the unity of his own inmost feelings toward his kinsmen according to the flesh. As himself an Israelite and a believer in Christ, he is full of sorrow first, afterwards of hope, both finally giving way to a clearer insight into the purposes of God toward His people.” As respects the relation of these chapters to the preceding part of the Epistle, in an experimental view, Luther well 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 season, and measure, and age.”—R.]
Tholuck gives, on pp. 466, 467, a copious catalogue of the literature on Romans 9. See also Meyer, p. 347. We may here call attention to a more recent monograph: Beck, Versuch einer pneumatisch-hermeneutischen Erklärung des 9te Kap., &c., 1838. To this we add the following: C. W. Krummacher, Das Dogma von der Gnadenwahl, nebst Auslegung des 9te, 10te, und 11te Kap. im Briefe an die Römer, Duisburg, 1856; Lamping, Pauli Apostoli de prœdestinatione decreta, Lenwarden, 1858; Delitzsch, Zur Einl. in den Brief an die Römer. Zeitschrift für die luth. Theologie und Kirche, 1849, No. 4; Van Hengel mentions (2, 323) Wysuis, Leerredenen over Romeinen, ix., x., xi., tom. i. [Philip Schaff, Das neunte Kapitel des Römerbriefs übersetzt und erklärt, in the author’s Kirchenfreund, Mercersburgh, Pa., 1852, pp. 378–389, 414–422, largely used in the exposition of this chapter in the present volume.—R.]
Summary.—A. The painful contrast between the misery of the Jews and the described salvation of the Christians, most of whom had been Gentiles. The Apostle’s sorrow over the apparently frustrated destiny of his people (Romans 9:1–5).
B. The exultation of the Apostle in the thought that God’s promise to Israel would nevertheless remain in force (Romans 9:6–33). Proof: 1. Differences in the election: they are not all Israel which are of Israel (Romans 9:6–13). 2. Antitheses in the ordination (predestination): God is not unrighteous in showing mercy and in hardening, and in His manner of connecting judgment and compassion (Romans 9:14–18). 3. God’s freedom in the actual call of salvation (Romans 9:19–29): a. Proof from the existing fact (Romans 9:19–24); b. Proof from the witnesses of the Old Testament (Romans 9:25–29). 4. The correspondence of God’s freedom in His administration, and the freedom of men in their faith or unbelief. The firmness of the fact that the Gentiles believe, and the greater part of Israel do not believe (Romans 9:30–33).
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
A. The Apostle’s sorrow over the apparently frustrated destiny of his people (Romans 9:1–5). Winzer, Programm in Röm. ix. 1–5, Lips., 1832.
After the Apostle has portrayed the glory of believers in the New Testament, he must return to the surprising phenomenon, that it is just the majority of the people of the Old Testament who are absent from this feast of salvation—from the Supper of the Lord in the New Testament. The Jews, however, have already come into view (Romans 8:33) as among the accusers and persecutors, and thus the way has been prepared for this transition. In a systematic reference, the Apostle turns from the consideration of the consummated salvation, to the most extreme contrast—sin in its third potency, the judgment of hardening.
Romans 9:1. I say the truth in Christ [ἀλήθειαν λέγω ἐν Χριστῶ. Dr. Lange retains the article, as is done in the E. V., and in most revisions (except Noyes’). It seems required by the genius of both the German and English languages.—R.] The Apostle strengthens his subsequent declaration in a threefold way: I say the truth in Christ; I lie not; my conscience bears me witness. The energetic battle which the Apostle waged against the Jews’ righteousness of their works, and their claim to prerogatives in God’s kingdom, made him odious to the Jews and an object of opposition and suspicion to many prejudiced ones among the Jewish Christians; while biased Gentile Christians might be tempted to regard him as one of their partisans. He meets all this by the solemn asseveration of his pain.
[Alford: “The subject on which he is about to enter, so unwelcome to Jews in general, coupled with their hostility to himself, causes him to begin with a deprecation, bespeaking credit for simplicity and earnestness in the assertion which is to follow. This deprecation and assertion of sympathy he puts in the forefront of the section, to take at once the ground from those who might charge him, in the conduct of his argument, with hostility to his own alienated people.”—R.]
But the Apostle treats also of a further great progress in the glorification of Divine grace, which, in its third potency, glorifies as compassion that gloomy judgment of hardening which the Apostle can only disclose by an expression of the greatest pain. The Apostle is doubly assured of the sincerity of his declaration. First, he expresses his feeling in the consciousness of the fellowship of Christ34 (Eph. 4:17; 1 Thess. 4:1), while he, so to speak, transfers himself into the feeling of Christ (Luke 19:41). Second, he proves and tests the truth of his feeling by his conscience, and by the strong and clear light of the Holy Spirit. Now, is this declaration an oath, according to most of the earlier and many of the later expositors (Reiche, Köllner, and others); or is it not, according to the exposition of Tholuck, De Wette, and Meyer? This much is clear, that the Apostle’s asseveration is not a formal taking of an oath, and not in the form of an oath. [The form of an oath would be πρός with the accusative.—R.] It will be remembered, in favor of this view, that the ὀμνύειν (Matt. 5:34) is here wanting; and that the Apostle does not swear by Christ, nor by the Holy Ghost. Neither does he swear in a legal sense in general; we may only ask, whether he does not here give a solemn assurance in God’s presence, and whether such an assurance is not an ideal oath?
I lie not [οὐ ψεύδομαι]. (1 Tim. 2:7.) White lies being very much in vogue at the time, this addition surely meant that he was perfectly conscious of his responsibility for his declarations, since he called on Christ as a witness.
My conscience also bearing me witness [συμαρτυρούσης μοι τῆς συνειδήσεώς]. Meyer: Since my conscience bears me witness. But Paul’s conscience could not bear witness to the Romans apart from Paul himself. The distinction between his own declaration and that of his conscience, means that he has proved his feelings in regard to his people by the light of conscience and of the Spirit of God. [Alford: The σύν in composition, denoting accordance with the fact, not joint testimony.—R.]
In the Holy Ghost [ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίω]. This is not an addition to συνείδησις itself (a conscience governed by the Holy Ghost; Grotius), and still less to οὐ ψεύδομαι (although this is favored by many: ώς ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίω ὤν), but to συμμαρτ. μοι (Tholuck, Meyer, and others). [Meyer: “Paul knows that the witness of his conscience is not outside the Spirit which fills him, but spirito sancto duce et moderatore (Beza) in it.”—R.]
Romans 9:2. That I have great grief and continual sorrow in my heart [ὅτι λύπη μοίἐστιν μεγάλη καὶ ἀδιάλειπος ὀδύνη τῆκαρδία μου. The position of the words is solemnly emphatic.—R.] The Apostle does not immediately and directly mention the subject or occasion of his grief. Why not? Meyer: “From tender compassion. Tholuck: “In lively emotion.” But the object is indicated by the ὑπὲρ τ. ἀδ μοι (Romans 9:3), and it is the ἀπώλεια threatened them (Romans 9:22). But the great pain relates not only to the great fall of his glorious people, which had already occurred, but to the Apostle’s tragical position toward his brethren according to the flesh, and to the hard prophetic call now to disclose publicly the whole judgment of hardening pronounced on Israel, with its incalculably sad consequences. Christ also wept as He prophesied Jerusalem’s fate. Comp. Isa. 6 [How noble the Apostle appears here, with this holy patriotism and hearty love to those who, from the day of his conversion, had persecuted him with relentless hatred; who, soon after the composition of this Epistle, occasioned him a long imprisonment, and who were the immediate cause of his martyrdom!—P. S.]
Romans 9:3. For I could wish. [Lange: Denn ich that ja das Gelübde, for I made the vow]. See the discussions on this difficult passage, quoted by Tholuck. For an elaborate account of the earlier expositions, see Wolf’s Curœ, iii. p. 164. Explanations of the ηὐκόμην:
1. I have wished, namely, formerly (Vulgate: optabam; Luther: I have wished). This explanation divides, again, into two:
a. When I was a Jew, I wished to keep the Jews far from Christ; yea, to be myself the personal, medium of the alienation; ἀνάθεμα = χωρισμός (Pelagius, Abelard, and others). In this case he appeals to his former blind zeal for Israel against Christ, in order to prove that he loves his people, and, in his love, that he now sorrows for their fate.
b. In my pain I have gone so far, as a Christian, that I wished, &c. (Significat, se aliquando hoc orasse, nimirum cum dolor iste singulariter invaluisset) Bucer. Meyer, and others, suggest, to the contrary, that there is here no ποτέ, or any other word of similar import. Philippi adds: it must then mean ηὐξάμην ποτέ.35
2. I wished, namely, even now.
a. Tholuck: Dum modo fieri posset, si liceret.
b. Meyer: I would wish, if the import of my wish could contribute to the good of the Israelites.
c. Philippi: But ηὐχόμην is also not identical with ηὐχόμην ἄν; that is, I would wish, if the wish were possible; but since it is not possible, I do not wish. But it is = I wished, namely, if the wish could be realized, and therefore really wish on this supposition.
The difference between the explanations is this: a. If the wish were possible (Tholuck); b. If the thing wished for were possible (Philippi); c. If the thing wished for, and also the wish itself, were possible (Meyer). There has, perhaps, not been enough regard to analogies in Paul’s method of expression. Paul says ηὔξαίμην ἄν (Acts 26:29), for I wished, in the sense of I would wish, and why not here, too? Luke relates, on the contrary, Acts 27:29, in the imperfect: ηὔχοντο, they wished (at that time); and why should not the imperfect be used here in the same sense? If, indeed, the word should mean here, I have wished, or even, I have prayed (Theodoret, and others), the presence of ποτε might be insisted upon. But if the Apostle wishes to say, I made a vow—i. e., if he speaks of a definite fact—the ποτέ lies already in the emphasis of the ηὐχόμην itself, especially as joined with the addedαὐτὸςἐγώ. It is very probable that he made some pledge, when he (according to Acts 9:2) received from the high priest authority to persecute the Christians; for a hierarch of exalted station does not confide in a young man without some such pledges. His present perception of the fearful import of that engagement is immediately expressed in ἀνάθεμα, κ.τ.λ..
If we disregard such an acceptation, the exegetical difficulty will really begin with ἀνάθεμα. [Dr. Lange prefers, yet does not commit himself to, this view of the imperfect. It is far-fetched; and were there no other grounds to influence the interpretation than those of grammar, as Alford hints, any school-boy could tell that the imperfect does not refer to a definite past act, but represents “the act unfinished, an obstacle intervening.” In support of the grammatical correctness of this view, see Buttman, N. T. Gramm., p. 187; Kühner, ii, § 438, 3; Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 373; Kruger, § 54, 10; Winer, p. 266. It seems perilous to give up the obvious meaning, I could wish, for one barely allowable. The aorist was at hand, if Paul wished to refer to a past vow. If there be a difficulty in the passage, it is met most fairly by Meyer’s view, that the verb implies an impossibility, or at least an insurmountable obstacle, both as to the wish and the thing wished for. We can then take ἀνάθενα in its obvious sense, without putting it also on the rack to extort another meaning. See the final Exeg. Note on this verse.—R.]
That I myself were accursed from Christ [ἀνάθεμα εἶαι αὐτὸς ἐγὼ ἀπὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ]. Ἀνάθεμα, Attic Ἀνάθεμα, dedicated to God; hence, also, dedicated to the Divine judgment, and consequently to ruin; in the latter sense = חֵרֶם (Gal. 1:8, 9; 1 Cor. 12:3; 16:22). Though the later sense of חרם “must not be construed as the Jewish curse of excommunication” (Meyer), yet the theocratic idea: to excommunicate from the Church of God, and to dedicate to ruin, cannot be separated. In the Christian sphere the ἀνάθεμα is, indeed, in the ecclesiastical form, a temporally qualified exclusion: “for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved” (1 Cor. 5:5).
[EXCURSUS ON ANATHEMA.—The proper understanding of this passage may be furthered by discussing at this point the precise meaning of the word ἀνάθεμα. The following dissertation is from Wieseler, Commentary on Galatians (1:8, 9, pp. 39 ff.). The fact that it is founded upon another passage, adds to its weight in determining the meaning here, since the discussion of Gal. 1:8 is not beset with the prejudices which arise here.
“Ἀνάθεμα36 is the Hellenistic form for the Attic ἀνάθημα (comp. εὕρημα and εὕρεμα, πρόσθημα, and πρόθεμα, Lobeck, Ad Phrynich, p. 249, and Paralip, pp. 391 ff.), and, like the latter form, denotes in general ‘something dedicated to God, a votive offering;’ but in the Bible it is usually the translation of the Hebrew חֵרֶם, as ἀναθεματίζειν is of הֶחְֶרִים, and then denotes something dedicated to God in a bad sense, as we shall presently see more particularly; comp. the Latin sacer. When any thing consecrated in a general sense is to be denoted, however, the form ἀνάθημα, in the Scriptures and their dependent literature, is wont to prevail; in the other case, the form ἀνάθεμα, although the genuine reading, on account of the divergence of manuscripts, is often very difficult to determine. Ἀνάθημα as translation of חֵרֶם is found, e. g., in the LXX., Levit. 27:28, 29, where, however, the reading ἀνάθεμα also appears. At all events, this use of ἀνάθημα is the exception throughout, as appears also from the fact that ἀναθη ματίζειν is nowhere used, but ἀναθ ε ματίζειν. We are more apt to find ἀνάθεμα also in the sense of a customary votive offering; e. g., 2 Macc. 2:13, and Judith 16:19, Codex Alex. Luke uses ἀνάθημα, Luke 21:5 (yet Cod. A. and D. [so א.], and also Lachmann, read ἀνάθεμα) of a customary votive offering, and Acts 23:14, ἀνάθεμα, of a consecration in a bad sense. Suidas therefore says, with essential correctness: ἀνάθεμα καὶ τὸ ἀνατιθέμενον τῷ θεῷ χαι τὸ εἰς ἀφανισμὸν ἐσόμενον ἀμφότερα σημαίνει· λέγεται δέ καὶ ἀναθηματὸ τῷ θεῷ ἀνατεθειμένον. [ἀνάθεμα signifies both that which is hung up as an offering to God, and that which is destined to destruction; but that which is hung up as an offering to God is called also ἀνάθημα.] So Theodoret, respecting the usage of his time on Rom. 9:3: τὸ ἀνάθεμα διπλῆνἕχει τὴν διάνοιαν· καὶ γὰρ τό ἀφιεώμενον τῷθεῷ ἀνάθημα ὀνομάζεται, καὶ τὸ τούτου ἀλλότότριον τὴν αὐτὴν ἔχει προσηγορίαν. [The word ἀνάθεμα has a twofold sense: for both that which is consecrated to God is named ἀνάθημα, and the contrary of this has the same appellation.] So much respecting the distinction between ἀναθεμα and ἀνάθημα.”
“The ἀνάθεμα in the passage before us has been understood principally (1) of excommunication.37 So Grotius, Semler, Burger (waveringly), Rosenmüller, Flatt; the rationalismus vulgaris in the well-known Bremen controversy occasioned by F. W. Krummacher’s Gastpredigt, upon this passage, represented by Paniel, Weber, and Paulus (comp. Gildemeister, passim, and also Baumgarten-Crusius). Either an actual excommunication was understood, as by Rosenmüller (excludatur he cœtu vestro), which Flatt thinks possible with regard to a teacher, or it was even explained as by Grotius (cum eo nihil vobis sit COMMERCH, non magis, quam eum iis quos Synagoga aut Ecclesia penitus abscidit) and by Semler (fugite, abhorrete talem doctorem); in which case we should at least have expected ὥσπερ ἀνάθεμα (ὥσπερ ὁ ἀναθεματισμἑνος) ἔστω ὑμῖν; comp. Matt. 18:17.”
“In particular in recent times, it is explained (2) almost universally and also correctly: ‘to have become obnoxious to the wrath or curse of God;’ Winer, Schott, Rückert, De Wette, Usteri, Meyer, Gildemeister; so that, therefore, Luther, with his: ‘der sei verflucht,’ according to Krummacher’s interpretation, is justified. Luther would be right also in the main matter, according to Olshausen’s assertion, which he presents without proof, and which stands midway between Nos. 1 and 2, that in this formula (3) we are not merely to understand ecclesiastical excommunication, but that this is only so far included in the signification as it presupposes Divine reprobation.”
“All these explanations, notwithstanding their divergences, proceed from the correct assumption that this ἀνάθεμα is the translation of the Hebrew הֵרֶם. The question is therefore this, what this חֵרֶם among the Jews was, and whether it denoted—i. e., in the time of Paul—the Jewish excommunication. If the latter were disproved, Nos. 1 and 3 would fall; but if this should really be the case, the question would be whether ἀνάθεμα here is used of excommunication, or of what it is used. But, in the first place, it is clear that, in the whole Old Testament, חֵרֶם and חֶחְֶרִים are never used of excommunication. Indeed, they are used with at least as frequent reference to the idolatrous apostasy of the heathen nations, especially of Canaanitish ones, as with reference to idolatry and impiety within Israel. חֵרֶם is used of every thing, person or thing, which, on account of its worthiness of death, founded in God’s Word—the thing usually in connection with, and on account of, its impious possessor—was, whether of free resolve, or at the express command of God, consecrated to Jehovah, without capability of being ransomed; Levit. 27:21, 28. The person who had become a חֵרֶם might not continue to live; Levit. 27:29; and only the thing—to which class, according to ancient view, the slave also belonged—could, if a living creature, remain alive, falling then forever to Jehovah—that is, to the priests; Levit. 27:28; Num. 18:14; Ezek. 44:29. From this it arises, that הֶחְֶרִם, as to its sense, signifies simply ‘to destroy,’ and is not seldom connected with לְפִי חֶרֶב (comp. the Hebrew קָדַשׁ, which also originally signifies ‘to be holy;’ Exod. 29:37; 30:29; and חֵרֶם is rendered in the LXX. not simply by ἀνάθεμα, or ἀφόρισμα, Ezek. 44:29, but also by ἀφάνισμα, Deut. 7:2; ἐξολόθρευμα, 1 Sam. 15:21; and ἀπώλεια, Isa. 34:5. From this it appears that, according to the Old Testament, הֶחְֵרִם neither literally nor by derived use can signify excommunication, as exclusion from the fellowship of the chosen people. Nay, the latter is expressly mentioned, Ezra 10:28; but the verb חָרַם is not used of the excommunicated persons, but, in contrast with it, the verb בָּרַל; the former verb, on the other hand, is used in its true sense (see above) of their property, because this escheated forever to the sanctuary. Had the הָחְֶרִם been decreed against the persons in question on the part of the Jewish assembly, they would thereby not have been excommunicated, but destroyed in honor of the God whom they had outraged. On the other hand, in the Talmud, חֵרֶם is unquestionably used formally of excommunication. According to Elias Levita, the three grades of excommunication among the Jews have not seldom been assumed as (1) the נִדּוּי, (2) the חֵרֶם, and (3) the שַׁמַּחָּא. Paniel and Weber also assumed them, asserting that only the highest grade, as the Shammatha, was conjoined with those ‘fearful curses’ which we read in the Talmudists, but that Paul, with his ἀνάθεμα, meant no other than the חֵרֶם. On the other hand, Gildemeister, passim, preceded by Selden, and others, has lately thoroughly demonstrated anew that the Talmud and the Jews, by those three names, do not designate three different grades of excommunication, but that the Shammatha is only another word (the Chaldaic translation) for Niddui; that, therefore, if the Apostle, by his ἀνάθεμα, meant the Cherem as excommunication, the highest grade of excommunication—that accompanied with these ‘curses’—must have been meant.”
“The next question is, therefore, whether the Cherem, as excommunication, already existed among the Jews at the time when the Epistle to the Galatians38 was written. Although the primitive history of Jewish excommunication is veiled in great obscurity, we certainly shall not err if we ascribe to it, from its first documentarily attested appearance under Ezra (Ezra 10:8), up to the time of Paul, a certain course of development, and that a more extensive one than Gildemeister appears to do.”
“According to New Testament testimony there were, then, the two grades of excommunication: (1) The exclusion from the worship in the Temple and synagogue, John 9:22; 12:42; 16:2; and (2) what, as it was already practised under Ezra, can least surprise us, the expulsion39 from the congregation of the people, Luke 6:29 (ἀφορίζειν), which concluded with obliteration of the name in the δέλτοις δημοσίοις (ἐκβάλλειν τὸ ὄνομα ὡς πονηρόν, l. c.); which latter circumstance is here expressly added, that the hearers may not understand the excommunicatio minor. Quite as certainly, however, is the Jewish excommunication at Paul’s time not yet designated as Cherem, which even antecedently is improbable, on account of the above developed Old Testament use of חֵרֶם, which could only gradually, and after a longer time, be so considerably modified. For in the Mishna, where excommunication is largely handled, Cherem is as yet never used of excommunication, but this is denoted by Niddui; it is in the Gemara that Cherem appears as excommunication, and that the sharpest form of the same—that joined with fearful ‘curses’ having reference to everlasting destruction, from whence also its name—is explained. With this alone agrees, moreover, the New Testament use of ἀνάθεμα and ἀναθεματίζειν, Rom. 9:3; 1 Cor. 12:3; 16:22; Gal. 1:8, 9; Acts 23:12; 14:21; Mark 14:71, which in none of these passages signify excommunication, or to excommunicate. On the other hand, ἀνάθεμα, in entire congruity with the Old Testament Cherem, is used of a person who is dedicated to God, subjected to the Divine curse for his death,not, however, to bodily, as in the more ancient formula—which reference, however, was not necessarily contained in the root, but resulted only from the historical relations of the Jews in ancient time—but to spiritual and eternal death. The ἀνάθεμα, 1 Cor. 16:22, cannot signify excommunication, since otherwise it would be denounced against a temper of mind, the οὐ φιλεῖν; nor yet 1 Cor. 12:3, since no one could have wished to excommunicate Jesus, no longer dwelling on earth; nor Rom. 9:3, as appears sufficiently from the defining ἀπὸ τοῦ χριστοῦ. In the case of the verb ἀναθεματίζειν, indeed, it has not yet come into any one’s head, in respect to the New Testament passages, that it signifies, to excommunicate; but ἀναθεμ. ὅτι, Mark, l. c., signifies, ‘under self-imprecations (by his soul’s salvation) to attest, that;’ ἀναθεματίζειν ἑαυτίν, Acts, l. c., ‘under self-imprecations to oblige himself.’ Quite as little can ἀνάθεμα, Gal. 1:8, 9, be used of excommunication, on this account, if no other, because one cannot excommunicate an angel from heaven (Romans 9:8), but can very well call down God’s curse of damnation upon him, in the ἀνάθεμα. Romans 9:9 must have been used in the same sense as in Romans 9:8. Independently of the subjective participation expressed by the imperative, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω expresses neither more nor less than Gal. 5:10, where Paul denounces against the same false teachers the judgment of God at the end of days; comp. 2 Thess. 1:9. In form, as in meaning, the Pauline ἀνάθεμα ἔστω (or ἤτω, 1 Cor. 16:22) reminds us strongly of the אָרוּר, LXX.: ἐπικατάρατος, Deut. 27:15 ff.; only that not every אָרוּר in the Old Testament needs, like our ἀνάθεμα, to be taken as invoking the highest and most intensive evil—eternal damnation—but may very well, according to the connection, be used of that; comp. Gal. 3:13; Matt. 25:41; it being, of course, understood that, by the ἀναθεμα, the loss of eternal life and the blessed fellowship of God is meant to be invoked against the sinner, only so far and so long as he persists in his wickedness, or this in its nature is irremissible. As to the rest, when Rückert and Schott, in the case of the ἀνάθεμα in this passage, will have it that it does not mean excommunication, for the additional reason that that age was not yet acquainted with this among the Christians, this assertion is unquestionably erroneous; 1 Cor. 5:2 ff.; 1 Tim. 1:20; 3 John 10; Jude 22; comp. Matt. 18:17, 18; 2 Thess. 3:14; 2 John 10; 11. The Church fathers afterwards used the ἀνάθεμα, doubtless deriving the use through the Pauline passages, of Christian excommunication, similarly as the Jews their חֵרֶם, but these commonly misunderstood the proper sense of this expression. Comp. the criticism of them in Fritzsche, l. c., tom. ii., p. 249, Note.”
With this well-established view of the meaning of our word, we can pass to the exegesis of this passage, remembering that the burden of proof now rests with those who, to avoid difficulties, assign any other meaning than that so ably defended by Wieseler.—R.]
Meyer: “The destruction to which Paul would commit himself for his brethren must not be understood as a violent death (Jerome, Limborsch, Flatt, and others), but as the eternal ἀπώλεια, as is required by the ἀπὸ τ. X. It has often been objected that the wish of this ἀπώλεια is unreasonable, and Michaelis even says that it would be a raving prayer. But the standard of selfish (!) reflection does not harmonize with the emotion of boundless self-denial and love in which Paul here speaks.” (Comp. Chrysostom and Bengel in loco.) Tholuck quotes Chrysostom’s expression on this point, and adds: “Thus interpret the vast majority of expositors of ancient and modern times, even the Socinians, with Socinus himself.” We nevertheless hold unhesitatingly that the explanation of Michaelis is more admissible than Meyer’s well-nigh unmeaning overstraining of the idea of self-denial.
The justifiable hesitation in accepting the explanation, that Paul wished to be eternally cast out from Christ—that is, given over to the devil, to be damned—has led to mitigations of the real meaning of the ἀναθεμα. It has been interpreted:
1. As temporal death, as already mentioned. Analogies in 2 Cor. 12:15: the death of Christ as κατάρα (Jerome, Nösselt, and others). Tholuck, on the other hand: With temporal death as Cherem, there is connected the accursing, which is additionally comprised here in ἀπό τ. χ.
2. Banishment from church fellowship (Grotius, and others; apparently, Luther also).
On the controversies arising from a sermon by Fr. Krummacher on Gal. 1:8, in regard to this explanation, comp. Tholuck, p. 471 ff. There is, now, no question that the supposition of an exclusion to injury is always connected with a true exclusion from church fellowship. But if we explain the Old Testament Cherem and the ecclesiastical ban according to the New Testament—that is, specifically according to the words quoted from 1 Cor. 5:5—then it becomes evident that the Old Testament Cherem did not declare eternal condemnation when it declared extermination from the congregation of the people, and that devotion to eternal condemnation could never have been the meaning of an authorized ecclesiastical Christian ban. If the explanation, I wished to be accursed from Christ, were therefore correct, it would nevertheless not be the same as: I wished to be eternally damned; but: I would be willing to be cast into boundless misery for the brethren.40 From the overstrained interpretation of the accursed, it would follow, that the Apostle regarded the brethren in question as eternally damned. See, on the contrary, Rom. 11—Tholuck refers to the Jewish and Arabic manner of speaking: May we be thy ransom; may my soul be the redemption of thine! Evidently, hyperboles of Oriental politeness. He cites the reference of Origen to the example of Moses (Exod. 32:32 ): Paul has spoken like Moses, says Origen: devotione, non prœvaricatione. But Moses spoke thus at a moment of the deepest emotion, and just as Moses, in the Old Testament sense of the theocratic judgment of reprobation. Jerome takes the value of many souls against one into account; Cyril accepts a hyperbole; and Thomas Aquinas distinguishes between a separatio a damnatis per culpam and a separatio a fruitione gloriœ.41 Tholuck remarks, that Fenelonhas referred to this passage in order to defend the mystical idea of amour désinteressé,42 and that Bossuet replies, by saying, that fellowship with God cannot be separated from participation in saving blessings (salvation). Yet Tholuck returns at last to Fenelon’s distinction, after quoting many other theological explanations (Calvin: erupiio animi confusi; later moralists, especially Dannhauer, Spener, and Bengel: vertus heroica). Most expositors, by their reference to the hypothetical si fieri posset, return to the acceptance of a hyperbolical expression.
The αὐτὸς ἐγώ leads us back to the simplest rendering.
The current explanation is incorrect at the very outset. Meyer is nearest right: The antithesis is the brethren, the majority of whom are seen by Paul as ἀνάθεμα ἀπὸ Χριστοῦ going to the ἀνάθεμα. In this case the ἐγώ would still be superfluous. Our present expression refers to the αὐτὸς ἐγώ (Romans 7:25). We have seen how the expression there designated the opposition of spiritual and carnal life in the identity of the same individuality. And thus it denotes here the antithesis of his earlier and of his present standpoint, in the identity of an individuality which, at that time, acted from a love for Israel.43 For I even pledged myself, I, the same Paul who must now pronounce the following judgment on Israel, &c.—His former wish to destroy the Christians by means of the Cherem, he now denominates in its true meaning: to be accursed, ἀπὸ τοῦ X., away from Christ; as he is not aware of any other ban from the Church of God than banishment from Christ. Nösselt, and others, have understood by the expression, that Christ would be the author of the ban; which would increase the harshness of the expression. With our view, the ὑπέρ τῶν ἀδελφῶν μου can only mean this: for my brethren, as one zealous for their interests. Even with the opposite view, Meyer explains ὑπέρ as for the good of; but Tholuck, on the contrary, says that the idea of substitution underlies the ὑπέρ, at least indirectly. [Olshausen makes ὑπἑρ = ἀντι.—R.] This would render the idea still more intolerable. Paul would not venture to utter the thought, that his ruin might still bring salvation to the people for whom even the death of Christ brought no salvation.
[The interpretations of this difficult passage may be classified, as follows:
(1) Those which take ηὐκόμην in the past sense. The grammatical objection to this is so decided, that, unless the gravest difficulties attend every other view, it must be rejected. The view of Dr. Lange, which makes it equivalent to a definite aorist, is grammatically less admissible than that which takes it as = optabam, I was wont to wish.
(2) Those which give to ἀνάθεμα some less strong sense than accursed, devoted to destruction. Dr. Lange has cited most of these. The least objectionable among these is that which interprets the word as meaning: untold misery, not necessarily eternal. The lexical objection here is very strong; see EXCURSUS above. If Wieseler’s statements are reliable, all of these are necessarily excluded. There remains, then,
(3) The obvious meaning, I could wish myself devoted to destruction from Christ for my brethren’s sake; implying either that the wish was not formed, because it was impossible to wish, or of impossible fulfilment; ὑπἑρ, involving, not necessarily substitution, yet such a suffering for the benefit of others as would turn to their corresponding advantage; for Paul often speaks of what he does for (ὑπέρ) his readers. The question then arises, Are the difficulties attending this view so great, that it must be abandoned for such doubtful exegesis as (1) and (2) present? Dr. Lange objects:
(a.) That it implies a senseless overstraining of the idea of self-denial. But who shall put the limit? “It is the expression of an affectionate and self-denying heart, willing to surrender all things—even, if it might be so, eternal glory itself—if thereby he could obtain for his beloved people those blessings of the gospel which he now enjoyed, but from which they were excluded. Others express their love by professing themselves ready to give their life for their friends: he declares the intensity of his affection by reckoning even his spiritual life net too great a price, if it might purchase their salvation” (Alford). Surely we dare not let our assumption of how far his self-denial would go, limit words, which, if they do not mean this, have always borne this as their obvious meaning.
(b.) It is further objectea, that then the Apostle would regard the brethren in question as eternally damned. But it is Paul who says that those out of Christ are already perishing (1 Cor. 1:18); and Christ himself speaks of the wrath of God abiding on men (John 3:18, 36). This objection sunders too widely the present and the future state of unbelievers. Paul would, at all events, feel the powerof the future state of retribution in the case of these brethren, just to the extent that he attached a definite meaning to ἀνάθεμα; so that this objection is of no weight.
(c.) The implication suggested above, that Paul then would deem his ruin more powerful than the death of Christ, involves the strongest meaning of ὑπέρ. If the idea of substitution be excluded, this objection falls to the ground. But if Paul could not use ὑπέρ here, in the sense that his sufferings might produce certain beneficial results to others, he could not use it elsewhere in the same sense (Eph. 3:13; Col. 1:24 twice). The objection, in any case, lies not against the degree, but the quality of the suffering.
(d.) Lange characterizes the current interpretation as hyperbolical. If it be, then objection (a.) has no weight, for a hyperbole would not overstrain the idea of self-denial. But this interpretation is not strictly a hyperbole. For Paul wished by this to express a degree of feeling which could be measured in human expression by nothing less strong than this. The objective impossibility did not destroy the subjective intensity of feeling. And although he may not have actually formed the wish, still any student of human nature knows that feelings often exist, never taking shape in definite wish, which are contrary both to what is possible and what is actually wished. The expression is, however, truthful in Paul’s consciousness, hence not a hyperbole.
On the whole, the objections to this view (3) seem of so much less weight, that the majority of commentators adopt it. Besides the grammatical and lexical grounds in its favor, it presents the great Apostle to the Gentiles under the influence of feelings most akin to the self-sacrificing love of the Lord he preached. And it detracts nothing from our estimate of his affection to know, as he did also, that such love flowed only from his love to Christ, his fellowship with Christ, which would itself change hell to heaven.—R.]
My kinsmen according to the flesh [τῶνσυγγενῶν μου κατὰ σαρκα ]. This addition expresses both his former motive and his continued patriotic feeling (see Romans 11:14).44 [There is, however, here an implied antithesis to “brethren in the Lord.” Paul’s patriotism is here justified, but, as the next verse shows, it has a deeper ground in the gracious gifts and religious advantages which the Jews had hitherto enjoyed.—R.]
Romans 9:4. Who are Israelites. Οἵτινες.—Quippe qui. Thus he announces the characteristics of his kindred “according to the flesh,” who lay so near his heart, and the decline of whose glory excited his profound compassion. The collective glory of the Jews lies in the fact that they are Israelites—that they bear the honorable name of Israel, as those who are called, like their ancestor, to be a people of God consisting of wrestlers with God—a people of wrestling prayer. [It should be remarked here, that the ground of the prerogatives afterwards enumerated was the free grace of God, not any superior natural excellence of this people as compared with the heathen. This is implied in the very character of the prerogatives. Besides, in calling them “Israelites,” there is a direct reference to the fact that their advantages grew out of their relation to one directly chosen of God. So that the very glory of Israel shows the sovereignty of God, toward which the chapter points, in discussing the enigma of the present position of this favored people.—R.]
By a rhetorically forcible και, και, &c., Paul now discloses six prerogatives, from υἱοθεσία to ἐπαγγελίαι, after which he extols the highest glory of the Israelites—that the fathers belong to them, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ also came.
He calls them Israelites, and not merely Israel (see Romans 9:6). Although the majority of the people turned away from Christ, and but a minority identified themselves with Him, this minority nevertheless constitutes, par excellence, the people of Israel. See the τινές in Romans 3:3, and also Romans 11:1. He can, indeed, call also the unbelieving majority “Israel” in a qualified sense (Romans 9:31). But the name “Israelites” is still placed as the name of honor at the very head of the advantages (see 2 Cor. 11:22; Phil. 3:5; John 1:47). On the use of the name in Josephus, see Tholuck, p. 476.
Tholuck’s division of the advantages into three pairs is well grounded; but he is less warranted in regarding them as designations of their theocratic honor, their theocratic basis, and their theocratic hope, “to which the prerogatives of the fathers of the theocracy, and of their head, is connected as a fourth member.” According to the import of the designations, the υἱοθεσία indicates, at the outset, the whole state of honor; then the first pair describes the patriarchal foundation, including the new calling of Israel as a people; the second pair, on the contrary, set forth the Mosaic legal constitution of Israel; then, again, the ἐπαγγελίαι, “the promises,” denotes the collective transition from Moses to Christ by the prophets. To these real advantages of Israel there then corresponds the an tithesis of personal advantages: the true fathers of the people down to Christ.
Whose is the adoption [ὡν ἡ υἱοθεσία] God’s acceptance in the place of a child, adoption; yet not in the sense of the New Testament realization, but in that of the Old Testament typification (see Exod. 4:22 ff.; Deut. 14:1; 32:6; Hosea 11:1; Rom. 8:1, 2). The foundation of this adoption was the election, calling, and sealing of Abraham. But in this right of the child there was not merely comprised the real enjoyment of “theocratic protection,” but also the foundation and guidance to real adoption (Gal. 4:1, 2); and, in relation to the promise for the remaining nations, the determination that Israel should be the first-born son of God (Exod. 4:22). [It therefore comprises, though only germinally and typically, the close union which Christ, the Only-begotten, who was in the bosom of the Father from eternity, forms between God and men through the regeneration of the Holy Ghost.—P. S.]
And the glory. The δόξα, כְּבוֹר יְהוָֹה. This is that revealed form of Jehovah underlying the call to adoption throughout the Old Testament, which often stands out more definitely in the appearance of the Angel of the Lord (see Lange’s Comm. Genesis) [p. 385 ff., Amer. ed.]. Comp. Exod. 24:16; 40:34; 1 Kings 8:10 f.; Ezek. 1:28, and other passages). Untenable explanations: 1. The ark of the covenant (Beza, Grotius, and others, with reference to 1 Sam. 4:22). 2. The glory of Israel itself (Calovius, Köllner, Fritzsche, Beck, and others).For the still more untenable explanations of Michaelis and Koppe, see Meyer (the adoption itself as glory, the promised felicitas). Meyer’s own explanation is totally unsatisfactory: “The symbolical and visible presence of God as manifested in the desert as a pillar of cloud and of fire, and as the cloud over the ark of the covenant, the same שְכִינָה” (Buxtorf, Lexic., Talmud, &c.). For more particular information on Meyer’s indefinite view, see Tholuck.—De Wette and Philippi do not really get beyond “the visible and operative presence of God,” or, the “symbol of God’s gracious presence.” [As Paul is enumerating the prerogatives of the Jews, a definite meaning is to be sought for. Meyer’s view attaches a definite meaning to δόξα, extending it, however, over a wide period of time. Dr. Lange’s objection to this grows out of his classification of these prerogatives in chronological order. If this δόξα must be referred to patriarchal times, then Lange’s view alone is admissible; but the word is used by one who is glancing over the whole Jewish history, and in that history “the visible presence of God” seems most worthy of the title δόξα.—R.]
And the covenants. Αἱ διαθῆκαι. The compacts. The δόξα already announced itself at the call of Abraham. [If Meyer’s view of σόξα be adopted, then the reference to the call of Abraham in υἱοθεσία is the point of connection here.—R.] The covenant with Abraham was renewed with Isaac (and this is of importance here, in contrast with Ishmael), with Jacob (in contrast with Esau), and, finally, with the whole people through Moses. Various explanations: 1. The two tables of the law (Beza, and others). 2. The Old and the New Testaments [see Textual Note3.—R.] (Augustine, Jerome, Cocceius, Calovius; with reference to Jer. 31:33). Meyer: “The compacts concluded by God with the patriarchs after Abraham.” Comp. Book of Wisdom 18:22; Sirach 44:11; 2 Macc. 8:15; Eph. 2:12. [This is undoubtedly the simplest view.—R.]
And the giving of the law. Opposite explanations: 1. Meyer, and others: the act of giving the law, not ὁ νόμος itself. 2. Tholuck [Hodge], and most expositors: νομοθεσία, by metonyme for ὁ νόμος; νομοθεσία is the more rhetorical and euphonious word. Evidently, the act of giving the law would have had no permanent force for Israel apart from its substance; but even its substance would be no permanent νομοθεσία without the continued repetition (Deuteronomy), establishment, and restoration of the law. The νόμος was, and continued to be, a permanent act of the νομοθεμα. [Meyer inquires why Paul did not write νόμος, if he meant it. “At all events, whoever had the νομοθεσμα, had also the νόμος. Still, the difference of signification is to be preserved. The giving of the law was a work by means of which God, who was himself the νομοθέτης, distinguished the Jews above all other nations.” It seems safer to make the primary reference to the giving of the law, without, however, excluding the necessary secondary reference to its substance.—R.]
And the service of the sanctuary. The worship, ἡ λατρεία; Heb. 9:1. [The Jewish ritual service, including the tabernacle worship, but fully established in the temple. The connection of this with the giving of the law is sufficiently obvious.—And the promises, αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι.—R.] Meyer holds that the service corresponds to the giving of the law, as αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι (the Messianic prophecies) correspond to αἱ διαθῆκαι. This is a chiasm, according to Meyer, occasioned by the necessity of the promises standing at the conclusion, immediately before the Promised One. But a chiasm is altogether out of the question, as the promises in the stricter sense—the prophetic promises—followed the giving of the law, and as the λατρεία also was already, in the main, a typical promise, from which the ἐπαγγελίαι are only to be distinguished as verbal prophecies. Tholuck concludes, without good ground, from the reasoning (Romans 9:6), that the predictions of the prophets are not meant here, but “chiefly” those communicated to the patriarchs. But how could Paul have enumerated the principal elements of Israel’s glory, without thinking of the prophets? We must adhere to the position that, apart from the connections of historical sequence, the υἱοθεσία, the δόξα, &c., and, indeed, all the particular elements, pervaded all the periods of Israel’s existence. Even the νομοθεσία, for example, is found in the germ in Abraham.
Romans 9:5. Whose are the fathers [ὧν οἱ πατέρες]. The fathers, the elect, the men of God, as preludes to the chief Chosen One, the Son of God; the glorious root of the Israelitish parent-tree, as well as the fatness of the tree (see Romans 11:17), referring to the only glorious crown (Exod. 3:13; 4:5). These are chiefly, but not exclusively, the patriarchs, but, in addition to them, the long line of the true fathers of Israel.
And of whom as to the flesh is Christ [καὶ ἐξ ὧν ὁ Χριστός τό κατά σάρκα]. It is the highest characteristic of Israel’s glory, that Christ descends from it, or comes of it according to the flesh (Rom. 1:3; 4:1 ff.). [Christ, the promised Messiah, is the greatest of all the blessings imparted to the people of Israel, to whom all the others pointed typically and prophetically, and in whom they first obtained their full truth and reality.—P. S.] The τὸ κατά σάρκα is evidently a qualifying addition, and refers to an antithesis; Tholuck: “οὐ κατὰ τὴν θεότητα” (Romans 1:3, 4). [Alford marks the antithesis by rendering: “as far as regards the flesh;” finding in τό, accusative, the implication “that He was not entirely sprung from them, but had another nature.”—R.]
Who is over all [Ὁ ἒν ἐπὶ πάντων. There are two renderings which are nearly allied: Who is God over all, blessed forever, and: Who is over all, God blessed forever. The doctrinal results are the same, whichever be adopted; but Lange prefers the latter, for reasons which will appear, and seems warranted in his preference. The E. V. gives the latter; Luther, and most interpreters, the former.—R.] We explain the passage thus: He who is over all Israelites, believers and unbelievers, is that glorified One of our universally known synagogical formula: God, blessed forever. Amen. We must first of all accept a strong Pauline breviloquence. Then we must call to mind Paul’s expression concerning the unknown God (Acts 17:23). As Paul could say to the Greeks: “You seek and worship by your altar the one true God, without knowing Him,” so can he say of the Jews: “Even those who reject Christ must render homage to Him, though unconsciously, as, by the well-known doxology, they often praise Jehovah, the God of revelation, who has appeared in Christ, and thus rules supremely over all, believers as well as unbelievers.” The ὁ ὤν therefore stands for ὅς ἐστι, though with the additional strength peculiar to the participle. That the ἐπὶ πάντων here refers to the Jews, according to their antithesis of believing and unbelieving Jews, is evident from the strong prominence previously given to them (οἵτινες, ὦν, ἐξ ὧν). [The form of the E. V. favors this view of ἐπι πάντων. By taking it as masculine, the whole clause is brought into closer connection with the context, an increased difficulty in the interpretation of the doxology is obviated, while this closer connection gives strength to the view that the doxology refers to Christ. It seems preferable to the view which connects it with θεός, in the sense of the supreme God (Hodge, and many others). Whether all that Lange suggests is included, is perhaps doubtful; but comp. his remarks below on Ps. 68:19.—R.]
God blessed for ever. Amen [Θεὸς εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοῦς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν]. We must regard this clause as a quotation from the synagogical liturgy, sufficiently well-known to all the Jews, and to Jewish Christians and believers in general. According to modern usage, it should, therefore, be written with quotation-marks. But the sense is this: Christ is the object of the Israelitish doxology to the revealed God, Jehovah, for He is the δόξα itself; is consciously praised by some, and unconsciously by the rest; for this latter class, notwithstanding their rejection of Jesus of Nazareth, cannot get away from the adoration of the Shekinah, and thus Christ also, the personally revealed God, rules over all (as they praise Him), even over unbelievers, for their future salvation. This is therefore the last advantage of Israel (see chap. 11). For the details of all the explanations, we must refer to the Commentaries extant.45
Every exposition is attended with great difficulties. The strongest reasons are still in favor of the old one, transmitted to us by the early writers, all of whom favored it, with the single exception of Theodore of Mopsvestia (see Tholuck, p. 479). We may say, perhaps, that Julian maintained, with Cyril, that Paul never called Jesus “God,” and that the Codd. 11 , 47 place a period after σάοκα, and Cod. 71 places one after ἐπ ὶ πάντων. Here belong also Irenæus, Tertullian, Origen, &c., and the most of the later expositors (see Meyer). The passage is, therefore, a doxology to the divinity of Christ. This is most strongly favored by the requirement of the antithesis comprised in the τὸκατά σάρκα (see Romans 1:3, 4; 1 Tim. 3:16). This explanation has been rendered unnecessarily difficult by regarding ἐπὶ πἀντων as neuter: “over every thing” (Beza referred it as masculine to the patriarchs, to the antithesis of Jews and Gentiles), thus giving up its proximate reference to the Jews.
Since the time of Erasmus, this exposition has been directly opposed by another, the reference of the clause to God. “The Codd. 11 , 47, of the 11th and 12th centuries, like Diodorus of Tarsus, place a period after σάρκα; this punctuation has been preferred by Erasmus, so that what follows is a doxology to the Almighty God. This proposition has found favor with the majority of recent exegetical writers, with the Socinians, &c., with Reiche, Rückert, Meyer, and Fritzsche.” Tholuck: A middle ground is occupied by the interpretation which unites with a second punctuation proposed by Erasmus, according to Cod. 71, as it places a period after ἐπὶ πάντων; this has been adopted by Locke and Baumgarten-Crusius, a construction to which Tholuck also inclines to a certain degree. In addition to these three explanations are, the conjecture of Erasmus, that θεός is not authentic, and the reading ὧν ὁ θεός proposed by Crell, and others. But, according to Tholuck, the detached character of the doxology is against the third exposition.
The following may be said against the second explanation:
1. In simple doxologies, without a relative form, the εὐλογητός generally precedes the θεός. See examples in Tholuck, 483; Philippi, 369 ff. Tholuck regards it as a beautiful fact connected with Faustus Socinus, that his attention was first directed to this circumstance, and that, owing to it, he changed his exposition of the passage. Tholuck, indeed, cites a passage in which the εὐλογητός comes after the θεός (Ps. 68:10)—a passage which, in view of its connection, we regard as very important, and must hereafter return to it.
2. A doxology to the omnipotent God cannot interrupt the train of thought under consideration at its very outset; least of all, can an elegy or funeral discourse be changed abruptly into a hymn. The doxology for the whole discussion in Rom. 9–11, is at the conclusion of chap. 11.
3. The expression, τὸ κατὰ σάρκα, which limits Christ’s descent from the Jews to His human nature, requires, as an antithesis, a reference to His divine nature. We have here had special reference to Calvin, Tholuck, Neander, and Philippi. In the attack on the old exposition, it is remarkable that the same critical exegesis which elsewhere urges the immediate context, and leaves the analogy of Scripture altogether in the background, here reverses its method. Meyer, indeed, only says, that both expositions might be equally right, according to the words. But he imagines that he can overcome the requirement of the antithesis in this passage merely by the assurance that divinity does not necessarily belong to the object represented. The doxologies to God which Meyer cites (Rom. 1:25; 2 Cor. 11:31; Gal. 1:5; 1 Tim. 1:17), are fully occasioned by the connection, which would not hold good of the present doxology. Meyer contradicts himself when he first urges that the present passage does not read ὁ θεός, but only the predicative θεός, without the article; and when he concedes that Paul, by virtue of his appropriate and real harmony with John’s christology, could, just as properly as John (Romans 1:1), have used the predicative θεός (divine nature) of Christ (with reference to Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:15 ff.; 2:9; 2 Cor. 4:4), and yet urges that Paul never used the expression θεός of Christ, since he never accepted the Alexandrian form, like John, but adhered to the strictly monotheistical form. He seems, therefore, to regard that “Alexandrian form” as prejudicial to strict monotheism. [It should be remarked that Meyer, who is usually so clear anddecided in his statements of the reasons for his views, halts here, as if the grounds against the reference to Christ were not sufficient to satisfy himself. This fact is suggestive.—R.] As far as those passages are concerned in which Paul brings out the divinity of Christ, we refer to the Doctr. Notes. We must here, however, oppose the hermeneutical supposition that there are no doctrinal ἅπαξ λεγόμενα as culminating points of the view corresponding with them. Meyer even holds that John calls Christ θεός but once. It is a perfectly gratuitous increase of the difficulty before us, to say that Christ is here called God over all. It is certainly a fact that Paul speaks preëminently of the historical Christ, and that, when he expresses also the ontological idea of Christ, he immediately places it in relation with the historical perfection of Christ; but when this historical subordination which Paul expresses (1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:5 f.; 1 Cor. 15:28) is allowed to be identical with His ontological subordination, the error is owing to a defective ecclesiastical education and speculative penetration.
We now come to Ps. 68:19, according to the Septuagint: Κύριος ὁ θεός εὐλογητός, εὐλογητὸς κύριος ἡμέραν καθ’ ἡμέραν. It must be borne in mind that Paul was particularly familiar with that passage. In Eph. 4:8 he quotes a good part of Romans 9:18, and refers it to Christ. But this verse reads, according to De Wette’s translation, thus: Thou ascendest to the high seat, thou leadest captive, thou receivest gifts for men, and the rebellious shall also dwell with Jah. Tholuck: Even the apostates shall still dwell with God the Lord. Do we not plainly hear the reëcho of this passage in the ὁ ὥν ἐπὶπάντων? And since we know that Paul applies this passage to the glorification of Christ, is it not clear that he immediately adds that ascription of praise in Ps. 68:19? His expression occupies the middle ground between the LXX. and the Hebrew text. Hence we return to the acceptance of a synagogical form.
[The main point being not the synagogical form—to which, however, there is little to object—but the reference to Christ, the following summary in favor of that view is added:
(1) This view is the most simple and natural one. Alford seems justifiable in remarking: It is the only one admissible by the rules of grammar and arrangement.
(2) It accords best with the context, presenting an antithesis to τό κατὰ σάρκα, and forming a suitable culminating point after the enumeration of the advantages of the Jews.
(3) It is sufficiently Pauline, for Paul wrote Col. 1:15 ff., and in view of that and many similar passages, any other reference would be derogatory to the divinity of Christ.
(4) On no exegetical point, where there is room for discussion, has the unanimity of commentators, of all ages and confessions, been so entire, as in referring this to Christ.—R.]
B. The Apostle’s exultation at the thought that the promise of God or Israel nevertheless remains in force (Romans 9:6–33).
FIRST PROOF: Differences in election (Romans 9:6–13). Meyer: “The first part of the theodicy is, that God’s promise has not become untrue through the exclusion of a portion of the Israelites; for the promise is valid only for the true Israelites, who are according to the promise—which result is confirmed by the Scriptures.”
Romans 9:6. It is not however so that. The οὐχυἷον δὲ ὅτι is variously rendered: 1. Analogously to the οὐχ ὅτι, not that, not in the sense that (Tholuck). But this does not afford a satisfactory connection with the foregoing. 2. Fritzsche: οὐτοιοῦτον ὅτι [the matter, however, is not so, as that]. 3. Οὐ τοῖον δέ λέγω οἷον ὅτι, “but I do not say any thing of such a kind as that” (Meyer). 4. The least tenable explanation is, it is not possible that (Beza, Grotius). [Between (2) and (3) there is little choice. Paul does not say any thing of such a kind as that, because the matter is not so as that; or vice versâ.—R.] The connection, therefore, consists in the Apostle’s declaration of a restriction of the profound sorrow which he has already expressed; but not, according to Origen, in connecting the declaration that the promise still holds good, to the previously mentioned ἐπαγγελίαι. Tholuck: “Paul adduces the proof according to the idea with which he was quite familiar, that the real Israel was not based upon its physical relationship with Abraham (Gal. 3:9; Rom. 4:12). This brings out in glaring contrast the shibboleth of the carnal Jew, &c.; gross heretics, deniers of the resurrection of the dead, &c., are only mentioned as exceptions.”
The word of God hath come to nought [ἐκπέπτωκεν ὁλόγος τοῦ θεοῦ]. The word of patriarchal promise in its relation to Israel, not specially to the ἐπαγγελιαι alone.
For not all who are of Israel, are Israel [οὐ γὰρ πάντες οἱ ἐξ Ἰσρήλ, οὖτο Ἰσραήλ]. The germ of the distinction between the true religious Israel and the impure and merely national Israelites, already lay in the Old Testament (see chap. 10.; Ps. 112:1; Ezek. 13:9; Jer. 7:23, &c.); the distinction was already prepared by the relations of election in the history of the patriarchs. The Apostle’s thought distinguishes, first of all, between Israel as the collective people of God, and the single apostate branches. But then he establishes this general distinction chiefly by the relations of election.
Romans 9:7. Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children [οὐδ’ ὅτιεἰσὶν σπέρμα Ἀβραάμ, πάτεςτέκνα]. The σπέρμα Ἀβρ. denotes here natural posterity, but the τέκνα, on the contrary, his spiritual posterity, and directly from Israel. It may be asked here, whether the subject of the preceding verse (which are of Israel) still continues (Meyer), or whether the present clause generalizes the subject: not all those who are Abraham’s seed are therefore also Abraham’s children. We prefer the latter construction, because, otherwise, the verse cited would furnish no proof. The first clause—for they are not all Israel which are of Israel, God’s people—is therefore supplemented by the second—likewise not all who are descended from Abraham, and thus, directly from Ishmael and Isaac, are true children of Abraham; that is, not merely individual believers, as in chap. 4, but rather the individuals chosen, elected beforehand through God’s free choice.
This is now followed by particular proofs, which show that God’s election, notwithstanding the promise given to Abraham, remained totally free, contrary to the boast of a right of natural descent.
First proof: Abraham’s first born son was not Abraham’s child of promise, but, according to God’s disposition, the younger, with his seed. And that, indeed, was previously established by God. Reference could also be made here to the preference of Sarah to Hagar; and, therefore, the second and more convincing proof follows: Rebecca. It is import ant that Rebecca, and not Isaac, appears in the foreground, but then, also, that she conceived twins by Isaac in one pregnancy; and third, that a determination is made respecting children as yet unborn, which gave the preference to Jacob.
But (thus the promise reads) in Isaac [ἀλλ’ Ἐν Ἰσαάκ. Gen. 21:12 See Textual Note7 for the Hebrew.] Though the decisive promise is quoted directly and authentically, without a γέγραπται, or any thing of similar import, as in Gal. 3:11, 12, it is nevertheless a simple logical requirement to supply something of the kind mentally; this, however, is contested by Meyer. The promise is quoted from the Septuagint. Meyer maintains, in accordance with Gesenius, that the original text בְיִצְחַק would say: Through Isaac will the posterity be called; but that the Apostle has conceived the sense of the passage according to its typical meaning, and confined it to Isaac’s person. [So Philippi, Ewald.] The entire digression on this supposed antithesis rests upon a mistake of the significance of the typical collective name. The name of Isaac here can just as little exclude his posterity, as the included posterity can exclude Isaac himself. Meyer says: all Jews belonged to the offspring of Isaac, and therefore the expression would be inappropriate, if those whose claims are to be disappointed, are also described by it. But yet, in Romans 9:11 and 12, the election of Jacob is evidently meant at the same time with that of his posterity, but without the Apostle having designed thus to favor again the claim of individual Jews. The examples cited serve to prove that the distinguishing process of election, in reference to the descendants of Jacob also, was not hindered by the election of their ancestor with his σπέρμα, but rather that it took place with perfect freedom in reference to the posterity.
Shall thy seed be called [κληθήσεταί σοι σπέρμα]. Different explanations of the κληθήσεται, (erit, shall be; shall be awakened; shall be called from nothing); [Tholuck, Stuart; Reiche. Meyer objects to this, on the ground, that this promise was made after Isaac was born. As we are less warranted in referring the citation exclusively to Isaac’s descendants, than to Isaac alone, this objection seems to be valid and conclusive.—R.]
The καλεῖν brings out the freedom of Divine choice; not in the sense that he merely became the ancestor of the promised seed, but in and with Isaac the seed of promise belonging to Abraham was called, according to the election. [Hodge, Alford, and most.] Freedom of election is thus distinguished by two characteristics: only in Isaac, and, only by virtue of free appointment.
Romans 9:8. That is, They who are the children of the flesh [Τοῦἰ ἔστιν, οὐ τέ τέκνατῆς σάρκος. Comp. Gal. 4:23]. The children who are to be regarded merely as the fruit of physical generation. The antithesis, the children of the promise [τά τέκνα τῆς ἐπαγγελίας], makes these appear as born under the predetermination and coöperation of the Divine promise. The expression, “promised children,” would be too little; while the expression, “begotten by the power of the Divine promise” (Meyer), would be too strong. [The facts respecting the birth of Isaac, and Paul’s language in Galatians, seem to justify Meyer’s view; the conception of Isaac was so extraordinary, and so connected with the promise, that he is called “after the Spirit,” in distinction from one “born after the flesh,” as well as “by promise;” still in neither case is Isaac said to be born by promise or after the Spirit, as if to guard after any thought of miraculous conception. Lange himself says below, that “the promise acted as a producing and coöperative cause.”—R.]
Not those children of the flesh are children of God [ταῦτα τέκνα τοῦ θεοῦ], but the children designated by the promise are reckoned as seed [λογίζεται εἰς σπέρμα]. The antithesis must be carefully observed. Even the children of promise are not, in themselves, children of God in the New Testament sense. They are counted such according to their faith, and therefore typically so called in the sense that they are the seed of God’s children as the seed of promise. Also in this line there are not yet children born of God (see John 1:13).46
Romans 9:9. For this word was of promise [ἐπαγγελίας γάρ ὁ λόγος οὗτος. Notice the emphatic position of ἐπαγγελίας. “The children of promise are reckoned for seed; for this word, in fulfilment of which Isaac was born, was a word of promise” (Alford).—R.] Free quotation from Gen. 18:10, 14, according to the Septuagint.
At this season [Κατὰ τόν καιρόν τοῦτον; i. e., next year at this time. See Textual Note8.—R.] The accessory proof in this verse will show, first, that Isaac was now already an object of promise; second, that the promise (“according to the time”) acted as a producing and coöperative cause; and third, that the bestowal of the right of childhood was attributed for Abraham’s faith.47
Romans 9:10. And not only this; but when Rebecca also [οὐ μόνον δέ, ἀλλά καὶ Ῥεβέκκα]. Winer’s supplementing explanation, οὐ μόνον δὲ Σάῤ̔ρα ἐπαγγελμένη ἦν (Meyer: Not only Sarah, but Rebecca also, had a Divine promise), is repelled by Tholuck, with the reminder that it was not Sarah, but Abraham, who had received that ἐπαγγελία. Tholuck, with Erasmus and Rückert, prefers to supply a τοῦτο to μόνον δέ, and δείκνυσι τοῦτο, or something similar, to Rebecca. Grotius, and others, in acordance with the sense, interpret similarly: non solum id, quod jam diximus, documentum est ejus, quod inferre volumns. [The view of Tholuck seems least objectionable. Ῥεβέκκα is then either the nominative absolute, or we must accept an anacoluthon. The sense is the same in either case. Philippi prefers the former decidedly, on grammatical grounds, and takes this as almost = behold, Rebecca too. The progress of thought is against Meyer’s view.—R.]
In consequence of the ambiguity of the brief form of expression, we must consult the contents themselves. But, according to these, Rebecca is not merely a second example, but even a new one for the same fundamental thoughts. She is a new example, in whom there appear three new characteristics. First, Rebecca appears in the foreground as a principal person, and becomes the parallel to Abraham. The Apostle says to the Jews, as carefully as he can, that the weight of the promise does not rest upon Isaac, the promised natural seed of Abraham, but on the daughter-in-law, Bethuel’s daughter, who had become Isaac’s wife. Then comes the principal characteristic which constitutes the real antithesis:
[Had conceived by one, our father Isaac, ἐξ ἑνὸς κοίτην ἕχουσα, Ἰσαὰκ τοῦ πάτρὸς ἡμῶν.—R.] Between the twin children of one marriage, by one husband, and from one conception or pregnancy (bed, κοίτη, see Romans 13:13; not emphasized as unity, but really so understood), the election already made the greatest difference before birth. This leads to the third characteristic:
Romans 9:11. [Without their having as yet been born, or done any thing good or evil, μήπωγάρ γεννθέτων μηδὲ πραξάντων τίἀγαθὸν ἤφαῦλον ἤ φαῦλον. See Textual Notes10 and 11.—R.] Before the children had done any thing either good or bad.48 This example denies once more, as though superfluously, the exclusive privilege of birthright. In view of all this, we think that the real explanation of the οὐ μόνον δέ is contained in the second characteristic—not merely that Sarah, the unfruitful one, is a proof, but also Rebecca, in her pregnancy with twins. It is Sarah, in so far as the promise determines a year beforehand that the unfruitful Sarah, instead of the mother of Ishmael, should be the mother of the promised one; and Rebecca, in so far as the promise made even the greatest difference between the twin-fruit of her womb.
The expression, τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν, indicates that also the paternity of Isaac did not guarantee any choice concerning the Jews. The μήπω49 expresses the fact that God’s revelation concerning the preference of the younger before the birth of the twins (αὐτών must be supplied) was intentional, in order
That the purpose of God according to election might stand [ἵνα ἡ κατ’ ἐκλογὴν πρόθεσις τοῦ θεοῦ μένη.] Meyer holds, that the ἵνα therefore determines, at all events, a purpose. But he incorrectly denies that the λογή here precedes the πρόθεσις. [Meyer opposes this precedence, on the ground that the election is essentially pre-temporal (Eph. 3:11; 2 Tim. 1:9), objecting also to the view of Grotius, and others, that the phrase means: a decree considered with respect to an election. He holds that, as an essential inherent of the purpose, καἰ ἐκλογήν expresses the modality of πρόθεσις. Perhaps it is not safe to affirm positively more than this respecting what belongs to the order in the mind of God. Meyer also repels the strong view of Bengel: propositum Dei electivum; but after all has been admitted, that must be respecting the primary reference to theocratic privilege (Meyer limits thus), the Apostle’s language fairly implies a choice of individuals, and a free choice, whether we can reconcile this with our systems, or our consciousness of our own freedom or not. The emphasis throughout, it may well be admitted, rests on the unmerited choice of Jacob, rather than on the rejection of Esau.—R.] The ἐκλογή is founded in the εὐδοκία, and the πρόθεσις joins with the latter. Meyer’s opposition to the explanation of the expression (of Rosenmüller, and others) propositum Dei liberum, is correct only so far as the election of love and arbitrary freedom are different; but the election of love is certainly free in relation to human claims. The following clause expresses a principal maxim of the πρόθεσις.
Not of works, but of him that calleth [οὐκ ἐξ ἕργων ἀλλ’ ἐκ τοῦ καλοῦντος]. The explanation of most commentators, that the πρόθεσις is announced by this negation, is contrary to Meyer’s assertion, that this addition relates only to μένῃ: and indeed he has this, his strong assurance, not from works, &c., but of him that calleth.—Works cannot be the foundation of the call to salvation, but just the reverse; it is only this call that can be the foundation of works. [This phrase seems to be “a general characteristic of the whole transaction” (Alford). Such a view is favored by the peculiarly broken construction of the whole verse. In any case, it establishes the position of Augustine: “God does not choose us because we believe, but that we may believe.” “Hence, too, we are justified not on account of faith (propter fidem), but through faith (per fidem), which God himself works in us through the Holy Ghost (Schaff). Any other view would contradict the obvious meaning of this verse. Comp. Hodge and Philippi on each side of the predestinarian question as involved here.—R.]
Romans 9:12. The elder (that is, the first-born) shall serve the younger [ὁ μείζων δουλεύσει τῶ ἐλάσαονι] (Gen. 25:23, according to the Septuagint).—Here, again, Meyer finds a difference between the original sense of the passage and the Apostle’s explanation. According to the connection of the original, the expression extends to the nations concerned (Jews and Edomites), and was fulfilled in David’s conquest of the Edomites (2 Sam. 8:14, &c.);50 but Paul means, on the contrary, Esau and Jacob themselves. The adjustment of the difference by regarding the two brothers as representatives of two nations, is insufficient; rather, the indoles of Jacob was really continued in the Jewish people, and the indoles of Esau in the Edomites. [The reference of the original Hebrew, as shown by the context, is to the nations springing from the twin children (“two nations are in thy womb;” Gen. 25:23). Lange and Meyer agree that there is also a personal reference, though differing in their mode of stating the relation of the two. Neither should be excluded, though the whole passage seems to indicate that the personal reference was the more prominent one in Paul’s mind. On the national reference, Schaff remarks: “At all events, in the passages quoted here and Romans 9:13, Jacob and Esau appear as the heads of two nations. If the promised lordship of Jacob be not limited to the transfer of the birthright and the theocratic blessing to Jacob, but taken in its full, physical, and spiritual sense, the fulfilment did not take place until long after their death, in their descendants, when David conquered the Edomites (2 Sam. 8:14). Since then the Ishmaelites and the Edomites, together with the other heathen, were at all events called to the gospel, though later than the Jews (comp. Gen. 27:40, where Isaac predicts the future cessation of the bondage of Esau; and Amos 9:12; Acts 15:16, 17; Rom. 11:11 ff.); it follows that Paul speaks here, not as many Calvinistic expositors misunderstand him, of an eternal reprobation, but of such a preference of one nation as shall prepare for the final salvation of all nations (we do not say, all individuals).” The individual reference is also undeniable, though it by no means follows that it here implies eternal results. The point here is not what or how much God did in His election, but that He had a πρόθεσις κατ ἐκλογήν.—R.]
Romans 9:13. As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated [Τὸν Ἰακώβ ἠάπησα τὸν δέ Ἠταῦ ἐμίησα]. Mal. 1:2 ff.: “I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, and I ated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.” Here the statement that Jehovah hated Esau is proved by the fact that He gave a desolate land to the Edomites for an inheritance, and that He called it a wicked land, on which His indignation rested. Thus the people are placed first here, but with them also their ancestor, as in Gen. 25:23 the ancestor is placed first, but with him his people also.
The following is therefore assumed throughout: 1. The continuity of the indoles in the ancestor and in the real substance of his posterity; 2. The universal connection between the indoles and its religious and moral conduct; 3. The universal connection between the religious and moral conduct and the historical decrees. The sum of these characteristics is now referred to the Divine purpose, and is applied to Esau in the sentence, “I hated him.” Yet this sentence has, at most, only a relative meaning: God has hated Esau in the relation of Esau to Jacob, and in antithesis to the fact that He loved Jacob. God’s whole arrangement, therefore, proceeds from the primary πρόθεσις that He loved Jacob. In that fact lies the causality of Jacob’s glorious history, the determination of his theocratic inheritance. But the whole sentence depends upon various conditions on both sides:
1. An economical condition. The question is not at all concerning decrees of eternal salvation and damnation, but concerning the economical relations of the ordination and call to the possession of salvation and to the economy of salvation in time. On the prospects of salvation for Edom, comp. Isa. 11:14 (Dan. 11:41); Amos 9:12; Mark 3:8. On the other hand, Edom has become, on its dark side, a type of anti-christianity. See the article Edomiter, in the Bibl. Wörterbuch für das christliche Volk. Likewise the passage in Heb. 12:17 relates to Esau’s incapacity to inherit the theocratic blessing even with tears and penitence.
2. An individual condition. There could be also in Edom individuals having the character of Israel, and in Israel there could be individual Edomites. The LXX. has regarded Job as an Edomite prince. Allowing this to be uncertain, the Edomite nature of the Israelitish Judas is beyond a doubt.
3. A religious-ethical condition. Salvation was as little secured unconditionally to the individual Jew by Israel’s election, as the individual Edomite was personally subjected to condemnation by that theocratic rejection of Edom (see Bengel). Meyer: “We must not attach such a merely privative meaning to the ἐμίησα51 as not to love, or to love less (Grotius, Estius [Hodge, Stuart], and others), which is also not confirmed by Matt. 6:24; Luke 14:26; 16:13; John 12:25; but it expresses just the opposite of the positive ἠγάπ.—positive abhorrence.” This would be still more than hatred! Meyer also speaks of a becoming fond of and abhorrence even before the birth of the brothers. Yet here the meaning might be: I have loved the letter, but the spirit of the letter I have loved less!52 This, indeed, might be said of many of the results of modern criticism and exegesis. Philippi lessens at least the antithesis in relation to Jacob and Esau themselves, but yet without thereby becoming rid of the traditional prejudices respecting the sense of this passage. “Jacob’s reception of the theocratic birthright, and Esau’s exclusion from it, constitute, in Paul’s mind, only the type for the law of the reception of eternal salvation and of abandonment to eternal perdition.” But the law of this reception and abandonment is not given here, but in Mark 16:16. The following interpretation is better, if we understand thereby not absolute, but relative antitheses. Calvin well explains ἀγαπᾶν and μισεῖν by assumere and repellere. The use of μσεῖν is similar (Gen. 29:30, 31; Deut. 21:15 ff.; Prov. 13:24; Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13; Matt. 10:37; comp. with Luke 14:26; John 12:25). “To hate father and mother, and his own soul, does not mean to love them less than the Lord, but to reject them altogether in a case of collision, or to so act toward them as if one positively hated them (?); in which case there might still exist a great deal of love for them, though certainly less than for the Lord.”—If, indeed, absolute love and a conditional love = loving less, are at variance with each other, then the disregard, which is similar to hatred, though not partaking of the nature of hatred, follows of itself; it is the negation of the defect or of the sin to which the hated individual cleaves, but it is not the individual to which the defect or the sin cleaves. See also Tholuck, p. 498, against Fritzshe, Meyer, De Wette, and Philippi.
It must be observed, further, that, in Romans 9:18, the description of fore-ordination or predestination according to election, is introduced by ἡ κατ’ ἐκλογὴνπρόεσις. The idea of election refutes the following claims to a right in God’s kingdom:
1. The claim by virtue of natural descent from Abraham, the father of the faithful, especially by virtue of birthright; 2. The claim by virtue of descent from the legitimate marriage concluded under the promise; 3. The claim by virtue of the merit of works.
Election takes place freely:
1. Without regard to the advantage of birthright; 2. to descent from a family that is blessed; 3. to community even in a twin-birth; 4. and to the foreseeing of works. And all this is on the simple ground that election, a. voluntarily determines the indoles beforehand, thereby avoiding all appearance of natural necessity, the requirement of birthright, &c.; b. and, according to the indoles or economical endowment, it also makes a πρόθεσις in regard to the economical call. [The sum of the whole matter, detaching from it all reference to the extent of the preference or the result of the choice of God in this instance, is, that God does exercise a prerogative of choice or election, independently of all these human considerations. That this is the point to which Paul would bring his readers, is evident from what immediately follows. A further proof that a general truth is also to be drawn from it, is afforded by the constant use made of special points in Old Testament history and of Old Testament passages to establish general propositions (see the case of Pharaoh, below, Romans 9:17, which, as far as the individual in question is concerned, has no connection with the discussion, and New Testament passim). This method of citation is based on the stability of the Divine character; to deny its propriety, is to presume an arbitrariness on the part of God, in far greater opposition to His character than is implied even in most fearfully fatalistic view of this chapter.—R.]
SECOND PROOF: The antithesis in fore-ordination (predestination). God is not unrighteous in showing mercy and in hardening, and in His manner of uniting judgment and compassion (Romans 9:14–18).53 Meyer: The second part of the theodicy.
Romans 9:14. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? [Τί ὁὖν ἐροῦμεν; μὴ ἀδικία παρά τῷ θεῷ; Comp. Romans 3:5.] The Jew cannot refute the facts that Ishmael was rejected in spite of his birthright, and that Esau was rejected in spite of his legitimacy and birthright. Just here was a special point of pride with the Jew. But the consistency of this fact had now appeared—the absolute freedom of Divine choice. Israel’s call was itself the strongest witness against the claims of the Israelites, because by it the most weighty prejudices concerning their privileges were overcome. But, finally, God’s promise to Rebecca stood firm, and by this was decided, that the works of the Israelites could no more impose conditions on God’s free exercise of His authority, than could be done formerly by the works of Jacob, when God assigned to him beforehand the domination over his brother—that is, the theocratic honor. It was especially this declaration against the claims established on works which was calculated to excite the Judaizing spirit, and lead it to the conclusion that, by so doing, God would be unrighteous. This is the interpretation of Augustine, Hervæus, the majority of Lutheran writers, and Bullinger and Tholuck. But even this conclusion he rejects with abhorrence (comp. Romans 3:5). He adduces his proof immediately afterwards.
Meyer remarks: “This reason is demonstrative, in so far as by it the absolute divine worthiness of what God predicates of himself must be assumed.” Yet this would be only an absolute proof of authority. Also, according to Calvin, the proof lies in the refuting effect of the biblical declaration: satis habet, scripturœ testimoniis impuros latratus compescere.54 [In this choice and preference of the one before the other there is no unrighteousness. For he only is unrighteous who is under obligations which he does not fulfil; but God is under no obligations to His creature, hence can do with him what He will (Romans 9:14–29). God’s will is the absolute and eternal norm of righteousness, and all that He does is necessarily right (Deut. 32:4). There is no norm of righteousness above Him to which He is subject; else were God not God.—P. S.] For other explanations, see Tholuck, pp. 507, 508.
Tholuck: “Origen’s regarding this as the objection of an opponent, and Romans 9:15 as the Apostle’s answer, and Romans 9:16–18 as another objection of the opponent, is a result of doctrinal perplexity.” Theodore of Mopsvestia, Storr [Jerome], and Flatt, regarded Romans 9:15–18, and Heumann, Romans 9:15–21, as the objection of an opponent. [Romans 9:15 and 17 are quotations from the Scripture, and hence cannot be objections; while Romans 9:16 and 18 are not the incorrect deductions of an opponent from these passages, as Chrysostom and Pelagius suppose, but the correct conclusions of the Apostle himself.—P. S.]
Romans 9:15. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion [Ἐλεήσω ὅν ἄν ἐλεῶ, καὶ οἰκτειρήσω ὅν ἄν οἰκτείρω.55 See Textual Note14, for the Hebrew]. An answer to the self-proposed objection in Romans 9:14, taken from Exod. 33:19, according to the LXX. The form of the original text is evidently this: I have (already) had mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I have had compassion on whom I will have compassion. The sense is therefore not: To whom I am gracious, to him I am gracious; that is, I act in the matter according to my own authority or freedom, unrestrainedness (the view of most commentators, also of Tholuck, p. 511. Yet the latter thus modifies his view, against Olshausen: The question is not concerning God’s right, but God’s grace; p. 114), but: I remain just, as Jehovah, and continue the work of my grace where I have once revealed it, &c.—That is, Jehovah is the God of revelation in His consistency, and so are also His grace and His compassion consistent. His freedom binds or unbinds itself. His freedom is rather to be regarded as decision also. According to the connection, indeed, the וְחִנֹּתִי could be regarded as a future form; but this is hardly admissible in connection with the simple future form אָחֹן, and with the name Jehovah; therefore the Hebrew translations—for example, that of Philippson—are to no purpose: “And as I have mercy on whom I have mercy,” &c.
In sense, the inverted form of the LXX., from which Paul quotes, is therefore correct: καὶ ἐλεήσω ὅν ἄν ἐλεῶ, κ.τ.λ. [Alford objects, without suffiicent reason, to laying the stress on ὅν ἄν, whomsoever; but Paul, following the LXX., makes it the scriptural expression of general proposition. It is in the form of a Divine axiom (Meyer).—R.] The meaning of the name Jehovah is: Divine consistency. But Jehovah’s speaking to Moses has a special significance. The Jews regarded Moses as the founder of righteousness by works. Paul, on the contrary, brings out the fact that God said to this very Moses, that the consistency of the work of grace is grounded on the beginning of the work of grace in free grace. [This view is ingenious, and gives at least some warrant for a reference to works, which too often is “all supplied by the commentator” (Hodge). But it can scarcely be accepted, as it seems to be rather an effort to avoid than to discover the meaning of the passage.—As regards the thought of Divine consistency, which seems to rest on the present tense in the relative clauses, it is scarcely proper to limit the meaning thus. Certainly Meyer does not often let a grammatical point escape him; yet he paraphrases: “ ‘I will have mercy upon him who (in whatever given case) is the object of my mercy,’ so that I am thereby dependent on nothing without myself. That is the sovereignty of the Divine will of mercy. Notice that the future is the mercy, proving itself in fact and act, which God accords in all those cases where He stands to the persons affected in the settled disposition (present ἐλεῶ) of mercy.”—R.]
Romans 9:16. So then it is not of him who willeth, &c. [ἄρα οὖν τοῦ θέλοντος, κ.τ.λ. On the construction, see Winer, p. 556.—Meyer: “From the saying of God, Paul deduces the inference lying therein respecting the causality of the Divine saving deliverance.”—R.] That the entrance of human good conduct in faith is presupposed, follows not only from the analogy of Scripture, but also from the antithesis (Romans 9:17); though the Apostle here precludes the delusion that man, by his willing and running, can acquire that foundation of salvation which proceeds only from the freedom of the compassionate God. Meyer: “Incorrect, according to Locke, and most commentators; Reiche: θέλοντ. is probably chosen with regard to Abraham’s wish to constitute Ishmael, and Isaac’s wish to constitute Esau, the heir; but τρέχ. is chosen with regard to Esau’s fruitless running home from hunting (Theophylact thought that it refers to his running to the hunt).56 For Paul, by his ἄρα οὖν, draws his conclusion only from God’s declaration promulgated to Moses.” But, by this declaration to Moses, Paul proves that God was not unjust to Esau; that is, that God, acting in harmony with the application of that declaration to Judaism, does not now do any in justice to one who relies on righteousness by works. The willing and running are not rejected in them selves, but are elsewhere required according to the Divine call (1 Cor. 9:24. Meyer even derives the running in this passage from the races, which ill suits the connection); it is only not recognized as the causality of the line of development. This causality is God’s grace (the ἐλεῶντος must here be defined conformably to the preceding distinction between ἐλεεῖν and οἰκτείρειν).
[Paul obviously draws an inference from Romans 9:15, with ἄρα οὖν. The question is, How general is that inference? The verse is certainly general in form; any limitation must be found in the preceding context, or in the scope of the Apostle’s argument. To limit it to Esau, as an illustration of God’s method, is, in fact, to extend it, since Esau was not of the chosen people; and what God said to Moses, the head of the chosen people, could not be applicable to him, unless it was of general validity. To limit it to the Jewish people, because they are under discussion in this part of the Epistle, is forbidden by the fact that the instances or illustrations are outside that people (Esau, Pharaoh). The only safe view is, that the word to Moses is a Divine axiom, and this, an inference of universal application and validity. It will not interfere with human means in salvation; for, if true, it applies to willing and running in general, and yet it stops no volition and its accompanying muscular exertion. That side of the matter is not under consideration. Alford: “At present the Apostle is employed wholly in asserting the divine Sovereignty, the glorious vision of which it ill becomes us to distract by continual downward looks on this earth. It is most true that the immediate subject is the national rejection of the Jews; but we must consent to hold our reason in abeyance, if we do not recognize the inference, that the sovereign power and free election, here proved to belong to God, extend to every exercise of His mercy—whether temporal or spiritual, whether in Providence or in grace, whether national or individual. It is in parts of Scripture like this that we must be especially careful not to fall short of what is written—not to allow of any compromise of the plain and awful words of God’s Spirit, for the sake of a caution which He himself does not teach us.”—R.]
The antithesis of the consistency of free Divine grace, as experienced by Moses, is the consistency of Divine judgment as revealed in the case of Pharaoh.
Romans 9:17. For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh. The γάρ announces the proof which arises from the uniformity of the same Divine dealing in its rejection. The Scripture saith, is a metonymy for God saith according to the testimony of Scripture. But the metonymy brings out prominently the fact that this declaration of God is not merely temporary and isolated, but has the force of a permanent scriptural declaration, which is applicable to all analogous cases. The scriptural statement itself is in Exod. 9:16.
[Even for this very purpose have I raised thee up, εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο ἐξήγειρά σε. For the original Hebrew, and LXX., here altered, see Textual Note16.—R.] If we look at the connection, Paul’s translation, ἐξήγειρά σε, corresponds in sense to the original text, הֶצְֶמַדְתִּיךָ, just as well as the διετηρήθγς [LXX.] does, only it is more specific; from which consideration Meyer again educes a difference between the original sense of the Hebrew text and Paul’s meaning. After the judgment of murrain and boils and blains (the fifth and sixth plagues) on Egypt, we read, as before: “The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh,” after it had already been said (Exod. 8:15, 32): “Pharaoh hardened his heart;” and Moses must solemnly declare God’s message to Pharaoh, which, according to the translation of Zunz, is as follows: “For I would already have stretched out my hand, and would have smitten thee and thy people with pestilence, so that thou wouldst be cut off from the earth. Yet I have allowed thee to exist on purpose to show thee my strength, and that my name may be extolled throughout all the earth.” Evidently the translation allow to exist (also in Stier), is as much an enervation of the causal הֶצְֶמִיד as that of the LXX. is, and probably the cause in this case is also the same hesitation in accepting the full strength of the thought.
The expression is chiefly used of positive setting up (for example, of statues), and then also of arousing, awaking; and even the weaker meaning of allowing to exist has still the sense of a positive support. According to Meyer, Paul makes the Scripture say: “ ‘I have awakened thee;’ that is, allowed thee to appear, to stand forth; thy whole historical appearance has therefore been effected by me,” &c. This interpretation introduces a harsh fatalistic sense into the text; and though Meyer presents a series of expositors as saying the same thing, this proves incorrect in the case of the very first one, Theophylact, who says: εἰς τό μεσον ἤγαγον. Bengel: ׃הֶעְֶמִיד omnibus locis omnino prœsupponit subjectum jam ante productum. Philippi’s explanation is: “I have awakened thee to being, let thee exist.” Calvin’s interpretation is strongest: Deus Pharaonem a se profectum dicit, eique hanc impositam esse personam.
The explanation: vivum te servavi (Grotius, Wolf, and others), at all events weakens the force; but it is not incorrect, since it follows from the connection: “I might have already destroyed thee, but, on the contrary, I have once more fully raised thee up.” The interpretation, “I have raised thee up to opposition” (Augustine, De Wette [Haldane, Hodge: have placed and continued thee as my adversary. Alford: Proverbs dire fecit, excitavit. Stuart: have roused thee.—R.], and others), has one feature of the context in its favor, namely, the circumstance that the word, according to the following σκληρύνει, appears to be used synonymously with this σκληρύνει. For, according to the sense, this idea is also comprised in the Apostle’s translation, ἐξήγειρά σε; although this sense does not follow directly. He also presents no antithesis to the declaration: I could have cut thee off; the sense is rather: I have, so to speak, once more erected and raised thee up in thy hardened conduct from the judgment of death to which thou wast already subject, that I might show my power, &c.—To the more forcible construction of the Apostle there also corresponds the εἰς αὐτὸτοῦτο, even to this end; instead of the weaker ἕνεκεν τούτου of the LXX.
[It is perhaps to be expected, that in the somewhat wide scope afforded to interpreters by the text of the Hebrew, LXX., and our passage, theological bias will largely determine the view of each. But Paul has chosen the stronger term, and uses it to establish a strong position (Romans 9:18, introduced by the inferential ἄρα οὖν). Hence, while we must utterly reject, both on lexical and theological grounds, the extreme supralapsarian view: God created thee—i. e., as a hardened sinner; the view of Lange, and many modern interpreters, is too weak—is out of keeping both with the original transaction and the use here made of it. The view of Meyer (and also substantially of Theophylact, Beza, Calvin, Bengel, Reiche, Olshausen, Tholuck, Philippi, De Wette, Hofmann, Schaff, and many others) is perhaps most tenable, and is certainly accordant with the original passage. The objection that it is fatalistic, is an objection of too wide scope. Olshausen: “It by no means follows from this high view of the subject, that St. Paul intends to say that God has made Pharaoh evil by any positive operation; but he only means that God permitted that evil person, who of his own free will resisted all those rich workings of grace which were communicated in rich measure even to him, to come into manifestation at that time, and under these circumstances, in such a form that the very evil which was in him should serve for the furtherance of the kingdom of The Good and the glory of God.” So Schaff: “All events of history, even all wicked deeds, stand under the guidance of God, without whose will not a hair falls from our heads, much less is a world-historical fact accomplished. God does not cause the evil, but He bends and guides it to His glory.”—A too definite, and too weak view, though a modification of the correct one, is that of Flatt, Benecke, Glöckler, and Wordsworth: placed thee as king.—R.]
That I might show in thee my power, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. This is a strengthening generalization of the purpose, namely, that God will make Pharaoh, precisely in his opposition, a monument of His power (His majestic power), by allowing him to perish. Pharaoh, the hardened one, will only experience His crushing power and become a monument of it; but in the world, the glory of His name revealing itself in Pharaoh’s case will be declared to Israel (see the Song of Moses, Exod. 15).
Romans 9:18. Therefore on whom he will he hath mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth [ἄρα οὖν ὅν θέλει ἐλεεῖ, ὃν δέ θέλει σκληρύνει]. This passage, if taken out of its connection, seems to declare an absolute predestination in the supralapsarian sense. Meyer, with others, protests against any mitigation of the sense: “Paul’s simple and clear meaning is, that it depends upon God’s free authority either to bless by His saving mercy, or to remove to that spiritual state in which one cannot be a subject of His saving grace, but only of His ὀργή.” Of the two modes of view, each of which, according to him, forbids the other—that Pharaoh in part produces his own hardness himself (Exod. 8:15, 32; 9:34), and that it in part seems to be wrought by God (Exod. 4:21; 7:3, &c.)—he makes the Apostle expressly follow the latter. [Meyer is perhaps unnecessarily harsh in his view, but he intimates that it suits the purpose of the Apostle better to choose this aspect of the hardening, as this Pharaoh, hardened by God, is to him a type of the Jew resisting the gospel.—R.]
The usual mitigations of the passage are, at all events, insufficient, particularly the explanation: though God permits hardening (Origen, Grotius, and others), and also the interpretation of σκληρύνειν as duriter tractare (Carpzov, Semler, Beck, and others). Tholuck, without finally and positively adopting the latter of these, adduces many special grounds in its favor. [Against this untenable view of σκλρύνει, see Alford in loco. “The word here refers to a hardening, such a fortification in sin, that the sinner is unsusceptible of all workings of grace and better influences, the removal into a state where conversion is either absolutely impossible, or rendered difficult in the highest degree. This is an act of God, in so far as He has ordained the laws of the development of evil, ‘that, propagating still, it brings forth evil,’ (Schiller). It is here viewed as a punishment for a previous self-hardening of the sinner” (Schaff). So Hodge, who regards it as “the judicial abandonment of men. ‘to a reprobate mind,’ a punitive withdrawing of the influences of His holy Spirit, and the giving them up to the uncounteracted operation of the hardening or perverting influences by which they are surrounded.” So Wordsworth, but less strongly. If objection be made to such a judicial process as a work of God, then the same difficulty “lies in the daily course of His providence, in which we see this hardening process going on in the case of the prosperous ungodly man” (Alford). The facts remain, the solution is lacking, except so far as God plainly speaks in such passages as this. Meyer objects to the introduction of previous self-hardening here. See the clear and thoughtful note of Olshausen in loco.—R.]
Evidently, the context in Exod. 9 indicates a postponement of the well-merited judgment, in which postponement God’s long-suffering is concurrent (comp. chap. 23). The definite sense of the passage must be ascertained from the connection. We must here take into consideration the following:
1. Previously the question was, God’s purposes preceding the birth of the children; here, on the contrary, it is the free will with which God dealt with fixed characters—Moses, on the one hand, Pharaoh, on the other. If this free will be referred to a purpose of God, it is nevertheless not the purpose of election, which first settles personality, but the purpose of ordination, which, in the establishment of its destiny, presupposes its conduct. Consquently, because this purpose is conditional, God is still left free to have mercy on the real Moses, just as He is free to harden the still existing Pharaoh.
2. As the ἐλεῶ must here be taken emphatically, and expresses the free consistency of Jehovah in His mercy to Moses until He can reveal His glory to him (see Exod. 33:19 ff.), so has also σκληρύνει the meaning of a continuation of the judgment of hardening to the extreme, in antithesis to the self-ripened judgment of retribution. The more strongly we here press the ὅν θέλε the more will every notion of an abstract authority be excluded, and the stronger becomes the emphasis on the pure divinity of the θέλειν. [In other words, the more will the will of God, in its absolute freedom, appear, not as blind arbitrariness, which is the very reverse of freedom, but as a will of infinite love and wisdom. It proves itself such in the special cases from which the general proposition of this verse is drawn.—If θέλειν (as is claimed by Professor Hitchcock, Lange’s Comm., Eph. 1:9) always implies spontaneity, then the “will” here, in each case, finds its justification in the character of God, which immediately prompts it. This may be what Dr. Lange means by the “pure divinity of the θέλειν.”—R.]
3. The whole of the immediate result of this fearfully significant expression is, that God, in His freedom, has mercy on Moses to the utmost, and has, to the utmost, led Pharaoh to judgment; that Moses can thereby make no just claim on the ground of the righteousness of works, and that Pharaoh can protest against nothing that he might regard as injustice done to him. In this way the justifiable use of the passage quoted by Paul is determined. [The freedom of God seems to be the main thought. The reference to the righteousness of works seems needless. Meyer concludes his exegesis of the passage thus: “Undoubtedly the will of God is just and holy, but it is not conceived and presented here from this point of view, but in its independence of all human θέλειν and τρέχειν, consequently in its simple self-origination (Aseität); which meaning is to be preserved in the clear sharpness of ὅν θέλειἐ λεεῖ.” The words certainly favor this view; we need but guard against inferences, which are drawn, not by the Apostle, but by imperfect human logic.—R.]
THIRD PROOF: God’s freedom in the actual call to salvation (Romans 9:19–29).
A. The proof from the real relation (Romans 9:19–24).
Tholuck regards this section as the collective carrying out of the thought, that the excluded one can bring no complaint against God, because he is left free in his conduct, &c.; but Meyer, on the contrary, regards Romans 9:19–21 as the third part of the theodicy: “Man is not entitled to reply against God by saying, ‘Why doth He yet find fault?’ For his relation to God is as that of the thing formed to him that formed it, or of the vessel to the potter, who has power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor.”57 Then he regards Romans 9:22–29 as the fourth part of the theodicy: “God has endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, in order to make known His glory on the vessels of mercy, even us Christians, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.” We make the following distinction: In the first case, in Romans 9:6–13, the question was the freedom of God’s election in antithesis to the human, and especially to the theocratic, right of inheritance. Then, in Romans 9:14–19, the question was, the freedom of God’s ordination in antithesis to the claims of human righteousness by works (since even Moses himself, the lawgiver, did not merit mercy by the works of the law, and Pharaoh was visited by the judgment of hardening, instead of by the judgment of destruction which he had merited). The Apostle now passes over to God’s freedom in His call.
[Whatever be the division adopted, or distinctions made, there can be no doubt, that the objection the Apostle here raises and answers is one which arises at once against the freedom of God’s will, viz., that it destroys our responsibility. As this was more likely to arise as an inference (οὖν , Romans 9:19, which seems to have troubled the transcribers, however) from what precedes, there is the greater ground for holding that the preceding verses refer to God’s sovereignty, considered in the light of an objection (ver 14), and that this paragraph presents it in opposition to another (Romans 9:19). At all events, whatever limitations and special applications be made, the reader now deals with the passage (and subject) in this more general reference, and most commentators have felt obliged to treat it thus.—R.]
Romans 9:19. Thou wilt say then unto me [ἐρεῖς μοι οὖν]. The conclusion which the Apostle allows the Jew to draw from the supposition that he has derived mercy and hardness from God’s will, has been urged by thousands against Calvin’s predestinarian system; and, indeed, they have done it with much better ground than the Jew could object to Paul’s doctrine; yet they have also in many ways mistaken the infinite importance of the exercise of Divine authority in human guidance.
If the whole development of man is only an absolute Divine decree, the objection in Romans 9:19 says: Why then doth he yet find fault? [τί οὖνἕτι μέμφεται; See Textual Note18.] How, then, can God find fault with man, or rebuke him for being a sinner? By doing so, He would even contradict himself. The expression μέμφεται seems to be purposely chosen to bring out the authoritative character in a finding fault, in which the question cannot be a really objective relation to guilt. Tholuck: “Neither the charge against Pharaoh (Justin Martyr); nor that of the ungodly in the prophets (Zwingli, and others), is meant, but the rebuke of hardening brought against the Jews. Every penal declaration of revelation in general is meant, in so far as it would not be authorized by the doctrine of fate. The Jew does not here have in mind God himself, but that presupposition of the idea of God which Paul seems to present. But he nevertheless betrays the inclination of the one who relies upon the righteousnss of works to find fault with God. [In so far as one holds that notion of God, however derived, which in any way allows the possibility of His being the author of evil in man, this objection will arise. It cannot be confined to the Jew and his legal righteousness. (Meyer, De Wette, make the objection general, while Philippi finds in the sharp answer of Romans 9:20 a proof that the objector is a Jew.)—R.]
[For who resisteth his will? Τῷ γάρβουλήατι αὐτοῦ τίς ἀνθέτηκεν; Meyer renders βούλημα, which Paul uses only here, das Gewollte—i. e., captum consilium. It obviously implies deliberation, as βούλομαι does, when properly distinguished from θέλω.—R.] Though the ἀνθέστηκε has the present meaning, yet the form seems to indicate also the thought that God has already anticipated every attempt of human opposition. The Apostle does not hasten to refute the charge directly, by urging the truth of the relations of guilt, because this charge is based upon such a one-sided standpoint from the overrating of human action, that this human boasting must first of all be prostrated. Romans 3:5 ff. proves that he can also reply to a similar charge by an answer which-brings out the ethical relations in harmony with the connection. But the first task presented to him here is, to go back with the quarrelsome Jew resting upon the righteousness of his works, to the absolute dependence of man on God.
Romans 9:20. Nay but, O man [ὦ ἄνθρωπε, μενοῦγε]. We translate the μενοῦνγε with Tholuck: Much more; Meyer construes it as irony: “Yes, indeed, O, man.” Its most probable use is to strengthen the thought: “Just the opposite, O man, &c. Thou sayest that God disputes with thee, and thou rather, in thy erroneous claims of right, darest to dispute with God.” [Still better, Alford: “Yea, rather, taking the ground from under the previous assertion, and superseding it by another; implying that it has a certain show of truth, but that the proper view of the matter is yet to be stated. It thus conveys an intimation of rebuke; here with severity.” Comp. Romans 10:18. Hodge: “Gross as is this perversion of the Apostle’s doctrine on the part of the objector, Paul at first rebukes the spirit in which it is made, before he shows it to be unfounded.”—R.] The ὦ ἄνθρωπε expresses already man’s complete dependence on God; and this is increased by the σὺ τίς εἶ, who art thou [quantulus es; Meyer].
[That repliest against God, ὁ ἀνταποκρινόμεος τῷ θεῷ.] According to Theodore of Mopsvestia, Jerome, and others, Paul, in using the ἀνταποκρινόμενος, refutes his opponent by referring him to his own words. His opponent replies against God, and therefore opposes God, in the very moment in which he maintains that He cannot be opposed. In that case, indeed, μενοῦνγε would be ironical. This interpretation is ingenious, but too refined, and is opposed by the following words.
Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why didst thou make me thus? [Μὴ ἐρεῖ τὸ πλάομα τῶ πλάσαντι, Τίμε ἐποίησας ὅτως;. An echo of, but scarcely a quotation from, Isa. 29:16, though the first clause is found word for word in the LXX.—R.] The explanation tractasti (Grotius, and others) is evasive. The tertium comparationis is the causality of him that forms, but here as the causality of the form. [It must be observed that even a pressing of the figure cannot make πλάσμα mean the thing created; the reference is not to original creation, but to the subsequent ethical moulding, from which, of course, must be excluded the mystery of universal sin referred to in Romans 5:12. That enters into the nature of the “clay” and the “lump” alike. Against Glöeckler’s argumentatio a minore ad majus: “If a thing moulded cannot thus speak, much less a man,” &c., see Meyer in loco.—R.]
Romans 9:21. Hath not the potter power over the clay [ἥ οὐκ ἔχει ἐξουσίαν ὅ κεραμεύς τοῦπηλοῦ. The order indicates the two emphatic thoughts: 1. That the human subjects under discussion are as “clay;” “his clay,” would be a proper rendering. 2. That God has power; the definition of that power is given in the next clause.—R.] Tholuck: “The potter’s clay is regarded by infralapsarianism as the massa jam perdita. The vessels are not considered, as is observed by the Gl. ord. and Brenz, as naturally part silver and gold, and part dirt, but altogether dirt. Consequently, these expositors prefer the allusion to the Old Testament, Jer 18, where a people already ruined, which God forms into vessels of honor or dishonor according to its own conduct, is spoken of; the supralapsarians, on the contrary, as Thomasius, Estius, Calvin, and Gomarus, decide in favor of an allusion to Isa. 29 or 45 Supralapsarianism, to wit, regards the πηλός as the massa absolute, qualis erat massa angelorum (Estius) and the πλάσμα—which the meaning of the word is alleged to favor—as the product of the first creation.” Tholuck finds in the simile only the sense expressed by Calvin: Nullam dei arbitrio causam superiorem posse adduci, &c. For the harsh expressions of Calvin, the still harsher ones of Zwingli, and the equally mild ones of Buillinger, see Tholuck, p. 528.
According to Arminius, and others, together with Lutherans, Romans 9:21 contains only a preliminary rejoinder; the real answer follows in Romans 9:22, 23. [It is indeed a preliminary, but one that “aims rather at striking dumb the objector by a statement of God’s undoubted right, against which it does not become us men to murmur, than at unfolding to us the actual state of the case” (Alford). Comp. the emphatic order of the words.—R.] Besides, Armenians and Socinians have asserted that here Paul does not speak of “an election of individuals, but of classes—of believing Gentiles” (Tholuck).58
According to Tholuck, further, the principal question here is, What must we understand by the πηλός? If we regard the earthy clod as the real clay from which man was made, then the work of Him that formed may be transferred to the creation itself. According to this idea, indeed, the individual man is only “a specimen of the species.” But if we regard God’s breath as the real substance of man’s formation, according to the biblical idea of personality, Calvinistic supralapsarianism is obviated.
[Of the same lump to make, ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ φυράματος ποιῆσαι. The power of the potter is defined more closely by the infinitive. Fairness to the figure compels us to identify the “clay” and the “lump.” The “clay” is the substance itself; the “lump” presents it as already in use by the potter for his purpose. Beyond this we cannot press it. Meyer perhaps goes too far, but certainly is justified in making the πηλός co-extensive with human nature. It must be borne in mind that the potter is not represented as making the “clay,” or even the “lump,” but as having power “over the clay,” to make vessels “of the lump.”—R.] The word here is not, as Meyer has properly remarked against Hofmann, created, but made. He understands by the φύρμα “the very same mass of human nature in and of itself.” But we can just as little regard the massa jam perdita as merely the human race, prostrated in the ruin of the fall. In Romans 11:16 the φύραμα is the Jewish people; and, according to Romans 9:24 of the present chapter, it is the same wretched state of the Jews and Gentiles at the time of Christ. God, as the Maker, in His exercise of the efficacious call (see Romans 9:24), has disposed of this φύραμα, first of all, of the Jewish people. [Granting this immediate reference, we must still avoid limiting the meaning of φύραμα. For even Romans 9:24 includes the Gentiles, while the discussion hitherto has embraced Ishmael, Esau, and Pharaoh.—R.]
[One vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor, ὅ μέν εἰς τιμὴν σκεῦος ὃ δέ εἰςἀτιμίαν. Meyer calls attention to the position of εἰς τιμήν. Even here, in this strong assertion of “power,” the preparation of the vessel for honorable use is emphasized.—R.] But as he that forms does not wantonly destroy his φύραμα, but, according to his own pleasure, makes of it vessels unto honor and unto dishonor—that is, vessels for honorable and vessels for dishonorable use—so also does God’s exercise of authority as Maker go no further than to appoint a great difference between honorable and dishonorable vessels of His call, according to the personal conditions which have been established by the call corresponding to the necessity of salvation (2 Tim. 2:20; 1 Cor. 12:23). But the Apostle does not carry out his figure in this direction. He rather urges, only for a moment, the figure that God has the ἐξουσία, the free and full power, which is at the same time essentially the right, to make of the φύραμα, of His people [or, of all people, of the race] vessels unto honor and vessels unto dishonor; but then, in Romans 9:22, he turns to say that God has never made full use of this right; but that He has even endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath which He found before Him, His object being to make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy. In Romans 9:22 there is thus repeated the thought of the sentence awarded Pharaoh.
Preliminary note on the connection of Romans 9:22, 23. But how now? If God—notwithstanding His perfect power and His ready will to show forth His wrath and demonstrate His power—has just as much adhered to himself as formerly, when He suspended the judgment of destruction on Pharaoh, by enduring with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto δόξα—how does the case stand with the complaint that. He makes an unrighteous use of His power? It is evident that the thought is presented here which is elaborated in chap. 9 In God’s exercise of authority, judgment and long-suffering are united. His judgments are interpositions of long-suffering. In this sense God rules freely in His call, just as He has ruled freely in His election and ordination. With the explanation of the divine economy of the call, in Romans 9:21–24, the Apostle has also now refuted (in Romans 9:20) the charge that God is represented as an unrighteous God. He has therefore now proved the righteousness of divine ordination, Romans 9:15–18, from the righteousness of the divine call in Romans 9:20; just as he had already proved the righteousness of divine election (Romans 9:9–13) from the righteousness of divine ordination. The proof of the freedom of election lies in the fact that God is still free also in His ordination, and the proof of the freedom of His ordination lies in the fact that He is still free in His call.
But God’s manner of using His freedom in these three stages testifies to the righteousness of His dealings.
1. His exclusion of Ishmael, gives an ethical character to the whole series of God’s acts of freedom.
2. His hatred of Esau is only relative; it denotes the infinite difference between the two, by making the first-born theocratically subject to the younger.
3. It is plain, to one acquainted with the Scriptures, that God’s hardening of Pharaoh resulted from Pharaoh’s having hardened himself; and besides this, there is connected with this the additional fact that, even though Pharaoh was ripe for the judgment of destruction, God makes the useless man still useful by allowing him to exist longer, and by raising him up, in order, through him, to declare His power and His mercy. With the same consistency, He goes so far on the side of His exercise of mercy toward Moses, whose fidelity is well known to Israel, that He can reveal to him His glory, though it is in only a qualified manner.
4. He finally stood with the formative power of His call to salvation over the φύραμα of Israel prepared in the Old Testament, and could exercise His freedom by immediately allowing a Christianity to come from it, by virtue of which the whole φύραμα crumbled into vessels of honor and dishonor, if peradventure He allowed new wine to be poured into the old bottles, or the new cloth to be sewed into the old garment. But then it came to pass that another antithesis was prepared in the Israel of the apostolic age. The representatives of the φύραμα (not this merely) living at that time, had already transformed themselves in part into vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction; that is, to be broken to pieces (see Ps. 2), but not to be worn out as vessels of dishonor; and the blessing of the Old Testament in part exhibited itself in them by their allowing themselves to be prepared by God as vessels of glory. And He was already about to break those vessels of wrath; but as He had once patiently made use of Pharaoh as a means of revealing His majesty and of declaring the glory of His name, so did He now endure in great long-suffering the vessels of wrath; and for this purpose, that their contradiction might be the means for the transferrence of salvation to the Gentiles, and for making known the riches of His glory on the vessels of His mercy. In brief, the turning-point was this: Instead of a φύραμα, which could have been simply used in the antithesis of vessels of
honor and dishonor, He found that the developing process of the covenant people of the Old Testament had gone to such an extreme, that the people were divided into vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy; and instead of now making a stunted Jewish Christianity from the whole substance of the people, He established that economy of saving interposition explained by the Apostle in chaps.10 and 15.
Though Paul has principally allowed only the factors of the divine exercise of authority to appear, the ground for this was, that he had to establish the freedom of God’s grace in relation to Judaism. But afterward he shows the righteousness of God in relation to the unbelief of most Israelites and the faith of the Gentiles.
Meyer remarks, in reference to the idea σχεῦος εἰς τιμἠν: “It shall be either honored, so that it has τιμἠν (as, for for example, a sacred vase); or else it shall experience the opposite, so that ἀτιμὶα adheres to it (as, for example, a vessel designed for a low and filthy use).” According to 2 Tim. 2:20, the difference in material comes most prominently into consideration; but as far as the use is concerned, the antithesis of sacred and unclean will suffice. Tholuck emphasizes principally the antithesis: held in honor and in dishonor, but maintains that the simile is not adequate in the very chief point of comparison; the potter moulds the clay, but God is the Creator of the creature, therefore Pareus also speaks of a comparatio a minori ad majus. Yet it is incorrectly assumed here that the creation is spoken of.
The passage undoubtedly cited by Paul,59 Isa. 29:16, refers to a people relying upon the righteousness of their works (Romans 9:13), on whom judgment is about to be visited (Romans 9:14), because they claim a false independence toward God in return for their service, as if God was related to them as an equal—as if the potter were equal with the clay, and the clay could say: “He has not made me,” or, “He does not understand the matter.” Besides, the vessels unto honor and unto dishonor must by no means be identified with the vessels of wrath and of mercy, which error has been committed by De Wette, Tholuck, Meyer, and others.
Ver 22. But what if God, although willing to show, &c. Εἰ δὲ θέλων ὁ θεός, χ.τ.λ. [See Textual Note60. The question as to what should be supplied with εἰ δέ, is discussed below. Meyer suggests: “Wilt thou still venture this replying against God” (Romans 9:20).—R.] Two opposite explanations here present themselves: because God would, and although God would. The sense in the former case would be this: the μαχροθυμία was also designed to enhance the penal judgment (De Wette, Rückert, [Calvin], and most commentators). But this cannot be the purpose of the μαχροθυμία. Though the result is, that the judgment is enhanced (Romans 2:4) by the abuse of the μαχρ., yet this abuse must by no means be referred to the μαχροθυνια. The translation although God would, adopted by Fritzsche, Philippi, and Meyer, is therefore preferable. [It may be added in favor of this view, that it gives to θέλων the meaning of willing—i.e., spontaneous will. It was the will of God, growing out of His character, to show His wrath, &c., but He endured notwithstanding, &c. The other view takes the participle in the sense of purposing, which is too strong. The passage then presents another answer to the objection of injustice, by showing how the sovereign God had withheld the exercise of a power in accordance with His holy will. The position of θἑλων, as Meyer remarks, prepares the way for the strong contrast with “long-suffering.”—R.] If we look at the explanatory parallels in Pharaoh’s history, the meaning becomes more definite: although, and since already; as God was already about to do. In Exod. 9:15, God said to Pharaoh: “For now I will stretch out my hand.” Likewise the aorists ἐνδείξασθαι, γνωρισαι, indicate this readiness of judgment, not less than the expressionσχεῦη ὀργῆς, and especially χατῃρτισμένα. The expression: ἐνδειξασθαι τὴν ὀργὴν καὶ γνωρὶσαι τὸ δυνατόν,61 in connection with the foregoing, forcibly calls to mind the declaration to Pharaoh.
Endured [ἤνεγκεν]. Chrysostom, De Wette, and others, have referred this to the long-forbearing with Pharaoh; but Meyer, on the other hand, is of the opinion that Paul means the previous time in general (which shall thus continue under this divine forbearance until the second coming of Christ). But it is evident from the connection, that the Apostle means the hardened portion of the Israelitish people. This is the view of Tholuck, with others: “The unbelieving Jews at Christ’s time; there can only be a mere allusion to Pharaoh.” For other views, see Tholuck.62
The whole passage in Romans 9:22, 23 has occasioned very great difficulty. The principal difficulty lies in the fact that it is not fully carried out; that is, that it is an aposiopesis. Augustine [so Stuart] observed this, and supplied a σὐ τίς εἶ from Romans 9:20; but the better supplement would be: μὴ ἀδιχία παρα τῷ θεῷ; μὴ γένοιτο! in Romans 9:14; but the best of all would be Romans 11:33.
The second difficulty lies in the brief expression καὶ ἵνα, which at once becomes clear by bringing over once more the ἤνεγκεν: has also endured in order to. For the different attempts at construction, see Tholuck (p. 535).
1. Καὶ γνωρίσαι, καὶ ἵνα γνωρίσῃ; the καὶ—καὶ just as well—as also (Nösselt, Baumgarten-Crusius). Tholuck says, on the contrary, that in that case it must read θέλων ῆ̓ν.
2. Our own construction. The καὶ ἳνα is connected to ἤνεγχεν, so that the latter expresses a double purpose (thus Calvin, Grotius, Winer, Meyer, and others). Tholuck does not regard the connection by the mere καὶ as sufficient, and thinks, with Baumgarten-Crusius, that this construction does not present any clear thought. But the previous formation of this clear thought is already contained in Exod. 9:15, 16.
3. Beza, Rückert, and Fritzsche, have connected καὶ ἵνα to the participial χατνρτισμένα: “those who are originally (!) appointed to destruction, for the purpose,” &c. The χαί would thus be epexegetical, which is Calvin’s view of the thought; but the χατηρτισμ. is totally misconstrued. Tholuck proceeds, with Philippi, from the unwarranted supposition, that the Apostle is expected to treat uniformly of God’s dealings in relation to the σχεύη εἰς ἀτιμ́αν and to the είς τιμήν; he requires, accordingly, the acceptation of a double anacoluthon. “Mentally, the Apostle must have written,” &c. Philippi interprets similarly. (See Meyer [p. 380, 4th ed.], on the contrary). On the constructions of Hofmann, Bengel, Schöttgen, and Beck, see Tholuck, p. 533 ff.
With much, long-suffering [ἐν πολλῇ μαχροθυμία]. On the obscurity of the idea of μαχροθυμία in Calvin, Hofmann, and others (as only meaning waiting for), see Tholuck, p. 536. [The immediate end of the long-suffering is undoubtedly to lead to repentance (comp. Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9, 15). But, as Alford intimates, this is a mystery we cannot fathom.—R.]
Vessels of wrath [σχεύη ὀργῆς. Without the article. Not some, but these in general, limited, however, by the clause immediately following. The absence of the article seems also to favor Lange’s distinction between “vessels unto dishonor” and “vessels of wrath.”—R.] Meyer: Vessels full of Divine wrath. Totally foreign to the figure! Vessels filled with Divine wrath would be very holy and honorable, as is the case with the vials of wrath in the hand of the angels, in John’s Revelation. De Wette and Tholuck correctly expain: Objects of divine wrath. [So Stuart, Hodge. The latter taken the phrase as a modification of “vessels unto dishonor” (Romans 9:21).—R.] The figure in Ps. 2:9 is undoubtedly closely connected with the Apostle’s thought.
Fitted for destruction [χατηρτισμένα εἰς ἀπώλειαν. This is the end for which they are fitted; the divine ὀργή is accomplished in the ἀπώλεια.—R.] Meyer: “But the subject who has fitted them for the ἀπώλεια is God (see Romans 9:20 f.), and the insertion of any clause by which it should follow that they had fitted themselves for destruction (see Chrysostom, Theodoret, Œcumenius, and Theophylact) is contrary to both the word and the context (likewise Tholuck and De Wette).” But apart from the fact that, according to Ps. ii., God breaks the vessels of wrath, but does not make them, the very decided change of the verb as well as of the tense (χατηρτισμένα; ἃ πθοητοίμασεν) should guard the exegetical author, who usually holds so tenaciously to the letter, against this conclusion. It is a much bolder leap from the thought: God has the power to make vessels unto dishonor, to the thought that He has made the vessels of wrath. In the Apostle’s choice of verbs he presents three antitheses, which may well serve as a warning to the expositor.
1. The verbs themselves are different: in χαταρίξειν, the idea of making ready predominates (to make fitting, to prepare fully); but in the expression προετοιμάξειν, on the contrary, the idea of the previous preparation predominates.
2. The former word is put in the perfect, and (which strengthens the matter) also in the participle; but the latter, being in the form of the aorist, is much less conclusive.
3. The former stands irrelatively in the passive; but the latter, as activity, is referred definitely to God. Such antitheses as these cannot be dusted off by the brush of mere assurance. Therefore a third explanation takes its place beside the two foregoing ones. According to this last, the perfect passive participle must be read as a verbal adjective: prepared, ready, as in Luke 6:40, &c. (Grotius, Calovius, Beck). The Apostle has probably chosen this form, because this being ready certainly arises from a continual reciprocal action between human sin and the Divine judgment of blindness and hardness. De Wette has an uncertain surmise of this relation: “The mixture of two different modes of view—the moral and the absolute—undoubtedly occurs here. It must also be granted that the Apostle avoids saying: ἃ χατήρτισε εἰς ὰοὠλειαν (Bengel).” The “two different modes of view” are reduced to one, according to which every development of sin is a network of human offences and Divine judgments, that are related to each other as chain and clasp.64 The poet knew something more of the matter than many theologians, when he wrote: “This is the very curse of evil deed,” &c.65 provided the curse is not taken as a mere phrase.
Romans 9:23. And that he might make known the riches, &c [καὶ ἳνα γνωρίση τὸν πλοῦτον χ.τ.λ. As intimated above, this clause should be connected (Winer, p. 530) with endured. Καί, also. This was a second purpose of God’s endurance, undoubtedly the more important one. Ἵνα is of course telic.—Τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ. The divine majesty in its beneficent glory. Bengel: Bonitatis, graitœ, misericordiœ, saplentiœ, omnipotentiœ.—R.] The riches of glory form the antithesis to another miserable train of development which Christanity could conceivably have taken within the Jewish nationality. The riches of glory are the train of development which God has actually taken, the course of the unlimited universality of evangelization, to the wonderful blessing of which, in the con version of the Gentiles, the Apostle ever reverts with rapt adoration (Romans 10:11; Eph. 3:5–10; Col. 1:6, 20 ff).
According to Calvin, the πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης should be so regarded that by the interitus improborum co luculentius divinœ bonitatis, erga electos amplitudo should be strengthened. According to the explanation of the Remonstrants, the liberalitas of God should be made known on the vessels of mercy, by the comparison of this mercy with the patient endurance with the vessels of wrath. According to Fritzsche, the purpose of sparing the Jews was, that many of them might be converted before the second coming of Christ. But this overlooks Romans 9:24, according to which the vessels of mercy are only partly among the Jews.66 Meyer must also here mix up the second coming of Christ, which he everywhere brings in, just as Dr. Baur does Clemens Romanus. “If, namely, God had not so patiently endured the σχεύη ὀργῆς, but had already permitted His penal judgment to be inflicted upon them (which must be regarded together with the second coming), He would have had no period to declare His glory to σχεύεσι ἐλέους.” That is, the final judgment, as the end of the period of mercy, would have been present with the complete penal judgment of Israel. The destruction of Jerusalem has certainly become a type of the end of the world, but not the end of the world itself. The Apostle presents us with an excellent exegesis of his own language, in Romans 11:11, 25; Acts 13:46, and also in other passages.
[On vessels of mercy, ἐπὶ σχεύη ἐλέους. Not to (De Wette), but toward, with regard to, depending on πλοῦτον (Alford). The making known is represented by the preposition as stretching itself over the men who are its objects (Meyer). The latter is preferable. We have no right to limit the “vessels of mercy” to any period. The preceding context would extend the reference to the times of Pharaoh; Romans 9:24 extends it indefinitely into the Christian dispensation.—R.]
Which he before prepared for glory [ἅ προητοίμασεν εἰς δόξαν. The verb is aorist, and refers to a definite past act. The two meanings suggested by Hodge: (1) predestined; (2) prepared by providence and grace (also that of Olshausen), are both objectionable. (1) Because it is not the proper meaning of the word; (2) because this is a continued work, and would be indicated by the perfect, as was the “fitted” of Romans 9:22. It probably refers to the actual constitution of the individual, as clay in the hands of the potter, the result of election, yet distinct from it.—There is no necessity for limiting δόξα to “the glory of the new covenant.” Its antithesis, “destruction,” shows that it means the full and eternal glory of the kingdom of heaven.—R.] Tholuck translates, “which he had prepared unto glory from eternity,” and remarks thereon, that, from the circumstance that the χατηρτισηένα does not have the προ before it, it follows that Paul could have thought only of a decretum electionis, but not reprobationis. [So Schaff.] Tholuck cites, in favor of this explanation, Eph. 2:10; Matt. 24:34; Book of Wisdom 8:9.
We must remark, in relation to the middle passage, that the expression: Βασιλεία προετοιμασμένη ἀπὸ χαταβολῆς χόσμου must not be confounded with πρὸ ξαταβολῆς χόσμ. From the foundation of the world, through all time, God has labored for the preparation of the βασιλεία. The thought, God has chosen us before the foundation of the world, is also totally different from the infeasible thought, that He prepared us for glory before the foundation of the world. The two other passages are equally undemonstrative. Meyer explains, more correctly, thus: God formed the σχεύη ἐλέους therefor beforehand, before He declared His glory on them. But the general statement has also its historical relation on this side. As the true children of faith among the Jews came out from the pedagogical exclusion under the law (Gal. 3:23), they found themselves already prepared for the glory of the new covenant, and the preparatory mercy had operated in this direction on even many of the Gentiles (Romans 2:14, 15). The πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης came over them like the rising of a spiritual sun—ἐπὶ σχεὑη ἐλέους, the vessels which were subjects of mercy—and went far beyond them in the evangelization of the Gentile world (see Isa. 9:2).
[The paraphrase of Meyer (Romans 9:22, 23) is appended, as a clear resumé of the exegesis, for the most part supported in the notes above. “But if God, notwithstanding His holy will leads Him, not to allow His anger and His power to remain un-proven, but to make it known in act, has yet, with great long-suffering, endured such as were objects-of His wrath, and spared them the destruction, into which they are, however, fitted and prepared to fall, as a vessel from the potter—endured and spared not merely as a proof of such great long-suffering toward them, but also with the purpose of making known, during the continuance of this forbearance, the fulness of His glorious perfection upon such as are objects of His mercy, whom He had before prepared, as a potter a vessel, and enabled for eternal glory.”—R.]
Romans 9:24. As such he also called us, &c. [οὓς καὶ ἐχαίλεσεν ἡμᾶς, χ.τ.λ. Οὓς, of which kind, quales (Alford). As such vessels of mercy, he also, besides preparing, called us. He prepared us among these vessels of mercy, and, as such, has also called us, Jews and Gentiles. Stuart would supply here ἠλέησε, He showed mercy to us; but this is unnecessary in our view of the passage.—R.] We have already brought out the meaning of the ἐχάλεσεν in this passage. It denotes the fundamental thought of Romans 9:21–23, God’s freedom in the economy of His call. Even us whom; namely, even such vessels of mercy; or they, even whom. That is, in this characteristic He has also called us (not us also) as vessels of mercy. Because He had in mind only objects of mercy, but not the probable legitimate heirs, He could, consistently with His mercy, conformably to His preparatory mercy, really call us:
Not from among the Jews only, but also from among the Gentiles. [Ἐξ, from among. Bengel notes the reference to the call of the Jew as: “Non eo ipso vocatus, quod Judœus est, sed ex Judœis.” Hodge: “How naturally does the Apostle here return to the main subject of discussion! How skilfully is the conclusion brought out at which he has continually aimed!”—R.]
B. The third proof, corroborated by witnesses of the Old Testament (Romans 9:25–29).67
Romans 9:25.As he saith also in Hosea [ὡς καὶ ἐν χ.τ.λ. See Textual Note68, for the Hebrew text. Alford suggests, very properly, that καί implies “that the matter in hand was not that directly prophesied in the citation, but one analogous to it.” See below.—R.] The call of believing Gentiles is not only a New Testament fact, but is also attested previously in the Old Testament.—In Hosea; that is, in the Book of Hosea.—The first quotation is Hosea 2:23: “And I will say to them which were not my people (see Hosea 1:9), Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.” Paul has changed the ἐρῶ of the original text and the LXX. into χαλέσω, which, according to Fritzsche and Meyer, should mean, I will call. Tholuck, on the contrary, properly observes that the naming of them already comprises the call. Paul has also left out the addition, irrelevant in this connection: “And they shall say, ‘Thou art my God;’ ” while, on the other hand, he has, in conformity with the sense, correctly supplied the clause καὶ τὴν οὐχ ἠγαπηυένηυ, χ.τ.λ, in harmony with Hosea 1:6, referred to Hosea 2:23.69
Romans 9:26. And it shall come to pass, that in the place. [See Textual Note70.] In order to understand the whole argumentative force of this citation, we must, like the Apostle, connect the second citation, Hosea 2:1 (LXX. 1:10), with the first (and this is simply an exegesis according to the analogy of Scripture, as we frequently find in Paul). The Apostle, designing to emphasize the word בּמְקו̇ם, brings it out once more in his conclusion: ἐχεῖ χληθἠσονται, χ.τ.λ. Hitzig explains the expression: in the place, by instead of. According to Meyer, the prophet meant by this expression the locality of the Gentiles, the Gentile lands; but Paul understood by it, Palestine. That the expression denotes the stay of the Jews in the Gentile world, is proved by Hosea 1:11: “Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land.” It is just on this point that the weight of the proof rests. The call will be published to them among the Gentiles, therefore among the “no-people,” among whom they themselves are scattered as “no-people.”
According to Meyer, Paul finds the demonstrative force of the two passages in the fact, that he perceives the mercy shown to the ten tribes as a type of the reception of the Gentiles to salvation. According to Tholuck, his proof rests upon the hermeneutics of the Jewish exposition. This “was accustomed to refer biblical declarations, according to the law of ideal analogy, to such subjects also as are comprehended in the same category” (see p. 541).71 It must be assumed that the decision: “not my people,” has placed the Jews among the Gentiles, and that the decision: Lo-Ruhamah, has adjudged them to be a very intractable people even among the Gentiles themselves. If, now, the call to salvation is published to this not my people, in the midst of the Jews, then it has a creative, original meaning; it is not published to Israel as God’s people, but it creates for itself a people of God from the mixed “no-people” of the Jews and of the Gentiles. According to the typical construction, De Wette has referred the τόπος, to the ideal state or divine kingdom, and Fritzsche to the cœtus Cristianorum. Yet, according to the connection, this locality means the equalization of Jews and Gentiles in one common need of mercy.
Romans 9:27. And Isaiah cries also concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved. [Romans 9:27 and 28 contain a quotation from Isa. 10:22, 23; the verses being divided differently, however. The original reference was undoubtedly to the return from Babylon. Here, however, the emphasis is laid on remnant, mainly with reference to the call of the Gentiles, though perhaps not without a secondary reference to the future salvation of Israel—a premonition of chap. 11—R.] That the question in the foregoing was the call of the Gentiles (the Jews, of course, included, in so far as they have sunk into heathendom), and not the call of the Jewish people, as Hofmann holds, is proved by the verse which now follows—a quotation from Isa. 10:22, nearly according to the LXX. The Apostle here emphasizes the remnant, as he has emphasized the Gentile land in the foregoing passage. Only a remnant of Israel, τὸ ὑπόλειμμα, will be saved. The LXX. translated the original ישָׁרּב: will return, be converted, by σωθήσεται, in the sense of will be saved, though in a more restricted sense than Paul intends. The term remnant is of all the more weight, as it stands in contrast with the declaration, “though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea.” Similar passages: Isa. 65:8, 9; Mal. 3:2; 4:1.—The crying, χραίξει, describes the bold declaration of a truth very offensive to the people.
Romans 9:28. [For he is finishing the word, and cutting it short in righteousness; because a short word will the Lord make upon the earth. Λόγον γὰρ συντελῶν καὶ συντέμνων ἐν διχαιοσύνῃ ὅτι λόγον συντετμημένον ποιήσει χύριος ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. See Textual Notes.24, 25, 26. Lange renders: For He who consummates the reckoning, is also he who limits it in righteousness. Yea, a restrained work will the Lord carry out on the earth. Against this view, see below.—R.] Zunz translates the following words of the same quotation, כּלְּיזן חָרוּץ, &c., thus: “The ruin is decreed, righteousness overflows. For the Lord, the God of Hosts, executes a firmly determined desolation in the midst of all the land.” The LXX. has translated: λόγον συντελῶν καὶ συντέμνθν ἐν διχαιοαυνῃ, ὅτι λόγον συντετμημένον χύριος ποιήσει ἐν τῇ οἰχουνένῃ ὅλῂ. Paul follows this in the main, with the exception of the last words.
It may now be asked, Has the LXX. translated incorrectly, and has Paul incorrectly quoted from it, under the supposition that this translation corresponds better to his purpose? (see Tholuck, pp. 542 ff.) כָּלָה means, first of all, completion, consummation, and concurs with the λόγος in the idea of settlement (see the LXX., 1 Macc. 10:40, 42, 44). Accordingly, כּלְּיז̇ן also means the judgment of destruction in the sense of settlement. Now the LXX. translates the first clause thus: “He who has determined the settlement (the same as the final judgment) is the same who limits it, cuts it short in righteousness; so that a remnant can be left from the destruction.” We read the καὶ συντέμνων as a conclusion with ἐστί, and understand by righteousness, not penal righteousness, but righteous restraint in punishing, according to the saving purpose of righteousness, whose highest glory does not consist in inexorable rigor.
This translation is undoubtedly exegetical. First, it takes over Adonai, the subject of the following clause, in order to bring back the definition of the first clause to the defining clause. Then it does not explain the ̇שׂטֵף צְדָקָה as a higher degree of the first term כּלְּךיז̇ןחָרוּץ, but, antithetically, as a mitigation, which is even already indicated in the חָרזּץ. This exegesis will be perceived from the sense, also, to be altogether correct. Destruction is defined as settlement, but therewith also cut short; overflowing (restraining itself) with righteous mildness, deliverance. The word צְדָקָה frequently has the sense of mildness, of righteousness, as fairness in its saving effect. The verb שָׁטַף is here transitive. See Gesenius, Lexicon. On συντέμνειν, see the Lexicon. This translation is further in harmony with the connection which gives prominence to precisely this thought, that a remnant shall be saved from the decreed judgment.72 The “shortened days,” in Matt. 24:22, denote the same thing. See the Commentary on Matthew [Amer. ed., pp. 425, 426].
The second clause changes the maxim of divine government declared in the first clause, according to which, judgment always brings a deliverance, into a declaration; here the word of the LXX. is explained of itself by the foregoing: for the Lord will effect a shortened, that is, a moderated settlement in the whole world, or, as Paul says in a more general way, upon the earth. Now there seems to be no support for the συντετμημένον in the original text. But the niphal participle נֱחְרָצָה, like the substantive נֱחֶרֶצֶת, does not by any means denote in turn, like כָּלָה, the penal judgment in itself, but the definiteness and fixed limitation of the penal judgment. Thus the word וְנֶחֱרָצָה after כָּלָה, in Isa. 28:22, evidently serves to express the limitation of the judgment, as is plain from the explanation in Romans 9:23–29. (Romans 9:28: He will not ever be threshing it.) Therefore the Vulgate properly translates consummationem et abbreviationem audivi; according to the Septuagint, συντετελεσμένα καὶ συντετμημηένα πράγματα ηχουσα. Comp. also Dan. 9:27; 11:36. From this it follows that in the חָרוּץ, in the first member of Paul’s citation, there is comprised not merely the close, but also the limiting conclusion of the judgment of destruction.
According to Meyer (and Fritzsche), the LXX. exhibits an ignorance of the passage, yet Paul found the sense of the translation suited for his purpose. In consequence of a defective construction, the word λόγος has been differently explained: purpose; fact; dictum. According to Meyer, the λόγον συντετμ. signifies the shortest possible consummation of the λόγος. Tholuck: “The Lord will execute an exactly defined declaration.” (On the usual opinions on Paul’s quotations, see Tholuck’s Note on p. 543. See also the account of the different expositions of the present passage; for example, the patristic one of Chrysostom, Augustine, and others, that λόγος συντετμ. is the gospel as an abridged doctrine of salvation, in antithesis to the elaborateness of the Old Testament).73 Luther’s translation of the present passage is very inexact,74 but it is more in harmony with the sense than the more recent explanations.
[Few verses present such a combination of difficulties as this one.
(1) Critically, the text is in doubt. See Textual Note75, where the longer reading of the Rec. is accepted (against such careful critics as Lachmann, Alford, Tregelles).
(2) The LXX. seems to have departed from the sense of the Hebrew original. Paul varies from the former, but not materially; thus endorsing what is deemed by many an incorrect rendering of the Word of God. Out of this grows the difficult exegetical problem of getting the sense of the Hebrew out of the Greek words (which seems to be Dr. Lange’s endeavor), or the equally difficult solution of the strange fact, that an apostle would choose such an altered version of the Hebrew.
(3) This state of things has encouraged expositors in departing almost at pleasure from the obvious meaning of Paul’s words, while it has not led them to adopt the obvious meaning of the words of the prophet. Dr. Lange has chosen an ingenious interpretation, with a view of discovering in the passage a declaration of forbearance on the part of God. It is open to lexical objections (see below), and is not in accordance with the context; since the only verse which intimates a kindred thought is Romans 9:22, while the immediate connection is rendering the opposite thought very prominent.
The only method, which seems fair in dealing with any author when he quotes, is to take it for granted that he quotes wittingly, and then to interpret his citation,, making the original passage, especially when- used through the medium of a translation, entirely subordinate. The interpretation then becomes a simple exegetical question. What, then, does Paul say here, as his view of the meaning of the prophet's words ?
(a.) Λόγον word, saying. It does not mean work (E. V.). Many render: decree. Doubtless this idea underlies the passage, and is found in the Hebrew, but the Greek word never means this. It is better, then, to render word (i. e., of promise or threatening, probably both—threatening to the mass of the people, promise to the remnant). This is the view of many of the best modern commentators, although they differ as to the precise reference.
(b.) Συντέμνων. The verb (only here in the New Testament) means to cut short, to finish rapidly. It obviously refers to the rapid accomplishment of what God has said. It seems, then, altogether unnecessary to find in the rapid accomplishment of what God says, an indication of something different from what He says—i. e., that this quick fulfilment of wrath is an exhibition of mercy to those who are its objects. This is Dr. Lange’s position. Admitting that “in righteousness” includes God’s mercy to the chosen remnant, that does not imply “mitigation of judgment” to the apostate mass. Nor is it necessary to find a different meaning for the word in the second clause, though such a variation can be justified. We render, therefore: is cutting short, and cut short, supplying ἐστι, (with the present participles; Meyer, and others).
(c.) Ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ is referred most naturally to the judicial justice of God, which punishes, in order to save the remnant. The former thought is the prominent one, as we infer both from the context here, and from the original. The sense of the whole verse then is: He (i. e., the Lord) is finishing and cutting short the word (making it a fact by rapid accomplishment) in righteousness, for a cut-short word (one rapidly accomplished) will the Lord make (execute, render actual) upon the earth. This is, in the main, Meyer's rendering. While the original reference was to the Jews in the times of Isaiah, the Apostle here makes the prophecy of more general validity, referring it to the sad fact that most of the Jews were cut off (so Hodge), though including the other fact, that the remnant should be saved, both sides supporting the general thought of the chapter. Dr. Lange at last comes to nearly the same view. The question then arises, Is this at all in keeping with the words of the prophet himself? A comparison will show that it preserves the spirit of Isaiah’s language most fully, and actually conveys to the reader's mind a clearer sense than a literal rendering of the Hebrew would do. Hence he used the LXX., and (as all authors do) inserted such unimportant words as would make its language conform to the use for which he designed it.—R.]
The prophet has uttered a twofold truth in the quotation; first, that only a remnant will be left from the great judgment of destruction, but then that this remnant shall be preserved in security. The Apostle, in Romans 9:27 and 28, has brought into prominence this first feature, but without altogether excluding the second. This latter is proved by the remaining part of his citation.
Romans 9:29. And, as Isaiah bath said, or prophesied (Isa. 1. 9), &c. [καί, καθὼς προείρηκεν Ἡσαΐας, κ.τ.λ. We give the pointing of Meyer (a comma after καί). The meaning then is: And, as Isaiah has already said (so I appropriate his words), Except, &c. See below, however. If it be objected, that this gives to the verb the unusual sense of prophesy, it will be seen that this is not the necessary meaning of has already said. The introduction of καθώς calls for some such paraphrase, and the πθό seems to refer to the time of the Apostle, rather than to the place of the last citation. Besides, the propriety of a direct adoption by the Apostle appears both from the use of the first person, and the quasi-prophetic character of the application Paul makes of the passage here.—R.] The explanation: he has already said, namely, in an earlier chapter (Erasmus, Calvin, Grotius, and others), is opposed by Tholuck, and others, with the remark, that such a reference to earlier passages is without an analogy in the Apostle’s constant quotation memoriter. Against this explanation, at all events, is the Apostle's design of returning to the fact of the present condition of believing Israel; so that he seems to construe the prophet’s declaration chiefly as a typical prophecy. But that passage is immediately more than a description of an existing condition; it is a vision of an immeasurable ruin extending to the future,76 as the passage, Isa. 6. 9; comp. Matt. 13:15; John 12:39 ff.; Acts 28:26, 27; 2 Cor. 3, 14 ff. It may be asked, whether we would read καὶ ἕστι καθὼς Ἡσ. &c.: It stands thus, as Isaiah has prophesied, or: And—as Isaiah has prophesied—Except, &c. Meyer defends the latter construction; but we prefer the former, because the Apostle designs to adduce this quoted expression, like the former and the following one, as an expressive prophetical declaration. The term σπέρμα means the κατάλειμμα, as well in its external smallness as in its inward importance for the future. The Septuagint has translated the שָׂרׅיד of the original text by σπέρμα.77 Compare Isa. 65:8.
FOURTH PROOF: The correspondence between God’s freedom in His government with the freedom of men in their faith or unbelief. The stability of the fact that the Gentiles believe, and Israel, in its popular totality, does not believe (Romans 9:30–33). Meyer says, on this section: “The Jews themselves bear the guilt of their own exclusion, because they obtained it not by faith, but by works of righteousness, for they were offended at Christ.”
[A new chapter should begin here. For, having already stated the objective, Divine ground of the rejection of the Jews, Paul now passes to the subjective or human cause, hinted at frequently before, viz., their unbelief. They were rejected by God, because, in spite of the many warnings of their own prophets, they sought their own righteousness, springing from an external view of the law, and were offended at the promised Messiah, when He actually appeared, instead of seeking salvation through vital faith in the grace of God in Christ. This mode of view, which is carried out further in chap. 10, solves in part the enigma of the preceding discussion; yet it cannot be denied that, in the Divine predestination, there ever remains an obscure background, which reason is not in a condition to fully comprehend, and should humbly adore.—P. S.]
Romans 9:30. What shall we say then? [Τί οῦ̓ν ἐροῦμεν; Precisely as in Romans 9:14, where it introduces an objection.—R.] We may ask, whether the Apostle again uses this expression here in order to avoid a false conclusion, or whether he merely “deduces the historical result from the foregoing prophecies” (Meyer).78 Evidently, this passage is a turning-point of the greatest importance. The Apostle has heretofore described God’s freedom, and finally His freedom even in rejecting the greater part of Israel in contrast to His call of the Gentiles, and has strengthened his declaration by appealing to the prophecy of the Old Testament. This is now the place where this question arises: From all this, does there not follow fatalism, or a simple absolute authority of Divine freedom? He does not absolutely express this false conclusion, in order to make short work of it by a μὴ γένοιτο, because he has really anticipated it already. But he actually removes it. The Gentiles have not first attained to salvation from an exercise of absolute authority; they have attained to righteousness, the righteousness of faith, which can only be obtained from the source of righteousness.
Some expositors (Pelagius, Cyril, Theodore of Mopsvestia, Flatt, Olshausen) have not understood the expression from ὅτι to ἔφθαδε as an answer, but as the real import and continuation of the pending question, under different modifications (ὅτι as because, that, somehow that). This is opposed by the following: 1. The statement in Romans 9:30 and 31 can by no means be regarded as a summary of the foregoing; 2. It has not been at all present as yet in this definite deduction of the antithesis. It contains something new, which only arises as a conclusion from what has preceded. Chrysostom says that this passage is the σαφεστάτη λύσις of the chapter. Baur, and others: The Apostle here first becomes conscious of the subjective point of view. Tholuck, correcting this view, says that the Apostle here first brings it out to prominence. On the discussions of the Predestinarians and the Remonstrants concerning the τὶ οῦ̓ν ἐροῦμεν, see Tholuck, p. 546.
That the Gentiles. Ἔθνη; not merely Gentiles. [Against Meyer, who says: “Not the Gentiles as a whole. On the Gentile side was righteousness,” &c.—R.]
Who were not following after righteousness, attained. Τὰ μὴ διώκ. The Apostle uses the διώκειν with especial reference to the races (see Meyer on Phil. 3:12, 14), and thus καταλαμβ. means not merely the reaching, but also grasping; in this case it is especially the grasping of the prize (see 1 Cor. 9:24). This constitutes a double antithetical oxymoron. The Gentiles did not run after righteousness, and yet even they grasped righteousness at the goal of the race-course.79 But the Jews, who ran, or so far as they were runners after the law of righteousness, never reached the proper terminal point of the race—the well-understood law. The Apostle does not design to say that the Gentiles in general had known no higher pursuit; for he has already referred to the Gentiles in his expression concerning preparatory grace: ἃ προητοίμασεν εἰς δόξαν.80 But the Gentiles were not only not companions with the Jews in the course in which the latter ran after the law of righteousness; righteousness, as an explicit moral law, was not the fundamental idea of their pursuit (although it constituted the unity of the platonic virtues). The Greek struggled for ideality, or wisdom, while the Roman struggled for an innocent legal order, or for power. Thus it came that they did not run astray by looking at an analytical phantom of righteousness, like the majority of the Jews; and hence that they could be subjected (that is, for a preliminary condition of faith) to the curse of their ideals, to a profound despair in themselves and in the glory of the world (see chap. 4; Acts 16:9; Rom. 9:27–30).81
Even the righteousness which is of faith [Δικαιοσύνην δέ, κ.τ.λ.. That is, precisely the true righteousness. On the delicate meaning of δέ, see Alford in loco; Winer, p. 412.—R.]
Romans 9:31. But Israel, following after the law of righteousness, attained not to the law [Ἰσραὴλ δὲ διώκων νόυον δικαιοσύνης, εἰς νόμον οὐκ ἔφθασεν. On the reading, see Textual Note82, and below.—R.] It is not: the righteousness of the law, but, more strongly: the law of righteousness. This would mean, in the figure of the race, that Israel has by no means advanced so far as to run after righteousness itself; the programme of the race became its goal; in striving after an endless analysis of the law, it has run astray in statutes of external legality. Therefore it has come to pass that it has not reached νόμος in its truth—that is, in its real inward character—and that, after all its running, it has never attained to the true beginning, the principle of the running. This antithesis is in harmony with the subject-matter (see Rom. 7:7 ff.), and is much stronger than if the Apostle had said: It has not attained to the law of the righteousness of faith, which would be self-evident; or even if he had said: It has not attained to the righteousness of the law according to the letter—which charge he could not bring against them. Therefore we prefer the reading of Codd. A. B. D., given in the text. [The briefer reading is quite well supported, and certainly, when rightly understood, adds to the force of the passage. They did not even attain to the law. Comp. Alford in loco.—R.] It hardly needs to be called to mind, that the question here is relatively concerning the Gentiles and Israel; that is, concerning the antithesis between the believing Gentile world and unbelieving Israel. This limitation in reference to Israel lies in the διώκων νόυμον.
The law of righteousness. The expression has been regarded by many as an exchange for δικαιοσύνην νόμου (Chrysostom, Calvin, Bengel, and others). Undoubtedly this was the basis of the effort of the Jews, but their real following extended, in Pharisaism, far beyond, to the amplification of the law into an endless series of ordinances. The view: The justifying law (Meyer), obscures the strong emphasis of the νόμος itself, when this νόμος is subsequently explained thus: “The law was an ideal, whose realization the Israelites strove to experience by their legalness.” Comp. Romans 2:17–24. The theoretical, legal orthodoxy of the Jews was the perfect development of their righteousness of works, according, also, to the Epistle of James.83
Most of the early expositors (Chrysostom, Theodoret, and others) hold that Paul meant the Mosaic law in both cases in Romans 9:31. Others, on the contrary (Theodore of Mopsvestia, Bengel, and De Wette [Hodge]), have understood, by the second law, the Christian δικαιοσύνη. These two constructions are opposed not only by the διώκων (Meyer: it does not express the effort to fulfil the law, but to possess the law), but also by the consideration that a true following after the Mosaic law—that is, after its fulfilment—must not only lead to it, but even to Christianity (see chap. vii.). Tholuck (with Calovius, Philippi, and others) takes νόμος in the wider sense, as via, disciplina of righteousness: “They strove for the means which furnished justification.” But this striving, construed in a general sense, cannot be regarded as fruitless. The law, in the former case, can only mean their illusive image of the law, according to which the law, in its external shape, should become to them a real means of justification, and would in reality be made this means;84 but, in the second place, it is the Mosaic law in its truth, and in that inward tendency by which it became the schoolmaster which led them to Christ.
Romans 9:32. Wherefore? [διὰ τί;] The failure to attain to the law.
Because they sought it not by faith [ὅτι οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως. The E. V. properly supplies sought it]. As the proper observance of the law leads to saving faith, so does it proceed from a germ of faith, which is shown by Abraham’s historical precedence of Moses. Faith is the inward relation of confidence and obedience to God’s Word; only the Spirit in the law gives to the legal striving, which is a preparatory school to the gospel, its proper direction.
But as by works [ἀλλ’ ὡς ἐξ ἕργων, comp. Winer. p. 573. Alford: “as ‘if about to obtain their object’ by.” See Textual Note85.—R.] Meyer correctly maintains that the ὡς is not redundant—as Koppe holds—and that it does not indicate hypocrisy, according to Theophylact; but Meyer is incorrect in opposing Fritzsche’s construction, presumed works, with this explanation: As a διώκειν proceeding from works is constituted. His ground is, that the Jews really set out from the works of the law, but not simply from true works (see Romans 10:3.)86 A pointed ἐξ ἔργων must correspond to the pointed ἐκ πίστεως, which former can then be only an ὡς ἐξ ἕργων. In their seeking, they proceeded on the supposition of having one treasure of good works, and they continually piled law upon law, in order to become richer in such works. In short, the starting-point, but not the διώκειν, should be emphasized as fundamentally false.
For they stumbled [προσέκοψαν γάρ. On the rendering, should γάρ be rejected, see Textual Note87. Meyer, however, opposes this connection, though rejecting γάρ. The figure of a race, if not prominent here, seems at least to have suggested the “stumbling.”—R.] To what does for refer? First of all, it presents the proof that the Jews did not stand in the direction of faith, but in the illusion of the righteousness of works. Then this proves indirectly, also, the principal statement in Romans 9:30 and 31. But the full strength of the proof lies in the fact that they have come to shame at the touchstone of the true Israelites, which made a distinction between those who trusted (that is, believers) on the stone laid by Jehovah, and those who stumbled—that is, who were defective in faith because of their presumed righteousness of works.
At that stone of stumbling [τῷ λίθω τοῦ προσκόμματος]. (Isa. 8:14; 28:16; Luke 2:34; 1 Cor. 1:23; 1 Peter 2:6–8). The Jews, in their hypocrisy, have been offended first of all at the unworldly spirituality, the penal office, the independence, and the spiritual freedom of Christ (see Matt. 4:1 ff; John 2:18; 4:1; 5:9 ff.), and then, in their claim to the reward of universal Messianic glory, at His poor appearance, His renunciation, His love of sinners, and His suffering and death on the cross. In their running, they ran all the more violently against the stone, because they were just then engaged in their strongest running. The Apostle proves that this fact also is represented beforehand in the Old Testament. He here freely connects the passages in Isa. 8:14; 28:16, into one prophecy, in which he follows the original text in preference to the LXX. According to Isa. 8:14, Jehovah himself assuredly becomes a stone of stumbling to both houses of Israel; but it is Jehovah who has now concealed His face, in order to declare himself in future to those who patiently wait for Him (see Isa. 8:17; 9:7). But that, in Romans 28:16, only the ideal theocracy of the Old Testament sphere is meant, seems very doubtful. The ideal theocracy of the Old Testament is properly defined as the growth of the New Testament kingdom of God. Now, if a corner-stone for this is laid in Zion, it must nevertheless be the foundation of the “ideal theocracy,” and not the whole ideal theocracy itself, or even this ideal theocracy apart from its foundation. Likewise, the collective corner-stone in Zion (Romans 9:16) constitutes a grand antithesis to the Jewish dissolution of God’s Word into a ruined diversity (Romans 9:13), and it stands in connection with the judgment, from which the ὑπόλειμμα appears. Therefore Paul and Peter had a perfect right to regard this passage as more than a typical prophecy.
Romans 9:33. [As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling, &c. The “stone of stumbling and rock of offence” (σκανδάλου; LXX.: πτώματι) is taken from Isa. 8:14, and substituted for the “corner-stone,” &c. of Romans 28:16. Both passages were interpreted by the Jews as referring to the Messiah. Comp. Luke 2:34; 1 Peter 2:6–8. The combination is therefore both justifiable and natural.—He who believeth on him, καὶ ὁ πιστεύων ἐπ’ αὐτῷ. Πᾶς, which is found in Romans 10:11, is omitted here (see Textual Note 32). The emphasis there is on πᾶς; here, on πιστεὑων, in antithesis to er. 32.—R.]
Shall not be put to shame, καταισχυνθἠσεται. The original word יִָחישׁ[make haste; Gesenius: flee hastily.—R.] is here given as an explanation, after the precedence of the Septuagint [καταισχυνθῇ, from which Paul varies, as above].
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
[The LITERATURE on the Doctrinal questions involved in this chapter really includes all works on systematic theology, all confessions since the times of the Reformers, together with a large proportion of modern psychological and ethical treatises. The larger commentaries, especially those of Hodge, Stuart, Tholuck, Philippi, Meyer, Haldane, Wordsworth, Jowett, and Forbes, are very fall on the predestinarian question. The literature of the Arminian controversy (much of which is enumerated in the Homiletical Notes on chap. 8) bears on this subject. (Comp. lists, Introd. p. 51, 5:12–21, p. 191.) We may mention further; AUGUSTINE, De libero arbitrio; ANSELM, De libero arbitrio; also, De casu Diaboli. The works of CALVIN, ARMINIUS, EPISCOPIUS, PRES. EDWARDS, An Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will (in numberless editions; necessarian in its conclusions, and more commented upon than any work in this department of thought). COLERIDGE, Aids to Reflection (latter part; his views have done much to mould thought in England and America). The Canons of the Synod of Dort give the strongest Calvinistic statements. A list of important controversial works is given by Tholuck (pp. 466, 467). The philosophical works which discuss the subject in its ontological aspects cannot be enumerated, but the names of SIR WM. HAMILTON, J. S. MILL, MANSEL, BAIN, TAPPAN, MCCOSH, readily suggest themselves to the American reader. The latest monograph, published in America, is by G. S. BISHOP (Newburgh, N. Y.), Reprobation (a sermon on Romans 9:22), New York, 1869.—R.]
1. In regard to the copious, and, in many respects, mysterious contents of this chapter, we must refer principally to the Exeg. Notes, where we have anticipated many points. We would also refer to the history of the exposition of this chapter, and especially to the monographs bearing on the subject, mentioned above. The real difficulties which the chapter presents have been greatly increased by attempts at its exegesis. This has occurred, first, in consequence of the little account that has been taken of the connection, the immediate relation of this chapter to Israel, and the judgment of hardening on Israel; and because there has not been an effort made to explain with sufficient clearness, according to the analogy of Scripture, the nature of the judgment of hardening, or sin in its third potency. A second cause of difficulty has been the confusion of the antitheses of the Apostle with the antitheses of the history of doctrines—of Augustine and Pelagius, or Calvin and the Catholic righteousness of works, or even the doctrine of the Remonstrants. A third source of difficulty has been a failure to use aright the key to this chapter in the passage, Romans 8:29, 30, and a disposition rather to accept a contradiction between Rom. 9:7–29 and chaps. 9:30–11:36, than to accommodate the former part of the whole section to the latter.
2. In the division and headings we have already given the connection between the whole of this section and the former chapters. The fundamental thought is, the antithesis of sin and grace in its three potencies.
First antithesis: The actual corruption of the whole world, and therefore no conceivable righteousness of works; in contrast with this is the saving and preponderating righteousness of faith, which is prepared by the heartiness of conduct toward the law, in antithesis to external legality (chaps. 1:18–5:11).
Second antithesis: The corruption of human nature, the hereditary character of liability to sin and of the judgment of death, in which the whole creature-sphere of humanity is subject to vanity and corruption; but Christ as the preponderating principle of the new birth and of the glorification of man, of humanity and its sphere, stands in contrast with the Adamic principle. This principle is operative from the standpoint of a watchful spiritual life, which abnegates the old carnal propensity, in order to lead to resurrection a new embryonic life of consecrated corporealness, in antithesis to the life in the liability of the flesh to death, to which the external legality also belongs (Romans 5:12–8:39).
Third antithesis: The corruption of the religious people, the noble people of humanity, and of the manifested form of their theocracy, in the judgment of historical hardening, in consequence of their false reliance on natural descent, historical privileges, and the righteousness of a practice of legalism. In contrast with this, on the other hand, is the freedom of Divine grace in its election, ordination, and call, which, as election distinguishes persons, as ordination, shows mercy and hardens, and as a call makes the judgment of hardening first of all a means for the advancement of the call to salvation, and finally cuts itself short and is turned in another direction by the historical exercise of compassion. On both sides it is conditional, in consequence of the antithesis of pride and humility (chaps. 9–11)
3. The construction of the chapter. The Apostle’s first prologue (Romans 9:1–5). An apology for his painful duty to pronounce clearly the decisive declaration on the rejection of the majority of Israel; or, if we may so speak, to sum up all the individual experiences and Divine judgments relating to this fall. At the same time, he pronounces an elegy on the fall of his glorious people of God, on the retributive rejection of the old hereditary people of God, in antithesis to the realization of the glorious inheritance of God’s children (chap. 8), with the declaration of his patriotic and tragical feeling (increased and become to him a “thorn in the flesh” by its ruin with the direction which the Jews had taken, and by the hatred with which they opposed his love)—an analogue to David’s elegy on the fall of Jonathan, Jeremiah’s Lamentations, and similar laments in the Old Testament. But he finally gives expression also to a doxology in regard to the victorious exercise of the authority of the God of revelation on Israel, as well in its ancient history as in its New Testament fulfilment in Christ, whose glorification predominates over the division between believing and unbelieving Israel. The theme: The rejection of the majority of the members of the Israelitish people is not an abrogation of the promise to the theocratic Israel itself (Romans 9:6).
First proof (from the time of the patriarchs): The fact of election. The election is not made conditional by descent, nor by heirship, nor by birthright, nor by works; it is God’s free exercise of love in the predetermination of an individual and personal nature, which is only self-conditioned by the organic relation to Christ and to each other into which the elect individuals shall enter, and by the promise made to them, in which the thought of love, which shall appear in future conceptions and births, is already reflected. It unites in the relative antithesis (Jacob and Esau) the infinitely great difference in the qualifications of persons for God’s kingdom, but not the absolute antithesis of salvation and condemnation (Romans 9:6–13).—[The doctrine of the predestination of a part of the human race to eternal perdition by no means follows from the statements of these verses. Even Calvin himself calls the decree of reprobation “horrible” (decretum horribile, attamen verum), and it is opposed to those passages of the Scriptures according to which God wills not the death of the sinner, but that he might turn unto Him and live. (1) The Apostle is not treating here at all of eternal perdition and eternal blessedness, but of a temporal preference and disregard of nations in the gradual historical development of the plan of redemption, which will finally include all (Romans 11:25, 32), and hence the descendants of Esau, who stand figuratively for all the Gentiles (Amos 9:11, 12; Obad. 18–21). On this account we may well say, with Bengel: “not all Israelites are saved, nor all Edomites lost.” (2) The hate of God toward Esau and his race cannot be sundered from their evil life, their obduracy against God and enmity to His people. It is true, Romans 9:11 (with, however, Romans 9:13, does not stand so closely connected as Romans 9:12) seems to represent not only the love of God, but His hatred as transferred even into the mother’s womb. But it must not be forgotten that, to the omniscient One, there is no distinction of time, and all the future is to Him present. Besides, an essential distinction must be made between the relation of God to good and evil, to avoid unscriptural error. God loves the good, because He produces the very good that is in them; and He elects them, not on account of their faith and their holiness, but to faith and holiness. But it cannot be said, on the other hand, that He hates the evil men because He produces the very evil that is in them; for that would be absurd, and destroy His holiness; but He hates them on account of the evil that they do or will do in opposition to His will. While human goodness is the effect of Divine love and grace, on the contrary, human wickedness is the cause of Divine hatred and abhorrence; and on that account alone can it be the object of the punitive wrath and condemnatory decree of God. Were evil the effect of His own agency, He would be obliged to condemn himself—which is irrational and blasphemous.—P. S.]
Second proof (from the time of the giving of the law): The fact of ordination. The predetermination of the historical train of development of persons is the free exercise of God’s (Jehovah’s) righteousness on persons. It is not made conditional on a self-volitional human willing and running; but it conditions itself by its consequence in relation to a definite human course of conduct, by further showing mercy on him to whom mercy has once been shown, and allowing all his experiences to contribute to his salvation, and, by its influence and long-suffering, leading him who has once hardened himself to the judgment of hardening. In the infinitely vast antithesis between the one to whom mercy has been shown and the hardened one (Moses and Pharaoh), it constitutes the perspective of the antithesis of a final glorification and rejection, but not yet this antithesis—i. e., the final judgment itself (Romans 9:14–18).
Third proof (from the time of the development of Israel of the Old Testament):
a. The fact of the call. The free exercise of Divine wisdom on the φύραμα, or the spiritual, plastic material of the ancient world, and especially on Israel. This exercise is not made conditional on the historical Israel’s claims to inheritance, and had the right to make of Israel, as it had become, vessels unto honor and unto dishonor, by a universal Christianization. But the call makes itself conditional by the actual state, in which it still endures with much long-suffering the existing vessels of wrath, which are already fitted to destruction, that, by their existence and opposition, the full display of God’s glory, of His spiritual revelation in Christ, may be made known on the vessels of mercy. It thereby constitutes the economic antithesis of hardening in the New Testament, and of the historical judicial curse on the great mass of Israel, and of an opposing immeasurablemeasurable display of the glory of its exercise of mercy in the Gentile world. But this antithesis, as we shall further perceive, does not preclude the possibility of mercy on individual Jews, and of the rejection of individual Gentiles (Romans 9:19–24).
b. The proof of this freedom of the Divine call from the Old Testament. First, the equalization of Jews and Gentiles in their rejection is prophesied by Hosea (Romans 9:25). Second, the equalization of Gentiles and Jews in the mercy shown to the latter (Romans 9:26). Likewise, Isaiah has prophesied, first, the reduction of the great mass of Israel to a small remnant, who shall be saved from the judgment (Romans 9:27); but second, the certainty that such a remnant shall arise from a judgment cut short by righteous mildness (Romans 9:28, 29).
Fourth proof: The correspondence of the exercise of Divine authority on Jews and Gentiles, with their ethical conduct, or with the antithesis of faith and unbelief. The conclusion from the whole chapter, as drawn by the spirit of the Apostle (Romans 9:30–33).
[4. This chapter cannot be fairly explained or properly honored without a recognition of the profound truth which lies at the foundation of the doctrine of election, viz., the free, unconditioned grace of God. Those expositors who would limit the sovereignty of the Divine will by human freedom, and deduce salvation more or less from the creature, must do great violence to the text if they make it accord with their systems. Yet we must guard against the opposite extreme of supralapsarianism, which, with fearful logical consistency, makes God the author of the fall of Adam, hence of sin; thus really denying both God’s holiness and love and man’s accountability, to the ultimate extinguishment of all morality. Many, indeed, have held this view, whose lives, by a happy inconsistency, were far better than their theories. They arrived at this extreme position through a one-sided explanation of this passage, and through the logical consequence of their conception of the sovereignty of God’s all-determining will. But if we would not have the Bible prove any thing man wishes, we must interpret single passages in their connection with the whole, and according to the analogy of faith. In the early part of this Epistle (Romans 1:18; 3:30), Paul unequivocally declares that God is not the author, but the enemy and judge of evil; how, then, can he here affirm a specific Divine foreordination of sin and perdition? In Romans 5:12 ff. he shows that redemption through Christ, as to its indwelling power and purpose, is fully as comprehensive as the fall of Adam. With this agree many passages, which speak of God’s sincere will to save all men, and of a general call, extended not at once, but gradually, to all (Ezek. 33:11; 1 Tim. 2:4; Titus 2:11; 2 Peter 3:9). Accordingly, Paul must have in mind here such a general reprobation, as is either a self-incurred result of unbelief, or only a negative preparation for the extension of the plan of salvation, which it therefore ultimately furthers. Besides, in chap. 10 the casting away of the Jews is attributed to their own unbelief, hence to the personal guilt of the creature; and in chap. 11 the rejection is represented as temporary. In God’s gracious decree, the fall of the Jews redounds to the blessing of the Gentiles, and the conversion of the Gentiles ultimately to the salvation of the Jews. So He has permitted the fall of Adam, in order to redeem humanity in Christ, the second Adam (Romans 9:12 ff.); He has included all under disobedience, that He might have mercy upon all (Romans 11:32; comp. Gal. 3:22). But the salvation can become actual only gradually; and the gradual redemption of all (not all as individuals, but the mass in an organic, not a numerical sense) presupposes the temporary rejection of some.
The Scriptures teach, on the one hand, the absolute causality and unconditioned grace of God; and, on the other, the moral nature of man, including also his relative freedom and his responsibility (i. e., human personality). They ascribe redemption and sanctification, as well as the creation and maintenance of all things, to God alone. He works both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13); no man cometh to the Son, except the Father draw him (John 6:37, 44); without the Son, believers can do nothing (John 15:5). Not only the beginning, but also the progress and completion of conversion, are attributed to God (Jer. 31:18; Heb. 12:2; Luke 22:32; Eph. 2:10; 1 Cor. 4:7; 2 Thess. 3:2; 1 John 5:4). Hence all believers confess, with Paul: “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10), and ascribe all the honor and glory to the Lord alone (2 Cor. 10:17). Indeed, even evil, as a phenomenon, and according to its material forces, cannot be excluded from the absolute activity of God. He hardens Pharaoh and raises up Nebuchadnezzar; He creates the light and the darkness; He gives peace and effects evil (Isa. 45:7); and there is no evil (misfortune) in the city, that the Lord has not done (Amos 3:6).—On the other hand, however, the Scriptures never treat of man as a mere machine, but as a moral being. They hold up before him, in the Old Testament, laws, with the promise of blessing if he obeys, and the threatening of a curse if he transgresses; they offer him, in the New Testament, the gospel, baptism, faith; bid him, with fear and trembling, work out his own salvation (Phil. 2:12); present to him the highest moral duties as commands: Be ye holy, be ye perfect; and account sin and the rejection of salvation as his own personal fault. “How often would I have gathered you, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not” (Matt. 23:27; Luke 13:34).88
If the first truth respecting the absolute, creative causality of God in the works of creation, redemption, and sanctification be denied, we fall into the Pelagian error, which destroys the very marrow of Christianity, and attributes salvation to the creature; but if the second class of Scripture texts be denied or wrested, we are brought to the brink of the abyss of fatalism or Pantheism; man is degraded into a mere instrument without a will, and his responsibility, guilt, and punishment abrogated. The task of theology consists, not in the establishment of one of these postulates at the expense of the other, but in reconciling both, and bringing into right relations with each other the infinite and finite causality; in loosing, not in cutting the gordian knot. This is, indeed, one of the greatest and most difficult problems, which can never be fully solved from the standpoint of earthly knowledge. Only after the accomplished victory over evil can the deep, dark enigma of evil, which forms the main difficulty in the problem, be fully solved.89
For practical and popular use, the following remarks will suffice:
(1) There is an eternal predestination of believers unto holiness and blessedness, and hence they must ascribe all the glory of their redemption, from beginning to end, to the unmerited grace of God alone.
(2) They do not, however, on this account cease to be free agents, responsible for all their doings; but, as God works in nature not magically and immediately, but through natural laws, so He works in men, through their wills, hence through the mediation of finite causes; and the more that grace is developed within them, so much the more is their true freedom developed; so that perfect holiness and perfect freedom coincide with each other. Accordingly, the highest freedom is the complete triumph over the evil, and is consequently identical with the moral necessity of the good. In this sense, God is free just because He is absolutely holy.
(3) There is no Divine foreordination of sin as sin, although He has foreseen it from all eternity, and, with respect to redemption, permitted it, while constantly overruling it to His purposes. Hence, those who are lost are lost through their own fault, and must blame their own unbelief, which rejects the means of salvation proffered them by God.
(4) In the time of the calling of nations and individuals to salvation, God proceeds according to a plan of eternal wisdom and love, which we cannot fathom here, but should adore in silent reverence.
(5) The right use of the doctrine of election is the humbling of sinners and the comforting of believers, as well as the increase of their gratitude and happiness. Only a culpable misunderstanding and misuse of it can lead to carnal security and to despair.
(6) Instead of meditating much upon the profound depths of the Divine decrees, it is better for each to make his own calling and election sure, and, with fear and trembling, to work out his own salvation.—P. S.]
5. The forbearance and confidence with which the Apostle pronounces his opinion on the fall of Israel, his patriotic and truly human pain (2 Cor. 12:7–9), and his prophetic elevation above it, reaching to sublimity, are characteristics of this wonderful man of God.
6. Israel’s glory is revealed in the correspondence of its great actual blessings with its chosen individuals. The line of actual saving blessings enters into reciprocal operation with the personal line of the fathers down to Christ according to the flesh, the climax in which divinity and humanity unite. Its foundation is Israel’s adoption, in Abraham, to son-ship. On this there is founded, first, the patriarchal antithesis of the δόξα or of the revealing angel of Jehovah, and of the covenants, in which the evangelical element is properly placed in advance of the legal element, conformably to the character of the patriarchal revealed religion; then comes the antithesis of the Mosaic period, of the gift of the law, and of the services; and here, in conformity with the character of the legal economy, the legal element precedes the evangelical. Both the patriarchal and Mosaic economies then comprise each other, just as the evangelical and legal elements are comprised in the promises of the prophetic period. It has already been remarked that, notwithstanding this articulation, each particular of the attributes mentioned is peculiar in a more general sense to the entire theocracy.
7. Careful attention must be paid to the fact that, in the election in Romans 9:6–13, the communication of the Divine decree precedes the birth of the children. But, on the other hand, in the ordination in Romans 9:14–18, it applies to characters already existing—Moses and Pharaoh—in accordance with the direction which they have taken themselves. In the call in Romans 9:19–24, this communication finally follows the state of the case already existing: Vessels of wrath, vessels of mercy. From the whole of this section, chaps. 9–11, it follows that the decrees underlying these communications belong also to eternity. But they belong to eternity as decrees which are conditioned upon individual conduct, as God universally conditions himself in the measures which He adopts in reference to persons to be determined or already determined, and their personal relations. The decree of election (or of love) takes cognizance of no other condition than that the single individual must be defined according to the organism of the members of God’s kingdom in Christ.The decree of ordination (or of righteousness) is conditioned by the fact that individuals, in their free self-determination, need, both for themselves and for their relation to the whole body, their historical destination and special guidance. The decree of the call (or of wisdom) is conditioned by the fact that it makes the judgments pronounced on unbelief itself means for subserving the promotion of faith. The distinction of the elder theology, decretum prœdestinationis, decretum gratiœ, decretum justificationis, has confused election and ordination—which has generally been the case from Augustine’s time down to the present. This distinction has likewise overlooked the fact that the decretum gratiœ constitutes the very centre of the decretum prœdestinationis (Christ ὁ ὡρισμένος, Acts 10:42; Rom. 1:4). The decretum justificationis is most intimately connected with the decree respecting the vocatio.
8. We have elsewhere brought out the truth, that the wonderful flower of the biblical doctrine of election, like the aloe, has been long concealed, yet with its character determined, in the sharp thistle of the ecclesiastical doctrine of predestination; and that it is a duty of our day to acquire, with its full idea, the whole depth and glory of the biblical doctrine of personality; but not to seek to weaken and render indifferent, by the old Lutheran or Arminian-Reformed definitions, the solution of an enigma to whose real solution every living distinction of individuals contributes, more than a scholastic hatching of confessional antitheses can do. In this respect, Lavater’s Physiognomy may be regarded as an explanatory enlargement upon Calvin and Zwingli. The mystery of predestination, like that of the atonement, and every other Christian mystery, is reflected in the midst of life.
9. Romans 9:1. The intimate proximity of salvation and sorrow (Romans 8:39; 9:1) in the Apostle’s state of mind, as in our Lord’s states of mind.
10. Romans 9:3. For more particular information on the ban, see Tholuck, p. 472. [See also Excursus on Anathema, p. 302.—R.]
11. The Apostle’s patriotism is a tragical feeling, subject to the dominion and kingdom of Christ, and thereby glorified to the intercessory feeling.—On the Shekinah (doxa), see the note in Tholuck, p. 477.
12. On the divinity of Christ, and the relevant passages of the New Testament in which He is in part called really God, and in part appears to be so called (John 1:1; 16:28; 1 John 5:20; Acts 20:28; the present passage, Romans 9:5; Rom. 16:27; Eph. 5:5; 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Tim. 4:18; Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 4:11; 2 Peter 3:18; Rev. 5:13), comp. Tholuck, p. 482. My Positiv Dogm., p. 160 ff.
13. Biblical doxologies: Rom. 1:25; 9:5; 11:36; 16:27, &c.; 2 Tim. 4:18; 1 Peter 4:11; 2 Peter 3:18, and others.
14. Romans 9:6. Not all are Israel which are of Israel. This applies also to every nation, to every confession, to every Christian community, just as it applies in general to the branches of the mystical vine, Christ (John 15:2).
15. The children of the flesh and the children of promise. See the Commentary on John, 1:13. [Comp. Galatians, pp. 119, 123.—R.]
16. On the theological discussions with reference to the doctrine of predestination in the present section, see Tholuck, pp. 490–506, and below.
17. Romans 9:15. On the idea of consistency in the name of Jehovah, as well in His having compassion as in judging, see the Exeg. Notes. It is in harmony with the righteousness of Jehovah’s exercise of authority, that even the judgment of death redounds to the life of the sincere and compassionated one; while the gospel, on the other hand, is a savor of death unto death to the perverse and unbelieving. But the consistency of Jehovah does not lie in His carrying out the abstract decrees of His own will, inflexibly and in an exact direction, but in His remaining like himself, and therefore in His even assuming a different position in relation to the changed positions of man; yet this is, of course, in harmony with the consistency of the principles established and realized by Him. Therefore, there is propriety in speaking of a Divine repentance—for example, in the history of the Flood. The position of mankind toward God has become so thoroughly perverted, that the Creator must become the Destroyer. Comp. Ps. 18:24–27.
18. On the Egyptians’ remembrance of the Pharaoh under whom Israel went forth, see the article Ægypten, by Lepsius, in Herzog’s Theol. Encyc., and Tholuck, p. 516. On the hardenings of Pharaoh especially, see Exod. 4:21. Since the judgment of hardness is here declared collectively, the passage does not decide on the succession of the particular ones. The same applies to Romans 7:3. Then the particular historical ones follow. First, Pharaoh is hardened by the counteraction of the magicians (Romans 7:13, 22). A significant illustration of the free volition of Pharaoh in the latter case; see Romans 7:23. In Romans 8:15 we read: “Pharaoh hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them.” And now his heart becomes hardened, even in spite of the warning of the terrified magicians; Romans 8:19. Again, in Romans 8:32: “And Pharaoh hardened his heart.” We read the same thing in Romans 9:7. But in Romans 9:12 we read: “And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh.” In Romans 9:34, on the other hand, we again meet with self-hardening, which is then designated as a judgment; Romans 9:35. In Romans 10:27, the Lord again hardens him. The same occurs in Romans 11:10; 14:8.
As regards this whole series of particulars, the atomistic exegesis of earlier times led to its being regarded as fatalistic. But we must, in the first place, distinguish the prophetical declarations of the judgment of hardening as general views of the whole course of events, from the historical particulars. As for the historical particulars, we must always be very careful to notice that the hardening is not a single act, but a long succession of acts, which succeed momentary shocks and apparent awakenings. But the periods of hardening themselves are divided into three particular acts: 1. Pharaoh is hardened by the magicians; 2. He hardens himself; 3. The Lord hardens him. We must further consider, that he always hardens himself just as soon as he has recovered a little from the penal judgments. But the series of his expressions of penitence must be regarded as arising particularly from fear (attritio, not contritio). Pharaoh’s starting-point is the defiant question: Who is the Lord? Romans 5:2. Then he requires a miraculous proof; Romans 7:7–10. He does not take the first plague to heart, because the magicians do likewise; Romans 7:22, 23. The first shock and its characteristic expression; Romans 8:8. Similar emotion; Romans 9:28. The first confession of sin; Romans 9:27, 28. The second, Romans 10:16. It is characteristic that Pharaoh pays least attention to the plagues that least affect him and his house. This may be seen in the first and third plagues; but he observes with more attention, on the other hand, the second and fourth, which rest heavily upon himself. He does not trouble himself about the murrain; the boils and blains seem to spare him personally. The thunder and hail, on the contrary, terrify him; the locusts also, but the darkness less. Finally, the death of the first-born at the decisive moment breaks the tyrant’s defiance, yet without being able to convert him. And it is out of this wonderful network of human offences and Divine judgments that a ponderous fatalistic decree has been contrived. Meyer quite gratuitously opposes Olshausen’s explanation, that the hardening assumes at the outset the already existing beginnings of evil. The ὃν θέλει does not oppose it, for God can let man die before his hardening. Meyer, also, does not favor Calovius’ definitions of hardening, that God does not harden man ἐνεργητικῶς, but 1. συγχωρητικῶς, propter permissionem; 2. ὰφορμητικῶς, propter occasionem; 3. ἐγκαταλειπτικῶς; 4. παραδοτικῶς.
19. Just as Pharaoh hardened himself more and more at Moses’ deeds of faith, so was Moses always advanced and strengthened in faith by the trials of faith which were prepared for him by Pharaoh’s hardenings—that is, by the apparent failure of his miraculous deeds. This is a fundamental law of God’s kingdom. The kingdom of darkness displays itself in its reciprocal action with the kingdom of light, but the latter is also displayed in its reciprocal action with the former.
20. Tholuck’s explanation on having compassion and hardening, p. 523, harmonizes with the old Lutheran dogmatics. Meyer’s resumé, p. 310.
[pages 390 ff., 4th edition. Justice to this author, whose clear and acute exegetical notes have been so freely used by Dr. Lange, as well as in the additions, requires the insertion of a larger portion of his theological resumé than is given in the original
“The contents of Romans 9:9–23, as they have presented themselves purely exegetically, and taken in and of themselves, of course exclude the idea of a decree of God conditioned by human, moral spontaneity; for indeed God’s absolute activity, considered in itself as such, cannot depend on that of the individual; but a fatalistic determinism, which robs man of his self-determination and free self-positing for salvation, making him the passive object of Divine arbitrariness, must not be deduced from our passage as a Pauline doctrine. For this reason, that this passage is not to be considered separately from what follows (Romans 9:30 ff.; 10:11), and also because the countless exhortations of the Apostle to believing obedience, to steadfastness and Christian virtue, as well as all his warnings against falling from grace, are so many witnesses against that dreary view which annuls the nature of human morality and responsibility. Should we, with Reiche, Köllner, Fritzsche, and Krehl, suppose that Paul, in his dialectic zeal, had permitted himself to be hurried into self-contradiction,90 we would have a self-contradiction so manifest, yet so extremely important and dangerous in a religious and ethical aspect, so harshly opposed to the Christian moral ideas of Divine holiness and human freedom, that it were least of all to be expected of this Apostle, whose acuteness and dialectic skill could guard him against it on the one hand, while especially, on the other, his apostolic illumination and the depth and clearness of his moral experience must guard him against it.” “But this by no means justifies the interlining of the clear and definite expressions of the Apostle in our passage, on the part of anti-predestinarianism from Origen and Chrysostom until now, to the effect that the moral self-determination and spontaneity of man is the correlative factor to the Divine decree. The correct judgment of the deterministic propositions (Romans 9:15–23) lies rather between the psychologically and morally impossible admission of a self-contradiction, and the exegetically impossible interpolation in this way, of thoughts the direct opposite of the Apostle’s expression. How there can be the concurrence, so necessary in the moral world, of the individual freedom and spontaneity of man and the absolute self-determination and all-efficiency of God, is incomprehensible to human reflection, at least so long as it does not desert the sphere of Christian view, and pass into the unscriptural, pantheistic sphere of Identity, in which, indeed, there is no place for freedom in general.91 Whenever, of the two truths: ‘God is absolutely free and all-efficient,’ and ‘man has individual freedom, and is also on his side, in his own self-determination as free agent, the causer of his salvation or misery,’ we handle but one, and that one consistently, and hence, one-sidedly, we are compelled to speak as if the other seems to be invalidated by our reasoning. But only seems; for, in fact, there is in this case only a temporary and conscious abstraction with respect to the other.” “Paul, then, found himself in this case. For he wished to present, in opposition to the fancy of the Jews respecting descent and works, the free and absolute almightiness of the Divine will and work, and all the more decidedly and exclusively the less he would leave any ground for the presumptuous error of the Jews, that God must be gracious to them. The Apostle has here placed himself entirely on the absolute standpoint of the theory of God’s pure independence, and that, too, with all the boldness of clear consistency; but only until he has done justice to that polemic purpose. Then he returns (Romans 9:30 ff.) from that abstraction to the humano-moral standpoint of practice, so that he grants to both modes of view, side by side, that right which they have within the limits of human thought. The view which lies beyond these limits, the metaphysical relation of the essential connection of the two points, viz., objectively Divine and subjectively human freedom and voluntary activity, was necessarily without and beyond his present circuit of view. He would have had no occasion either to enter upon this problem, since it was incumbent upon him to defeat the Jewish presumption with but one side of this—with the absoluteness of God. That, or how far the Divine election is no delectus militaris, but finds its norm immanently in God himself through His holiness, and thus may be conditioned by moral conditions on the human side, remains for the present entirely out of the account. It enters, however, with Romans 9:30, in which the one-sided method of consideration, followed for a time, is again compensated for, and the ground afforded for a time for apologetic purposes, to the doctrine of absolute decrees, is again withdrawn.”—R.]
He opposes those who have charged the Apostle With a self-contradiction—determination and freedom (Reiche, Köllner, Fritzsche, &c.); but he himself thinks that the metaphysical relation of unity between the all-prevailing efficiency of God and man’s freedom is incomprehensible by Christian reflection, and that, therefore, we can only speak of the one, considered in itself alone, in such a way that the other seems to be removed by our reasoning. But this is not the case if we speak either of human freedom or of God’s free grace in a proper way. The former assumes dependence on God; the latter requires faith. Though God’s all-efficiency is not conditional on man, yet it conditions itself as the personal exercise of authority in relation to man, so soon as he is determined by election, according to the stage of development in which man is. It may also be said that the one decree of God is explained, according to Romans 8:29, 30, in five decrees, and these are reciprocally conditional.
If the decree of election were an absolute determination of salvation and condemnation, there would be no peculiar decree of ordination or historical predetermination; God would no more be free to say to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” But if the decree of ordination were absolute, then we could no more speak seriously of a new decree of the call, and still less of a free idea of justification, as well as of glorification. The Divine decree in relation to the final judgment has conditioned itself by the nature of all the preceding decrees. And only in this way does God remain a free God, while, on the other hand, we would make of an unconditional decree of predestination itself a real divinity, which would have bound the personal God. But it is quite in harmony with the nature of religion, the real relation between God and man, that the truth asserts the majesty of the Divine right against every human arrogation, every irreligious claim against God. The free power of election stands in opposition to the claim of a natural heirship in God’s kingdom; the free power of grace, in its historical exercise of authority, opposes the claim to the merit of works; and the free power of the Divine call in the economic relations of God’s kingdom opposes the claim to both. If the point is reached where man will make God conformable to himself, before whom he would present himself independently, yea, one whom he thinks that he can bind by “replying against” him, then God himself opposes him in His truth as the God who stands in absolute free power above him, and before whom he is as nothing, or as the clay in the potter’s hand. Up to this point the Apostle must have recourse to the Jewish assumptions against God’s majesty. The pioneers of the Reformation, but particularly the Reformers themselves, were in a similar situation; ecclesiastical tradition had, in the latter case, taken the place of descent from Abraham; ecclesiastical righteousness of works had taken the place of Levitical righteousness of works; the self-righteous creature began to prescribe laws for his Creator. The Reformers, adhering to the truth, thus reversed the relation: God’s sovereignty and grace are every thing, while the arrogated right and merit of man are nothing. But their arriving in theory—which was really only one chapter in their system—to the negation of human freedom of election (Melanchthon, in his later life, excepted), and their being led into contradiction with their ethical principles, were in part a tribute of weakness which they had to pay to their independence from the Catholic Augustine (strong expressions of Calvin and Zwingli, see Tholuck, p. 528), and in part the false conclusion from a profoundly justified religious feeling. They taught, with good ground, that God’s government of the world is a government controlling and pervading all moral events, and that even sin is not merely permitted, but accepted and determined as a fact in God’s plan; only they had not yet found—as Sebastian Frank, at their time, and, subsequently, such orthodox teachers in the Church as Breitinger, Vœtius, and others—the distinction between sin as a wicked counsel of the heart, that merely appertains to man, and sin as a fact in which inward sin itself is already treated with irony, captured, and judged (see Prov. 16:1 ff.). The Apostle himself, on the contrary, has united the doctrine of the absolute judicial power of God with the doctrine of the importance of faith, yet particularly with the declaration that God has delayed His historical judgment in long-suffering, and has made the already existing judgment of hardness a medium of compassion.92—”The people, clay in the potter’s hand,” is a frequently recurring biblical expression. See Tholuck, p. 530; also the Note on p. 532; likewise p. 536.
21. The concatenation of judgment and compassion which appears throughout in the facts of Holy Scripture, as well as in its doctrines, has not been sufficiently comprehended and made use of by the popular ecclesiastical conception; and this is a principal source of its hindrances and imperfections. Righteousness and mercy are regarded as collateral modes of God’s revelation. Judgment and compassion absolutely preclude each other. But the Scriptures unite both facts in various ways.
First, the reconciliation of men themselves, both collectively and individually, inwardly as well as outwardly, is made conditional on a judgment which separates the old from the new life. Second, the display of redemption and its institutions, of the theocracy and of the Church, is conditioned by judicial acts that separate the old from the new states. Third, judgment, even from the flood downward, separates an old from a new race, and brings to pass the redemption of the latter by the still conditional rejection of the former. Even in the final judgment, the consummation of heaven is made conditional on the separation of the wicked; Matt. 13:43.
22. With the confusion mentioned above, there is also connected the fact that righteousness has ever been too much regarded as the extreme consequence of rigor, but not also in the light of forbearance and mildness. This latter idea of righteousness is frequently taught in the Scriptures (see Matt. 1:19; 1 John 1:9), and so also in the present chapter, Romans 9:28. Comp. also Romans 3:26, p. 135.
23. The full and direct force of the passage in Romans 9:31 is only reached by accepting the reading preferred by us. The Jew’s righteousness of works, as such, was never faithful righteousness of works, but a righteousness of boasting of the practice of statutes, and therefore it was a failure to obey the trueγόμος itself. In a similar sense, James portrays the orthodoxy of the Jews (see the Commentary in loco). This is also the case with the ecclesiastical righteousness of works in the Middle Ages; its weight does not lie in fidelity to the law, but in the fanatical zeal to explain and sharpen the statutes to excess. And so the orthodoxy of the seventeenth century was not strictness of confessional fidelity, but zeal for the statutory amplification and sharpening of confessional formulas. Centrifugal deviations from the collective fundamental thought and original fountain everywhere prevailed.
24. Israel, in its guilty and accursed destiny, is also a type of the richly deserved curses in the political as well as in the ecclesiastical life of nations.
25. Chaps. 10 and 11 are an enlargement upon chap. 9.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
[HOMILETICAL BIBLIOGRAPHY ON ROM. 9:3: WEEMSE, J., Of the Highest Degree of Love to God; An Exposition, &c., vol. i. 48; LIGHTFOOT, J., St. Paul’s Wish to be Accursed. Works, vol. vii. 312; GELL, R., Remains, 2; WITSIUS, H., De votivo anathemate Pauli; Miscellaneæ, vol. ii. 41; WATERLAND, D., S. Paul’s Wish Explained and Illustrated, Sermons, Works, vol. ix. 252; DODWELL, W., The Importance of the Christian Faith, Illustrated in the Explanation of St. Paul’s Wish of being Accursed for his Brethren, Oxford, 1752; KEELING, B, Three Discourses on St. Paul’s Wish, &c., Oxford, 1766; MASON, W., Christian Patriotism, Works, vol. iv. 105; TOPLADY, A. M., Thoughts, &c., Works, vol. iii. 418; RECONSIDERED TEXTS, No. I., J. C. Knight, Kitto’s Journal, 1st series; Nos. 10–12. Two Letters, by A. Davidson and J. C. Knight, on the above interpretation, Ibid.—J. F. H.]
The Apostle’s sorrow for his brethren: 1. A great sorrow, so that he wished to be accursed from Christ for them; 2. A natural sorrow, because they (a.) are his kinsmen according to the flesh; (b.) are Israelites to whom pertaineth the adoption, &c. (Romans 9:1–5).
An apostolical asseveration (Romans 9:1).—Words only have strength when our conscience bears us witness in the Holy Ghost that we say the truth in Christ (Romans 9:1).—The witness of our conscience in the Holy Ghost is a witness for us that we say the truth in Christ (Romans 9:1).—Magnanimous heaviness and magnanimous pain (Romans 9:2).—The Apostle’s readiness to stake the dearest possession for his brethren (Romans 9:3).—The difference between Israelites and Jews (Romans 9:4).—What do Israelites possess? 1. The whole of the Old Testament, with all its covenant blessings; 2. The fathers; 3. Through the fathers, Christ, so far as His human descent is concerned, belongs chiefly to them (John 4:22) (Romans 9:3–5).
STARKE, CRAMER: In important matters for God’s honor and the advancement of our neighbors’ salvation, we may swear (Isa. 19:18; Jer. 12:6); but to wantonly affirm a thing before God, is an abuse of God’s name (Exod. 20:7) (Romans 9:1).—The saints are not stoical blocks of wood (!); therefore we should also weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice (Romans 9:2).—Love has certain degrees, and one may with a good conscience prefer in love his natural friends and blood relations to others (Romans 9:3).—Nova Bibl. Tüb.: Nothing grieves pious people more than the ruin of the ungodly. Particularly a true shepherd can do nothing else than speak of them with sorrow and tears (Romans 9:2).—HEDINGER This is love! Oh, that we had even a less degree of it! Exod. 32:32.
GERLACH: Calvin beautifully says: “It is not contradictory to this wish of the Apostle, that be knew of a surety that his salvation by God’s election could not prove a delusion. For as such a glowing love always burns out more violently, so does it see nothing and care for nothing except its object” (Romans 9:1–5).
LISCO: The Apostle’s sorrow at Israel’s unbelief (Romans 9:1–5).—In Christ every thing was glorified and fulfilled which Israel already had; how important, therefore, it was to believe in Him whom the antitypes had announced, and who brought grace and truth! John 1:16, 17.
HEUBNER: Asseveration of the Apostle’s love for his people (Romans 9:1–5).—It is only a spirit sanctified by God’s grace that can be grieved at the spiritual fall of others. The unconverted man is indifferent to the moral misery of his neighbor. The holiest sorrow is for others (Romans 9:2).
BESSER: Throughout the Holy Scriptures there is not another passage where, as in the present instance, the most profound darkness of sorrow is in juxtaposition with the brightest sun of joy. Paul has ascended on the wings of faith to the height where he sees the whole kingdom of the world and the devil lying at his feet; and, sheltered in the rock-strong love of God in Jesus Christ, he has sung a triumphal song in the upper choir. There he pauses, and as one who is still dwelling in the land of pains and tears, just at this point he discloses to his brethren, first, the profound and concealed sorrow of his life by a solemn assurance of that of which he would have God also conscious (Romans 9:1).—The sainted BENGEL says: “Souls which have made no progress, do not comprehend Paul’s wish We should not lightly pronounce judgment upon the measure of love in Moses and Paul. The modicum of our thoughts of love is too small for us to do so; just as a boy does not appreciate the heroic spirit of a general “(Romans 9:3).—Not Jacobites, but Israelites, wrestlers with God, are called the descendants of the patriarch, who obtained of the Lord a blessing upon his seed, that they might be called after his name, and the names of his fathers Abraham and Isaac (Romans 9:4).—Eight blessings of God’s house united in four pairs (Romans 9:4, 5).
[BURKITT: God has placed a conscience in every man, whose office it is to bear witness of all his words and actions; yea, of all his thoughts and inward affections. Conscience is God’s register, to record whatever we think, speak, or act; and happy is he whose conscience bears witness for him, and doth not testify against him.
Romans 9:2. Note: 1. What are the dismal effects and dreadful consequences of obstinate unbelief, under the offers of Christ tendered to persons in and by the dispensation of the gospel, without timely repentance? 2. The true spirit of Christianity is to make men mourn for the sins and calamities of others in a very sensible and affectionate manner. Good men ever have been and are men of tender and compassionate disposition; a stoical apathy, an indolence of heart, a want of natural affection, is so far from being a virtue, or matter of just commendation unto any man, that the deepest sorrow and heaviness of soul in some cases well becomes persons of the greatest piety and wisdom; 3. Great sorrow and continual heaviness of heart for the miseries of others, whether imminent or incumbent, but especially for the sins of others, is an undoubted argument, sign, and evidence of a strong and vehement love toward them.—HENRY: We ought to be in a special manner concerned for the spiritual good of our relations, our brethren and kinsmen. To them we lie under special obligations; and we have more opportunity of doing good to them; and we must, in a special manner, give account concerning them, and our usefulness to them.—HODGE: Fidelity does not require that we should make the truth as offensive as possible. On the contrary, we are bound to endeavor, as Paul did, to allay all opposing or inimical feelings in the minds of those whom we address, and to allow the truth, unimpeded by the exhibition of any thing offensive on our part, to do its work upon the heart and conscience.—J. F. H.]
[SCHAFF: Romans 9:4, 5. These advantages of Israel, sketched by the Apostle, are at once types and prophecies of the higher blessings, which continue uninterruptedly in the Christian Church, and are enjoyed daily and hourly by all believers. In their lap is the adoption and heirship of eternal life, the continued presence of the Lord in the means of grace, the eternal covenant of grace instead of the successive covenants, the free, life-giving spirit, instead of the killing letter of the law, the worship in spirit and in truth in all places instead of the service confined to Jerusalem, the far more plain and precious promises of the heavenly Canaan and amaranthine inheritance, the incomputable cloud of witnesses, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and confessors, from all climes and tongues, and, as the sum of all blessings, Jesus Christ, the God-man and Saviour, who is flesh of our flesh, aye, our Brother and Friend, and yet exalted above all, the eternally adored Head of the Church, which He calls “His body, the fulness of Him who filleth all in all.”—R.]
a. Romans 9:6-13. Who are the true Israelites? 1. By no means all who are of Israel, or are the seed of Abraham, are children according to the flesh; but rather, 2. The children of promise, whom He has freely chosen according to His purpose (Romans 9:6–13).—The question of Divine adoption does not depend upon natural descent, but upon the mercy of the call, without the merit of works (Romans 9:6–13).—God’s word (promise) has not failed because many are not Israelites—that is, are not participators in the promise (Romans 9:6–8).—Neither has God’s word failed to us because many who are called evangelical are not evangelical (Romans 9:6–8).—How Paul, the Apostle of the righteousness of faith, reminds us of John the Baptist, the preacher of repentance 1 Comp. Romans 9:6–8 with Matt. 3:9.—The children of the promise: 1. Isaac, the son of Abraham; 2. Jacob-Israel, the son of Rebecca (Romans 9:9, 10).—The mystery of election and reprobation (Romans 9:10–14).—Not by the merit of works, but by the mercy of Him who calleth! A passage: 1. For our humiliation; but also, 2. For our consolation (Romans 9:12).
STARKE: God does not look at carnal service and external advantages and privileges in the distribution of His mercy and spiritual blessings; 1 Cor. 15:10 (Romans 9:12).—HEDINGER: God’s word always has its fulfilment in either one way or the other; Jer. 32:42 (Romans 9:6).—Beware of founding your hope of salvation on birth, or the visible Church, or merely seeming work. One must inwardly be a Christian and Abraham’s heir (Romans 9:7).
SPENER: By this instance (Romans 9:8, 9) Paul has sufficiently shown that salvation does not depend on natural birth, and that, therefore, not all the descendants of Israel were necessarily the people of the covenant. But because it might have been said that Ishmael was born of the bondwoman, and lost such an honor in consequence of his wicked life, for he was a scoffer, Paul proceeds to show, by the example of Esau and Jacob, that it depended upon God’s free choice as to whom He would show certain spiritual or temporal advantages and benefits, in which case He does not look at works (Romans 9:10–13).
ROOS: The children of the promise are such as have become the children and true seed of Abraham by belief in God’s promise (Romans 9:8–11).—An election does not preclude the foreknowledge of faith and works, but, on the contrary, it always goes in advance, while faith and good works follow afterward. Thus, a soldier is chosen before he has furnished a proof of his bravery; a child is chosen for adoption before he has given evidence of filial gratitude. The exhibition of bravery and gratitude is hoped for. But what is man’s hope, is God’s foreknowledge. Yet it must not be said that, in making an election, the one who chooses has been influenced by works that have already occurred. It was not from works already performed by Jacob that God’s promises resulted, but from the loving will of God, who stands in need of nothing, whom no creature can place under obligation, and who does not inwardly pass from hatred to love (Romans 9:11–13).
GERLACH: As the preference of Jacob to Esau, and of the Israelites to the Edomites, was declared by God before the birth of the two ancestors, and thus what Jacob had in advance could by no means depend upon any privilege or merit of birth, so is free grace the bestowal of justification through Christ; it does not depend upon anticipated virtues or services of him who receives them; it admits valid claims of any kind (Romans 9:11–13).
LISCO: The Apostle’s purpose is to prove that God, far from all arbitrary authority, and with the most exalted love, holiness, and wisdom, though without binding himself to natural laws (primogeniture, posterity of Abraham), or to the narrow limits of a certain descent, proceeds in His guidance of nations, and now calls this one and now that one to the gospel, just as He formerly called to a share in the privileges of the old covenant people. The Israelite, as such, had legal claims to salvation in Christ, yet not on account of his natural descent, as is shown from both the examples adduced. Even Esau’s descendants, and, indeed, all heathen, have been called to salvation in Christ; therefore evidently Esau’s rejection is by no means regarded as eternal, and the object of Jacob’s preference is the temporary salvation of the nations descended from both Esau and Jacob (Romans 9:11–13).
HEUBNER: We must maintain: 1. Paul’s speech is altogether individual or national, and applies solely to Israel, in order to prostrate Israel’s perverse pride; 2. The question is not concerning an eternal election and reprobation, but the calling of a people by the external call, by revelation, and concerning, the subsequent rejection of such a call (Romans 9:6–13).
b. Romans 9:14-18. Is God unrighteous? This objection is refuted by Paul: 1. By reference to God’s declaration to Moses; 2. By reference to such a declaration to Pharaoh (Romans 9:14–18).—Moses and Pharaoh: 1. Moses, an example of God’s mercy and compassion; 2. Pharaoh, an example of hardening; 3. Both together are examples of God’s free election (Romans 9:14–18).—On what does our salvation depend? 1. Not upon our willing or running; 2. But upon God’s mercy (Romans 9:16).
STARKE: God is and ever remains righteous, however He disposes things according to His sovereign will and good pleasure (Romans 9:14).—Oh, the great and exceeding riches of divine mercy and compassion, by which God performs all the good which He bestows on man, without regard to any service, greatness, honor, or appearance! (Romans 9:15.)—HEDINGER: One’s own running, working, exerting himself, devising services, doing penitence, and inflicting scourging, crawling into caves and putting on sackcloth, accomplish nothing; God must open the heart, and, when He knocks, open to Him! He has the key himself, and you have from Him the hands and the power to throw wide open for His entrance (Romans 9:16).—Hardening is a great judgment. Many are involved in it, and yet they do not know it (Romans 9:17).—SPENER: Thus God’s will is perfectly free and unconfined in its own work, and He has the power to show mercy or not, just as He will, without our ability to find sufficient cause for the difference, although He himself, as the wise and holy God, does nothing without a holy cause, so that even His freest power wills and does in such a way as His wisdom perceives conducive to His glory. For as men of understanding do not foolishly and thoughtlessly use their freedom, but do every thing considerately and with a rational choice, even when they are in the enjoyment of the most unfettered freedom, how should we suppose that the all-wise God can have mercy and harden without holy causes, or in any other way than is in harmony with His goodness, righteousness, and majesty, though above our understanding? This should be enough for us: The holy and righteous God, who never can wish to do any thing evil, wills it to be thus.
ROOS: Romans 9:16: Moses desired to see God’s glory; but his desire would not have obtained this view by force. More than once Moses ascended to the top of Sinai, and came down again; but his running did not earn as a reward that which he prayed for. God met his willing by compassion: out of compassion He crowned Moses’ ascent of Mount Sinai by an extraordinary blessing.—GERLACH: Romans 9:16: Paul elsewhere exhorts (1 Cor. 9:24–27; Phil. 3:12–14) in the most decided way to will and to run; but it is a willing whose soul is God’s mercy toward sinners, and it is a running whose power is God’s renewing grace.
LISCO: The last and only ground of participation in God’s kingdom is and ever remains God’s mercy (Romans 9:16).—All of Pharaoh’s efforts did not prevent the execution of the Divine purposes, but he himself became, contrary to his will, an instrument for their execution; accordingly, God was glorified in the perverse king, who did not escape His righteous punishment (Romans 9:17).—Thus, then, God shows His mercy on whomsoever He will with unlimited freedom; and He hardens whomsoever He will—that is, He allows His mercy to redound to the ruin of those who, like Pharaoh, are impervious to all of His instructions and guidance; and thus it can also come to pass to the unbelieving Jews, that God will withdraw His mercy from them if they scorn His gospel, just as Pharaoh once despised God’s will (Romans 9:18).
HEUBNER: No people can prove that it will be God’s people (Romans 9:16).—The humiliation of presumptuous tyrants is a glorification of God (Romans 9:17).—Hardening is therefore never a blindly absolute, but always a righteous decree of God on those who have long withstood all of His calls. Pharaoh would not have been hardened, if his many cruelties had not already hardened his heart (Romans 9:18).
BESSER: To sum up, says Luther (Works, vol. xxii. p. 745): “Every thing is spoken against the proud. ‘He to whom I give shall have it, and you shall not take it from me by your holiness.’ What more shall he do? He nevertheless says, ‘You shall have it, but if you seek and wish to have it for the sake of your righteousness and your piety, I cannot and will not allow you to have it; I will sooner tear to pieces and destroy every thing, both priesthood and kingdom, and even my own law. But show me mercy, and you shall have it’ ” (Romans 9:16).—He who can still take upon himself to say, “God has had compassion on me because I am not as Pharaoh was,” has not yet read the Epistle to the Romans aright. The reverse is the case: Because God has had compassion on me, I am not as Pharaoh, but as Moses (Romans 9:18).
c. Romans 9:19-29. Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? 1. Remember that thou art only the work, but He is the Maker; 2. Therefore submit unconditionally to His sovereign will (Romans 9:19–21).—What does God design by His unconditional and free election? 1. On one hand, to show His wrath and make known His power; 2. But, on the other, to make known all the more, by this means, the riches of His glory (Romans 9:22–29).—The vessels of wrath and the vessels of mercy (Romans 9:22–24).—Who are the vessels of mercy? All who are called; not alone, 1. of the Jews, but, 2. also of the Gentiles (Romans 9:24).—Hosea and Isaiah as witnesses of God’s grace, showing mercy on and calling Jews and Gentiles: 1. Hosea; 2. Isaiah (Romans 9:25–29).
LUTHER: Although the greater part fall away and remain unbelieving, He will nevertheless not let all fall, but will support the rest, and by them all the more abundantly disseminate His word and grace, in order that they may be righteous and glorious (Romans 9:28).
STARKE: God, in leading man to salvation, does not deal with him according to the unconditional purpose of His will and with unlimited power, but in a certain order, in which they who are ennobled by the rational soul have obtained the freedom to obey or to oppose (Romans 9:29).—Also teachers and preachers must exhibit an appropriate gentleness when censuring the ungodly, and must not always select the rarest words of abuse and reproach, to pour them out upon them like a heavy shower (Romans 9:26).—Do not despair, though you be miserable; the merciful and gracious Lord can cause a light to arise within you; Ps. 112:4 (Romans 9:25).—HEDINGER: God be praised for His long-suffering! How many thousand brands of hell dost thou bear with! Thou art, and ever remainest, my righteous God! Ps. 103:8 (Romans 9:22).—LANGE: If you would be a true vessel of mercy, you must draw grace for grace from the fulness of Jesus (John 1:16).—Let the love of God be poured out in your heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5); and in order that you may be useful in the Lord’s house, and a vessel sanctified to His honor, seek to be purified from contact with all impure vessels (Romans 9:23).
SPENER: The Apostle says of the vessels of mercy, that God has prepared them for glory. He is not only their Creator, but their being the vessels of His mercy is His own preparation. But he does not say of the vessels of wrath, that God prepared them for destruction, but that they are fitted to destruction who have fitted and corrupted themselves to it, so that their condemnation does not come from God, but only that He has long borne with them patiently, just as He did to Pharaoh, and that He finally destroys them with all the more violence. By this are declared His glory, power, compassion, and righteousness, without one coming in conflict with the other (Romans 9:22, 23).—ROOS: The great long-suffering of which Paul speaks, proves that God takes no pleasure in the destruction of the vessels of wrath; for if He had wished, He could at any time have given them up to destruction sooner than He really did; but the efficacious call, which applies to the vessels of mercy both of the Jews and Gentiles, proves that God does not indulge a preconceived hatred either of the Jewish people or of the Gentile nations, and it is only His call that makes a difference between the vessels of wrath and of mercy (Romans 9:22–24).—GERLACH: We must always bear in mind, that when God has compassion, and when He hardens, He acts in different ways; in the former case, He produces good in the human heart by His compassion; and in the second, He withdraws from man His divine light and life, yet does not awaken evil in him, but only allows the evil already existing to assume the form and take the course which, to Him, is evidently necessary for the salvation of the world. Man’s seeing, in mercy as well as in hardening, a perfectly similar operation of God—namely, His own arbitrary authority—is his own fault, since he closes himself against God’s compassionate love by his own claims (Romans 9:21).
LISCO: All humanity, and not merely Israel (which fancied itself thus), is like the clay from which God, of His own free choice, chooses unto participation in the kingdom of heaven; and He is not bound to Israel in such a way that He cannot also appoint the Gentiles to the same privilege (Romans 9:20, 21).
HEUBNER: Before God rejects a people, He patiently gives it time for repentance (Romans 9:19–23).—Especially on Romans 9:19: The universal objection of all determinists, fatalists, and absolutists, is: “How can man be free, since in his existence, and in the formation and change of his mind, he is totally dependent on God?” This is here represented in a special direction, thus: “How can sin be imputed to man? Why does God’s punishment of him enrage him? He is only what God makes him! Who can oppose God?” This objection is still frequently heard in such modifications as these: “Man becomes every thing, just according as he is trained, educated, and placed in a favorable or unfavorable state?” We may answer this objection somewhat as follows: Although man does not himself control his destiny, and although this destiny has an influence upon his development, yet it is by no means compulsory; the external world does not operate irresistibly upon him.—Yet Paul does not exactly answer thus, but says, Romans 9:26: “Yea, dear man,” &c.
Romans 9:21: This comparison would be inaptly applied if it were regarded as an irresistible formation of character: “Can God not make out of this man a bad one, and out of that a good one?” The question is only the determination of the external state which operates on man: “Cannot God, according to His own will, direct to every one his condition, and all the circumstances that operate upon him?” It still depends on man whether he will make use of his condition in this or that way, and in what shape he will allow himself to be be formed. Comp. 2 Tim. 2:20, 21. In Jer. 18:6, the type of the potter applies to the events that God allows a people to experience, but not to the determination of their salvation or destruction.
d. Romans 9:30-33. The faith of the Gentiles, and the unbelief of the Jews: 1. The establishment of this fact; 2. The explanation of its origin (Romans 9:30–33).—In the righteousness of faith, the law of righteousness is really fulfilled (Romans 9:30, 31).—Who attains to the law of righteousness? All who seek its fulfilment, not: 1. By the works of the law, but, 2. By faith (Romans 9:31, 32).—The stumbling-stone: 1. For some a rock of offence; 2. For others a rock of salvation (Romans 9:33). Comp. 1 Peter 2:4–10.
LUTHER: Christ justifies without works; they who do not believe Him, run against Him and stumble (Romans 9:32).
STARKE: O thou tempted soul, who art ever indulging in fearful thoughts, thou shalt certainly not be ashamed! (Romans 9:33.)—CRAMER: If one should seek fire in snow, or ice in fire, he would not find it; so he who seeks life, righteousnesss, and salvation in the law, and not in Christ, will never receive them (Romans 9:32).
SPENER: God laid such a stone in Zion as would of itself be a stone of help, a tried and precious corner-stone, on which the fallen could and should rise. But man’s wickedness, &c., causes many to stumble against it, and their fall is more dangerous than if such a stone had not been placed there Yet God’s saving counsel must not be in vain for all, for there are others, on the other hand, who hold to this rock, and believe on it. These will not be deceived in their hope, nor come to shame, as they will take from it that which they have hoped for—salvation (Romans 9:33).
ROOS: As Paul had previously made every thing dependent on simple grace and mercy, and on God’s free will, so he now makes every thing dependent on faith. Grace and faith, the will of God and faith, correspond to or meet each other. Grace is in God, faith is in man (Romans 9:30–33).—GERLACH: God did not enforce His right against the unbelieving Israelites, nor harden their hearts, nor fit them for destruction, because He predestinated them for destruction before their existence, but because they “replied against God” (Romans 9:18–22).
LISCO: The reason why Israel refuses to accept the gospel, and is rejected, is because they seek it—righteousness—before God, not of faith, but by doing the works prescribed in the law; and therefore they experience the judgment of falling against the stumbling-stone (Romans 9:32).
HEUBNER: No people or no man is so corrupt that God cannot call and save if they will only believe in the gospel, and become sensible of their guilt (Romans 9:30).—All the works on which man relies cannot save him, but rather hinder him (Luke 12:24). Therefore the paradox: It would be better for many if they were worse (Romans 9:32).—Offenee at Christ is culpable; it is one that is taken, and not given (Romans 9:33).
BESSER: Luther (Works, vol. vii. p. 321) strikingly compares the law to the field in which Christ, the Treasure, is buried. The Jews had the field, and even tilled it with great pains, but they did not see the buried treasure; but the Gentiles, on the contrary, since they found Christ in the law, went for joy beyond the law, and sold every thing which they had, and bought the field with its treasure—that is, the law with Christ (Romans 9:30, 31).
LANGE: The forbearance and decision with which the Apostle expresses the strict judgment on Israel, is an example for us, when occasion occurs, to speak unpleasant truths.—The Apostle’s fidelity to the Israelites is conditioned by his fidelity to the Lord; or the duty and limits of patriotism.—Israel’s fall is an eternal admonition for churches, states, and nations.—The greater the glory of a community, the deeper is its fall.—Israel, which was once saved, is now judged in Christ its Head.—God’s freedom with respect to humanity: 1. How it is bound by institutions and promises; 2. Yet how it also remains free.—His freedom in His determinations: 1. In the determination of the personalities themselves; 2. Of their fate, and its effect; 3. Of their call to the kingdom.—The freedom and consistency of Divine sovereignty in the name Jehovah.—The antitheses: Israel and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Moses and Pharaoh. The judgment of hardening elucidated by Pharaoh’s history.—Judgments changed by the sovereignty of God himself to the glorification of His mercy.—God’s judgments are cut short by His wisdom and grace.—The importance of faith in antithesis to ordinances.—The twofold operation of the cornerstone.
[LIGHTFOOT: Romans 9:3. We owe charity to every one because of his soul. If a soul, in its essential constitution, be not beautiful and lovely, what thing upon earth can be accounted beautiful and lovely? A soul that carries the image of God in its very constitution—that is like to the nature of angels in its essence and being—that is capable of divine nature and of eternal life and glory—if this be not lovely, what is? It is a great piece of wisdom to study souls, and to observe the nature, worth, price, and excellency, both of our own and other men’s; and there is not a more general and comprehensive cause of the ruin of souls, than men’s ignorance of and unacquaintance with their own souls. Shall I hate any man’s soul? It may be united to God. Hate any man’s body? It may be a temple of the Holy Ghost. Any man’s person? He may be an inheritor of eternal glory. Scorn not poor Joseph; for all his rags and imprisonment, he may come to sit upon a throne. Despise not poor Lazarus; for all his sores and tatters, he may be carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom.—BURKITT: Learn: 1. What the sincere believer shall not be ashamed of: a. He shall never be ashamed of his choice; b. Nor of his profession; c. Nor of the cause and interest of Christ, which He has owned and vindicated in the world; d. Nor of any time sincerely spent in the work and service of Christ; e. Nor of reproaches and sufferings, tribulations and persecutions, for the sake of Christ; f. Nor in eternity, that he never was ashamed here of Christ and His gospel, His work and service, His cause and interest. 2. When the believer shall not be ashamed: a. When he is called to bear testimony of Christ before the world, at the hour of death, or at the day of judgment; b. Nor the dreadfulness of the day, nor the majesty of the Judge, nor the number of the accusers, nor the impartiality of the sentence, nor the separation which shall then be made. 3. Why the believer shall never be ashamed: a. Sin, the cause of shame, is removed; b. Those only from whom he can reasonably fear shame, will never be ashamed of Him; c. He can look God and Christ, his own conscience and the whole world, in the face, without shame and suffering.—HENRY: What does God do for the salvation of His children? He prepares them beforehand for glory. Sanctification is the preparation of the soul for glory, making it meet to partake of the inheritance of the saints in light. This is God’s work; we can destroy ourselves fast enough, but we cannot save ourselves; sinners fit themselves for hell, but it is God that prepares saints for heaven.—WATERLAND: There is a degree of pity and regard due even to very ill men, to ungodly, and sinners; not to be shown by caressing them and smiling upon them, but by earnest and ardent endeavors to reclaim them. There is not a more forlorn or miserable wretch under heaven than an overgrown sinner, become mad, desperate, and incurable in his sins. For though such persons regard neither God nor man, nor have any mercy or tenderness for friend or brother, but would go any lengths in mischief, and set the world on fire, if it lay in their power, yet we very well know, all the while, that they are weak and impotent, and are under bridle and restraint. The utmost they can do is only to afflict and torment good men for a time here, while they themselves lie exposed to eternal vengeance, to torments everlasting hereafter.—DODDRIDGE: We know a descending, a risen Redeemer. He still visits us in His gospel, still preaches in our assemblies, and stretches out a gentle and compassionate hand to lead us in the way of happiness.—Where we see a zeal for God, let us pay all due regard to it, and compassionate that ignorance which may sometimes be mingled with it.—SCOTT: Modesty, caution, humility, and profound awe of the holy majesty of God, should restrain and guide the tongues and pens of all who speak or write on the great subjects connected with salvation, however satisfied such men may be with their own views of them; and every sentence which is written or spoken with impetuous injustice to God, is a proof of the pride and irreverence of the writer or speaker.—HODGE: Romans 9:15–19. It should be assumed as a first principle, that God cannot do wrong. If He does a thing, it must be right. And it is very much safer for us, corrupt and blinded mortals, thus to argue, than to pursue the opposite course, and maintain that God does not and cannot do so and so, because, in our judgment, it would be wrong.—J. F. H.]
Romans 9:3.—[Lange renders: Denn ich that ja (einst) das Gelübde, I once indeed made the vow to be, &c. For the full discussion of this interpretation, see Exeg. Notes. The English text has not been altered to correspond, since the common view of ηὐχόμην is upheld in the additions.—D. K. L. read εὐχόμην, which is generally rejected.
Romans 9:3.—[The Rec. has this order: αὐτὸς ἐγὼ ἀνάθεμαε ι̇͂ ναι (C. K. L.); but the preponderant authority (א. A. B. D. E. F. G.) favors: ἀνάθεμα εἶναι αὐτὸς ἐγὼ (א., however, puts εἶναι first). So Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford, Tregelles, Lange. This order, if it has any special force, probably emphasizes the fact, that he could wish himself accursed, rather than that he himself could wish it. Hence the Amer. Bible Union is unfortunate in placing myself after the first I. Noyes: I could wish to be myself accursed.
Romans 9:4.—[B. D. E. F. G., Vulgate, and most fathers, read: ἡδιαθήκη, א. A. C. K.: αἰδιαθῆκαι, now adopted by most editors. The alteration to the singular probably arose from a misunderstanding of the meaning. The plural was referred to the Old and New Testaments; and as the latter was no advantage of the Jews, the singular was substituted (so Meyer).
Romans 9:5.—[Lange considers God blessed forever, Amen, a synagogical form, to be put in quotation marks. His exegesis accords better with the E. V. than with Luther’s der da ist Gott über Alles, gelobet in Ewigkeit, Amen. On the disputed punctuation, see Exeg. Notes. Noyes, naturally, puts a period after Christ.
Romans 9:6.—[See Exeg. Notes.
Romans 9:6.—[The antitheses in Romans 9:6–8 cannot be preserved in the exact form of the Greek, except at the sacrifice of elegance and smoothness. Literally, the whole passage would be: For not all those of Israel, these (are) Israel: neither because they are the seed of Abraham, (are) all children, but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, not the children of the flesh, (are) these the children of God, but the children of the promise are reckoned as seed.
Ver 7.—[For convenient reference, the Hebrew text is appended. Gen. 21:12: בְיִצְחָק יִקָּרֵא לְןָ זָרַע. The LXX. is quoted literally here by Paul, and it is an exact translation. The only question of accuracy which can arise, is respecting the force of בְ, whether it means through or in. See Exeg. Notes. Noyes: “Thy offspring shall be reckoned from Isaac.”
Romans 9:9.—[This is freely quoted from the LXX., Gen. 18:10, 14. The LXX. reads ἐπαναστρέφων ἥξω πρὸς σὲκατὰ τὸν καιρὸν τοῦτον εἰς ὥρας, καὶ ἕξει υἱὸν Σάῤῥα ἡ γυνή σου (Romans 9:10); but Romans 9:14 closes, καὶ ἔσται τῇ Σάῤῥα υἱός. The choice of this latter clause was probably for reasons of emphasis, to indicate that the promise was to Sarah (Alford), which is the main thought here. The Hebrew phrase כָּצֵת חַיָּה, when the time (shall be) reviviscent, occurring in both verses clearly implies what the LXX. expresses: at this season of the year. Comp. Gesenius, Thesaurus, i. p. 470, Knobel on Gen. 18:10.
Romans 9:10.—[Οὐ μόνον δέ. The passage is elliptical. On what should be supplied, see Exeg. Notes. As the case to be introduced is not strictly of the same kind as that of Sarah, but stronger, this is preferable to so (Alford, Amer. Bible Union); the former seems to imply the difference more clearly than the latter.
Romans 9:11.—[The subject of the participles γεννηθέντω ν…π ραξάτων (genitives absolute) is not expressed, “according to well-known classical usage” (Meyer). It is readily supplied, for allusion has been made to the twins, and the history was well known. The rendering given above seems more satisfactory than that of the E. V. It is, in the main, that of Alford.
Romans 9:11.—[Instead of κακόν (Rec., D. F. K. L., Wordsworth), φαῦλον is found in א. A. B. and cursives; adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford, Tregelles, Lange. The former is the more usual word, in contrast with ἀγαθόν; hence, likely to be inserted. Evil and ill best express the slight difference, since φαῦλος, like ill, does does not always imply something immoral, and yet has the same wide range of meaning. It must have a moral signification here, however. (See Alford in loco.)
Romans 9:12.—[Quoted literally from the LXX., Gen. 25:23, except that ὅτι (recitative, sign of quotation) takes the place of καἱ. Instead of ἐῤ ῥήθη (Rec.), most MSS. have ἐῤ ῥέθη.
 Romans 9:13.—[From the LXX., Mal. 1:2, 3; the only variation is, the inversion of the first clause. It reads in the LXX.: ἠγάπησα τὸν Ἰσκώβ. The Hebrew text is:
I loved Jacob,
But Esau I hated.
Romans 9:15.—[An exact quotation from the LXX., Exod. 33:19. The Hebrew of the original passage is ο importance in the exegesis. It reads: וְהַנּתִי אֶת־אֲשֶׁי אִחֹו זֻרִחַמְתּי ת־אֲשֶׁר אֲרַחֵם. Alford thinks ἄν, inserted in LXX., refers to pure mercy; Meyer, and many others, join it with ὅν; “whomsoever, in whatever state;” thus describing not merely the mercy, but the choice of its individual objects, as the free act of God; for the emphasis in the relative clause rests on the repeated ὅν ἄν, since ἄν generally has its position after the emphatic word (Kühner ii. § 457). We are certainly justified in making the relative clauses present instead of future; for the future force of the Hebrew verbs is doubtful, while the Greek verbs (both in LXX. and the text) are present. See Exeg. Notes.
Romans 9:16.—[The Rec., B2. K., read ἐλεοῦντος (from ἐλεέω); א. A. B1. D. K. L. ἐλεῶντος (from ἐλεάω). The latter is adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Tregelles; the former by Meyer and Wordsworth. Meyer urges that Paul would not use two forms, one here, and the other in Romans 9:18 (where the reading ἐλεεῖ is well established, only D1. F. G. having ἐλεᾷ), and concludes that ω was substituted for ου through a mistake of the transcriber, and thus readily preserved, since it corresponded with a form in actual use.
Romans 9:17.—[Very freely quoted, especially this clause, from LXX., Exod. 9:16: ἕνεκεν τούτου διετρήθης, on this account thou wert preserved. ἐξή γειράσε is merely a strengthening of the LXX.; but ἐξή γειράσε seems to be a purposed deviation. The form of the Hebrew הֶֽעֱמַדְתּיןָ (Hiphil of עָמַד, to stand), I have caused thee to stand, is better preserved by Paul’s quotation. See Exeg. Notes, for discussion of the meaning of all three passages.
Romans 9:17.—[Here Paul deviates from LXX., writing δύναμιν instead of ἰσχύν.
Romans 9:19.—[There is some confusion about ου̇͂ν. B. D. F. insert it in both clauses; Rec., א. A. K. L. omit it the second time. All have it in the first clause, but the position varies. Rec., D. F. K. L. put it before μοι; א. A. B., Tregelles, after. The above rendering adopts it in both clauses.
Romans 9:22.—[The participle θέλων is interpreted: since, because he was willing (i. e., purposed) or: although he was willing (not yet purposing). The latter is adopted by Lange: obschon (bereits) des Willens; Meyer, and others.—After what, supply: wilt thou reply? or something to that effect. See the Exeg. Notes on both points.
Romans 9:23.—[It was necessary to supply this much in the text, in order to vindicate the view taken of this difficult passage. See Exeg. Notes.
Romans 9:25.—[This is a free quotation from Hosea 2:25 (23, LXX. E. V.). The Hebrew text is followed more closely than the LXX.; the clauses are transposed, &c. It is not necessary to insert the LXX. text here, as it differs in almost every word, though containing the same general thought: וְרִֽחַמְתִּי אֶת־לאֹ רֻחָמָה וְאָֽמַרְתִי לְלאֹ־עַמִּי עַמִּי־אַתָּה In rendering Lo-ruhamoh, Paul follows the LXX.
Romans 9:26.—[From the LXX., Hosea 1:10 (2:1, Hebrew), closely connected with the preceding, as if from the same place, according to the usage of the Rabbins, who thus joined citations even from different authors. The only variation from the LXX. is the strengthening of κληθήσονται καί into ἐκεῖ κληθήσονται. The E. V., Hosea 1:10, supplies there.
Romans 9:27.—[Isa. 10:22. Paul follows the LXX., which roads: καὶ ἐὰν γένηται ὁ λαὸς Ἰσραὴλ ὡς ἡ ἄμμος τῆς θαλάσσης, τὸ κατάλειμμα αὐτῶν σωθήσεται. The variation from the Hebrew is slight; יָשׁוּב, shall return, is strengthened by the LXX. into σωθήσεται, which, of course, means still more as Paul uses it. א1. A. B., Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford, Tregelles, Lange, read ὑπόλειμμα; the more probable reading, as the LXX. differs. It is a stronger word, apparently.
 Romans 9:28.—[The variations from the Hebrew are so extensive, that it will be best to give the text entire:
כִּלָּיוֹן חָרוּץ שׁוֹטֵף צְדָקָה ׃
כִּי כָלָה וְנֶֽחֱרָצָה אֲדנָי יֱהוִֹה צִבָאוֹת עשָֹׁה ׃
“The consumption is decided, overflowing with righteousness;
For a consumption and a decree shall the Lord of Hosts make,
In the midst of all the land.”
See Exeg. Notes for other renderings, and also for text of the LXX., which Paul quotes closely; inserting γάρ at the beginning, however, as better continuing the proof, and substituting ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς for ἐν τῇ οἰκουμένη ὃλῃ.
Romans 9:28.—[The E. V. is unfortunate in rendering λόγον, work. (So Amer. Bible Union.) The word has a wide range of meaning, but this is not included. Lange: Abrechnungsspruch, word of reckoning. See Exeg. Notes.
Romans 9:28.—[The words: ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ· ὅτι λόγον συντετμημένον, are wanting in א1. A. B., rejected by Lachmann, Tregelles; bracketted by Alford, but retained by most editors on the authority of א2. D. F. K. L. The suspicion of an addition from the text of the LXX. is outweighed by the probability of the transcriber’s confusing συντετμ. with the συντέμνων.
Romans 9:29—[A verbatim citation from the LXX., Isa. 1:9, where the Hebrew שָׂרִיד is rendered σπέρμα.
Romans 9:31.—[The Rec. (followed by the E. V.) repeats δικαιοσύνης (א3. F. K. L.). De Wette, Tholuck, and Meyer contend that the omission would be senseless; see, to the contrary, Exeg. Notes. The omission is sustained by א1. A. B. D. G., Lachmann, Alford, Wordsworth, Lange, Tregelles. Dr. Hodge does not notice any of the variations in these verses.
Romans 9:32.—[The authorities for νόμου (Rec.) are א3. D. K. L., a number of versions. It is omitted, however, in א1. A. B. F., by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Lange, Tregelles, Wordsworth. Alford prefers to omit, but does not deem the evidence sufficiently strong to decide. The word would readily be inserted as an explanation.
Romans 9:32.—[Lange prefers to retain γάρ (Rec.), mainly on the ground that it must be supplied in thought, even if rejected. It is found in א3. D3. K. L., many versions and fathers; retained by Tischendorf, Wordsworth, Lange. It is omitted in א1. A. B. D1. F., some cursives, &c. Lachmann, Meyer (with decision), Alford, Tregelles, reject it. If omitted, the period also must be omitted, and the verse be rendered, as by Alford: “Because (pursuing it) not by faith, but as by works, they stumbled, &c.
Romans 9:33.—[Paul here combines Isa. 28:16 and 8:14 in one, varying, to suit his purpose, both from the Hebrew text and the LXX. There is no variation in thought, except that the Apostle gives it as his exegesis, that the “stone of stumbling” of the one passage is the “corner-stone elect,” &c., of the other. Comp. 1 Peter 2:6–8.
Romans 9:33.—[The Rec. inserts πᾶς, on the authority of K. L., versions and fathers. It is omitted in א. A. B. D. F., by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer (4th ed.; Lange quotes him as retaining it), Alford, Wordsworth, Lange, Tregelles. It does not occur in the LXX., but, in Romans 10:11, no MS. omits it. The probability is, that it was inserted here to conform to that passage. Lange suggests that the emphasis upon πᾶς, were it retained, would weaken that upon πιστεύων.—R.]
[His theme, as announced in Romans 1:16, 17, necessarily led him to such an inquiry. It concludes: “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Having discussed the great truth of “the righteousness of faith,” he must justify this additional clause, which seems to be incorrect, in view of the present exclusion of the Jews. So Philippi, and others.—R.]
[“In Christ,” i. e., in fellowship with Christ, who is Truth itself, and transfers His members, at all events, into the element of truth and sincerity (comp. 2 Cor. 12:19).—P. S.]
[Under (1) belongs an interpretation, suggested by the venerable S. H. Cox, D. D., taking the verse as a parenthetical explanation of Paul’s sorrow, in this sense: “for I myself once gloried as a persecutor to be banished from Christ.” Besides the objections against the past sense as given above, it may be added, that this puts myself in the wrong place (see Textual Note2); that, while εὔχομαι has this meaning: to boast, to glory, in Homer, yet even there it is often little more than to profess, maintain, while in the New Testament it does not occur in this sense. The probabilities, both lexical and grammatical, are very strong, therefore, against such a meaning here.—R.]
[“Respecting excommunication among the Jews, comp. especially Selden, De jure nat. et gent., 4, 8, De Synedr., 1:7 and 8; Gildemeister, Blendwerke des vulgären Rationalismus zur Beseitigung des paulinischen Anathema, 1841, and Beiträge zum Bremischen Magazine, 1842; Ewald, Allenthümer des Volks Israel, S. 81 ff.; respecting the Greek ἀναθεμα, Fritzsche on Rom. 9:3; also Tholuck on Rom. 9:3; and on the general subject, Winer,. Realwörterbuch under Bann.”—R.]
[“Morus even assumes a wider signification of ἀναθεμαἕστω: tangat eum MALUM, PŒNA, male ei sit, non definito nunc morte plectendus, an excommunicandus an ALIO MODO damnandus. For this imaginary signification he appeals to Gal. 5:10, where it is said of the same false teacher: judicium ferel—i. e., ‘He will soon find his reward.’ Burger, who wavers between this explanation and that of Grotius and Semler, thinks that Paul in both cases meant: talem hominem perquam esse scelestum atque adeo puniendum, non vero indicare, QUANAM sit pœna plectendus. We see, in the case of the ἀνάθεμα, how thoroughly the unscientific exegesis of all times and all places is dependent on all the wishes and prejudices of the individual.”—R.]
[The Epistle to the Romans was written but a year or two afterwards. See Introd., pp. 14, 40.—R.]
[“If Paul, by the ἐξάπατε τὸν πονηρὸν ἐζ ὐμῶν αὐτῶν, 1 Cor. 5:13, with which he enjoins the excommunication of the incestuous person—comp. 1 Cor. 5:2—alludes, as is commonly assumed, to the technical expression of Deuteronomy: יִבִעַרְתָ הָרַע מִקִּרְכֵּןָ, and the translation of it in the LXX.; Deut. 17:7, 21:22 et. al., this term must, at the time of Paul, have been already understood among the Jews not of the death penalty, but of excommunication; comp. Winer, Bibl. Realwörterbuch, under Lebensstrafe, ii. p. 12.”—R.]
[So Hodge, who, while advocating the common interpretation, would make the meaning very general, and the words express not “definite ideas,” but “strong and indistinct emotions.”—R.]
[There seems to be some abstract ground for this distinction. The first, separation from Christ’s holy will, is opposed to love to Christ and striving after sanctification; it is godless, and, of course, excluded here. The second, separation from the enjoyment of Christ, is not in itself immoral, yet can, indeed, be distinguished from the first only abstractly and in thought, being also impossible, at least in permanency. For holiness and blessedness are inseparable, and it is the will of Christ that we become blessed through fellowship with Him.—P. S.]
[Compare Madame Guion (died 1717):
“I consent that thou depart,
Though thine absence breaks my heart,
Go, then, and forever, too;
All is right that thou wilt do.”
“My last, least offering, I present thee now—
Renounce me, leave me, and be still adored!
Slay me, my God, and I applaud the blow.”
The doctrine of disinterested affection has been supported in America by Samuel Hopkins, D.D., and his system is commonly called Hopkinsianism. He holds that self-love, which cannot be distinguished from selfishness in his view, “is the root and essence of all sin;” that holiness consists in disinterested benevolence. He makes the possession of this benevolence a test of religion and religious exercises, and says, that though a benevolent person “could know that God designed, for His own glory and the general good, to cast him into endless destruction, this would not make him cease to approve of His character; he would continue to be a friend of God, and to be pleased with His moral perfections.” (System of Doctrines, 2d ed., Boston, 1811, i. p. 479.) But he puts certain limitations respecting proper personal interest, and nowhere implies that one must reach this point of experience in order to be converted. The current opinion of his view is, that he teaches: “a man must be willing to be damned, in order to be saved”—a logical sequence which he does not affirm. Nor does he quote this passage, which would seem to favor his position. It is probable that he, too, would admit the impossibility of such a wish being granted, and claim no other meaning for this passage than that which many of the most judicious commentators adopt, and which is the most literal and obvious one. It may well be held that Paul reached such a pitch of feeling as this, without insisting that this is the constant and conscious state of the Christian heart.—R.]
[This obviates one difficulty, urged by Dr. Hodge, against the sense I wished: “No Jew would express his hatred of Christ and his indifference to the favors which He offered, by saying he wished himself accursed from Christ.” But it makes the grammatical difficulty still greater. An imperfect is made to do service not only as an aorist, but in a sense very unusual; while what is closely joined with it—viz., the purport of the wish or vow—derives its significance from the present standpoint. Extremely doubtful, to say the least!—R.]
In the discussions on this subject, a second meaning of ἀπό has not been taken into consideration: ἀπὸ πατρός, on the paternal side, &c.
[Comp. a learned essay by Hermann Schultz (Professor in Basle): Rom. 9:5, in exegetischer und biblisch-theologiseher Beziehung, erklärt, in the Jahrbücher für Deutsche Theologie for 1868, pp. 462–506, and the older exegetical literature on this passage, there cited against the interpretation of the Socinians and Semler. Schultz refers the doxology to Christ, yet not to the preëxistent, but the theanthropic, glorified Christ, to what He now is. This is the highest glory of Israel, that He who is exalted above all things was born of it. This essay is exhaustive and convincing in its defence of the received punctuation. It closes, however, with some speculations, which imply a discrepancy between the simple Gospel narratives and the more profound christological positions of the Epistles (and the Gospel of John).—R.]
[Stuart, and others, deny the highest spiritual sense to the phrase “children of God,” limiting it to “children of promise in respect to the external privileges and blessings of the ancient covenant or dispensation.” In itself there would be no objection to this view, but Paul had already written Gal. 4:22–31, where these phrases receive a deeper meaning (see Lange’s Comm. Gal., pp. 113 ff., 120 ff.). Besides, if this were all, it would not differ from the idea already suggested in Romans 9:6, 7 (Hodge). We must hold then to a typical sense at least, and find, in “reckoned,” the guard against the assumption of spiritual privilege from natural descent.—R.]
[Stuart suggests the interpretation: “as at life-giving time.; in which case the meaning would be, that God would again address her as a mother, who gives life to—i. e., bears, children.” But there seems to be no reason for departing from the simple rendering of the LXX. quoted by Paul.—R.]
[It must be noticed that this expression contains an incidental argument against the Platonic and Origenistic doctrine of the preëxistence of souls, and their exile into this world in consequence of a previous fall. This theory, revived again and again, is as unsatisfactory as it is unscriptural, but must be considered one of the many attempts to solve the enigma which this chapter confronts. Clearly, then, Paul rejects this solution.—R.]
[Meyer: “Not οὕπω, because the negative relation is to be expressed subjectively—i. e., as presented and considered by God in the giving of His sentence.” See Winer, p. 441.—R.]
[Subsequent conquests of the Edomites are mentioned; 2 Kings 8:21; 14:7, 22; 2 Chron. 25:11; 26:2. They were finally conquered by John Hyrcanus, and incorporated into the Jewish nation.—R.]
[It cannot be denied that hate, in the Scripture, does not always describe positive abhorrence, but occasionally a less degree, or, more accurately, the absence of love; e. g., Gen. 29:31 (where the original text says: “Leah was hated” by Jacob—i. e., less loved than Rachel; comp. Romans 9:30); Matt. 6:24, and especially Luke 14:24; compared with Matt. 10:37, where one evangelist says hateth no, and the other, loveth more. The word undoubtedly, even in these passages, taken exactly, describes not merely an absence of love, but a formal putting into the background.—P. S.]
[This is an allusion to the strictly literal and grammatical method of exegesis adopted by Meyer. But if we depart from the letter, who is to be the discerner of the spirit? There are but two answers: that of Rome (ecclesiastical authority), and that of Rationalism (individual human consciousness). The strict interpretation of Meyer is adopted by Fritzsche, De Wette, and others. Unquestionably the dealings of God with Esau indicate something positive, though, were it but the deprivation of love, the results of evil-doing would still account for the historical facts.—R.]
[Dr. Hodge considers this paragraph the statement and answer of the first objection arising against the doctrine that God is sovereign in the distribution of His favors, and that the ground of His selecting one and rejecting another is not their works, but His own good pleasure. A second objection, he thinks, is stated in Romans 9:19. So Meyer, Schaff, and most.—R.]
[Hodge: “It will be remarked that these arguments of the Apostle are founded on two assumptions. The first is, that the Scriptures are the Word of God; and the second, that what God actually does cannot be unrighteous.”—R.]
[On the distinction between ἐλεῶ and οἰκείρω, Meyer remarks: “The distinction between these two words is not to be thus denned, with Tittmann, Synon., p. 69 f., that ἐλ. describes the active mercy, and οἰκτ. the sympathetic compassion; but rather, that the same notion of misereri is expressed more strongly by οἰκκτ. The latter is originally the bewailing sympathy, contrasted with μακαριζειν (Xen. Anab., 3, 1, 19).”—R.]
[This is the interpretation of Watson, and many Arminian commentators. But it is not necessary to oppose a view so far-fetched, and forming such an anti-climax!—R.]
[Olshausen: “The Apostle now introduces anew the unwise inquirer of Romans 9:14, in order to find an apology for himself in this operation of God, even in the forms of evil. St. Paul abashes this arrogance with an appeal to the absolute character of God, with respect to whose ways the creature must render an unconditioned submission, even where he is not able to comprehend them.”—R.]
[This avoids, but does not meet, the difficulty. For it simply transfers to God’s doings a distinction which in reality belongs only to our state of partial knowledge. With us, dealing with classes is often a mere convenience for avoiding the dealing with individuals. God’s dealing with men always implies His thorough and minute as, well as His comprehensive mode of action.—R.]
[It is more of an echo than a citation; hence there cannot be much stress laid upon the context in Isa. 39 Certainly Paul, who is one of the freest generalizers from the Scripture texts he refers to, must not be limited here, where he has introduced such a variety of persons into his discussion.—R.]
Romans 9:22.—[The participle θέλων is interpreted: since, because he was willing (i. e., purposed) or: although he was willing (not yet purposing). The latter is adopted by Lange: obschon (bereits) des Willens; Meyer, and others.—After what, supply: wilt thou reply? or something to that effect. See the Exeg. Notes on both points.
[τὸ δυβατὸ ναὐτοῦ, what was possible for Him, what He was in a condition to do. Comp. Romans 8:3; Meyer.—R.]
[The more general reference is to be preferred, and, in any case, it is implied; for all ante-Christian history must be viewed as long-suffering forbearance in preparation for the great revelation of mercy. Comp. all the more modern conceptions of ancient history.—R.]
 [Alford agrees substantially with this view, but prefers to supply: “what if this took place,” this δν θέλελ ἐλεεῖ. So Ewald. Dr. Hodge joins the clause with θελων, or rather supplies θέλων, which is not only objectionable on the grounds he states himself, but untenable, if the sense be: although willing. Stuart takes a somewhat different view of the syntax of the passage, and paraphrases the whole: “If God, in order that He might exhibit His primitive justice and sovereign power, endures with much long-suffering the wickedness of the impenitent and rebellious who are worthy of His divine indignation; and if He has determined to exhibit His rich grace toward the subjects of His mercy whom He has prepared for glory, even toward us whom He has called, Gentiles as well as Jews; who art thou,” &c. This gives too strong a meaning to θέλων, and is not so justifiable grammatically as the view of Meyer and Lange.—R.]
[Stuart and Alford adop the stronger view as inherent “in any consistent belief of an omnipotent and omniscient God;” Dr. Hodge gives both, without definitely accepting either. Schaff deems the stronger view the more natural one, but guards it, as must be done, against supra-lapsarianism, &c. But the differences noted by Dr. Lange must be carefully kept in view, as themselves, guarding against erroneous inferences.—R.]
[“Das EBEN ist der Fiuch der bosen That
Das sie, fortzeugend, immer Böses muss gebären.”
This quotation, almost a proverb in German literature, is from Schiller, Die, Piccolomini. V. Aufg., 1 Auftr. Coleridge, who has taken some liberties in arrangement, puts it in Act iii. Scene 1.—R.]
[The advantage of a general reference throughout the passage is apparent here. The making known is something which occurs not once, but throughout the whole gospel dispensation, as Romans 9:24 requires.—R.]
The reference is undoubtedly to the symbolical names given by the prophet to a son and daughter (Romans 1:6, 9): Lo-Ammi (not my people) and Lo-Ruhamah (not having obtained mercy). In order of birth the latter stands first, as well as in the passage cited. This is natural, as visible deprivation of mercy precedes visible rejection as a people. The Apostle inverts the order, however, perhaps because the prominent thought for his purpose was: not my people, &c.—R.]
Romans 9:25.—[This is a free quotation from Hosea 2:25 (23, LXX. E. V.). The Hebrew text is followed more closely than the LXX.; the clauses are transposed, &c. It is not necessary to insert the LXX. text here, as it differs in almost every word, though containing the same general thought: וְרִֽחַמְתִּי אֶת־לאֹ רֻחָמָה וְאָֽמַרְתִי לְלאֹ־עַמִּי עַמִּי־אַתָּה In rendering Lo-ruhamoh, Paul follows the LXX.
[Dr. Hodge makes of Romans 9:25–33 a distinct section, in which the Apostle confirms the position of the preceding section (the freedom of God in selecting the objects of His mercy) by declarations of the Old Testament (1) Romans 9:25, 26. Aliens were to be included in the kingdom of God; (2) Only a small portion of the Israelites should attain to those blessings; Romans 9:27–29; hence the Gentiles are called, and the Jews as Jews rejected; Romans 9:30, 31. The reason of their rejection was refusal to submit to gospel terms of salvation; Romans 9:32. As predicted, they were offended at their Messiah; Romans 9:33.—R.]
Romans 9:3.—[The Rec. has this order: αὐτὸς ἐγὼ ἀνάθεμαε ι̇͂ ναι (C. K. L.); but the preponderant authority (א. A. B. D. E. F. G.) favors: ἀνάθεμα εἶναι αὐτὸς ἐγὼ (א., however, puts εἶναι first). So Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford, Tregelles, Lange. This order, if it has any special force, probably emphasizes the fact, that he could wish himself accursed, rather than that he himself could wish it. Hence the Amer. Bible Union is unfortunate in placing myself after the first I. Noyes: I could wish to be myself accursed.
[So Hodge, Stuart, substantially. For a discussion of Paul’s analogical use of Old Testament events and citations, the reader is referred to Lange’s Comm. Gal. pp. 113 ff., 120 ff.—R.]
[Yet the emphasis, as will appear from the notes on Romans 9:27, is not upon the salvation of the remnant, but upon the fact that only a remnant will be saved. Nor does the remoter context favor such a mitigated view. It is not in accordance with the passage cited from Hosea, nor with Romans 9:24, still less with Romans 9:30–33.—R.]
 [Alford seems to include both promise and threatening in λόγος, and makes the object of the citation a confirmation of “the certainty of the salvation of the remnant of Israel, seeing that now, as then, He, with whom a thousand years are as a day, will swiftly accomplish His prophetic word in righteousness.”
As a curious specimen of interpretation, that of Wordsworth is appended: “There seems to be here in the mind of the prophet a contrast between the paucity of the numbers to which the Israelites are to be reduced, and the abundance of righteousness vouchsafed to them. The quantity will be small, but the quality will be good. The LXX. gives a paraphrase (not a literal translation) which embodies this sense, and which is adopted by the Apostle.
“The word λόγος, as used by them, appears to signify an account or reckoning, and, derivatively, a sum or catalogue of people. The sense, therefore, is: ‘Summing up and cutting short the reckoning.’ The λογος is the ac count or muster-roll of the people. The census of the Israelites will be cut short to a small number, but the smallness of the number will be amply compensated by the righteousness with which God will endue it by virtue of its faith in Christ.” A method of exegesis like this compensates for the discovery of so many things not in the text, by omitting so much that is there.—R.]
[“Denn es wird ein Verderben und Steuren geschehen zur Gerechtigkeit, und der Herr wird dasselbige Sleuren thun auf Erden.”—R.]
Romans 9:28.—[The words: ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ· ὅτι λόγον συντετμημένον, are wanting in א1. A. B., rejected by Lachmann, Tregelles; bracketted by Alford, but retained by most editors on the authority of א2. D. F. K. L. The suspicion of an addition from the text of the LXX. is outweighed by the probability of the transcriber’s confusing συντετμ. with the συντέμνων.
[Dr. Dreschler remarks on Isa. 1:9 (Der Prophet Jesaja, i. p. 84): “The prophet with a few ground-strokes gathers up the whole future of the people of Israel. He announces a period of judgment as an unavoidable passage-way; then, again, a time of salvation. But the period of judgment comprehends in itself all the judgments then standing without as yet: every visitation, of which history from that time on knows aught, is a proof of this word of prophecy, a fulfilment of it. … Just so is the period of salvation conceived as the sum-total of all fulfilment in general, since the complete realization of all God’s promises will bring what will still all the longing and the thirsting of the human heart from thenceforth and forever.”—P. S.]
[The rescued Israelites are called, Isa. 6:13 (comp. Ezra 9:2), “a holy seed,” because out of them, as a small beginning, at the same time the nation shall rejuvenate itself, and the true spiritual Israel shall proceed. The Jewish Christians, who escaped the terrible judgment of God upon the mass of the unhappy nation at the destruction of Jerusalem, formed the pith of the Christian Church.—P. S.]
[Alford answers thus: “This question, when followed by a question, implies, of course, a rejection of the thought thus suggested; bat when, as here, by an assertion, introduces a further unfolding of the argument from what has preceded.” What follows is not a question. See below.—R.]
[It seems best (with Meyer) to consider righteousness as used, in this part of our verse, without special reference to the Christian standpoint. Dr. Hodge really advocates this view, but is hampered in reaching it by the limited meaning he places upon the word as used by Paul. Stuart renders δικ., justification in each case, which is altogether untenable. See p. 74 ff., &c.—R.]
[See Romans 9:23. It is doubtful whether such preparation as is there referred to, includes, in any sense, the propædeulic relation of the Gentile world to Christianity, however extensive that relation was.—R.]
[On this thought, see especially Griechenthum und Christenthum, by Dr. G. C. Seibert, 1857, referred to in the General Introd. Matthew, p. 6. The author is now a pastor in Newark, N. J.—R.]
Romans 9:31.—[The Rec. (followed by the E. V.) repeats δικαιοσύνης (א3. F. K. L.). De Wette, Tholuck, and Meyer contend that the omission would be senseless; see, to the contrary, Exeg. Notes. The omission is sustained by א1. A. B. D. G., Lachmann, Alford, Wordsworth, Lange, Tregelles. Dr. Hodge does not notice any of the variations in these verses.
[Dr. Hodge seems to prefer the following view: “The word law may be redundant, and Paul may mean to say nothing more than that ‘the Jews sought righteousness, or justification, but did not attain it.’ This, no doubt, is the substance, though it may not be the precise form of the thought.” This is but avoiding an interpretation, and in a way which the learned commentator would deem unjustifiable if applied to less sacred forms than those written by an Apostle.—R.]
[Alford agrees substantially with this view. In the case of the Jews, “there was a prescribed norm of apparent righteousness, viz., the law, in which rule and way they, as matter of fact, followed after it.”—R.]
Romans 9:32.—[The authorities for νόμου (Rec.) are א3. D. K. L., a number of versions. It is omitted, however, in א1. A. B. F., by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Lange, Tregelles, Wordsworth. Alford prefers to omit, but does not deem the evidence sufficiently strong to decide. The word would readily be inserted as an explanation.
[The word as transfers the matter to the sphere of subjective fancy, and expresses this: that the Jews imagined they were doing the works of the law, but did not really-do them, according to the deeper sense and spirit in which the law should be apprehended. Comp. Isa. 58:2; Phil. 3:9.—P. S.]
Romans 9:23.—[It was necessary to supply this much in the text, in order to vindicate the view taken of this difficult passage. See Exeg. Notes.
 [Forbes thus lays down the fundamental truths on this difficult subject:
“All good originates from God.
All evil originates from the creature.
Election originates in the free grace of God.
Reprobation originates in the free-will of man.
To God belongs the whole glory of the salvation of the Elect.
To man belongs the whole responsibility of the ruin of the Reprobate.”
See his Dissertation, pp. 380–475.
That these positions are not reconcilable by human logic, is evident from the discussions on the subject; but this cannot, of itself, disprove their truth. It is the old and ever-recurring mystery of the origin of evil. Forbes seeks to prove that these positions are compatible with the doctrine] statements of the Westminster Assembly. Those who wish the sharpest predestinarian views, may find them in Haldane’s notes on this chapter. The Synod of Dort, which is considered by many the representative of hyper-Calvinism, only goes thus far in speaking of the reprobates: “Whom God, out of His sovereign, most just, irreprehensible and unchangeable good pleasure, hath decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have wilfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but permitting them, in His just judgment, to follow their own way, at last for the declaration of His justice, to condemn and punish them forever, not only on account of their unbelief, but also for their other sins. And this is the decree of reprobation which by no means makes God the author of sin (the very thought of which is blasphemy), but declares Him to be an awful, irreprehensible, and righteous judge and avenger” (Canon i., Art. xv.). This is as far as any ought to go, but it is by no means a reconciliation of the two sides of revealed truth, or an attempt at it.—R.]
[A few scholia may be added here: 1. The relation of scientific theology to revealed truth, is that of science in general to the truth it seeks to systematize. Hence theology has unsolved problems, and these furnish the stimulus to further investigation. 2. Theology is not to be considered untrustworthy in its settlement of great questions, because some remain unsolved, nor can the failure of its attempts at solution invalidate either the positions already won, or the separate truths which it has not yet reduced to a system. 3. The modesty of true science has a place in theological discussion. If theologians claim that their attempt at the solution of such a problem as that presented in this chapter is the only one that should be made, the objector may feel that, in successfully opposing that view, he has overthrown the truth itself. 4. This problem is one that is ontological as well as theological, and hence cannot be escaped by rejecting revelation. Atheism avoids it solely by negation, pantheism by opposing the testimony of our own consciousness. Whoever believes in a personal God and his own personality, is confronted with it. The safer position for a child of God to take is that which leaves the difficulty where the greatest glory is ascribed to God. History shows that those who thus once were not the least concerned to live under the fullest sense of their accountability. The Christian life is thus far the only solution of this great problem; a mystery which is practically reconciled only by one yet greater, the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh.—R.]
[Fritzsche, ii. p. 550: “Melius sibi Paulus consensisset, si Aristotelis, non Gamalielis alumnus fuisset.’“ (!!)—R.]
[Still less in modern materialism, where what is (probably from habit) called free civilization is attributed mainly to climate and food, especially fish. Compare current literature ad nauseam.—R.]
[A reference to the Exeg. Notes will show how Dr. Lange finds this mitigating idea of long-suffering throughout the chapter. Admitting the correctness of his exegesis (which many will not be prepared to do), it is still doubtful, whether his explanation of the enigmatical question in hand is any more satisfactory than that of Meyer.—R.]