I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
Verses 1-36. - (4) The Jews are not finally rejected, but, through the calling of the Gentiles, will be brought into the Church at last. St. Paul, painfully recognizing the fact of the present exclusion of Israel as a nation from the inheritance of the promises made to their fathers, and having in ch. 9. and 10. accounted for and justified such exclusion, proceeds now to the question - But is Israel as a nation finally rejected after all? He answers - No; impossible! God's ancient covenant with his people stands; the remnant of believers even now is a sign of his continued favour to his ancient people, as was, in the time of Elijah, the remnant that had not bowed the knee to Baal; nor does the fact of its being a remnant only imply now, any more than then, that the nation as such is cast off; and further, the calling of the Gentiles, far from being intended to exclude God's ancient people, will be the means eventually of bringing it wholly in. Such is the apostle's prophetic vision of the future, in view of which he bursts at the end of the chapter into glowing admiration of the inscrutable ways of God. In the course of it also (vers. 17-25) he introduces a warning to Gentile believers not to pride themselves against the Jews because of present preference to them, or to regard their own position of privilege as indefeasible. It must still be borne in mind that it is the position before God of Israel as a nation that is all along in view. Verses 1-6. - I say then, Hath God east away his people! God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not east away his people which he foreknew (or, predetermined. See the same word, Romans 8:29). Wot ye not what the Scripture saith of (rather, in; i.e. in the passage concerning) Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what faith the answer of God (ὁ χρηματισμός, denoting a Divine communication to man; in this case by the "still small voice." Only here in the New Testament; but cf. Matthew 2:12, Ξρηματισθέντες κατ ὄναρ; also Luke 2:26; Acts 10:22; Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 11:7) unto him? I have left to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Even so at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. The usual interpretation of this whole passage, and notably that of the ancients, has been to take the proof of God not having cast off his people as beginning in ver. 1, with "for I also," etc., and all the rest to be in sequence. Chrysostom's explanation of the argument is to the following effect: God has not rejected his ancient people; for I myself am eminently of it; and I have been selected as a chief proclaimer and expounder of the gospel to the world; this would not have been the case if the nation had been cast off. But it may be said to me," You are only one of the ancient people; you are not the people." Nay, but I do not stand alone; there are thousands of Israelite believers as well as myself; and these are God's true people, the people whom he foreknew. And of them there may be more than we are aware of; it is as it was in the days of Elias; he had supposed himself to be left alone; but he was told that there were seven thousand with him who were God's true people still. And so now, there is a faithful remnant, the number of which is known to God alone, which is his people still, according to the election of grace. The same Father further understands the citation of the whole of the passage from 1 Kings 19:14, though not required for the apostle's proof, to be intended as significant. It would have sufficed, he says, to cite only what was said about a remnant being left; but the whole complaint of Elias is cited, so as to show by the way that the present rejection of Christ and persecution of the Church by the majority of the Jews had also its counterpart in ancient times; and thus the apostle, he says, λανθανόντως τὴν κατηγορίαν (i.e. of the unbelieving Jews) αὔξει. It is to be observed that the above interpretation of the passage, which in its main points has been most generally adopted, goes on two suppositions; vie. that "for I also," in ver. 1, is the first part of the proof that Israel is not cast off; and that "which he foreknew," in ver. 2, is intended as a limitation of the meaning of "his people." According to another view, decidedly upheld by Meyer, "for I also" is not part of the proof, but connected with μὴ γέροιτο: "I must needs say, God forbid! being myself a Hebrew of the Hebrews" Then, according to this view, comes the positive statement that God has not east off his people in the same general sense as before, after which the proof begins; the addition of ο} προέγνω not being a limitation of τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ, but intended to enforce the idea of the impossibility of the final rejection of the race of Israel (cf. ver. 29; also Psalm 94:14 and 1 Samuel 12:22). The fact that, throughout the chapter, it is Israel as a nation that is in view, and that the coming of the whole nation into the kingdom of Christ is contemplated in the end, adds decided probability to this view of the significance of ο}ν προέγνω, though καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ, etc., in ver. 1, may still be regarded as possibly part of the proof. St. Paul's designation of himself as "of the seed of Abraham" seems meant to express that he was an Israelite of pure descent, not a proselyte or descended from proselytes. In Philippians 3:5, as well as here, he specifies his tribe as that of Benjamin, the tribe that with Judah had clung to the house of David, and had shared the privileges of Judah. The quotation from 1 Kings 19. is given freely from the LXX., varying a little, but not so as to affect the meaning. One variation is in the feminine, instead of masculine, article before Βάαλ, which has been explained by supposing εἰκόνι understood (so in the Authorized Version, "the image of Baal "), or by there having been a female Baal, or by the god having been supposed androgynous, or by the feminine being used of idols in contempt. St. Paul may possibly have found this reading in his copy of the LXX. The variation is of no importance with regard to the drift of the passage. "According to the election of grace," at the end of ver. 5, does not seem to be directly suggested by the passage cited, but added by St. Paul so as to make plain his position - maintained throughout the Epistle, and about to be pressed in this chapter on the consideration of Gentile Christians - that the calling of all, whether Jews or Gentiles, is "of grace," and not claimable as of right by any on the ground of the merit of their own works. And in order to enforce this position, he adds, And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace; i.e. the word "grace" loses its essential meaning. [But if of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.] The preponderance of ancient authorities is against the retention of the clause within brackets, which does not seem required. It is the same as in Romans 4:4.
God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,
Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
Verse 7. - What then? (What is the present state of things?) That which Israel seeketh for (i.e. δικαιοσύνην; cf. Romans 9:30, 31) he hath not obtained; but the election (i.e. the elect of the Gentiles, with a remnant only of the Jews - ἡ ἐκλογὴ being abstr, pro concret., like ἡ περιτομὴ ἡ ἀκροβυστία, elsewhere) hath obtained it, and the rest were hardened (ἐπωρώθησαν). The verb denotes callousness rather than blindness, usually in the New Testament referring to the heart (cf. especially John 12:40, Τετύφλωκεν αὐτῶν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς καὶ πεπώρωκεν αὐτῶν τὴν καρδίαν). And such hardening is no new and strange thing, or to be taken as implying failure of God's promises to his people; for it is but what Scripture tells us of.
(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
Verses 8-10. - According as it is written, God gave them a spirit of slumber (rather, stupor. The word is κατανύξις, cited from Isaiah 29:10 in the LXX. Cf. Psalm 60:3, where the LXX. has οῖνον κατανύξεως. It is from the verb which means κατανύσσειν, properly "to prick" (see Acts 2:37, κατενύγησαν τῇ καρδίᾳ). The noun seems to have got its sense as above from the idea of a pricking shock, causing stupefaction), eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling-block, and a recompense unto them. Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. The references in ver. 8 are a combination of Deuteronomy 29:3 and Isaiah 29:10, quoted freely from the LXX.; that in ver. 9 is to Psalm 69:23, 24, also quoted freely. (For similar combination and free quotation of texts, so as to bring out Old Testament ideas, cf. Romans 3:10-19; Romans 9:32, 33.) It is not necessary that the passages here referred to should be regarded as directly prophetic of the time of Christ. It is enough for the purpose of the argument that God's people should be shown to be liable to the state of stupefaction described, without ceasing to be his people. And so the thought, which has been in view all along, is now taken up, of the present hardening of Israel as a nation not being intended to be permanent.
And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
Verses 11, 12. - I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? i.e. in such wise as to fall, rightly given in the Vulgate as sic ut caderent. There is no need here to press the telic use of ἵνα in ἵνα πέσωσι, so as to require the translation, "that they might fall." It is rather the use of contemplated result. God forbid. But by their fall (rather, trip, or false step). The word is παράπτωμα, suitably used here in view of the figure of stumbling. The idea is that they had stumbled over the "stumbling-block" above spoken of, but not so as to lie hopelessly prostrate. Calvin translates well, "Num impegerunt ut corruerent?" and "eoram lapsu." Alford adopts "lapse" for παράπτωμα. But the word, as used in English, is not equivalent. If we retain the rendering "fall," we must understand a partial or temporary fall, not prostration from which there is no recovery. Salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. (The word παραζηλῶσαι with the idea conveyed by it, is from Deuteronomy 32:21, which see.) Now if the fall (πράπτωμα, as above) of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness? The words ἥττημα and πλήρωμα, rendered in the Authorized Version "diminishing" and "fulness," have been variously understood. They are in contrast with each other, and must evidently be understood with reference to the same idea. Now, πλήρωμα, as used afterwards in ver. 25 ἄχρις οϋ τὸ πλήρωμα τῶν ἐθνῶν ἐσέλθῃ), seems plainly to mean the full complement of the Gentiles; and so here must surely be meant the full complement of the Jews, pointing to the same idea as as Ἰσραὴλ in ver. 26. If so, ἥττημα must mean the defect from such full complement - not. indeed (as some have explained), the small number (i.e. of believers) now opposed to the full number in the future, but abstractedly, defect, or fewness, as opposed to fulness. This interpretation agrees with the meaning of ἥττημα in the only other place where it occurs in the New Testament, viz. 1 Corinthians 6:7, where it seems to signify "defect," though used in that passage with a moral reference. The reason why the present ἥττημα of the Jews is the riches of the Gentiles is that the refusal of the Jews to accept the gospel had been the occasion of its being offered to the Gentiles (cf. Acts 13:46; Acts 28:28; also Matthew 15:24; Matthew 22:9). It is not, of course, meant that the gospel was not originally intended for all the world, but only that the present and immediate promulgation of it to the Gentiles had been due to the Jews' refusal. Otherwise, we may conceive, it would have been after the fulness of the Jews had come in that it would have been extended through them to the Gentiles (el. Romans 15:8, 9). Cf. Isaiah 60, where, as in other prophetic passages, the vision presented is that of the scattered sons of Israel being first brought into the glorified holy city, and the Gentiles gathering round them through the ever-open gates.
Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
Verses 13, 14. - But (δὲ is better supported than γὰρ) I speak to you the Gentiles. Inasmuch (or, so far) then (οϋν, which is not in the Textus Receptus, being read, and so connecting this clause with what follows) as I am an apostle of the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy (in the Authorized Version, emulation, but it is the same word as in ver. 11) my flesh (i.e. my kindred), and may save some of them. To the Gentiles, whom he now directly addresses, he thus intimates that, though he is especially their apostle, yet beyond them he has his own countrymen still in view, whose conversion, through theirs, he has ever close to his heart. I glorify (δοξάζω) my ministry - i.e, my apostleship to the Gentiles - may mean that I add glory to it, if I may, through it, attain that further purpose.
If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
Verse 15. - For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? The vivid force of this concluding expression is weakened by attempts to define what is exactly meant by it; as, for instance (as some interpret), that the general resurrection will come when the fulness of the Jews as well as the Gentiles has come in. It is best to leave the grandeur of the conception to be felt rather than explained.
For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
Verse 16. - And if the firstfruit be holy, so also is the lump; and if the root be holy, so also are the branches. By the firstfruit and the root is signified the original stock of Israel, the patriarchs; by the lump and the branches, the subsequent nation through all time. The word ἀπαρχή, being here connected with φύραμα, may be understood as referring to Numbers 15:19-22. The people are there enjoined to take of the first dough (φύραμα) kneaded after harvest a cake for a heave offering, called ἀπαρχή φυράματος (LXX.). This consecrated ἀπαρχή sanctified the whole φύραμα.
And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
Verses 17, 18. - But if some of the branches were broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree (i.e. of the stock of a wild olive tree; cf. ch. Romans 11:24) wast grafted in among them, and wast made partaker with them of the root and the fatness of the olive tree, boast not against the branches. But if thou boastest, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. In thus addressing the Gentile in the second person singular, the apostle brings his warning home to any individual Gentile Christian who might be inclined to boast; though regarding him still as representing Gentile believers generally. They are compared to slips of the wild olive tree (ἡ ἀγριέλαιος, oleaster), which was unproductive (cf. "Infelix superat foliis oleaster amaris"), acquiring richness and fertility by being grafted into the cultivated tree (ἡ καλλιέλαιος, oleo). Whether or not such a reversal of the usual system of grafting would have the imagined effect does not matter, as long as the illustration serves St. Paul's purpose well, and helps us to grasp, his conception. The common process is -
"... to marry
A gentle scion to the wildest stock,
And make conceive a bark of baser kind,
By bud of nobler race." In the illustration before us a scion of wildest stock is supposed to be made to conceive through the stock of nobler race to which it is united. The selecting the olive tree for illustration is happy, inasmuch as it was not only a characteristic produce of Palestine, but also regarded as symbolical of a plant of grace; cf. Psalm 52:8, "I am a green olive tree in the house of God;" also Jeremiah 11:16; Hosea 14:6. See also the parable of Jotham (Judges 9:8, 9), where the trees apply first to the olive tree to be their king; and observe also there the word "fatness," used here also by St. Paul: Μὴ ἀπολείψασαα τὴν πιότητα μου ἐν ῇ δοξάσουσι τὸν Θεὸν ἄνδρες πορεύσομαι κινεῖσθαι ἐπὶ τῶν ξύλων; (LXX.). The "branches" against which the ingrafted scion is warned not to boast are not exclusively either the broken-off or the remaining ones, but, as the sequel shows, the natural branches of the tree generally. The Gentile Christian is not to contemn the race of Israel because so large a portion of it is at present apart from the Church and under judgment; for it is, after all, from the stock of Israel, into which he has been engrafted, that he derives all his own fertility. As to the Christian Church being ever regarded as derived from that of Israel, the fulfilment and outcome of the ancient covenant, see note on Romans 1:2; and cf. John 4:22, "For salvation is of the Jews."
Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
Verse 19. - Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Though I might not boast against the original branches that remain, and among whom I have been grafted, yet I may against those which, for their unworthiness, have been broken off to make room for me: though not boasting against the faithful Jews, I surely may against the unfaithful and rejected ones.
Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
Verses 20, 21. - Well - the fact of the case is as you say; but why? - because of unbelief they were broken off; and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare thee. (So, rather than as in the Authorized Version, according to the best-supported readings.) Thou art on thy trial, as they were, and alike liable to be broken off for the like cause; their present rejection should inspire in thee, not boast-fullness, but fear. The question has been raised whether St. Paul (using, as he does, the terms σὺ and τινες τῶς κλάδων) has now the election and final salvation of individuals in view, or still only the calling to a state of salvation of races or communities of men - of the Jewish race on the one hand, and Gentile Churches on the other. The whole purport of this section of the Epistle (ch. 9, 10, 11.) seems to demand the latter view. (As to σὺ, see on ver. 17.) Besides, if by the broken-off branches were meant simply individual unbelievers, how could we explain their being "grafted in again" (vers. 23, 24), seeing that the contemplated restoration is regarded in vers. 25, 26 as something that is to take place in the possibly distant future, after "the fulness of the Gentiles" has come in? Thus this passage is really irrelevant to any doctrines about individual election and salvation that may have been built upon it. It is, however, important as confirming the general view of Divine election not being irrespective of the conditions of human faith and perseverance.
For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
Verses 22, 23. - Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: toward them that fell, severity (to be a warning to thee); but toward thee, God's goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they, if they abide not still in their unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. The reference here to God's power to graft them in again may be suggested by the apparent impossibility, from a human point of view, of the Jews as a nation, having rejected Christ in person, and being so inveterately set against the gospel as they were, ever coming into the Church. But "with God all things are possible" (cf. Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27). Nay - so the thought goes on - it would seem in itself more likely, and according to the nature of things, that the Jews should be brought into the Church, which is really their own, and the true fulfilment of their own oracles, than that Gentiles, who had had no similar preparation, should have been so.
And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
Verse 24. - For if thou wast cut out of that which was by nature a wild olive tree (ἀγριελαίου), and wast grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree (καλλιελαίου): how much rather shall these, which be branches by nature, be grafted into their own olive tree? In what follows next the eventual coming of the Jewish nation into the Church is not only anticipated as possible or probable, but foretold prophetically. St. Paul announces it as a "mystery," which his readers may be ignorant of, but which he wishes them to know. By the word μυστήριον, as used by St. Paul, is meant something hidden from man in the Divine counsels till made known by revelation (see 1 Corinthians 2:7, 10; 1 Corinthians 15:51; and, in this Epistle, Romans 16:25, 26 - a passage which expresses clearly the apostle's meaning in his use of the word). In the LXX. it denotes any Divine secret, which may or may not be made known to man (cf. Daniel 2:18, 19, etc.; Job 11:6; Wisd. 2:22; Ecclus. 22:22 Ecclus. 27:16). So also in the Gospels (Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10) it is said to be given to the disciples to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to others in parables. In classical Greek μυστήρια were Divine secrets (as in the Eleusinian Mysteries) which were revealed to the initiated alone. St. Paul uses the word with the same essential meaning; only he speaks of mysteries which had already been revealed to himself and others by the Spirit, and has ever in view the Divine purposes, previously unknown, for the salvation of mankind. Thus in Ephesians 1:9, seq.; and Ephesians 3:3, seq., he speaks of the Divine purpose to "gather in one all things in Christ," and that "the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs," etc., as a mystery, "not made known in other ages unto the sons of men," but now revealed to the "holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit." (The other passages in which St. Paul uses the word are 1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 13:2; Ephesians 5:32; Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 1:26, 27; Colossians 2:2; Colossians 4:3; 1 Timothy 3:9, 16; 2 Thessalonians 2:7.) Here he announces the Divine purpose to save "all Israel" at last through the calling of the Gentiles as a mystery which has been revealed to himself and others, and which he desires the Gentile Christians to be aware of, lest they should be "wise in their own conceits," i.e. presume on their present position of privilege through ignorance of what is in store for Israel.
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
Verses 25-27. - For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that hardness (πώρωσις; see ver. 8) in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles he come in. And so all Israel shall be saved. Πᾶς Ισραὴλ here must mean the whole nation; not, as Calvin explains, "com-plebitur salus totius Israel Dei [i.e. of the spiritual Israel, as in Galatians 6:16] quam ex utrisque [i.e. with Jews and Gentiles] colligi oportet;" for "Israel" must surely be understood in the same sense as in the preceding verse, where it denotes the Jewish nation as opposed to the Gentiles. Σωθήσεται, as seems required by the whole context, means coming into the Church (cf. Acts 2:47, Ὁ δὲ κύριος προσετίθει τοὺς σωζομένους καθ ἡμέραν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ). As it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: and this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. Referring, as throughout the Epistle, to the Old Testament for confirmation, St. Paul here, as in former instances, combines passages, and quotes freely, perhaps from memory. The main citation is from Isaiah 59:20, 21, with an addition from Isaiah 17:9, the LXX. being followed. The citations are relevant, being specimens of many others that might have been adduced, predicting the final pardon and restitution of the house of Israel itself, notwithstanding judgments, through the Redeemer who was to come. What follows, to ver. 33, is in the way of summary and further comment.
And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.
Verses 28, 29. - As touching the gospel indeed (with regard to acceptance of the gospel now) they are enemies for your sakes (for their having become God's enemies by rejecting and opposing it has been the occasion of your having been now called in): but as touching the election (God's original choice of Israel to be his people. Ἐκλογὴ here cannot well have a concrete sense, as in ver. 7), they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts (χαρίσματα, meaning "free gifts," or "gifts of grace;" the word used to denote the special gifts of the Holy Ghost showered after Pentecost in the apostolic Church; but expressing generally, as here, whatever God, of his own good will, grants freely) and the calling of God are without repentance (i.e. unrepented of by him and irrevocable; cf. Numbers 23:19, 20; also 1 Samuel 15:29). This denial of anthropopathy in God is asserted as a general truth, to be applied to his calling of "the fathers," i.e. the patriarchs, and their seed after them, to be his people. It is true that, as is shown in ch. 4, there is a spiritual seed of Abraham, not necessarily of the house of Israel, to whom the promises in their ultimate scope were to be fulfilled; but the apostle regards it as impossible that the promises made primarily to the chosen people themselves should be revoked or fail of eventual fulfilment to them.
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
Verses 30, 31. - For as ye in times past believed not God (so, except that the aorist ἠπειθήσατε' is translated "have not believed," in the Authorized Version: but with an alternative in the margin of "obeyed" for "believed." The substantive ἀπειθεία, which follows twice, should be translated "disobedience" rather than "unbelief," if ἠπειθήσατε is translated "disobeyed." Properly and usually ἀπειθεία conveys a different idea from ἀπιστια, denoting "disobedience" or "contumacy," and not merely want of faith. But it appears to be sometimes used in the sense of ἀπιστία. For instance, in John 3:36, ὁ ἀπειθῶν τῷ υἱῷ is opposed to τῶ πιστεύοντι εἰς τὸν υἱόν. Most modern commentators, with reason, understand "disobedience" here. The difference does not affect the drift of the argument),but now have obtained mercy through their unbelief (or, disobedience): even so have these also now not believed (or, obeyed), that through your mercy (i.e. the mercy shown to you) they also may obtain mercy. The position of ἵνα after τῷ ὑμετέρῳ ἐλέει has led commentators, ancient and modern, to connect τῷ ὑμετέρῳ ἐλέει with the preceding ἠπείθησαν, and to try to hit upon a meaning in this connection. But the sense of the passage, as well as the parallalism of the preceding clause, favours the connection of the Authorized Version, as given above. (For a similar position of ἵνα, cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7.)
Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
Verse 32. - For God hath concluded them all in (literally, shut them all up into) unbelief (or, disobedience), that he might have mercy upon them all. Chrysostom and other Greek Fathers understood συνέκλεισε το mean only declared them to be unbelieving (or, disobedient), or convicted them of being so. Thus Chrysostom, τουτέστιν ἤλεγξεν, ἔπεδειξεν ἀπειθοῦντας. So, it may be said, must the verb he understood where St. Paul elsewhere uses it with a similar reference in Galatians 3:22, ἡ γραφὴ being there the nominative to the verb. But ὁ Θεὸς being the nominative here, the more obvious meaning seems to be that the shutting up was God's doing. Some, understanding it so, would soften the expression by explaining that God allowed them to become so shut up. Τὸ συνέκλεισε νοητέον ὅτι τοὺς βουληθέντας ἀπειθεῖν εἴασεν ἀπειθεῖν (Diodorus), But we need not shrink from the plain meaning of the expression, viz. that it was God's own act. He is not thus represented as plunging men into inevitable infidelity, having given them no choice. As in the case of the hardening spoken of' above, his dealings are judicial; the state into which. they are now by him shut up has not been undeserved. And, further, his ultimate purpose is here distinctly declared to be one of mercy. The way in which the apostle regards such present judicial dealing as conducive to final mercy appears to be such as this. It is the doctrine of the whole Epistle that salvation is to be attained by man's renouncing his own imagined righteousness, and submitting himself to the righteousness of God. It conduces to this end that his ἀπειθεία should have its course and consequences; so that, conscience being at length awakened, he may long for deliverance from his hopeless state, and appreciate the offered salvation (see ch. 7.). So the Gentile world was long shut up in its self-induced, but also judicial, ἀπειθεία (Romans 1:18, seq.); that, "the wrath of God" being at length revealed to it from heaven, the "righteousness of God" might also be revealed to it and laid hold cf. In like manner God deals now with the Jews, who still persist in going about to establish their own righteousness instead of submitting themselves to the righteousness of God. He shuts them up for the present in their ἀπειθεία, to the end that at length, after their long judgment, and stirred up by the fulness of the Gentiles coming in, they may feel their need, and accept salvation. Τοὺς πάντας in the concluding clause seems to mean generally all mankind, Jews as well as Gentiles; and ἵνα τοὺς πάντας ἐλεήσῃ (as σωθήσεται was understood above with respect to "all Israel," as suggested by the context and the general drift of the chapter) God's embracing all races of mankind at last in the arms of his mercy by calling them into the Church. Thus the latter expression is not in itself adducible in support of the doctrine of universalism. Certainly the prospect of a universal triumph of the gospel before the end rises here before the apostle in prophetic vision; and it may be that it carries with it to his mind further glories of eternal salvation for all, casting their rays backward over all past ages, so as to inspire an unbounded hope. Such a hope, which seems elsewhere intimated (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:24-29; Ephesians 1:9, 10, 20-23; Colossians 1:15-20, would justify the glowing rhapsody of admiration and thanksgiving that follows more fully than if we supposed the apostle to contemplate still the eternal perdition of the multitudes who in all the ages have not on earth found mercy.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
Verses 33-35. - O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge (or, of the riches and wisdom and knowledge) of God! By γνώσεως is signified God's omniscience; by σοφίας, his wisdom in ordering events; by πλούτου, if it be taken as a co-ordinate substantive, the abundance of his goodness (cf. Romans 2:4, πλούτος τῆς χρηστότητος; Ephesians 1:7, τὸν πλοῦτον τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ. Co-ordination of the three substantives is suggested by the καὶ before σοφίας; but St. Paul's prevailing usage may rather commend the dependence of σοφίας and γνώσεως or πλούτου, as in the Authorized Version). How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding (rather, tracing) out! (cf. Psalm 26:6; Job 9:10; Job 11:7). For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (Isaiah 40:13, quoted accurately from the LXX.). Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? (cf. Job 41:11, where the Hebrew has (Revised Version), "Who hath first given unto me, that I should repay him?" The LXX. (Job 41:2) gives an entirely different sense of the passage; and it would thus appear, as may be seen also in other cases, that St. Paul, though usually quoting more or less freely from the LXX., was familiar also with the Hebrew text, and exercised judgment in his citations.
For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counseller?
Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Verse 36. - For of him; and through him, and unto him, are all things. The view advanced by some, that we have here an intimation of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, cannot fairly be maintained. But it is strikingly significant of the apostle's view of the essential Deity of Christ, that in 1 Corinthians 8:6 and Colossians 1:16, 17, similar language is applied to him. In the first of these texts it is said of the Father, ἐξ οῦ τὰ πάντα, and of the "Lord Jesus Christ," δἰ οῦ τὰ πάντα; and in the second, of "the Son of the Father's love," ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα, and τὰ πάντα δἰ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται and also τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν. To him be the glory for ever. Amen.