Romans 11:12
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?
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(12) And if the fall of the Jews had such good results, much more might be expected from their reinstatement.

Diminishing . . . fulness.—It is, perhaps, difficult to suggest a better translation. The Apostle seems to have in view not only the supersession of the Jews by the Gentiles, but also, under the figure of a defeat in battle, the reduction of their numbers to a small remnant. And, on the other hand, he looks forward to their full and complete restoration, when every Jew shall be a member of the Messianic kingdom, and there shall not be one missing. The full “complement,” as it were, of the nation is what is meant by “fulness;” its temporary reduction and degradation is expressed by “diminishing.”

11:11-21 The gospel is the greatest riches of every place where it is. As therefore the righteous rejection of the unbelieving Jews, was the occasion of so large a multitude of the Gentiles being reconciled to God, and at peace with him; the future receiving of the Jews into the church would be such a change, as would resemble a general resurrection of the dead in sin to a life of righteousness. Abraham was as the root of the church. The Jews continued branches of this tree till, as a nation, they rejected the Messiah; after that, their relation to Abraham and to God was, as it were, cut off. The Gentiles were grafted into this tree in their room; being admitted into the church of God. Multitudes were made heirs of Abraham's faith, holiness and blessedness. It is the natural state of every one of us, to be wild by nature. Conversion is as the grafting in of wild branches into the good olive. The wild olive was often ingrafted into the fruitful one when it began to decay, and this not only brought forth fruit, but caused the decaying olive to revive and flourish. The Gentiles, of free grace, had been grafted in to share advantages. They ought therefore to beware of self-confidence, and every kind of pride or ambition; lest, having only a dead faith, and an empty profession, they should turn from God, and forfeit their privileges. If we stand at all, it is by faith; we are guilty and helpless in ourselves, and are to be humble, watchful, afraid of self-deception, or of being overcome by temptation. Not only are we at first justified by faith, but kept to the end in that justified state by faith only; yet, by a faith which is not alone, but which worketh by love to God and man.If the fall of them - If their lapse, or falling. If their temporal rejection and being cast off for a time has already accomplished so much.

Be the riches of the world - The word "riches" means wealth, abundance of property; more than is necessary to the supply of our needs. Hence, it means also anything that may promote our comfort or happiness, as wealth is the means of securing our welfare. The gospel is called riches, as it is the means of our highest enjoyment, and eternal welfare. It is the means of conferring numberless spiritual blessings on the Gentile world; and as this was done by the fall of the Jews, so it could be said that their fall was the riches of the world. It was the occasion or means without which the blessings of the gospel could not be conferred on the world.

The diminishing of them - Margin, "Decay." "Loss" ἥττημα hēttēma. This word means diminution, defect, what is lacked or missing. Hence, also judgment, condemnation. Here it means their degradation; the withdrawing of their special privileges; their rejection. It stands opposed to "their fulness."

The riches of the Gentiles - The means of conferring important blessings on the Gentiles.

How much more their fulness - The word "fulness" πλήρωμα plērōma means what fills up, or completes anything. Thus, it is applied to what fills a vessel or cup; also to the piece of cloth which is put in to fill up the rent in a garment; Matthew 9:16. To the fragments which were left when Christ had fed the five thousand; Mark 8:20; Romans 13:10. "Love is the fulfilling of the law," that is, it is the filling up of the law, or what renders the obedience complete; see Galatians 5:14. Here it stands opposed to their fall, and their diminution, and evidently means their complete restoration to the favor of God; their recovery from unbelief and apostasy. That there will be such a recovery, the apostle proceeds to show. The sentiment of the passage then is, If their rejection and punishment; their being cut off from the favor of God, an event apparently so unlikely to promote the spread of true religion, if their being withrawn from all active influence in spreading the true knowledge of God, be yet the occasion of so many blessings to mankind as have attended the spread of the gospel in consequence of it; how much more shall we expect when they shall be restored; when the energy and zeal of the Jewish nation shall unite with the efforts of others in spreading the knowledge of the true Messiah. In what way, or when, this shall be, we know not. But it is easy to see, that if the Jewish people should be converted to the Christian faith, they would have facilities for spreading the truth, which the church has never had without them.

(1) they are scattered in all nations, and have access to all people.

(2) their conversion, after so long unbelief, would have all the power and influence of a miracle performed in view of all nations. It would be seen why they had been preserved, and their conversion would be a most striking fulfillment of the prophecies.

(3) they are familiar with the languages of the world, and their conversion would at once establish many Christian missionaries in the heart of all the kingdoms of the world. It would be kindling at once a thousand lights in all the dark parts of the earth.

(4) the Jews have shown that they are eminently suited to spread the true religion. It was by Jews converted to Christianity, that the gospel was first spread. Each of the apostles was a Jew; and they have lost none of the ardor, enterprise, and zeal that always characterized their nation. Their conversion would be, therefore, to give to the church a host of missionaries prepared for their work, familiar with all customs, languages, and climes, and already in the heart of all kingdoms, and with facilities for their work in advance, which others must gain only by the slow toil of many years.

12. Now if the fall of them—"But if their trespass," or "false step"

be the riches of the—Gentile

world—as being the occasion of their accession to Christ.

and the diminishing of them—that is, the reduction of the true Israel to so small a remnant.

the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness!—that is, their full recovery (see on [2248]Ro 11:26); that is, "If an event so untoward as Israel's fall was the occasion of such unspeakable good to the Gentile world, of how much greater good may we expect an event so blessed as their full recovery to be productive?"

Another anticipation. The apostle having showed, that the falling away of the Jews was an occasion of the coming in of the Gentiles, it might be objected, that the conversion of the Jews might likewise be an occasion of the falling away of the Gentiles. To this he answers negatively, and confirms his answer by an argument from the less to the greater; that if their fall and diminution were the riches of the Gentiles, their calling again would be so much more: q.d. If God hath made use of the fall and rejection of the Jews, for an occasion of pouring out the riches or abundance of his grace upon the nations; and if the number of believing Jews, being so very small, (which is meant by their diminishing), hath occasioned the conversion of such a multitude of Gentiles; then how much more will their fulness have the effect!

How much more their fulness! i.e. their general conversion, the coming in of the Jews, shall so fill the world with wonder, and the gospel with lustre, that a much further accession will be made even to the number of the believing Gentiles.

Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world,.... By "the world", as is clear from the next clause, is meant the Gentiles; who were frequently called so by the Jews, who reckoned themselves to be "the church", and all the nations round about them, "the world"; which observation may serve to illustrate other passages of Scripture; see John 3:16; now the fall of the Jews, which was a lessening of them, was the riches of the Gentiles;

and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; the number of the true believers in Christ among them were very few, the generality of them received him not, but stumbled at him, and fell through unbelief; but the few that did believe were the means of carrying and spreading the Gospel, which is, "the unsearchable riches of Christ", Ephesians 3:8, in the Gentile world: thus at first a persecution being raised against the church at Jerusalem, the ministers of the Gospel were scattered abroad, and went everywhere preaching the word; and afterwards the Jews behaving in a very indecent manner towards the apostles of Christ, they turned in a manner wholly to the Gentiles; and thus by the means of a few, a diminutive company, of which the Apostle Paul was one, the Gospel, the pearl of great price, treasure hid in a field, and put into earthen vessels, was carried into the Heathen world, and by it they were enriched. This handful of men that went out of Judea, were the means of converting vast numbers, large multitudes of souls among the Gentiles, which may be also designed by "riches": this word sometimes signifying plenty, see Romans 2:4; and also of enriching them with the gifts and graces of the Spirit, and of directing them to Christ, who has durable riches, treasures of wisdom and knowledge, riches of grace, and riches of glory. Now the apostle argues, that if such a small number of the Jews who embraced Christ, were of so much advantage to the Gentiles,

how much more their fulness? when converts to Christ among them will be as the sand of the sea, a nation of them shall be born again at once, and all Israel be saved. This will be a great accession to the Gentile church, bring much glory to it, contribute greatly to its welfare, and be a means of establishing their faith, and of putting fresh life and vigour into them, and of inspiring them with more zeal for Christ, and for his honour and glory.

Now if the fall of them be the {k} riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their {l} fulness?

(k) By riches he means the knowledge of the Gospel to everlasting life: and by the world, all nations dispersed throughout the whole world.

(l) Of the Jews, when the whole nation without exception will come to Christ.

Romans 11:12. Δέ] μεταβατικόν, leading over from what has been said in Romans 11:11 to a very joyful prospect thereby opened into the future.

The conclusion is a “felici effectu causae pejoris ad feliciorem effectum causae melioris.”

πλοῦτος] for the Gentile world (κόσμος) became enriched with the σωτηρία (Romans 11:11), through the παράπτωμα of the Jews.

τὸ ἥττημα αὐτ. πλοῦτ. ἐθνῶν] and their overthrow riches for Gentile peoples. Parallel to the foregoing.

ἥττημα] is not found in the old Greek, but only in the LXX. Isaiah 31:8, and 1 Corinthians 6:7; it is, however, equivalent to the classical ἧττα, which is the opposite of νίκη (Plato, Lach. p. 196 A, Legg. i. p. 638 A; Dem. 1486. 3; Xen. Cyr. iii. 1. 19, 20), and, corresponding to the signification of ἡττᾶσθαι, profligari, vinci, means clades, both in its proper sense, and also generally: succumbing, decline (comp. Dem. 1466. 23, ἧττα τῆς προαιρέσεως), loss suffered (1 Corinthians 6:7), getting the worse. See Perizon. ad Ael. V. H. ii. 25. Here the proper signification is to be retained, and that, as the contrast of τὸ πλήρωμα requires, in a numerical respect. So now also Tholuck, likewise Mangold. Through the fact that a part of the Jews was unbelieving, the people has suffered an overthrow, has, like a vanquished army, been weakened in numbers, inasmuch, namely, as the unbelieving portion by its unbelief practically seceded from the people of God. Comp. Vulg.: “diminutio eorum;” Luthardt: “loss in amount.” If it be explained as: loss of the Messianic salvation, which they have suffered (Fritzsche and others), or: the loss which the kingdom of God has suffered in their case (Philippi, comp. Kahnis, Dogm. I. p. 573), the former is not appropriate to the contrast of πλήρωμα, and the latter introduces the reference to the kingdom of God, as that which has suffered the detriment, the more unwarrantably, inasmuch as the genit. αὐτῶν is expressed. The threefold αὐτῶν is to be taken with the like reference as the genitive of the subject, and applies in each instance to the people Israel as a whole (whose collective guilt also is the παράπτωμα), in contrast to the κόσμος and the ἔθνη—which likewise is not preserved in Philippi’s view. This very circumstance, and more decisively the utter absence of linguistic proof, tells also against the traditional usual rendering, according to which τὸ ἥττημα is supposed to signify the minority:paucitas Judaeorum credentium” (Grotius). So, in substance, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Erasmus, Beza, Estius, Wetstein, Bengel, and many others, including Reiche, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, Maier, Bisping, Reithmayr; comp. Ewald: “their remaining behind.”

πόσῳ μᾶλλον τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῶν] sc. πλοῦτος ἐθνῶν γενήσεται; how much more their becoming full, that is, how much more will it issue in the enrichment of the Gentiles with the Messianic salvation, if the Jews, after the defeat which they have suffered, shall again be reinstated to their plena copia, so that they will then again in their full amount (Romans 11:26), as an integral whole, belong to the people of God,—which will take place through the conversion of all Israel to Christ (not would, as Luther has it). The ἥττημα αὐτῶν is then compensated, and the ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ ΑὐΤῶΝ brought in, which, moreover, may take place even with a continuance of the ΔΙΑΣΠΟΡΆ. On ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ generally, see Fritzsche, II. p. 469 ff. Comp. on Ephesians 1:10. The numerical reference of the πλήρωμα αὐτῶν is suggested by the correlative ΤῸ ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ ΤῶΝ ἘΘΝῶΝ in Romans 11:25; and in so far the view which takes it of the full number of the Jews (Theodoret: πάντες πιστεύσαντες μειζόνων ἀγαθῶν πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ἐγένοντο ἂν πρόξενοι, so most) is correct. Comp. Ewald: “their full admission, supplying what is wanting.” With this Umbreit mixes up at the same time “the fulfilment of their predestination;” whilst van Hengel sees in the πλήρ. αὐτ., not absolutely the full number, but only the collective body of those destined by God to conversion, which, however, is not expressed, but is supplied by the reader. The various views correspond to the varying explanations of ἥττημα. So e.g. Fritzsche: the fulness of Messianic salvation, which they will possess; Philippi: the filling up—which takes place through their conversion—of the blank in the kingdom of God which arose through their unbelief; Rückert, Köllner: the restoration of Israel to its befitting position; Hofmann: the status, in which they are fully and entirely that which they ought to be (qualitative). Luthardt also takes the correct view.

Romans 11:12. Both ἥττημα and πλήρωμα are difficult words, but it is not necessary to suppose that they answer mathematically to one another, though Wetstein explains them by - and +. ἥττημα may mean (as in Isaiah 31:8) defeat, or (as in 1 Corinthians 6:7) loss; it can hardly mean diminutio eorum, or paucitas Judœorum credentium; τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῶν must mean the making up of them to their full numbers. There is an exhaustive study of the word πλήρωμα by Prof. J. Armitage Robinson in The Expositor, April, 1898. His paraphrase of this verse is very good. “If the Gentiles have been enriched in a sense through the very miscarriage and disaster of Israel, what wealth is in store for them in the great Return, when all Israel shall be saved—‘when God hath made the pile complete!’ ” The enrichment referred to is in both cases that which comes through participating in the blessings of the Gospel.

12. the fall] Same word as in Romans 11:11. See note there.

the riches] “The unsearchable riches of Messiah,” (Ephesians 3:8,) which “on occasion of” the rejection of Messiah by the Jews were preached to the “world” of the Gentiles.

the diminishing] The Gr. word, by analogy with cognate words in the classics, invites the rendering “defeat.” But it stands here in plain contrast to that rendered “fulness;” and so should be interpreted a lessening, falling short, in respect of numbers. Unbelief in Messiah reduced to woeful fewness the “Israel” which was really in covenant. More and more it proved to be a mere “remnant.” And the causes which brought this about were also, under God, the causes of the spread of the Gospel to the Gentiles.

how much more their fulness?] The better cause shall produce a better effect.—“Their fulness:”—i.e. the filling up of their numbers. The true Israel shall at length include a vastly larger proportion of Israel the nation, whether or no the nation shall be literally all brought in. See further below, on Romans 11:15; Romans 11:26.

Romans 11:12. Εἰ δὲ, Now if) This verse has two parts, the first is treated of, Romans 11:13, etc.: the latter, how much more, etc., Romans 11:23-24.—κόσμονἐθνῶν, of the world—of the Gentiles) The world denotes quality [in reference to the] παράπτωμα, the original fall [i.e., the fall of man in Adam]; the Gentiles, quantity, or, in other words, multitude, to which fewness [diminishing, Engl. Vers.], ἥττημα, is opposed; whence τὸ πλήρωμα [the fulness] signifies, presently after, the large numbers of Israel abounding in grace.—ἤττημα) the fewness, in opposition to πλήρωμα, fulness [abundance]. Isaiah 31:8, ἐσονται εἰς ἥττημα, [His young men shall become a mere handful; lit. a fewness].—πόσῳ μᾶλλον, how much more) for where there are many seeds, their increase is the greater.—τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῶν, their fulness, [abundance]; supply, will be the riches of the Gentiles. Therefore, even if the Jews had believed from the very first, the Gentiles would not have been excluded. The same word occurs in Romans 11:25.

Romans 11:12Diminishing (ἥττημα)

The literal translation. Rev. renders loss. Referring apparently to the diminution in numbers of the Jewish people. Other explanations are defeat, impoverishment, injury, minority.

Fullness (πλήρωμα)

See on John 1:16. The word may mean that with which anything is filled (1 Corinthians 10:26, 1 Corinthians 10:28; Matthew 9:16; Mark 6:43); that which is filled (Ephesians 1:23); possibly the act of filling (Romans 13:10), though this is doubtful. Here in the first sense: the fullness of their number contrasted with the diminution. They will belong as an integral whole to the people of God.

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