Romans 11:14
If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
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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 by any means - If even by stating unpleasant truths, if by bringing out all the counsel of God, even what threatens their destruction, I may arrest their attention, and save them.

I may provoke to emulation - I may awaken up to zeal, or to an earnest desire to obtain the like blessings. This was in accordance with the prediction of Moses, that the calling in of the Gentiles would excite their attention, and provoke them to deep feeling; Note, Romans 10:19. The apostle expected to do this by calling their attention to the ancient prophecies; by alarming their fears about their own danger; and by showing them the great privileges which Gentiles might enjoy under the gospel; thus appealing to them by every principle of benevolence, by all their regard for God and man, to excite them to seek the same blessings.

My flesh - My countrymen. My kinsmen, Those belonging to the same family or nation; Romans 9:3; Genesis 29:14; Judges 9:2; 2 Samuel 5:1; Isaiah 58:7.

And save some of them - This desire the apostle often expressed; (see Romans 9:2-3; Romans 10:1-2.) We may see here:

(1) That it is the earnest wish of the ministry to save the souls of men.

(2) that they should urge every argument and appeal with reference to this.

(3) that even the most awful and humbling truths may have this tendency. No truth could be more likely to irritate and offend than that the Jews would be cast off; and yet the apostle used this so faithfully, and yet so tenderly, that he expected and desired it might be the means of saving the souls of his countrymen. Truth often irritates, enrages, and thus excites the attention. Thought or inquiry, however it may be excited, may result in conversion. And thus, even restlessness, and vexation, and anger, may be the means of leading a sinner to Jesus Christ. It should be no part of a minister's object, however, to produce anger. It is a bad emotion; in itself it is evil; and if people can be won to embrace the Saviour without anger, it is better. No wise man would excite a storm and tempest that might require infinite power to subdue, when the same object could be gained with comparative peace, and under the mild influence of love.

(4) it is right to use all the means in our power, not absolutely wicked, to save people. Paul was full of devices; and much of the success of the ministry will depend on a wise use of plans, that may, by the divine blessing, arrest and save the souls of people.

14. If … I may provoke, &c. (See on [2250]Ro 11:11.)

my flesh—Compare Isa 58:7.

q.d. And I thus extol God’s favour and mercy to you, that it may be a means (if God please) to provoke the Jews, that are my own flesh and blood, to a holy emulation or jealousy, {see Romans 11:11} when they shall see the Gentiles possess what was promised to them.

Question. How doth he say, that he may save some of them? Is not God the author of salvation?

Answer. Yes; but he hath given his ministers to be instruments therein, and called them fellow workers with himself, 1 Corinthians 6:1: see 1 Timothy 4:16.

If by any means I may provoke to emulation,.... What he had in view, even in discharging his office among the Gentiles with so much labour, assiduity, and indefatigableness, was, that if possible he might stir up the Jews to emulate and imitate the Gentiles, in seeking after Christ; for these he means when he says,

them which are my flesh; they being his brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh, for it was common with the eastern nations to call such persons their flesh; see Genesis 29:14; and carries in it a reason why he was so solicitous for their welfare, because of the relation of them to him, and the natural affection he bore towards them; and his hope was, that they seeing the nations of the earth blessed in the promised seed, through his preaching the Gospel to them, great gatherings of the people to Shiloh, and the Gentiles seeking to the root of Jesse, set up for an ensign to the people, might be provoked to an emulation of them; and likewise seek the Lord their God, and David their King, and thereby have his end he so much wished for and desired:

and might save some of them; he says "some", not all, for he knew the bulk of the people was rejected, only a seed was left among them, a remnant according to the election of grace that should be saved, and which did obtain righteousness and life, while the rest were blinded. The ministers of the Gospel may be said to save souls, not efficiently, for the author or efficient cause of salvation is God only; the Father has chose unto it, the Son has effected it, and the Spirit applies it; but instrumentally, as the word preached by them is the means of regeneration, faith, and conversion, with which salvation is connected: and as they show unto men the way of salvation, and encourage souls to believe in Christ, in whom alone it is. Now the apostle argues from his office, and the usefulness of it, to some among the Jews, to saving purposes, to prove that their rejection was not total.

If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
14. provoke to emulation] Same word as that rendered “provoke to jealousy,” Romans 11:11.

save some of them] The phrase implies that he looked for conversions only one by one, through his own ministry. Probably he suggests the contrast of results hereafter, when the crisis predicted in Romans 11:25 should come. Or again, he may mean that to save even some, in any event, was worth any effort. (A striking commentary on the import of the word “to save.”) Cp. 1 Corinthians 9:22 for this intense desire to “save some,” whether Jews or Gentiles.—It is instructive to see that St Paul never allows the promise of a glorious future to divert him from practical efforts in the present, however ill-requited such efforts might seem. And observe that he looks on present and future as in organic connexion: the results were to be vastly different in degree, but the means was to be the same throughout; the “provocation” of Israel to holy “jealousy” by the coming of blessing on the Gentiles.—Cp. 2 Corinthians 3:15-16, for an important parallel. There, in Romans 11:16, perhaps render “whensoever it” (i.e. the Jewish heart in any individual case) “turneth to the Lord.”

Romans 11:14. Τὴν σάρκα, the flesh) i.e., brethren. Isaiah 58:7.

Romans 11:14Some of them

A modest expression which recalls Paul's limited success among his own countrymen.

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