Romans 11:15
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?
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(15) Reconciling of the world.—The gospel could not be preached to the Gentiles until it had first been offered to and rejected by the Jews. Hence the casting away of the Jews might be said to have caused the reconciling of the rest of the world.

Life from the dead.—The reconversion of the Jews will be a signal to inaugurate that reign of eternal life which will be ushered in by the resurrection from the dead.

Romans 11:15. For — As if he had said, Their general conversion ought to be desired, because of the admirable benefit which will come to mankind thereby: for if the casting away of them — Their rejection, as signified above; be the reconciling of the world — An occasion of sending the gospel to the Gentiles in all parts of the world, and so bringing them to faith in Christ, whereby they obtain the pardon of their sins, and reconciliation with God; what shall the receiving of them into God’s favour and into his church be, but life from the dead — A miraculous work, and productive of the greatest joy to the converted Gentiles; a joy like that which one would feel on receiving a beloved friend back from the dead. As, in the following verse, the apostle speaks of God’s church under the emblem of a tree, Dr. Macknight thinks, in using the words η αποβολη, the casting away, “he may perhaps allude to the practice of gardeners, who cut off from vines and olive-trees such branches as are barren or withered, and cast them away. According to this notion of casting away, the reconciling of the world, or Gentiles, is the same thing with the ingrafting of them, mentioned Romans 11:17. In this passage the unbelief and rejection of the Jews is justly represented as the means of the reception of the Gentiles. For, although the unbelief of the Jews may seem to have been an obstacle to the conversion of the Gentiles, it hath greatly contributed to that event. Besides the reason mentioned in a preceding note, it is to be considered, that the rejection of the Jews was the punishment of their unbelief, and that both events were foretold by Moses and by Christ. Wherefore these events, as the fulfilment of prophecy, have strengthened the evidences of the gospel, and thereby contributed to the conversion of the Gentiles.” Add to this, there are many other predictions in the Old Testament, which demonstrate the truth of the gospel, but which derive their strength from their being in the possession of the Jews, in whose hands they have continued from the beginning, and who have preserved them with the greatest care, carrying them with them in all their dispersions, wherever they go. In all countries, therefore, the Jews are living witnesses to the antiquity and genuineness of the whole of the prophecies by which the gospel is confirmed. And their testimony, which is always at hand, cannot be called in question; because, having shown themselves from the beginning bitter enemies of Christ and of his gospel, no suspicion can be entertained that they have either forged these prophecies, or altered them to favour us. As little can it be suspected that we have forged or altered these prophecies. For if any of us had been disposed so to do, it would have served no purpose while our enemies, the Jews, maintained the integrity of their copies.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.For if the casting away of them - If their rejection as the special people of God - their exclusion from their national privileges, on account of their unbelief. It is the same as "the fall of them;" Romans 11:12.

Be the reconciling of the world - The word "reconciliation" καταλλαγή katallagē denotes commonly a pacification of contending parties; a removing the occasion of difference, so as again to be united; 1 Corinthians 7:11, "Let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband." It is commonly applied to the reconciliation, or pacification, produced between man and God by the gospel. They are brought to union, to friendship, to peace, by the intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ; Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19," God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." Hence, the ministry is called the "ministry of reconciliation;" 2 Corinthians 5:18. And hence, this word is used to express the atonement; Romans 5:11, "By whom we have now received the atonement" (the reconciliation). In this place it means that many of the Gentiles - the world - had become reconciled to God as the result of the casting off of the Jews. By their unbelief, the way had been opened to preach the gospel to the Gentiles; it was the occasion by which God sent it to the nations of the earth; compare Acts 13:46.

The receiving of them - The same as was denoted Romans 11:12 by their fulness. If the casting them off, an event so little likely, apparently, to produce any good effect, was nevertheless overruled so as to produce important benefits in the spread of the gospel, how much more may we expect will be accomplished by their conversion and return; an event suited in itself to produce an important influence on mankind. One would have supposed that their rejection of the Messiah would have been an important obstacle in the way of the gospel. It was overruled, however, to promote its increase. Their return will have a direct tendency to spread it. How much more, therefore, may we expect to be accomplished by that?

But life from the dead - This is an instance of the special, glowing, and vigorous manner of the apostle Paul. His mind catches at the thought of what may be produced by the recovery of the Jews, and no ordinary language would convey his idea. He had already exhausted the usual forms of speech by saying that even their rejection had reconciled the world, and that it was the riches of the Gentiles. To say that their recovery - a striking and momentous event; an event so much better suited to produce important results - would be attended by the conversion of the world, would be insipid and tame. He uses, therefore, a most bold and striking figure. The resurrection of the dead was an image of the most vast and wonderful event that could take place. This image, therefore, in the apostle's mind, was a striking illustration of the great change and reformation which should take place when the Jews should be restored, and the effect should be felt in the conversion also of the Gentile world.

Some have supposed that the apostle here refers to a literal resurrection of the dead, as the conversion of the Jews. But there is not the slightest evidence of this. He refers to the recovery of the nations from the death of sin which shall take place when the Jews shall be converted to the Christian faith. The prophet Ezekiel EZechariah 37:1-14 has also used the same image of the resurrection of the dead to denote a great moral change among a people. It is clear here that the apostle fixed his eye on a future conversion of the Jews to the gospel, and expected that their conversion would precede the universal conversion of the Gentiles to the Christian faith, There could be no event that would make so immediate and decided an impression on the pagan world as the conversion of the Jews. They are scattered everywhere; they have access to all people; they understand all languages; and their conversion would be like kindling up thousands of lights at once in the darkness of the pagan world.

15. For if the casting away of them—The apostle had denied that they were east away (Ro 11:1); here he affirms it. But both are true; they were cast away, though neither totally nor finally, and it is of this partial and temporary rejection that the apostle here speaks.

be the reconciling of the—Gentile

world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?—The reception of the whole family of Israel, scattered as they are among all nations under heaven, and the most inveterate enemies of the Lord Jesus, will be such a stupendous manifestation of the power of God upon the spirits of men, and of His glorious presence with the heralds of the Cross, as will not only kindle devout astonishment far and wide, but so change the dominant mode of thinking and feeling on all spiritual things as to seem like a resurrection from the dead.

This verse contains an argument to prove the calling of the Jews; not a new one, but that repeated which you had before, Romans 11:12; the substance is the same, only the terms differ: there he spake of the fall and diminishing of the Jews, here, of their casting away; there it was the riches, here it is the reconciling of the world: q.d. If the rejection of the Jews brought great profit to the Gentiles, their reception and restoration will bring abundantly more.

Be the reconciling of the world; i.e. an occasion of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, by means of which they were reconciled to God. The gospel is the ministry of reconciliation, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.

The receiving of them, into the favour of God and the bosom of the church.

Life from the dead; a proverbial speech, to signify a great change for the better. The conversion of that people and nation, will strengthen the things that are languishing and like to die in the Christian church. It will confirm the faith of the Gentiles, and reconcile all their differences in religion, and occasion a more thorough reformation amongst them: there will be a much more happy and flourishing estate of the church, even such as shall be in the end of the world, at the resurrection of the dead. For if the casting away of them,.... This argument, as before, in Romans 11:12, is from the lesser to the greater, showing that as the Gentiles received present advantage through the rejection of the Jews, they would receive far greater at their future recovery, and which proves that their rejection is not final; for by "the casting away of them", is meant the rejection of the Jews, and refers to God's writing a "Lo-ammi", Hosea 1:9, upon them, and his taking away the Gospel from them, and which were the occasion of

the reconciling of the world, the Gentiles; not of God's drawing the scheme of their reconciliation in his Son; nor of the actual reconciliation of them by his sufferings and death; but of the Gospel, the word of reconciliation being carried among them upon the Jews' disbelief and contempt of it, which was made effectual by the power of divine grace, to the reconciling of them to God, to the, way of salvation by Christ; to be willing to serve him, and be saved by him; to, lay down their arms, surrender to his victorious grace, and become obedient to him both by word and deed; and if this was the case then, as it was, he asks

what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead? By the receiving of them is meant the conversion of the Jews in the latter day, when they will be received by Christ, on whom they will look with an eye of faith, and mourn in an evangelical manner for their sins against him; who casts out none that come unto him, but receives them into his arms in the most kind and tender manner; and when they will be also openly received into the house and family of God, into the visible church of Christ; and as the apostle afterwards says, "be grafted into their own olive tree", Romans 11:24; and this their restoration will be as "life from the dead"; which regards not so much the quickening of the Jews themselves, though their conversion will be, as the conversion of every sinner is, a resurrection from the death of sin to a life of grace, and is so represented in Ezekiel 37:1, but rather the reviving the work of God among the Gentile churches, who having lain long in a dead, lifeless, lukewarm, and indifferent frame of spirit, will be aroused and quickened, at this wonderful work of grace upon the Jews; and besides it will be as unexpected by them, and as surprising to them, as a person's being raised from the dead would be; yea as joyful, and as welcome to them, as if a man received his nearest relation and friend from the dead; add to this, and which some of the ancients make to be the sense of the place, quickly after the conversion of the Jews, the fulness of the Gentiles being brought in, and nothing more to be done in a way of grace, the first resurrection from the dead will follow, and happy is he that will have part in it.

For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, {n} but life from the dead?

(n) It will come to pass that when the Jews come to the Gospel, the world will as it were come to life again, and rise up from death to life.

Romans 11:15. By way of inference, like Romans 11:12; γάρ assigns a motive for Romans 11:13-14.

ἀποβολή, casting away; Plato, Legg. xii. p. 493 E, 944 C; Aq. Proverbs 28:24. By this is meant their exclusion from the people of God on account of their unbelief, and the opposite of it is their πρόσληψις, reception in addition (Plato, Theaet. p. 210 A), by which they, having become believing, are adopted by God into the fellowship of His people. The view of ἀποβολή as loss (Acts 27:22; Plato, Phaed. p. 75 E; Lach. p. 195 E; Plut. Song of Solomon 7) is less suitable to this contrast (in opposition to the Vulg., Luther, Bengel, and others, including Philippi, who understands the loss, which the kingdom of God has suffered in their ease).

καταλλαγὴ κόσμου] in so far, namely, as the converted portion of the Gentiles has attained to δικαιοσύνη through faith, and is no longer subjected to the ὀργή of God; and therewith reconciliation of the Gentile world with God has begun. Comp. Romans 5:11. It is a more precise definition of the notion expressed in Romans 11:12 by πλοῦτος κόσμου.

ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρ.] i.e. life, which proceeds from the dead (namely, when these arise). The πρόσληψις of the still unconverted Jews, Paul concludes, will be of such a kind (τίς, not τί, is his question), will be of so glorious a character (comp. Ephesians 1:18), that it will bring with it the last most blessed development, namely, the life beginning with the resurrection of the dead in the αἰὼν ὁ μέλλων, the ζωὴ αἰώνιος, which has the awakening from death as its causal premiss. Hence Paul does not say ἀνάστασις ἐκ νεκρῶν (as Philippi objects); for his glance is already passing beyond this event to its blessed consequence. The transformation of the living is included in this last development (1 Corinthians 15:51), which is here designated a potiori; comp. Romans 8:11. The conclusion of the apostle does not, however, rest on Matthew 24:14 (Reiche after Theodoret), but on the fact of the καταλλαγὴ κόσμου, whose most blissful final development (as it, according to Paul, must necessarily be occasioned by the blissful opposite of the ἀποβολή) can be none other than the blessed resurrection-life which will set in with the Parousia (Colossians 3:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14 ff.). The view which takes ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρ. in the proper sense has been held by Origen, Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, Anselm, Erasmus, Toletus, Semler, Reiche, Glöckler, de Wette, Nielsen, Fritzsche, Rückert, Reithmayr, Bisping, Hofmann, Beyschlag, and others. Approaching it, but taking the resurrection by way of comparison, stands the view of Ewald: “The final completion of all history down to the last day, and like the very resurrection itself, which is expected on this day.” Luthardt, too, is substantially in the right, taking, however, νεκρῶν in the ethical sense: from the dead Israel the new bodily life of glorification will proceed. A heterogeneous mode of viewing the contrasts, for which the text affords no support. The non-literal interpretation of the “futura quasi resurrectio ex mortuis” (Melancthon), i.e. of the “novitas vitae ex morte peccati” (Estius; so in substance Calvin, Hunnius, Calovius, Vorstius, Bengel, Carpzov, Ch. Schmidt, Cramer, Böhme, Baumgarten-Crusius, Maier; also Lechler, apost. u. nachapost. Zeitalt. p. 129; Krummacher, p. 172 f.; and Kahnis, Dogm. I. p. 574), is to be set aside on the ground that then nothing higher than the καταλλαγή (and it must be something far higher) would be expressed, but only its ethical consequence in the activity of life. Olshausen, too, understands it primarily of the spiritual resurrection, yet thinks that the notion “plays into the bodily resurrection” (?). Umbreit finds spiritual and bodily revival from death conjoined. Others explain the expression metaphorically, as designating summum gaudium (Grotius after Oecumenius) or summa felicitas (Hammond, Koppe, Köllner). Comp. Theophylact (ἄπειρα ἀγαθά), Beza, Flatt, van Hengel, and now, too, Tholuck, who recurs to the general thought of the most important position in the history of the divine kingdom to be occupied by converted Israel. But interpretations of such a non-literal character must be necessitated by the context; whereas the latter by the relation, in accordance with the connection, of ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρῶν to the quite proper καταλλ. κόσμου requires us to abide by the literal sense. Hence we are not to understand, with Philippi, at once both the extensive diffusion of the kingdom of God, and a subjective revivification of Christendom, which had again become dead, “and thus a glorious flourishing time for the church on earth.” So, again, Auberlen supposes a charismatic life of the church, and depicts it with the colours of the palingenesia of the golden age. No such ideas are here expressed; and it would have been peculiarly necessary to indicate more particularly the dead state into which Christendom was again to fall, especially after the καταλλαγὴ κόσμου already including within itself spiritual revival. And by no means is the supposed flourishing time (the time of worship (!) Auberlen calls it, as opposed to the present time of preaching) compatible with the nearness of the Parousia (Romans 13:14; 1 Corinthians 7:29, et al.), with the ἀνάγκη immediately preceding it (1 Corinthians 7:26; Matthew 24:29), and with the πονηρία of the last period (on Galatians 1:4).Romans 11:15 f. From the personal explanation of Romans 11:13 f., which interrupts the argument, Paul reverts to the ideas of Romans 11:12. To save any Jew was a great object, even with an apostle of the Gentiles: εἰ γὰρ ἡ ἀποβολὴ αὐτῶν κ.τ.λ. Their ἀποβολὴ is their rejection by God on the ground of unbelief. καταλλαγὴ κόσμου: a world’s reconciliation. In 2 Corinthians 5:19 the world’s reconciliation is the act of God in Christ; but it was an act which for the mass of mankind only took effect when Jewish unbelief diverted the Gospel to the Gentiles, ἡ πρόσλημψις: the assumption of the Jews into God’s favour. ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρῶν. Modern expositors almost all find in these words a reference to the resurrection; the restoration of the Jews at once brings on the end; the dead are raised, and the Messiah’s kingdom is set up, glorious and incorruptible. It is quite true that in Jewish apocalyptic literature the resurrection introduces the new era, and that Paul shared in the apocalyptic ideas current in his time; but it does not follow that he was thinking of the resurrection here. ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρῶν would certainly be a singular way to describe it, and it is not enough to say with Weiss that Paul used this expression instead of ἀνάστασις in order to carry the mind beyond the fact of resurrection to the state which it introduced. It seems better to leave it undefined (cf. ἄπειρα ἀγαθά Theophyl.), and to regard it as an ordinary English reader regards “life from the dead,” as a description of unimaginable blessing. This is more impressive than to bind the original and daring speculation of a passage like this by reference to apocalyptic ideas, with which Paul was no doubt familiar, but which are not suggested here, and could least of all control his thoughts when they were working on a line so entirely his own. “Words fail him, and he employs the strongest he can find, thinking rather of their general force than of their precise signification” (Jowett). εἰ δὲ ἡ ἀπαρχὴ ἁγία, καὶ τὸ φύραμα. This explains Paul’s assurance that Israel has a future. For ἀπ. and φύρ. see Numbers 15:19-21. By the offering of the first fruits the whole mass, and the whole produce of the land, were consecrated. Both this figure, and that of the root and the branches, signify the same thing. As the application in Romans 11:28 proves, what is presented in both is the relation of the patriarchs to the people as a whole. As chosen by God, the fathers were ἅγιοι, i.e., God’s people, and this standing (in spite of the arguments in chap. 9, and in spite of the hard facts of the situation when Paul wrote) belongs inalienably to their children. They are God’s, and it will yet become apparent that they are.15. the casting away] Not the cognate word to that in Romans 11:1-2. But there is no practical difference in the words: it is the reference that differs here. There he denies that Jews as such were thrust out of the covenant; here he asserts the plain fact that the Jewish nation was, by its rejection of Messiah, under (temporary) exclusion.

the reconciling] i.e. the practical reconciling. The circumstances which caused and attended the “casting away” of Israel were the occasion of the proclamation of the Gospel of Reconciliation to the world. Thus, in a sense, Israel’s unbelief was the instrumental cause of the enjoyment of “peace with God” by the host of Gentile believers. On “reconciliation,” see on ch. Romans 5:1; Romans 5:11.

life from the dead] i.e. a vast and intense revival of true religion from a state which, by comparison, was religious death. (For a passage where “life” and “death” are so used, see Revelation 3:2.) Meyer and some other expositors take the words here to mean literal resurrection-life; q. d., “the ‘receiving’ of the Jews shall usher in the resurrection and the immortal state.” But observe (1) that St Paul still has in view a blessing to the Gentiles through the Jews: the “for” which introduces this verse indicates this. And if so, it is most unlikely that he would mean resurrection-life here; a blessing in no way peculiar to Gentiles. Observe (2) that he implies a causative connexion, to some extent, between the casting-away of the Jews and the reconciliation of the Gentile world; (see last note): analogy leads us then to see a causative connexion also between their “receiving” and this “life from the dead.” But how could this be said if the “life” meant here is the literal resurrection? How likely, on the other hand, that its meaning should be just such a spiritual revival of the Gentile church as the conversion of Israel on a great scale would directly tend to awaken!—It is objected that this “life from the dead” must, as forming a climax, be a greater thing than the previous “reconciling of the world;” and that no mere revival could be this. No doubt in some respects it could not be; but if the revival were really world-wide, and intense, it would be a greater thing in respect of manifest triumph of Divine truth and life. See further below, on Romans 11:25-26.Romans 11:15. Γὰρ, for) The particle connecting the discussion with the proposition.—ἀποβολὴ, the casting away) an antithesis to receiving, but in this sense, that God is said to receive by grace, men to be cast away [to suffer casting away] by their own fault. Upon the casting away of the Jews, the Gentiles were received, and obtained grace, Romans 11:30.—πρόσληψις) αὐτῶν, Hesychius: πρόσληψις, γνῶσις, comp. προσελάβετο, ch. Romans 14:3. Τίς, concludes from the less to the greater: ἀποβολὴ, casting away, and πρόσληψις, receiving, are contrary to each other; therefore, καταλλαγὴ, reconciliation [of the world, in the former clause], precedes τῆ ζωῇ ἐκ νεκρῶν, [of the Israelites, in the latter clause] life from the dead, which implies much more [than καταλλαγή].—ζωὴ, life) of the world, Romans 11:12.—ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρῶν, life from the dead) a thing much greater, and more desirable. The meaning is: the life of those who had been dead, Ezekiel 37:3, etc., so ἐκ, from, ch. Romans 6:13; 2 Corinthians 4:6. He is speaking of bringing the whole to life, that there may be no dead mass remaining. The conversion of the whole human race or the world will accompany the conversion of Israel.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. The casting away (ἡ ἀποβολὴ)

In contrast with receiving. Only here and Acts 27:22, where it means loss. Here exclusion from God's people.

Reconciling of the world (καταλλαγὴ κόσμου)

See on Romans 5:10, Romans 5:11. Defining the phrase riches of the world in Romans 11:12.

Life from the dead

The exact meaning cannot be determined. Some refer it to the resurrection to follow the conversion of Israel, including the new life which the resurrection will inaugurate. Others, a new spiritual life. Others combine the two views.

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