Romans 11:20
Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Be not high minded, but fear:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.Well - True. It is true they were broken off; but in order to show that there was no occasion for boasting, he adds that they were not rejected in order to admit others, but because of their unbelief, and that their fate should have a salutary impression on those who had no occasion for boasting, but who might be rejected for the same cause. This is an instance of remarkable tact and delicacy in an argument, admitting the main force of the remark, but giving it a slight change in accordance with the truth, so as to parry its force, and give it a practical bearing on the very point which he wished to enforce.

Thou standest by faith - The continuance of these mercies to you depends on your fidelity. If you are faithful, they will be preserved; if, like the Jews, you become unbelieving and unfruitful, like them you will be also rejected. This fact should repress boasting, and excite to anxiety and caution.

Be not high-minded - Do not be elated in the conception of your privileges, so as to produce vain self-confidence and boasting.

But fear - This fear stands opposed to the spirit of boasting and self-confidence, against which he was exhorting them. It does not mean terror or horror, but it denotes humility, watchfulness, and solicitude to abide in the faith. Do not be haughty and high-minded against the Jew, who has been cast off, but "demean yourself as a humble believer, and one who has need to be continually on his guard, and to fear lest he may fall through unbelief, and be cast off." (Stuart.) We may here learn,

(1) That there is danger lest those who are raised to eminent privileges should become unduly exalted in their own estimation, and despise others.

(2) the tendency of faith is to promote humility and a sense of our dependence on God.

(3) the system of salvation by faith produces that solicitude, and careful guarding, and watchfulness, which is necessary to preserve us from apostasy and ruin.

20. Well—"Be it so, but remember that"

because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest—not as a Gentile, but solely

by faith—But as faith cannot live in those "whose soul is lifted up" (Hab 2:4).

Be not high-minded, but fear—(Pr 28:14; Php 2:12):

See Poole on "Romans 11:19" Well,.... To this the apostle answers, by approving and granting in, part what was said, that the unbelieving Jews were broken off and rejected, and that the Gentiles that believed in Christ were grafted in among the Jews that professed his name; but then he tacitly denies that it was for their sakes, and their account, they were broken off, but for their own incredulity:

because of unbelief they were broken off; because of their unbelief and contempt of the Messiah, they were rejected of God, and died in their sins; that which excluded their forefathers from the land of Canaan, shut them out of the Gospel church state, and the kingdom of heaven:

and thou standest by faith; which is not of a man's self, but the gift of God; so that it was not by their merits, and better deservings, but by the grace of God that they were in the situation they were; they were blessed with faith in Christ, and having made a profession of it were admitted to Gospel ordinances, and into a Gospel church; and being helped hitherto to hold the profession of their faith in a becoming manner they stood their ground, and continued in their church relation; and therefore ought not to give way to a vain boasting spirit, but to be humble, modest, and dependent; wherefore he gives them this proper pertinent, and wholesome advice,

be not highminded, but fear. The apostle would have them not be elated with their gifts, privileges, and enjoyments, and look over others, or down upon them with contempt and disdain, considering that all they had and enjoyed were owing to the goodness of God, and not to any deserts of theirs; and therefore should fear the Lord and his goodness; for not a fear of hell and damnation, or a distrust of the grace of God, is here meant; but a fear of offending him, and that not from a dread of punishment, but from a sense of his grace and goodness; and also designs humility of soul, in opposition to pride, haughtiness, and elation of mind, a lowly carriage and behaviour to others, and an humble dependence on grace and strength from above, to enable to persevere and hold out to the end; for "let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" into sin, 1 Corinthians 10:12; so as to dishonour God and Christ grieve the Holy Spirit, wound his own conscience, and bring himself under the censure of the church, and to be cut off from the good olive tree, the root and fatness of which he now partakes.

Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but {t} fear:

(t) See that you stand in awe of God modestly, and carefully.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 11:20-21. By καλῶς Paul admits the fact; but in what follows he points out its cause, as one which must prevent haughtiness, and inspire fear and anxiety respecting the duration of the state of grace; assigning the reason in Romans 11:21.

καλῶς] Good! recte ais. Demosth. 998. 24; Plat. Phil. p. 25 B; Eur. Or. 1216; Lucian, Deor. Judges 1:10.

The τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ and τῇ πίστει placed first with emphatic warning means: on account of unbelief, etc. Comp. Romans 11:30. See on Galatians 6:12.

ἕστηκας] thou standest, namely, as a branch upon the olive tree. As the figure is present, both before and afterwards, it is opposed to the context to take ἕστηκ. absolutely, as the opposite of πίπτειν (Romans 11:11; Romans 11:22; Romans 14:4; Fritzsche, Tholuck, Krehl, Philippi—the latter doubtfully).

ὑψηλοφρονεῖν, to be haughty (1 Timothy 6:17), is foreign to classical Greek, which has μεγαλοφρονεῖν; yet see scholion on Pind. Pyth. ii. 91: ὑψηλοφρονοῦντα καὶ καυχώμενον κατακάμπτει ὁ θεός. The adjective ὑψηλόφρων is found in the classics in a good sense: high-spirited.

φοβοῦ] “timor opponitur non fiduciae, sed supercilio et securitati,” Bengel. Secure haughtiness fears not the possible loss.

τῶν κατὰ φύσιν] those according to nature, not ingrafted.

μήπως οὐδὲ ς. φείς.] to be referred to the underlying conception: it is to be feared (Winer, pp. 469 f., 442 [E. T. 632, 595]; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 288; Ast, Lex. Plat. II. p. 335). The future is more definite and certain than the subjunctive. See Hermann, ad El. 992, Aj. 272, Med. p. 357, Elmsl.; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 451 A; Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 140. At the same time the specially chosen mode of expression with μήπως (Paul does not say directly ΟὐΔῈ ΣΟῦ ΦΕΊΣΕΤΑΙ, as Lachmann reads) is sufficiently mitigating and forbearing.Romans 11:20. καλῶς: “a form of partial and often ironical assent” (Gifford). Paul does not think it worth while to dispute the assertion of Romans 11:19, though as it stands it is by no means indisputable; he prefers to point out what it overlooks—the moral conditions of being broken off and of standing secure—and to urge them on the conscience. τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ: an account of unbelief, cf. Galatians 6:12, Winer, p. 270. τῇ πίστει ἕστκας: the security of the Gentiles depended on faith, and it is the most elementary principle of a religion of faith (Romans 3:27) that it excludes boasting. μὴ ὑψηλὰ φρόνει: cf. Romans 12:16. 1 Timothy 6:17 has μὴ ὑψηλοφρονεῖν. Neither is classical. φοβοῦ: consistent with πίστις. Timor opponitur non fiduciæ sed supercilio et securitati (Bengel).20. Well] i.e. Well said. There is, of course, a solemn and earnest irony in the word. In terms, the Gentile Pharisee (if we may use the expression) spoke truth; for in the mysterious adjustments of the Divine Plan the rejection of Messiah by Israel was to precede, and even in a certain sense to occasion, the call of the Gentiles. But in the spirit of the words there was deep untruth; for their own sin was the actual cause of Israel’s fall, and Gentile believers were admitted into covenant on just the same terms of mere mercy as their Jewish brethren—i.e. for the sole sake of Messiah the Propitiation; “by faith.”

because of unbelief—by faith] The construction in the two phrases is identical in the Gr. On the statement of fact here, see last note.

thou standest] See on ch. Romans 5:2.Romans 11:20. Τῇ ἀπιστίᾳτῇ πίστει, by [because of] unbelief—by faith) Neither of the two events (says Paul) [was ordered] absolutely: for if it were absolutely, there would be room for boasting, which is here shown to be out of place: faith, the gift of God, making men humble [could not be such as to give room to boasting].—ἕστηκας) thou hast obtained and still holdest this standing, contrasted with the words, them, who fell, Romans 11:22.—μὴ ὑψηλοφρόνει, ἀλλὰ φοβοῦ) be not high-minded, but fear; Proverbs 3:7, μὴ ἴσθι φρόνιμος παρὰ σεαυτῷ, φοβοῦ δὲ τὸν θεόν, Be not wise in thine own eyes; but fear God.—φοβοῦ, fear) Fear is opposed not to confidence, but to superciliousness, and security.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. Well (καλῶς)

Admitting the fact. Thou art right. Compare Mark 12:32. Some take it as ironical.

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