Romans 11:22
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.
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(22) As Providence had been appealed to, the Apostle states the true Providential aspect of God’s rejection of Israel. It had a double side—one of goodness towards the Gentile, one of deserved severity towards the Jew. But, at the same time, the fact that the covenant was made originally with the Jew, and that he was the natural heir to the promises which it contained, is a guarantee for his restoration if he would only dismiss his unbelief.

Romans 11:22-23. Behold, therefore — In this dispensation; the goodness and severity of God — Consider them maturely, and lay them deeply to heart: on them which fell — The unbelieving Jews, who took offence at the mean appearance of Jesus, and so fell into unbelief, and were cut off for it; severity — Or the exercise of strict justice; for God laid righteousness to the line, and judgment to the plummet, and dealt with them according to their sins, after many ages of astonishing patience and long-suffering exercised toward them. Observe, reader, God is most severe toward those who have been most distinguished by advantages on the one hand, and the abuse of them on the other. Divine patience, and privileges abused, turn to the greatest wrath. The word αποτομια, here rendered severity, literally means, a cutting off; the effect being put for severity, the cause. But toward thee — Who art called to faith in Christ, without any merit in thyself; goodness — Benignity and gentleness, as χρηστοτης signifies; if thou continue in his goodness — That is, walk worthy of this privilege, into which thou art brought by God’s goodness: or, if thou be careful to maintain thine interest in God’s favour by continuing to depend upon, and comply with the design of his free grace, and endeavouring to please him continually: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off — From communion with God and his people. And they also — The Jewish nation; if they abide not in unbelief — And thereby continue to reject Christ; shall be grafted in — Restored to union with Christ and his church; for God is able to graft them in again — And willing also, as the word δυνατος is frequently taken: (see Romans 4:21; Romans 14:4; Hebrews 2:18 :) for it was to no purpose to mention God’s ability to graft in the Jews, unless it had been accompanied with willingness. Locke says, “This grafting in again seems to import, that the Jews shall be a flourishing nation again, professing Christianity in the land of promise; for that is to be reinstated again in the promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This Paul might, for good reasons, be withheld from speaking out here. But in the prophets there are very plain intimations of it.”

11:22-32 Of all judgments, spiritual judgments are the sorest; of these the apostle is here speaking. The restoration of the Jews is, in the course of things, far less improbable than the call of the Gentiles to be the children of Abraham; and though others now possess these privileges, it will not hinder their being admitted again. By rejecting the gospel, and by their indignation at its being preached to the Gentiles, the Jews were become enemies to God; yet they are still to be favoured for the sake of their pious fathers. Though at present they are enemies to the gospel, for their hatred to the Gentiles; yet, when God's time is come, that will no longer exist, and God's love to their fathers will be remembered. True grace seeks not to confine God's favour. Those who find mercy themselves, should endeavour that through their mercy others also may obtain mercy. Not that the Jews will be restored to have their priesthood, and temple, and ceremonies again; an end is put to all these; but they are to be brought to believe in Christ, the true become one sheep-fold with the Gentiles, under Christ the Great Shepherd. The captivities of Israel, their dispersion, and their being shut out from the church, are emblems of the believer's corrections for doing wrong; and the continued care of the Lord towards that people, and the final mercy and blessed restoration intended for them, show the patience and love of God.Behold, therefore ... - Regard, or contemplate, for purposes of your own improvement and benefit, the dealings of God. We should look on all his dispensations of judgment or of mercy, and derive lessons from all to promote our own steadfast adherence to the faith of the gospel.

The goodness - The benevolence or mercy of God toward you in admitting you to his favor. This calls for gratitude, love, confidence. It demands expressions of thanksgiving. It should be highly prized, in order that it may excite to diligence to secure its continuance.

The severity of God - That is, toward the Jews. The word "severity" now suggests sometimes the idea of harshness, or even of cruelty. (Webster.) But nothing of this kind is conveyed in the original word here. It properly denotes "cutting off," ἀποτομίαν apotomian from ἀποτέμνω apotemnō, to cut off; and is commonly applied to the act of the gardener or vine-dresser in trimming trees or vines, and cutting off the decayed or useless branches. Here it refers to the act of God in cutting off or rejecting the Jews as useless branches; and conveys no idea of injustice, cruelty, or harshness. It was a just act, and consistent with all the perfections of God. It indicated a purpose to do what was right, though the inflictions might seem to be severe, and though they must involve them in many heavy calamities.

On them which fell, severity - On the Jews, who had been rejected because of their unbelief.

But towards thee, goodness - Toward the Gentile world, benevolence. The word "goodness" properly denotes benignity or benevolence. Here it signifies the kindness of God in bestowing these favors on the Gentiles.

If thou continue in his goodness - The word "his" is not in the original. And the word "goodness" may denote integrity, probity, uprightness, as well as favor; Romans 3:12, "There is none that doeth good." The Septuagint often thus uses the word; Psalm 13:1, Psalm 13:3, etc. This is probably the meaning here; though it may mean "if thou dost continue in a state of favor;" that is, if your faith and good conduct shall be such as to make it proper for God to continue his kindness toward you. Christians do not merit the favor of God by their faith and good works; but their obedience is an indispensable condition on which that favor is to be continued. It is thus that the grace of God is magnified, at the same time that the highest good is done to man himself.

Otherwise thou also shalt be cut off - Compare John 15:2. The word "thou" refers here to the Gentile churches. In relation to them the favor of God was dependent on their fidelity. If they became disobedient and unbelieving, then the same principle which led him to withdraw his mercy from the Jewish people would lead also to their rejection and exclusion. And on this principle, God has acted in numberless cases. Thus, his favor was withdrawn from the seven churches of Asia Revelation 1-3, from Corinth, from Antioch, from Philippi, and even from Rome itself.

22, 23. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them that fell, severity—in rejecting the chosen seed.

but toward thee, goodness—"God's goodness" is the true reading, that is, His sovereign goodness in admitting thee to a covenant standing who before wert a "stranger to the covenants of promise" (Eph 2:12-20).

if thou continue in his goodness—in believing dependence on that pure goodness which made thee what thou art.

In this verse, he further persuades the Gentiles to humility and godly fear, and suggesteth several reasons for it. The first is taken from the example of God’s

severity to the Jews; they falling into apostacy and unbelief, are generally cut off and cast away. A second reason is taken from the free grace and undeserved goodness of God to the poor Gentiles, who were mercifully planted or grafted in the room of the Jews. A third reason is taken from the condition of their present standing, which is, if they

continue in his goodness; i.e. if they continue in that state wherein his goodness hath set them. Some think the cause is here put for the effect, the goodness of God for faith, which was wrought in them by the goodness or grace of God. The antithesis, in the next verse, shows this to be the sense; for there he speaks of the Jews not continuing or abiding still in unbelief. A fourth reason is from the danger that would follow; if, through pride and security, they should fall and miscarry, they would be cut off, as the Jews, the natural branches, are. Some observe the change of the word; the Jews are said to be broken off, but the Gentiles would be cut off; they would, as it were, be stocked up by the roots: but that seems too critical and curious.

Behold therefore the goodness, and severity of God,.... The consideration of both the grace and kindness of God to some, and his severity or strict justice towards others, is recommended by the apostle as very proper to abate pride, vain glory, and haughtiness of spirit; and to engage to humility, fear, care, and caution;

on them which fell, severity: the Jews who stumbled at Christ and his Gospel, and fell by unbelief, God in strict justice and righteous judgment not only destroyed, as afterwards their nation, city, and temple, and scattered them abroad in the world to be a reproach, a proverb, a taunt, and a curse in all places; but cast them off as his people, broke his covenant with them, took away his Gospel from them, left them out of a Gospel church state, except a few, and gave up the generality of them to blindness and hardness of heart; so that wrath is come upon them to the uttermost, both with respect to things civil and religious, and they continue as living standing monuments of God's severity and justice, to be beheld by us Gentiles with pity and concern, and to excite in us the fear of God, and caution as to our conduct and behaviour in the world, and in the church:

but towards thee, goodness; the Gentiles, who not only share in the goodness and grace of God, displayed in the election of many of them to eternal life, in their redemption by Christ, and the effectual calling of them by the grace of God; but in their church state, they being made fellow citizens with the saints, fellow heirs, and of the same body, and having a place and a name in God's house, better than that of sons and daughters; and therefore under great obligation to fear the Lord, and his goodness, and to walk worthy of the calling wherein they are called, in all humility and lowliness of mind:

if thou continue in his goodness; meaning not the love, grace, and free favour of God, or the grace of the Spirit, a continuance in which no "if" is to be put upon; for such who are interested in the love of God always continue in it, and nothing can separate them from it; and such as have the graces of the Spirit implanted in them, as faith, hope, and love, can never lose them; these always remain in them, and they in the possession of them, though not always in the exercise of them; but the goodness of God in a church state is here meant, as the means of grace and comfort, the ministration of the word and ordinances; and the sense is, if thou dost not despise the riches of divine goodness in a church relation, if thou dost not abuse it, or walk unworthy of it, if thou abidest by it, and retainest a value for it, thou wilt still share the advantages of it:

otherwise thou also shall be cut off; from the good olive tree, the Gospel church state, into which the Gentiles were taken; and which, with respect to particular persons, may intend the act of excommunication by the church, expressed in Scripture by purging the old leaven, putting away the wicked person, withdrawing from such that are disorderly, and rejecting heretics, that is, from the communion of the church; and with respect to whole bodies and societies, an entire unchurching of them by removing the Gospel, and the ordinances of it; which threatening has been awfully fulfilled in many Gentile churches, in Asia, Africa, and Europe; and therefore may serve to awaken our fear, care, and caution, lest we should be treated in like manner.

{11} Behold therefore the {x} goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his {y} goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

(11) Seeing that the matter itself declares that election comes not by inheritance (although the fault is in men, and not in God, why the blessing of God is not perpetual) we must take good heed that those things are not found in ourselves, which we think blameworthy in others, for the election is sure, but those that are truly elect and ingrafted, are not proud in themselves with contempt of others, but with due reverence to God, and love towards their neighbour, run to the mark which is set before them.

(x) The tender and loving heart.

(y) In that state which God's bountifulness has advanced you to: and we must mark here that he is not speaking of the election of every individual man, which remains steadfast forever, but of the election of the whole nation.

Romans 11:22-23. An exhortation inferred from Romans 11:21, and corresponding to μὴ ὑψηλοφρόνει, ἀλλὰ φοβοῦ in Romans 11:20Behold, therefore, the goodness and the severity of God, how both divine attributes present themselves before thee side by side. That χρηστ. and ἀποτ. should be without the article is, on account of the following Θεοῦ being anarthrous, quite regular, and does not entitle us artificially to educe (as Hofmann does) the sense of “a goodness” (which is here exhibited), etc. According to the correct reading (see the critical notes), a point is, with Lachmann, to be placed after ἀποτομίαν Θεοῦ; and with the following nominatives, ἈΠΟΤΟΜΊΑ and ΧΡΗΣΤΌΤΗς ΘΕΟῦ, ἘΣΤΊ is to be supplied: “Towards the fallen there is severity, but towards thee (directed to thee) goodness.” The fallen are the Jews who have refused to believe,—so designated, because they are conceived as branches broken off and thereby fallen from the tree. Comp. ἕστηκας, Romans 11:20. In allusion to this, the severity of God is also designated as ἀποτομία (only here in the N. T., but see on 2 Corinthians 13:10; Kypke, II. p. 179; Grimm on Wis 5:21). This reference to the figure, which certainly pervades the whole representation, it is arbitrary to deny (de Wette, Fritzsche).

ἘᾺΝ ἘΠΙΜΕΊΝ. Τῇ ΧΡΗΣΤΌΤ.] if thou shalt abide (see on Romans 6:1) by the goodness, i.e. if thou shalt not have separated thyself from the divine goodness (through apostasy from faith), but shalt have remained true to it; comp. Acts 13:43. Rightly, therefore, as respects the mode of the ἐπιμένειν τ. χρ., Clemens Alex. Paedag. I. p. 140 Pott.: τῇ εἰς Χριστὸν πίστει. But it is erroneous, because contrary to the context (for the emphasis lies on ἘΠΙΜΕΊΝ., and Τῇ ΧΡΗΣΤΌΤ. is but the repetition of the divine attribute just mentioned) and un-Pauline, to take ΧΡΗΣΤΌΤΗς, with Fritzsche, following Ch. Schmidt, in the sense of human rightness of conduct (Romans 3:12). Comp. rather on χρηστότ., Romans 2:4, and on Ephesians 2:7; also Titus 3:4.

ἘΠΕῚ ΚΑῚ ΣῪ ἘΚΚΟΠΉΣῌ] for otherwise thou also (like those broken-off branches) shalt be cut off. The threatening tenor of the discourse suggests unsought the stronger word ἐκκοπ., which is also in Romans 11:24 retained of the wild olive tree.

Since κἀκεῖνοι δὲ κ.τ.λ. does not depend on the condition previously to be supplied with ἐπεί, but has its own conditional sentence, a point is to be placed (in opposition to Hofmann) after ἐκκοπ.; and with κἀκεῖνοι δέ a new sentence, still further repressing Gentile self-exaltation, must be begun, which usual punctuation Lachmann, ed. maj., has again adopted: And those, too, if they shall not have persisted in unbelief, will be grafted in,—whereby the reception into the true divine community (Romans 11:25; Romans 11:31) is figuratively depicted. The καί puts the ἐκεῖνοι on a parallel to the ingrafted wild olive branches (Romans 11:17).

δυνατὸς γάρ] if, namely, the cause has ceased to exist, on account of which God had to break off these branches, the power of God (comp. Romans 4:21, Romans 14:4) leaves no doubt, etc. In πάλιν the conception is, that by the ingrafting their restoration to their previous condition is accomplished. Comp. Winer, p. 576.

We may notice that this is a probative passage for the possibility of forfeiture of the state of grace, for the conversio resistibilis and for reiterabilitas gratiae, and also against absolute predestination.

Romans 11:22. Behold then God’s goodness and severity, sc., in the case of the Gentiles and Jews as now before us. ἀποτομία: here only in N.T. The moral idea is that of peremptoriness, inexorableness; in Greek writers it is contrasted with ἡμερότης, τὸ ἐπιεικές, πρᾳότης. Cf. 2 Corinthians 13:10. ἐὰν ἐπιμένῃς τῇ χρηστότητι: if you remain on in the goodness, i.e., continue to be indebted to it, and to it alone, for your religious position. This excludes presumption, and in general all such temper as is be trayed in taking an attitude of superiority to the Jews. The Jews lost their standing because they had come to believe that it was indefectible, and independent of moral conditions; and if the Gentiles commit the same mistake they will incur the same doom. It is not to Israel only God may say, The kingdom is taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. ἐπεὶ, otherwise: see Romans 11:6.

22. goodness] See on ch. Romans 2:4.

severity] In the special sense of summary sternness. The word is akin to that rendered “sharply,” Titus 1:13.

on them which fell, &c.] Better, in view of the best-supported reading of the Gr., on them that fell came severity, but on thee came goodness.

if thou continue] On the verb and construction here, see on Romans 6:1. The idea of the word is adherence, either rightly resolute or wrongly obstinate as the case may be.—Observe that expressions like the present, implying contingency in man’s continuance in the mercy of God, and the reality of the exertion of man’s will in such continuance, are in real practical harmony with the truth, so fully stated in previous chapters, of sovereign and prevailing Divine grace (Romans 8:28-30). The whole reason of the harmony is indeed past our finding out, perhaps for ever; but thus much we can see, that sovereign grace acts on men, not on automatons; that it acts on them through the human conscience and will; and that these, in this matter as always, are affected by warnings as truly as by promises. Grace imparts perseverance by imparting and maintaining faith, (1 Peter 1:5;) and it freely uses all means by which such faith is properly animated and energized. Amongst such means are these warnings of the results that must follow if faith loses hold of its object. Cp. Judges 20, 21.

otherwise] The lit. Gr. is simply since; but the E. V. expresses the implied sense.

Romans 11:22. Χρηστότητα καὶ ἀποτομίαν, goodness and severity) An important disjunction.—ἐπιμείνῃς, thou shalt have continued) To continue is in respect to what is good, in this verse; in respect to what is evil in the next [ἐπιμείνωσιν, abide in unbelief]. The one is described on the part of God, the other on the part of man comp. Romans 11:28; Romans 11:30, etc. The Roman [Church] has not remained in goodness, since the righteousness of works has been introduced.—ἐπεὶ, otherwise) Believers may utterly fall away.—ἑκκοπήοῃ, thou shalt be cut off) by the sword; not merely, shalt be broken off [ἑκκλασθήσῃ], as they were, by the hand. כרת, LXX., ἐκκόπτω, I cut off, Jeremiah 44:8, not however generally in that sense, in which, I utterly destroy, (ἐξολοθρεύω), is used.

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. Romans 11:22Goodness and severity (χρηστότητα καὶ ἀποτομίαν)

For goodness, see on Romans 3:12. Ἁποτομία severity, only here in the New Testament. The kindred adverb, ἀποτόμως sharply, occurs 2 Corinthians 13:10; Titus 1:13. From ἀποτέμνω to cut off. Hence that which is abrupt, sharp.

Thou shalt be cut off (ἐκκοπήσῃ)

Lit., cut out. See on Luke 13:7.

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