Romans 11:32
For God has concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy on all.
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(32) Unhappy as the fate of the world might seem, first the Gentiles and then the Jews being consigned to a state of disobedience, this has really had a merciful object in the end. It will lead to a happy and complete reunion, “one flock under one shepherd.”

For God hath concluded them all in unbelief.—A weighty sentence embracing the whole course of human history, and summing up the divine philosophy of the whole matter. We might almost take these profound words of St. Paul as a motto for the theological side of the theory of evolution. Severe and rigorous as that doctrine may seem, its goal is perfection, the absolute harmony of all things working in accordance with the divine will. And if an objection is taken on the ground of the waste of individual life, this may be subject to we know not what beneficent rectifications in a sphere removed from that of the senses. We are able to see only a “part of God’s ways,” and the drift and tendency of visible things makes it not difficult for us to believe that “all things work together for good,” even where the process by which they do so is not to be traced by the human eye.

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.For God hath concluded ... - The word translated here "concluded" sunekleise, is rendered in the margin "shut them all up together." It is properly used in reference to those who are shut up in prison, or to those in a city who are shut up by a besieging army; 1 Macc. 5:5; 6:18; 11:65; 15:25; Joshua 6:6; Isaiah 45:1. It is used in the New Testament of fish taken in a net; Luke 5:6, "They enclosed a great multitude of fishes;" Galatians 3:22, "But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise, etc." In this place the Scripture is declared to have shut them up under sin, that is, declared them to be sinners; gave no hope of rescue by any works of their own; and thus kept them Romans 11:23 "shut up unto the faith which should afterward be revealed." All are represented, therefore, as in prison, enclosed or confined by God, and to be liberated only in his own way and time. In regard to the agency of God in this, we may remark:

(1) That the word does not mean that God compelled them to disbelieve the gospel. When, in Galatians 3:22, the Scripture is said to have included all under sin, it is not meant that the Scripture compelled them not to believe.

(2) the word does not imply that the sin and unbelief for which they were shut up were not voluntary. Even when a man is committed to prison, the crime which brought him there is voluntary, and for it he is responsible.

(3) the keeper of a prison does no wrong in confining a criminal; or the judge in condemning him; or the executioner in fulfilling the sentence of the Law. So of God. What he does is not to compel people to remain under unbelief, but to declare that they are so; so to encompass them with the proof of it that they shall realize that there is no escape from the evidence of it, and thus to press on them the evidence of their need of a Saviour. This he does in relation to all sinners who ever become converted.

(4) yet God permitted this; suffered Jews and Gentiles to fall into unbelief, and to be concluded under it, because he had a special purpose to answer in leaving man to the power of sin and unbelief. One of those purposes was, doubtless, to manifest the power of his grace and mercy in the plan of redemption.

(5) in all this, and in all other sin man is voluntary. He chooses his course of evil; and God is under no obligation to compel him to do otherwise. Being under unbelief, God declares the fact, and avails himself of it, in the plan of salvation by grace.

Them all - Both Jews and Gentiles.

In unbelief - εἰς eis. "Unto unbelief." He has delivered them over unto unbelief, as a man is delivered over into prison. This is the literal meaning of the expression.

That he might have mercy upon all - Mercy is favor shown to the undeserving. It could not have been shown to the Jews and the Gentiles unless it was before proved that they were guilty. For this purpose proof was furnished that they were all in unbelief. It was clear, therefore, that if favor was shown to either, it must be on the same ground, that of mere undeserved mercy. Thus, all people were on a level; and thus all might be admitted to heaven without any invidious distinctions, or any dealings that were not in accordance with mercy and love. "The emphasis in this verse is on the word "mercy." It signifies that God is under obligation to no one, and therefore that all are saved by grace, because all are equally ruined." (Calvin.) It does not prove that all people will be saved; but that those who are saved shall be alike saved by the mercy of God; and that He intends to confer salvation on Jews and Gentiles on the same terms. This is properly the close of the argument of this Epistle. By several independent trains of reasoning, the apostle had come to the same conclusion, that the Jews had no special privileges in regard to religion, that all people were on a level, and that there was no hope of salvation for any but in the mercy of a sovereign God. This conclusion, and the wonderful train of events which had led to this state of things, give rise to the exclamations and ascriptions of praise with which the chapter closes.

32. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief—"hath shut them all up to unbelief"

that he might have mercy upon all—that is, those "all" of whom he had been discoursing; the Gentiles first, and after them the Jews [Fritzsche, Tholuck, Olshausen, De Wette, Philippi, Stuart, Hodge]. Certainly it is not "all mankind individually" [Meyer, Alford]; for the apostle is not here dealing with individuals, but with those great divisions of mankind, Jew and Gentile. And what he here says is that God's purpose was to shut each of these divisions of men to the experience first of an humbled, condemned state, without Christ, and then to the experience of His mercy in Christ.

q.d. God hath, in just judgment, shut up both Jews and Gentiles, equally and successively, in unbelief, as in a prison, that so, in his own time, he might fulfil the counsel of his will, in showing undeserved mercy unto all: i.e. unto both Jews and Gentiles; first the Jews, and then the Gentiles; and then at last, both to Jews and Gentiles. By all here he means, those that shall believe, whether of one sort or of the other, as appears from that parallel place, Galatians 3:22. Luther, in a very great conflict, had much support from this text. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief,.... Both Jews and Gentiles, particularly God's elect among them: some think the metaphor is taken from the binding up of sheaves in bands; and that Jews and Gentiles are the sheaves, and unbelief the band, in which they are bound together; but the apostle is not speaking of their being together in unbelief, but as separate, first the Gentiles, and now the Jews: rather it seems to be taken from a prison, and Jews and Gentiles are represented as prisoners, and unbelief the prison, in which they are shut up by God: not that God is the author of unbelief, or of any other sin in men; he does not put it into them, or them into that, but finding them in unbelief, concludes them in it, or leaves them in such a state, and does not as yet however deliver out of it, or say to the prisoners, go forth: moreover, to be "concluded in unbelief", is the same as to be "concluded under sin", Galatians 3:22; that is, to be thoroughly convinced of it; and to be held and bound down by such a sense of it in the conscience, as to see no way to escape deserved punishment, or to obtain salvation, but by fleeing to the mercy of God in Christ:

that he might have mercy upon all: not upon all the individuals of Jews and Gentiles; for all are not concluded in, or convinced of the sin of unbelief, but only such who are eventually believers, as appears from the parallel text, Galatians 3:22; and designs all God's elect among the Jews, called "their fulness", Romans 11:12; and all God's elect among the Gentiles, called "the fulness of the Gentiles", Romans 11:25; for whom he has mercy in store, and will bestow it on them; and in order to bring them to a sense of their need of it, and that he may the more illustriously display the riches of it, he leaves them for a while in a state of unbelief, and then by his Spirit thoroughly convinces them of it, and gives them faith to look to, and believe in, the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto eternal life.

For God hath concluded them {f} all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

(f) Both Jews and Gentiles.

Romans 11:32. Establishment of Romans 11:30 f., and that by an exhibition of the universal divine procedure, with the order of which that which is said in Romans 11:31 of the now disobedient Jews and their deliverance is incorporated. Thus Romans 11:32 is at once the grand summary and the glorious key-stone—impelling once more to the praise of God (Romans 11:33 ff.)—of the whole preceding section of the epistle.

σνγκλείω εἰς: to include in (2Ma 5:5, comp. Luke 5:6), has, in the later Greek (Diod. Sic. xix. 19, comp. xx. 74, frequently in Polybius), and in the LXX. (after the Heb. הִסְגִּיר with לְּ), also the metaphorical sense: to hand over unto or under a power which holds as it were in ward. Comp. on Galatians 3:22-23. Correspondent, as regards the notion, is παρέδωκε, Romans 1:24. The compound expression strengthens the meaning; it does not denote simul (Bengel and others).

The effective sense is not to be changed, which has been attempted by taking it sometimes as declarative (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Grotius, Zeger, Glass, Wolf, Carpzov, Wetstein, Ch. Schmidt), sometimes as permissive (Origen, Cornelius a Lapide, Estius, and many others, including Flatt and Tholuck).

ΕἸς ἈΠΕΊΘ.] towards God; see Romans 11:30-31.

ΤΟῪς ΠΆΝΤΑς] Of Gentiles (ὙΜΕῖς) and Jews (ΟὟΤΟΙ) Paul has previously spoken; hence ΟἹ ΠΆΝΤΕς now comprises the totality, namely all Jews and Gentiles jointly and severally,—“cunctos s. universos, i. e. singulos in unum corpus colligatos,” Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 521. Comp. on the subject-matter, Romans 3:9; Romans 3:19; Galatians 3:22. So necessarily also the following τοὺς πάντας. The view which understands only the two masses of Jews and Gentiles, these two halves of mankind in the gross (usually so taken recently, as by Tholuck, Fritzsche, Philippi, Ewald, Weiss), cannot suit the comprehensive Τ. ΠΆΝΤΑς (as if it were equal to ΤΟῪς ἈΜΦΟΤΈΡΟΥς), since it is by no means appropriate to the mere number of two, but only to their collective subjects. Not even the Jewish ἘΚΛΟΓΉ, Romans 11:7; Romans 11:28, is to be excepted (Maier, van Hengel), because its subjects were also before their conversion sinners (Romans 3:23), and therefore subjected to the power of disobedience towards God; for the ΣΥΝΈΚΛΕΙΣΕἈΠΕΙΘΕΊΑΝ points back, in the case of each single member of the collective whole, to the time before conversion and until conversion. If we should desire to refer ΟἹ ΠΆΝΤΕς merely to the Jews (van Hengel by way of a suggestion, and Hofmann), who are meant as a people in their collective shape (consequently not in all individuals; see Hofmann), the close relationship between Romans 11:30 and Romans 11:31 would be opposed to it, since the reference of ΓΆΡ merely to the apodosis in Romans 11:31 is quite arbitrary; and, indeed, the bold concluding thought in Romans 11:32 possesses its great significance and its suitableness to the following outburst of praise, simply and solely through its all-comprehensive contents. And even apart from this, ΤΟῪς ΠΆΝΤΑς in fact never denotes: them as a collective whole, as a people, but, as universally (in 1 Corinthians 9:22; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Php 2:21; comp. Ephesians 4:13; 2Ma 11:11; 2Ma 12:40, et al., and in all the classical writers) all of them, as also only in this sense does the suitable emphasis fall on the repetition in the apodosis.

ἵνα τ. π. ἐλεήσῃ] in order that He may have mercy upon all. This divine purpose Paul saw to be already in part attained,—namely, in the case of all already converted; but its general fulfilment lay, to his view, in the development of the future on to the great terminus expressed in Romans 11:25 f. We may observe that our passage is at variance not merely with the decretum reprobationis (“hanc particulam universalem opponamus tentationi de particularitate …; non fingamus in Deo contradictorias voluntates,” Melanchthon), but also with the view (Olshausen, Krummacher, and older expositors) that Paul means the collective body of the elect. See rather Romans 11:25 f. The ἀποκατάστασις is not, however, to be based on our passage for this reason, that the universality of the divine purpose of redemption (comp. 1 Timothy 2:4), as well as the work of redemption having taken place for the justification of all (Romans 11:18), does not exclude its final non-realization in part through the fault of the individuals concerned, and cannot do away with either the applicability of the purpose-clause exhibited in principle and summarily in prophetic fashion (comp. remark on Romans 11:25), nor with the divine judgment on final concrete self-frustrations of the counsel of salvation. And this the less, because such misinterpretations of the universalistic axiom are opposed by the apostle’s doctrine of election as a sure corrective. There has been incorrectly discovered in such general expressions a want of consistency on the part of Paul, namely, “undeveloped outlines of a liberal conception” (Georgii in the Theol. Jahrb. 1845, I. p. 25).32. For God, &c.] Lit. For God did shut up the all together into disobedience, that He may compassionate the all. We give this literal version, though barbarous as English, to elucidate the exact reference of the Greek. “The all” are “all the persons in question”; Gentiles and Jews alike, who by turns have occupied the position of aliens from the enjoyment of salvation. The Divine Sovereign has permitted each great class in turn thus to develope its own sin of rebellious unbelief, (“shutting them up into it,” as into a cage, or trap, into which they have leapt,) in order to the complete display of mercy, and only mercy, wholly apart from privilege or merit, in the salvation both of Gentiles and of Jews. Here again mercy is the emphatic idea.—“Did shut up:”—i.e. when He “cut off” the Jews: for this completed, as it were, the process of that developement of unbelief which was to bring out into clear light the equal sovereignty of mercy in all cases.

All” must manifestly be taken here, as so often elsewhere, (see on ch. Romans 5:18,) with limitation. St Paul is contemplating not the whole race, but the whole Church in its two great elements—Gentile and Jewish. See Romans 2:8-9, for his distinct warning of a “judgment without mercy” on the impenitent and unbelieving, Gentiles and Jews alike.Romans 11:32. Συνέκλεισε, hath concluded together), Jews and Gentiles, comp. Galatians 3:22, note. The phraseology of the LXX. Int., Psalm 78:50, is εἰς θάνατον συνέκλεισε, He shut up to death, he gave over.—εἰς ἀπείθειαν, in [unto] disbelief) Ephesians 2:2. Those who have experienced the power of disbelief, at length betake themselves with the greater sincerity and simplicity to faith.—ἳνα) that. The thing itself will be accomplished.—τοὺς πάντας) them all without exception, [less accurately, all, in Engl. Vers.] all together; comp. Romans 11:30-31.—ἐλεήσῃ, might have mercy) His mercy being acknowledged by them, Romans 11:6, when faith is given to them by Himself.Verse 32. - For God hath concluded them all in (literally, shut them all up into) unbelief (or, disobedience), that he might have mercy upon them all. Chrysostom and other Greek Fathers understood συνέκλεισε το mean only declared them to be unbelieving (or, disobedient), or convicted them of being so. Thus Chrysostom, τουτέστιν ἤλεγξεν, ἔπεδειξεν ἀπειθοῦντας. So, it may be said, must the verb he understood where St. Paul elsewhere uses it with a similar reference in Galatians 3:22, ἡ γραφὴ being there the nominative to the verb. But ὁ Θεὸς being the nominative here, the more obvious meaning seems to be that the shutting up was God's doing. Some, understanding it so, would soften the expression by explaining that God allowed them to become so shut up. Τὸ συνέκλεισε νοητέον ὅτι τοὺς βουληθέντας ἀπειθεῖν εἴασεν ἀπειθεῖν (Diodorus), But we need not shrink from the plain meaning of the expression, viz. that it was God's own act. He is not thus represented as plunging men into inevitable infidelity, having given them no choice. As in the case of the hardening spoken of' above, his dealings are judicial; the state into which. they are now by him shut up has not been undeserved. And, further, his ultimate purpose is here distinctly declared to be one of mercy. The way in which the apostle regards such present judicial dealing as conducive to final mercy appears to be such as this. It is the doctrine of the whole Epistle that salvation is to be attained by man's renouncing his own imagined righteousness, and submitting himself to the righteousness of God. It conduces to this end that his ἀπειθεία should have its course and consequences; so that, conscience being at length awakened, he may long for deliverance from his hopeless state, and appreciate the offered salvation (see ch. 7.). So the Gentile world was long shut up in its self-induced, but also judicial, ἀπειθεία (Romans 1:18, seq.); that, "the wrath of God" being at length revealed to it from heaven, the "righteousness of God" might also be revealed to it and laid hold cf. In like manner God deals now with the Jews, who still persist in going about to establish their own righteousness instead of submitting themselves to the righteousness of God. He shuts them up for the present in their ἀπειθεία, to the end that at length, after their long judgment, and stirred up by the fulness of the Gentiles coming in, they may feel their need, and accept salvation. Τοὺς πάντας in the concluding clause seems to mean generally all mankind, Jews as well as Gentiles; and ἵνα τοὺς πάντας ἐλεήσῃ (as σωθήσεται was understood above with respect to "all Israel," as suggested by the context and the general drift of the chapter) God's embracing all races of mankind at last in the arms of his mercy by calling them into the Church. Thus the latter expression is not in itself adducible in support of the doctrine of universalism. Certainly the prospect of a universal triumph of the gospel before the end rises here before the apostle in prophetic vision; and it may be that it carries with it to his mind further glories of eternal salvation for all, casting their rays backward over all past ages, so as to inspire an unbounded hope. Such a hope, which seems elsewhere intimated (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:24-29; Ephesians 1:9, 10, 20-23; Colossians 1:15-20, would justify the glowing rhapsody of admiration and thanksgiving that follows more fully than if we supposed the apostle to contemplate still the eternal perdition of the multitudes who in all the ages have not on earth found mercy. Concluded (συνέκλεισεν)

Only here, Luke 5:6; Galatians 3:22, Galatians 3:23. A very literal rendering, etymologically considered; con together, claudere to shut. The A.V. followed the Vulgate conclusit. So Hooker: "The person of Christ was only touching bodily substance concluded within the grave." The word has lost this sense. Rev., hath shut up. Some explain in the later Greek sense, to hand over to a power which holds in ward.

All (τοὺς πάντας)

Lit., the all. The totality, Jews and Gentiles, jointly and severally.

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