Romans 11:6
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
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(6) And if by grace.—The true text of this verse differs considerably from that which is translated in the Authorised version, “But if by grace, then is it no more of works, otherwise grace is no more seen to be grace.”

The preservation of the remnant cannot be due to grace and works at the same time; it must be due to one or the other.

11:1-10 There was a chosen remnant of believing Jews, who had righteousness and life by faith in Jesus Christ. These were kept according to the election of grace. If then this election was of grace, it could not be of works, either performed or foreseen. Every truly good disposition in a fallen creature must be the effect, therefore it cannot be the cause, of the grace of God bestowed on him. Salvation from the first to the last must be either of grace or of debt. These things are so directly contrary to each other that they cannot be blended together. God glorifies his grace by changing the hearts and tempers of the rebellious. How then should they wonder and praise him! The Jewish nation were as in a deep sleep, without knowledge of their danger, or concern about it; having no sense of their need of the Saviour, or of their being upon the borders of eternal ruin. David, having by the Spirit foretold the sufferings of Christ from his own people, the Jews, foretells the dreadful judgments of God upon them for it, Ps 69. This teaches us how to understand other prayers of David against his enemies; they are prophecies of the judgments of God, not expressions of his own anger. Divine curses will work long; and we have our eyes darkened, if we are bowed down in worldly-mindedness.And if grace ... - If the fact that any are reserved be by grace, or favor, then it cannot be as a reward of merit. Paul thus takes occasion incidentally to combat a favorite notion of the Jews, that we are justified by obedience to the Law. He reminds them that in the time of Elijah it was because God had reserved them; that the same was the case now; and therefore their doctrine of merit could not be true; see Romans 4:4-5; Galatians 5:4; Ephesians 2:8-9.

Otherwise grace ... - If people are justified by their works, it could not be a matter of favor, but was a debt. If it could be that the doctrine of justification by grace could be held and yet at the same time that the Jewish doctrine of merit was true, then it would follow that grace had changed its nature, or was a different thing from what the word properly signified. The idea of being saved by merit contradicts the very idea of grace. If a man owes me a debt, and pays it, it cannot be said to be done by favor, or by grace. I have a claim on him for it, and there is no favor in his paying his just dues.

But if it be of works ... - "Works" here mean conformity to the Law; and to be saved by works would be to be saved by such conformity as the meritorious cause. Of course there could be no grace or favor in giving what was due: if there was favor, or grace, then works would lose their essential characteristic, and cease to be the meritorious cause of procuring the blessings. What is paid as a debt is not conferred as a favor.

And from this it follows that salvation cannot be partly by grace and partly by works. It is not because people can advance any claims to the favor of God; but from his mere unmerited grace. He that is not willing to obtain eternal life in that way, cannot obtain it at all. The doctrines of election, and of salvation by mere grace, cannot be more explicitly stated than they are in this passage.

6. And, &c.—better, "Now if it (the election) be by grace, it is no more of works; for [then] grace becomes no more grace: but if it be of works," &c. (The authority of ancient manuscripts against this latter clause, as superfluous and not originally in the text, though strong, is not sufficient, we think, to justify its exclusion. Such seeming redundancies are not unusual with our apostle). The general position here laid down is of vital importance: That there are but two possible sources of salvation—men's works, and God's grace; and that these are so essentially distinct and opposite, that salvation cannot be of any combination or mixture of both, but must be wholly either of the one or of the other. (See on [2246]Ro 4:3, Note 3.) This verse depends upon the former; and though it doth not seem to appertain to the argument the apostle had in hand, yet, by the direction of the Spirit, he takes the little occasion that is offered, to show, that election and vocation are only by grace, and not by works. This he had spoken to before, Romans 4:4,5 9:11; but he toucheth upon it again: and here he delivers a truth, which the Jews of old either could not, or would not, understand; i.e. that there is no mixing of the merit of good works and the free grace of God, but one of these doth exclude and destroy the nature of the other; for if election and calling were both of grace and works, (as some that call themselves Christians, as well as the Jews, affirm), then grace is no grace, and works are no works. For whatsoever proceedeth of grace, that cometh freely, and not of debt; but what cometh by merit of works, that cometh by debt; but now debt and no debt, or that which is free, and by desert, are quite contrary things. Therefore to say, that men are elected and called, partly of grace and partly of the merit of foreseen works, that were to put things together that cannot agree, to make debt no debt, merit no merit, works no works, grace no grace; and so, to affirm and deny one and the same thing.

And if by grace, then is it no more of works,.... Upon election, being called "the election of grace", the apostle forms an argument, showing the contrariety and inconsistency of grace, and works, in that affair; proving, that it must be by the one or the other: and if by the one, then not by the other; and that these two cannot be mixed and blended together in this matter. If election is "by grace", as it certainly is; for no other reason can be given why God has chose one, and not another, but his own sovereign pleasure, or that free favour and unmerited love, with which he loves one and not another; and not because they are better, or had done or would do better things than others; "then it is no more", or not at all, for it never was "of works", was not influenced by them, does not arise from them, for it passed before ever any were done; and those that are done aright spring from it, and therefore could never be the rule and measure, causes, motives, and conditions of it;

otherwise grace is no more grace; for

"grace (as Austin has long ago observed) is not grace, unless it is altogether freed;''

it will lose its nature, and ought to change its name, and be no more called or reckoned grace, but a due debt; and a choice of persons to salvation should be thought, not to be what God is free to make or not, but what he is obliged to, as a reward of debt to men's works:

but if it be of works, then it is no more grace; if election springs from, and depends upon the works of men, let no man ascribe it to the grace of God; for there is nothing of grace in it, if this be the case:

otherwise work is no more work; that will free gift: but these things are contrary to one another; and so unalienable and unalterable in their natures, that the one cannot pass into the other, or the one be joined with the other, in this or any other part of man's salvation; for what is here said of election, holds true of justification, pardon of sin, and the whole of salvation. The Ethiopic version applies it to justification.

{5} And if by grace, then is it {e} no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

(5) Even though all are not elect and chosen, yet let those that are elected remember that they are freely chosen: and let those that stubbornly refuse the grace and free mercy of God impute it to themselves.

(e) This saying demolishes the doctrine of all kinds and manner of works, by which our justifiers of themselves teach that works are either wholly or partly the cause of our justification.

Romans 11:6. This thought is not merely by the way and incidental (Koppe, Rückert, de Wette, Fritzsche, Maier, and others), but it belongs essentially to the development of the apostle’s thought to set forth the mode according to which λεῖμμα γέγονε, not only positively (κατʼ ἐκλ. χάρ.), but also negatively (οὐκ ἐξ ἔργ.); because he then, in Romans 11:7, goes on to argue: ὃ ἐπιζητεῖ Ἰσραήλ κ.τ.λ., which ἐπιζητεῖν, in fact, took place exactly ἐξ ἔργων, Romans 9:32.

εἰ δὲ χάριτι] but if through grace, sc. λεῖμμα γέγονε.

οὐκέτι ἐξ ἔργων] As previously the individuals who compose the λεῖμμα are conceived as the objects of the divine grace, through which they belong to the λεῖμμα; so are they also (not the people generally, as Hofmann takes it) conceived in this contrasted negative statement as the subjects, who do not owe it to legal works that in them is present the λεῖμμα composing the true community of God. On the logical οὐκέτι, see on Romans 7:17. Of ἐξ ἔργων there can be nothing more said.

ἐπεὶ ἡ χάρις κ.τ.λ.] because (otherwise) grace ceases to be grace (namely, if ἐξ ἔργων λεῖμμα γέγονε)—since in truth “gratia nisi gratis sit, gratia non est,” Augustine. Ἡ χάρις is the definite grace, which has made the election, and γίνεται (not equivalent to ἐστί) means: it ceases, in its concrete manifestation, to become, i.e. to show itself as, that (comp. on Luke 10:18, et al.) which according to its nature it is. Positively expressed: it becomes what according to its essence it is not; it gives up its specific character.

Romans 11:6. Expansion of χάριτος in Romans 11:5 : grace and works are mutually exclusive. Nothing a man can do gives him a claim as of right against God to be included in the remnant. ἐπεὶ: otherwise. Cf. Romans 11:22, Romans 3:6. Gratia nisi gratis sit gratia non est. Aug[4] The fact that there is a remnant, and one owing its existence to God’s grace, is the proof that (in spite of the wholesale defection of Israel) God has not cast off His people.

[4] Augustine.

6. And if by grace, &c.] This verse is wholly parenthetical. Not that its statement is alien to the whole argument, but this is not its logical place. The argument is continuous between Romans 11:5; Romans 11:7; but St Paul is so desirous to make the truth of Gratuitous Salvation perfectly clear and familiar that he seizes this passing occasion to re-state it, as it were in a note. The occasion is the quotation (Romans 11:4) of the words “I have reserved;” in which St Paul sees the sovereign act of Divine grace, withholding a remnant from the commission of idolatrous sin. The faithful seven thousand were faithful “not according to their works, but according to His purpose and the grace given to them.”

no more of works] no longer of works. i.e. when once this principle is granted, thenceforth the thought that it is “of works” is negatived. So below, “no more grace;” “no more work.”—The best commentary on this verse is the argument of cch. 3 and 4. Nothing could be clearer than St Paul’s anxiety to give an absolute denial to the whole idea of antecedent human merit as a factor among the causes of salvation. Grace, to be grace, must be entirely uncaused by anything of meritorious claim in us.

But if it be, &c.] There is much documentary evidence against the genuineness of this last half of the verse. It is however not conclusive; and slight variations in the Gr. phrases, as compared with those of the first half, afford an internal argument for retention; for an imitator would probably follow the model exactly. Certainly the reiteration of the truth in question would be just in keeping here, and it is doubtful whether that truth is one which was so well grasped in the early centuries as that copyists would tend to emphasize it by an insertion.

work is no more work] Work, in the sense in question, (i.e. as an antithesis to grace,) necessarily involves claim. This necessary idea must be negatived if “works” and “grace” can coincide as causes of salvation.

Romans 11:6. Χάριτι, by grace) The meaning of the dative is one, and that of the particle ἐκ with the genitive is another [is different]. The former rather indicates the vehicle or instrument, as a canal, in the pure and simple sense; the latter, more properly the material cause, the principle [first origin], the source.—οὐκ ἔτι, now no longer [no more]) This phrase used four times shows the strength of the conclusion. This decree, which God has decreed, is absolute: I will make men righteous only by faith, no man by works. This decree no one shall break through.—γίνεταιἐστὶν, [becomes] is made—is) This is a nice and just distinction between these words [lost sight of in the Engl. Vers.]. Nature asks for works; faith acknowledges supervenient grace, γενομένην [grace coming into exercise]. So, ἐγένετο [came into exercise] John 1:17. φερομένην χάριν, 1 Peter 1:13.—εἰ δὲ ἐξ ἔργων, οὐκ ἔτι ἐστὶ χάρις· ἐπεὶ τὸ ἔργον οὐκ ἔτι ἐστί ἔργον. But if it is of works, then is it no more grace, otherwise work is no more work) From this short clause, it is no more of works, this inference is drawn, Israel has not obtained: and from that short clause, it is no more grace, the inference is, the election has obtained. The first part of this verse excludes works, the second establishes grace; with this comp. Romans 11:5. The first part forms the protasis, the last, the apodosis, which is always the more necessary part, and is improperly omitted by some in this passage, comp. by all means ch. Romans 4:4-5; Ephesians 2:8-9. Grace and work are opposed to each other, כְּעֻלָּה, LXX. for the most part interpret it ἐργον, work, for example Psalm 109:20.

Romans 11:6Otherwise (ἐπεὶ )

Lit., since. Since, in that case.

Grace is no more, etc. (γίνεται)

Lit., becomes. No longer comes into manifestation as what it really is. "It gives up its specific character" (Meyer).

But if of works, etc.

The best texts omit to the end of the verse.

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