Romans 11:7
What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
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(7) What is the result? Not only did Israel fail to obtain the salvation which it sought, and which the select few succeeded in obtaining, but it was consigned to a state of complete spiritual apathy and torpor, and its very blessings became a curse and a snare.

Were blinded.—An erroneous translation, arising from a confusion of two similar words. The correct rendering, “were hardened,” is given in the margin. So, too, “were blinded,” in 2Corinthians 3:14, and “blindness,” in Romans 11:25 of this chapter and Ephesians 4:18, should be changed to “were hardened,” “hardness.” The corresponding words in the Gospels are rightly translated. The term is one used in medicine for the forming of chalkstone, &c.

Romans 11:7-10. What then — What is the conclusion from the whole? It is this, that Israel, in general, hath not obtained that which he seeketh — Namely, justification, acceptance with God, and the blessings consequent thereon. But the election — Those of them only who repent and believe, and therefore are chosen of God to be his people; have obtained it, and the rest were blinded — By their own wilful prejudice, arising from their worldly spirit, which caused them to reject Jesus on account of his poverty, mean appearance, and state of suffering. The word επωρωθησαν, here rendered, were blinded, signifies properly, were hardened, being a metaphorical expression taken from the skin of the hand, made hard by labour. In general it denotes, in Scripture, both hardness of heart, and blindness of understanding. “The apostle’s meaning is, that the unbelieving Jews, through the influence of their own evil dispositions, were so blinded, that they did not discern the force of the evidence by which God confirmed the mission of his Son, and so were excluded from his covenant and church.” — Macknight. According as it is written — Here the apostle refers to two passages of Isaiah, chap. Isaiah 29:10; Romans 6:9, &c. God hath given them the spirit of slumber — Or deep sleep, as the word κατανυξεως signifies, being used with an allusion to the stupifying potions which were sometimes given to persons who were to suffer torture or death, to render them insensible. The meaning here is, God hath at length withdrawn his Spirit, and for their wilful impenitence, unbelief, and obstinacy, hath given them up to a state of blindness and insensibility, whereby they slumber, as it were, on the brink of ruin, and are careless about their salvation; while the wrath of God hangs over theft heads, and the divine judgments are ready to break forth upon them, in a most awful manner. Eyes that they should not see — Here the apostle alludes to Deuteronomy 29:4, where see the note. As if the apostle had said, Being forsaken of God, they are like to a man bereft of his senses: or he has given them up to such stupidity of mind, that though they have eyes yet they see not. Unto this day — So it was then, and so it is still. And — To show the causes and consequences of that spiritual blindness; David saith — Speaking prophetically of the Messiah’s enemies; Let their table be made a snare — Or, as the words may be rendered, Their table shall be for a snare to them, &c. That is, the plentiful provision God has made for the supply of their wants, ghostly or bodily, being abused, shall become an occasion of sin and mischief to them; and their blessings shall be turned into curses, by reason of their depravity. The metaphors of a snare and a trap are taken from birds and beasts, which are allured into snares and traps to their destruction, by meat laid in their way. Stumbling-blocks occasion falls, which sometimes wound to death. And a recompense — A punishment as a recompense of their preceding wickedness. Thus sin is punished by sin; and thus the gospel, which should have fed and strengthened their souls, becomes a means of destroying them. Let their eyes, &c. — As if he had said, And in them the following words are also fulfilled: Their eyes shall be darkened — Not the eyes of their bodies, (for in that sense the prediction was neither fulfilled in David’s nor in Christ’s enemies,) but of their minds, so that they will not discern God’s truth nor their own duty, nor the way of peace and salvation. And bow down their back alway — Under a perpetual weight of sorrows, which they will not be able to support, and which will be a just punishment upon them for their having rejected so easy a yoke. The darkening of the eyes, and the bowing down of the back, denote the greatest affliction. For grief is said to make the eyes dim, Lamentations 5:17; and a most miserable slavery is represented by walking with the back bowed down, as under a yoke or heavy burden, Psalm 146:8. They loved darkness rather than light, and therefore were permitted by the righteous judgment of God to go on in darkness, while the blind led the blind. And such still continues to be the state of the Jews, notwithstanding the intolerable load of wo which in all ages, since their rejection of the Messiah, has bowed down their backs to the earth. By quoting these prophecies, the apostle showed the Jews that their rejection and punishment for crucifying the Messiah, was long ago foretold in their own Scriptures. It is justly observed by Macknight here, that “God’s ancient Israel, given up to deep sleep, to blind eyes, and deaf ears, and with the back bowed down continually, is an example which ought to terrify all who enjoy the gospel, lest by abusing it they bring themselves into the like miserable condition.”

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.What then? - What is the proper conclusion from this argument? "Israel hath not obtained." That is, the Jews as a people have not obtained what they sought. They sought the favor of God by their own merit; and as it was impossible to obtain it in that manner, they have, as a people, failed of obtaining his favor at all, and will be rejected.

That which he seeketh for - To wit, salvation by their own obedience to the Law.

The election hath - The purpose of choosing on the part of God has obtained, or secured, what the seeking on the part of the Jews could not secure. Or the abstract here may be put for the concrete, and the word "election" may mean the same as the elect. The elect, the reserved, the chosen part of the people, have obtained the favor of God.

Hath obtained it - That is, the favor, or mercy, of God.

The rest - The great mass of the people who remained in unbelief, and had rejected the Messiah.

Were blinded - The word in the original means also were hardened ἐπωρώθησαν epōrōthēsan. It comes from a word which signifies properly to become hard, as bones do which are broken and are then united; or as the joints sometimes do when they become callous or stiff. It was probably applied also to the formation of a hard substance in the eye, a cataract; and then means the same as to be blinded. Hence, applied to the mind, it means what is "hard, obdurate, insensible, stupid." Thus, it is applied to the Jews, and means that they were blind and obstinate; see Mark 6:52, "Their heart was hardened;" Mark 8:17; John 12:40. The word does not occur in any other place in the New Testament. This verse affirms simply that "the rest were hardened," but it does not affirm anything about the mode by which it was done. In regard to "the election," it is affirmed that it was of God; Romans 11:4. Of the remainder, the fact of their blindness is simply mentioned, without affirming anything of the cause; see Romans 11:8.

7-10. What then?—How stands the fact?

Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for—better, "What Israel is in search of (that is, Justification, or acceptance with God—see on [2247]Ro 9:31); this he found not; but the election (the elect remnant of Israel) found it, and the rest were hardened," or judicially given over to the "hardness of their own hearts."

What then? q. d. My discourse comes to this, or this is the sum of it.

Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; i.e. the body of the Jewish nation, seeking righteousness and life by the works of the law, have not obtained it, or they have not hit the mark; they aimed at it, but they shot wide; they took a great deal of pains to little or no purpose: see Romans 9:31.

The election; i.e. the elect; the abstract for the concrete: so before, circumcision for the circumcised.

The rest were blinded; i.e. those who are not elected; they are left, by God’s just judgment, to their own ignorance and obdurateness; as also to Satan, who doth increase it in them, 2 Corinthians 4:4. The antithesis requires that he should have said: The rest have not obtained; but he speaks this of purpose to show the cause of their not obtaining, i.e. their own blindness of mind and hardness of heart.

What then?.... What can be said to the point the apostle is upon? it is as clear as the sun, out of all question, that God has not cast away all the people of the Jews, nor any whom he foreknew, any age or period of time; neither in the time Elijah, nor in the apostle's, he always having a reserve of some for himself; which reserve is owing to a previous choice of them, and that previous choice to ascribed not to any works of theirs, but to his free grace and sovereign pleasure. Indeed

Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; that is, carnal Israel, the body and bulk of that people; who sought for life and righteousness by their obedience to the law, and which they in general were in quest of, and pursuit after, but did not obtain, though, some of them might imagine they did; for the thing was impracticable and impossible, no life nor righteousness are ever to be had by the law of works; they did not obtain life and righteousness, because they sought them in a wrong place and in a wrong way; they sought them not by faith in Christ Jesus, where they are only to be had, but by their own works, which fall abundantly short of procuring them for them:

but the election hath obtained it. The apostle divides Israel into two parts, "the election and the rest": by "the election" he means, elect men, the remnant among them, whom God had reserved for himself; just as "circumcision" designs circumcised persons, and "uncircumcision" uncircumcised persons, and "calling" called ones, and "righteousness" righteous men and women; see Romans 3:30 2 Peter 3:13. Now these chosen ones obtained mercy, grace, life, and righteousness in Christ, as the apostle himself did, who was one of them; and that by virtue, and in consequence of their election, for which reason the word is here used; hence mercy was shown them, grace was bestowed upon them, the righteousness of Christ was imputed to them, faith was given them, holiness was wrought in them, and they entitled to, and made meet for eternal life: these among Israel then obtained such favours and blessings; and so God's elect, in all ages and nations, obtain the same things, and will obtain; for the purpose of God according to election stands sure, his word and oath are immutable, his covenant inviolable, his grace inalienable, and his power omnipotent:

and the rest were blinded: the non-elect, or those who were not chosen and reserved, to whom Christ was "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence"; and who "stumbled at the word" of the Gospel, "being disobedient" to the divine revelation, "whereunto they were appointed", 1 Peter 2:8; hence they obtained no mercy, grace, faith, life, righteousness, and eternal salvation, but were "blinded"; left in that native blindness and ignorance, in which they were born and brought up; were blinded by themselves wilfully more and more; as they knew not the Messiah, so neither would they understand; they sinned wilfully against light knowledge; they shut their eyes against all that evidence and demonstration given, of Jesus of Nazareth being the Messiah, by his doctrines and miracles; and they were blinded by Satan, the god of this world, by whom they were led captive; who wrought effectually in them, and stirred up the malice and enmity of their minds against Christ and his Gospel; for they were of their father the devil, and his lusts they would do; and they were also blinded by God himself, so that they could not believe; for after all this, it was but just with God to give them up to judicial blindness and hardness of heart.

What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were {f} blinded

(f) See Mr 3:5.

Romans 11:7. Τί οὖν] infers the result from Romans 11:5-6. Since a λεῖμμα has been constituted according to the election of grace, and therefore not possibly from the merit of works: accordingly Israel (as regards the mass) has not obtained that which it strives after (namely, δικαιοσύνη, as is known from Romans 9:30 ff.)—for it strives, in fact, ἐξ ἔργωνthe election, on the other hand, namely, that chosen λεῖμμα, has obtained it (for they were the objects of the divine χάρις); but the rest were hardened. In this manner the true state of the case is now set forth, in contrast to ἀπώσατο, without its being necessary on this account to refer τί οὖν to the whole preceding Romans 11:2-6 (de Wette, Fritzsche, Philippi, and others); since the reference to Romans 11:5-6 is quite sufficient, and quite in keeping with the logical progression. Reiche (comp. Lachm., who places a note of interrogation after τί οὖν and after ἐπέτυχεν) makes the question extend to ἐπέτυχεν, to which question of wonder Paul then answers by ἡ δὲ ἐκλ. κ.τ.λ. But the futility of Israel’s endeavour has already been long (Romans 9:31-32) known to the reader, and is therefore not appropriate as the subject of such a question. Hofmann also takes ὃ ἐπιζητεῖἐπέτυχεν as a question, but in the sense whether that which Israel has not obtained is the same thing as that to which its quest and striving tends (namely, its own righteousness)? To the self-evident negation of this question δέ then relates in the sense of nevertheless, and after the second ἐπέτυχεν there is to be supplied, not ὃ ἐπιζητ. Ἰσραήλ, but merely ὃ ἐπιζητεῖ (namely, to be, out of grace, the people of salvation). This complete distortion of the sense falls to the ground from the very fact, that for the second ἐπέτυχεν, since ὃ ἐπιζητεῖ is not appended, no other object can be thought of without the greatest arbitrariness than that of the first ἐπέτυχεν, namely ὃ ἐπιζητεῖ Ἰσραήλ; and also, as respects the contents of the question, from the consideration, that if we should not be able to say that Israel has not obtained that for which it strove, this would stand in contradiction to the universal Pauline dogma of the impossibility of righteousness by the law.

ἐπιζητεῖ does not denote the zealous pursuit (Fritzsche, Philippi), but its direction, correlative to ἐπέτυχεν. See on Matthew 6:33; Php 4:17. By the present, the continuance of the endeavour is admitted.

The τοῦτο (on the accusative instead of the customary genitive, see Matthiae, § 328; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 861) has tragic emphasis: even this it has not reached.

ἡ δὲ ἐκλογή] that is, here “reliquiae illius populi, quas per gratiam suam Deus elegit,” Estius. Comp. the use of περιτομή, etc., Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 469.

The πώρωσις, hardening (not blinding, as Hofmann thinks; see on 2 Corinthians 3:14), is the making unsusceptible in understanding and will as respects the appropriation of salvation in Christ. Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 78; Winzer, Progr. 1828, p. 8. The subject who hardens is God. Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:14, and on Romans 9:8.

Romans 11:7. τί οὖν; What then? How are we to describe the present situation, if not in the painful language of Romans 11:1? Thus: ὃ ἐπιζητεῖ Ἰσραὴλ κ.τ.λ. What Israel is in quest of is δικαιοσύνη: the present conveys more sympathetically than the impft. of some MSS. the Apostle’s sense of the seaseless and noble (though misdirected) efforts of his countrymen. ἐπέτυχεν: Jam 4:2, Hebrews 6:15. ἡ δὲ ἐκλογή = οἱ ἐκλεκτοί = τὸ λεῖμμα. ἐπωρώθησαν: were hardened, 2 Corinthians 3:14, John 12:40, Mark 6:52; Mark 8:17. Paul does not say how they were hardened or by whom: there is the same indefiniteness here as in κατηρτισμένα εἰς ἀπώλειαν in Romans 9:22. It may be quite possible to give a true sense to the assertion that they were hardened by God (cf. the following verse), although the hardening in this case is always regarded as a punishment for sin, that is, as a confirming in an obduracy which originally was not of God, but their own; as if the idea were, first they would not, and then, in God’s just reaction against their sin, they could not; but it is a mistake to import into the text a definiteness which does not belong to it. It is rather essential to Paul’s argument that he should not be bound down to one-sided interpretations of what he has intentionally left vague.

7. What then?] A phrase of resumption after the digression.

Israel] Here, obviously, the nation. Cp. Romans 9:6.

hath not obtained] Lit. did not obtain. The crisis of the offer of the Gospel to them is in view in the tense. So did obtain it, just below.

that which he seeketh for] i.e. a Righteousness before God; a valid ground of acceptance. This was the aim of their efforts, as much when St Paul wrote as ever before; but the method was fatally wrong. Cp. Romans 10:3.

the election] i.e. the company of the chosen. For a similar collective use of singular nouns, cp. the phrases (so frequent in this Epistle) “the circumcision,” “the uncircumcision.”

were blinded] Better, were hardened. (So hardening, Romans 11:25, below.) The verb indicates failure of sensation; of which blindness is only a special instance.—The best commentary is ch. 9. The verb rendered “harden” there is not the same, but the idea is the same. Here, as there, St Paul states this dark mystery of the Divine dealing with sinners with no attempt at explicit clearing up. He does not try to conjure away the cloud around the throne, but commits the mystery to “the Judge of all the earth.”

Romans 11:7. Ἡ ἐκλογὴ, the election) chiefly of the Israelites, the election, that is, the elected, inasmuch as being elected, obtain.

Verse 7. - What then? (What is the present state of things?) That which Israel seeketh for (i.e. δικαιοσύνην; cf. Romans 9:30, 31) he hath not obtained; but the election (i.e. the elect of the Gentiles, with a remnant only of the Jews - ἡ ἐκλογὴ being abstr, pro concret., like ἡ περιτομὴ ἡ ἀκροβυστία, elsewhere) hath obtained it, and the rest were hardened (ἐπωρώθησαν). The verb denotes callousness rather than blindness, usually in the New Testament referring to the heart (cf. especially John 12:40, Τετύφλωκεν αὐτῶν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς καὶ πεπώρωκεν αὐτῶν τὴν καρδίαν). And such hardening is no new and strange thing, or to be taken as implying failure of God's promises to his people; for it is but what Scripture tells us of. Romans 11:7Obtained (ἐπετυχεν)

The simple verb τυγχάνω means originally to hit the mark; hence to fall in with, light upon, attain.

The election (ἡ ἐκλογὴ)

Abstract for concrete. Those elected; like ἡ περιτομή the circumcision for those uncircumcised (Ephesians 2:11. Compare τὴν κατατομήν the concision, Philippians 3:3).

Were blinded (ἐπωρώθησαν)

Rev., correctly, hardened, though the word is used of blindness when applied to the eyes, as Job 17:7, Sept. See on hardness, Mark 3:5. Compare σκληρύνει hardeneth, Romans 9:18.

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