Romans 9:11
(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calls;)
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
9:6-13 The rejection of the Jews by the gospel dispensation, did not break God's promise to the patriarchs. The promises and threatenings shall be fulfilled. Grace does not run in the blood; nor are saving benefits always found with outward church privileges. Not only some of Abraham's seed were chosen, and others not, but God therein wrought according to the counsel of his own will. God foresaw both Esau and Jacob as born in sin, by nature children of wrath even as others. If left to themselves they would have continued in sin through life; but for wise and holy reasons, not made known to us, he purposed to change Jacob's heart, and to leave Esau to his perverseness. This instance of Esau and Jacob throws light upon the Divine conduct to the fallen race of man. The whole Scripture shows the difference between the professed Christian and the real believer. Outward privileges are bestowed on many who are not the children of God. There is, however, full encouragement to diligent use of the means of grace which God has appointed.For the children being not yet born - It was not, therefore, by any works of theirs. It was not because they had formed a character and manifested qualities which made this distinction proper. It was laid back of any such character, and therefore had its foundation in the purpose or plan of God.

Neither having done any good or evil - That is, when the declaration Romans 9:12 was made to Rebecca. This is a very important passage in regard to the question about the purposes of God.

(1) they had done nothing good or bad; and when that is the case, there can be, properly speaking, no moral character, for "a character is not formed when the person has not acquired stable and distinctive qualities." Webster.

(2) that the period of moral agency had not yet commenced; compare Genesis 25:22-23. When that agency commences, we do not know; but here is a case of which it is alarmed that it had not commenced.

(3) the purpose of God is antecedent to the formation of character, or the performance of any actions, good or bad.

(4) it is not a purpose formed because he sees anything in the individuals as a ground for his choice, but for some reason which he has not explained, and which in the Scripture is simply called purpose and good pleasure; Ephesians 1:5.

(5) if it existed in this case, it does in others. If it was right then, it is now. And if God then dispensed his favors on this principle, he will now. But,

(6) This affirmation respecting Jacob and Esau does not prove that they had not a nature inclined to evil; or a corrupt and sensual propensity; or that they would not sin as soon as they became moral agents. It proves merely that they had not yet committed actual sin. That they, as well as all others, would certainly sin as soon as they committed moral acts at all, is proved everywhere in the Sacred Scriptures.

The purpose of God - Note, Romans 8:28.

According to election - To dispense his favors according to his sovereign will and pleasure. Those favors were not conferred in consequence of the merits of the individuals; but according to a wise plan "lying back" of the formation of their characters, and before they had done good or evil. The favors were thus conferred according to his choice, or election.

Might stand - Might be confirmed; or might be proved to be true. The case shows that God dispenses his favors as a sovereign. The purpose of God was thus proved to have been formed without respect to the merits of either.

Not of works - Not by anything which they had done either to merit his favor or to forfeit it. It was formed on other principles than a reference to their works. So it is in relation to all who shall be saved. God has good reasons for saving those who shall be saved. What the reasons are for choosing some to life, he has not revealed; but he has revealed to us that it is not on account of their works, either performed or foreseen.

But of him that calleth - According to the will and purpose of him that chooses to dispense those favors in this manner. It is not by the merit of man, but it is by a purpose having its origin with God, and formed and executed according to his good pleasure. It is also implied here that it is formed in such a way as to secure his glory as the primary consideration.

10-13. And not only this; but when Rebecca, &c.—It might be thought that there was a natural reason for preferring the child of Sarah, as being Abraham's true and first wife, both to the child of Hagar, Sarah's maid, and to the children of Keturah, his second wife. But there could be no such reason in the case of Rebecca, Isaac's only wife; for the choice of her son Jacob was the choice of one of two sons by the same mother and of the younger in preference to the elder, and before either of them was born, and consequently before either had done good or evil to be a ground of preference: and all to show that the sole ground of distinction lay in the unconditional choice of God—"not of works, but of Him that calleth." For the children being not yet born: q.d. As there was nothing in the birth of those twins, so neither in their works, that occasioned the difference that God made between them; for when God spake of what should happen to them, they were unborn, and had done neither good nor evil.

Neither having done any good or evil; he means, actual good or evil, such as might difference them one from another. As for original sin, they were both alike tainted therewith.

That the purpose of God; this purpose of God is to be understood about reprobation, or (if you will) rejection, or preterition, as well as about election.

Might stand; be firm or stable.

Not of works, either done or foreseen.

But of him that calleth; i.e. of the good pleasure and undeserved favour of God, who also effectually calleth those that he hath elected, as Romans 8:30. See a parallel place, 2 Timothy 1:9. For the children being not yet born, So says (h) the Chaldee paraphrast,

"the prophet said unto them, was it not said of Jacob, , "when he was not yet born", that he should be greater than his brother?''

the Syriac version supplies, "his children", that is, Isaac's; and the Arabic version, "his two children". This shows, that the apostle designs not the posterity, but the very persons of Jacob and Esau; since as he speaks of their conception in the verse preceding, so of their birth in this: and though in the words of God to Rebecca, and which are urged in favour of the other sense, it is said, "two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels, and the one people shall be stronger than the other people", Genesis 25:23; yet this primarily respects the persons of Jacob and Esau, as the roots of their respective offspring; and only secondarily their posterity, as branches that should sprout from them; it properly regards their persons, and only in an improper, figurative, and metonymical sense, their seed; for in no other sense could two nations, or two manner of people be in Rebecca's womb, than as there were two persons there, who would be the authors of two nations and people; and whatever may be said for their respective posterity, taking their rise from one common father Isaac, or for their being chosen or rejected as nations, before they were in being as such, yet it cannot be said with any propriety, that "Rebecca conceived" their several offspring "by one, even by our father Isaac", Romans 9:10, which sense well agrees with the scope of the apostle, which is to prove, that all were not Israel which were of Israel, and that all Abraham's natural seed were not the children of God; which he could not better exemplify, than in the persons of Jacob and Esau; for to have instanced in the posterity of Esau, would have been foreign to his purpose, and not accord with the continuation of his discourse in the following verses, which entirely proceeds upon the subject of personal election and rejection, and with the scriptural account of the personal characters of Jacob and Esau; and from hence, as from many other passages, it may be concluded, that predestination, whether to life or death, is a personal thing, concerns particular persons, and not nations, or collective bodies of men:

neither having done any good or evil; Jacob and Esau were under all considerations upon an equal foot, were just in the same situation and condition, when the one was loved and the other hated; or in other words, when the one was chosen, and the other rejected; they were neither of them as yet born, and had they been born, their birth and parentage could have been no reason why one was chose and the other not, because in both the same; nor had the one performed a good action, or the other an evil one; so that Jacob was not loved for his good works, nor Esau hated for his evil ones; which confirms the truth of this doctrine, that the objects of predestination, whether to life or death, are alike, are in the same situation and condition: whether they are considered in the corrupt mass, or as fallen, they are all equally such, so that there could not be any reason in them, why some should be chosen and others left; or whether in the pure mass, antecedent to the fall, and without any consideration of it, which is clearly signified in this passage, there could be nothing in the one, which was not in the other, that could be the cause of such a difference made: so that it follows, that works neither good nor evil are the causes moving God to predestinate, whether to life or death; good works are not the cause of election to eternal life, for not only, this act of distinguishing grace, passed before any were done, but also these are fruits, effects, and consequence of it, and so cannot be the causes thereof; God does not proceed in order branches of salvation, as in calling, justification, &c. according to them, and therefore it cannot be thought he should proceed upon this foot in the first step to it; and which is ascribed to his free grace, in opposition to works. Evil works are not the cause of the decree of rejection, for this also being as early as the decree of election, as it must unavoidably be, was before any evil works were done; sin is not the cause of God's decree, but of the thing decreed, eternal death; otherwise all the individuals in the world being equally in sin, must have been rejected: it remains then, that not any works of men, good or bad, are the cause of predestination in either of its branches, but the sovereign will and secret counsel of God: that

the purpose of God according to election might stand: the decree of God, which is entirely free, and depends upon his own will and choice, stands firm and immutable, and is not to be disannulled by earth or hell, for it stands not on the precarious foot of works:

not of works: did it, it would not stand sure, for nothing is more variable and uncertain, than the actions of men:

but of him that calleth: who is the unchangeable Jehovah; it stands upon his invariable will and immutable grace, whose "gifts and calling are without repentance", Romans 11:29.

(h) Targum in Hosea 12.3.

(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the {m} purpose of God according to election might {8} stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

(m) God's decree which proceeds from only his good will, by which it pleases him to choose one, and refuse the other.

(8) Paul does not say, might be made, but being made might remain. Therefore they are deceived who make foreseen faith the cause of election, and foreknown infidelity the cause of reprobation.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 9:11-12. Although, forsooth, they were not yet born, and had not done anything good or evil, in order that the purpose of God according to election might have its continued subsistence, not from works, but from Him who calls, it was said to her, etc.

μήπω] not οὔπω, because the negative relation is intended to be expressed subjectively, that is, as placed before the view of God and weighed by Him in delivering His utterance. See Winer, p. 450 [E. T. 608]; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 295. Comp. Xen. Cyr. iii. 1. 37.

The subject (αὐτῶν) to the participles is not expressed, according to a well-known classical usage (Matthiae, § 563; Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 2. 17), but it would be self-evident to the reader from the history familiar to him, that the twins of Rebecca were intended; Winer, p. 548 [E. T. 736].

The sentence expressive of purpose, ἵνακαλοῦντος, is placed with emphasis before ἐῤῥέθη, and therefore not to be placed in a parenthesis.

ἵνα] introduces the purpose which God had in this, that, notwithstanding they were not yet born, etc., He yet gave forth already the declaration of Romans 9:12. He thereby purposed, namely, that His resolve—conceived in the mode of an election made amongst men—to bestow the blessings of the Messianic salvation should subsist, etc.

ἡ κατʼ ἐκλογ. πρόθεσις] can neither be so taken, that the ἐκλογή precedes the πρόθεσις in point of time (comp. Romans 8:28), which is opposed to the nature of the relation, especially seeing that the πρόθεσις pertains to what was antecedent to time (see on Romans 8:28); nor so that the ἐκλογή follows the πρόθεσις, whether it be regarded as the act of its fulfilment (Reiche) or as its aim (Krehl). These latter interpretations might certainly be justified linguistically (see Kühner, II. 1, pp. 412, 413), but they would yield no specific peculiarity of the act of the πρόθεσις. Yet, since ΚΑΤʼ ἘΚΛΟΓΉΝ must be the characteristically distinctive mark of the purpose, it cannot by any means denote: the resolution adopted in respect of an election (Grotius, Rückert); but it must be apprehended as an essential inherent of the πρόθεσις, expressing the modal character of this divine act: the purpose according to election, i.e. the purpose which was so formed, that in it an election was made. The πρόθεσις would have been no πρόθ. κατʼ ἐκλογήν, no “propositum Dei electivum” (Bengel), if God had resolved to bless all without exception. His resolve to vouchsafe the Messianic blessedness did not, however, concern all, but those only who were to be comprehended in this very resolve (by virtue of His πρόγνωσις, Romans 8:29), and who were thereby, by means of the ΠΡΌΘΕΣΙς itself, chosen out from the rest of men (Romans 11:5), and thus the πρόθεσις was no other than Ἡ ΚΑΤʼ ἘΚΛΟΓῊΝ ΠΡΌΘΕΣΙς (comp. Bengel, Flatt, Tholuck, Beck, Fritzsche, Philippi, Lamping). In a linguistic aspect ΚΑΤʼ ἘΚΛΟΓ. (frequently in Polybius, see Raphel) comes under the same category with the well-known expressions ΚΑΤᾺ ΚΡΆΤΟς, ΚΑΘʼ ὙΠΕΡΒΟΛΉΝ Κ.Τ.Λ. (Bornem. ad Cyrop. i. 4. 23; Bernhardy, p. 241). Comp. Romans 11:21; 1 Timothy 6:3. But it is incorrect to alter, with Carpzov, Ernesti, Cramer, Böhme, Ammon, Rosenmüller, the signification of ἐκλ., and to explain Ἡ ΚΑΤʼ ἘΚΛ. ΠΡΌΘ. as “propositum Dei liberum.” For, as election and freedom are in themselves different conceptions, so in those passages which are appealed to (Joseph. Bell. Jud. ii. 8. 14; Psalt. Sal. ix. 7), ἐκλ. is none other than electio; and especially in the N. T. ἐκλογή, ἐκλέγεσθαι, and ἘΚΛΕΚΤΌς are so statedly used for the dogmatic sense of the election to salvation, that no alteration can be admitted. In general, Hofmann has rightly understood it of the quality, which the purpose has from the fact that God chooses; along with which, however, he likewise transposes the notion of the ἐκλογή into that of the free act of will, “which has its presupposition only in the chooser, not on the side of the chosen.” This anticipates the following, which, moreover, joins itself not to ἐκλογή, but to the abiding of the ΚΑΤʼ ἘΚΛ. ΠΡΌΘΕΣΙς; hence ἘΚΛΟΓΉ must be left in its strict verbal sense of election. The ἐκλογή may in and by itself be even an unfree act of will; its freedom does not lie in the notion in itself, but it is only to be inferred mediately from what is further to be said of the ΜΈΝΕΙΝ of the ΚΑΤʼ ἘΚΛ. ΠΡΌΘΕΣΙς, viz. ΟὐΚ ἘΞ ἜΡΓΩΝ Κ.Τ.Λ.

ΜΈΝῌ
] The opposite of ἘΚΠΈΠΤΩΚΕΝ, Romans 9:6. Comp. Xen. Anab. ii. 3. 24; Eurip. Iph. T. 959; Herod. iv. 201. It is the result aimed at in such a declaration as God caused to be given to Rebecca before the birth of her two sons: His purpose according to election is meant to remain unchangeable, etc., so much He would have to be settled in His giving that declaration.

οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων κ.τ.λ.] is by most joined, through a supplied ΟὖΣΑ, to ΠΡΌΘΕΣΙς Τ. ΘΕΟῦ; by Fritzsche regarded even as a supplementary definition to κατʼ ἐκλογήν, in which he is followed by Lamping, as though Paul had written ἡ οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων κ.τ.λ. But for rejecting the natural and nearest connection with μένῃ there is absolutely no ground from the sense which thus results: the elective resolution must have its abiding character not on account of works, which the subjects concerned would perform, but on account of God Himself, who calls to the Messianic salvation. Accordingly, ΟὐΚ ἘΞ ἜΡΓΩΝ Κ.Τ.Λ. is a causal specification annexed to the—in itself independent

ΜΈΝῌ, namely, of its objective actual relation (hence Οὐ, not ΜΉ), and should be separated from ΜΈΝῌ by a comma (Paul might more formally have written: ΚΑῚ ΤΟῦΤΟ ΟὐΚ ἘΞ ἜΡΓΩΝ Κ.Τ.Λ.). Hence the objection that ΜΈΝΕΙΝ ἘΚ is not found is of no importance, since ΜΈΝῌ in itself stands absolutely, and ἘΚ is constantly employed in the sense of by virtue of, by reason of. See Bernhardy, p. 230; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 551.

On the form ἘῤῬΈΘΗ, which, instead of the Recepta ἘῤῬΉΘΗ, is to be adopted with Lachmann and Tischendorf, following the preponderance of testimony, in all passages in Paul, see on Matthew 5:21, and Kühner, I. p. 810 f.

The quotation is Genesis 25:23, closely following the LXX.; ὅτι forms no part of it, but is recitative. In the connection of the original text, ὁ μείζων and Ὁ ἘΛΆΣς., the greater and the smaller, refer to the two nations represented by the elder and younger twin sons, of which they were to be ancestors; and this prediction was fulfilled first under David, who conquered the Edomites (2 Samuel 8:14); then, after they had freed themselves in the time of Joram (2 Kings 8:21), under Amaziah (2 Kings 14:7; 2 Chronicles 25:11) and Uzziah (2 Kings 14:22; 2 Chronicles 26:2), who again reduced them to slavery; and lastly, after they had once more broken loose in the time of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:17; according to 2 Kings 16:6, they had merely wrested the port of Elath from the Jews), under Johannes Hyrcanus, who completely vanquished them, forced them to be circumcised, and incorporated them in the Jewish state (Joseph. Ant. xiii. 9. 1). Paul, however, has in view, as the entire context Romans 9:10-11; Romans 9:13 evinces, in ὁ μείζ. and Τῷ ἘΛΆΣς., Esau and Jacob themselves, not their nations; so that the fulfilment of the δουλ. is to be found in the theocratic subjection into which Esau was reduced through the loss of his birthright and of the paternal blessing, whereby the theocratic lordship passed to Jacob. But inasmuch as in Gen. l.c. the two brothers are set forth as representatives of the nations, and their persons and their destiny are not consequently excluded,—as, indeed, the relation indicated in the divine utterance took its beginning with the brothers themselves, by virtue of the preference of Jacob through the paternal blessing (Genesis 27:29; Genesis 27:37; Genesis 27:40),—the apostle’s apprehension of the passage, as he adapts it to his connection, has its ground and its warrant, especially in view of similar hermeneutic freedom in the use of O. T. expressions.

ὁ μείζων and Τῷ ἘΛΆΣς. have neither in the original nor in Greek the signification: the first-born and the second-born, which indeed the words do not denote; but Esau, who is to come to birth first, is regarded as the greater of the twins in the womb, and Jacob as the smaller.Romans 9:11. μήπω γὰρ γεννηθέντων μηδὲ πραξάντων: “the conditional negatives (μήπω, μηδὲ) represent the circumstances not as mere facts of history, but as conditions entering into God’s counsel and plan. The time of the prediction was thus chosen, in order to make it clear that He Who calls men to be heirs of His salvation makes free choice of whom He will, unfettered by any claims of birth or merit” (Gifford). πρόθεσις in this theological sense is a specially Pauline word. The purpose it describes is universal in its bearings, for it is the purpose of One who works all things according to the counsel of His will, Ephesians 1:11; it is eternal, a πρόθεσις τῶν αἰώνων, Ephesians 3:11; it is God’s ἰδία πρόθεσις, 2 Timothy 1:9, a purpose, the meaning, contents, and end of which find their explanation in God alone; it is a purpose κατʼ ἐκλογήν, i.e., the carrying of it out involves choice and discrimination between man and man, and between race and race; and in spite of the side of mystery which, belongs to such a conception, it is a perfectly intelligible purpose, for it is described as πρόθεσις ἣν ἐποίησεν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, and what God means by Christ Jesus no one can doubt. God’s eternal purpose, the purpose carried out κατʼ ἐκλογὴν, yet embracing the universe, is clearly revealed in His Son. The permanent determining element, wherever this purpose is concerned, is not the works of men, but the will and call of God; and to make this plain was the intention of God in speaking as He did, and when He did, to Rebecca about her children. If we look to Genesis 25:23, it is indisputably the nations of Israel and Edom that are referred to: “Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of peoples shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people, and the elder shall serve the younger”. The same is true also of Malachi 1:2 : “I loved Jacob, but Esau I hated, and made his mountains a desolation,” etc. Yet it would not be right to say that Paul is here considering merely the parts assigned by God to nations in the drama of providence; He is obviously thinking of Jacob and Esau as individuals, whose own relation to God’s promise and inheritance (involving no doubt that of their posterity) was determined by God before they were born or had done either good or ill. On the other hand, it would not be right to say that Paul here refers the eternal salvation or perdition of individuals to an absolute decree of God which has no relation to what they are or do, but rests simply on His inscrutable will. He is engaged in precluding the idea that man can have claims of right against God, and with it the idea that the exclusion of the mass of Israel from the Messiah’s kingdom convicts God of breach of faith toward the children of Abraham; and this He can do quite effectually, on the lines indicated, without consciously facing this tremendous hypothesis.11. being not yet born, &c.] Nothing could go beyond this verse in stating that the reasons of the Divine Choice lie wholly within the Divine Mind, and not in the works and characters of the chosen.

the purpose of God according to election] So according to the best order of the Gr. words. Another order, not so well supported, gives “the purpose according to God’s election.” The meaning is the same in either case.—On “the purpose,” see last note on Romans 8:28.—“According to election”:—i.e. as determined, or characterized, by the sovereign Choice of the Divine Mind. In the case of Esau and Jacob, the “purpose according to election” does not, at least explicitly, mean a purpose of eternal salvation. But St Paul is evidently here treating the Divine Choice in the widest and most absolute respects; and the sovereign gift to Jacob of sacred privileges, determining his whole course and that of his posterity, is thus taken as illustrating the fact of an equally sovereign gift, to “whomsoever God will,” of the capacity to repent, believe, and love. Throughout the argument we must remember who the “elect” are in the grand special case in hand, viz. the “remnant” who actually (not only potentially) are true believers, under both the Old and New Dispensations. See especially Romans 11:2-8.

Election

On the general subject of the Divine Election we may remark,

(1) That “the arguments of the Apostle are founded on two assumptions. The first is, that the Scriptures are the word of God; and the second, that whatever God actually does cannot be unrighteous. Consequently, any objection which can be shewn to militate against either an express declaration of Scripture, or an obvious fact in providence, is fairly answered.” (Dr Hodge, in loc.) It is almost needless to add that such a submission to the Divine Righteousness, while in one sense a surrender of reason, is in another its truest exercise. It is the surrender instinctively yielded by the soul which, conscious of its own sin, lies open to the full impression of the overwhelming purity and majesty of its Creator. It is absolute trust, under complete mystery, in Him who in one respect is truly known, but in another cannot (by the created being) be “found out unto perfection.” See Romans 11:33-36.

(2) It must be remembered that Divine Election affects a world not of righteous beings, nor even of neutral beings, but of “sinners,” “enemies” (ch. Romans 5:8-9.)[41] We come to face its mystery only when we have first faced, and owned, the unfathomable mystery of sin. We see it, not making the good evil, nor the evil arbitrarily worse, but judicially leaving the sinner to himself; (as we are bound to believe every sinner might righteously have been left; for otherwise Salvation would be our Right, not our Mercy;) save in cases—determined by the Divine Mind by reasons within Itself—in which, of mere mercy, a positive and prevailing influence intervenes, producing spiritual life, the life of repentance, faith and love.

[41] The abstruse questions which have been raised in controversy on this point may be fairly said to “intrude into” what lies wholly outside the Scripture Revelation.

(3) This view of the case, which is indeed full of distressing mystery, yet owes what is most distressing in it to the riddle which lies beneath all others connected with it—that of the Existence of Sin at all. But meantime it also assures us that while the will (influenced by sin) is the cause of ruin, it is also the will (influenced by grace) which, acting strictly as the will, lays hold on salvation. In neither case is the will forced, unless indeed we call every influence on the will compulsion, so far as it is successful. The lost “will not come;” the saved come as “whosoever will.” (John 5:40; Revelation 22:17.)

(4) The doctrine of Election is, in Scripture, never made the foreground of doctrine; and it is always so presented as also to assure us, however little we can reconcile the vast range of spiritual truths, that we are in the hands of Righteousness as well as Power, and that our will, affections, and aspirations, are perfectly real. Lastly, the doctrine, if studied in Scripture, is viewed always from the only safe view-point—the foot of the Cross.—See further, Appendix F.

might stand] i.e., continue to act on its necessary principle—“not of works, but of Him that calleth.”

of works] Based on, or resulting from, “works;” in the largest sense of “works;” actions whose aggregate is character.

calleth] See on Romans 1:6.Romans 9:11. Μήπω γεννηθέντων, when they were not yet born) Carnal descent profiteth nothing, John 1:13.—μηδὲ πραξάντων, and when they had done nothing) This is added, because some one might think as to Ishmael, that he was driven out, not so much because he was the son of a bondmaid, as because he was a mocker; although this slave-like scurrility afterwards shows itself in [lays hold of] the son of the bondmaid, so that he [מצחק, and κακόζηλος τοῦ יצחק] laughs and mocks at Isaac, whom he envies and insults.—κατʼ ἐκλογὴι) The purpose, which is quite free, has its reason founded on election alone; comp. κατὰ ch. Romans 16:25; Titus 1:9. It might be said, in Latin, propositum Dei electivum, the elective purpose of God.—μένῃ, might stand [remain]) incapable of being set aside. It is presupposed that the πρόθεσιν, the purpose, is prior to the, might stand.—οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, not of works) not even of works foreseen. Observe, it is not faith, which is opposed to election, but works.—ἐκ τοῦ καλοῦντος, of Him that calleth) even Him, who called Jacob to be the superior, Esau to be the servant: comp. Romans 9:25.Verses 11-13. - For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election (i.e. the principle of his electing to privileges of his own good will and purpose, and not on the ground of any fancied human claims) might stand (μένῃ, i.e. should remain in force, ever applicable), not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger (Genesis 25:23). As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated (Malachi 1:2, 3). It is here to be carefully observed that, though Jacob and Esau were individuals, yet it is not as such, but as the progenitors and representatives of races, that they are here spoken cf. So it was, too, in both the passages quoted from the Old Testament. In Genesis 25:23 the words are, "Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger." In Malachi 1:2 the prophet's entire drift is to set forth the Divine favour shown, from the first and still, to the race of Israel as compared with the race of Edom. Hence, as well as from the purport of the chapter as announced at its beginning, it is evident that the subject of individual predestination does not really come in, as it did in ch. 8, but only that of nations or races of men to a position of privilege as inheritors of promises. It will be seen, also, as we go on, that the introduction in illustration of the case of the individual Pharaoh does not really affect the drift of the chapter as above explained. The strong expression, "Esau I hated" (applicable, as shown above, not to the individual Esau, but to the race of Edom) is capable of being explained as meaning, "I excluded him from the love I showed to Israel." The evidence of such alleged hatred the prophet expresses thus: "and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness;" whereas Israel, it is implied, had been protected from such desolation. As to the necessary force of the word in the Hebrew (שכא), we may compare Genesis 29:30, 31, where in ver. 30 it is said that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, and in ver. 31, as meaning the same thing, that Leah was hated; and Deuteronomy 21:15, "If a man have two wives, one beloved and another hated." In both these passages the same verb is used as in Malachi, and need not, in either case, mean more than disregarding one in comparison with another who is loved. For the use, in the New Testament, of the Greek word μισεῖν in a sense for the expression of which our English "to hate," in its usual acceptation, is evidently too strong, cf. Luke 14:26 (to be compared with Matthew 10:37) and John 12:25; so also, though not so distinctly, Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13. It is, moreover, not improbable that the Prophet Malachi, in his patriotic ardour, had in his mind the idea of wrath against the race of Edom on the part of the LORD, as "the people," as he afterwards says, "against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever." But even so, the glowing language of prophets need not be taken as dogmatic assertion; and certainly not as binding us to believe that any race of men is, in the literal sense of the expression, hated of Cod. Such a view is in evident contradiction to the general teaching of Scripture, and notably so to that of St. Paul, who has so emphatically declared that God "made of one blood all nations of men," and is One to all. Evil (φαῦλον)

See on John 3:20; see on James 3:16.

Purpose according to election (ἡ κατ' ἐκλογὴν πρόθεσις)

For πρόθεσις purpose, see on the kindred verb προέθετο, Romans 3:25, and compare Romans 8:28. The phrase signifies a purpose so formed that in it an election was made. The opposite of one founded upon right or merit. For similar phrases see Acts 19:20; κατὰ κράτος according to might, mightily; Romans 7:13, καθ' ὑπερβολὴν according to excess, exceedingly. See note.

Might stand (μένῃ)

Lit., abide, continue: remain unchangeable. This unchangeableness of purpose was conveyed in His declaration to Rebecca. Contrast with come to nought (Romans 9:6).

Of works (ἐξ)

Lit., out of. By virtue of.

Calleth (καλοῦντος)

Eternal salvation is not contemplated. "The matter in question is the part they play regarded from the theocratic stand-point" (Godet).

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