Not as though the word of God has taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:…
They had been so highly privileged, and were yet cast out. Oh, what a fall was there! But had God's promise come to naught? Nay, verily. For, as the history of their ancestry showed, the purposed working out of God's plans for the salvation of the world - for which alone Israel had been chosen - was not committed rigidly to all Israel, but only to such of them as God should choose. And, in this matter of choosing, God was perfectly free. This freedom is illustrated by the apostle from the election of former times.
I. GOD'S PURPOSE FOR THE WORLD. A Creator's love must embrace his whole creation; a Father's must go forth towards all his children. God is the Father of mankind, even though all have fallen away from him; any purpose of salvation must, therefore, comprehend all men in its wide scope, and only the wilfulness of man can prevent the perfect accomplishment of the purpose. God has purposed the redemption of the world in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:11), but by reason of man's debasement through sin the accomplishment of the purpose must needs be gradual. One great central work shall be wrought - God's work through Christ; but up towards this the avenue of preparatory work must lead, and away from this the avenue of fulfilment must conduct. An education of the world; a great power of salvation; a world-wide application of the power,
II. AN ELECT PEOPLE. The election dealt with in these chapters, which has no reference whatever to the election of individuals for eternal salvation, was the election of a people who should conduct the world towards Christ by way of preparation, and afterwards conduct Christ's power to the world by way of application. In the matter of preparation, an exclusion of this people from others was needful first, because of the abounding corruptions of the world. Sometimes this is the only safety: "Come out, and be separate!" But a scattering was needful afterwards. So the captivities, overruled by God; so the dispersion in later times. In the subsequent evangelization there must be concentration first, that the new power of life might be fully realized; a scattering afterwards, that the new power might touch the uttermost ends of the earth (vide Acts 8:4).
III. THE FREEDOM OF THE ELECTION. But surely, in such a work of grace, God's hands cannot be tied? surely he may choose whom he will for the great purpose of the world's salvation? Even so. We can conceive nothing other; and the history of the past abundantly illustrates the freedom with which God has worked. First, God chose Abraham; the Jews would not complain of his freedom of election here. Again, of Abraham's sons he chose the later-born, showing that the matter of priority of natural claims could not weigh with him. And of Isaac's twin sons, before their birth, he chose again the later-born, Jacob, showing that nothing done by the elected one constituted a claim on his electing grace. Neither the Ishmaelites nor the Edomites were rejected of God from personal salvation, but as regarded taking a special part in the work of the world's salvation they were reprobate. So, then, God had acted freely in the choice of Abraham, and in the narrowing down of the election among Abraham's seed. Was it to be wondered at that, in the fulness of the times, he should act freely still, and elect only a remnant of the people to the work of evangelizing the world? This work so soon to be entrusted also to Gentile workers themselves. The same principle still holds good: God elects us, according to his sovereign will, for work in his kingdom. Let us learn, as the first lesson, absolute submission; nay, the unquestioning fealty of love. - T.F.L.
Parallel VersesKJV: Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: