Not as though the word of God has taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:…
The apostle's language is abrupt and broken, and fitly represents his feelings. He had felt his spirit drawn onward and upward as he proceeded with his enumeration of the high prerogatives of his countrymen, till at length he found himself climbing the ladder which Jacob saw, add which leads directly to "glory, honour, and immortality." He was, as it were, "caught up" in a rapture, and carried "off and away." Ere he was let down again, he had exclaimed, with fulness of heart, "Amen." But, unable for the present to proceed farther in that sublime rapture, he as it were recalls himself, and returns to the melancholy fact which is bewailed in vers. 2 and 3. The fact, however, as a fact is not expressly stated. The statement is semi-smothered under the intensity of the writer's feelings. Yet the enumeration of theocratic prerogatives finds a place in the writer's record just because there was oppressively present to his mind and heart the fact that his countrymen in general had, through their rejection of Jesus the Messiah, ousted themselves from the privileges of "the kingdom of heaven." They were refusing to be "Israelites indeed," and were virtually passing on themselves sentence of spiritual expatriation. Confronting that fact, he says, is a spirit of recoil.
I. THE CASE IS NOT SUCH AS THAT THE WORD OF GOD HAS FALLEN OUT OF ITS DUE FULFILMENT. The melancholy fact referred to might and would occasion much embarrassment to multitudes of men, but it would and could not embarrass the Divine Moral Governor, nor frustrate His promises even in relation to Israel. Jewish disbelief and self-deposition, melancholy as they were, were yet within the sphere of the full overrulement of God.
1. The apostle specifies the Word of God, i.e., the Word spoken by God through His prophets to Israel, and in substance preserved in "the volume of the book." On the one side it was simply predictive, on the other it was distinctly promissory; but in both respects a distinguished and distinguishing share of blessing was held out to the "peculiar people."
2. The Word of God has not failed of fulfilment, literally, has not fallen out. The idea is transfigured from a heavenly occurrence, as when from the back of some burden. bearer an article falls and is lost.
II. FOR NOT ALL WHO ARE OF ISRAEL ARE ISRAEL The apostle lays down a far-reaching principle. God had an ideal in view when He made choice of Israel to be His peculiar people. He had grand aims for future ages — aims that are yet to be realised in all peoples (Genesis 12:3, etc.). The selected people could not all at once grasp the grand idea. It was not to be wondered at. Neither would God be exacting. Still, His idea must not be pushed aside or reversed, like an inverted pyramid; still less must it be trampled under foot. For God was not shut up to Israel. If needful, He could find in the evolution of the ages an Israel beyond Israel, or an Israel within Israel. As regards the old Israel, if it should persist in misunderstanding its position and mission, fancying itself to be the indispensable centre of the whole human circle, it could be told, in that language of events which makes epochs in history, that its candlestick was removable, and would be removed for a lamp that would actually give light. There were Israelites and Israelites. There were those in full possession of the name, but entirely without the inward ideal that gave it significance, and there could be those without the name, but with the inward ideal, though yet only struggling like a star through the mists of ignorance and imperfection (Romans 2:29). In this verse the two kinds of Israel are brought into juxtaposition. Not all who are the progeny of the patriarch Israel are truly and ideally the Israel "to whom pertaineth the adoption." God, therefore, will not break His promise, though He refuse to fulfil it to those who have forfeited, by their unbelief, all right and title to an illustrious position and name. He is free to oust those who have persistently abused their high prerogative, and to introduce in their room a people who would seek to rise to the level of their high calling.
(J. Morison, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: