REJECT: Gr "apotheo": to thrust away, to repudiate.
BY NO MEANS: Or "may it not be", as in Rom 6:1; 9:14.
I AM A DESCENDANT OF ABRAHAM: Paul's personal standing
in Christ was in itself a witness that all Israel were not cast off.
FROM THE TRIBE OF BENJAMIN: Phi 3:5.
GOD DID NOT REJECT HIS PEOPLE, WHOM HE FOREKNEW: This
echoes Psa 94:14; in that psa the psalmist was lamenting the oppression of the
defenseless people of God by wicked Israelites (vv 1-5), who proudly dealt with
the fellow-Jews without fear of the vengeance of God (vv 7-9). Yet would not God
mete out equal judgment upon the wicked in Israel (v 10)? Of course He would,
but in doing so He would not overlook the faithful remnant (vv 12-15).
WHOM HE FOREKNEW: Picking up the words of Rom 8:29,30.
ELIJAH -- HOW HE APPEALED TO GOD AGAINST ISRAEL:
"Appealed" is "entunchano": to make intercession or mediate. But notice that
this appeal was AGAINST, not for, Israel!
Following the lead of wicked Queen Jezebel, the nation had by
and large adopted the worship of Baal, and many were persecuting the righteous,
and seeking the life of Elijah. Now despondent, Elijah saw himself as the only
righteous one left in Israel (1Ki 19:10). It was, of course, a gross
exaggeration, born out of frustration and a too high appraisal of the prophet's
own position. To start with, there was the courageous Obadiah, who risked his
own life to save 100 of the prophets of Yahweh (1Ki 18:4,12,13).
It is just possible that Paul, likewise persecuted by his own
countrymen, felt a special kinship with Elijah, and this may help to account for
his mention of himself in v 1.
And so Elijah was instructed about coming judgment by Hazael
of Syria and Jehu (1Ki 19:17), but that a remnant would be spared by God, and
through them the nation would survive. If in such a terribly dark hour as this,
such a goodly company of the faithful existed, this is sufficient evidence that
God does not permit His own at any time to approach the vanishing point. The
sparing of the remnant is inseparably related to the choice of the remnant.
ANSWER: In the Greek, God's "answer" is literally His
"oracle" ("chrematismos"), indicating both its revelatory character and its
intrinsic importance (it was given to Elijah at Horeb, the mount of God, the
place where God had appeared to Moses to affirm His preservation of Israel in
her affliction and His purpose to deliver her from bondage in Egypt (cf Exo 3;
SO TOO, AT THE PRESENT TIME THERE IS A REMNANT: And so,
once again, there were many of Israel who had responded to the gospel of Christ
Jesus despite the more general rejection: 3,000 baptized at Pentecost (Acts
2:41); and 5,000 in total shortly thereafter (Acts 4:4); and a great number of
priests (Acts 6:7). And wherever the gospel was preached, a further remnant of
Israel responded (eg, Acts 14:1; 17:10-12; 18:8).
CHOSEN BY GRACE: But the matter of numbers is not
crucial. What is more important is the reminder that irrespective of its size,
it is "chosen by grace". This means that the character of the remnant is also
not important, as though the choosing depended on the quality of its
constituency. "The remnant has its origin, not in the quality of those saved,
but in the saving action of God" (EBC).
AND IF BY GRACE, THEN IT IS NO LONGER BY WORKS: At
first glance, it may appear that the 7,000 in the days of Elijah were saved on
the basis of works, and not grace, because they were the ones who had not bowed
to Baal. But this view is too narrow: surely the grace of God was extended to
save them because, in faith, they refused to serve Baal. And thus their faith
was made perfect in their works.
WHAT ISRAEL SOUGHT SO EARNESTLY IT DID NOT OBTAIN, BUT THE
ELECT DID: Cp Rom 9:31; 10:3.
THE OTHERS WERE HARDENED: Gr "poroo", to harden, or
form a callus. Not strictly "blinded", as in KJV. A clear reference to Isa
6:9,10 (cited Mar 8:17; John 12:40): "Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving. Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their
eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be
The rest of Israel had hardened their hearts, as had the
Egyptian Pharaoh (Rom 9:17,18)!
In the first quotation, he weaves together two passages (Deu
29:4 and Isa 29:10) so as to provide illustration from two periods. In
Deuteronomy, it is the testimony of the eyes that is stressed; the people have
seen the wonders of the Exodus time and the miracles of the nation's
preservation in the wilderness, but from these experiences they did not derive a
heart of loving trust in God. In Isaiah, the background is the faithful
testimony of the prophets. Yet the people shut their ears to the voice of God
through these spokesmen.
STUPOR: Gr "katanuxis", stinging, pricking: from Isa
29:10 LXX. The idea is of numbness associated with various stings.
Vv 9-10: David's word of imprecation follows in vv 9,10, taken
from Psa 69:22,23. He suffers reproach and torment from his enemies, who are
also viewed as the enemies of the Lord. Apparently their feasts are times for
special outbreaks of blasphemy. David prays that the Lord will make their table
their snare so as to entrap them. Then comes the prayer for the darkening of the
eyes that have looked with complacency and even glee at the sufferings of the
one whom God has permitted to be smitten. John 15:25 and other NT passages
indicate that Psa 69 was treated as pertaining to Christ (cp Isa 69:21 and John
19:29), so that its use here makes the application to Paul's own day the more
obvious and meaningful.
"The table in the first application is put for the feast
spread thereon, and indicates the prosperity and privilege which proved their
undoing; in false security they were ensnared. But what essentially was Israel's
table? through Malachi, God says to Israel, 'Ye offer polluted bread upon mine
altar; and ye say, wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of
the Lord is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not
evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil?' (Mal 1:7,8). Israel
had a law with a sacrificial system. This was their privilege and it should have
been their guide. Instead of allowing it to guide them, they prided themselves
upon their exclusiveness as a nation, and pursued ceremonial cleanness to the
neglect of the weightier matters of the law. Their mind became focused on the
details of the ritual and lost sight of its meaning. Their table became a snare.
Requital came in a blind trust in law, and they were given up to their own
desires. Their understanding was darkened, and the law became a burden they
could not bear; with bowed backs and darkened eyes they staggered and fell. They
crucified 'the Lamb of God', and God 'cursed their blessings' (Mal 2:2)"
AND THEIR BACKS BE BENT FOREVER: The bending of the
back, as Paul would be likely to apply it, suggests bondage to the great burden
of the law (cf Acts 15:10).
DID THEY STUMBLE SO AS TO FALL BEYOND RECOVERY?: What
is the result of this hardening? Is it a hopeless situation? Now that the people
have eyes that do not see, are they doomed to stumble so as to fall and rise no
more? "Not at all." The stumbling is admitted; an irreparable fall is not. This
is a broad hint of the future salvation of Israel that Paul goes on to affirm.
Those who stumbled are "the others" of v 7, not included in the believing
remnant. The language recalls the indirect reference to the Messiah in Rom
9:32,33 as the stumbling stone.
BECAUSE OF THEIR TRANSGRESSION, SALVATION HAS COME TO THE
GENTILES: The lapse of Israel is not necessarily permanent, and furthermore
it has served the purpose of providing Gentiles a greater opportunity to take
hold of God's salvation. "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since
you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn
to the Gentiles" (Acts 13:46).
TO MAKE ISRAEL ENVIOUS: And a reason for God's offering
salvation to the "no-people" was to provoke His own people Israel to jealousy
and action (Acts 13:42-47). Jealousy here could take two different forms: sheer
envy and anger and persecution, true. But also that envy, though it may involve
bitterness, will ultimately contribute to some examining further the message
being preached, and this could lead to drawing some of the nation to her
Messiah. . So, even in the Gentiles being saved, Israel's good was not
forgotten. Mercy and favor to Gentiles might stir some of Israel to seek the
blessings they had forsaken.
THEIR TRANSGRESSION MEANS RICHES FOR THE WORLD: The
"world" = the nations.
THEIR LOSS MEANS RICHES FOR THE GENTILES: This second
phrase is parallel to the first.
LOSS: The Greek term "hettema" seems to involve the
idea of defeat, both here and in 1Co 6:7. It is basically a military figure. An
army loses the battle because of heavy casualties.
HOW MUCH GREATER RICHES WILL THEIR FULLNESS BRING: The
word "fullness" (Gr "pleroma") refers to the conversion, meaning the full nation
in contrast to the remnant. It will mark an end to the state of hardening that
now characterizes the nation.
Vv 13,14: In large measure, the work of preaching to the
Gentiles lay upon Paul's shoulders (Acts 9:15,16; Gal 2:7-9). So, while Paul
stood amazed at the greatness of his responsibilities to the Gentiles, he yet
could not forget his own countrymen. Therefore, even if he should "magnify" his
work as apostle to the Gentiles, it was in part for the purpose of provoking his
own people Israel to be saved as well (v 14).
WHAT WILL THEIR ACCEPTANCE BE BUT LIFE FROM THE DEAD?:
Paul aligns the receiving of Israel with the time of the resurrection of the
saints. The basis of this is that both events take place at the coming of the
Messiah, for the Messiah is not only Israel's king but the "Resurrection and the
Life". The theme of new life is common to both events: the rebirth of the nation
of Israel (in a spiritual as well as a national sense), and the raising of the
dead -- "the restitution of ALL things" (Acts 3:21).
IF THE PART OF THE DOUGH OFFERED AS FIRSTFRUITS IS HOLY,
THEN THE WHOLE BATCH IS HOLY: The first sheaf harvested in the field was
called the "firstfruits" and was offered to Yahweh (the "wave" offering). It
symbolized the whole harvest which was thus dedicated to Yahweh. Later, when the
harvest was in the barn and the grain had been crushed into flour and mixed to
dough, the results of the harvest were enjoyed as Israel ate their loaves of
bread. But the first loaf was not eaten; it was lifted up in offering to Yahweh
(a "heave" offering). Therefore both the firstfruits and the loaf made from the
grain were "holy" (Num 15:18-21). It would be ludicrous to maintain that the
harvest itself was "holy", while the bread made from it was not!
In Paul's analogy, the "firstfruits" of the harvest were
Abraham and the patriarchs; if they were sanctified by God, then their
descendants might be also. Indeed, there was a direct connection between the
two: "Because he loved your forefathers and chose their descendants after them,
he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength" (Deu 4:37).
"Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose
you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today" (Deu 10:15). This
is basic to the whole of Paul's argument here (v 28).
IF THE ROOT IS HOLY, SO ARE THE BRANCHES: Paul has in
mind the root and branches of the olive tree (v 17) -- a symbol of the nation of
Israel (Jer 11:16; Hos 14:6). In any plant, the root and branches are
essentially one -- and good trees produce good fruit (cp Mat 7:17-20; Jam 3:12;
"Partakers" / "sharers": of root and fatness of olive tree
(Rom 11:17), of spiritual things (Rom 15:27), of one bread (1Co 10:17), of
sufferings and consolation (2Co 1:7), of God's promise in Christ (Eph 3:6), of
inheritance of saints (Col 1:12), of heavenly calling (Heb 3:1), of Christ (Heb
3:14), of the benefit (1Ti 6:2), of the glory (1Pe 5:1), and of the divine
nature (2Pe 1:4).
SOME OF THE BRANCHES: This appears to be a substantial
understatement -- as a large majority of Israel had rejected the gospel, leaving
only a "remnant" which accepted (v 5).
HAVE BEEN BROKEN OFF: " When its twigs are dry, they
are broken off and women come and make fires with them. For this is a people
without understanding" (Isa 27:11). Later Paul cites Isa 27:9 in Rom 11:27 and
Isa 27:11 in Rom 11:30-32.
AND YOU, THOUGH A WILD OLIVER SHOOT, HAVE BEEN GRAFTED
IN: A place was made for Gentiles among the remaining Jewish branches. The
Gentiles were like boughs taken from a wild, uncultivated olive tree and
carefully grafted into the trunk of the good olive tree. This is not the normal
practice in tree culture; rather, the tough wild plant is used for the stock and
onto that is grafted a more specialized branch which will bear more and better
fruit. Still, this figure suits the facts of the case, as Paul sees it.
Gentiles have been aliens from the commonwealth of Israel (Eph
2:11-22; cp Eph 3:16; John 4:22), but now they are attached to the hope of the
promise made of God to the fathers (Acts 26:6).
DO NOT BOAST OVER THOSE BRANCHES. IF YOU DO, CONSIDER
THIS: YOU DO NOT SUPPORT THE ROOT, BUT THE ROOT SUPPORTS YOU: The branches
can never boast against the other fallen branches (vv 17,19), because they are
being sustained by the "root" -- not the other way around!
Is this an argument Paul has actually heard, or what he
supposes some Gentile believers might think to themselves?
DO NOT BE ARROGANT: Christendom has in fact lorded it
over the Jews for long century since Paul wrote these words!
Let Gentile Christians beware. Their predominance in the
Christian community may not last! "These things happened to them as examples and
were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has
come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!"
THE KINDNESS: On the one hand there has been the
issuance of undeserved kindness (Gr "chrestotes", goodness, kindness: eg Tit
3:4; Eph 2:7) sufficient to greatly humble the recipient before the God of
AND STERNNESS OF GOD: On the other hand, God's stern
judgments had fallen and would fall again upon Israel, and on this count too
Gentile believers might stand in awe of God!
From warning the Gentile believers, Paul now turns to
encouraging the Jews again.
HOW MUCH MORE READILY WILL THESE, THE NATURAL BRANCHES, BE
GRAFTED INTO THEIR OWN OLIVE TREE!: Some of the most wonderful passages of
the OT record the passion of Israel's repentance and the very strength of these
should temper any present boasting by Gentiles (Zec 12:10-14; Jer
31:1-3,9,12-14; Hos 2:14-23).
Grafting dead branches back into the living tree stock would
be -- naturally speaking -- not only "contrary to nature", but absolutely
impossible. Of course, this is no bar at all to Paul's suggesting that God could
-- and would -- do such a thing, for, remember, this is the God "who gives life
to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were" (Rom
I DO NOT WANT YOU TO BE IGNORANT: A typical expression
of Paul when he wishes to draw attention to a truth of special importance (Rom
1:13; 1Co 10:1; 2Co 1:8; 1Th 4:13).
THIS MYSTERY: The term "musterion" as used in the NT
does not mean "enigma", but the activity of God in the history of salvation,
made known to His people by revelation.
UNTIL THE FULL NUMBER OF THE GENTILES HAS COME IN: Gr
"pleroma", signifying the full number of Gentiles to be called before the whole
number of Israel be restored. "Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles
UNTIL the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luk 21:24). This would be
equivalent to "the fullness of Christ" (Eph 4:13).
AND SO ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED: Of course, this does
not mean that every living Jew will be saved when Christ comes, since Ezekiel
specifically says that God will purge out the rebels in that day (Eze 20:38).
But other prophets do testify that, apart from the rebels, "they shall ALL know
Me!" (Jer 31:34; Eze 39:28,29).
THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION; HE WILL TURN GODLESSNESS
AWAY FROM JACOB: Cit Isa 59:20,21, LXX. The same passage speaks of the
vengeance which God brings upon His enemies (vv 17-19) -- so that the final
salvation of Israel is plainly linked to the Last Days, and the end of Gentile
times! "For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold
Zion's cause" (Isa 34:8).
WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS: Although this thought is
implied in Isa 59:20,21, these words are actually from Isa 27:9. The context of
Isa 27 has other points of contact with Rom 11, eg: "In days to come Jacob will
take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit" (Isa
ENEMIES: Not being reconciled to God through His son
(see Rom 5:10; Col 1:21).
AS FAR AS ELECTION IS CONCERNED, THEY ARE LOVED ON ACCOUNT
OF THE PATRIARCHS: Taken from Deu 10:12-15; 9:4-6; 7:7,8; 4:37. The great
significance of these quotations to the Israel of Paul's day was that the
condition of God's love for them, despite all that they had done (Lev 26:44; Eze
20:44), was unchanging.
IRREVOCABLE: Israel's place in the plan of God cannot
be changed: even though every individual must make his or her own choice, it is
assured that the nation will be saved!
AT ONE TIME DISOBEDIENT: Referring to the long period
of time stretching from the days of Noah's flood to the first century, during
which the Gentiles in their ignorance walked according to their own ways (Acts
HAVE NOW RECEIVED MERCY AS A RESULT OF THEIR
DISOBEDIENCE: The same point as in Rom 11:11,12.
RECEIVE MERCY: A favorite expression of the apostle
Paul, occurring in Rom 11:30,31; 1Co 7:25; 2Co 4:1; 1Ti 1:13,16. Also used by
Christ in Mat 5:7, and by Peter in 1Pe 2:10.
This phrase has roots in Hosea: Hos 1:10; 2:1,23.
An amazingly simple description of God's saving work during
4,000 years of history. The righteousness of God is magnified and His will is
found supreme: " It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but
on God's mercy" (Rom 9:16). "But the Scripture declares that the whole world is
a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus
Christ, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were
held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed" (Gal
Vv 33-36: "In view of the assurance generated by v 32, it is
no wonder that Paul, despite his burden for the Israel of his day, is able to
lift his heart in adoring praise to God. We are reminded of Isa 55, where the
ungodly and sinful man is urged to return to the Lord and find mercy, for God's
thoughts and ways are not those of men but are infinitely higher and better.
Instead of being vindictive, God is gracious. His plans defy the penetration of
the human mind and His ways surpass the ability of man to trace them out. The
Lord has not been obliged to lean upon another for advice (v 34). He has not had
to depend on human assistance that would make Him indebted to men (v.35). He is
the source, the means, and the goal of all things (v 36).
"While this exalted and moving ascription of praise has in
view God's plans and operations in the history of salvation affecting the great
segments of mankind, Jew and Gentile, the closing verse applies also to the
individual life that pleases God. For that life has its source in God, lives by
His resources, and returns to Him when its course has been run. To God be the
OH, THE DEPTH OF THE RICHES OF THE WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE OF
GOD!: God's judgments are a "great deep" (Psa 36:6). His "riches" refer to
His abounding grace (Rom 9:23; 10:12). Cp also Eph 3:18,19: "...How wide and
long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that
surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness
WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD? OR WHO HAS BEEN HIS
COUNSELOR?: Cit Isa 40:13. Here the prophet is not only considering the
greatness of Yahweh, but esp His balance in judgment when He made the earth and
the seas and the heavens. Time and space were measured, the earth weighed to be
in harmony with the forces of gravity, the mountains and hills balanced with the
valleys, the lakes and the seas with the clouds (Isa 40:12-15; Job 37:16). Was
man there to discuss these matters with God? Wisdom was His only companion (Pro
WHO HAS EVER GIVEN TO GOD, THAT GOD SHOULD REPAY HIM?:
Cit Job 41:11. God impresses Job with the greatness of His strength and the
profundity of His wisdom. Not only is man incapable of offering counsel to God;
he is also unable to ever make the Creator his debtor.
TO HIM BE GLORY FOREVER. AMEN: " 'To whom be glory for
ever.' This should be the single desire of the Christian. All other wishes must
be subservient and tributary to this one. The Christian may wish for prosperity
in his business, but only so far as it may help him to promote this: 'To Him be
glory for ever.' He may desire to attain more gifts and more graces, but it
should only be that: 'To Him may be glory for ever.' You are not acting as you
ought to do when you are moved by any other motive than a single eye to your
Lord's glory. As a Christian, you are 'of God, and through God'; then live 'to
God.' Let nothing ever set your heart beating so mightily as love to Him. Let
this ambition fire your soul; be this the foundation of every enterprise upon
which you enter, and this your sustaining motive whenever your zeal would grow
chill; make God your only object. Depend upon it, where self begins sorrow
begins; but if God be my supreme delight and only object, 'To me 'tis equal
whether love ordain my life or death -- appoint me ease or pain.'
"Let your desire for God's glory be a growing desire. You
blessed Him in your youth, do not be content with such praises as you gave Him
then. Has God prospered you in business? Give Him more as He has given you more.
Has God given you experience? Praise Him by stronger faith than you exercised at
first. Does your knowledge grow? Then sing more sweetly. Do you enjoy happier
times than you once had? Have you been restored from sickness, and has your
sorrow been turned into peace and joy? Then give Him more music; put more coals
and more sweet frankincense into the censer of your praise. Practically in your
life give Him honor, putting the 'Amen' to this doxology to your great and
gracious Lord, by your own individual service and increasing holiness"
God is the source, the means and the destiny of all things.
This is a beautiful summary of God's work of salvation among men. He formed the
earth and made man upon it. Through the angels and by His Spirit He has worked
His will in the earth. In the time of His pleasure all the earth shall be full
of His glory and "all things under Him, that God may be all in all" (Isa
45:17,18; Num 14:21; 1Co 15:28).