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Song of Solomon
Romans 9 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
. - 2.
The present position and prospects of the Jewish nation con-sidereal.
Deep regret expressed for the present exclusion of the Jewish nation from inheritance of the promises.
This section is not necessary for the main argument of the Epistle, which would have been complete without it for an exposition of God's righteousness, ch. 12. following naturally the conclusion of ch. 8, and these intervening chapters having no immediate connection with the preceding or succeeding context. But it was a subject too deeply fixed in St. Paul's mind to be left unnoticed. And besides, what he had said at the beginning of his treatise, and afterwards implied, seemed to call for some explanation in the face of existing facts. For he had said (
), that the gospel "was the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;
to the Jew first
, and also to the Gentile;" and throughout he has regarded it as the fulfilment of the peculiar promises made to the Jews themselves, who were to have precedence, though not monopoly, in the inheritance of its blessings. How, then, was this view consistent with the fact that the Jews in general, even more than any others, were now
from this inheritance? The apostle has already, even in the course of his argument, paused to meet certain supposed difficulties of this kind in the short section,
; but now he takes up the whole subject formally, and considers it in all its bearings. First, in ch. 9, he expresses his deep sorrow for the fact; but shows it to be not inconsistent either with God's faithfulness to his promise, or with his justice, or with the Word of prophecy.
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing witness with me in the Holy Ghost
. For similar solemn asseverations by St. Paul of the truth of what was known to himself alone, cf.
2 Corinthians 11:31
1 Timothy 2:7
. The peculiar solemnity of this may be due to the peculiar depth of his feelings on the subject. It is not
to suppose him to be moved by a fear of his patriotic enthusiasm being doubted, now that he had turned Christian, and argued so strongly against Jewish monopoly of privilege But it may have been so. For the force of
2 Corinthians 2:17
; ch. 12:19;
1 Thessalonians 4:1
. It is not an adjuration, but denotes the element in which he moves and speaks. Similarly,
ἐν Πνεύματι ἁγίῳ
1 Corinthians 12:3
), which, of course, could not be on oath.
That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
Verses 2, 3.
That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart
. He does not say what for, leaving it to appear in what follows. The broken sentence is significant of emotion.
For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh
. None of the ways that have been suggested for evading the obvious meaning of this assertion are tenable. One such way is to take the imperfect
as expressing what he once wished, viz. before his conversion; so that the meaning would be, "My interest in my own people is such that, in my zeal for them, I once myself desired to be entirely apart from Christ; I myself said,
1 Corinthians 12:3
), and persecuted his followers." Neither the natural force of the imperfect here (as to which cf.
), nor that of
, nor the context, allow this subterfuge. Another way is to understand
as implying only devotion to temporal destruction,
to a violent death. In
, every animal devoted to the Lord (in the LXX.
) is surely to be put to death; and this has been conceived as all that is implied here. So Jerome, 'Quaest. 9, ad Algas.,' and Hilary, 'Ad
.' But how then about
? The words
, both denote primarily what is offered or set apart; the latter being applied to things devoted to God's honour and service (cf.
), the latter always in the New Testament used to denote rejection or devotion to evil. It occurs in
1 Corinthians 12:3
1 Corinthians 16:22
Galatians 1:8, 9
. It certainly means here separation from the communion of Christ, in the same sense as
κατηργήθστε ἀπὸ τοῦ Ξριστοῦ
). Even if the expression
be understood as meaning in itself excommunication only (as
in ecclesiastical usage), the addition of
ἀπὸ τοῦ Ξριστοῦ
evidently implies more than mere separation from outward Church communion. The apostle can hardly mean otherwise than that he would forfeit his own communion with Christ on behalf of (
) his countrymen, if so they as a nation could be brought to accept the gospel. This certainly was a strong thing to say, and it may seem to us to imply an impossibility, if we compare it, for instance, with
, "I am persuaded
," etc. But we need not understand a passing expression of feeling, however real, as a deliberate utterance. The imperfect
implies only that the fact had passed through his mind in the intensity of his desire for the salvation of his brethren. It corresponds with the saying of Moses under the like strong emotion, "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin -; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which thou hast written" (
). Bengel remarks well," Ex summa fide (cap. 8) nunc summum ostendit amorem, ex amore divine accensum. Res non poterat fieri, quam optarat: sed votum erat pium et solidum, quamlibet cum tacita conditione,
si fieri posset."
Also, "De mensura amoris in Mose et Paulo non facile est existimare. Eum enim modulus ratiocinationum nostrarum non capit; sieur heroum bellicorum animos non capit parvulus." St. Paul proceeds, in the spirit of a patriotic Jew, which he ever retained, to enumerate the peculiar privileges of the chosen people, their possession of which rendered their present failure to realize their purpose so peculiarly disappointing and distressing.
For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
Who are Israelites; to whom
the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service
, and the promises;
Verses 4, 5.
, with its usual sense of
are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and from whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
Here "the adoption" (
) means the selection of Israel to be God's peculiar people (cf.
, "Israel is my son, even my firstborn;"
, "Ye are the children of the Lord your God;"
, "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt;" also
. Cf. also
τέκνα τοῦ Θεοῦ
in ver. 8 below). It is, of course, a different idea from that of the spiritual
of believers (at present as in
, or to come as in
), though it might be typical of it. "The glory" (
) seems best explained by reference to
2 Corinthians 3:7-18
, where the visible glory, said to have rested on the mercy-seat and to have illuminated for a time the face of Moses, is regarded as expressing the glory, in a higher sense, of the old dispensation, which, however, was destined to fade away in the greater glory of the revelation of God in Christ. The word may be thus taken to denote, not simply the
, or the glory on Mount Sinai, but rather what was signified by these manifestations. It was probably a recognized term in use with reference to the giving of the Law. "The covenants" (
), and "the promises" (
), both in the plural, include those made with and given to Abraham and the other patriarchs, as well as the Mosaic ones. The former word is wrongly taken by some as denoting the
of the covenant.
is obviously the divinely appointed ceremonial worship, the typical significance of which is explained at length in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where the same word is used. "The fathers" (
) are the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the original recipients of the promises, descent from whom was made such account of by the Jews, as being the foundation of their privileges (cf.
; and, for the use of
in this sense, cf.
). The last and crowning distinction of the Jewish race is mentioned last, viz. the fleshly descent therefrom of Christ, even of him who in his higher nature is "over all, God blessed for ever." This is certainly the most obvious meaning of the conclusion of ver. 5, as far as the language is concerned, and the one understood by all ancient commentators. Some moderns, however, as is well known, have raised objections to this interpretation of the clause, based solely on the supposed improbability that St. Paul would have so designated Christ. Some would, therefore, get over this imagined difficulty by putting a full stop after
, and taking what follows as a doxology to God the Father, thus: "God, who is over all, be blessed for ever." The apostle is supposed, according to this interpretation, to have been moved to this parenthetical utterance by his contemplation of the Divine favours to Israel, which he had been recounting. Some have suggested the full stop being put after
, so as to refer
ὁ ω}ν ἐπὶ πάντων
to Christ, and take only what follows as a doxology, or, as some would have it, as a statement. But, in either case, the idea of so unlikely a breaking up of the sentence may be dismissed as untenable. Others, without thus breaking up the sentence, take the whole of it, beginning with
, to be, not a doxology, but a statement, thus at- tempting to meet the objection to its being a doxology (to be noticed presently), arising from the collocation of the words. But a mere assertion that God
blessed for ever would seem peculiarly uncalled for and purposeless here. Meyer, being a critic of deserved repute, and an upholder of the modern interpretation of the clause, taking the whole of it together as a doxology to the Father, it may suffice to state his arguments.
That St. Paul, though regarding the Son of God as the image of God, of the essence of God, the agent in creation and preservation, the judge of all, the object of prayer, and the possessor of Divine glory and fulness of grace (
; Philippians it. 6;
, etc.; Colossians 2:9;
1 Corinthians 8:6
2 Corinthians 4:4
2 Corinthians 8:9
), never expressly calls him
, but always clearly distinguishes him as the
; and that the passages in which
has been supposed by some to apply to him (as in
2 Thessalonians 1:12
Κατὰ τὴν χάριν τοῦ Θεοῦ
ἡμῶν καὶ Κυρίου Ιησοῦ Ξριστοῦ
) are wrongly so understood;
, being also undoubtedly the original reading in
1 Timothy 3:16
. (Of St. Paul's usual distinction between
, when he is referring to the economy of redemption, other instances are found in
1 Corinthians 8:6
1 Corinthians 12:4, 5, 6
Ephesians 4:4, 5, 6
. That he does usually so distinguish is undoubted.)
That, according to the old ecclesiastical interpretation, "Christ would be called here, not only God, but even
God over all
, and consequently would be designated as
, which is absolutely incompatible with the entire view of the New Testament as to the dependence of the Son on the Father."
That "in the properly apostolical writings (
2 Peter 3:18
does not belong to them, nor does
) we never meet with a doxology to Christ in the form which is usual in doxologies to God." Meyer adds in a note, "
2 Timothy 4:18
certainly refers to Christ; but this is just one of the traces of post-apostolic composition. Now, to these arguments it may be replied as follows: To (1) that, though it may be true that St. Paul in no other passage expressly calls Christ
, yet his doctrine with respect to his Divine nature is in accordance with the expression; for surely the term
is applicable to him who is spoken of, as
, etc.; that his usual distinction between the supreme God and Christ as Mediator by no means precludes his declaring in express terms Christ's essential Deity in a passage where such a declaration is suitable and called for; that even St. John, who is acknowledged by all to have peculiarly set forth the Divine essence of Christ, only once uses the expression,
Θεὸς ῆν ὁ Λόγος
, or any exactly equivalent to it. To argument (2) it may be replied that the language used does
identify Christ with the Father as
ὁ παντοκράτωρ Θεὸς
, especially if we suppose a comma after
, so that the meaning would he, "Christ who is over all, God blessed for ever." That Christ is "over all" is what is distinctly declared elsewhere by St. Paul, and
, etc., may be appended predicatively to denote his Divine essence. As to argument (3), it is necessary to exclude not only 2 Peter and Hebrews, but also 2 Timothy from the list of apostolical writings in order to give it any force. But even so it would be irrelevant; for the sentence before us is not a doxology, but an assertion: it is, according to the ancient interpretation, not "Blessed
Christ as God for ever;" but" Christ, who is God blessed for ever." The positive reasons for retaining the ancient interpretations may be stated as follows:
Not one of the Greek or other Fathers, or any interpreter before Erasmus, is known to have understood it otherwise.
It gives the most obvious sense of the words themselves. It may well be contended that no other would have been thought of, but for the supposed discrepance with the apostle's usual way of speaking of Christ.
Whereas a doxology to God the Father does not seem called for here, or to have any very obvious bearing on the writer's train of thought, some assertion of the Divine greatness of Christ seems wanted to complete the representation of the final and crowning privilege of the race of Israel.
Ὁ ω}ν ἐπὶ πάντων
would indeed suffice for this purpose, if it could be dissevered from what follows. But, as has been said above, it is not allowable so to break up the sentence. Cf also
, where the statement that Christ had been born of the seed of David,
according to the flesh
, is followed by an assertion also of his Divine Sonship.
If the sentence had been intended as a doxology,
ought properly to have preceded
Αὐλογητὸς Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ
Αὐλογητὸς ὁ Θεὸς καὶ Πατὴρ
1 Peter 1:3
, where the same expression occurs); whereas in every other passage where
follows the subject of the sentence, it is an assertion, and not a doxology (cf.
2 Corinthians 11:31
The whole objection to the ancient interpretation rests solely on the views of modern critics as to what they think St. Paul was
to mean - not on what his language most obviously intimates that he
mean - a very unsafe principle of interpretation. Our safe conclusion seems to be that modern criticism has not made out a sufficient case for departing from the unanimous ancient interpretation of this passage.
the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ
, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they
not all Israel, which are of Israel:
- (2) (
) After this avowal of his deep sorrow, and his reasons for feeling it, the apostle now proceeds to deal with the subject. First (as has been said above) he shows (vers. 6-13) that the present exclusion of the great majority of the Jews from Christian privileges does not imply any
on God's part to his ancient promises; and thus it follows that the fact of their exclusion is no proof of the gospel not being the true fulfilment of those promises.
Verses 6, 7.
But it is not as though the Word of God hath taken none effect
hath come to naught
For they are not all Israel who are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called
. The promises to the patriarchs never, from the first, implied the inheritance of them by all the physical descendants of those patriarchs; even in Israel there is a recognized distinction between being of the race of Israel and being the true Israel of God; in the original promise to Abraham the descendants of Ishmael (though equally with those of Isaac, his physical seed) were excluded. And so even the race of Israel is but a part of the whole seed of Abraham, to whom the promise was made. Hence it follows that the present exclusion of the majority of even the race of Israel from the inheritance of the promises is not inconsistent with the original purport of those promises. The quotation from
, "In Isaac," etc., is properly (as in the original Hebrew) "In Isaac shall a seed be named to thee;"
"In Isaac it shall come to pass that posterity of thine shall have the name and position of
the seed of Abraham
, and be recognized as the inheritors of the promise" (Meyer).
Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham,
all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these
not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
Verses 8, 9.
That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for seed. For the word of promise is this, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son
). In other words, it is not in virtue of mere carnal descent, but of the promise, that any are so counted; mere carnal descent establishes no claim. It is to be observed that in the first recorded promises to Abraham (
) there was no restriction; and so through Ishmael, who is also called Abraham's seed (
), as well as through Isaac, the fulfilment might have been. But the subsequent promise (
Genesis 17:19, 21
Genesis 18:10, 14
) limited it to Isaac; which limiting promise is, therefore, in ver. 9, referred to. With
τέκνα τοῦ Θεοῦ
in ver. 8 Compare
(ver. 4), and also
. The apostle may have been led to use the expression here in view of the spiritual sonship to God of Christians (cf.
, etc.)which was typified and prepared for by the
of the chosen seed. A still further limitation of "the children of the promise" is next referred to; and one still more telling for the apostle's argument. It might be said that Ishmael was not, even carnally, the true seed, as being born, not of the wife, but of the bondwoman; or perhaps that he had forfeited any claim he might have had by his proved unworthiness (
, etc.). But Esau and Jacob were twin children, not only of the same patriarch (
), but also of the same wedded wife; and yet one was chosen and the other rejected, and this even before birth; so that, as the selection was not due to carnal descent, so neither could it be due to proved desert. Thus by this second consideration is disposed of the Jew's assertion of an indefeasible claim to inheritance of the promises on the ground of his boasted works, as by the other is disposed of his claim on the ground of his race. St. Paul's argument to the Jews of his own day would be - You cannot set up a claim to be all of you the necessary inheritors of the promises for all time on the ground either of your carnal descent or of your works, since the selection of Israel himself did not depend on either of these grounds; nor can you say that my position (viz. that Christian believers, to the exclusion of most of you, are now the true inheritors of the promises) implies unfaithfulness in God to his ancient promises; for it is in accordance with the principle on which, according to your own Scriptures, he fulfilled of old his promises to the patriarchs. St. Paul, however, is not to be understood here as writing with a direct polemical intention, but rather as discussing a problem which had at one time perplexed himself, and which seemed to him to call for solution.
the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.
And not only
; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one,
by our father Isaac;
But not only this; but Rebecca also, when she had conceived by one, even by Isaac our father
. The sentence thus begun is not formally completed, being taken up - after the parenthetical ver. 11 - by "It was said unto her" in ver. 12.
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 calleth;)
For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election
the principle of his electing to privileges of his own good will and purpose, and not on the ground of any fancied human claims)
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
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
the words are, "Two
are in thy womb, and two
manner of people
shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one
shall be stronger than the other
; and the elder shall serve the younger." In
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
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 (
), 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
, "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
in a sense for the expression of which our English "to hate," in its usual acceptation, is evidently too strong, cf.
(to be compared with
; so also, though not so distinctly,
. 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.
It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
What shall we say then?
unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
) In the next section
on the part of God, in thus electing the objects of his mercy according to the good pleasure of his will, is repudiated. As in
and Romans 7:7, a false inference from what has been said is introduced by
τί οῦν ἐροῦμεν
, and indignantly rejected by
, followed by reasons against the inference.
What shall we say then? Unrighteousness with God?
("Is there" supplied in the Authorized Version somewhat weakens the force of the expression.)
God forbid! For to Moses he saith, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.
The argument (thus introduced by
) requires two understood premisses - that God cannot possibly be unrighteous, and that what he himself said to Moses must be true. These premisses assumed, the apostle reasons thus: "What I have said of God's way of dealing with men does not imply unrighteousness in him; for it agrees with what he said of himself to Moses." The quotation is from
. Moses had besought the LORD to show him his glory, as a token that he and the people had found grace in his sight (vers. 16, 18). The LORD, in answer to his prayer, makes "all his goodness pass before him," in token that such grace had been found; but declares, in the words quoted, that all such grace accorded was not due to any claim on the part of man, but to his own good pleasure. In the verses that follow (17, 18) it is further shown, by the same kind of argument, that, as God declares himself to accept whom he will, so he also declares himself to reject whom he will; and hence, as his power is absolute, so is his justice unimpeachable, in himself determining the objects of his reprobation no less than the objects of his mercy. This appears from what he is recorded (
) to have said through Moses to Pharaoh.
For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
Verses 17, 18.
- For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose
for this very purpose
did I raise thee up, that I might show in thee my power, and that my Name might be declared throughout all the earth
. The conclusion follows:
So then he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth
. The passage quoted in ver. 17, taken (as it is intended to be) in conjunction with the whole history as given in Exodus - and especially with the passages in which God himself is said to have hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go - shows that not only the deliverance of Israel, but also the obduration of Pharaoh, was due to the determination of God that it should be so, in accordance with his own righteous purpose, which cannot be called in question by man. The particular declaration of
appears to be selected for quotation because of its relevancy to the case in hand, which it is intended to illustrate; viz. the present rejection of the majority of the Jews from gospel privileges. How this is will appear below. Now, this whole passage has been used in support of Calvinistic views of the original absolute reprobation of individuals irrespectively of their deserts. Calvin himself draws this conclusion from it, very decidedly, thus: "Neque enim praevideri ruinam impiorum a Domino Paulus tradit, sed ejus consilio et voluntate ordinari; quemadmodum et Solomon docet (
) non mode praecognitum fuisse impiorum interitum, sed impios ipsos fuisse destinato creates, ut perirent" ('In Epist. Pauli ad Romans,' on
). It is, therefore, important to consider carefully both the original meaning of the verse, quoted from Exodus, and the apostle's application of it. First, with reference to Pharaoh himself, what is meant by "I raised thee up (
)"? Not "created thee;" nor (as in the Vulgate, and as Augustine, Calvin, and some others interpret)
excitavi te, i.e.
"stirred thee up" to resist my will, that I might exhibit my power in confounding thee. Whether or not St. Paul's
would bear this sense, it is quite inadmissible in the LXX. (from which, in this expression, he varies), and also in the Hebrew, of which the proper rendering is, "I made thee to stand." The LXX. has
ἕνεκεν τούτου διετηρήθης
, meaning that Pharaoh had been kept alive instead of being at once cut off, that God's power might be displayed in him. (The idea thus expressed, it may be observed, accords closely with that of ver. 22 below, where the case of Pharaoh is still in view; "endured with much long-suffering," etc. Thus, though the rendering
may be incorrect, and varied by St. Paul, yet he still seems to recognize the idea which it expresses.) St. Paul's rendering, which is closer to the Hebrew than the LXX., seems to mean, "raised thee to thy present position of power and greatness" (or possibly, as Meyer explains, "caused thee to emerge,"
in history: "Thy whole historical appearance has been brought about by me, in order that," etc.). Thus the expression cannot mean, either that God had brought Pharaoh originally into existence for the sole purpose of destroying him, or that he had from the first irresistibly incited him to obduracy in order to condemn him, and so destroy him. The Lord says in effect to him, "Thou art now great and powerful; but it is! that made thee so, or still keep thee so: and this, not that thou mayest accomplish thine own will, but subserve mine, and that my power to work out my own purposes of mercy or of judgment may be the more notably displayed." For how is God's purpose in so raising Pharaoh up defined? "That I might show in thee my power, and that my Name might be declared throughout all the earth;"
, as is evident from the history, by the deliverance of Israel in spite of Pharaoh's opposition through the judgments sent on him and his people to that end. There is plainly nothing in the original history to imply Pharaoh's individual reprobation with regard to his own eternal salvation, but only his discomfiture in his opposition to the Divine purpose of mercy to Israel. But still, with a view to such execution of his purposes, God himself is said to have hardened Pharaoh's heart; and it is to this that the apostle draws special attention in conclusion, as denoting that which it is his design to show. It is thus certainly declared that this hardening was from God. But even so, it is nowhere said that God had made Pharaoh's heart hard from the first, so that he had been all along incapable of acting otherwise than he did. The inference rather is that, after wilful resistance to appeals, final obduracy was sent on him as a judgment. And it is further to be observed that in some verses in Exodus (Exodus 8:15, 19, 32; 9:34) Pharaoh is said to have hardened his own heart, with the addition, in
, of "he sinned yet more;" while in others (
Exodus 7:14, 22
Exodus 9:7, 35
) it is only said generally that "his heart was hardened." The two forms of expression seem to denote two aspects of final obduracy in man - according to one as being self-induced, according to the other as judicial. Thus also in
1 Kings 22
. the Lord himself is said to have sent the lying spirit into the heart of Ahab's prophets, in order that he might rush to his ruin, though it was obviously due to his own sins that he was thus finally doomed. A striking instance of the two aspects of human obduracy is found in
, etc., and the reference to the passage by our Lord in
. In Isaiah it is, "Make the heart of this people fat," etc.; but in our Lord's reference, "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes
closed;" as if the closing had been their own doing (cf.
). The following lines express a like conception of judicial blindness-
"For when we in our viciousness grow hard (O misery on't!),
the wise gods seal our eyes,
In our own filth drop our clear judgments, make us
Adore our errors, laugh at us while we strut
To our confusion."
We may compare also the Latin saying,
Quem Deus vult, perdere prius dementat
, which by no means implies that the divinely dementated persons have not deserved destruction. Such, then, seems the view to be taken of what is said about Pharaoh himself. But the important thing to be kept in view for a proper understanding of the drift of the passage is that, though Pharaoh was himself an individual, his case is adduced in no connection with the question of individual predestination, but in illustration of the principle on which nations, or races of men, are elected to or rejected from the enjoyment of Divine favour. This is the real subject of the whole chapter; and hence to build on this part of it a doctrine of individual election or reprobation is to bring into it what is not there. The drift of the passage before us is this: Moses and the Israelites of old illustrate the position of the faithful remnant of the Jews together with all Christian believers now. Pharaoh illustrates the position of the obdurate majority of the Jewish nation now. As he, in setting himself against the Divine purpose, and relying on his own strength, was unable to thwart God's design of mercy to his chosen, and was himself hardened and rejected, so the Jews as a nation now. And as then, so now, both the election and the rejection are to be referred entirely to the will of God, having mercy on whom he will and hardening whom he will, his justice in doing both being nevertheless unimpeachable.
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will
, and whom he will he hardeneth.
Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who resisteth his will?
Having shown that
cannot be imputed to God in hardening as well as having mercy on whom he will, the apostle now meets the supposed difficulty of understanding why men should be held
before God for but being as he wills them to be. It is immediately suggested by Pharaoh's case, which led to the conclusion,
ὅν θέλει σκληρύνει
; but the apostle foresees that an objection might be raised on this ground to his finding fault with the Jews for rejecting Christ, and them he especially has in view in what follows. It may be observed here that there is undoubtedly a difficulty to the human mind in reconciling theoretically Divine omnipotence with human free-will and responsibility. (On the general question, see notes on ch. 8.) St. Paul here, after his manner, does not attempt to solve the general problem, confining himself for the present to the Divine side of it. His answer, in vers. 20, 21, is simply to the effect that God has the absolute right as well as power to deal with his own creation as he pleases, and that man is in no position to "contend with the Almighty" (see
). He brings in from the prophets the illustration of the potter's power and right over the clay, which he fashions and deals with as he chooses. It will be seen, however, as we go on, that this illustration by no means involves, as by some it has been supposed to do, the idea of rejection and condemnation irrespectively of desert.
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed
, Why hast thou made me thus?
Verses 20, 21.
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Hath not the potter power
over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
). The figure of the clay, first introduced from Isaiah, is carried out at length in the passage from Jeremiah which is referred to. It is important, for understanding St. Paul's drift, to examine this passage. The prophet, in order that he might understand God's way of dealing with nations, is directed to go down to the potter's house, and watch the potter at his work. The potter is at work with a lump of clay, with the view of making a vessel of it; but it is "marred in the hand of the potter;" it does not come out into the form intended; so he rejects it, and makes anew another vessel after his mind, "as seemed good to the potter to make it." The prophet's application of the illustration is that, "as the clay is in the potter's hands, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel, saith the LORD;" meaning that if the house of Israel failed to answer to the LORD'S purpose, he could reject it at his pleasure, as the potter did the marred vessel; and in vers. 7-10 the view is extended to God's power over, and way of dealing with, all nations of mankind; and then, in ver. 11, the men of Judah are warned to return from their evil ways, lest the LORD should so do unto them. Thus it is by no means implied by the illustration that Israel, or any other nation, has been formed with the primary and irresistible purpose of rejecting it as a "vessel unto dishonour," or that, when rejected, it has not had opportunity of being otherwise; but only that God has absolute power and right over it, to reject it if proved unworthy. It cannot then resist his will (
determination or resolve; not here
. The primary Divine
is "that all men should be saved, and come to a knowledge of the truth" (
1 Timothy 2:4
); and this men do resist. For distinction between
); but yet he may "find fault" with justice. It is here again evident that it is not individuals, but nations, that are in view all along. The apostle goes on next to consider whether, in God's actual dealings with the "vessels unto dishonour," there may not be, not only great forbearance, but also a merciful purpose.
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
if God, willing to shew
wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
, involving an anacoluthon
) God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering vessels
(not, as in the Authorized Version,
of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy which he afore prepared unto glory; whom he also called, even us, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles
. "And" at the beginning of ver. 23 is omitted in the uncial B, and there is considerable authority of versions and Fathers for rejecting it. Without it the sentence runs better, and its drift becomes more apparent. The purpose expressed in ver. 23 thus comes out distinctly as the grand ultimate Divine purpose, to which the display of wrath and power spoken of in the previous verse is but subsidiary; and this drift becomes the more apparent, if we supply in English, as we may do, "while" before "willing" in ver. 22. Thus the drift would be, "What If God, while willing to exhibit his wrath and manifest his power, endured with much long-suffering vessels of wrath that had become fitted for destruction, in order that he might manifest the riches of his glory," etc. The idea expressed by "endured," etc., seems suggested by Pharaoh's case (see on ver. 17 with regard to the word
in the LXX., which the apostle appears here to retain the idea of, though he varied from it); but it is the Jewish nation of his own day that he has now in view. They were rejected from inheritance of the promises, and under Divine wrath; as he says in another place, "The wrath had come upon them to the uttermost" (
1 Thessalonians 2:16
). But they were still borne with; they were not finally cut off; and what if their present rejection were but subservient to the great purpose of mercy to the true Israel? The thought, hinted here, is carried out in ch. 11, where even the idea is further entertained of Israel itself as a nation, after judgment endured, coming into God's true fold at last, according to the design of God, through ways inscrutable by us, to "have mercy upon all." The forms of expression used in the passage before us are to be noted in support of the view we have taken of St. Paul's general meaning. "The vessels of wrath" are said to be "fitted to destruction" (
κατηρτισμένα εἰς ἀπώλειαν
); of the "vessels of mercy" it is said that God "afore prepared" them unto glory. Predestination to salvation is certainly a doctrine of St. Paul, but he nowhere intimates predestination to reprobation. Further, "Non dicit quae
: praescinditur a causa efficiente: tantum dicitur quales inveniat Deus quibus tram infert" (Bengel). Lastly, it may be observed that, though
carries with it the idea of individual salvation, yet this only comes in as the outcome and ultimate purpose of the calling of nations or races of men. The drift of the preceding argument remains still what it has been stated to be.
And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
inheritance of the promises by the Gentiles, with a remnant only of the Jews, shown to be in accordance with prophecy.
This is really a new section of the argument, though the writer, in a way usual with him, does not mark it as such, ver. 25 being in logical connection with the preceding one, suggested by the concluding expression, "Not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles." So far nothing has been adduced to support the idea of
, to whom no original promises had been made, superseding the Jewish nation in the inheritance, though it had been shown generally that God may have mercy on whom he will; and in the earlier part of the argument (vers. 6-13) all that appeared plainly from the Old Testament was
out of the total seed of Abraham - not the calling of a new one apart from his stock. Hence this section is necessary for completing the whole argument.
Verses 25, 26.
As he saith also in Osee, I will call my people that which was not my people, and beloved her who was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God
. The quotation in ver. 26 is from
, and is correctly cited; that in ver. 25 is from
, and varies from both the Hebrew and the LXX., but not so as to affect the meaning. Both refer to the same subject. The prophet had been directed to "take unto him a wife of wheredoms." He had so taken "Gomer the daughter of Diblaim," who had borne him a daughter, to whom was given the symbolical name Lo-ruhamah ("Not beloved;" or, as it is interpreted in
1 Peter 2:10
, "Hath not obtained mercy." "
are both contained in the full meaning of the intensive form of the Hebrew word," Pusey on 'Hosea '); and afterwards a son, who received the name Lo-ammi ("Not my people"). Both are symbols of the ten tribes of Israel as distinct from Judah; the two names denoting (as Pusey explains) successive stages of God's repudiation of the people, and the last implying entire rejection. But in
, after the naming of Lo-ammi, it is said, "Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are Lo-ammi, it shall be said unto them, Ye are the children of the living God." The subject is pursued through
, at the end of which (ver. 23) comes the other passage quoted: "And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy on Lo-ruhamah; and I will say to Lo-ammi, Ammi ['My people'], and they shall say, My God." It might seem that these quotations are not apposite, since they referred originally, not to the Gentiles, but to the ten tribes of Israel. It is to be observed, however, that the words were spoken after these tribes had been declared to be cut off from being God's people at all, so that a principle of Divine dealing is ex- pressed which is applicable to the Gentile world. "This, which was true of Israel in its dispersion, was much more true of the Gentiles. These, too, the descendants of righteous Noah, God had cast off for the time, that they should be no more his people, when he chose Israel out of them, to make known to them his Being, and his will, and his laws, and (although in shadow and mystery) Christ who was to come. He had threatened to Israel that he should be
, and no more his people; in reversing his sentence, he embraces in the arms of his mercy all who were not his people, and says to them all, that they should be
(Pusey on 'Hosea,' 2:23). In
1 Peter 2:10
the same text from Hosea is quoted as applying to those who were addressed in the Epistle, and then with more obvious applicability; for it appears to have been written, mainly at least, to Israelites of the
). Still, Gentile converts may be concluded to have been included (cf.
). It is to be observed that in ver. 25 the feminine
has reference to the
of the prophet, Lo-ruhamah; and that in ver. 26 "in the place where" must be understood, both in the original prophecy and the application, as meaning any region where those who were to be called
might be. "And so St. Peter says that this Scripture, was fulfilled in them, while still
scattered abroad through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
The place, then, where they should be called
the sons of the living God
is wheresoever they should believe in Christ" (Pusey).
"'Tis Zion, wheresoe'er they dwell,
Who, with his own true Israel,
Shall own him strong to save."
Christian Year: Fifth Sunday in Lent.'
) The texts from Isaiah which follow are intended to show that, according to prophetic utterance, while those who were not God's people, in large numbers, would be called his people, a
only of the Jews would be so.
And it shall come to pass,
in the place where it was said unto them, Ye
not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.
Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:
Verses 27, 28.
- Esaias also crieth (
, denoting loud and earnest utterance; cf.
John 7:28, 37
) concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant (not, as in the Authorized Version, "a remnant." The idea seems to be, as it is in the original, that
it is the remnant only that
be saved: for he will finish a word (not
, as in the Authorized Version) and cut it short: because a short (rather,
) word (again, not
the Lord make (
accomplish) upon the earth. The Greek of ver. 28, according to the Textus Receptus, is difficult, so as to have compelled our translators to render the participles
συντελῶν καὶ συντέμνων
by futures, "will finish," etc. But we have the high and early authority of the uncials
, A, B, for omitting part of the sentence, so as to make it read more intelligibly, thus:
The Lord will make
a word upon the earth, finishing it and cutting it short.
The longer form, however, agrees, though not quite exactly, with the LXX., which differs itself greatly from the Hebrew, though not so as to affect the main drift of the passage as a whole. The passage is from
, which had primary reference to the remnant of the house of Israel that should "return unto the mighty God" (
) after the then predicted devastation of the nation by the Assyrian king. The series of prophecies with which this is connected begins at
, which gives an account of Isaiah's memorable visit to Ahaz King of Judah, on the occasion of the combination of Pekah King of Israel, and Rezin King of Syria, against Jerusalem, in the course of which visit he predicts the birth of Immanuel. He took with him his son, who bore the symbolical name of Shear-jashub ("A remnant shall return"). Subsequently another son was born to the prophet, to whom was given the name Maher-shalal-hash-baz ("Swift of spoil, hasty of prey," as Ewald renders; or, "The spoil speedeth, the prey hasteth," as in margin of the Revised Version); the latter name having been previously written on a great roll (
). The primary drift of the prophecies in
. and the following chapters is that the confederacy of Pekah and Reziu against Jerusalem shall fail, that their own lands would ere long be devastated by the Assyrian king, who would sweep irresistibly over Judah too; but that God's people may still trust in the LORD'S protection, who would preserve and bring back a remnant, though a remnant only. The three names, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, Shear-jashub, and Immanuel ("God with us"), are throughout significant of the leading ideas of the whole series of predictions; the first expressing the certainty of coming judgment, the second the return of the remnant, and the third God's own presence with his people. Now, without pausing to consider what primary historical fulfilment of the prophecy about Immanuel there might be in the way of type, we cannot but perceive, in the language and tone of much in this series of prophecies, a distinct Messianic reference. We cannot, for instance, otherwise understand
Isaiah 9:6, 7
; and in
. there succeeds an ideal picture of peace and blessing under the "rod out of the stem of Jesse," which is undoubtedly Messianic. Hence the relevance of the passage, not only as showing God's way of dealing with his people in times of old, but also as an intimation of how it should be when the Messiah should come.
For he will finish the work, and cut
short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.
And as Esaias hath said before
in an earlier chapter),
Except the Lord of sabaoth had left us a seed, we should have been as Sodom, and been made like unto Gomorrah
. This quotation is from
, and, though it seems to have no obvious reference to the Messianic age, it expresses the same idea as the other, of a remnant only being saved; and it is quoted suitably, occurring as it does at the beginning of the Book of Isaiah, and being a sort of key-note of the prevailing purport of his prophecies. The force of all the above quotations is much enhanced, if we remember that they are not mere isolated texts, but suggestive specimens of many prophetic utterances to the same effect. All familiar with the prophetic writings are aware that main ideas constantly recurring are: First, judgments to come upon the chosen people, painted often in many consecutive verses without relief; but secondly, after such denunciations, a dawn of hope and comfort appearing, and culminating in unutterable blessing under the Messiah's kingdom; and thirdly, this dawn of hope being for a remnant only of the race, compared in one place to a gleaning of the grapes when the vintage is done (
); and fourthly, the association with this remnant, not only of the "outcasts of Israel" gathered from all lands, but also of a multitude of Gentiles, who should be gathered into the Messiah's kingdom (cf.
What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.
. - (3) The cause
is in the fault of the Jews themselves.
Hitherto the apostle has viewed his subject from the side of the Divine will and purpose (see note on ver. 19). He now views it from the side of human responsibility. The rejection of the Jews is now attributed, not to God's purpose to reject them, but to their own fault, in that they would not accept God's terms. "Hic expresse ponit causam reprobationis, quia scilicet nolint credere Evangelio. Ideo supra dixi, similitudinem de luto non ira accipiendam esse quasi non sit in ipsa voluntate hominis causa reprobationis" (Melancthon).
Verses 30, 31.
What shall we say then! That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, following after a law of righteousness, attained not to
arrived not at, so
as to distinguish
, used here, from
, previously used of the Gentiles. It expresses the idea of failing to reach what is being pursued)
a law of righteousness
. The Gentiles are here said to have attained
the righteousness of God, appropriated by faith, as previously explained); but Israel to have pursued, without reaching
it, a law
(not, as in the Authorized Version, the
) of righteousness; because in the Law of Hoses they sought a
law, which in itself it could not be. The idea is resumed in ch. 10:3. The concluding
in ver. 31, which may have been introduced into the text to make the meaning plain, is ill supported; but the sense requires it to be understood. So far we have a state-merit of the facts of the case. The reason follows.
But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
they sought it
not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
Verses 32, 33.
Wherefore? Because they sought it not of faith, but as of works of law
. The genuineness of the concluding
here is doubtful. Its omission does not affect the sense. If retained, it must, according to the rule observed in this Exposition, be translated
For they stumbled at the stone of stumbling; as it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and rock of offence: and he that (
, expressed in the Authorized Version by "whosoever," has no good support, having probably been supplied from ch. 10:11) believeth on him shall not be ashamed. Here, as throughout the Epistle, the apostle's position is supported by an Old Testament reference. In this instance it is to two passages of Isaiah intermingled (Isaiah 28:16 and Isaiah 8:14). The way in which they are fused is illustrative of St. Paul's way, elsewhere apparent, of referring to Scripture. As a rule, he quotes the LXX., but often varies from it, and sometimes so as to be closer to the Hebrew. Sometimes he seems to be quoting from memory, as one who is familiar with the general drift of prophecy on the subject in hand, and satisfied if the form of his quotation expresses such general drift. In the ease before us, he follows the Hebrew in
:14, and the LXX. 2:28:16, where for the Hebrew expression rendered "shall not make haste," the LXX. has
, apparently with the same essential meaning; for "make haste" seems to signify "haste away in terror and confusion." The two texts combined express the idea of a stone being laid by the Lord in Zion, which should be the support of the faithful, but a stumbling-block to others. It is not necessary to inquire whether the texts themselves have in the original any obvious Messianic reference. Enough that they denote God's plan of dealing with his people. But to understand the full idea in the apostle's mind, when he speaks of "the stone of stumbling," we must take into account also
, and our Lord's language, as recorded in
Matthew 21:42, 44
Luke 20:17, 18
. In the Psalms we find the figure of "the stone" used thus: "The stone which the builders refused is become the head
of the corner;" and in the Gospels our Lord refers to this text as de. noting himself, and subjoins, with reference to Isaiah, the idea of the same stone being one on which some should fall and be broken, with the additional conception of its crushing those on whom itself should fall. The same view essentially is expressed in Simeon's words (
), that "this Child" should be for the fall as well as for the rising again of many in Israel; and it is repeated definitely in
1 Peter 2:7
1 Corinthians 1:23
As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
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