Romans 11


God has not universally nor finally rejected Israel; nor are

they all at present rejecters of the Gospel, for there is a

remnant of true believers now, as there was in the days of the

Prophet Elijah, 1-5.

These have embraced the Gospel, and are saved by grace, and not

by the works of the law, 6.

The body of the Israelites, having rejected this, are blinded,

according to the prophetic declaration of David, 7-10.

But they have not stumbled, so as to be finally rejected; but

through their fall, salvation is come to the Gentiles, 11-14.

There is hope of their restoration, and that the nation shall

yet become a holy people, 15, 16.

The converted Gentiles must not exult over the fallen Jews; the

latter having fallen by unbelief, the former stand by faith,


The Jews, the natural branches, were broken off from the true

olive, and the Gentiles having been grafted in, in their place,

must walk uprightly, else they also shall be cut off, 21, 22.

The Jews, if they abide not in unbelief, shall be again grafted

in; and when the fulness of the Gentiles is come in, the great

Deliverer shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob, according to

the covenant of God, 23-27.

For the sake of their forefathers God loves them, and will again

call them, and communicate His gifts to them, 28, 29.

The Gospel shall he again sent to them, as it has now been sent

to the Gentiles, 30-32.

This procedure is according to the immensity of the wisdom,

knowledge, and unsearchable judgments of God, who is the

Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, and to whom all

adoration is due, 33-36.


This chapter is of the prophetic kind. It was by the spirit of

prophecy that the apostle foresaw the rejection of the Jews, which

he supposes in the two preceding chapters; for when he wrote the

epistle they were not in fact, rejected, seeing their polity and

Church were then standing. But the event has proved that he was a

true prophet; for we know that in about ten or eleven years after

the writing of this letter the temple was destroyed, the Jewish

polity overthrown, and the Jews expelled out of the promised land,

which they have never been able to recover to the present day.

This, 1. confirms the arguments which the apostle had advanced

to establish the calling of the Gentiles. For the Jews are, in

fact, rejected; consequently, our calling is, in fact, not

invalidated by any thing they suggested, relative to the

perpetuity of the Mosaic dispensation. But that dispensation

being wholly subverted, our title to the privileges of God's

Church and people stands clear and strong; the Jewish constitution

only could furnish objections against our claim; and the event has

silenced every objection from that quarter.

2. The actual rejection of the Jews proves Paul to be a true

apostle of Jesus Christ, and that he spoke by the Spirit of God;

otherwise, he could not have argued so fully upon a case which was

yet to come, and of which there was no appearance in the state of

things when he wrote this epistle. And this very circumstance

should induce us to pay great attention to this chapter, in which

he discourses concerning the extent and duration of the rejection

of his countrymen, to prevent their being insulted and despised by

the Gentile Christians. (1) As to the extent of this rejection,

it is not absolutely universal; some of the Jews have embraced the

Gospel, and are incorporated into the Christian Church with the

believing Gentiles. Upon the case of these believing Jews he

comments, Ro 11:1-7.

(2) As to the duration of it, it is not final and perpetual, for

all Israel, or the nation of the Jews, which is now blinded, shall

one day be saved or brought again into the kingdom or covenant of

God. Upon the state of these blinded Jews he comments, Ro 11:7

to the end of the chapter. His design, in discoursing upon this

subject, was not only to make the thing itself known, but partly

to engage the attention of the unbelieving Jew; to conciliate his

favour, and, if possible, to induce him to come into the Gospel

scheme; and partly to dispose the Gentile Christians not to treat

the Jews with contempt; (considering that they derived all their

present blessings from the patriarchs, the ancestors of the Jewish

nation, and were engrafted into the good olive tree, whence the

Jews had been broken;) and to admonish them to take warning by the

fall of the Jews; to make a good improvement of their religious

privileges, lest, through unbelief, any of them should relapse

into heathenism, or perish finally at the last day.

The thread of his discourse leads him into a general survey and

comparison of the several dispensations of God towards the

Gentiles and Jews; and he concludes this survey with adoration of

the depths of the Divine knowledge and wisdom exercised in the

various constitutions erected in the world, Ro 11:30-36.

Verse 1. I say then, hath God cast away his people?] Has he

utterly and finally rejected them? for this is necessarily the

apostle's meaning, and is the import of the Greek word απωσατο,

which signifies to thrust or drive away, from απο, from, and

ωθεω, to thrust or drive; has he thrust them off, and driven them

eternally from him? God forbid-by no means. This rejection is

neither universal nor final. For I also am an Israelite-I am a

regular descendant from Abraham, through Israel or Jacob, and by

his son Benjamin. And I stand in the Church of God, and in the

peculiar covenant; for the rejection is only of the obstinate and

disobedient; for those who believe on Christ, as I have done, are

continued in the Church.

Verse 2. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.]

God has not finally and irrecoverably rejected a people whom he

has loved (or approved) so long, ονπροεγνω, for this is

evidently the meaning of the word in this place, as we have

already seen, Ro 8:29, and is a very general meaning of the

original verb yada in Hebrew and γινωσκω in Greek; as I have

had often occasion to notice in different parts of this work, and

what none will deny who consults the original. See Schleusner,

Parkhust, &c.

Wot ye not what the Scripture saith] ουκοιδατε, Do ye not

know what the Scripture saith? The reference is to 1Ki 19:10,14.

And the apostle's answer to the objecting Jew is to the following

effect: God hath not universally thrust away his people, for whom

in the promise to Abraham he intended, and to whom decreed, to

grant his special favour and blessing; but the case is now much as

it was in the days of Elijah: that prophet, in his addresses to

God, made his complaint against Israel thus:-

Verse 3. Lord, they have killed thy prophets] They will not

permit any person to speak unto them in thy name; and they murder

those who are faithful to the commission which they have received

from thee.

Digged down thine altars] They are profligate and profane

beyond example, and retain not the slightest form of religion.

I am left alone] There is no prophet besides myself left, and

they seek to destroy me.

Verse 4. But what saith the answer of God] The answer which

God made assured him that there were seven thousand, that is,

several or many thousands; for so we must understand the word

seven, a certain for an uncertain number. These had continued

faithful to God; but, because of Jezebel's persecution, they were

obliged to conceal their attachment to the true religion; and God,

in his providence, preserved them from her sanguinary rage.

Who have not bowed the knee] Baal was the god of Jezebel; or,

in other words, his worship was then the worship of the state; but

there were several thousands of pious Israelites who had not

acknowledged this idol, and did not partake in the idolatrous


Verse 5. Even so then at this present time] As in the present

day the irreligion of the Jews is very great; yet there is a

remnant, a considerable number, who have accepted of the grace of

the Gospel.

According to the election of grace.] And these are saved just

as God has saved all believers from the beginning; they are chosen

by his grace, not on account of any worth or excellence in

themselves, but through his goodness are they chosen to have a

place in his Church, and continue to be his people, entitled to

all the privileges of the new covenant. The election of grace

simply signifies God's gracious design in sending the Christian

system into the world, and saving under it all those who believe

in Christ Jesus, and none else. Thus the believers in Christ are

chosen to inherit the blessings of the Gospel, while those who

seek justification by the works of the law are rejected.

Verse 6. And if by grace] And let this very remnant of pious

Jews, who have believed in Christ Jesus, know that they are

brought in, precisely in the same way as God has brought in the

Gentiles; the one having no more worthiness to plead than the

other; both being brought in, and continued in by God's free

grace, and not by any observance of the Mosaic law.

And this is done according to the election of grace, or the

rule of choosing any persons to be the people of God upon the

footing of grace; which takes in all that believe in his Son Jesus

Christ: some of the Jewish people did so believe; therefore those

believing Jews are a remnant according to the election of grace.

They are saved in that way in which alone God will save mankind.

And if by grace] Then let these very persons remember, that

their election and interest in the covenant of God has no

connection with their old Jewish works; for were it of works,

grace would lose its proper nature, and cease to be what it is-a

free undeserved gift.

But if it be of works] On the other hand, could it be made to

appear that they are invested in these privileges of the kingdom

of Christ only by the observance of the law of Moses, then GRACE

would be quite set aside; and if it were not, work, or the merit

of obedience, would lose its proper nature, which excludes favour

and free gift. But it is not, and cannot be, of WORKS; for those

very Jews who now believe, and are happy in the grace of our Lord

Jesus Christ, are so according to the election of grace, which

does not mean a particular act of God's sovereignty, which has

singled out some of the Jews who deserved to have been cast off as

well as the rest; but it is that general scheme of grace,

according to which God purposed to take into his Church and

kingdom any, among either Jews or Gentiles, who should believe on

Christ. And the remnant here mentioned were not selected from

their countrymen by such a sovereign act of God's grace as might

have taken in the whole if it had so pleased; but they were

admitted into and received the privileges of the Messiah's

kingdom, because they believed on the Lord Jesus, and received him

as their only Saviour; and thus came into that scheme of election

which God had appointed. And we may observe, farther, that out of

this election they as well as the others would have been excluded,

had they like the rest remained in unbelief; and into this

election of grace all the Jews, to a man, notwithstanding they

were all sinners, would have been taken, had they believed in

Christ Jesus. This is the true notion of the election of grace.

See Taylor.

Verse 7. What then?] What is the real state of the case

before us? Israel-the body of the Jewish people, have not

obtained that which they so earnestly desire, i.e. to be

continued, as they have been hitherto, the peculiar people of God;

but the election hath obtained it-as many of them as have believed

in Jesus Christ, and accepted salvation through him: this is the

grand scheme of the election by grace; God chooses to make those

his peculiar people who believe in his Son, and none other shall

enjoy the blessings of his kingdom. Those who would not receive

him are blinded; they have shut their eyes against the light, and

are in the very circumstances of those mentioned by the Prophet

Isaiah, Isa 29:10.

Verse 8. God hath given them the spirit of slumber] As they

had wilfully closed their eyes against the light, so God has, in

judgment, given them up to the spirit of slumber. The very word

and revelation of God, which should have awakened their

consciences, and opened their eyes and ears, have had a very

different effect; and because they did not receive the truth in

the love thereof, that which would otherwise have been the savour

of life unto life, has become the savour of death unto death; and

this continues to the present day.

Verse 9. And David saith, Let their table, &c.] And from

their present disposition it is reasonable to conclude that the

same evils will fall upon them as fell upon the disobedient in

former times, as predicted by David, Ps 69:22, 23, that their

very blessings should become curses to them, and their temporal

mercies be their only recompense; and yet even these earthly

blessings, by not being enjoyed in the Lord, should be a stumbling

block over which they should fall, and, instead of being a

blessing, should be the means of their punishment. They would

have a worldly Messiah, and therefore they rejected him whose

kingdom was not of this world.

Verse 10. Let their eyes be darkened] All these words are

declarative, and not imprecatory. God declares what will be the

case of such obstinate unbelievers; their table, their common

providential blessings, will become a snare, a trap, a stumbling

block, and the means of their punishment. Their eyes will be more

and more darkened as they persist in their unbelief, and their

back shall be bowed down always; far from becoming a great and

powerful nation, they shall continue ever in a state of abject

slavery and oppression, till they acknowledge Jesus as the

promised Messiah, and submit to receive redemption in his blood.

Verse 11. Have they stumbled that they should fall?] Have the

Jews, now for their disobedience and unbelief rejected, so sinned

against God as to be for ever put out of the reach of his mercy?

By no means. Are they, as a nation, utterly irrecoverable? This

is the sense of the place, and here the prophecy of the

restoration of the Jewish nation commences.

But rather through their fall salvation is come] The Church of

God cannot fail; if the Jews have broken the everlasting covenant,

Isa 24:5, the Gentiles shall be taken into it; and this very

circumstance shall be ultimately the means of exciting them to

seek and claim a share in the blessings of the new covenant; and

this is what the apostle terms provoking them to jealousy, i.e.

exciting them to emulation, for so the word should be understood.

We should observe here, that the fall of the Jews was not in

itself the cause or reason of the calling of the Gentiles; for

whether the Jews had stood or fallen, whether they had embraced

or rejected the Gospel, it was the original purpose of God to take

the Gentiles into the Church; for this was absolutely implied in

the covenant made with Abraham: and it was in virtue of that

covenant that the Gentiles were now called, and not BECAUSE of the

unbelief of the Jews. And hence we see that their fall was not

the necessary means of the salvation of the Gentiles; for

certainly the unbelief of the Jews could never produce faith in

the Gentiles. The simple state of the case is: the Jews, in the

most obstinate and unprincipled manner, rejected Jesus Christ and

the salvation offered them in his name; then the apostles turned

to the Gentiles, and they heard and believed. The Jews themselves

perceived that the Gentiles were to be put in possession of

similar privileges to those which they, as the peculiar people of

God, had enjoyed; and this they could not bear, and put forth all

their strength in opposition and persecution. The calling of the

Gentiles, which existed in the original purpose of God, became in

a certain way accelerated by the unbelief of the Jews, through

which they forfeited all their privileges, and fell from that

state of glory and dignity in which they had been long placed as

the peculiar people of God. See Taylor.

Verse 12. Now if the fall of them] The English reader may

imagine that, because fall is used in both these verses, the

original word is the same. But their fall, and the fall of them,

is παραπτωμα, the same word which we render offence,

Ro 5:15, 17, 18,

and might be rendered lapse. Whereas that they should fall

(Ro 11:11)

is, ιναπεσωσι. Now, πιπτω, to fall, is used in a sense so very

emphatical as to signify being slain. So Homer, Il. viii.,

ver. 475.




And for Patroclus slain, the crowded hosts,

In narrow space, shall at the ships contend.

Such the divine decree.

And again, Il. xi., ver. 84.



While morning lasted, and the light of day

Increased, so long the weapons on both sides

Flew in thick vollies; and the people fell.


It is well known, that to fall in battle means to be killed.

It is in such a sense as this that St. Paul used the word fall,

when he says, Have they stumbled that they should FALL? He means

a fall quite destructive and ruinous; whereas by their fall,

and the fall of them, he means no more than such a lapse as was

recoverable; as in the case of Adam's offence. See Dr. Taylor.

The riches of the world] If, in consequence of their unbelief,

the riches of God's grace and goodness be poured out on the whole

Gentile world, how much more shall that dispensation of grace and

mercy enrich and aggrandize the Gentiles, which shall bring the

whole body of the Jews to the faith of the Gospel! Here the

apostle supposes, or rather predicts, that such a dispensation

shall take place; and that, therefore, the Jews have not so

stumbled as to be finally irrecoverable.

Verse 13. This and the following verse should be read in a

parenthesis. St. Paul, as the apostle of the Gentiles, wished to

show them the high pitch of glory and blessedness to which they

had been called, that they might have a due sense of God's mercy

in calling them to such a state of salvation; and that they might

be jealous over themselves, lest they should fall as the Jews had

done before them: and he dwells particularly on the greatness of

those privileges which the Gentiles had now received, that he

might stir up the minds of his countrymen to emulation, and might

be the means of saving some of them, as he states in the following


I magnify mine office] This is a very improper translation of

τηνδιακονιανμουδοξαζω, which is, literally, I honour this my

ministry. Dr. Taylor has justly observed that magnify, except

when applied to the most High, carries with it, in our language,

the idea of stretching beyond the bounds of truth; whereas the

apostle simply means that he does justice to his ministry, by

stating the glorious things which he was commissioned to preach

among the Gentiles: blessings which the Jews by their obstinacy

had forfeited.

Verse 14. Might save some of them.] And yet all these were

among the reprobate, or rejected; however, the apostle supposed

that none of them were irrecoverably shut out from the Divine

favour; and that some of them, by his preaching, might be disposed

to receive salvation by Christ Jesus.

Verse 15. But life from the dead] If the rejection of the

Jews became the occasion of our receiving the Gospel, so that we

can even glory in our tribulations, though they themselves became

chief instruments of our sufferings; yet so far must we feel from

exulting over them that we should esteem their full conversion to

God as great and choice a favour as we would the restoration of a

most intimate friend to life, who had been at the gates of death.

The restoration of the Jews to a state of favour with God to

which the apostle refers, and which is too plainly intimated by

the spirit of prophecy to admit of a doubt, will be a most

striking event. Their being preserved as a distinct people is

certainly a strong collateral proof that they shall once more be

brought into the Church of God: and their conversion to

Christianity will be an incontestable proof of the truth of Divine

revelation; and doubtless will become the means of converting

multitudes of deists, who will see the prophecies of God, which

had been delivered so long before, so strikingly fulfilled in this

great event. We need not wonder, if a whole nation should then be

born as in a day.

Verse 16. For if the first fruit be holy] As the consecrating

the first fruits to God was the means of drawing down his blessing

upon the rest, so the conversion of Abraham to the true faith, and

the several Jews who have now embraced Christianity, are pledges

that God will, in process of time, admit the whole Jewish nation

into his favour again, so that they shall constitute a part of the

visible Church of Christ.

If the root be holy, so are the branches.] The word holy in

this verse is to be taken in that sense which it has so frequently

in the Old and New Testaments, viz. consecrated, set apart to

sacred uses. It must not be forgotten that the first converts to

Christ were from among the Jews; these formed the root of the

Christian Church: these were holy, αγιοι, consecrated to God, and

those who among the Gentiles were converted by their means were

also αγιοι, consecrated; but the chief reference is to the

ancestors of the Jewish people, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and, as

these were devoted to God and received into his covenant, all

their posterity, the branches which proceeded from this root,

became entitled to the same privileges: and as the root still

remains, and the branches also, the descendants from that root

still remain: they still have a certain title to the blessings of

the covenant; though, because of their obstinate unbelief, these

blessings are suspended, as they cannot, even on the ground of the

old covenant, enjoy these blessings but through faith: for it was

when Abraham believed God that it was accounted to him for

righteousness; and thus he became an heir of the righteousness

which is by faith.

Verse 17. And if some of the branches, &c.] If the present

nation of the Jews, because of their unbelief, are cut off from

the blessings of the Church of God, and the high honour and

dignity of being his peculiar people; and thou, being a wild

olive-ye Gentiles, being without the knowledge of the true God,

and consequently bringing forth no fruits of righteousness, wert

grafted in among them-are now inserted in the original stock,

having been made partakers of the faith of Abraham, and

consequently of his blessings; and enjoy, as the people did who

sprang from him, the fatness of the olive tree-the promises made

to the patriarchs, and the spiritual privileges of the Jewish


Verse 18. Boast not against the branches.] While you are

ready to acknowledge that you were included in the covenant made

with Abraham, and are now partakers of the same blessings with

him, do not exult over, much less insult, the branches, his

present descendants, whose place you now fill up, according to the

election of grace: for remember, ye are not the root, nor do ye

bear the root, but the root bears you. You have not been the

means of deriving any blessing on the Jewish people; but through

that very people, which you may be tempted to despise, all the

blessing and excellencies which you enjoy have been communicated

to you.

Verse 19. Thou wilt say then, &c.] You may think that you

have reason to exult over them; because it is a fact that God has

been displeased with them, and therefore has broken them off; has

cast them out of the Church, and taken you into it in their place.

Verse 20. Well; because of unbelief, &c.] This statement is

all true; but then, consider, why is it that they were cast out?

Was it not because of their unbelief? And you stand by faith: you

were made partakers of these blessings by faith; be not

high-minded; let this humble, not exalt you in your own

estimation; for if the blessings were received by faith,

consequently not by works; and if not by works, you have no merit;

and what you have received is through the mere mercy of God. They

once stood by faith; they gave place to unbelief, and fell: you

stand now by faith; but it is as possible for you to be unfaithful

as it was for them, and consequently you may fall under the Divine

displeasure, as they have done; be not high-minded, but fear;

watch over yourselves with godly jealousy.

Verse 21. For if God spared not the natural branches] If He,

in his infinite justice and holiness, could not tolerate sin in

the people whom he foreknew, whom he had so long loved, cherished,

miraculously preserved and blessed; take heed lest he also spare

not thee. Be convinced that the same righteous principle in him

will cause him to act towards you as he has acted towards them, if

you sin after the similitude of their transgression; and to this,

self-sufficiency and self-confidence will soon lead you.

Remember, therefore, the rock whence you were hewn, and the hole

of the pit whence ye were digged. Depend incessantly on God's

free grace, that ye may abide in his favour.

Verse 22. Behold therefore the goodness] The exclamation,

Behold the goodness of God! is frequent among the Jewish writers,

when they wish to call the attention of men to particular displays

of God's mercy, especially towards those who are singularly

unworthy. See several instances in Schoettgen.

And severity of God] As χρηστοτης, goodness, signifies the

essential quality of the Divine nature, the fountain of all good

to men and angels, so αποτομια, severity, as it is here

translated, signifies that particular exercise of his goodness and

holiness which leads him to sever from his mystical body

whatsoever would injure, corrupt, or destroy it. The apostle in

these verses uses a metaphor taken from engrafting, εγκεντρισις,

from the verb εγκεντριζω, from εν, in, and κεντριζω, to

puncture, because engrafting was frequently done by making a

puncture in the bark of a tree, and then inserting a bud taken

from another. This was the practice in the Roman agriculture, as

we learn from Virgil, Georg. ii, ver. 73:-

Nam qua se medio trudunt de cortice gemmae,

Et tenues rumpunt tunicas, angustus in ipso

Fit nodo sinus: huc aliena ex arbore germen

Includunt, udoque docent inolescere libro.

For where the tender rinds of trees disclose

Their shooting gems, a swelling knot there grows;

Just in that space a narrow slit we make,

Then other buds from bearing trees we take;

Inserted thus, the wounded rind we close,

ln whose moist womb the admitted infant grows.


In all countries the principle is the same, though the mode is


The apostle, having adopted this metaphor as the best he could

find to express that act of God's justice and mercy by which the

Jews were rejected, and the Gentiles elected in their stead, and,

in order to show that though the Jewish tree was cut down, or its

branches lopped off, yet it was not rooted up, he informs the

Gentile believers that, as it is customary to insert a good scion

in a bad or useless stock, they who were bad, contrary to the

custom in such cases, were grafted in a good stock, and their

growth and fruitfulness proclaimed the excellence and vegetative

life of the stock in which they were inserted. This was the

goodness of the heavenly gardener to them; but it was severity,

αποτομια, an act of excision to the Jews.

The reader will observe that this term belongs to engrafting:

often, in this operation, a part of a branch is cut off; in that

part which remains in connection with the tree a little slit is

made, and then a small twig or branch taken from another tree is,

at its lower end, shaved thin, wedge-like, and then inserted in

the cleft, after which the whole is tied together, clayed round,

&c., and the bark unites to bark; and the stock and the scion

become thus one tree, the juices of the whole stock circulating

through the tubes of the newly-inserted twig; and thus both live,

though the branch inserted bears a very different fruit from that

which the parent stock bore. I have often performed this

operation, and in this very way, with success: and I cannot

conceive that the apostle could have chosen a more apt or more

elegant metaphor. The Jewish tree does not bring forth proper

fruit; but it will answer well to ingraft a proper fruit-bearing

tree on. The Gentiles are a wild olive, which is a tree that

bears no fruit; but it may be made to bear if grafted on the

Jewish stock. Some of the branches were cut off, that the

branches of this wild olive might be inserted: the act by which

this insertion is made is termed αποτομια, goodness, benignity:

the act by which the branches of the original stock are broken off

is termed αποτομια, excision; from απο, from, and τεμνω,

I cut, still keeping the metaphor taken from engrafting in view.

Now, let the apostle's mode of reasoning be observed: the tree is

cut down, or its branches lopped off; but the tree is not rooted

up. The Jews have stumbled, but not so as to fall irrecoverably;

for if they abide not still in unbelief, they shall be grafted in,

Ro 11:23. The Gentiles which are grafted in on these cut-off

branches, like the scion inserted into another stock, partake of

the root, which absorbs from the earth the nutritious juices, and

the fatness of the Jewish tree, the blessings and privileges which

that people have long enjoyed, in consequence of the Abrahamic

covenant, Ro 11:17;

the root, the Jewish covenant, bears them: not they the root,

Ro 11:18. As, therefore, the continuance of the Gentiles as the

Church and people of God depends upon their interest in the

Abrahamic covenant, the blessings of which they derive through the

medium of the Jews, they should be grateful to God, and tolerant

to those through whom they have received such blessings. And as,

in the case of grafting, the prosperity of the engrafted scion

depends on the existence of the parent stock, so the continuance

of the Gentiles in this state of favour, (following the metaphor,)

in a certain way depends on the continuance of the Jewish people:

and they are preserved, as so many scions which are in process of

time to be engrafted on the Gentiles; and thus the Gentiles shall

become the means of salvation to the Jews, as the Jews have been

the means of salvation to the Gentiles. Following, therefore, the

metaphor a little farther, which seems to have been so well chosen

in all its parts, the continued existence of the Jews as a

distinct people, together with the acknowledgment of the Gentiles,

that they have derived their salvation and state of blessedness

through them-of which Jesus Christ, born of the stock of David, is

the author; and the Jewish Scriptures, which the Gentiles receive

as inspired by God, are the evidence-then, the restoration of the

Jews to the favour of God is a necessary consequence, and indeed

seems to be the principal end in reference to which the apostle

reasons. The Gentiles, however, are to take care that the

restoration of the Jews be not at their expense; as their calling

and election were at the expense of the Jews: the latter being cut

off, that the former might be grafted in, Ro 11:19. Of this

there is no kind of necessity, for the original stock, the

Abrahamic covenant, is sufficient to receive them all; and so

Jews and Gentiles become one eternal flock, under one Bishop and

Shepherd of all their souls.

Verse 23. If they abide not in unbelief] So, we find that

their rejection took place in consequence of their wilful

obstinacy: and, that they may return into the fold, the door of

which still stands open.

For God is able to graft them in again.] Fallen as they are

and degraded, God can, in the course of his providence and mercy,

restore them to all their forfeited privileges; and this will take

place if they abide not in unbelief: which intimates that God has

furnished them with all the power and means necessary for faith,

and that they may believe on the Lord Jesus whenever they will.

The veil now continues on their heart; but it is not a veil which

God has spread there, but a veil occasioned by their own voluntary

and obstinate unbelief: and, when they shall turn to the Lord,

(Jesus,) the veil shall be taken away. See what the apostle has

said, 2Co 3:6-18.

Verse 24. The olive tree, which is wild by nature] Which is

καταφυσιν, naturally, wild and barren; for that the wild olive

bore no fruit is sufficiently evident from the testimony of the

authors who have written on the subject; hence the proverb,

ακαρποτεροςαγριππου. more unfruitful than the wild olive.

λακωνεςγαραγριανελαιαναγιππονκαλουσι. for the Lacedemonians

term the wild olive αγριππον. See SUIDAS. And hence HESYCHIUS

interprets αγριελαιος, the wild olive, (the word used here by St.

Paul,) by ακαρπος, unfruitful: and the reason given in DIOGEN.

Proverb. Cent. ii. n. 63, is φυτονγαρεστινοαγριπποςακαρπον.

for the wild olive is an unfruitful tree. On this account the

apostle very properly says: Thou wert cut, εκτηςκαταφυσιν

αγριελαιου, out of that olive which is uncultivated, because it is

barren: the καταφυσιν does not refer here to its being naturally

barren; but to its being commonly or customarily permitted to

remain so. And that this is the import of the phrase here is

evident from the next clause of the verse.

And wert grafted contrary to nature] παραφυσιν, contrary to

all custom; for a scion taken from a barren or useless tree is

scarcely ever known to be grafted into a good stock; but here the

Gentiles, a fruitless and sinful race, are grafted on the ancient

patriarchal stock. Now, if it was possible to effect such a

change in the state and disposition of the Gentiles, who were

αθεοιεντωκοσμω, Eph 2:12,

without God, ATHEISTS, in the world; how much more possible is it,

speaking after the manner of men, to bring about a similar change

in the Jews, who acknowledge the one, only, and true God, and

receive the law and the prophets as a revelation from him. This

seems to be the drift of the apostle's argument.

Verse 25. I would not-that ye should be ignorant of this

mystery] Mystery, μυστηριον, signifies any thing that is hidden

or covered, or not fully made manifest. The Greek word seems to

have been borrowed from the Hebrew mistar, from the root

sathar, to hide, conceal, &c.; though some derive it from

μυεισθαι, to be initiated into sacred rites, from μυειν, to

shut up. In the New Testament it signifies, generally, any thing

or doctrine that has not, in former times, been fully known to

men: or, something that has not been heard of, or which is so

deep, profound, and difficult of comprehension, that it cannot be

apprehended without special direction and instruction: here it

signifies the doctrine of the future restoration of the Jews, not

fully known in itself, and not at all known as to the time in

which it will take place. In Ro 16:25

it means the Christian religion, not known till the advent of

Christ. The apostle wished the Romans not to be ignorant of this

mystery, viz. that such a thing was intended; and, in order to

give them as much instruction as possible on this subject, he

gives them some characteristic or sign of the times when it was to

take place.

Lest ye should be wise in your own conceits] It seems from

this, and from other expressions in this epistle, that the

converted Gentiles had not behaved toward the Jews with that

decorum and propriety which the relation they bore to them

required. In this chapter the apostle strongly guards them

against giving way to such a disposition.

Blindness in part is happened to Israel] Partial blindness, or

blindness to a part of them; for they were not all unbelievers:

several thousands of them had been converted to the Christian

faith; though the body of the nation, and especially its rulers,

civil and spiritual, continued opposed to Christ and his doctrine.

Until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.] And this

blindness will continue till the Church of the Gentiles be fully

completed-till the Gospel be preached through all the nations of

the earth, and multitudes of heathens every where embrace the

faith. The words πληρωματωνεθνων may be borrowed from the

melo haggoyim, a multitude of nations, which the Septuagint

translate by πληθοςεθνων. By the πληρωμα, or fulness, a great

multitude may be intended, which should be so dilated on every

hand as to fill various regions. In this sense the words were

understood by Solomon ben Melec, . The

nations of the Gentiles shall be filled with them: the apostle,

therefore, seems to give this sense of the mystery-that the Jews

will continue in a state of blindness till such time as a

multitude of nations, or Gentiles, shall be converted to the

Christian faith; and the Jews, hearing of this, shall be excited,

by a spirit o� emulation, to examine and acknowledge the validity

of the proofs of Christianity, and embrace the faith of our Lord

Jesus Christ.

We should not restrict the meaning of these words too much, by

imagining, 1. That the fulness must necessarily mean all the

nations of the universe, and all the individuals of those nations:

probably, no more than a general spread of Christianity over many

nations which are now under the influence of Pagan or Mohammedan

superstition may be what is intended. 2. We must not suppose that

the coming in here mentioned necessarily means, what most

religious persons understand by conversion, a thorough change of

the whole heart and the whole life: the acknowledgment of the

Divine mission of our Lord, and a cordial embracing of the

Christian religion, will sufficiently fulfil the apostle's words.

If we wait for the conversion of the Jews till such a time as

every Gentile and Mohammedan soul shall be, in this especial

sense, converted to God, then-we shall wait for ever.

Verse 26. And so all Israel shall be saved] Shall be brought

into the way of salvation, by acknowledging the Messiah; for the

word certainly does not mean eternal glory; for no man can

conceive that a time will ever come in which every Jew then

living, shall be taken to the kingdom of glory. The term saved,

as applied to the Israelites in different parts of the Scripture,

signifies no more than their being gathered out of the nations of

the world, separated to God, and possessed of the high privilege

of being his peculiar people. And we know that this is the

meaning of the term, by finding it applied to the body of the

Israelites when this alone was the sum of their state. See the

Preface, page viii, &c.

As it is written] The apostle supports what he advances on

this head by a quotation from Scripture, which, in the main, is

taken from Isa 59:20: The Deliverer shall come out of Zion, and

turn away ungodliness from Jacob. Now this cannot be understood

of the manifestation of Christ among the Jews; or of the

multitudes which were converted before, at, and for some time

after, the day of pentecost; for these times were all past when

the apostle wrote this epistle, which was probably about the 57th

or 58th year of our Lord; and, as no remarkable conversion of that

people has since taken place, therefore the fulfilment of this

prophecy is yet to take place. In what manner Christ is to come

out of Zion, and in what way or by what means he is to turn

away transgression from Jacob, we cannot tell; and to attempt to

conjecture, when the time, occasion, means, &c., are all in

mystery, would be more than reprehensible.

Verse 27. For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take

away their sins.] The reader on referring to Isa 59:20, 21, will

find that the words of the original are here greatly abridged.

They are the following:-

And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn

from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. As for me, this is

my covenant with them, saith the Lord, My Spirit that is upon

thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart

out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the

mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for


For the manner in which St. Paul makes his quotation from

Scripture, see the observations at the end of the preceding

chapter. The whole of these two verses should be read in a

parenthesis, as I have marked them in the text; for it is evident

that the 25th verse should be immediately connected with the 28th.

It may not be amiss to subjoin here a collection of those texts

in the Old Testament that seem to point out a restoration of the

Jewish commonwealth to a higher degree of excellence than it has

yet attained. Isa 2:2-5; 19:24, 25; 25:6, &c.; Isa 30:18, 19, 26;

Isa 60:1-22; Isa 65:17-25; Jer 31:10-12; 46:27, 28;

Eze 20:34, 40, &c.; Eze 28:25, 26; 34:20, &c.;

Eze 36:8-16; 37:21-28;

Eze 39:25, &c.; Joe 3:1, 2, 17, 20, 21; Am 9:9-15;

Ob 1:17, 21; Mic 4:3-7; 7:18-20; Zep 3:19, 20.

Verse 28. As concerning the Gospel] The unbelieving Jews,

with regard to the Gospel which they have rejected, are at present

enemies to God, and aliens from his kingdom, under his Son Jesus

Christ, on account of that extensive grace which has overturned

their peculiarity, by admitting the Gentiles into his Church and

family: but with regard to the original purpose of election,

whereby they were chosen and separated from all the people of the

earth to be the peculiar people of God, they are beloved for the

fathers' sake; he has still favour in store for them on account of

their forefathers the patriarchs.

Verse 29. For the gifts and calling of God, &c.] The gifts

which God has bestowed upon them, and the calling-the invitation,

with which he has favoured them he will never revoke. In

reference to this point there is no change of mind in him; and

therefore the possibility and certainty of their restoration to

their original privileges, of being the people of God, of enjoying

every spiritual blessing with the fulness of the Gentiles, may be

both reasonably and safely inferred.

Repentance, when applied to God, signifies simply change of

purpose relative to some declarations made subject to certain

conditions. See this fully explained and illustrated by himself,

Jer 18:7-9.

Verse 30. For as ye in times past] The apostle pursues his

argument in favour of the restoration of the Jews. As ye,

Gentiles, in times past-for many ages back.

Have not believed] Were in a state of alienation from God, yet

not so as to be totally and for ever excluded,

Have now obtained mercy] For ye are now taken into the kingdom

of the Messiah; through their unbelief-by that method which, in

destroying the Jewish peculiarity, and fulfilling the Abrahamic

covenant, has occasioned the unbelief and obstinate opposition of

the Jews.

Verse 31. Even so have these also] In like manner the Jews

are, through their infidelity, shut out of the kingdom of God:-

That through your mercy] But this exclusion will not be

everlasting; but this will serve to open a new scene when, through

farther displays of mercy to you Gentiles, they also may obtain

mercy-shall be received into the kingdom of God again; and this

shall take place whenever they shall consent to acknowledge the

Lord Jesus, and see it their privilege to be fellow heirs with the

Gentiles of the grace of life.

As sure, therefore, as the Jews were once in the kingdom, and

the Gentiles were not; as sure as the Gentiles are now in the

kingdom, and the Jews are not; so surely will the Jews be brought

back into that kingdom.

Verse 32. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief]

συνεκλεισεγαροθεος, God hath shut or locked them all up under

unbelief. This refers to the guilty state of both Jews and

Gentiles. They had all broken God's law-the Jews, the written

law; the Gentiles, the law written in their hearts; see

Ro 1:19, 20; 2:14, 15. They are represented here as having been

accused if their transgressions; tried at God's bar; found guilty

on being tried; condemned to the death they had merited; remanded

to prison, till the sovereign will, relative to their execution,

should be announced; shut or locked up, under the jailer,

unbelief; and there both continued in the same state, awaiting the

execution of their sentence: but God, in his own compassion, moved

by no merit in either party, caused a general pardon by the Gospel

to be proclaimed to all. The Jews have refused to receive this

pardon on the terms which God has proposed it, and therefore

continue locked up under unbelief. The Gentiles have welcomed

the offers of grace, and are delivered out of their prison. But,

as the offers of mercy continue to be made to all indiscriminately,

the time will come when the Jews, seeing the vast accession of the

Gentile world to the kingdom of the Messiah, and the glorious

privileges which they in consequence enjoy, shall also lay hold on

the hope set before them, and thus become with the Gentiles one

flock under one shepherd and bishop of all their souls. The same

figure is used Ga 3:22, 23.

But the Scripture hath concluded συνεκλεισεν, locked up all under

sin, that the promise, by faith of Christ Jesus, might be given to

them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept,

εφρουρουμεθα, we were guarded as in a strong hold, under the law;

shut up, συγκεκλεισμενοι, locked up together unto the faith which

should afterwards be revealed. It is a fine and well chosen

metaphor in both places, and forcibly expresses the guilty,

helpless, wretched state of both Jews and Gentiles.

Verse 33. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and

knowledge of God!] This is a very proper conclusion of the whole

preceding discourse. Wisdom may here refer to the designs of God;

knowledge, to the means which he employs to accomplish these

designs. The designs are the offspring of infinite wisdom, and

therefore they are all right; the means are the most proper, as

being the choice of an infinite knowledge that cannot err; we may

safely credit the goodness of the design, founded in infinite

wisdom; we may rely on the due accomplishment of the end, because

the means are chosen and applied by infinite knowledge and skill.

Verse 34. For who hath known the mind of the Lord?] Who can

pretend to penetrate the counsels of God, or fathom the reasons of

his conduct? His designs and his counsels are like himself,

infinite; and, consequently, inscrutable. It is strange that,

with such a scripture as this before their eyes, men should sit

down and coolly and positively write about counsels and decrees of

God formed from all eternity, of which they speak with as much

confidence and decision as if they had formed a part of the

council of the Most High, and had been with him in the beginning

of his ways! A certain writer, (Mr. Perkins,) after having

entered into all these counsels, and drawn out his black-lined

scheme of absolute and eternal reprobation, with all its causes

and effects; and then his light-lined scheme of absolute and

eternal ELECTION, with all its causes and effects, all deduced in

the most regular and graduated order, link by link; concludes with

Ro 11:33:

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

how UNSEARCHABLE are his judgments, and his ways PAST FINDING OUT!

But this writer forgot that he had searched out God's judgments in

the one case, and found out his ways in the other: and that he had

given, as a proof of the success of his researches, a complete

exhibition of the whole scheme! This conduct is worthy of more

than mere reprehension; and yet he who differs from such opinions

gives, in the apprehension of some, this proof of his being

included in some of the links of the black list! We may rest with

the conviction, that God is as merciful and good in all his ways,

as he is wise and just. But as we cannot comprehend him, neither

can we his operations, it is our place, who are the objects of his

infinite mercy and kindness, to adore in silence, and to obey with

alacrity and delight.

Verse 35. Or, who hath first given to him] Who can pretend to

have any demands upon God? To whom is he indebted? Have either

Jews or Gentiles any right to his blessings? May not he bestow

his favours as he pleases, and to whom he pleases? Does he do any

injustice to the Jews in choosing the Gentiles! And was it

because he was under obligation to the Gentiles that he has

chosen them in the place of the Jews? Let him who has any claim

on God prefer it; and he shall be compensated.

But how can the CREATOR be indebted to the creature? How can

the CAUSE be dependent on the effect? How can the AUTHOR of

providence, and the FATHER of every good and perfect gift, be

under obligation to them for whom he provides, and who are wholly

dependent on his bounty?

Verse 36. For of him, &c.] This is so far from being the

case, for εξαυτου, OF him, as the original designer and author;

and διαυτου, BY him, as the prime and efficient cause; and

ειςαυτον, TO him, as the ultimate end for the manifestation of

his eternal glory and goodness, are all things in universal nature,

through the whole compass of time and eternity.

The Emperor Marcus Antoninus (ειςεαυτον lib. iv.), has a

saying very much like this of St. Paul, which it is very probable

he borrowed from this epistle to the Romans. Speaking of nature,

whom he addresses as God, he says, ωφυσιςεκσουπανταενσοι

πανταειςσεπαντα; O, Nature! OF thee are all things; IN thee

are all things; TO thee are all things. Several of the Gentile

philosophers had expressions of the same import, as may be seen in

Wetstein's quotations.

To whom be glory] And let him have the praise of all his

works, from the hearts and mouths of all his intelligent

creatures, for ever-throughout all the generations of men.

Amen-so be it! Let this be established for ever!

I. THE apostle considers the designs of God inscrutable, and

his mode of governing the world incomprehensible. His designs,

schemes, and ends are all infinite, and consequently unfathomable.

It is impossible to account for the dispensations either of his

justice or mercy. He does things under both these characters

which far surpass the comprehension of men. But though his

dispensations are a great deep, yet they are never

self-contradictory: though they far surpass our reason, yet they

never contradict reason; nor are they ever opposite to those ideas

which God has implanted in man, of goodness, justice, mercy, and

truth. But it is worthy of remark, that we can more easily

account for the dispensations of his justice than we can for the

dispensations of his mercy. We can every where see ten thousand

reasons why he should display his justice; but scarcely can we

find one reason why he should display his mercy. And yet, these

displays of mercy for which we can scarcely find a reason, are

infinitely greater and more numerous than his displays of justice,

for which the reasons are, in a vast variety of cases, as obvious

as they are multiplied. The sacrifice of Christ is certainly an

infinite reason why God should extend, as he does, his mercy to

all men; but Jesus Christ is the gift of God's love: who can

account for the love that gave him to redeem a fallen world? The

Jews have fallen under the displeasure of Divine justice: why they

should be objects of this displeasure is at once seen in their

ingratitude, disobedience, unbelief, and rebellion. But a most

especial providence has watched over them, and preserved them in

all their dispersions for 1700 years: who can account for this?

Again, these very persons have a most positive promise of a future

deliverance, both great and glorious: why should this be? The

Gentile world was long left without a Divine revelation, while the

Jews enjoyed one: who can account for this? The Jews are now cast

out of favour, in a certain sense, and the reasons of it are

sufficiently obvious; and the Gentiles, without any apparent

reason, are taken into favour. In all these things his judgments

are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out!

II. Once more: Let it be remarked that, although God is every

where promising and bestowing the greatest and most ennobling

privileges, together with an eternal and ineffable glory, for

which we can give no reason but his own endless goodness, through

the death of his Son; yet, in no case does he remove those

privileges, nor exclude from this glory, but where the reasons are

most obvious to the meanest capacity.

III. This epistle has been thought by some to afford proofs

that God, by an eternal decree, had predestinated to eternal

perdition millions of millions of human souls before they had any

existence, except in his own purpose, and for no other reason but

his sovereign pleasure! But such a decree can be no more found in

this book, than such a disposition in the mind of Him who is the

perfection, as he is the model, of wisdom, goodness, justice,

mercy, and truth. May God save the reader from profaning his

name, by suppositions at once so monstrous and absurd!

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