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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 11

 

 

Verses 1-12

Romans 11:1-12. The Elect Remnant.—Paul comes to the third part of his proof that "God's word" to Israel "has not fallen through," despite the national rejection of Jesus Christ.

Romans 11:1. Romans 11:2 a. That "God has not cast away His people" (cf. 1 Samuel 12:22, Psalms 94:14, etc.), the "Israelite" Paul is a living proof—God's people, that is, "whom He foreknew" (cf. Romans 8:29*, 1 Peter 1:2).

Romans 11:2 b - Romans 11:4. One remembers how "Elijah" mourned over "prophets slain and altars overthrown" and cried, "I alone am left," though "7000" Israelites "bent no knee to "Baal!"

Romans 11:5 f. "Even so to-day there is a remnant" in whom Israel lives on (cf. Romans 9:29, etc.)—those chosen in God's "grace, on no ground of works" and merit. "Grace is grace no longer" when "works" make their claim (cf. Romans 4:4 f.).

Romans 11:7. Thus finally the matter stands: "Israel has missed the righteousness it sought" (Romans 9:31 f., Romans 10:2 f.); only "the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened."—This "hardening" is not that of Romans 9:18—imperviousness to fear of judgment; but that of 2 Corinthians 3:14, Ephesians 4:18, Mark 3:22-30, the imperviousness to conviction described in the OT sayings quoted in Romans 11:8-10. "The spirit of deep slumber, eyes unseeing and ears unhearing," mark a people sunk in spiritual lethargy: this condition "God gave them" (cf. Romans 1:18; Romans 1:24, etc.)—a penal consequence of habitual sin; and it is "chronic" (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:15, 1 Thessalonians 2:15, Acts 7:51 f., Matthew 23:31-36).—The imprecation cited from Psalms 69 (cf. John 19:28 f., Acts 1:20, quoting the same context) implies treachery, as well as stupidity, in anti-Christian Jews.

Romans 11:11 f. Sad as it is, Israel's error is "a stumble," not a final "fall," "a trespass" overruled for "salvation to the Gentiles," whose gain will in turn "stir Israel's jealousy" (cf. Romans 10:19). "Now if their trespass is a world-enrichment, how much more their replenishment!" The calamity which distresses lovers of Israel, God turns into blessing for mankind; and in the world's blessedness Israel is bound to participate.


Verses 13-24

Romans 11:13-24. The Ingrafting of the Gentiles.—From Romans 9:1 onwards, Paul has written as a Jew to Jews; here he turns to the other half of the Church (see Introd. § 3).

Romans 11:13. "But to you Gentiles I say." Paul's labour in their evangelisation has an ulterior object; he would fain "somehow stir to jealousy his own flesh and blood," etc. (cf. Romans 10:19; also 1 Corinthians 9:20-22). "I glorify my ministry," make it renowned (cf. Romans 15:15-21, 1 Corinthians 15:10, etc.).

Romans 11:15 states more definitely the expectation raised in Romans 11:12 : "if their casting away meant a worldwide reconciliation" to God (see 2 Corinthians 5:19), "what will their reception be but life from the dead!" cf. the climax of Romans 5:10.—"Reception" (as in Romans 14:1; Romans 14:3, Romans 15:7, etc.). is the taking to one's home and heart.—"Life from the dead" means nothing short of the final resurrection: Paul asks (he does not assert) whether Israel's salvation, completing the salvation of the world, will not conclude the mission of the Gospel and usher in the Lord's return, which ends the reign of death (Romans 5:21; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23-26, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17); the spiritual resurrection is presupposed in "reconciliation" (cf. Romans 6:4-11). Sayings of Jesus like Matthew 23:39 prompted Paul's hope.

Romans 11:16. The "holy" beginning of Israel's history (Romans 11:4; Romans 9:4 f.) prognosticates the ending: "the" completed "kneading" will match "the first-fruit" of the dough (the handful taken for the ritual offering, Numbers 15:17-21); "the branches" belong to "the root."

Romans 11:17 f. The metaphor just used suggests a warning to Gentile Christians, some of whom were repeating the Jewish mistake in imagining themselves God's favourites. "Certain of the" native "branches have been broken out" of the old tree; "and thou, a wild-olive slip, wast grafted in," etc.—"You boast over" this? remember, "The root carries you, not you the root!" You owe everything to the primitive people of God.

Romans 11:19 f. "Faith secures you a standing" in the good tree; "unbelief caused their breaking off: they were not broken off for the purpose of grafting you in! Be humble, and fearful" of a like fate.

Romans 11:21. "God will not spare you either," if you relapse.

Romans 11:22-24. The Gentiles who now experience "His kindness," may forfeit it; the Jews, now tasting "God's severity, unless they persist in unbelief, will be re-engrafted. God is able" to do this; and their restoration is "more natural" than your implantation. The "nature" intended is the common strain of tree and branches; cf. Romans 11:16.—Paul was no expert in arboriculture; he states the moral probabilities of the case under the figure adopted, without too great concern about botanical accuracy. [See Ramsay, Pauline and Other Studies, pp. 219-250; also Deissmann, St. Paul, ch. ii., where it is shown that the world of the apostle was that of the olive tree.—A. S. P. and A. J. G.]


Verses 25-36

Romans 11:25-36. The Mystery of Israel's Future.

Romans 11:25-26 a. It may save Gentile believers from a dangerous "self-conceit" (cf. Romans 12:16) to learn "the secret that the hardening" (see Romans 11:7) which "has partially befallen Israel" (the remnant is exempt; Romans 11:5; Romans 11:7), will last only "until the full complement of the nations enters" into God's kingdom; "then all Israel will be saved." A mystery is a secret truth concerning God's kingdom made known by express revelation; cf. Romans 16:25, Ephesians 1:9* Ephesians 3:3 ff., Matthew 13:11, etc.

Romans 11:26 b, Romans 11:27. The event is described in words blended from two passages of Isaiah, signifying chiefly two things: Israel's Saviour comes of Israel (cf. Romans 9:5); and His salvation lies in the removal of Israel's sin (cf. Romans 4:7 f., Matthew 1:21, Hebrews 10:15-18).

Romans 11:28 f. The mass of the Jews are, in God's eyes, at once "enemies" and "beloved": enemies, since they oppose the giving of "the gospel" to Gentiles (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, etc.); beloved for their fathers' sake," in whom God "chose" the nation. That election stands good; acting in sure foresight (cf. Romans 8:29*), "God never regrets His grace-gifts," etc.

Romans 11:30-32 marks out the line of vindication. "You" and "they" have both "proved disobedient to God" (for the former, see Romans 1:20-23; for the latter, Romans 10:21, etc.). He has used each set of rebels to overcome the others: "just as you were aforetime disobedient, and now by reason of their disobedience have become objects of mercy" (cf. Romans 11:12; Romans 11:15), "so they now have fallen into disobedience by reason of the mercy shown to you, that finally mercy may be shown to them too." Universal disobedience ends in universal mercy! "Shut up unto disobedience" (cf. Galatians 3:22) means the precluding of every other issue; "all" (not "every man") signifies Jews and Gentiles as a whole: Paul is dealing with broad historical issues.—The difficulty of Romans 1:24, Romans 5:20, Romans 9:18 recurs, viz. that God should take measures to aggravate sin. But downright, unmistakable disobedience clears the moral atmosphere; brought to a crisis, the fever is curable.

Romans 11:33. The apostle's sorrow (Romans 9:1) is turned to rapture as he contemplates the unfolding of God's world-plan: "O the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!" (mg.). His wealth is the infinitude of His resources His wisdom lies in the skill of His methods; His knowledge, in the mastery of all the facts and conditions! The beholder is lost in these depths and mazes! (cf. Romans 8:38 f.). The sayings of Romans 11:34 f. (drawn from Isaiah, Job, and Jeremiah) impressively reflect upon the mystery of God's dealings with human life, in which He needs no creaturely counsel or aid.

Romans 11:36. Alike transcendent and immanent, God is "the source" (see 1 Corinthians 8:6), "the operative Agent" (1 Corinthians 12:6), "the final issue" of the being of mankind.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 11:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/romans-11.html. 1919.

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