The Epistle to the Romans

By David Brown



1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience

2 also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great

3 heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren,

4 my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God,

5 and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.

7 For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children:

8 but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 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 the

9 seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will

10 I come, and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our

11 father Isaac; (for the children 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

12 that calleth;) it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the

13 younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with

15 God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have com-

16 passion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God

17 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

18 declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault?

20 For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say

21 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

22 one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath

23 fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had

24 afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not

25 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.

26 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.

27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant

28 shall be saved: for he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make

29 upon the earth. And as Esaias said before,

Except the Lord of Sabaotli had left us a seed,
We had been as Sodoma and been made like unto Gomorrha.

30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even

31 the righteousness which is of faith: but Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law

32 of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they

33 stumbled at that stumbling-stone; as it is written,

Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling-stone and rock of offence:
And whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

In opening up so thoroughly the way of Salvation by Grace—alike for Jew and Gentile—through Faith alone in the Lord Jesus, the far-reaching mind of our apostle could not fail to perceive that he was raising questions of a profound and delicate nature—as to God's elect nation which had rejected Christ, as to the promises made to them, and what was to become of them; also, whether all distinction of Jew and Gentile was now at an end, and if not, what might be its precise nature and future development. In preaching, or in less elaborate Epistles, a glance at the principles involved in these questions might be sufficient. But this great Epistle afforded just the appropriate occasion for handling them thoroughly and once for all; which, accordingly, he now proceeds to do—in three chapters, as remarkable for profundity and reach as any of the preceding ones.

1-5. Introduction to this topic.

Too well aware that he was regarded as a traitor to the dearest interests of his people (Acts xxi. 33; xxii. 22; xxv. 24), the apostle opens this division of his subject by giving vent to his real feelings with extraordinary vehemence of protestation. 1. I say the truth in Christ—as if steeped in the spirit of Him who wept over impenitent and doomed Jerusalem (compare chap. i. 9; 2 Cor. xii. 19; Phil. i. 8), I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost—'my conscience as quickened, illuminated, and even now under the direct operation of the Holy Ghost.' Doubtless the apostle could speak thus as no uninspired Christian can. At the same time, it should not be forgotten that to speak and act "in Christ," with a conscience not only illuminated but under the present operation of the Holy Ghost, is not peculiar to the supernaturally inspired, but is the privilege and ought to be the aim of every believer. 2. That I have great sorrow and unceasing pain in my heart—the bitter hostility of his nation to the glorious Gospel, and the awful consequences of their unbelief, weighing heavily and incessantly upon his spirit. The grace which revolutionized the apostle's religious views and feelings did not destroy, but only intensified and elevated his natural feelings. 3. For I could wish that I myself were anathema ('accursed') from Christ for my brethren's sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh. In proportion as he felt himself spiritually severed from his nation, he seems to have realized all the more vividly his natural relationship to them. Some interpreters, deeming such a wish as is here expressed to be too strong for any Christian to utter, or even conceive, have rendered the opening words, 'I did (once) wish; 'understanding it of his former unconverted state. The Old Latin version and the Vulgate revision of it led the way in this wrong direction (optabam), and Pelagius followed. Even Luther fell into this mistake (Ich habe gezuünschf). But what sense or force does this interpretation yield? When a virulent persecutor of Christians, the apostle certainly had no desire for any connection with Christ, and wished the very name of Christ to perish. But can that be all that is here meant? or even if it were, would the apostle have expressed it in the terms here employed—that he wished, not Christ and Christians accursed, but himself accursed from Christ, and this not for the truth's sake, but for his brethren's sake? It is true that the verb is in the past (the imperfect) tense. But according to the Greek idiom, the strict meaning of the phrase is, 'I was going to wish, and should have wished, had that been lawful, or could it ^have done any good '(or, according to the English idiom), 'I could have wished.' (Compare the analogous use of the imperfect in Acts xxv. 22, and Gal. iv. 20.) Much also has been written on the word "accursed"—to soften its apparent harshness, and represent it as meant only in a modified sense. But if we view the entire sentiment as a vehement or passionate expression of the absorption of his whole being in the salvation of his people, the difficulty will vanish; and instead of applying to this burst of emotion the cold criticism which would be applicable to definite ideas, we shall rather be reminded of the nearly identical wish so nobly expressed by Moses, Ex. xxxii. 32, "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin. . .;and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." This is what Bacon (quoted by Wordsworth) calls 'an ecstasy of charity and infinite feeling of communion '(Advancement of Learning).

4. who ('seeing that they are,' as in i. 25, "for that;" ii. 15, "in that") are Israelites, etc.:—'And well may I feel thus towards a people so illustrious for all that can ennoble a people—in their origin, their calling, the exalted trusts committed to them, and that debt of all debts which the world shall for ever owe them, the Birth of its Redeemer from them.' "Who are Israelites"—the descendants of him who "had power with God and prevailed," and whose family name "Jacob "was changed into "Israel" (or 'Prince of God'), to hand down through all time this pre-eminent feature in his character (Gen. xxxii. 28). What store the apostle set by this title, as one which he could and did claim, as justly as any of these from whom he was now separated in faith, may be seen from chap. xi. 1; 2 Cor. xi. 22; Phil, iii. 5. whose is the adoption. This is not to be confounded with the internal, spiritual, vital 'adoption 'which flows from union to God's own Son, and which is the counterpart of regeneration. It was a purely external and theocratic, yet real, adoption, separating them by a sovereign act of grace from the surrounding heathenism, and constituting them a Family of God. (See Ex. iv. 22; Deut. xiv. 1, xxxii. 6; Isa. i. 2; Jer. iii. 4, xxxi. 9; Amos. xi. 1; Mai. i. 6.) The higher adoption in Christ Jesus is (as Meyer says) but the antitype and completion of this. To belong to the visible Church of God, and enjoy its high and holy distinctions, is of the sovereign mercy of God, and should be regarded with devout thankfulness; and yet the rich enumeration of these, as attaching to a nation, at that very time excluding themselves by unbelief from the spiritual and eternal significance of them all, should warn us that the most sacred external distinctions and privileges will avail nothing to salvation without the heart's submission to the righteousness of God (vers. 31-33). and the glory. This is not to be taken in the loose sense which many interpreters give it—the glorious height of privilege, etc., to which they were raised; nor yet 'the ark of the covenant, 'whose capture by the Philistines was felt by the dying wife of Phinehas to be "the departure of the glory" (1 Sam. iv. 21). With the great majority of good interpreters, we take it to mean that 'glory of the Lord '—or 'visible token of the Divine presence in the midst of them'—which rested on the ark and filled the tabernacle during all their wanderings in the wilderness; which in Jerusalem continued to be seen in the tabernacle and temple, and which only disappeared when, at the Captivity, the temple was demolished, and the sun of the ancient economy began to go down. The later Jews gave to this glory the now familiar name of the 'Shechinah '[from the verb 'to let one's self down,' and hence 'to dwell']. See John i. 14; also Acts vii. i; 2 Cor. iii. 7, where "the glory of his (Moses') countenance" means the visible radiance which his nearness to God in the mount left upon his face; and Heb. ix. 5, where "the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat" are so called, to express the radiance which overspread the blood-sprinkled mercy-seat, symbolical of the mutual nearness of God and His people through the efficacy of an atoning sacrifice. It was the distinguishing honour of the Israelites that to them only was the whole method of Redemption and the result of it in "the Lord God dwelling among them "(Ps. lxviii. 18), disclosed in type; and thus to them pertained "the glory." and the covenants. The word is here used in the plural number, not to denote 'the old and the new covenants,' for all the things here enumerated belong to the ancient economy; nor 'the tables of the covenant,' for that would be to make it the same with the next particular, "the giving of the law;" but the one covenant with Abraham in its successive renewals, to which the Gentiles were "strangers," and which is called (also in the plural) "the covenants of promise" (Eph. ii. 12). See also Gal. iii. 16, 17. and the giving of the law—from Mount Sinai, and entrusting that precious treasure to their safe keeping, which the Jews justly regarded as their peculiar honour (chap. ii. 17, iii. 2; Deut. xxvi. 18, 19; Ps. cxlvii. 19, 20). and the service of God—or simply, "the service," meaning the whole divinely-instituted religious service, in the celebration of which they were brought so nigh to God. and the promises—the great Abrahamic promises, successively unfolded, and which had their fulfilment only in Christ (see Heb. vii. 6; Gal. iii. 16, 21; Acts xxvi. 6, 7). 5. Whose are the fathers—here probably the three great fathers of the covenant—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—by whom God condescended to name Himself (Ex. iii. 6, 13; Luke xx. 37). and (most exalted privilege of all, and as such reserved to the last) of whom as concerning the flesh (see on chap. i. 3) Christ came—or, 'of whom is Christ, as concerning the flesh.' who is over all, God—or, 'God over all,' blessed for ever. Amen. The reference of these remarkable words to the supreme Divinity of Christ seems so obvious, that those who dispute this adopt various expedients to another turn to the clause. (1) Erasmus suggested that a period might be placed after 'of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh; 'in which case what follows is a doxology to the Father for such a gift—'He who is over all, God, be blessed for ever.' But there are two objections to this: First, That everywhere in Scripture (both in the Hebrew of the Old Testament, and in the Greek of the New) the word "blessed "precedes the name of God, on whom the blessing is pronounced—thus, "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel" (Ps. lxxii. 18, and Luke i. 68); "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ "(2 Cor. i. 3, and Eph. i. 3). Even Socinus admitted this to be a valid objection, and it seems to us fatal. But further, when the apostle here says of Christ that He came of the Israelites "as concerning the flesh" we naturally expect, according to his usual style of thought, that the next clause will make some reference to His higher nature. This accordingly he does sublimely, according to the received punctuation of this verse, and the almost universal way of translating and understanding it; but if we adopt the above suggestion of Erasmus—putting a period after 'of whom is Christ according to the flesh '—the statement ends with an abruptness and the thought is broken in a way not usual, certainly, with the apostle. (2) Another expedient, also suggested by Erasmus, was to place a period after the words '' over all "(of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is "overall"). In this case these words are indeed made to refer to Christ, but only in this sense, that Christ is "over all "that came before Him; and what follows is a doxology, as before, to God the Father—' God be blessed for ever.' But though this does yield a sort of contrast in Christ to His descent from Israel "according to the flesh," it is surely a poor one; the doxology which it yields is (as Meyer truly says) miserably abrupt; and it has the same fatal objection as the former—the wrong placing of the word "blessed." It is a valid objection also to this punctuation, that in that case the word "God" would have required the Greek article.

Failing these two expedients, a conjectural change of the text has been resorted to—that the two Greek words should be transposed, and both the accent and breathing of the latter word changed, making the sense to be 'whose is the Supreme God'—that is, not only does Christ, as concerning the flesh, belong to the Israelites, but theirs also is the God over all. But besides the worthlessness of the conjecture itself, conjectural emendations of the text—in the face of all manuscript authority—are now justly banished from the domain of sound criticism.

It remains, then, that we have here no doxology at all, but a naked statement of fact—that while Christ is "of" the Israelitish nation, "as concerning the flesh" He is in another respect "God over all, blessed for ever." (In 2 Cor. xi. 31, the very Greek phrase which is here rendered "who is," is used in the same sense; and compare the Greek of chap. i. 25.)

6-13. Though Israel after the flesh has fallen, the Elect Israel has not failed.

Lest his readers should conclude, from the melancholy strain of the preceding verses, that that Israel which he had represented as so dear to God, and the object of so many promises, had quite failed, the apostle now proceeds to open up an entirely new feature of his subject, which, though implied in all he had written and indirectly hinted at once and again, had not before been formally expounded—the distinction between the nominal and the real, the carnal and the spiritual Israel. 6. But it is not as though the word of God hath come to nought. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:—'Think not that I mourn over the total loss of Israel, for that would involve the failure of God's word to Abraham; but not all that belong to the natural seed, and go under the name of "Israel," are the Israel of God's irrevocable choice. 'The difficulties which encompass this profound subject of ELECTION lie not in the apostle's teaching, which is plain enough, but in the truths themselves, the evidence for which, viewed by themselves, is overwhelming, but whose perfect harmony with other truths is beyond human, perhaps even finite, comprehension. The great source of error here lies, as we humbly conceive, in hastily inferring, as too many critics do—from the apostle's taking up, at the close of this chapter, the calling of the Gentiles in connection with the rejection of Israel, and continuing this subject through the two next chapters—that the Election treated of in the body of this chapter is national, not personal Election, and consequently is Election merely to religious advantages, not to eternal salvation. In that case, the argument of ver. 6, with which the subject of Election opens, would be this: 'The choice of Abraham and his seed has not failed; because though Israel has been rejected, the Gentiles have taken their place; and God has a right to choose what nation He will to the privileges of His visible kingdom.' But so far from this, the Gentiles are not so much as mentioned at all till towards the close of the chapter; and the argument of this verse is, that 'all of Israel itself Is not rejected, but only a portion of it, the remainder being the "Israel" whom God has chosen in the exercise of His sovereign right.' And that this is a choice not to mere external privileges, but to eternal salvation, will abundantly appear from what follows.

7. neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children:—'Not in the line of mere fleshly descent from Abraham does the election run; else Ishmael, Hagar's child, and even Keturah's children, would be included, which they were not.' but—as the promise runs, In Isaac shall thy seed be called (Gen. xxi. 12). 'On this principle, the true Election consists of such of Abraham's seed as God hath unconditionally chosen.' 8. That is, It is not the children of the flesh that are children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned for the seed. 9. For this is the word of promise, etc. 10. And not only so, but Rebecca also having conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11. (for the children being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12. it was said unto her (even before their birth), The elder shall serve the younger. 13. Even as it is written (Mai. i. 2, 3), Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated. The strong terms "loved" and "hated," here applied to the choice of Jacob and rejection of Esau, are to be interpreted according to the current use of Scripture language in such cases. Thus, whereas Leah complains that she was "hated" by her husband (Gen. xxix. 33), and that "the Lord saw that she was hated" (ver. 31), yet in the immediately preceding verse (30) we have the true explanation, that Jacob "loved Rachel more than Leah." And when our Lord says, "If any man come to me and hate not his father, mother, wife, children, brethren, sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke xiv. 26), we have the true explanation in a subsequent verse (33), "Whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

It might be thought that there was a natural reason for preferring the child of Sarah as being Abraham's true and first wife, both to the child of Hagar, Sarah's maid, and to the children of Keturah, his second wife. But there could be no such reason in the case of Rebecca, Isaac's only wife; for the choice of her son Jacob was the choice of one of two sons by the same mother, and of the younger in preference to the elder, and before either of them was born, and consequently before either had done good or evil to be a ground of preference; and all to shew that the sole ground of distinction lay in the unconditional choice of God—"not of works, hit of Him that calleth." These last words shew conclusively the erroneousness of the theory by which some get rid of the doctrine of personal Election in this chapter—namely, that the apostle is treating of the choice, neither of persons nor of nations, but merely of the terms or conditions on which He will save men, and which He has a sovereign right to fix. For in that case the apostle would have said here, 'That the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works—but by faith,'' But instead of this, he says, "Not of works (of any merit on our part), but of Him that calleth"—purely of His own will to call whom He pleaseth. Though the predictions respecting Jacob and Esau had reference to their posterity, and were fulfilled in them, it is the unconditional choice of the one individual, rather than the other, on which the apostle reasons; and it is manifest that the selection of one race in preference to another,—involving so much that affects the ultimate destiny of the individuals composing it,—carries essentially the same apparent injustice on the part of God as the selection of individuals.

14-24. The righteousness of this sovereign procedure.

This topic is handled in the form of answers to two objections, which are so far from being merely hypothetical, that they have been in every age and are to this day the grand, indeed the only plausible, objections to the doctrine of personal Election.

First objection.—'The doctrine—that God chooses one and rejects another, not on account of their works, but purely in the exercise of His own good pleasure—is inconsistent with the justice of God. 'The answer to this objection extends to ver. 19, where we have a second objection. 14. What shall we say then? (see on chap. vi. 1) Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. Such an objection is only intelligible, as it seems to us, ii personal Election is the thing complained of. 15. For he saith to Moses (Ex. xxxiii. 19), I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. 'There can be no unrighteousness in God's choosing whom He will, for to Moses He expressly claims a right to do so.' Yet it is worthy of notice that this is expressed in the positive rather than the negative form: It is not, 'I will have mercy on none but on whom I will; 'but 'I will have mercy on whomsoever I will. 'The reader ought not to overlook the principle on which the apostle here argues the question with his readers. 'As when God says a thing it must be true, so when God does a thing it must be right. But God does say He chooses whom He will; therefore it is both true that He does so, and in doing it, it cannot but be right.' 16. So then it is not of him that willeth (or hath the inward intention), nor of him that runneth (maketh the active exertion): see, for illustration of this phrase, I Cor. ix. 24, 26; Phil. ii. 16, iii. 14. Both the 'willing' and the 'running 'are indispensable to salvation; yet salvation is owing to neither, but (is purely) of God that hath mercy. This is strikingly expressed in Phil. ii. 12, 13: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do." 17. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh (Ex. ix. 16). Observe here the light in which "the Scripture" is viewed by the apostle: For this very purpose did I raise thee up. The apostle had shewn that God claims the right to choose whom He will; here he shews by an example that God punishes whom He will. But (as Hodge says) 'God did not make Pharaoh wicked; He only forbore to make him good, by the exercise of special and altogether unmerited grace.' that I might shew in thee my power, and that my name might he published abroad in all the earth. It was not that Pharaoh was worse than others that he was so dealt with, but that his character and position combined rendered him a fit subject for the display, as on a great theatre, of God's righteous displeasure against the despisers of His authority, for all time. 18. So then he hath—the result is that He hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth—by judicially abandoning them to the hardening influence of sin itself (chap. i. 24, 26, 28; Ps. Ixxxi. 11, 12; Heb iii. 3, 8, 13), and of the surrounding incentives to it (Matt. xxiv. 12; 1 Cor. xv. 38; 2 Thess. ii. 17). So much for the first objection to the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty.

Second objection.—'This doctrine is incompatible with human responsibility.' 19. For thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? for who withstandeth his will? 'If God chooses and rejects, pardons and punishes, whom He pleases, why are those blamed who, if rejected by Him, cannot help sinning and perishing'? This objection shews, quite as conclusively as the former one, the real nature of the doctrine objected to—that it is Election and Non-Election to eternal salvation, prior to any difference of personal character: this is the only doctrine that could suggest the objection here stated, and to this doctrine the objection is plausible. What now is the apostle's answer? It is twofold: First, 'It is irreverence and presumption in the creature to arraign the Creator.' 20. Nay but, man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why didst thou make me thus? (see Isa. xlv. 9). 21. What! hath not the potter right over the clay?—not "power "(though the word signifies both, or either, according to the connection), for it is not here a question of power but of right to do what He will with His own, from the same lump to make one part a vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? The "clay "here referred to, it should be carefully observed, was as God's own, yet not as His creatures, irrespective of their character, but as sinners, or (as they are termed in the next verse) "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." God may "endure" such "with much long-suffering;" but He can be under no obligation to them; they deserve only the "wages" they have wrought for, which we know to be "death." But not only is it irreverence and presumption for the creature to arraign his Creator, but, Second (as has just been observed), there is nothing unjust in such sovereignty. 22. What if God, willing to shew (designing to manifest) his wrath—His holy displeasure against sin, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering vessels of wrath—that is, 'destined to wrath,' just as in the following verse "vessels of mercy "mean "vessels destined to mercy:" compare Eph. ii. 3, "Children of wrath," fitted to destruction. It is of no avail to soften such language in one place, when we meet with language equally strong elsewhere in Scripture; and any difficulties so involved can only be driven back, step by step, until we come to difficulties from the existence of evil in the universe of One who, while it is contrary to His nature, and while He has power to exclude it, yet permits it to be. If God, as the apostle teaches, expressly "designed to manifest His wrath, and to make His power (in the way of wrath) known," it could only be by punishing some, while He pardons others; and if the choice between the two classes was not to be founded, as our apostle also teaches, on their own doings but on God's good pleasure, the decision behoved ultimately to rest with God. 23. and that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy. The word '' glory "seems to be used here in the same sense as in chap. vi. 4; in which case the whole expression denotes, that 'glorious exuberance of Divine mercy 'which was manifested in choosing and eternally arranging for the salvation of sinners, which he afore prepared unto glory, 24. even us, whom he also called—that is, that He might make known the riches of His glory in not only 'afore preparing 'but in time effectually calling us.

24-33. The calling of the Gentiles, and the preservation of only a remnant of Israel, both divinely foretold—The true secret of both events.

Here, for the first time in this chapter, the calling of the Gentiles is introduced; all before having respect, not to the substitution of the called Gentiles for the rejected Jews, but to the choice of one portion and the rejection of another of the same Israel. Had Israel's rejection been total, God's promise to Abraham would not have been fulfilled by the substitution of the Gentiles in their room; but Israel's rejection being only partial, the preservation of "a remnant," in which the promise was made good, was but "according to the election of grace." And now, for the first time, the apostle tells us that along with this elect remnant of Israel it was God's purpose to "take out of the Gentiles a people for His name "(Acts xv. 14), and that this had been sufficiently announced in the Old Testament Scriptures. Into this new subject the apostle—according to his usual way—slides almost imperceptibly, in the middle of the present verse; so that without careful notice the transition is apt to be overlooked, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles,? 25. As he saith also in Hosea (observe here again how the apostle views the O. T. Scriptures as God speaking), I will call that my people, which was not my people (Gr. 'the no-people'); and her beloved, which was not beloved. This is quoted (though not quite to the letter) from Hos. ii. 25, a passage relating immediately, not to the heathen, but to the kingdom of the ten tribes; but since they had sunk to the level of the heathen, who were 'not God's people,' and in that sense "not beloved," the apostle legitimately applies it to the heathen, as "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise." (So 1 Pet. ii. 10.) 26. And (another quotation from Hos. i. 10) it shall be that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called sons of the living God. The expression, "in the place where. . . there," must not be taken too strictly, as referring to some particular locality, as Palestine, 'where it was long questioned whether the Gentiles were admissible to Christian fellowship.' It seems designed only to give greater emphasis to the gracious change here announced, from Divine exclusion to Divine admission to the privileges of the people of God. 27. And Isaiah crieth—an expression denoting a solemn testimony openly borne. (See John i. 15, vii. 28, 37, xii. 44; Acts xxiii. 24, 41.) concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel were as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant (the elect remnant only) that shall be saved: 28. for he will finish the matter (or 'the decree') and cut it short in righteousness; because a short work (or 'reckoning ') will the Lord make upon the earth.1 The passage is taken substantially from Isa. xxviii. 22, 23. The sense given to it by the apostle may seem to differ from that intended by the prophet. But the aptness of the quotation for the apostle's purpose, and the sameness of sentiment in both places will at once appear, if we understand those words of the prophet which are rendered "the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness," to mean that while a remnant of Israel should be graciously spared to return from captivity, "the decreed consumption "of the impenitent majority should be "replete with righteousness" or illustriously display God's righteous vengeance against sin. The "short reckoning" seems to mean the speedy completing of His work, both in cutting off the one portion and saving the other. 29. And as Isaiah hath said before—meaning probably in an earlier part of his book, namely, chap. i. 9. Except the Lord of Sabaoth—'the Lord of hosts: 'the word is Hebrew, but occurs so in the Epistle of James (chap. v. 4), and has thence become naturalized in our Christian phraseology, had left us a seed—meaning 'a remnant;' small at first, but in due time to be a seed of plenty (cf. Ps. xxii. 30, 31; Isa. vi. 12, 13). we had become as Sodom, and been made like unto Gomorrha. But for this precious seed, the chosen people would have resembled the cities of the plain, both in degeneracy of character and in merited doom.

Note.—In the rejection of the great mass of the chosen people, and the inbringing of multitudes of estranged Gentiles, God would have men to see a law of His procedure which the judgment of the great day will more vividly reveal—that "the last shall be first, and the first last "(Matt. xx. 16).

30. What shall we say then? (see on chap. vi. 1)—'What now is the result of the whole? 'The result is this—very different from what one would have expected, That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. As we have seen that "the righteousness of faith "is the righteousness which justifies (see on chap. iii. 22, etc.), this verse must mean that 'the Gentiles, who, while strangers to Christ, were quite indifferent about acceptance with God, having embraced the Gospel as soon as it was preached to them, experienced the blessedness of a justified state.' 31. but Israel, following after the law of righteousness, attained not to the law of righteousness.2 The difficulty of the verse is to fix the precise sense in which the word "law" is used. That "the law of righteousness "means 'the righteousness of the law' (as many hold) is not to be endured. That it means ideally 'the justifying law 'is artificial. The word "law" is used here, plainly in the same sense as in chap. vii. 23, to denote 'a principle of action:'—'Israel, though sincerely and steadily seeking after the true principle of acceptance with God, nevertheless missed it.' 32. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by works3—as being thus attainable, which justification is not; and since it is attainable only by faith, they missed it. They stumbled at the stone of stumbling—meaning Christ; 33. even as it is written (Isa. viii. 14, xxviii. 16), Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence: and he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame. Two. Messianic predictions are here combined, as is not unusual in quotations from the Old Testament. Thus combined, the prediction brings together both the classes of whom the apostle is treating—those to whom Messiah should be only a Stone of stumbling, and those who were to regard Him as the Cornerstone of all their hopes.

Thus expounded, this chapter presents no serious difficulties—none, in fact, which do not arise out of the subject itself, whose depths are unfathomable; whereas on every other view of it the difficulty of giving it any consistent and worthy interpretation is in our judgment insuperable. Let it ever be borne in mind that on all subjects which from their very nature lie beyond human comprehension, it will be our wisdom to set down what God says in His Word, and has actually done in His procedure towards men, as indisputable, even though it contradict the results at which, in the best exercise of our

Chapter X

1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for

2 Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

3 For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted

4  themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that

5 believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live

6 by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into

7 heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ

8 again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word

9 of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be

10 saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness;

11 and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be

12 ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that

13 call upon him: for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

15 and how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the

16 gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord,

17 who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by

18 hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the

19 earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish

20 nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest

21  unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

limited judgment, we may have arrived. To do otherwise—demanding the removal of all difficulties in the Divine procedure, as the indispensable condition of our subjection to it—is as unwise as it is impious, driving the inquisitive spirit out of one truth after another, until not a shred even of Natural Religion remains.


1, 2. The yearning of the apostle's heart after Israel's salvation all the greater by reason of their religions zeal.

1. Brethren, my heart's ('my very heart's') desire. The word here rendered desire expresses 'entire complacency,' 'full satisfaction' (as in Matt. xi. 26). and my supplication to God for them4 is, that they may be saved. 2. For I bear them witness—not only from intimate knowledge of the best of them, but from his own sad experience—that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge (compare Acts xxii. 3, xxvi. 9-11; Gal. i. 13, 14). This he alludes to, not certainly to excuse their rejection of Christ and rage against His saints, but as some ground of hope regarding them (see I Tim. i. 13).

3-13. Self-righteousness the fatal rock on which Israel split—Christ the Divinely-provided, Divinely-predicted, only, and all-sufficient righteousness of the sinner, whether Jew or Gentile, that believeth.

3. For, being ignorant of God's righteousness, that righteousness which God demands and provides for the justification of the guilty (see on chap. i. 17), and seeking to establish their own righteousness,5 they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. The apostle views as one act the general rejection of Christ by the nation (see John i. 1 1). 4. For Christ is the end (object or aim) of the law for (justifying) righteousness to every one that believeth. He contains within Himself all that the law demands for the justification of such as receive Him, whether Jew or Gentile (Gal. iii. 24); bestowing that righteousness and life which the law holds forth but cannot give. 'The law (says Bengel, naïvely) hounds a man till he betake himself to Christ; then it says to him, Thou hast found an asylum, I pursue thee no more; thou art wise, thou art safe.' 5. For Moses writeth that the man that doeth the righteousness which is of the law shall live thereby6 (see Lev. xviii. 5, etc.). This is the one way of righteousness "and life which the law recognises. 6. But the righteousness which is of faith saith thus—its language is to this effect (quoting in substance Deut. xxx. 13, 14, but with a running comment of his own, to bring out the Christian reading of the words), Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down):—'Ye have no need to sigh over the impossibility of attaining to justification; as if one should say, Ah! if I could but get some one to mount up to heaven and fetch me down Christ, there might be some hope; but since that cannot be, mine is a desperate case.' 7. or, Who shall descend into the abyss? that is (in effect), to bring up Christ from the dead. This is another case of impossibility, suggested by Prov. xxx. 4, and perhaps also Amos ix. 2. These were probably proverbial expressions of impossibility (cp. Ps. cxxxix. 7-10; Prov. xxiv. 7, etc.). 8. But what saith it? [It saith]—continuing the quotation from Deut. xxx. 14, The word is nigh thee—easily accessible, in thy mouth—when thou confessest Him, and in thy heart—when thou believest on Him. The thoughtful student of this passage will observe, that though it is of the law that Moses is speaking in the place quoted from, yet it is of the law, as Israel shall be brought to look upon it when the Lord their God shall circumcise their hearts "to love the Lord their God with all their heart," etc. (ver. 6); and thus, in applying it, the apostle is not merely appropriating the language of Moses, but keeping in the line of his deeper thought, that is, the word of faith, which we preach—i.e. the word which men have to believe for salvation (compare, for the phrase, 1 Tim. iv. 6). 9. that if thou shalt confess, or, 'Because if thou shalt confess.' The words will bear either sense. If the latter rendering is adopted (as most versions and the majority of critics do), we have in this verse the apostle's own remarks, confirming the foregoing statements as to the simplicity of the Gospel method of salvation. But we prefer the sense given by the Authorised Version. In this case, the apostle is here expressing in full what he holds to be the true Christian reading of the words of Moses in the passage quoted; in other words, the sense which those words of Moses yield to the intelligent Christian reader of them, with the blaze of Gospel light illuminating those ancient oracles of God—namely, "That if thou shalt confess "with thy mouth, 'If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord' (compare 1 Cor. xii. 3; Rom. xiv. 9; Phil. ii. 11), and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead (see on chap. iv. 25), thou shalt be saved. The confession of the mouth, of course, comes, in point of time, after the belief of the heart; but it is put first here to correspond with the foregoing quotation from Deut. xxx. 14—"in thy mouth and in thy heart" (ver. 8). In 2 Pet. i. 10 also, the "calling" of believers is put before their "election," as that which is first 'made sure,' although in point of time it comes after it. In the next verse, however, the two things are placed in their natural order. 10. for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness—the righteousness of justification, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. This confession of Christ's name, especially in times of persecution, and whenever obloquy is attached to the Christian profession, is an indispensable test of discipleship. In Rev. xxi. 8, those who have not the courage to make such confession are meant by the "fearful." 11. For the scripture saith (in Isa. xxvii. 16, a glorious Messianic passage), Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. Here, as in chap, ix. 33, the quotation is from the LXX. In the original Hebrew it is, 'shall not make haste '—meaning (as we understand it), 'shall not fly for escape, as from apprehended danger.' The LXX. rendering, here made use of, is but another phase of the same idea. In the former case, the 'security 'which the believer has is viewed as a felt security, producing 'calm continuance; 'in the latter case, it is an intrinsically solid security—never putting to shame.

12. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all. The "Lord "here is not God the Father (as some think), but Christ, as will be seen by comparing vers. 9, 12, 13, and observing the apostle's usual style on such subjects, is rich—a favourite term of our apostle to express the exuberance of the grace that is in Christ Jesus, unto all that call upon him. This confirms the application of the preceding words to Christ; since to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus is a customary New Testament phrase. (See Acts vii. 59, 60, ix. 14, 21, xxii. 16; 1 Cor. i. 2; 2 Tim. ii. 22; and compare Acts x. 36; Phil. ii. 11.) 13. For (as the Scripture saith): Whosoever, The phrase is emphatic—'Every one whosoever,' or, 'Whosoever he be that' shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. These words are from Joel ii. 32; and they are quoted also by Peter in his great Pentecostal sermon (Acts ii. 21) with evident application to Christ. Indeed, this is but one of many Old Testament passages of which Jehovah is the Subject, and which in the New Testament are applied to Christ—proclaiming His proper Divinity.

14-21. This universality of the Gospel call supposes its universal proclamation, obnoxious though that is to the Jesus, and their own Scriptures foretold it, together with their otvn rejection of it and its reception by the Gentiles.

14, 15. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and. . . believe in whom they have not heard? or. . . hear without a preacher? and. . . preach except. . . sent? 'True, the same Lord over all is rich unto all alike that call upon Him; but this calling implies believing, and believing hearing, and hearing preaching, and preaching a mission to preach. Why, then, take ye it so ill, O children of Abraham, that in obedience to our heavenly mission (Acts xxvi. 16-18) we preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ? 'as it is written (Isa. lii. 7), How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! The whole chapter of Isaiah from which this is taken, and the three that follow, are so richly Messianic, that there can be no doubt "the glad tidings" there spoken of announce a more glorious release than that of Judah from the Babylonish captivity, and the very feet of its preachers are called "beautiful "for the sake of their message. What a call and what encouragement is here to missionary activity in the Church! 16. But they did not all hearken to the glad tidings—'The Scripture prepared us for that.' For Isaiah saith (liii. 1), Lord, who hath believed our report?—'Where shall we find one believer? 'The prophet speaks as if next to none would believe; the apostle softens this into "not all believed." 17. So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.7 18. But I say, Did they not hear?—'that God designed the inbringing of the Gentiles? 'Yea, verily, Their sound went out into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world (Gr., 'the inhabited earth'). These beautiful words are from Ps. xix. 4. Whether the apostle quoted them as in their primary intention applicable to his subject, or only used Scriptural language to express his own ideas, as is done involuntarily almost by every preacher in every sermon, expositors are not agreed. But though the latter seems the more natural—"the rising of the Sun of righteousness upon the world "(Mai. iv. 2), "the day-spring from on high visiting us, giving light to them that sat in darkness, and guiding our feet into the way of peace" (Luke i. 78, 79), must have been familiar and delightful to the apostle's ear, and we cannot doubt that the irradiation of the world with the beams of a better sun, by the universal diffusion of the Gospel of Christ, must have been a mode of speaking quite natural, and to him scarcely figurative; not to say that in that very Psalm the glory of God in His word is represented as transcending and eclipsing that of His works in nature, of which this verse more immediately speaks. 19. But I say, Did Israel not know?—from their own Scriptures, of God's intention to bring in the Gentiles? First—'to begin with the earliest in the prophetic line,'—Moses saith, I will proyoke you to jealousy with that which is no nation ('with a no-nation '), and with a nation void of understanding will I anger you. The words are from Deut. xxxii. 21 (almost entirely as in the LXX.). In that chapter Moses prophetically sings the future destinies of his people; and in this verse God warns His ancient people that, because they had moved Him (that is, in after times would move Him) to jealousy with their "no-gods," and provoked Him to anger with their vanities, He, in requital, would move them to jealousy by receiving into His favour a no-nation, and provoke them to anger by adopting a nation void of understanding. 20. But Isaiah is very bold, and saith—'is still plainer, and goes even the length of saying,' I was found of them that sought me not—that is, until I sought them; I became manifest unto them that asked not of me—that is, until the invitation from Me came to them. That the calling of the Gentiles was meant by these words of the prophet (Isa. Ixv. 1), is manifest from what immediately follows: "I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name." 21. But as to Israel he saith, All the day long did I spread out my hands—the attitude of gracious entreaty, unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. These words, which immediately follow the announcement just quoted of the calling of the Gentiles, were enough to forewarn the Jews both of God's purpose to eject them from their privileges, in favour of the Gentiles, and of the cause of it on their own part.

Some of the general truths conveyed by this chapter we have reserved for this place, to prevent interrupting the flow of the argument in the places to which they belong.

Notes.—(1) Mere sincerity, and even earnestness in religion—though it may be some ground of hope for a merciful recovery from error (see 1 Tim. i. 13)—is no excuse, and will not compensate, for the deliberate rejection of saving truth, when in the providence of God presented for acceptance: vers. 1, 2. (2) The true cause of such rejection of saving truth, by the otherwise sincere, is the prepossession of the mind by some false notions of its own. So long as the Jews "sought to establish their own righteousness," it was in the nature of things impossible that they should "submit themselves to the righteousness of God; "the one of these two methods of acceptance being in the teeth of the other. (3) Is there one soul sighing for salvation, but saying within itself, 'Ah! Salvation is beyond my reach: others may be able to lay hold of it; but for me, who have so long and so perseveringly set at nought all His counsel and despised all His reproof, Christ seems so far off that I may as well think to mount up to heaven and pluck Him down, or descend into the deep to bring Him up from thence '? How gloriously does the apostle here teach us to deal with such a case! 'The word (says he) is nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart—the word of faith which we preach: Christ is in the heart of every one who believeth on Him, in the month of whoso confesseth Him; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.' (4) How piercingly and perpetually should that question—"HOW SHALL THEY HEAR WITHOUT A PREACHER?"—sound in the ears of all the churches, as but the apostolic echo of their Lord's parting injunction, "PREACH THE GOSPEL TO EVERY CREATURE" (Mark xvi. 15); and how far below the proper standard of love, zeal, and self-sacrifice must the churches as yet be, when with so plenteous a harvest the labourers are yet so few (Matt. ix. 37, 38), and that cry from the lips of pardoned, gifted, consecrated men—"Here am I, send me" (Isa. vi. 8), is not heard everywhere! vers. 14, 15. (5) The blessing of a covenant-relation to God is the irrevocable privilege of no people and no church: it can be preserved only by fidelity, on our part, to the covenant itself: ver. 19. (6) God is often found by those who apparently are the farthest from Him, while He remains undiscovered by those who think themselves the nearest: vers. 20, 21; and see Matt. viii. 11, 12, xix. 30. (7) How affectingly is the attitude of God towards the ungrateful and persevering rejecters of His love here presented to us—all the day long extending the arms of His mercy even to the disobedient and gainsaying! This tenderness and compassion of God, in His dealings even with reprobate sinners, will be felt and acknowledged at last by all who perish, to the glory of God's forbearance and to their own confusion, imparting to their misery its bitterest ingredient.


1) We adhere to the received text here, both because there is fair evidence for it, and because it best meets the obvious intent of the statement.

2) External evidence would exclude the second "righteousness." But it seems clear to us that the omission was occasioned by a misunderstanding of the sense and the recurrence of the same word.

3) "Of law" is an addition to the best attested text, though a natural one.

4) This, and not "for Israel," is clearly the correct reading here. But at the commencement of a Church Lesson it would be natural to insert the catchword "for Israel," and thus it would creep into the text.

5) Though considerable external evidence is against this second "righteousness," it is well attested, and internal evidence is far stronger for it.

6) Such seems to be the correct reading here, as in the R. V,

7) Such, beyond doubt, is the correct reading here.