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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 11 - Verse 1
ROMANS Chapter 11
Verse 1. I say then. This expression is to be regarded as conveying the sense of an objection. Paul, in the previous chapters, had declared the doctrine that all the Jews were to be rejected. To this a Jew might naturally reply, Is it to be believed, that God would cast off his people whom he had once chosen; to whom pertained the adoption, and the promises, and the covenant, and the numer- ous blessings conferred on a favourite people? It was natural for a Jew to make such objections. And it was important for the apostle to show that his doctrine was consistent with all the promises which God had made to his people. The objection, as will be seen by the answer which Paul makes, is formed on the supposition that God had rejected all his people, or cast them off entirely. This objection he answers by showing,
(1.) that God had saved him, a Jew, and therefore that he could not mean that God had east off all Jews, (Ro 11:1)
(2.) that now, as in former times of great declension, God had reserved a remnant, (Ro 11:2-5)
(3.) that it accorded with the Scriptures, that a part should be hardened, (Ro 11:6-10)
(4.) that the design of the rejection was not final, but was to admit the Gentiles to the privileges of Christianity, (Ro 11:11-24;)
(5.) that the Jews should yet return to God, and be reinstated in his favour: so that it could not be objected that God had finally and totally cast off his people, or that he had violated his promises. At the same time, however, the doctrine which Paul had maintained was true, that God had taken away their exclusive and peculiar privileges, and had rejected a large part of the nation.
Cast away. Rejected, or put off. Has God so renounced them that they cannot be any longer his people?
His people. Those who have been long in the covenant relation to him; that is, the Jews.
God forbid. Literally, it may not, or cannot be. This is an expression strongly denying that this could take place; and means that Paul did not intend to advance such a doctrine, Lu 20:16; Ro 3:4,6,31; 6:2,15; 7:7,13.
For I also am an Israelite. To show them that he did not mean to affirm that all Jews must of necessity be cast off, he adduces his own case. He was a Jew; and yet he looked for the favour of God, and for eternal life. That favour he hoped now to obtain by being a Christian; and if he might obtain it, others might also. "If I should say that all Jews must be excluded from the favour of God, then I also must be without hope of salvation, for I am a Jew."
Of the seed of Abraham. Descended from Abraham. The apostle mentions this to show that he was a Jew in every respect; that he had a title to all the privileges of a Jew, and must be exposed to all their liabilities and dangers. If the seed of Abraham must of necessity be cut off, he must be himself rejected. The Jews valued themselves much on having been descended from so illustrious an ancestor as Abraham, (Mt 3:9) and Paul shows them that he was entitled to all the privileges of such a descent. Comp. Php 3:4,5.
Of the tribe of Benjamin. This tribe was one that was originally located near Jerusalem. The temple was built on the line that divided the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. It is not improbable that it was regarded as a peculiar honour to have belonged to one of those tribes. Paul mentions it here in accordance with their custom; for they regarded it as of great importance to preserve their genealogy, and to be able to state not only that they were Jews, but to designate the tribe and family to which they belonged.
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