1. I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
1. Dico igitur, Num abjecit Deus populum suum? absit: etenim ego Israelita sum, ex genere Abrahae, tribu Benjamin.
2. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,
2. Non abjecit Deus populum suum quem praecognovit. An nescitis in Elia quid scriptura dicat? quomodo appellet Deum adversus Israel, dicens,
3. Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
3. Domine, Prophetas tuas occiderunt, et altaria tua diruerunt, et ego relictus sum solus, et quaerunt animam meam.
4. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
4. Sed quid dicit ei oraculum? 1 Reservavi mihi ipsi septem millia virorum, qui non flexerunt genu imagini Baal.
5. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
5. Sic ergo et hoc tempore, reliquiae secundum electionem gratiae supersunt:
6. And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.
6. Quod si per gratiam, jam non ex operibus; alioqui gratia, jam non est gratia: si vero ex operibus, jam non est gratia; alioqui opus, jam non est opus.
The reason then for their rejection is not now under consideration; but the dispute is concerning another thing, which is this, That though they deserved such a punishment from God, whether yet the covenant which God made formerly with the fathers was abolished. That it should fail through any perfidiousness of men, was wholly unreasonable; for Paul holds this as a fixed principle, that since adoption is gratuitous and based on God alone and not on men, it stands firm and inviolable, howsoever great the unfaithfulness of men may be, which may tend to abolish it. It was necessary that this knot should be untied, lest the truth and election of God should be thought to be dependent on the worthiness of men.
That in addition to the title of an Israelite, he called himself the seed of Abraham, and mentioned also his own tribe; this he did that he might be counted a genuine Israelite, and he did the same in his Epistle to the Philippians, Philippians 3:4. But what some think, that it was done to commend God's mercy, inasmuch as Paul sprung from that tribe which had been almost destroyed, seems forced and far-fetched.
If any one asks, "Was not circumcision a common symbol of God's favor to all the Jews, so that they ought to have been all counted his people?" To this the obvious answer is, -- That as outward calling is of itself ineffectual without faith, the honor which the unbelieving refuse when offered, is justly taken from them. Thus a special people remain, in whom God exhibits an evidence of his faithfulness; and Paul derives the origin of constancy from secret election. For it is not said here that God regards faith, but that he stands to his own purpose, so as not to reject the people whom he has foreknown.
And here again must be noticed what I have before reminded you of, -- that by the verb
It hence follows, that they egregiously mistake who form an opinion of the Church according to their own perceptions. And surely if that celebrated Prophet, who was endued with so enlightened a mind, was so deceived, when he attempted by his own judgment to form an estimate of God's people, what shall be the case with us, whose highest perspicuity, when compared with his, is mere dullness? Let us not then determine any thing rashly on this point; but rather let this truth remain fixed in our hearts -- that the Church, though it may not appear to our eyes, is sustained by the secret providence of God. Let it also be remembered by us, that they are foolish and presumptuous who calculate the number of the elect according to the extent of their own perception: for God has a way, easy to himself, hidden from us, by which he wonderfully preserves his elect, even when all things seem to us past all remedy.
And let readers observe this, -- that Paul distinctly compares here, and elsewhere, the state of things in his time with the ancient condition of the Church, and that it serves in no small degree to confirm our faith, when we bear in mind, that nothing happens to us, at this day, which the holy Fathers had not formerly experienced: for novelty, we know, is a grievous engine to torment weak minds.
As to the words, In Elias, I have retained the expression of Paul; for it may mean either in the history or in the business of Elias; though it seems to me more probable, that Paul has followed the Hebrew mode of speaking; for
One thing then that is laid down is, -- that few are saved in comparison with the vast number of those who assume the name of being God's people; the other is, -- that those are saved by God's power whom he has chosen with no regard to any merit. The
But if no regard to works can be admitted in election, without obscuring the gratuitous goodness of God, which he designed thereby to be so much commended to us, what answer can be given to Paul by those infatuated persons, (phrenetici -- insane,) who make the cause of election to be that worthiness in us which God has foreseen? For whether you introduce works future or past, this declaration of Paul opposes you; for he says, that grace leaves nothing to works. Paul speaks not here of our reconciliation with God, nor of the means, nor of the proximate causes of our salvation; but he ascends higher, even to this, -- why God, before the foundation of the world, chose only some and passed by others: and he declares, that God was led to make this difference by nothing else, but by his own good pleasure; for if any place is given to works, so much, he maintains, is taken away from grace.
It hence follows, that it is absurd to blend foreknowledge of works with election. For if God chooses some and rejects others, as he has foreseen them to be worthy or unworthy of salvation, then the grace of God, the reward of works being established, cannot reign alone, but must be only in part the cause of our election. For as Paul has reasoned before concerning the justification of Abraham, that where reward is paid, there grace is not freely bestowed; so now he draws his argument from the same fountain, -- that if works come to the account, when God adopts a certain number of men unto salvation, reward is a matter of debt, and that therefore it is not a free gift. 6
Now, though he speaks here of election, yet as it is a general reasoning which Paul adopts, it ought to be applied to the whole of our salvation; so that we may understand, that whenever it is declared that there are no merits of works, our salvation is ascribed to the grace of God, or rather, that we may believe that the righteousness of works is annihilated, whenever grace is mentioned.
2 That foreknowledge here includes election or predestination, as Augustine maintains, is evident from what follows in verse 5, where "the remnant" is said to be reserved "according to the election of grace," or gratuitous election. If it be gratuitous, then it cannot be according to any foreseen works: and works are expressly excluded in Romans 11:6. Were it otherwise, were foreseen works the ground of election, there would be no suitableness nor congruity in such terms as foreknowledge and election on the subject. It would have been much more appropriate in this case for the Apostle to say, "God will receive every Jew who will render himself worthy by his works." On this supposition there was no necessity for him to go back to election to remove the objection which he had stated; he had only to refer to the terms of the gospel, which regard Jews and Gentiles without any difference. But instead of doing this, which seems adequate to the purpose, he gives an answer by referring to the foreknowledge and free election of God. There is no way to account for this, except by admitting, that election is an efficacious purpose which secures the salvation of those who are its objects, who have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. -- Ed.
3 "Quomodo appellet Deum adversus Israel -- how he appeals to or calls on God against Israel;"
The quotation in the following verse is from 1 Kings 19:10, and is not taken literally, either from the Hebrew, or from the Septuagint. The order of the two first clauses is changed; "prophets," and not "altars," are mentioned first; in these he has adopted the words of the Septuagint, but in this clause which follows he has changed the terms; instead of
4 Pareus observes, that these seven thousand had no public ministry, for that was idolatrous; and that yet they were preserved by such instruction as they derived from the written word. -- Ed.
5 Calvin, as some others, has supplied "image" before "Baal," as the feminine article
6 The last half of this verse is considered spurious by Griesbach, being not found in the greatest number of MSS., nor in the Vulgate, nor in the Latin Fathers; but it is found in some of the Greek Fathers, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Photius, and in the text, though not in the comment of Chrysostom, and in Theophylact, with the exception of the last clause, "Otherwise work," etc. The Syriac and Arabic versions also contain the whole verse. The argument is complete without the last portion, which is, in fact, a repetition of the first in another form. But this kind of statement is wholly in unison with the character of the Apostle's mode of writing. He often states a thing positively and negatively, or in two different ways. See Romans 4:4,5; Romans 9:1; Ephesians 2:8,9. Then an omission more probable than an addition. Beza, Pareus, Wolfius, etc., regard it as genuine, and Doddridge and Macknight have retained it in their versions. Every reason, except the number of MSS., is in favor of its genuineness. -- Ed.