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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 10 - Verse 19

Verse 19. But I say, etc. Still further to meet the objection, he shows that the doctrine which he was maintaining was actually taught in the Old Testament.

Did not Israel know? Did not the Jews understand? Is it not recorded in their books, etc., that they had full opportunity to be acquainted with this truth? This question is an emphatic way of affirming that they did know. But Paul does not here state what it was that they knew. That is to be gathered from what he proceeds to say. From that it appears that he referred to the fact that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles, and that the Jews were to be cast off. This doctrine followed from what he had already maintained in Ro 10:12,13, that there was no difference in regard to the terms of salvation, and that the Jew had no particular privileges. If so, then the barrier was broken down; and ff the Jews did not believe in Jesus Christ, they must be rejected. Against this was the objection in Ro 10:14,15, that they could not believe; that they had not heard; and that a preacher had not been sent to them. If now the apostle could show that it was an ancient doctrine of the Jewish prophets that the Gentiles should believe, and that the Jews would not believe, the whole force of the objection would vanish. Accordingly, he proceeds to show that this doctrine was distinctly taught in the Old Testament.

First. First in order; as we say, in the first place.

I will provoke you. These words are taken from De 32:21. In that place the declaration refers to the idolatrous and wicked conduct of the Jews. God says that they had provoked him, or excited his indignation, by worshipping that which was not God, that is, by idols; and he, in turn, would excite their envy and indignation by showing favours to those who were not regarded as a people; that is, to the Gentiles. They had shown favour, or affection, for that which was not God, and by so doing had provoked him to anger; and he also would show favour to those whom they regarded as no people, and would thus excite their anger. Thus he would illustrate the great principle of his government in 2 Sa 22:26,27, "With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful;— with the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself unsavoury," i.e., froward, Ps 18:26. In this passage the great doctrine which Paul was defending is abundantly established—that the Gentiles were to be brought into the favour of God; and the cause also is suggested to be the obstinacy and rebellion of the Jews. It is not clear that Moses had particularly in view the times of the gospel; but he affirms a great principle which is applicable to those times —that if the Jews should be rebellious, and prove themselves unworthy of his favour, that favour would be withdrawn, and conferred on other nations. The effect of this would be, of course, to excite their indignation. This principle the apostle applies to his own times; and affirms that it ought to have been understood by the Jews themselves.

That are no people. That is, those whom you regard as unworthy the name of a people. Those who have no government, laws, or regular organization; who wander in tribes and clans, and who are under no settled form of society. This was the case with most barbarians; and the Jews evidently regarded all ancient nations in this light, as unworthy the name of a people.

A foolish nation. The word fool means one void of understanding. But it also means one who is wicked, or idolatrous; one who contemns God. Ps 14:1, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Pr 1:7, "Fools despise wisdom and instruction." Here it means a nation who had no understanding of the true God, asunetw 

I will anger. My bestowing favours on them will excite your anger. We may remark here,

(1.) that God is a sovereign, and has a right to bestow his favours on whom he pleases.

(2.) That when men abuse his mercies, become proud, or cold, or dead in his service, he often takes away their privileges, and bestows them on others.

(3.) That the effect of his sovereignty is to excite men to anger. Proud and wicked men are always enraged that he bestows his favours on others; and the effect of his sovereign dealings is to provoke to anger the very men who by their sins have rejected his mercy. Hence there is no doctrine that proud man hates so cordially as he does the doctrine of Divine sovereignty; and none that will so much test the character of the wicked.

{z} "I will provoke" De 32:21 {a} "a foolish nation" Tit 3:3

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