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9. God's Sovereign Choice

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

6Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8That 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 seed. 9For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. 10And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11(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 that calleth;) 12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

14What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 17For 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 declared throughout all the earth. 18Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 25As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26And 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. 27Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: 28For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. 29And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha. 30What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

28. For I will finish and shorten the matter, etc. 312312     Sermonem enim consummans et abbrevians,” etc.; Λόγον γὰρ, etc. It is literally the Septuagint except in two instances: Paul puts in γὰρ, and substitutes ἐπὶ τὢς γὢς for ἐν τὣ οἰκουμένὟ ὅλὟ. It is a difficult passage in Hebrew: but the following rendering will make it materially consistent with the words of the Apostle, who evidently did not intend to give the words literally.
   A destruction, soon executed,
Shall overflow in righteousness;
For completed and soon executed shall it be;
The Lord, Jehovah of hosts, shall do it,
In the midst of the whole land.

   The word rendered above “soon executed,” means literally, abbreviated or cut short, signifying the quick execution of a thing or work. “Shall overflow in righteousness,” imports, “shall justly or deservedly overflow.” — Ed.
Omitting various interpretations, I will state what appears to me to be the real meaning: The Lord will so cut short, and cut off his people, that the residue may seem as it were a consumption, that is, may have the appearance and the vestige of a very great ruin. However, the few who shall remain from the consumption shall be a proof of the work of God’s righteousness, or, what I prefer, shall serve to testify the righteousness of God throughout the world. As word often in Scripture means a thing, the consummated word is put for consumption. Many interpreters have here been grossly mistaken, who have attempted to philosophize with too much refinement; for they have imagined, that the doctrine of the gospel is thus called, because it is, when the ceremonies are cut off, a brief compendium of the law; though the word means on the contrary a consumption. 313313     There are many venerable names in favour of this opinion, such as Ambrose, Chrysostom, Augustine, etc. Not knowing the Hebrew language, they attached a classical meaning to the expression, λόγον συντετμημένον, wholly at variance with what the Hebrew means, as Calvin justly observes. The word, συντετμημένον, in this passage, as Schleusner says, bears a meaning different from what it has in the classics; it imports what is cut short, that is, quickly executed. — Ed. And not only here is an error committed by the translator, but also in Isaiah 10:22, 23; Isaiah 28:22; and in Ezekiel 11:13; where it is said, “Ah! ah! Lord God! wilt thou make a completion of the remnant of Israel?” But the Prophets meant to say, “Wilt thou destroy the very remnant with utter destruction?And this has happened through the ambiguity of the Hebrew word. For as the word, כלה, cale, means to finish and to perfect, as well as to consume, this difference has not been sufficiently observed according to the passages in which it occurs.

But Isaiah has not in this instance adopted one word only, but has put down two words, consumption, and termination, or cutting off; so that the affectation of Hebraism in the Greek translator was singularly unseasonable; for to what purpose was it to involve a sentence, in itself clear, in an obscure and figurative language? It may be further added, that Isaiah speaks here hyperbolically; for by consumption he means diminution, such as is wont to be after a remarkable slaughter.


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