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An Exposition Of the Epistles Of Saint Paul And Of The Catholic Epistles Volumes 1&2


The Apostle, having pointed out, in the two preceding chapters, the rejection of the Jews, and the vocation of the Gentiles to the faith, employs this chapter in offering consolation to the Jews, and in repressing the arrogance and boasting of the Gentile converts. He consoles the Jews by showing, that all the Jewish people are not rejected from the faith (verses 1–5). But although some are saved, he does not conceal from them the painful fact, that these are only the remnant, while the great bulk of them are reprobated, according to the predictions of the prophets (6–10). At verse, 11, the Apostle proposes a second question similar to that proposed (1), where the question regarded the NUMBER of the Jews rejected. Here the question regards the DURATION or PERIOD of the rejection of the greater portion; and, he answers, by saying, that this rejection shall not always continue. He adduces several reasons to show, that, at a future day, the great bulk of the Jews will be again called to the faith, and admitted to the divine favour. The first reason is grounded on the designs of God in calling the Gentiles, in order to provoke the Jews to emulation. The next reason is grounded on the advantages this conversion of the Jews would bring to the entire world (12). Again, he derives a reason from the designs of the Apostle himself in their regard (13, 14, 15). Again, he argues from the extrinsic moral consecration of the Jews in the patriarchs, from whom they sprang, and in the Apostles and first faithful who are of the same race with them (16); and after adducing several reasons why the Gentiles should not boast against the Jews, both on the grounds of benefits received from them (18), and of holy fear (19–22), he finally announces as a certain fact, that all the Jews will be converted, at some future day (25–29), and that the same economy of Providence will be observed towards them, that had been observed in regard to the Gentiles (30, 31). Unable to fathom this mysterious Providence, he bursts forth into the exclamation, “O the depth!” &c.—(33, &c.)


1. (I have already said that God has rejected the Jews), but now, I ask, is the rejection, of which I have spoken, to be understood of the entire Jewish people? By no means. This is clear in my own person, who am an Israelite, carnally descended from Abraham, and of the tribe of Benjamin (yet still, I am a Christian and an Apostle of Christ).

2. God has not rejected such of his people as he has loved by an eternal predilection; or, such of his people as he foresaw would embrace his faith. You are not ignorant of what the Scripture records in the history of Elias (3 Kings, 19), when addressing the Lord against Israel, he accuses them all of having fallen away from the worship of the true God.

3. Lord, they have slain thy prophets, they have dug down thy altars; I am the only true worshipper left, and they seek my life.

4. But what answer did the divine oracle make to those complaints of Elias? You are not the only worshipper left me; through my all powerful grace I have still reserved for myself seven (i.e., many) thousand true adorers, who have neither been seduced nor intimidated to pay divine honours to the idol of Baal.

5. Now, what the Scripture records of Elias on the occasion referred to, is a perfect representation of the state of the Jewish people at the present day, of whom the remnant, consisting of a great many, are saved, according to the gratuitous election of God calling them to grace.

6. If, then, this election and call be from grace, and quite gratuitous, it is not from works establishing a strict claim, independent of grace; otherwise, grace would cease to be grace, i.e., quite gratuitous.

7. What, then, do I teach? It is this: that the great bulk of the Jewish people, owing to their adoption of erroneous means, and owing to their relying too confidently on the works of the law as giving a claim to justification, thereby excluding the gratuitous election of God, have not obtained the justice for which they sought; whereas, the portion of them that were elected, in consequence of having placed no positive obstacle to God’s gratuitous election, have obtained it; the rest are blinded and hardened.

8. This is in accordance with the prediction of the prophet (Isaias 29:10), wherein it is said of those who obstinately rebel against Christ: God hath permitted them to fall into a state of spiritual torpor and insensibility; so that, having eyes they see not, and having ears they hear not; and this very spirit of insensibility and stupefaction has seized upon them, in regard to Christ, unto the present day.

9. And David predicted a like judgment regarding them, when, in conformity with the will of God executing it, he prays (Psalm 68:23), Let their table, i.e., what was to serve for the spiritual aliment of their souls, be converted into a snare and a trap, whereby they may be caught; and into a stumbling-block of offence; and let that happen them, in punishment of their obstinacy and abuse of divine grace.

10. By the subtraction of divine grace, let the eyes of their intellect be darkened, and let them groan under the grievous burden of spiritual servitude, having their heart and will always bent on earth, without aspiring after heavenly things.

11. But I ask, although all the Jewish people are not rejected from the faith, is not the fall and rejection of the greater portion irretrievable, so as to leave no hope of the nation at large being called at some future day? By no means God has made their transgression and incredulity the occasion of the vocation of the Gentiles; and this call of the Gentiles is designed for bringing the Jews to the faith by exciting in them a spiritual emulation towards the converted Gentiles.

12. Another reason which warrants us in hoping for their future restoration, is this: that if the fall of the Jews has become the occasion of the spiritual enrichment of the world, and the rejection of the unbelieving Jews the occasion of enriching the Gentiles, how much more shall the full conversion of the great mass of the Jewish nation enrich the world and the Gentiles?

13. And, so far as my own views and convictions on the subject are concerned, I have no difficulty in declaring to you, Gentile converts, that in honouring the ministry to which I am specially called among you,

14. I have in view to provoke to holy emulation my relations according to the flesh, and to place some of them in the way of salvation, by embracing the faith.

15. For, if their rejection on account of unbelief has been the occasion of reconciling the world with God, what else shall their conversion be, but the total spiritual resuscitation of the entire earth?

16. Another reason for expecting their conversion is, that they have already a sort of extrinsic sanctity imparted to them by the holy patriarchs from whom they have sprung, and by the Apostles the first fruits, who first embraced the faith, just as the mass from which the first fruits are taken is, therefore, in some measure, consecrated, and as the branches partake of the qualities of their root; and hence, we ought naturally to expect, that this external consecration of the Jews in their first fruits, and in the root from which they sprang, shall be completed by the internal sanctity which flows from grace and faith.

17. And although some of the natural branches are broken off from the parent trunk, and thou, O Gentile! being merely a wild olive branch, art ingrafted among, the remaining branches of that tree whose root is holy, and art thus made to partake of the fat of the root of the olive.

18. You should not, on that account, boast against, nor despise, the natural branches that have been rejected. But should you still continue to boast, you must bear in mind, that it is from the Jewish root you derive support and nourishment; from it you have derived the spirit of faith: it supports you, and not you it.

19. But perhaps you will say, and make this the matter for boasting: the natural branches have been broken off in order that I, the Gentile, may be ingrafted in their place.

20. Well, be it so; but remember, that they were broken off in consequence of their obstinate unbelief. And thou hast been ingrafted into the olive, and art firmly united to it by faith, and shouldst not, therefore, be proud, but rather fear, lest, like them, thou shouldst be broken off in punishment of having fallen away from the faith.

21. For, if God hath not spared the natural branches, but has cast them off, take care, lest he may not spare thee either, shouldst thou fall away from the faith.

22. In order, therefore, that laying aside all feelings of pride, thou shouldst with all humility, give God thanks, consider, on the one side, the severity of God towards the unbelieving, whom he cast off, and on the other, his goodness towards thee who believest; but see that thou persevere in the state in which the goodness of God has placed thee, and correspond with it by faith and good works; otherwise thou also shalt be cut of and rejected.

23. But the Jews also, should they not persevere in unbelief, shall again be ingrafted on the olive of the Church; for, God, is not only able, but also desirous to do so. The resistance of their stubborn will is an obstacle to his so doing at present.

24. For, if thou, O Gentile! were cut out of the wild and unfruitful olive, and hast been, contrary to, and losing the nature of thine origin, ingrafted on the garden olive, whose nature and qualities thou hast assumed, how much more easily may not the Jews, the natural branches, be ingrafted again on the parent olive to which they belonged.

25. For, I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of a secret truth (and my object in revealing it to you is, to prevent your boasting of your faith, and insolently glorying against the Jews). The secret truth which I wish to disclose to you is this, that blindness and hardness of heart happened to the greater part of Israel, and shall continue, until the full number of the Gentiles, who are to believe, shall have entered the Church.

26. And after that, not the remnant, as now, but the great mass of the Jewish people shall be converted and saved, according to the prediction of the prophet (Isaias, 59): There shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

27. And this my covenant, which I have established with them, and which I will fulfil in taking away their sins.

28. Looking to the gospel to which they have given such violent and obstinate opposition, the Jews are enemies of God, and hated by him; and this obstinacy on their part turns to your good, since it is the occasion of the preaching of the gospel among you; but, looking to the election of God, in selecting the Jews as his chosen people, and determining to call them at the end of the world; in that respect, they are beloved by God, on account of the love he bore their fathers.

29. For, the absolute and unconditional gifts and promises of God (such is the promise in question regarding the future call of the Jews), are unalterable, and shall surely be carried into effect.

30. For, as you, O Gentiles! were at one time incredulous, but now, by occasion of the incredulity of the Jews, have been brought by the divine mercy to the gratuitous gift of God;

31. So are we also to judge, that the same economy has been carried out respecting the Jews, viz., that they are for a time permitted to fall into incredulity respecting the gospel and its extension to you, that they, too, may experience the mercy of God and acknowledge it, after being immersed in spiritual misery.

32. Thus, therefore, by a wonderful and mysterious order of Providence, God has suffered all classes of men, both Jews and Gentiles successively, to fall into infidelity, and left them shut up in the common prison of error, in order that he might show his mercy on them, and make them conscious from a sense of their miseries, that they owed all to his grace.

33. As we cannot fathom or penetrate this mysterious economy of Providence, we can only exclaim in amazement: O the profound abyss of the mercy, and of the wisdom, and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments and decrees, and how unsearchable are his ways in carrying his decrees into execution.

34. For who ever has known the mind of the Lord?—or who is it that has shared in his counsels?

35. Or who gave God anything first, so that God would be bound to make a return?

36. Since from God, as Creator and first source, all things have emanated; by him as Preserver, or, by his Providence, all things subsist and are preserved in existence; and to him, as their Final End, all things tend; or, in him, all things exist and are contained. To him alone, therefore, are due honour, praise, and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.


1. As is clear from the Apostle’s own person, God has not altogether cast off and rejected his people; for he himself, although a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, is an Apostle of Christ.

2. “Which he foreknew,” admits of two interpretations (as in Pharaphrase). “Know you not,” &c. What happened in the days of Elias, addressing the Lord against Israel, when, under the impious Jezabel, the true adorers were persecuted, is a perfect exemplification of the present state of things. “Even so then, at this time,” &c., verse 5. “Know you not … saith of Elias?” In Greek, ἐν Ἠλείᾳ, “in Elias,” which means in the history of Elias.

3. “They have dug down thy altars,” in contempt of thee. These are the altars which were constructed in the high places of the ten tribes of Israel, at the time they were not allowed to go to the temple, on which occasion the law prohibiting them (Deuteron. 16:2), probably was relaxed. Their subversion by Achab and Jezabel was impious, because the act was done in hatred and contempt of God and the divine worship, although their subversion by Ezechias and Josias, from an opposite motive, on the grounds that they were forbidden (Deuteron. 16), was an act of piety. “And I am left alone.” “Alone” refers to the true worshippers, as if he said, “I am the only true adorer left,” rather than to the Prophets, as is clear from the answer, next verse, “seven thousand” true worshippers. However, by connecting it with the preceding, it may refer to the Prophets.—(Beelen).

4. “The divine answer.” The Greek for these words, χρηματισμος, means, “the oracle.” “I have left me.” These words show the power of divine grace. “Seven thousand men,” not to speak of women and children. “Seven” in scriptural usage, means a great number; hence, “seven thousand” means a great many thousands, “that have not bowed their knees,” i.e., paid divine honours and rendered adoration, of which “bending the knee,” is a sign. “To Baal;” in the Greek, “Baal” has the feminine article prefixed, τῆ Βααλ, although, to the word “Baal” the masculine article is everywhere prefixed by the Septuagint: and in the Hebrew, it has the masculine plural, Belahim. Baal was the God of the Tyrians and Sidonians. Hence, it is probable that the feminine article here affects some word understood: “the statue or idol (εικονι) of Baal.”

OBJECTION.—Does it not clearly follow from this passage, that the true Church can sometimes become invisible?

RESP.—All that would follow at most is, that the Jewish Church could cease to be visible. Nor does even this follow; for, at the very time that Elias uttered these complaints, regarding the separated ten tribes of Israel, the Jewish Church was in a most flourishing condition under Ezechias, in the kingdom of Juda.

5. Here the Apostle applies the quotation from Elias to the present state of the Jewish people. In like manner, although the great bulk of the Jewish people are now rejected, the remnant, consisting of a great many, are saved. “According to the (gratuitous) election of grace.” Our election to the grace of first justification is, on the part of God, quite gratuitous, and quite independent of our actions. “There is a remnant saved;” “saved” is not in the Greek, which simply is, λεμμα γεγονεν, “there is a remnant.”

6. If, then, “it is by grace” that our election is effected, “it is not now by works,” i.e., by works in which grace has no share, such as the works performed by the sole aid of nature or the law of Moses. To this verse are added, in some Greek copies, the words, “but if it be of works, then it is no more grace, otherwise work is no more work.” In the Vatican MSS. it is “otherwise work is no more grace.” These words are wanting in some of the chief MSS. ACDE.

QUERITUR.—In the work of our justification, are not acts of faith, hope, repentance &c., which are elicited under the influence of divine grace, indispensable on our part according to Catholic doctrine? And does not the Apostle exclude these also?

RESP.—If these works precede first justification, as it is termed, or the infusion of that sanctifying grace which, from a state of sin, transfers man to a state of justice, they establish no right or claim whatsoever to justification; because, even after their performance, the infusion of sanctifying grace is quite gratuitous on the part of God; these acts are mere necessary dispositions, establishing no claim to justification. If these works follow first justification, they establish a claim to, and merit, second justification, or an increase of sanctifying grace, owing to God’s liberal and gratuitous promise. But, still, they do not exclude gratuitousness; for, besides their requiring, in order to be meritorious, that they should be performed by a man in the state of sanctifying grace, and acting under the influence of actual grace, it was quite gratuitous on the part of God, to bind himself by the promise of giving them a reward, to which they would not be otherwise strictly entitled.

7. “But the election,” i.e., the portion of them elected. The abstract is used for the concrete. “The rest have been blinded” (in Greek, επωρωθησαν, hardened), or have hardened themselves by their incredulity and impenitence.

8. “As it is written,” i.e., agreeably to what is written. “God hath given them the spirit of insensibility.” In the Vulgate version of Isaias (29:10), for, “the spirit of insensibility,” we have “the spirit of a deep sleep;” in Greek, κατανυξεως, and this is the meaning of the corresponding Hebrew word, thardemah. In several passages of SS. Scripture (v.g.), in Genesis, 2, it denotes the deep sleep of Adam; and also in Genesis, 15, 1 Kings, 26:6, it means the state of insensibility into which are cast those who are immersed in heavy sleep; whose senses are so perfectly numbed as to be incapable of seeing or hearing. The Vulgate expression, compunctionis, denotes the state of a man whose eyes and ears are transpierced, so as to be rendered incapable of seeing or hearing. The words, “hath given them,” according to the common opinion of Commentators, only imply sufferance on the part of God; the spiritual effect would most infallibly result from the subtraction of God’s lights and graces. “Until this present day.” These words are not found in Isaias. Hence it is, some say that the words are quoted from Deut. 29:4. It may be, that the words are not strictly a quotation at all, but merely contain an allusion to several passages of Scripture. This passage furnishes no argument against the theological opinion—viz., that the obdurati and obcæcati all receive, proximately or remotely, sufficient graces; since obduracy will result from the withdrawal of efficacious graces, even though a man thus hardened should still have sufficient graces.

9. He adduces the testimony of David also to prove that the blindness of the Jews was predicted. “Let their table,” &c. These words are generally understood to be spoken by David, in the person of Christ, to the mysteries of whose life, and death, and resurrection, the entire Psalm 68, in its mystical sense, refers. The words may be regarded as a prophecy, which, in conformity with God’s will, the Psalmist wishes to be accomplished, or as a prophetical sentence of punishment, which the Redeemer, in whose person David speaks, pronounces as God, against his persecutors. By “their talk,” are generally understood the SS. Scriptures, which were spread out before the Jews, as a spiritual aliment, to nourish their souls. These Scriptures, given to the Jews for their instruction, were converted by them into sources of error, by wilfully misinterpreting the passage relating to the Messiah, and accommodating them to their own carnal conceptions and earthly expectations.

10. This, as well as the preceding verse, refers to the punishment of blindness of intellect, and obduracy of heart, with which the obstinate Jews were visited, owing to the subtraction of God’s efficacious graces. “And bow down their back always.” These words express the insatiable desire for earthly riches, which is a distinguishing characteristic of the Jews in every quarter of the globe, and which makes them indifferent to heavenly and everlasting goods, in the anticipated enjoyment and hopes of which, Christians, on the other hand, have their “conversation in heaven,” and their longing desires directed thither.

11. The Apostle takes occasion from the foregoing verses, wherein he proves that the judgment of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart, predicted by the prophet, had been fully inflicted on the greater part of the Jewish people, to ask another question similar to that proposed (verse 1). Although all the Jewish people are not rejected, are not, at least, the greater number rejected, so as to leave no hope that the great majority of the nation shall ever again, at any future period, be called? The Apostle answers, “God forbid,” or, by no means. And he assigns for reason—1st, that in the designs of God, the call of the Gentiles, to which the “offence,” or incredulous obstinacy of the Jews gave occasion, was intended to bring the Jews back again, by exciting them to spiritual emulation towards the converted Gentiles, to whom they would see their own birthright transferred; and thus, they would embrace the faith in order that they too might participate in the Divine promises. “That they may be emulous of them.” In this English construction, the words, “that they may be emulous,” refer to the Jews, whereas, the construction should more probably be, that they (the Gentiles) may provoke them (the Jews) to emulation. Of course, there is no difference of meaning between both constructions, but the latter is more in accordance with the Greek, εἰς τὸ παραζηλῶσαι αὐτούς.

12. The second reason, why we are not to look on the Jews as irretrievably lost, but on the contrary, should hope for the conversion of the great bulk of the nation at a future day, is, that from their full conversion we should expect the results, which it is directly calculated to produce, and that have already, as a matter of accident, sprung from their rejection, viz., the spiritual enrichment of the Gentiles, and of the entire world. The word “riches” means enrichment, of which the reprobation of the Jews was only the accidental cause, in regard to the Gentiles; whereas, their conversion is directly calculated to produce that effect.

13, 14. The Apostle draws a third argument of the reparability of their fall from his own designs towards them, even while he was preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, whose Apostle he was in a special manner, and while he was honouring his ministry by his zeal, miracles, and sanctity of life and conversation. The Greek word for, “as long as,” εφʼ ὅσον, might be rendered, inasmuch as. “I will honour,” in Greek, δοξαζω, I honour. The change of tense, however, does not affect the meaning. Some persons place these two verses in a parenthesis, on account of the close connexion in sense which verse 15 has with verse 12. There is no necessity for this, if we adopt the connexion already given, and make these verses convey an additional reason of the reparability of the Jews, derived from the Apostle’s own designs in their regard. “Them who are my flesh,” refers to the Jews—his countrymen—to whose race he belonged. “And save some of them,” i.e., place some of them in the way of salvation, by inducing them to embrace the faith. From these words it is plain that the Apostle, in the preceding part of his Epistle, is treating of vocation to, and rejection from grace, since if he regarded the Jews as rejected from glory, all his efforts for their salvation would be quite useless and abortive.

15. “But life from the dead.” In the Paraphrase is adopted the interpretation which makes these words to mean, that the conversion of the Jews will be nothing else than the total resuscitation from spiritual death of the entire earth, which, till then, shall be partly involved in the death of sin and infidelity. In this interpretation, there is allusion to the spiritual resurrection, which it is not unusual with the Apostle to regard as the final complement of spiritual death to sin, or as the perfection of the grace of justification. Others attach a different meaning to the passage. According to them the words express the highest degree of happiness and joy, such as the resuscitation of a dear friend from the grave is calculated to engender.

16. The Jews are, in an external way, a holy race, by being descended from the patriarchs, and by being of the same stock with the Apostles, &c.; nay, it is to them we are indebted for our Divine Redeemer, quia salus ex Judæis est (John, 4:22), and hence, we are naturally to expect that this external sanctity shall be completed by internal grace. The consecration of the first fruits imparts a sort of moral external sanctity to the entire mass, rendering it fit for human uses, and the root imparts its qualities to the branches; so is it with the Jews; and hence, we should hope for their perfect sanctification in future.

17. “And if some,” &c. The sense is suspended until we come to the words, next verse, “boast not against the branches.” The Apostle wishes to repress the boasting of the Gentiles by reminding them of their natural condition; they were only the branches of the “wild olive;” they were like a wild and unfruitful olive, sprung from an infidel and idolatrous root, from which they could derive no sap of divine grace; and it was only by being inserted among the branches of the garden olive, that they were made partakers of the rich juice, which the root of the olive imparts to its branches; in other words, the Gentiles, by being received into the body of the Church through faith, were made partakers along with Jews of the spirit of faith and grace which the patriarchs possessed.

18. “Boast not against the branches.” These words conclude the sense suspended throughout the preceding verse. “But if thou boast,” i.e., if, notwithstanding the consideration of thy natural state, of which thou hast been reminded in the preceding verse, thou still dost continue to boast, see what matter you have for boasting, when you call to mind, that it is not thou that imparts juice and nutriment to the Jewish root; but, on the contrary, it is it that supports and nourishes thee; you owe the Jews everything; they owe you nothing. The Church of God is the fruitful olive—the roots of which are the patriarchs and apostles, the richness and juice of it is the abundance of the grace of the Holy Ghost, which the apostles enjoyed beyond all others; each believing Jew was a branch. Some were broken off on account of their incredulity, and we, Gentiles, ingrafted in their stead, were made partakers of the grace of the Holy Ghost, associated with the prophets, patriarchs, and apostles.

19. But, perhaps, you may be still inclined to glory against and insult the Jews, on the ground that God rejected them, and received you in preference.

20. “Well,” i.e., admitting this to be the case, you should still bear in mind that the same thing that happened to them may much more easily happen to you; for, as it was owing to their unbelief they were rejected, and as it is owing to thy faith thou dost continue in the divine favour to which thou hast been admitted, and remainest firmly united to the true olive, thou shouldst not make this the occasion of pride, but rather fear, lest, losing this gift of faith, thou too mayest be cast off. Hence, faith is admissible, as is evidently implied here by the Apostle.

21. For, if God rejected the Jews, the natural descendants of the patriarchs, on account of their unbelief, thou shouldst take care, lest, falling from the faith, thou too mayest meet with the like treatment. We are here reminded of the absolute necessity of Christian humility as the guardian of faith; although God may have favoured one man beyond another, he should not, on that account, boast or entertain feelings of pride, but with all humility and fear give God thanks; and he should tremble, lest, in punishment of sin, God may desert him also, and abandon him to the dominion of his passions and his natural blindness of heart.

22. In order to express all feelings of pride on the part of the Gentile converts, and induce them to give God thanks with humility and fear, he calls upon them to consider “the severity of God” towards the Jews whom he has rejected, and “his goodness” towards themselves, whom he has called. “If thou abide in goodness,” i.e., if thou continue in that state in which the goodness of God has placed thee, and correspond by faith and good works with this goodness; it is only on this condition his goodness will permanently avail thee, otherwise thou, too, like the Jews, shalt be cut off and cast away. Perseverance, as is clear from this text, is the surest sign of predestination; but of it no one can be certain, as appears also from this passage. Of course, it is not here implied that the entire Church would be “cut off,” the indefectibility of the Church being clearly promised in SS. Scripture; but each one in particular may fall off; and, hence, all in general should fear that which may happen to each individual.

23. They, by receding from their unbelief, and by not opposing their stubborn wills to the operation of divine grace, shall be inserted on the true olive of the Church; for, God is not only able, but willing to do so, the obstacle of their opposing wills being removed. The word “able,” implies more than bare power—it implies a desire also on the part of God. By the very fact of receding from incredulity and embracing the faith, the Jews would be ingrafted on the true olive; nor does the Apostle suppose that one would really precede the other, but he employs a mode of speaking which would apparently imply this, for the purpose of showing the co-operation of man’s free will, as well in embracing the faith, as in rejecting it, by positive unbelief.

24. The words, “contrary to nature,” mean, as in Paraphrase, that the wild olive branch has lost its own nature by being grafted on the garden olive, and acquired a new nature—viz., that of the true olive, on which it was ingrafted; or, the words may mean, that the natural order observed by husbandmen in the process of ingrafting young shoots, which is to graft good twigs on barren, useless trunks, is here inverted by their being ingrafted on good fruitful trunks, which is a proof of the excessive love of God for the Gentiles. The former interpretation seems preferable as being more in accordance with the antithesis which, in the Greek, is clearly observable between the branches that “are contrary to nature,” and “according to nature.”

25. The Apostle now adds, to the preceding reasons, which would afford probable grounds to hope for the future conversion of the Jews, the sure and unerring words of prophecy. He now says, it is not merely a thing that may possibly or probably take place, but he announces it as a certain truth: and this he calls a “mystery,” i.e., a hidden truth hitherto secret and concealed. “That blindness in part has happened in Israel.” The Greek word for “blindness” means “hardness;” however, the meaning is the same, when referred to the mind, “in part,” refers to the Jews; and of them to even the greater portion, although the Apostle omits saying so expressly, “until the fulness of the Gentiles,” i.e., all the Gentiles that are to be converted, shall enter the fold of the Church.

26. “And so,” i.e., and then, or after that, “all Israel,” and not the remnant as now, but the great bulk of the nation, “the fulness” (verse 12), which refers to the great or moral mass of them, for, no doubt, some will continue in their incredulity. The words “all Israel,” are understood by some Commentators to refer to spiritual Israel, consisting of converted Jews and Gentiles; the number shall be completed after the plenitude of the Gentiles, the last called, shall have entered the Church. The opinion, however, which understands the words of carnal Israel, or the Jewish people, is far more probable from the entire context of this chapter (verses 12, 15, 23, 24), in which it is implied throughout, that the great mass of the Jews would be converted, but the matter is placed beyond all doubt, in verse 25, in which there is question of carnal Israel, as well as in the foregoing verses. In truth, in this and the preceding chapters, there is question of carnal Israel alone.

“There shall come out of Sion,” &c., i.e., from the tribe of Juda which dwells in Sion, shall come forth, Christ, who “shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob,” i.e., from all the tribes in Israel. This testimony is taken from Isaias, 59:20, according to the Septuagint version, with this slight difference, that for “out of Sion,” the Septuagint has ἐνεκα Σιων, “on account of,” or, “for Sion.” However, this change might be caused by the negligence of transcribers; or, St. Paul may have in view, in quoting this passage, the other passages, wherein it was said that the Redeemer was to come “from Sion.” The argument drawn by the Apostle from Isaias is this: whereas at the first coming of Christ this prophecy was not fulfilled (for, then, the mere remnant was saved); it must, therefore, refer to his second coming, when all the Jews shall be saved.

27. “And this is to them my covenant.” These words are taken from the same passage of Isaias, verse 21, although the passage is left incomplete, and to be supplied by the reader—a thing not unusual with Jewish writers. “When I shall take away their sins.” These words are added by the Apostle as explanatory of the convenant; it consisted in “taking away their sins,” which is nearly a repetition of the words, “he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” From this passage, and from Malachy (4:5, 6), is firmly established the tradition of the Church, regarding the conversion of the Jewish people at the end of the world; all the Jews shall be converted, except the tribe of Dan, which is not mentioned in the numbers of those signed of the tribes of Israel.—(Apoc. 7). From the same tribe, as is generally supposed, shall spring Antichrist, whom, it is thought, the Danites will follow to the rejection of the true preachers of the Gospel.

28. Although hated by God in one respect, as obstinately opposing the Gospel—and this was of advantage to the Gentiles, because it served as the occasion for having the Gospel preached to them—still, in another respect, i.e., in respect of their election, as the posterity of a people chosen by God to be peculiarly his own, they are beloved.

29. The absolute and unconditional promises of God are irrevocable: such is the promise made by God to the patriarchs that he would not cast off their seed for ever. Such promises proceeding from election shall not be frustrated in their effect by the sins of men. Numquid incredulitas illorum fidem Dei evacuabit?—(chap. 3 verse 3).

30. He shows from the economy of God towards the Gentiles, how the same is to be exercised towards the Jews. The Gentiles “obtained mercy,” i.e., faith; which, on account of its perfect gratuitousness, is called “mercy.” “Through their unbelief,” i.e., through the occasion of the obstinacy of the Jews in rejecting the Gospel.

31. In like manner, we are warranted in supposing, that God exercised the same economy towards the Jews, permitting them to fall into incredulity regarding the Gospel and its extension to the Gentiles, in order that they, too, having had experience of their own misery and degradation, would find mercy with God, which they will more freely acknowledge, after seeing the misery wherein they were involved.

32. “Hath concluded,” i.e., permitted them to be shut up in the common prison of infidelity, into which, without his grace, they would infallibly fall; and out of which his grace alone could rescue them; hence, he is said “to conclude,” or shut them up, and this he did, in order that his great mercy would be made more evident by the greatness of their wants. “All in unbelief,” τους παντας, all men, Jews and Gentiles, εις απειθειαν, unto unbelief, in incredulitatem, like the phrase, conclusit in carcerem. Here the Apostle closes the dogmatic part of this Epistle as he began it, by pointing out the sinful state of Jew and Gentile left to themselves without God’s grace, neither of whom, therefore, had any good works which would establish a claim to the grace of justification: and what he says in the beginning of the Epistle regarding the many enormous crimes of the Pagan philosophers, &c., is here exemplified by the sin of infidelity, of which all, both Jew and Gentile, were guilty. At the beginning of the world, all lived in the true religion. The Gentiles first fell into idolatry. God made a covenant with the Jews through Abraham and Moses, and they worshipped the true God: they afterwards rejected Christ. The Gentiles were called to the Gospel and the Jews rejected. The Gentiles, at the end of the world, shall fall away (2 Thess. chap. 2), and the Jews shall be converted. Who, in considering these things, should not fear and tremble for his salvation?

33. The Apostle, unable to fathom this mysterious Providence of God in the rejection and vocation of both Jews and Gentiles, and wishing to teach us to submit our judgment to the decrees of Providence, be they ever so incomprehensible, recoils with sacred horror from further examination of the matter, and oppressed with the majesty of glory, bursts into the exclamation: “O the depths, of the riches!” i.e., of his mercy displayed in the vocation of Jew and Gentile, though both had sinned, and had no claim on him. “The wisdom” in drawing good out of evil, making the obstinate incredulity of the Jew the occasion of calling the Gentile, and the envy of the Jew at the call of the Gentile, the occasion of his conversion. “And of the science” displayed in the knowledge of all things future. In the Paraphrase, the Greek construction has been adopted: “O the depth of the riches and of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!” is the reading of ail Greek copies; but in our Vulgate, the word “riches” is not separated from “wisdom” and “science;” and the words appear to mean, “the riches of the wisdom,” and “the riches of the science,” i.e., the exceedingly rich wisdom and science. However, the three distinct questions in verses 34, 35, would appear to-correspond with the three qualities expressed in the Greek.

34. “Who hath known,” &c., refers to his “knowledge,” or, “who hath been his counsellor,” to his “wisdom.”

35. “Or who hath first given to him,” &c., refers to the “riches” of his mercy, which in all the affairs of creatures He can exercise, subject to no claim, since God owes his sinful creatures no exercise of mercy.

36. “For of him,” as Creator and first source, and “by him,” as preserving by his Providence, “and in him,” as the end for which he created all things, universa propter semetipsum operatus est Dominus (Prov. 16); or, as in the Greek, εις αυτον, “unto him,” as their last end, all things tend. Some Expositors apply each of them, by appropriation, to the three distinct Persons of the adorable Trinity: “of him,” to the Father; “by him,” to the Son; and “in him” to the Holy Ghost. “To him be glory.” Many Commentators assert that the sacred doxology, “Glory be to the Father,” &c., took its rise in the Church from the example of St. Paul here, and the common institution of the Apostles; and that in the Council of Nice, A.D. 325, was added: “As it was in the beginning is now, and ever more shall be, world without end, Amen,” in order to refute the impiety of the Arians, who asserted, erat, quando non erat, i.e., there was a time, when the Son existed not.

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