« PreviousContinue »
"blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, "There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
28 As concerning the Gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' Isakes.
29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
30 For as ye in times past have not 13believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
31 Even so have these also now not "be
lieved, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
32 For God hath "concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon
11 Or, hardness. 18 Isa. 59. 20. 13 Or, obeyed.
33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
34 16For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Verse 9. "Let their table be made a¶snare,” &c.—The "table" of course implies that which is set upon it. Expressions like these may be interpreted in a very general or in a very restricted sense; and in this case it is perhaps unsafe to seek a definite fulfilment. The most definite which has been suggested, is, however, very striking in the way of coincidence, and claims to be at least mentioned. The "table" may be supposed the Passover; and how that could become a trap and a snare to the Jews appeared a few years after this epistle was written, when, while they were assembled in great numbers at Jerusalem, to eat the Passover there, they were surrounded and shut up by the Roman forces, and finally taken or destroyed, like birds in a snare, or wild animals in a trap.
16. "If the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy."-The allusion here is, doubtless, to the offering of the first fruits-the two wave loaves-to the Lord (Lev. xxiii. 14, 17), whereby the whole lump was sanctified for after-use throughout the following year.
"If the root be holy, so are the branches."-This appears to be a similar allusion to trees set apart for sacred uses, and which were planted in fields appropriated to such trees. If they were sacred when their roots began to form in the ground, so were they when they grew up and extended their branches in the air.
1 God's mercies must move us to please God. 3 No man must think too well of himself, 6 but attend every one on that calling wherein he is placed. 9 Love, and many other duties, are required of us. 19 Revenge is specially forbidden.
17. "If some of the branches be broken off."—Having been broken off, as useless, by the husbandman.
"A wild olive tree."-"The cotinus, zorios, and the leaster, aygudaros, are both called "wild olive trees." They are nevertheless of different kinds, though they are sometimes confounded even by the Greeks themselves. The fruit of the cotinus is used for no other purpose than colouring; but the oleaster, the Agrippa Eleagnus of Linnæus, is that species of wild olive, the branches of which (see Schulz, in Paulus's Collection of Travels,' vi. 290) are grafted into barren olive-trees that are in a state of cultivation, in order that fruitfulness may be produced." Jahn's 'Archæologia Biblica,' sect. 71. The above fact appears to us an important contribution to the illustration of the present text; for the better-known operation being to graft the olea into the oleaster, commentators have only been able to account for the apostle's description of the oleaster as grafted into the olea, by supposing that he reversed the actual practice, in order to obtain or to accommodate his metaphor. Yet it is rather singular that rest should so long have been taken in this conclusion, since ancient authors so much read as Theophrastus and Pliny, distinctly mention the practice of grafting the oleaster into the olea. The former takes notice of both methods: and the latter mentions it as a thing frequently done in Africa. (Nat. Hist.' l. xvii. c. 18. See also Columella de Re Rust. 5. 9.)
I BESEECH you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but 'be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given
1 Ephes. 4. 23. * Ephes. 5. 17.
3 Gr. to so briet
1 Subjection, and many other duties, we owe to the
1 Tit. 3. 1, 1 Pet. 2. 13.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
10 Or, in the love of the brethren.
11 Matt. 5. 44. 12 Or, be contented with mean things. 15 Heb. 12. 14. 16 Deut. 32. 35. Heb. 10.30.
Verse 13. "Given to hospitality."—" It was the more proper for the apostles frequently to enforce this duty, as the want of public inns rendered it difficult for strangers to get accommodations; and as many Christians might be banished from their native country for religion, and perhaps laid under a kind of excommunication, both among Jews and heathens, which would make it a high crime for any of their brethren to receive them into their houses." (Blackwall's 'Sacred Classics,' vol. i. p. 232.) Of hospitality, as anciently exercised, and as still observable in the East, we have already had several occasions to speak. As exhibited towards strangers, it is always most strongly manifested under those circumstances, or in those regions, where they are most dependent upon it, or have no resource without it, from the lack of public establishments for their accommodation. As such establishments increase, or, in other words, as a country becomes more settled and civilized, the exercise of this kind of hospitality naturally declines: for it is the result of a feeling drawn forth by the exigencies of those who are benefited by it, and ceasing with the occasions that induced its exercise.
20. "Thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head."-The sense of this passage has been very much contested. The mast popular interpretation is, that the expression is here a metaphor derived from founding; that is, an allusion to the melting of lead and other fusible metals: and that it is to be understood to mean, Thou shalt thereby melt down his enmity, and warm him to kindness and affection." It will be observed that the text is a quotation from Prov. xxv. 21, 22, to which the Jewish commentators give the same interpretation which is here suggested. Thus, R. Aben Ezra explains it to mean that, "When he remembers the food and drink thou hast given him, thou shalt burn him, as if thou hadst put coals of fire on his head; and he will be mindful to do thee no ill again." So also R. Levi Ben Gersom. Among the Christian fathers, Jerome and Hilary, and a large number of moderns, concur in this interpretation.
There is only a slight shade of difference between this and the interpretation adopted by Hammond and others, which supposes it to mean that, by the conduct recommended, the person's conscience will be touched, so that he will repent of the injuries he has committed.
The third opinion, which is supported by nearly all the ancient commentators, by a host of foreign ones, and by many English, with Whitby at their head, is,-that the words are expressive of acute pain and severe punishment, even that of the Divine wrath and vengeance, which shall be aggravated in consequence of the kind treatment which the person has received, without being mollified, from the party aggrieved by his conduct. The advocates of this interpretation, to soften its apparent severity, observe, that this consequence is not offered as a motive to the conduct recom mended, but is declared to be its result, in case the injurious person is not softened by it.
We have stated these alternatives, leaving the reader to choose that which he thinks most accordant to the general spirit of the Gospel; for that is the principle by which we must be guided in every attempt to determine the sense of a text of disputed interpretation.
powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are 'ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good
2 Wisd, 6. 3. 8 Or, ordered.
8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
tery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt no steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
9 For this, "Thou shalt not commit adul- the lusts thereof.
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
13 Let us walk 'honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and 'make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil
8 Luke 21. 34.
Lev. 19. 18. Matt. 22. 39. Gal. 5. 14. James 2. 8. 7 Or, decently.
4 Matt. 22. 21. 5 Exod. 20. Deut. 5. Verse 1. "Be subject unto the higher powers."-"Whoever is conversant with Roman history, will be able to illustrate many single passages in this chapter. The city of Rome contained within itself the seeds of insurrection and civil war, and was frequently involved in troubles, when even the provinces were at peace. The senate was secretly jealous of * 4 s 345
the emperor, and the emperor in his turn suspected the senate. The life of the emperor was seldom free from danger: Caligula had died a violent death, Claudius had been poisoned, and Nero, who was on the throne when St. Paul wrote this Epistle, did not meet with a more fortunate end. The inferior magistrates aspired to the supremacy: and as the Romans then believed in astrology, which they had learned from the Chaldees, an astrologer had only to predict suc cess to the aspiring party, or to foretel the day on which the emperor would die, and the consequence was a certain assassination. The imperial life-guard, which consisted of foreigners, especially of Germans, and therefore was not interested in the prosperity of the empire, was not only an object of disgust to the Roman citizens, but became se powerful, after the time of Claudius, that the emperors were obliged to purchase its favour by considerable presents. And, in fact, they had no other right to their sovereignty over the Romans than that which they derived either from force or intrigue." (Michaelis's 'Introduction,' vol. iv. p. 101.) This account of the condition of the Roman goverament suggests the obvious propriety of these instructions to the Christians residing at its capital seat, against bringing a reproach upon the doctrine of Christ, and grievous calamities upon themselves, by refusing obedience to the cal power which they found established, or joining in any plots for its subversion. This may have been the more neces sary, lest what Paul had himself said concerning Christian liberty, together with some vague ideas with respect to the temporal sovereignty of the Messiah-which long-cherished persuasion might not be easily eradicated from the minds of those who had been Jews-might lead the Christian converts to fancy that they were, as a body, subject ta Christ, in a peculiarly privileged condition, and exempt from the civil sovereignty of any earthly lord. When we see that such opinions have been received and acted upon in modern times, by persons who had this chapter before them. it will not seem wonderful if some such notions were afloat in the church at Rome, composed, as that church was, of persons who, as Jews, had from infancy been brought up in the expectation of a Messiah who should subvert a thrones and dominions, and reign as sole conqueror and king; and of Gentiles, who had always been quite well pprised of the expectations which the Jews entertained. These views had always rendered the Jews the most troule some subjects the Romans ever had-at all times prone to raise disturbances and to revolt. Thus, and from the othe: considerations stated, there was ample cause why the apostle was led to inculcate on the Christians at Rome the duty of submission to "the higher powers." The time for instilling this doctrine was highly favourable; for Nero was 22 excellent sovereign during the early years of his reign: he was by no means unfriendly to the Jews; and the Cr tians were not yet, as such, subject to any authorised persecution. No doubt the same exhortations would have bee delivered at any time, and under any circumstances; but in the present time and present circumstances, they were the more likely to be received with calm and reverent attention. Implanted now, they could gain, and did gain, ret against the time when the storm of oppression and persecution came.
4. “Beareth not the sword in vain.”—“ Bearing the sword" appears to denote the power of life and death, which was. with the Roman magistrates, denoted by their being either girded with a sword, or by its being borne before them (Suet. in Vitâ Galba), a custom still in some degree retained in Europe as well as in the East. The sword probably became this symbol, because decapitation was the primary capital punishment, and that was usually inflicted with the sword in ancient times, as it still is in the East.
14. "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ."-Meaning, "Assimilate yourselves to him; follow his example." The remarkable phrase of putting on any one, occurs in the same sense in the Greek writers; the metaphor being probably taken from the theatre, where the actors assume the name and attire of the person they represent. Chrysostom notices that, 'Such a one has put on such a one' (0 duva Tov dina sviduamto), was, in his time, a phrase in common use. also Dion. Hal. lib. xi. 5, speaking of Appius and the other decemviri, says, "They were no longer the servants of Ta: quin, but they clothed themselves with him." And, in like manner, Eusebius, speaking of the sons of Constantine, says that they put on their father. Perhaps a ray of illustration is also found in the fact mentioned by Plutarch a Vit. Artax.), that the kings of Persia, on the day of their coronation, put on a robe which the first Cyrus had we before he was king, to remind them of imitating his exemplary temper and conduct. See also our note (1 Kings xis. 19) on the mantle of Elijah.
1 Or, not to judge his doubtful thoughts. James 4' 12. *Or, fully assured.
1 The strong must bear with the weak.
20 For meat destroy not the work of God. "All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
7 Gr.common. 8 Gr. common. 9 Gr. according to charity. 101 Cor. 8. 11.
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
21 It is good neither to eat "flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
1 Psal. 69. 9.
23 And he that "doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
Verse 2. "Another, who is weak, eateth herbs."-There was a sect among the Jews (the Essenes) who abstained from all kinds of animal food, contenting themselves with a vegetable diet. Some think that converts from this sect, continuing this practice, are here alluded to: and they may be included, although we cannot think that they are specially intended. It is also certain that the Jews counted all meat sold in the heathen shambles as unclean, as well because they could not be sure it had not been offered to idols, as because it was probably not slaughtered in such a way as they considered lawful. Whitby mentions the former reason, and thence concludes that the Jews at Rome entirely abstained from animal food on this account, and for the same reason continued to do so, after their conversion. This seems to us an astounding conjecture. Is it likely that the great body of Jews living at Rome went entirely without meat, merely because they could not use that which was sold in the heathen shambles? Doubtless they had their own butchers at Rome, as they have now in London, although their only objection to the meat of our butchers is that they consider it improperly slaughtered. For these reasons the explanation given by Theophylact seems to us far preferable. He says, "Many of the Jewish converts, even after having embraced the Christian faith, still adhered to the observance with respect to meats, abstaining from the flesh of swine, since they as yet dared not entirely abandon the law. Then, that it might not be said, that they abstained only from swine's flesh, they abstained from every kind of flesh, and lived entirely upon herbs. Others, again, there were, further advanced, who holding themselves bound by none of these observances, taunted those who practised them. The Apostle therefore was apprehensive lest the more advanced, by unseasonably and injudiciously attacking the notions of the less advanced, should cause them to fall from the faith. He then wisely steers a middle course. He does not venture to reprove the assailants, lest he should encourage the less advanced in their rigid adherence to ritual observances; nor, on the other hand, could he commend them, since he would thereby have rendered them the more vehement in their opposition: but he addresses an exhortation accommodated to both parties."
14. "Nothing unclean of itself.”—The Jewish writers themselves allow that all food which had been forbidden as unclean, should be allowed as clean in the time of the Messiah.
11 Tit. 1. 15. 12 1 Cor. 8. 13.
"To him that esteemeth," &c.-Capellus cites in this place a very apposite rule of the Jewish writers:-"This is the great general rule in the law, That every thing, of which thou dost not know whether it be lawful or unlawful-to thee it is unlawful, until thou hast asked a wise man concerning it, and he teaches thee that it is lawful.”
2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, 'The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
5 Now the God of patience and consola
21 Cor. 1. 10.