W. (William) Sanday.

A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans online

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passage of the Christ elsewhere. Again, Cyril of Alexandria (Cont. Jul. x.
p. 327) quotes the Emperor Julian to the effect that St. Paul never calls
Christ @(6s, but although tiiis is certainly an interesting statement, this
passage, which Cyril quotes against him, might easily have been overlooked.
Two writers, and two only, Photius {Cont. Man. iii. 14) and Diodorus
(Cramer's Catena, p. 162), definitely ascribe the words to the Father.

The modern criticism of the passage began with Erasmus, who pointed

• For information on this point and also on the punctuation of the older
papyri, we are much indebted to Mr. F. G. Kenyon, of the British Muieum.

TX. 5.]


OBt that there were certainly three alternative interpretations possible, and
that as there was so much doubt about the verse it should never be used
against heretics. He himself wavers in his opinion. In the Commentary
be seems to refer the words to the Father, in the Paraphrase (a later but
popular work) he certainly refers them to the Son. Socinus, it is interesting
to note, was convinced by the position of €uAo7j;t<5s (see below) that the
sentence must refer to Christ. From Erasmus* time onwards opinions have
varied, and have been influenced, as was natural, largely by the dogmatic
opinions of the writer ; and it seems hardly worth while to quote long lists of
names on either side, when the question is one which must be decided not by
authority or theological opinion but by considerations of language.

The discussion which follows will be divided into three heads : —
(1) Grammar; (2) Sequence of thought ; (3) Pauline usage.

The first words that attract our attention are to nard aapKo, and a parallel The gi.nm
naturally suggests itself with Rom. i. 3, 4. As there St. Paul describes the mar of tht
human descent from David, but expressly limits it Kard. aapKa, and then passage,
in contrast describes his Divine descent ward -nvtvfia ajicuavvrjs ; so here the ri) rh Kan.
course of the argument having led him to lay stress on the human birth of aapxa.
Chrijt as a Jew, he would naturally correct a one-sided statement by
limiting that descent to the earthly relationship and then describe the true
nature of Him who was the Messiah of the Jews. He would thus enhance
the privileges of his fellow-countrymen, and put a culminating point to his
argument, to Karci aipKa leads us to expect an antithesis, and we find just
what we should have expected in 6 Sjv titl ttcivtcov 0«o?.

Is this legitimate? It has been argued first of all that the proper anti-
thesis to ffdp^ is Tivevfia. But this objection is invalid, ©eoy is in a con-
siderable number of cases used in contrast to adp^ (Luke iii. 6 ; i Cor. i. 29;
Col. iii. 22; Philemon 16; 2 Chron. xxxii. 8; Ps. Iv [Ivi]. 5; Jer. xvii. 5;
Dan. ii. 11; cf. Gifford, p. 40, to whom we owe these instances).

Again it is argued that the expression t^ KarcL adpica as opposed to kqt^
cdpKa precludes the possibility of such a contrast in words. While Kara
adpiea allows the expression of a contrast, to kutcL adp/ca would limit the
idea of a sentence but would not allow the limitation to be expressed. This
statement again is incorrect. Instances are found in which there is an
expressed contrast to such limitations introduced with the article (see
Gifford, p. 39 ; he quotes Isocrates, p. 32 e ; Demosth. ^onf. Eubul. p. 1299,

But although neither of these objections is valid, it is perfectly true tha^
neither Kar^ adpKa nor t6 Kara adpna demands an expressed antithesis
(Rom. iv. I ; Clem. Rom. i. 32). The expression to KaroL adpKa cannot
therefore be quoted as decisive ; but probably any one reading the passage
for the first time would be led by these words to expect some contrast and
would naturally take the words that follow as a contrast.

The next words concerning which there has been much discussion are o wv. O i Sn'
It is argued on the one liand that 6 wv is naturally relatival in character and
equivalent to os han, and in support of this statement 2 Cor. xi. 31 is quoted :
o 0€Ot Kai narrip tov Kvpiov 'Itjaov oldfv, 6 5jv (vKoyrfrbs (is roiis alwvas, on
oil if/tvSo/juii — a passage which is in some respects an exact parallel. On the
other hand passages are quoted in which the words do not refer to anything
preceding, such as Jn. iii. 31 6 avwOtv ipxopuvos (ndvai -ndvTcuv karlv 6 iiv (k
T^y j^s lie rfj<s 'fjs tan, koi (k t^j t^s \a\(i: and 01 ovris in Rom. viil, 5, 8.
The question is a nice one. It is perfectly true that 6 uv can be used in both
ways ; but it must be noticed that in the last instances the form of the
sentence is such as to take away all ambiguity, and to compel a change of
subject In this case, as there is a noun immediately preceding to which the
words would naturally refer, as there is no sign of a change of subject, and
as there is no finite verb in the sentence following, an ordinary reader would
insider that the words i iw ivl niyreav Bf6s refer to what precedes snles*



i!tX. 5.

they suggest so great an antithesis to his mind that he conld not refer them
to Christ.

But further than this : no instance seems to occur, at any rate in the
N.T., of the participle &v being used with a prepositional phrase and the
noun which the prepositional phrase qualifies. If the noun is mentioned the
substantive verb becomes unnecessary. Here 6 irrl iravTwv 0eoj would be
the correct expression, if 0<oy is the subject of the sentence ; if &v is added
©€<5s must become predicate. This excludes the translation {b.) ' He who is
God over all be ',or is) blessed for ever.' It still leaves it possible to translate
as (c.) ' lie who is over all is God blessed for ever,* but the reference to
XptffTos remains the most natural interpretation, unless, as stated above, the
word Qius suggests in itself too great a contrast.
' ^) The It has thirdly been pointed out that if this passage be an ascription of

position of blc-sing to the Father, the word evXoyrjros would naturally come first, just
«uAo77;t<5s. as the word ' Blessed' would in English. An examination of LXX usage
shows that except in cases in which the verb is expressed and thrown forward
(as Ps. cxii [cxiii]. 3 ei?) ri ovofjua. Kvpiov (iiKoyrj/xivov) this is almost in-
variably its position. But the rule is clearly only an empirical one, and in
cases in v.-hich stress has to be laid on some special word, it may be and is
broken ("f. Fs. Sol. viii. 40, 41). As 6 ijv tnl ndvTcov 0€os if it does not refer
to Xpirros must be in very marked contrast with it, there would be a special
emphasij on the words, and the perversion of the natural order becomes
possible These considerations prevent the argument from the position of
tiKoyrjTiy being as decisive as some have thought it, but do not prevent the
balance "f evidence being against the interpretation as a doxology referring
to the F.;ther.

The result of an examination of the grammar of the passage makes it clear
that if St Paul had intended to insert an ascription of praise to the Fathei
we shou^ ' ' have expected him to write evKoyrjTos eh tovs aluvas 6 iirl navroiv
eeot. If the translation (d.^ suggested above, which leaves the stop at
wavTwv, be accepted, two difficulties which have been urged are avoided,
but the a'.vkwar(hiess and abruptness of the sudden ©e^i (vXoyriTds fts toIs
nlwvas make this interpretation impossible. We have seen that the position
of eiiKo-i^rii makes a doxology {i.) improbable, and the insertion of the
participle makes it very unnatural. The grammatical evidence is in favour
of (a.), i e. th3 reference of the words to o Xpiaros, unless the words 6 wv «iri
n&vraiv Rrr'y contain in themselves so marked a contrast that they could not
possibly he so referred.
The coo We pass next to the connexion of thought. Probably not many will

lexion of d'ubt th.^.t the interpretation which refers the passageto Christ (a.) admirably

bought ^'iits the context. St. Paul is enumerating the privileges of Israel, and as the

highest nnd last privilege he reminds his readers that it was from this Jewish
stock after all that Christ in His human nature had come, and then in order
to emphasize this he dwells on the exalted character of Him who came
according to the flesh as the Jewish Messiah. This gives a perfectly clear
and intel'igii)le interpretation of the passage. Can we say the same of any
interpretation which applies the words to the Father?

Those who adopt this latter interpretation have generally taken the words
as a doxology, ' He that is over all God be blessed for ever,' or ' He that is
God over all be blessed for ever.' A natural criticism that at once arises is,
how awkward the sudden introduction of a doxology ! how inconsistent with
the tone of sadness which pervades the passage ! Nor do the reasons alleged
in si'.pport of this interpretation really avoid the difficulty. It is quite true
of course that St. Paul was full of gratitude for the privileges of his race and
especially for the coming of the Messiah, but that is not the thought in his
mind. His feeling is one of sadness and of failure: it is necessary for him
to argue that the promise of God has not failed. Nor again dors a reference
to Kom. i. 2^ support the interpretation. It is qoite true that there we have


a doxology in the midst of a passage of great sadness; but like a Cor. xi. 31
th»t is an instance of the ordinary Rabbinic and oriental usage of adding an
ascription of praise when the name of God has been introduced. That would
not apply in the present case where there is no previous mention of the name
of God. It is impossible to say that a doxology could not stand here; it is
certainly true that it would be unnatural and out of place.

So strongly does Dr. Kennedy feel the difficulties both exegetical and Prof.
grammatical of taking these words as a blessing addressed to the Father, Kennedy's
that being unable to adopt the reference to Christ, he considers that they interpreta
occur here as a strong assertion of the Divine unity introduced at this tion.
place in order to conciliate the Jews : ' He who is over all is God blessed
for ever.' It is difficult to find anything in the context to support this
opinion, St. Paul's object is hardly to conciliate unbelieving Jews, but to
solve the difficulties of believers, nor does anything occur in either the
previous or the following verses which might be supposed to make an
assertion of the unity of God either necessary or apposite. The inter-
pretation fails by ascribing too great subtlety to the Apostle.

Unless then Pauline usage makes it absolutely impossible to refer the Pauline
expressions ©fo» and eirj vavriuv to Christ, or to address to Him such csage.
a doxology and make use in this connexion of the decidedly strong word (i) ^<5$,
tvXo7r;T<5s, the balance of probability is in favour of referring the passage
to Him. What then is the usage of St. Paul? The question has been
somewhat obscured on both sides by the attempt to prove that St. Paul
could or could not have used these terms of Christ, i. e. by making the
difficulty theological and not linguistic. St. Paul always looks upon Christ
as being although subordinate to the Father at the head of all creation
(i Cor. xi. 3 ; xv. 28 ; Phil. ii. 5-11 ; Col. i. 1.^-20), and this would quite
justify the use of the expression k-nl navrtav of Him. So also if St. Paul can
speak of Christ as (Ikwu rov &iov (2 Cor. iv. 4; Col. i. 15), as kv ftoptprj Qfov
vnapxov, and Taa @e& (Phil. ii. 6), he ascribes to Him no lesser dignity
than would be implied by ©for as predicate. The question rather is this :
was &f6s so definitely used of the ' Father ' as a proper name that it could
not be used of the Son, and that its use in this passage as definitely points to
the Father as would the word narr]p if it were substituted? The most
significant passage referred to is 1 Cor. xii. 4-6, where it is asserted that ©eof
is as much a proper name as Kvptos or nvtv/xa and is used in marked distine
tion to Kvpios. But this passage surely suggests the answer. Kvptos is
clearly used as a proper name of the Son, but that does not prevent St. Patf*.
elsewhere speaking of the Father as Kvptos, certainly in quotations from thfc
O.T. and probably elsewhere (i Cor. iii. 5), nor of Xpiaros as -nvev/tp
(a Cor. iii. 16). The history of the word appears to be this. To one
brought up as a Jew it would be natural to use it of the Father alone, and
hence complete divine prerogatives would be ascribed to the Son somewhat
earlier than the word itself was used. But where the honour was given the
word used predicatively would soon follow. It was habitual at the beginning
of the second century as in the Ignatian letters, it is undoubted in St. John
where the Evangelist is writing in his own name, it probably occurs
Acts XX. 28 and perhaps Titus ii. 14. It must be admitted that we should not
expect it in so early an Epistle as the Romans ; but there is no impossibility
either in the word or the ideas expressed by the word occurring so early.

So again with regard to doxologies and the use of the term fv\oyT]T6s. (2) Doxo
The distinction between (vXoyrjTos and fxiKo-^-q^ivos which it is attempted to Icigies ad-
make cannot be sustained : and to ascribe a doxology to the Son would be dressed la
a practical result of His admittedly divine nature which would gradually Christ
show itself in language. At first the early Jewish usage would be adhered
to ; gradually as the dignity of the Messiah became realized, a change would
take plac-2 in the use of words. Hence we find doxologies appearing
definitely in later books of the N. T., probably in a Tim. iv. 18, certainly in


Rev. V. r 3 and 3 Pet iii. 1 8. Again we can assert that we shonld not expect
it in so early an Epistle as the Romans, but, as Dr. Liddon points out,
3 Thess. i. 12 implies it as does also Pliil. ii. 5-8; and there is no reason
why language should not at this time be beginning to adapt itself to theo-
logical ideas already formed.
Concl«* Throughout there has been no argument which we have felt to be quite

sion. conclusive, but the result of our investigations into the grammar of the

sentence and the drift of the argument is to incline us to the belief that the
words would naturally refer to Christ, unless Qtos is so definitely a proper
name that it would imply a contrast in itself. We have seen that that is not
so. Even if St. Paul did not elsewhere use the word of the Christ, yet it
certainly was so used at a not much later period. St. Paul's phraseology is
never fixed ; he had no dogmatic reason against so using it. In these circum-
stances with some slight, but only slight, hesitation we adopt the first allema-
tive and translate 'Of whom is the Christ as concerning the flesh, who i«
over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.'


IX. 6-13. For it is indeed true. With all these privileges
Israel is yet excluded from, the Messianic promises.

Now in the first place does this imply, as has been urged,
that the promises of God have been broken f By no means.
The Scriptures show clearly that physical descent is not
enough. The children of Ishmael and the children of Esau,
both alike descendants of Abraham to whom the promise was
give7t, have been rejected. There is then no breach of the
Divine promise^ if God rejects some Israelites as H< has
rejected them.

*Yet in spite of these privileges Israel is rejected. Now it
has been argued : ' If this be so, then the Divine word has failed.
God made a definite promise to Israel. If Israel is rejected,
that promise is broken.' An examination of the conditions of
the promise show that this is not so. It was never intended
that all the descendants of Jacob should be included in the Israel
of privilege, 'no more in fact than that all were to share the
full rights of sons of Abraham because they were his offspring.
Two instances will prove that this was not the Divine intention.
Take first the words used to Abraham in Gen. xxi. 12 when he
cast forth Hagar and her child : ' In Isaac shall thy seed be called.'
These words show that although there were then two sons o(
Abraham, one only, Isaac, was selected to be the heir, throug-h


whom the promise was to be inherited. ' And the general conclu-
sion follows : the right of being ' sons of God/ i. e. of sharing that
adoption of which we spoke above as one of the privileges of Israel,
does not depend on the mere accident of human birth, but those
born to inherit the promise are reckoned by God as the descendants
to whom His words apply. • The salient feature is in fact the pro-
mise, and not the birth ; as is shown by the words used when the
promise was given at the oak of Mamre (Gen. xviii. lo) 'At this
time next year will I come and Sarah shall have a son.' The
promise was given before the child was born or even conceived,
and the child was born because of the promise, not the promise
given because the child was born.

*"A second instance shows this still more clearly. It might be
argued in the last case that the two were not of equal parentage :
Ishmael was the son of a female slave, and not of a lawful wife :
in the second case there is no such defect. The two sons of
Isaac and Rebecca had the same father and the same mother:
moreover they were twins, born at the same time. " The object
was to exhibit the perfectly free character of the Divine action,
that purpose of God in the world which works on a principle of
selection not dependent on any form of human merit or any con-
vention of human birth, but simply on the Divine will as revealed
in the Divine call ; and so before they were born, before they had
done anything good or evil, a selection was made between the two
sons. "From Gen. xxv. 23 we learn that it was foretold to
Rebecca that two nations, two peoples were in her womb, and that
the elder should serve the younger. God's action is independent
of human birth ; it is not the elder but the younger that is selected.
" And the prophecy has been fulfilled. Subsequent history may
be summed up in the words of Malachi (i. 2, 3) 'Jacob have
I loved, and Esau have I hated.'

6. The Apostle, after conciliating his readers by a short preface,
now passes to the discussion of his theme. He has never definitely
stated it, but it can be inferred from what he has said. The con-
nexion in thought implied by the word S/ is rather that of passing
to a new stage in the argument, than of sharply defined opposition
to what has preceded. Yet there is some contrast : he sighs over
the fall, yet that fall is not so absolute as to imply a break in God's


oux otoK 8e oTi : ' the case is not as though.' ' This grief of
mine for my fellow countrymen is not to be understood as mean-
ing.' Lipsius. The phrase is unique: it must clearly not be
interpreted as if it were oix oiop re, ' it is not possible that ' : for the
re is very rarely omitted, and the construction in this case is
always with the infinitive, nor does St. Paul want to slate what
it is impossible should have happened, but what has not happened.
The common ellipse ovx on aflfords the best analogy, and the
phrase may be supposed to represent ov toiovtov ie eurt olov on.
(Win. § Ixiv. 1.6; E. T. p. 746.)

eKireTTTWKei' : ' fallen from its place/ i.e. perished and become of no
effect. So I Cor. xiii. 8 17 ayanrj ov8enoTf eWoTTft (AV) ; James i. 11.

4 Xoyos Tou 0eou; 'the Word of God,' in the sense of 'iha
declared purpose of God,' whether a promise or a threat or a de-
cree looked at from the point of view of the Divine consistency.
This is the only place in the N. T. where the phrase occurs
in this sense; elsewhere it is used by St. Paul (2 Cor. ii. 17;
iv. 2 ; 2 Tim. ii. 9 ; Tit. ii. 5), in Heb. xiii. 7, in Apoc. i. 9 ; vi. 9 ;
XX. 4, and especially by St. Luke in the Acts (twelve times) to
mean 'the Gospel' as preached; once (in Mark vii. 13), it seems
to mean the O. T. Scriptures ; here it represents the O. T. phrase

6 \6yos Tov Kvpiov : cf. Is. XXXi. 2 Koi 6 Xoyos avrov (i. e. row Kvpiov) ov
fit} aOfTTjOrj.

01 e| 'lo-paT)\ : the offspring of Israel according to the flesh, the
viol ^IcrparjX of ver. 27.

oijToi 'lo-paVjX. Israel in the spiritual sense (cf. ver. 4 on 'laparjX'ircu
which is read here also by D E F G, Vulg., being a gloss to bring
out the meaning), the 'la-pafjX rov GeoO of Gal. vi. 16, intended for
the reception of the Divine promise. But St. Paul does not mean
here to distinguish a spiritual Israel (i. e. the Christian Church)
from the fleshly Israel, but to state that the promises made to Israel
might be fulfilled even if some of his descendants were shut out
from them. What he states is that not all the physical descendants
of Jacob are necessarily inheritors of the Divine promises implied
in the sacred name Israel. This statement, which is the ground
on which he contests the idea that God's word has failed, he has
now to prove.

7. 06S' oTt. The grammatical connexion of this passage with
the preceding is that of an additional argument; the logical con-
nexion is that of a proof of the statement just made. St. Paul
could give scriptural proof, in the case of descent from Abraham,
of what he had asserted in the case of descent from Jacob, and thus
establish his fundamental principle — that inheritance of the pro-
mises is not the necessary result of Israelitish descent.

oTTcpfia 'APpacifA. The word airepiJia is used in this verse, first of
natural setd or descent, then of seed according to the promise.


Both senses occur together in Gen. xxi. 12, 13; and both are
found elsewhere in the N. T., Gal. iii. 29 fi 8e vfius Xpiarov, ilpa tov-

'A^pacifjL (Trrepfia iari '. Rom. xi. I e'-yw . . . e'/c aii(pfi(iTOS h^paap. The

nominative to the whole sentence is TiavTes ol i^ 'la-parjX. ' The
descendants of Israel have not all of them the legal rights of in-
heritance from Abraham because they are his offspring by natural

d\X*. Instead of the sentence being continued in the same form
as it began in the first clause, a quotation is introduced which com-
pletes it in sense but not in grammar: cf. Gal. iii. 11, 12; i Cor.
XV. 27.

ei' 'laaciK KXrjQi^o-eTai croi CTTrepjxa: 'in (i.e. through) Isaac will
those who are to be your true descendants and representatives
be reckoned.' eV (as in Col. i. 16 fv avTa> fKria-dq ra navTo) im-
plies that Isaac is the starting-point, place of origin of the
descendants, and therefore the agent through whom the descent
takes place ; so Matt. ix. 34 eV tw ap^ovn tmv baipoviatv : i Cor. vi. 2.

(TTTfppa (cf. Gen. xii. 7 ■''^ cnrtpuaTi crov ^wtro) rfjv ytjv '. Gen. XV. 5 ovroa

earai to cneppa arov) is used collectively to express the whole number
of descendants, not merely the single son Isaac. The passage
means that the sons of Israel did not inherit the promise made to
Abraham because they were his offspring — there were some who
were his offspring who had not inherited them ; but they did so be-
cause they were descendants of that one among his sons through
whom it had been specially said that his true descendants should
be counted.

The quotation is taken from the LXX of Gen. xxi. 12, which
it reproduces exactly. It also correctly reproduces both the lan-
guage and meaning of the original Hebrew. The same passage
is quoted in Heb. xi. 18.

The opinion expressed in this verse is of course exactly opposite
to the current opinion — that their descent bound Israel to God
by an indissoluble bond. See the discussion at the end of this

KXT]0ii(7€Tai : 'reckoned,' 'considered,' 'counted as the true
(nrepfj.a ' ; not as in ver. 1 1, and as it is sometimes taken here,
' called,' * summoned ' (see below).

The uses of the word KaXew are derived from two main significations,
(l) to 'call,' 'summon,' (3) to 'summon by name,' hence 'to name.' It
may mean (i) to 'call aloud' Heb. iii. 13. to 'summon,' to 'summon to
a banquet' (in these senses also in the LXX), so i Cor. x. 27 ; Malt. xxii. 3 ;
from these is derived the technical sense of ' calling to the kingdom.'
This exact usage is hardly found in the LXX, but Is. xlii. 6 (eyui Kvpios
6 ©eds tKaXtad ae iv diKaioavvrf) , Is. li. 2 {oti (is ^v Kcil (ica\(aa avrov,
Koi tv\6yi]ffa avTov Kot r/yoTTrjoa avrdv Kai enKrjOvra axirov) approach it. In

Online LibraryW. (William) SandayA critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans → online text (page 43 of 71)