Copyright
W. (William) Sanday.

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

. (page 48 of 71)
Online LibraryW. (William) SandayA critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans → online text (page 48 of 71)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


other erroneous opinions one, that ol merita consequentia gratiam, — the view
apparently of Abelard — is refuted. There is no injustice. ' Distributive justice
has a place in cases of debt, but not in cases of pity.' If a man relieves
one beggar, but not another, he is not unjust ; he is kind hearted towards one.
Similarly if a man forgives only one of two offenders, he is not unjust ; he is
merciful towards one, just towards the other.

In the instance of Pharaoh two readings are discussed, servavi and excitavt.
If the first be taken it shows that, as the wicked are worthy of immediate de-
struction, if they are saved it is owing to the clemency of God ; if the seconr",
God does not cause wickedness, except by permitting it : He allows the
wicked by His good judgement to fall into sin on account of the iniquity they
have committed. Quod quidem non est intelligendum hoc modo quod Deus
in homine causat maiitiam, sed est intelligendiim permissive, quia scilicet in
iusto sua iudicio permittit aliquos ruere in peccatum propter praecedentes
iniquitates. Deus malitiam ordinat non causat. In vv. 19-24 he says
there are two questions, (i) Why, speaking generally, should He choose some
men and not choose others? (2) Why should He choose this or that man and
not someone else? The second of these is treated in w. 19-21 ; to it there is
no answer but the righteous will of God. No man can complain of being
nnjustly treated, for all are deserving of punishment. The answer to the first
i« contained in vv. 22-24. ^^ order to exhibit both His justice and His
mercy, there must be some towards whom He shows His justice, some
towards whom He can show His mercy. The former are those who are naturally
fitted for eternal damnation : God has done nothing but allow them to do
what they wish. Vasa apta in interitum he defines as in se habentia aptitu-
dinem ad aeternam damnationem ; and adds Hoc autem solus Deus circa eos
agit, quod eos permittit agere quae concupiscuni. He has in fact borne with
them both for their own sakes, and for the sake of those whom He uses to
exhibit the abundance of His goodness — a goodness which could not be
apparent unless it could be contrasted with the fate of the condemned.
Signan/er autem dicit ut ostenderet divitias gloriae suae'] quia ipsa con-
demnatic ft reprobatio malorum quae est secujidum Dei iustitiam, manifestat
et commenddi sanctorum gloriam qui ab ipsa tali miseria liberantur.

The antithesis which was represented among patristic commentators by
Augustine and Chi-ysostom was exaggerated at the Reformation by Calvin
and Arminius. Each saw only his own side. Calvin followed Augustine,
and exaggerated his harshest teaching : Arminius showed a subtle power of
finding i'leewill even in the most unlikely places.

The object of St Paul, according to Calvin, is to maintain the freedom of



374 EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [IX. 6-29

the Divine election. This is absolutely gratuitons on God's part, and quite
independent of man. In the salvation of the just there is nothing above
God's goodness, in the punishment of the wicked theie is nothing above His
•everity : the one He predestinates to salvation, the other to eternal damna-
tion. This deteiinination is quite independent of foreknowledge, for there
can be nothing in man's fallen nature which can make God show kindness to
him. The predestination of Pharaoh to dcstrnclion is dependent on a just
bnt secret counsel of God ; the word * to harden ' must be taken not only/^r-
missive, but as signifying the action of the Divine wrath. The ruin of the
wicked is described not as foreseen, but as ordained by His will and counsel.
It was not merely foreknown, but, as Solomon says, the wicked were created
that they mi,L;ht perish. There is no means of telling the principle by which
one is taken and another rejected; it lies in the secret counsels of God.
None deserve to be accepted. The wrath of God against Pharaoh was post-
poned that others might be terrified by the horrible judgement, that God's
power might be displayed, and His mercy towards the elect made more clear.
As God is especially said to prepare the vessels of glory for glor}', it follows
that the preparation of the vessels of wrath equally comes from Him ; other-
wise the Apostle would have said that they had prepared themselves for
destruction. Before they were created their fate was assigned to them. They
were created for destruction.

Arminius represents absolute antagonism on every point to the^e views.
The purpose of the chapter is, he says, the same as that of the Epistle,
looked at from a special point of view. While the aim of the Epistle is to
prove ' Justification by Faith,' in this chapter St. Paul defends his argument
against Jews who had urged; 'It overthrows the promises of God, therefore
it is not true.' By the words addressed to Rebecca He signified that He had
from eternity resolved not to admit to His privileges all the children of
Abraham, but those only whom He should select in accordance with the

Elan He had laid down. This plan was to extend His mercy to those who
ad faith in Him when He called and who believed on Christ, not to those
who sought salvation by works. The passage that follows (ver. 14 ff.)
shows that God has decided to give His mercy in His own way and on His
own plan, that is to give it not to him who runs, to him that is who strives
after it by works, but to him who seeks it in the way that He has appointed.
And this is perfectly just, because He has Himself announced this as His
method. Then the image of the potter and the clay is introduced to prove,
not the absolute sovereignty of God, but His right to do what He will, that
is to name His own conditions. He has created man to become something
better than he was made. God has made man a vessel : man it is who
makes himself a bad vessel. God decrees on certain conditions to make
men vessels of glory or vessels of wrath according as they do or do not fulfil
these conditions. The condition is Justification by Faith.

The systems of Arminius and Calvin were for the most part supreme
during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the exegesis of this chapter,
although there were from time to time signs of historical methods of inter-
pretation. Hammond for example, the English divine of the seventeenth
century, in his paraphrase adopts methods very much beyond those of his
time. But gradually at the beginning of the present century the defects or
inadequacy of both views became apparent. It was quite clear that as
against Arminius Calvin's interpretation of chap, ix was correct, that St.
Paul's object in it was not to prove or defend justification by faith, but to
discuss the question behind it, why it was that some had obtained justification
by faith and others had not. But equally clear was it that Calvin's inter-
pretation, or rather much of what he had read into his interpretation, was
inconsistent with chap, x, and the language which St. Paul habitually nsei
elsewhere. This apparent inconsistency then most be recognized. How



IX. 30— X. 13.] THE UNBELIEF OF ISRAEL 275

must it be treated t Various answer* have been given. Fritzsche asserts Fritzsche.
that St. Paul is carried away by his argument and unconsciously contradicts
himself. * It is evident that what St. Paul writes is not only inconsistent with
itself but absolutely coniradictory.' If the Jews, it is asserted in chap, ix,
were first chosen and then rejected, it was the malignity of God and not their
own perversity which caused their fall. If God had decreed their fall for
a time (chap, xi), they could not be blamed if they had fallen ; and yet in
chap. X they are blamed. Muliis saepe cucidit ut amiciim fortunae fulmine
ptrcussutn erecturi studio consolandi argumentis cupide uterentur neque ab
omtxi parte firmis et quorum unum cum altera parum consisteret. Et
melius sibi Paulus consensisset, si Aristotelis non Gamalielis alumnus
^fuisset.

Meyer admits the discrepancy but explains it differently. ' As often as we Meyer,
treat only one of the two truths, God is absolutely free and all-sufficient, and
man has ma al freedom and is in virtue of his proper self-determination and
responsibility a liberum agens, the author of his salvation or perdition, and
carry it out in a consistent theory and therefore in a one-sided method, we
are compelled to speak in such a manner that the other truth appears to be
annulled.' . . . ' The Apostle has here wholly taken his position on the
absolute standpoint of the tlieory of our dependence upon God, and that
with all the boldness of clear consistency.' . . . ' He allows the claims of
both modes of consideration to stand side by side, just as they exist side by
side within the limits of human thought.' According to Meyer in fact the
two points of view are irreconcileable in thought, and St. Paul recognizing
this does no*' attempt to reconcile them.

It would be impossible to enumerate all the different varieties of opinion
in the views of modem scholars. One more specimen will be sufficient.
The solution off^-red by Beyschlag. He maintains that all interpretations are Beyychlag
wrong which consider that St. Paul is concerned with anything either before or
after this life. It is no eternal decree of God, nor is it the future destiny of
mannjnd that he is dealing with. It is merely their position in history and
in the world. Why has he chosen one race (the Jewsl for one purpose,
another race (the Egyptians) for another ? He is dealing with nations not
individuals, with temporal not spiritual privileges.

The above sketch will present the main lines of interpretation of these
verses, and will serve as a supplement to the explanation which has been
given above. We must express our obligations in compiling it to Weber
(Dr. Valentin), Kritische Geschichte der Exegese des 9. Kapitels resp. der
Verse 14-33 des Rbmerbriefes, bis auf Chrysostomus und Augustinus ein^
schiesslich, and to Beyschlag (Dr. Willibald), Die paulinische Theodicte,
Romer IX-XI, who have materially lightened the labour incurred.



ISRAEIi ITSELF TO BLAME FOB ITS BEJECTIOIT.

IX. 30-X. 13. The reason that God has rejected Israel
is that^ though they sought righteousness, they sought it in
their own ivay by means of works, not in God's way through
faith. Hence whejt the Messiah came they stumbled as had
been foretold (vv. 30-33). They refused to give up thetr
ozvn method, that of Law, although Law had come to an end
in Christ (x. 1-4), and this in spite of the fact that the old



176 EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [IX. 80-X. 3.

system was difficult if not impossible (ver. 5). while the new
system zvas easy and within the reach of all{y\. 6-10), indeed
universal in its scope (vv. 11 -13).

IX. "* What then is the position of the argument so far ? One
fact is clear. A number of Gentiles who did not profess to be
in pursuit of righteousness have unexpectedly come upon it ;
a righteousness however of which the characierisiic is that it is not
earned by their own efforts but is the product of faith in a power
outside them. " Israel on the other hand, the chosen people of
God, although making strenuous efforts after a rule of moral and
religious life that would win for them righteousness, have not
succeeded in attaining to the accomplishment of such a rule.
'^ How has tliis come about ? Because they sought it in their own
way, not in God's way. They did not seek it by faith, but their aim
was to pursue it by a rigid performance of works. " And hence
that happened to them which the Prophet Isaiah foretold. He
spoke (xxviii. 16) of a rock which the Lord would lay in Zion
and foretold that if a man put his trust in it, he would never
have cause to be ashamed. But elsewhere (viii. 14) he calls it
'a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence,' implying that those
who have not this faith will consider it a stumbling-block in their
way. This rock is, as you have always been told, the Messiah. The
Messiah has come; and the Jews through want of faith have
regarded as a cause of offence that which is the corner stone of
the whole building.

X. ^ Let me pause for a moment, brethren. It is a serious
accusation that I am bringing against my fellow-countrymen. But
I repeat that I do it from no feeling of resentment. How great is
my heart's good will for them ! How earnest my prayer to God
for their salvation ! 'For indeed as a fellow-countryman, as one
who was once as they are, I can testify that they are full of zeal
for God. That is not the point in which they have failed ; it is
that they have not guided their zeal by that true knowledge which
is the result of genuine spiritual insight. 'Righteousness they
strove after, but there were two ways of attaining to it. The one
was God's method : of that they remained ignorant. The other
was their own method : to this they clung blindly and willuily.
They refused to submit to God's plan of salvation.



X. 4-12.] THE UNBELIEF OF ISRAEL 277

* Their own method was based on a rigid performance of legal
enactments. But that has been ended in Christ. Now there is
a new and a better way, one which has two characteristics ; it is
based on the principle of faith, and it is universal and for all men
alike, "(i) It is based on the principle of faith. Hence it is that
while the old method was difficult, if not impossible, the new is
easy and open to all. The old method righteousness by law, that
b by the exact performance of legal rules, is aptly described by
Moses when he says (Lev. xviii. 5), ' the man who does these
things shall live,' i. e. Life in all its fulness here and hereafter was
to be gained by undeviating strictness of conduct ; and that con-
dition we have seen (i. i8-iii. 20) was impossible of fulfilment.
'But listen to the proclamation which righteousness by faith
makes to mankind. It speaks in well-known words which have
become through it more real. ' There is no need for you to say,
Who will go up into heaven ? Heaven has come to you ; Christ
has come down and lived among men. ' There is no need to
search the hidden places of the deep. Christ has risen. There
is no need therefore to seek the living among the dead. You are
offered something which does not require hard striving or painful
labour. * The word of God is very nigh thee, in thy heart and in
thy mouth.' And that word of God is the message of faith, the
Gospel which proclaims 'believe and thou shalt be saved'; and
this Gospel we preach throughout the world. * Ail it says to you
is : ' With thy mouth thou must confess J&sus as sovereign Lord,
with thy heart thou must believe that God raised Him from the
dead.' "For that change of heart which we call faith, brings
righteousness, and the path of salvation is entered by the con-
fession of belief in Christ which a man makes at his baptism.

" (2) This is corroborated by what the Prophet Isaiah said (xxviii.
16) in words quoted above (ix. 33), the full meaning of which we
now understand : * Everyone that believeth in Him (i. e. the
Messiah) shall not be ashamed.' Moreover this word of his,
' everyone,' introduces the second characteristic of the new method.
It is universal. ^^And that means that it applies equally to Jew
and to Greek. We have shown that the new covenant is open for
Greeks as well as Jews; it is also true to say that the conditions
demanded are the same for jew as for Greek. The Jew cannoi



j,jS EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [IX. 30.

keep to his old methods; he must accept the new. And this
must be so, because there is for all men alike one Redeemer,
who gives the wealth of His salvation to all those whoever they
may be who call on His name. " And so the prophet Joel, fore-
telling the times of the foundation of the Messianic kingdom,
says (ii. 32) ' Everyone that shall call on the name of the Lord
(i. e. of the Messiah) shall be saved.' When the last days come, in
the times of storm and anguish, it is the worshippers of the
Messiah, those who are enrolled as His servants and call on His
Name, who will find a strong salvation.

IX. 30-X. 21. St. Paul now passes to another aspect of the
subject he is discussing. He has considered the rejection of
Israel from the point of view of the Divine justice and power, he
is now to approach it from the side of human responsibility. The
concluding verses of the ninth chapter and the whole of the tenth
are devoted to proving the guilt of Israel. It is first sketched out
in ix. 30-33. Israel have sought righteousness in the wrong way,
in that they have rejected the Messiah. Then St. Paul, over-
whelmed with the sadness of the subject, pauses for a moment
(x. I, 2) to emphasize his grief. He returns to the discussion by
pointing out that they have adhered to their own method instead
of accepting God's method (vv. 2, 3). And this in spite of
several circumstances ; (i) that the old method has been done
away with in Christ (ver. 4) ; (2) that while the old method
was hard and difficult the new is easy and within the reach of
all (vv. 5-10) ; (3) that the new method is clearly universal and
intended for all alike (w. 11-13). At ver. 14 he passes to another
aspect of the question : it might still be asked : Had they full
opportunities of knowing? In w. 14-21 it is shown that both
through the full and universal preaching of the Gospel, and
through their own Prophets, they have had every opportunity given
them.

SO. Ti GUI' ipounev; The ovu, as is almost always the case in
St. Paul, sums up the results of the previous paragraph. What
then is the conclusion of this discussion ? ' It is not that God's
promise has failed, but that while Gentiles have obtained "righteous-
ness," the Jews, though they strove for it, have failed.' This summary
of the result so far arrived at leads to the question being asked ;
Why is it so ? And that introduces the second point in St. Paul's
discussion — the guilt of the Jews.

oTi cGk-tj K.T.X. There are two constructions possible for these
words. I. The sentence on . . . t^v « TriVrfws may contain the
answer to the question asked in tI oZp ipoifxtp; This interpretation



IX. 30, 31.] THE UNBELIEF OF ISRAEL ^79

is probably right. The difficulty, however, is that nowhere else in
this Epistle, where St. Paul uses the expression ri ovu epovufv, does
he give it an immediate answer. He follows it by a second
question (as in ix. 14); and this is not a mere accident. It is
a result of the sense of deliberation contained in the previous
words with which a second question rather than a definite state-
ment seems to harmonize. 2. The alternative rendering would be
to take the words on . . . etpdaaev, as such a second question.
' What shall we say then ? Shall we say that, while Gentiles who
did not seek righteousness have obtained it, Israel has not attained
to it?' The answer to this question then would be a positive
one, not given directly but implied in the further one Siari ; ' Yes,
but why ? ' — The difficulty in this construction, which must tell
against it, is the awkwardness of the appended sentence diKaioaCvrjv
Be TTjv (K maTtas. Lipsius' suggestion that on = * because ' is quite
impossible.

iQvt] : ' heathen,' not * the heathen ' ; some, not all : nam
nonnulU pagani fidem turn Christo adiunxerant, to rrXripcofxa tuu
idvmv ad Chrisii sacra nondum accesserat. Fri.

StuKOfTo . . . KareXaPe : ' correlative terms for pursuing and
overtaking' (Field, Otium Norvicense, iii. p. 96). The metaphor
as in TiJ€x°'^°^ (ver. 16) is taken from the racecourse, and probably
the words were used without the original meaning being lost sight
of: cf. I Cor. ix. 24. The two words are coupled together
Exod. XV. 9 ; Ecclus. xi. lo; xxvii. 8; Phil. iii. 12 ; Herod, ii. 30;
Lucian, Hermot. 77. .hiwKnv is a characteristic Pauline word occur-
ring in letters of all periods: i Thess. (i), i Cor. (i), Rom. (4),
PhU. (2), I Tim. (i), 2 Tim. (i).

8iKaio(TuVr]»' 8^ limits and explains the previous use of the word.
* But remember, (and this will explain any difficulty that you may
have), that it was « Trt'o-recDs ' : cf. iii. 22 diKaiocrvvr] Si eeoO: I Cor.

ii. 6 ao(plau Se Xakovfifv tv Tolg rtKeiois' aocpiav 8e oh tov aloivos
tovrov.

Some small Tariations of reading may be just noticed. In ver. 31 the
second ^iKaioavv-qs after tU vofjLov of the TR. is omitted by decisive authority,
as also is vo/xov (after ep-^wv) in ver. 32, and yap after irpoaiKo^av. In ver. 33
iros read by the TR. has crept in from x. 11, and Western MiiS. read ov fi^
KaraiaxvvQ-Q to harmonize with the LXX.

81. 'lo-paT)X 8e K.T.X. These w^ords contain the real difficulty of
the statement, of which alone an explanation is necessary, and is
given. ' In spite of the fact that some Gentiles even without
seeking it have attained righteousness, Israel has failed.'

j'dfAOK SiKoioauinrjs : * a rule of life which would produce righteous-
ness' : cf. iii. 27 i/o'/xof Ti-to-Tfcos : vii. 21.

ouK l(J)0ao-e : * did not attain it ' ; they are represented as con-
tinually pursuing after something, the accomplishment of which



28o EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [IX. 31-33,

as continually escapes them. All idea of anticipation has been
iost in (f)6di'u> in later Greek, cf. Phil. iii. 16; Dan. iv. 19 (Theod.)

f(f)6a(T(V (Is Ti)v o\jpav6v,

32. oTi ouK £K TriCTT€ft)s . • • tTpoCT^Koij/oi'. Two consttuctions are
possible for these words, (r) We may put a comma at e/jywv and
supply himKovra. Then the passage will run : ' Why did they not
attain it? because pursuing after it not by faith but by works they
stumbled,' &c. ; or (2) we may put a full stop at tpyav and supply
fSlco^av. 'Why did they not attain it? because they pursued after
it not by faiih but by works, they stumbled,' &c. The sentence has
more emphasis if taken in this way, and the grammatical construc-
tion is on the whole easier.

dW 6s H ^pyfty- The as introduces a subjective idea. St. Paul
wishes to guard himself from asserting definitely that «'| epyav was
a method by which vofiov SiKaioa-vvrjs might be pursued. He there-
fore represents it as an idea of the Jews, as a way by which they
thought they could gain it. So in 2 Cor. ii. 1 7 dXX' as f$ flXiKpivdas
represents the purpose and aim of the Apostle; a Cor. xi. 17
6 XaXw, ov Kara Kvpiov XaXw, aXX' iss ev acppoavfrj represents an aspect
from which his words may be regarded ; Philem. 14 ha fifj w? Kara
dvciyKjjv TO dya66v aov rj oKXa Kara. (Kovaiov : ' even the appearance
of constraint must be avoided ' (cf. Lightfoot, ad loc). The as
gives a subjective idea to the phrase with which it is placed, but the
exact force must be determined by the context.

TrpocreKo^^aj' : -npoaKonTnv rivi means not ' to stumble over by
inadvertence,' but ' to be annoyed with,' ' sho\y irritation at.' The
Jews, in that the cross was to them a a-mvdaXov, had stumbled
over Cl)rist, shown themselves irritated and annoyed, and expressed
their indignation, see Grm. Tliayer, su6 voc.

Tw XiGu Tou •irpo<rico|i,p,aTos : * a stone which causes men to
stumble.' Taken from the LXX of Is. viii. 14. The sione at
which the Jewish nation has stumbled, which has been to them
a cause of offence, is the Christ, who has come in a way, wliich,
owing to their want of faith, has prevented them from recognizing
or accepting Him, cf. i Pet. ii. 8.

33. 180U, Ti0T)fAi iv liliv K.T.X. The qviotation is taken from the
LXX of Is. xxviii. 16, fused with words from Is. viii. 14. The
latter part of the verse is quoted again x. 11, and the whole in
I Pet. ii. 6.

A conipan<;on of the different variations is interesting, (i) The LXX
reads l^fv tyw i/xPaWoj ds tcL 6eixi\ia 'S.iuiv. In both the passages in the
N.T. the words are l^ov ridrj/ju iv 2icui'. (2) For the LXX \i0ov iroXvrtXij
(k\(kt6v aKpoycuviaiov tvTifxov, St. Peter reads aKpoywviaiov (kXhctov ivrtfiov :
while St. Paul substitutes \i9ov -rrpoaKd/Jif^aTos Kal -ntrpav OKavbaKov taken
from Is. viii 14 «a« ovx Wf X'lOov TTpoaKufx.fj.aTi avvavT-qaeaOt oih\ dy irirpas
TTTwfiaTt. Here St. Peter ii. 8 agrees with St. Paul in writing Trirpa OKavSaXov
ioivirpas VTwfiart. (3) The LXX proceeds (is tbL OtfiiKia aiiTTJi, which both



IX. 33.] THE UNBELIEF OF ISRAEL 28 1

St. Peter and St. Paul omit (4) The LXX proceeds koI 6 martvoov ov ;xf)
KaTat<Tx^''^V- Both St. Peter and St. Paul bring out the personal reference
by inserting lir' aiir^, while St. Paul reads KaTataxwOrjatTai and in x. 11
adds vds.

i-n auTw. Personal, of the Messiah, * He that beh"eveth on Him
shall not be ashamed.' St. Paul inserts the words, boih here and in

X. II, to emphasize the personal reference. If the reference were
impersonal, the feminine would be required to agree with the



Online LibraryW. (William) SandayA critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans → online text (page 48 of 71)