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Prophetic Expositions, vol. 1

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    III. EXPLANATION AND PARAPHRASE OF ROMANS NINTH, TENTH AND ELEVENTH CHAPTERS

    Paul commences his argument on this subject by expressing (Romans 9:1-5) his strong desire for the salvation of his Jewish brethren, the natural blood relatives, through Abraham, of Christ.PREX1 59.1

    Verses 6, 7. He comforts himself with the fact that the word of God has taken some effect among them, and that it was all he had a right to expect. “For they are not all Israel who are of Israel;” that was not the promise of God; “neither, because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children: but in Isaac shall thy seed be called.”PREX1 59.2

    Verse 8. “That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of promise are counted for the seed.”PREX1 59.3

    From the 9th to the 24th verse, ho shows that God has always reserved to himself the prerogative of choosing his instruments both of mercy and judgment, according to his own will and wisdom.PREX1 59.4

    1. Of the family or children of Abraham, he chose Isaac to be the holy family, or church; and through him to bless the world; and Ishmael was rejected.PREX1 59.5

    2. He chose Jacob of the sons of Isaac for the same purpose, and Esau was rejected from that peculiar blessing or privilege. Is God unrighteous, thus to choose one to such an honor, to the neglect of another? “God forbid;” he only does as he has a perfect right to do.PREX1 60.1

    Then, again, in selecting the instruments of judgment, God has acted on the same principle. He made choice of Pharaoh, a wicked and incorrigible man, and “raised him up” to the throne of Egypt, that he might show his power in the deliverance of Israel from his oppression, and thus his name he declared throughout the earth. He did not raise or bring Pharaoh into being, to make him a wicked man; but he having been brought into being, and proving himself a fit instrument, by his wickedness, for such a work, God made use of him to serve his own glory.PREX1 60.2

    Just so the potter; he takes a lump of clay, puts it on the wheel and attempts to make some fine and honorable vessel of it. But the clay being unsusceptible of such a shape and polish as he designed to give to it, after a long effort he gives up the enterprise; and the vessel is marred in his hand. Will he throw away the clay? In no wise. But the potter will take the clay, the same lump, and put it into another vessel, of a coarser and more ordinary cast; a vessel unto dishonor. Now what if God does just so? He has endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath, the Jews, and done what he could to make them obedient and believing; but they were incorrigible, and he has fitted them for destruction, and will make his wrath known on them. And he will make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, the believers, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. All who obey his call, will share that mercy.PREX1 60.3

    3. Having thus always exercised the prerogative of choosing out of Abraham’s seed, the church, he has still the right to do so. And this he has promised to do, in verses 25, 26; “As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people, and her beloved which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said unto them ye are not my people, there shall they be called the children of the living God.” Who is the people who were not once, but are now the people and the children of the living God? The 24th verse answers: Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. All believers. How are they the sons or children of, the living God? The question is answered, Galatians 3:26-28: Ye are all the children of God by faith, baptized into Christ; and there is neither Jew nor Greek known in the matter. “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” God calls his church still of Abraham’s seed; but not all of them the children of the flesh. The word of God had taken some effect among the Jews and some among the Gentiles. But whether Jews or Gentiles, all who believed were the seed of Abraham according to promise, and the children of God.PREX1 61.1

    4. From verses 27-29, he proves that God had never promised that any more than a remnant of the Jews would be saved. This was the fact in the days of Isaiah as well as in the days of Paul. That remnant, even in the days when the Jews constituted the exclusive church, was all that God considered “his people.”PREX1 61.2

    5. From the 30th to 33rd verse, the apostle shows why the Jews had failed to continue to be the church of God, and be “his people;” and why the Gentiles had received that character and privilege. The Gentiles had obtained the righteousness of faith, although while the types and shadows of the law were in force they had not, by observing the ceremonial law, sought righteousness; but now Christ is come and the law disannulled or become of no force, they believe in Christ and obtain righteousness. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness by observing the ceremonial law, hath not attained it, because they sought it not by faith, but by the deeds of the law. “For they stumbled at that stumbling-stone; as it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling-stone, and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” Christ is the stumbling-stone. The Jews were unwilling to give up the faith of their dispensation, faith in a Saviour to come, to believe in one already come and offered for them; and thus failed of righteousness. The Gentiles who believed, obtained that which the Jews, failed to obtain, viz., salvation.PREX1 62.1

    6 The apostle proceeds, in the 10th chapter, from verse 1-11, to show the difficulty in the way of the Jews, and how they stumbled over Christ. It was not the want of zeal, but of knowledge of the way of exercising that zeal. They went about to establish their own righteousness by performing the duties of the dead ceremonial law, and would not submit to the righteousness of God, which is Christ; faith in Christ. For “Christ is the end of the [ceremonial] law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” The faith in Christ which is requisite to salvation is, “if thou shalt believe in thy heart in the Lord Jesus, and shalt confess with thy mouth that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Faith, and confession of that faith, is the condition and only condition for either Jew or Gentile.PREX1 62.2

    7. Verses 12, 13. The apostle lays down the broad principle, that now, since this faith is come, and the law ended, “there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek.” The law once made a distinction, and gave the Jew the preeminence, so that the Gentile could only come into the church through the door of Judaism and by the consent of the Jews. But now the scene is changed. The middle wall of partition is broken down, the law of commandment contained in ordinances; thus abolishing the enmity, nailing it to his cross, of the twain to make one new man, so making peace. Now, therefore, “the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” Who, then, with this plain declaration from God’s word, that there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek, will dare to say, there is a difference still existing, and God has in store for the Jewish nation or race peculiar blessings, which are not common to the Gentile world? I dare not. “Whosoever,” then, “shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be saved.”PREX1 63.1

    8. The next point; from the 14-18 verse, he goes on to show that in order to their salvation by faith, they must hear the gospel, “for faith cometh by hearing.” “But they have not all obeyed the gospel.” What is the difficulty? Where does the fault lie? “Have they not all heard?” Are they excusable for not having all obeyed the gospel, on the ground that they have not heard it? This is not the case. For “their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.” Then the difficulty is not there; they have heard.PREX1 63.2

    9. But have not the Jews a knowledge of the fact that Christ is the Saviour, and that men are saved through his name? Verses 19-21. They certainly do know it. For Moses saith, “I will provoke you to jealousy by no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.” That is, by calling the Gentiles into the Christian fold and making them my people, I will provoke the Jews to jealousy, and cause them to hear the great things the gospel does for the world. “But Esaias is very bold, and saith I was found of them that sought me not, I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, all day long have I stretched out my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” They might have come if they would, but they would not. They stumbled wilfully, at that stumbling-stone, Christ; and refuse to believe when they have heard and known.PREX1 64.1

    10. I come now to the 11th chapter, the strong hold of Judaism. In verses 1st and 2nd, Paul shows that God hath not cast away his people, the Jews, so that they are shut out from the covenant blessings of God to Abraham. The proof he offers, is, “I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, and of the tribe of Benjamin.” “God hath not cast away his people whom he foreknew. “It is now, as in the days of Elias. When he thought none were left on the side of God but himself, the Lord assured him, “I have reserved to myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Verses 3, 4.PREX1 64.2

    Verse 5. “Even so, then, at this present time, also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”PREX1 65.1

    They were not God’s people then on account of their being under the law, but because they looked through the law to its author and end, Christ.PREX1 65.2

    Verse 6. “And if by grace, it is no more of works.” It was the election of grace then; and is so now. There was only a remnant then that were thus elected; there was the same in Paul’s day; and in our own day, it is the same. It has been thus in every age of the world since Moses. Some have not believed; others of the Jews have.PREX1 65.3

    Verses 7, 8. “What then?” What is the conclusion we are to draw from this fact? Why, that “Israel,” the Jewish nation as a whole, “hath not obtained that which he seeketh for,” viz., righteousness or salvation, because they sought it not by faith; “but the election hath obtained it; and the rest were blinded, according as it is written” in Isaiah 29:10: “God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes, that they should not see, and ears, that they should not hear, unto this day.” God has blinded the wilfully unbelieving Jews, according to Isaiah’s prediction, but has saved the penitent and believing, whether Jew or Gentile.PREX1 65.4

    Verses 9, 10. David predicted the same judicial blindness in Psalm 69:22, 23: “Let their table,” the law in which they so much glory, “be made a snare and a trap, and a stumbling-block, and a recompense unto them. Let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back always.”PREX1 65.5

    The Jewish people stumbled at Christ. He was the stumbling-stone laid in Zion; and then the law, because of their rejection of the Saviour, was to be made a trap; they should be led into ruin by cleaving to it.PREX1 66.1

    Verse 11. The apostle inquires, “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall?” Has God given Christ, the stumbling-stone, for the purpose of making them fall irrecoverably, so that there is no hope for them? “God forbid: but through their fall,” the death of Christ, the promised Seed of Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed, “salvation is come to the Gentiles.” The Jews had, up to that point, constituted the holy family, because the blood of Abraham and of Christ flowed in their veins. That, blood being shed, for the salvation of the world, and Christ being quickened into new life by the Spirit, the bond of union between him and them ceased. They were broken off from Christ by the pouring out of his blood, and can only be united again by partaking of his Spirit. The Jew and Gentile are alike, by nature, aliens from Christ; but may both come on the same condition, and constitute one new man, the body of Christ. Thus, through the fall of the Jews, the death of Christ, “salvation is come unto the Gentiles.”PREX1 66.2

    Verse 12. “Now if the fall of them,” the sheding of Christ’s blood, “be the riches of the world,” has made the Spirit of Christ free for the world; “and the diminishing of them,” by casting off all who do not by faith receive the Spirit of Christ, “be the riches of the Gentiles,” has opened the door of mercy to the Gentiles, “how much more “rich the Gentiles would be in “their fulness,” if they would all come in.PREX1 66.3

    Verses 13, 14. “For I speak to you, Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office; if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.” As if he had said, being especially sent to the Gentiles, it is not consistent with my calling to turn aside to preach specifically to the Jews, but I will do my utmost while preaching to the Gentiles, to save some, at least, of my Jewish brethren. Paul did not expect a general or universal conversion of the Jews, but he did desire that all should be brought into the fold of Christ, who could be persuaded by any possible means.PREX1 67.1

    Verses. 15, 16. “For if the casting away of them,” as a nation, from their church privileges, on the ground of their natural relation to the fathers, by the coming of Christ, and his constituting his church, not of any one nation anymore, but of believers in Christ of all nations, “be the reconciling of the world,” has provided a Saviour for all nations, and brings them nigh to God and proffers them pardon and eternal life, “What shall the receiving of them” again into the church “be but life from the dead?” This may be understood in two ways. 1. “What shall the receiving of them into the church be, but their con-version from spiritual death to spiritual life, by the indwelling of the spirit of Christ, the seed of eternal life? 2. What shall the receiving of them be but the resurrection of the dead? The first of the two senses appears to me the most easy and natural. I much prefer it to the last. Then, although the body of the Jews fell from their church privileges by their rejection of Christ, when he came, yet every converted Jew, or each one who receives the seed of eternal life, and has eternal life abiding in him, is received again into the church.PREX1 67.2

    “For if the first-fruit” of the church, Christ, “be holy,” a partaker of the Holy Ghost, “the lump is also holy;” the whole church must of necessity be like the first fruit. Christ was not the first-fruit of the church, merely because of the seed of Abraham, but because he is quickened into eternal life, and lives by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. “If the root be holy,” be a partaker of that holy nature, “so are the branches.” They will all share the same nature with the root. True, they were the natural blood relatives of Christ, the good olive tree. But after the Saviour had shed or poured out the blood of Abraham from his veins, and was raised up from the dead by the quickening spirit which was in him, they, in order to continue branches, must partake of that same spirit. Failing to do so, they, by their unbelieving rejection of Christ, were broken off, or rather ceased to be branches of the tree. They cannot now be partakers of Christ, or claim relationship to Christ on the ground of blood-relation, for he has shed that blood, and does not now possess it If they now become his brethren, it must be by being partakers of his new principle of life.PREX1 68.1

    Verses. 17, 18. “And if some of the [natural] branches be broken off,” or cease to be in Christ, “and thou, being a wild olive-tree, wert grafted in among them,” who of the Jews still remained in Christ by a believing reception of his spirit, “and with them,” who believingly remain branches, such as the apostles, evangelists, etc., “partakest of the root and fatness of the olive-tree,” Jesus Christ, “boast not against the branches,” the old Jewish branches, as though you were now better by nature than they. “For if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.” Thou art not independent of Christ, and secure, so that thou canst never fall from thy present gracious state. For thou art still dependent on the root.PREX1 68.2

    Verses 19-21. “Thou wilt say, then, the branches were broken off that I might be grafted in;” and for this reason I am better than those rejected branches. “Well, because of unbelief” in Christ as already come, “they were broken off,” or ceased to be members of Christ; “and thou standest” in him as a branch, or partaker of his spirit, “by faith.” “Be not high-minded but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches,” when they refused to believe in Christ as crucified for them, “take heed lest he also spare not thee.”PREX1 69.1

    Verses 22-24. “Behold, therefore, the good-ness and severity of God. On them which fell severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they,” the Jews, “also, if they continue not in unbelief, shall be grafted in again; for God is able to graft them in again. For, if thou wert cut out of the olive-tree, which is wild by nature,” not a descendant from Abraham, to whom the promise was made, “and art grafted contrary to nature,” by partaking of Christ’s spirit by faith, “into a good olive-tree; how much more shall these which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive-tree,” their brother after the flesh of Abraham? If he has power to do the former, there certainly can be no good reason why he cannot do the latter. But is there any authority for believing that the Jewish nation, as a nation, ever will be grafted in by believing in Christ? This the apostle answers in the negative.PREX1 69.2

    Verse 25. “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery,” how long the Jewish people are to be in their present state of blindness and consequent rejection, “lest ye should be wise in your own conceits,” and think they will some time or other be brought in, as a people; “that blindness in part is happened to Israel,” the Jewish nation, “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”PREX1 70.1

    What is “the fulness of the Gentiles?” Clearly, the same as “the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled,” in Luke 21:24: “The times of the Gentiles” is the time allotted to the four great Gentile monarchies of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, in Daniel 2. and in Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, or Gentile kingdoms, of the 7th chapter; at the end of which the Son of man is to come in the clouds of heaven to receive his universal and everlasting kingdom. This blindness, then, must continue through all time until the coming of Jesus Christ, and the destruction of the wicked.PREX1 70.2

    The subject receives more ample illustration from Isaiah 6:8-10: “And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, here am I, send me. And he said, go and tell this people, hear ye, indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their cars heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” In this text we have the doom of blindness, which God by the mouth of his prophet, denounced on that faithless race. In the 11th verse the prophet enquires, “How long?” How long shall this blindness continue? And was answered, verses 11-13: “Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant.” Until there is not an inhabitant in the cities, therefore, the blindness must continue. “And the houses without man.” As long, then, as there is a man in any house, they will remain as they are. “And the land be utterly desolate.” Until there is no one left in all the land or earth. “And the Lord have removed men far away,” even taking his saints up to meet him in the air during the conflagration of the world, “and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.”PREX1 70.3

    I would now ask the reader most earnestly and seriously, can such a desolation and forsaking of city, house, and land, ever come before the final conflagration of the world? How can entire, perfect desolation be more vividly described than it is in this passage? Then the blindness must continue until that event. “But yet it shall be a tenth.” For although this blindness has happened to that race through all time, yet all will not be lost; “for yet it shall be a tenth;” a tithe, or remnant will remain true to Christ, and be living branches; “and shall return,” after men are removed far away from the earth, and it is burned up and renovated; “and be eaten, as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them when they cast their leaves.” The bleak winds of autumn sear the oak, and we should be almost inclined to pronounce it dead; but the substance or sap is still there. And when the vernal sun warms it into new life, the green foliage will again appear. “So the holy seed,” the believers in and partakers of Christ’s spirit, “are the substance” of Israel. They will come back, and with Abraham and Christ inherit the land of promise, and be heirs of the world.PREX1 71.1

    If it be objected, that the expressions, “cities, houses, land,” etc., do not refer to the whole world, but only to the holy land and its cities and houses, I ask, if it has ever yet happened? If it has, then the blindness pronounced on them is already ended; and must have ended whenever the cities, houses, land, etc., were desolated as described. But if it be yet future, I ask when will that land be desolate, except when all the earth beside shall share the same fate?PREX1 72.1

    Verses 26-27. “And so, all Israel,” the holy seed, as above, who shall return, as the substance of the seared oak, “shall be saved,” in the kingdom of God and unto eternal life. “As it is written” in Isaiah 59:20, “There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” This is nearly a literal rendering of the Septuagint version; while the reading of our translation of the passage is a literal rendering of the Hebrew, as follows: “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob.” The obvious meaning is, that the Redeemer will come to set up the throne of his father David on Mount Zion, and begin his glorious reign; and he will come to all the Jewish people who turn (now, have turned, then) from transgression, and receive the Saviour; and will raise and glorify them with himself.PREX1 72.2

    Or, if we follow the rendering in Romans, then it means, the Deliverer came out of Zion, was the son, according to the flesh of David, the king of Zion. He shall, then, when the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled, “turn away ungodliness from Jacob;” and from all Jacob’s true seed, by removing all the effects of the fall which the best of Christians endure. “For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” We are now justified by faith; but the fruits of original sin, and of our own acts of disobedience, are not removed; nor will they be, until God justifies us at the day of judgment; and removes all these direful effects. He will then take away all the sins of his people, and their effects will cease; and in the twinkling of an eye, at the blast of the last trump, announcing that justification, every saint will spring into immortal life. This is God’s covenant to his people.PREX1 73.1

    Verses 28, 29. “As concerning the gospel, they [the Jews] are enemies for your sakes.” Because you, Gentiles, are permitted to come in and share in the blessings of the gospel, the unbelieving Jews are enemies to the gospel. “But as touching the election, they are beloved, for the fathers’ sakes.” Although the Jews for your sakes are enemies to God and his gospel, yet, the election or believers are beloved of God, whether they be Jews or Gentiles by nature. “For the fathers’ sakes.” For the sake of God’s covenant with the fathers, that in them all the families of the earth should be blessed. “For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance.” He does not change his promises to justify, love, and save all who are of the faith of our father Abraham.PREX1 73.2

    Verses 30-32. “For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief;” through Jesus Christ, the stumbling-stone, the cause of their fall and unbelief, you are admitted into the church, and to union with Christ. “Even so have these also, now, not obtained mercy,” are broken off from Christ and the church, that through your mercy, your earnest efforts to bring them to Christ, “they also may obtain mercy,” may be brought into Christ’s body, the true church, and be saved forever.PREX1 74.1

    “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all;” that he might save them by his mere mercy, through faith, and not by the deeds of the law. They must all come on one common ground, whether Jews or Gentiles, and be saved by the mercy of God, or they must perish.PREX1 74.2

    Verses 33, 34. “O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how un-searchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?”PREX1 74.3

    I have thus given what I conceive to be the true meaning of this most difficult and important portion of God’s word. I have not written for strife or debate, but if possible to arrive at the truth on the great question of the ingathering of the Jewish people as a people, to the fold of Christ. It must be admitted that the doctrine, if taught at all in the New Testament, is taught in the 11th of Romans. But I ask the attentive reader of these pages, if it can be found there? If not, then the doctrine nowhere exists in the New Testament, or in the Bible. Every Jew is as free to come to Christ as the Gentile; and God will just as surely have mercy on him if he will come, as he will on a Gentile. And when they shall turn to the Lord, the veil that is over them shall be taken away. Probably as many Jews, in proportion to the whole number, have been converted since Christ, as there have been of the Gentile world. They are but a speck compared with the multitude of Gentiles; and so the number of conversions among them is apparently small. But I know of no age when there were none who professed to be of the stock of Abraham, who believed not in Christ. They have had an equal opportunity with the Gentiles to obtain gospel blessings.PREX1 74.4

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