Romans 11

An Exegetical Commentary

Blaine Robison, M.A.


Published 28 December 2010; Revised 14 May 2023

Chapter 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  |  11  |  12  |  13  |  14  |  15  |  16


Scripture Text: The Scripture text of used in this chapter commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. Unless otherwise indicated other Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.

Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important early Jewish sources include the following:

DSS: the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. Online DSS Bible.

LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.

Josephus: The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.), Jewish historian, trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.

Philo: Works by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), consisting of 45 monographs. Online.

MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began under Rabbi Akiva (2nd c. A.D.), but completed by scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from the 9th century. Online.

Talmud: the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); online at Click here for Talmud abbreviations.

Targums: Aramaic translation of Hebrew Scripture with commentary: Targum Onkelos (1st c. AD), and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). Index of Targum texts.

Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). The meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB," found online at Explanation of Greek grammatical forms and a pronunciation guide for New Testament Greek may be found here. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance reference numbers are identified with "SH" for Hebrew and "SG" for Greek. Parsing data for Greek words is from Bible Hub Interlinear Bible, 2004-2021, and Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, 1980.

Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ).

See the article Introduction to Romans. Click here for a Study Questions for small group learning or self-study.

Israelology: God’s Covenant Faithfulness, 9:1–11:36 (cont.)

Chapter Overview

Chapter Ten ended with a negative assessment of Israel based on Isaiah 65:2, but Paul begins Chapter Eleven by asserting that in spite of past rebellion God has not rejected His covenant people. Indeed God as preserved a remnant by His grace. Paul acknowledges that there was a hardening of hearts in the past, but this failure did not result in the loss of God's covenant faithfulness.

Moreover, the outcome of this "hardening" has led to salvation coming to the nations (a term which properly includes Gentiles and Hellenistic Jews), which Paul sees as being used by God to provoke orthodox Jews to jealousy. Paul has been a witness of this phenomenon since God called him to take the good news to the sons of Israel and the nations. His desire is to see his countrymen saved.

Paul then directs his attention to followers of Yeshua among the nations, explaining that their obedience allowed them to be "grafted" into the Olive Tree of Israel. This "grafting," however, is permanent only as long as they remain faithful. In addition, any branches ("Israelites") broken off because of unbelief can be restored to the Tree by repentance. Paul calls those of the nations to carefully consider the severity and mercy of God.

In conclusion, Paul marvels at the mystery of God's sovereign plan of salvation and that ultimately "all Israel" will be saved. He recognizes that although the orthodoxy of Judean leaders stands in opposition to the good news of the Messiah, God still considers them beloved for the sake of the patriarchal fathers. God's covenantal gifts and calling are irrevocable. Paul then affirms that God is no respecter of persons and offers His mercy to all. The chapter closes with an appropriate doxology praising the wisdom and knowledge of God.

Chapter Outline

Covenant Security, 11:1-3

Remnant of Grace, 11:4-6

Stupor and Stumbling, 11:7-10

Salvation for the Nations, 11:11-16

Olive Tree Analogy, 11:17–24

Mystery of Deliverance, 11:25-32

Doxology of Praise, 11:33-36

Covenant Security, 11:1-3

1― I ask, then, "did God not reject His people?" Never may it be! For I am also an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Reference: Judges 6:13; 1Samuel 12:22; Psalm 94:14.

I ask: Grk. legō, pres., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; answer, ask, declare, say, speak, tell. In the LXX legō translates Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think (first in Gen 1:28). The verb has an interrogative function here and as in the previous chapter is used to quote a fictive objector.

then: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., used to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding; so, therefore, consequently, then. Paul responds to his quotation from Isaiah at the end of the previous chapter, by posing a rhetorical question from his fictive opponent.

did God: Grk. ho theos, properly, God, the Creator and owner of all things (John 1:1-3). The definite article probably signifies "the one called." In the LXX the singular theos translates the plural Heb. Elohim (SH-430), when used of the true God, the God of creation (Gen 1:1). In Hebrew thought the plural form represents fullness (DNTT 2:67), which excludes the possible existence of any other deity (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9).

Also, theos is not a philosophical construct for monotheism. God is a Person who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1). The Creator God chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5; Isa 44:6; 45:5-6, 14, 18, 21; 46:9). Thus, for Paul He is the God of Israel (Acts 13:17). The God of Israel is the only God there is.

not: Grk. , adv., a particle of qualified negation, subjective in nature, involving will and thought; not. reject: Grk. apōtheō (from apo, "from" and ōtheō, "thrust, push"), aor. mid., to push or thrust away from, frequently with the connotation of force; discard, reject, repudiate. In the LXX apōtheō translates Heb. natash (SH-5203), to leave or forsake, first in Judges 6:13 where Gideon tells the angel of ADONAI that "ADONAI has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites" (BR). Gideon misinterpreted God's punishment for idolatry as abandonment, when His intention was to bring about repentance.

His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to stress emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here and is used of the God of Israel. people: Grk. laos, a group of people, generally understood geographically or ethnically, and in Scripture often viewed in contrast with the ruling class. See the Textual Note below. In the LXX laos translates Heb. am (SH-5971), people, nation or kinsman, first in Genesis 14:16. The phrase "His people" denotes the covenant people descended from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob.

The question could well have been drawn from Gideon's complaint and reflect the conundrum of Israel being delivered into the hands of the Roman oppressors. Some Christian commentators (as Barnes) assume that Paul in the previous chapters had declared the doctrine that all the Jews were to be rejected with the loss of their exclusive and special privileges and so this question would be a natural response from a Jew. This common Christian interpretation is a gross misrepresentation of Paul's words. There simply is NO verse in which Paul says that God rejected all the Jews.

Other commentators (as Farrar, Harrison) qualify the rejection as partial in light of Paul's assertion in 9:6 that "not all who are of Israel are Israel." What Gideon failed to grasp was that the punishment of wicked Israelites did not equal rejection of "His people." See my Additional Note "On Rejection" below.

Never: Grk. . may it be: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. opt., to transfer from one state to another, and here means come to be, become, take place, happen, occur. The optative mood expresses a wish. This translation as other modern versions loses the force of the idiom, used in the LXX to translate the Hebrew expression, "Chalilah!" (Gen 44:7, 17; Josh 22:29, 24:16), which means "Profanation!" "A curse on it!" "Away with it!" "Chalilah!" may be Hebrew’s most intense wish for negation (Stern 341). Although the Greek text does not refer to God at all, several versions convey the sense well with "God forbid" (ASV, BRG, DRA, KJV, MEV, NMB).

The CJB has "Heaven forbid," substituting "Heaven" for "God" because Jewish sensibility tends to remove words like "God" or "Lord" from curses, perhaps to avoid breaking the Third Commandment by taking God's name in vain. Nicoll comments that from Paul's point of view the very idea of God’s rejection of His people is an impious and incredible idea, to be repelled with horror.

For: Grk. gar, conj., is generally accepted as a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that." The conjunction is used to express cause, explanation, inference or continuation; here to introduce an important testimony of personal identity. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. am: Grk. eimi, pres., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG).

an Israelite: Grk. Israēlitēs. a transliteration of Heb. Yisrael, which means "El perseveres" (BDB 975). An Israelite is a biological descendant of the great patriarch Jacob through one of his twelve sons. Paul is not ashamed to associate with his ancestor Jacob. of the seed: Grk. sperma may refer either to the source (e.g. seed, semen) or the product of propagation (e.g., posterity, descendant). In the LXX sperma translates Heb. zera (SH-2233), sowing, seed or offspring (BDB 282), first in Genesis 1:11. Paul uses the term sperma to graphically emphasize his biological lineage.

of Abraham: Grk. Abraam, a transliteration of Heb. Avraham (SH-85), a personal name. The preeminent Hebrew patriarch, he was the son of Terah, a descendant of Noah's son, Shem (Gen 11:27). He grew up in Ur of the Chaldees, a prominent city of Shinar, later known as Babylonia. See the map here. His birth name was Abram ("father is exalted"), but his name was later changed to Abraham ("father of a multitude") (Gen 17:5). For more information on the great patriarch see my article The Story of Abraham. It was very important for all Jews to be able to say that their lineage could be traced back to Abraham (cf. Matt 3:9; John 8:39).

of the tribe: Grk. phulē, a grouping based more narrowly on blood kinship and is often used in Scripture to refer to the tribes of Israel. of Benjamin: Grk. Beniamein, a transliteration of Heb. Binyamin, which means "son of the right hand" (BDB 122). Benjamin was the last son born to Jacob and the hard labor brought about the death of his mother Rachel (Gen 35:16-20). Benjamin was the second most beloved son of Jacob (Gen 42:4, 36). The "Who's Who" of the tribe of Benjamin began with the left-handed Ehud, who delivered Israel from Moabite oppression by personally and boldly killing the King of Moab in his private quarters, giving Israel 80 years of peace (Jdg 3:15-31).

The next prominent Benjamites were King Saul who subdued surrounding kingdoms (1Sam 14:47), his son Jonathan who successfully attacked the Philistines (1Sam 14:1-15) and his cousin Abner, the commander of Saul's army. Perhaps the most notable Benjamite in the Tanakh is Esther who saved the Jews from the murderous scheme of Haman (Esth 7:9). Nicoll observes that Benjamin is the one tribe which with Judah mainly represented the post-exilic theocratic people. Paul was proud of his tribal heritage (Php 3:5), although Benjamin was one of the smallest among the twelve tribes.

Contrary to the viewpoint of historic Christianity that Paul converted from Judaism to Christianity (or founded Christianity) and repudiated the Torah and Jewish identity and became a "Christian" (as later defined by the church fathers), Paul proudly asserts his Jewish credentials. In his defense speeches recorded in Acts Paul declared his continuing commitment to being a traditional Jew and Pharisee (Acts 22:3; 23:6) and then in his letter to the Philippian congregation he emphasized that he was a "Hebrew of Hebrews" and a Pharisee devoted to Torah observance (Php 3:5).

Paul may have been using Hillel's hermeneutic rule called Kelal u-Pera, Pera u-kelal: ("General and particular, particular and general"), or definition of the general by the particular, and of the particular by the general. In other words, God has not rejected Israel because God did not reject Paul after all the terrible things he did to disciples of Yeshua. Indeed, one could say that God directed the good news of the Kingdom to be given especially to the worst of sinners beginning in Jerusalem, those involved in the wrongful execution of Yeshua (Acts 2:23; 7:52) and then to the man who terrorized the early disciples.

A great sinner once transformed by the power of God becomes a trophy for the Messiah, as Paul expressed, "God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world" (1Cor 4:9 NASB). If Paul could be saved, there is hope for other unbelieving Jews.

Textual Note

Several Western manuscripts, including the earliest, p46 (c. 200 A.D.), has klēronomia, "inheritance," instead of laos, "people." Metzger suggests that klēronomia was incorporated from Psalm 94:14 (LXX 93:14).

Additional Note: On Rejection

Throughout Scripture the issue of rejection within the covenant community focuses on the individual (cf. 1Sam 15:26; 2Kgs 17:13-18; 1Chr 28:9), not the entire community. God declared "The soul who sins will die" (Ezek 18:4; cf. Rom 6:3). Of course, the sin of one can bring harm to the covenant community (e.g., Achan, Josh 22:20), and sometimes the righteous suffer when God punishes the wicked (e.g., Daniel, Dan 1:1-6). However, accountability for sin is always individual and personal.

For example, the Jewish Mishnah makes this distinction. The Pharisee Sages affirmed, "All Israel has a portion in the world to come" (Sanhedrin 11:1), but then immediately identified Israelites who have no place in the world to come. Included in the extensive list of people excluded the Sages declared "The generation of the wilderness have no share in the future world and will not stand in the last judgment" (Sanhedrin 11:2).

Historic Christian theology has embraced an hypocritical standard. Israel and Jews are rejected by God because Jewish leaders in the first century rejected Yeshua, but Church members can commit abominations and wicked perversions, and the Church retains its election. On the contrary Paul asserts in the strongest terms that those who persist in egregious sins without repentance have no claim on the future kingdom, but instead will suffer the wrath of God (1Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:5; Heb 6:4-8; 10:26-27).

2― God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew; or do you not know what Elijah says in the Scripture, how he entreats God with regard to Israel?

Reference: 1Samuel 12:22; Psalm 94:14.

God: Grk. ho theos, the God of Israel. See the previous verse. has not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle that makes an unqualified and emphatic denial or negation. rejected: Grk. apōtheō, aor. mid. See the previous verse. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See the previous verse. people: Grk. ho laos. See the previous verse. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. Paul affirms the declaration of Scripture:

"ADONAI will not forsake His people for the sake of His great name, because it has pleased ADONAI to make you His people." (1Sam 12:22 BR)

"I will dwell among the sons of Israel and I will not forsake my people Israel" (1Kgs 6:13 BR)

"For ADONAI will not abandon His people and His inheritance He will not forsake." (Ps 94:14 BR)

8 "But you are Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend, 9 whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts and said to you, 'You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you." (Isa 41:8-9 BR)

God could not reject Israel without also canceling all the advantages of Israel that Paul has already asserted to be present benefits (9:4-5). God repeatedly promised in the Tanakh that He would never forsake the nation of Israel and Paul affirms the fact in this letter. Yet, for centuries Christianity worshipped a promise-breaking God, and continually lied, even to this day, that God had permanently rejected Israel in spite of biblical evidence to the contrary. See my article The Lie of Replacement Theology. The promise-keeping God of Israel is the God to whom Paul prays earnestly for Israel.

He foreknew: Grk. proginōskō (from pro, "before" and ginōskō, "to know"), aor., may mean (1) know before about a matter of moment; or (2) have in mind as part of a long-standing plan. The first meaning applies here. The verb properly signifies God pre-knowing all choices, and doing so without pre-determining or requiring them (HELPS). The verb is not found in the Greek Tanakh, but it does occur in the Apocrypha (Wis. 6:13; 8:8; 18:6), in Philo (On Dreams, 1.2) and in Josephus (Ant. II, 5:6; Autobio. 22) (BAG). True foreknowledge is not a human trait. At best humans can only make "educated guesses" based on historical behavior or events.

The foreknowledge of God is a manifestation of His omniscience as Scripture says, "His understanding is infinite" (Ps 147:5) and "God is greater than our heart and knows all things" (1Jn 3:20). Indeed, God knows the secrets of every heart (Ps 44:21) and what a person will say before he speaks (Ps 139:4). Only fools think they can hide their deeds from God (Ps 10:11; 11:4-5; Prov 15:11; Isa 29:15-16).

Divine foreknowledge in relation to Israel is illustrated in the Tanakh in many places. Jacob was given a divine revelation of the future of the tribes descended from his sons (Gen 49:1-27). God knew what Pharaoh would do when Moses appealed for the release of the Israelites (Ex 3:19). Moses was given revelation of the future of God's covenant people, even into the latter days (Lev 26:1-45; Deut 4:25-31; 29:22−30:5; 31:28-29). The prophet Isaiah affirmed in the Servant Songs God's foreknowledge of the entire span of history, especially as it pertained to His covenant people (Isa 40:13-14, 27; 42:9; 44:7-8; 46:8-10).

Christian theologians argue over the theoretical problem of how God's knowledge interacts with human freedom. Does man's choice condition God's choice or vice versa? Many Christians opt for the preeminence of man's "free will" thereby reducing the sovereignty of God. However, we cannot begin to comprehend or appreciate the knowledge of the Creator of the universe, who is a "will-ing being" (a term coined by Otto Rank, a Jewish psychiatrist), and whose choices are truly free. Man's choices are influenced by many factors and forces, not the least of which is the inclination toward selfishness and sin. God is not a prisoner of what man might do.

Some Christian commentators treat the verb as synonymous with "predestined" (e.g., Gill, Poole). In other words, "foreknew" has a determinative content and therefore limits the definition of "His people." On the other hand, "foreknew" is better viewed as relational in content. God told Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" (Jer 1:5) and it is this kind of knowledge by which God knew the patriarchs and the nation of Israel. God spoke through Amos to the northern tribes of Israel, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth" (Amos 3:2 ESV). As Paul will write later to Timothy, "The Lord knows those who are His" (2Tim 2:19).

In Paul's Israelology the people God foreknew was the offspring of Jacob that He brought out of Egypt and gathered at Sinai to receive His covenant and instruction. This nation included people who obeyed God and people who did not obey God. Nevertheless, unfaithfulness of many Israelites did not negate the faithfulness of God. Even in the days of impending judgment on the Kingdom of Judah non-Jews were saying that God had rejected His people. Paul's categorical assertion of God's faithfulness is rooted in God's word, first spoken to Moses:

"Yet, in spite of all that, I will not reject them when they are in the lands of their enemies, nor will I loathe them to the point of utterly destroying them and thus break my covenant with them, because I am ADONAI their God. 45 Rather, for their sakes, I will remember the covenant of their ancestors whom I brought out of the land of Egypt – with the nations watching – so that I might be their God; I am ADONAI.'" (Lev 26:44-45 CJB)

And, then to Jeremiah twice in response to this slander of God's integrity:

"This is what ADONAI says, who gives the sun as light for the day, who ordained the laws for the moon and stars to provide light for the night, who stirs up the sea until its waves roar – ADONAI-Tzva'ot is His name: 36 "If these laws leave my presence," says ADONAI, "then the offspring of Isra'el will stop being a nation in my presence forever." 37 This is what ADONAI says: "If the sky above can be measured and the foundations of the earth be fathomed, then I will reject all the offspring of Isra'el for all that they have done," says ADONAI." (Jer 31:35-37 CJB)

"This word of ADONAI came to Yirmeyahu: 24 "Haven't you noticed that these people are saying, 'ADONAI has rejected the two families he chose'? Hence they despise my people and no longer look at them as a nation. 25 Here is what ADONAI says: 'If I have not established my covenant with day and night and fixed the laws for sky and earth, 26 then I will also reject the descendants of Ya'akov and of my servant David, not choosing from his descendants people to rule over the descendants of Avraham, Yis'chak and Ya'akov. For I will cause their captives to come back, and I will show them compassion.'" (Jer 33:23-26 CJB)

God's election of Israel, the people descended from the patriarchs, is as solid as the laws that govern the universe. Unfortunately, Christianity down through the centuries has denied the straightforward pronouncements of Jeremiah and Paul. Historic Christian antisemitism based its ungodly abuse and discrimination of Jews on the premise of God rejecting Israel in retaliation for Israel rejecting Yeshua, even though the apostles made it crystal clear that Israel did not reject Yeshua nor did God reject Israel. It should be remembered that it was Israel's leadership who rejected Yeshua, not the citizens of the nation. Paul is unambiguous. GOD HAS NOT REJECTED ISRAEL!!

or: Grk. ē, a particle involving options, here to introduce a question in rebuttal to the objector's question in the previous verse. do you not: Grk. ou, adv. know: Grk. oida, perf., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The verb is used for experiential knowledge. In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045), to know (e.g., Gen 3:5; 4:1), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, primarily by experience but also by learning (DNTT 2:395).

what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. Elijah: Grk. Ēlias, which represents the Heb. Eliyah ("My God is Yah"), the ninth century B.C. prophet from Tishbe of Gilead in the Northern Kingdom. The prophet's name first occurs in 1Kings 17:1 as Eliyahu and thereafter 62 times, but also as Eliyah (first in 2Kgs 1:3 and thereafter 4 times) (BDB 45). Known for his unorthodox dress and lifestyle, Elijah prophesied during the reigns of Ahab and Ahaziah. Elijah's achievements included performing seven miracles, perhaps most notably the defeat of 850 pagan prophets on Mt. Carmel.

Elijah also conducted a school of prophets (2Kgs 2:3-7) and trained Elisha to be his successor (1Kgs 19:16-19). Elijah did not die, but was taken to heaven in a whirlwind, not a chariot as commonly supposed (2Kgs 2:11). The LXX transliterates the name uniformly as Ēlias, and thus this form is followed in the Greek text of the Besekh. The English spelling "Elijah" was introduced by John Wesley in his 1755 translation of the New Testament. The KJV-1768 version retained "Elias," but "Elijah" endured and was incorporated by succeeding English versions.

says: Grk. legō, pres. See the previous verse. in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, "in" or "within." the Scripture: Grk. graphē, writing, and in the Jewish context meaning the sacred Hebrew Bible (24 books) referred to as the Tanakh, corresponding to the Protestant Old Testament (39 books) and its translation into Greek, the Septuagint. The term "Scripture," which occurs over 50 times in the Besekh, summarizes the body of literature containing God's inspired words penned by over 25 writers, from Moses to Malachi.

how: Grk. hōs, adv. derived from the relative pronoun hos, generally used in a comparison ("as"). The adverb is used here to introduce a confirmatory illustration of what precedes; even as, how. he entreats: Grk. entugchanō, pres., describes an approach to an authority with a request or plea in mind; approach, appeal, entreat. God: Grk. ho theos. with regard to: Grk. kata, prep., with the root meaning of "down," may be used to signify (1) direction, 'against, down;' (2) opposition, 'against;' or (3) conformity, 'according to, by means of.' The second usage is intended here.

The great majority of versions translates the preposition as "against," but Thayer notes that many scholars interpret kata as signifying "with regard to," considering the original context of Elijah's appeal. Israel: Grk. ho Israēl, a transliteration of the Heb. Yisrael (SH-3478), which means "God prevails" (BDB 975). In the Besekh the noun sometimes refers to the patriarch Jacob (Matt 10:6), sometimes as the covenant name of the chosen people (Matt 2:6), sometimes in reference to the land in which the chosen people dwelled (Matt 2:21), and sometimes as a corporate reference to the biological descendants of Jacob through the twelve tribes (Matt 19:28).

The name first appears in Genesis 32:28 where the heavenly being with whom Jacob struggled said, "From now on, you will no longer be called Ya'akov, but Isra'el; because you have shown your strength to both God and men and have prevailed" (CJB). In the context of Elijah the name "Israel" applied to the Northern Kingdom, the ten tribes that separated from the Kingdom of Judah. Yet, Elijah's pleading was specifically against the ungodly leaders of the Northern Kingdom and the priests of Ba'al they installed, not against the people of Israel.

3― "LORD, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I have been left alone, and they are seeking my life."

Reference: 1Kings 19:10.

Paul proceeds to quote the words of Elijah from 1Kings 19:10, which are also repeated in 19:14.

MT: And he said, "I have been very zealous for ADONAI, God of Hosts, for the sons of Israel have forsaken your covenant and torn down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword and I am left alone and they seek to take my life." (BHIB)

LXX: And Elijah said, being zealous, "I am zealous for the LORD Almighty, for the sons of Israel abandoned you. Your altar they razed and your prophets they killed by the broadsword, and I am left alone, and they seek my life to take it." (ABP)

LORD: Grk. kurios, voc., may mean either (1) a person exercising absolute ownership rights, master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, lord. Both meanings have application here. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, principally to translate Heb. words for God. Over 6,000 times kurios replaces the sacred name YHVH (SH-3068), first in Genesis 2:21. Kurios is not a translation of YHVH, but an interpretative substitution that encompassed all that the Hebrew text implied by use of the divine name. In fact, the oldest LXX manuscript fragments have YHVH written in Hebrew characters in the Greek text (DNTT 2:512).

Paul uses the case of direct address. However, in neither the Hebrew nor Greek text of the quoted verse does Elijah address God in this manner, but simply responds to God's message. The address to God (Heb. YHVH) actually occurs in 19:4, so Paul makes it clear that Elijah said the following words to the One who revealed His name to Moses. For more information on the history and usage of YHVH see my article The Blessed Name. The CJB, MJLT and TLV render kurios here with ADONAI (note small caps) as a substitution for YHVH.

They have killed: Grk. apokteinō, aor., 3p-pl., put an end by force to existence of someone; kill. Relevant to the verb choice is that both Greek and Hebrew have two words for taking a human life. In the LXX apokteinō translates Heb. harag (SH-2026), to kill or slay (BDB 246). The Heb. verb is used of willful murder (first in Gen 4:8), as well as ruthless violence, the planned massacre of Jews by Haman (Esth 3:13; 7:14) wholesale slaughter after battle (Num 31:7), God's slaying in judgment (Gen 20:4) and rarely of judicial execution (Ex 32:27).

This is the first of seven third person plural verbs in the chapter to denote leading Israelites, often rulers, that acted against the interests of God. "They" are mentioned in contrast to the chosen and faithful remnant, as well as to Yeshua and the apostles. your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. The pronoun has a possessive focus.

prophets: pl. of Grk. prophētēs, one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness, i.e., a prophet. In the LXX prophētēs translates Heb. nabi (SH-5030), spokesman, speaker, or prophet; first in Genesis 20:7 where it is used of Abraham. In Scripture the term refers to one who spoke on God's behalf, whether in foretelling or forth-telling. The record of the Tanakh indicates considerable variance in the activity and ministry of Hebrew prophets.

The Hebrew prophets were a diverse group with different personalities, vocations and manner of ministry, but they all spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21). See my PowerPoint presentation The Hebrew Prophets. In the quoted text Paul omits the mention of the prophets being killed by the sword. The prophets to whom Elijah referred were those killed by order of Jezebel, although the number of martyrs is not recorded (1Kgs 18:4, 13).

they have demolished: Grk. kataskaptō, aor., 3p-pl., raze to the ground, demolish. In the LXX kataskaptō translates Heb. haras (SH-2040), to throw down, break or tear down. This is the second third person plural verb in the chapter to denote leading Israelites, here the rulers of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, that acted against the interests of God. your: Grk. su. altars: pl. of Grk. thusiastērion, a elevated place or structure at which religious rites are performed or on which sacrifices are offered to deity. In the LXX thusiastērion translates Heb. mizbeach (SH-4196), altar.

The phrase "torn down your altars" may be an idiomatic expression of eliminating the worship of ADONAI and substituting the worship of Ba'al. It is not clear from the Kings narrative what altars of ADONAI Jezebel had torn down, but Elijah did restore one such altar on Mt. Carmel (1Kgs 18:30). There are a few differences between Paul's quotation and the MT and LXX.

First, Paul omits an important assertion of Elijah that Israel had forsaken God's covenant. Next, Paul reverses the order of the clauses referring to "prophets" and "altars." Finally he retains the plural "altars" of the Hebrew text instead of using the singular form of "altar" found in the LXX. Such differences may indicate that Paul is quoting from a variant LXX text or even providing his own Greek translation of the Hebrew text, either of which is certainly possible.

and I: Grk. kagō, conj. formed from combining kai and egō and serves to link in parallel a personal affirmation by way of addition to or confirmation of a preceding statement. have been left: Grk. hupoleipō, aor. pass., leave remaining, used by Elijah meaning being left as  as a survivor out of a large group. In the LXX hupoleipō translates Heb. yathar (SH-3498), to remain over. alone: Grk. monos, adj. (for Heb. bad, "separation, alone"), signifying the exclusion of any other entity; alone, only.

and: Grk. kai, conj., conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect.

they are seeking: Grk. zēteō, pres., may mean (1) be on the search for in order to find someone or something one has difficulty in locating; seek, look for; (2) search for ways to satisfy an interest; deliberate, discuss; (3) have an interest in; desire, seek; or (4) press for; expect, demand. The first meaning is intended here. In the LXX zēteō translates Heb. baqash (SH-1245), to seek to find or secure. The third person plural verb again is used to denote leading Israelites, here the rulers of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, that acted against the interests of God.

my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. life: Grk. psuchē may mean (1) a quality without which a body is physically dead; life; (2) that which possesses vital being; person; or (3) that which is integral to being a person beyond physical function; life (inner) self, soul. The first meaning is intended here. In the LXX psuchē translates Heb. nephesh (SH-5315), which has the same range of meaning. The phrasing is the same in both the Hebrew text and the LXX. This amazing confession of Elijah follows the astounding victory at Mt. Carmel over the pagan priests. The sense of aloneness expressed by Elijah resonates with Paul who probably felt alone much of the time even though he was surrounded by fellow disciples.

Remnant of Grace, 11:4-6

4 But what is the divine answer spoken to him? "I have kept to myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal."

But: Grk. alla, conj. used adverbially suggesting other matter or varying viewpoint for consideration. The nuance of contrast may be expressed with "but, on the other hand, yet, nevertheless, indeed or certainly." what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. is the divine answer: Grk. chrēmatismos may mean (1) to give an oracular information, impart a divine message; be revealed, prophesied; or (2) take or bear a name or title. The first meaning applies here. spoken: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. to him: Grk. autos, 3p-sing. personal pronoun. Paul challenges his fictive opponent to actually read what the Scripture says and consider what God said to Elijah in response to his lament. Paul proceeds to quote from 1 Kings 19:18.

I have kept: Grk. kataleipō, aor., may mean (1) to leave behind either through withdrawal or things left in place; or (2) cause to be left over; retain. The second meaning applies here. In contrast with the LXX, which has the verb in the future tense ("I shall leave"), Paul gives the verb as past tense. Either Paul was quoting from a variant Greek text of the LXX or he changed the verb to more accurately reflect the Hebrew tense. to myself: Grk. emautou, reflexive first person pronoun, myself. The words "to myself" do not occur in the LXX or the MT. Paul also inexplicably leaves out "in Israel," but probably only quotes the words he considers relevant to his point.

seven thousand: pl. of Grk. heptakischilioi, the numerical quantity of 7,000, from heptakis, seven and chilioi, thousand, lit. "seven thousands." men: Grk. anēr, (Heb. adam), an adult man without regard to marital status. In the LXX anēr translates several Heb. words: (1) ish, man; (2) enosh, men, people; (3) ba'al, lord, husband, head of a household; (4) gibbor, hero, warrior; (5) zaqen, elder; (6) nasi, prince; and (7) adôn, lord (DNTT 2:562). In the MT "seven thousand" is a masculine noun, but the LXX makes it explicit with "seven thousand men." There is no reason not to take the number literally, but there could well have been more. As typical of census statistics in Scripture the number likely included households of the men.

who: Grk. hostis, relative pron., a generalizing reference to the subject of a verb; anyone, who, whoever. have not: Grk. ou, adv. bowed: Grk. kamptō, aor., to bend, usually in reference to a gesture of worship. The word occurs only four times in the Besekh (Rom 14:11; Eph 3:14; Php 2:10), all in reference to bending the body part mentioned here. the knee: Grk. gonu, the body part of the knee. To fall to ones knees represents submission to the authority receiving the homage. The men of whom God spoke and their households were still faithful to the God of Israel.

to Baal: Grk. Baal, for Heb. Ba'al (pronounced Bah-ahl, not Bayl). Ba'al was the chief male deity of the Phoenicians and the Canaanites (Num 22:41). "Ba'al" means lord or master. The word could be used as a title for any person who owned something or any god considered to be a lord or master. Ba'al also appears in passages as a word for "husband." As a deity Ba'al symbolized the productive forces of nature and worship of Ba'al involved much sensuality (Num 22:41; Jdg 2:13; 1Kgs 16:31-32).

5 So then also in the present time there has been a remnant, according to the election of grace.

So: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. then: Grk. oun, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. in: Grk. en, prep. the present: Grk. nun, adv. of time in the present, 'now' or more emphatically 'right now.' time: Grk. kairos may refer to (1) an appropriate or set temporal segment of time; or (2) a period, definite or approximate, in which an event takes place; time, period. Kairos could also mean a God-appointed or predestined time (e.g., Rom 5:6; Eph 1:10; 2Th 2:6; 1Tim 2:6). In this context Paul contrasts current conditions with what has happened in the history of Israel.

there has been: Grk. ginomai, perf., to transfer from one state to another, and here means come to be, become, take place, happen, occur. The perfect tense indicates completed action in the past with continuing results into the present. a remnant: Grk. hupoleimma, a small portion surviving out of a larger number; in Israelite usage, of a relatively small proportion of persons left over for realization of benefits not to be enjoyed by the majority. God has always preserved a faithful portion of Israel. The existence of the remnant proved that the true Israel continued regardless of outward circumstances. Tens of thousands of Jews had accepted Yeshua as Messiah by the time Paul wrote this letter (Acts 21:20).

according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 2 above. With the noun following kata in the accusative case and denoting agreement or conformity to a standard, the meaning is "according to." the election: Grk. eklogē (from ek, "out from," and legō, to speak"), the verbal act of making a choice or selection, especially used of God's unique independent choice. In the LXX eklogē is completely lacking, since there is no Hebrew word for it to translate (DNTT 1:537). In the Tanakh the act of choosing the patriarchs and Israel is expressed by the verb bahar (SH-977), to choose, select or prefer (e.g., Deut 7:7; Neh 9:7; Isa 44:1) and translated in the LXX with the verb eklegomai, to pick out, choose, select, elect.

The verbal action is performed by God, whose decision is firm and unequivocal. The choice began with selecting Isaac over Ishmael and then Jacob over Esau. God later emphasized that He chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth (Deut 6:6-7). God's choice was not based on any material advantages of Israel, but because of promises made to the patriarchs and His desire to have a people wholly devoted to Him. The noun occurs only seven times in the Besekh, all but two in the writings of Paul. Its first occurrence is in reference to God choosing Paul, a traditional Jew and Pharisee (Acts 9:15).

Here in Romans the noun relates to the divine favor shown to the patriarchs and the covenant people descended from them. Paul also used the term in his first letter to the congregation in Thessalonica, which was primarily Jewish in constituency (Acts 17:1). Finally, Peter used the special term to refer to his readers among Messianic Jews in the Diaspora (2Pet 1:10; cf. 1Pet 1:1; 2Pet 3:1). Thus, "election" could be described as a Jewish theological term and applies to Gentiles only as they are incorporated into Israel as Paul describes in this chapter.

of grace: Grk. charis (derived from chairō, to be in a state marked by good feeling about an event or circumstance) is a disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; thus, grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude. In the LXX charis occurs about 190 times of which only about 75 have a Hebrew equivalent, of which 61 are for Heb. hên (favor) (DNTT 2:116). Charis is also equivalent to Heb. hesed (loyal love or loving-kindness) and rachamim ("mercy") (Stern 156).

When used of God hēn denotes granting special favor to an individual or causing nonbelievers to grant favor to God's people (e.g., Gen 39:21; Ex 3:21; 11:3). Hên especially denotes God's unilateral gift of favor toward selected individuals, such as Noah (Gen 6:8), Abraham (Gen 18:3), Lot (Gen 19:19), Moses (Ex 33:12-13; 34:9), and Israel (Ex 33:16). Both Grk. charis and Heb. hên refer to God freely extending Himself (His favor, grace), reaching or inclining to people because He is disposed to bless (be near) them. The core idea of favor-grace is "extension-towards" (HELPS). Paul's point should not be missed.

6 Moreover if by grace, it is no longer from works; otherwise no longer grace would be grace.

Moreover: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). In this verse the conjunction continues the thought of the previous verse, but introduces a new element. if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker normally used to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. by grace: Grk. charis. See the previous verse.

In context "grace" refers to God's election of Israel. Grace was manifested by God's deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and establishment of a covenant relationship in fulfillment of promises made to the patriarchs. In that respect grace was unearned. However, grace did not mean that deliverance cost the Israelites nothing. God expected Israel to obey His covenantal commandments. Far too many Christians seems to think that grace means God accepts them unconditionally without any expectations and all the sacrifice is on God's side. Many Christians are not too different from most non-believers in wanting something for nothing.

it is no longer: Grk. ouketi, neg. adv. of cessation of an activity or condition, no longer, no more. from: Grk. ek, prep. may be used to denote derivation or separation, here the former; from, out of, out from among. Ek has a two-layered meaning, "out from" and "to," which makes it out-come oriented, i.e., out of the depths of the source and extending to its impact on the object (HELPS). works: pl. of Grk. ergon generally means a tangible action or accomplishment that may be observed, and often reflects a consistent moral character. The noun is used to mean (1) a task; (2) a deed; (3) the passive result of actions; and (4) a thing or matter.

In the LXX ergon first translates Heb. malakah (SH-4399), occupation, work, used of God's creative work (Gen 2:2), and then several other Heb. words that mean "deed" or "work," often in relation to accomplishments of God in His covenant faithfulness (DNTT 3:1148). In this verse "works" probably has a negative meaning in the sense of "legalistic" as translated in the CJB. (See my comment on Romans 9:32). Paul is not arguing against doing "good works" that God expects (Matt 5:16; Eph 2:10), but rather making it clear that God's covenantal favor was not dependent on human action. Stern comments that "works that please God must follow election by Him, not precede it."

otherwise: Grk. epei, conj. used in a causal sense; since, inasmuch. because, otherwise. no longer: Grk. ouketi. grace: Grk. charis. would be: Grk. ginomai, pres. mid. See verse 1 above. grace: Paul states a logical consequence if "works" were allowed to determine the terms for election. Rienecker comments on this principle: "Grace ceases to show itself as that which according to its nature it is. It becomes what according to its essence it is not; it give up its specific character."

Textual Note

The Majority Text adds another sentence following the third mention of grace: "But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work." The KJV contains the additional sentence, but these words are not found in the earliest manuscripts. Metzger says "There appears to be no reason why, if the words were original, they should have been deleted. The existence of several forms of the addition likewise throws doubt upon the originality of any of them."

Stupor and Stumbling, 11:7-10

7 What then? What Israel is seeking, this has not been obtained, but the elect obtained it, and the rest were hardened,

What: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. then: Grk. oun, conj. Shulam suggests that due to the similarity of the question with 9:30 ("what then shall we say), then verses 7-10 form a question and the answer begins in verse 11. However, a straight forward reading indicates that Paul is offering historical analysis in these verses. What: Grk. hos, relative pronoun Israel: Grk. Israēl. See verse 2 above. is seeking: Grk. epizēteō, pres., may mean (1) try to find something; look for; search for; or (2) show strong interest in; seek, want. The second meaning applies here.

The present tense denotes current activity, which corresponds to the "present time" of verse 5 above. The statement may allude to the practice of seeking to establish one's own righteousness by means of a few select good works, such as almsgiving. In verse 2 above Israel was the northern Kingdom of Israel, but more precisely the idolatrous religious leadership of the nation. So, too, here Paul is likely using Israel as a substitute for the ruling authorities in Jerusalem.

this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this has not: Grk. ou, adv. been obtained: Grk. epitugchanō, aor. pass., to have success in gaining something; obtain, secure. Many versions translate the phrase as "What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained" (or words to that effect), inferring "it" refers to Israel. Rather the point is that the thing Israel's leaders sought was not obtained. but: Grk. de, conj. the elect: Grk. eklogē. See verse 5 above. The use of "elect," who were part of Israel, demonstrates that Paul uses "Israel" in a contrasting sense, most likely its leadership.

obtained it: Grk. epitugchanō, aor. and: Grk. de, conj. the rest: Grk. loipos, the remaining or what's left of a group. were hardened: Grk. pōroō, aor. pass., to cause imperviousness to effort at stimulating reception of a message, to harden or petrify. Rienecker says that in the literal sense the verb means to cover with a thick skin. The verb is derived from pōros, porous stone, and means to harden, to form a callus (when broken bones heal), and thus to petrify, to become hard (DNTT 2:153). The verb was also applied to bony formations on the joints, called ossification (HELPS).

The resulting figurative meaning is unperceptive as a rock, having a calloused attitude, completely lacking sensitivity or spiritual perception. Stern comments that Paul's statement here is an allusion to Ezekiel 36:26, but the Greek word in the LXX text is lithinos, which referred to any kind of rock. The verb pōroō occurs only once in the LXX, for Heb. tsel (SH-6738), 'shadow,' in Job 17:7, where Job complains that his eyes have been made "calloused" or dim, because of grief. In the Besekh the verb occurs five times (Mark 6:52; 8:17; John 12:40; 2Cor 3:14).

Of interest is that in the Synoptic passages Yeshua uses the verb of his disciples. In the epistles Paul uses the verb historically of unbelieving and rebellious Israelites. Christian theologies differ significantly on the meaning of these words. In Hebrew thought character is viewed as a result and not merely as the means. God's unilateral choice made it possible for the remnant to believe and trust. The unbelieving disobedient Israelites are considered hardened because they set their hearts against the will of God and God did not force them to change.

By making the point Paul does not mean that God would have refused grace if the "hardened ones" wanted to repent. Rather, God simply does not overrule the Law of Inertia (things in motion tend to stay in motion). Indeed, God made repeated appeals to Israel through His prophets. However, "hardening" means that God did not prevent them from sinning or spare them the consequences of their sinning. He hardened His position toward them and thus they were hardened. Those who accepted the good news of salvation through Yeshua were considered "worthy" and those who didn't "unworthy" (cf. Acts 13:46-48).

8 just as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes not to see and ears not to hear, unto this very day."

just as: Grk. kathōs, conj. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. it is written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass., to write or inscribe, generally in reference to a document. In the LXX graphō appears about 300 times and translates Heb. kathab (SH-3789), to write. The first use of graphō in the LXX is Exodus 24:4, "And Moses wrote all the words of ADONAI." The first use of kathab in the Tanakh is Exodus 17:14, "ADONAI said to Moses, 'Write [LXX katagraphō, "write down"] this for a memorial in the book and rehearse it in the hearing of Joshua" (TLV).

The phrase "it is written" is the standard formula in the apostolic writings for attesting an assertion of truth and divine inspiration of Scripture, followed by a quote from the Tanakh. This is the tenth time the formula is used in the letter. Paul then conflates Isaiah 29:10 and Deuteronomy 29:4. Isaiah 29:10 says, "For ADONAI has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, the prophets, and he has covered your heads, the seers " (BR). Deuteronomy 29:4 says, "yet ADONAI has not given to you a heart to know, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, to this day" (BR).

God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 1 above. gave: Grk. didōmi, aor., to give, used in both literal and figurative senses, whether the focus is on generosity or some other rationale. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. a spirit: Grk. pneuma (for Heb. ruach), wind, breath or spirit as the animating force for bodily movement (Luke 8:55). The spirit of man is that which man has in common with God who is Spirit (Gen 1:2; John 4:24).

of stupor: Grk. katanuxis, an insensibility to divine outreach. The noun comes from katanussō, to gouge, stab or pierce, which occurs in Acts 2:37 to refer to having one's conscience convicted. The point is that the rebels were no longer sensitive to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos may refer to (1) the physical organ of sight; eyes; or (2) fig. of moral or spiritual understanding or perception. The term has a fig. meaning here.

not: Grk. , adv. to see: Grk. blepō, pres. inf., may mean (1) possess the physical ability to see; (2) use one's eyes to take note of an object; (3) be looking in a certain direction; or (4) to have inward or mental sight. The fourth meaning applies here. Paul omits any mention of the prophets and seers, but that does not mean that this aspect of the verse in Isaiah is ignored. and: Grk. kai, conj. ears: pl. of Grk. ous, may refer to (1) the physical organ of hearing or (2) the faculty of understanding or perception.

not: Grk. , adv. to hear: Grk. akouō, pres. inf., properly to hear aurally and in Scripture with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend with the ears, but also to accept and to act upon what has been heard (DNTT 2:173). The phrase "eyes … and ears" comes from the Deuteronomy passage, and it is significant that this message was given in Moab.

Moses recounted the mighty miracles that God did on Israel's behalf and lamented "you just don't get it." In their wilderness wanderings the people quickly forgot the miracles in Egypt and the daily miracles that ensured their survival. Instead, the people continued to find things to complain about. They didn't understand the covenantal loyalty of God that motivated His actions and they took the miracles as their due, but it was never enough. I'm afraid there is too much of that attitude still with us.

unto: Grk. heōs, prep., a temporal marker of limitation, here of time. this very: Grk. sēmeron, today, as within the daylight hours of this very day, or perhaps in a more collective sense expressing a very short time. day: Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The fourth meaning would have application here. The time reference occurs in the Torah quote, but Paul likely had his own time in mind, as well. The lack of understanding still persisted.

9 And David says, "Let their table be changed into a snare and into a trap, and into a stumbling block and into a retribution to them;

And: Grk. kai, conj. David: Grk. David, a transliteration of Heb. David ("dah-veed"), a personal name meaning "favorite" or "beloved" (HBD). David is one of the most important figures in Israelite history. His name first appears in 1 Samuel 16:13 when God sent Samuel to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem to anoint one of his sons as the next king. At that time David was only a shepherd. Yet, from that humble beginning he would eventually become the King of Israel at the age of 30 and reign 40 years (2Sam 5:4; 1Chr 3:4). David made a tremendous impact on the nation of Israel. In the military sphere he broke the power of all the pagan peoples in the land of Canaan and in the civil sphere he made Jerusalem his capital and solidified central authority.

Perhaps most important is his accomplishments in the religious sphere. He erected the Tabernacle on Mt. Zion, centralized religion in Jerusalem and established Levitical choirs. He wrote many psalms and 73 psalms are specifically ascribed to him. He was known as the "sweet psalmist of Israel" (2Sam 23:1). Especially important is that he compiled and organized psalms into what we now know as the Book of Psalms (2Chr 29:30). David was a true worshipper, a man imbued with the Holy Spirit (1Sam 13:14; 16:13; 2Sam 23:2). God chose David to be king because He "sought out for Himself a man after His own heart" (1Sam 13:14).

Then, God made a personal and everlasting covenant with him by which God promised that He would establish the throne of David forever, build a house for Himself and send forth a king from the loins of David to rule over his people Israel (2Sam 7:12-14; 23:5; 1Chr 7:11, 14; 2Chr 7:18; 13:5; Ps 89:3; Isa 55:3; Jer 23:5-6; 33:21). Jeremiah left a simple eulogy of David's life: "David did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite" (1Kgs 15:5). The last comment on David's life in the Tanakh is from Ezra who twice refers to David as a "man of God" (2Chr 8:14; Neh 12:24).

says: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. Paul definitely affirms David as the author of the portion of Psalm 69 (verses 22-23) that he is about to quote, even though many modern scholars deny Davidic authorship for those psalms bearing a superscription with his name. Paul then offers a translation of Psalm 69:22 that does not coincide exactly with the LXX. Let their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. table: Grk. trapeza, a surface on which something can be placed, often used of a table used for food service. The LXX has "let their table before them," which Paul may have regarded as a tautology and so did not repeat it.

be changed: Grk. ginomai, aor. pass. imp. See verse 1 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; lit. "into." a snare: Grk. pagis, a capturing device, a trap or snare, here used figuratively. and: Grk. kai. into: Grk. eis. a trap: Grk. thēra, a device used in a hunt or chase; a net or trap. This word does not occur in the LXX, but the Hebrew text does contain the word moqesh, "trap." and: Grk. kai. into: Grk. eis. a stumbling block: Grk. skandalon, something that impedes movement, either as a trap that catches or as a stone that causes a stumble. This word actually ends the verse in the LXX, but Paul reverses the order of the last two metaphors, neither of which are found in the Hebrew text.

and: Grk. kai. into: Grk. eis. a retribution: Grk. antapodoma, repayment, recompense or reward. to them: pl. Grk. autos. David's request may seem strange as if he were praying that his enemies would get food poisoning. The petition follows the report of what he experienced in verse 21, being served gall and vinegar, which is treated in the apostolic writings as a Messianic prophecy (cf. Matt 27:34). David is speaking metaphorically, asking God to provide the proportional justice (lex talionis) decreed by the Torah (Lev 24:20); i.e., that the enemy would receive in punishment according to what he inflicted on David.

In contrast to David, Yeshua prayed that the Father would forgive those who executed him, probably focused strictly on the Roman soldiers who actually carried out the execution. Only of the soldiers could it be said "they don't know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). Yeshua had already prophesied God's vengeance on the temple and the city because of the unbelief of the nation's leaders (Matt 24:2; Luke 19:37-44; 21:20-24). While the death of Yeshua as an atoning sacrifice may have been God's foreordained plan, the Judean ruling council committed a monstrous crime (cf. Acts 2:22-23, 36; 4:10-11; 7:51-53).

To the great shame of Christianity the crime of the Jewish leaders was imputed to all their descendants and for centuries used as justification for retribution. Such was the consequence of misunderstanding Paul's line of thought here.

10 let their eyes be darkened not to see, and bend their backs through all."

Paul finishes the rhetorical question with Psalm 69:23, which reproduces the LXX text exactly.

let their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos. See verse 8 above. be darkened: Grk. skotizō, aor. pass. imp., may mean (1) undergo darkness as a natural phenomena or (2) undergo inward darkness, of ignorance or benightedness in moral or spiritual matters. The second meaning fits best here. not: Grk. , adv. to see: Grk. blepō, pres. inf. See verse 8 above. The petition, repeated from verse 8, admits the ability of spiritual awareness, but requests divine intervention to prevent knowledge. Given what the adversaries have done they don't deserve the majesty of God's knowledge, lest they blaspheme and incur a worse penalty.

and bend: Grk. sugkamptō, aor. imp., cause to bend with implication of a burden. their: pl. of Grk. autos. backs: pl. of Grk. nōtos, the anatomical body part of the back. The phrase "bend their backs" is a word picture of captives whose backs were bent under burdens (Robertson). The Hebrew text says "make their loins continually to shake." through: Grk. dia, prep. all: Grk. pas, adj. The last two words seem to be a temporal reference so Bible versions translate the words "through all" variously as "always," "continually," "constantly" or "forever." The use of this psalm quote may seem harsh.

In context David complains to God about his enemies who hate him and seek his destruction. He engages in hyperbole saying his enemies outnumber the hairs on his head (Ps 69:4). David does not specify his enemies, but they could have been neighboring nations, but more likely the opposition came from political enemies since 69:21 implies an attempted assassination. The Hebrew term rôshe, "gall," can mean poison. In any event, David calls down God's wrath on his adversaries as deserving the severest judgment. That Paul would use David's language of imprecation is shocking to Christian theology and too often commentators have misconstrued Paul's intention.

In responding to his fictive opponent Paul has quoted three of Israel’s major figures writing in the three main sections of the Tanakh (Moses in the Torah; Isaiah in the Prophets; and David in the Writings), all of whom bear witness to Israel's dullness, blindness and deafness to God, and consequent bondage. The implication for the fictive opponent is that rebellion by Israel had ruined her relationship with God. Furthermore, God has put the seal on rebellion by hardening their hearts to prevent their repentance. This erroneous conclusion Paul strongly rebuts in the next verse.

Salvation for the Nations, 11:11-16

11 I ask then, did they not stumble in order that they might fall? May it never be! But their transgression is salvation to the nations, so as to provoke jealousy in them.

I ask: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. The verb has an interrogative function here. then: Grk. oun, conj. As in the first verse above Paul responds to the rhetorical question he just asked with a declarative statement in the form of a question. did they not: Grk. , adv. See verse 1 above. The negative particle is used here for interrogative effect. stumble: Grk. ptaiō, aor., 3p-pl., to lose one's footing, used here figuratively of a moral mishap or sin. This is the fourth third person plural verb in the chapter to denote leading Israelites that acted against the interests of God, here specifically unbelieving Jewish rulers in the time of Yeshua and the apostles.

in order that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that, so that, that. they might fall: Grk. piptō, aor. subj., to drop from a relatively higher position to a lower and used here in a spiritual sense. The point of the question was whether those who stumbled are beyond redemption due to a change in status. Never: Grk. . may it be: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. opt. See verse 1 above. The optative mood expresses strong contingency or possibility. There is no definite anticipation of realization, but it sees what is conceivable. The very idea of falling without recovery is a horror.

Thus, Paul declares what sounds like a wish, but in reality is a flat denial of the rhetorical proposition. God has not rejected the circumcised in favor of the uncircumcised! But: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 4 above. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to refer to those who stumbled. transgression: Grk. paraptōma, violation or trespass. Rienecker defines as a false step, transgression, a falling along side. The word points to violation of Torah commandments.

The term does not imply the degree of intention. This statement reinforces the truth that the Torah had not been canceled, since Torah is the standard by which sin is defined (Rom 3:20; 4:15; 7:7). The "transgression" may refer to the crime of the illegal arrest, trial and execution of Yeshua. Paul focuses on an act, not a state of being. The stumbling of adversarial Jewish leaders did not cause the nation of Israel to fall out of God's favor, but in reality served the purposes of God.

is salvation: Grk. sōtēria, a freeing from real or threatening harm or loss; rescue, deliverance or salvation. In the LXX sōtēria occurs over 100 times and translates six different Hebrew words (DNTT 3:206), four of which are formations derived from the root verb yasha (SH-3467, save, deliver), especially yeshu'ah (SH-3444, salvation), the meaning of our Lord's name, and teshu'ah (SH-8668, salvation, victory, help). In the Tanakh deliverance is normally accomplished by God (e.g., Ex 15:2), and the deliverance is from physical harm or from oppression within a human context. Often the deliverance has a spiritual component.

In the Besekh sōtēria is used of deliverance from physical harm (Acts 7:25) or from oppression (Luke 1:71), but the primary use of the term is in relation to divine deliverance from sin and wrath through the mediatorial work of the Messiah. Divine deliverance is described in two important ways: (1) safety of the soul in the present resulting from the receipt of God's mercy (Acts 4:12; Rom 10:10) and (2) final redemption over all earthly ills and victory over the Adversary accomplished in the Second Coming, as well as deliverance from God's judgment on the wicked (Rom 13:11; 1Th 5:9; Heb 9:28).

Ultimately, we are saved, not by anything we do, including trusting in God, but by God's choice to be faithful to His promises. As Paul said, "But because of Him you are in Messiah Yeshua, who became to us wisdom from God and righteousness and holiness and redemption" (1Cor 1:30 TLV).

to the nations: pl. of Grk. ho ethnos, humans belonging to a people group as defined by language and culture; nation, people. In the LXX ethnos generally translates Heb. goy (SH-1471; pl. goyim), "community, nation, people" (DNTT 2:790). The term ethnos is first used in Genesis 10 to describe the list of seventy nations, then of descendants of Abraham (Gen 12:2) and then even more specifically of Israel (Ex 19:6; Deut 4:6; Ps 106:5; Isa 9:1). The plural goyim is generally used in the Tanakh for non-Hebrew peoples (Gen 18:18; 22:18; 26:4), but also for nations that included Hebrew peoples (Gen 17:4-5; 35:11; 48:19).

In the Besekh ethnos in the singular may refer generally to any people distinguished by language and culture (Matt 24:7; Acts 10:35; Rev 5:9). The term ethnos is used in Scripture to refer to the Israelite or Jewish nation (Luke 23:2; Acts 8:9; 10:22; 24:2, 10, 17; 26:4; 28:19; 1Cor 10:18; Php 3:5), but the plural form, like goyim in the Tanakh, is generally used to mean non-Israelite peoples (Acts 9:15). However, sometimes the plural form is used of uncircumcised peoples among whom Paul ministered, which included Hellenistic Jews (cf. Acts 15:3, 19, 23; 21:25; Rom 3:29; 9:24; 15:7-18; 16:4; Gal 2:7; Eph 3:1; 1Tim 2:7). Traditional Jews considered uncircumcised Hellenistic Jews to be of the nations. See my article Hellenism and the Jews.

so as: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on motion to accomplish a purpose or result; to, into, toward. to provoke jealousy: Grk. parazēloō, aor. inf., incite to jealousy. Mounce defines the verb to mean provoke to jealousy, to excite to emulation, or to provoke to indignation. The verb is formed from para, to come alongside, and zēloō, to have a passionate interest in something. Jealousy may be expressed in two different ways: (1) to be envious of someone, or resentful against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage; (2) being zealous for something, a vigilance in maintaining or guarding something; a fervor for a person, cause, or object.

The verb parazēloō is only used in the Besekh four times and all by Paul (Rom 10:19; 11:11, 14; 1Cor 10:22). In the LXX parazēloō occurs 7 times and translates Heb. qanah (SH-7065), be jealous or zealous. The Hebrew verb spans a range of emotional reaction from envy, to jealousy, to zealousness and to jealous anger (BDB 888). However, parazēloō only occurs in passages where the Hebrew verb has the meaning of "provoke to jealousy," which is synonymous with being provoked to anger (Deut 32:21; 1Kgs 14:22; Ps 37:1, 7-8; 78:58).

in them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. See verse 1 above. The pronoun functions here as a direct object to denote those who stumbled, specifically the adversarial Jewish leaders, not the entire nation of Israel. Some versions translate the last clause as "make Israel jealous," which may lead the reader to assume that God intended to foster an attitude of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages.

The AMP adds the interpretation "when they realize what they have forfeited." Phillips has the same interpretation: "the result that Israel is made to see and feel what is has missed." The Living Bible has "and then the Jews would be jealous and begin to want God’s salvation for themselves." The Message has "But the next thing you know, the Jews were starting to wonder if perhaps they had walked out on a good thing."

God always wanted Jacob (Israel) to be a company of nations (Gen 28:3) and that Israel would take the light of the knowledge of God to the nations (Isa 2:3; 42:6; Acts 13:47). God's message of salvation was for the uncircumcised of the world and not just the circumcised Jews. Christian commentators, therefore, interpret Paul's words to mean that God would use the acceptance of the Messiah by Gentiles to provoke the rebellious Jews to envy so that they might repent. The reason this would happen is because the Gentiles embraced the faith of Abraham (Rom 4:1-12; Gal 3:29).

However, this is not Paul's point. Considering the LXX usage of the verb the description might be better translated "provoke them to zealous anger." Hateful zeal on the part of Pharisee leaders motivated them to persecute anyone who openly declared Yeshua as the Messiah (cf. Matt 10:17; John 9:22, 34; 12:42; 16:2; 1Th 2:14-16; Heb 10:24).The Judean authorities handed Yeshua over to Pilate out of envy and spite (Matt 27:18; Mark 15:10). Paul himself, prior to his transformation, manifested this kind of zeal when he persecuted Messianic disciples (Acts 8:1; 9:1; 1Tim 1:13).

Paul as the messenger for the Messiah experienced this kind of jealous reaction from unbelieving Jews in Thessalonica:

"Now the unbelieving Jewish leaders, having become jealous and having taken along some market-lounging men, and having collected a crowd, and were creating a tumult in the city; and having attacked the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them to the people." (Acts 17:5 BR)

Nobody asks the relevant question. Have Jews ever come to Yeshua because they were envious of Christians? No, there is no evidence of this ever happening. There's no evidence that Jews are envious because Gentiles believe in their God and Yeshua. The many tens of thousands of Jews in the first century who responded favorably to the Messianic message (Acts 21:20) did so out of expectation and longing for the fulfillment of promises made to the patriarchs. Jews in modern times have come to the Messiah out different motivations, but not jealousy.

Rather than jealousy, the great majority of Jews historically have been provoked to anger and resentment because of ill-treatment, discrimination and violent persecution meted about by zealous "Christians" (cf. Deut 32:21; Rom 10:19). David Stern offers this stinging indictment that is well worth considering:

"Throughout most of the last two thousand years, the Church, to its great shame, not only has not provoked Jews to jealousy but has engendered repugnance and fear; so that Jewish people, instead of being drawn to love the Jewish Messiah Yeshua, have usually come to hate or ignore him, remaining convinced that their non-Messianic Judaism or secularism or agnosticism is superior to Christianity.

"If this seems a harsh judgment, then let us hear of which Christians Jews are expected to be jealous. Of the "Christians" who trapped Jews in their synagogues and burned them alive (which happened when the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, as well as in several European cities)? Of the "Christians" who forced Jews to hear conversionary sermons against their will and expelled from the country those who did not respond (which took place for centuries during the Middle Ages and the Inquisition)?

"Of the "Christians" who invented the "blood libel" that Jews murder a Christian child and use his blood in their Passover matzah? Of the cross-carrying "Christian" priests leading murderous mobs in pogroms? "Of the "Christians" who remained silent while six million Jews perished in the Holocaust? Or perhaps of the "Christians" who murdered them—including Hitler himself, who was never excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church? Of "Christian" members of the Ku Klux Klan and other white "Christian" supremacy gangs and their brutish demonstrations?

"Of "Christians" that support Palestinian organizations whose terrorists kill and maim Israeli Jewish children? Of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Capucci, convicted of gun-running for those same Palestinian terrorist organizations? Of which of these "Christians" are we Jews supposed to be jealous? After such a recital, it is kinder not to dwell on what these people provoke us to—but jealousy it is not.

"The Jews' pain would have been the same regardless of whether these people called themselves Christians; and the name “Christian” is not copyrighted, so that anyone who chooses can apply it to himself, whether his behavior entitles him or not. But the Church’s shame is not only in not having taken a stand consistently repudiating every one of these and other horrors committed against the Jews, but in having actually authorized and encouraged some of them.

"There is no way of silencing every individual who misuses the name of the Messiah, falsely claiming his authority for their evil deeds. But there is a way for a community to withdraw its approval and fellowship from such people and condemn them publicly; instead, through much of its history, the Church did exactly the opposite. Of this Jews are to be jealous?" (408-409)

If Christians had ever embraced the roots of their faith in Judaism and lived by Torah, then they might have made the Jews envious. The Jews would have been shamed that a people not chosen had embraced the faith of their fathers. So the conventional interpretation is inadequate to understand Paul's point. On the other hand, Paul is saying that the message of salvation going to the nations will incite a reaction of zeal for orthodoxy on the part of Jewish leaders.

Initially Judean rulers were willing to maintain the status quo (cf. Acts 5:34-39). However, the outspoken ministry of Paul beginning in Damascus made unbelieving Jewish leaders more zealous for defending their traditions. Moreover, Judean leaders not only spurned the Messiah, but under the leadership of Rabbi Akiva in the early second century established a religion designed to insulate Jews against the appeal of the good news.

12 Now if their transgression is riches for the world, and their defeat is riches of the nations, how much more the fulfillment of them!

Now: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The pronoun does not refer to every Israelite or Israel as a corporate unit (of which Paul was a member), but the adversarial Judean authorities. transgression: Grk. paraptōma. See the previous verse. The KJV's use of the word "fall" instead of "transgression" suggests a significant bias against Israel, which has prejudiced attitudes toward Israel ever since its publication. Similarly the ICB and NCV have an antisemitic rendering "the Jews' failure."

is riches: Grk. ploutos, a term used for wealth in a material sense (Matt 13:22; 1Tim 6:17), or fig. of abundant supply (Php 4:19). The term occurs 22 times in the Besekh, 16 of which are in Paul's writings. Yeshua used the term only in a negative sense, but Paul frequently uses ploutos in a positive sense to describe divine mercy (Rom 2:4), glory (Rom 9:22), grace (Eph 1:7; 2:7), and inheritance (Eph 1:18).

for the world: Grk. kosmos, world, has a variety of uses in the Besekh, including (1) the entire cosmic universe including the earth; (2) the earth as the abode of mankind; or (3) the present order of humanity in contrast to the Kingdom of God (Zodhiates). The second meaning is intended here. The LXX of the Tanakh uses kosmos five times for Heb. tsaba, (SH-6635), host, in reference to the arrangement of the stars, 'the heavenly hosts,' as the ornament of the heavens (Gen 2:1; Deut 4:19).

The use of kosmos to mean "world" as the habitation of mankind is only found in Jewish literature later than the Tanakh: Wisdom, 19 times; 2Maccabees, 5 times; and 4Maccabees, 4 times (DNTT 1:522). In the Besekh a number of passages use "world" to refer to the nations outside the land of Israel (Matt 24:14; Luke 12:30; John 14:22), but the term is also used in some passages of the Jewish world (John 3:17; 6:14, 33; 12:47; 14:19; 16:28; 17:6). The use of kosmos here does not exclude Israelites from the benefit described.

and: Grk. kai, conj. their: pl. of Grk. autos. defeat: Grk. hēttēma, a worsened condition or circumstance, loss or setback. BAG gives the meaning as "defeat," from the verb hēttaomai, be defeated or succumb to a person or thing. It is basically a military term referring to the loss of a battle because of heavy casualties (Harrison). The term occurs only twice in the Besekh, the other in 1Corinthians 6:7 where Paul declares the lawsuits among members to be a "defeat" for the congregation. No military unit can possibly defeat the enemy if the soldiers are committing fratricide.

The CJB paraphrases the meaning of hēttēma with "being placed temporarily in a condition less favored" as a result of the transgression. However, Paul is not talking about the loss of "most favored nation" status. Several versions render hēttēma as "failure" (AMPC, ESV, HCSB, GW, MEV, MW, NASB, NKJV, NOG, OJB, REV, RSV), but "failure" seems too mild a word. Paul's point is that the intention of adversarial Judean rulers was utterly defeated. A similar idea is conveyed in Paul's letter to the congregation in Colossae:

"And you, being dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made alive together with him, having forgiven us all the trespasses; having blotted out the certificate against us in the ordinances, which was contrary to us: and he has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; having disarmed the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." (Col 2:13-15 BR)

Some versions have "loss" (CEV, NIV, TLV), which is closer to the idea of "defeat" than "failure." The irony is that Israel did lose something important to them. But let's consider first what they did not lose. They did not lose God's love. They were not rejected as Paul insists in the first verse of this chapter, so they are still a favored nation. They did not lose their advantages of adoption, the glory, the covenants, the Torah legislation, the service of worship and the promises as Paul insisted in 9:4.

So what did they lose? Israel had not yet lost its political existence, as Caiaphas feared (John 11:50). Paul seems to refer to a loss more contemporary. Perhaps the greatest loss from a Jewish point of view is that the Sh'khinah glory of God left the Temple forty years prior to its destruction and God no longer forgave sins based on the Yom Kippur sacrifice. The Talmud explains that four ominous signs occurred: (1) the lot for selecting priests did not come up in the right hand; (2) the westernmost light of the menorah refused to burn continually; (3) the doors of the Temple would open of themselves; and (4) the red wool no longer turned white supernaturally (Yoma 39b).

The fourth sign was the most significant and the most distressing. It was customary to tie a cord of red wool on the horn of the scapegoat, before it was released into the wilderness. When the red wool turned white, it was a sign that God forgave the people’s sin (cf. Isa. 1:18). In a similar fashion the Temple priests used to bind a shining crimson strip of cloth on the outside door of the Temple. If the strip of cloth turned white, they would rejoice; if it did not turn white they were full of sorrow and shame (Yoma 67a).

The people were sorrowful because they began to realize more and more that the sacrifice of Yom Kippur did not have the power to cleanse their sinful hearts. If 40 years is taken literally then in the year Yeshua started His ministry the blood of animals was no longer accepted as a sacrifice for the atonement of sin. However, in Jewish literature 40 years can also be a general rounding up, so that the dating of these signs could have begun after the veil was torn in two (Matt 27:51). After all, it was only the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua that ended the efficacy of animal sacrifices (Heb 9:11-14).

Of course, calculating forty years for the temple in relation to Yeshua, whether the beginning of his ministry or his death, is contingent on the date of Yeshua's birth. In either event, the forty years served as a time of grace. Israel's leadership had forty years to repent. If they had accepted their Messiah the temple might have been maintained. There would be no need to destroy it. Rabbi Akiva in the early second century repeated the crime of Caiaphas and compounded it by endorsing Simon Bar Kokhba as the Messiah, thereby incurring the wrath of God.

is riches: Grk. ploutos. of the nations: pl. of Grk. ethnos. See the previous verse. Paul employs an Hebrew style of parallelism to add emphasis to his point. He may have intended ethnos as a synonym for kosmos, but the parallelism is probably more of the synthetic or constructive variety. That is, the second clause builds on the first and does not merely offer a restatement of the first in different words. Christian commentators typically see the contrast here between Jews and Gentiles. Stern says that the idea of a temporary eclipse of Israel by the Gentiles can be found in rabbinic writings as Jewish religious leaders tried to make sense of the Temple's destruction by the Romans after A.D. 70.

The Talmud has a saying, "When the ox runs and falls, the horse is put in the ox’s stall" (Sanhedrin 98b). Later Jewish commentators, such as Rashi, understood this saying as referring to Israel and the Gentile nations. They accepted that the horse (the goyim) is allowed to replace the ox (Israel), but when the ox recovers it will be hard to remove the horse from his position of power without inflicting much suffering. Another aspect of the contrast is between those who sinned and those who accept the benefit of the atoning sacrifice. From Paul's viewpoint the whole world, including Jews, would benefit, not just in his present, but in the years ahead.

how much: Grk. posos, interrogative pronoun with numerical aspect, which may focus on degree or on quantity; how much, how great. more: Grk. mallon, adv. of increase or additive to some aspect of activity, situation, or condition; (much) more. Paul engages in the classic kal v'chomer argument ("light and heavy"), corresponding to what in logic as fortiori reasoning: If A is true, then, a fortiori (Latin, "with [even] greater strength"), B must also be true.

The English phrase, "how much more," equivalent to Hebrew kol sh’khen, expresses this sense and force. Explicit kal v’chomer arguments appear frequently in the Besekh, which emphasizes the fact that the Jewish apostles communicated in a manner typical of rabbinic reasoning and hermeneutical rules. So, if A is true (their defeat produced riches of mercy for the nations), then how much more is B true (Israel will likewise experience God's mercy).

the fullness: Grk. ho plērōma, that which is there as result of filling. In application the term may mean (1) that which fills up the contents; (2) that which is full of something; (3) that which is brought to fullness either as the full number or sum total; (4) fulfillment and (5) the state of being full, such as the fullness of time. "Fullness" implies a far great number than the remnant of verse 5. of them: pl. of Grk. autos. Paul's argument in this verse is that since the defeat of adversarial Judean rulers has brought the riches of God's grace to the nations (Gentiles and Hellenistic Jews) on a large scale, then acceptance by all Israel of her Messiah (v. 26) will bring even greater blessing to the world (Harrison).

Stern suggests that here Gentiles are offered a “selfish” motive for evangelizing Jews: Jewish spiritual failure has brought riches to the Gentiles, but Jewish spiritual success will bring them even greater riches, so it pays spiritually to win Jews. In any event, Paul declares that Israel will not be left out of the riches of grace. Indeed, the book of Revelation offers a glimpse of that future when the full number of Israelite tribes and Gentiles will form the Kingdom of God (Rev 7:4-9).

Shulam suggests another layer of meaning by noting that plērōma is consistently used in the apostolic writings to refer to Yeshua himself (387). In him all the "fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily" (Col 2:9; cf. Col 1:19; Eph 4:13) and he gives of that fullness to his body, the Messianic community (John 1:16; Rom 15:29; Eph 1:23; 3:19). Yeshua also embodies the fullness of the times (Eph 1:10; cf. Gal 4:4), which includes the fulfilling [Grk. plēroō] of the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24) and the final "fullness of the Gentiles" that completes the great plan of salvation (verse 25 below). Significant is John Wesley's note on this verse:

"So many prophecies refer to this grand event, that it is surprising any Christian can doubt of it. And these are greatly confirmed by the wonderful preservation of the Jews as a distinct people to this day. When it is accomplished, it will be so strong a demonstration, both of the Old and New Testament revelation, as will doubtless convince many thousand Deists, in countries nominally Christian; of whom there will, of course, be increasing multitudes among merely nominal Christians. And this will be a means of swiftly propagating the gospel among Mahometans and Pagans; who would probably have received it long ago, had they conversed only with real Christians."

13― Now I am speaking to you, the nations, on the basis of how much indeed then I am an apostle of the nations, I glorify my ministry

Now: Grk. de, conj. I am speaking: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. the nations: pl. of Grk. ho ethnos. See verse 11 above. Paul now addresses the non-Israelite members of the congregation, who would have included both proselytes and God-fearers. The proselytes had chosen full identification with Israel through circumcision and had all the legal rights in Israel as other Jews. The God-fearing Gentiles loved the Jewish people, believed in and prayed to the God of Israel, attended synagogue worship, kept at least the moral code and other Jewish traditions in varying degrees, and gave alms and other financial support to the Jews.

The specific address affirms that the letter was written to both Jews and Gentiles in the congregation. The Gentile members had apparently been subjected to the kind of pessimism voiced in Paul's fictive rhetoric. The Jewish disciples would be quietly saying "amen" to Paul's argument hoping that the Gentile disciples "got it." How Christianity misinterpreted and even twisted Paul's words to build an antisemitic theology is perhaps the most colossal blunder of history. It was bad enough that Jews suffered because of the sins of Caiaphas and Akiva, but the Gentile Christian Church learned nothing from Paul's plea and compounded the plight of the Jews.

on the basis of: Grk. epi, prep. that expresses the idea of hovering, used primarily as a marker of position or location; but used here for the purpose of drawing a conclusion. how much: Grk. hosos, correlative of posos (see the previous verse) denoting maximum inclusion or a signifier of degree; how much, how great, how many, as great as, as much. Danker translates the word here as "to the degree/extent that. indeed: Grk. mén, conj., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Most versions do not translate this particle, but it gives added emphasis to the proposition presented. Many versions provide a concise translation of epi hosos mén with "inasmuch." then: Grk. oun, conj.

I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. am: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. an apostle: Grk. apostolos, a delegate, ambassador, envoy, messenger, emissary or official representative. Apostolos occurs one time in the LXX where it translates shaluach, Qal pass. part. of the verb shalach (SH-7971), "sent," in 1Kings 14:6 of Ahijah the prophet. Josephus also uses apostolos one time of a group of Jewish ambassadors sent to Rome to complain about the appointment of Archelaus (Ant. XVII, 11:1). Apostolos appears in no other early Jewish literature, but it is grounded in Jewish culture in the office of shaliach.

In first century Judaism a shaliach acted as an official messenger or a proxy for and with the full authority of the sender (Ber. 5:5). The shaliach's mission was "limited in scope and duration by definite commission and terminating on its completion" (DNTT 1:128). When the high priest authorized Paul to initiate persecution against the disciples he was acting as the priest's shaliach (Acts 9:1-2). A peculiarity of the shaliach is that these representatives were not missionaries to win others to Judaism. The shaliach’s mission was "limited in scope and duration by definite commission and terminating on its completion" (DNTT 1:128).

Nevertheless, when Yeshua, the Great High Priest, appointed the twelve disciples and Paul as his shlichim (pl. of shaliach), the mission was broad and its duration indefinite. In the Besekh the term "apostle" is first applied to the original Twelve disciples (Matt 10:2), then Mattathias (Acts 1:25-26), Paul (Acts 9:15; 14:14), Barnabas (Acts 14:14), and Jacob (the half-brother of Yeshua, Gal 1:19). All the apostles named in the Besekh were Jewish. Those named as apostles had "seen the Lord" and been approved to speak on His behalf (Acts 9:27; 1Cor 9:1; 15:6; 1Jn 1:1).

All true apostles had the authority to proclaim the good news, determine orthodox doctrine, impose requirements ("bind and loose," Matt 16:19; 18:18), and shepherd the congregations they founded (cf. 1Cor 14:37). Paul introduces all but three of his letters by identifying himself as an apostle of Yeshua to emphasize his divine appointment. The mention of "apostles" in 1Corinthians 12:28 refers to apostles then alive and not to a continuing office of apostle. The office ceased with the death of John. However, the authority of the apostolic canon continues to the present day (Eph 2:20).

of the nations: pl. of Grk. ethnos. Many versions translate ethnōn as "to the Gentiles," even though there is no preposition "to." The genitive case of the noun, normally translated as "of," is an objective genitive, meaning the nations receive the benefit of Paul's apostleship. My translation of "nations" (also found in DARBY and YLT) seems appropriate since Paul alludes to his commission from Yeshua as announced to Ananias, "he is a choice instrument to carry My name before nations and kings and Bnei-Yisrael" (Acts 9:15 TLV). Ananias served as an independent witness to God's intention.

Some time later Paul received his call direct from the Lord while praying in the temple (Acts 22:17-21; 26:16-18). Paul then reaffirmed his call as an apostle in every letter he wrote, except Hebrews. Paul no doubt felt the need to frequently repeat his credentials due to his record as a persecutor, and there were likely many who felt him to be unworthy of this assignment. In his Galatian letter Paul distinguishes Peter's apostleship to the "circumcised' from his own to the uncircumcised and the nations (Gal 2:7-8). As a result Christian interpreters have mischaracterized Paul's ministry as only to Gentiles and Peter's ministry as only to Jews.

We need to consider these facts: (1) The "uncircumcised" included Hellenistic Jews and the "circumcised" included Gentile proselytes. (2) The "circumcised" was a technical term for the zealous orthodox Jews who insisted on Gentile circumcision to be considered a part of the Messianic Kingdom (Acts 15:1). (3) Peter was the first apostle to take the good news to Gentiles after Paul received his call. (4) With the exception of Athens Paul always proclaimed the good news at the local synagogue first. (5) Contrary to popular assumption the constituency of congregations in the apostolic era was predominantly Jewish.

I glorify: Grk. doxazō (from doxa, "glory"), pres., enhance esteem or reputation through word (of praise) or action to honor. In the LXX doxazō renders Heb. navah (SH–5115), to beautify, adorn with praises (Ex 15:2), but principally kabad (SH–3513), to be weighty, to be honored or praised (Lev 10:3; Ps 15:4). my: Grk. egō. ministry: Grk. diakonia, service or ministration, especially in meeting the needs of others. Sometimes the term is used in the apostolic writings of dedication to a specific divine assignment, such as prayer and preaching. Other examples include special ministrations like that of Martha (Luke 10:40) and the collection for famine relief (1Cor 16:15; 2Cor 8:4).

Although the concept of service is set forth in the Torah, the only occurrence of diakonia in the LXX is in Esther 6:3, 5 and 1Maccabees 11:58 in reference to servants in the royal court. In first century Judaism diakonia is found in both Philo and Josephus, the latter in describing the Essenes (DNTT 3:545). Generally Jews practiced their social responsibilities through almsgiving, but lowly service, such as waiting on table or performing personal service was considered beneath the dignity of a free man (cf. Luke 7:44-46; John 13:3-8). In contrast Josephus said that the Essenes refrained from marriage and keeping personal servants, but instead lived in mutual ministry to one another (Ant. XVIII, 1:5).

In the congregation of Yeshua diakonia was so important that it was elevated to an office (cf. Acts 6:1; Php 1:1; 1Tim 3:8). Paul conducted his apostolic assignment with the heart of a servant. In chapter fifteen he will discuss a specific mission of service in which he was engaged. The present tense of the verb "glorify" conveys not boastfulness but submissive and faithful obedience to the divine call. Stern restates Paul's declaration as "I make a point of letting Jewish people know about it." Paul was happy to be a servant of Yeshua (Rom 1:1).

14― if somehow I will incite to jealousy my people, and save some of them.

if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 6 above. somehow: Grk. pōs, particle expressing an undetermined aspect; by any means, in any way, somehow (Mounce). Paul alludes to the strategy of his ministry by which he became all things to all men (1Cor 9:19-23). He maintained his orthodox identity, and lived by the traditions of the Pharisees. Yet, he did not impose his lifestyle on Hellenistic Jews and Gentiles, but allowed freedom in personal decision-making (cf. Col 2:16). He did not become a Gentile to the Jews as suggested by Shulam. In all these roles he lived a life of sacrifice and simplicity (cf. Php 4:11-12) to avoid giving offense to the poor. Paul was the model of the cross-cultural missionary.

I will incite to jealousy: Grk. parazēloō, fut. See verse 11 above. Paul wants to incite a zeal for God reflected in acceptance of and service to Messiah Yeshua based on the transformation of Gentiles who were both Torah-observant and committed followers of the Jewish Messiah. my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. people: Grk. sarx, "flesh," has a variety of literal and figurative uses in Scripture. Sarx refers basically to being alive in an earthly or physical way, including parts of the body; flesh, human being, person. Sarx is also used of a condition of human perspective, which may reflect a natural limitation, personal desire or even sinfulness.

In the LXX sarx translates Heb. basar (SH-1320), which denotes flesh as (1) tissues or parts of the human body, Gen 2:21; (2) kindred and blood-relations, Gen 2:23; (3) the frailty of man compared to God, Gen 6:3; (4) the flesh of animals, Gen 9:4; (4) the male organ, Gen 17:11; as well as various figurative uses (BDB 142). Paul uses sarx here as he does in 9:3 to denote his ethnic identity as an Jew. Many versions translate the noun as "countrymen" or "people." Paul often emphasized his Jewish lineage and identification as a Jew (cf. Acts 21:23, 39; 22:3; 23:6; 26:4-5; Rom 9:24; 1Cor 9:20; Gal 2:15; Php 3:5).

and: Grk. kai, conj. save: Grk. sōzō, fut., to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition, often in the sense of bodily harm (Matt 14:30), as well from spiritual peril (Matt 24:13), including deliverance from God's wrath on the Day of the Lord (Rom 5:9). In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs, but the most important yasha, to deliver and save (e.g., 1Sam 23:5), and malat, to escape, deliver, save (e.g., 1Kgs 1:12). The verbs are used in relation to various external threats and bodily peril, especially enemies (DNTT 3:206). Pious Israelites recognized that human agents might be used to bring deliverance, but rescue ultimately comes from ADONAI Himself (Ps 18:2; 44:3).

some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun used to indicate non-specification; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. The pronoun is often used to distinguish an individual or group in contrast to others. of: Grk. ek, prep., lit. "out of." See verse 6 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e. the Israelite people. Paul is under no false illusions that every Jew would be saved (Rom 9:6; cf. Matt 3:9; John 1:12-13), nor did he labor under any assumption that he could save anyone by himself (1Cor 3:6). Salvation of sinners is a collaborate effort as disciples minister together in the name of Yeshua with the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt 9:36-38; Acts 1:8).

Sometimes Christians may be infected with a naiveté that assumes the world can be won for Yeshua if only every disciple would win another person. Yeshua himself said that only a few would be saved (Matt 7:14). What Christians miss in interpreting this verse is the importance of evangelism among Jews. Stern observes that most Christians do not have a ministry to Jewish people, so they suppose that they have no particular responsibility toward them.

The imperative of the good news is to the Jew first (1:16) and Christians should consider how they might support evangelism to Jews worldwide and to Israelis in particular, especially through Messianic Jewish organizations and ministries. Contrary to common perception Paul spent considerable time among Jews. The first stop in every city he visited was the synagogue where he presented the message of Messiah Yeshua. Even in Rome, the very city to which this letter was written, he seems to have had, a few years later, a notable evangelistic success with them (Acts 28:24–25).

15― For if their rejecting is reconciliation of the world, what is receiving if not life from death?

For: Grk. gar, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. rejecting: Grk. apobolē, a throwing away, and thus rejection or repudiation; i.e. "rejecting Yeshua." Some versions treat the pronoun "their" as an objective genitive, which denotes receiving the action. Thus, these versions interpret the opening clause to represent Replacement Theology and mean Israel being rejected by God (AMPC, ASV, BRG, Darby, DRA, EXB, GNB, HNV, JUB, KJV, Moffatt, NCV, NKJV, NLV, NMB, NIRV, PNT, TLB, WE, WEB, YLT). The ERV and WE are very explicit with "God turned away from the Jews."

All of these versions have purposely mistranslated what Paul meant and used words and grammatical constructions not even found in the Greek text. Moreover, the bad translations contradict what Paul has just explicitly said in verse 1 that God has not rejected Israel and what he says in verses 28–29 below that God’s gifts and calling of Israel are irrevocable. Indeed, why would God reject the Israelite people when tens of thousands of Jews had accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and Savior (Acts 21:20)?

The pronoun "their" is clearly a subjective genitive, which denotes performing the action. that is, the Jewish ruling authorities, whether at the Temple or in synagogues, rejected God's purposes in Yeshua. Other versions have the simple translation "their rejection" (AMP, CEB, CSB, DLNT, ESV, ISV, LEB, MEV, MJLT, MRINT, NAB, NASB, NASU, NEB, NJB, NET, NIV, NOG, NRSV, OJB, RSV, TLV) as I've done above. Unfortunately, some Christian readers might still interpret the literal translation as God's rejection rather than Israel's rejection. The CJB clarifies the matter by its translation of "by casting Yeshua aside," as well as the CEV, "when Israel rejected God."

is: Of interest is the lack of a verb here and thus Paul implies a logical formula. "Rejection equals." reconciliation: Grk. katallagē, change into a friendly relationship, reconciliation. Mounce defines as "restoration to favor." A few versions translates katallagē as a verbal participle (ASV, HNV, JUB, KJV, NKJV), but it actually is a noun in the nominative form. The noun points to an end result, not the process. Reconciliation reflects a drastic change in relationship grounded in the mercy and forgiveness of God.

of the world: Grk. kosmos. See verse 12 above. The term is used in the widest sense of mankind or Jews and Gentiles. Jews generally believed that Gentiles could be saved if they abided by the terms of the Noahic covenant (Stern 81). However, the apostolic message is that reconciliation with God is accomplished through the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua. what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 2 above. It's important to note that Paul asks a question rather than making a prophecy of the future. "What would happen if?"

is receiving: Grk. proslēmpsis (from proslambanō, "receive aggressively"), a receiving, hospitable reception, the opposite of apobolē; i.e., "receiving Yeshua." This phrase should be interpreted in the same manner as the first clause and would refer to the reception of Yeshua by Israelites as their Messiah and Redeemer. if: Grk. ei. not: Grk. , adv. life: Grk. zōē, the state of being alive in contrast with being dead. The Besekh not only uses zōē in its normal meaning of ordinary physical existence, but over forty times for life that continues into the next age and eternity. In the LXX zōē translates Heb. chay (SH-2416, alive, living) with both literal and figurative uses.

from: Grk. ek, prep. See verse 6 above. death: Grk. nekros may be used as (1) a noun, corpse or (2) adj., without life in the physical sense, subject to death. The term can also mean spiritually dead, i.e. "destitute of a life that recognizes and is devoted to God, because of having given up to trespasses and sins; inactive as respects doing right" (e.g. Matt 8:22; John 5:25; Rom 6:13; Eph 2:1, 5; 5:14; Col 2:13; Rev 3:1) (Thayer). In the LXX nekros occurs about 60 times and primarily translates Heb. participle mêt (SH-4191), to die, used of persons, first in Genesis 23:3 (DNTT 1:444).

The phrase "life from death" could allude to the bodily resurrection, which Paul discusses in 8:11-24 and at length in 1Corinthians 15. Paul as a Pharisee believed in the resurrection and when he later appears before the Sanhedrin he will proclaim that he is on trial for the hope of the resurrection (Acts 23:6). Yet, Paul does not use the word "resurrection" and the phrase "life from death" carries a profound spiritual meaning (cf. Rom 6:4, 13; Col 2:12). The unbelieving Jewish leaders were dead in their trespasses and sins (cf. Eph 2:3) and served "dead works" (Heb 9:14). If Israel's leaders were to reverse their opposition to Yeshua then Israel would truly come to life as God intended.

Stern suggests that Paul may be offering a midrash on Ezekiel 37, which uses the valley-of-dry-bones vision to speak figuratively of Israel being restored as a political nation to inhabit the Land forever (Ezek 37:1–12, 15–22), and then spiritually (Ezek 37:13–14, 23–28) as coming to faith in God and his Messiah Yeshua in the light of the New Covenant. Thus,

"Paul feels duty-bound to follow the Jewish pattern of hastening the Messiah’s Second Coming (cf. 2Pet 3:12) by evangelizing the Jewish people indirectly (vv. 13–14), as well as directly (Acts 9–28, 1Cor 9:19–23)."

Similarly, Morris interprets the phrase "life from the dead" as the reconciling of Israel back to God, associated with both the resurrection of Israel as a nation and the bodily resurrection of all who died in faith (Isa 26:19; Hos 6:1-3; Rev 20:4-6). This interpretation provides strong motivation for Jewish evangelism.

16― Now if the firstfruits is holy, also the lump, and if the root is holy, also the branches.

Paul introduces the analogy of the Olive Tree, which continues through verse 24, but begins with a different metaphor. Now: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. the firstfruits: Grk. ho aparchē, make a beginning in sacrifice by offering something as first fruits. In Greek culture this term referred to the first portions set apart for deity. In the LXX this word was chosen to translate terumah ("heave offering," Num 15:19), where it refers to a portion of bread-cake that was presented as an offering to represent the first fruits of the harvest.

The feast, called Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) and Yom HaBikkurim (Day of First Fruits), occurred fifty days after Passover (Lev 23:9-11, 17-20; Num 15:18-21). This was the only time of the year that leavened bread was permitted in the inner sanctuary of the Temple. It was during this feast, later identified as Pentecost on the Christian calendar, that the Holy Spirit came upon 120+ disciples, all Jews.

is holy: Grk. hagios, adj., set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of God. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qôdesh, sacredness, apartness, holiness (DNTT 2:224; BDB 871). In the Torah the first fruits offering was holy (Heb. qadôsh) to the Lord, i.e., it belonged to God. The Jewish firstfruits could be considered "holy" because their hearts had been purified (Acts 15:8-9). also: Grk. kai, conj. the lump: Grk. ho phurama, a mass of malleable matter formed by mixing or kneading dry and wet ingredients. Paul makes the analogy that if the portion of the bread-cake offered by the priests is holy, so is the whole cake.

and: Grk. kai, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. the root: Grk. ho rhiza, root, normally used of a tree (Matt 3:10) and other plants (Mark 4:6), but also in imagery of genealogical lineage (Rom 15:12; Rev 5:5). The root is the source of nourishment (the next verse) and support (verse 18 below) for the entire plant. The term has a figurative use as demonstrated in a parable of Yeshua (Matt 13:21; Mark 4:17; Luke 8:13) and Paul's reasoning that follows. In the LXX rhiza translates Heb. shoresh, a root (BDB 1057), which is used to represent the root of the Messiah (Isa 11:1, 10; 53:2; Sirach 47:22), as well as the covenant people (Ps 80:9; Prov 12:3, 12; Isa 5:24; 37:31; Ezek 17:6; Hos 14:5).

is holy: Grk. hagios. Paul adds the logical comparison that if one is holy so is another. Stern identifies three alternatives for the identity of the root:

● First, the root could be the faithful remnant of historic Israel (cf. 9:6-7; 11:5). The root could allude to the prophecy of Isaiah 6:3, "If even a tenth [of the people] remain, it will again be devoured. "But like a pistachio tree or an oak, whose trunk remains alive after its leaves fall off, the holy seed will be its trunk" (CJB). Against this interpretation is that the root cannot be the Jewish people, since like the Gentiles they are branches (Edwards).

● Second, the root could be Abraham (Rom 4:12) or all the Patriarchs (verse 28 below). Paul presents Abraham as the father of our faith. Peter in his Pentecost sermon and Paul in his Roman treatise asserted that all of God's promises of blessing and life have their origin in Abraham (Acts 3:25; Rom 4:1-12). God promised as much to Abraham – "I will make you a great nation…and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed" (Gen 12:2-3). Early Gentile believers in Messiah Yeshua were not surprised to hear that their origin and hope for the future likewise resided in Abraham, as Paul says, "And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed—heirs according to the promise" (Gal 3:29 TLV). The faith Yeshua and the apostles handed down to the Body of Messiah was a Hebrew faith grounded in the life and example of the first Hebrew, Abraham. This option is favored by Clarke, Harrison, Murray, Stern, and Wesley.

● Third, Yeshua, who alone makes Israel holy, would seem to be a better choice since Paul refers to Yeshua as firstborn, a root and first fruits:

"For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." (Rom 8:29)

"Again, Yesha'yahu [Isaiah] says, "There will be the root [Grk. rhiza] of Yishai [Jesse], He who arises to rule over the Goyim; on him will the Goyim hope." (Rom 15:12 CJB)

"But now Messiah has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since death came by man, the resurrection of the dead also came by man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Messiah the first fruits, then those who are Messiah's, at his coming." (1Cor 15:20-23 CJB)

A similar analogy occurs in John 15 where Yeshua says, "I am the vine, you are the branches," (John 15:5). Of course, "branches" in that passage is not the same word that occurs here, but the metaphor functions in the same manner. The branches, whether tree or grape vine, draw their sustenance from the root. Taking the root as Yeshua seems a logical deduction. In Yeshua's debate with his opponents in John 8, he counters the claim of his opponents as being the children of Abraham with the saying, "before Abraham was born, I am," (John 8:58). In other words the root is YHVH, the God of Israel, who called Abraham to the life of faithfulness (Gen 15:7; 17:1). Yeshua is YHVH and as such is the author and perfecter of our trusting faithfulness (Heb 12:2), not Abraham.

However, Stern suggests that the concept of Yeshua as the root may have gained currency in historic Christianity because of its tendency to want to deprive the Jews of their place as God’s people, the root and firstfruits of faith. Paul does not explain the root here, although in the next verse he will mention the tree, which, of course, biologically speaking consists of root, trunk and branches. In Jeremiah 11:16 ADONAI says that he gave the name "Olive Tree" to Israel. However, in the total context of Scripture, considering the usage of rhiza, the acceptance of Yeshua as the root does not deny the election of Israel.

also: Grk. kai, conj. the branches: pl. of Grk. ho klados, branch in reference to a tree. In the Besekh the word occurs only in the synoptic narratives (Matt 13:32; 21:8; 24:32) and in this chapter. Paul began with the first fruits of bread in order to present his theology of the Olive Tree in the following verses, which may be a midrash on the figure of the olive tree in Jeremiah 11:16-19 (suggested by A.T. Hanson; cited in NET Notes). The same logic of the bread applies to the tree. The branches are holy to the Lord.

As for the identity of the branches Stern suggests four options: (1) every single Jew, past, present and future; (2) every single Messianic Jew, past, present and future; (3) the Jewish people, as a nation, though not necessarily every Jew; (4) all believers, Jewish and Gentile, past, present and future. Stern favors the third option, and given Paul's description of the body of Messiah as the commonwealth of Israel in Ephesians 2, then it would seem most logical that the branches constitute corporate Israel, biblically defined.

Another viable alternative is that since God gave the name "Olive Tree" to Israel, then the branches would be the twelve tribes. There is precedence for this view since Joseph was likened to producing fruitful branches (Gen 49:22). Joseph would eventually be treated as two tribes (Manasseh and Ephraim) in the distribution of the Land. Yeshua likened his apostles as branches of a vine and they probably represented the twelve tribes since he promised that they would judge the twelve tribes (Luke 22:30)

Olive Tree Analogy, 11:17–24

17― But if some of the branches were broken off, you now, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them, and became a sharer of the fatness of the Root of the olive tree,

But: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. some: pl. of Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. of the branches: pl. of Grk. klados. See the previous verse. were broken off: Grk. ekklaō, aor. pass., to break off. This may be a historical allusion to the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah:

"Now in that day Jacob's glory will fade, and the fatness of his flesh grow lean. 5 It will be as when the harvester gathers the standing grain and reaps the heads with his arm, as when one gleans grain in the valley of Rephaim. 6 Only gleanings will remain, as when beating an olive tree—two or three olives at the very top, four or five on a fruitful tree’s branches. It is a declaration of ADONAI God of Israel." (Isa 17:4-6 TLV)

"ADONAI called your name—a leafy olive tree, beautiful with well-formed fruit. With the noise of a great tumult He has set it on fire, and its branches are broken." (Jer 11:16 TLV)

Considering the branches as tribes, ten were broken off from the Olive Tree during the time of the Assyrian invasion. However, the ten tribes were not removed from the Land in their entirety. In fact, after the Assyria invasion, there were members of those tribes that migrated to Judah or were already there at the time of the invasion (2Kgs 15:29; 17:6, 21; 2Chr 30:1, 21, 25; 31:1; 32:17, 23; 34:9, 21; 35:17; 36:13). Eventually, the remaining branches were broken off by the Babylonians as far as removal from the Land.

However, a better way of interpreting the metaphorical language is that God cut off all the unfaithful in all the tribes as he promised in the Torah curses (Deut 28:45; 30:17-18). None of the tribes disappeared (Acts 26:7; Jas 1:1) and God's covenant with all twelve tribes remains in force as the appointment of the apostles as their clan leaders (Matt 19:28) and their representation in Revelation 7:4-8 testify. See my article The Twelve Tribes of Israel.

you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. The singular pronoun might view the Gentiles addressed in verse 13 above as a group, but more likely he returns to the fictive opponent he has addressed in earlier parts of the letter (Rom 2:1, 3, 17; 4:1; 9:19-20; 10:6; 11:1). now: Grk. de, conj. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 1 above. a wild olive: Grk. agrielaios (from agrios, "wild, uncultivated" and elaia, "olive tree"), an uncultivated olive tree. The noun occurs only in this chapter of the Besekh. The Greek term does not occur in other Jewish literature so its use as a type is unique to Paul. It grows wild rather than being planted or cultivated by a farmer.

Since Israel was originally identified as an "olive tree" (Jer 11:16), which existed by covenant consisting of commandments, then wild olive then refers to those outside the covenant, i.e., Gentiles. In Ephesians 2:12 Paul depicts the Gentiles as "strangers to the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world."

were grafted in: Grk. egkentrizō (from en, "in" and kentrizō, "to prick, puncture"), aor. pass., a horticultural term meaning to graft into a plant. A bud, shoot, or scion of a plant is inserted in a groove, slit, or the like in a stem or stock of another plant in which it continues to grow. among: Grk. en, prep., lit. "within." them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The plural pronoun refers to the branches of the olive tree. GW and RSV give the bizarre translation of "grafted in their place," implying replacement theology. The Greek phrase instead emphasizes that the wild olive shoot was inserted into the tree among the other branches.

and: Grk. kai, conj. became: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 5 above. a sharer: Grk. sugkoinōnos (from sun, "with" and koinōnos, "a sharer, partner, companion") to be connected with or to be a sharer with; participant, sharer. Many versions translate the noun as a verb (generally "share"). The noun rebuts the idea of replacement. The noun does not occur in earlier Jewish or Greek literature, so Paul may have coined the term. He could have used the term koinōnos, but this term occurs in the LXX for a marriage partner (Mal 2:14), and three times to refer to a partner in wickedness (2Kgs 17:11; Prov 28:24; Isa 1:23).

Individual examples of national grafting found in the Tanakh include Rahab, Ruth and Naamah who all belonged to idolatrous nations, but were grafted into the stock of Israel. Rahab and Ruth were ancestors of King David (Josh 6:25; Ruth 4:13ff; Matt 1:5) and Naamah was an ancestor of King Hezekiah (1Kgs 14:31; Matt 1:7-9). Paul describes the "grafted-in" Gentiles as formerly "strangers and sojourners," but now "fellow citizens of the holy ones, and of the household of God" (Eph 2:19 BR). Paul then identifies the nature of what the grafted-in Gentiles share with the believing Jews.

of the fatness: Grk. ho piotēs (from piōn, "fat"), referring to the high quality of sap delivered from the root of the olive tree; fatness, richness. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. In the LXX piotēs translates Heb. mashman (SH-4924), fatness, for the fertility of the earth (Gen 27:28; Ps 65:11); and then Heb. deshen (SH-1880), abundance or fatness, used of the oil of the olive (Jdg 9:9), but also figuratively of spiritual blessings (Ps 36:8; Isa 55:2; Jer 31:14). Gentiles do not share in the covenantal rights to the land, but they do share in the spiritual benefits of the New Covenant.

of the Root: Grk. ho rhiza. See the previous verse. In horticultural grafting the new branch, called a scion, does not take place into the root but into the stock of the tree. The grafting may be done to repair an injured tree or fill out a mature tree to make it even better. However, the rootstock has what the scion needs for nourishment and the scion has buds capable of blossoming and producing fruit. This imagery has powerful spiritual implications. The noun is used here as a Messianic title, since the noun is distinguished from the tree. Yeshua is the mediator of the New Covenant (Heb 9:15; 12:24).

of the olive tree: Grk. elaia, used of the olive tree or its fruit (Jas 3:12) and the Mount of Olives (Matt 21:21). In the LXX elaia translates Heb. zayith (SH-2132), olive tree, olive grove, or olive, first in Genesis 8:11. The olive is a small evergreen tree or shrub native to the land of Israel. Its fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the history of Israel as the source of olive oil used in food preparation, lighting and religious ceremonies. Olive trees are very hardy, resistant to drought, disease and fire, and can live for a very long time. Its root system is very capable of regenerating the tree even if the above-ground structure is destroyed.

The Tanakh describes the people of Israel as various trees, including the vine (Isa 5:1-7), the cedar and the palm tree (Ps 92:12), and the olive tree (Jer 11:16). The olive tree is most significant as demonstrated in this quotation form the Talmud:

"R. Isaac said, … Then came forth a Heavenly Voice and said, 'The Lord called thy name a leafy olive-tree, fair with goodly fruit: as the olive-tree produces its best only at the very end, so Israel will flourish at the end of time.' … R. Joshua b. Levi said, 'Why is Israel likened to an olive-tree? To tell you that as the olive-tree loses not its leaves either in summer or in winter, so Israel shall never be lost either in this world or in the world to come.' R. Johanan said, 'Why is Israel likened to an olive-tree? To tell you that just as the olive produces its oil only after pounding, so Israel returns to the right way only after suffering.'" (Menahoth 53b)

18― do not boast against the branches. But, if you boast against them, you do not support the root, but the root supports you.

do not: Grk. , adv. See verse 1 above. boast against: Grk. katakauchaomai (from kata, "according to, against" and kauxaomai, "boast, speak loudly"), aor. mid. imp., have or express pride in being intimately associated or involved with some person, thing or circumstance; boast against, exult over. "Boast" perhaps implies a taunting attitude of superiority because of having been grafted into the tree. The imperative mood combined with the negative particle indicates a strong command with full apostolic authority for the offenders to stop a practice in progress.

the branches: pl. of Grk. ho klados. See verse 16 above. The "branches" may allude to the Jewish branches previously "broken off" for unbelief or even the remnant branches as part of the Olive Tree. The apostolic command was ignored in the history of patristic and Reformed Christianity as antisemitism, fueled by arrogant pride that diminished Jews with undeserved epithets and slurs, continued to invent new ways to oppress the chosen people.

But: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. you boast against them: Grk. katakauchaomai, pres. mid., 2p-sing. you: Grk. su, pronounof the second person. do not: Grk. ou, adv., particle of strong negation. support: Grk. bastazō, pres., may mean (1) take up something from a position; lift; (2) sustain a burden; bear, carry; (3) remove from a position; carry away, remove. The second meaning applies here. Thayer gives the meaning here as 'uphold' or 'support.' the root: Grk. rhiza. See verse 16 above. but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 4 above. the root: Grk. rhiza. supports you: Grk. su. The verb bastazō is not repeated, but is implied in the construction.

Paul offers a similar thought in his first letter to the congregation in Corinth:

"For who makes you different? And what do you have that you didn't receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" (1Cor 4:7)

The principle applies no matter how the root is defined, because the Gentiles are not the root. Too many Christians still fail to realize that trusting in Israel's God and Messiah also means joining the covenant people. We should have the same attitude of Ruth who in humility said: "Your people shall be my people and your God my God" (Ruth 1:16). As Stern reminds us, "Gentile Christians have joined Israel, not the reverse. For a Gentile Christian to look down on the people he has joined is not only chutzpah and ingratitude but also self-hate."

19― Then you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in."

Then: Grk. oun, conj. you will say: Grk. ereō, fut., inform through utterance, here denoting anticipated speech; call, say, speak, tell. Paul returns to the rhetorical device of the fictive opponent and uses the future tense to suggest how the opponent will respond to what Paul has just asserted. The verb is singular, which may only be natural for a fictive opponent or it may suggest an actual person without indicting a number of Gentiles in the Roman congregation.

Branches: pl. of Grk. klados. See verse 16 above. were broken off: Grk. ekklaō, aor. pass. See verse 17 above. so that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 11 above. I might be grafted in: Grk. egkentizō, aor. pass. subj., 1p-sing. See verse 17 above. The fictive opponent has the temerity to suggest that branches, whether tribes or unbelieving Jews, were broken off in order for him to have a place among the people of God. What colossal arrogance to think that God would be such a discriminator of persons!

20― Rightly so! They were broken off by unbelief, but you stand by faithfulness. Be not high minded, but fear.

Rightly so: Grk. kalōs, (from kalos, "good"), adverb used to denote effect or tendency in declarations; well, justly, aptly (Zodhiates). The adverb is used here as an exclamation. Danker translates the word for this verse as an exclamatory, "Fine!" Thayer says the adverb is an expression of approval and virtually every Bible version reflects this viewpoint. However, the expression also has the nuance of sarcasm, because he goes on to correct the faulty conclusion. This interpretation is reflected in the CJB that has "True, but so what?" and the TLV that has "True enough." Paul then addresses the premise.

they were broken off: Grk. ekklao, aor. pass., 3p-pl. See verse 17 above. Paul then states the true reason for being broken off or cut off. by unbelief: Grk. apistia, refusal to give credence to; lack of faith, unbelief. Danker says the noun refers to the lack of willingness to respond positively to words or actions that invite belief or commitment. Unbelief invariably cuts one off from God and invokes divine wrath. The term denotes the failure to trust which then resulted in the failure to obey or to be faithful to God. This specific charge is made of the Israelites who were prevented from entering the promised land because of rebellion in the wilderness (Heb 3:19).

Moses reminded the Israelites of the miracles God had performed in the wilderness, but concluded, "Yet for all this you did not trust in ADONAI your God" (Deut 1:32 TLV). And again when the northern kingdom of Israel rebelled and they were rebuked the Scripture records that, "Yet they would not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not trust in ADONAI their God." (2Kgs 17:14 TLV). As a result the kingdom was broken by the Assyrians (2Kgs 17:6).

but: Grk. de, conj. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person; i.e., the fictive opponent. stand: Grk. histēmi, perf., may mean (1) to cause to be in a place or position; set, place or (2) be in an upright position; stand, used of bodily posture. The first meaning applies here but in the extended sense of causing someone to remain firm or steadfast. by faithfulness: Grk. ho pistis (from peithō, "to persuade, be persuaded"), incorporates two primary facets of meaning: (1) belief evoked by another's reputation for trustworthiness, thus confidence, faith, or trust; and (2) dependability in awareness of obligation to others, thus constancy, faithfulness or fidelity.

In the LXX pistis occurs first in Deuteronomy 32:20 to translate Heb. emun (SH-529), faithfulness, trusting (BDB 53). This usage describes a generation that was not faithful to God. Then pistis translates Heb. emunah (SH-530), firmness, steadfastness, or fidelity (BDB 53), mainly of men's faithfulness (1Sam 26:23; 2Kgs 12:15; 22:7; Jer 5:1, 3; 7:28; 9:3; Hos 2:20), but also of God's faithfulness (Ps 33:4; Lam 3:23; Hab 2:4). Pistis also translates amanah (SH-548), faith, fixed support (Neh 9:38; 11:23; SS 4:8); and emet (SH-571), firmness, faithfulness, or truth (BDB 54; Prov 14:22; Jer 28:9; 33:6).

The LXX usage emphasizes that the intended meaning of pistis is a firm persuasion of divinely revealed truth that results in fidelity or trusting faithfulness. In Christianity "faith" has various shades of meaning and may be understood simply as belief in God or the teachings of Christianity, such as the content of the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. "Faith" is also thought of in terms of "saving faith," which not only knows and comprehends the facts about the good news of Yeshua but also trusts in the person and work of Yeshua alone for salvation.

The goal of life is to receive or obey the Lord's gift of faith in every circumstance of life. This failure to trust characterized the grumbling Israelites in the wilderness. In Hebrews Paul used pistis as the opposite of "shrinking back" (Heb 10:39). The biblical term "faith" begins with belief but then expands into trusting and acting in obedience to God's commandments, and may be expressed by the formula "belief + trust + obedience." Thus, pistis is actively pressing straight ahead in fidelity to God. The condition for remaining in the Olive Tree of Israel is to continue in trusting faithfulness in the God of Israel and the Jewish Messiah.

Be not: Grk. , adv. high: Grk. hupsēlos, adj., may mean (1) positioned at a point that is upward; high; or (2) considered to be of special importance; highly valued/esteemed. The second meaning applies here to indicate an aberrant sense of self-importance. minded: Grk. phroneō, pres. imp., engage in a process of mental activity, with emphasis on thought or attitude; think, give thought to. In other words, don't think higher of yourself than God does.

but: Grk. alla, conj. fear: Grk. phobeō, pres. mid. imp., may mean (1) be in a state of apprehension; be afraid, fear; or (2) have special respect or reverence; be in awe. Most versions follow the first meaning with "fear" or "be afraid," but the CJB may be closer to the mark with "be terrified." A sensible person standing in the presence of the holy God of Israel should remember Yeshua's words, "I tell you that every idle word that men speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matt 17:36-37 NASB).

Gentile disciples can't claim any special privileges. As Yochanan the Immerser said to certain Pharisees and Sadducees, "do not think that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father'! For I tell you that from these stones God can raise up children for Abraham" (Matt 3:9 TLV). Gentile believers might be "sons of Abraham" (Gal 3:7-8), but this spiritual privilege does not grant preeminence in the Body of Messiah.

21― For if God did not spare the branches according to nature, neither will he spare you.

For: Grk. gar, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. God: Grk. ho theos, the God of Israel. See verse 1 above. did not: Grk. ou, adv. spare: Grk. pheidomai, aor. mid., have hesitation about doing something that affects adversely; spare. the branches: pl. of Grk. ho klados. See verse 16 above. according to: Grk. kata, prep. nature: Grk. phusis, a fundamental state of being; nature. Paul uses the term in the sense of those who share a common ethnic descent. neither: Grk. oude, adv. that links a negative statement as complement to a preceding negative; neither, nor. will he spare: Grk. pheidomai, fut. mid. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person.

The grafted-in branch only keeps its position in the tree on the same basis as the natural branches. Breaking God's commandments and engaging in antisemitic pride is very dangerous activity, because it demonstrates the same lack of trust as the ancient Israelites who were cut off. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) and the same equity principle of impartiality that provides salvation to the Gentiles also works to impose judgment when the covenantal relationship is violated. The New Covenant does not provide an absolute eternal security clause for Gentiles.

22― Behold therefore the kindness and severity of God: indeed upon the ones having fallen severity, but on you the kindness of God, if you continue in His kindness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.

Behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp., demonstrative interjection that arouses the attention of hearers or readers; (you) see, look, behold (BAG). In the LXX idou translates Heb. hinneh (SH-2009), lo, behold, which often serves to enliven divine monologues and narratives, particularly to invite closer consideration of something (e.g. Gen 1:29). therefore: Grk. oun, conj. the kindness: Grk. chrēstotēs, the quality of having a high level of usefulness, understood in Israelite culture as an important factor in maintaining a well-ordered society; kindness, generosity, goodness. As an attribute of God it would be all these elements combined.

and: Grk. kai, conj. severity: Grk. apotomia, an attitude that cuts off the possibility of lenience; strictness, harness, severity. of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 1 above. In the Tanakh God cuts off those who intentionally transgress His commandments and for specific capital crimes, either from the nation or the earth and usually by death (Gen 17:14; Num 15:31; Isa 29:20). Paul restates his theme of the sovereignty of God in 9:14-15. God's standard is impartial. Many modern scholars (and not a few Christians) have difficulty with the severity of God and assume in the end God will surely welcome everyone into His kingdom.

However, Yeshua insisted that only a few are on the road to life and far too many are on the road to eternal death (Matt 7:13-14). In a previous letter Paul had asserted that those who don't know God and don't obey the Good News of Yeshua will pay the penalty of eternal destruction (2Th 1:8-9). Then he gives a more explicit warning in his letter to Messianic Jews:

"26 For if we continue sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, a sacrifice for sins no longer remains, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire being about to consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone having set aside the Torah of Moses dies without mercy on the basis of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment will he deserve, do you think, the one having trampled upon the Son of God, and having esteemed as common the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and having insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know the One having said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "ADONAI judges His people." (Heb 10:26-30 BR)

indeed: Grk. mén, conj. See verse 9 above. upon: Grk. epi, prep. the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having fallen: Grk. piptō, aor. part. See verse 11 above. Paul uses the verb to depict the consequence of spiritual rebellion and probably alludes to the wilderness generation (cf. Heb 3:17). God had pronounced this specific judgment against the Israelites, "In this wilderness all your corpses shall fall" (Num 14:29). severity: Grk. apotomia. Moses recorded the severity of the punishment of those who willfully rebelled:

"22 Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, 23 shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it." (Num 14:22-23)

but: Grk. de, conj. on: Grk. epi. you: Grk. su, 2p-sing. personal pronoun; i.e., the fictive opponent. the kindness: Grk. chrēstotēs. of God: Grk. theos. if: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. The conjunction makes it clear that the kindness or favor of God is conditional. you continue in: Grk. epimenō, pres. subj., 2p-sing., may mean (1) persist in a local position; remain, stay; or (2) continue in a state or activity; continue, persist. The second meaning applies here.

His kindness: Grk. chrēstotēs. Otherwise: Grk. epei, conj. that can have either a temporal function, 'when,' 'after' or a causal function; 'since, inasmuch as, otherwise.' The causal function applies here. you: Grk. su; the fictive opponent. also: Grk. kai, conj. will be cut off: Grk. ekkoptō, fut. pass., eliminate by cutting; cut off, do away with, remove. God is an equal opportunity master. Favor is extended from heaven by virtue of continuing in a relationship of trust and faithfulness to His commandments.

There is no basis for a theology that allows a disciple to believe in and follow the Jewish Messiah and then live anyway he wants, especially to hate Yeshua's own people. God doesn't change His commandments given to Israel into suggestions for the sake of the Gentiles. The "if" in the middle of the statement clearly makes salvation conditional. Moreover, if you want the blessing of God, then bless His people. God told Abraham, "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you" (Gen 12:3), and that promise extends to all the "sons of Abraham."

23― And they, moreover, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to engraft them back.

And they: pl. of Grk. kakeinos, demonstrative pronoun used in reference to someone or something mentioned earlier; and/also that one. moreover: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ean, conj. they do not: Grk. , adv. continue: Grk. epimenō, pres. subj., 3p-pl. See the previous verse. in unbelief: Grk. apistia. See verse 20 above. Yeshua marveled at the unbelief he encountered in his home town of Nazareth (Matt 13:58). To discontinue on this path to judgment requires a radical self-assessment and confession as the man told Yeshua, "I believe. Help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24).

will be grafted in: Grk. egkentizō, fut. pass., 3p-pl. See verse 19 above. Paul makes a simple horticultural argument. A branch that has been cut off can be grafted back into the rootstock. Restoration is accomplished on the same basis as the new birth (Rom 10:9-10), namely confess, repent, trust and commit. for: Grk. gar, conj. God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 1 above. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. able: Grk. dunatos, adj., may mean (1) having power or competence, mostly of persons; competent, able, powerful; or (2) capable of being realized; possible, realizable. The first meaning applies here in reference to God's power.

to engraft: Grk. egkentizō, aor. inf. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. back: Grk. palin, adv., back, back again, again and used (1) of a place or position to which one returns; or (2) of time, with focus on a repetitive occurrence and meaning again, once more. The first usage is intended here. Most versions translate the adverb as "again," but Paul is not describing a repetitive action, but a restorative action. Danker identifies "back" as the appropriate meaning, which some versions employ (CJB, ERV, EXB, GNB, NCV, NLV, NTE, VOICE, WE).

Such a spiritual grafting requires the power of the sovereign God. What man considers impossible is more than possible with God (Gen 18:14; Jer 32:17; Luke 18:27). Paul could provide himself as Exhibit A, as he said to Timothy, "although I was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, and insolent. However, I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief" (1Tim 1:13).

24― For if you, according to nature, were cut out from a wild olive tree, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more these who are according to nature, will be grafted into their own olive tree.

For: Grk. gar, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person, used of Paul's fictive opponent. according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 5 above. nature: Grk. phusis. See verse 21 above. were cut out: Grk. ekkoptō, aor. pass. See verse 22 above. from: Grk. ek, prep. See verse 6 above. a wild olive tree: Grk. agrielaios. See verse 17 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. contrary to: Grk. para, prep. that stresses nearness ("beside"), but with the accusative case of the noun following and the contrast with kata, the meaning is "contrary to" (Thayer). nature: Grk. phusis.

were grafted into: Grk. egkentrizō, aor. pass. See verse 19 above. Stern explains the figurative description as contrary to normal agricultural practice, contrary to what makes economic sense. a cultivated olive tree: Grk. kallielaios, cultivated or domesticated olive tree. LSJ defines the term as a "garden olive." The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Like agrielaios, this term is not found in other Jewish literature, so its use as a type is unique to Paul. The contrast between the two types of trees was noted in Greek literature as early as Aristotle (4th cent. B.C.) (BAG).

The contrast Paul is making is similar to his declaration in Galatians 2:15 where he rebukes Peter for hypocrisy by saying that "we are traditional Jews by birth [Grk. phusis] and not sinners from among the nations" (BR). The contrast there is not that Jews possess no evil inclination, but that Jews are born into a people bound by covenant to God and Gentiles are not. From a moral and spiritual perspective the Gentiles lack all the influences of growing up in a Torah-observant environment.

how much: Grk. posos, an interrogative pronoun. See verse 12 above. The focus here is on quantity. more: Grk. mallon, adv. of increase or additive to some aspect of activity, situation, or condition; (much) more. Paul introduces a kal v'chomer argument, where if one thing is true, how much more is another thing true (also called a fortiori argument in Greek logic). these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this one. who: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun.

are according to: Grk. kata. nature: Grk. phusis. will be grafted into: Grk. egkentrizō, fut. pass. their own: Grk. idios, adj., belonging to oneself, one's own. olive tree: Grk. elaia may mean the olive tree or the fruit of that tree. The climax of Paul's argument emphasizes God's sovereign control over his olive tree. Stern observes:

"The analogy does not apply to every single Jew over against every single Gentile—especially today, when some Jews are raised without any Jewish identification, while many Gentiles, particularly those raised in Christian homes, have been exposed to spiritual truth as much as or more than many Jews. But, leaving modern exceptions aside, it ought to be easier for a Jew to believe in Yeshua as the Messiah than for a Gentile (and this would certainly have been so when Sha'ul wrote), since "Messiah" is a concept which is part of Jewish culture, whereas a Gentile has to be introduced to an idea alien to his culture (Acts 11:20–23)."

Mystery of Deliverance, 11:25-32

25― For I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery in order that you not be intelligent in yourselves: that a hardening by a part has happened to Israel, until that fullness of the nations comes in.

For: Grk. gar, conj. I do not: Grk. ou, adv., particle of strong negation. want: Grk. thelō, pres., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The plural pronoun takes in the entire congregation. to be ignorant: Grk. agnoeō, pres. inf., to be without knowledge of something; be ignorant, be uniformed. brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, voc., lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant "brother." The term primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob.

In the LXX adelphos is used for the Heb. ach, meaning (1) brother, a male sibling born of the same mother and father (Gen 4:2); also half-siblings (Gen 20:5). In the apostolic letters the direct address of "adelphoi" certainly stresses the Jewish constituency of the congregation (e.g. 1Cor 1:10; Gal 1:2; Php 2:25; 1Th 3:22). Danker suggests that the use of adelphoi in hortatory instructions would also stress the collective sense of "brothers and sisters," including Gentiles and women, given that Paul is addressing the entire constituency of the congregations. A number of versions translate the plural noun as "brothers and sisters" (e.g. CEB, CSB, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, TLV).

However, "brothers" might be more appropriate considering the confrontational nature of this letter. The direct address, which stresses the Jewish constituency of the congregation, would include the elders of the congregation as well as prominent male leaders and heads of households. Paul was not shy about addressing women directly (cf. 1Cor 14:34f; 1Tim 2:9-12; 3:11; Titus 2:3-4). Stern suggests that Paul emphasizes the filial relationship, because some of the Gentile members might have taken umbrage at the sharpness of his immediately preceding remarks.

of this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 6 above. mystery: Grk. ho mustērion, that which awaits divine disclosure or interpretation; mystery, secret. In the LXX mustērion occurs only in later writings, i.e., those belonging to the Hellenistic period (DNTT 3:502) and translates Aram. raz, a secret (Dan 2:18-19, 27-30, 47; 4:9). A comparable Hebrew term sôd, secret, occurs in Amos 3:7, "Surely the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret [LXX apokaluptō] to His servants the prophets." Another Hebrew term is sathar, conceal, hide, used in Deuteronomy 29:29, "the secret things [LXX krupta] belong to the Lord."

In Greek culture mustērion referred to a secret rite or secret teaching of pagan cults and so it carries this meaning in Apocryphal literature (Wis. 12:5; 14:23; 3Macc 2:30). Besides this religious usage mustērion is used in the Apocrypha in the ordinary sense of secrets kept by humans (Tobit 12:7; Judith 2:2; 2Macc 13:21; Sirach 22:22; 27:16). The term occurs 28 times in the Besekh, 21 of which are in the writings of Paul. Yeshua first used the term "mystery" when he explained to his disciples why he taught in parables (Mark 4:11). In Scripture a mystery is a reality or plan that God kept concealed from his people but finally revealed to his apostles (cf. Eph 3:5).

God had communicated several mysteries to his prophets, but the meaning remained obscure, in effect hidden in plain sight. (Note the plural of "mysteries" in Matt 13:11; 1Cor 4:1; 13:2; 14:2; cf. Dan 2:28f). God's secret counsels were necessary because man cannot really be trusted (John 2:24f). Satan engages in unceasing warfare against God’s kingdom and would certainly use any intelligence to hinder God’s workings (John 10:10; cf. Eph 6:12; 1Th 2:18; 1Pet 5:8). The term "mystery" in the apostolic writings is applied in a variety of ways

● the mystery of the kingdom (Mark 4:11),

● the mystery of the good news (Rom 16:25; Eph 6:19),

● the mystery of God (1Cor 2:1, 7; Rev 10:7),

● the mystery of the resurrection (1Cor 15:51),

● the mystery of the Messiah (Eph 1:9; 3:4; Col 1:26f; 2:2; 4:3),

● the mystery of the Messiah and His people (Eph 5:32),

● the mystery of lawlessness (2Th 2:7),

● the mystery of the faith (1Tim 3:9) and

● the mystery of godliness (1Tim 3:16).

Three more mysteries were revealed to John on Patmos: the mystery of the seven stars (Rev 1:20), the mystery of the woman Babylon (Rev 17:5) and the mystery of the beast (Rev 17:7).

in order that: Grk. hina, conj. you not: Grk. , adv. be: Grk. eimi, pres. subj. See verse 1 above. wise: Grk. phonimos, using one's wits effectively; intelligent, prudent, sensible, wise. The adjective refers to a personal perspective or "inner outlook" which regulates one's definition of being "shrewd" (HELPS). in: Grk. en, prep. yourselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reciprocal pronoun of the third person. Paul uses an idiomatic expression of being smart from one's own point of view.

In reality, for man to understand anything of God's mysteries, He must reveal them, and God chose the prophets and apostles as the messengers of His revelation (Eph 3:3; 2Pet 1:20f; 3:2). Paul applies a not so tactful rebuke to those who think they're better than the Jews and that they know better what God is doing. Paul proceeds to let them in on the secret of God's sovereign working. Stern observes that one would have expected Israel to be the first nation to be saved. Israel had advantages enjoyed by no other people (Rom 3:1–2, 9:4–5).

The good news itself is "to the traditional Jew first" (Rom 1:16), and God had promised Jewish national salvation (Ezek 36:24–36; Matt 23:37–39, Acts 1:6–7). However, making the Gentiles "joint-heirs" (Eph 3:3–9) with the Jews gives the fullest possible demonstration of God's love for all humanity and not Jews only (verses 30–32 below).

that: Grk. hoti, conj. that may be used to (1) define a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introduce a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introduce a direct quotation; or (4) indicate causality with an inferential aspect; because. The second usage applies here. a hardening: Grk. pōrōsis (from pōros, a kind of marble, used later of a callus formed on fractured bones), a condition of hardness or callousness; figuratively one with a closed mind. The term is metaphorically applied to organs of feeling, meaning insensibility, numbness, obtuseness, dulling of the faculty of perception, and deadness (HELPS).

by: Grk. apo, prep. generally used to denote separation ("from"), but used here to express agency. a part: Grk. meros, a piece or segment of a whole; part. Some versions treat meros incorrectly as an adjective to modify "hardening" (CSB, ESV, NASU, NET). No hardening described in Scripture is ever partial (cf. Mark 3:5; Eph 4:18). has happened: Grk. ginomai, perf. See verse 5 above. The perfect tense refers to an event in the past with continuing results into the present. to Israel: Grk. ho Israēl. See verse 2 above.

Noteworthy is that Paul does not attribute a cause of the hardening. He only states what is. Paul emphasizes that this hardness affects only a portion of the Jewish population. Indeed Jacob, the half brother of Yeshua, noted that many tens of thousands of traditional Jews had believed in Yeshua (Acts 21:20). Yet, when Paul wrote this letter many orthodox Jews, especially among Judean leaders and synagogue rulers in the Diaspora, had a closed mind to Yeshua as Messiah. Stern observes that this hardening delays full national salvation.

until: Grk. achri, adv., a function word signifying an interval between two points with focus on continuity, here of an extension in time; until, as far as. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. fullness: Grk. plērōma. See verse 12 above. of the nations: pl. of Grk. ho ethnos. See verse 11 above. The plural form corresponds to the Heb. goyim, which in the Tanakh referred to all nations, including Israel (cf. Gen 10:5, 20, 31; 12:2; 17:4; 18:18; 25:23; 35:11; Ex 19:6; Deut 4:6; Isa 9:1; Jer 5:15; Ezek 4:13; 36:13-14; Mic 4:2-3).

The plural noun is used as a contrast to the mention of Israel, so the prophecy points to the incorporation of Gentiles into Israel as promised to Jacob (Gen 28:3; 35:11; 48:4). The plural noun would also include all the uncircumcised, including Hellenistic Jews, whom orthodox Jews did not consider part of Israel (cf. Gen 17:14; Ex 12:48). Thus, the final Kingdom of God including all nations is properly known as the Commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12).

comes in: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. subj., to go, to enter in, or into and speaks of entrance into something and often is used in connection with a geographical location. The aorist tense denotes a completed event and the subjunctive mood emphasizes potential as a future event. Paul indicated that the close-mindedness of unbelieving Jews would occur coincidental to the grafting-in of Gentiles and last until the fullness is completed. A variety of opinions have been offered as to the meaning of the "fullness of the Gentiles."

Stern believes the expression is of the breadth of representation, rather than a number. Shulam suggests that in light of the meaning of plērōma as completion or wholeness then "fullness of the Gentiles" refers to both the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles (Rom 1:5) and the "fullness of times" (Gal 4:4; Eph 1:10). Thus, "fullness of the Gentiles" is shorthand for "fullness of the times of the Gentiles" (cf. Luke 21:24). Israel's redemption is linked with the redemption of the world. Edwards, Harrison and Morris reflect the view of "full number," indicating a certain quantity, as given in many Bible versions (AMP, CEB, CEV, EHV, EXB, GNB, HCSB, ISV, LEB, NABRE, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, OJB, RSV).

Certainly God knows how many will be saved, but we should be careful not to read a hyper-predestinarian theology into Paul's words, especially since he emphasized "whoever will" in Romans 10:13. If Paul had meant a fixed number he would surely have used the word arithmos ("number") as he does in 9:27. The Kingdom of God does not operate on a "zero-sum" philosophy, i.e., there are a fixed number of positions and when they are filled the end will come. In aid of this faulty reasoning is the misinterpretation of verses 17 and 19 where Jews were cut off in order to make room for Gentiles.

Yeshua had prophesied, "This Good News of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matt 24:14 TLV). In other words, the "fullness of the nations" encompasses the entire world. In Revelation 7:9 John saw a multitude no man could count, but he also saw genuine diversity in its representation, including the tribes of Israel. No people group is left out of God's kingdom. Stern cautions that Paul does not offer an excuse to avoid evangelizing the Jewish people, as if Israel's salvation cannot occur until Gentiles have finished entering the Kingdom.

Fortunately the rise of Messianic Judaism has brought a greater awareness among Gentiles of God saving His covenant people, a movement that Gentile Christians should recognize and support.

26 And thus all Israel will be saved, as it is written, "The One delivering will come out of Zion, he will remove ungodliness from Jacob;"

Reference: Isaiah 59:20.

And: Grk. kai, conj. thus: Grk. houtōs, adv. See verse 5 above. all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 10 above. Israel: Grk. Israēl. See verse 2 above. Paul's use of "Israel" is in relation to the biological descendants of Jacob who received this name after he wrestled with God (Genesis 32:25, 31). Throughout the rest of the Tanakh, Jacob's descendants are called the "house of Israel." Thus, the Jewish people are the people of God. The expression "all Israel" occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Rom 9:6), but over 140 times in the Tanakh where it has a relative meaning depending on the context.

Sometimes "all Israel" is the entire nation (Ex 18:25; Josh 3:17), or a portion of the nation in contrast with the whole (Num 16:34), or the citizens in contrast with the leaders (Josh 8:33), or eleven tribes in contrast with Judah (1Chr 21:5) and then later the northern Kingdom of Israel in contrast with the Kingdom of Judah (2Chr 10:16). Paul obviously uses "all Israel" in the sense of the covenant people, but he would not include those who had been cut off for apostasy (Rom 9:6; cf. Matt 3:9; John 1:12-13).

In addition, God intended from the beginning that Gentiles would be included in Israel. Jacob was informed that he would be a "company of nations" (Gen 35:11). God demonstrated His electing love toward Gentiles by the stories of Rahab, Ruth and the mission of Jonah to the Ninevites. Salvation for Gentiles is only found in the God of Israel and the Jewish Messiah. God never intended for Gentiles to separate themselves into a different religion cut off from their Jewish roots.

will be saved: Grk. sōzō, fut. pass. See verse 14 above. Paul repeats the promise of deliverance, both as a temporal freedom from the power of sin and then eternal deliverance from judgment. Salvation for Jews and Gentiles can only be found in Yeshua (Acts 4:12). as: Grk. kathōs, adv. See verse 8 above. it is written: Grk. graphō, perf. See verse 8 above. This is the eleventh time the formula is used in the letter. Paul then conflates two passages from Isaiah that concern the days of the Messiah.

The One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun and circumlocution for the Messiah. delivering: Grk. rhuomai, pres. mid. part., to save, rescue, deliver or preserve. The verb does appear in the LXX, but the MT has Heb. go'el, redeemer. will come: Grk. hēkō, fut., to reach the end-destination or goal with the sense of the perfect tense; have come, have arrived, be present. out of: Grk. ek, prep. Zion: Grk. Siōn transliterates the Heb. Tsiōn, one of the seven mountains on which Jerusalem was built. Tsiōn was originally the fortress of the Jebusites (Josh 15:63), but was captured by David (2Sam 5:5-7).

David later built his residence and headquarters there (1Chr 11:5). Tsiōn became a substitute name for the city of Jerusalem (2Kgs 19:31; Ps 48:1f; 135:21; Isa 2:3) and by extension the nation of Israel (Ps 125:1; 149:2; Isa 46:13). Not only was Tsiōn the home of David, but more importantly the dwelling place of the God of Israel (Isa 8:18; 12:6; Joel 3:16). Jerusalem is reputed in Jewish circles to have been built on seven hills (cf. Ps 125:1-2). Rev. James Neil, a pastor in Jerusalem (1871–1874), from personal observation depicted on a map the seven hills on which the city was built: Mount Zion, Mount Ophel, Mount Moriah, Mount Bezetha, Mount Acra, Mount Gareb, and Mount Goath (289).

The significance of the location should not be missed. Tsiōn is not the Church. While the LXX says that the deliverer will come from Zion, the MT has to Zion." The LXX, produced by Jewish scholars, is several hundred years older than the Masoretic Text, which likely reflects rabbinic editing to deny the fulfillment of the original prophecy by Yeshua. If that was the case the scribe failed to take into account Yeshua's own prophecy that he would return to Zion.

he will remove: Grk. apostrephō, fut., to turn away, turn back, reject, remove. The verb depicts departure from a previous point. ungodliness: Grk. asebeia, lack of respect or reverence for deity displayed in sacrilegious words or deeds; impiety, godlessness, ungodliness. The root seb- meant originally to step back from someone, to maintain a distance. From this spatial meaning developed the metaphorical idea of trepidation ranging from shame to something approaching fear (DNTT 2:91). In the LXX the asebeia word-group translates several different Hebrew words (e.g., Deut 9:4-5; 17:13; 18:20, 22; Job 9:20; Ps 5:10; Prov 1:19, 31; 11:5-6), and describes both action and attitude in departing from God (DNTT 2:93).

from: Grk. apo, prep. Jacob: Grk. Iakōb, a transliteration of Heb. Ya'akov, grandson of Abraham. Jacob, son of Isaac, was a great and godly man who held a place of high honor among the people of Israel. It is not surprising then that five different men bear his name in the Besekh. The personal name is used here in a figurative sense for the nation of Israel, as it occurs many times in the Tanakh (e.g., Num 23:7; Deut 32:9; Ps 14:7; Isa 2:5; Jer 2:4; Ezek 20:5; Amos 3:13; Mic 1:5; Mal 2:12).

The story of Jacob is narrated in Genesis 25—50. Jacob has been the victim of Christian defamation for centuries due to the allegation that he stole a blessing from his brother. The truth is Jacob couldn't steal what already belonged to him, but in fact his deceit prevented Isaac from committing a monstrous fraud and rebellion against God. Isaac realized his error and gave a second blessing to Jacob that left no doubt as to his rights. God also revealed to Jacob that he had succeeded to the covenant made with Abraham and his father Isaac with all its promises (Gen 28:13-16). See my article Our Father Jacob in which I set the record straight.

The passage Paul quotes has the Deliverer turning away ungodliness from Jacob, whereas the MT has Jews themselves turning from transgression. Stern comments that the textual difference presents no conceptual difficulty, since the two actions go hand in hand: "Turn us, and we shall be turned" (Lam 5:21). First century Jews expected their Messiah to rescue them from the Romans, but the real mission of the Deliverer was to transform his people into a holy nation (1Pet 2:9). This he accomplished on Shavuot (Pentecost).

Dispensational theology interprets this verse to assert that the restoration of Israel will climax the "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer 30:7). When Yeshua returns to earth following the seven-year great tribulation period to establish his millennial kingdom then the surviving and resurrected Jews will all acknowledge Yeshua as their Messiah in that day (Morris). However, this eschatology does not reflect what Paul actually says in this verse. He does not repeat the MT, a savior will come "to Zion," but quotes the LXX that a savior will come "out of Zion."

In other words, the deliverance began with the first coming of Yeshua. Paul says in Hebrews 1:2 that in these last days God has spoken in His son and goes on in that letter to recount Messiah's redemptive activity already accomplished. God will continue to redeem His people Israel until the end.

27― "and this is with them the covenant from me when I take away their sins."

Reference: Isaiah 27:9; 59:21; Jeremiah 31:33-34.

and: Grk. kai, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. is with them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Israel. The opening phrase comes from Isaiah 59:21, but it would also be the New Covenant prophesied in Jeremiah 31:33. The Greek text lacks the preposition, but the Hebrew text has the preposition "with" (Heb. eth). the covenant: Grk. ho diathēkē (from diatithēmi, "to set out in order"), a formal agreement having complete terms determined by the initiating party, which also are fully affirmed by the one entering the agreement (HELPS). In Greek culture the term diathēkē was used for a disposition of property by will, and a compact or covenant (LSJ).

In the LXX diathēkē translates Heb. b'rit (SH-1285), pact, compact, or covenant (BDB 136), used first in Genesis 6:18 of God's covenant with Noah and subsequently in the Tanakh of God's covenants with Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Israel, Aaron, and David. See my article The Everlasting Covenants. The Jewish translators of the LXX might have used sunthēkē, which only means an agreement, but sunthēkē did not define a relationship in which a superior party exercised control over the welfare of an inferior party.

Zodhiates says that diathēkē was chosen because there was no better word available to express the Hebrew idea of a irrevocable disposition made by God of His own gracious choice to secure a religious inheritance to His chosen people. Each of the divine covenants also set forth specific expectations, duration and a sign or perpetual reminder of the covenant. Thus, b'rit refers to a declaration of God's will, not the result of an agreement between two parties. The divine covenant was "with" a beneficiary only in the sense of their being chosen by God. The participation of the "one chosen" was to accept it and then upon acceptance to obey its expectations.

from: Grk. para, prep., lit. "from beside." me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. when: Grk. hotan, conj., a temporal marker indicating 'when' or 'whenever.' I take away: Grk. aphaireō, aor. subj., cause to be no longer there; to take away or remove. In the LXX aphaireō renders Heb. sur, which means to be removed, as in an oppressor's yoke. Paul quotes from the second line of the parallelism found in Isaiah 27:9, "By this, then, will Jacob's guilt be atoned for, and this will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin" (NIV). Paul provides his own translation since his rendering of the verb is not the future passive tense found in the LXX.

their: pl. of Grk. autos. The plural pronoun alludes to "all Israel." sins: Grk. hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In Greek culture hamartia meant to fail and could mean anything from stupidity to law-breaking, anything that did not conform to the community ethic (DNTT 3:577).

In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (miss, go wrong, lapse, sin; Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity; Gen 15:16). Throughout Scripture a sin is a violation of God's written commandments. In the first line of the passage Paul quotes the LXX uses the word anomia ("lawlessness, iniquity, disobedience") and hamartia in the second line. In Hebraic thinking these terms are synonymous.

Sin is breaking God's Law, not man's law. In the Torah one's intention does not determine the definition of sin, only the form of punishment deserved for the offense. The plural form of hamartia used here denotes all sins, including capital crimes which previously had no atonement. The taking away of sins would result from genuine confession and repentance.

Messiah's purpose as stated in Isaiah is to stop the practice of sinning among his people. He had no intention of rejecting or removing his people, only the sin in his people. Stern comments that Paul’s object in chapters 9–11 is to show that despite appearances to the contrary, God’s promises will not fail of fulfillment. Thus we are led to the summing-up of verses 28–29.

28 indeed with regard to the good news, there are hostilities on account of you; but as regards election beloved on account of the fathers.

From verses 28 to 31 Paul appears to employ two tristich (three-part) parallelisms that give these verses a definite rhetorical structure and perhaps serve as a midrash on the verses he just quoted from Isaiah. Verse 28 contains the thesis of the first parallelism with verse 29 providing the logical conclusion. Verses 30 to 31 contain the thesis of the second parallelism with the conclusion in verse 32.

indeed: Grk. mén, conj. See verse 13 above. with regard to: Grk. kata, prep. the good news: Grk. euangelion originally meant a reward for good news and then simply good news. The term is formed from Grk. eu, "good," and angelia, "message, announcement." Christian Bibles translate the term as "gospel," but given the origin of "gospel" in Old English ("god-spell"), many Jews regard the word as a distinctively Christian word. In the LXX euangelion renders besorah, which may mean either a reward for good news (2Sam 4:10) or glad tidings (2Sam 18:20, 22).

The good news proclaimed by the Jewish apostles was that God had fulfilled His promises given to Israel through the prophets and sent His Messiah in Jewish flesh to provide deliverance and atonement and to establish his kingdom on the earth (Matt 1:1, 20-23; Mark 1:1; Luke 1:30-37, 68-75; 24:44; John 1:29; 20:31; Rom 1:1-4, 16). The good news concerns directly the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. See my article The Original Gospel.

there are: There is no verb in the Greek text, so the insertion of "they are" in most versions is an interpretative choice. hostilities: pl. of Grk. echthros, as (1) an adj., inimical, hostile; or (2) a noun, one who is inimical, enemy. Danker assigns the first meaning here. Since the word is plural almost all versions render the word as "enemies." Yet in Hebrew a plural noun does not always denote number, but may represent (1) an idea composed of parts; (2) an abstract quality or condition; or (3) intensity of expression (Ross 388). The Messianic Jewish versions MW and TLV have "hostile." Of interest is that the Mace New Testament (1729) has "they are violently prejudiced against the good news."

I believe that the translation "they are enemies" is foreign to Paul's intention, because it implies that Jews are special enemies of God. In fact, a few versions actually have this exact wording "they are enemies of God" (ESVUK, Moffatt, NRSV, RSV, WE). This interpretation is highly pejorative. Unsaved Jews are no more enemies of God than unsaved Gentiles, since sinners are by nature enemies of God (Rom 5:8-10). Conversely, Jews are not sinners like the Gentiles who have no knowledge of God's Law (Gal 2:15).

The translation of "they are enemies" reflects historic Replacement Theology and in this belief Christianity for centuries used this text to justify discrimination and persecution of Jews. Stern notes that Lance Lambert, a Messianic Jewish writer living in Jerusalem, points out that Replacement theologians, who say that "Israel" today means the Church, do not apply their theology to the first clause in this verse! If they did they would have to conclude that God hates the Church! (423).

on account of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 10 above. With the accusative case of a pronoun following, the preposition denotes the ground or reason for something, with the resultant meaning being 'on account of,' 'for the sake of.' you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. Paul knows full well the adverse reaction of Jewish leaders when Jews accepted Yeshua as Messiah. When Paul was "Saul" he represented the hostility of the high priest in persecuting Messianic disciples. Then when he became Messiah's spokesman he too experienced that hostility everywhere he took the good news.

but: Grk. de, conj. with regard to: Grk. kata. election: Grk. eklogē. See verse 5 above. beloved: Grk. agapētos, held in affection, esteemed, dear. The noun is drawn from the verb agapaō, which means to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being, even if it means making a personal sacrifice to do so. on account of: Grk. dia. the fathers: pl. of Grk. patēr, a male parent or ancestor, most likely an allusion to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ex 3:15-16; Acts 3:13; 7:32; Rom 9:5), or possibly even all the illustrious forefathers of faithfulness in the hall of heroes (Heb 11).

Israelites could look back on the Genesis history with pride because all the patriarchs were models of piety and faithfulness to God. Moreover, God was not ashamed to be identified with any of them (cf. Gen 28:13; 31:42; Ex 3:6, 15-16; 4:5; 5:1). God's love for Israel, which translates into covenantal faithfulness, is grounded in the promises he made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God keeps these promises to demonstrate His own righteousness.

The Messianic Jewish version CJB inexplicably translates the first clause as "they are hated for your sake" and Stern in his commentary actually says the clause means the unbelieving Jews are temporarily hated by God! I strongly object to this interpretation. Paul does not say that God hates unbelieving Jews, even temporarily, because how could he then say that they are beloved of God. God is not fickle in His attitude toward Israel. The universal truth of Scripture is that God hates the sin but loves the sinner. Paul is careful in his choice of words. One can be hostile toward the Messiah without being hated by God. As Paul said in Romans 5:10,

"For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (NASB).

All sinners, Jews and Gentiles alike, are functional enemies of God because they pursue an orientation to life contrary to the expressed will of God. Yet, God loves the entire world (John 3:16), especially Israel (Deut 23:5; 2Chr 9:8; Hos 3:1; Rom 9:13; Eph 2:4). Paul is in effect saying, "I know to you the unbelieving Jews are hostile to your spreading the good news, especially among them, but you need to remember that God still loves His people because of the promises He made to the patriarchs." The Message offers a similar interpretation: "From your point of view as you hear and embrace the good news of the Message, it looks like the Jews are God's enemies. But looked at from the long-range perspective of God's overall purpose, they remain God's oldest friends."

29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

for: Grk. gar, conj. the gifts: pl. of Grk. charisma, that which results from the activity of generosity and in Scripture always refers to what God has conferred on his people. The term is used in chapter twelve of spiritual gifts, but the mention of gifts here refers back the divine choice of Israel. Paul has already spoken of these gifts in 9:4-5. and the calling: Grk. klēsis, an invitation to share in special privilege, here referring to God's call for Israel to enter into a covenantal relationship. of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 1 above. The God of Israel is the source of these gifts and the calling.

are irrevocable: Grk. ametamelētos, unrepentant, not to be regretted, irrevocable. The term occurs only twice in the Besekh (also 2Cor 7:10). This word actually occurs first in the verse of the Greek text, offering a dramatic point. God's attitude is that He will not under any circumstances cancel the gifts and calling given to Israel. To do so would be to deny His own eternal nature as a faithful keeper of promises.

30 for just as you at one time were disobedient to God but now have been shown mercy for that disobedience,

This verse repeats and culminates two contrasts already mentioned: "objects of wrath" and objects of mercy" (9:22-23) and "the kindness and severity of God" (11:22) (Edwards). for: Grk. gar, conj. just as: Grk. hōsper, adv. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. at one time: Grk. pote, a disjunctive particle related to time; at one time or other, at some time. were disobedient: Grk. apeitheō, aor., disobey, be rebellious, resist. to God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 1 above. Paul finishes the chapter by summarizing his theme and setting forth a sort of before and after picture.

but: Grk. de, conj. now: Grk. nun, adv. See verse 5 above. have been shown mercy: Grk. eleaō, aor. pass., to show concern for one who is in a bad situation or condition, and thus to have compassion or to show pity. for that: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. disobedience: Grk. apeitheia, disobedience, resistance; and in the Besekh always of opposition to God's claims or program of salvation. The term occurs seven times in the Besekh, all in Paul's writings.

Paul affirms the experience of having received the mercy of God, perhaps alluding to the attendance of charter members of the Roman congregation at the Pentecost sermon of Peter (Acts 2:10). The Roman Jews were confronted with their sin and they responded with repentance (Acts 2:38-41).

31― in this manner also these now have been disobedient, for your mercy, in order that also they may receive mercy.

in this manner: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. also: Grk. kai, conj. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 7 above. now: Grk. nun, adv. See verse 5 above. have been disobedient: Grk. apeitheō, aor., 3p-pl. See the previous verse. Paul fast forwards from the disobedience of Judean authorities in reference to executing Yeshua to the current disobedience of those belonging to the Circumcision Party that opposed the apostolic message. Harrison suggests this was graphically illustrated by the effect of apostolic decision in Acts 15.

While it gave marked encouragement to the Gentile mission by its decision, it deepened and strengthened the orthodox Jewish opposition to the apostolic message. for your: pl. of Grk. humeteros, possessive pronoun, belonging to you in close association; your, yours. The plural pronoun would encompass all the members of the congregation. mercy: Grk. ho eleos, kindness expressed for one in need; compassion, mercy or pity. (i.e., "this mercy of you received.") In the LXX eleos normally represents Heb. chesed, (SH-2617), used of (1) man: goodness, kindness, or piety (first in Gen 24:12); and of (2) God: lovingkindness or covenant loyalty (first in Gen 39:21).

In covenantal relationships chesed represents the solidarity which the partners in the covenant owe one another. Chesed results in one giving help to the covenant partner in his need. So the connotation of eleos meaning chesed may stretch from loyalty to a covenant to kindliness, mercy, and pity, particularly kindness extended to the lowly and needy (DNTT 2:594). Danker and a number of versions insert a preposition denoting means to interpret the phrase as explaining the reception of mercy from God: "through [or "by"] the mercy shown to you" (ASV, CEV, ESV, MRINT, MW, NAB, NET, NJB, NRSV, RSV, WEB).

The phrase "your mercy" is in the dative case, which normally signifies an indirect object. In the BAG article on humeteros (844) this phrase is incorrectly identified as an objective genitive, which Stern apparently relies on to discuss alternative forms of the genitive to arrive at his interpretation that the phrase is a subjective genitive and so gives the translation in the CJB as "so that by your [Gentiles] showing them [Israel, Jews] the same mercy that God has shown you."

However, the BAG article on eleos (249) identifies the phrase as dative of cause. Some versions accept this premise and interpret the phrase as either pointing backward to explain why the Jews disobeyed (CEB, ERV, GNB, ICB) or forward to explain why Jews will receive mercy (AMP, CEV, GNB, ISV, NASB, NIRV, NIV, TLV). In rebuttal to this point of view I find no mention of the "dative of cause" in my grammar resources. The concept is also illogical. God doesn't show mercy to one person because He gave it to another person. God gives mercy to a person when he repents. HCSB offers a mediating interpretation "so they too have now disobeyed, resulting in mercy to you."

I believe published Bible versions have misconstrued what Paul meant by this phrase. Considering the meaning of the possessive pronoun "your" the dative case is just as likely a dative of possession, an idiom for which there is no exact equivalent in English (DM 85). This use of the dative is personal interest particularized to the point of ownership. It's as if Paul paused for a moment of reflection (Heb. selah, lift up, be quiet, be silent) on his statement in the previous verse to which he invites his readers: "think about the mercy you have received, how glorious, how undeserved, but it is yours, even though you were once disobedient."

Paul then completes his parallelism with the same grammatical construction as the first clause. in order that: Grk. hina, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. they: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Some versions include a second mention of the preposition "now" (Grk. nun). See the Textual Note below. may be shown mercy: Grk. eleeō, aor. pass. subj., show concern for one who is in a bad situation or condition; have compassion, show mercy, pity. Thus, Israel will receive mercy. Their salvation is not postponed to a future time in the last days, as in Dispensational theology, but is a current and ongoing campaign.

Paul's message here is to again warn members of the Roman congregation against having an inflated attitude concerning their present position in grace, and to remind them that the very mercy they received is the same mercy being offered to unbelieving Jews.

Textual Note

The preponderance of MSS omit the second occurrence of nun, "now." The UBS Greek text includes the word even though the editorial committee gave it a "C" rating, meaning that the committee had difficulty deciding the matter based on the manuscript evidence of alternate readings (Metzger 465). Of interest is that GNT (based on NA-25) gives the inclusion of the second nun a "B" rating, meaning the text is almost certain. Supporting the inclusion of nun is the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus MSS (4th cent.).

32 For God confined all into disobedience, in order that He may show mercy to all.

Paul now provides the logical conclusion to the rhetorical parallelism of verses 30 and 31. For: Grk. gar, conj. God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 1 above. has confined: Grk. sugkleiō, aor., may mean (1) cause to be together with no opportunity for escape in a fishing net; enclose, catch; or (2) cause to be under constraint; confine, imprison. Typical of Jewish Greek that often follows Hebrew grammatical forms, Paul actually places the verb first in the sentence, emphasizing the decisive action of the sovereign God. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 10 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. disobedience: Grk. apeitheia. See verse 30 above.

This clause is another way of saying that all have sinned and all continue to fall short of the perfection of God (3:23). This "confinement" began with the disobedience of Adam (5:19) and has been manifest in the corruption of mankind chronicled in 1:18-32, but also in the nation of Israel, a people whom the prophet described as a "disobedient and contrary people" (10:21). Another manifestation of this "confinement" is that many Pharisees were imprisoned in pride and legalism to keep the Torah and yet failed to do so, and Gentiles were imprisoned in their rebellion against Torah commandments (Edwards). These failings are still with us. Paul is not saying that God causes people to sin (Jas 1:13-14), but that sinners are imprisoned in the consequences of sin (Rom 6:23). Fortunately, as Harrison says, disobedience does not have the last word (cf. Gal 3:22).

in order that: Grk. hina, conj. He may show mercy: Grk. eleeō, aor. subj. See the previous verse. to all: pl. of Grk. pas. Paul is not advocating a universalism that every single person who has ever lived will be saved. Too many other passages in Scripture flatly contradict this assumption. Paul is saying two things. First, mercy is initiated unilaterally by God and there is salvation is no one else. No human ever approached God first. God's plan of salvation was made before He even began to create. Second, mercy is offered to Jew and Gentile alike on the same basis. Jews don't get special treatment because they're part of the chosen people and Gentiles don't get special treatment because they responded more readily to the good news. The only way to mercy is to confess that we need a savior (10:9-10).

Doxology of Praise, 11:33-36

33 O, the depth of riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and incomprehensible His ways!

O: Grk. Ō, the last letter of the Greek alphabet, but used here as an interjection. When the address is intended to carry special force the inflectional particle omega ("ō") is used (DM 71). The special usage of the omega letter is found in both classical Greek writings and Jewish literature (BAG). the depth: Grk. bathos, depth, used literally of water, but here fig. of what is difficult to assess. of riches: pl. of Grk. ploutos. See verse 12 above. The term is used here in the non-material sense of abundant supply. both: Grk. kai, conj.

of wisdom: Grk. sophia, exceptional endowment of discernment, understand and insight, wisdom. In Greek culture sophia referred to practical knowledge, e.g., the sophia of a carpenter, but later incorporated theoretical knowledge (DNTT 3:1027). In the LXX sophia was used to translate the wisdom possessed by a specialist in a particular field (Ex 36:1f), or economic shrewdness (Prov 8:18). Over and above these elements sophia is concerned with the learned and perceptive ability that enables a man to master life (Prov 8:32-36) (DNTT 3:1028). Like riches, true wisdom originates from God (Prov 2:6; Jas 1:5).

and knowledge: Grk. gnōsis, knowledge or understanding with special reference to insight relating to matters involving God and spiritual perception. The term is especially used as an attribute of God and in Scripture knowledge of God is always linked with God's acts of self-revelation. In the LXX gnōsis generally translates Heb. da'at, knowledge (e.g. 1Sam 2:3; 1Chr 4:10; Ps 19:2; 73:11; 94:10; 119:66; 139:6; Prov 2:6; 8:9), which may refer to general knowledge received from God or others, knowledge possessed by God, prophetic knowledge or knowledge by man of God (BDB 395). The usage of gnōsis in the LXX clearly demonstrates that Paul did not borrow pagan terminology to write this letter. of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 1 above.

How: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 2 above. unsearchable: Grk. anexeraunētos, adj., not of a nature to be examined; inscrutable, beyond investigation, unsearchable. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. judgments: pl. of Grk. krima may refer to a judicial decision, decree or verdict, or a sentence of condemnation and the subsequent punishment itself. The plural noun may refer to God's judgments given in the Torah or all of Scripture, as well as the judgment to be anticipated at the end of time. and incomprehensible: Grk. anexichniastos, adj., incapable of being tracked down; without leaving tracks, beyond exploration, beyond appraisal.

His: Grk. autos. ways: pl. of Grk. hodos, with the focus on the concept of going the word typically has the sense of a route for traveling, hence a way, a road or a highway. It can also refer to the act of traveling as here; journey, way, trip. Then, hodos is used fig. of conduct or a way of life. The LXX uses hodos to translate Heb. derek (SH-1870), way, road, distance, or journey generally in a literal sense. The term also has the fig. meaning for a way or manner of life. As God said to Israel through Isaiah, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa 55:8-9).

In view of the assurance generated by verse 32, it is no wonder that Paul, despite his burden for the Israel of his day, is able to lift his heart in adoring praise to God (Harrison). Thanks to the insight Paul was given into the mystery of God, he has given us a greater understanding of God's sovereignty and covenant faithfulness. Yet, even this revelation cannot unveil the full scope of God's wisdom and knowledge. Our theology can only take us so far before we must stop speculating and give ourselves over to worship.

34 "For who has known the mind of ADONAI, or who became His counselor?"

Paul quotes from the LXX text of Isaiah 40:13 with a minor alteration, reversing the clauses found in the Hebrew text.

MT: "Who has measured the Spirit of ADONAI? Who has been his counselor [Heb. ish etsah, lit. "man of counsel"], instructing [Heb. yada, to know] him?" (CJB)

LXX: "Who knew the mind of the Lord and who became his counselor who shall instruct Him?" (ABP)

For: Grk. gar, conj. who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. has known: Grk. ginōskō, aor., to know, but the verb has a variety of meanings, including (1) to be in receipt of information; know, learn, find out; (2) form a judgment or draw a conclusion; think, understand, comprehend, perceive, notice, realize, conclude; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value; make acquaintance, recognize. The second meaning has primary application with nuances of the other two meanings. In the LXX ginōskō translates Heb. yada (SH-3045), which has a similar wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning (DNTT 2:395). To the Hebrew mind "knowing" is not philosophical or theoretical, but based in reality.

the mind: Grk. nous may mean (1) capacity to comprehend or discern; understanding; (2) medium for processing information or instruction; mind; or (3) the result of mental processing; mind, thought. The second meaning applies here. of ADONAI: Grk. kurios. See verse 3 above on "Lord." The Greek text lacks the definite article in conforming to the Hebrew text of YHVH. Paul omits the mention of the Spirit. or: Grk. , conj., particle involving options, here as a marker of an alternative. who: Grk. tís. became: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 5 above. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. counselor: Grk. sumboulos, one who serves in an advisory capacity; counselor. The term occurs only here in the Besekh.

In the LXX sumboulos appears without Hebrew equivalent twice (2Sam 8:18; Ezek 27:27). Primarily sumboulos translates the participial form of Heb. ya'ats (SH-3289), to advise or counsel, used of named individuals who served as counselors to leaders (2Sam 15:12; 1Chr 27:32, 33; 2Chr 22:3, 4; 25:16), and used generally of the office of counselor (Ezra 4:5; 7:28; 8:25; Isa 1:26; 3:3). In contradistinction to the use of the term for human counselors, it is used of the divine son (Messiah) in Isaiah 9:26 who is "wonderful counselor." Sumboulos is also used for Heb. y'at (SH-3272), to advise, counselor (Ezra 7:14, 15) and Heb. etsa, (SH-6098), counsel, advice (Isa 19:11; 40:13).

This passage is in the context of the Messianic prophecy of the herald crying out in the wilderness that the Lord God will come (40:3-10). The prophet then lists several attributes of the Lord who would come, including this one quoted from verse 13. Paul's intention seems to emphasize again God's unilateral design and plan for salvation. No one, including the angels, advised him on His plan.

35 "Or who has first given to Him and it will be repaid to him?"

Paul next conflates two verses from Job, borrowing the ideas he wanted and provided his own unique translation. Or: Grk. , conj. who: Grk. tís, interrogative pron. has first given: Grk. prodidōmi, aor., to be prior in giving; give first. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. to Him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used in reference to God. The first part of the question comes from the confrontational monologue of Elihu the Buzite in which he rebukes Job with this question, "If you are righteous, what do you give to Him, or what does He receive from your hand? (Job 35:7 TLV).

The LXX of this verse uses didōmi, the standard verb meaning "to give," but Paul adopts a derivative form of the verb for his purpose. Paul in effect uses Elihu's question to confront his self-righteous fictive opponent. Elihu was a learned young man, but not a friend of Job. Elihu thought very highly of himself. He boasted of his intellect (Job 32:6-21; 33:33; 36:4), claimed divine inspiration (Job 32:18; 33:4-6) and even offered to be a mediator with God (Job 33:23-33). Job did not regard Elihu as worthy of an answer and God ignored him as well.

and: Grk. kai, conj. it will be repaid: Grk. antapodidōmi, fut. pass., to give back as an equivalent; give back, pay back, repay. to him: Grk. autos, used of someone other than God. The second part of the question comes from God's confrontation of Job in 41:11. Stern observes that Paul quotes this question to emphasize that no one can put God in his debt. Similarly, the initiative for the gift of salvation comes from God and not man. Of interest is that the rhetorical question from God is set in the midst of His lecture on His great works of creation as He describes the great dinosaurs that once roamed the earth.

In chapter 40 of Job God describes behemoth, a great land dinosaur, such as the tyrannosaurus. Commentators and marginal notes in various Bible versions identify behemoth as an elephant or hippopotamus, although the detailed description God provides cannot fit these suggested animals, especially since behemoth's tail is like a cedar (40:17). Then, in chapter 41 God lauds his creation of leviathan, the greatest of marine dinosaurs, something like a plesiosaur, although modern commentators generally identify him as a crocodile (Morris).

Leviathan is described as a serpent or dragon in the sea (Isa 27:1), he breathed fire (Job 41:21) and he played in the great and wide sea (Ps 104:25-26). Leviathan was no crocodile. God details two of his greatest creative works on the earth to illustrate man's powerlessness.

Textual Note

The quoted text from Job 41:11 is numbered as 41:3 in Hebrew MSS (Owens 3:251).

36 because from Him and through Him and into Him are all things. To Him be the glory into the ages. Amen.

because: Grk. hoti, conj. from: Grk. ek, prep. Him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used here of God. and: Grk. kai, conj. through: Grk. dia, prep. Him: Grk. autos. and: Grk. kai. into: Grk. eis, prep. Him: Grk. autos. are all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. This statement sums up Paul's point in quoting from Isaiah and Job. God is the Creator and the source of our very existence, including every thing we need (cf. 2Pet 1:3), and the revelation of His nature and word of salvation. Thus, all our trust, faithfulness, devotion and worship are due Him. Paul then adds a brief doxology of praise. To Him: Grk. autos.

be the glory: Grk. ho doxa has four categories of meaning: (1) splendor or radiance in the sense of brightness, (2) magnificence in the sense of what catches the eye, (3) fame, renown, honor or approval, and (4) glorious as in the angelic beings and majesties. The third meaning has application here. In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kabod (pronounced "kah-vohd"), which refers to the luminous manifestation of God’s person, His glorious revelation of Himself. Characteristically, kabod is linked with verbs of seeing and stresses the impact that the manifestation of God makes on others. In the Besekh doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45). Paul's exclamation of praise sums up God's dwelling in unapproachable light (1Tim 6:16), His absolute holiness, the beauty of His appearance, and the only One worthy of honor.

into: Grk. eis, prep. the ages: pl. of Grk. ho aiōn, an extended period of time, which may be (1) a general reference to a long period of time in the past ('ages ago') or in the future of a period with no apparent end; eternity; or (2) a segment of extended time determined by qualifiers as present or future; age. The great majority of Bible versions translate eis aiōn here as "forever" or "for ever." In the LXX aiōn occurs over 450 times and translates Heb. olam, first in Genesis 3:22. Olam means "a long duration, antiquity or futurity" (BDB 761), which is also used as an adverb meaning "for ever, for all time," the first being in Genesis 9:12. In the Tanakh, ōlam is generally concerned with a concrete idea of time in relation to the whole duration of a man's life (DNTT 3:827).

Since neither the Greek or Hebrew word in its singular form contains the concept of endlessness, the use of the plural intensive form yields a declaration of ages that will continue without end (cf. Ps 90:2; Isa 45:17; Dan 9:24). The prepositional phrase "into the ages" most likely means the time following the Second Coming (Heb. olam habah), the Messianic Age and beyond that eternity. In Hebrew thought historical time was divided into ages, perhaps coinciding with the great covenants that God made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Israel and David (Eccl 1:10; Rom 16:25; 1Cor 2:7; 10:11; Eph 3:9; Col 1:26; Titus 1:2; Heb 9:26). Yeshua and the apostles speak of two specific ages – the present age (Matt 28:20; Mark 10:30; Titus 2:12) and the age to come (Matt 12:32; Mark 10:30; Heb 6:5). However, only a few versions translate aiōn here as "ages" (JUB, Marshall, YLT).

Amen. Grk. amēn ("ah–mayn") reflects a strong affirmation, meaning "so let it be" or "truly." In the LXX amēn transliterates the Heb. ’amen (ah–mayn, SH–543), which means "it is true, so be it, or may it become true." The Heb. root aman means "to confirm or support." The word amēn reflects an Hebraic conviction that God's words were to be reverently received. In typical Jewish usage the singular amēn points to something previously said (Stern 26). For example, in the Torah people responded with "amen" for each of the curses as they were pronounced (Deut 27:15 +11t) and on other occasions "amen" was a congregational response to a public blessing of God (1Chr 16:36; Neh 5:13; Ps 106:48).

While "amen" was normally a congregational response there were individuals who affirmed their own words with "amen." David ended a psalm with "Amen" (Ps 41:13), as did Solomon (Ps 72:19) and Ethan (Ps 89:52). Thus, it was not unique for Yeshua to end many occasions of teaching with "Amen" (Matt 5:18, 26; 6:2, 5, 16; 10:15, 42; 13:17; 18:18; 23:36; 24:34, 47; and 26:13). Paul uses "Amen" in the same manner 17 times in his letters.

To Paul's doxology we heartily agree! Amen!

Works Cited

BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.

Barnes: Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Notes on the Whole Bible (1834). Baker Book House, 1949. Online.

BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. London: Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.

Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.

DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.

DNTT: Colin Brown, ed., Dictionary of New Testament Theology. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.

Edwards: James R. Edwards, Romans, New International Biblical Commentary, Vol. 6. Hendrickson Publishers, 1992.

Farrar: Frederic W. Farrar (1831-1903), Romans, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge University Press, 1891. Online.

Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.

GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966. (NA25)

Gruber: Daniel Gruber, The Separation of Church and Faith, Volume 1: Copernicus and the Jews. Elijah Publishing, 2005.

Harrison: Everett F. Harrison, Romans, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 10, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.

HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011.

Henry: Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible (1710). Unabridged Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, 1991. Online.

LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Rev. Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.

Marshall: Alfred Marshall, NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English. Zondervan Pub. House, 1986.

Metzger: Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. German Bible Society, 1994.

Morris: Henry Morris, The Defender's Study Bible. World Pub. Inc., 1995.

Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.

Neil: James Neil, Palestine Explored. James Nisbet & Co., 1882.

Nicoll: W. Robertson Nicoll (1851–1923), The Expositor's Greek Testament (1897), 5 vols. Online.

Owens: John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament, 4 vols. Baker Book House, 1989.

Poole: Matthew Poole (1624–1679), A Commentary on the Holy Bible. Hendrickson Publishers, 1985. Online.

Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, "Romans," A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Vol. 2, Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.

Robertson: Archibald Thomas Robertson, "Romans," Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. 4, Broadman Press, 1933. (Parsons CD-ROM Version 2.0, 1997)

Ross: Allen P. Ross, Introducing Biblical Hebrew. Baker Academic, 2001.

Shulam: Joseph Shulam, A Commentary on the Jewish Roots of Romans, Lederer Books, 1997.

Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.

Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1889). Hendrickson Publishers, 2003. Online.

Zodhiates: Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009), ed. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG Publishers, 1992, 1993.

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