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Commentary On Romans by Jean Calvin

Romans 9:24-29

24. Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

24. Quos etiam vocavit, nimirum nos, non solum ex Iudaeis, sed etiam ex Gentibus:

25. As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.

25. Quemadmodum et in Osee dicit, Vocabo populum meum eum qui non est populus, et dilectam cam quae non est dilecta:

26. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto than, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

26. Et erit in loco ubi dictum est eis, Non populus meus ves, illie vocabuntur filii Dei viventis.

27. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:

27. Iesaias autem clamat super Israel, Si fuerit numerus filiorum Israel ut arena maris, reliquiae servabuntur:

28. For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

28. Sermonem enim consummans et abbrevians, quoniam sermonem abbreviatum faciet Dominus in terra:

29. And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.

29. Et quemadmodum prius dix erat Iesaias, Nisi Dominus Sabbaoth. Reliquisset nobis semen, instar Sodorate facti essemus, et Gomorrhae essemus assimilati.

24. Whom he also called, etc. From the reasoning which he has been hitherto carrying on respecting the freedom of divine election, two things follow, -- that the grace of God is not so confined to the Jewish people that it does not also flow to other nations, and diffuse itself through the whole world, -- and then, that it is not even so tied to the Jews that it comes without exception to all the children of Abraham according to the flesh; for if God's election is based on his own good pleasure alone, wherever his will turns itself, there his election exists. Election being then established, the way is now in a manner prepared for him to proceed to those things which he designed to say respecting the calling of the Gentiles, and also respecting the rejection of the Jews; the first of which seemed strange for its novelty, and the other wholly unbecoming. As, however, the last had more in it to offend, he speaks in the first place of that which was less disliked. He says then, that the vessels of God's mercy, whom he selects for the glory of his name, are taken from every people, from the Gentiles no less than from the Jews.

But though in the relative whom the rule of grammar is not fully observed by Paul, yet his object was, by making as it were a transition, to subjoin that we are the vessels of God's glory, who have been taken in part from the Jews and in part from the Gentiles; and he proves from the calling of God, that there is no difference between nations made in election. For if to be descended from the Gentiles was no hinderance that God should not call us, it is evident that the Gentiles are by no means to be excluded from the kingdom of God and the covenant of eternal salvation.

25. As he says in Hosea, etc. He proves now that the calling of the Gentiles ought not to have been deemed a new thing, as it had long before been testified by the prediction of the prophet. The meaning is evident; but there is some difficulty in the application of this testimony; for no one can deny but that the prophet in that passage speaks of the Israelites. For the Lord, having been offended with their wickedness, declared that they should be no longer his people: he afterwards subjoined a consolation, and said, that of those who were not beloved he would make some beloved, and from those who were not a people he would make a people. But Paul applies to the Gentiles what was expressly spoken to the Israelites.

They who have hitherto been most successful in untying this knot have supposed that Paul meant to adopt this kind of reasoning, -- |What may seem to be an hinderance to the Gentiles to become partakers of salvation did also exist as to the Jewish nation: as then God did formerly receive into favor the Jews, whom he had cast away and exterminated, so also now he exercises the same kindness towards the Gentiles.| But as this interpretation, though it may be supported, yet seems to me to be somewhat strained, let the readers consider this, -- Whether it would not be a more suitable view to regard the consolation given by the prophet, as intended, not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles: for it was not a new or an unusual thing with the prophets, after having pronounced on the Jews God's vengeance on account of their sins, to turn themselves to the kingdom of Christ, which was to be propagated through the whole world. And this they did, not without reason; for since the Jews so provoked God's wrath by their sins, that they deserved to be rejected by him, no hope of salvation remained, except they turned to Christ, through whom the covenant of grace was to be restored: and as it was based on him, so it was then renewed, when he interposed. And doubtless, as Christ was the only refuge in great extremities, no solid comfort could have been brought to miserable sinners, and such as saw God's wrath impending over them, except by setting Christ before their eyes, it was usual with the prophets, as we have reminded you, after having humbled the people by pronouncing on them divine vengeance, to call their attention to Christ, as the only true asylum of those in despair. And where the kingdom of Christ is erected there also is raised up that celestial Jerusalem, into which citizens from all parts of the world assemble. And this is what is chiefly included in the present prophecy: for when the Jews were banished from God's family, they were thus reduced to a common class, and put on a level with the Gentiles. The difference being taken away, God's mercy is now indiscriminately extended to all the Gentiles. We hence see that the prophet's prediction is fitly applied to the present subject; in which God declares, that after having equalized the Jews and the Gentiles, he would gather a Church for himself from aliens, so that they who were not a people would begin to be so.

26. I will call them my people which are not a people This is said with respect to the divorce, which God had already made with the people, by depriving them of all honor, so that they did not excel other nations. Though they indeed, whom God in his eternal counsel has destined as sons to himself, are perpetually his sons, yet Scripture in many parts counts none to be God's children but those the election of whom has been proved by their calling: and hence he teaches us not to judge, much less to decide, respecting God's election, except as far as it manifests itself by its own evidences. Thus Paul, after having shown to the Ephesians that their election and adoption had been determined by God before the creation of the world, shortly after declares, that they were once alienated from God, (Ephesians 2:12,) that is, during that time when the Lord had not manifested his love towards them; though he had embraced them in his eternal mercy. Hence, in this passage, they are said not to be beloved, to whom God declares wrath rather than love: for until adoption reconciles men to God, we know that his wrath abides on them.

The feminine gender of the participle depends on the context of the prophet; for he had said, that a daughter had been born to him, to whom he gave this name, Not beloved, in order that the people might know that they were hated by God. Now as rejection was the reason for hatred, so the beginning of love, as the prophet teaches, is, when God adopts those who had been for a time strangers.

27. And Isaiah exclaims, etc. He proceeds now to the second part, with which he was unwilling to begin, lest he should too much exasperate their minds. And it is not without a wise contrivance, that he adduces Isaiah as exclaiming, not, speaking, in order that he might excite more attention. But the words of the Prophet were evidently intended to keep the Jews from glorying too much in the flesh: for it was a thing dreadful to be heard, that of so large a multitude, a small number only would obtain salvation. For though the Prophet, after having described the devastation of the people, lest the faithful should think that the covenant of God was wholly abolished, gave some remaining hope of favor; yet he confined it to a few. But as the Prophet predicted of his own time, let us see how could Paul rightly apply this to his purpose. It must be in this sense, -- When the Lord resolved to deliver his people from the Babylonian captivity, his purpose was, that this benefit of deliverance should come only to a very few of that vast multitude; which might have been said to be the remnant of that destruction, when compared with the great number which he suffered to perish in exile. Now that temporal restoration was typical of the real renovation of the Church of God; yea, it was only its commencement. What therefore happened then, is to be now much more completely fulfilled as the very progress and completion of that deliverance.

28. For I will finish and shorten the matter, etc. Omitting various interpretations, I will state what appears to me to be the real meaning: The Lord will so cut short, and cut off his people, that the residue may seem as it were a consumption, that is, may have the appearance and the vestige of a very great ruin. However, the few who shall remain from the consumption shall be a proof of the work of God's righteousness, or, what I prefer, shall serve to testify the righteousness of God throughout the world. As word often in Scripture means a thing, the consummated word is put for consumption. Many interpreters have here been grossly mistaken, who have attempted to philosophize with too much refinement; for they have imagined, that the doctrine of the gospel is thus called, because it is, when the ceremonies are cut off, a brief compendium of the law; though the word means on the contrary a consumption. And not only here is an error committed by the translator, but also in Isaiah 10:22, 23; Isaiah 28:22; and in Ezekiel 11:13; where it is said, |Ah! ah! Lord God! wilt thou make a completion of the remnant of Israel?| But the Prophets meant to say, |Wilt thou destroy the very remnant with utter destruction?| And this has happened through the ambiguity of the Hebrew word. For as the word, klh, cale, means to finish and to perfect, as well as to consume, this difference has not been sufficiently observed according to the passages in which it occurs.

But Isaiah has not in this instance adopted one word only, but has put down two words, consumption, and termination, or cutting off; so that the affectation of Hebraism in the Greek translator was singularly unseasonable; for to what purpose was it to involve a sentence, in itself clear, in an obscure and figurative language? It may be further added, that Isaiah speaks here hyperbolically; for by consumption he means diminution, such as is wont to be after a remarkable slaughter.

29. And as Isaiah had before said, etc. He brings another testimony from the first chapter, where the Prophet deplores the devastation of Israel in his time: and as this had happened once, it was no new thing. The people of Israel had indeed no pre-eminence, except what they had derived from their ancestors; who had yet been in such a manner treated, that the Prophet complained that they had been so afflicted, that they were not far from having been destroyed, as Sodom and Gomorrah had been. There was, however, this difference, that a few were preserved for a seed, to raise up the name, that they might not wholly perish, and be consigned to eternal oblivion. For it behoved God to be ever mindful of his promise, so as to manifest his mercy in the midst of the severest judgments.

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