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Commentary On Romans by Jean Calvin

Romans 11:25-27

25. For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

25. Nolo euim vos ignorare, fratres, mysterium hoc, ut ne apud vosmetipsos superbiatis, quod caecitas ex parte Israeli contigit, donec plenitudo gentium ingrediatur:

26. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

26. Atque ita universus Israel salvus fiet; quemadmodum scriptum est, Veniet ex Sion is qui liberat, et avertet impietates a Iacob:

27. For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

27. Et hoc illis a me testamentum, quum abstulero peccata eorum.

25. I would not, etc. Here he rouses his hearers to a greater attention, while he avows that he is going to declare something that was secret. Nor did he do this without reason; for he wished to conclude, by a brief or plain sentence, a very perplexed question; and yet he declares what no one could have expected. But the words, Lest ye should be proud in yourselves, show what was his designed object; and that was, to check the arrogance of the Gentiles, lest they should exult over the Jews. This admonition was also necessary, lest the defection of that people should immoderately disturb the minds of the weak, as though the salvation of them all was to be forever despaired of. The same is still not less useful to us at this day, so that we may know, that the salvation of the remnant, whom the Lord will at length gather to himself, is hid, sealed as it were by his signet. And whenever a long delay tempts us to despair, let us remember this word mystery; by which Paul clearly reminds us, that the mode of their conversion will neither be common nor usual; and hence they act absurdly who attempt to measure it by their own judgment; for what can be more unreasonable than to regard that as incredible which is far removed from our view? It is called a mystery, because it will be incomprehensible until the time of its revelation. It is, however, made known to us, as it was to the Romans, that our faith may be content with the word, and support us with hope, until the event itself come to light.

That blindness in part, etc. |In part,| I think, refers not simply to time, nor to the number, but means, in a manner, or in a measure; by which expression he intended, as it seems to me, only to qualify a declaration which in itself was severe. Until does not specify the progress or order of time, but signifies the same thing, as though he had said, |That the fullness of the Gentiles,| etc. The meaning then is, -- That God had in a manner so blinded Israel, that while they refused the light of the gospel, it might be transferred to the Gentiles, and that these might occupy, as it were, the vacated possession. And so this blindness served the providence of God in furthering the salvation of the Gentiles, which he had designed. And the fullness of the Gentiles is to be taken for a great number: for it was not to be, as before, when a few proselytes connected themselves with the Jews; but such was to be the change, that the Gentiles would form almost the entire body of the Church.

26. And so all Israel, etc. Many understand this of the Jewish people, as though Paul had said, that religion would again be restored among them as before: but I extend the word Israel to all the people of God, according to this meaning, -- |When the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also shall return from their defection to the obedience of faith; and thus shall be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be gathered from both; and yet in such a way that the Jews shall obtain the first place, being as it were the first-born in God's family.| This interpretation seems to me the most suitable, because Paul intended here to set forth the completion of the kingdom of Christ, which is by no means to be confined to the Jews, but is to include the whole world. The same manner of speaking we find in Galatians 6:16. The Israel of God is what he calls the Church, gathered alike from Jews and Gentiles; and he sets the people, thus collected from their dispersion, in opposition to the carnal children of Abraham, who had departed from his faith.

As it is written, etc. He does not confirm the whole passage by this testimony of Isaiah, (Isaiah 59:20,) but only one clause, -- that the children of Abraham shall be partakers of redemption. But if one takes this view, -- that Christ had been promised and offered to them, but that as they rejected him, they were deprived of his grace; yet the Prophet's words express more, even this, -- that there will be some remnant, who, having repented, shall enjoy the favor of deliverance.

Paul, however, does not quote what we read in Isaiah, word for word;

|come,| he says, |shall a Redeemer to Sion, and to those who shall repent of iniquity in Jacob, saith the Lord.| (Isaiah 59:20.)

But on this point we need not be very curious; only this is to be regarded, that the Apostles suitably apply to their purpose whatever proofs they adduce from the Old Testament; for their object was to point but passages, as it were by the finger, that readers might be directed to the fountain itself.

But though in this prophecy deliverance to the spiritual people of God is promised, among whom even Gentiles are included; yet as the Jews are the first-born, what the Prophet declares must be fulfilled, especially in them: for that Scripture calls all the people of God Israelites, is to be ascribed to the pre-eminence of that nation, whom God had preferred to all other nations. And then, from a regard to the ancient covenant, he says expressly, that a Redeemer shall come to Sion; and he adds, that he will redeem those in Jacob who shall return from their transgression. By these words God distinctly claims for himself a certain seed, so that his redemption may be effectual in his elect and peculiar nation. And though fitter for his purpose would have been the expression used by the Prophet, |shall come to Sion;| yet Paul made no scruple to follow the commonly received translation, which reads, |The Redeemer shall come forth from Mount Sion.| And similar is the case as to the second part, |He shall turn away iniquities from Jacob:| for Paul thought it enough to regard this point only, -- that as it is Christ's peculiar office to reconcile to God an apostate and faithless people, some change was surely to be looked for, lest they should all perish together.

27. And, this is my covenant with them, etc. Though Paul, by the last prophecy of Isaiah, briefly touched on the office of the Messiah, in order to remind the Jews what was to be expected especially from him, he further adds these few words from Jeremiah, expressly for the same purpose; for what is added is not found in the former passage. This also tends to confirm the subject in hand; for what he said of the conversion of a people who were so stubborn and obstinate, might have appeared incredible: he therefore removes this stumblingblock, by declaring that the covenant included a gratuitous remission of sins. For we may gather from the words of the Prophet, -- that God would have no more to do with his apostate people, until he should remit the crime of perfidy, as well as their other sins.

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