Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible

Romans Ch.11 / 16 Ch.s


* The rejection of the Jews is not universal. (1-10) God
overruled their unbelief for making the Gentiles partakers of
gospel privileges. (11-21) The Gentiles cautioned against pride
and unbelief, The Jews shall be called as a nation, and brought
into God's visible covenant again. (22-32) A solemn adoring of
the wisdom, goodness, and justice of God. (33-36)

#1-10 There was a chosen remnant of believing Jews, who had
righteousness and life by faith in Jesus Christ. These were kept
according to the election of grace. If then this election was of
grace, it could not be of works, either performed or foreseen.
Every truly good disposition in a fallen creature must be the
effect, therefore it cannot be the cause, of the grace of God
bestowed on him. Salvation from the first to the last must be
either of grace or of debt. These things are so directly
contrary to each other that they cannot be blended together. God
glorifies his grace by changing the hearts and tempers of the
rebellious. How then should they wonder and praise him! The
Jewish nation were as in a deep sleep, without knowledge of
their danger, or concern about it; having no sense of their need
of the Saviour, or of their being upon the borders of eternal
ruin. David, having by the Spirit foretold the sufferings of
Christ from his own people, the Jews, foretells the dreadful
judgments of God upon them for it, #Ps 69|. This teaches us how
to understand other prayers of David against his enemies; they
are prophecies of the judgments of God, not expressions of his
own anger. Divine curses will work long; and we have our eyes
darkened, if we are bowed down in worldly-mindedness.

#11-21 The gospel is the greatest riches of every place where it
is. As therefore the righteous rejection of the unbelieving
Jews, was the occasion of so large a multitude of the Gentiles
being reconciled to God, and at peace with him; the future
receiving of the Jews into the church would be such a change, as
would resemble a general resurrection of the dead in sin to a
life of righteousness. Abraham was as the root of the church.
The Jews continued branches of this tree till, as a nation, they
rejected the Messiah; after that, their relation to Abraham and
to God was, as it were, cut off. The Gentiles were grafted into
this tree in their room; being admitted into the church of God.
Multitudes were made heirs of Abraham's faith, holiness and
blessedness. It is the natural state of every one of us, to be
wild by nature. Conversion is as the grafting in of wild
branches into the good olive. The wild olive was often ingrafted
into the fruitful one when it began to decay, and this not only
brought forth fruit, but caused the decaying olive to revive and
flourish. The Gentiles, of free grace, had been grafted in to
share advantages. They ought therefore to beware of
self-confidence, and every kind of pride or ambition; lest,
having only a dead faith, and an empty profession, they should
turn from God, and forfeit their privileges. If we stand at all,
it is by faith; we are guilty and helpless in ourselves, and are
to be humble, watchful, afraid of self-deception, or of being
overcome by temptation. Not only are we at first justified by
faith, but kept to the end in that justified state by faith
only; yet, by a faith which is not alone, but which worketh by
love to God and man.

#22-32 Of all judgments, spiritual judgments are the sorest; of
these the apostle is here speaking. The restoration of the Jews
is, in the course of things, far less improbable than the call
of the Gentiles to be the children of Abraham; and though others
now possess these privileges, it will not hinder their being
admitted again. By rejecting the gospel, and by their
indignation at its being preached to the Gentiles, the Jews were
become enemies to God; yet they are still to be favoured for the
sake of their pious fathers. Though at present they are enemies
to the gospel, for their hatred to the Gentiles; yet, when God's
time is come, that will no longer exist, and God's love to their
fathers will be remembered. True grace seeks not to confine
God's favour. Those who find mercy themselves, should endeavour
that through their mercy others also may obtain mercy. Not that
the Jews will be restored to have their priesthood, and temple,
and ceremonies again; an end is put to all these; but they are
to be brought to believe in Christ, the true become one
sheep-fold with the Gentiles, under Christ the Great Shepherd.
The captivities of Israel, their dispersion, and their being
shut out from the church, are emblems of the believer's
corrections for doing wrong; and the continued care of the Lord
towards that people, and the final mercy and blessed restoration
intended for them, show the patience and love of God.

#33-36 The apostle Paul knew the mysteries of the kingdom of God
as well as ever any man; yet he confesses himself at a loss; and
despairing to find the bottom, he humbly sits down at the brink,
and adores the depth. Those who know most in this imperfect
state, feel their own weakness most. There is not only depth in
the Divine counsels, but riches; abundance of that which is
precious and valuable. The Divine counsels are complete; they
have not only depth and height, but breadth and length, #Eph
3:18|, and that passing knowledge. There is that vast distance
and disproportion between God and man, between the Creator and
the creature, which for ever shuts us from knowledge of his
ways. What man shall teach God how to govern the world? The
apostle adores the sovereignty of the Divine counsels. All
things in heaven and earth, especially those which relate to our
salvation, that belong to our peace, are all of him by way of
creation, through him by way of providence, that they may be to
him in their end. Of God, as the Spring and Fountain of all;
through Christ, to God, as the end. These include all God's
relations to his creatures; if all are of Him, and through Him,
all should be to Him, and for Him. Whatever begins, let God's
glory be the end: especially let us adore him when we talk of
the Divine counsels and actings. The saints in heaven never
dispute, but always praise.