What then? - What is the real state of the case before us? Israel - the body of the Jewish people, have not obtained that which they so earnestly desire, i.e. to be continued, as they have been hitherto, the peculiar people of God; but the election hath obtained it - as many of them as have believed in Jesus Christ, and accepted salvation through him: this is the grand scheme of the election by grace; God chooses to make those his peculiar people who believe in his Son, and none other shall enjoy the blessings of his kingdom. Those who would not receive him are blinded; they have shut their eyes against the light, and are in the very circumstances of those mentioned by the Prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 29:10.
What then? - What is the proper conclusion from this argument? “Israel hath not obtained.” That is, the Jews as a people have not obtained what they sought. They sought the favor of God by their own merit; and as it was impossible to obtain it in that manner, they have, as a people, failed of obtaining his favor at all, and will be rejected.
That which he seeketh for - To wit, salvation by their own obedience to the Law.
The election hath - The purpose of choosing on the part of God has obtained, or secured, what the seeking on the part of the Jews could not secure. Or the abstract here may be put for the concrete, and the word “election” may mean the same as the elect. The elect, the reserved, the chosen part of the people, have obtained the favor of God.
Hath obtained it - That is, the favor, or mercy, of God.
The rest - The great mass of the people who remained in unbelief, and had rejected the Messiah.
Were blinded - The word in the original means also were hardened ἐπωρώθησαν epōrōthēsanIt comes from a word which signifies properly to become hard, as bones do which are broken and are then united; or as the joints sometimes do when they become callous or stiff. It was probably applied also to the formation of a hard substance in the eye, a cataract; and then means the same as to be blinded. Hence, applied to the mind, it means what is “hard, obdurate, insensible, stupid.” Thus, it is applied to the Jews, and means that they were blind and obstinate; see Mark 6:52, “Their heart was hardened;” Mark 8:17; John 12:40. The word does not occur in any other place in the New Testament. This verse affirms simply that “the rest were hardened,” but it does not affirm anything about the mode by which it was done. In regard to “the election,” it is affirmed that it was of God; Romans 11:4. Of the remainder, the fact of their blindness is simply mentioned, without affirming anything of the cause; see Romans 11:8.
The prophet Isaiah, looking down through the centuries and witnessing the rejection of prophet after prophet and finally of the Son of God, was inspired to write concerning the acceptance of the Redeemer by those who had never before been numbered among the children of Israel. Referring to this prophecy, Paul declares: “Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought Me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after Me. But to Israel He saith, All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” AA 375.1
Even though Israel rejected His Son, God did not reject them. Listen to Paul as he continues the argument: “I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew. Wot ye not what the Scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed Thy prophets, and digged down Thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” AA 375.2
Israel had stumbled and fallen, but this did not make it impossible for them to rise again. In answer to the question, “Have they stumbled that they should fall?” the apostle replies: “God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” AA 375.3Read in context »