Saturday, June 29, 2013

Vol. II — Chapter 1 — Romans 9: 1-5

Vol. II — Chapter 1 — Romans 9: 1-5


Romans 9:1-5 — (1) I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, (2) That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. (3) For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: (4) Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; (5) Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. A-men.

     Our 9th chapter shows God’s Divine procedure, in excluding the unbelieving Jews, from the benefits of His method of justification, punishing them for their rejection, vindicated. First, the blessings from which the majority of the Jews were excluded, were never promised to them, the children of the flesh. Secondly, these blessings were free gifts, bestowed by a sovereign God, in His exercise of sovereign grace, on the elect on whom He had determined to bestow them — the children of the promise. Thirdly, evils inflicted on the unbelieving Jews were just punishment on prolonged disobedience — punishment deserved by them.
     Yet, in our first five verses, Paul expresses his heaviness of heart and deep sorrow for his fellow countrymen.
     Verse 1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost. “In Christ” speaks of our union with Christ resulting from the work of regeneration in our souls. Paul’s emotions moved and sprang from this work of grace in the soul (2 Cor. 1:23). Paul says that He speaks with the candor and integrity which becomes a true Christian, and in the presence of the blessed Redeemer who searches all hearts. Some commentators have even regarded the words “I say the truth in Christ” as equivalent to an oath. But there is absolutely no verb of swearing used here. Paul feels here a sense of his awful responsibility to his Master whom he loved and served, knowing that one day he would give an account, solemnly asserts his sincerity and truthfulness. “As of sincerity, as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ (2 Cor. 2:17).
     “My conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.” Paul is speaking of his renewed conscience in Christ as “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14). Paul could not lie for his conscience, influenced by the Holy Ghost who is the Spirit of truth and under His influence He so thoroughly discerns my soul on which He operates; from Him it was that he spoke. Paul spoke as a regenerated man with his conscience quickened, illuminated, and under the direct operation of the Holy Ghost. He gives a solemn declaration, as in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, that what he was about to say was the truth — the accurate expression of the sincere feelings of his heart.
     Verse 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. One of the deepest passions of Paul’s soul was excited and stirred by this problem of Jewish unbelief. He speaks of the great and continual grief that he had in his heart from compassion to the Jews.  He makes known his own inner attitude and personal sentiment as he begins to write about the truth of the rejection and reprobation of his countrymen, his kinsmen according to the flesh. The obstinacy and infidelity of the Jewish nation, together with their rejection by the Lord, weighed heavily and constantly upon the heart of the apostle. The bitter hostility of his nation to the glorious Gospel of Christ and the awful consequences of their unbelief weighed heavily and incessantly upon his spirit, causing him violent grief. Their hatred of Christ caused them to be rejected by God and subjected them to the utter loss of all that distinguished as a special people. Paul’s grief is not feigned, it is the constant burden of his heart. Despite the bitter hatred of the Jews for Paul, he still loves them and earnestly desires their salvation. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved” (Rom. 10:1). In writing to them he could only write “out of much affliction and anguish with many tears” (2 Cor. 2:4). In speaking of them to others, with the same tenderness of spirit, he adds, “Of whom I tell you even weeping” (Phil. 3:18; comp Acts 20:19). These were tears of true Christian compassion. We see vividly in the ministry of Paul real God-wrought concern for sinners. He was one who wept much over those he preached to (Acts 20:17-19,29-31; Phil. 3:17-19).
     We must begin here, where the apostle begins, in discussing the truth of the two Israels. It is the failure of the dispensationalists here that leads them to deal falsely with the phrase in Romans 11:26: “And so Israel shall be saved.” This 9th chapter of Romans shows the Divine purpose of God to totally reject and disinherit the unbelieving nation which for 1,000 years had killed the prophets and stoned those sent to them with the message of God. There was to be no respite in that rejection, no restoration of Israel.
     Beginning here is Paul’s reasoning that leads up to that phrase, “And so all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26). If he knew that within minutes after writing of his agony over his Jewish countrymen after the flesh, his pen would be describing the exact opposite of Israel’s rejection, and even (according to our dispensational opposers) foretelling a future of Israel, so grand and glorious that it would excel all their history and even dim the glories and conquests of the true Christian Church , for the last 2,000 years, his distress would be meaningless. His agony is the greatest proof against any restoration theory of the earthly nation of Israel as the as the millenarians state. We shall have much more to write on this issue beginning at verse 6.
     Verse 3 For I could wish myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.  The interpretations of this verse have been both various and diverse. Some have given views that only weaken the true sense of Paul’s words, such as: (1) a thing “accursed” is only a thing devoted to death, so the apostle merely means he could wish to die for the sake of his brethren. (2) Others say the Paul only intended to state that he could be willing to be excommunicated from the Church. (3) Some even say that Paul “did wish,” meaning the words refer to the time before his conversion, when his history shows his madness, hatred and bitterness against the Lord Jesus and His Church. But none of these are honest dealing with and true exegesis of the text, but rather objections to the real meaning of the apostle’s statement. He is saying, if the alternative were given that my brethren according to the flesh be save, or myself, and I was permitted to choose between their salvation and my own, could I affect their salvation by my being accursed, I could, indeed, wish to be accursed from Christ in their behalf. Paul felt as if he could take the place of his brethren, if, by doing so, he could save them from the fearful doom they brought on themselves from the rejected Messiah. The unbelieving Jews were doomed to destruction by Christ. Such was the ardor of Paul’s affection for his brethren, that, if the thing had been possible and proper, he could have wished, by sacrificing his own happiness, to have secured theirs. This is a clear display of the transforming power of true Christianity in Paul’s life and shows how passionately he felt as his whole being was swallowed up in the salvation of his people. This is similar to the expression of Moses (Exod. 32:32).
     The truth of God’s absolute sovereignty in election and reprobation, subjects that Paul is starting to write upon, does not swell the true elect with pride, but humbles them deeply before Him. Christianity does not unhinge the relations we have by nature with our families, friends, and countrymen; it draws them closer. Paul’s great desire for the salvation of his countrymen was due to (1) the greatness of the misery they had been doomed to — they were accursed by Christ, anathematized by the Messiah; (2) the closeness of his relation to them — they were his “brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh;” (3) the high privileges they had been invested with.
     True believers cannot speak of the subject of God’s sovereign rejection of the reprobates, who in our lives are our kinsmen according to the flesh, without feeling the same heaviness, the same continual sorrow for them which the apostle declares to feel in his heart. Any professor who rightfully speaks of God’s sovereign dealings with the children of men and rejoices in the damnation of his fellow man is no child of grace. God’s predestinating purposes divides the race of man, separating between persons of the same flesh and blood, causes the true saints to yearn over the souls of our acquaintances, as we see here in the example of the apostle Paul. The Christian parent experiences tremendous grief upon seeing a child walk the way of destruction. Spouses mourn over their mate, brothers and sisters groan over their siblings; Pastors over their flock, Christian children over their unsaved parents, and all the Saints over their friends, acquaintances and their country. In the words, of Mr. Robert Haldane, “In this way we may discern a characteristic of a Christian. He, who has no sorrow for the perishing state of sinners, and especially of his kindred, is not a Christian. No man can be a Christian who is unconcerned for the salvation of others.”
     Verse 4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises. Something diverse is in many instances meant by this Israeli nation being called God’s people, from their being visible saints, or visibly holy, or having the qualifications requisite to be admitted to the true Church. Note that the privileges here mentioned in verses 4 and 5 are spoken of as belonging to the natural Jews, not as visible saints, nor as professors of true religion, nor as members of the visible Church of Christ; but only as people of the nation of Israel — related to the patriarchs by blood, an external and carnal relation — the patriarchs, their ancestor, Israelites, ACCORDING TO THE FLESH. For Paul is speaking here of unbelieving Jews, real unbelievers, that were not included in the Christian Church, but open visible enemies to the Lord’s true people, and they had no right to the external privileges of His true people (Rom. 11:28-29). The Scriptures clearly show that the Israelitish people, as a body — the great majority of the nation was doomed to destruction. The wrath of God was coming on them to the uttermost.
    The nation of Israel served a temporary purpose in the plan of the Sovereign God, being privilege to bear the ordinances, exhibit the covenant, and be the custodian of the Word of God, until the time when Christ should come. Never was the earthly nation a converted people. In no generation were many of them who were the true spiritual children of God. The nation of Israel was a family in the Old Testament that God had chosen in distinction from all others, to show special favor to, above all nations. The great and main end was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, who was to proceed from that blood, or their seed according to the flesh (Rom. 9:5). “To whom pertaineth the adoption” — not spiritual adoption which makes men joint-heirs with Christ and secures an inalienable interest in the Divine favor — that never was and never could be a national privilege.  The Israeli nation was a chosen nation, separated from all idolatrous nations (Deut. 7:6-8). Under the Old Testament and the New alike spiritual adoption has been the peculiar possession of the individual believer in Christ (John 1:12-13).
     David Brown wisely stated, “This is not to be confounded with the internal, spiritual, vital adoption which flows from the union to God’s own Son, and which is the counterpart of regeneration. It was a purely external and theocratic, yet real, adoption, separating them by a sovereign act of grace from the surrounding heathenism, and constituting them a Family of God (see Exo. 4:22; Deut. 14:1, 32:6; Isa. 1:2; Jer. 3:4, 31:9; Hos. 11:1; Mal. 1:6).”
     “And the glory” — The SHEKHINAH was the visible token of the Lord’s presence with His people. For many ages God appeared among them in His visible glory, the shekhinah, the brightness (Exo. 29:43; 40:34). His glory rested over the ARK, “The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken” (1 Sam. 4:22), and its departure was greatly lamented when captured and removed by Israel’s enemies. The phrase also refers to the miraculous cloud of glory, which was the symbol of the presence of the LORD, and its movements guided the people through the wilderness. It appeared over the tabernacle and temple and hovered over the mercy-seat, and it is often called “the glory,” and “the glory of the Lord (Exo. 40:34-35; 1 Ki. 8:10-11; 2 Chron. 7:1; Ezek. 1:28; 10:4). So this glory was the presence of God in their midst — the tabernacle, the ark, the cloud, etc. They had what no other nation had, a visible token of the very presence and favor of Jehovah.
     “And the covenants.” The covenants here refer to the basic laws or principles by which the nation of Israel as a people was to be governed. The covenants made with Abraham and renewed to Isaac and Jacob, their progenitors. Those with Israel as a people under Moses at Mount Sinai, of which we read of in Exodus; also that in the land of Moab, distinguished from that one in Horeb (see the 29th and 30th chapter of Deut.). This was truly a great honor, to have been made the subjects of these Divine arrangements, and to receive the only theocracy ever established among men.
     To the nation of Israel was also “the giving of the law,” that remarkable Divine dispensation given from the summit of Sinai with such awful solemnity. This Law regulated everything and promoted, when observed and obeyed, the highest domestic and national happiness. By observance they were kept from the abominations of heathen nations, and separated as a peculiar nation. The Scripture in Deut. 4: 32, 33, & 36, the words of Moses, gives us the best commentary on this phrase. “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath ever been any such thing as this great is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he showed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.”
     To them also pertained “the service of God,” the grandest ritual ever known on earth, with its priests, altars, sacrifices, feasts, and splendid temple. This is the service of the tabernacle, the appointed and acceptable way of worshipping God (Heb. 9:1-8). In Heb. 9:1 Paul expresses it as “ordinances of Divine service.” While all the other nations were left to “seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him” (Acts 17:27) and to inquire “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God?” (Micah 6:6). But Israel had a revelation of the true and Living God, and were instructed how to worship Him (Psa. 147:19-20). These were given from Exodus chapter 38 to the end, all the book of Leviticus, and a great part of the book of Numbers. That service showed the place to meet God, the time to meet God, the sacrificial means of hearings before God, the mediator through whom they could approach God.
     To the nation also pertained “the promises.” Read the 26th chapter of Lev. and the 28th chapter of Deut. to see specimen of many promises. These were promises of peculiar protection, and of continued existence. There were the greater promises of the Messiah  (Acts 26:6) , and of redemption and glory to the remnant, the elect — of their restoration to the Church in the latter days (Gal. 3:16).
     Verse 5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. A-men. They had “the fathers,” the patriarchs. It was an illustrious heritage. No other nation had such a list of fathers. Their illustrious forefathers included the well known patriarchs of their nation — such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, etc. There was a long list of worthies, some mentioned in Holy Scripture, and some more remote (Heb. 11:32-40). Hundreds of years had produced many men and women eminent for their virtues and piety. It is an honor for a nation to have had great, and wise, and good men and women among the founders and upholders of their state. No nation was ever so honored in this respect as the Jews.
     But a much higher honor belonged to the Israelites than any or all of these: “Of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came” — the Messiah, the great, promised, Divinely-appointed, and Divine Deliverer. As to His human nature our Blessed Saviour was an Israelite. He was of the tribe of Judah, of the house and lineage of David (Rom. 1:3). This was the highest honor that could be conferred on a nation, that the eternal Son of God should become incarnate among them. In Abraham’s seed all the nations of the earth were to be blessed (Rom. 4:11-25); the Great Prophet was to be raised up from among the Israelitish (Deut. 18:15); the Everlasting King was to be the Son of David (Jer. 10:10 & 1 Tim. 6:15). And these predictions were filled in “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1). That phrase “concerning the flesh” intimates that the Messiah who came was possessed of a nature superior to the human. While “concerning the flesh” shows that He came of the Jews, it also shows in other respects He did not come of them for “His goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).  The apostle had written in the first chapter, verses 3 & 4, showing that the Lord Jesus Christ, according to the flesh, was the Son of David, according to the Spirit of Holiness, was, and was proved to be the Son of God.
     He is “over all, God blessed for ever.” This is one of the most distinct statements of our Lord’s Deity that is found in Holy Scripture. He had a Divine nature, for He is not only truly man, but He is “God blessed for ever” and He is God over all. Christ said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). The Father speaking to “the Son saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Heb. 1:8). Acts 20:28 states that the precious Blood of Christ is the Blood of Him Who is God.
     Christ is “over all” for He is the Prince of the whole creation, before all things; that by Him all things consist (Col. 1:15,17); that He upholdeth all things by the Word of His power (Heb. 1:3); and He has a name above every name — a name at which every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that He is absolute Lord (Phil. 2:6-11). He is “over all” for He is God over all, as Isaiah said “the mighty God” (Isa. 9:6). The apostle, writing the words from the Holy Ghost, wrote “the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13), and the apostle John says “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). The Scripture represent our Lord Christ as possessed of perfect, constant and uninterrupted tranquility and felicity, as God over the universe, and in His arrangement of the affairs of the world, as supreme and universal Ruler. (See Rom. 1:25; 2 Cor. 11:31; 1 Tim. 6:15).
     Our Lord Jesus Christ is God over all “blessed for ever.” The word “blessed” here means that He is most adorable, worthy of all praise. He as blessed is the proper Object of all true religious worship and He will be acknowledged to be so for all eternity. He has been blessed by innumerable multitudes throughout the ages and is even now blessed by all true saints throughout the universe. Many angels around the throne, the living creatures, the elders, and all the surrounding hosts of redeemed spirits are now praising Him and saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing” (Rev. 5:12). Soon following every creature that is in Heaven and on earth, and even under the earth, shall be heard saying, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Rev. 5:13). Our Lord Jesus Christ is here in our fifth verse of Romans 9 termed “who is over all, God blessed for ever” and as He is God over all means “supreme God,” and “blessed for ever” is applied to Him Who is truly Divine.
     The truth of the Godhead (Deity) of our Lord Jesus Christ is clearly defined and strongly maintained in the Confessions of Faith and the Catechisms of the true Church from earliest times, and to the present day, and that, too, in opposition to every form of heresy that arose to undermine it. With some of these of our guide we wish to offer the following on the Deity of our Lord Christ — Jesus Christ is very God. We put together, from the Heidelberg Catechism, this: “The Son of God, the historical Lord Jesus, Who was born in Bethlehem in the fulness of time, Who grew up in the home of Joseph and Mary in Nazareth as an ordinary child, Who sojourned among us, taught the people and performed His mighty works during the three years of His public ministry, and Who finally was crucified and slain by His enemies, nailed to the accursed tree, but Who, according to the Scriptures, was raised on the third day and exalted on the right hand of the Majesty in the Heavens — that this Jesus is very God, not born but eternally begotten, God of God, and Light of Light.”
     The Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed, 381, states the following: “And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made.”
     The Athanasian Creed has the following: “Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation: that he also believes rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess: that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God of the Substance of the Father; begotten before the worlds: and Man, of the substance of His mother, born in the world. Perfect God: and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead: and inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood. Who although He is God and Man; yet He is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh: but by taking of the Manhood into God. One altogether; not by confusion of the Substance: but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man: so God and Man is one Christ.”
     The Augsburg Confession declares in Article III: “Also they teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, took upon Him man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, so that there are two natures, the Divine and the human, inseparably joined together in unity of Person; one Christ, true God and man.” The Formula of Concord, Article VIII adds: That the Divine and the human nature in Christ are personally united, and so completely that there are not two Christs — one the Son of God, the other the Son of man — but that one and the same is Son of God and Son of man.”
     The Second Helvetic Confession, Article XI, says: Moreover, we believe and teach that the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, was from all eternity predestinated and foreordained of the Father to be the Saviour of the world. And we believe that He was begotten, not only then, when He took flesh of the Virgin Mary, nor yet a little before the foundations of the world were laid; but before all eternity, and that of the Father after an unspeakable manner . . . Therefore the Son is coequal and consubstantial with the Father, as touching His Divinity: true God, not by name only, or by adoption, or by special favor, but in substance and nature . . . We acknowledge, therefore, that there be in one and the same Jesus Christ our Lord two natures, the Divine and the human nature.”
     The incomparable Westminster Confession, VIII, 2 states: “The Son of God, the Second Person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the Father, did, when the fulness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin: being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one Person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which Person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.”
     There are numerous others but our space limits us to these given. These Confessions and Catechisms give the clear teaching of Scripture and as our Lord enables we shall touch on a few Scriptures and merely quote a few others to substantiate that fact. At the very beginning of Christ’s public ministry, Nathanael, the Israelite in whom there was no guile, said to our Lord Jesus, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (John 1:49). Upon another occasion Jesus our Lord, after having inquired of His disciples as to men’s opinions about Him, asked them the personal question: “But whom do ye say that I am?” Peter replied with the well-known confession: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The Lord Christ sealed this confession, both as to its truth and with respect to its fundamental importance, when He said: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven” (Matt. 16:16-18). Then there was the event with Thomas, who would not believe, unless he put his finger in the print of the nails, overcome by the glory of his risen Lord, cried out in adoration: “My Lord, and my God” (John 20:28). This is the teaching of Holy Writ throughout.
     “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made . . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth . . . . No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:1-3; 14, 18). “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Tim. 3:16). “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5). “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). “Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever” (Rom. 9:5). These Scripture passages stand without need of our comment.
     Moreover, attributes that are only Divine, such as eternity, omniscience, omnipotence, are attributed to our Lord Jesus. (See Micah 5:1; John 21:17; Rev. 1:8; 22:13). Too, the Lord Jesus Christ performs Divine works. He creates, sustains all things, forgives men’s sins, raises the dead, etc. (See John 1:3; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; Luke 5:20, 24; John 5:21). And the Lord Jesus Christ and the Father are one, i.e., one in essence: “I and my Father are one” (John 10: 30).
   And so it stands on the basis of Holy Writ that throughout the Scriptures the true, essential, and distinct Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ is set forth in vivid terms. Rejoice, fall at His feet and worship, and take forth throughout your life time the message of the distinct Divinity of Christ our blessed Lord.

Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 9: 1-5.
Verse 1. The Jews looked for a Messiah (Jn. 7:40-42), but they expected the Messiah to restore the nation of Israel to world prominence, to restore the great kingdom of David and to confer upon Israel great favor with God. If any Gentile participated in this glorious kingdom, it would be by becoming a Jew. It was obvious that they did not understand the sacrifices and types, for they did not see the Messiah coming first as a Lamb, a Sin-offering and a Saviour. They read the Old Testament Scriptures that refer to His triumphant and glorious second coming (the eternal kingdom of righteousness) and applied them to His first coming and to their nation alone. But Christ came as it was written — the Lamb of God, the righteousness of God, the atonement and sacrifice for sin, for Jew and Gentile (Rom. 10: 12-13; Eph. 2: 11-16). How did the Jew respond? With few exceptions they rejected Him and His message (Jn. 1:11; Acts 13: 44-48). As a result of their greatest sin, the rejection of Christ, they have been blinded and the Gospel preached to the Gentile nations (Rom. 11: 7-10). The Gentiles in great numbers believed the Gospel and were saved. The Jews, for the most part, abide still in unbelief. This is what is on Paul’s mind as he writes the following words. — Henry Mahan (b. 1926).
It was not respecting any doctrine he taught that he did swear to, for it needed no confirmation of an oath, deriving as it did all its authority and assurance from Divine revelation. But it was concerning his own heart and purpose, whereof there might be doubt, and when it was of great concern to the Church to have the Truth emphatically stated. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
For the sake of some of our readers we shall give a brief definition of conscience. It is that faculty of the soul whereby we judge of ourselves, our states and actions, with respects to the judgment of God. God has gifted the soul with various powers of understanding, affection, and will. He also has bestowed on it this power of considering its own state and actings, inward or outward, with or without the body, and constituted conscience a monitor and judge for God in a man’s own bosom. But conscience, as the very word implies, must have a rule to work by. In both Greek and English the word signifies “knowledge together with.” It is not merely a knowledge, but a knowledge coupled with some rule, according to which a process of inward judgment is carried on. Now the only proper rule is and must be the Word of God; and this rule divides itself into two parts, — what God speaks to man in His holy Law, and what He says in His holy and gracious Gospel. If conscience departs from these rules, it is nothing but a rebel conscience. It has ceased to speak and judge for God. The light in the man is turned into darkness; for the eye itself has become evil. Judgment is turned to gall and wormwood Man , at his first creation, had only the first of these two rules — the Law — and the proper work of conscience was to work warningly and condemningly in strict accordance with that rule, and to allow no other words but those God had then spoken to govern it. Man listened to Satan’s lies, broke the Law, and conscience then had nothing to do but condemn him as a guilty sinner, and signify his liability to undergo the threatened punishment. But grace came in. The new rule of the Gospel was introduced in the promise of the woman’s seed; and then, to the believer in this Gospel Word of God, came in a blessed rule, superseding the other in this sense, that, though conscience was still bound to condemn the man for his breach of the Law, it was bound under a higher obligation to acquit and justify him as a believer in the everlasting grace and royal law of the Gospel, which had become unto him his rule of life. {The Law and Gospel, the entire Word of God, is the believer’s rule of life, LVC}. — John Gadsby (1808-1893).
We had almost as well not preach God’s truth at all as to speak it in a harsh and violent way. — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
Verse 2. It is now our duty to love all men, though they are wicked; but it will not be our duty to love wicked men hereafter. Christ, by many precepts in His Word, hath made it our duty to love all men. We are commanded to love wicked men, and our enemies and persecutors. But this command doth not extent to the saints in glory, with respect to the damned in Hell. Nor is there the same reason that it should. We ought now to love all, and even wicked men; we know not but that God loves them. However wicked any man is, yet we know not but that he is one whom God loved from all eternity, we know not but that Christ loved him with a dying love, had his name upon His heart before the world was, and had respect to him when he endured those bitter agonies on the Cross. We know not but that he is to be our companion in glory to all eternity. But this is not the case in another world. The saints in glory will know concerning the damned in Hell, that God never loved them, but that He hates them, and will be forever hated of God. This hatred of God will be fully declared to them; they will see it, and will see the fruits of it in their misery. Therefore, when God has thus declared His hatred of the damned, and the saints see it, it will be no way becoming in the saints to love them, nor to mourn over them. It becomes the saints fully and perfectly to consent to what God doth, without any reluctance or opposition of spirit; yea, it becomes them to rejoice in every thing that God sees meet to do. — Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).
Paul was happy in Christ, but when he thought of his Jewish brethren in blindness and unbelief, it caused him great sorrow (Rom. 10:1). — Henry Mahan (b. 1926).
Nor is it unreasonable nor unusual for the people of God to be sad at the course of the wicked. “I beheld the transgressors and was grieved;” “Horror hath taken hold of me, because of the wicked that forsake thy law;” “Rivers of water run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law (Psa.119: 53, 136, 158. Compare Jer. 9:1; 13:17; Ezek. 9:2). Is not this right? — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
If we can view, unmoved, the perishing condition of our fellow-men, or are unwilling to make sacrifices for their benefit, we are very different from Paul, and from Him that wept over Jerusalem, and died for our good upon Mount Calvary. — Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847).
Verse 3.  Though I cannot say I am as transported with affection and zeal as Paul—as to wish myself accursed from Christ for your sakes; yet I am persuaded, I could be contented with Jonah, to be cast into the sea, to the pacifying of God’s wrath for you; that I may be free from the blood of all men; and by the power of God, to deal plainly and sincerely with all my fellow-creatures, not valuing the smiles, nor fearing the frowns of wicked men. It is better to lose their smiles—than it is to lose their precious souls. Though there are many who are enemies to me—yet I am an enemy to none, a hater of no man's person, but a lover of their souls. He who loved me when I was an enemy, commands me to love my enemies. Dear Christians, cleave to the Lord, and follow after him fully! Neglect no duty, though you know there is danger in doing it. Fear God and sin—more than men and suffering. Let your souls bear up with Christ, bear off from the world, bear down your corruptions, and bear forth your testimony. Respect all, and reject none of God’s commandments; and take patiently and thankfully, the hardest dealings of God. The heaviest afflictions you meet with on earth, are but light in comparison with Christ’s sufferings, or the punishment of the wicked in Hell. When God’s people are humble, and the wicked high enough, and the Lord’s appointed time has come — then the godly may expect deliverance, and not before. You should not envy the patience of God towards your enemies, for it is nothing in companion of what love He shows to you; be you diligent at your work, and leave God at His. The Lord will soon turn from His wrath— if men were turned from their wickedness. Look closely to your hearts, tongues and ways. I never trusted God — but I found Him faithful. I never trusted my own heart — but I found it false. — William Dyer, Puritan (1632-1696).
If a man says he is a Christian but has no love he is simply deluding himself. — Geoffrey Thomas (b. 1938).
The measure of our love for others can largely be determined by the frequency and earnestness of our prayers for them. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
Verse 4. Only if we walk in the beauty of God’s Law do we make sure of our adoption as children of the Father. — John Calvin (1509-1564).
The glory of Jehovah thus emphasizes His greatness, majesty, and transcendence. He is the One against whom the creature becomes aware not only of his creatureliness and nothingness but of his unholiness and impurity (cf. Isa. 6:5). Yet the miracle of Israel’s God is not His incomparable and ineffable majesty, but the fact that He wants to be with His people. He whose glory fills the Heavens comes to dwell among His people. This nearness does not remove, eliminate, or even decrease His transcendence. His presence in the O. T. is always in the cloud. The cloud veils His kabod and yet at the same time indicates His presence. During the Exodus the pillar of cloud is between Israel and their enemies (Exo. 14: 19-20). After the majestic appearance at Sinai (also in a cloud, see Exo. 19:16; 20:21), the presence in the cloud is particularly associated with the sanctuary, first the tent of meeting (Exo. 29:4; 40:34; Lev. 9:6f; Num. 14:10), and afterwards with the temple in Jerusalem (1 Ki. 8:10f; also Psa. 24:7-10). — Klaas Runia (1926-2006).
The fact that God was the initiator of the covenants and the covenants were not between equals is emphasized by the frequency with which God called it “my” covenant (Gen. 6:18; 9:9, 11, etc.). This same emphasis should be noted in later instances of covenants between God and man. God says over and over, “I will establish my covenant” (Gen. 6:9; 9:11; 17:7, etc.), or a similar formula (Gen. 17:2; Isa. 55:3, etc.) . . . . “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people” (Exo. 19:5). The conditional nature of the covenant is seen in this statement. The blessings would be theirs only if they obeyed God’s covenant requirements. This significant “if” is also found concerning the promise of the land in Deut. 30: 16-18 and Isa. 1: 19-20. — Harry Buis.
God’s Law was given to reveal sin, not to remove it. — Anonymous.
We cannot rely on God’s promises without obeying His commandments. — John Calvin 1509-1564).
Faith in the promises works obedience to the precepts. — George Swinnock (1627-1673).
Verse 5. It is a great blessing to have a good ancestry, especially a pious ancestry. It is but a few men, who have a wise regard to their posterity, unless they can look back on honored progenitors. Of all the desperate acts of wickedness performed by men, none goes beyond the renunciation of the God of our pious forefathers. — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
In the early ages of the Christian Church many heresies arose respecting the humanity of Christ. For the last three centuries the enemies of the truth have clearly assaulted His Divinity. Of late it looks as if the doctrine of His entire manhood was to be again vigorously assaulted. All still admit that He had a true body, but it begins to be more than hinted that His Divine nature took the place of a soul in Him. How far this folly may go, the Head of the Church knows; but let the friends of Christ be on the alert and valiant for the truth. The issue of the contest is not doubtful. If the Scriptures do not prove that Jesus Christ had a reasonable soul — human nature entire, sin only excepted — they prove nothing. — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
He is above all our conceptions and praises, above creatures of the highest order, and indeed, God blessed for ever, the worthy Object of our humblest adoration, as well as unreserved dependence, love and obedience: Amen: let His Divine glories be ever proclaimed and confessed! May all the (spiritual) house of Israel know this assuredly, and fall down before Him, as in and with the Father of all, their Lord and their God! — Philip Doddridge (1702-1751).
We must in like manner hold fast the true, proper, supreme Divinity of Christ, as over all, God blessed for ever. His Divinity is established in God’s Word by the same line of argument, by which we prove the Divinity of His Father. The grammatical construction of Scripture, the history of theological doctrine and the miracles performed in the name of Christ form a three-fold cord, respecting His Divinity, which cannot be broken. — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).

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