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Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent, [1886], at

Romans Chapter 11

Romans 11:17

rom 11:17

Branches were broken off (κλάδων ἐξεκλάσθησαν)

See on Mat 24:32; see on Mar 11:8. The derivation of κλάδων branches, from κλάω to break, is exhibited in the word-play between the noun and the verb: kladon, exeklasthesan.

A wild olive-tree (ἀγριέλαιος)

To be taken as an adjective, belonging to the wild olive. Hence Rev., correctly, rejects tree, since the Gentiles are addressed not as a whole but as individuals. Meyer says: "The ingrafting of the Gentiles took place at first only partially and in single instances; while the thou addressed cannot represent heathendom as a whole, and is also not appropriate to the figure itself; because, in fact, not whole trees, not even quite young ones are ingrafted, either with the stem or as to all their branches. Besides, Rom 11:24 contradicts this view."

Wert graffed in among them (ἐνεκεντρίσθης ἐν αὐτοῖς)

The verb occurs only in this chapter. From κέντπον a sting, a goad. See on Rev 9:9. Thus, in the verb to graft the incision is emphasized. Some render in their place, instead of among them; but the latter agrees better with partakest. Hence the reference is not to some of the broken off branches in whose place the Gentiles were grafted, but to the branches in general.

With them partakest (συγκοινωνὸς ἐγένου)

Lit., as Rev., didst become partaker with them. See on Rev 1:9; and see on partners, Luk 5:10. With them, the natural branches.

Of the root and fatness (τῆς ῥίζης καὶ τῆς πιότητος)

The best texts omit καὶ and, and render of the root of the fatness: the root as the source of the fatness.

Paul's figure is: The Jewish nation is a tree from which some branches have been cut, but which remains living because the root (and therefore all the branches connected with it) is still alive. Into this living tree the wild branch, the Gentile, is grafted among the living branches, and thus draws life from the root. The insertion of the wild branches takes place in connection with the cutting off of the natural branches (the bringing in of the Gentiles in connection with the rejection of the Jews). But the grafted branches should not glory over the natural branches because of the cutting off of some of the latter, since they derive their life from the common root. "The life-force and the blessing are received by the Gentile through the Jew, and not by the Jew through the Gentile. The spiritual plan moves from the Abrahamic covenant downward, and from the Israelitish nation outward" (Dwight).

The figure is challenged on the ground that the process of grafting is the insertion of the good into the inferior stock, while here the case is reversed. It has been suggested in explanation that Paul took the figure merely at the point of inserting one piece into another; that he was ignorant of the agricultural process; that he was emphasizing the process of grace as contrary to that of nature. References to a custom of grafting wild upon good trees are not sufficiently decisive to warrant the belief that the practice was common. Dr. Thomson says: "In the kingdom of nature generally, certainly in the case of the olive, the process referred to by the apostle never succeeds. Graft the good upon the wild, and, as the Arabs say, 'it will conquer the wild;' but you cannot reverse the process with success.... It is only in the kingdom of grace that a process thus contrary to nature can be successful; and it is this circumstance which the apostle has seized upon to magnify the mercy shown to the Gentiles by grafting them, a wild race, contrary to the nature of such operations, into the good olive tree of the church, and causing them to flourish there and bring forth fruit unto eternal life. The apostle lived in the land of the olive, and was in no danger of falling into a blunder in founding his argument upon such a circumstance in its cultivation" ("Land and Book, Lebanon, Damascus and Beyond Jordan," p. 35). Meyer says: "The subject-matter did not require the figure of the ordinary grafting, but the converse - the grafting of the wild scion and its ennoblement thereby. The Gentile scion was to receive, not to impart, fertility."

Romans 11:18

rom 11:18

The branches

Of the olive-tree generally, Jewish Christians and unbelieving Jews. Not those that are broken off, who are specially indicated in Rom 11:19.

Romans 11:20

rom 11:20

Well (καλῶς)

Admitting the fact. Thou art right. Compare Mar 12:32. Some take it as ironical.

Romans 11:22

rom 11:22

Goodness and severity (χρηστότητα καὶ ἀποτομίαν)

For goodness, see on Rom 3:12. Ἁποτομία severity, only here in the New Testament. The kindred adverb, ἀποτόμως sharply, occurs Co2 13:10; Tit 1:13. From ἀποτέμνω to cut off. Hence that which is abrupt, sharp.

Thou shalt be cut off (ἐκκοπήσῃ)

Lit., cut out. See on Luk 13:7.

Romans 11:23

rom 11:23

Able (δυνατὸς)

See on Rom 4:21.

Romans 11:24

rom 11:24

Contrary to nature

See remarks on Rom 11:17.

Romans 11:25

rom 11:25

Mystery (μυστήριον)

In the Septuagint only in Daniel. See Dan 2:18, Dan 2:19, Dan 2:27, Dan 2:28, Dan 2:30, of the king's secret. It occurs frequently in the apocryphal books, mostly of secrets of state, or plans kept by a king in his own mind. This meaning illustrates the use of the word in passages like Mat 13:11, "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" - secret purposes or counsels which God intends to carry into effect in His kingdom. So here; Rom 16:25; Eph 1:9; Eph 3:9; Col 1:26, Col 1:27; Col 2:2; Col 4:3; Rev 10:7. In Justin Martyr (second century) it is commonly used in connection with σύμβολον symbol, τύπος type, παραβολή parable, and so is evidently closely related in meaning to these words. Compare Rev 1:20; Rev 17:7, This meaning may possibly throw light on Eph 5:32. In early ecclesiastical Latin μυστήριον was rendered by sacramentum, which in classical Latin means the military oath. The explanation of the word sacrament, which is so often founded on this etymology, is therefore mistaken, since the meaning of sacrament belongs to μυστήριον and not to sacramentum in the classical sense. In Eph 3:3-6, Paul uses the word as here, of the admission of the Gentiles.

Wise (φρόνιμοι)

See on the kindred noun φρόνησις wisdom, Luk 1:17. Mostly in the New Testament of practical wisdom, prudence; thus distinguished from σοφία which is mental excellence in its highest and fullest sense; and from σύνεσις intelligence, which is combinative wisdom; wisdom in its critical applications. See Col 1:9, and compare Eph 1:8.

Blindness (πώρωσις)

See on Rom 11:7. Rev., hardening.

In part (ἀπὸ μέρους)

Μέρος part is never used adverbially in the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation. In the Epistles it is rarely used in any other way. The only exceptions are Co2 3:10; Co2 9:3; Eph 4:9, Eph 4:16. Paul employs it in several combinations. With ἀπό from (Co1 1:14; Co1 2:5), and ἐκ out of (Co1 12:27; Co1 13:9, Co1 13:10, Co1 13:12), in which a thing is conceived as looked at from the part, either (ἀπὸ) as a simple point of view, or (ἐκ) as a standard according to which the whole is estimated. Thus Co1 12:27, "members ἐκ μέρους severally, i.e., members from a part of the whole point of view. Also with ἐν in, as Col 2:16, with respect to, literally, in the matter of. With ἀνά up, the idea being of a series or column of parts reckoned upward, part by part. Μέρος τι with regard to some part, partly, occurs Co1 11:18; and κατὰ μέρος, reckoning part by part downward; according to part, particularly, Heb 9:5.

Construe here with hath happened: has partially befallen. Not partial hardening, but hardening extending over a part.

Romans 11:26

rom 11:26

The deliverer (ὁ ῥυόμενος)

The Hebrew is goel redeemer, avenger. The nearest relative of a murdered person, on whom devolved the duty of avenger, was called goel haddam avenger of blood. So the goel was the nearest kinsman of a childless widow, and was required to marry her (Deu 25:5-10). It is the word used by Job in the celebrated passage Job 19:25. See, also, Rut 3:12, Rut 3:13; Rut 4:1-10.

Romans 11:29

rom 11:29

Without repentance (ἀμεταμέλητα)

Only here and Co2 7:10. See on repented, Mat 21:29. Not subject to recall.

Romans 11:32

rom 11:32

Concluded (συνέκλεισεν)

Only here, Luk 5:6; Gal 3:22, Gal 3:23. A very literal rendering, etymologically considered; con together, claudere to shut. The A.V. followed the Vulgate conclusit. So Hooker: "The person of Christ was only touching bodily substance concluded within the grave." The word has lost this sense. Rev., hath shut up. Some explain in the later Greek sense, to hand over to a power which holds in ward.

All (τοὺς πάντας)

Lit., the all. The totality, Jews and Gentiles, jointly and severally.

Romans 11:33

rom 11:33

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge. So both A.V. and Rev., making depth govern riches, and riches govern wisdom and knowledge. Others, more simply, make the three genitives coordinate, and all governed by depth: the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge. "Like a traveler who has reached the summit of an Alpine ascent, the apostle turns and contemplates. Depths are at his feet, but waves of light illumine them, and there spreads all around an immense horizon which his eye commands" (Godet). Compare the conclusion of ch. 8.

"Therefore into the justice sempiternal

The power of vision which your world receives

As eye into the ocean penetrates;

Which, though it see the bottom near the shore,

Upon the deep perceives it not, and yet

'Tis there, but it is hidden by the depth.

There is no light but comes from the serene

That never is o'ercast, nay, it is darkness

Or shadow of the flesh, or else its poison."

Dante, "Paradiso," xix. 59-62.

Compare also Sophocles:

"In words and deeds whose laws on high are set

Through heaven's clear ether spread,

Whose birth Olympus boasts,

Their one, their only sire,

Whom man's frail flesh begat not,

Nor in forgetfulness

Shall lull to sleep of death;

In them our God is great,

In them he grows not old forevermore."

"Oedipus Tyrannus," 865-871.

Wisdom - knowledge (σοφίας - γνώσεως)

Used together only here, Co1 12:8; Col 2:3. There is much difference of opinion as to the precise distinction. It is agreed on all hands that wisdom is the nobler attribute, being bound up with moral character as knowledge is not. Hence wisdom is ascribed in scripture only to God or to good men, unless it is used ironically. See Co1 1:20; Co1 2:6; Luk 10:21. Cicero calls wisdom "the chief of all virtues." The earlier distinction, as Augustine, is unsatisfactory: that wisdom is concerned with eternal things, and knowledge with things of sense; for γνῶσις knowledge, is described as having for its object God (Co2 10:5); the glory of God in the face of Christ (Co2 4:6); Christ Jesus (Phi 3:8).

As applied to human acquaintance with divine things, γνῶσις knowledge, is the lower, σοφία wisdom, the higher stage. Knowledge may issue in self-conceit. It is wisdom that builds up the man (Co1 8:1). As attributes of God, the distinction appears to be between general and special: the wisdom of God ruling everything in the best way for the best end; the knowledge of God, His wisdom as it contemplates the relations of things, and adopts means and methods. The wisdom forms the plan; the knowledge knows the ways of carrying it out.

Past finding out (ἀνεξιχνίαστοι)

Only here and Eph 3:8. Appropriate to ways or paths. Lit., which cannot be tracked.

Romans 11:34

rom 11:34

Who hath known, etc.

From Isa 40:13. Heb., Who hath measured the Spirit? Though measured may be rendered tried, proved, regulated. Compare the same citation in Co1 2:16. This is the only passage in the Septuagint where ruach spirit is translated by νοῦς mind. Known (ἔγνω) may refer to God's γνῶσις knowledge and ways in Rom 11:33; counselor to His wisdom and judgments. No one has counseled with Him in forming His decisions.

Romans 11:35

rom 11:35

Who hath first given, etc.

From Job 41:3. Heb., Who has been beforehand with me that I should repay him? Paul here follows the Aramaic translation. The Septuagint is: Who shall resist me and abide?

Romans 11:36

rom 11:36

Of - through - to (ἐξ - διά - εἰς)

Of, proceeding from as the source: through, by means of, as maintainer, preserver, ruler: to or unto, He is the point to which all tends. All men and things are for His glory (Co1 15:28). Alford styles this doxology "the sublimest apostrophe existing even in the pages of inspiration itself.

Romans 11:1

rom 11:1

I say then (λέγω οὖν)

Then introduces the question as an inference from the whole previous discussion, especially Rom 11:19-21.

Hath God cast away (μὴ ἀπώσατο ὁ Θεὸς)

A negative answer required. "Surely God has not, has He?" The aorist tense points to a definite act. Hence Rev., better, did God cast off. The verb means literally to thrust or shove. Thus Homer, of Sisyphus pushing his stone before him ("Odyssey," xi., 596). Oedipus says: "I charge you that no one shelter or speak to that murderer, but that all thrust him (ὠθεῖν) from their homes" ("Oedipus Tyrannus," 241).

People (λαὸν)

See on Pe1 2:9; see on Act 13:17.

An Israelite, etc.

See on Phi 3:5. Paul adduces his own case first, to show that God has not rejected His people en masse. An Israelite of pure descent, he is, nevertheless a true believer.

Romans 11:2

rom 11:2


See on Rom 8:29.

Or (ἢ)

Compare Rom 6:3; Rom 7:1. Confirming what precedes by presenting the only alternative in the cave. Or is omitted in the A.V.

Wot ye not (οὐκ οἴδατε)

Why should the Revisers have retained the obsolete wot here, when they have rendered elsewhere, know ye not? See Rom 6:16; Co1 3:16; Co1 5:6, Co1 6:2, etc. The phrase indicates that this cannot be thought of as true.

Of Elias (ἐν Ἡλίᾳ)

Wrong; though Rev. has retained it: of Elijah, with in in margin; probably in order to avoid the awkward circumlocution in the passage treating of Elijah, or the ambiguous in Elijah. See on in the bush, Mar 12:26. Thucydides (i. 9) says: "Homer, in 'The handing down of the sceptre,' said," etc.; i.e., in the passage describing the transmission of the sceptre in the second book of the Iliad. A common form of quotation in the rabbinical writings. The passage cited is Kg1 19:10, Kg1 19:14.

He maketh intercession (ἐντυγχάνει)

See on Rom 8:26. Rev., pleadeth.

Romans 11:3

rom 11:3

They have killed thy prophets - and digged, etc.

Paul gives the first two clauses in reverse order from both Septuagint and Hebrew.

Digged down (κατέσκαψαν)

Sept., καθεῖλαν pulled down. The verb occurs only here and Act 15:16. Compare on Mat 6:19.

Altars (θυσιαστήρια)

See on Act 17:23.

Alone (μόνος)

Sept. has the superlative μονώτατος utterly alone.

Life (ψυχήν)

From ψύχω to breathe or blow. In classical usage it signifies life in the distinctness of individual existence, especially of man, occasionally of brutes. Hence, generally, the life of the individual. In the further development of the idea it becomes, instead of the body, the seat of the will, dispositions, desires, passions; and, combined with the σῶμα body, denotes the constituent parts of humanity. Hence the morally endowed individuality of man which continues after death.

Scripture. In the Old Testament, answering to nephesh, primarily life, breath; therefore life in its distinct individuality; life as such, distinguished from other men and from inanimate nature. Not the principle of life, but that which bears in itself and manifests the life-principle. Hence spirit (ruach, πνεῦμα) in the Old Testament never signifies the individual. Soul (ψυχή), of itself, does not constitute personality, but only when it is the soul of a human being. Human personality is derived from spirit (πνεῦμα), and finds expression in soul or life (ψυχή).

The New-Testament usage follows the Old, in denoting all individuals from the point of view of individual life. Thus the phrase πᾶσα ψυχή every soul, i.e., every person (Rom 2:9; Rom 13:1), marking them off from inanimate nature. So Rom 11:3; Rom 16:4; Co2 1:23; Co2 12:15; Phi 2:30; Th1 2:8, illustrate an Old-Testament usage whereby the soul is the seat of personality, and is employed instead of the personal pronoun, with a collateral notion of value as individual personality.

These and other passages are opposed to the view which limits the term to a mere animal life-principle. See Eph 6:6; Col 3:23; the compounds σύμψυχοι with one soul; ἰσοψύχον like-minded (Phi 1:27; Phi 2:20), where personal interest and accord of feeling are indicated, and not lower elements of personality. See, especially Th1 5:23.

As to the distinction between ψυχή soul and πνεῦμα spirit, it is to be said:

1. That there are cases where the meanings approach very closely, if they are not practically synonymous; especially where the individual life is referred to. See Luk 1:47; Joh 11:33, and Joh 12:27; Mat 11:29, and Co1 16:18.

2. That the distinction is to be rejected which rests on the restriction of ψυχή to the principle of animal life. This cannot be maintained in the face of Co1 15:45; Co1 2:14, in which latter the kindred adjective ψυχικός natural has reference to the faculty of discerning spiritual truth. In both cases the antithesis is πνεῦμα spirit in the ethical sense, requiring an enlargement of the conception of ψυχικός natural beyond that of σαρκικός fleshly.

3. That ψυχή soul must not be distinguished from πνεῦμα; spirit as being alone subject to the dominion of sin, since the πνεῦμα is described as being subject to such dominion. See Co2 7:1. So Th1 5:23; Co1 7:34, imply that the spirit needs sanctification. Compare Eph 4:23.

4. Ψυχή soul is never used of God like πνεῦμα spirit. It is used of Christ, but always with reference to His humanity.

Whatever distinction there is, therefore, is not between a higher and a lower element in man. It is rather between two sides of the one immaterial nature which stands in contrast with the body. Spirit expresses the conception of that nature more generally, being used both of the earthly and of the non-earthly spirit, while soul designates it on the side of the creature. In this view ψυχή soul is akin to σάρξ, flesh, "not as respects the notion conveyed by them, but as respects their value as they both stand at the same stage of creatureliness in contradistinction to God." Hence the distinction follows that of the Old Testament between soul and spirit as viewed from two different points: the soul regarded as an individual possession, distinguishing the holder from other men and from inanimate nature; the spirit regarded as coming directly from God and returning to Him. "The former indicates the life-principle simply as subsistent, the latter marks its relation to God." Spirit and not soul is the point of contact with the regenerating forces of the Holy Spirit; the point from which the whole personality is moved round so as to face God.

Ψυχή soul is thus:

1. The individual life, the seat of the personality.

2. The subject of the life, the person in which it dwells.

3. The mind as the sentient principle, the seat of sensation and desire.

Romans 11:4

rom 11:4

Answer (χρηματισμός)

Only here in the New Testament. For the kindred verb χρηματίζω warn, see on Mat 2:12; see on Luk 2:26; see on Act 10:22. Compare Rom 8:3. The word means an oracular answer. In the New Testament the verb is commonly rendered warn.

I have reserved (κατέλιπον)

Varying from both Septuagint and Hebrew. Heb., I will reserve; Sept., thou wilt leave.

To Baal (τῇ Βάαλ)

The feminine article is used with the name instead of the masculine (as in Septuagint in this passage). It occurs, however, in the Septuagint with both the masculine and the feminine article. Various reasons are given for the use of the feminine, some supposing an ellipsis, the image of Baal; others that the deity was conceived as bisexual; others that the feminine article represents the feminine noun ἡ αἰσχύνη shame Heb., bosheth, which was used as a substitute for Baal when this name became odious to the Israelites.

Romans 11:6

rom 11:6

Otherwise (ἐπεὶ )

Lit., since. Since, in that case.

Grace is no more, etc. (γίνεται)

Lit., becomes. No longer comes into manifestation as what it really is. "It gives up its specific character" (Meyer).

But if of works, etc.

The best texts omit to the end of the verse.

Romans 11:7

rom 11:7

Obtained (ἐπετυχεν)

The simple verb τυγχάνω means originally to hit the mark; hence to fall in with, light upon, attain.

The election (ἡ ἐκλογὴ)

Abstract for concrete. Those elected; like ἡ περιτομή the circumcision for those uncircumcised (Eph 2:11. Compare τὴν κατατομήν the concision, Phi 3:3).

Were blinded (ἐπωρώθησαν)

Rev., correctly, hardened, though the word is used of blindness when applied to the eyes, as Job 17:7, Sept. See on hardness, Mar 3:5. Compare σκληρύνει hardeneth, Rom 9:18.

Romans 11:8

rom 11:8

It is written

Three quotations follow, two of which we blended in this verse: Isa 29:10; Deu 29:3 (4).

Hath given (ὄδωκεν)

Heb., poured out. Sept., given to drink.

Slumber (κατανύξεως)

Heb., deep sleep. Only here in the New Testament. Lit., pricking or piercing, compunction. Compare the kindred verb κατενύγησαν were pricked, Act 2:37. Rev. renders stupor, the secondary meaning; properly the stupefaction following a wound or blow.

Romans 11:9

rom 11:9

David saith

Psa 69:23, Psa 69:24. It is doubtful whether David was the author. Some high authorities are inclined to ascribe it to Jeremiah. David here may mean nothing more than the book of Psalm.


Representing material prosperity: feasting in wicked security. Some explain of the Jews' presumptuous confidence in the law.

Snare (παγίδα)

From πήγνυμι to make fast. The anchor is called παγὶς the maker-fast of the ships.

Trap (θήραν)

Lit., a hunting. Only here in the New Testament, and neither in the Hebrew nor Septuagint. Many render net, following Psa 35:8, where the word is used for the Hebrew resheth net. No kind of snare will be wanting. Their presumptuous security will become to them a snare, a hunting, a stumbling-block.

A recompense (ἀνταπόδομα)

Substituted by the Septuagint for the Hebrew, to them at ease. It carries the idea of a just retribution.

Romans 11:10

rom 11:10

Bow down (σύγκαμψον)

Lit., bend together. Hebrew, shake the loins.

Romans 11:12

rom 11:12

Diminishing (ἥττημα)

The literal translation. Rev. renders loss. Referring apparently to the diminution in numbers of the Jewish people. Other explanations are defeat, impoverishment, injury, minority.

Fullness (πλήρωμα)

See on Joh 1:16. The word may mean that with which anything is filled (Co1 10:26, Co1 10:28; Mat 9:16; Mar 6:43); that which is filled (Eph 1:23); possibly the act of filling (Rom 13:10), though this is doubtful. Here in the first sense: the fullness of their number contrasted with the diminution. They will belong as an integral whole to the people of God.

Romans 11:13

rom 11:13

For I speak

The best texts read δὲ but instead of γάρ for. The sentence does not state the reason for the prominence of the Gentiles asserted in Rom 11:12, but makes a transition from the statement of the divine plan to the statement of Paul's own course of working on the line of that plan. He labors the more earnestly for the Gentiles with a view to the salvation of his own race.

Inasmuch as I am

The best texts insert οὖν then. So Rev.; thus disconnecting the clause from the preceding, and connecting it with what follows.

I magnify mine office (τὴν διακονίαν μου δοξάζω)

Lit., I glorify my ministry, as Rev. Not I praise, but I honor by the faithful discharge of its duties. He implies, however, that the office is a glorious one. The verb, which occurs about sixty times in the New Testament, most frequently in John, is used, with very few exceptions, of glorifying God or Christ. In Rom 8:30, of God's elect. In Co1 12:26, of the members of the body. In Rev 18:7, of Babylon. For ministry, see on minister, Mat 20:26.

Romans 11:14

rom 11:14

Some of them

A modest expression which recalls Paul's limited success among his own countrymen.

Romans 11:15

rom 11:15

The casting away (ἡ ἀποβολὴ)

In contrast with receiving. Only here and Act 27:22, where it means loss. Here exclusion from God's people.

Reconciling of the world (καταλλαγὴ κόσμου)

See on Rom 5:10, Rom 5:11. Defining the phrase riches of the world in Rom 11:12.

Life from the dead

The exact meaning cannot be determined. Some refer it to the resurrection to follow the conversion of Israel, including the new life which the resurrection will inaugurate. Others, a new spiritual life. Others combine the two views.

Romans 11:16

rom 11:16

For (δὲ)

Better but, or now. A new paragraph begins.

The first-fruit - holy

See on Jam 1:18, see on Act 26:10. Referring to the patriarchs.


See on Rom 9:21. The whole body of the people. The apparent confusion of metaphor, first-fruit, lump, is resolved by the fact that first-fruit does not apply exclusively to harvest, but is the general term for the first portion of every thing which was offered to God. The reference here is to Num 15:18-21; according to which the Israelites were to set apart a portion of the dough of each baking of bread for a cake for the priests. This was called ἀπαρχή, first-fruits.

Root - branches

The same thought under another figure. The second figure is more comprehensive, since it admits an application to the conversion of the Gentiles. The thought of both figures centres in holy. Both the first-fruits and the root represent the patriarchs (or Abraham singly, compare Rom 11:28). The holiness by call and destination of the nation as represented by its fathers (first-fruits, root) implies their future restoration, the holiness of the lump and branches.

Next: Romans Chapter 12