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reference to the preceding declarations of the apostle, we must interpret it as meaning: 'How entirely above our comprehension, that God should accomplish such ends by such means,' viz. the salvation of the Gentiles in such a way, and then that of the Jews!-Kpípara seems plainly to mean, like the Hebrew, ordinance, arrangement, proceeding; or rather decision, counsel, determination. Here it is for substance a synonyme with odoí, which evidently has the like sense. The word ocoi, which literally means the way or track that one makes in going, gives occasion to the adjective ávexvíuoro, whose footsteps cannot be traced, i. e. unsearchable, non vestigandæ.
What can be plainer, now, than that the declaration in ver. 32 gives the immediate occasion to the exclamation in ver. 33? But if this be so, then σvvéλεoɛ serves to excite the apostle's feelings, as well as Xenon. Tholuck admits only the latter.
(34) Τίς γὰρ ... . ἐγένετο, for who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor? Táp explicantis, i. e. placed before a clause added in order to confirm his assertion, that the ways of God are unsearchable. The verse is a quotation from Is. xl. 13, ad sensum, and nearly in the words of the Seventy. The object is, to challenge the wisdom of created beings, calling on them to shew, if there be any such case, wherein any of them has contributed any thing to enlighten or to guide the divine counsels. The question implies strong negation.
(35) Η τίς .... αὐτῷ, or who hath first given him any thing, so that he must receive retribution? The sentiment of this verse may be found in the Hebrew of Job xli. 3 (11),
who hath done me any service, that I may recompense him? This the apostle has changed to the third person, instead of the first, so as to make it congruous with the preceding quotation. The Septuagint "abit in omnia alia" here; so that the apostle (if indeed he here quotes at all, which seems somewhat doubtful), has given a new version of the Hebrew.
This latter quotation (if it be one), is designed by the apostle to have a bearing on all claims to the divine favour, which can be preferred on the score of desert or of services rendered to God. How prone the Jews were to betake themselves to their own merits, and to rely on self-righteousness, every reader of the New Testament must know. The sentence before us is designed to repress this spirit; for it is as much as strongly to affirm, that no one can make any just claims upon God for his favour, as no one by his services has laid him under any obligation. The Nominative to ἀνταποδοθήσεται is
auró understood, which would refer to rí implied after the preceding προέδωκε.
(36) On the contrary, instead of creatures laying God under any obligation to them, God is all and in all, i. e. he is the source of all being and blessing, by him all things come into existence and are sustained and governed, and for him, for his glory and honour, they are and were created."-"OTI EE. ..πávτα, for of him, and by him, and for him are all things.—'El avroũ, of him, i. e. he is the original source, the eternal fountain whence all the streams of existence take their rise.-A avrov, he is not only the original source, but the intermediate cause of all things. It is the exertion of his power, that brings them into being, and preserves, directs, and controls them.-Eiç auróv, for him, for his honour, praise, glory; he is the sovereign Lord and possessor of all, and all exist because he wills it, and exist for the accomplishment of purposes which the Maker of all has in view. The sentence seems equivalent to saying: "God is the beginning, continuance, and end of all things."
Such is the conclusion of the doctrinal part of our epistle; a powerful expression of profound wonder, reverence, and adoration, in regard to the unsearchable ways of God in his dealings with men; and an assertion of the highest intensity, respecting his sovereign right to control all things so as to accomplish his own designs, inasmuch as all spring from him, "live and move and have their being in him," and are for his glory. A doctrine truly humbling to the proud and towering hopes and claims of self-justifying men; a stumbling-block to haughty Jews, and foolishness to unhumbled Greeks. I scarcely know of any thing in the whole Bible, which strikes deeper at the root of human pride than vs. 33-36. But what emphasis there can be in these, if the apostle discoursing merely on the external privileges of men, and maintaining that these only were bestowed by pure grace, I am unable to see. Every man on earth has merely to open his eyes on things around him, in order to see that distinctions of a temporal nature are coextensive with the human race. Does he need the long argument of the apostle, and the strenuous efforts he has made, in order to be satisfied of this? But when we come to the great question: Are distinctions of a spiritual nature made, which are eternal in their consequences; and made too according to the good pleasure of God, without any merit on the part of men? it is then we find ourselves to need all the argument and reasoning and authority of the apostle, to bring us submissively to bow, and to contemplate the whole subject (as he does) with wonder and adoration. It is then, that God's claims to be considered the GREAT ALL IN ALL, must be advanced in such a way, that "the loftiness of man may be bowed down, and the haughtiness of man laid low, and Jehovah alone be exalted."
I appeal now to all readers and critics, who, like Tholock, refer all that is
said in vs. 33-36 to the mere goodness and compassion of God, as manifested in the Gospel, whether there is any congruity in the passage thus considered. Nothing can be more certain, than that vs. 34-36 do assert, in the most high and unequivocal manner, the independence of God on his creatures, and his sovereign power and right over them. This will not be questioned. But why such an assertion here, at the close of the argumentative part of the epistle, the very climax of the whole? Is it necessary to make the deepest posssible impression of divine independence and sovereign right, in order to convince us that God can exercise his goodness and compassion? I repeat it-I cannot see the congruity of such reasoning or rhetoric. Let those who adopt such exegesis look to this; mine is not the task to defend it.
On the other hand; if God has, for reasons not disclosed to us, and therefore in the way of what we call the exercise of divine sovereignty, rejected for a time the Jewish nation, and brought in the Gentiles; and if God in his own due time, shall also again bring the Jewish nation into his church; and all this in such a way as entirely exceeds our comprehension, and which of course we are altogether unable to explain; then we may exclaim, with the wondering apostle, O the depth! Then we may find overwhelming reason to believe, that God is all in all, that he is the beginning, middle, and end of all things, and that "for his glory they are and were created." We can sympathize, therefore, while cherishing such views, with all which the apostle has here said, and find abundant reason to cherish sentiments such as he has avowed.
But to prevent all mistake here, I repeat, before I close this subject, what I have once and again expressed in the preceding pages, viz. that sovereignty in God, does not imply what is arbitrary, nor that he does any thing without the best of reasons. It only implies, that those reasons are unknown to us. While clouds and darkness are truly about him, in respect to our vision, justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne for ever. It is impossible, even for a moment, to doubt that this must be so. Infinite wisdom and goodness can never act at all without reason, nor without the very best reason. God has no possible temptation to act arbitrarily or wrongly; it cannot profit him. His creatures cannot abridge his happiness. Of course, it would be the extreme of folly to suppose, that because God acts in a way which is mysterious, he acts in an arbitrary or oppressive manner. Is he under obligation to disclose all the grounds of his proceedings to us? Enough he has disclosed, to satisfy us that he is wise and good. May there not be something left, to exercise our filial confidence, and to give us (what does indeed well become us) a deep sense of our humble and imperfect condition? Shall we prescribe to God the terms of our moral discipline? If not, then let us be content, when his mysterious ways press upon our minds and we feel straitened and in darkness, to say with the apostle: ̓͂Ω βάθος πλούτου καὶ σοφίας καὶ γνώσεως θεοῦ! And if our hearts are ever tempted to rise up against the distinctions which God has made, either in a temporal or spiritual respect, in the bestowment of his favours, let us bow them down to the dust, as well as silence and satisfy them, with the humbling, consoling, animating, glorious truth, that of God, and through him, and for him, are all things! To him, then, be the glory for ever and ever! Amen.
CHAP. XII. 1–21.
The apostle having thus concluded what may be called the doctrinal part of his epistle, now proceeds to the hortatory and practical part; which contains precepts both general and particular, that were specially adapted to those whom he was addressing, and the spirit of which is applicable to all times and nations. The very solemn and earnest manner in which he inculcates the practical maxims that follow, shews how deeply he felt the importance of uniting Christian doctrine and duty; yea, how necessarily the true reception of the former must lead to the latter. He begins with urging Christians to make an entire consecration of themselves to God, vs. 1, 2; he urges upon his readers humility, although they possess the special gifts of the Spirit; inasmuch as all the diversities of such gifts are possessed by those who are only parts of the spiritual body to which all Christians belong, vs. 3—5; he enjoins upon each to make a wise and diligent improvement of the special gift or office bestowed on him, vs. 6-8; and then gives, in the remainder of the chapter, a most striking and admirable series of Christian precepts; of which no equal, and no tolerable parallel, can be found in all the writings of the heathen world.
(1) Пapakaλŵ ovv... . Oɛoũ, I entreat you, then, by the tender mercies of God, i. e. such being the case as I have now stated, such being the love and compassion exhibited toward sinners, and such the provision made for them, I entreat you on account of the tender mercies, &c. Ovv has reference to all that precedes, and intimates that the writer is making a general deduction from it.—Оikripμov, in the plural, is an imitation of the Hebrew which has no singular. Aiá, by, on account of ;
It means kindness, benignity, compassion, &c. comp. Rom. xv. 30. 1 Cor. i. 10. 2 Cor. x. 1.
Παραστῆσαι . uv, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your rational service. Пapaoτñσai is common in classic Greek, and is employed to designate the action of bringing and presenting to the divinity, a sacrifice of any kind.— Zwμara vμor, your bodies, i. e. yourselves. The word σώματα, appears to be used, because it makes the nature of the representation or comparison more appropriate; for the bodies of animals are offered in sacrifice.—Ovoíav woar, a living sacrifice, in distinction from that of beasts which were slain. The meaning is, that the living active powers of their bodies were to be continually offered or devoted to God; or, in other words, they were to offer a living, enduring, lasting sacrifice, not a sacrifice once for all by self-immolation. But possibly the reference may be to the custom of the Levitical law, which forbade the offering to God what was accidentally killed. The animal must be brought alive to the altar, and slain there. But I prefer the former exegesis.
'Ayíav, holy, i. e. D, integer, without blemish, or defect; for no other kind of sacrifice could be ȧyía, i. e. consecrated to God.Εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ is an epexegesis of the preceding ἁγία.—Τὴν λoyıkǹv λarpɛíav vμur, your rational service, viz. your spiritual offering or service, or that which is mental or belongs to reason (λóyos), in distinction from an external service or λarpɛía σapkikŃ, such as the Jews offered and relied on for salvation. I have rendered it rational, i. e. pertaining to the reason or understanding, because the word reasonable (as we now use it) does not necessarily convey the same idea.
(2) Καὶ μὴ .... νοὺς ὑμῶν, and be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. The Codices A. D. E. F. G. and many Codd. MSS., read ovoxnμarieobaι and μεταμορφοῦσθαι, in the Infinitive; which would imply παρακαλῶ before them. The sense would be the same, in such a case, as the Imperative of the text before us makes.-T aiŵvi roúry, the present world, i.e. bin, according to the latter usage of the word y among the Jews. The classic sense of aiúv never coincides with this. See Exegetical Essays on aiúv, alórios, &c., § 5. By not conforming to the world, the apostle means, not adopting its sinful customs and practices, whether of an external or internal
'Aλλà μeraμoppovσłɛ, i. e. put on another form, person; exchange the poppn of the world for that of Christianity. Do this ȧvakauwσEL TOυ voòc vμwv, by the renewing of your mind, i. e. by renovating the νοῦς παλαιός, by exchanging it for a νοῦς καινός, such as the gospel inspires. In other words: Cherish no more a spirit devoted to the world, and sinfully conforming to it; cultivate a new and different spirit, one devoted to God, one which will love and practise what is good and pleasing to God.'
Εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν . . . . τέλειον, that ye may learn what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Aokiμáw means (among other things), to explore, to investigate, to search out, 109; and this for the purpose of learning or knowing. The apostle means to say, that a renewed mind is essential to a successful inquiry after practical and experimental Christian truth, in its whole extent. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God."
Τὸ ἀγαθόν, κ.τ.λ., I regard not as adjectives agreeing with θέλημα, but as nouns, formed in the usual way, viz. by prefixing the article to the neuter gender of the adjective; for ró is of course implied before