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The Presbyterian of the South : [combining the] Southwestern Presbyterian, Central Presbyterian, Southern Presbyterian. [volume] (Atlanta, Ga.) 1909-1931, February 23, 1910, Image 23

Image and text provided by Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/10021978/1910-02-23/ed-1/seq-23/

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The ordinary translation of this passage,
"remnant according to the election
of grace," is understood to express an
election of the people bv God in eternity;
but this is by no means a necessary
translation, and the rendering of the
Greek word by its ordinary meaning of
"choice" (an act of choice) yields a
sense which appears to be far more in
harmony with the context both near and
remote. Verse five draws a comparison
between the state of Israel under the
DrODhet Eliiah and that nf Israel in
Paul's day, in which only a small remnant
as compared with the great body
of the people had accepted the true religion.
According to a more literal translation
verse four reads: "I left for myself
seven thousand men, whosoever did
not bow the knee to Baal." This announces
a historical fact which occurred
at a particular time and place; it refers
to that momentous period in the history,
the test and decision on Mount Carmel.
But God's part in that transaction is
only manifest in the result, and one with
it. God's way of stating the historical
fact leaves no room to doubt the divine
superintendence as regards the faithful
remnant. Paul's comparison brings out
a strict parallel both in the choice of tha
people and the fact that it was the few
who made a favorable choice. "Grace"
is the thing chosen as the way of salvation,
and the fact that this choice proceeds
from God's grace is clearly stated
in verse 28, if the same word choice
(eklogen) be taken in the same sense in
that verse as consistency seems to require.
That the choice of the people in
the two cases Is the main point of the
comparison seems perfectly clear, although
this has been missed by all the
interpreters with whom we are acquainted,
by reason of the ordinary translaHoc
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tion. Eleven comments were consulted
only to find that they all follow the English
version without question, despite the
difficulty which the ordinary conception
of God's election introduces into the passage.
The prophet Elijah made it perfectly
clear that the celebrated test would
bring before the people an issue for their
decision. He said to them: "How long
umi. je i.ur uauce?quicKiy pass, or as
we would say, vacillate) between two
opinions? If Jehovah be God follow him;
but if Baal, then follow him." Paul in
the epistle puts before the people a similar
issue, and which is none other than
the choice of their method of salvation.
The question of life and of death to them
was one of the acceptance of God's plan,
and the desirable thing was to bring the
people, that is his hearers individually,
to the point of decision. This passage
constitutes the crown of his sermon. A
careful analysis of the epistle serves to
make this clear, so that the place of the
passage in the general plan furnishes
the most convincing proof of the correctness
of the new translation and interpretation,
overbalancing any difficulties
which may at first sight appear to
inhere in the introduction of this sense
in verses seven and twenty-eight.
Having completed in chapter eight his
most extended and formal exposition of
the great plan of salvation by faith, Paul
makes in chapters nine and eleven inclusive
an appeal to both classes which
he has kept before him all the while,
Jews and Gentiles. He is mainly concerned.
however, with the Jews on ac/?/\H
wf /V# 4-V?rvl? .-.J ? -,1J S
wuui m moil auveree position as regards
the gospel, and because they are
his own "kinsmen according to the
flesh." He devotes most of his attention
to them, though of course his ap
peal to them is an indirect one. That
this is his purpose not merely in this di- .
vision but in the whole epistle is clearly
gathered from verses thirteen and fourteen
of chapter eleven. The first part of
chapter eleven is the last part of this
appeal to the Jews, and is evidently intended
as its climax, the object being to
remind them that they are confronted
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TH. February 23, 1910.
with just such an issue as the Jews in
Elijah's day were constrained to face. It
seems nothing less than tragic that this
climax of the book of Romans has been
ruined by an unfortunate translation.
It chnmu o rnncrinoltlu curmicn V? o t V*
av uvouio xv t vuovnuuiv; auiiuiov tuut tUO
translation of "eklogen" by "election"
probably had its origin in "electionem"
of the Latin Vulgate, which renders the
phrase: "Reliquiae secundum electionem
gratiae salvae factae .sunt." The word
"saving" (salvae) is evidently intended
as interpretative, and seems to show that
the word "grace" is understood to describe
the thing chosen, in which case
"electionem" must mean "choice." Wo
consider therefore that the Vulgate supports
both the translation and the interpretation
above suggested. But we find
no reference to this fact by any of the
In chapter nine the apostle had swept
away the false refuge of the Jews contninnrl
U * iU.i n
Luiuvu in iuc liniJi csbiuii umi iuey were
the special favorites of Heaven, no matter
what they did. Paul shows that the
"word of God" in his promises to the fathers
would avail nothing to the rejecters
of God's plan of salvation by faith in
Christ, but that on the other hand the
defection of the nation had been duly
foretold by the prophets. In chapter ten
he comes back to the matter of faith, explaining
again this subject in the most
simple and striking way, ending with the
quotation from Joel 2:32, "Whosoever
shall call upon the name of the Lord
(Jehovah) shall be saved." He then
makes tho point that faith and the call
must come from preaching. But even
when they hear the preaching of the glad
tidings of salvation they do not all accept
it; and then in chapter eleven he
goes on to make the point that this acceptance?this
choice of the gospel plan
of salvation by grace?is absolutely essential
to the attaining/of the desired
end. If they are lost, God is not responsible,
but they themselves are responsible
for their own death. The all impor
tant matter is therefore to make that
choice of the good part which can never
be taken from us. Salvation is said to
be attained by this act of choice. V. 7.
Passing on to verse six let it be noted
that it furnishes positive proof that the
method of salvation is still the dominant
idea in the apostle's thought: ""But
(rather "And") if it is by grace, it is no
more of works: otherwise grace is no
more grace." Remember that "grace is
the thing chosen as the method of salvation,
so "by grace" is thoroughly in line
with this idea, and in fact becomes interpretative
of it. To make "eklogen" refer
to God's election, makes the comment
that it is "by grace" worse than a platitude,
it simply does not (It. But if "eklogen"
refers to the peoples in verse five
it must refer to the same thing in verse
seven, for the nnonim, ? -*'1 ~ * ? *'?*
- ?V W|/V,IIIU5 nui un 1UU1CHIU
that this is a conclusion, and probably
a general conclusion from what has gone
before. It is a conclusion based upon
the illustration which he had drawn, be
ing a formal expression of the parallel by
way of summary. There seems no rea

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