“Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always.”
 “Let them be spiritually blinded, incapable of discerning or receiving the truth, and let their backs be bowed with the yoke of spiritual serfdom!”

“Let their eyes be darkened”–This is literally taken from the psalm, and was evidently the main part of the passage which Paul had in mind. This was previously stated in verse 8.

         This darkness shall come upon them because they loved darkness rather than light (see John 3:19).  According to Paul, the prayer uttered by David has been fulfilled among the Jews who did not acknowledge Jesus as Lord.  What they considered to be their security was the very thing that brought about their downfall.
         This is taken literally from the psalm, and was evidently the main part of the passage which Paul had in his eye. This was fulfilled in the insensibility and blindness of the Jews. And the apostle shows them that it was long ago predicted, or invoked, as a punishment on them for giving the Messiah vinegar to drink (see Psalm 69:21, 23).

 “and bow down their back alway
Literally: “And their backs bowing through all.”–This implies a condition of bondage on account of their sins.

         The Hebrew Psa. 69:23 is, "Let their loins totter or shake," that is, as one does when he has on him a heavy burden. Paul has kept the sense of this psalm. It means, let them be called to bear heavy and oppressive burdens; let them be subjected to toil or servitude, as a reward for their sins. That this had come upon the Jews in the time of Paul is clear; and it is further clear that it came upon them, as it was implied in the psalm, in consequence of their treatment of the Messiah.
         God declares what will be the case of such obstinate unbelievers their table, (their common providential blessings, will become a snare, a trap, a stumbling block, and the means of their punishment.  Their eyes will be more and more darkened as they persist in their unbelief, and their back shall always be bowed down.  Their backs shall be bowed down always; far from becoming a great and powerful nation, they shall continue ever in a state of abject slavery and oppression until they have acknowledged Jesus as their promised Messiah)  and submit to receive redemption in His blood.

         BOW DOWN: (Grk.–sugkampson)–Literally: “bend together.”  The Hebrew (Psa. 69:23) is, “Let their loins totter or shake;” that is, as one does when he has on him a heavy load placed on him. The darkening of the eyes denotes weakness and perplexity, as the enlightening of the eyes denotes renewed vigor and strength. Similarly, the shaking of the loins could be expressive of terror,  dismay and feebleness.

Paul has retained this sense of this Psalm. What it means is, let them be called to bear heavy and oppressive burdens; let them be subjected to toil or servitude, as a reward for their sins;  as of captives whose backs were bent under burdens. It is clear that this did come upon them, as it was foretold in the psalm, and in consequence of their treatment of the Messiah,  for they were living under the yoke of Imperial Rome.  This Greek word is used only here in the N.T.

“We dare not believe in any of the modern reports of national Jewish ‘turning to the Lord.”  They will go into yet greater darkness (after the Rapture of the Church).  Do not be deceived.  At our Lord’s coming, and not until that beleaguered nation sees ‘the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven’ (Matt 24:30) which will be that ‘looking upon Him whom they pierced’ of Zechariah 12, will they have faith.”  Until then, let us ‘provoke to jealousy’ all of them we can, by boasting in Christ and His Salvation.”–William R. Newell, commentary on Romans.

Here begins a new section of the discussion, lasting to the end of the chapter, and of the subject.

“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall?  God forbid; but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them jealousy.”

               I SAY THEN:  (Grk.–legō oun)–Paul is taking up the problem again.  These words were also used in v. 1.

I say then, “Have they stumbled that they should fall?”  God forbid!  But rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, in order to provoke them to jealousy. Paul has already shown that the rejection of Israel was never total; and he now says that it is not final. A time is to come when the mass of the Israel shall believe, and be restored to the God.  God has cast off Israel for a time, but that finally the nation will be converted

“Have they stumbled that they fall”
 Literally: “Did not they stumble that they fall?”--Shall we conclude that Israel has fallen forever?   Literally. and better, “Did they stumble?”  That is, when they, as a nation, rejected Messiah.

         STUMBLED:  (Grk.–eptaisan)–The expression “to stumble” is introduced because he had just mentioned a stumbling-stone. It does not mean to fall down to the ground, or to fall so that a man may not recover himself; but rather it means to strike the foot against an obstacle, to be stopped in going, and to be in danger of falling.  Hence it means to err, to sin, to be in danger.

This is to be regarded as an objection, which Paul proceeds to answer. The meaning is, “Is it the design of God that the Jews should totally and irrecoverably be cast off?”  Even admitting that they are now unbelieving, that they have rejected the Messiah, that they have stumbled, is it the purpose of God finally to exclude them from mercy? Negative answer expected, as in verse 1.

“that they should fall”–On occasion of their sinful stumbling.

        THEY FALL: (Grk.–epipiptō)-Literally: “to stumble; to fall into, or among.”  This word is used elsewhere by Paul (4:25; 5:15; Gal. 6:1; Eph. 2:1) where it is variously rendered as “trespass,” “fault,” “offence.”  Literally it is “a falling aside;” and as such nearly approaches the idea of “stumbling.” 

        To “fall” in he religious or moral sense could mean, “be completely ruined.”  This denotes the falling which means reversible ruin” as contrasted with stumbling from which it is impossible to recover.  Shall we conclude that Israel has fallen forever? Paul now proceeds to the second branch of his argument, and shows that God, for wise reasons, has cast off Israel for a time, but that finally the nation will be converted.
         This expresses that condition when a man pitches over an obstacle so that he cannot recover himself, but falls to the ground.  Hence, to err, to sin, or to be cast off irrecoverablyPaul shows that this last was not the way in which the Jews had fallen, that they were not to be cast off forever, but that occasion was taken by their fall to introduce the Gentiles to the privileges of the Gospel, and then they should be restored.
         Have the Jews now for their disobedience and unbelief been ejected; or have they so sinned against God as to be forever put out of the reach of His mercy? By no means!  Are they, as a nation, utterly irrecoverable?  This is the sense of the place, and here the prophecy of the restoration of the Jewish nation commences.

“through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles”
Literally: “But by their slipping away {came} salvation to the nations.”         

         THEIR FALL: (Grk.–paraptōmati)—Literally:  “their slipping away.” This refers to all their conduct and doom at the coming of the Messiah, and in the breaking up of their nation. The Greek word paraptōmati  is used here in view of the figure of stumbling. The idea is that they had stumbled over the "stumbling-block" previously spoken of, but not so as to lie hopelessly prostrate.

Their rejection of their Messiah; the destruction of their city and temple; the ceasing of their ceremonial rites; and the rejection and dispersion of their nation by the Romans, all enter into the meaning of the word “fall” here, and were all the occasion of introducing salvation to the Gentiles.

         SALVATION: (Grk.–sōteria)–The Christian faith, with all its saving benefits. It does not mean that all the Gentiles were to be saved, but that the way was open to all; they might have access to God, and obtain His favor through the Messiah. The rejection and fall of the Jews contributed to the introduction of the Gentiles in the following manner:
1.      It broke down the barrier which had long subsisted between them.
2.      It made it consistent and proper, as they had rejected the Messiah, to send the knowledge of Him to others.
3.     These calamities, and the conduct of the Jews, and the close of the Jewish economy, were the means of giving to apostles, and other Christians, right views of the true design of the Mosaic institutions.

Have the Jews,, now for their disobedience and unbelief rejected, so sinned against God as to be forever put out of the reach of His mercy?  By no means!  Are they, as a nation, utterly irrecoverable?  This is the sense of the place, and here the prophecy of the restoration of the Jewish nation commences

“for to provoke them to jealousy”
Literally: “In order to provoke them to jealousy.”–According to the prediction of Moses (see   v. 19; Deut. 32:21).  The reason why salvation had been extended to the Gentiles was to stir up the Jews to emulation. Their privileges had made them negligent and apathetic. The sight of others stepping into those privileges was to rouse them from their apathy

         The Gentiles shall be taken into it; and this very circumstance shall be ultimately the means of exciting the Jews to seek and claim a share in the blessings of the new covenant; and this is what Paul terms provoking them to jealousy, i.e. exciting them to emulation, for so the word should be understood. The calling of the Gentile, which existed in the original purpose of God, became in a certain way accelerated by the unbelief of the Jews, through which they forfeited all their privileges, and fell from that state of glory and dignity in which they had been long placed as the peculiar people of God
         God appointed this casting off of the Jews, that it might be an occasion to call the Gentiles: and again might turn this calling of the Gentiles, to be an occasion to restore the Jews, that is, that they being inflamed and provoked by jealousy of the Gentiles, then might themselves at length embrace the Gospel.  And by this we may learn that the severity of God serves for the setting forth of His glory as well as His mercy does, and also that God prepares Himself a way to show mercy by His severity: so that we ought not rashly to despair of any man, nor proudly triumph over other men, but rather provoke them to a holy jealousy, that God may be glorified in them also.

“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.”

“If the fall of them”
Literally: “But if their slipping away.”  If their
lapse, or falling. If their temporal rejection and being cast off for a time, has already accomplished so much.       

            THE FALL:  (Grk.–paraptōma)–This is the same word that is rendered as “offence”  (5:15, 17-18), and may even be rendered as “lapse.”  Paul uses this word as a specific sinful act, such as here for the sin of falling away, or spiritual lapse.

It is well known that to fall in battle means to be killed. It is in such a sense as this that Paul used the word fall, when he says, “Have they stumbled that they should FALL?”  He means a fall quite destructive and ruinous; whereas by their fall, and the fall of them, he means no more than such a lapse as was recoverable; as in the case of Adam's offence

“the riches of the world”
Literally: {Is the} riches of {the} world.”– By “riches” here Paul means the knowledge of the Gospel to everlasting life: and by the “world,” all nations dispersed throughout the whole world; of the Jews, when the whole nation without exception will come to Christ.

            RICHES:  (Grk.–ploutos)–The word riches means wealth, abundance of property; that is, more than is necessary to the supply of our wants. Hence it means anything that may promote our comfort or happiness, as wealth is the means of securing our welfare.

         The Gospel is referred to as “riches,” because it is the means of our highest enjoyment and eternal welfare. It is the means of conferring numberless spiritual blessings on the Gentile world; and as this was done by the fall of the Jews, so it could be said that their fall was the riches of the world.
        It was the occasion or means without which the blessings of the Gospel could not be conferred on the world.  Before the fall of Israel, if a Gentile wanted to know the true God, he must become a “proselyte” to Judaism,  and he must journey to Jerusalem three times a year, and event then he could not worship directly in the temple.  He must worship in the very restrictive outside Gentile yard.
        Contrast this with the Day of Pentecost.  That day every man heard in  his own tongue in which he was born,  the wonderful news about God.  Wherever you are, you can call on the Lord, and walk by the blessed Holy Spirit and witness of a free salvation to any and all who will listen.  There is no need of “going up to Jerusalem” and keeping feasts and worshiping Jehovah afar off.  Now you can draw nigh unto the God of Heaven through the blood of Christ, at any time, any place, under any circumstance.
         If, in consequence of the unbelief of the Jews, the riches of God's grace and goodness be poured out on the whole Gentile world, how much more shall that Dispensation of Grace and Mercy enrich and aggrandize the Gentile, which shall bring the whole body of the Jews to the faith of the Gospel? Here Paul supposes, or rather predicts, that such a dispensation shall take place; and so the Jews have not so stumbled as to be finally irrecoverable           

         “the diminishing of them”
         Literally: “Their loss.”

            DIMINISHING:  (Grk.–hêttêma)–Literally: Decay; loss.”  This word refers to “diminution, defect, that which is lacked or wanting.”  Hence it also refers to judgment, or condemnation.  Here it means their degradation; or the withdrawing of their special privileges.  It may even refer to to the diminishing in numbers of the Jewish people.  It stands in opposition to “their fulness.”

“the riches of the Gentiles”
Literally: “Riches of {the} nations.”  The means of conferring important blessings on the Gentiles. In contributing to the conversion of the Gentiles their fall has been “riches”

“how much more their fullness”–In the remaining part of the chapter Paul shows the grand results that will follow the final conversion of the Jewish nation as a body. It’s as if Paul had said, “If the casting off the Jews was so profitable to the Gentile world; if the Gentiles have been such great gainers by occasion of the sin and fall of the Jews; how much more, when they shall become Christians, will they add to the fullness, the glory, and greatness of the Christian church?”

            FULLNESS:  (Grk.–plêrōma)—This means. “that which fills up, or completes   anything.”

         Thus it is applied to that which fills a vessel or cup; also to the piece of cloth which is put in to fill up the rent in a garment, (Matt. 9:16). To the fragments which were left when Jesus had fed the five thousand, (Mark 8:20; Ro 13:10), “Love is the fulfilling of the law,” i.e., it is the filling up of the Law, or that which renders the obedience complete (see Gal. 5:14). Here it stands opposed to their fall, and their diminution, and evidently means their complete restoration to the favor of God; their recovery from unbelief and apostasy.
         That there will be such a recovery Paul proceeds to show. The sentiment is, if their rejection and punishment–their being cut off from the favor of God-an event apparently so unlikely to promote the spread of true religion; if their being withdrawn from all active influence in spreading the true knowledge of God, if that be the occasion of so many blessings to mankind as have attended the spread of the Gospel in consequence of it, how much more shall we expect when they shall be restored–when the energy and zeal of the Jewish nation shall unite with the efforts of others in spreading the knowledge of the true Messiah?

         DIMINISHING…FULLNESS:  (Grk.–hêttêma…plêrōma)–Paul seems to have in view not only the supersession of the Jews by the Gentiles, but also the figure of a defeat in   battle, and the reduction of their numbers to a small remnant.


“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.

“For I speak to you Gentiles”
Literally: “For I speak to you, the nations.”In this we might say as “I am speaking to you Gentiles.”  It is you who will benefit by the restoration of the
Jews.   To your believing Romans and to make known to you the present rejection of the Jews and the happiness of the  Gentiles in their future restoration, for your caution as well as comfort;

         What I am saying respecting the Jews, I say with reference to you who are Gentiles, to show you in what manner you have been admitted      to the privileges of the people of God; to excite your gratitude; to warn you against abusing those mercies, etc. As Paul also was appointed by Christ to preach to them, he had a right to speak to them with authority.
         Paul does not here address a new class of readers. He has been speaking all along to a Gentile church, and speaking to it in that character (see above, pp. 561 ff.); and he feels it necessary to show the relevance, in such circumstances of bestowing so much attention on the  condition and prospects of the Jews. Evidently the Roman Christians were in the main a Gentile body, and as such Paul here speaks to them. His mission to the Gentiles has an indirect bearing on his own countrymen; the more successful he can make it, the greater is the prospect that some of the Jews also may be provoked to jealousy and saved. Every Jew who is saved, goes to make up the plêrōma of v. 12,  and so to bring on a time of unimaginable blessing for the Gentile world

“inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles”
 Literally: “Since I am indeed an apostle of nations.”  The apostle of the Gentiles, because he was especially called to carry the Gospel to the Gentiles, and that this was his original commission (Acts 9:15).

         As the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul reminded them of what they owed to the falling away of the Jews, and was active in his office.  Another proof that this Epistle was addressed to Gentile believers. He was ordained and set apart by Christ in His eternal purposes, to be a teacher of the Gentiles; he was sent immediately by Christ to bear His name among them, though not among them only to the exclusion of the people of Israel.   He chiefly preached the Gospel to the Gentiles, though sometimes to the Jews also;but the success of his ministry was mostly among the Gentiles.
         He was principally employed in collecting and organizing churches in Gentiles lands; because the charge of the Gentile churches was especially entrusted to him, while that of the Jewish churches was especially entrusted to Peter.  As Paul was especially appointed to this office, he claimed special authority to address, those who were gathered into the Christian church from Gentiles lands.

    “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called {me} by His grace”
    “To reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood”
(Galatians 1:15-16).

    “…when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision (Gentiles) was committed unto me, as {the gospel} of the circumcision (Jews) {was} unto Peter”
    “(For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles)
    And when James, Cephas (Peter) and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship that we {should go} unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision (Jews)” (Galatians 2:7-9).
    “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8

“I magnify mine office”
Literally: “I glorify my ministry.” I esteem it of great importance, and by thus showing that the Gospel is to be preached to the Gentiles, that the barrier between them and the Jews is to be broken down, that the Gospel may be preached to all men.

            MAGNIFY:  (Grk.–doxazō)—Literally:  “glorify; honor.”  I honor my ministry.  I show that the office which proclaims this is one of signal honor. 

A minister may not magnify himself,  but he must magnify his office.  He may esteem himself as less than the least of all saints, and unworthy to be called a servant of God (Eph. 3:8), yet he may feel that he is an ambassador of Christ, entrusted with a message of salvation, entitled to the respect due to an ambassador, and to the honor which is appropriate to a messenger of God. To unite these two things constitutes the dignity of the Christian ministry.