The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 11:13-15, 29-32

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 10, 2011


This post contains brief commentary on verses 11-16 and 25-32.

11. I say then: have they stumbled to their fall? God forbid. But, by their fault, there is salvation to the Gentiles, to urge them to emulation.
12. But if their fault is the riches of the world, and their diminution the riches of the nations: how much more their fulness!
13. For I speak to you Gentiles: as long as I am the Apostle of the nations, I will do honour to my ministry.
14. If by any means I may provoke my flesh to emulation, and save some of them.
15. For if the loss of them is the reconciliation of the world: what their assumption but life from the dead?

I say then: is their fall irremediable? God forbid. They will rise again. Meanwhile God is making use of it for the salvation of the Gentiles, and the conversion of the Gentiles will in turn move the Jews to emulation, for their conversion. If the fall of the Jews enriches the world, by the spread of the faith among all nations, and the rejection of the Jews who will not believe, their diminution, occasions the sanctification of innumerable multitudes of people of other nations; how much more will the complete conversion of the Jewish people enrich the nations of the earth! I am not afraid to speak openly to you, the Gentiles; for as the Apostle of the Gentiles, I will value and hold in honour my Apostolic ministry. There is nothing I am not ready to do for you; but I am eager also to provoke my own countrymen to emulation by your example, and call at least some of them to faith in Christ, and to salvation. If their rejection has reconciled the world to God, what will their general conversion be, but like a resurrection from the dead, for which therefore you ought with me to hope and pray.

The unbelief of the Jews w’as not in accordance with the will of God; but God’s wisdom made use of it to further the conversion of the rest of the world. It set the Apostolic teachers free to turn to the Gentiles. And the destruction of Jerusalem obtained for the Christian Church the favour and protection of the civil power, who now distinguished between the two, and had the Christians
on their side in the Jewish war. There was no renewal of persecution from the accession of Vespasian in 69 to the reign of Domitian, in 95, and during this period of tranquility the Christian Church increased from a rivulet to a mighty stream. St. John the Evangelist was the only member of the Apostolic College who lived through this period, the others having all suffered in the persecution under Nero. In vs. 12, the Greek text has their fall, or ruin.

25. For I would not you should be ignorant, brethren, of this mystery (lest you be wise to yourselves) that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fulness of the nations enters.
26. And thus all Israel shall be saved, as it is written: There shall come from Sion who will deliver, and turn away impiety from Jacob.
27. And this covenant to them from me: when I shail have taken away their sins.
28. According to the Gospel indeed they are enemies on your account; but according  to the election they are most beloved on account of the fathers.
29. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
30. For as you also once believed not God, but have now obtained mercy on account of their unbelief:
31. So they also have not now believed for your mercy, that thev also may obtain mercy.
32. For God has concluded all things in unbelief, that on all he may have mercy

25. I wish to reveal to you a secret which possibly I should have suppressed, were it not that the knowledge of it is necessary for you, to repress the pride and exultation you are disposed to indulge in on the score of your faith, as knowing more than other men know. (In the Greek, that you may not be arrogant to yourselves.) Blindness of heart has fallen upon a great part of the
Jewish nation. (This is the phrase used in the Syriac: the Greek has hardness or obduracy) until the number of the Gentiles who shall believe in Christ have entered the fold of the Church. Then, the number of the Gentile converts being complete, the whole Jewish nation will be converted to God, as predicted in Is 59:20, and 27:9. Their rejection of the Gospel of Christ has, indeed, made them the objects of God’s displeasure, and has at the same time facihtated and expedited your conversion. For God’s original design was the acceptance of Christ by the Jewish people in the first instance. This was defeated by their unbelief, and the message of salvation then offered to you. But they are still beloved on account of God’s choice of their nation in ancient times, and for the fathers’ sake. God’s gifts and promises, once given, are never recalled. You yourselves once believed not in God, but through the incredulity of the Jews you have now received his mercy. So in turn they also are now unbelieving for the very reason that you have obtained mercy; (the Greek, they disbelieve in your mercy, that God can really have extended his mercy to the Gentiles) and God will turn even this ultimately to their salvation, for they will one day believe in Christ for this very reason. For God, in his wonderful providence has permitted all nations successively (the Vulgate has all things, the Greek and the Syriac all men) to fall into unbelief, in the Syriac into disobedience. First the Gentiles, and now the Jews, that each may learn that it is to his gratuitous kindness and mercy alone that they are indebted for their salvation. He has permitted all men, Saint Thomas says, to be bound by the chain of error in some form or other, and from it there is no escape but by the grace of Christ, that God may have mercy upon all, and display this mercy to the whole world without exception.

From the statement of the Apostle in verse 27, and the words of the Prophet Malachi, 4:5, 6, Behold, I will send you Elias the prophet, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will convert the heart of the fathers to the sons, and the heart of the sons to their fathers; lest by chance I come and strike the earth with anathema—there has arisen a tradition that the Jewish
nation will be converted to Christ before the end of the  world, and that the Church will be complete in unity and perfection in the union of Jews and Gentiles.

(Some modern writers consider that the prediction, All Israel shall be saved, was fulfilled after the destruction of Jerusalem, and that the great bulk of the Jewish nation was converted to Christ, and absorbed in the Catholic Church, during the interval which elapsed after that event and before the outbreak of the persecution under Domitian. See Hammond, Commentary on the N.T. in loc. In this case the modern Jews are the descendants of those who still remained in unbelief. This is not inconsistent with the view taken above of the prophecy of Malachi.) Note: “Some modern writers” &c.  Piconio was writing in the late 17th century. The opinion of these writers is unknown to me, and I do not recall ever seeing such an interpretation mentioned in historical reviews of the interpretation of Romans 11.


One Response to “Father Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 11:13-15, 29-32”

  1. […] Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Romans 11:13-15, 29-32. […]

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