The Meaning of Romans 11:4 Explained

Romans 11:4

KJV: But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

YLT: but what saith the divine answer to him? 'I left to Myself seven thousand men, who did not bow a knee to Baal.'

Darby: But what says the divine answer to him? I have left to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed knee to Baal.

ASV: But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have left for myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal.

What does Romans 11:4 Mean?

Context Summary

Romans 11:1-12 - A Remnant Saved By Grace
In the worst days of Hebrew apostasy there was always an elect handful that did not go astray after other gods. It was so in the days of Elijah; and it was a comfort to the faithful heart of Paul to believe that, amid the general opposition excited by the preaching of the gospel, there were many secret lovers of the Cross who were true to the Messiah and His claims. Man can never count these quiet, unknown, holy souls, who, like the sweetest wild flowers, can be detected only by the fragrance of their lives. But God counts them, to whose grace and care all that is good in them is due.
The few seek and find, because they stoop to seek in God's predetermined way and along His lines. But when men set themselves against these, they become hardened and overwhelmed by a "spirit of stupor," Romans 11:8, r.v. When Scripture says that God gives them this, it simply means that such state of insensibility is the working out of an inevitable law. But the Apostle cherished the secret hope that the avidity with which the Gentiles were accepting the gospel would, in the mystery of God's providence, have the ultimate effect of bringing the Chosen People back to Him whom their fathers crucified, Romans 11:11. [source]

Chapter Summary: Romans 11

1  God has not cast off all Israel
7  Some were elected, though the rest were hardened
16  There is hope of their conversion
18  The Gentiles may not exult over them;
26  for there is a promise of their salvation
33  God's judgments are unsearchable

Greek Commentary for Romans 11:4

The answer of God [ο χρηματισμος]
An old word in various senses like χρηματιζω — chrēmatizō only here in N.T. See this use of the verb in Matthew 2:12, Matthew 2:22; Luke 2:26; Acts 10:22. [source]
To Baal [τηι ααλ]
Feminine article. In the lxx the name ααλ — Baal is either masculine or feminine. The explanation is that the Jews put Bosheth (αισχυνη — aischunē shame) for Baal and in the lxx the feminine article occurs because αισχυνη — aischunē is so, though here the lxx has the masculine τωι — tōi f0). [source]
Answer [χρηματισμός]
Only here in the New Testament. For the kindred verb χρηματίζω warnsee on Matthew 2:12; see on Luke 2:26; see on Acts 10:22. Compare Romans 8:3. The word means an oracular answer. In the New Testament the verb is commonly rendered warn. [source]
I have reserved [κατέλιπον]
Varying from both Septuagint and Hebrew. Heb., I will reserve; Sept., thou wilt leave. [source]
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 shameHeb., bosheth which was used as a substitute for Baal when this name became odious to the Israelites. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Romans 11:4

Luke 2:26 It had been revealed unto him [ην αυτωι κεχρηματισμενον]
Periphrastic past perfect passive indicative. Common Greek verb. First to transact business from χρημα — chrēma and that from χραομαι — chraomai to use, make use of; then to do business with public officials, to give advice (judges, rulers, kings), then to get the advice of the Delphic and other oracles (Diodorus, Plutarch). The lxx and Josephus use it of God‘s commands. A Fayum papyrus of 257 b.c. has the substantive χρημαστισμος — chrēmastismos for a divine response (cf. Romans 11:4). See Deissmann, Light From the Ancient East, p. 153. [source]
1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural man [ψυχικὸς ἄνθρωπος]
See on Romans 11:4, on the distinction between ψυχή soullife, and πνεῦμα spiritThe contrast is between a man governed by the divine Spirit and one from whom that Spirit is absent. But ψυχικὸς naturalis not equivalent to σαρκικός fleshyPaul is speaking of natural as contrasted with spiritual cognition applied to spiritual truth, and therefore of the ψυχή soulas the organ of human cognition, contrasted with the πνεῦμα spiritas the organ of spiritual cognition. The man, therefore, whose cognition of truth depends solely upon his natural insight is ψυχικός naturalas contrasted with the spiritual man ( πνευματικός ) to whom divine insight is imparted. In other words, the organ employed in the apprehension of spiritual truth characterizes the man. Paul therefore “characterizes the man who is not yet capable of understanding divine wisdom as ψυχικός , i.e., as one who possesses in his ψυχή soulsimply the organ of purely human cognition, but has not yet the organ of religious cognition in the πνεῦμα spirit” (Dickson). It is perhaps impossible to find an English word which will accurately render ψυχικός . Psychic is simply the Greek transcribed. We can do no better than hold by the A.V. natural. [source]
1 Corinthians 15:45 A living soul [ψυχὴν ζῶσαν]
See Genesis 2:7. Here ψυχή passes into its personal sense - an individual personality (see Romans 11:4), yet retaining the emphatic reference to the ψυχή as the distinctive principle of that individuality in contrast with the πνεῦμα spiritfollowing. Hence this fact illustrates the general statement there is a natural body: such was Adam's, the receptacle and organ of the ψυχή soulLast AdamChrist. Put over against Adam because of the peculiar relation in which both stand to the race: Adam as the physical, Christ as the spiritual head. Adam the head of the race in its sin, Christ in its redemption. Compare Romans 5:14. [source]
1 Corinthians 15:44 A natural body [σώμα ψυχικόν]
See on 1 Corinthians 2:14. The word ψυχικόν naturaloccurs only twice outside this epistle; James 3:15; Judges 1:19. The expression natural body signifies an organism animated by a ψυχή soul(see on Romans 11:4); that phase of the immaterial principle in man which is more nearly allied to the σάρξ fleshand which characterizes the man as a mortal creature; while πνεῦμα spiritis that phase which looks Godward, and characterizes him as related to God. “It is a brief designation for the whole compass of the non-corporeal side of the earthly man” (Wendt). “In the earthly body the ψυχή soul, not the πνεῦμα spiritis that which conditions its constitution and its qualities, so that it is framed as the organ of the ψυχή . In the resurrection-body the πνεῦμα spiritfor whose life-activity it is the adequate organ, conditions its nature” (Meyer). Compare Plato: “The soul has the care of inanimate being everywhere, and traverses the whole heaven in divers forms appearing; when perfect and fully winged she soars upward, and is the ruler of the universe; while the imperfect soul loses her feathers, and drooping in her flight, at last settles on the solid ground - there, finding a home, she receives an earthly frame which appears to be self-moved, but is really moved by her power; and this composition of soul and body is called a living and mortal creature. For immortal no such union can be reasonably believed to be; although fancy, not having seen nor surely known the nature of God, may imagine an immortal creature having a body, and having also a soul which are united throughout all time” (“Phaedrus,” 246). [source]
Galatians 4:30 What saith the Scripture? []
Giving emphasis to the following statement. Comp. Romans 4:3; Romans 10:8; Romans 11:2, Romans 11:4. Quotation from lxx of Genesis 21:10. For the words of this bondwoman - with my son Isaac, Paul substitutes of the bondwoman - with the son of the freewoman, in order to adapt it to his context. This is according to his habit of adapting quotations to his immediate use. See 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 15:55; Ephesians 5:14, etc. [source]
Hebrews 8:5 As Moses was admonished [καθὼς κεχρημάτισται Μωυσῆς]
By God. This, and the remainder of the verse, explain the words copy and shadow. For χρηματίζειν see on Matthew 2:12; see on Luke 2:26; see on Acts 11:26. Comp. χρηματισμός answer(of God), Romans 11:4. In Exodus 40:1, where Moses is commanded to make the tabernacle, God is expressly named. [source]

What do the individual words in Romans 11:4 mean?

But what [was] spoken to him the divine answer I have left to Myself seven thousand men who not have bowed [the] knee - to Baal
Ἀλλὰ τί λέγει αὐτῷ χρηματισμός Κατέλιπον ἐμαυτῷ ἑπτακισχιλίους ἄνδρας οἵτινες οὐκ ἔκαμψαν γόνυ τῇ Βάαλ

τί  what  [was] 
Parse: Interrogative / Indefinite Pronoun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: τίς  
Sense: who, which, what.
λέγει  spoken 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: λέγω 
Sense: to say, to speak.
αὐτῷ  to  him 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
χρηματισμός  divine  answer 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: χρηματισμός  
Sense: a divine response, an oracle.
Κατέλιπον  I  have  left 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: καταλείπω  
Sense: to leave behind.
ἐμαυτῷ  to  Myself 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative Masculine 1st Person Singular
Root: ἐμαυτοῦ  
Sense: I, me, myself etc.
ἑπτακισχιλίους  seven  thousand 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: ἑπτακισχίλιοι  
Sense: seven thousand.
ἄνδρας  men 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: ἀνήρ  
Sense: with reference to sex.
ἔκαμψαν  have  bowed 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: κάμπτω  
Sense: to bend, bow, the knee (the knees).
γόνυ  [the]  knee 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: γόνυ  
Sense: the knee, to kneel down.
τῇ  - 
Parse: Article, Dative Feminine Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Βάαλ  to  Baal 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: Βάαλ  
Sense: the supreme male divinity of the Phoenician and Canaanitish nations, as Ashtoreth was their supreme female divinity.