We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with Romans 11. Last week, at the end of Romans 10, Paul quoted where God said that He was found by those who did not seek Him, and He revealed Himself to those who did not ask for Him. And as for Israel God said, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people” (Romans 10:21, NASB).
Paul begins Romans 11 explaining that God has not rejected His people. There was a remnant chosen, not by works, but by His grace.
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” But what is the divine response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
v. 1-6 (NASB)
For the rest of Israel, who did not believe, they were hardened for a time so they could not see or hear the truth.
just as it is written,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
Eyes to see not and ears to hear not,
Down to this very day.”
And David says,
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
And a stumbling block and a retribution to them.
“Let their eyes be darkened to see not,
And bend their backs forever.”
v. 8-10 (NASB)
But God did not leave them to fall beyond recovery. He had a plan to use their disobedience to save the rest of the world. By bringing salvation to the Gentiles, God’s mercy was shown to all, so if Israel would not continue in their unbelief, they too would be shown mercy and receive salvation.
I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?
v. 11-24 (NASB)
Because of their disobedience, Israel was hardened and cut off for a time so the world could be reconciled to God through Christ. I love how Paul stated above that if they do not continue in their unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. God is so patient and merciful toward us!
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
“This is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”
From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen
v. 25-36 (NASB)
Just as we were once disobedient to God, we have been shown mercy because of their disobedience. And because of the mercy shown to us for our disobedience, they may be shown mercy for their disobedience. Praise God for great His mercy and kindness toward all who believe Him!
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:3-7 (NIV)
We praise You that You haven’t given up on Your people. And You will not give up on us. You are faithful to Your promises. Thank You for bringing salvation to world through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank You for Your mercy and kindness to all who believe. Help us to continue in Your kindness, keeping our faith in You, so we will not be cut off from You.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!
How did God speak to you through Romans 11? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others?
*This series will continue next Monday as we study Romans 12. Have a blessed week receiving God’s mercy and kindness!