Translations: Chinese GB Big5

Romans 11 (web)

The Remnant of Israel

11:1 I ask then, Did God reject his people? May it never be!
For I also am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
11:2 God didn't reject his people, which he foreknew.
 
Or don't you know what the Scripture says about Elijah? How he pleads with God against Israel:
11:3 "Lord, they have killed your prophets,
they have broken down your altars;
and I am left alone, and they seek my life." (1Kings 19:10,14)
11:4 But how does God answer him?
"I have reserved for myself seven thousand men,
who have not bowed the knee to Baal." (1Kings 19:18)
11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
11:6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace.
But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
11:7 What then? That which Israel seeks for, that he didn't obtain,
but the chosen ones obtained it, and the rest were hardened.
 
11:8 According as it is written,
"God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see,
and ears that they should not hear, to this very day." (Deut 29:4; Is 29:10)
11:9 David says,
"Let their table be made a snare, and a trap,
A stumbling block, and a retribution to them.
11:10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see.
Bow down their back always." (Ps 69:22,23)

Israel's Recovery

11:11 I ask then, did they stumble that they might fall? May it never be!
But by their fall salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy.
11:12 Now if their fall is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles;
how much more their fullness?

11:13 For I speak to you who are Gentiles.
Since then as I am an apostle to Gentiles, I glorify my ministry;
11:14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh, and may save some of them.

11:15 For if the rejection of them is the reconciling of the world,
what would their acceptance be, but life from the dead?
11:16 If the first fruit is holy, so is the lump.
If the root is holy, so are the branches.
11:17 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 root and of the richness of the olive tree;
11:18 don't boast over the branches.
But if you boast, it is not you who support the root, but the root supports you.

11:19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in."
11:20 True; by their unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by your faith.
Don't be conceited, but fear;

11:21 for if God didn't spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.
11:22 See then the goodness and severity of God.
Toward those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness,
if you continue in his goodness; otherwise you also will be cut off.
11:23 They also, if they don't continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in,
for God is able to graft them in again.
11:24 For if you were cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree,
and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree,
how much more will these, which are the natural branches,
be grafted into their own olive tree?
11:25 For I don't desire, brothers, to have you ignorant of this mystery,
so that you won't be wise in your own conceits,

that a partial hardening has happened to Israel,
until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in,
11:26 and so all Israel will be saved. Even as it is written,

"There will come out of Zion the Deliverer,
And he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
11:27 This is my covenant to them,
When I will take away their sins." (Is 59:20,21; 27:9)
11:28 Concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake.
But concerning the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sake.
11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
11:30 For as you in time past were disobedient to God,
but now have obtained mercy by their disobedience,
11:31 even so these also have now been disobedient,
that by the mercy shown to you they may also obtain mercy.
11:32 For God has shut up all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all.
11:33 Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!
11:34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?" (Is 40:13)
11:35 "Or who has first given to him,
And it will be repaid to him again?" (Job 41:11)
11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things.
To him be the glory for ever! Amen.


Questions

What does "remnant" mean? In what manner or upon what basis does God chose the remnant?
Why would obtaining it by grace not really be by grace if works were involved?
How has the Jew's rejection of the gospel benefit the Gentiles?
How does the Gentile's acceptance of the gospel benefit the Jews?
vs 17.What does the root represent? The different branches?
vs 24 What is the wild olive tree?
What condition causes a branch to be cut off?
vs 32 What does it mean to bind men over to disobedience?
In what way does this allow God to exercise mercy? (Gal 3:20,21)
What does this chapter teach us about God's character?
How does God treat believers different from unbelievers?


Comments

God Reserves a Remnant

Rom 11:1-5
I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah— how he appealed to God against Israel: "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me"? (1Kings 19:10,14) And what was God’s answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal." (1Kings 19:18) So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.

This is to say that God has not rejected all Israelites. Though most he has rejected. But a remnant of Israelites, such as Paul will be saved, just as he had said previously in Rom 9:27 "Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved."

Elsewhere is says in the prophets:

Mic 7:18  Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?

Jer 50:20  In those days, at that time," declares the LORD, "search will be made for Israel’s guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare.

And who is the remnant but those who put their faith in Jesus Christ.


By Grace, not Works

Rom 11:6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

It's a logical fallacy to say that salvation is a free gift which one is qualified to receive by adhering to a set of rules and regulations. For if that's the case then it's not really free after all. It would be like getting one of those offers in mail which says, "You are qualified to receive a free gift", only to find that you either have to send in money or do some kind of work to receive it.

Yet there are many who have such a misconception concerning salvation. Some say that to be saved you believe and in addition have to perform works. Some say that you have to get water baptized in order to be saved. Some say that you have obey a set of commands in order to be saved. And likewise they say that if you do not live up to a set of standards, you lose your salvation. That's not grace, that's a performance based salvation which is simply the righteousness offered under the Law.

But for those who receive the gift of eternal life graciously, they do get baptized. But they get baptized because they had been saved. They obey the Lord not in order to be saved, but because they are saved. So in the place of a performance based salvation, believers have a salvation based performance. Otherwise grace would no longer be grace. For "to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." Rom 4:5


God Hardens the Others

Rom 11:7,8 What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day." (Deut 29:4; Is 29:10)

He spoke of this concept previously in Rom 9:17,18 which seemed to allude to God's dealing with the proud. So also here in view of the Israelites misbehavior in the wilderness as the quote comes from Deut 29:4. And as noted previously, there is cooperation involved in the hardening of the heart as it is written, "do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert". Heb 3:8 The hardening of the heart results in a desensitivity to the things of God, and again is alluded to in Isaiah 29:10 which again seems to be God's reaction to the misbehavior of the Israelites, as also mentioned in Isaiah 6:9,10, which is also quoted in Matthew 13:13-15 and John 12:38-40 concerning unbelieving Jews.

In fact the very beginning of Isaiah reveals the real problem. "Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: "I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand." Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him." Isaiah 1:2-4

Paul described in more detail the process of becoming desensitized to spiritual things in Romans chapter 1, where for example he said, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." Rom 1:21 and "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." Rom 1:28


God Blinds Persecutors

Rom 11:9,10 And David says: "May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever." (Ps 69:22,23)

Is David wishing this upon innocent victims? No. He goes on to explain his request. "Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them. May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents. For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those you hurt." Ps 69:24-26

Thus God doesn't arbitrarily blind people spiritual things, as if such people are innocent victims of a sadistic Lord. Rather, there is a just cause to do so. If people are blind to the gospel, it's not God's fault. It's their own fault.

But to speculate as to what is the use of causing them such blindness, one is to prevent such people from being saved. For the gospel is like the tree of life. One need only to take a bite free and they are saved. So concerning Adam the Lord said, "He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden. Gen 3:22b-23a which is analogous to God blinding the proud of heart, preventing them from entering into salvation through faith in Christ.

There is also a degree of mercy here as well. For the more one knows, the more one will be held accountable for. Thus Jesus, speaking to Pilate of Judas, said, "the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." John 19:11 and he also said, "That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows." Luke 12:47-48a


Israel's Loss, Gentiles Gain

Rom 11:11-12 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!

You can see this quite literally played out in the book of Acts. The apostles were told to preach the gospel to ends of the earth. But Jews, including the apostles, were prejudice against Gentiles. Jesus had to give Peter a special vision just to get him to go to preach to Cornelius. And even so when he returned to the church at Jerusalem he had to deal with all the other Jewish Christians who were upset at him for doing so.

In Acts 8 we see a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Such was the reluctance of the Jewish Christians, including the apostles to spread the gospel to the Gentiles. In fact such an attitude might have been the basis of Paul being upset with Mark, who left his ministry team after they started to preach to the Gentiles. And God had to raise up the apostle Paul to do the work of preaching to the Gentiles which the other 11 neglected to do.

But due to the large majority of Jews persecuting the remnant of believers, the gospel was forced, almost reluctantly,  to the ends of the earth, being received by the Gentiles. And in a short time the Church was dominated by Gentile Christians. And so it has been to this day thanks partly due to Israel's rejection of the gospel.


Paul Provoking Jews to Envy

Rom 11:13-15 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy 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?

In fact Paul was not the apostle exclusively to the Gentiles. For he had been commission by the Lord, "This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel." Acts 9:15 Thus he said, "I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus." Acts 20:21 But in Galatians 2:9 Paul speaks of a meeting he had with the other apostles in which they relinquished their responsibility towards Gentiles, limiting themselves exclusively to Jews while deferring to Paul to minister to Gentiles. Thus both the Lord and the rest of the apostles affirmed Paul as the apostle to the Gentiles. He often affirms his authority in this matter to give further weight to his message.

As noted throughout these chapters Paul affirms his concern for the Jews, his brothers. For let us remember that Paul was a Jew. And notice that contrary to a fatalistic viewpoint, Paul considers it possible through his influence to save some of his lost brothers among the Jews. Yes there is a possibility that you can  influence others, provoking them into the faith, even though it may seem right now that they are dead to the things of God.


Hebrew Christians

Rom 11:16-18 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.

That is there is nothing inherently unholy about being Jewish. Judaism, in its Biblical form is compatible with Biblical Christianity. As a counter example consider Islam. Islam is incompatible with Biblical Christianity. But, as in the case of Paul, one can be both a Jew and a Christian. Furthermore Judaism is the root of Christianity, Christ himself being incarnate as a Jew, Christianity being "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone." Eph 2:20

The branches broken off are the unbelieving Jews. The wild branch are non-Jews who have rejected their root faith - be it Islam, Hinduism or whatever, opting rather for Biblical Christianity which is rooted in Judaism. Therefore let not Christians devalue Judaism unnecessarily, for "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" 2Tim 3:16


Standing by Faith

Rom 11:19-21 You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

God does not break off or graft in people arbitrarily, but rather based upon their faith. Even those grafted in Paul says, "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain." 1Cor 15:1,2 And Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit." John 15:1,2

Therefore, while I affirm the Bible teaches eternal security, one's assurance of salvation is to be proportional to the degree to which one behaves as a child of God should.


God, Kind and Stern

Rom 11:22-24 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

Elsewhere Paul writes, "Now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel." Col 1:22-23a For "anyone who does not listen to Christ will be completely cut off from among his people." Acts 3:23

And likewise though one hears and disbelieves the gospel, they may yet be saved if they don't persist in their unbelief, Paul himself being the chief example of such. So "watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." 1Tim 4:16


Will Israel be Saved?

Rom 11:25-27 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins." (Is 59:20,21; 27:9)

People who become very religious characteristically tend towards a proud elitist attitude. Who did Jesus most commonly characterize as proud but the religious elite. And who were the primary individuals planning Jesus' death but the religious elite. So also throughout the history of post-Biblical institutional Christianity. The very religious tend to be very conceited. And just as the Eleven and other Jewish Christians had been prejudice against Gentiles, so also Christianity having been established among the Gentiles, the Gentiles tend to disregard the Jews.

There will come a time when all Israel at that given time will be saved - not all of Israel of all times, but the Israel which exists at the end. Can Jews be saved apart from faith in Christ? Does God at some point lift His requirement of faith? No. It should be obvious from this and other chapters in Romans that to be saved under the New Covenant a person must believe in Jesus. Rather what Paul is saying that there will come a time when the Jews as a nation will come to believe in Christ. "On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son." Zec 12:9,10 And so it also says of Christ's return, "Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen." Rev 1:7

And as with all who put their faith in Christ, the Lord covenants, "I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Heb 8:12


Enemies and yet "Elect"

Rom 11:28,29  As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs,  for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.

Everyone who is an unbeliever is reckoned an enemy, including all of us who presently believe prior to us coming to faith. "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies" Col 1:21a But God loves his enemies. "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom 5:8 But how does this differ in the case of Jews? What does it mean that concerning "election", the Jews are loved? And what gifts and calling is he alluding to?

At the beginning of Romans 9 and Romans 10 Paul expresses his sorrow at the fact that the vast majority of his fellow Jews were unsaved. Yet notice he also affirms their value. "Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen." Rom 9:4,5 And what is the primary advantage to being Jewish? "What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God." Rom 3:1,2

It was through the Jews that we received not only the Old Testament, but the New as well seeing as most, if not all, the authors of the New Testament were Jews as well as for the Old. Thus their primary calling was to be instruments through which the Word of God has been brought to us. How does this fact bring mercy to them? That's next.


What Goes Around Comes Around

Rom 11:30-32 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

While the Bible originated with the Jews, it was propagated worldwide largely through Gentiles as it is today. And we can see even in Paul's ministry the rejection of the gospel by the Jews led to an emphasis in his ministry upon Gentiles. "Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles." Acts 13:46  But consequently this same propagation comes full circle back to Jews who are challanged by their own scriptures to believe in Jesus which would result in them be saved from God's wrath.

God uses incentives to motivate people to do what is ultimately in their best interest, even playing with the human sinful nature for our own benefit. Paul talked about the Gentiles provoking his unbelieving brethren to jealousy. You would think jealousy a bad thing. But as Joseph said to his brothers, as one might say to the sinful nature, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Gen 50:20 Consider also that God had previously orchestrated the scenario that led to Christ's crucifixion, playing upon the pride and jealousy of the religious elite to accomplish His ends. For a similar reason Paul speaks optimistically about a what seems a hopeless situation.

So if you are distressed by a hopeless situation, remember that God characteristically can make the outcome good.


Knowing God

Rom 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
"Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"
(Is 40:13)
"Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?"
(Job 41:11)
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

God shows wisdom in utilizing people's natural sinful tendencies - that which we call "human nature" - to effect His good purposes. He orchestrated Christ's death in this manner, playing upon the pride of the religious elite to bring about the sacrifice of the Lamb, innocent, without blemish or defect, yet rejected by the elders and chief priests. "We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." 1Cor 2:7,8

Secondly regarding the propagation of the gospel, even the apostles early on were reluctant to go to the Gentiles, due to their prejudice. Yet because of the persecution against them by their countrymen the gospel was spread to the Gentiles. (Acts 11:19-22) God utilized the unbelief of the Jews to get His people to propagate the gospel to the Gentiles, and even chose Paul, a most unlikely candidate, as His apostle to the Gentiles.

As for knowing the mind of the Lord, Paul also writes, "As it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him' — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. ... 'For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.'" 1Cor 2:9-12,16

As for God repaying us, while God is gracious and has made promises concerning rewards for services rendered based on His graciousness, He was not under obligation to make such promises. Thus it says, "When you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty." Luke 17:10


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources


Jul 29,2015