11:1 I ask then, Did God reject his people? May it never
For I also am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe
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
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
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
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)
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
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
were grafted in among them,
and became partaker with them of the root and of the richness of the
11:18 don't boast over the branches.
But if you boast, it is not you who support the root, but the root
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
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
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;
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
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.
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
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?
God Reserves a Remnant
Rom 11:1-5I 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:
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
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 Matthew13:13-15 and John 12:38-40 concerning
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
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
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
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
Israel's Loss, Gentiles
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
Paul Provoking Jews to Envy
Rom 11:13-15I 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
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.
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 11:19-21You 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 11:22-24Consider 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
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."
Will Israel be Saved?
Rom 11:25-27I 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
Rom 11:30-32For 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
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.
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?"
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.'"
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