VERSE ONE: I say then, has God rejected His people? God forbid! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.Paul, in the chapters previous told his readers that Israel "stumbled at the stumbling stone" and have not attained to God's righteousness. He quoted from Isaiah how Israel would would fail to respond and others would take up their place.
Now Paul is clarifying something, POINTING TO HIMSELF, not to some future restoration of literal Israel in 2000 years, he is asking a question that is on the minds of many of his contemporaries. The question is: "Are all Jews now lost?" Paul, refers to himself, and says, "That would mean I am lost, for I am a Jew, from the tribe of Benjamin. If all Jews are now lost, that would mean I am lost too and there is no hope for any of us."
BUT HAS GOD CAST OFF HIS PEOPLE? Absolutely not!
God did not cast them off, they chose not to accept HIM!
However, God still has "a remnant" right there in the Jewish nation.
Now the question is, who are His people? Earlier Paul had quoted from Isaiah:
"I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved, and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said to them, You are not my people, there shall they be called the children of the living God. (Romans 9:25)
Paul declared that "they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." He then says it's NOT THE CHILDREN BY THE FLESH, but the children of "promise", the children of "Isaac". (9:6-8)
So the question is a serious question-- WHO ARE GOD'S people? Is Israel cast off? Who are the true Israel?
Romans 8.28Obviously God's elect-- the ones he FOREKNEW, are those who responded to CHRIST. These will not be rejected, indeed Paul goes on in that chapter to say NOTHING can separate them from the love of God.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
Back to Romans 11
VERSE 2b: Or do you not know what the Scripture says about Elijah --how he pleads with God against Israel?Who is the "election" of verse 11:28 which PAUL calls the BELOVED? This is a KEY issue to understand in this passage. We must understand WHO does PAUL say is part of the election?
VERSE 3: Lord, they have killed Your prophets, torn down Your altars; and I am the only one left, and they are trying to take my life!
VERSE 4: But what was God's reply to him? I have left 7,000 men for Myself who have not bowed down to Baal.
VERSE 5: In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace.
VERSE 6: Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.
VERSE 7: What then? Israel (as a nation) has not obtained that which he seeks for: BUT the election HAS obtained it
See the verses above--Romans 11:5 and 7.
(Like in Elijah's time God had his 5000) So too, at the present time there is a remnant elected by grace...
What then? What Israel (as a nation) sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elected did.
Is this election all of "natural Israel"? No-- it is the branches remaining on the "tree of Israel" after the "unbelieving branches" are cut off, as we will see as we continue this discussion.
The true TREE OF ISRAEL is comprised of THE ELECTION OF GRACE!!
Paul is DEFINING THE TRUE ISRAEL--
He is leading the people's minds AWAY from the concept of "natural Israel" and building the concept of "spiritual Israel" and how it comes together.
(Whereas modern dispensationalists attempt to start with the concept of "spiritual Israel" and lead back into "national Israel" but we see that is BACKWARDS to what Paul is doing.)
VERSE 7: What then? Israel did not find what it was looking for, but the elect did find it. The rest were hardened,
VERSE 8: as it is written: God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear, to this day.
Now the question arises: WHAT CAUSES THE HARDENING.
Some believe that God deliberately closed the minds of the Jewish nation so they would not receive their Messiah? Was this God's original plan which had to be carried out so as to allow the gospel to go to the Gentiles?
NOW I do not believe that-- (though Calvinistic thought may say so) I don't believe God deliberately made it so that the Jews could not believe in Christ, any more than I believe God sends "strong delusions that they should believe a lie (2 Thess. 2:11)
What God does is show HIS TRUTH in a compelling way, and when God shows TRUTH-- people react, they either accept it or they go to GREAT LENGTHS to oppose it. Thus one can say that God "did it" for the revelation of truth caused the reaction, but it was the people's CHOICE and THEIR REACTION.
God didn't "shut down" the minds of the Israelites-- they shut their own minds down in opposition to compelling revelation of God through Christ.
VERSE 9: And David says: Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block, and a retribution to them.In rejecting the light they walked into darkness.
VERSE 10: Let their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent continually.
The Lord Jesus was the foundation of the whole Jewish economy. Its imposing services were of divine appointment. They were designed to teach the people that at the time appointed the Messiah would come to whom those ceremonies pointed. But the Jews had exalted the forms and ceremonies and had lost sight of their meaning. The traditions, maxims, and rules of so called "scholars" hid from them the lessons which God intended to convey. These maxims and traditions became an obstacle to their understanding and practice of true religion. And when the Reality came, in the person of Christ, they did not recognize in Him the fulfillment of all their types, the substance of all their shadows. They rejected the antitype, and clung to their types and useless ceremonies. They trusted to the sacrifices and ordinances themselves, instead of looking for salvation to Him to whom they pointed.
the greater part of Israel (literal Israel) had fallen away. This falling away was not confined to the days when Christ lived among them. The heathen ideas had long previously crept in and corrupted their connection with the true God. As Jesus said to the Jews:
John 8.42 "If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
It is that Israel (literal Israel as a nation) which has not obtained what is hoped and sought for, justification, (salvation) which they were seeking to obtain by the law, (their ceremonies) and is now under condemnation.
But the elect (those who received Christ) did find it-- they partook of the LIGHT and were not darkened!
VERSE 11: I ask, then, have they stumbled so that they should fall? God forbid! On the contrary, by their stumbling, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous.Now many interpret these things AS IF IT WERE GOD'S PLAN that the Jews reject their MESSIAH, so the gospel could go to the Gentiles. But that was not the plan at all!
VERSE 12: Now if their stumbling brings riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more would their full number bring!
All those prophecies which modern Christians now attempt to project to the future WERE MEANT TO TAKE PLACE BACK THEN.
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
God is hoping they will realize what a blessing they missed and be "jealous".
Hopefully this will "wake them up" to realize they had missed out on what was rightfully, by the promise of God, theirs--the commission to spread the light to the Gentiles.
For the promises said that they, "the jewish nation" would be the "center" of that Light, which was to shine forth the gospel to the world.
Israel, as a nation, was given 490 years to bring in righteousness--etc. (see Daniel 9)
IF THEY HAD ACCEPTED THE MESSIAH HOW MUCH GREATER WOULD THE RESULTS HAVE BEEN.
But they rejected the Messiah, and so...
VERSE 13: Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. In view of the fact that I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,Paul here, is not speaking of any NATIONAL COVERSION of literal Israel.
VERSE 14: if I can somehow provoke my own people to jealousy and save some of them.
VERSE 15: For if their being rejected is world reconciliation, what would their acceptance mean, but life from the dead?
He is saying "If God can make good come out of something as tragic as HIS OWN PEOPLE rejecting HIM, how much greater it would have been IF THEY HAD ACCEPTED.
Now he's hoping that maybe "jealousy" might wake them up, that a few more might respond and become part of the "election of grace".
Now Paul is speaking to the Gentiles:
Here Paul is beginning to define the "parent stock" or "substance" of the tree in which the "elect" branches are attached.
Christ is the root of salvation. Christ was the root of the Jewish economy. Everything in the Jewish system pointed to Christ. The tree of Israel is based solely on Christ.
I, Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
"That at that time you (GENTILES) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
Prior to Christ's first coming the Gentiles were without Christ, because they were not part of commonwealth of Israel. It was the Jewish ceremonies that held the key to understand about Christ's redeeming work. But when Christ Himself came, He made it plain that it was IN HIM, not in the ceremonies, that salvation was to be found.
So the first fruits were JEWS! They were part of the original "stock". This of course shows that Jews are not "cast off" by God, for if the "first fruits" (Jews) are holy, then any Jews who are part of the body of Christ are also holy.
Right from the beginning of the promises to Abraham the foundation and giver of the promises was Christ. The tree of ISRAEL all through history is established in CHRIST.
Christ is the foundation of the Jewish economy-- He's the ONE Who was in the pillar of cloud, He's the ONE who was the rock in the wilderness-- He was the one who "planted them" as a "a green olive tree,fair and of good fruit" (Jer.11:16} HE CAME TO HIS OWN AND HIS OWN RECEIVED HIM NOT. (John 1:11)
The tree is not a new tree for the
the JEWS ARE THE NATURAL BRANCHES of this, their OWN OLIVE TREE, (verse 24) while the Gentiles are "wild branches" from another, wild olive tree.
Yet Isaiah gives us a little more insight into this tree.
So the olive tree, which was withering and dying because of it's departure from a true relationship with God, sends up a NEW BRANCH, a new MAIN stalk.
CHRIST came to give new life to the tree, He came to make a NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL.
Those Jews who received HIM are the natural branches of the tree which HE, CHRIST PLANTED, and the Gentiles who believed in Him are grafted in to partake of the promises with them.
Gentiles have nothing to brag about. The history of the early Christian church shows the painful truth that the Gentiles did not heed these words of Paul. The writings of "church fathers" that have been preserved, record a major "anti-jewish" factor that arose in the years after the apostles. The great outbursts against Jewish practices, imply that the churches established by Paul in Asia Minor were indeed keeping the 7th day Sabbath and honoring Christ's death and resurrection during the Passover, rather than on the pagan "spring" festival. This anti-jewish concept prompted Justin Martyr to write to the Jews that "it was by reason of your sins and the sins of your fathers that, among other precepts, God imposed upon you the observance of the Sabbath as a mark". The whole concept that the moral law of God was somehow only for the "evil" Jews, arose, and basically "cut" the majority of Christians off, from following God's commandments.
They refused to be supported by the root of the tree (old testament revelations of Christ) from which the NEW BRANCH or STALK (Christ come in person) had sprung.
The Paul continues his warning against Gentile arrogance. Gentiles will claim the Jews had to be cast aside so they could take their place.
VERSE 11.19: You will say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
VERSE 11.20: Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
VERSE 11.21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Satan worked his deceptions in leading the Jews to reject Christ, while they professed to honor His Father's law. However, without the grace and renewal of God it is impossible to honor the law for "the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither can they be." (Romans 8:7) Thus they honoured neither the law nor God. Satan now works on the Christian world with a similar deception in getting them to profess to accept Christ while they reject God's law. A person who reject God's moral law and refuses to walk in His statues has not really accepted Christ, nor have they been renewed by His presence. In the court of Pilate was heard from the priests and elders the frenzied cry, "Away with Him!" "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" and now we hear from professedly Christian teachers the cry, "Away with the law!" Especially the Sabbath is being trodden under foot, and a spurious institution established in its place. How could those who believed in Christ, reject the law spoken by His own voice upon the sacred mount, and written by His own finger? How could anyone who reverenced and loved God set aside the law which is the foundation of His government in heaven and earth?
VERSE 11.22: Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
The matchless grace and mercy of God in throwing open the doors of salvation to the Gentiles, could cause undue presumption leading to a neglect of the conditions under which alone these hopes can be realized. People will use the "goodness" of God as freedom or license for lawless behavior. Thus they are reminded of the "severity" of God. The Jews as a nation were stripped of their exclusive advantages for A REASON. God wasn't arbitrarily setting them aside because He now preferred Gentiles. The reason they were set aside was because of their disbelief, and seeking after "there own righteousness rather than submitting themselves to the righteousness of God." (Romans 10:3)
Gentiles could also be "cut off" if they abuse their privileges and show ingratitude by resisting the character development a born again Christian, rooted in Christ, is to develop.
VERSE 11.23: And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
VERSE 11.24: For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
THIS is the tree of Israel! It is "their own tree". Yet, their main branches were broken off because of unbelief, and alien branches from a wild tree grafted in among the believing Jews. The warnings and the promises are directed for all, and show that their only hope is in Christ. First the warning: since the natural branches were broken off, the wild ones could be too. The Gentiles could be rejected like the Jews. There is no room for complacency. Secondly the promise; since the wild branches were grafted in, the natural ones could be too. The Jews (though cut off because of unbelief) could easily be grafted back in if they accepted like the Gentiles. There is no room for despair.
VERSE 11.25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
VERSE 11.26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
VERSE 11.27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
Paul is quoting Isaiah 59.20-21
And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD."
The Messiah would come to Israel, that was the promise. The plan was NOT that His people should reject him and that the blessings bypass them go to the Gentiles, the plan was that the
"Gentiles shall come to thy (Israel's) light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." Isaiah 60.3
Christ DID come and did "open a fountain to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." Zech. 13:1 Daniel (Dan. 9) prophesied years earlier, that the Messiah would at the end of the 483 years after Israel's restoration from the Babylonian captivity. During the 7 remaining years He confirmed His covenant with Israel.
For seven years after the Saviour entered on His ministry, the gospel was to be preached especially to the Jews. To the JEWS FIRST (Acts 1:16)
For three and a half years Christ Himself dwelt among the Jews and taught them, and afterward His ascension the apostles proclaimed the truth in Jerusalem. "In the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease." Daniel 9:27. He was "cut off, from the land of the living, for the transgression of my people was he stricken." (Is. 53:8 see Dan. 9:26)
In the spring of A.D. 31, Christ, the true Sacrifice, was offered on Calvary. Then the veil of the temple was rent in twain, showing that the purpose and function of the earthly temple was ended. There was no more NEED OR PURPOSE for sacrifices, for Christ the true Lamb of God had died.
So when did the Deliverer come and make a covenant with Israel, that would deal with their sin?
Hebrews tells us all about that covenant, and it was made at Christ's first coming.
10.16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
10.17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
Now, the dispensationalists want us to believe, that God will make the covenant mentioned here in Romans eleven, with the Jews, sometime in the future, and that somehow the Jews are still held under the old covenant, and must therefore again erect a temple and reinstate their sacrificial systems, but the new covenant in Hebrews was mainly for Gentiles.
Yet scriptures say that covenant in Hebrews is made with the HOUSE OF ISRAEL, and it was established in the days of Christ's first advent and ascension into the heavenly sanctuary.
What does this mean?
It is quite simple really when one follows the logic in Romans 11.
The "tree of Israel" grows from the same "roots" as Israel in the old testament, founded in Christ. The tree of Israel has a "NEW SHOOT" or stalk, which is Christ. The "first fruits" are the Jewish Christians (disciples or apostles). The branches are both believing Jews and believing Gentiles. "Israel" is not the nation of Israel, Israel is the tree Paul described above. That tree is composed of Jews and Gentiles who are attached to Christ. That is ISRAEL!
3.27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
3.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
3.29 And if you be Christ's, then are you Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Even though Paul wrote earlier: "though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved," he can now say, "All Israel shall be saved."
Why? Though it is a remnant, not the whole, of natural Israel, yet all who are TRUE ISRAEL, that is those who have accepted the Deliverer from Zion, who turns away ungodliness from them, and takes away their sins, and have entered into a covenant relationship with HIM, are saved.
Some will argue that the New Covenant is made with Christ, as the "SEED of Israel", not with the people of Israel, but that is not what the scriptures. The New Covenant is made by the Deliverer (Christ) WITH, the people, and He (Christ) takes away their sins, and turns them from their godlessness.
VERSE 11.28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.All sinners are "enemies of God".
The Israelites thought they were God's special people simply because of their "fleshly" birth. But Jesus said to one of the Jewish prominent leaders-- "unless you are born again you cannot see the kingdom of God.
Gentiles already knew they were "outside" the kingdom of God, and needed to "come in".
For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
In other words-- all are declared sinners-- enemies of God, and ALL NEED JESUS TO SAVE THEM-- all are accounted as "enemies" of God, until they are BORN AGAIN.
John 1.12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
So why are they called "enemies"?
The text says they are called enemies according to the gospel.
They are declared sinners, and enemies of God because of their disobedience and unbelief. Their only recourse, like everyone else, to being part of the ‘election” is the same as that of the Gentiles. “For God has concluded all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all."
On the other hand, according to the election, beloved
We discussed earlier what the election is-- the election of grace -- "EVEN SO at THIS PRESENT TIME also there is a REMNANT according to the election of grace." This is referring to the REMNANT from Israel who BELIEVE, they are beloved. There is no need to despair, God longs to have His Jewish children as part of the tree of Israel.
Because of the fathers, as the gifts and the calling of God are unrepented.
The promise made to Abraham, will be fulfilled to SPIRITUAL ISRAEL. Those promises will not fail. God has made a covenant with His people that through Abraham's seed, (Christ) all nations will be blessed, and obtain an inheritance.
Abraham looked for a heavenly city
Never was a promise made that all fleshly descendants of anyone would automatically receive salvation.
"Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but in Isaac shall your seed be called." Romans 9:7.
God will fulfill His promises-- YES!
But He will fulfill them to those who are like Isaac, while those who are only "the children of flesh, these are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." Romans 9:8 The city we are to look to is the NEW JERUSALEM, not the old.
VERSE 11.29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
VERSE 11.30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
VERSE 11.31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
What is the glorious truth that Paul will praise God for?
It is the mercy of God in bringing those who were "outside" into fold of grace even though the ones who SHOULD have been the light of the gospel to the world rejected it.
God in His great mercy would not allow His plan to be foiled by people's stuborness.
The good news of the gospel WOULD be preached, even if the Jews, (as a nation), who should have been the "beautiful feet" who spread the "glad tidings", rejected it.
What then is the GREAT NEWS for the JEWS?
It was by giving the gospel to the Gentiles, who should then in turn be continually sharing it with the Jews, that God would turn many Jews from their unbelief!.
This is not a promise that "all national Israel" will respond, but it is a promise that God has not forsaken the Jewish people, but is using the Gentiles to call into believing in Christ, and that all through the ages there will be Jewish people who WILL be part of the tree of Israel, for it is their natural tree!
In the end of time, when the Gentile world will be confronted as to their own departure from God in their rejection of the commandments of God, and the great battle between those who have abandoned God's commandments while claiming to still have faith in Christ, and those who have FAITH IN JESUS AND KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS is fought, many Jews will SEE and will stand up for the truth.
However, the truth will not be in the restored temple, nor in any earthly kingdom centered on national Israel, which is now being promoted.
The true Israel look for a heavenly city whose builder and Maker is God.
True Israel will not "answer to Jerusalem which now is, to be in bondage with her children, but Jerusalem which is above, whcih is the mother of us all. (Gal. 4:25-26)
Putting these truths together, the deliverer would come to bring his people to repentance and so to forgiveness, according to God's covenant promise. There is no hint of a special way of salvation for the Jews and another way for the Gentiles. Some Christians have attempted to develop a theological basis for "two-covenant theology, namely that there are two different salvation "tracks", one for the believing remnant and believing Gentiles, and another for the national Israelites which relies on God's Old Testament promises for them. Romans 11 as well as Ephesians 2, stands in clear opposition to this trend. For there is only ONE tree of Israel and ONLY BELIEVING BRANCHES are part of that tree.
VERSE 11.32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
The New Covenant was made with the house of Israel at Christ's first coming, and that house of Israel is comprised of the "CHILDREN OF ISRAEL". Christ is the true "ISRAEL", while His followers are the "CHILDREN OF ISRAEL". This is the ISRAEL that will be saved: believing Jews and Gentiles -- SPIRITUAL ISRAEL. For the last 2000 years there is the grafting in of believing Gentiles and the grafting in of believing Jews. That is Israel. God placed them all IN THE SAME CATAGORY that He might have mercy upon them all.
Ephesians 2:14 "For He is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition abolishing the commands and rules that demanded a separation between Jews and Gentiles, to make in himself of the two, one new man, so making peace that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having destroyed the enmity with it. AND HE CAME and preached peace to you who were outside, and to them that were near, and through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Now you are no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God."
VERSE 11.33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
VERSE 11.34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
VERSE 11.35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
VERSE 11.36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.