Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology
An Exposition of
Romans Chapter Eleven
by Tony Warren
The book of Romans is considered by many to be one of the most profound, and yet simply stated writings of the entire Bible. But over the years chapter eleven has become one of the most controversial. This due in no small measure to Israel's future status being widely misinterpreted by theologians reading this epistle. Indeed the very first verse is a capsulation of why there is so much confusion concerning the fulfillment of the promises made to Israel. Paul rhetorically asks, "Has God cast away His people?" In other words, he is anticipating this objection because in the previous two chapters he has been elucidating on how Israel is obstinate and has tripped upon Christ, the stumbling stone. So it is a reasonable expectation that upon hearing these things, many would conclude that because Israel has rejected her Messiah and salvation going to the Gentiles, this must mean the promises that were made to Israel have been abrogated or annulled. And Paul's reply is an unequivocal [me ginomai], or "forbid to come to be." He says, God forbid that this is so. For the promises to Israel will be faithfully kept.
Recapping Romans chapter nine and ten, where the Apostle Paul had addressed the promises that God made to Israel, her rebellion and her fall, he is continuing on the same subject. So to have a more complete understanding of chapter eleven, it is helpful to first carefully read through chapters nine and ten. Because they are the introduction to what is being declared here, and allows us to understand all these things in their proper context. And if we are honest with ourselves, we cannot help but see that in these three chapters, God unambiguously declares that the Gentile believers are on an equal footing with the Jews, and that any Jews who are in unbelief, are on an equal footing with the unbelieving Gentiles. Indeed, how could it be any plainer than what God emphatically stated in chapter 10, verse 12:
"For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him."
God declares that there is no difference between the Jewish person in Christ, and the Greek. The problem that some people have in understanding these truths is that they remove these statements from their context. In fact, they are often treated "as if" they have no real significance in our understanding of the body of Christ at all. Especially with relationship to the Covenant of God. It is as if some people are attempting to force God to make a difference, even when He has clearly said that there is no difference between Jew and Greek with relationship to His Covenant plan. For He is rich over all people that call upon Him. What could be said more concisely, and yet so explicitly clear as the declarations in these three chapters that address Israel and what constitutes the fulfillment of the promises that God has made? Clearly these Covenant promises were to all that believe and call on their Messiah, irrespective of their ethnicity, physical genealogy, or national origin.
The nature of Romans chapter eleven is one of answering the fundamental questions arising from the rejection of Christ by the Jews, and God's judgment upon them. It addresses how (because of this) some might think that the promises to Israel were made null or voided by their disobedience. Paul rejects this, and declares the promises are not abrogated. Instead, he illustrates how this rebellion of Israel is not universal, and how there is a "remnant Israel" in which the promises are fulfilled. He shows how God has made known that the fall of Israel is not an abrogating of the promises, but indeed a confirmation of Old Testament scriptures concerning the promises.
Dispersed throughout this chapter is God's reiteration that justification before Him is all of grace through faith in the righteousness of Christ. He illustrates that it is without distinction by nationality or physical heritage. And the chapter concludes with an encouragement that even though the judgment on the nation of Israel is sure, there is a remnant Israel coming in. And so Jewish people can take heart that they can be grafted back into the heritage of the Covenant tree, which represents the Israel of God. Likewise, a warning is issued to the Gentiles that in light of what has happened to national Israel because of unbelief, they should be cautious not to have a vain or boastful heart that they fall in the pride of unbelief. Because in like fashion as Israel, they too can be branches cast off from Covenant Israel.
Many teachers over the years have used this chapter to argue for a "future" restoration or redemption for the nation of Israel. Even though there is clearly only one time in history when Christ redeemed and restored Israel (His death and resurrection, which occurred over 2000 years ago), many have come to the conclusion that there is a future redeeming of the nation of Israel. This is based more on wishful thinking and Church tradition than upon what scripture actually says. For God's word is clear that the Lamb of God that "has" redeemed Israel (not "will" redeem), was Christ, and it was a one time action. The Holy Temple of God that is to be rebuilt is the Church, with Christ the chief corner stone of that building. And the people of the Church are "living" stones in that rebuilding of the Holy Temple. Again, it is being built, not will be built in a future restoration. It is now being built up a spiritual house, not a literal house in the middle east.
Many theologians argue that the term "Israel" in this chapter always refers to the nation. Others argue that it refers to the elect of Israel only. And still others argue that it refers only to the Church consisting of both Jews and Gentiles. We would contend that it is impossible (in light of this chapter) that any of these views are correct. For depending upon context, clearly Israel refers to the elect ethnic Israelites, the unsaved nation, or the Jew and Gentile grafted together. How Israel is viewed, and to what it refers to, is governed by what God is talking about in the immediate context. We see an example of this when God said that, "they are not all Israel, which are of Israel -Romans 9:6." Is this Israel the nation of Israel, or is it an Israel within the nation? We would have to honestly conclude God talks about "both." God is clearly saying in that verse that one Israel is not Israel. So we see here that God refers to Israel, the nation, and yet says that all that are not Spiritual Israel, because they are not all the "Israel of God." So God is addressing two distinct bodies called Israel. One that is the election, and one that is blinded and in unbelief. So then, we clearly have to define what Israel is, in the light of the scriptures, not in the darkness of our own biased theological presuppositions.
In this study we will attempt to address these questions and understand the scriptures in a clear, well-ordered, and hermeneutically sound fashion. We will examine this epistle verse by verse, in the light of the pertinent scriptures, so that we not only get a general doctrinal overview, but a view that is in its proper context. We believe that doing a verse by verse study allows Christians to see more clearly the continuity of scripture, and this usually promotes addressing all the basic particulars of what God has said in each verse.
We will see in this study that God is explaining that the fall of the major portion of the children of Israel was because of their unbelief, and that this fall does not preclude Israel (the remnant) from fulfilling the Promises. Nor does this remnant Israel make God's promise to Israel void. Indeed, we will see that it fulfills those faithful promises. Shall the Gentiles in arrogance and pride then boast because (generally speaking) the Jews lie in unbelief? No, because they are merely a remnant themselves. Only a small portion of the world of Gentiles become professing Christians, and only a portion of those professing Christians are truly saved. Moreover, the caveat is that the Church today can also fall away (2nd Thessalonians 2) and be judged of God for their sins, just as Israel did. For we all have feet of clay, and there is no difference. This chapter makes it clear that we all stand on the very same ground. To the Jew first, and then the Gentile.
Let us pray that in this study of God's Word, He may grant us the knowledge of His revealed truth. God grant us the wisdom to know the difference between false teachings that are inconsistent with the word at every turn, and sound scriptural testimonies, which are in agreement with the 'whole' Bible. Our prayer is that we come to understand and accept what is God's truth, rather than our own. We pray that we will not either willfully, unknowingly, nor by neglect, ignore or trample under foot one word of His Holy testimony. And we pray for an open mind to scripture, and an understanding that Christ alone can give. And by Grace, He gives this through His Holy Spirit, by our 'careful' study of the Word.
Romans Chapter 11
- "I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin".
Paul says, 'I say then' [oun], meaning accordingly or consequently. This because in chapters nine and ten, he had many things to say which are disturbing about the nation of Israel, their disobedience, the Jews obstinacy, and their standing with God. The phrase, I say then, or I say subsequently, is in reference to these preceding chapters where Paul was explaining how God called not only the Jews, but also the Gentiles (9:24). He is explaining how these who were not His people, are now called His people, and how Isaiah also cried concerning Israel, that though their number be as the sand of the sea, yet only a 'remnant' should be Saved (9:27). He spoke of how the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained righteousness, but how that Israel, which followed after the law, have not attained to righteousness (9:30-31). And in chapter 10 he continued in the same vein explaining how his prayer was that Israel might be saved, but how they are ignorant of the righteousness of Christ (10:1-4), and how there is 'no difference' between the Jew and the Greek (10:12). He writes how whosoever should call upon the name of God will be Saved, regardless. Chapter ten concludes with Isaiah's prophesy which spoke of this, saying, 'I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me, but to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people (10:20-21).' So the truth is that God is a light found of the Gentiles, while the nation Israel, having been judged of God, lies in darkness.
After addressing Israel's fall in chapters nine and ten, Paul turns to the subject of what this means with regards to the promises made. It is in this context that the rhetorical question is asked, 'so consequently, has God cast off His people?' And Paul answers clearly, No, God hasn't cast off Israel, because he himself is an Israelite and God has not cast him off. By saying this he proves by his own example how unreasonable it would be to conclude the nation Israel was cast off. For he himself is an Israelite, thus the conclusion is proven false.
Not only an Israelite, but Paul gets right down to his very tribe declaring that he is of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. The Hebrew word Benjamin [binyamiyn] means, "son of the right hand." And the families of God, through Christ, are sons of the right hand, even as Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father.
The beloved of the lord dwells in safety by Him because Christ dwells at the right hand of the father, and they in Christ. It is in the true Son of the right hand, that the promises to the Children of God are fulfilled. The right hand is the favored one. Just as today, most people are right-handed, or favor their right hand. We are the sons of favor, through Christ. By Paul mentioning He is of the tribe of Benjamin, He is proving that he is one of the children of Israel, the chosen of God, and yet he has not been cast off. Therefore, this proves that the promise was not abrogated. This is an important declaration, because it is declaring that the promise is sure and Israel is being saved in the prophesied remnant, of which he himself is one. His words here cannot in any way be construed as saying that later, more than a remnant will be saved. On the contrary, he has used himself as "an example that the promise is being kept" right then and there in Jews like himself. If we ascribe anything more than this to the text, we are reading it "into the passage," rather than reading "from the passage." As He declares himself an Israelite after the promises, it is proved that God's favor indeed rested on Israel.
- "And of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and the LORD shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders."
Has God cast off His people? His reply is [me ginomai], literally 'forbidden come to be.' God forbid this is true! The Romans, and indeed all of us, are not to misunderstand election, but realize that the elect or chosen people of God to which the promises were made, have always been a remnant. Just as in Romans chapter 9, where corporate Israel, God says is "not Israel," and the election Israel, which God says is.
The message here is that indeed Israel has come under judgment (branches broken off), but that this Israel in blindness is not the Israel to which the everlasting Promises were made (as Paul says he is living proof of that, being an Israelite, and not being blinded). God is not saving Israel through 'favored nation status' but rather through 'favored people status' or "particular redemption." Paul declares he is an Israelite, which means the promise was not abrogated by part of Israel being blinded. One Israel was blinded, but the election is in the favored son. A remnant Israel, showing that there is an election of Grace, not of Race, and that this has always been God's plan for Israel's future.
The overview of verse one is that God is illustrating that the part of Israel that is spoken of in this chapter as having been cut off, are those of Israel who have rejected Christ. And the part of Israel which has not rejected Christ (of which Paul declares he is one) are the elect of Israel who are not cast off, and to whom the promises pertain, and that do not lie in unbelief. Paul says God forbid that the Lord has cast away his people, for he also is an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. And this truth of election is also reiterated clearly in the verses that follow.
Note that his statement is accompanied by a qualifying clause. The stipulation of those he has not cast off is, 'His people which He foreknew.' These are the people whom God has not cast away. Not the whole nation of Israel, but the people of Israel He foreknew. These people we know are the remnant Chosen by Grace, and predestinated unto salvation. These phrases like "He foreknew," and "His People," are not used carelessly, they are divinely inspired to illustrate that God's people are those whom He elected before the foundation of the world. Clearly not an elect nation Israel, but an elect people of Israel.
- "God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,"
- "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for He shall Save His people from their sins".
These are those who Romans 11:2 says are 'His people' which He 'foreknew.' And them that He foreknew he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ. By any man's definition that excludes the whole nation of Israel, as many were unsaved and came under the wrath of God. And so as Paul writes, 'No, God has not cast away his people He foreknew.' On the contrary, His people were saved by Christ's work on the cross, and they are the election of Israel. Theologians today make the mistake of treating all the nation of Israel as 'His People' eternally, when they were His people corporately or covenantally, but not eternally. This can easily be proven as we read that many died in the wilderness because of unbelief, or as Jesus Himself told the members of the congregation of Israel that they would not escape the damnation of hell. If they were all eternally His people as a nation, they would not have died in unbelief, they would have been saved. i.e., they were covenantally His people, and that is how/why they could be branches broken off from that covenant with Israel. When God went to the cross, He went there to save the people whom He foreknew, those who were eternally His people, elect from the foundation of the world (Matthew 1:21). And unless Christ died in vain for some of them, then the people He came to save cannot biblically or logically mean the whole nation of Israel. No outward calling or covenant is of itself effectual without the faith of Christ in the inward everlasting covenant.
- "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."
If Israel's rejection of the gospel was both consistent with God's eternal plan, and Israel's own choosing (Romans 9), then of necessity this means that God never intended for all the nation of Israel to be saved. For they lie in unbelief. His plan all along was for a remnant according to the election of Grace. Israel was restored in the New Covenant body of Christ. It is not, and indeed can never be restored in Old Covenant "types and shadows" represented by Temple buildings, which is passed away. There is no possibility of a restoration of an Old Covenant style Kingdom of Israel. Christ has confirmed a New Covenant with Israel, and thus the Old has passed away (Hebrews 8:13). And if this is the New Covenant Church, then the New Covenant has come, not will come. And the promise of the New Covenant to replace the Old has been kept.
The overview of verse two is that we are being instructed that God has not cast away his people that he foreknew. And to illustrate this, we are pointed to the scriptures where Paul under inspiration of God makes the analogy between what has occurred in Israel, and what happened in the days of Elijah. God is saying, remember what the Holy scriptures declared of Elijah, and how he made intercession to God and pleaded with the Lord about the children of Israel. And what he said is declared in the next verse:
In other words, Elijah in his finite mind didn't understand the big picture. All he could see was that in his knowledge, all the prophets were killed and evil had destroyed all the altars of God. He had thought that there were no believers left in Israel but himself, and these wicked men were out seeking to kill him also. In his thinking, he was the last true believer, and the killing of him would mean there would be no men of God left. His thinking must have been, and then what of the promises God had made concerning Israel? We can readily understand his distress. But like so many theologians in our day, he could not look at the big picture, and so he came to erroneous conclusions based on his erroneous 'assumptions.' Was God out to destroy all of Israel, or was Elijah's understanding of who was Israel, flawed? Indeed, even though Elijah didn't understand, God had more knowledge than Elijah did of who the true Israelites were and how they were reserved or preserved unto Him.
- "Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life."
The overview of verse three is that it is an illustration of the error of Elijah in thinking that the evil people had killed all God's prophets, and digged down all His altars, and that he alone was left. Elijah was wrong. God had a plan, and just as today that plan is often a mystery to his people. Nevertheless, the promise to the fathers stood sure, even though Elijah didn't understand how His promises could possibly come to fruition given his circumstances.
We see Elijah didn't possess the information to understand what was really going on, and so what he had surmised was based upon his suppositions. Thus his conclusions were in error. God answered him and told him not only did the Lord reserve a remnant as His people, but that He had seven thousand of them. Seven times one thousand who had not bowed to worship Satan. Note also that it is God who reserved these men unto Himself. He made sure He had set-aside for Himself "a people," no matter what Satan and his minions had done to the nation. God wasn't interested in saving the whole nation, nor did Elijah understand the truth of all this. But there was no possibility that these worshipers at the image of Baal could have thwarted God's plan of salvation for His people Israel, which He had reserved. For God would never abrogate His promise to Israel. Not to a whole physical nation, but to have a chosen people. So had He cast off His people Israel? Quite obviously not, the promise of Israel always being before Him was not made to the majority, but to the seven thousand who were 'truly' Israel. The people He reserved or predetermined would be brought unto Himself.
- "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."
We cannot miss the point here, which is that Israel was in apostasy, and God had no intention of saving the whole nation, and yet God remains faithful to the believing remnant. Because they, and not the whole nation, were the true Israel of God. And this unmistakable, undeniable analogy by God that there was still a remnant Israel even though Elijah didn't understand this, is equated by Paul, under inspiration of God, to Israel's then present condition. And though it may be small, the part that is the election is the Israel of the promise. The number seven thousand 'signifies' completeness or totality. In these verses God is using Elijah as an example of what is taking place with Israel in Paul's day. Just as Elijah was looking for a great salvation and was disappointed with what He saw in his day as the destruction of Israel, so Paul is saying "likewise," the destruction and salvation of Israel isn't as the Jews thought, but as God provides.
The overview of verse four is that it is showing that Elijah did not understand that God's plan called for a "remnant" chosen and reserved unto God by Grace. They were not called by Elijah's understanding, but by God's. They were not called in great numbers, but by God's Sovereign right to choose how many, and whomever He wanted. As indeed God boldly signifies in the following verses:
[houto oun] or 'in this way, accordingly' at the present time also there is a remnant. By Paul (under inspiration of God) saying, "So then also at this time," he is applying the example of Elijah to Israel in his own time. That is not man's words, it is the divinely inspired Word of God equating that remnant being saved in Elijah's day, with Israel's then present situation. That's God saying that Israel 'in part' (the remnant) are reserved unto Him an elect or Chosen people, in the same way as in Elijah's day. This part, this remnant, is not the whole nation of Israel, nor was that the promise, and that is why His promises are not annulled. Only those of Israel who are conformed to the image of Christ are those 'counted' the Israel of promise (Romans 9:8, Galatians 4:28). And it's important to keep in mind that Paul is saying these things to address the objection of "God casting off His people." i.e., He is again saying no, for Israel of the promise is a remnant people just as it was in Elijah's day. This is all in total agreement with what we read in chapter nine that, 'they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.' In other words, not all the nation Israel were the true Israel to whom the promises pertained, only this election was. When Paul says, 'even so at this present time,' he is addressing the fulfillment of the promise to Israel of an election of Grace.
- "Even so then at this present time also there is a Remnant according to the election of grace."
So while many Theologians are waiting for the Salvation of a nation, they are making the same faulty assumptions, and thus coming to the same faulty conclusions that Elijah did. And these people will never come to a harmony of scripture so long as their hermeneutical system includes ignoring the well established meaning of words, fulfilled prophecy, and most of all the clear content and context of the scriptures themselves. God has not cast off His people now anymore than He had in Elijah's day. Some may protest, "How then were the branches cast off?" But it's simple logic and biblical harmony, for the branches cast off from the tree were not the People of Israel whom God foreknew, and to whom the promise was made. They were not "His People" for whom Christ came to save, but the corporate Israel outside the Israel of God. On the other hand, Paul was one of the elect Israelites fulfilling prophecy of their deliverance, and redemption.
Paul persecuted the Church as an enemy of God, but he was one of the elect of Israel for whom Christ came to save, and so God converted him. The election is a remnant chosen people, not a nation. When God says, "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the Election of Grace," He has defined Israel of promise not as the whole nation (as many today do), but as an elect remnant. The Israel blinded was Covenant Israel, not eternally elect Israel. They attempted to gain salvation by the works of the law, and it cannot be obtained that way. To this day they continue in that "salvation by keeping the law," error. They never understood either Grace, the prophesied deliverance by the Lamb of God, or real election. The corporate nation was merely a [skia] or shadow of a Spiritual Israel that is eternally secure.
- "I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
- And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women."
The overview of verse five is that, as in the days of Elijah, God's people were not a whole nation, but a remnant. And even so at the time of Paul's writing, there was likewise a remnant according to the election of grace. And this was the Israel of God whom He foreknew, and for whom Christ died.
The Israel of God will be delivered by Grace, which means God's unmerited favor, which is not by heritage or any other merit. God is no respecter of persons. He will have mercy on whosoever He will have mercy, and He will have compassion on whosoever He will have compassion on. It is not based on where one lives, his good works, what nationality he is, his bloodline, or his religious tradition. He will save whomever He wants according to His own purposes. Their national origin or their tribe doesn't give them favor with God, only being in Christ, the Son of the right hand, can do that. And the verse above illustrates this. Grace defined is the exact opposite of works. So if salvation is by Grace, it cannot ever be by our own works. Grace is Christ doing all the work while man contributes nothing by his own efforts. Else it is not a gospel of Grace, but one of works.
- "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."
2nd Timothy 1:9
These are those predestinated and reserved, and these are the Lord's people for whom Christ came to save. They are the election who are the particular individuals foreknown and chosen of God. For salvation has always been a personal relationship with God, not a national relationship. National Israel had a corporate covenanted relationship, which is totally different. Israel being blinded wherein many died (and are dying) in their sins is living proof that this Old Testament covenanted relationship did not equate to national deliverance or salvation. Sadly, many theologians today give lip service to understanding this truth, but in practice show themselves oblivious to it. Has God for over 2000 years been condemning millions of Jewish people to damnation in their blatant unbelief, only to save a relatively small number in the last days? Is this man's idea of God's love for Israel the nation? It doesn't even make sense logically, much less biblically. For when we consider all these things God said, we are struck with the truth that Israel has been saved all through the New Testament period, both physical and Spiritual. The Holy Temple of God has been in construction all through the New Testament period, as we are living stones in that construction. And the elect are beloved of God now. Not in a physical nation in the middle east, but in a Holy nation of people whose citizenship is from above.
- "Who hath Saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,"
The overview of verse six is that we all stand by Grace not Race. And if by grace, then it is no more of works. Otherwise grace is not grace. But if it be of works, then it is not grace. Otherwise work is not work. We all stand because God upholds us, not because of our own efforts. The election of Israel stand by Grace, and the rest of Israel lie in darkness because of unbelief. And verse seven sheds more light on this very truth:
Here again in harmony with the rest of the chapter, God affirms that the main body of the nation of Israel did not obtain what they sought after, because they sought it by their works of righteousness. Israel of the flesh sought salvation on their own terms, and by works of righteousness, and they labored in vain to seek salvation that way. They erred in seeking their Messiah by the works of the law, not understanding that man cannot become right with God by the law. Their own works of the law could not bring them near to God, and that is the knowledge that Israel lacked because of their unbelief. This is what we also read in Romans chapter ten.
- "What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded."
And the nation Israel to this day goes about trying to establish their own righteousness by obedience to the law, not having knowledge that it is only through the righteousness of Christ that man can come near to God. For by the law shall no flesh be justified (Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:16), thus national Israel in rejecting Christ, have not obtained their Saviour whom they sought after. The elect remnant has attained it because they seek righteousness and life by the "faith of Christ." Paul illustrates, "the rest are blinded." God is contrasting national Israel with the elect Israel. In other words, the nation Israel who did not obtain the promises, versus the chosen of Israel who did. Declaring that it is only the chosen who have obtained it destroys forever the teaching of those theologians who claim that the whole nation of Israel were the election spoken of as attaining God's promises. The Israel that hath obtained it is the remnant, just as the preceding verses illustrated with the analogy of Elijah. So what plausible, scriptural argument could anyone possibly give to make this statement untrue? Paul is telling us that the election of Israel have obtained the promise of deliverance, and the rest of Israel were blinded.
- "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
- For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
- For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
- For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
The overview of verse seven is that the election has obtained the promise, and the rest were blinded by the just judgment of God. For they sought justification and righteousness by the works of the law. And if by works, it is no more Grace. Thus they sought or looked for the promises of God to Israel of a Messiah, but found it not. They have, as a nation, failed to obtain God's favor, but as a remnant people, they have obtained it.
In verse eight we read the reiteration that what has happened with Israel not obtaining that which they sought after, is not something which was unforeseen, but this obstinacy and judgment was prophesied in the scriptures long before.
- "(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
- "For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered."
As we read in Romans chapter 10, they being ignorant of God's righteousness, went about to establish their own righteousness. Their eyes being shut is a synonym for them being blinded or being made unable to see. This is God's judgment in the blindness that has happened to Israel. It was a fulfillment of what was written before in Isaiah. Judgment upon national Israel for her wickedness, and yet compassion upon a remnant, the election of Israel who found mercy in the Grace of God.
- "And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
- Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed."
These disciples were the Israel that could see. Those who see are His people, those who are reserved unto Him, those are those foreknown of Him, those who are the election of Israel. They can see because God gave them spiritual eyes to see, while national Israel is blinded. To one Israel the Word of God is as cool living waters to the soul that it will never thirst again, and to the other Israel the Word of God is as a two edged sword that will cut both coming and going.
- "Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
- And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
- For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
- But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear."
The overview of verse eight is that God assures us that the prophesy that was written of old, was concerning Israel's judgment. And it is fulfilled just as the prophet declared, evidenced by Israel's blindness. God says, "as it is to this very day," lest any one should object claiming that this prophecy had already been fulfilled. It is made definite that this spoke of the nation Israel at that present time. And in that regard he also declares how there is harmony and agreement throughout scripture as David spoke of this same judgment upon the nation of Israel.
Again, this verse is reiterating that the judgment upon Israel is that which was prophesied before. This verse in Romans is taken from the Messianic Psalms of David, which foreshadowed Israel's rejection of Christ.
- "And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:"
Their table, and that which should have been for their welfare, is Christ. He is now become Israel's stumbling stone, a trap instead of the table full of that which is the bread and waters of life. This is symbolism that illustrates the taking away of the table of bounty from Israel.
- "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
- Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.
- "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
- The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
This is the table that God prepared for them for their welfare or good, and from which they turned their backs and rejected. Therefore is the Kingdom of God taken from Israel as judgment, and that which was for their good, has become their judgment, just as David prophesied.
- "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
- Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?"
Given to a Holy nation made kings and priests unto their God. It is not an earthly kingdom, but the kingdom of God on earth. One where their citizenship is truly in heaven. This is the nation that will bring forth fruit. Christ, who was for their good, has become a judgment to them. Instead of their foundation in the Temple building, Christ has become their stone of stumbling.
- "Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
- Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
- And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."
The overview of verse nine is that the Messianic Psalm, "As David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence (payback) to them," is fulfilled in Israel's judgment. The Kingdom is taken from them and given to the Gentiles who will bring forth fruit. For bread Israel is given famine that their table has become empty. The Word of God is not that which the bread of life to them because their ears are made dull of hearing, and their eyes have been blinded to the truth.
Again, here we see the continuation of the Messianic Psalms 69:21-22, where David's prophecy foreshadowed Israel becoming blind because of the judgment God placed upon them for their rejection of Christ. The Psalm continues:
- "Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway."
And so it is to this day that the judgment of God rests upon Israel for their rejection of righteousness. Israel is blinded, where their eyes have been darkened or made dim that they cannot see the truth. This is the whole tenor of this chapter about Israel. As per this prophecy, Israel was taken in the trap, and their eyes did become darkened that they have no spiritual sight.
- Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake.
- Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them."
The loins continually to shake illustrate the fearfulness that is come upon them that they have no assurance. This fearfulness of loins can be seen in passages like Daniel chapter 5:
This is the sign of fear when the loins are loosed that they shake and the knees knock against each other. They are in fearfulness because there is no assurance. Likewise is the picture in Romans chapter eleven as God says is fulfilled that their eyes are darkened that they cannot see, their loins continually shake, for God pours out his indignation upon them, and His wrathful anger has taken hold of them that their habitation is desolate, and none dwell in their tents.
- "Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another."
The language in Romans chapter eleven that "and bow down their back alway," is an illustration that they are forever under servitude, and will never be set free. Christ came to free the captivity, but those blinded will remain with their backs bowed because they remain under bondage. This is just the opposite of what the Lord blesses the believers with. E.g.:
This is just the opposite of what the Lord pronounced as judgment upon Israel in Romans. Here God says Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God. Here they had their eyes opened, and the Lord raised them that were bowed down in servitude as prisoners. But in Romans the Blessing of Jacob is turned to judgment where they are blinded, and made to bow down always. And that is the picture put forth in verse ten.
- "Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:
- The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:"
Their loins shake because they have heavy burdens, which cannot be carried without the stability and assurance in Christ. This is the spiritual picture illustrated here. Their Messiah had come and they knew not the hour of His visitation. Therefore, He that was supposed to be a good shepherd for their welfare, and the foundation Stone for their building again the Temple, has become a stumbling block to them. Except for the election, they are under the wrath of God, and His righteous anger has taken hold of them. As it is written, their habitation has become desolate that none dwell in their tabernacles (Psalms. 69:22-26).
The overview of verse ten is that this prophecy of David has been fulfilled, and Israel has had their eyes darkened that they cannot see, and burdens remain upon them that they bow down their back always, for Christ is not carrying the work for them. In other words, they will always be bowed down in servitude or under heavy burdens (e.g., Isaiah 46:2) because they were not delivered from their work and servitude under bondage by Christ. By contrast, the Election have had all their heavy burdens lifted in the body of Christ.
So, understanding all these things spoken of in the previous verses, Paul anticipates the objection, "Have they stumbled that they should fall?" In other words, was it the design of God that the Jews should fall for no good purpose? God being sovereign over all things, what is the good that would come out of Israel falling? And the answer is, so that salvation can go to the ends of the world unto the Gentiles as well as to the Jews. Through Israel's fall, the Gentiles are also saved, and the Jews are provoked to jealousy, which means to "follow suit" [parazeloo]. By the Jews seeing the gospel go to the Gentiles, they might by their resentment seek biblical proof and be stimulated or provoked to emulate, or become saved through the Word. This again much like what we saw in chapter ten.
- "I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall Salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
God says though Israel is an disobedient and gainsaying people under judgment, yet she is provoked to jealousy by the Gentiles, a people that were no people, a foolish nation in Israel's sight, and by them, God angers Israel, that this provocation might work repentance. But to this very day, this anger for the most part remains against Christ. If you try to preach the Christian gospel message in the nation of Israel, you are likely to be arrested. That's how deep-seated this animosity towards Christ is in the nation of Israel. There are myriad of Jewish people who irrationally become absolutely incensed even at the mention of the name Jesus, and will go on a tirade against Christianity. This anger is deep seated and something which will not go away. For it is grounded in their being blinded, and it is part of their fall as a nation. Part of the judgment of God that they 'see not, hear not, and understand not.' A small portion of Israel will be provoked to repentance through scripture (the remnant), while the rest will not search the scriptures for the truth of these things. An Election chosen by Grace is all that will ever be saved out of the nation Israel, or indeed from any other nation for that matter. We all have feet of clay, and we all stand on the very same ground, a remnant out of the larger whole.
- "But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
- But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
- But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people."
As I stated before, we see illustrated again that God sometimes speaks of the whole nation as Israel, and sometimes of the election as Israel. And therein lies the confusion for some people. But there really is no mystery. For God can speak of the Jews as being cast out of the kingdom of God, or cast off from the covenant tree, while at the same time declaring unambiguously that the Jews have not be cast off. And there is no contradiction because the Jews, or Israel, are both Spiritual and carnal. One group is the Israel of God, and one group is the nation of Israel. One group are the Jews inwardly, and another group are merely the Jews outwardly. So it is very easy to understand how Israel is both under the judgment of blindness, and how Israel is not blinded and has not been cast off, but continues in the covenant and has a place in the body of Christ.
The overview of verse eleven is that the prophesy of Deuteronomy 32:21 is that the Gentiles may be included as God's children. That is also what we saw illustrated in Romans 10:19. Israel has not stumbled futilely just so that that they would fall. God forbid! But rather they have stumbled that through their fall the whole world also might come to salvation being included in the covenant with Israel. Not that they have a physical possession in the nation Israel, but that they may be included in the Lord's covenant with Israel. And God allows that by this call to the Gentiles, some of Israel might also be provoked to emulation in repentance.
Here again, it is illustrating that through their fall, the riches (which is the wealth of God's mercy) goes to the whole world. The world is being made rich by having their welfare and goodness secured in Christ. The salvation and mercy of God is called riches because it is of great value, and is the most precious thing that man can possess. Nothing that we can have is treasured more, for if we possess these riches, our eternal possession is secure.
- "Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?"
- "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,"
These are spiritual pictures of salvation. The Gold tried in the fire depicts our treasure Christ, the white raiment depicts how we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and the eyesalve depicts the healing of Christ that we see out of spiritual blindness. These things are all figures signifying some aspect of salvation. This is the riches of God to the Gentiles.
- "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."
Through Israel's diminishing as the earthly home of salvation, these riches now go to the Gentile nations, and to the ends of the earth. And God says, if this indeed is true, how much more Israel's fullness will be our riches? Here the word fullness [pleroma] stands opposed to their fall, and the diminishing of them. In other words, if Israel's diminishing was that which made the Gentiles rich in mercy, how much more would Jews becoming saved be our riches? It's very much as a vessel having riches poured out upon the poor, and then having the poor that was made rich, then pour back to the original. By this they are made even richer in the spiritual sense. This is also confirmed in the verses that follow this one. The reason blindness has happened to Israel is so the Gentiles could also receive riches. But now the Gentiles are made that much more richer by bringing the gospel again to the Jews. For it is written, "Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles -Isaiah 60:16", and also "ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves -Isaiah 61:6." This illustrates that Israel now gets the gospel from the Gentiles. When Jesus stood up in the Temple and Read from Isaiah, He said, "this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."
To build the old waste places (acts 15:16) is illustrating the New Covenant with Israel, which is fulfilled in Christ Jesus. To eat the riches of the Gentiles is God saying that the Jews will now receive from the Gentile congregation. The riches they once had have now gone to the Gentiles to spread the wealth. Just as we previously read where God said the Kingdom was taken from them and given to another nation bringing forth fruits (Matthew 21:43). All these verses declare the same thing about Israel now having to look to the Gentile congregation for their nourishment. Thus the Roman chapter eleven phrase that if, "the diminishing of them be the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness?" In other words, if the Gentiles were made rich by Israel's fall, how much more richer they'll be made by having Jews grafted back into the fold? For the Jews are the natural branches, and it would be that much more a blessing.
- "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
- To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
- To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
- And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
- And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
- But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves."
There are some Theologians who believe that Romans 11:12 means that the conversion of the Jews as a nation, shall be our riches. However I think it is clear from the context that the conversion of Jews is on a branch by branch basis. It is speaking of how by the fall of the Jews some Gentiles are saved, and consequently, by the witness of the Gentile Church, some Jews will obtain mercy. In Romans 11:30-31 it is clearly declared:"For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy."Clearly it is speaking about how through Israel's unbelief, we obtained the mercy of God. And how Israel is now in unbelief, and through our preaching they might obtain mercy of God through the gospel we bear witness to.
The overview of verse twelve is that if the fall of Israel means the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them meant the riches go to the Gentiles, how much more will their fullness mean our riches. God here shows that nothing would do more to advance the riches of the Gentiles, than that they see the grace of God upon the remnant Jews who had so rejected Him. Because it is showing that there is always forgiveness with God. If the fall of Israel has raised the Gentile consciousness, and their diminishing had made them spiritually rich, then how much more would their fullness or filling up enrich us? The Gentiles had to get the gospel from the Jews, now the Jews have to get the gospel from the Gentiles. For as it is written, it was to the Jew first, and then the Gentiles. And as the Jews fell, the Gentiles should be careful lest they fall in like manner.
Paul is illustrating that he is speaking to us, the Gentiles, because he is an apostle or ambassador of Christ to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15). Thus he magnifies his office. That word 'magnify' is the Greek word [doxazo], the exact same word translated glorify. Paul understands the honor or glory that God has bestowed upon Him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Thus he speaks to us as an ambassador to the Gentiles. He esteems this an honor and of great importance. Paul is faithfully discharging his office, which by gaining some of his kinsmen (The Jewish people), it will be to the glory of the Church. It preaches that they might hear and be stirred or provoked to believe. This is why he is making these declarations. What God is declaring here with respect to national Israel, is an illustration to the Gentiles what manner they have been admitted to the covenant tree with Israel.
- "For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:"
The overview of verse thirteen is that it is illustrating that Paul recognizes his Glorious office in being appointed by God as the Apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46-47). With this in mind, he speaks to them concerning Israel that they may understand what was written of them, and why it happened. He is assuring them that God has not abrogated His promise and cast off Israel because Israel is being saved and He is proof of that. And the next verse again verifies this as Paul again states the reason that he is saying these things:
Paul being an apostle to the Gentiles speaks to them concerning Israel that they may understand Israel's predicament, and also that they may hear this and 'some' of them will see his works, repent and be provoked to emulate justice and truth and some might be saved. You see Paul obviously understood what many theologians today apparently do not. He understood that the salvation of the Jewish people was at the present. And he recognized that most of them would not be saved. He doesn't preach that most of Israel will be saved in a great revival later on, but that "some" of them might be saved at that present time. Just as we do today. It's the whole tenor of this Chapter. He knows that there is a remnant to be gleaned now from out of Israel, and that apart from their being saved in this fashion, they won't be saved. Those who hold that Christ is coming again to rule on earth in Israel cannot have read chapters like Matthew 22:1-14 at all. They preclude any future earthly reign or rule of Christ in that earthly nation. They tell a very different story than many theologians do. They cannot have read chapters like Luke 20:9-18. Indeed, do they even care what these verses unambiguously declare? You can be sure that they do not declare that when God is finished with the Gentiles, He's coming back again to be the deliverer of a literal Kingdom of Israel established in the middle east. That is a fable, a jaunt down the nostalgic aisles of Judaic dreams. The Kingdom has been taken from Israel, and given to another (according to God). To conclude that God is to take the Kingdom from the New Testament congregation and return the Kingdom to national Israel would frankly be to dabble in absurdity. Yet that is what some men do. Is Christ going back to shadows and 'types' after they were fulfilled? Will He delight in Old Testament Temples made with hands after the antitype, after the true has come? Will he go back to sacrifices in this Temple after the true has shed his blood on the altar? The whole position of some of these theologians is not only unscholarly, but quite preposterous in the Biblical sense.
- "If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them."
Paul understands Israel's imminent danger in looking for an earthly king and earthly ruler, and doctrines of works of the law. He preaches that he may provoke the Jews (whom he called his own flesh, because he is an Israelite), not in hopes that only the Gentiles will receive the privileges of the gospel, but that some of national Israel also may share in the Messianic Kingdom with them.
The overview of verse fourteen is that Paul desires the salvation of the Jews also, and hopes that by means of his preaching he might provoke some to emulation and through repentance save some of them. A clear indication that he knows there is no future salvation plan for Israel (as some allege), and his hope is in the remnant called by grace as scripture reveals. He is praying for Israel, the election.
Again, some Theologians read this verse 'as if' they never read the preceding verse, and allege this says the nation of Israel will be restored in the future. In other words, they throw out the whole context in which this verse is found in order to hold to these teachings. But let's read it in the light of the preceding verse. "If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them, for if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" You see, it takes on its true meaning when read in context. Paul preaches that he might provoke to emulation 'some' of his Jewish brethren that they would be saved, and the receiving of them is as life from the dead. Once again it is demonstrated the old axiom, 'scripture out of context, is pretext.'
- "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?"
This is the same lesson that we learned in verse twelve. The casting away of national Israel (in part) was for the reconciling of the world. In doing this, God made possible that the gospel would go to the Gentiles that they would also be granted part in the Covenant with Israel, and become sons of God. These are Jew and Gentile in one body. This is the truth that is so marvelously stated in Ephesians chapter 2.
This is the reconciling of the world, which spoke of Christ. By some of the Jewish people being cast off, the nations or Gentiles are grafted into the Covenant body Israel. And being reconciled to God through Christ in one body, there is no other covenant body consisting of only national Israel. And as some were cast off that the world might be included, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead? In other words, for the children of God the receiving of them again who were once cast off, would be as if they were raised up to life, after being dead.
- "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
- And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:"
The overview of verse fifteen is that, just as these branches were cast off, God is able to receive the Jews back into Covenant Israel again. i.e., He has not forbidden Jews from rejoining as some have so egregiously taught. It is by Grace we stand, let us not boast or think ourselves better than our Jewish brethren, or think the Jews have been cast off and cannot be saved. That is not the case, as Paul so plainly illustrates. They can be received again as life from the dead. Not as a nation, but as particular people. Indeed, since the Jewish people rejected Christ and this was the occasion of the reconciling of the Gentiles to God, how much more blessed will the Church be if we "receive them," even as those that are raised from the dead?
This is taken from the Jubilee Law, which was foreshadowing Christ, our Jubilee of rest. He is the true offering that makes the children of God Holy, which this ceremonial Law was the portent of.
- "For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches."
Christ is the Firstfruit that came out of Israel, and it is through His work that we become as firstfruits unto God. He is the little leaven that makes the lump or 'whole mass' Holy. This figure is of course drawn from the example of placing yeast (leaven) in a lump such as dough, and this little bit of leaven will make the whole cake of dough rise. Likewise, Christ is the one who makes the whole Church Holy. This is the illustration of Christ's work in the Church to make it increase.
- "Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.
- Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD."
Christ is the epitome of the Kingdom of Heaven come down to earth, and He is the leaven of the lump (Church) that makes those in it sanctified and used for the 'purposes' of God. The Lord God alone gives the increase. He is that firstfruit, Holy, so that the whole lump can be firstfruits and Holy.
- "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
- Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
- Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened."
1st Corinthians 15:20
Because He is the firstfruit of Israel, we (as those risen in Him) are also firstfruits of Israel. The picture here is that Christ is the true Israel of God, which is the firstfruit, and Holy. In this He is what makes those branches growing from Him Holy and firstfruits. Whosoever thinks that they can of the law or by their own free will be Holy or righteous are deceiving themselves. It is the leaven that makes the lump rise.
- "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."
And likewise, Christ is the Root of the tree, which sustains its life and nourishes it. This illustrates that it is the Root makes the branches Holy, and branches being Holy in and of themselves. Which is exactly why some could be broken off. The Root did not bear them, they were trying to bear themselves. Israel, in part, was trying to get into the Kingdom of heaven without Christ.
Christ is the Root, which is the same word [rhiza], and except man receive his holiness and strength from 'this' Root, he will not endure in Israel because he has no sustenance. He is like a tree that has no root from which to get water, nourishment and the strength to survive in the world.
- "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."
These with no Root fall away because they do not have the strength of Christ. He is that root which would feed them that they would endure trial and strife. Without this root, when tribulation or trial arises, these plantings have no true faith that they would endure it. But if their Root and foundation is the strength and holiness of Christ, then these plantings will also be strong and Holy. Only then shall the branches endure and survive in this world.
- "They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away."
The overview of verse sixteen is that, just as the children of Israel were cast off as dead, they can be received in again as life from the death. Because they do not stand on their own, Christ is able to make them stand. For if the firstfruit is holy, then whoever is in the lump will be made holy. Whether Jew or Gentile, if the root is holy, so are the branches of the Covenant tree of Israel. Gentiles aren't holier, Christ is the one who makes the children of covenant Israel the enduring Israel. The Covenant relationship with Israel symbolized by the, "Olive Tree," is one that without the Root bearing the branches, they are starved and cast off. For God is the one making the branches holy. It's not a matter of our free will, keeping the Law, or of Jewish lineage, it is a matter of God's will and His sovereign good purposes. He is the one who denies branches sustenance, and who cuts them off from Covenant Israel.
Verse seventeen continues with the theme of God's sovereignty in deciding who He will have in the Covenant tree Israel. And note this verse shows the telescoping of Covenant Israel (the old into the new) pictured in the likeness of an olive tree. The Jewish people of Covenant Israel are signified as the branches that were growing out of this same olive tree. We read there that some of the branches of this tree (some of the Jewish people of the Old Covenant congregation Israel) were broken off, and branches from the Gentile nations (Symbolized by a wild Olive tree) were then grafted into that same Covenant tree, Israel. This signifying the telescoping of the Old covenant congregation into the New. And we must be clear on what this imagery represents before we can have any chance of truly understanding what is being said here.
- "And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;"
God is making the distinction between the natural olive tree branches (the Jewish people, who are naturally of Covenant Israel) which are the original children, and the wild olive tree branches (the people of the Gentile nations) which were not naturally His covenant people, but that are now brought into God's Covenant relationship with Israel.
Both Jew and Gentile are made one body of this Covenant tree, Israel. Both are now the Children of Israel, by the faith of Christ. Has the Promise to Israel of a New Covenant and an everlasting inheritance been abrogated? No, but Israel shall be defined by God, not by man. If we are in Christ Israel, then we are all Abraham's seed and inheritors of the promises to Israel.
- "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
- For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
- 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.
- And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Again, it's very important to understand that distinction in Romans 11:17. Because the symbolism in this Olive Tree 'proves' that this tree representing Old Covenant Israel is now telescoped into a tree representing New Covenant Israel. And it is a congregation of Jews and Gentiles alike, in one body. The Gentiles branches were grafted in among the remnant Jewish branches of Covenant Israel. And now 'with them' they partake of the root and fatness of this olive tree. The Jews or remnant branches not broken off, are partaking of the fatness of the tree. And God says now we Gentiles are grafted in 'among them' in this same Olive tree and also are partaking of the fatness thereof. They are all one people, so we cannot bifurcate this olive tree, negating its one body and one Root. It represents one undivided children of God.
Symbolism is rampant in God's word, and using objects to illustrate truth is a mainstay of scripture. Thus this imagery of one tree being Covenant Israel (Old Testament Israel), the other being the Gentile nations or peoples collectively, cannot be mistaken. Obviously, if the Olive tree is Covenant Israel and the branches are the Jewish people of that Israel, then when the Gentile branches are taken from their tree and are grafted in with that Israel, they then become part of that Covenant Israel which the tree represented. To say anything less is absurd. They've left the Gentile people, and have entered into the tree of the Jews, so that now they are heirs of the promises to 'Covenant Israel' right along with the Jewish branches that were not broken off in God's judgment.
By the same token, those branches broken off (Jewish people who were not truly saved, and are blinded) they are not considered true Israel in God's eyes. In the Biblical vernacular, they have been cut off from their people. That is the illustration that we saw in Romans chapter nine declaring that, "they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." Some in covenant Israel have no Root, and thus are not in Christ, the True Seed of Israel. They are those who are cut off from the tree (Covenant Israel) and are made spiritually blind, as some Gentiles have been grafted in, their blindness lifted as they are made to see. Gentiles are now part of Covenant Israel right along with the remnant like the Apostle Peter, Paul and all Jewish people (believers) who rest in Christ. This includes any Jewish Christians today. They are the Jewish remnant and together we make up this Covenant Israel tree. Together we abide in the House that is Christ, Israel. All theological rhetoric not aside, there are not two Godly trees, nor two New Covenants (Testaments) with Israel. There is one children of God, which is the body of Christ consisting of Jews and Gentiles. This is just as Ephesians so boldly declares on this matter:
Where once we were Gentiles, strangers and aliens (noncitizens) of the commonwealth of Israel, we are now fellow citizens. How much clearer does it have to be? We are no longer foreigners or strangers from the Covenant, but are fellow saints. The blood of Christ makes us near. The question is, made near to what? The answer is that, "made nigh by the blood of Christ," is in answer to how we were once, "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise." there can be no mistaking its meaning.
- "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
- That at that time ye 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:
- But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
- For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
- Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
- And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
- And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
- For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
- Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
- And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;"
In Christ there is one salvation program for Gentile and Jew. It is man's pride, political agenda, wishful thinking, and Church tradition that promotes the idea that God has two separate salvation plans. The false dichotomy between Israel and the Church has been the stmblingblock to so many Christians. Yet there is one tree, one body, one Israel, and one deliverance of that Israel. Which is not a future event, but that occurred at the cross.
Another thing to be considered in God's illustration of the Olive tree, is that it simply cannot represent the literal nation Israel, because if it did, that would mean Gentiles were leaving their literal land from the time of the Cross unto today to go live physically in the land of Israel. We clearly understand that this cannot possibly be. i.e., we're not being grafted into the literal earthly or physical nation of Israel. We are being grafted into "Covenant Israel," which is not a physical nation nor land, but a corporate or covenanted people of God, once represented in by that nation.
Likewise, the tree cannot be the Spiritual indivisible Israel of God that many Christians think it is. Because in that true Spiritual Israel from above, all are saved. Thus none could have ever been broken off if this was an image of that Israel. It's important to understand this imagery represents "corporate Israel." It represents the covenant congregation of the children of God both on the Old Covenant, and the New Covenant side of the cross. And we should not lose sight of the fact that this is the "same" Israel tree (how else could these old testament branches be broken off), but in a New Covenant Israel dispensation. In the New dispensation (Ephesians 1:10, 3:2-6; Colossians 1:25-27) Gentiles are being grafted into this covenant congregation. As indeed we did read in Ephesians chapter 2. It is important for us to understand what it cannot represent, so we may better comprehend what it "must" represent. And that is an external Covenanted congregation of Israel relationship.
Many in God's congregation today (like many in Israel then) are not truly saved, and they will be cut off. Indeed, in verse eighteen of Romans 11, God warns the Gentiles not to boast. Because if they do, they are deluding themselves thinking that they are something better, or are the ones responsible for their salvation. God assures us, they didn't bear the Root, but the Root bore them. In other words, we have nothing to boast about, for Christ (the Root) is our help, our strength, the author and finisher of our faith, and we cannot take one ounce of credit for being better than the Jewish people. Such pride brings about the same fall as Israel suffered.
The overview of verse seventeen is that it is illustrating to us that by the Root we partake in the fatness of the olive-tree. Thus we should understand that we are privileged, and all benefits and blessings are by Grace of God. The People of Old Covenant Israel were not broken off from relationship with God, and the Gentiles were grafted in among them because of our own fatness. It is by the Root we partake of the fatness that makes us holy and strong, not by any goodness of our own. Along with the remnant, we are partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, and that is what bears us up. We are no better than the Jews, and we can be judged just as the Jews were. God is warning that we stand by Grace, and we are exhorted not to despise or reproach the unbelieving Jewish people. And the following verses underscore that.
This verse continues the preceding theme about the Church having nothing of themselves to boast about. These Gentiles are not to be high minded about the Jewish people being broken off 'as if' they were somehow inferior, because it is only by Christ that they are borne up. They stand by Grace alone, not of themselves or by their good works that they may boast.
- Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee."
The Church has nothing to boast in prideful arrogance against the Jewish people being broken off. Because if we do, we are in essence falsely alleging that we are the ones who are responsible for our salvation, not the Root that bore us. It is another illustration of the great truth that permeates the whole of scripture. Namely, that no man can boast or think highly of himself, because without the grace of God, there go we. The Gentiles have no reason to boast against the branches that were broken off, as the manner of some is. In humility we understand that, 'there but by the Grace of God, go I.'
- "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
- Not of works, lest any man should boast.
- For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
The overview of verse eighteen is that God is warning the Gentiles not to boast against the Jewish branches that were cut off, because in boasting they neglect the truth that we don't bear the Root of Israel, but the Root bears us. God, knowing man understands that the Gentiles will be in danger of exaltation over the fall of national Israel, and therefore He cautions them against such a haughty spirit.
1st Corinthians 10:12
We are to be humble and understand where our virtue comes from. The praise or boast should not be of ourselves, but rather of the root that sustains the branches. Certainly not of ourselves, as Gentiles grafted in who were previously totally wicked and unfruitful. God is making plain in this imagery of the continuing Olive tree, that the congregation of the Lord is now one. The Christian economy is not of a new tree, but is a prolongation of, and inclusion in, the same Covenant Israel. The tree Israel, even with some branches removed, retains its identity and cannot be regarded as a separate body.
- "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
I'm sure we've all probably heard some professing Christians who carry great animosity towards the Jewish people, speak as if the Gentiles are the favored ones. The fact is, it is only in Christ that anyone (Jew or Gentile) is the favored ones, but some people in their high-mindedness are altogether wrong in condemning the Jews thinking that because they have a greater understanding of the promises of Israel, it makes them better. The Jews were broken off that the Gentile nations might also be grafted in, but it was because of their unbelief, and because God wanted to welcome people of all nations into the Kingdom. It was not because Gentiles were any better people. Paul understood this marvelous truth, even as he called himself "the least," knowing that it was only by Grace he was the chosen servant of God to the Gentiles.
- "Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in."
Gentiles are now inheritors 'with' the Jews, and of the same body as the Jews. They are partakers of the same promised land of inheritance to the Jews. There is no difference.
- "That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
- Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
- Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;"
The overview of verse nineteen is that God is condemning pride and vanity in saying that the Jewish branches were broken off that the Gentiles might be put in their place. Unless we understand "exactly" what that means, and why that was. The objection might be, surely the branches were not broken off in order that others might be grafted in? And God answers this objection in the next verse. Clearly, this is not the reason they were rejected, it was due to the sin of their unbelief.
- "Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:"
God says Well, or Good! In other words, it is true or well spoken that the Jews were broken off that we might be grafted in, but this was not because of our good, but because it was God's will that Grace to the Gentiles be worked out in their unbelief. In no way are we to think that it was because Gentiles were more righteous or accepting in some way. The perfect example of this Grace towards the Elect is when Israel went into the land of Canaan. What did God say to Israel concerning their right to boast in their own righteousness over these people?
God told Israel, it was not because you were righteous that the Canaanites were cast out of the land, but because of the wickedness of those in the land. The 'exact' same principle applies here. It is not for the righteousness of the Gentiles that God cast off Israel and grafted them in, it is because of unbelief that the Jewish people were broken off, and the Gentiles stand only by the 'faith of Christ.' Therefore, we are not to be highminded, but understand (as did Paul) that our works are because Christ works within us to will and to do. We therefore humbly seek to be Holy in Christ with reverential fear, knowledge that we stand because of Him alone. The work of faith is His work, not our own.
- "Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.
- Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
1st Peter 1:16-17
God is no respecter of persons, and when our works are judged, they are 'perfect' because they were made perfect by the Work of Christ. We are holy only because He is Holy and we have good works only because of Christ's work.
- "Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
- And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:"
The overview of verse twenty is that we are made aware that the Jews were not broken off because God thought Gentiles were better, they were broken off from the Covenant with Israel because of their unbelief. And we stand by faith alone, and that not of ourselves it is a gift of God. We learn from God that we should be humble and retain the fear of God that all Godly men possess. We are therefore commanded not be highminded, but fear. Human beings are naturally proud and vain. So we should be aware of our own failings that we seek to understand we have nothing but what God has given us. Because we are apt to magnify ourselves, or to boast "as if" we obtained by our own hands. Unfortunately, many professed Christians look down their noses upon the Jews, just as the Jews looked down their noses upon the Gentiles. Let us in humility understand the true nature of our redemption, and the fruitful source of our good works. For if we gain that knowledge, then who can honestly boast against anyone?
VERSE TWENTY ONE
God speaks of the Jewish people as the natural branches, or those chosen "first" to receive the blessings. And if God did not hold back from judging the Old Covenant congregation of Jews who were blessed of Him and yet fell away, assuredly He will not hold back from judging the New Covenant congregation of Gentiles in the same circumstances. For we likewise can be cut off. This tree represents all those professing Christ and thus coming under the corporate Covenant with Israel. Which doesn't mean that they are all saved anymore than it meant all the Old Covenant branches represented children of Israel who were all saved. These chapters cannot be studied haphazardly or sloppily, they must be carefully examined that they agree harmoniously. Because in order to understand what Romans chapter 11 is saying, we must know exactly what this Olive tree represents, its Root, its branches, God's breaking them off, and His warning that the Gentiles can also be broken off. And it all must be totally consistent and in complete harmony with 'the whole' of scripture.
- "For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee."
The New Covenant Church branches can fall, just as the Old Covenant Church (branches) could. And yet the Olive tree remained because it represents Israel's external Covenant relationship. This external Church relationship is illustrated throughout the New Testament, and in many diverse ways. Indeed, there is the prophecy of a falling away of the Church recorded in 2nd Thessalonians chapter two. The [apostasia] or separating from God by those of the congregation illustrates that branches still can be broken off, just as God says in Romans chapter 11. The corporate Covenant congregation has not changed. This Olive tree imagery depicting external Covenant Israel, gives us a picture of the corporate Congregation both before the cross, and after the branches were broken off and Gentile branches grafted in. God is demonstrating in these passages that not all those in the Church are truly saved, and that He can, and will, bring His wrath down upon them if they are not obedient. This same warning to the Church is given to the New Covenant Church of Ephesus.
Very "clearly" God has an external covenant relationship with the Church, and He warns those within that Church that they can fall and be judged of Him. This Church obviously doesn't have all within it saved, and is the corporate congregation symbolized by the Olive tree that can have branches broken off.
- "Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
- I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
- And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
- Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
- Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."
The overview of verse twenty-one is that God is warning the Gentiles of the dangers of pride and of having a haughty spirit. For God is quite ready to break off the ingrafted branches, as He was to break off those branches that were natural or that were there since the promises were made to the parent stock. If God spared not the natural branches, we should take heed lest He also not spare us. The situation of the Gentiles is not different from the situation of the Jews.
God is no respecter of persons as to give the Gentiles any security over and above that given to the Jews. We are all saved by Grace, and we all stand by faith. Thus this warning that, "if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee." We are being warned against a self-righteous nature in our relationship to the Covenant with Israel, that we have been ingrafted into.
- "But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
- For there is no respect of persons with God."
VERSE TWENTY TWO
Some people 'choose' to see only the goodness, or what they call, the "love" of God, and they totally ignore His righteous judgment. They come up with all sorts of intricate schemes and systems to twist scripture so that His judgments are no more than insignificant aberrations. These schemes are most often illustrated in doctrines like free will, Christian liberty, annihilationism, and an aversion to faithfully following the laws of God (which they erroneously label legalism). They make God in the image the want Him to be, by taking away from Him His attribute of justice and judgment. But scripture tells us that not only is there the mercy or goodness of God, but there is also the judgment or severity of God. And His severity or 'non-flexibility' in judgment upon those who do not believe is as sure as His goodness is to those who do. The Jewish people of Israel who rejected Christ in unbelief were broken off from the Covenant with Israel, and they felt the severity of God. But because of this, the Gentiles feel the goodness [chrestotes] of God.
- "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."
It is by Grace in God's benevolence that we are Covenanted. And that Greek word translated kindness is [chrestotes], the same word translated goodness in Romans. Christ, by His death and resurrection, raised us up with Him to sit in heavenly places in the Kingdom. This is the goodness of God that is contrasted with His severity.
- "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
- That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."
God says we should behold the goodness and severity of God and recognize that all those who professed Him as their father, were not truly His children. Not that it is declaring that our salvation is dependent upon our keeping the law. Christians do not merit the favor of God by our own ability to continue in His goodness, but it is illustrating our faith and good works are an evidence of salvation. Our obedience is an indispensable part of God's working in us to will and do. i.e., faith without works is dead (James 2:18-20).
The overview of verse twenty-two is that God is illustrating that He is a God of Love and Kindness or goodness, but He is also a God of severity or rigorous uncompromising judgment. All those in the Olive tree claimed to be Children of God. But upon them that were broken off, there fell upon them God's severity. While toward those who were not broken off and those Gentiles grafted in, there was goodness or kindness. And carefully note the caveat, "if" we continue in his goodness. In other words, if we endure in Christ. Otherwise, the warning is that we shalt be cut off just as those branches of Israel were broken off. So again we understand the reproof that God is no respecter of persons and we are not any better than the Jewish people are. Thus we should look on all his attributes, both of judgment and of mercy, and we should obtain from them the lessons to promote a steadfastness and obedience to the gospel. Otherwise, God is clear that these new Covenant branches also shall be cut off.
VERSE TWENTY THREE
Likewise, if people of Jewish origin do not remain in their unbelief, but turn to the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour, they will be grafted back into this Covenant Israel.
- "And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again."
1st Corinthians 12:13
Jews have not been excluded from the New Covenant Olive tree. Like any other people, if they turn from their doctrines and be baptized into Christ, they will be allowed back into the Covenant tree as any other nation or people. For example, when a Jewish person today comes to know the lord, in the vernacular of this imagery, he is grafted back into the Olive tree. And this is what Paul talked about when saying he magnified his office if by any means he may provoke to emulation them that are his flesh (Jews), and might save "some" of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead.
- "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
Clearly, if Jewish people do not continue in their obstinacy and hatred of Christ, they can and are ingrafted into the Olive tree. Because it wasn't their heritage, it was their unbelief that was the reason for their judgment. Thus, if a Jew's unbelief is replaced by belief, God is able to restore him in the covenant with Israel.
- "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry."
The overview of verse twenty-three is that we are not to think that the Jew now cannot be Saved, or cannot be grafted back into the tree. For God welcomes the lost sheep back into the fold. God is able to graft them in again. and indeed, a remnant is being grafted back in whenever a Jewish person is converted. And in this Paul is declaring again what he has said throughout this chapter. Namely, that God has not bound himself to completely reject or exclude those who are natural Jews. As He said, he himself is an Israelite not rejected. So in this we see as Paul concluded, that God has not cast away his people, He (as in the days of Elijah) has reserved a remnant. The election has obtained the promises, and the rest are blinded.
VERSE TWENTY FOUR
Here God is illustrating how we (Gentiles) were aliens or foreigners from Israel, who didn't know of the true God or have the blessings afforded the children of Israel. We weren't raised up under the law of Moses or privileged to the Lord's Covenant with Israel, we were adversarial to God's laws and precepts. We were as a wild or confused tree instead of a tree under guidance of God. And yet God made a way to graft us (contrary to our wild nature), into the Covenant with Israel. We weren't the Children of God, but because of the kindness and mercy of God, we have been made sons of God.
- "For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert 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?"
The Gentiles were as the heathen dogs that ate the crumbs that fell from their master's table, and yet God in his sovereign mercy, saw fit to make of two, one family. And now these are all fellow heirs, brothers and sisters in one family in Christ. Not second class citizens as the idea of some is, but fellow citizens in the commonwealth of Israel.
- "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
- Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
- But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
- And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."
The analogy is made of an Olive tree versus a wild olive tree. Picture a wild Olive tree growing in the world, without care, without anyone to water it on days when there is heat, or to cultivate it when needed. Now picture an Olive tree that is cared for, watered regularly, and cultivated. This Olive tree will be very fruitful. In this way, God had cared for Israel, watering and cultivating her. She was the favored planting of the Lord. Shall we then boast against the natural branches because of God's benevolence towards us? That would be foolish, because we were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to our natural hostile unfruitful relationship to God, into the family of God. So the conclusion is, how much more should we think that God can graft the natural or original branches into their own natural tree, if we should fall into unbelief as they did? Again, God is reiterating that Jews can and are grafted back in, if they do not remain in unbelief.
The overview of verse twenty-four is the illustration that we must be humble and realize that it is because of God alone that we are grafted in, and not because of anything of ourselves. Likewise, the Jews can, are being grafted back in if they do not remain in unbelief. They were cast out as a nation representing the Kingdom, but not as a people. The judgment was on the nation Israel that the riches of the rest of the world could come in along with the election. In other words, as was declared earlier (verse 12), "Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?" It is an exhortation that the Gentiles not be conceited, for this same vanity caused the Jews to be broken off in their unbelief. And by it, the riches of salvation were spread to the Gentile world. If not, and if they remained without diminishing, the Gentiles would have remained in spiritual poverty. That was not God's plan.
VERSE TWENTY FIVE
This has become one of the most controversial verses of scriptures, which many theologians either misunderstand, misinterpret, or simply choose to believe that it declares something that it simply does not declare.
- "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 fullness of the Gentiles be come in."
Israel, in part, is blinded. The question is, what Israel is this? Well, we have to remember that Paul is talking to the Romans (Gentiles), saying that they have no reason to boast, and declaring that part of Israel (the election) obtained the promises, and the rest were blinded. So clearly we see that the Israel in part that were blinded, are the majority of Israel. And just as clearly we see that there is an Israel that obtained the promises, which God calls the election, or the Chosen. Both God calls Israel. One may ask, how can that be? It can be because they all were collectively the olive tree Israel, or corporate covenant Israel. For the Jewish people in part who rejected Christ, judgment has come upon them for the hardness of their heart, as they are pictured as branches broken off or blinded. That is the reason that Paul was sorrowful when he was explaining that, "all are not Israel who are of Israel." And note he is also referencing two Israelis' there. He spoke in Romans 9:6 of Israel, the corporate entity. And He spoke of the Israel within "that" Israel, which he declares is the only "real" Israel of God. By saying they are "not" all Israel, which are of Israel, God makes it perfectly clear that there are two Israelis. And only one of them is the Israel of God. The one who "are" the Israel of God is the remnant within that Israel that are not blinded. They are the election which have obtained the promises.
The meat of the controversy comes in the phrase, "Blindness in part has happened unto Israel till the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." Many people are confused as to what this declaration really means? But it is simply building upon what Paul has just stated. He said he doesn't want them to be ignorant of "the mystery" which is that the Gentiles are to be part of this very same "One Body," which is Covenant Israel. He has spoken of the revelation of the mystery that has always been God's plan. Jew and Gentile alike as one people together as one family of God.
In the fullness of time, it was revealed that the Gentiles would also be a part of Covenant Israel. That is the mystery kept secret from the foundation of the world, but is now revealed. Salvation to the Jew first, and then salvation to the Gentiles. There is no special dispensation of time for a third salvation for Jewish people after the Gentiles. It is the Jew first, and then the Gentiles. Thus all have the same opportunity to be Children of God. God has revealed the mystery that has been hid from other ages, and Paul doesn't want the Romans to be ignorant or unknowledgeable about this mystery. Gentiles are the fellow heirs with the Jews, not a body apart from the Jews. This is the same mystery Paul wrote to the Ephesians about:
- "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in Himself:
- That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:"
Not a different body, not a different family, not a different congregation, nor a separate inheritance apart from the Jews, but the Gentiles are fellow heirs of the same body, and partakers of the "same" promises to their fathers, and enjoying the same fatness of the Covenant Olive tree. They are being grafted into this same Covenant Israel. History shows Salvation went to the Jews first, but because of unbelief, the Jew is blinded. And that blindness will last until the Gentiles coming in to their full state. i.e., there are no more Gentiles coming in after their "fullness," and this rules out any alleged program of evangelization of the Gentiles by the Jews after their blindness is supposed to be lifted. their corporate blindness will remain until there is not one other Gentile left to be saved. Until the fullness of the Gentiles have come in. This does not mean that there would be a conversion of the majority of the Jewish nation sometime after this fullness of the Gentile, rather it illustrates their blindness or hardness of heart would last until no more Gentiles are being saved.
- "How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
- Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
- Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
- That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:"
The overview of verse twenty-five is that God doesn't want us to be ignorant of this mystery concerning the Gentiles that they would have a high opinion of themselves because they were grafted in, and the majority of the Jews were cut off from the tree because of unbelief. Because in man's ignorance, he will often become wise in his own conceits and formulate doctrines which are biased and contrary to what God's Word declares about there being no distinction between Jewish children of covenant Israel and Gentile children of covenant Israel (Romans 16:25; Colossians 1:26-27; 1st Corinthians 15:51; Mark 4:11; Ephesians 1:9, 3:3). They are one tree and one body, and no ignorance can change that truth that was once kept a mystery before. They are not better just because (except for the election) a spiritual blindness has come upon the Jewish nation. We are told that this blindness will last until the totality or fullness of the Gentiles have come into Covenant Israel, symbolized by this tree. It will last until there is not another Gentile branch to be grafted in. Those who look for Israel to bear fruit in the future concerning Christ are looking in vain (Matthew 21:9).
VERSE TWENTY SIX
This blindness in part, or harness of Israel's heart will continue throughout the New Covenant period until the fullness of the Gentiles are come in. And we read here, "..and so (in this way) all Israel shall be saved as it is written," by the Deliverer out of Zion that shall turn away ungodliness from them.
- "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:"
Some Theologians attempt to rewrite verse 26 to make it read, "after all the Gentiles come in, Then all the nation of Israel is going to be Saved." But even on the face of it, that makes absolutely no sense. All Israel will never be saved, if that 'all' means the literal nation as some have alleged. That is totally against everything scripture declares. There is only going to be a remnant of Jacob saved, as has already been stated in the scriptures. It doesn't say most of Israel, it doesn't say the majority of Israel, it says "so all Israel shall be saved."
The second point is that some theologians who realize that it certainly cannot really mean all and be referring literally to the nation Israel, claim that it doesn't really mean literally "all Israel shall be Saved." And these are inevitably those who insist that they take the scriptures very literally. They interpret this to only mean that most of the nation Israel shall be saved. Curiously, they want this literally to refer to the nation Israel, but they don't want it literally mean all Israel. Moreover, this only drives them deeper into confusion and rationalization, because it clearly says when the fullness of the Gentiles have come in, so all Israel shall be saved. If that all means just a remnant, then what is the need for this future salvation program? For Paul has stated earlier in this chapter that a remnant of Jews are even now coming in. And if the 'all' here does not mean a remnant, but the whole nation, then it is a deviation from the immutability of God in what He has said, and what has always been. It's an aberration, since the whole nation of Israel has never been saved. The scriptures are not subject to arbitrary or capricious private interpretations. While it is very true that the word "all" is often qualified in scripture to mean "many," there is nothing in the context of this chapter or verse to validate the view that it refers to most of the physical nation of Israel. For Gentiles are not grafted into a physical or literal middle eastern nation of Israel. They are grafted into the Covenant with Israel and remain in their own nations.
The third point is, though many Theologians often take license to declare that it says "and then" all Israel "will" be saved, it doesn't really say that at all. Speaking of Israel it says part of it is blinded until the fullness of Gentiles come in (to Israel), and so all Israel shall be Saved. This is another very important distinction that is often merely glossed over by those who do not want to accept what is written here. In other words, the context of these scriptures show it is saying that this is how all Israel shall be saved. It will be by some Jewish branches being broken off, and some Gentile grafted being ingrafted in. And when the fullness of these Gentiles are come in, "so" all Israel shall be saved. The all Israel is all of these who finally end up in this Covenant tree, Israel. The Jew first, and then the Gentiles, both in one tree, and both of that very same body.
If God had wanted to use the word 'then' (meaning afterward) there, He would most certainly have inspired it to be used there. There is a perfectly good Greek word that is translated 'then' [epeita], but God does not inspire that word to be used here. The word here is the Greek word [houtos], an adverb, meaning 'the manner' in which they shall be saved. By all means, get a Greek lexicon and check this out yourself. So means "thusly" or "in this
manner/fashion/wise." This word does not illustrate a future tense time frame at all, it is simply showing the manner in which Israel is saved. This word [houtos] doesn't mean 'then' and is never translated then. And so it is obviously incorrect to read this verse 'as if' it means then, or 'as if' it means after the Gentiles come in. Here are just a few examples of this word's use to demonstrate its unambiguous meaning.
- "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? "
- "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak."
Those words translated "thus" and "so" is this exact same Greek word [houtos] and means, 'in this fashion,' or 'in this way.' It is tortuous of scripture to claim in Romans chapter 11 the word translated So, means then, or that it means after the Gentiles come in, all Israel will be saved. It means exactly what it says there. When the fullness of Gentiles be come in, so (or thusly) shall all Israel will be Saved. i.e., in this way or manner shall all Israel be saved. Not 'then' Israel shall be saved, as a legion of theologians might have you believe. That indeed would be Biblically backward, as God says the Jew first, and also (additionally) the Gentiles. God doesn't say, "the Jew first, the Gentile, and then the Jew again! And the phrase following His statement of Romans 11, confirms these truths. God added:
- "Partly, whilst ye were made a gazing stock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used."
"..as it is written," the Deliverer shall come out of Sion. It would then be incumbent upon any Christian practicing sound hermeneutics to search out just where is it written that the Deliverer shall come out of Zion, and therein discover just what this is referring to. When we do this, we learn that it is the prophecy of Christ's first advent, not a second. It's not of a future event saying the Deliverer shall out of Zion (future), it's declaring, "As it was written" the deliver shall come out of Zion. A big difference there. In other words, it's directing us to scripture where it is written that the deliverer shall come out of Zion. It's not making another separate prophecy, rather it's pointing to (referencing) one already made. The salvation of Israel was prophesied to come by the Deliverer Christ, who came out of Zion. And thusly, or this is how all Israel shall be saved. By Him reconciling all nations into one body, the Jew first, and then the Gentiles. That is how all ungodliness would be taken away from Jacob. Even as was illustrated in the first chapter of this book.
But when people start adding their own personal opinions and private interpretations, and extra words implying a future coming of some deliverer to Israel (as if that were possible), they distort what God really says, and it changes the whole prophecy 'as if' Christ didn't already redeem Israel, take away all ungodliness from Jacob, and was the Deliverer out of Zion. Are we to seriously think that the Deliverer Christ is coming again out of Zion to go to the cross a second time to deliver Israel? No, we all know that this would be confusion. Yet that is what people imply the verse means when they read it with their preconceived notions of a future redemption of Jacob. The truth is, there is no future coming of Christ out of Zion to deliver Israel. Christ 'already' came out of Zion to deliver Israel, and He did! When scripture says, "..As it is written, there shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My Covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins," this should convince "any" faithful Bible student that this is referring to the time of the cross, and not a future event. It's not rocket science, we simply ask ourselves, "when was Christ's New Covenant or Testament fulfilled, and when did the Deliverer come out of Zion, and when did He turn ungodliness away from Jacob, taking away all their sins?" There is no room for supposition, speculation and private interpretations, the only honest answer to this question is that it occurred at the time of the death and resurrection of Christ. Or do these theologians think Christ's death was insufficient and He is coming back for another try to saving Israel, bring peace and righteousness, and take away ungodliness from Jacob? These are all things that the scriptures tell us He has already done for Israel, "as it was written." This whole idea of a future restoration of national Israel, once examined, is without any firm foundation. It's built upon a footing of sand, and any house built upon it will certainly not stand. We compare scripture with scripture to come to the truth of every doctrine. And doing so we see where it is written in Isaiah chapter 59. Read Isaiah chapter 59:16-21 and as it goes on into the next chapter 60 where it talks about the light to the Gentiles. How can anyone think this is not referring to the first advent of Christ? This is what Romans 11 was referring to saying, "as it was written." And there is no question but that it was fulfilled at the time of Christ's first advent. Sin was taken away once, transgression was taken out of Jacob once by Christ shedding His blood, and the Deliverer came out of Zion to do this once, as it was written.
- "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
- For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
- For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;"
Christ took away sin by His death and resurrection in the New Covenant. And that is what Isaiah had written about.
- "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;.."
There is no question about it that Romans is referencing the prophecy that was written that 'the Redeemer SHALL come to Zion,' and 'This is My Covenant unto them.' Romans chapter eleven is not saying the deliverer shall come out of Zion (future) it's saying, it was written 'the Deliverer "shall" come out of Zion, and this is my Covenant with them.' Romans chapter 11 is referencing these scriptures and telling us this is how all Israel shall be saved. By this process symbolized by the Olive Tree. The deliverer did come to Zion and took away the sins of Israel (Jacob). It was done by His work on the cross. And this is God's Covenant or Testament with them when He took away their sins. The Gentiles come into this Covenant with Israel. It was all written and all prophesied long ago, because it is the mystery revealed to New Covenant Israel. And when the fullness of these Gentiles come in, thus, or 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:
- For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins."
The overview of verse twenty-six is that blindness in part has happened to Israel. This also means that part of Israel is not blinded, and that remnant is still in this covenant tree. The Gentiles are also allowed in, and this blindness of Israel that allows this will last until the fullness of these Gentiles come in. And thus (So, or thusly) all Israel shall be Saved. The truth is, Christ is the New Covenant Saviour of all men, who grafts Gentiles in 'among the Jew.' This is the deliverer come to Zion of whom it was written He would take away their sins. Just as the rhetorical question Paul asked, "Has His Word become void?" NO, because Israel is defined by God, not men, and all Israel will be saved. But it will be all Israel as God defines the terms. It is peace and Mercy on the Israel of God, not the nation in the middle east.
VERSE TWENTY SEVEN
The old Covenant with Israel is passed away, and we are living in the New Covenant period. We must ask ourselves honestly, how many Covenants did the Lord establish in prophecy that would take away the sins of Israel? The answer is, only one. And that is the New Covenant established in Christ's blood. Did Christ not already confirm the everlasting Covenant and take away all the sins of Israel?
- "For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins."
God has already set His tabernacle among the people in Christ, and His covenant of peace was confirmed in His death and resurrection as is so plainly declared (Hebrews 9:17-18) in scripture. When Christ comes again, it will be to rapture the Church and judge the wicked. It should be clear when all things are considered that Romans is speaking about the prophesied New Covenant with Israel when He took away the sins of His chosen people. As we've already seen, the New Covenant with Israel "is" with God's chosen people, the congregation, both Jews and gentiles (see Jeremiah 31 in conjunction with Hebrews chapters 8-9). There is the Old Testament/Covenant, and there is the New Testament/Covenant with Israel. There is no third New Testament with Israel when Christ will come again to take away their sins. That clearly would be confusion.
- "Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.
- My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people."
The Old is over, the New is here, so how could this be talking about some other future Covenant? Jesus said, I am come but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Are we to think that Jesus was confused and He didn't come for those of Israel, or that He couldn't accomplish His task and didn't take away their sins? Acts chapter 13:23 tells us (speaking of David) '..of this man's seed hath God According To His Promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.' Are we to reject that Word and believe that Christ didn't as yet come to do this, and He will come at a future date to take away the sins of Israel? God forbid! It's really foolishness to think such things, and yet intelligent people believe them without really giving these prophecies serious consideration. And note, it was "according to His promise to Israel." Do we not understand what the promise to Israel entailed, and did not Paul speak on this topic in the preceding verses? So how can anyone seriously believe that God hasn't fulfilled His promise to raise unto Israel a deliverer? In faithfulness we must forsake the words and traditions of men for the Word of God. You'll find that whenever there is a dispute about scripture, it is generally because someone wants to ignore certain pertinent verses in order that they may hold onto views that they have been taught. In a word, it's the attraction of "tradition." We must be careful not to fall into that same snare that Israel did in looking for earthly or carnal reigns and kingdoms. All scripture must be in agreement that it will harmonize with itself. In this synergy of scripture the truth of prophecy is revealed. It cannot be seen in picking and choosing select verses, but in reviewing and receiving all verses as authoritative that one does not make another null and void. There are no "dueling scriptures" that one war against each other, they all must harmonize. In the study of God's Word we trust it implicitly because we know that it will not lead us wrong if it is our authority. It is man who leads people in the wrong direction by rejecting the word of God in favor of the words of men. And man's word will inevitably lead Christians astray if they do not examine it "in light" of the whole Bible. The representation of the Kingdom is no longer the occupation of the nation of Israel as God's congregation. The New Covenant congregation now represents it. God is not a respecter of persons. Thus Israel shall be saved, but that Israel is not a middle eastern carnal Kingdom, rather it is a Spiritual Kingdom of Jews who are God's chosen people, and a glorious Spiritual nation.
- "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
- In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."
1st Peter 2:9-10
The New Covenant congregation is now the representation of those who are children of God. The Church is the holy nation, the peculiar or special people, the chosen people, Kings and Priests unto God. The Church, not a nation in the middle east, now represents those things. And it was done by the Covenant that took away the sins of Israel. There is no future salvation program for any nation in the Middle East. The time for becoming covenant children and to have sins taken away for all, is now! As indeed scripture has always been clear on this.
- "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
- Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy."
Rejection of Messiah by the Jewish people doesn't mean that the New Covenant was postponed, it only means they are blind to it having come. To declare to anyone of Jewish heritage this myth of a future salvation plan for that nation, is to play a cruel hoax upon them. This nefarious act is often looked upon as compassion and showing love of God, when really it is simply giving people a false sense of security. Love of God is in telling the truth that men may flee sin, not in smooth words that they will not recognize it. As Jesus said when He was anointed and began His blessed work, "Now is the acceptable year." The time for Jewish people to be grafted back into this tree is now, not after the tree is complete because it has become full with the Gentiles. Because when that occurs, then it is too late for inclusion. For thusly, all Israel will have been saved at that point. And not saved as men surmise, but "as it was written."
- "And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
- For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Some of those who recognize the inconsistency of the theory that all Israel (the nation) shall be saved, and so they will agree that God will only save a part or remnant from Israel. But they still hold to the idea that He will do this after the fullness of the Gentiles come in. But this theory will also not stand the test of scripture. Surely God will preserve a remnant from Israel, but if they read the whole chapter of Romans 11, in its context, they would see how God preserves a remnant of Israel. As we saw in verse 4, when speaking about this remnant God gives the example of the prophet Elias and How he thought there were no servants of God left but him. God says, no, I have preserved a remnant. And that analogy is used for Israel, "even at this present time." God by this showed He had not cast off His people, he has preserved for Himself a remnant. Not after the fullness of the Gentiles come in, but even at this present time. It is amazing that time and again God's Word tells us there is no difference, and the Jew and Gentile are of one body now. But people are not truly listening. The Old Testament prophecies of ruling Kingdoms, inheritance of lands, and the building of the Temple, were types, which looked forward to the coming King. With Christ's first advent as the antitype, these types were fulfilled. To go back to them "as if" they are yet to be fulfilled would be an abomination.
If God is saving a remnant from Israel right now, (and we all know that He is) then it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever that after the fullness of Gentiles come in, God will save another remnant from Israel. It's redundant. The remnant from Israel is being saved right now along with the remnant of the Gentiles. So both theories fail on all counts. Both assuming that God means all the literal nation will be saved, or that God means that only a remnant will be saved after the Gentiles, does not agree with the rest of the Bible. Likewise, there are not two trees, two bodies, or two "New Covenants" to be administered at different times. So there cannot be a salvation program that separately saves separate bodies. It is inconsistent, and inconsistency is the mother of errors.
When the fullness of Gentiles come in, it will be too late for anyone coming into this Olive tree. For "so" all Israel will be saved, as it is written. Ultimately, Christ is the Israel of the promise. And anyone doubting that should read Isaiah chapter 49:1-3 of He who has a sword as His mouth and is named Israel. That is Christ. And except we are in Christ, we are not in the "Israel of God." Which is why Romans 9 said that "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." Because there is an external covenant Israel, and an eternal Covenant Israel.
If Christ is Israel, then the Church is the representation of the body of Israel. That's why we are exhorted in 2nd Timothy 2:15 to Study to shew ourselves approved unto God, workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing, or discerning, the word of truth. These words are not put there so we can practice our reading skills. God wants us to study that we may learn the truth. And the truth is, Christ is coming again to rapture the Church and to judge, for He already came as the King of Israel and established His reign.
The deliverer out of Sion that Romans chapter 11 talks about, came in the person of Christ, and thus this is fulfilled. The Deliverer has already come as King of Israel, and clearly He has already established his kingdom (Colossians 1:13). The proof of that is God says explicitly, we are translated from the power of darkness and into this Kingdom of Christ. Not an earthly kingdom, but the one Christ continually exhorted, which is the kingdom of heaven. Christ fulfilled the prophecy of the deliverer from Zion, "as it is written."
- "Took branches of Palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when He had found a young ass, sat thereon; AS IT IS WRITTEN, fear not daughter of Sion: Behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt."
The whole theory of future restoration of Israel is based on a collage of misunderstandings and Church tradition. Our eschatology should be based on a sound hermeneutic. Did God promise to restore the nation of Israel to prominence and blessing? If we say yes, then we declare that the promise to the nation was unconditional. Yet, if He promised to bless that nation unconditionally, then how could He possibly cut them off as branches from this Covenant Olive tree "because of their unbelief?" It makes no sense. Because in such a case God would have been bound or obligated to bless them despite their unbelief "because of His promise." Likewise, if His promise to the nation were conditional on their belief, then how could God then restore them who reject him because of unbelief? The whole theory falls apart because it is based on an unsound hermeneutic.
The 'all' Israel that will be saved is the all Israel for which the Deliverer came out of Sion. It is the all Israel for whom He went to the cross to redeem. Thus it is not a carnal nation, but all His people chosen by grace. The New Covenant with Israel is that of which the fullness of Gentiles come into, and when that fullness is accomplished, "thusly" or "so" all Israel will be saved. By the Deliverer that came out of Sion (Zion).
To say Jesus will come in the future as King of the Jews is tortuous to the scriptures. Christ was born king of the Jews.
- "Saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His Star in the east, and are come to worship Him."
It was written on His cross in three languages, and God made certain the Jews who wanted that inscription changed, could not change it. For He is the King of the Jews. But as God says, a Jew is not a Jew who is one outwardly, or carnally. He is a Jew as God defines Jews (Romans 2:28-29). Christ set up His Kingdom, which is not an earthly kingdom, but an everlasting eternal Kingdom that shall never pass away. We can know in truth that when Christ returns, it will not be to save all the carnal nation of Israel, it will be to rapture the Israel of God. It will be in Judgment upon those who are not of that "one body."
- "Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.
- Pilate answered, What I have written I have written."
The overview of verse twenty-seven is that it is illustrating that the Israel in view is not a nation by physical heritage, but a people who have been made a family by Christ, rather than blood line. God shows this is all about that present Israel, how they were being restored, how they are the fulfillment of the prophecy, "For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins." Proof that this supports this New Testament with Israel as an act performed by Christ's death on the cross, not the future event that many allege it is. For Christ took away the sin of Israel once, and for all. The New Covenant or Testament is in Christ's blood. This is His covenant unto them when He took away the sins of His people Israel. In the Jews, and the Gentiles being ingrafted into the Covenant with them. Thus this passage illustrates the restoration of Israel is in those brought back to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). He is the "true" Israel of God.
VERSE TWENTY EIGHT
The unbelieving Jews are enemies of the gospel, and indeed of converted Jews and Gentiles. But as for the election of Israel, these are beloved for the promises made to the fathers. i.e., the promise to the fathers of deliverance would be kept in "this Election." This verse is contrasting the two Israels (Romans 9:6), which are unbelieving Israel (who are enemies of the Church), and election (who are beloved) of God.
- "As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes."
There are those who object to "all Israel" in verse 26 pertaining to only the elect, because they surmise that then the elect in this verse would have to be regarded as enemies. They come to this conclusion because they either forget, or ignore the witness of the context, and of the whole Bible in general. God has already informed us that, "All Israel are not Israel." So then, when it says in the proceeding verses that "ALL ISRAEL shall be saved," it must refer only to the Israel of God who are elect. The election of Israel excludes those who are not elect of Israel. Even as the scriptures declared:
"..Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded."
The election of Israel have obtained that promise, and the rest of Israel were blinded, even as the imagery of the branches of the Olive tree signified.
And in truth, even the staunchest defender of the distinction of Israel will usually not claim that the term "all Israel" means every single person in Israel will be saved. Therefore, despite his protests, that shows that he does recognize that some of Israel are not included in this "all Israel" that shall be saved. Thus he is actually agreeing that it means only some of the nation of Israel shall be saved.
Moreover, when scripture declared, "For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins," then by definition, and by any normal grammatical structure, this "all Israel" in view will then have their sins washed away.
1st John 3:5-6
This was the coming of Christ, when He took away Israel's sins. And so indeed, those of Israel who reject this Christ, they become enemies because of the gospel. While concerning those of Israel who are elect, they are beloved because of the promise to the fathers. All Israel is either for Christ, or they are against Him. There is no in between. We are seeing the external covenant Israel, and the election that are part of the eternal covenant Israel.
- "And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
- Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him."
Israel persecuted the Church because of the gospel message it brought. They are thus enemies for the Church's sake. Which Paul also confessed he did likewise before his conversion, when he was a blind Israelite.
- Concerning the gospel, the nation of Israel is blinded and are enemies for our sakes (the Gentiles). For they are at enmity with Christ, and that enmity was the occasion that brought salvation to the whole Gentiles.
- Concerning the Election, these of Israel are beloved as the remnant whom God has brought through the fire and purged them from their sins, fulfilling the promise to their fathers.
1st Corinthians 15:9
But Paul was part of the election Israel, within external Israel. God is using him gloriously to bring about salvation to the Gentiles, and accomplish His purposes. His salvation as an Israelite is the fulfillment of the promises He made to the fathers. Israel, the beloved, is a type of Christ (Israel) the Beloved of God. He is the Son called out of Egypt, in whom the election would be beloved of God. It is in Christ that Israel becomes the beloved Holy City. You might want to do a study of the word "beloved" in scripture as it is used in this very interesting way. There is no riddle or mystery concerning this verse about Israel, how it is an enemy in one sense, and concerning the election beloved. The answer to this was stated right in verse seven.
- "For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."
Clearly, there are two diverse people within Israel. Israel the nation hasn't obtained it, but Israel the election has obtained it. The remnant is according to the election of Grace, not of race.
- "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
- And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
- What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
- (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day."
The overview of verse twenty-eight is that it is distinguishing between the diverse people of Israel. Concerning the election, they beloved of God for their father Abraham's sake. While the rest are blinded and left in unbelief, and because of the gospel enemies for the sake of the Gentiles. They were blinded that we might see. But concerning Israel the election, they are not blinded, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. That is why Paul was sorrowful. Because most of his kinsmen according to the flesh were enemies of God, while he, being elect, was beloved. Thus he mourned for them. This verse contrasts Israel as an enemy of the gospel for the Gentile's sake, and yet the election of Israel beloved of God because of the promises, which cannot be made null and void.
VERSE TWENTY NINE
They blinded of Israel are made enemies for the Church's sake, but in regards to the election of Israel, they are beloved for the fathers. Because the gift of God, and His divine calling according to His own will and purposes (rather than ethnicity) God does not repent of their judgment in His blinding of them and His calling of the election, or inclusion of the Gentiles. God makes no apologies for Whom He chooses to save, or whom He chooses not to save.
- "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."
The Greek word translated gift [charisma] means favor God has bestowed in freely or gratuitously giving individual gifts and talents to those He chooses. The gifts God has bestowed are the desire to promulgate the Gospel, Peace with God, wisdom in the Word wherein we see what the unbelievers cannot see. God by Grace gives individual gifts by degrees according to His will. This is opposed to what the word Charisma has become degraded in our day to signify.
And the Greek word calling [klesis] denotes that it is by the act of God that men are drawn to Christ (John 6:44), through the promises of the gospel, in the influences of His Holy Spirit. And these are all without repentance. God confers his favor and judgment upon man without repentance, because He knew the end "from" the beginning.
Thus God does not repent or change in his purposes of bestowing the gifts and calling upon man. It wasn't an unforeseen problem that the Jews rejected Christ and the gifts and calling went to the election, and the Gentiles. It was by divine fiat and without repentance of God.
- "For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."
So those believing that Christ came to be king of Israel, but when the Jews rejected Christ, the Kingdom to Israel was postponed, have no real knowledge of the immutability of God. They do not understand that he is without repentance concerning Israel's fall, and that being the inclusion of the Gentiles.
- "Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:
- And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
- And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
- And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
- And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
- Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost."
The overview of verse twenty-nine is that the gifts and calling of God to the remnant Jews and the Gentiles, are without regret or repentance by God. The proof of this is that the covenant made with Israel of everlasting life cannot be frustrated or made void by the Israel in part being blinded. Because the election of Israel has obtained it. And by Israel's fall, God has brought mercy to the entire world. And this was His plan all along, as it was the mystery kept secret, but now revealed in the New Covenant gospel. He does not repent of this. And this is also illustrated in the next verse.
Before the cross, Gentiles were in the very same position that Israel is in now. We were stiff-necked, we were in unbelief, we would not obey God, and we were spiritually blinded. And yet now through the mercy of God we have obtained the promises of Israel. Through the unbelief of Israel, we have fellowship with Christ, as they have become enemies for our sakes. Before we were called, we were in an idolatrous, desperately wicked state in the Gentile world, but through Israel's unbelief, we have been given the Gift of God, and a new lease on life.
- "For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:"
So then, the conclusion of the matter is a comparison of equals. In other words, if God called the Gentiles in their disobedience and received them to mercy, he can just as easily call the Jews in their disobedience and received them again to mercy. For He is no respecter of persons.
- "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
- Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
- Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
- But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
- Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)"
The overview of verse thirty is a reiteration that Israel did not fall just that they would be hurt, but that the Gentiles, who in times past did not believe in God, might now obtain the mercy of God through their unbelief. Clearly God is illustrating that their unbelief was made the occasion for the gospel being preached to the Gentiles, that they might also receive the promises pertaining to Israel.
VERSE THIRTY ONE
Likewise, as God has used the Jew's unbelief as an occasion to save the Gentiles, so God also will use the preaching of the New Covenant Church to reach a remnant of Jews. Through the mercy of the Gentiles, the Jews may obtain mercy. Through our love of God wherein we have obtained mercy, we have this same love, that we carry the gospel to the Jews also. They aren't eliminated, they should be according to the gospel called to the favor and fellowship by the preaching of the Church.
- "Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy."
This was fulfilled in Christ, as He declared Himself in the synagogue.
- "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;"
This was the fulfillment of Isaiah chapter 61. And in verse 5-6 when it speaks of strangers (foreigners) feeding Israel's flocks, and that they would then eat the riches of the Gentiles, this is the same illustration of the Gentiles who have obtained mercy, having mercy on the Jews.
- "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
- To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
- And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
- And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."
Even so have these who have now not believed, through the mercy of the Gentiles, they also may obtain mercy. Again, a plain illustration that a remnant of Jews would obtain mercy.
- "And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
- But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves."
Those Gentiles who think they can boast and have no mercy upon others, do not obtain mercy from God. i.e., "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy Matthew 5:7." We are not called to pride, hatred or self-gratification, but to compassion and mercy. We do not look upon Israel as that dreadful nation that hates Christ, we look upon them in compassion and mercy in our understanding that, "there, but by the Grace of God, go I." We understand that their fall was for our benefit, and that we should not hold that against them. Judgment belongs to God.
The overview of verse thirty-one is that, just as we have obtained the gospel and mercy through Israel's unbelief, through our mercy they also may obtain mercy. The mercy of God showed to the Gentiles should be an occasion of our mercy to the Jews, not of boasting.
VERSE THIRTY TWO
God has concluded [sugkleio] or shut together (enclosed) them all in unbelief, so that He could have mercy upon the whole world. From this we should understand that God didn't do it because the Gentiles were any better or smarter. God judged them so that He could have mercy (undeserved favor upon the guilty) upon those who were outside of Israel. This word does not imply that the sin and unbelief for which Israel was blinded was involuntary, rather it means that God used their willful sin to His own Glory, in having mercy upon all people. God shutting Israel up in unbelief was because He had proposed to use their obstinacy in His redemptive plan of election to all nations. There is one Saviour, and in order for men of other nations to be saved, all men had to receive the gospel.
- "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all."
1st Timothy 2:4-5
Not all men as in every single man on earth, but all nations, all tongues (languages), all tribes, and all peoples. By Israel's fall, the gospel of Christ went out to all nations that all men are saved. So God has allowed both the Gentile and the Jew successively to remain under unbelief and disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all people of the world. The Gentiles in unbelief first (the Jews in belief first) and then the Jews in unbelief (the Gentiles in belief).
- "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
- For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"
The overview of verse thirty-two is that God's Mercy is made manifest to all tongues, and nations. No nation or people have any right to complain, argue, boast or say that it is unfair that the Jews are now in unbelief. Because they had belief first, and now God hath concluded them in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon the rest of the world also. The righteousness of this is self-evident. No one is denied salvation because of God, they are denied because of their own willful sins.
VERSE THIRTY THREE
Here we see the admiration of four attributes of God. They are His riches, His wisdom, His knowledge, and His judgments. His riches are illustrated in the wealth of the 'precious' treasures of the kingdom. These treasures are more valuable to the believer than any fine gold. Right in this chapter, in verse 12 we read, "Now if the fall of them be the 'riches' of the world, and the diminishing of them the 'riches' of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?" i.e., the riches of God for the Gentiles is their being translated into the Kingdom of God. It is the precious salvation of Israel by the Messiah, which is now shared with the Gentiles. Israel is not being excluded by the fall, but the Gentiles are being included in, "The Israel of God."
- "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!"
The hope of Israel is now also to the Gentiles. It is the riches of the glory of, Christ in us. We can also see these illustrations of God's riches in the parables that Christ spoke concerning the treasures of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:44, 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 12:33-34, 18:22) that are given us.
- "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"
Wisdom is given the believer in the Holy Spirit, and this Spirit guides us into good judgments and sense of the truth. It is by this Spirit of wisdom in Christ that we come to understand the Word of God, that it is like living bread to us, which nourishes the soul. It is by this Spirit that we come to have an earnest desire to do God's will, and not our own. We only obey God's Word because in Christ we have been made wise.
In God's riches and wisdom, through the Holy Spirit, He bestows that wisdom to us by measure. He who has wisdom and understanding, in God's vernacular, is he who by Grace of God has the Spirit of Christ moving them.
- "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
- "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
This is the depths of the riches or treasures of wisdom and knowledge, which God gives to those, that are believers.
- "That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;"
- In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
This verse in Romans now answers the objection, "how can we understand this blindness that God has placed upon national Israel while enlightening the Gentiles that were not His people?" Paul declares, "how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out." In other words, God's decision to judge Israel is in the administration of His providence, and we should not question its righteousness because of the promise to Israel. For His ways are so far above our ways.
There are these mysteries kept secret that are now revealed, and they transcend our human ability to fully understand. Who knows His arrangement or His plans to perfection?
- "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
- For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
God is denoting in Romans that His plans are deep, and perfect understanding of them is beyond our comprehension. Yet what God has revealed is sufficient for us.
- "Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?
- It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?"
The overview of verse thirty-three is that we should be in glorious admiration of God, singing, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God." This is what makes us ask, "how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out?" For God had proposed to do this for all nations of the earth, before the world began. God's arrangements for conferring the gospel on men was hidden, a mystery. The full revelations of His decisions are past our finding out. For we know in part, and we prophecy in part, but when Christ comes again, then shall we know even as we are known. 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 THIRTY FOUR
This verse illustrates the infinite wisdom and knowledge of God, by demonstrating that there is no one could think to teach God what was right, or who could counsel him on how things should be done. Man cannot sit to scold God for blinding Israel in part or for bringing a light to the Gentiles. Was man God's counselor [sumboulos] or His adviser that was there to plan Salvation with Him? This is rhetorical question taken from the book of Isaiah, and meant to show God's Sovereignty.
- "For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?"
When God predetermined that the Gentiles would become a part of Israel and join as one body (Ephesians 2:10-19), who was there to direct it? Who was there to know that God would conclude Israel under judgment? God alone knew the mystery of Israel kept secret from the foundation of the world. No one knows the mind of God in this, but now it is brought to light and the mystery made known to men.
- "Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?
- With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?"
That Israel would be first and the Gentiles last, and the Jews blinded that the Gentiles would be saved is not some new Theology as some might imply. It was predetermined from the beginning. But even though it was clearly prophesied in the scriptures, neither Israel nor the Gentiles knew of it. It was hid from their eyes until the coming of Christ. And to many, it is still hid from their eyes because of the hardness of their hearts. Neither Israel nor Premillennialists can advise God, nor challenge Him as if He were indebted to Israel. He made the promise to Israel, and He will fulfill it as He has defined it. Not as man might want it fulfilled.
- "Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:"
The overview of verse thirty-four is that God is the supreme ruler and architect of all these things. No man knows the mind of the Lord that he could tell Him what He means by His promise to Israel. God alone defines His promise. i.e., as righteous Joseph said, "Do not interpretations belong to God? -Gen 40:8" No man was there in the beginning to be God's counselor, and so scripture must interpret scripture. God's word must be defined by God's word, because He alone is designer and author of this salvation plan, to His own Glory.
VERSE THIRTY FIVE
The truth in view here is that God owes no one anything, and that includes the nation of Israel. The rhetorical question is, who has given something to God (favors, work, riches) that God has to repay him for it? The answer again is, no one has! God doesn't owe anyone anything, and that is why it is so ridiculous for some theologians to insist that God owes national Israel the land in the middle east, a peace for their people, and an earthly Kingdom in Jerusalem. God owes nothing. The promises made to Israel concerning the land were conditional promises, and Israel has failed those conditions. The unconditional Promises to Israel were not to all Israel, but to all Israel which are "The Israel of God (Romans 9:6)." The whole tenor of this chapter is to show how God fulfilled His promise to Israel of a deliverer out of Zion who would save all Israel, and he owes nothing to the nation. Israel that is blinded cannot understand the mystery, which is revealed to the election. Israel is being saved by Grace. As it is written, the first shall be last.
- "Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?"
Some theologians wish to rewrite this to read, "the Jews shall be first, the Gentiles shall be second, and the Jews shall then be third." But this is not what God declared. The gospel went first to the Jews, and now the Gentiles, and when the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, thus all Israel shall be saved. And after this, there is the judgment.
- "And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.
- And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last."
The overview of verse thirty-five is that God does not owe Israel a third chance, nor has He promised them this. God says, "who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?" Who has gone before God to bestow favors, and God is now under obligation to repay them? In other words, who could make God under oblation to them, that He must repay them? Could Israel? The answer again is, no one. he promises have not be made void, they will be kept. But not in special favor upon a nation that many people think. God's favor is not by obligation, but it is, was, and will be by Grace alone, to the Glory of God, by the power of God, in the sovereignty of God, according to the will of God, and for the purpose of God.
VERSE THIRTY SIX
Now is the conclusion of the matter. No one can know the mind of God, and no one was there to know what God had proposed. God did it alone, and He did it of Himself, through Himself, that to Himself would be all things! It is not for national Israel to glory, but for God to receive the glory forever. The truth is that His whole plan is "God Centered" rather than Israel centered or man centered. This is one of the most blessed revelations that man can receive. Understanding this verse, we come to true wisdom and the true knowledge that in these three propositions (of, through, and to) is revealed that everything was created by God, through God, and to God's Glory.
- "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."
God has concluded Israel in blindness, that he could 'include' the Gentiles in the New Covenant with Israel, to the glory of His name.
- "And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name."
- "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
- That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
- In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"
We are all gathered together in one, even in Him Jesus Christ, unto the Glory of God. Whether Jew or Gentile, it makes no difference. The Jew First and now the Gentiles being brought into the Covenant Promise and inheritance. When the fullness of Gentiles come in, so (thus) all Israel shall be saved.
- "Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
- But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
- To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen."
The overview of verse thirty-six is that the gospel is not centered around the nation of Israel, or around a physical holy city in the middle east, it is God centered. All things are of God, because He is the author and efficient cause for all things. All things are through him as He is the providential authority and regulator. And all work together for Him, as He is the God to which all things must answer. Not Israel, not the Gentiles, not the Romans, all things are working together for God's Glory. Therefore to God belong all praise and glory. And to that we give a hearty, Amen.
There has been no change in God's plan of redeeming Israel, and no postponement of the Kingdom as a result of their refusal of their Messiah. The prophesied New Covenant with Israel has been confirmed in Christ's shed blood (Hebrews 9:16-18), and the Kingdom established by His resurrection. The grafting in of the Gentiles to be fellow citizens of Covenant Israel is not a change in God's plan because of the Jews rejection, it was the esoteric plan incorporated into the original promises.
We have all heard verse 26 quoted by those who believe that sometime in the future all (or nearly all) of the literal nation of Israel will be saved. But this is a verse taken out of context, and is often misunderstood, and seldom examined 'carefully' and compared with what God has said was already fulfilled. This verse has to be examined in context, and in the light of God's stated purpose and defining of the true Israel.
- "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
- And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed."
God's definition of a Jew, and God's definition of Israel may not be man's definition. In God's analogy of the Olive tree, we saw that one tree represents Covenant Israel, the other represents the Gentile nations. Obviously, if the tree is Covenant Israel and the branches represent the Jewish people of that Israel, then when the Gentiles are taken from their tree (the Gentile nations), and are grafted into Covenant Israel, they then become part of that camp of the saints. To say anything less is to dabble in absurdity. They've left their Gentile tree, and enter the tree of the Jews, that they then become fellow citizens of Covenant Israel along with their Jewish brethren. It is one family of God, one special or peculiar people, and one Holy Nation.
- "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
- But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
By the same token, those branches broken off (Jewish people who were not redeemed and are blinded), are no longer Covenant Israel in God's eyes. In the Biblical vernacular, they have been cut off from Israel (Isaiah 9:13-14). Because there are not two trees representing Israel, there is one. And Gentiles are grafted into it. There are not two New Covenants with Israel, there is one. One tree, One Covenant, One Israel, and all God's chosen are one. The body of Christ is not divided, it is confused theologians who are divided. It is wishful thinking to declare that God has two salvation plans. Christ came once to set up His Kingdom for all, and He did it. He came once to deliver 'His people' Israel, and He did it.
Even Chapter 8 of Zechariah (that many reference who hold a physical land restoration), makes it clear that there is only a remnant that will be saved (verse 9,11,12). Throughout the history of the world, there has never been an "all" Israel saved (if that all means a whole nation). There has always been a remnant, even when Israel was brought out of Egypt. The majority of Israel died in the wilderness because of unbelief. Didn't even Jesus himself tell us that many are called, but "few" are Chosen or Elect? Corporately all Israel were the children of God, but obviously in reality, only a remnant at any time in history were "truly" the redeemed of Israel. Paul clearly makes that point right here in this chapter.
- "If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them."
Paul understands the truth that many theologians today do not. He understands that the "all Israel" saved is made up of Jews and Gentiles together in one Body. The "all" is all that God has predestinated. This is why the world is not destroyed, though evil is present with us, and the Church is persecuted and hated. Because God is patient, waiting for this "all" to become saved.
- "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace."
2nd Peter 3:9
The "all" that should come to repentance is all Israel. In other words, everyone who is drawn to Israel in the Seed, Christ. These are the branches God is long suffering or patiently waiting for. He knows that they consist of a remnant who are Jews, and the Gentiles who are coming in. It's not that the scriptures do not make these things perfectly clear, it's that some Christians are ignorant or unaware of these things. Is the promise to Israel broken because there is only a remnant? God forbid! Because the promise was not to a literal nation Israel (Romans 9:4-8), but was, concerning the election Israel (Romans 11:28) who are beloved for the fathers sake. They are the ones who have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.
- "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
There are many other inconsistencies of this position. When Romans 11:26 says, "And so all Israel shall be saved," if we take that to mean only Jewish people, or to national Israel, then we have confusion.
So we know by the preponderance of Biblical evidence that everyone in the nation of Israel, or that is a Jewish person by bloodline, is not going to be saved. And we know that a remnant of Israel is being saved now, so that it would be redundant to claim that there will be a program where a remnant would be saved later on. So this position that verse 26 applies only to the physical nation of Israel is unbiblical, ungrammatical, untenable, and inconsistent with 'the whole' of scripture. How do we understand this controversial verse? It really should be no mystery. We understand it just as it is written, and in light of the New Testament, which illuminates it. We do not understand it in a vacuum, or at enmity with itself, or in consideration of what theologians think or interpret it to mean.
- That position contradicts the entire theme of the chapter, which is clearly delineating that only a saved remnant of Jewish believers (Romans 11:5) in the Olive tree Israel, and believers from the Gentile nations being ingrafted into this 'same' Olive tree, will be saved.
- The position that this 'All Israel' applies only to 'national Israel,' by normal grammatical usage implies that everyone (or even the vast majority) in the physical nation of Israel is going to be saved. This again contradicts God's Word and plan for a remnant only being saved. The same plan we saw through this chapter, and indeed which is illustrated throughout the entire Bible!
- This position contradicts all the examples God gives of those who are saved being just a remnant. e.g., when Israel was delivered from Egypt, only a remnant were truly saved. When the old testament congregation fell, only a remnant of Jews were saved. Or during the great flood of Noah, God saved only eight people out of an entire world. Or during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, God saved but three people out of two major cities. Moreover, God uses these examples of Noah and Sodom when speaking of the elect who will be saved in the midst of trial. And it is a remnant only. Matthew 7:14 speaking of the gate to the Kingdom, declares that, '..few there be that find it.'
- This position contradicts the preponderance of evidence that we read immediately before chapter 11, which says:
- "Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:"
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."
That verse tells us how the mystery written, was revealed. All Israel will be saved by Gentiles also coming in to be part of the New Covenant (tree) Israel. And it refers us back to old Testament prophecy to illustrate just how this will be done. As it is written, by the Deliverer out of Sion who would take away the sins of Jacob (Israel). That is how all Israel shall be saved. By Christ, the Deliverer, who came out of Zion and washed away their sins in His blood.
The opinion that both the Israelites and the Gentiles are become members of the same body of people at this present time, and that in the future the descendants of Israel will again be given the opportunity to become branches of God's tree of people, is speculation at best. For they are admitting that people of Israel are the Elect at this present time, and yet they are saying they'll still be given the opportunity in the future "as if" they are not being given the opportunity now. This is confusion. What of all the Jewish believers today who are a remnant? Are they just to be viewed as some aberration or anomaly? God forbid! They are the branches of the Olive tree that are grafted back in "now" as the Gentile branches are being ingrafted. God has not cast off His people and His promises not made null and void.
The first five verses of this study are explaining to us that though it may "appear" to man who doesn't know God's plans (as Elijah) that God has cast away his people (because Israel is not saved), the truth is revealed in the riches of God to make known the wisdom and knowledge of the mystery. The deliverance of Israel is assured. But only as God defines it. These first five verses set the stage for the explanation that it is in the remnant, that Israel shall be saved. Just as God said to Elias, that there was a remnant reserved unto Him. God's integrity or His keeping His Word is not in question, because God knows something that apparently Israel did not. Something that apparently many theologians today choose to ignore. Namely, that, "they are not all Israel, which are of Israel. -Rom. 9:6" So then God will save Israel, which is His Israel according to His defining, His election, and His purpose.
The entire nation of Israel was never intended to obtain Salvation. God said in verse 6, "What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." It doesn't get much clearer than it's said there. The purpose of God was in accord with election, not to any national salvation or deliverance.
Nothing has changed, the purpose was always according to election, and it stands! The election being the 'all Israel' saved, while those not chosen (not elect) of Israel having never been predestinated. All in total agreement with Romans chapter 11, and totally contradictory to the ideology of theologians purporting the nation of Israel will be saved. Despite the blindness of most ethnic Israel, the purpose "according to election" still stands. By the careful study of God's Word, in harmony with the whole of scripture, we can be brought to no other conclusion but that it is just as God planed. God's purpose has not failed because it was an elective purpose, not a promise to save anyone by race or ethnicity. Our God is Sovereign in determining who will be elect, and who will receive the benefits of His love and compassion. As it is written, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
- "(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth;)
- It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
- As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated."
As God illustrated in the very first verse of this study, God has not cast away his people. God forbid such a notion. Paul declares that this cannot be true "because" he is an Israelite of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. So that means this notion Israel was not being saved is without merit. Paul was one of the Elect, and that is the Israel within the nation Israel, to whom the unconditional promises were made.
- "Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:"
We pray for the understanding of Israel, and for those theologians who spend their lives giving them a false sense of security by unbiblical teachings. May the Lord who is Gracious above all, give them the wisdom and guidance in His most Holy Word, to come to understand the truth of these things. Amen!
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Copyright 2001 Tony Warren
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