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Romans 11:1-36

Updated: Apr 24, 2022

Romans 11:1-36 Daddy God has not forgotten His kids in Israel

Romans 11:1-36 a short commentary

It was always God’s intention to bring together a remnant of the Jews and a proportion of the Gentiles into one family through Jesus Christ. This chapter outlines the process through which God has led the Jews and Gentiles to get them to becoming one family.

The Remnant of Israel

11:1 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me” [a] 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” [b] 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Despite the disobedience and hard-heartedness of most of the Jews yet God has not totally rejected all Jews for all time because they were His special treasure, and His covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Paul speaking as a Jew himself from the tribe of Benjamin says ‘absolutely not’[1]. Paul shows that he himself is living proof that as a direct descendant of Jacob’s son Benjamin and as a true blooded Jew, elect and chosen by God, that he is indeed one of God’s special remnants in Israel.

Paul goes on to give further evidence that God is not finished with all of Israel but always preserves a remnant. He reminds his readers that even when Prophet Elijah thought that he himself (unlike those killed by Jezebel) was the only godly man left in Israel. It was then that the Lord reminded him that He had 7000 true believers in hiding. So too with Sodom and Gomorrah and Noah’s ark etc.

So how do you get to be one of God’s remnant, well it is His call of grace and there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn or deserve it.

7 What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, 8 as it is written:

“God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.” [c]

The Jews always sought to achieve right standing with God through keeping the Law and of course were unable to do so. Only the elect remnant of the Jews achieved right standing with God through faith but the others, the majority in some ways were hardened by the influences of God. Paul now gives examples of this hardening from Moses and David. Moses spoke of a spirit of stupor that produces mental and spiritual apathy that was still working on the unbelieving Jews in Paul’s day.

9 And David says:

“May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. 10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.” [d]

David continues a similar theme in Psalm 69 where he invokes curses on all who hate his belief in and close relationship with God. Such people would be filled with moral and spiritual blindness. David implies such people deserve their fate. God hardens those who harden themselves.

Ingrafted Branches

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

So does this mean that once a Jew had hardened himself and was in turn hardened by God then they were absolutely doomed and with no way back? Paul declares absolutely not [2]! Since the Jews had rejected the gospel then God bringing good out of evil rolled out His offer of salvation to the Gentiles. Abba Father planned to make the Jews jealous of the wonderful relationship with God that the Gentile converts were now beginning to display. God was using this ‘tactic’ as blessing to the Jews to bring them to their senses. Only God can bring good out of a great evil. The Jews' sin opened the door for the rich gift of salvation for the Gentiles bringing the spiritual riches of life in the Holy Spirit to the elect Gentiles. Surely the day will come when all the spiritual riches of life in the Holy Spirit will come to each remnant of the House of Israel i.e. the elect Jews.

13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Paul turns his attention to the Gentile Christians in the congregation telling them he is delighted to have them as the main thrust of his ministry but with the bonus of knowing that as God worked through the Gentile Christians this might well stir up the interest of some Jews and hopefully lead them to Christ. Even those Jews who had hardened themselves against the Gospel might in some way driven by envy to embrace what God was already doing with the Gentiles. In the same way as a cake or a plant are a holy offering to the Lord, they represent the whole harvest or tree as far as God is concerned. God is not finished with the Jewish remnant.

17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

Paul cautions the Gentile believers to humbly remember that Israel was the natural tree and only because God allowed some Jewish branches to be broken off was it possible for some Gentile believers to be grafted into the tree. Paul is warning the Gentile believers against pride and is telling them, ‘remember it is the Jewish natural olive tree they have been grafted into. God deals with sin irrespective of our ethnic origin.

22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

Paul warns the Gentile Christians to keep the faith and continue to walk in the kindness God lest they come under God’s discipline. He then turns his attention back to the unbelieving Jews and says that if they turn to God in faith then it is possible for them to be grafted back into the natural olive tree. When the elect Jews repent and turn to God, they will fit into the natural olive tree more easily than the Gentile believers since they were previously reared on the soil of Judaism.

All Israel Will Be Saved

25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not think you are superior: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way [e] all Israel will be saved. As it is written:

“The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. 27 And this is [f] my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”[g]

The story so far is that the unbelieving Jews have stumbled and fell with the result that God had the Gospel preached to the Gentiles. The elect Gentiles got saved and this somehow drove the elect Jews to turn to Christ in line with God’s plan. Once the God appointed numbers of Gentiles have been saved then God’s focus will return onto the full remnant of the elect Jews coming to salvation though faith and all that remnant will be saved.

All Israel will be saved is interpreted in different ways by different people.

  1. The most widely accepted theory is that most Jews living in the end times when the full number of the Gentiles having been already converted, will then be saved. Critics of this view point out that it is hard to believe that only Jews living on the earth at that time will be saved. Also the Greek does not support a time frame interpretation. They think Paul was looking at his day and beyond when he wrote this. The idea of a time of mass conversion of the Jews does not fit well with other things Paul wrote.

  2. Calvin’s theory: ’All Israel’ refers to the total amount of saved people throughout history i.e. both Jews and Gentiles. It seems unlikely that @All Israel’ should include the Gentiles.

  3. A third theory; held by various theologians [3] that ‘All Israel’ means the grand total all elect Jews throughout the ages. My own preference is for this theory.

Jesus Christ a true Israelite came to set mankind free from the bondage of sin and bring them into God’s wonderful salvation through His wonderful New Covenant.

28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now [h] receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Paul explains that the unbelieving Jews became God’s enemies so the Gentiles could be saved. Then in turn when those Jews who are elect are provoked to jealousy by seeing the Gentiles saved then they become (no longer enemies) friends of God. The gifts and call of God on lives are never lifted off by God. God has remembered His covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Daddy God has it all under control knowing just when and to whom to pour His mercy onto.


33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and [i] knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?” [j] 35 “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” [k] 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Paul’s heart and soul are filled awe and joy at seeing the wisdom of God’s plan for all His elect people through time. God’s plans and thoughts are beyond even the best human mind. Almighty and amazing God is no man’s debtor, nor does He need any man’s advice. All our salvation comes from God and Him alone and it is He who must receive all the glory for this forever. Amen

Footnotes: [a] 1 - [k] 11

  1. Romans 11:3 1 Kings 19:10,14

  2. Romans 11:4 1 Kings 19:18

  3. Romans 11:8 Deut.29:4; Isaiah 29:10

  4. Romans 11:10 Psalm 69:22,23

  5. Romans 11:26 Or and so

  6. Romans 11:27 Or will be-

  7. Romans 11:27 Isaiah 59:20,21; 27:9 (see Septuagint); Jer. 31:33,34.

  8. Romans 11:31 Some manuscripts do not have now.

  9. Romans 11:33 Or riches and the wisdom and the

  10. Romans 11:34 Isaiah 40:13

  11. Romans 11:35 Job 41:11

Footnotes [1] - [3]

[1] Meganoito; Good heavens no! That is the Greek way of expressing a strong negative wish, may it not come to be, good heavens no. Or as Ken Boa puts it; your premise is correct, but your conclusion is wrong! [2] ibid [3] H Bavinck, L Berkhof etc. as quoted in pages 381-382 W Hendriksen’s Commentary on Romans.

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