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Bible Commentaries
Romans 11

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Verse 1

Romans 11:1

Rom. 9 = Israel’s Past (mercy shown)

Rom 10 = Israel’s Present

Rom 11 = Israel’s Future

I say then -- This expression is to be regarded as conveying the sense of an objection. Paul has showed from Scripture that God has rejected the Jews and turned to the Gentiles.

has God cast away his people -- Paul points out that God has not cast away all Jews, for he himself is an Israelite. As in former times of Israelite apostasy, God has reserved a remnant Romans 11:2-5;

an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham -- The apostle mentions this to show that he was a Jew in every respect; that he had a title to all the privileges of a Jew.

Paul emphasizes his own Jewish lineage as proof that at least some within ethnic Israel will be saved (compare Romans 9:27). - FSB

of the tribe of Benjamin -- Paul’s Jewish name is "Saul" and undoubtedly he was named after the first king of Israel, and who was from the tribe of Benjamin.

Paul emphasizes his own Jewish lineage as proof that at least some within ethnic Israel will be saved (compare Romans 9:27).

Verse 2

Romans 11:2

God has not cast away His people -- A denial that God has cast away all his people. Here "his people" means the nation of Israel. Paul’s point is that God has a remnant who believe in Christ.

whom He foreknew -- The word "foreknew" implies a purpose or plan for His people. See note at Romans 8:29.

The meaning of the passage is simply, God has not cast off those whom he had before purposed or designed to be his people. Some (frequently called "the remnant") remained faithful to God.

The remnant in Elijah’s day was proof that God had not cast off His people, and the remnant in Paul’s day was continuing proof of His faithfulness. - NNIBC

Or do you not know what the Scripture says -- The passage here quoted is found in 1 Kings 19:10-18.

Of Elijah -- Greek, “Elijah” ἐν Ἡλιᾳ en Hēlia. This does not mean that it was said about Elijah, or concerning him; but the reference is to the usual manner of quoting the Scriptures among the Jews. (see 1 Kgs 17–2 Kgs 2).

The division into chapters and verses was unknown to them. The Old Testament was divided into portions designated by subjects.

Thus, Luke 20:37; Mark 12:26, “At the bush,” means the passage which contains the account of the burning bush; Here it means, in that passage or portion of Scripture which gives an account of Elijah.

Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel -- [appeals, makes intercession] -- The word pleads (ἐντυγχάνει entungchanei) means to come to the aid of anyone; to transact the business of anyone; especially to discharge the function of an advocate, or to plead one’s cause in a court of justice.

In this sense it is applied to Christ in his function of making intercession for us in heaven; Hebrews 7:25; Isaiah 53:12.

against Israel -- In the English language, the word is constantly used in a good sense, to plead for one; never, to plead against one; but the Greek word may imply either.

Verse 3

Romans 11:3

Lord, they have killed -- This is taken from 1 Kings 19:10; 1 Kings 19:14. The quote is not literally made, but the sense is preserved.

The fact was true that they had killed the prophets, etc.; 1 Kings 18:4, 1 Kings 18:13; but the inference which Elijah seems to have drawn from it, that there were no pious people left in the nation, was not well founded.

Elijah, a fugitive for his life, in his appeal to God assumes that all Israel had fallen into the idol worship of Ahab and Jezebel. But there were true worshipers left, although the nation seemed to have fallen away. In what seemed a general apostasy, there were seven thousand left. So, argues the apostle, there are faithful ones left now in Israel. - PNT

torn down your altars -- These were not the altars of the high places, for they are commended that cast them down; nor the altars in the temple at Jerusalem, for they were out of the reach of the ten tribes, against whom Elias complains: but such altars (say some) as the godly of the ten tribes did build to serve God with, when they were not permitted to go up to Jerusalem; in which case the building of private altars (as some learned Jews have affirmed) was allowed. - Poole

altars -- We may understand these to be such altars as Elijah himself, by the special commandment of God, had erected.

Altars, by the Law of Moses, were required to be made of earth or unhewn stones; Exodus 20:24-25. Hence, the KJV expression to dig them down means completely to demolish or destroy them. [See RWP on Romans 11:3]

I alone am left -- Elijah thought that he was the only prophet which was left alive.

We are told that when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred of them and hid them in a cave; 1 Kings 18:4. But it is not improbable that they had been discovered and put to death by Ahab. The account which Obadiah gave Elijah when he met him 1 Kings 18:13 seems to favor such a supposition.

they seek my life -- It is true that Ahab and Jezebel were seeking to kill him. They were seeking to do this because Elijah had been victorious in the contest with Baal’s prophets and had slain them 1 Kings 19:1-2.

Verse 4

Romans 11:4

But what is God’s answer [reply] to him? -- ὁ χρηματισμός ho chrēmatismos. This word is used no where else in the New Testament. It means an oracle, or a divine response. It does not indicate the manner in which it was done.

The implication is that God’s answer came from his complaint to God. Such an answer would be full of comfort, and silence every complaint. The way in which this answer was in fact given, was not in a storm, or an earthquake, but in a still, small voice; 1 Kings 19:11-12.

I have kept for Myself seven thousand -- Amidst the general corruption and idolatry there was a faithful remnant. This shows that God had a part in their preservation.

Paul quotes 1 Kings 19:18, God’s reply to Elijah indicating the presence of a faithful remnant. - FSB

seven thousand men -- Seven is often used in the Scriptures to denote an indefinite or round number. It is probably used so here to indicate that there was a considerable number remaining. This doesn’t mean that the faithful were all males, but the term men is used in the generic sense as mankind.

who have not bowed the knee to Baal -- To bow or bend the knee is an expression denoting worship; Philippians 2:10; Ephesians 3:14; Isaiah 45:23.

Baal -- The Canaanite storm-god.

Baal -- Paul uses the feminine for “Baal” and not the LXX masculine. Baal is masculine, but the Jews called this abominable idol bosheth, “shame” (a word of feminine gender), and in 1 Kings 18:25 the LXX translate, “the prophets of the Shame.” Although this word was written “Baal,” it was pronounced “Shame.” (Lenski)

Verse 5

Romans 11:5

Even so then -- Paul is going to draw a lesson from the story just used of Elijah.

at this present time -- The time when the Apostle wrote.

remnant -- Refers to a small number of people who remain faithful to God despite the unfaithfulness of others around them. In Romans, the remnant is composed of Jews who have put their faith in Christ. The existence of this remnant is proof that God has not rejected all of Israel.- FSB

a remnant -- Although the nation had rejected Jesus, thousands of individual Jews had come to faith in Him (cf. Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4; Acts 6:1).

according to the election of grace -- They were faithful to God’s gracious calling through the gospel and not by the Law.

The apostle here does not specify the number, but there can be no doubt that a multitude of Jews had been saved by becoming Christians, though compared with the nation - the multitude who rejected the Messiah it was but a remnant.

election of grace -- Paul’s statement that the remnant has come into existence “according to a choice of grace” is often interpreted as an affirmation of Calvinist unconditional election. However, the meaning is that the remnant faithful to God are those who like Paul, have heard, believed, and obeyed the gracious calling of God (Romans 10:9-11; Romans 10:16).

Verse 6

Romans 11:6

And if by grace -- The gospel is the message of God’s grace. Salvation by "unmerited favor" God has shown to mankind.

then it is no longer of works -- If salvation is now by "unmerited favor" it is based on a justification by works, or something earned.

works . . A reference to the Law of Moses in this context, and in most contexts.

otherwise grace ... If people are justified by their works, it could not be a matter of favor, but was a debt.

But if it is of works ... The idea of being saved by merit contradicts the very idea of grace.

If a man owes me a debt, and pays it, it cannot be said to be done by favor, or by grace. I have a claim on him for it, and there is no favor in his paying his just dues.

This last phrase is not included in many Greek manuscripts [P46, à*, A, C, D, G, or P] but in two different forms of the phrase in others [àc and B] but does appear in the Majority Text.

Verse 7

Romans 11:7

What then? -- What is the proper conclusion from this argument?

Israel has not obtained what it seeks -- That is, the Jews as a people have failed to obtain the favor of God by their own merit. They sought salvation by their own works of the Law.

but the elect have obtained it -- God chose to give salvation as a gift to everyone that believed, to the Jew first and to the Greek Romans 1:16-17.

and the rest were blinded -- The greater part of the Jews remained in unbelief and had rejected the Messiah.

were blinded [hardened] -- The word ἐπωρώθησαν epōrōthēsan, means they were hardened. [from πῶρος pōros (a kind of stone); to petrify.]

It comes from a word which signifies properly to become hard, as the joints sometimes do when they become callous or stiff. It was used to describe the hard substance in the eye, a cataract; and then to mean to be blinded, literally and figuratively.

When applied to the mind, it means what is “hard, obdurate, insensible, stupid.” Thus, it is applied to the Jews, and means that they were blind and obstinate; see Mark 6:52, “Their heart was hardened;” Mark 8:17; John 12:40; 2 Corinthians 3:14. [5x in N.T.]

Verse 8

Romans 11:8

As it is written . . The first line was quoted from Isaiah 29:10 and the last lines are adapted from Deuteronomy 29:4. The same sentiment is found also substantially in Isaiah 6:9-10.

God has given -- Expressions like this are common in the Scriptures when God allowed something to happen.

God gave them a spirit of slumber [stupor, dull mind] -- The word “slumber” here is a literal translation of the Hebrew. The Greek word, however κατανύξεως katanuxeōs. It means that parts of the body become numb and is made insensible. Hence, it here means simply insensibility.

eyes that they should not see -- Isaiah 6:10; Deuteronomy 29:4. Though Israel had all the proper faculties for understanding and receiving the gospel, yet they rejected it. They were insensible to its claims and its truths.

ears that they should not hear -- [When we sleep, our eyes are insensible to surrounding objects, and the ear to sounds. Though in themselves the organs may be perfect, yet to the mind it is as though they were not; and we have eyes which then do not see, and ears which do not hear.]

It is a metaphor for indicating the Jews closed their minds to the truth and rejected Jesus as the Christ.

to this very day -- The characteristic of the Jews that existed in the time of Isaiah. existed also in the time of Paul.

Verse 9

Romans 11:9

And David says -- This quotation is made nearly verbatim from Psalms 69:22-23, LXX. This Psalm is repeatedly quoted as having reference to the events recorded in the New Testament.

The quotation is not made, however, either literally from the Hebrew or from the Septuagint, but the sense only is retained.

The Hebrew is, “Let their table before them be for a snare, and for those at peace, let it be for a gin.” The Septuagint is, “Let their table before them be for a snare, and for a stumbling-block, and for an offence.” The ancient Targum is, “Let their table which they had prepared before me be for a snare, and their sacrifices be for an offence.”

Let their table become a snare and a trap -- Something that was expected to be a pleasure and support proves to be a means of punishment and righteous retribution.

a snare -- A snare is that by which birds or wild beasts were captured. They are decoyed into it, or walk or fly carelessly into it, and it is sprung suddenly on them.

a trap -- This means anything by which wild beasts are taken in hunting. The word “snare” more properly refers to birds.

a stumbling-block -- Anything over which one stumbles or falls. Hence, anything which occasions us to sin, or to ruin ourselves.

and a recompense [retribution] to them -- Something paid back. It means here that something intended for their comfort and enjoyment (their table), instead of promoting their permanent welfare, became the occasion of their ruin and destruction.

Verse 10

Romans 11:10

Let their eyes be darkened -- This is taken literally from the psalm (Psalms 69:23), and was evidently the main part of the passage which the apostle had in mind.

This was fulfilled in the insensibility and blindness of the Jews. And the apostle shows them that it was long ago predicted, or invoked, as a punishment on them for giving the Messiah vinegar to drink; Psalms 69:21, Psalms 69:23.

and bend their backs forever -- The NCV renders it "and their backs be forever weak from troubles." The Hebrew of Psalms 69:23 seems to speak of a man tottering or shaking when he’s carrying a heavy burden.

It was because of their rejection of God’s Son that God rejected them nationally which led to the temple’s destruction in A.D. 70 Matthew 24:16-22; Matthew 24:34; [Mark 12:9; Matthew 23:34-39;]

Verse 11

Romans 11:11

I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? -- This might be another objection which Paul proceeds to answer.

The meaning is, is it the design of God that Israel should totally and irrecoverably be cast off?

The expression to stumble is introduced because he had just mentioned a stumbling-stone. To stumble doesn’t necessarily mean one falls all the way to the ground. It was still possible for Israel to come to faith in Jesus and be saved.

Certainly not! -- By no means, Romans 11:1.

But through their fall, -- The word "fall" means the breaking up of their establishment as a nation.

Their rejection of the Messiah; the destruction of their city and temple; the ceasing of their ceremonial rites; and the rejection and dispersion of their nation by the Romans, all enter into the meaning of the word “fall” here, and were all the occasion of introducing salvation to the Gentiles.

to provoke them to jealousy -- According to the prediction of Moses; Deuteronomy 32:21; see Romans 10:19.

God intends to use His offer of salvation to the despised Gentiles to draw the nation back to Him (Romans 11:25-27). - MSB

salvation has come to the Gentiles -- It does not mean that all the Gentiles were to be saved, but that the way was open; they might have access to God, and obtain his favor through the Messiah.

Something the OT had long prophesied (cf. Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 49:6; Matthew 8:11-12; Matthew 21:43; Matthew 22:1-14; Acts 13:46-47; Acts 28:25-28).

[See BN for extended points on how Israel’s rejection of the Messiah opened the way for Gentile evangelism.]

Verse 12

Romans 11:12

Now if their fall [transgression, mistake, trespass] -- If their rejection of Christ and being cast off has accomplish so much ...

is riches for the world -- Here "riches" means numberless good blessings. The "riches" of the gospel of mercy, cf. Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 2:7; Ephesians 3:8; Ephesians 3:16;

The rich truths of salvation (Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 49:6; cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9).

riches for the Gentiles -- Their failure meant the conferring of important blessings on the Gentiles.

how much more their fullness! -- If their rejection brought the spreading of the true knowledge of God how much more good could be accomplished by the energy and zeal of the Jewish nation if they accept God’s Son!

The word “fulnessπλήρωμα plērōma, means what fills up, or completes anything. Thus, it is applied to what fills a vessel or cup; also to the piece of cloth which is put in to fill up the rent in a garment.

Verse 13

Romans 11:13

For I speak to you Gentiles -- What I am saying respecting the Jews, I say with reference to you who are Gentiles, to show you how you have been admitted to the privileges of becoming the people of God.

inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles -- As Paul also was appointed to preach to them, he had a right to speak to them with authority.

Paul was the apostle of the Gentiles, not because other apostles did not preach to Gentiles, for they all did, nor because Paul did not himself preach occasionally among the Jews; but because he was especially called to carry the gospel to the Gentiles, and that this was his original commission Acts 9:15; see Galatians 1:16; Ephesians 3:8; Galatians 2:7-8.

I magnify my ministry -- I honor δοξάζω doxazō my ministry.

Paul esteemed it of great importance that the barrier between Gentiles and the Jews was broken down, and that the gospel must be preached to all people, A minister may not magnify himself, but he may magnify the importance of evangelism. Ephesians 3:8,.

Verse 14

Romans 11:14

if by any means -- If even by stating unpleasant truths and the threat of my nations’ destruction, I may gain their attention and convert them.

I may provoke to jealousy [arouse to envy] -- To awaken, to get their attention and provoke them to deep feelings, Romans 10:19.

Paul hoped to do this by calling their attention to the ancient prophecies; and by raising their fears about their own danger in rejecting God’s Son.

my flesh -- My countrymen, my kinsmen, my own nation.

and save some of them -- The apostle desired Israel to turn to the Lord; it grieved him to see their rejection of the Messiah (see Romans 9:2-3; Romans 10:1-2.)

Verse 15

Romans 11:15

For if their being cast away -- If their rejection as the special people of God - their exclusion from their national privileges on account of their unbelief. It is the same as "their fall" Romans 11:12.

is the reconciling of the world -- By Israel’s unbelief, the way had opened to preach the gospel to the Gentiles so that the Gentile world could now be reconciled (brought to friendship and peace) to God through Jesus Christ Acts 13:46.

God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, 2 Corinthians 5:18; Romans 5:11;

The word “reconciliation” καταλλαγή katallagē denotes commonly a pacification of contending parties; a removing the occasion of difference, so as again to be united; 1 Corinthians 7:11.

what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? -- The same idea as expressed in Romans 11:12 by "their fulness." If there was good that came from them being cast away, what more good can be accomplished from them accepting Christ!

but life from the dead? -- Paul uses a bold striking figure of speech to illustrate the great change should Israel accept Christ and be reconciled themselves to God once again!

Not bodily resurrection, but the passing from spiritual death to spiritual life (John 5:24). This phrase also describes the future spiritual rebirth of Israel (cf. Romans 11:25-27; Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:1). - MSB

Verse 16

Romans 11:16

For if the firstfruit is holy -- The word “first-fruitἀπαρχή aparchē used here denotes the first part of fruit or grain which was separated from the mass and presented as an offering to God.

The Jews were required to present such a portion of their harvest to God, as an expression of gratitude and of their sense of dependence; Numbers 15:19-21

firstfruit -- The first portion of the harvest, which was to be given to the Lord (Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26; Leviticus 2:12; Leviticus 23:10; Numbers 15:19-21; Numbers 18:12-13; Deuteronomy 18:4). - MSB

is holy -- Set apart, or consecrated to God.

the lump -- The expression here, however, has reference to the small portion of dough or kneaded meal that was offered to God; and then the mass or lump φύραμα phurama, was left for the use of him who made the offering; Numbers 15:20.

is also holy -- It is then lawful for the owner to partake of it. The offering of a part has consecrated the whole.

Because the firstfruit offering represented the entire portion, the entire piece of dough could be said to be holy, set apart to God (cf. Exodus 31:15; Leviticus 27:14, Leviticus 27:30, Leviticus 27:32; Joshua 6:19). - MSB

and if the root is holy -- This figure expresses the same thing as is denoted in the first part of the verse. The root of a tree is the source of nutritious juices necessary for its growth, and gives its character to the tree.

so are the branches -- A root bears a similar relation to the branches of a tree that the first-fruit does to the mass of bread. Perhaps there is allusion here to Jeremiah 11:16,

root -- The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. See Romans 4:13. branches -- The patriarchs’ descendants: the nation of Israel. - MSB

Verse 17

Romans 11:17

And if some of the branches ... The illustration here is taken from the practic of cutting off useless branches, or those which bear no fruit, and grafting in a better branch instead.

“If some of the natural descendants of Abraham, the holy root, are cast off because they are unfruitful, that is, because of unbelief and sin.”

and you -- The "you" here refers to the Gentiles whom Paul was no addressing specifically.

being a wild olive shoot -- One not cultivated whose fruit was imperfect and useless.

The cultivated olive tree is “of the a moderate height, its trunk knotty, its bark smooth and ash-colored, its wood is solid and yellowish, the leaves are oblong, and almost like those of the willow, of a green color, etc. The wild olive is smaller in all its parts.” (Calmet.)

The meaning here is, that the Gentiles had been like the wild olive, unfruitful in holiness; that they had been uncultivated by true religion, and consequently had grown up in the sinfulness of human nature. The Jews had been like a cultivated olive, long under the training and care of God.

were grafted in among them -- The process of grafting consists of inserting a young shoot into a different tree. The grafted branch receives nourishment and strength from the root of a good tree.

In this way a tree which bears no fruit, or whose branches are decaying, may be recovered, and become valuable.

The branches - the Jews in the time of the apostle - had become decayed and unfruitful, and broken off. The Gentiles had been grafted into this stock, and had restored the decayed vigor of the ancient people of God;

and with them became a partaker of the root -- The ingrafted limb would derive nourishment from the root as much as though it were a natural branch of the tree.

The Gentiles now receive the benefit of Abraham’s faith and of the promises made to him and to his seed. Galatians 3:29.

and fatness of the olive tree -- The word “fatness” here means “fertility, fruitfulness” - the rich sap of the olive tree which produces good fruit; (see Judges 9:9).

the olive tree -- The place of divine blessing; God’s covenant of salvation made with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15:1-21; Genesis 17:1-27). - MSB

Olives were an important crop in the ancient world. Although trees often lived for hundreds of years, individual branches eventually stopped producing olives. When that happened, branches from younger trees were grafted in to restore productivity. Paul’s point is that the old, unproductive branches (Israel) were broken off and branches from a wild olive tree (Gentiles) were grafted in. - MSB

Verse 18

Romans 11:18

do not boast [be arrogant] against [over] the branches -- There is a tendency for people to triumph ove one that has fallen. There is a danger of pride and boasting on the part of the Gentiles.

But if you do boast -- If you think of boasting, there is something to remember.

remember ... the root supports you -- The branches do not provide the nourishment, the root does.

The Christian church must rememer it’s roots are in Judism. The tree, even with the new branch, is never regarded as a different tree. Therefore the "church of Christ" is still the "Israel" of God today.

(cf. Galatians 3:6-9, Galatians 3:13-14)

Verse 19

Romans 11:19

You will say then -- Again, the "you" is reference to the Gentile member.

"Branches were broken off ..." The Jews were rejected in order that the gospel might be preached to the Gentiles. ( Romans 11:11-12.)

Verse 20

Romans 11:20

Well said [Granted; That is true] -- True.

Because of unbelief they were broken off -- The Jews as a nation were rejected because they rejected God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

and you stand by faith -- Paul, speaking to Gentiles, says it was because of their faith, their acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God, that they continued in God’s blessings.

Do not be haughty [be conceited; be proud], -- Do not be elated in your privileges so as to produce a conceited spirit.

but fear [stand in awe]. -- Do not be haughty or high-minded against the Jew, but stand in awe that God provided a plan to accept you.

Verse 21

Romans 11:21

Vs 21 A warning. Doesn’t this verse (one of many) answer the question, Can a Christian fall from grace?

For if God ... God rejected the Jews for their actions against Christ; and Gentile Christians will be rejected also if they turn against Christ.

If Israel (the “natural branches”) was not spared despite being God’s covenant nation, why should Gentiles, strangers to God’s covenants (Ephesians 2:11-12; see note on Romans 9:4), expect to be spared if they sin against the truth of the gospel? - MSB

Verse 22

Romans 11:22

Therefore, consider -- Seriously contemplate the dealings of God.

the goodness -- The kindness and mercy of God.

All of God’s attributes work in harmony; there is no conflict between His goodness and love, and His justice and wrath. Those who accept His gracious offer of salvation experience His goodness (Romans 2:4); those who reject it experience His severity (Romans 2:5). - MSB

the severity [sternness] -- The word pictures the "cutting off" (ἀποτομίαν apotomian from ἀποτέμνω apotemnō, to cut off;) and is commonly applied to the act of the gardener or vine-dresser in trimming trees or vines, and cutting off the decayed or useless branches.

Here it refers to the act of God in cutting off or rejecting the Jews as useless branches; and conveys no idea of injustice, cruelty, or harshness. It was a just act, and consistent with all the perfections of God.

on those who fell, severity -- On the Jews, who had been rejected because of their unbelief.

but toward you, goodness -- Toward the Gentile world, benevolence. The word “goodness” here signifies the kindness of God in bestowing favors on the Gentiles in accepting them when they accept Christ.

Otherwise you also will be cut off. -- The word "you" refers to the Gentile believers and should they become disobedient and unbelieving then they too will be rejected.

cut off -- From the same Gr. root word translated “severity” earlier in the verse. God will deal swiftly and severely with those who reject Him. - MSB

Verse 23

Romans 11:23

And they also, -- The unbelieving Jews.

if they do not continue [persist] in unbelief -- Their unbelief in Christ was the cause of their rejection.

will be grafted in -- The Jews who become believers will be restored to God’s mercy and favor.

for God is able ... God is forgiving, merciful, and will accept those who turn to him in repentance and obedient faith. See Acts 2:37-38; 2 Peter 3:9;

Verse 24

Romans 11:24

For if you -- "You" who are Gentiles.

were cut out of the olive tree ...wild by nature -- The illustration is that the Gentiles were like a branch cut out of a wild, uncultivated olive tree.

and were grafted contrary to nature ... Contrary to natural growth, grafted into a different tree in nature.

into a cultivated olive tree, -- When the branch of a wild olive tree is grafted into a cultivated olive tree is successful and it will produce fruit.

how much more ... It is easier and more natural for a cultivated olive tree to accept the graft branch of a cultivated olive tree.

The meaning of the verse may be expressed this way: "If God had mercy on the Gentiles, who were outcasts from his favor because of their ungodliness; shall he not rather show mercy on those who were so long his people, if they love and accept the Messiah who was born among them."

Verse 25

Romans 11:25

For I do not desire, brethren, -- Paul wanted them to understand this matter.

that you should be ignorant of this mystery -- The word “mystery” means properly something that is “concealed, hidden, or unknown.” And it especially refers, in the New Testament, to the truth or doctrine which God had not before communicated.

The "mystery," now revealed, was that both Gentiles and Jews were to be reconciled to God the same way, through the Gospel. See Ephesians 3:4-6; (Ephesians 3:9; Ephesians 2:14; Colossians 1:27; Colossians 4:3).

lest you should be wise in your own estimation [opinion] -- Paul didn’t want them to speculate why God had rejected the Jews so he was communicating it to them.

that blindness [a hardening] -- Romans 11:7;

in part -- Not totally, or entirely. A remnant of Israel had accepted Christ.

The nation’s blindness does not extend to every individual Jew. Through all of history God has always preserved a believing remnant. (see note at Romans 11:5)

had happened to Israel -- To the Jewish nation.

until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in -- The word "fulness" in relation to the Jews is used in Romans 11:12. It meant that a great number of Gentiles would be converted to the Gospel before Israel’s rejection was complete in A.D. 70. See Colossians 1:23;

Matthew 24:14. The destruction of Jerusalem would help open the eyes of Jews and the world. Luke 21:24.

full number of the Gentiles . . Likely alludes to predictions that one day all nations will worship Yahweh (e.g., Isaiah 2:2-4; Zechariah 14:16-17; Matthew 28:19-20). - FSB

... in the light of Romans 11:13-14, it implies that the fullness of the Gentiles has something to do with the salvation of “all Israel.” As said earlier, the “mystery” thus is how salvation of Jews and Gentiles is interrelated. It is important for the Gentile Christians to see this - CPNIVC

until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in -- I do not see this as referring to the “full number” of Gentiles, but rather to the fullness of salvation as it was proclaimed to and accepted by the Gentiles, beginning in Acts 10. (See on v. 12 above.) The NT nowhere else uses plērōma in a numerical sense, but does use it for the fullness of salvation. - Jack Cottrell, CPNIVC

Verse 26

Romans 11:26

And so -- Paul comes to a summary of his point about how the Jews and Gentiles will be saved the same way, by the gospel of grace, Romans 11:5-6.

And so -- Adverb, "thusly", in this way, on this fashion, that is, they must be saved by the Gospel also. "in this manner" Lenski. "So" houtos as in verse 5, Romans 11:5; Romans 11:26; Romans 11:31. The ESV correctly translates this adverb.

so -- G3779 houto Thayer Definition: in this manner, thus, so. Part of Speech: adverb.

And so -- By Jews and Gentiles being grafted into the same root, all Israel, Jew and Gentile, will be saved.

all Israel will be saved -- All Israel that is saved will be saved in this way, that is, by the gospel of Christ. The same gospel that saves the Gentiles.

In v. 25 we have a reference to physical Israel, but in this verse (v.26) we have a different usage of the term "Israel" which is shown by the phrase "all Israel."

all Israel -- This ... could refer to Israel as symbolic of God’s elect—all who are now part of God’s people (both Jews and Gentiles) - FSB

The phrase all Israel could refer to the total of all believers, both Jewish and Gentile; with this meaning, and so would describe the way that God works to bring salvation to all his people. - NLTSB

This [Israel] refers in some sense to spiritual Israel, the Church. Paul used this concept in Galatians 6:16 - Utley

God saves all his elect people, both Jews and Gentiles, as they respond in faith to God’s grace throughout history. “Israel” would then refer to the church (see Galatians 6:16 and note for this possibility). - NIVZSB

Paul answers who the real Israel is in

Romans 2:28-29; Romans 4:12-14; Romans 9:4-8; Galatians 3:27-29; Israel, is the spiritual descendants of Abraham, both Jews and Gentiles.

Considering Romans 9:6 "Israel" is all of God’s people today. So, "all Israel" in v. 26 is both Jews and Gentiles. In Romans 11:14, Paul wants "some saved" but in v. 26 "all Israel" we see the fulfillment of Paul’s illustration where the natural olive branch (Jews) being grafted back in with the wild branch (the Gentiles) and all receiving their nourishment from the true root, being now "all Israel." In this manner "all Israel" (both Jews and Gentiles), the church, will be saved. (Note from A.B. class.)

all Israel shall be saved -- To use this verse to teach that all Jews will be saved is to miss the context. Paul’s message is that now in the covenant of grace all Jews (Israel) who will be saved will be saved on the same condition as everyone else, by their faith and obedience to the Gospel of Christ.

as it is written -- Isaiah 59:20. The quotation is not literally made, but the sense of the passage is preserved. The Hebrew is, “There shall come to Zion a Redeemer, and for those who turn from ungodliness in Jacob.” There can be no doubt that Isaiah refers here to the times of the gospel.

out of Zion -- Refers to Jerusalem, and here to Judaism by extension. A prophecy of Christ coming to bring back "Jacob" to the Lord.

The mechanism of salvation will be faith in Jesus the Messiah. - Utley

Verse 27

Romans 11:27

For this is my covenant ... This expression is found immediately following the other in Isaiah 59:21. But the apostle connects with it a part of another promise taken from Jeremiah 31:33-34; and expresses its closing substance, with the words “when I shall take away their sins.”

This promise points to the Messiah who will initiate the New Covenant which began with this resurrection and ratification on Pentecost and with His sacrifice on the cross secured the forgiveness of sins, Hebrews 8:8-12; Hebrews 10:16-17;

This is way for Israel to be saved, Acts 2:37-38;

Verse 28

Romans 11:28

Concerning [as regards] the gospel they are enemies -- The Jews not only rejected and opposed the gospel themselves, they opposed it being preached to the Gentile. Acts 13:45; Acts 18:6.

for your sake -- The rejection of the gospel by the Jews opened the door for the Gentiles, Acts 13:46.

but concerning the election -- God’s calling and choice of Abraham and his descends, Genesis 12:1-3;

they are beloved for the sake of the fathers -- God cared for Abraham’s descents, Israel, and loved them and wanted them saved. 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4; Ezekiel 33:11. God had send the Savior of the world through Abraham’s seed. Acts 13:23; Galatians 3:16;

Verse 29

Romans 11:29

For the gifts -- The favors or benefits which God bestows on men. The word χάρισμα charisma properly denotes any benefit which is conferred on another as a mere matter of favor, and not of reward; see Romans 5:15-16; Romans 6:23.

and the calling of God -- The word “calling” κλῆσις klēsis here denotes that act of God by which he extends an invitation to people to come and partake of his favors. Under the Christian covenant God’s calling is through the gospel, 2 Thessalonians 2:14.

are irrevocable -- [KJV, Without repentance] unrevocable. It means that God will not change his mind. The Gospel age is the last dispensation for man to have an opportunity for eternal life, there will not be another opportunity. Acts 4:12.

God does not repent, or change, in his purposes of bestowing his gifts on man. What he promises he will fulfil; what he purposes to do, he will not change from or repent of. As he made promises to the fathers, he will not repent of them, and will not depart from them; they shall all be fulfilled. Ezekiel 24:14; 1 Samuel 15:29; Psalms 89:35-36; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18; James 1:17.

Verse 30

Romans 11:30


For as you -- "You" = Gentiles

were once [at one time] disobedient to God -- The time Paul is speaking of was before the gospel was preached to the them. This refers to the former idolatrous and sinful state of the pagan world; compare Ephesians 2:2; Acts 14:16.

yet have now obtained mercy -- The Gentile Christians had now been pardoned and admitted to the favor of God.

through [as a result of] their disobedience -- Paul’s mission to the Gentiles predicated the rejection of the Gospel by the Jews. Acts 13:45-46; Acts 18:6.

Verse 31

Romans 11:31

even so these -- The Jews

these also now been disobedient -- The Jews who had not responded in faith and obedience to the Gospel of God. Acts 13:45-46; Acts 18:6.

that through the mercy shown you -- Through the grace and favor of God opening the gospel to receive Gentiles.

they also may obtain mercy. -- It was Paul wish that the response of Gentiles to the gospel would stir up and provoke the Jews to accept it also. Romans 10:19; Romans 11:11; Romans 11:14.

There were believing Jews among the nation of Israelites and they were spoken of as the "remnant." Romans 9:27; Romans 11:5; (Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4; Acts 5:14;)

Verse 32

Romans 11:32

For God has committed [consigned; concluded; bound] them all to disobedience, -- The “all” ... is not intended to refer to every individual as such, but to all in the sense of both groups, i.e., both Gentiles and Jews. To say God has bound all over to disobedience reflects Paul’s emphasis in Romans 3:9, that “Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin” - CPNIV

Paul assures the Jews that there was no salvation under the system the Jews were trying to maintain (after the new covenant age had began), and that the only way for all Jews now to find mercy was in the gospel, and this was for all.

The word translated here “concluded” sunekleise, is rendered in the margin “shut them all up together.” It is properly used in reference to those who are shut up in prison, or to those in a city who are shut up by a besieging army; (See RSVA 1 Maccabees 5:5; 1 Maccabees 6:18; 1 Maccabees 11:65; 1 Maccabees 15:25); Joshua 6:1; Isaiah 45:1. It is used in the New Testament of fish taken in a net; Luke 5:6, “They enclosed a great multitude of fishes;” and Galatians 3:22, “But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise, etc.” - BN

that He might have mercy on all -- God has provided a way for all the Jews to obtain God’s favor, and that is in their obedience to the gospel.

The reference to God’s “mercy on them all” does not teach universal salvation, but refers to the fact that he has poured out his mercy on Jews and Gentiles alike (Romans 10:12).

Verse 33

Romans 11:33

Paul breaks into a doxology at this point. This doxology corresponds to the one at the end of chapter 8

Oh, the depth ... The apostle has three subjects of admiration. Translations using the word “both” introduced here, confines it to two.

The apostle wishes to express his admiration of the riches and the wisdom, and the knowledge of God.

The word “depth” is applied in the Scriptures to anything vast and incomprehensible. As the abyss or the ocean is unfathomable, so the word comes to denote what words cannot express, or what we cannot comprehend; Psalms 36:6, 1 Corinthians 2:10; Revelation 2:24,

The word "riches" denotes the abundant blessings and mercies which had been conferred on people by the gospel. Romans 11:12.

Wisdom is the choice of the best means God used to accomplish the best end. The end or design which God had in view was to bestow mercy on all; i. e., to save people by grace, and not by their own merit; Romans 11:32.

And knowledge, that is, God’s foreknowledge and omniscience.

How unsearchable -- The word “unsearchable” means what cannot be fully understood.

His judgments -- This word usually means his arrangement, his plan, or proceeding.

It sometimes refers to laws; at other times to the decision or determination of God; at others to his justice.

In the context it probably refers to God’s arrangements for conferring the gospel on both Jews and Gentiles.

His ways -- The word rendered “ways” properly denotes a path, or road on which one travels. Hence, it comes also to denote the course or manner of life in which one moves; or his principles.

past finding out -- Literally, which cannot be tracked or traced out. The footsteps cannot be followed. As if his path were in the sea Psalms 77:19, and the waves closed immediately, leaving no track.

Verse 34

Romans 11:34

For who hath known? ... This verse is a quotation, with a slight change, from Isaiah 40:13.

It is designed to express the infinite wisdom and knowledge of God, by affirming that no being could teach him, or counsel him. Earthly monarchs have counsellors of state, whom they may consult in times of perplexity or danger. But God has no such council. He sits alone; nor does he call in any or all of his creatures to advise him.

Verse 35

Romans 11:35

Or who has first given ... The sentiment is found substantially in Job 41:11. Who has conferred favors on God so as to put God under obligation to him?

that God should repay him? -- Repay him as a matter of debt. God’s kindness and mercy to us is without any obligations to us on God’s part! It is simply God’s nature and out of His own kindness that He bestow mercy on us.

Verse 36

Romans 11:36

For from him -- εξ αὐτοῦ ex autou; compare 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 8:6. This expression doubtless means that he is the original source and fountain of all blessings. He is the Creator of all.

So far from having a claim on God, the apostle here affirms that all things have come from him. Nothing has been produced by chance; all has been formed by God;

and through him -- δἰ αὐτοῦ di autou. That is, by his immediate operating agency. The former expression, “of him,” affirmed that he was the original source of all things; this declares that all are by him, or through him, as their immediate cause. It is not merely by his plan or purpose; it is by his agency, by the direct exertion of his power in their creation and bestowment.

to him -- εἰς αὐτὸν eis autos. This expression denotes the final cause, the reason or end for which all things were formed. It is to promote his honor and glory. It is to manifest his praise, to give evidence of the glorious attributes of God; his exceeding greatness, and goodness, and grandeur of his character.

to whom be glory forever -- The praise and honor, ever onward to eternity.

This ascription of praise is the appropriate close of the argumentative part of the Epistle.

Amen -- ἀμήν. The word at the end of prayers and praises marks the assent of the speaker or writer to the utterance. In this doxology (which may have been well known and well used by the churches) it expresses Paul’s own assent to it.

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Romans 11". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/romans-11.html. 2021.
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