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Monday, May 27th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Romans 11

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


Did God reject his own people? Chapters 9, 10, 11 must be understood in view of the fact that God does call every man (John 6:44-45); every man responds to this call in some way (Matthew 13:18-23); It is God’s desire that everyone come to him and be saved(2 Peter 3:9). The questions which Paul deals with in these chapters was in the mind of every Jew: “If the birth of Christ’s CHURCH and the conversion of the Gentiles fulfilled God’s Plan to bless and save men, then did not God reverse himself, break his promise to Israel, and reject his own chosen people?” Certainly not! [God forbid is not in the Greek.] God does not reverse himself and change his mind and Plan! In Romans 11:1-10 Paul examines the question of whether Israel’s unbelief involves God’s rejection of his chosen people. Romans 11:11-24 examines the result of some Jews being excluded from the Messianic Kingdom/Church. Romans 11:25-36 praise God’s love, wisdom, and faithfulness, as it is revealed in the ONE PLAN OF SALVATION for both Jew and Gentile. I myself am an Israelite. The Expositor’s Greek Testament says this should be taken as meaning: “I, too, am an Israelite, to whom the very idea of God’s rejection of His people is an impious and incredible idea, to be repelled with horror.”

Verse 2


God has not rejected his people. Paul formally states that God has not rejected his nation of Israel in the fact of choosing the Gentiles. Where Elijah pleads with God against Israel. “Whoever says God has rejected his people Israel, must be ignorant of what the scripture says.” Paul quotes 1 Kings 19:10 as proof of his claim. The quotation shows Elijah impeaching Israel as a nation.

Verse 3


I am the only one left. Paul, like Elijah, was lonely and persecuted, and Israel as a nation seemed to have abandoned God or been abandoned by Him. But Paul better understands God’s way (and His faithfulness).

Verse 4


What answer did God give him? This quotes 1 Kings 19:18 as the answer. Seven thousand men. The Expositor’s Greek Testament says: “God has reserved the seven thousand; He has reserved them for Himself: it is on this the proof depends that He has not cast off His people. The seven thousand ate Israel to Him.” Women and children were not mentioned, only men, yet there were surely many of them as well who followed God. [Baal was the sun-god worshiped by the ancient people of Canaan. Compare 1 Kings 16:31-33; 1 Kings 18:28.]

Verse 5


It is the same way now. God’s answer in Romans 11:4. At this time. In the Greek, this points to the present time (as Paul writes) as a CLIMAX. The idea is the same as Romans 9:6-13. Because of his mercy. The emphasis is on this fact. But note that God’s faithfulness in keeping his people is not based on an unconditional arbitrary decree. The “seven thousand” had not worshiped the false god Baal. The “small number” whom God has chosen have faith in Christ! These Jewish Christians form an integral part of the church of Christ. We should also notice that the Devil is limited in what he can do. See Job 1:6-12; Luke 10:18 : 1 John 3:8; 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Verse 6


His choice is based on his mercy. Paul again emphasizes that nothing a man can do will give him the right to place an obligation on God. God did not accept this “small number” because they obeyed the Law, but because they accepted his offer of mercy! Salvation is not achieved but seized! For if God’s choice. Mercy is undeserved! If God saved on the basis of law, it would be deserved, and could not be on the basis of mercy.

Verse 7


What then? “How will we describe the present situation, if not in the painful language of Romans 11:1?” It was the small group. See Romans 11:5. The rest grew deaf to God’s call. [EPOROSETHAN is 3 pers. pl. aor. 1, ind. passive.] Compare 2 Corinthians 3:14. Paul is purposely vague about how they grew deaf to God.

Verse 8


As the scripture says. The quotation is a paraphrase of Deuteronomy 29:4; Isaiah 29:10; Isaiah 6:9-10. God made them dull. It is God who sends this spirit of dullness – not arbitrarily or at random, but as a JUDGMENT. When God cannot convince, he confuses! Compare Isaiah 29:13; Psalms 95:7-8; 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12. To this very day. 2 Corinthians 3:14-15.

Verses 9-10


And David says. The quotation is Psalms 69:22-23 in the Septuagint. This does not mean the Jews are more sinful than the Gentiles. The Jew loved the Law of God, but the Law misunderstood, destroyed him. See also what Peter said in Acts 15:10. “This veil is removed only when a man is joined to Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:15; compare Matthew 23:39).

Verse 11


Did they fall to their ruin? “Have they been irrevocably doomed to hell, with no chance at all for salvation?” By no means! [God forbid is not in the Greek.] God has no desire to see anyone be lost eternally (Matthew 18:14). Because they sinned. God did not decree that they should sin, but he used their sin to bless the Gentiles. Compare Acts 13:46-48; Acts 18:6; Acts 28:25-28. Lipscomb says: “Much of the dealing of God with the Jews and much of the teaching of the prophets was intended to affect the Gentiles fully as much as the Jews. Pharaoh was raised up that God might show to the Egyptians and other nations the power of God. David, the shepherd lad, slew Goliath, a skilled giant, “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” (1 Samuel 17:46)To make the Jews jealous. As God used the sin of the Jews to bless the Gentiles, he would use the faith of the Gentiles to bless the Jews. Compare Deuteronomy 32:21.

Verse 12


Brought rich blessings. The Jews scattered throughout the world among the Gentiles were a big help in spreading the Good News of Christ (compare Acts 2:5). But this scattering was the result of their own rebellion (compare 2Ma. 1:27). God made use of the unbelief (and rejection) of the Jewish Nation to complete his Plan for blessing the Gentiles and the Jews. When the complete number of Jews is included! [PLEROMA = completeness.] The blessing for both Jew and Gentile comes through participating in the Good News of Christ (the gospel). The small number (Romans 11:5) were a priceless blessing to the spread of Christianity. MacKnight; “How much more will their filling the church be followed with great advantages to the Gentiles?”

Verse 13


I am speaking now. The church at Rome was made up of both Jewish and Gentile Christians. It is important for Gentile Christians to have the right attitude toward Jewish Christians, since they are ONE in Christ (Galatians 3:28)! An apostle to the Gentiles. “As apostleship to the Gentiles is represented by me, I take pride in my work (by working hard at it), hoping to save some of my own people by making them jealous.”

Verse 14


And so be able to save some of them. Paul was willing to use every resource and even be sacrificed as a martyr, to turn his people to Christ! Each Jew who is saved, goes to make up the complete number of Romans 11:12.

Verse 15


For when they were rejected. This returns to the reasoning of Romans 11:12. See notes on Romans 11:11. The unbelieving Jews have become “undigested Jonahs,” running from God. It will be life for the dead! Jowett says: “Words fail him and he employs the strongest he can find, thinking rather of their general force than of their precise signification.” The meaning is: a blessing beyond human imagination. Compare 1 Corinthians 2:9; 1 Peter 4:6.

Verse 16


If the first piece of bread. The symbolism is taken from Numbers 15:17-21. A portion of the grain-harvest was baked into two loaves (Leviticus 23:17) which were presented to God as a sacrifice. This “first-portion” or first piece made the whole loaf holy, including the produce of the entire land. Two thoughts are presented by this symbolism. (1) MacKnight says: “By this similitude [symbolism] the apostle teaches, that as the first converts from among the Jews were most acceptable to God, and became members of his newly-erected visible church, so, when the whole mass or body of the nation is converted, they, in like manner, will be most acceptable to God, and will become members of his visible church. Other holiness is not competent to a whole nation.” (2) The “first piece of bread” is Abraham himself, and the whole loaf is “God’s Chosen People.” This seems to best fit in with Paul’s line of reasoning here. See also Galatians 3:17-18; Galatians 3:29. Romans 11:16 is also further proof of Paul’s claim in Romans 11:1-2. National Israel and God’s Chosen People are not identically the same; and in rejecting most of National Israel, God has not rejected his Chosen People. If the roots. The root is Abraham, and the branches are God’s Chosen People. The symbolism is taken from Jeremiah 11:16-17.

Verse 17


Some of the branches. In the next seven verses, Paul answers an objection which a Gentile Christian might have to his use of the “root and branches” symbolism. The olive tree, of which Abraham is the root, is the chosen family of Abraham – not his descendants in a natural way (of the flesh), but his descendants in a spiritual way (through faith) who are “children of the promise.” Paul draws two special lessons from this: (1) humility, for the Gentiles; (2) hope, for Israel. Have been broken off. Note: not all. but some. And the branch of a wild olive tree. It is very important to notice that the whole cultivated olive tree is not cut down! Only some branches were broken off because of unbelief (Romans 11:20). The wild olive has been joined to the tree among, not instead of, the natural branches which remain. It was the small group of Jewish Christians (Romans 11:5; Romans 11:7) who took the Good News of Christ to the Gentiles!!!

Verse 18


You must not despise. Paul tells the Gentile Christians that they must not despise those Jews who do not believe in Christ (those who were broken off). A farmer grafts cultivated branches on wild stock; the grafting in of the Gentiles is contrary to nature (but no less real). But it is the Gentile who shares the strength and rich life of the Jews, not the other way around.

Verse 19


Yes, but. “I know I am not the root, but the branches were broken off to make room for me. Doesn’t this make me superior to them?”

Verse 20


This is true. This means: “There is some truth in this line of reasoning.” But these branches were not just broken off to make room for the Gentiles. Because they did not believe. What Paul is saying here, helps to explain what he said in Romans 9:14-18. It was their own unbelief which caused them to be broken off. Because you believe. It is faith which joins the Gentile to the tree. Instead, be afraid. This is contrasted with “being proud of yourself.” A religion based on faith (Romans 3:27) does not permit boasting and being proud. See also Ephesians 2:8-10. Unbelief would also break them off!

Verse 21


God did not spare the Jews. If God broke off the natural branches because of their disbelief, he will break off the Gentile branches who cease to believe.

Verse 22


How kind and how severe God is. To those Jews who have fallen, Christ said: “the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you” (Matthew 21:43). Some twelve years after Paul wrote these words, the Roman army surrounded Jerusalem and 1,100,000 Jews (who had fallen) DESTROYED THEMSELVES (see note on Matthew 24:21). But kind to you. God offered the Gentiles a chance to be part of the tree.

Verse 23


And the Jews. They can be part of the tree also. See note on Romans 11:11. The curse of dullness in Romans 11:7-10 is not absolute, then, but vanishes when the Jew believes in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:14). This proves the Jew has free will in this matter. (As this is being written, many Jewish young people are converting to Christ.) [Some see in this a promise that Israel as a nation will declare their faith in Christ, at some future time.]

Verse 24


You Gentiles. If God saves the Gentile, this is proof he will also save the Jew! If the Gentile can be joined to the free of Abraham by faith, how much easier will it be to re-join the Jew who believes in Christ.

Verse 25


There is a secret truth. [MUSTERION = something hidden, which has now been revealed. Compare 1 Corinthians 2:7-10] Otis Gatewood writes: Romans 11:25 does not say that by a special act of God the Jews are blinded until the end of time and the Gentiles come to fully control the political kingdoms of the world. This is exactly what a large host of Gentile preachers teach. They are the ones who are blinded – not the Jews.” Gatewood also says: “Faith comes by hearing the Word of the Lord (Romans 10:17), so when the Word of the Lord was preached, the Jew’s partial blindness was removed and the “fullness of the Gentiles” came in and they were accepted by the Jews on an equal footing with them. This is explained by the Apostle Paul when he said: ‘As a result, there are no Gentiles and Jews, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarians, savages, slaves, or free men, but Christ is all, Christ is in all’ (Colossians 3:11).” Compare Ephesians 2:14-18; Ephesians 3:4-6; Luke 21:24; Matthew 24:14 and notes on each verse. The unbelieving Jews, as a source of persecution, ceased to be a factor after Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D.

Verse 26


And this is how. [HOUTOS = in this way, like this, this is how.] Paul paraphrases Isaiah 59:20 which is a prophecy fulfilled by the first coming of Christ! It is not the “end time” which Paul looks at, but the events before the Days of Punishment (Luke 21:20). The gospel was preached to all the world (Colossians 1:23), and percentage-wise, the complete number of Gentiles did come to God. Josephus, the Jewish historian, says that by the end of the first century, more than one-third of the Jews had become Christians! Christ did come from Zion, he did remove all wickedness (by his imputed righteousness), he did make a new covenant (Hebrews 8:7-13), and every Jew can share in it (Romans 11:23).

Verse 27


When I take away their sins. The central truth here is that the sins of Jacob will be forgiven according to Jehovah’s COVENANT – not the one at Sinai, but the promise to Abraham (Galatians 3:17-18).

Verse 28


The Jews are God’s enemies. Compare Romans 11:11. But because of God’s choice. MacKnight says: “The very persons here said to be beloved [friends] in respect of the election [God’s choice], are in the preceding clause said to be enemies in respect of the gospel. Wherefore, this election cannot be of individuals to eternal life: but it is that national election, whereby the Jews were made the church and people of God. See Romans 9:11 note.”

Verse 29


For God does not change his mind. See Galatians 3:14-18.

Verse 30


As for you Gentiles. The church at Rome was mostly made up of Gentiles. You disobeyed God in the past. See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Because the Jews disobeyed. It is an important fact of Paul’s theology that God’s choosing of the Jews will never be revoked – that is, that the “door of mercy” will always be open for them (Romans 11:23). The Gentiles must not think the Jews are under God’s special curse, and to prevent this, Paul shows that the disobedience of the Jews brought the chance to be saved to the Gentiles.

Verse 31


In order that they also. Some Jews disobeyed God because they saw the Gentiles coming to Christ. Paul’s point is that both Gentile and Jew will receive God’s mercy in Christ. Compare Romans 3:21-24.

Verse 32


For God. “God has placed all men under the sentence of death for their disobedience, in order, that by admitting them into his covenant and church, he might make them aware that he gives a free gift to all.”

Verses 33-36


How great are God’s riches! In response to Romans 11:32, Paul gives a doxology of praise to God! The whole world, with its racism, violence, lust, and unbelief, may seem to be “disorganized confusion!” But when we see it as Paul sees it, God’s Purpose is over all and through all! No one can obligate God by giving anything to him! Man completely depends upon God’s mercy! God has acted in Christ to set men free, and salvation is a free gift to be SEIZED! [Romans 11:34 quotes Isaiah 40:13 Septuagint; Romans 11:35 paraphrases Job 41:11 Septuagint.]

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Romans 11". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/romans-11.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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