1 I ask then, did God reject his people? May it never be! For I also am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God didn't reject his people, which he foreknew. Or don't you know what the Scripture says about Elijah? How he pleads with God against Israel: 3 "Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have broken down your altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life." 4 But how does God answer him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. 7 What then? That which Israel seeks for, that he didn't obtain, but the chosen ones obtained it, and the rest were hardened. 8 According as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, to this very day." 9 David says, "Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, a stumbling block, and a retribution to them. 10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see. Bow down their back always." 11 I ask then, did they stumble that they might fall? May it never be! But by their fall salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Now if their fall is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness? 13 For I speak to you who are Gentiles. Since then as I am an apostle to Gentiles, I glorify my ministry; 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh, and may save some of them. 15 For if the rejection of them is the reconciling of the world, what would their acceptance be, but life from the dead? 16 If the first fruit is holy, so is the lump. If the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them, and became partaker with them of the root and of the richness of the olive tree; 18 don't boast over the branches. But if you boast, it is not you who support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in." 20 True; by their unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by your faith. Don't be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God didn't spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 See then the goodness and severity of God. Toward those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 They also, if they don't continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more will these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? 25 For I don't desire you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery, so that you won't be wise in your own conceits, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and so all Israel will be saved. Even as it is written, "There will come out of Zion the Deliverer, and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. 27 This is my covenant to them, when I will take away their sins." 28 Concerning the Good News, they are enemies for your sake. But concerning the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sake. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For as you in time past were disobedient to God, but now have obtained mercy by their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that by the mercy shown to you they may also obtain mercy. 32 For God has shut up all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all. 33 Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out! 34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" 35 "Or who has first given to him, and it will be repaid to him again?" 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen.
God has not universally nor finally rejected Israel; nor are they all at present rejecters of the Gospel, for there is a remnant of true believers now, as there was in the days of the Prophet Elijah, Romans 11:1-5. These have embraced the Gospel, and are saved by grace, and not by the works of the law, Romans 11:6. The body of the Israelites, having rejected this, are blinded, according to the prophetic declaration of David, Romans 11:7-10. But they have not stumbled, so as to be finally rejected; but through their fall, salvation is come to the Gentiles, Romans 11:11-14. There is hope of their restoration, and that the nation shall yet become a holy people, Romans 11:15, Romans 11:16. The converted Gentiles must not exult over the fallen Jews; the latter having fallen by unbelief, the former stand by faith, Romans 11:17-20. The Jews, the natural branches, were broken off from the true olive, and the Gentiles having been grafted in, in their place, must walk uprightly, else they also shall be cut off, Romans 11:21, Romans 11:22. The Jews, if they abide not in unbelief, shall be again grafted in; and when the fullness of the Gentiles is come in, the great Deliverer shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob, according to the covenant of God, Romans 11:23-27. For the sake of their forefathers God loves them, and will again call them, and communicate His gifts to them, Romans 11:28, Romans 11:29. The Gospel shall he again sent to them, as it has now been sent to the Gentiles, Romans 11:30-32. This procedure is according to the immensity of the wisdom, knowledge, and unsearchable judgments of God, who is the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, and to whom all adoration is due, Romans 11:33-36.
This chapter is of the prophetic kind. It was by the spirit of prophecy that the apostle foresaw the rejection of the Jews, which he supposes in the two preceding chapters; for when he wrote the epistle they were not in fact, rejected, seeing their polity and Church were then standing. But the event has proved that he was a true prophet; for we know that in about ten or eleven years after the writing of this letter the temple was destroyed, the Jewish polity overthrown, and the Jews expelled out of the promised land, which they have never been able to recover to the present day.
1. confirms the arguments which the apostle had advanced to establish the calling of the Gentiles. For the Jews are, in fact, rejected; consequently, our calling is, in fact, not invalidated by any thing they suggested, relative to the perpetuity of the Mosaic dispensation. But that dispensation being wholly subverted, our title to the privileges of God's Church and people stands clear and strong; the Jewish constitution only could furnish objections against our claim; and the event has silenced every objection from that quarter.
2. The actual rejection of the Jews proves Paul to be a true apostle of Jesus Christ, and that he spoke by the Spirit of God; otherwise, he could not have argued so fully upon a case which was yet to come, and of which there was no appearance in the state of things when he wrote this epistle. And this very circumstance should induce us to pay great attention to this chapter, in which he discourses concerning the extent and duration of the rejection of his countrymen, to prevent their being insulted and despised by the Gentile Christians.
(1) As to the extent of this rejection, it is not absolutely universal; some of the Jews have embraced the Gospel, and are incorporated into the Christian Church with the believing Gentiles. Upon the case of these believing Jews he comments, Romans 11:1-7.
(2) As to the duration of it, it is not final and perpetual, for all Israel, or the nation of the Jews, which is now blinded, shall one day be saved or brought again into the kingdom or covenant of God. Upon the state of these blinded Jews he comments, Romans 11:7 to the end of the chapter. His design, in discoursing upon this subject, was not only to make the thing itself known, but partly to engage the attention of the unbelieving Jew; to conciliate his favor, and, if possible, to induce him to come into the Gospel scheme; and partly to dispose the Gentile Christians not to treat the Jews with contempt; (considering that they derived all their present blessings from the patriarchs, the ancestors of the Jewish nation, and were engrafted into the good olive tree, whence the Jews had been broken); and to admonish them to take warning by the fall of the Jews; to make a good improvement of their religious privileges, lest, through unbelief, any of them should relapse into heathenism, or perish finally at the last day.
The thread of his discourse leads him into a general survey and comparison of the several dispensations of God towards the Gentiles and Jews; and he concludes this survey with adoration of the depths of the Divine knowledge and wisdom exercised in the various constitutions erected in the world, Romans 11:30-36.
INTRODUCTION TO ROMANS 11
The apostle having spoken of the calling of the Gentiles, and given a hint of the perverseness of the Jews in slighting the Gospel, proceeds in this chapter to treat of their rejection; in which he shows, that it was not universal, though of the greater part in his time; and which he confirms by some passages out of the Old Testament, and then points at the end and design of God in the casting them off; and exhorts the Gentiles not to insult them, but to learn to be humble and cautious by what was done to them; and foretells the conversion of the Jews in the latter day, which will be general, so that their rejection is not final; and resolves the whole dispensation of God, both with respect to Jews and Gentiles, into the unsearchable wisdom and sovereign will of God: he begins with an objection he saw would be made upon what he had said, concerning the calling of the Gentiles, and the unbelief of the Jews, that then God had wholly cast off his people, Romans 11:1, to which he answers with a "God forbid", by way of detestation; and by instancing in himself, who was of the people of the Jews, and yet was called; and by distinguishing between some and others among them: there were some who were foreknown, loved, and chosen of God from everlasting: these were not cast off, but others who were not foreknown, Romans 11:2, and then he illustrates the present case of the Jews by observing how it was with them in the times of Elias; who though he complained of their apostasy and cruelty, and imagined that there were none left but himself that worshipped the true God, yet there were then seven thousand, which were preserved from the idolatry of Baal, Romans 11:2, and so the apostle observes it was now, Romans 11:5, there was a small number whom God of his free grace had chosen, and reserved for himself, and so were not all cast away, as the objection suggested; and having called this choice an election of grace, he argues the contrariety and inconsistency of grace and works in this affair, Romans 11:6, and since it appeared that there were two sorts of people among them, one that were chosen and the other not, hence it was, that though Israel did not obtain the righteousness they sought for, yet they that were chosen obtained it, and so were not cast away, when the rest were, Romans 11:7, and that so it should be, or that this should be the case of the greater part of the Jews, that they should be given up to blindness and hardness of heart, the apostle proves by some testimonies of Isaiah and David, which he produces, Romans 11:8, hence follows an objection, that if this be the case, then God had appointed them to stumble, that they might fall even all of them, and always continue fallen; to which the apostle answers with a "God forbid", as usual, when anything is objected which is abhorred; and by observing the view, event, and order of things; showing, that the fall of the Jews issued in the salvation of the Gentiles; and the salvation of the Gentiles was to provoke the Jews to seek the same mercy, Romans 11:11, and then follows an improvement and illustration of this end, or event of their fall, Romans 11:12, that if the fall and lessening of the Jews were the means of enriching the Gentiles with the riches of Christ and his grace, what a glory must be brought to them, when they should all of them be converted and join them! and that the rejection of the Jews was neither total nor final, the apostle argues from his office, even as an apostle of the Gentiles, whom he addresses as such, Romans 11:13, and from his view and end in executing that office, which was to provoke the Jews to emulate the Gentiles, and so save some of them, Romans 11:14, and then he repeats in other words, Romans 11:15, the argument he had used in Romans 11:12, and proves the future conversion of the Jews, from the instances of conversion and sanctification, which had been, and were then among them; which were as the firstfruits to the lump, and the root to the branches; and were pledges and tokens of a general conversion and sanctification of them hereafter, Romans 11:16, and by occasion of the metaphor of the root and branches before used, he expresses the rejection of the Jews, by the breaking off some of the branches, and the reception of the Gentiles by their ingrafting into a Gospel church state among the converted Jews, enjoying the same privileges with them, Romans 11:17, and since they were originally of a wild olive tree, and merely of grace partook of the root and fatness of the good olive of the Gospel church state, as consisting first of the Jews, they ought not to be haughty and insolent, and boast and brag over the Jews, since they were beholden to them, and not the Jews to them, Romans 11:18, and whereas an objection might be made, that the Jews were cast out, to make room for the Gentiles, Romans 11:19, and therefore the one must be more deserving than the other; the apostle replies to it, Romans 11:20 by granting, that the one were broken off, or rejected, that the other might be ingrafted, or taken in but then as it was owing to unbelief in the Jews that they were cast off, in which the Gentiles were before conversion as well as they, so it was by faith they stood in their church relation, which was the gift of God, and owing to his grace; so that their ingrafting and continuance in a Gospel church state were not the effect of merit in them; wherefore he gives them this good advice, not to be proud and lifted up with their privileges, as though they were of their own deserving, but to fear the Lord and his goodness, from whence they sprung; and suggests, that they should be so far from making such an use of the rejection of the Jews, that it ought rather to engage them to caution, care, and fear; for they were the natural branches in the olive tree, and if these were not spared when behaving disagreeably, they must not expect to fare otherwise, who were originally of the wild olive tree, should they act unworthy of the privileges they enjoyed, Romans 11:21, wherefore the apostle recommends to their serious consideration the severity of God in the casting off of the Jews, and his goodness in taking in them, the Gentiles; and threatens them with cutting off, should they slight, neglect, or misuse the goodness of God to them in his house and ordinances, Romans 11:22, and on the other hand, an intimation is given, that the Jews, though broken off shall be grafted in again, should their unbelief discontinue, and faith in Christ be given them, which was not impossible with God; he is able both to remove their unbelief, give them faith, and reinstate them in a church relation, Romans 11:23, and as it is without doubt he can do it, it looks very likely that he will; which may be argued from the ingrafting of the Gentiles, who were like the olive tree, wild by nature; were cut out from thence, and, contrary to nature, grafted into the good olive tree; wherefore by an argument from the lesser to the greater, much more may it be thought, that the Jews, the natural branches, will, in God's own time, be grafted in their former church state, some of their ancestors were in, Romans 11:24, yea, the apostle argues the certainty of their conversion, and reinstatement into the Gospel church, from the design of Providence in suffering blindness in part to happen to them; which was not intended always to continue, only until all the elect of God are gathered in among the Gentiles; and this mystery of Providence and grace, he thought fit to acquaint the Gentiles with, lest they should be conceited of themselves, as if they only shared the favour of God, and were deserving of it, to the contempt of the Jews, Romans 11:25, Moreover, the apostle affirms that all Israel shall be saved, Romans 11:26, which is consequentially deduced from what he had said, and which he proves by a passage, out of Isaiah 59:20, and by its being a principal part of the covenant, which God has made with them, which he will not break, but shall be fulfilled; when he shall make them sensible of their sins, and take them away by the application of his pardoning grace, Romans 11:27, and whereas the implacable enmity of the Jews to Christ and his Gospel might be objected to such a gracious procedure of God towards them, the apostle removes the objection, by granting that they were enemies to the Gospel on account of the Gentiles, to whom it was preached; but then there was a chosen people among them, who were beloved of God; which would be made manifest, because of the oath and promise made unto their their fathers, Romans 11:28, wherefore as the purposes, promises, and covenant of God are immutable, so the gifts of his grace, and the calling of his people included in them, are things certain and irrevocable, Romans 11:29, and so the calling of the Jews, and the gifts of his grace designed for them, which is another proof of their calling and conversion; and which is further argued, and made both more probable and certain, by comparing the case of the Jews and Gentiles together; as for the Gentiles, they were formerly infidels and obtained mercy, through the unbelief of the Jews, Romans 11:30, wherefore arguing from the less probable to that which is more so, the Jews, though for the present unbelievers, yet it may be thought, that through the mercy the Gentiles had received, they would some time or other be provoked to seek for, and so obtain the same mercy, Romans 11:31, and the rather this may be given into and received, not only because they both have been in a state of unbelief, but the end and design of God in concluding them in it, were to have mercy on each of them, Romans 11:32, which dispensation of God both to one and to the other by turns, in different ways, was so amazing and unaccountable to the apostle, that he breaks out into admiration at the wisdom and knowledge of God: which were so abundant, that they could not be searched out, conceived of, and expressed, Romans 11:33, the reasons of which lay in his own breast, and are only known to himself no one having known his mind, or been his counsellor, Romans 11:34, nor is he obliged to give an account of his matters, and the reasons of his proceedings, to any of his creatures; he is not indebted to them for anything, nor does he any injustice to any of them, by whatsoever steps he takes in Providence and grace; let that appear, and recompense will be made, Romans 11:35, everything must be resolved into his sovereign will and pleasure, and so this of choosing some, and leaving others, of rejecting the Jews, and receiving the Gentiles, and also that of calling the Jews again; as it is reasonable everything should, since all things are from him, through him, and to him, Romans 11:36, and so all glory is due unto him, and here ends the doctrinal part of this epistle.
(Romans 11:1-10) The rejection of the Jews is not universal.
(Romans 11:11-21) God overruled their unbelief for making the Gentiles partakers of gospel privileges.
(Romans 11:22-32) The Gentiles cautioned against pride and unbelief, The Jews shall be called as a nation, and brought into God's visible covenant again.
(Romans 11:33-36) A solemn adoring of the wisdom, goodness, and justice of God.
SUMMARY.--A Part of Israel Saved. The Rest Blinded by their Hardness of Heart. The Salvation of the Gentiles through the Fall of Israel. The Figure of the Two Olive Trees. The Jewish Branches Broken Off. The Gentile Branches Grafted In. Yet Israel Shall Be Saved. God's Unsearchable Judgments.
*More commentary available by clicking individual verses.