God's Faithfulness, Israel's Restoration in Grace
Romans 11

Summary of the truth we have had up to this point. In ch.9 we found that God has always acted in sovereign grace, but that grace does not absolve Israel from their responsibility to accept Christ. In ch.10 we found that Israel has broken the law and rejected the Gospel, and now God has turned to the Gentile and set aside Israel. In ch.11 we will find that Israel is not cast away forever. The Gentiles will eventually reject the grace of God, and their fall from grace will become the occasion of Israel's restoration.

Romans 11 shows that the setting aside of Israel is neither full nor final:
  1. (vv.1-10) It is not full because there is a remnant even at the present time. 
  2. (vv.11-27) It is not final because they will be nationally restored.

Proof #1: God has Preserved a Remnant of Israel at all Times (11:1-10)

Introductory Question (v.1a)

CHAPTER 11
 1a I say then, Has God cast away his people? Far be the thought. v.1a This is the great question of Romans 11. Has God rejected Israel categorically and permanently? The initial responses is "far be the thought" or "don’t even think it". But then, Paul gives three proofs from the Old Testament scriptures to support this claim.
  1. (vv.1-10) God has always maintained a remnant of Israel; be it the 7000 in the days of Elijah, or the Apostle Paul himself. Why would God do that if He was finished with Israel? 
  2. (vv.11-15) Even the call of the Gentiles and setting aside of Israel was not an end in itself, but was done to provoke Israel to jealousy. This shows that God's heart is still towards Israel! 
  3. (vv.16-27) The prophetic scriptures clearly teach that Israel will one day be restored by the Messiah.

Paul Himself is a Remnant of Israel (vv.1b-2a)

1b For *I* also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. v.1b The apostle himself is proof that God isn't done with Israel. Paul was one of those who "pre-trusted" (Eph. 1:12). Paul was the chief of sinners. He had shared in a special way Israel's rejection of Jesus, and could say "beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it" (Gal. 1:13). Yet the grace of God arrested him,and he became one of those who "pre-trusted" (Eph. 1:12). This shows that even after Israel stumbled, God hasn’t categorically cast them off.

2a God has not cast away his people whom he foreknew. v.2a God won't let man's present failure change what He foreknew in a past eternity. When men fail in their responsibility (ch.10), God maintains His sovereignty (ch.9) and secures a remnant (ch.11). A remnant testimony is both: (1) a testimony to the sovereign grace of God, and (2) a testimony to the failure of man. God "foreknew" Israel, and so they will be blessed. The same is true of each of us as individuals.

Even in the Darkest Historical Times God has kept a Remnant (vv.2b-4)

2b Know ye not what the scripture says in the history of Elias, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 "Lord, they have killed thy prophets, they have dug down thine altars; and *I* have been left alone, and they seek my life." [I Kings 19:10]  4 But what says the divine answer to him? "I have left to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed knee to Baal." [I Kings 19:14]  vv.2b-4 Paul now appeals to the Old Testament to illustrate his point. The Spirit used the history of Elijah. Even in the darkest time, God preserved a remnant faithful to Him. Seven thousand is 7 x 1000. Seven tells us the remnant is preserved for Divine purposes and by Divine means. The 1000 tells us the remnant is preserved in view of the Millennium, for they will be the nucleus of the restored nation.

The Moral Basis for God to Keep a Remnant is: His Grace (vv.5-6)

5 Thus, then, in the present time also there has been a remnant according to election of grace. v.5 God's gracious dealings in the past are like those of the present. This "election of grace" are the Jews who believe the Gospel in the present dispensation, elsewhere called "the Israel of God" (Gal. 6:16). They are the first-fruits of the nation, and are a pledge of the ultimate restoration of Israel in the Millennium (Eph. 1:12). They were "elected" or "chosen" by God beforehand. The thought is, since God has done so in the past (vv.2a-4), and in the present (v.1), then He will also preserve a remnant in the future!

Election of Israel vs. Christians. The election of Israel occurred in time ("from the foundation of the world" Matt. 25:34; Rev. 13:8; 17:8), while those who are part of the Assembly were chosen in eternity past ("before the foundation of the world" Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:20). Clearly, Christ and those in heavenly association with Him are the center of the counsel of God. It is also important to notice that while Christians are said to be elect, the Assembly corporately is never said to be elect.

6 But if by grace, no longer of works: since otherwise grace is no more grace. v.6 The preservation of a remnant testimony cannot be on the basis of works, because the mass has already proven to be a failure. The only ground for God to rest on is pure grace. And so, the remnant at the present time is not resting on works, but on grace (ch.9). Yet at the same time they own their responsibility to believe the gospel (ch.10). Paul, by the Spirit of God, never misses an opportunity to proclaim grace and set aside any notion of salvation by works.

While a Remnant is Preserved, the Nation is Judicially Blinded (vv.7-10)

Blindness as Governmental Judgment. In the following verses Paul will show that as a governmental consequence of rejecting Christ, God has blinded the nation of Israel as a whole, even though a remnant is preserved. In John 12:39-41 at the close of the Lord's public ministry, the Spirit quotes from Isaiah 6:9-10 showing that God would judge Israel by turning them over to the hardness of their own hearts. See also 2 Corinthians 3:14-15 where Paul explains that Christ is the object of the Old Testament scriptures. Because Israel rejected the Person of Christ, they became blind to the very scriptures that spoke of Him! Once Israel turns to the Lord, that "veil" will be taken away.

 7 What is it then? What Israel seeks for, that he has not obtained; but the election has obtained, and the rest have been blinded, v.7 What Israel seeks for is the blessing of God. Only a remnant has obtained it (by grace through faith) and the bulk of the nation has been judicially blinded. Similar to what he did in Rom. 10:18-21, again Paul quotes from the Psalms, the Law, and the Prophets in the next few verses to establish his point the that nation has been judicially blinded. See Luke 24:44 for a summary of the three parts of the Old Testament.

Use of the term "the rest". We are familiar with calling the faithful Jews "the rest" or "remnant". But here, in the purposes of God, the faithful few are the "election" and the unbelieving mass is "the rest"! The point is, while they may be small and insignificant in number, they are the objects of blessing in the purposes of God.

8 according as it is written, "God has given to them a spirit of slumber," [Isa. 29:10]  "eyes not to see, and ears not to hear, unto this day." [Deut. 29:4]  v.8 Light rejected brings greater darkness. God will not allow the apostate nation to see His goodness. Only when they return to the point of departure (rejection of Christ) will the veil be taken away (2 Cor. 3:16).

9 And David says, "Let their table be for a snare, and for a gin, and for a fall-trap, and for a recompense to them: 10 let their eyes be darkened not to see, and bow down their back alway." [Psa. 69:22-23]  vv.9-10 This is a quotation from Psa. 69, which is the Lord's imprecatory prayer on the cross. It is solemn to thing that He would be One to invoke the judgment of God on the nation of Israel. A "table" in scripture speaks of fellowship in connection with an approach to God (1 Cor. 10:21). "Their table" is Israel's religious system apart from Christ. Jewish religion apart from Christ has a blinding influence. And we might well add that Judaizing teaching can have a blinding effect on Christians as well (Heb. 13:10).


Proof #2: The Fall of Israel and Rise of Gentiles has Israel at Heart (11:11-15)

Is Paul's second proof drawn from scripture? The apostle is alluding to Deut. 32:21 where Jehovah says that Israel's idolatry provoked Him to jealousy, and so His picking up the Gentiles in grace was to provoke Israel to jealousy. "They have moved me to jealousy with that which is no God; They have exasperated me with their vanities; And I will move them to jealousy with that which is not a people; With a foolish nation will I provoke them to anger."

Israel's fall opened a Door to Gentiles, yet Intended Final Jewish Blessing (v.11)

 11 I say then, Have they stumbled ['ptaiō', stumbled] in order that they might fall ['piptō', fall beyond recovery]? Far be the thought: but by their fall ['paraptōma', transgression] there is salvation to the nations to "provoke them to jealousy" [Deut. 32:21]v.11 Does Israel's "slip" mean that God has abandoned Israel forever? Has Israel fallen out of God's purpose to bless them? Far be the thought. God always works with blessing in mind! Judgment is not an end in itself. Even in setting aside Israel and bringing in the Gentiles, God has a Jewish motive at heart! God wants to provoke jealousy in the sense that perhaps the Jew, looking on at Christianity, would see the spiritual blessing of the Gentiles and have in them a desire awakened for the lost fellowship with Jehovah. Some have wondered if this verse contradicts itself by saying that Israel didn't fall but they did fall. Of course there is really no contradiction. Two different Greek words are both translated "fall", the first is 'piptō' (G4072) which means to fall beyond recovery, and the second one is 'paraptōma' (G3895) which has the thought of a transgression.

Yet there is no Reason to Doubt God's Heart for the Gentiles (v.12)

12 But if their fall be the world’s wealth, and their loss the wealth of the nations, how much rather their fulness? v.12 The question might come into the Gentile mind; does God really have a heart for me? or am I merely God's utility to provoke Israel to jealousy? No! God has always had Gentile blessing at heart. Israel's loss has been the Gentiles' gain. This reversal is traced in the Book of Acts; read Acts 13:46-48; 18:5-6; 28:24-28. The "wealth of the nations" refers to the favor that God has extended to the Gentiles through the spread of the gospel. Not that all Gentiles will believe, but that the glorious Gospel has gone to them. "How much rather [Israel's] fullness?"; i.e. things will only go up from here for believing Gentiles! All the prophecies of Millennial blessing for the world (Gentiles included) await the restoration of Israel as the center of blessing for the earth. The Gospel is going out today in a limited way to "the regions beyond", but in the day of Israel's restoration the Gospel of the kingdom will go to the whole world, and multitudes will be saved (Rev. 7:9; 14:6; Hab 2:14)! 

Even Paul had a Jewish motive in Preaching to the Gentiles (vv.13-14)

13 For I speak to you, the nations, inasmuch as *I* am apostle of nations, I glorify my ministry; 14 if by any means I shall provoke to jealousy them which are my flesh, and shall save some from among them. vv.13-14 Paul now resumes speaking directly to the Gentiles from vv.13-32. Paul was in no way disregarding his special mission as "the apostle to the uncircumcision" (Gal. 2:7). It might seem strange to some that Paul spends so much time to address Jewish questions when writing to Gentiles. Here he reminds the Romans that their blessing is consequent on Israel's slip. In other words, "you wouldn’t be saved and I wouldn’t have this job if it weren't for this great dispensational change. The least I can do is elevate my ministry among the Gentiles, because only that will stir up the Jews through jealousy and save some of them".

There is Good Reason for Everyone to Desire Israel's Restoration (v.15)

15 For if their casting away be the world’s reconciliation, what their reception but life from among the deadv.15 In one verse we get the casting away and the receiving back the nation of Israel. Things are looking good! If the setting aside of Israel (Lo-ammi) was turned by God into blessing for the Gentiles, then how much more will result from their reception (Ammi). The "world’s reconciliation" refers to the "drawing nigh" of the Gentiles through the gospel of the grace of God "preached to every creature" (Col. 1:23). It is not talking about reconciliation in the eternal sense, as in Rom. 5:11. "Life from among the dead" refers to the Millennium, or "the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory" (Matt. 19:28). It will be a time of blessing and restoration that is far beyond what we see in Christianity, although the Gospel going out today is the down-payment of it. It is not talking about the resurrection of the body.


Proof #3: The Scriptures Clearly Teach Israel's Restoration (11:16-27)

The Olive Tree. The illustration of "the olive tree" shows that Israel has been set aside in God's government, but that there is nothing hindering God from restoring them to that place of blessing. Not only is God able restore them, it will easy for Him to do it! The Olive Tree speaks of a place of promise and blessing into which men are introduced. Trees grow in the earth, and those "in" this tree partake of outward, earthly blessing, but they are not necessarily genuine believers; e.g. Heb. 6:4-6. It speaks of association by profession, not our vital link with Christ. It is a great mistake to think that partaking in the Olive Tree means eternal salvation. This has led some to believe that Christians can lose their salvation, just as the branches are broken out (v.22).

The Gentiles too will Fail in Unbelief (vv.16-21)

 16 Now if the first-fruit be holy, the lump also; and if the root be holy, the branches also. v.16 Now Paul is going to establish the principle of association. He uses two figures to do this; (1) a lump of dough, and (2) an olive tree. Both figures, that of the first-fruit with the lump (see Num. 15:19-21) and the root with the branches show the relationship between the nation of Israel and their ancestor. After the flood, men rebelled against the patriarchal authority, and God divided their languages to form nations. The nations fell into idolatry, and God called one man out from all of those relationships in separation from evil. That one was Abraham, to whom He gave special promises. Abraham was the "holy first-fruit" and "holy root" that is here referred to. Kelly insists that both illustrations really point to Abraham. The lump and the branches are "holy" in the sense of occupying a sanctified place (this is an example of Provisional Sanctification, see also 1 Cor. 7:14). The "lump" refers to the nation of Israel as a whole, and also the "branches" refer to the Jews as a people-group.

17 Now if some of the branches have been broken out, and *thou*, being a wild olive tree, hast been grafted in amongst them, and hast become a fellow-partaker of the root and of the fatness of the olive tree, v.17 God will not allow branches to remain in His tree which are not in keeping with the root. Some bad branches were "broken out", referring to Israel's being judicially set aside in A.D. 70. Only "some", because there is still a remnant of Jews during the Church period! The "wild olive tree" refers to the Gentiles after the flesh, which were outside the sphere of blessing, afar off from God, and at a distance from Israel (Eph. 2:11-12). But now, wild branches (the largely Gentile Christian profession, Acts 15:14) have been grafted into a place of blessing "among" the believing remnant of the Jews. In this place, they "partake of the root", that is, enter into association with Abraham. They also partake of the "fatness" of the tree, which would be the special privilege of the people of God in a collective sense; not individual spiritual blessings. Notice, the wild branches are not the Church. The Church is heavenly in character, and is entirely distinct from Israel.

18 boast not against the branches; but if thou boast, it is not *thou* bearest the root, but the root thee. v.18 We need to remember our place in the tree. If we, as Gentiles, begin to think that we are worthy of the place of blessing which we occupy, we are going to get into trouble. The branches do not "bear" the root, but the root "bears" the branches. We stand in a place where "boasting" is impossible to the intelligent Christian. We are here unnaturally. A good example of the wild branches boasting is seen in the false church (Rev. 18:7).

19 Thou wilt say then, The branches have been broken out in order that *I* might be grafted in. 20 Right: they have been broken out through unbelief, and *thou* standest through faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: 21 if God indeed has not spared the natural branches; lest it might be he spare not thee either. vv.19-21 There is no room for pride, or for boastfulness. There was nothing attractive in the Gentiles that caused God to set aside Israel in favor of them! The Gentiles have come in through faith, but the "exit sign" has been brightly illuminated by Israel's experience. If the Gentile profession apostatizes, and falls into widespread unbelief (this has happened) then God will not spare them any more than He did the Jews. Here is the message of warning; if the Gentiles abandon the principle of faith, they will loose their place in the tree of promise. God is perfectly just.

The Gentiles’ failure will Open into Israel's Restoration (vv.22-27)

 22 Behold then the goodness and severity of God: upon them who have fallen, severity; upon thee goodness of God, if thou shalt abide in goodness, since otherwise *thou* also wilt be cut away. v.22 Now we have a concise description of the government of God. Consider these two principles; God is good to those who fear Him, and severe on those who reject Him. These principles are universal. Have the Gentiles continued in the goodness of God? Just read Revelation 2 and 3 to see the failure of the candlesticks. The cutting away of the wild branches refers to the judgment of apostate Christendom at 3 1/2 years into the tribulation.

23 And *they* too, if they abide not in unbelief, shall be grafted in; for God is able again to graft them in. v.23 The principle works both ways. A remnant of Israel will turn to the Lord in faith again. God is good, and He will restore them to their place of blessing once again.

24 For if *thou* hast been cut out of the olive tree wild by nature, and, contrary to nature, hast been grafted into the good olive tree, how much rather shall they, who are according to nature be grafted into their own olive tree? v.24 Not only is God "able" to restore Israel (v.23), but it will be easy, or "natural" for Him to do it! Note that the "wild olive tree" is left to stand by itself, and "thou" (singular) a portion of the wild tree was cut out, and grafted into the good tree for blessing. It is "wild by nature", not in the sense that the flesh in the Jew is any better (see Rom. 3:9), but that the Gentiles were strangers from the covenants of promise. The Jew is in a sense accustomed to having those privileges we never had.

25 For I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, of this mystery, that ye may not be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the nations be come in; 26a and so all Israel shall be saved. vv.25-26a Paul would let us in on a great "mystery" or secret now revealed. The blindness of Israel is only in part; neither full nor final. Ignorance of this mystery leads Christians to be "wise in their own conceits" or lifted up in pride. Amillenialists and Covenant Theologians should take note. Denying Israel's future restoration leads to spiritual pride! We are no better than they. Their blindness is only "in part" (not full) and "until" (not final). It is only "in part" because a remnant has been saved. It is only "until" the "fullness of the Gentiles" is come in. That term refers to the time when the full number of Gentiles that have been called out of the nations for blessing will be gathered in; this will be at the rapture! And then, after seven years of tribulation, all Israel shall be saved. "All Israel" refers to the true Israel, those who have Abraham's faith as well as his blood (Rom. 9:6), a remnant.

26b According as it is written, "The deliverer shall come out of Zion; he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. 27 And this is the covenant from me to them, when I shall have taken away their sins." [Isa. 59:20-21]  vv.26b-27 They will be "saved" in two senses by Christ, according to this quotation from Isa. 59:20-21.
  1. Physically. Christ (the Deliverer) will roar out of Zion (Joel 3:16) to defeat the enemies that have assembled against them. 
  2. Spiritually. Under the direction of Messiah, Israel will be turned away from their ungodliness. According to the terms of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31) the sins of Israel (idolatry, crucifying the Messiah) will be taken away in a governmental sense from the nation, although the price was of course paid at the cross.


A Summary of Israel's Portion Today (11:28-29)

vv.28-29 God continues to show love to the Jews on the basis of His sovereignty, and His faithfulness to the unconditional promises He made to their fathers. We are to love them too.

28 As regards the glad tidings, they are enemies on your account; but as regards election, beloved on account of the fathers. v.28 Not "they are your enemies" but "enemies for your sake". The Jews are enemies in the sense that they are in the outside place, which the Gentiles had occupied previously. But "for your account" that we Gentiles might be blessed! This is not saying that we need to treat Jews as enemies because the rest of the verse makes that plain. Rather, biblical Christians will always hold a special place in their hearts for God's earthly chosen people. That special affection is "on account of the fathers". Not that we can condone the sins of the Jews, but on account of their natural link to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. Not understanding dispensational truth can give way to wrong attitudes toward the Jews. Luther and many others fell into Anti-Semitism. In 1543 he wrote a 65,000-word book titled On the Jews and Their Lies, in which he said:

"What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? … I shall give you my sincere advice: First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians… Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. … Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, [etc.] be taken from them. Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. … Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. … Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. … Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow [i.e. forced labor]. … Burn down their synagogues, … force them to work, and deal harshly with them, as Moses did in the wilderness, slaying three thousand lest the whole people perish."
-- Martin Luther, 1543

Not one of these seven items did Adolf Hitler fail to enact… but he went even further, to commit genocide. And you think dispensational truth isn't important?

29 For the gifts and the calling of God are not subject to repentance. v.29 This is a beautiful assurance of and testimony to the faithfulness of God. He keeps every promise He makes, and never takes back a gift. "God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? Or bath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?" (Num. 23:19). Whether it be unconditional promises gifted to Abraham, or His sovereign call for blessing, God will never change His mind about the nation of Israel. He is "not subject to repentance" in that it isn't even in the scope of possibilities for God to take back His promises. If He could, what would that mean for Christian blessings, and our eternal security?

"Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD." (Jer. 31:35-37)


In the final analysis God has accomplished two wonderful things in His wisdom: the promises are fulfilled, and every aspiration to human righteousness is utterly obliterated. The failure of both Jew and Gentile puts the whole world onto the ground of God’s sovereign mercy… wow! "What hath God wrought!" (Num. 23:23).

30 For as indeed *ye* also once have not believed in God, but now have been objects of mercy through the unbelief of *these*; 31 so these also have now not believed in your mercy, in order that *they* also may be objects of mercy. 32 For God hath shut up together all in unbelief, in order that he might shew mercy to all. vv.30-32 Why did God choose this whole dispensational scheme of Jew  Gentile  Jew again? These verses give us the answer and provide an insight into God's thoughts. He did it this way to bless the whole earth (Jew and Gentile) in the Millennium, and do it all on the principle of sovereign mercy in spite of unbelief! In the final analysis, God will be glorified, man will be blessed, and there will be no room for any to boast. Only a Divine Mind could conceive of this. Such wisdom calls for a celebration!


Doxology: A Celebration of the Wisdom & Resources of God (11:33-36)

Paul concludes with a doxology, or burst of praise. This is a common theme with Paul, whenever bringing out high or deep truths. Whether it be the love of God (Rom. 8:38-39, Eph. 3:20-21), the grace of God (1 Tim. 1:17), or His wisdom (Rom. 11:33-36).

33 O depth of riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable his judgments, and untraceable his ways! v.33 All the sovereign purposes of God are worked out, not only in-spite of man's failure, but through it like a master weaver! It is all done in such a way as to cause us to be in awe of His wisdom and knowledge.

34 For "who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor?" [Isa. 40:13]  35 or "who has first given to him, and it shall be rendered to him?" [Job 41:11]  v.34 A quotation from Isa. 40:13 is employed to affirm that all God's wisdom and knowledge has its source in Himself, and is far above man and his puny thoughts. This same verse is quoted in 1 Cor. 2:16 again to emphasize the greatness of the wisdom of God, but then it goes on to say that "we have the mind of Christ"! In other words, by the Spirit indwelling us, we can actually enter into communion with the mind of God! But here in Romans is simply used as an exclamation of the greatness and exclusivity of God's wisdom. v.35 A second quotation follows from Job to show that the resources to accomplish His purpose are all His own.

36 For of him, and through him, and for him are all things: to him be glory for ever. Amen. v.36 It is all about Him! Man is nowhere in this beautiful conclusion. He is:
  1. The Origination (Source). The plan, the purpose, the resources for the blessing of the universe are "of Him". 
  2. The Implementation (Agent). It will all be brought to pass "through Him"; not only the power of God, but also the price He paid. 
  3. The Destination (Object). All things will be brought together "for Him" or "to Him". In the final analysis, it will all redound in glory brought "to Him".
And so objective knowledge of the things of God - rightly held in the heart - will always result in the soul welling up in worship, praise, and thanksgiving. Paul concludes the doxology with "Amen", a fitting Christian response to the affirmation of God's glory and wisdom!.