Romans 11

In which I write bible study notes on Romans 11 in an unusual style, just for kicks.

In which the Jews, as a race, are still God’s people, but not because of their descent. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.
In which most Jews have failed to obtain their promised status as Children of God, but a select few are kept close to God. “I have kept for myself seven thousand men…”
In which those Jews who are faithful to God are not so because of merit, but because of God’s grace. There is a remnant, chosen by grace.

In which this lamentable situation is shown to have been caused by God himself. “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”
In which this was accomplished by God not for the damnation of the Jews, but for the salvation of all regardless of race. Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles…
In which it is shown that the salvation of the Jewish people, at large, is God’s aim in his plans to harden the hearts of the Jews. … through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles…
In which salvation for the Gentiles also stirs up jealousy in the Jews in order to bring them all to God in the true way. … so as to make Israel jealous.
In which the promised fullness of salvation for the Jewish people will bring a greater blessing to the Gentiles than their salvation meant during the Jews’ rejection of Christ. … how much more will their full inclusion mean!

In which Paul identifies his mission to the Jews as also having the purpose of causing some of his fellow Jews to come to faith. … I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.
In which the root-branch metaphor is used to several purposes:

  • To warn the Gentile believers to not be arrogant of their salvation, for “salvation comes from the Jews.” … it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.
  • To show that inclusion in the plant is not by merit, but by faith given through God’s grace, and so precludes any boasting. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.
  • To display God’s simultaneous severity and kindness. … severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you…
  • To display God’s power, for he can both remove branches and graft them back in. … for God has the power to graft them in again. And especially the Jews. … how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

In which Paul issues a second warning against arrogance in the Gentiles. Lest you be wise in your own sight…
In which it is revealed that the Jews’ hard hearts are partially and temporarily so. … a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
In which “all Israel” are promised salvation. And in this way all Israel will be saved…
In which it is revealed that the promised salvation is shown to be God’s plan from long ago, as it is described by Isaiah. … he will banishe ungodliness from Jacob … when I take away their sins.

In which the Gentiles are given a paradox: The Jews are their enemies in the gospel for the sake of the Gentiles. As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake…
In which the Gentiles are to love the Jews as fellow heirs of God because of God’s promises to their forefathers. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
In which a circle is demonstrated by the Gentiles receiving salvation through the Jews, and the Jews in turn receiving salvation through the Gentiles. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.
In which our status before God is universal, and his mercy as well. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

In which God’s ways are opaque to us, but glorious in his exceeding wisdom and justice. The famous doxology in which Paul cannot understand the mysterious reasons for the way in which the Lord works, but in faith believes and gives praise.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.


Where does that leave human happiness? As Piper puts it, “God is most glorified is us when we are most satisfied in him.” His purpose for us leads to supreme delight in us. It is Actualization, but without the prefix “self-“, because we do not exist for our own purpose, but for God’s purpose. In humbly accepting God’s lordship over us, we find that he is thoroughly good.

In light of this chapter, tt seems to me that “replacement theology” is bogus. It cannot be said that the Gentiles have replaced the Jewish people as God’s chosen people. The temporary partial hardening will end when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Paul must have foreseen that this would become an issue, since he warns twice: first, in the clear metaphor of the olive tree, and second with Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers…


How can it be said that the Jewish people “stumble” only temporarily? The quoted Davidian psalm says “and bend their backs forever.” Sounds pretty eternal to me.
Why would God harden the hearts of the Jewish people in order to set in motion a string of events that would eventually un-harden the hearts of the Jewish people? Is this the point that causes Paul to stop making logical arguments and declare the inscrutability of the Lord’s actions?
Does the phrase “and thus save some of them” mean that not all Jews will be saved? Or only that he wishes to do his part in reaching all of those whom God ordained for Paul to reach? If the first, it seems correct with our understanding that many are not elected, but it would contradict v. 26.


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