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Romans 11:32

ESV For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
NIV For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
NASB For God has shut up all in disobedience, so that He may show mercy to all.
CSB For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may have mercy on all.
NLT For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.
KJV For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
NKJV For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

What does Romans 11:32 mean?

This verse is a profound declaration of truth, but it must be understood in the narrow context of this specific passage. Paul is not teaching that every single person, of all time, will receive God's mercy. This idea, known as universalism, would contradict what Paul has written previously: that the only way to be saved is by accepting Christ (Romans 10:9–10). Paul has made abundantly clear that the opportunity to receive God's mercy, instead of the deserved payment for our sin (Romans 6:23), is something accessible only through Jesus Christ.

Instead, the word "all" should be understood in reference to the two people groups Paul has been discussing throughout this chapter: the Jews and the Gentiles. God has turned both groups—"all"—over to their disobedience for a time so that people from both groups may receive mercy from Him in the right time through faith in Christ.

What does it mean that God consigned each group to disobedience? In Romans 1, Paul described God's reaction to the sinful unbelief of the Gentiles. He gave them up or turned them over to their own sinful desires (Romans 1:24, 26, 28). In a similar way, God is described as having hardened the Israelites in their initial unbelief in Christ for a season (Romans 11:25).

In the end, though, God will show mercy to people in both groups— to "all"—by His grace and through their faith in Christ.
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