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Romans 11:7

ESV What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,
NIV What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened,
NASB What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened;
CSB What then? Israel did not find what it was looking for, but the elect did find it. The rest were hardened,
NLT So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have — the ones God has chosen — but the hearts of the rest were hardened.
KJV What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.
NKJV What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

What does Romans 11:7 mean?

Paul begins this verse with the simple question, "What then?" He is asking about the implication of his teaching in the previous verses: that a small portion—a remnant—of Israelites have come to God by faith in Christ. How does this fit with what Paul has written about God's grace and Israel earlier in Romans?

He repeats that Israel, meaning both the nation and the clear majority of the Jewish people, failed to obtain what was sought. This echoes what Paul wrote in Romans 9:31: that Israel pursued a law that would lead to righteousness but failed in reaching or keeping that law. In other words, they failed to reach God's righteousness.

The "elect," on the other hand, did obtain the righteousness of God. Paul describes those who have come to God by faith in Christ as the elect. This term, in general, refers to both Jews and Gentiles, but Paul here seems to be talking about the Jews who have become believers as the elect. This group obtained righteousness by their faith in Christ and not by obeying the law (Romans 9:30).

Although the elect obtained righteousness by God's grace, Paul now writes that the rest of the Israelites were hardened by God. This is consistent with what Paul has already written about those whom God allows to stand in their sin of unbelief. He addressed the issue of whether this is fair or not in Romans 9:14–29, including the statement that God will have mercy on and harden whomever He chooses (Romans 9:18).

Paul will show in the following verses that God has hardened most Israelites for a specific purpose.
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