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Romans chapter 11

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1I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, 3Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. 7What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. 9And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: 10Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. 11I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? 13For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 15For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? 16For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. 17And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. 24For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? 25For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. 29For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 30For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

What does Romans chapter 11 mean?

This passage concludes a significant section of Paul's letter, contained in Romans 9—11. These three chapters ask and answer the question, "What about Israel?" This is an objection Paul's opponents often asked. If Israel is God's chosen people and they have rejected faith in Christ as the way of salvation, what will happen to them?

Paul has acknowledged that Israel has, for the most part, rejected faith in Christ. He begins this chapter by asking if that means that God has rejected Israel. His response is another resounding "no." After all, Paul himself is an Israelite who has come to faith in Christ and has been saved, showing that this is possible for all Jewish people. Paul refers to the smaller subset of Jewish people who have turned to Christ as a remnant, comparing them to the remnant of those in Israel who had not bowed to Baal in Elijah's day. By His grace (Romans 9:6–8), God has set aside this remnant of Jewish Christians as true Israel (Romans 11:1–5).

Paul also makes a clear point about any attempt to mix salvation by grace with salvation based on works. In short, they are totally incompatible. If something is truly by "grace," it cannot be in any way based on works, and vice versa (Romans 11:6).

What about the rest of Israel, though? What of those who refused to believe in Christ as the Messiah? Paul's startling revelation is that God has hardened their hearts in their initial unbelief. He has caused them to trip over the stumbling block of Jesus, but not permanently. Their hardening is only for a time (Romans 11:7–10).

One reason for Israel's unbelief, Paul writes, is to make room on the main body—referred to as "the root"— of God's tree. This open space is intended for the non-Jews in the world. These Gentiles who are coming to God through faith in Christ are like the branches of a wild olive tree that have been grafted onto the trunk of a cultivated plant. The old branches, unbelieving Jews, have been broken off for a time to make this possible (Romans 11:11–16).

Paul warns the Gentile Christians not to be arrogant toward these unbelieving Jews, however. The time is coming, after the right amount of the Gentiles have believed in Christ, when God will remove the hardening from the unbelieving Jews. They will turn to faith in Christ and, as a people, be grafted back onto God's symbolic olive tree, from which they had previously been pruned. God is not done with Israel (Romans 11:17–24).

In spiritual terms, the Israelites may be enemies of the gospel of faith in Jesus Christ, for now. They were certainly the spiritual enemies of Paul during his lifetime. And yet, the Jewish people of Israel remain deeply loved by God because of the promises He made to the patriarchs. God never breaks His promises. His gifts and His calling on Israel can't be taken back. God will use His grace and mercy toward the Gentile Christians to make Israel jealous. He will use these events to bring her back to Himself as a nation, in the form of those individual Jews who eventually trust in Christ at some future time (Romans 11:25–32).

Paul concludes this section with what has become a beloved poem, like a hymn, about the vast un-knowable-ness and independence of our merciful God (Romans 11:33–36).
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