What does Romans 11:10 mean?
ESV: let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.”
NIV: May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.'
NASB: MAY THEIR EYES BE DARKENED TO SEE NOT, AND BEND THEIR BACKS CONTINUALLY.'
CSB: Let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,and their backs be bent continually.
NLT: Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and let their backs be bent forever.'
KJV: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is quoting Jewish Scriptures from the Old Testament to support the idea that God has often hardened some people, in terms of their ability to understand and believe Him. Romans chapter 9 took an in-depth look at how, when, and for what purposes this can happen. This verse continues a quotation from David's Psalm 69, often taken as being about Christ Himself. In that way, this quote from Psalm 69:22–23 can refer to the enemies of Christ.

David prayed that his enemies and, by Paul's implication, the Jewish unbelievers of his day, would have darkened eyes so they could not see or understand. That is, they will be hardened to the truth that Christ is the Messiah and, thus, refuse to have faith in Christ and be saved by God's grace.

It's not clear what is meant by their backs being bent forever. Those who reject Christ are, ultimately, facing an eternity of separation from God because of their stubbornness (John 5:40; Isaiah 6:9–10). Paul might be referring to the danger faced by all who refuse to come to Christ, which is to be subject to shame and suffering "forever."
Verse Context:
Romans 11:1–10 finds Paul insisting that God has not rejected Israel forever, despite her refusal to come to Christ. For one thing, Paul himself and a remnant of Jewish people have trusted in Christ by God's grace. God has hardened the rest of Israel in her unbelief, causing her to trip over the stumbling block that is Jesus Christ. They remain unable, for now, to see that following the law will not bring them to God's righteousness. But the story isn't over.
Chapter Summary:
In Romans 11, Paul concludes his exploration of God's plan for His chosen people Israel. It's true that as a nation, Israel has rejected faith in Christ, but a remnant of Israelites has believed in Jesus. God has hardened the rest in unbelief, but will bring Israel back to faith when enough Gentiles have come to Him through Christ. Then many Israelites will trust in Christ, as well, and God will renew His covenant with His people. Paul concludes this section with a powerful poem or hymn about God's independence and how He is beyond our full comprehension.
Chapter Context:
Romans 11 concludes Paul's discussion about God's plan for the Israelites begun in Romans 9 and 10. Paul insists that, though Israel as a nation has rejected Christ, a remnant of Jewish Christians exists by God's grace. God has hardened the rest in their unbelief until enough Gentiles have come to Him through Christ. Then God will release Israel to believe in Christ and restore His covenant with her as many individual Jews come to faith in Christ, as well. Paul stands in awe of God's vast and unknowable mind and complete ownership of all things.
Book Summary:
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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