What does Romans 11:28 mean?
ESV: As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.
NIV: As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs,
NASB: In relation to the gospel they are enemies on your account, but in relation to God’s choice they are beloved on account of the fathers;
CSB: Regarding the gospel, they are enemies for your advantage, but regarding election, they are loved because of the patriarchs,
NLT: Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
KJV: As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is addressing Gentile Christians. He has warned them not to be arrogant toward Jewish people who have rejected Christ (Romans 11:18). He has revealed to them that the people of Israel have been hardened in their unbelief by God so that Gentiles could come to God through faith in Christ (Romans 11:15), and that Israel will return to God through faith in Christ once that hardening is lifted (Romans 11:26).

Now Paul agrees that Israel has become an enemy of the gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul should know. He has suffered great persecution at the hands of the Jewish religious leaders for preaching the gospel. This makes what he says about the Jewish people next even more significant. His words here clarify that anti-Jewish sentiments are not only foreign to the Bible's depiction of Jews, they are contradictory to the character of God.

Paul describes the Jewish people as "beloved," meaning that they are still loved and cherished by God. This is in regard to "election," Paul writes, meaning that God has destined that Israel will return to close relationship with Him as her people come to faith in Christ at some point in the future (Romans 11:25–27).

Why has God elected the people of Israel—meaning a representative number, not necessarily every single Israelite—to return to Him at this future time? It is for the sake of their forefathers, the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God's promises to Israel's founding fathers were unconditional and irrevocable, as the following verse will declare.
Verse Context:
Romans 11:25–32 wraps up a long section about God's plans for His Israelite people. In short, He plans to remove the hardening of unbelief and renew His covenant with Israel. This will occur as many Jewish people come to faith in Christ at some future time. Israel remains deeply loved by God because of His irrevocable promises and calling for the patriarchs. In the end, God will show mercy to all Jews and Gentiles who come to Him through faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.
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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