Romans 11:1-10

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 14, 2015 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me’? And what was God’s answer to him? ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written:
‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.’
And David says:
‘May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.’” (Romans 11:1-10)

As is common in Paul’s writing style, here he continues with a series of rhetorical questions and answers. In the previous passage, he explained how the Jews have no excuse to not believe in Jesus as the Messiah, yet many of them are having a hard time accepting righteousness by faith instead of living by the law like they had all their lives. Here, Paul even goes back to the beginning of chapter 9 where he explains to the Jews that they’re not automatically saved simply by having Abraham as their ancestor.

Is a person excluded from salvation simply because they’re a Jew? Definitely not! Paul shares in verse 1 how he is most definitely a Jew, even sharing his heritage. He is a believer in Jesus Christ, so other Jews can be as well. God has not rejected Israel; it is Israel who has rejected God by not recognizing His plan for salvation through Jesus Christ. God foreknew His people (verse 2), meaning that He chose them ahead of time (see Romans 8:29 for more on this).

Also in verse 2, Paul references a “passage about Elijah” that his readers would have been familiar with. The passage he’s referring to is from 1 Kings 19:1-18. King Ahab had attacked and killed God’s prophets, and Ahab’s wife Jezebel threatens the prophet Elijah with death as well. Elijah runs away to the desert afraid, but God comforts him by telling Elijah that God is still working out His plan for Israel. Elijah was living in a time where many people did not believe in God. Paul references this story because he feels like he’s going through a similar circumstance, since so many of the Jews did not yet believe. Paul finds hope through Elijah’s story, that God is still working out His master plan for all of His people, both Jews and Gentiles.

In verse 5, Paul goes on to explain how those who are saved are chosen by grace. Israel can’t claim salvation anymore simply because they’re God’s chosen people and they follow God’s laws (verse 6). They sought after the law of righteousness but they could not obtain it, because no mere human being is perfect (see Romans 9:30-31).

The Jews are essentially dividing themselves into two groups: those who are in the elect and are saved by grace, and those whose hearts are hardened (verse 7). We, too, are divided into these two groups by our own choosing. We all have the opportunity to experience salvation by grace, but it is our choice whether or not we recognize Jesus as our savior and accept that grace, or not. Which do you choose?

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