NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
Dr. Robert R. Seyda
EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS
SUMMARY OF CHAPTER ELEVEN
Paul had three objectives when he started this chapter, First, to understand why God has not totally rejected His people, Israel. Secondly, to see the possibility of ungrateful Gentiles deserting the truth in the last days, And thirdly, to accept this as a summary and conclusion for Chapters 9-11.
In looking back we see that Paul concluded chapter ten with a quotation from Isaiah describing the nation of Israel as “a disobedient and contrary people.” He then begins chapter eleven by giving several examples to show that despite this rebellion God has not totally rejected His people.
However, what God has done hardened the hearts of the rebellious Israelites. But the outcome of this “hardening” led to the salvation message being sent out to the Gentiles, which in turn, God was using to provoke Israel to jealousy in an attempt to win them back to Him. This is also why Paul magnified his ministry to the Gentiles, hoping to save some of his countrymen by provoking them to jealousy.
Paul then directs his attention to the Gentile believers, explaining that their obedience allowed them to be “grafted” into the true olive tree of Israel to replace those removed by their own disobedience. This “grafting,” however, is permanent only as long as they remain faithful. In addition, if any Israelites repent of their unbelief, they too can be grafted back in.
As Paul draws to a conclusion, he explains that this is how “all Israel” will eventually be saved. Through a “temporary hardening” of their hearts, mercy can now be shown to the Gentiles, and by showing mercy to the Gentiles mercy will be available to disobedient Israel in the end. In this way, Paul says, that “God will let the Jews stew in disobedience so that He might have mercy on the rest of the world,” proving that God is no respecter of persons and makes His plan of salvation available to all.
Paul ends this section with a doxology praising the wisdom and knowledge of God in establishing such a gracious and merciful plan of salvation.
So where does that leave things? Yes, God has temporarily thrown aside the Jewish people so that He can reach the rest of the world. But this must not be understood as a total and irreversible rejection of His people, Israel. God did too much by calling them out of the world as a special people, then rescuing them from Egypt and planting them in the Promised Land, and keeping them alive down through the ages, despite persecution and torment, to just throw them away.
To illustrate, Paul tells us the story of Elijah. When Elijah’s whole community had turned against Elohim and started worshiping other gods, God told him that it was not all over. God had stowed away a remnant of the faithful that will still be saved. The same is true now. As a whole, the Jews have stumbled a bit when it comes to believing in Jesus. But Paul is careful to note that doesn’t mean God has given up on them ever coming around to believe in His Son as the Messiah.
Look, at it this way: Jesus came to bring God’s message to the Jews. Now, because the all Jews didn’t believe in Him, God decided to spread His message out to non-Jews. Paul says that God did this to make the Jews jealous. That’s why Paul was called and sent out to reach the Gentiles even though he himself was once an unbelieving Jew.
In order for Paul to explain this both to his fellow Jews and the Gentiles, Paul says that the Jews are like a tree with holy roots. Each individual person is a branch on that tree. But some of the branches have died and fallen off. In their place, God grafted in some wild olive branches that didn’t belong on the tree, to begin with. But they’re growing and fitting in nicely, so it has worked out well so far. And Paul warns the new branches not to become egotistical because that’s what caused the original branches to fall off in the first place.
But don’t forget, God is not finished yet, He still has plans for those branches that fell off because of pride and hardheartedness. He will offer them another opportunity to become part of the holy tree once more. Only this time, their spiritual life will not come from Abraham but from Yeshua, the Messiah, God’s only Son. Then both Jews and Gentiles will belong to the same tree with the same roots.
When will that day come? Only God knows. But the fact that it has been promised by a God who never changes is enough to make it real. In the meantime, the Gentiles are to be both evangelists to their fellow Gentiles as well as to the Jews. As Paul looks back on this he is overcome with joy and begins to shout praises of honor and glory to God who is our hope forever and ever. – Dr. Robert R Seyda
I’m already excited about what we are going to learn as we travel through the verses of Chapter Twelve. It is going to be an exciting journey. I Can hardly wait to start. I hope you are excited too.