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. 2 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: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. 7 What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, 8 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.”
9 And David says:
“May their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent forever.”
11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles,how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!
13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and savesome of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
All Israel Will Be Saved
25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written:
“The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
28 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, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Paul begs the question, did God totally reject the Israelites? He answers with a no, and points to himself as proof that God did not reject the Israelites completely. Paul shows that this has happened to Israel before, but the election of God has stood even when Israel rejected Him. He quotes from 1 Kings 19:10,14, a time when a prophet of God thought that he was the only one left, but God reveals that He has reserved 7,000 men like Elisha who have not bowed their knees to a false God. Paul uses the phrase ‘whom He foreknew’ when describing Israel to remind his readers that Israel’s rejection of Christ was known to Him prior to the election of the Nation of Israel to begin with!
Drawing it back to the present, Paul states that if there were a remnant preserved in Israel’s past, there would also be a remnant preserved for Israel’s future, by God’s sovereign grace. After all, if it is God’s grace which brings salvation, and not works, then that grace is sufficient to cover Israel’s sins also. God hardened those who were not elected to salvation by giving them a spirit of ‘stupor’ Deut. 29:4; Isaiah 29:10.
If God has hardened them, is it final, Paul asks, and then answers, not at all! That God has sovereignly done this to allow the full measure of the Gentiles to come in, and to provoke Israel to jealousy, and he argues that if Israel’s loss has brought such richness into the world, how much more will their final inclusion bring. Paul is known as the apostle to the Gentiles, and he obviously had a heart for them, but he points out that part of his hope was that his efforts among the gentiles would spur the Israelites to faith. He points again to the heritage that belongs to the Israelites, and points out that if the first fruits are holy, then the rest of the batch is holy. The first fruits were the portion of the harvest that would have been tithed by the Israelites, and Paul is pointing out the obvious, that if the first part of something is holy, then it follows that the rest of it is holy. He is trying to get the point across that nothing has changed in Israel’s status before God in the sense of their election.
Paul draws an analogy here of the grafting of branches on to olive trees. Now, this is not a common practise for most of us, unless you are a horticulturalist, but Paul’s readers would have known about how wild olives were cultivated into premium, valuable, cultured olives. He states that Israel is a natural branch of the olive tree, and the branches have been broken off so that wild olive branches, us, could be grafted into the tree. We went from being useless, to premium, valuable, fruit-bearers! Now before our heads get to swollen, Paul reminds us that they were broken off because of their unbelief, and we grafted in because of our belief, this should make us humble because if the natural branches were not spared, then what do you think will happen to the grafted-in, wild olive branch if your faith is not sure?
Furthermore, if the natural branches come to faith, God will graft them in again!
Again Paul points out that Israel has been hardened so that all the Gentiles could be brought in, but the election of Israel still stands, because God’s calling and election are effectual, not subject to change! Paul goes on to say that we have all been bound over to disobedience so that God could show His mercy to us all.
Check out the doxology here at the end of this chapter, I like to pray this to God as it is so rich in meaning!