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Romans Eleven

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Romans 11:1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

an Israelite. It is interesting that Paul here called himself an Israelite (see also 2 Corinthians 11:22), an Hebrew (Philippians 3:5), and a Jew (a term derived from Judah), even though he was of the tribe of Benjamin rather than Judah (Acts 21:39; 22:3).

Romans 11:2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,

foreknew. God's “foreknowledge,” as is evident from His calling of Israel long before Israel was a nation, involves not just pre-knowledge but pre-planning.

Wot. An archaic word meaning “know.”

scripture saith. Romans 11:2-4 give Paul's application of Elijah's experience (1 Kings 19:8-18) to the doctrine of Israel's remnant of believers during the age of the church. They constitute the true Israel, even while Jewish and Gentile Christians serve together in the church.

Romans 11:3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.

Romans 11:4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

Romans 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Romans 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded

Romans 11:8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

as it is written. This is a rather free translation and paraphrase of Isaiah 29:10, 13, and Deuteronomy 29:3-4, noting that Israel as a nation (apart from the elect nation-in-a-nation, the true Israel in this age) has been judicially blinded and deafened as a result of its volitional refusal to see or hear the true revelation and will of God.

Romans 11:9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them:

David saith. Quoting from Psalm 69:22, which is a Messianic psalm, the context indicates the implication of the Jews in the sufferings of Christ.

Romans 11:10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.

Romans 11:11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

Romans 11:12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

much more their fulness. The setting aside of Israel while the Gentiles are receiving divine favor is not final, as some theologians allege, but is only for the present age. After “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25), then the “fulness” of restored Israel will be even more rich. Note also Romans 11:15. Only “some of the branches” have been “broken off,” not all of them (Romans 11:17), even in this age.

Romans 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

Romans 11:14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

Romans 11:15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

life from the dead. The reconciling of Israel back to God is, indeed, associated with the resurrection of Israel as a nation (e.g., Ezekiel 37:11-14), and also with the bodily resurrection of all who have died in faith (Isaiah 26:19; Hosea 6:1-3; Revelation 20:4-6).

Romans 11:16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

Romans 11:17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

Romans 11:18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

Romans 11:19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.

Romans 11:20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

Romans 11:21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

God spared not. Note that God “spared not the angels that sinned” (2 Peter 2:4), He “spared not the old world” of the antediluvians (2 Peter 2:5), and He “spared not the natural branches” (that is, Israel) when they rejected Him. This verse warns us that He will “also spare not thee” if we do the same. In contrast, however, He “spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all” (Romans 8:32).

Romans 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

severity of God. God's “severity” is a subject studiously avoided by most modern scholars, who prefer to believe in a God who will take everyone to heaven. The Scriptures clearly reveal otherwise. Jesus said only a few are on the road that “leadeth to life,” while many are on the broad “way, that leadeth to destruction” (Matthew 7:13-14). All those that “know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ ... shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Sadly also, many who profess to know the Lord will be dismayed at the judgment to hear Him say: “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23). God can be severe!

Romans 11:23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.

Romans 11:24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

blindness in part. Israel has been judicially blinded (Romans 11:7-8) but only “in part.” Only “some of the branches be broken off” (Romans 11:17). Through every year in this age of the church, there has been “a remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5). Many Christian leaders, beginning with the apostles, have been Jews.

fulness of the Gentiles. God is now “[visiting] the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name” (Acts 15:14). When the full number (known only to God) has been reached, then “the times of the Gentiles” will end (Luke 21:24), and God will begin again to deal with Israel as His elect nation.

Romans 11:26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

Israel shall be saved. The complete restoration of Israel will climax the purging trials of “the day of Jacob's trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Paul refers here to Isaiah 59:20. This will take place when Christ returns to earth to establish His millennial kingdom centered in Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:8-10; 13:1; 14:9), following the great tribulation period (Matthew 24:29-31). The surviving and resurrected Jews will all acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Savior in that day.

Romans 11:27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

Romans 11:28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.

Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

Romans 11:30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:

Romans 11:31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.

Romans 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

wisdom and knowledge. All the treasures of both wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ (Colossians 2:3), for He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things (Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:3). In fact, “the fear of the Lord is the [very] beginning” (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10) of both knowledge (awareness and comprehension of facts) and wisdom (correlation and application of facts).

past finding out. God is not accessible to scientific research. “Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” (Job 11:7). The negative answer to this rhetorical question is confirmed by Paul in many references (e.g., 1 Corinthians 1:21: “the world by wisdom knew not God”).

Romans 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

who hath known. This phrase is quoted from Isaiah 40:13, which is also quoted in 1 Corinthians 2:16. Though we cannot know the mind of the Lord by human wisdom, Paul says “we have the mind of Christ.” See also Philippians 2:5.

Romans 11:35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

recompensed. All of God's gifts are by grace, not for recompense. He needs nothing from us, but gives us all things in Christ (Romans 8:32).

Romans 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

all things. Compare Colossians 1:16-20. Christ created all things, sustains all things and reconciles all things. Also note Hebrews 1:2-3. God's Son “made the worlds” in the past, is “upholding all things by the word of His power” in the present, and will be “heir of all things” in the future. Jesus Christ is “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13), “the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).