Romans 11:1-7

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Text: Romans 11:1-7

SALVATION AND ISRAEL

INTRODUCTION:

We have noted the theme of Romans. It is the gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.

We have seen that all people lack righteousness.

We have seen that God has provided righteousness for all when he sent Christ to die for our sins on the cross and raised Him from the dead. It is called Justification by Faith.

We have seen God's provision for godly living - Sanctification

A question arises, however: what is going to happen to Israel? Since Israel as a nation has rejected Christ as Messiah, has the nation as a whole been permanently set aside by God, i.e. set aside forever? Paul answers this question in Romans 9-11 .

As a nation Israel has had opportunities to be saved, but these opportunities have been consistently rejected. In Romans 11 we see that Israel as a whole has been temporarily set aside but will be saved as a whole at the second coming of Christ.

I. GOD HAS NOT CAST AWAY ISRAEL - 11:1-6

Romans 11:1-6 - (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. (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, (3) Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. (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. (5) Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (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 11:1 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.

Questions in chapters 9 and 10 regarding Israel's having been set aside give rise to another question in chapter 11.

Paul writes, I say then, Hath God cast away his people? A negative answer is expected to this question and is understood in the sense of God has not cast away His people, has He? No, He has not.

Hath . . . cast away is literally has pushed aside; and when used figuratively as in this verse, it means has rejected or has repudiated.

By his people Paul means Israel. God has not cast away the nation of Israel.

God forbid is a strong negative wish which has been seen in a number of places prior to this in Romans. It means literally may it never come to pass, may it never happen, or may it never come to be. It is understood in the sense of absolutely not, perish the thought, or no way!

Paul cites himself as an example of one who is an Israelite whom God had not cast away. For I also am an Israelite is emphatic and refers to Paul.

Of the seed of Abraham is something true of Paul as well as of every Israelite. He was a descendant of Abraham like all the rest of the Israelites.

Of the tribe of Benjamin indicates the tribe into which Paul was born. He was without question an Israelite.

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,

Lest there be any doubt regarding the answer to Paul's question in verse 1, he states his answer in verse 2. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.

Hath cast away is the same term used in verse 1 which literally means has pushed aside and figuratively, as in this verse, means has rejected or has repudiated.

Again, as in verse 1 his people refers to God's people Israel.

Which he foreknew describes God's people. Foreknew is the same term seen previously in Romans 8:29 .

Romans 8:29-30 - (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

(30) Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Foreknew means literally knew beforehand or knew in advance. It is also used in regard to Christ in I Peter 1:20 where it is translated foreordained, Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world. It also means to have foreknowledge of or possibly to choose beforehand. Inasmuch as God knows everything that will happen in advance of its happening, the term in its usage in this verse suggests that it means to select in advance or to choose beforehand. God was not just acquainted with Israel in advance. He chose them to be His people and called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees. He thus set the nation of Israel apart for Himself.

Paul proceeds to give Scriptural confirmation that God has not cast away Israel by asking the question, Wot (i.e. know) ye not what the scripture saith of Elias (i.e. Elijah)?

This question expects a positive answer, so that it is to be understood in the sense of you know, don't you, what the Scripture says of Elijah? Yes, you do.

So that the reader has no doubt what episode Paul refers to, he specifies how he (i.e. Elijah) maketh intercession to God against Israel.

Maketh intercession is approaches, appeals to, or petitions. It is against Israel that he was praying.

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

Verse 3 is the content of Elijah's prayer.

By they have killed, Elijah means they murdered.

Thy prophets are God's prophets. They were spokesmen through whom God spoke to Israel.

(They have) digged down thine altars means they have torn down your altars or they have razed your altars to the ground.

Thus far Elijah's prayer is correct. The Lord's prophets had been killed, and His altars had been destroyed.

However, Elijah then assumed something that was not true. It is and I am left alone which means I alone am left, I only am left, or I only remain. He did not mean that he was alone in the sense that no one was with him. He assumed that all of the other prophets had been killed and that he alone was still alive, but he was mistaken.

Elijah adds another truth: and they seek my life. They are looking for my life or they are searching for my life; and the implication is that they are seeking to find Elijah in order to put him to death. He was undoubtedly correct.

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.

Verse 4 indicates that God did not agree with Elijah's assessment of the situation.

Paul recognizes this by asking, but what saith the answer of God unto him (i.e. to Elijah)? Paul's point is that God's answer indicated that Elijah was not alone, that God had reserved others for himself, and that God had not cast away Israel.

The answer of God is the divine statement or the divine answer.

I have reserved for myself is I have kept for myself and refers to the Lord.

Seven thousand men indicates seven thousand adult males. It is not the generic term. These seven thousand men were in addition to any ladies or children who also may not have bowed before the image of Baal.

Who is every one who or such ones who.

Have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal means that these seven thousand men had never worshiped Baal.

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

In verse 5 Paul draws a comparison to indicate that there is still a remnant according to the election of grace, that there are still some Israelites whom God has reserved for Himself; and these have not been cast away. They are the answer to this question hath God cast away Israel? No, He still has some Israelites just as He did when Elijah thought he was all alone.

Even so then . . . also is therefore, in this manner also.

At this present time is in the present time.

There is a remnant or a portion of what was original; but it is only a small portion of it; it is what is left over.

This remnant is according to the election of grace.

Election means selection or choosing; and it is a selection of grace, which means that it is based on grace or on favor which is not deserved or merited. It means that God did not look down the corridors of time to see who would believe and then elected them because this would be an election based on works rather than on 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.

In verse 6 a contrast is seen between grace and works. They are mutually exclusive. Where you have one, you cannot have the other. If you have the second, you cannot have the first. The presence of the one excludes the presence of the other. They cannot be mixed.

And if by grace is a simple condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true. Inasmuch as it is actually true, if is understood in the sense of because, since, inasmuch as, or in view of the fact that.

The conclusion of this condition is then it is no more of works.

By grace is by means of grace, where grace is unmerited or undeserved favor. Then is it no more of works is then (is it) no longer by means of works. If this selection of the remnant is according to grace, it cannot be according to works.

Otherwise is a word which means because or since. It implies in such a case or in that case, i.e. if it is by works.

Then grace is no more grace is then grace is no longer grace. Grace cannot be grace if it is works. If the selection is not of grace, then it is based on the opposite of grace, i.e. it is based on works.

The second half of this verse parallels the first half of the verse except that the terms grace and works are switched around.

A condition is introduced which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true, but it is actually false. Therefore, if should be understood in the sense of assuming that. The condition is but if it be of works. The conclusion of this condition is then is it no more grace. If it be of works refers to God's choice of the remnant. Assuming that this election is based on works, then it is not based on grace.

Otherwise is the same term used in the previous sentence and means because or since.

In that case should be supplied in the mind of the reader.

Work is no more work is then work is no longer work. Work cannot be work if it is grace. If the selection is not of works, i.e. something which can be earned, then it is based on the opposite of works, i.e. it is based on grace.

There is no mixture of grace and works. Either the election is based on grace, or it is not. If the election is not based on grace, i.e. on undeserved merit, then it is based on its opposite, deserved merit or work.

II. AS A NATION ISRAEL HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY SET ASIDE - 11:7-12

Romans 11:7-12 - (7) What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (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. (9) And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: (10) Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. (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. (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?

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.

In verse 7 Paul draws a conclusion based upon verses 1-6 as is indicated by what then? which is used in the sense of what shall we say then? or what shall we say therefore?

Israel is the nation of Israel as a whole.

Hath not obtained is did not obtain, did not attain to, or did not reach.

That which he seeketh for. In Romans 9:31 Israel followed after the law of righteousness and did not attain to the law of righteousness, and in 9:32 it is stated that Israel sought to attain to the law of righteousness by the works of the law rather than by faith. Israel was seeking for righteousness but was seeking it in the wrong way. Consequently, Israel did not receive righteousness.

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for.

The election hath obtained it instead.

The election refers to those who have been selected or chosen on the basis of grace as is indicated in verse 5.

Hath obtained is the same word used previously in this verse in connection with Israel. It means obtained, attained, or reached; and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes its existing result.

And the rest is and the others and suggests that it refers to the rest of the Israelites in contrast to the elect from among the Israelites.

Were blinded is literally were hardened or were petrified. When used figuratively as in this verse, it suggests that they were made dull, were made obtuse, or were made blind. They were now spiritually insensitive. This condition persists unto this day (v. 8).

CONCLUSION:

Paul desired that Israel be saved. Israel had had ample opportunity, but continued to reject the gospel as God's means of salvation.

Now this situation is only temporary. Eventually Israel as a nation will be saved.

Have you trusted Christ as your personal savior, or are you continuing to reject Him as Israel did?