Commentary on Romans 11 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Romans 11 should be studied in one lesson, first, so that the point Paul is making can be fully understood. Therefore, this week we will read the entire chapter and comment on it verse by verse as we read it. In the next lesson(s) we will outline the chapter and teach its main themes.
The remnant of Israel – Romans 11:1-5. 11:1, God has not cast away Israel. Paul is an example of a Jew saved by the gospel. 11:2-4, when Elijah interceded against Israel he said, “I, even I only, am left,” [1 Ki 19:10]. He didn’t realize that there were 7,000 other Jews who had not bowed their knees to Baal and kissed him [1 Ki 19:18]. 11:5, likewise when Paul wrote Romans, there was a remnant of believers among the Jews who were saved by grace, even as there are today.
The election of grace – Romans 11:5-6. Election is not of works [Rom 9:11]; it is “the election of grace” [Eph. 2:8-9]. Grace and works are mutually exclusive. Therefore, if election is of grace, it is “no more of works,” indicating that works were connected with salvation in the Old Testament under the law [Rom 10:5]. Back then, salvation was not simply by grace, as it is in the New Testament. When Paul adds “otherwise grace is no more grace,” he’s saying that if salvation were by grace and works, then grace wouldn’t be grace [Gal 5:1-4]. Likewise, if election were of works, then it couldn’t be by grace. Again he adds, “otherwise,” to state that if it were by works and grace, then work wouldn’t be work.
The blindness of Israel – Romans 11:7-10. 11:7, Israel, as a nation, has not obtained the righteousness that they sought for [Rom 9:31-32; 10:3] because they didn’t believe and were, therefore, blinded. 11:8, God gave them the “spirit of slumber,” [Is 29:10] and “eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear,” [Is 6:9-10; Matt 13:14-15; Acts 28:26-27]. 11:9-10, David also spoke of their blindness in Ps 69:22-23.
The salvation of Gentiles – Romans 11:11-15. 11:11, because Israel rejected the gospel and salvation by grace, even though it was for them [Jn 4:22], salvation came to the Gentiles. And Paul added that letting Gentiles in on salvation was to provoke Israel to jealousy [Rom 10:19]. 11:12, their fall and diminishing were our “riches” [their loss was our gain]. 11:13-14, Paul magnified his “office” as the apostle to the Gentiles to “provoke to emulation” [an envious rivalry] some Jews to get saved. 11:15, through their “casting away” God reconciled the world [2 Cor 5:19; 1 Jn 2:2] and their restoration and salvation will be “life from the dead,” [literally Ezek 37:1-14].
The illustration of the olive tree – Romans 11:16-24. The root of the olive tree is holy [Jesus Christ is the root and offspring of David and the Holy Spirit is typified by the olive tree], which is why the branches are holy. The natural branches are Israel. The branches of the wild olive tree grafted in are Gentile converts. Some of the natural branches were broken off because of unbelief and wild branches were grafted in by faith. Gentiles shouldn’t, therefore, boast against Israel or be high minded because we are borne by the root. Gentiles should fear that, in the same way God spared not Israel, he could likewise not spare Gentiles. Note: Verses 21 and 22 are national; they are not addressed to individuals. These verses don’t contradict the doctrine of eternal security. Thus, when Israel turns from unbelief to belief, they will be grafted in to “their own olive tree.”
The mystery of Israel – Romans 11:25-27. The mystery is the partial blindness of Israel “until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” This “fullness” occurs at the end of the Tribulation. Then the “Deliverer,” Jesus Christ, shall come and “all Israel shall be saved.” Their national salvation is the result of the new covenant of Jer 31:31-34 which is quoted in Heb 8:8-12.
The effect of election – Romans 11:28-32. 11:28, Israel is currently an enemy of the gospel. But, because of election, they are “beloved for the fathers’ sakes,” [Deut 7:8; Deut 10:15]. The fathers are Abraham [Rom 9:7], Isaac [Rom 9:7] and Jacob [Rom 9:13]. 11:29, the gifts [Rom 3:2; 9:4] and calling [Hos 11:1] of God are without repentance [Num 23:19-24]. 11:30-31, as Gentiles, who before did not believe, obtained mercy because of Israel’s unbelief, Israel will obtain mercy because of our mercy. 11:32, because the whole world is guilty, God makes mercy available to the whole world through the gift of Jesus Christ [Rom 3:19; 5:15-19].
The rich wisdom and knowledge of God – Romans 11:33-36. Paul glorifies the Lord for his knowledge, wisdom, judgments and ways. Only God could have devised the salvation of Gentiles and the fulfillment of his covenants to Israel by graciously giving us Jesus Christ. No one else would have ever thought of such a complete and perfect plan.