Passage Romans 11:11-24
Other passages Romans 11:25
Background We’ve been talking about the need to evangelize. God hasn’t given up on the Jews, and he hasn’t given up on us, or the people around us, so neither should we.
Ch 11 is the end of the section on ‘what about the Jews’. This builds on ch8 and what it says about the fate of the world.
Synopsis of the passage God has not rejected the Jews forever, and their salvation will bring great blessing. Paul sees his ministry to the Gentiles in the light of the Jews coming in.
Gentiles should remember their faith is rooted on Jewish stock, and to be grateful. Gentiles should not presume that God will let us fall away from him without consequence. God is both kind and stern, and always fair.
Application Guard your faith and yield your desires to God.
Title Living in the light of God’s plan
Romans 11:11 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 save some 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!
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.
i)We studying Romans, which is a letter Paul wrote to an independent church made up of Jews and Gentile background christians. The purpose of the letter is to give a solid foundation in the gospel, and show how to apply it to the cultural frictions within the Roman church.
ii)Today, we are in Romans 11, almost at the end of the chapter. From ch 12, the letter shifts to application, on how to deal with the church’s problems.
iii)So far, we have heard an explanation of the gospel, which is that we are accepted by God by our faith not our works. We have seen that living in the gospel is to walk in obedience to God by the power of the Holy Spirit.
iv)This took us to chapter 8, which gave us a view of how the gospel fits into God’s plan for the world. God plan is to first renew mankind, and then to renew the world that people were given to manage and develop.
v)Now in chs 9-11, Paul has been explaining how this relates to the Jews and the promises God made to them.
(1)We learn that God has not completely abandoned the Jews in spite of their rejection of their Messiah and the gospel.
(2)God does not abandon his promises, or give up on us.
(3)And so we should also not give up on people. Or ourselves.
i)So, again in Romans 8 we saw what God plans for the church and the world. Today we will see what he has planned for the Jews.
ii)And as we look at God’s plan together, we can learn something for ourselves:
(1)How to avoid unnecessary suffering
(2)How to make an impact on the world
What will happen to the Jews? v11-16
a)Last week, we saw that God has not finally rejected the Jews. In v11, we are told that they will recover from their stumbling over Jesus.
b)v12 hints they will convert in the future. v25-26 Tells us moreover that the Jews will convert en masse, after the ‘full number’ of the Gentiles comes in.
i)As we saw last week, not everyone will believe. But Paul says here that after the bulk of those people whom God foreknew among the Gentiles believe, the Jews will also believe.
ii)So has this happened yet?
iii)Since the modern missionary movement in the 19th century, Jews have been becoming followers of Jesus voluntarily, but since the 1960s it has picked up pace. When I was in high school in the 70s, there was a messianic Jewish band that came to our school a few times.
iv)But this movement is still relatively small, around 350,000 people or about 2% out of 15 million Jews worldwide, and not all members are ethnically Jewish!
v)So I think the incoming of the Jews that Paul prophesied here is still in the future.
c)v12, v15 The world will be richly blessed when the Jews are saved
i)v12 tells us the whole world will be blessed, but how exactly?
ii)Interpretations of v15 “Life from the dead”
(1)Encouragement to a lukewarm (Gentile) church.
(a)I definitely find it encouraging to listen to the testimonies of messianic Jews on Youtube.
(b)But the v15 says the blessing is to the whole world, not the church. So maybe this is not it.
(2)The general resurrection will happen soon after the incoming of the Jews
(a)v25 says that when the Jews come in, the conversion of the Gentiles will have been accomplished, which seems to indicate the end of this current church age.
(b)But why does Paul not use the usual technical terms for the resurrection?
(3)Something wonderful, not explicitly described.
(a)Certainly this, even if not more.
d)So that is what God has planned for the Jews. They will believe, and the world will be greatly blessed.
Point 2: Paul’s warning: Continue in his kindness
a)v17-22 We also learn from Israel’s example that it is possible to be cut off from God.
i)Besides this example of Israel, we can see this has happened to liberal mainline churches, and even countries and civilizations e.g. the West (Europe, and possibly now the US).
ii)Possibly this may also refer to individuals. As Jesus says in John 15, if you do not remain connected to Jesus you will be cut off and thrown away as useless.
b)So this is frightening, and also theologically very controversial.
i)Q: Is it possible to lose your salvation?
ii)What I would like to emphasize is that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
So, if you are ever worried about your salvation, call out to God.
iii)But we can become dull, and stop wanting to call out to God. This is a terrifying scenario.
c)v22 God is not only kind, he is also stern.
i)God is kind to draw us to repentance (Rom 2:4)
ii)He is kind to those who believe and obey.
iii)But he is stern to those who refuse to believe and obey.
iv)And again, his sternness and his discipline are meant to correct us if we will let it.
d)Consider the sternness towards the Jews:
i)Although the Jews will be grafted back in, how much suffering have they endured in the meantime?
ii)In AD 70, they lost the temple, their holy city and capital Jerusalem was destroyed, and they lost their land, to become wanderers. Jesus told them that would happen.
iii)And then for two thousand years, they were persecuted by the church, and by evil regimes under Hitler and Stalin.
iv)It is a fearful thing to come under God’s judgement, even if God restores and brings good out of it.
v)Imagine if the Jews had accepted Jesus as their Messiah.
(1)The great blessing would have already happened to them and the world
(2)And any suffering would be for God’s glory, and receive a reward.
(3)So by turning away from Jesus, they missed what God wanted to give them.
e)And for us, how much suffering and lost blessing do we experience when we neglect our salvation and require God’s stern discipline?
i)We should not treat this lightly.
ii)So let us pay attention to our relationship to God, and remember his gracious kindness to us.
What did this mean to Paul?
a)After looking at what this meant to Paul, I think we will see how this can apply to us.
b)Paul, the faithful Jew
i)A Pharisee, a very religious person.
(1)Pharisee means ‘separated’, so we can say he was an exclusive person.
ii)We know before he knew Christ, he actively went out of his way to persecute heretics.
iii)So about the Gentiles,
(1)The Gentiles were considered unclean. They could make you unclean by touching them or eating their food.
(2)And the Romans were foreign conquerors, and not gentle about it.
(3)I think we can assume Paul before his conversion was not a friend to Gentiles in general, or Romans in particular.
c)What did Paul want? The salvation of Israel
i)We saw in 9:1-3 how important the salvation of his fellow Jews was to him, even more than his own salvation.
ii)v14,16 The first-fruits were there, as a promise of the future harvest. Some Jews had come in, but nowhere near the whole nation.
iii)So God did not grant Paul’s desire during his lifetime, he only had a taste of the future.
d)Aside on working with God:
I sometimes wonder how prayer and how our working fits into God’s working. So let me offer an illustration.
i)Let’s imagine a Father working with on a DIY project, or a Mom cooking a meal. Then the parent invites his/her child to help.
ii)Now, the child isn’t setting the goal, the parent is.
iii)The child isn’t providing the materials. the parent is.
iv)The parent invites the child to help, guides him/her them and makes sure he/she doesn’t get into trouble.
v)The parent if possible allows the child to make some choices within the scope of the parent’s goal and plan, to fit the child’s likes, and abilities.
vi)But the parent is always in control of the whole thing, because the parent knows what needs to be done.
vii)Now I think that we are like that child, and God is like that parent
(1)God has a project of saving the world. He invites us to join in.
(2)God provides what we need, and teaches us what to do to get it done.
(3)God listens to what we ask, considers what we can do, and if it fits, gives it to us at the right time
i)Paul’s mission was to preach to the Gentiles.
ii)That is because God drafted Paul into God’s project of saving the world.
(1)He picks him off the road and says: You will be told what to do. You are to be my messenger primarily to the Gentiles and their kings, although they are the enemies of your people, and you will suffer for doing it. (Acts 9:6, 16)
(2)(Romans 11:25) And by the way, I know you want your people to be saved. I do too.
(a)But they have rejected, and so it isn’t going to happen for a long while.
(b)And I am going to use the disobedience of the Jews as an opportunity to bring in the rest of the human race. The enemies of the people of the promise will all come in first.
f)So, because of God’s plan, Paul is going to have to put aside what he wants and do what God wants.
i)Not that what he wants is wrong, or outside God’s will.
ii)But God’s plan has its own timing, and Paul will have to trust that God is going to do it at the right time.
g)Paul started by preaching to the Jews in the synagogues. But when they rejected the message and even attacked him, Paul turned to the Gentiles
And he learned to love and respect the Gentiles.