In chapters nine and ten of Romans, Paul had been dealing with the difficult reality of Israel’s fate. They were the chosen people of God but were now stuck in faithlessness and rejection of Jesus, despite God’s constant pursuit. Paul argued that God had been faithful, just, and patient, all the while working out his divine purposes in the world. Now, there is a new question about Israel.
- What image(s) comes to mind when you think of the word “rejection”?
READ THE WORD: ROMANS 11:1-10 (ESV)
11:1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” 4 But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that would not see
and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.”
9 And David says,
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
and bend their backs forever.”
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- What is the primary question Paul addressed in this passage?
- How did Paul’s identifying himself as an Israelite and a follower of Jesus answer the question?
- What is Paul’s example in verses 2-5? Put it in your own words. How does a remnant indicate that there has not been rejection?
- How is election an outworking of grace?
- How do you see the working out of God’s choice and grace in your life?
RESPOND TO GOD
Had God rejected Israel? No way! They were the people through whom Christ came into the world. Paul himself was an Israelite, yet he was chosen by God to follow Christ. And there is a remnant, a group of Jews who, by God’s gracious choice, follow Jesus by faith. That remnant existed in Paul’s day and exists even now—they are chosen by God as recipients of grace. But, Paul makes it clear: Not all are elect. Not all are chosen. It is all a gift; God’s choice is grace.
- If you are in Christ, you are a recipient of God’s grace. Spend some time thanking God for the gift of salvation and faith.