In v. 1-10, Paul discussed the remnant. Those messianic Jews trusting the Lord Jesus for salvation and adhering to the gospel message. However, there are many Israelites who do not believe. What is their fate? Is there any hope for unbelieving Israel? Is their unbelief only temporary?
Let’s open with Paul’s Doxology 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and[a] knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”[b]
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?”[c]
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
May this overview prompt further study and discussion of ideas that bring glory to God.
v. 11-12 What about those outside of the remnant? Paul is arguing that they too are not beyond recovery, “Not at all!” In fact, “because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles…”
1. God bringing about good (Gentile salvation) from evil (Israel’s unbelief).
2. Israel’s envy and jealousy cf. Acts 13:42-47
3. Fullness refers to the conversion of the Jews beyond the remnant, an end to the state of hardening of the nation–A blessing!
13-16 Through Gentile conversion and blessings, Paul is suggesting Israel will be drawn to Jesus. “Some” will repent and believe because of God’s supernatural work through the Gentiles. Hence, Paul is referring to Gentile salvation as a means to reaching Israel.
Harrision (1976) quoting Daane (1973) said, “The Gentiles are not saved merely for their own sake, but for the sake of God’s election of Israel. How unshakable is the faithfulness of God to the nation he has chosen!”
It appears there is a conversion of Israelites, “…arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.” through the salvation of Gentiles. Paul loved his fellow Israelites. And, there is a future restoration of Israel: v. 16 “root” probably refers to the remnant and the branches refer to the rejuvenated Israelites of the future (Harrison).
“Their [Israel’s] future restoration is in conformity with the holy character impressed on them from the first; it is therefore not only possible, but morally necessary.” (Godet: 2:244).
17-24 Israel is the cultivated olive tree and Gentiles are the wild olive tree. So, we see a partial rejection of Israel and a corresponding reception of the Gentiles.
1. What is the warning to the Gentiles?
2. Room was made for us (Gentiles), therefore, we should maintain a disposition of what?
3. What was the reason the natural branches were broken off?
4. What is the reason they will be grafted in? v. 23
5. How do we ensure we will be “spared,” secure in salvation? Who will not be spared? (Matt 7:21)
v. 24 Israel is the chosen people of God through whom the Messiah has come. May God grant faith and repentance and the natural branches be grafted into the cultivated olive tree.
v. 25-32 God can restore the natural branches and He will. We do not have to be ignorant of this “mystery…” God is orchestrating the salvation of mankind. There is a believing remnant and a hardening of Israel that is limited in duration.
How long is this hardening supposed to go on? v. 25 And then? “…all Israel will be saved…”
Harrison (1976) said, “all Israel…must be understood of the nation Israel as a whole, in contrast to the present situation when only a remnant has trusted Christ for salvation.”
Notice that Israel’s condition is enemy, but God is full of love and mercy for His chosen people. In fact, the mercy of our God is graciously given to all men, despite our disobedient hearts.
Topics to further explore: dispensationalism, replacement theology, covenant theology
Reclaiming the Mind is an excellent resource to help you walk through the maze of different theological ideas. Michael Patton discusses theology in a balanced fashion.
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (1976) F.E. Gaebelein (ed.)
NIV Study Bible (1984).