Romans 11:28-32

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 11:28
  • Romans 11:29
  • Romans 11:30
  • Romans 11:31
  • Romans 11:32

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.

In chapter 11, Paul explains that God has not abandoned nor rejected Israel. God will keep His promises to His people. For now, God has set aside a remnant of faithful believers, including Paul himself. Even so, Israel has broken fellowship with God and has stumbled against Christ’s gospel of grace. This has allowed the Gentiles to come to faith in Christ, being like wild olive branches grafted into a tree, where unbelieving branches were broken off to make room for them. In light of this, Paul warns his Roman readers not to become haughty toward the Israelites. God will punish those who are proud. God will also restore Israel to Him, He will keep His covenant promises. The mercy of God is unfathomable.

We are all sinners, Jews and Gentiles. We choose to sin. Gentiles are not better than the Israelites. God has shown mercy to Gentiles, nevertheless, and for now He has set aside His people, who have rejected Him. But that does not mean He has abandoned them. God allows us the freedom of choice, but He also shows us limitless grace and forgiveness.

In Acts 26:17, Paul makes it clear that the Jews were his enemies. In fact, the story in Acts 26 includes the Jews seeking to ambush Paul and murder him. And Paul’s own testimony is that he was an enemy of those who followed “the Way” – the way of Jesus. He met Jesus on the road to Damascus and Jesus asked, “Why are you persecuting me?” – because Paul was persecuting His followers. Paul, a Hebrew of Hebrews, was an enemy of the gospel. He became a preacher of the gospel, from the standpoint of the gospel they (unbelieving Jews) are enemies for your (Gentiles) sake.

Israel has rejected God, they have disobeyed God, but that does not mean God does not love Israel; from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. God still loves them because He loved their ancestors, and made promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. And these promises will be kept. God’s promise to Abraham was a gift, the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. 

As Paul has argued all through chapters 9-11, God’s sovereignty has allowed the Gentiles to be reconciled with God through the rejection of the Jews. The Gentiles were once disobedient to God. Because the Jewish leaders did not receive Christ as King of Israel, Jesus died on the cross and paid for the sins of the world, including Gentiles. Now [Gentiles] have been shown mercy because of their (Jews) disobedience. God extended His mercy. He shows compassion on whom He chooses (Romans 9:15). Gentiles are no different than the Jews. They have been shown mercy, because of the mercy shown to [Gentiles] they [Jews] also now may be shown mercy. God allows disobedience so that He can show us mercy, God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. Here is the paradox of God and salvation, that we were allowed the freedom to fall away from Him, Jew and Gentile, as we are still free to sin, and yet God has called us to show mercy to us, to give grace and deliverance from our sinful past and our sinful nature. We can sin, the Jews presently are in sin and have rejected their God, but God’s gifts and calling are irrevocable. His grace will always abound. His mercy is limitless.

Biblical Text

28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

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