Romans 11:7-8

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 11:7
  • Romans 11:8

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.

Israel has sought righteousness through following the law’s rules, and has failed to obtain it. Only the remnant that God has chosen have found righteousness (through faith). God has allowed the rest of His chosen people to rebel against Him.

Even though the Israelites say they are being zealous for God and want to prove they are righteous through following the rules of the law, they have failed (Romans 10:2), what Israel is seeking, it has not obtained. This makes intuitive sense; following a list of rules to “make God favor me” is tantamount to treating God like a genie in a bottle. Trying to make God do something for us could never cause us to be transformed by God. On the other hand, those whom God set aside, as a remnant (v. 5), have obtained what the rest of Israel seeks, those who were chosen obtained it: through faith, not by following rules from the law (Romans 9:32). This also makes intuitive sense; believing and following God leads us to become who God wants us to be, and God desires us to be righteous. “Righteous” simply means in harmony with the way things are supposed to be. God made the world perfect, pronounced it “good”, and then it fell because of sin. “Righteousness” simply means living in harmony with others according to our design, which Paul will instruct his Roman audience on in chapters 12-16. This can only be accomplished by faith, believing God in our daily living.

The righteous remnant includes Paul, who at the beginning of the chapter shows that he, an Israelite, is also a believer in Jesus Christ. This definitively proves that Paul is not teaching that God has rejected those of Israel, for then Paul would be teaching that he himself has been rejected.

The rest of Israel who are not the remnant, those who have pursued following deeds of the law, have failed to believe God and follow God’s will, and God has hardened them because of their unbelief. And though the Jews (think that they) seek righteousness, they have not obtained it. Here Paul quotes several Old Testament verses (Isaiah 29:10, Deuteronomy 29:4) to show that though God is not rejecting the Israelites completely, He is withholding understanding from them, giving them a period of disconnection from Him: God gave them a spirit of stuporEyes to see not and ears to hear notDown to this very day.” He will tell us soon that this will result in a great blessing for the world. Similar to how God will use all things to work together for the good of all believers (Romans 8:28-29) God will use all things to work for good for His people Israel.


Biblical Text

7 What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; 8 just as it is written,

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,

Eyes to see not and ears to hear not,

Down to this very day.”

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