Romans 11:7-8 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 11:7
  • Romans 11:8

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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