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Israel’s Rejection Is Not Final


I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3“Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” 4But what is the divine reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6But 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, 8as it is written,

“God gave them a sluggish spirit,

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;


let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,

and keep their backs forever bent.”

The Salvation of the Gentiles

11 So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry 14in order to make my own people jealous, and thus save some of them. 15For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead! 16If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; and if the root is holy, then the branches also are holy.

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree, 18do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. 19You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you. 22Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23And even those of Israel, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.

All Israel Will Be Saved

25 So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written,

“Out of Zion will come the Deliverer;

he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.”


“And this is my covenant with them,

when I take away their sins.”

28 As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; 29for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. 32For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!


“For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been his counselor?”


“Or who has given a gift to him,

to receive a gift in return?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.


25. I would not, etc. Here he rouses his hearers to a greater attention, while he avows that he is going to declare something that was secret. Nor did he do this without reason; for he wished to conclude, by a brief or plain sentence, a very perplexed question; and yet he declares what no one could have expected. But the words, Lest ye should be proud in yourselves, 361361     “Ne apud vos superbiatis;” ἵνα μὴ ὢτε παρ ἑαυτοῖς φρόνιμοι; “ut ne sitis apud vosmetipsos sapientes — lest ye should be wise in yourselves,” — Beza and Piscator. The meaning, as given by Grotius, is, “Lest ye think yourselves so wise as to suppose that ye can by your own understanding know what it is to come.” But the object of the Apostle seems to have been, to keep down self-elevation on account of the privileges they had attained. The phrase seems to have been taken from Proverbs 3:7; where the Septuagint render, “in thine own eyes,” בעיניך, παρὰ σεαυτῷ, “in thyself,” that is, in thine own esteem. And it appears to be its meaning here, “Lest ye should be wise in your own esteem,” which signifies, “Lest ye should be proud,” or elated, that is, on account of your now superior privileges and advantages. Doddridge’s version expresses the idea, “Lest you should have too high an opinion of yourselves.” — Ed. show what was his designed object; and that was, to check the arrogance of the Gentiles, lest they should exult over the Jews. This admonition was also necessary, lest the defection of that people should immoderately disturb the minds of the weak, as though the salvation of them all was to be forever despaired of. The same is still not less useful to us at this day, so that we may know, that the salvation of the remnant, whom the Lord will at length gather to himself, is hid, sealed as it were by his signet. And whenever a long delay tempts us to despair, let us remember this word mystery; by which Paul clearly reminds us, that the mode of their conversion will neither be common nor usual; and hence they act absurdly who attempt to measure it by their own judgment; for what can be more unreasonable than to regard that as incredible which is far removed from our view? It is called a mystery, because it will be incomprehensible until the time of its revelation. 362362     The mystery is accounted for in rather a singular way. The most obvious meaning is, that the mystery was the fact of the restoration, and not the manner of it. No doubt the word sometimes means what is obscure, sublime, or profound, as “great is the mystery of godliness,” 1 Timothy 3:16: but here the mystery is made known, in the same manner as Paul mentions a fact respecting the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:51, and also the call of the Gentiles, Romans 16:25. — Ed. It is, however, made known to us, as it was to the Romans, that our faith may be content with the word, and support us with hope, until the event itself come to light.

That blindness in part, etc. “In part,” I think, refers not simply to time, nor to the number, but means, in a manner, or in a measure; by which expression he intended, as it seems to me, only to qualify a declaration which in itself was severe. Until does not specify the progress or order of time, but signifies the same thing, as though he had said, “That the fullness of the Gentiles,” etc. The meaning then is, — That God had in a manner so blinded Israel, that while they refused the light of the gospel, it might be transferred to the Gentiles, and that these might occupy, as it were, the vacated possession. And so this blindness served the providence of God in furthering the salvation of the Gentiles, which he had designed. And the fullness of the Gentiles is to be taken for a great number: for it was not to be, as before, when a few proselytes connected themselves with the Jews; but such was to be the change, that the Gentiles would form almost the entire body of the Church. 363363     The explanation of this verse is by no means satisfactory. It does not Correspond at all with what the Apostle has already declared in Romans 11:11,12, and 15; where the restoration of the Jews to the faith is most clearly set forth. Besides, by making Israel, in the next verse, to mean generally the people of God, the contrast, observable through the whole argument, is completely destroyed.
   The word for “blindness” is πώρωσις, hardness, callousness, and hence contumacy. “In part,” is generally regarded as having reference both to extent and duration: the hardness did not extend to all the Jews, and it was not to endure, but to continue for a time; and the time is mentioned, “until the fullness of the Gentiles come in.” This is obviously the meaning, and confirmed by the whole context. The attempt of Grotius and Hammond, and of some of the Fathers, to confine what is said to the Apostolic times, is wholly irreconcilable with the drift of the whole passage and with facts.

   Much as been written on the words, ἄχρις οὖ τὸ πλήρωμα τῶν ἐθνῶν εἰσέλθὟ. That the event was future in the Apostle’s time, (and future still as history proves) is evident, especially from the following verse, “and so all Israel shall be saved.” The plain construction of the passage is, “until the fullness of the Gentiles shall come.” What this “fullness” is to be has been much controverted. But by taking a view of the whole context, without regard to any hypothesis, we shall, with no great difficulty, ascertain its meaning. The “fullness” of the Jews in Romans 11:12, is determined by Romans 11:26; it includes the whole nation. Then the “fullness of the Gentiles” must mean the same thing, the introduction of all nations into the Church. The grafting more particularly signifies profession. It then follows that all nations shall be brought publicly to profess the gospel prior to the removal of the hardness from the whole nation of the Jews. There may be isolated cases of conversion before this event, for “in part” as to extent the hardness is to be: but all shall not be brought to the faith, until the faith spread through the whole world: and the effect of their restoration will be a great revival of vital religion among the professing Gentiles, according to what is said in Romans 11:15. This is clearly the view presented to us in this extraordinary passage, when all its parts are compared with each other.

   Hammond tells us, that many of the Fathers wholly denied the future restoration of the Jews, and we are told by Pareus, who mentions some of the same Fathers, that they maintained it. But it appears from the quotations made by the first, that the restoration disallowed was that to their own land, and that the restoration referred to by the latter was restoration to the faith; two things wholly distinct. That “Israel” means exclusively the Jewish nation, was almost the unanimous opinion of the Fathers, according to Estius; and that their future restoration to the faith is here foretold was the sentiment held by Beza, Pareus, Willet, Mede, and others, and is generally held by modern divines. — Ed.

26. And so all Israel, etc. Many understand this of the Jewish people, as though Paul had said, that religion would again be restored among them as before: but I extend the word Israel to all the people of God, according to this meaning, — “When the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also shall return from their defection to the obedience of faith; and thus shall be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be gathered from both; and yet in such a way that the Jews shall obtain the first place, being as it were the first-born in God’s family.” This interpretation seems to me the most suitable, because Paul intended here to set forth the completion of the kingdom of Christ, which is by no means to be confined to the Jews, but is to include the whole world. The same manner of speaking we find in Galatians 6:16. The Israel of God is what he calls the Church, gathered alike from Jews and Gentiles; and he sets the people, thus collected from their dispersion, in opposition to the carnal children of Abraham, who had departed from his faith.

As it is written, etc. He does not confirm the whole passage by this testimony of Isaiah, (Isaiah 59:20,) but only one clause, — that the children of Abraham shall be partakers of redemption. But if one takes this view, — that Christ had been promised and offered to them, but that as they rejected him, they were deprived of his grace; yet the Prophet’s words express more, even this, — that there will be some remnant, who, having repented, shall enjoy the favor of deliverance.

Paul, however, does not quote what we read in Isaiah, word for word;

“come,” he says, “shall a Redeemer to Sion, and to those who shall repent of iniquity in Jacob, saith the Lord.” (Isaiah 59:20.)

But on this point we need not be very curious; only this is to be regarded, that the Apostles suitably apply to their purpose whatever proofs they adduce from the Old Testament; for their object was to point but passages, as it were by the finger, that readers might be directed to the fountain itself.

But though in this prophecy deliverance to the spiritual people of God is promised, among whom even Gentiles are included; yet as the Jews are the first-born, what the Prophet declares must be fulfilled, especially in them: for that Scripture calls all the people of God Israelites, is to be ascribed to the pre-eminence of that nation, whom God had preferred to all other nations. And then, from a regard to the ancient covenant, he says expressly, that a Redeemer shall come to Sion; and he adds, that he will redeem those in Jacob who shall return from their transgression. 364364     There is more discrepancy in this reference than any we have met with. The Apostle follows not literally either the Hebrew or the Septuagint, though the latter more than the former. In the Hebrew, it is, “to Sion,” לציון, and in the Septuagint, “for the sake of Sion,” ἕνεκεν Σιών. Then the following clause is given verbatim from the Septuagint, and differs materially from the Hebrew, at least as translated in our version. The Syriac and Chaldee give the verb a causative meaning, so as to make the sense the same as here. But it may be regarded as an infinitive with a pargogic י, and in a transitive sense, which it sometimes has. See 1 Kings 2:16; Psalm 132:10. If so, the verse will agree with the Apostle’s words, and may be thus rendered, —
   Come to Sion shall a deliverer,
And to turn away the ungodliness that is in Jacob.

   He shall come to Sion, and shall come “to turn away,” etc.; or the ו may be rendered even, “Even to turn away,” etc. This rendering corresponds more than that of our version with the substance of the verse which follows. — Ed.
By these words God distinctly claims for himself a certain seed, so that his redemption may be effectual in his elect and peculiar nation. And though fitter for his purpose would have been the expression used by the Prophet, “shall come to Sion;” yet Paul made no scruple to follow the commonly received translation, which reads, “The Redeemer shall come forth from Mount Sion.” And similar is the case as to the second part, “He shall turn away iniquities from Jacob:” for Paul thought it enough to regard this point only, — that as it is Christ’s peculiar office to reconcile to God an apostate and faithless people, some change was surely to be looked for, lest they should all perish together.

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