This is the eleventh installment of what I hope to be a complete “translation” of Romans. Please note that this is not scripture; it is my understanding of scripture. Any with questions or concerns should check the original.
Eleventh chapter of Romans
Therefore I ask: did God reject His people, the people of Israel?
Not at all! For I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God didn’t reject his people, whom He knew before the foundation of the earth.
Don’t forget what the Bible says about Elijah. He prayed to God in despair, saying:
Lord, the people of Israel have killed your prophets and torn down your places of worship. I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me.
And what was God’s answer to him?
There are still 7000 people that I have kept who are faithful, and have bowed down to false gods.
In just the same way, there is a remnant, chosen by God’s grace, today also. And if they are chosen by grace, it’s not because of what they’ve done (if so, that grace wouldn’t be grace anymore!)
So what now?
What the Jews wanted so badly they did not get – but God’s chosen ones did. The others were hardened, as it is written in Deuteronomy:
God made them dull – eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear … to this very day.
And as King David wrote of his enemies:
May their treaties become snares and traps – stumbling blocks and a source of punishment.
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.
But again I ask: Did the nation of Israel fall so far as to never recover? Not at all!
Rather, because they have rejected the good new, salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make Israel envious. And just think: if their rejection and their loss means riches for the world, what will happen when they accept Jesus? What is dead will come to life!
And if part becomes holy (set apart for God), the whole will be holy. If the root is holy, the branches will be holy too.
But do not be proud. Some of the branches have been broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in. You now share in the nourishing sap from the root. Consider this: you do not support the root; the root supports you.
You may say then that branches were broken off so that you could be grafted in, and there is some truth to this. But again: do not be arrogant. They were broken off because they did not believe, and you were grafted in because you do believe. So be careful: if God does not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either.
Think about the gentle firmness of God: firm to those who fell, but kind to you – provided that you continue in His way. Otherwise you too will be pruned.
And if they come back to the faith, then they will be grafted in: because God is able to grant them in again. After all, if you were cut out of a strange tree and grafted into God’s family, how much easier will it be to graft in the natural, ordinary branches?
I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, so that you grow proud. Israel has been hardened, in part, until all the Gentiles that God wants to save will be saved. And then all Israel will be saved, as it is written in Isaiah:
The savior will come from Zion, and he will bring Israel back to God.
This is my promise to them, when I take away their sins.
As far as the good news of Jesus is concerned, they stand against you. But as far as God’s calling is concerned, they are beloved because of the patriarchs – the whole history of God’s work among the Jews. For God’s gifts and His call are unchangeable and irreversable.
Just as you, who used to be disobedient to God, have now received mercy, so they have become disobedient in order to receive mercy. God has given all men to disobedience so that He may have mercy on all.
Oh the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unexplainable are His judgements – and His paths beyond mapping out.
Who has understood the mind of the Lord? And who has ever given Him advice? And who has ever given something to God that He had to repay?
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things! To Him be all glory forever – Amen!
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