Romans 11: 6-36
Note- In order to be faithful to the exploration of the text, we have to begin with the last verse in the previous consideration of what Paul said where he proves that Israel is not completely disowned and we see how important God's faithfulness to Israel is to the Church's assurance that He will keep His covenant of grace. Now we are going to see the benefits to the Gentiles and to the church that comes through a temporary blindness to the Gospel of grace and the fact the Lord Jesus Christ is the long awaited Messiah.
6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.
Observation- The question that must be answered is what it is that Israel as a nation had not obtained that the election has obtained? The answer is God's righteousness that reconciles man with God. Paul has dealt with the contrast between the righteousness of the law and the righteousness which is of faith in chapter ten. The thoughtful believer must realize that the Children of Israel did not discern the vast difference between the Covenant that God had made with Abraham and the Covenant of the Law they agreed to on Mount Sinai. Had they done so, they would have cried out for grace, realizing that they could never live up to God's standards. The best of us must always live life based on confidence that God is faithful and man is always prone to fail.
8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
Observation - The spirit of slumber - Slumber from the Greek katanuxis pronounced kat'-an- oox- is which is defined as a prickling of the limbs while asleep. Much is said about the subject of sleep in the Bible, both from a beneficial and a negative standpont. There is only one place I know of in Scripture that a spirit of sleep is mentioned in the Scripture and that in Isaih 29:10. It seems completely appropriate to the understanding of this passage and so I quote the Scripture within its context:
For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath cloased your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seer hath He covered. 11. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: 12. And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. 13. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as the people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men: 14. Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
I see a relationship with what we are being told and the very real condition of catalepsy, which seems to be a related word. It is characterized by a trancelike state with a lack of response from external stimuli. There is also a rigidity of the limbs. This gives us a physiological picture of the spiritual condition predicted for much of the House of Israel.
9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
Observation- This is a reference to what David sang in Psalm 69-22, which follows a verse that clearly refers to the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. Let their table become a snare for them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap. There is more to be said on that subject but it should be done in direct commentary on Psalm 69 itself. Focusing on Romans 11:9, we should observe precisely the meaning of the word for table which Paul uses: trapedzah which is a four legged short stool for either food or money. It is important that if a person is to study the eleventh chapter they understand this distinction because Paul is talking prophetically not simply about the blessing of grace upon the church but the general fate of the Children of Israel during the years they will be scattered among the Gentiles. Only if you understand this does some of the complex language that is used become clear in the following verses.
I will offer the understanding of the passage as it pertains to the Jewish people here so that it will be clear in the coming passages. Israel will have problems in relation to the production of food. In some places where they are driven they will be banned from land ownership and therefore cannot engage in farming. And, they will have problems in the field of commerce. In some places they will be restricted from various occupations. They will seek to live within the contexts in which they find themselves, but in every case when they think they have attained some measure of security, persecution will arise to snatch it away from them. Thus what seems to be for their welfare becomes a trap. No where in the world will this scenario be more clearly played out repeatedly in one place than in Poland. From the 10th century on, Jewish fortunes rise and fall in a continuation fluctuation right into the twentieth century. Americans should become more keenly aware of this history than they are because a large percentage of Jews living in the United States migrated from Poland because of these forces.
10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
Observation- Apart from the reiteration of the darkening of understanding, the bowed back became a caricature of the Jew in many places. Sometimes that caricature is accompanied by the impression of nearsightedness, especially when presented poised over books.
11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
Observation- The dual nature of Paul's message is again brought into sight. Had the Nation not rejected the Lord Jesus message of the Kingdom of God, salvation would not been offerred to the Gentiles in the same manner that it was. But God knew when He began what the situation would be so it fitted His divine plan. The message of salvation in the Gentiles was the provoking of some to emulation, that is coming to Christ in salvation. The jealousy Paul presents is a positive thing, not a negative.
12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
Observation- The fall of the Jews served to be the riches of the world in the blessings Jews have brought to the world wherever they went. By their dispursement blessings came into the various nations of the world. Persecutions of the Jews always served to harm the nation that so indulged itself. The Jewish nation went under Gentile domination first in the fall of Israel and then in the fall of Judah. When the Lord came the Jews had not been a free people except for a very short time in about six centuries. The beginning of the Jewish State in 1948 made the first tolling of the deathknell bell on the Age of the Gentiles. The recapture of Jerusalem in 1967 was the second. The moving of the capitol from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was the third. This is why the world rose up in protest against that act.
The diminishing of the Jews in their relationship with God is the riches of the Gentiles because of the Gentile role in the church age. When the Jews once again come into the favored position they once had the Millennial Kingdom will have come in. The Lord will be present on the earth, and therefore their fulness will be much more the riches of the Gentiles who believe.
13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
Observation- Another proof that the wisdom of God is not only different but greater than the wisdom of men. Paul, the Jewish theologian is sent as the Apostle to the Gentiles and Peter, the unlettered fisherman is sent to the Jews. That is just the opposite of the way man would plan and do things.
14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
Observation- In a sense he is re-emphasizing verse 11. Again his hearts desire for Israel is that they might be saved.
15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
Observation- You can see here how he explains verse 12 more deeply. His statement here serves to validate my comments concerning the Millenial Kingdom. The dry bones of Israel will live again and the church will have been raptured to meet the Lord.
16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
Observation- At this point Paul refers to his presentation of the picture in terms of the grapevine. Two plants are intimately connected with Israel. One is the grapevine as it represents the promise to Israel of a land flowing with milk and honey and the other is a fig tree, which is representative of Israel itself. This passage also has in view the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah chapter 53, the root out of a dry ground, and the root of Jesse in Isaiah 11:10.
17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
Observation- The picture of the olive tree being grafted as another picture of the Lord;s redemptive work for the Gentiles is so obvious that I will not elaborate on that subject here.
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Observation- The Bible alludes to people consigned to marking time in the church age because they did not reverence what had been provided for them by the Lord. (Hebrews 10)
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
Observation- People do not lose salvation, but they are expected to go all the way according to His will, just as Israel was supposed to go all the way.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
Observation- Paul looks forward to the future reconciliation of Israel with God.
24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
025 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
Observation - The statement of verse 23 is repeated more clearly
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.
Observation- This is a comparison with our situation pictured in Romans 5:10. We were the enemies of God. Israel on the other hand is merely the enemies of those who believe the Gospel because of their unbelief in Jesus Christ, but since God the Father has set His love upon them they continue to be beloved for the sake of those who are the physical fathers of the Jewish people.
29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
Observation- God does not change His mind and He does not withdraw what He has promised.
30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
Observation- If we have not grasped it before this we should by now realize that the Gentile church is debtor to the Jew, and in the next verse the point of how we should respond is made.
31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
Observation- Here is a clear cut call to the Gentile church to be concerned with Jewish evangelism.
32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
Observation- There is none righteous, no not one.
33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
Observation- God say His ways are not our ways neither is His thoughts our thoughts. Scripture makes it plain He is so much higher than ourselves that we could never completely understand the ways of God in this present state.
34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
Observation- This is a question asked in the Book of Job, and is unanswerable, because no man knows the mind of God or is able to counsel him though many thought to try.
35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
Observation- The blessing of God upon the cheerful giver and the obedient servant. He always recompenses man more than man ever sacrifices for Him, though this recompense is not in kind, for which we can be thankful.
36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.