Romans 11: The Powerful, Fair Promise-Keeper

Romans 9-11 is certainly on my list of the top five most difficult passages.  Maybe top three.  So I don’t feel like I have much to offer today.  But I guess that is another benefit to a comprehensive reading plan: you can’t avoid hard passages!

Here are the two main points I gather from the chapter:

1. God can do what He wants:

Paul describes God as having at that time a “remnant” of faithful Jews that He has chosen by grace (11:5-6).  At the same time God hardens the hearts of other Jews so as to open a door for Gentiles (11:7-9, 25).  Then God uses this influx of Gentiles to drawn back Jews through jealousy (11:12).  But the Gentile Christians in Rome should bear in mind that the same God who cut off Jews because of unbelief can do the same to Gentiles who get a big head and stumble (11:20).  This is a very active, sovereign view of God.

Vincent van Gogh, “Olive Trees”

2. But God is more than fair:

This second point ameliorates any anxiety about such a high degree of divine control that the first point may bring.  The central question of the chapter is stated in the first sentence: “Has God abandoned his people [the Jews]?”  The resounding answer throughout the chapter is “no” (11:2).  Even those Jews who had “tripped up” presumably by unbelief will not have “fall[en] completely” (11:11).  God wants to use Jewish jealousy to save Gentiles (11:14), and if those Jews return to belief they can be grafted back into God’s olive tree (11:23).  In what might be the biggest statement of God’s extravagant kindness, 11:28-29 seems to suggest that God will even honor his promises to the Jewish patriarchs to Jews who were still choosing not to believe.  God will keep his promises, even if they don’t.  We can rest assured that God will assert his power in a manner that is exborinantly fair.  

What struck you in this chapter?

Categories: Romans | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Romans 11: The Powerful, Fair Promise-Keeper

  1. susan rubio

    You had a great deal to say today, Jason. I’m grateful for point 1 and comforted by point 2. Chapter 11 is on my list of most precious chapters. Years ago I wrote, “May it be so!” in the margin next to verse 26.

    • I hope I can come to a point where “precious” is the word I would use for this chapter. I do love 11:26 and hope it means exactly what it says, though many people have ways of making “Israel” mean something other than ethnic Israel. What a great comfort that God is in control, and not me! You are so right! That is something to be grateful for!

  2. Melanie Semore

    I noticed the mention of “extravagant generosity of God.” The Message goes on to say that “It’s [God’s deep, deep wisdom] way over our heads–we’ll never figure it out.”

    Makes me feel a little better that I’m not the only one who can’t understand or explain God!

    This chapter ends with this–
    Everything comes from him;
    Everything happens throuh him;
    Everything ends up in him.
    Always glory! Always praise!

    • Another great quote from the Message! Wow! Paul didn’t fully get it either. God’s sovereign generosity must be REALLY special!

  3. “In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in.”

    This is an interesting verse. It sounds like Paul is saying what many religious psychologists have said, that a required stage of real faith is to search, question, and experiment elsewhere. Intellectually, this is intriguing and even comforting, knowing my own propensity to wander, at least earlier in life. But as a father and teacher of teens this is a hard realization to welcome, even if I do know that the final result is a good one.

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