Romans 11:11-36- The Gentile Inclusion and Israel’s Salvation
Explanation- Not only does Paul seek to explain the mystery of the remnant of Israel, but he also seeks to clear up any confusion concerning their place in redemptive history. Certainly, God’s dealings with the Jewish people throughout history cannot be ignored, but in light of their current hardening, how do we understand their current and future place in the redemptive narrative? And more so, what implications does that have on the Gentiles who are currently the focal point of God’s redemptive ministry? Paul opens up this dialogue with the question of whether Israel has stumbled so that they may ultimately fall. To this, the response is a definitive no. Providence is at work in Israel’s hardening, specifically in that through their stumbling, salvation has been made available to the Gentile peoples on a massive scale. So through their trespass, the riches of grace in Christ have been spread throughout the world! So if through their stumbling the world has received salvific prosperity, how glorious will it be when their hardening has been lifted?
Paul then defines his ministry as being one directed to the Gentile peoples, yet his heart still yearns for the salvation of his native people according to the flesh. Through the turning of God’s ministry toward the Gentiles, Paul hopes to provoke his kinsmen to jealousy in hopes that some of them may be saved. For if the Jews who have been temporarily rejected are, after some time, accepted back into the fold, it will be as if they have been brought to life from the dead!
Paul then provides us with an example of this using a tree to suit the metaphor. This ties in nicely with what Christ taught John chapter 15. If Christ is the vine of the tree, then the members of Christ would be the branches. Israel, who were the first to stem off of this vine, have been grafted out due to their unbelief. In their place, the Gentile peoples are being grafted in by God as ones who are unnatural to the original. This should not cause us to rise up in pride against those natural branches, but to stand in awe at both the severity and goodness of God. Severity toward those who, through their unbelief, have been removed from their natural place, and goodness toward us who have been graciously grafted into this tree of faith. Let it be clear; not one, whether Jew or Gentile, is entitled to this position. All those who find themselves under the grace and compassion of God are there because God has chosen them to be. Both Jew and Gentile receive grace according to the riches of God’s grace, and both Jew and Gentile are hardened under the severity of God’s judgment. No one man is on a higher plane than the next. So if the Jews have been removed to make way for the Gentiles to receive grace, then there is an expectation that the original branches will find their place in the Vine once again.
This is a mystery that was spoken of in the Old Testament and is now being more fully revealed in the New. This partial hardening of Israel is taking place so that all of Israel may be saved. The term ‘all’ implies that those natural branches and the wild ones will one day come together to constitute the totality of God’s people. The true Israel is a people made up of all tribes, tongues, and nations, who have come together under the banner of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As of now, the Jews are enemies of the Gospel so that we might find our place in this family of God, but in terms of the election, they are beloved by God because of the promises made to the patriarchs. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and in that respect, Israel, too, has fallen from her desired place. But there will come a day when God brings all things together for His glory and His people’s good. On that day, both Jew and Gentile will praise and worship God together in harmony under the banner of Jesus Christ!
Application- ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord?’ Paul asks in verse 34. Who but God could have arranged things in such a way as we see here before us? This masterful display of His glory through election, rejection, inclusion, and reconciliation far more than our minds can fully comprehend. After Paul expresses all of this, he can’t help but burst out into praise to God for this marvelous work He has done. ‘Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!’ We would do well to hide this verse in our hearts and utilize it in our praise of God. Let us not forget all that He has done, and often remind ourselves, through passages like this, that He is in control and is working all things toward an expected end. In this, we will find hope, peace, joy, and wisdom!