Another perspective on Romans 11

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Sean
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Another perspective on Romans 11

Post by Sean » Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:50 am

After many years of being somewhat unconvinced of the various interpretations I have heard of Romans 11 (pertaining mainly to Israel) I have come up with a few thoughts of my own. Let me know what you think. :?:


Another perspective on Romans 11

-Romans 11 continues a theme found earlier in the epistle (Romans 9:6) of Israel divided into two parts, believing (the remnant) and blinded/unbelieving.

-The remnant are those whom God foreknew (v2) according to the election of grace (v5)

-The remainder of Israel (not the remnant) has not attained what it seeks, the elect have, the rest (of Israel) were blinded (v7)

-Although Israel has not attained what it seeks and is blinded, it has not fallen beyond recovery (v11)

-Blinded Israel will be provoked because salvation has come to the Gentiles (v11)

-The intent of this provocation is to bring salvation to the blinded part of Israel (v11)

-Branches being grafted on the olive tree are parallel to and synonymous with salvation as mentioned in v11b (of Gentiles) and v14 (of Jews/Israel)

-The olive tree is Abraham and the Abrahamic covenant, the father of the Jews and the father of faith (Romans 4:16). To Abraham and his seed were the promises made, that “seed” is one person, Christ (Galatians 3:16). It’s not the children of the flesh, but the children of the promise who are counted as seed (Romans 9:8). You are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:26 & 29)

-Natural branches are ethnic Jewish individuals. Some, like Paul, are saved (v1) and are attached to the olive tree but others have been blinded (v7) and cut off (v19). Wild olive tree branches that have been grafted in are Gentile individuals who belong to Christ by faith and therefore are Abraham’s “seed”.

-Blindness in part has come upon Israel until the full number of the Gentiles come in. And so/in this way all Israel will be saved. As more Gentiles “come in” to the olive tree, the blinded part of Israel becomes provoked to jealousy and some are saved. So the way in which “All Israel is saved” is just as has been explained in verses 11-24. Blinded Israel will be provoked by Gentiles coming to the Messiah. It seems that Paul expected a critical mass to be reached where so many Gentiles come to faith that the blinded part of Israel would be provoked to salvation. I would understand this to be of limited scope (meaning, I don’t think Paul expected every unbelieving Jew to convert). I think Paul’s message of verses 25-26 is this straightforward. The hardening of Israel is broken by jealousy. The mechanism of this jealousy is Gentile converts to the Jewish Messiah. The more converts, the greater the effect. At least to a certain point.

-This does not appear to be an “end of the church age” event due to the language of verses 30-32. Just as they were once disobedient they too may now obtain mercy. Seems like Paul is trying to reach out to his Jewish brothers in his own lifetime (v14). This wouldn’t make much sense if Paul had understood this hardening to continue until the end of the church age.

-Romans 11:28-29 options:

Concerning the gospel “they” are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election “they” are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. “They” who are enemies of the gospel may be one group and “they” who are beloved may be a separate group, specifically “the election” (the elect within Israel from v7). This would split “they” of Romans 11:28 into two groups which could be argued as remaining consistent with the rest of Romans on this matter. But this my not be the best option

Another option could be that “they” are the same group. Speaking of Israel (the unsaved/blinded part) Paul has just been greatly concerned about this group for most of chapter 11. Israel may be enemies of the gospel and beloved. If not, why would Paul be laboring so hard to save the unredeemable? They are beloved because, I believe, “the election” is in reference to the fathers. They are beloved for the sake of the fathers (Abraham, Isaac & Jacob). They are not saved because of this, but rather the offer still extends to them even though they have been disobedient. I believe this is why the next verse (v29) reads: for the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. This makes sense if Paul is speaking about blinded Israel being an enemy of the gospel but still beloved enough to be provoked to jealousy and possibly saved. The two groups of Israel: the faithful remnant combined with those who have overcome their blindness constitute “all Israel”.

Consider these verses:

30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

It sounds as if this is an explanation of why the gifts and calling of God to unbelieving Israel are irrevocable and how it is that they can be grafted back in. There were Jews who were disobedient at the time of Paul’s writing Romans. They would see the mercy obtained by the Gentiles and through what was already explained in verse 11, may also obtain mercy.
He will not fail nor be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth. (Isaiah 42:4)

steve7150
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Re: Another perspective on Romans 11

Post by steve7150 » Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:42 pm

This does not appear to be an “end of the church age” event due to the language of verses 30-32. Just as they were once disobedient they too may now obtain mercy. Seems like Paul is trying to reach out to his Jewish brothers in his own lifetime (v14). This wouldn’t make much sense if Paul had understood this hardening to continue until the end of the church age.








Although Paul is primarily referring to his Jewish brothers in his lifetime i don't see why this scenario should be limited to Paul's lifetime for several reasons. The first is that few Jews believed then or even up to now about Paul's vision that Jews would be provoked to believe by jealousy so either Paul is wrong or this is still a future event. Paul may not have even known about the time of these things coming together only about a general outline. The fullness of the gentiles coming to belief doesn't seem to have been completed yet as the gospel is still spreading in China & India and most of the undeveloped countries.

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Re: Another perspective on Romans 11

Post by Paidion » Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:11 am

My understanding is somewhat similar to yours, Sean, except that I consider the olive tree to represent the true Israel, the Israel of God, the remnant. This true Israel has existed from the day in which God established it. Some were cut off (those who did not truly submit to God); others were grafted in (Gentiles who submitted to the Messiah), so that in this way all Israel will be saved, for all of true Israel are submitted to God. The Israel of God didn't cease when the new covenant was established; it continued. The Israel of God wasn't replaced by the church; rather the church was the continuation of the Israel of God, containing both Jews and Gentiles for the dividing wall was brought down; both were one true Israel). All true disciples of the Messiah constitute the Israel of God. Those who are not disciples of the Messiah do not belong to the true Israel:

...not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring... (Rom 9:6,7)
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Re: Another perspective on Romans 11

Post by steve » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:10 pm

Sean,
I think your explanation is good. I don't think you are in disagreement with Paidion, either, since I also agree with him.

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Re: Another perspective on Romans 11

Post by steve7150 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:57 am

Blindness in part has come upon Israel until the full number of the Gentiles come in. And so/in this way all Israel will be saved. As more Gentiles “come in” to the olive tree, the blinded part of Israel becomes provoked to jealousy and some are saved. So the way in which “All Israel is saved” is just as has been explained in verses 11-24. Blinded Israel will be provoked by Gentiles coming to the Messiah. It seems that Paul expected a critical mass to be reached where so many Gentiles come to faith that the blinded part of Israel would be provoked to salvation. I would understand this to be of limited scope (meaning, I don’t think Paul expected every unbelieving Jew to convert). I think Paul’s message of verses 25-26 is this straightforward. The hardening of Israel is broken by jealousy. The mechanism of this jealousy is Gentile converts to the Jewish Messiah. The more converts, the greater the effect. At least to a certain point.

-This does not appear to be an “end of the church age” event due to the language of verses 30-32. Just as they were once disobedient they too may now obtain mercy. Seems like Paul is trying to reach out to his Jewish brothers in his own lifetime (v14). This wouldn’t make much sense if Paul had understood this hardening to continue until the end of the church age.







In Romans 9.5 Paul says "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit." So Paul is not just telling us his thoughts or opinion but he is inspired by the Holy Spirit and the crux of God's plan which he revealed has not yet been completed , even to this day. Another words this sounds to me like prophetic language that "natural Israel" will be provoked by the "Israel of God" (believers in Christ) to one day accept Christ as their Lord. This sounds like a statement rather then a hope and since it is said under inspiration, it will happen in God's timetable.
It may be an allusion to Christian Universalism that even after judgment day even "natural Israel" will be provoked , after all Jesus alluded to this when he said "the first will be the last."

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Sean
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Re: Another perspective on Romans 11

Post by Sean » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:36 am

steve7150 wrote: In Romans 9.5 Paul says "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit." So Paul is not just telling us his thoughts or opinion but he is inspired by the Holy Spirit and the crux of God's plan which he revealed has not yet been completed , even to this day.
Even to what day? How do you know when Paul had in mind? Your view would seem to suggest that Israel is still partially blinded. That's a long time! So for 1,900+ years those Jews had no hope because God's plan has not yet been revealed. I thought the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. I'm not willing to accept this view that part of Israel is blinded and destined for hell for nearly 2,000 years. Instead, I believe this answers the question:

Romans 11:30 For just as you [Gentiles] once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their [blinded Israel's] disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient [blinded Israel], that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

To say they are still blinded and cannot come the Jesus because this is part of God's grand plan not only contradicts the very context of Romans 9-11 but is extremely anti-Jewish. I've read quotes by well known Christians who say they don't even worry about trying to convert the Jews because they can't be saved anyway until the end times. Yet Romans 11:30-31 says the opposite. Those disobedient Jews could be saved way back when Paul was still on the earth.
steve7150 wrote: Another words this sounds to me like prophetic language that "natural Israel" will be provoked by the "Israel of God" (believers in Christ) to one day accept Christ as their Lord. This sounds like a statement rather then a hope and since it is said under inspiration, it will happen in God's timetable.
It is a statement. It began way back in Paul's own day. It's not something we have to wait for.

"a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved"


I believe "fullness of the Gentiles has come in" means a certain number of Gentiles coming into the Church/Christ/faith of Abraham, etc. This is not a reference to being raptured away from or taken out of the earth or some end of the age event. In the immediate context, the Gentiles are coming into the olive tree, being grafted in as wild olive branches among natural branches. This is what is meant by the term Gentiles "coming in". They are coming into the olive tree. When a certain critical mass is reached, Paul said this would provoke broken of branches to jealousy and save "some of them". The combination of Israel who consists of those who were always believing (the remnant) and of those who were in unbelief but are grafted back on through being provoked constitute "all Israel".

I can now sympathize with those who say "all Israel" in Romans 11:26 is ethnic Israel only. I believe it can be seen that way. What can't be overlooked however is that Gentiles are being grafted into Israel. This is unmistakable. "All Israel" being saved is a reference to the remnant of Jews + former God/Christ rejecting Jews who have since come to faith and are grafted back in. It can become a bit of a semantics game but, what else is new. :roll:
He will not fail nor be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth. (Isaiah 42:4)

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Re: Another perspective on Romans 11

Post by steve7150 » Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:49 am

Even to what day? How do you know when Paul had in mind? Your view would seem to suggest that Israel is still partially blinded. That's a long time! So for 1,900+ years those Jews had no hope because God's plan has not yet been revealed. I thought the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. I'm not willing to accept this view that part of Israel is blinded and destined for hell for nearly 2,000 years. Instead, I believe this answers the question:

Romans 11:30 For just as you [Gentiles] once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their [blinded Israel's] disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient [blinded Israel], that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

To say they are still blinded and cannot come the Jesus because this is part of God's grand plan not only contradicts the very context of Romans 9-11 but is extremely anti-Jewish. I've read quotes by well known Christians who say they don't even worry about trying to convert the Jews because they can't be saved anyway until the end times. Yet Romans 11:30-31 says the opposite. Those disobedient Jews could be saved way back when Paul was still on the earth.






In response to "even to what day" , i think i said in effect "even to today" and yes it's my opinion, i don't know for a fact it's just my opinion based on several factors.
You said you are not willing to accept the fact the Jews could be blinded for nearly 2,000 years but it was 1,500 years between Moses and Jesus and what did the gentiles know about God for 1,500 years? They were pagans and God didn't really intervene so in effect they may have been partially blinded by default.
About the anti-Jewish comment, God has often judged many groups in the past including possibly everyone living on earth except 8 people from the flood, is that anti-human?
However the main point is Rom 11.32 (IMO) and in Robin Parry's book which is that God has "shut up all in disobedience so that he may have mercy on all."
I have a different view of hell then you do , which is that it is a pathway to justice and then mercy through Christ, so that even if a group is blinded or never heard of Christ there still may be salvation.
However it still would never dissuade me from trying to explain the gospel today to anyone if i have the opportunity.

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