Romans

11:1-10

Rebuttal of the nomist critique, 6:1-11:36

5. The vindication of grace, 9:1-11:36

iii] The final shape of God's true Israel, 11:1-32

a) God has not cast off the historic people of Israel

Argument

In the first major part of his fifth rebuttal argument against the nomist critique that his gospel is flawed (given that most Jews have rejected it), 9:6b-29, Paul established that not all Jews are part of God's true Israel and therefore it must be recognized that no person can "establish a legitimate claim on God's favor based on national heritage .... God carries out his purposes with freedom uninhibited by human notions of what ought to be", Mounce. In the second part of his argument, 9:30-10:21, Paul established that God's promises to Abraham always rested on faith and it was Israel's inclination to attain "righteousness" by obedience to the law of Moses, rather than faith, that has led to the bulk of Jews being excluded from the covenant. Now, in the third part of his argument, 11:1-32, Paul establishes that when it comes to Israel's present state of unbelief, "this is not God's last word. Israel is not doomed to final rejection", Hunter. With this fact as his proposition, 11:1-2a, Paul introduces his argument by first making the point that the existence of a remnant people of faith indicates that God has not totally cast off historic / national Israel, v1-6, although sadly, those from Israel who have not believed now face the consequence of their unbelief, namely, "spiritual insensibility" - divine hardening, v7-10.

 
Issues

i] Context: See 9:1-6a.

 

ii] Background: See 1:8-15.

 

iii] Structure: This passage, serving to progress Paul's argument that God has not totally cast off Israel, presents as follows:

Proposition: Israel is not doomed to final rejection, v1-2a.

Argument:

God has preserved for himself a remnant elect by grace through faith, v2b-6;

Unbelief has led to the hardening of the rest (judgment, but not rejection), v7-10.

 

iv] Thesis: See 3:21-31.

 

v] Interpretation:

See 9:1-6a.

 

Israel's final salvation: These notes take the view that this salvation is representative, not national (it has nothing to do with the zionist state of Israel, nor the institutional fabric of the synagogue). In truth, the conversion of the Jews has been an ongoing reality since the first century.

As is typical of God's sovereign will, we may place ourselves in the center of that will, or outside it. God's promise to Abraham of a universal people of God, realized through his seed, is even now coming to fruition. Sadly, the bulk of Abraham's descendants have failed to take hold of what was properly theirs and so strangers take their place in the kingdom of God. Yet, for Paul, the unbelief of Israel is not the last word. Not only were the first believers Jews, but the conversion of the Gentiles will prompt may Jews to jealousy such that they will inevitably seek the covenant blessings that are rightly theirs, then "all (a representative) Israel will be saved", v26.

 

vi] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

 
Text - 10:1a

Israel - a remnant of grace with a hardened rump, v1-10: i] Paul opens by posing a question; "has God rejected his people?" He declares emphatically mh genoito, "No way." Paul is an Israelite and God has not rejected him. "God did not reject his people."

oun "[I ask] then" - [I say] therefore. Although often inferential, here the conjunction may just express transition, or development in an argument, and that is most likely what is intended here; "let me put a further question then", Cassirer.

mh "-" - [did God] not [put away the people of him]? Used in a question expecting a negative answer.

apwsato (apwqew) aor. "reject" - put away, drive away, cast off, repel, reject. Expressing a strong action of pushing away, so here of God pushing away his people; "disowned", Cassirer; "totally repudiated", Phillips; "cast off", Weymouth; "turned his back on", CEV; "fed up with Israel that he'll have nothing more to do with them", Peterson; "abandoned", NJB.

mh genoito "by no means" - may it not be so. Expressing a strong denial. "Certainly not", TEV.

gar "-" - for. Here explanatory rather than causal; "let me explain."

egw "I [am an Israelite myself]" - I [also am an Israelite]. Emphatic by use and position. Is Paul saying that as a Jew he cannot countenance the idea that God would "reject" his people, or is he saying that since he is a Jewish believer it is not possible to argue that God has totally rejected his people (the NIV "myself" carries this sense)? "How could I agree with that, I who am an Israelite", Barclay.

ek + gen. "a descendant [of Abraham]" - out of, from [the seed of Abraham]. Expressing source / origin.

fulhV (h) gen. "from the tribe [of Benjamin]" - of tribe [of Benjamin]. The genitive is probably ablative, expressing source / origin, as NIV, or possibly adjectival, possessive, "belonging to Benjamin's tribe."

 
v2a

Paul now emphatically states that God "has not cast off his people."

ton laon (oV) "[his] people" - [God did not put away] the people [of him]. Meaning, "people of Israel", not individual people in Israel.

proegnw (proginwskw) aor. "[whom] he foreknew" - [whom] he knew/chose beforehand. Usually understood as a dynamic knowing and therefore election (election of individuals is argued by some, Calvin, Hodge, .. but election of a corporate identity is more likely - "the people as a whole", Moo, so Cranfield, Morris, Murray, ....). Referring to God's election/choice of a people founded on Abraham and his faith-response to the faithfulness of God. Those who take God at his word stand with Abraham under the covenant blessings of God and are rightly identified as God's elect people. This people may be made up of Abraham's descendants (and the stranger within the gates), but never included all of Abraham's descendants (Paul has already made this argument).

 
v2b

ii] The existence of a remnant Israel, a people of faith, indicates that God has not cast off his people, v2b-6. The 7,000 who stood with Elijah serves as an example of God's preservation of a godly line and thus of the validity of grace, as opposed to law.

h] "-" - or. Here the disjunctive raises an alternative / antithesis. If someone were to think that God has abandoned his elect people then they should consider the example of Elijah; "surely you know what the scriptures says in the place where it tells us of Elijah", Cassirer.

ouk "don't [you know]" - [do you] not [know]. The use of this negation in a question assumes an answer in the affirmative.

en + dat. "about [Elijah]" - in. [Elijah what says the scriptures]. Possibly adverbial, expressing reference / respect, as NIV, "concerning Elijah"; "with respect to the passage in the scriptures concerning Elijah", or just "in connection with Elijah", Lenski.

wJV "how" - Here adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of Elijah's actions; "how Elijah pleads with God", Barclay.

tw/ qew/ (oV) dat. "[he appealed to] God" - [he pleads with / to] God. Dative of direct object after the en prefix verb "pleads with / to."

kata + gen. " against [Israel]" - against [the Israel]. With the genitive, usually expressing opposition to (the genitive article with "Israel" simply specifies the case). The prayer of Elijah "is not on behalf of Israel, but against Israel", Moo. "Against" is a little confusing since Elijah's prayer, 1Kin.19:10, is not actually asking that the Lord act against Israel, but is rather a lament over the state of Israel's faith. Elijah assumes that all Israel is faithless, for which assumption the Lord corrects him. "Elijah accused Israel before God", Pilcher, ....... v3 ........, v4 alla "but [what was God's answer to him?]"

 
v3

Paul shortens the quotation from 1Kings 19:10, 14 somewhat. He reminds his readers that at the height of Israel's apostasy, during the reign of king Ahab when the prophet Elijah thought he was the last true Israelite, even then there was a faithful remnant, God's 7,000

kateskayan (kataskaptw) aor. "torn down [your alters]" - [Lord, the prophets of you they killed, the alters of you] they destroyed, dug down, ruined, burned down. Aorist expressing punctiliar / decisive action; "Razed to the ground", BAGD.

thn yuchn (h) "[they are trying] to kill [me]" - [and I was left behind alone and they are seeking] the soul [of me]. The action of the present tense verb zhtousin, "they seek", may be conative, "they are planning to kill me", or better, durative, as NIV. And they seek my life", ESV.

 
v4

alla "and" - but. Strong adversative; "But what says the divine oracular response", Pilcher.

oJ crhmatismoV (oV) "God's answer" - [what says] the divine reply, oracle. Hapax legomenon, once only use in the NT. "Authoritative divine answer", Moo.

autw/ dat. pro. "to him" - Dative of indirect object; "what says the divine response to him" = "and do you remember God's reply", Phillips.

katelipon (kataleipw) aor. "I have reserved" - I have left behind. Here taking the sense "see to it that something is left over", BAGD. Moo notes that this as "one of the seminal remnant texts in the Old Testament."

eJmautw/ dat. pro. "for myself" - Reflective pronoun, used for emphasis. Dative of interest, advantage.

oiJtineV pro. "who" - [seven thousand men] who. Indefinite relative pronoun, qualitative; "who indeed." Not just "who", but "who were of such a character that", Morris. The number "seven thousand" may indicate the idea of completeness, so Dunn.

ouk ekamyan gonu "have not bowed the knee" - The aorist verb is usually treated as a perfect, as NIV. In the sense of not accepting the spiritual lordship of Baal; "I still have 7,000 who haven't quit, 7,000 who are loyal to the finish", Peterson.

th/ Baal "to Baal" - Dative of indirect object. The masculine article tw would be expected following the LXX, but sometimes the feminine word "abomination" was used instead of the masculine "Baal" and that probably explains Paul's use of the feminine article here.

 
v5

As it was in Elijah's day, so it is in Paul's day. There exists a faithful remnant whose standing before God does not depend on their own meritorious works, but on the sovereign grace of God; it depends on God's mercy freely appropriated through faith.

ouJtwV oun "so too" - so, thus / then, therefore. Together drawing an inference from the preceding verse (although it may refer to what follows). "Accordingly, therefore", BAGD. Possibly ouJtwV expresses manner here; "in this manner, therefore", Jewett.

kai "-" - and. Adjunctive; "also at the present time", Jewett.

en + dat. "at [the present time]" - Temporal use of the preposition. Presumably Paul's own time; "it is the same way now", CEV.

gegonen (ginomai) perf. "there is" - has come into being. The perfect tense usually expresses a present state resulting from a past action, probably the sense here, so Dunn, although an aoristic perfect is possible, as NIV, "is", Morris; "he has brought into existence a remnant", Moo; "there has come into being such a remnant", Barrett.

leimma (a atoV) "a remnant" - a remnant. Hapax legomenon, cognate of kataleipw "left behind." The idea of a remnant of Israel was propagated by the prophets who spoke of part of Israel surviving the conquest and subsequent deportations of both Israel and Judah and reestablishing the kingdom in Jerusalem/Zion.

kata + acc. "-" - according to. Here probably causal, "because of God's election of grace", Moo, although "chosen according to the principle of grace", Jewett, "in accordance with grace", Dunn, is possible. The preposition phrase as a whole modifies leimma, "remnant".

caritoV (iV itoV) gen. "[chosen] by grace" - [a selection] of grace. This is a highly contentious phrase. Moo argues that the genitive "of grace" is adjectival, so "an election characterized by grace" = "a gracious election." "Election" is again best understood in the terms of "the selection" ("God's free and unconditional choice", Dunn) of a corporate identity, rather than of individuals (Schreiner, Morris, etc.), and "grace" is best understood as God's "covenant mercy." So, Paul is referring to the establishment and maintenance of a divine line, as an act of God's sovereign will, based on covenant mercy, appropriated through faith rather than works of the law.

 
v6

de "and" - but, and. Somewhat adversative; "but if it is by grace then it is no longer ....."

ei + ind. "if" - Introducing a 1st. class conditional clause where the condition is assumed to be true; "if, as is the case, ...., then ....."

cariti (iV itoV) dat. "by grace" - The dative is instrumental, expressing means, as NIV.

ouketi "then it is no longer / then it cannot be" - then no more, no longer. The indicative of the verb "to be" must be assumed. What is the subject, the "it"? Possibly "membership in the people of God", Morris; certainly inclusion in the remnant. We have here a logical, rather than chronological, connotation, "not", Jewett. Covenant inclusion was never by works so the sense is: given that inclusion in the remnant is by grace it cannot be argued that it is by works, or even more to the point, "if the remnant is chosen by grace, they are (obviously) not chosen on the basis of the merit of their own works", Pilcher.

ex + gen. "by / based on [works]" - from, out of [works]Usually in the sense of "out of / from", but sometimes expressing the means as consisting of a source; "by / on the ground of", Zerwick.

ergwn (on) "works" - "Works of the law."

epei "if it were" - since, because. Causal, providing the reason why election cannot be by works - for then "grace would cease to be grace", NEB; "In that case", Zerwick, or better, "for otherwise", Cranfield.

hJ cariV "grace" - the grace. The presence of the article indicates that we are not dealing with an abstraction, ie., "God's graciousness", but a particular grace, namely, "God's covenant mercy." "The grace no more is grace", Lenski.

ouketi ginetai "would no longer be [grace]" - no more becomes [grace]. Works of the law and grace (obedience and faith) for participation in the remnant are mutually exclusive; "ceases in its concrete manifestation to become", Meyer; "grace would not be grace at all", NJB.

 
v7

iii] The hardening of Israel through disbelief does not entail Israel's rejection, v7-10. By trying to reinforce their standing under the righteous reign of God by law-obedience, most Jews have not only lost out on the promised blessings of the covenant, but their hearts are now hardened to God's mercy. Such has always been God's way of dealing with a people who, unlike their father Abraham, have failed to live by grace through faith. Thankfully, a remnant Israel, the elect by grace through faith, fully participates in the domain of righteousness, evidencing the fact that God has not rejected Israel.

ti oun "what then?" - Inferential, introducing a logical conclusion; "the result of what Paul has been saying", Morris.

o} "what" - what. What is the "what"? Morris, Moo, Mounce, suggest "righteousness"; Dunn suggests "the benefits of a sustained covenant relationship, including final vindication", which, of course, the Jews wrongly assumed rested on "the righteousness of the law."

epizhtei (epizhtew) pres. "[Israel / the people of Israel] sought so earnestly" - inquired after, sought after, wished for. The prefix intensifies, so a "striving after", while the present tense, being durative, indicates a continued seeking, as NIV. It is possible though, that the present tense was chosen to make it stand out among the surrounding aorists and if so, it would be aoristic.

ouk epetucen (epitugcanw) aor. "they did not obtain" - [this] it was not successful. Taking the sense either "to light upon" or "to obtain", here probably the latter. What is the touto, "this", that they failed to obtain? It is "righteousness", or even "righteousness by faith", Schreiner? See o}, "what", above.

de "but" - Adversative. The two uses of de in this clause gives the sense; "but the elect obtained it, and the rest were hardened."

hJ eklogh (h) "the elect among them" - the elect [obtained it]. Referring to the class of, rather than individuals.

oiJ loipoi (oV) "the others" - [and] the rest, remaining, others. Who? Possibly all those who are not of the elect, Jews and Gentiles, Morris, "the rest of men" or "the others of Israel", Dodd.

epwrwqhsan (pwrow) aor. pas. "were hardened" - were made stubborn, dim, hard. Constative aorist, with the passive usually viewed as divine / theological. Often used by Paul to express "an inflexibility and insensibility to the gospel that hinders people from being saved", Schreiner. "They were hardened by God", Cranfield, taking the passive as a divine (theological) passive; or taking a more neutral view, they were hardened by God as a consequence of their own rebellion, cf., Morris. The latter view seems best. An undiscerning, obtuse, closed mind, of which this word refers, is often a divine punishment for a failure to respond to a clear word from the Lord. So, their minds were dulled because they continued to promote covenant standing by obedience to the law instead of submitting to the grace of God (God's covenant mercy), which is appropriated through faith. Of course, not everyone accepts the notion of "judicial hardening", Stott, of a "strengthening" of a predisposition, Nanos, but rather follow Calvin and argue for a hardening that produces unbelief.

 
v8

The quotation is a combination of Deuteronomy 29:4 and Isaiah 29:10. Note how Jesus, in Matthew 13:10-17, uses the same language to justify the proclamation of the gospel in the form of kingdom parables (riddles) rather than a clear word from God. Israel, having rejected a straightforward declaration of the gospel ("the time is fulfilled the kingdom of God/heaven is at hand"), is left with an unclear word from God (a riddle). Yet, even in the riddle the remnant find truth: "blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear."

autoiV dat. pro. "[God gave] them" - [as it is written, God gave] to them. The position is emphatic; dative of indirect object. The "them" = "Israel".

pneuma (a atoV) "a spirit" - a spirit. Indefinite. Not God's Spirit, but a person's psychological being, usually with reference to their sensitivity toward God, so "the spiritual self."

katanuxewV (iV ewV) gen. "of stupor" - of insensitivity, dullness, stupor, torpor. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "spirit", an "unstable spirit"; "God gave them a spirit benumbed into insensibility", Barclay; or probably better, "numbed their senses", Knox.

tou mh blepein "[eyes] so that they could not see" - [eyes] not to see [and ears not to hear]. The negated articular infinitive, as with "to hear", usually forms either a purpose or result clause, "in order that / with the result that". Pilcher opts of an epexegetic translation, "eyes that did not see", cf., BDF. The LXX version of this quote uses simple infinitives and one wonders why Paul has made them articular. Moo thinks Paul is drawing out the modifying (epexegetic) function of the term, "God gave them such eyes that they do not see." None-the-less, purpose seems more likely expressing judicial blindness; "God gave them a spirit of stupor, so that eyes do not see and ears do not hear", Jewett.

eJwV + gen. "to" - until [this very day]. until [the today day]. Temporal preposition, expressing time up to; "until". Paul's version emphasizes the present, not "until this day", but "until this present day". For Paul, the words of the prophet apply today and they apply to the Israel of today.

 
v9

In these next two verses Paul quotes Psalm 69:22-23. The psalmist calls for divine retribution upon his enemies, which sentiment Paul applies to his fellow Israelites. . Yet, within the wider context, the hardening is not "forever", rather it is continual, relentless, but always with the hope that the people will repent, cf. 11:11-12.

hJ trapeza "[their] table" - [let become] the table [of them]. In the original setting "cultic table" is obviously intended, referring to the idolatrous worship of Israel's pagan enemies. What has Paul in mind? Both Dunn and Jewett see a reference to the application of food laws by "the weak", ch.14, and the consequential breaking of table fellowship with their Gentile brothers. Yet, this seems unlikely. Cultic activities are surely in mind, here of Israel's devotion to the cultic law for covenant compliance, as against the exercise of faith, a faith like Abraham's. Such brings upon Israel a divine retribution that was properly intended for her enemies.

eiV + acc. "-" - to / for. Here expressing purpose / end-view. This use here, and following, of the preposition serves as a predicate nominative. Used four times in this verse for dramatic effect. "Let their very food become to them a snare", Cassirer.

pagida (iV idoV) "snare" - a trap. Figuratively describing something that brings "danger and death, suddenly and unexpectedly", BAGD.

qhran (a) "trap" - [and to / for] a net. Paul takes some poetic license with this addition to the LXX quote. Figuratively used of divine judgment.

skandalon (on) "a stumbling block" - [and to / for] a trap. That which trips someone up.

antapodoma (a) "a retribution" - [and to / for] repayment. Here a negative repayment = divine judgment; "recompense".

autoiV dat. pro. "for them" - to them. Dative of interest, disadvantage.

 
v10

skotisqhtwsan (skotizw) aor. pas. imp. "may [their eyes] be darkened" - let be darkened [the eyes of them]. Again the judgment of a befuddled mind, the consequence of a refusal to address a clear word from God.

tou mh blepein (blepw) pres. inf. "so they cannot see" - not to see. This construction, the genitive articular infinitive, usually serves to form a purpose clause; see v8.

sugkamyon (sugkamptw) aor. imp. "[may ... their backs] be bent" - [and] let bend [the back of them. Bowed by a heavy load, by grief, weakness, slavery, even bowed down to see, cf. Cranfield. Possibly in the sense that having chosen law-obedience over faith, that Israel be bent low with the law, Jewett; "grief and terror", Morris; "spiritual bondage", Denney. Of course, such imagery may not be so specific, but rather serve only to express a general sense of loss under the chastising hand of God.

dia + "forever" - through [all] = continually. Temporal use of the preposition expressing an extended period of time, "through", + pantoV, "all" = "always, continually, constantly." "Forever" is a bit too strong given that Israel's stupor is not "forever", but "continuous and sustained", Cranfield, while God's hand of chastisement is upon Israel. "Keep their backs bowed down continually", Cassirer.

 

Romans Introduction

Exposition

 

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