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

c) God's inclusive people


Paul now concludes the third part of his fifth rebuttal argument against the nomist critique that his gospel is flawed, given the limited response of godly Jews, 11:1-32. In the third part of his argument he sets out to establish that, with respect to Israel's unbelief, "this is not God's last word. Israel is not doomed to final rejection", Hunter. So far he has established that Israel's rejection is not total, 11:1-10, and that the inclusion of Gentiles into God's people is part of God's plan for the salvation of "all" (representative) Israel, v11-24. Now, in the passage before us, Paul outlines God's universal purpose of mercy for both Jews and Gentiles. Paul asks his readers to note carefully that God's called-out people, spiritual / remnant Israel, finds its ultimate shape in the hardening of part of national Israel and the inclusion of Gentile believers (the vine illustration, 11:11-24). There are three elements in the fulfillment of God's righteous reign, his setting all things right: First, the unbelief of the majority of the Jewish people; Second, the completion of the incoming of the Gentiles; Third, the salvation of "all Israel", v25-26. After supporting the third element from the scriptures, v26-27, Paul draws out the implications for his readers, v28-32: First, the disobedience of the Jewish people and their subsequent punishment, has in fact, through the sovereign intervention of God, served as a means of salvation for the Gentiles - although it must be recognized that the rejection of the Jewish majority does not imply that Jews are beyond the gospel; Second, the disobedience of the majority of God's historic people has served as a means of channelling God's mercy to the Gentiles and in a similar way, his mercy shown to the Gentiles will be a means of channelling his mercy to the Jews; Third, Both Jew and Gentile are in bondage to sin - since all humanity is bound by this slavery, it is not possible to escape from God's impartial judgment, other than by his mercy, namely, his impartial redemption in Christ.


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


ii] Background: See 1:8-15.


iii] Structure: Paul's argument that God has not totally cast off Israel is now developed with respect to God's plan for the salvation of "all" Israel, v25-32. The argument presents as follows:

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


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;

The salvation of Gentiles will provide renewed opportunities for Jews to find faith in Christ, v11-15;

The illustration of the olive tree, v16-21:

The gospel of grace is not flawed; it has not failed with regard the salvation of Israel.

Divine grace is evident in both the hardening of Israel and in the salvation of Gentiles, v22-24.

The mystery of Israel's hardening, v25-27:

Israel's hardening for the salvation of a remnant, with the inclusion of the Gentiles,

  achieves the salvation of "all Israel."

The mystery explained, v28-31.

Conclusion: grace / mercy is all, v32.


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). The conversion of the Jews has been an ongoing reality since the first century. So, when Paul says of the conclusion of God's putting all things right that "all Israel will be saved", he is speaking of the full-grown olive tree with some branches removed, some wild shoots grafted in and some of the removed branches grafted back in (an eschatological image). The hardening of most Jews has already occurred and now Gentiles and Jews are coming to know Christ and are joining together in God's eternal family. As for "the full number of the Gentiles", it is likely that Paul is referring to the end of God's putting all things right, not of a stage which then leads on to God's saving a full number of Jews.


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

Text - 11:25

The mystery of God's plan of salvation for Israel, v25-32: i] The mystery of Israel's hardening, v25-27. Paul directs his readers to pay attention to his words. "There is a profound truth concealed here (to musthrion touto, "this mystery"), my brothers, of which I do not wish you to lose sight, lest you become unduly self-satisfied", Cassirer. Israel's hardening for the salvation of a remnant and the inclusion of the Gentiles achieves the salvation of "all Israel." There are three elements to the fulfillment of God's plan of salvation: a) The unbelief of the greater part of the Jewish people; b) The completion of the ingathering of Gentile believers; c) The ultimate salvation of God's true Israel, an inclusive people made up of remnant Israel (believing Jews) and Gentile converts.

gar "-" - for. Explanatory rather than causal; Paul now explains "how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree." Of course, the debate is whether Paul goes on to speak of an ingrafting of the nation Israel, or of a representative Israel, and whether this ingrafting is "now", or in the future. Representative seems best, as does a present ongoing ingrafting. "I want to lay this out on the table as clearly as I can", Peterson.

agnoein (agnoew) pres. inf. "to be ignorant of" - [I do not want you] to be ignorant [brothers]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the negated cognitive verb "I do not want."

to musthrion (on) "[this] mystery". [of this] mystery. A mystery in the New Testament is a revealed truth for those who have their eyes open to spiritual verities, a truth once hidden, but now revealed.

iJna mh + subj. "So that [you may] not [be]" - lest [you be]. Introducing a negated purpose clause; "to prevent you from being self-conceited", Moffatt.

eJautoiV dat. pro. "conceited" - [wise] in yourselves. Reflexive pronoun, dative of interest, advantage. "Self-opinionated", Berkeley.

oJti "-" - that. Here serving to introduce an object clause / dependent statement / epexegetic, explaining the substance of the mystery; "It is this, that the partial insensibility which has come to Israel is only to last until .....", Phillips.

tw/ Israhl dat. "Israel" - [hardness in part has happened] to Israel. Dative of interest, disadvantage; "hardness in part has happened for Israel" = "partial obtuseness has come over Israel", Berkeley.

gegonen (ginomai) perf. "has experienced" - has happened. Intensive perfect tense. "A hardening has come upon Israel", NRSV.

pwrwsiV (iV ewV) "a hardening" - hardness. Used of callusing, so of the dulling of spiritual perception. Israel's disobedience entailed rebellion against God, in particular, unbelief. Hardening is best seen as a consequence of unbelief, ie. a failure to rest on the mercy of God.

apo + gen. "in part". from [part]. The prepositional phrase may be treated adverbially, "partly hardened", and is numerical, ie., not all of Israel is unbelieving. Either, "Is not permanent", TEV, or "partial blindness", NEB.

acri ou| "until [the full number of the Gentiles has come in]" until. This construction is used instead of eJwV, adverbial, temporal, indefinite future time, "until", as NIV. It is often argued that the unbelief of Israel is temporary and awaits the end of the time of the Gentiles. Paul is simple saying that Judaism was hardened (as a consequential punishment) providing for the inclusion of the Gentiles. This situation will continue till "all Israel is saved", ie. the full gathering of God's people.

to plhrwma (a atoV) "the full number" - the fullness. The NIV "full number" agrees with most translators who go with the Jewish idea of a particular number of righteous Israelites who will be saved. Paul is obviously applying this idea to the Gentiles, "full quota", Williams. A generalization may be more appropriate since this is likely a technical concept rather than an actual truth, "until the Gentiles have been admitted in full strength" REB. Paul is speaking of the full incorporation of the Gentiles. Of course, this incorporation is ultimately by grace through faith. The idea illustrates divine grace rather than a set number of believers. Dunn's idea of a number of Gentiles "equivalent to that of Israel" seems rather far fetched.

twn eqnwn (oV) gen. "of the Gentiles" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive / wholative.

ouJtwV adv. "[and] so" - [and] thus, so. Argumentative / inferential, rather than temporal, so not "then", as if the salvation of "all Israel" is after the inclusion of "the full number of the Gentiles".

paV adj. "all [Israel]" - all [Israel will be saved]. The "all" is representative, and "Israel" is better understood as "spiritual Israel" rather than the Zionist state of Israel. Spiritual Israel, in a representative sense, will fully realize the Abrahamic promise, but this will not include every Jew. The "all Israel" will consist of believers drawn from ethnic Israel and the Gentile world.


Scriptural quotations which support the manifestation of the mystery to Paul's generation, v26b-27. The messiah has come, gathering God's remnant people from ethnic/national Israel and the Gentile world in fulfillment of the covenant promises. Isa.59:20-21, 27:9.

oJ rJuomenoV (rJuomai) pres. mid. part. "the deliverer" - the one delivering. The participle serves as a substantive.

ek + gen. "from" - [will come] out of. Expressing source / origin; probably referring to the incarnation, of the messiah coming out of the people of Israel, but possibly referring to the parousia where Jesus comes out of heaven, so Cranfield.

Siwn "Zion". Here it probably means the earthly city of Jerusalem as representing the people of Israel, but heaven is a possibility.

apostreyei (apostrefw) fut. "he will turn [godlessness] away" - he will take ungodliness (sin = rebellion against God). Predictive future tense; "remove", Dunn. "He will drive all godlessness from Jacob (the Jewish people)", Barclay.

apo + gen. "from [Jacob]" - Expressing separation; "away from."


hJ "-" - [and this] the. The article serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrase "from covenant of me" into a attributive modifier limiting "this".

par (para) + gen. "my [covenant]" - [covenant] from [me]. Here expressing source, "from beside of"; "the covenant from me", Charberlain, ie. in the sense of authorship where the preposition takes the sense of movement from beside someone, here God as the author of the covenant. "My very own covenant", Jewett.

autoiV dat. pro. "with them" - to them. Dative of association, as NIV.

oJtan + subj. "when" - This temporal construction, oJte + an, expresses indefinite future time; "whenever".

afelwmai (afairew) aor. subj. "I take away" - I take away [the sins of them]. The subjunctive forming a temporal clause with the conjunction. The sense is "remove".


ii] "A reflection on the mystery", Dumbrell, v28-31. The favored position of the Gentiles has been made possible by Israel's rejection of the gospel and consequential "hardening". This "hardening" of national Israel is neither complete nor final, since It is not in God's nature to go back on his promises.

kata + acc. "as far as [the gospel] is concerned" - Here expressing reference / respect; "with reference to, with respect to, in relation to."

men .... de .... "-" - An adversative comparative construction; "on the one hand ..... but on the other ...." Punished, yet beloved of God; this is a central point in Paul's argument.

ecqroi adj. "they are enemies" - They didn't accept the gospel and therefore came under the wrath of God. "Enemies of God", NEB, rather than "hostile toward God."

di (dia) acc. "on [your] account" - because of [you]. Possibly taking the sense "with a view to the advantage of"; the punishment of Israel for their rejection of Jesus, serves, in the providence of God, to benefit the Gentiles. Yet, a causal sense is more likely; "because of / on account of you."

thn ekloghn (h) "[but as far as] election [is concerned]" - [but according to] the choice, election. Again, we are faced with the "Calvanist / Arminian" issue. The election of Israel is surely intended here, a corporate identity, not the election of individuals for salvation.

dia + acc. "on account of" - [they are beloved (objects of God's love)] because of [the fathers]. Causal, as above. God is faithful to those he chooses to love. There is no ground for it. He has just chosen to love the family of Abraham and therefore, he will not withdraw that love. Such will always be so. "Because of their forefathers", Williams.


gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining how Israel, now enemies of the gospel, will inevitably be loved of God.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "Gods [gifts and his call]" - [the gifts and the call] of God. The genitive is verbal, subjective; The word "grace" and "call" joined by kai possibly form a hendiadys where a single idea is being expressed; "it is not in God's nature to go back on his covenantal promises."

ametamelhta adj. "are irrevocable" - Emphatic by position in the Gk. text. "Something one does not take back", BAGD. "God does not withdraw", Phillips.


God has used the disobedience of Israel to channel salvation to the Gentiles and he will use the obedience of the Gentiles to channel salvation to Israel, v30-31.

gar "-" - for. More explanatory than causal; introducing an explanation of how Paul's statement in v29 applies.

w{sper ..... ou{twV kai "just as ..... so [they] too" - just as [you once disobeyed God but now you received mercy by the disobedience of these ones] so also. This construction, covering v30 and 31, forms a modal coordinate clause expressing the manner in which the comparison is made; "in the same way as ...... so also ......"

uJmeiV pro. "you" - Emphatic by use.

pote "at that time" - once, formerly. Temporal, probably indefinite; "in the past", Phillips.

hpeiqhsate (apeiqew) aor. "disobedient to" - disobey. Constative aorist. Possibly "disbelieve", and certainly that would be the sense here; "rejected God", CEV.

tw/ qew/ (oV) dat. "God" - Dative of direct object after the verb apeiqew, "to disobey", which takes a dative of persons.

nun de "now" - but now. Temporal adversative construction; "for just as you .... but now you have received mercy ...."

th/ ... apeiqeia/ (a) "as a result of [their] disobedience" - by the disobedience [of these ones]. The dative is possibly instrumental, "by means of their disobedience", but cause seems more likely, "because of their disobedience", indicating the reason for an action. Here, Israel's rejection of God in Christ/gospel


ou{twV kai "so [they] too" - and so. See above.

tw/ "-" - [these ones now were disobedient to] that which was [for you mercy]. The dative article serves as a nominalizer; see below.

iJna + subj. "in order that [they too may now receive mercy]" - that [they also now may receive mercy]. Forming a purpose clause. The rebellion of national Israel hides a merciful purpose of God toward the Jews, as well as toward the Gentiles. Paul's view is that the acceptance of the gospel by the Gentiles will goad many Jews into accepting Jesus as the messiah. This view is evidenced in Paul's own ministry, eg. his collection for the poor in Jerusalem - Gentiles bearing gifts to God's historic people. We should also note that Paul's mission to the Gentiles, as recorded in Acts, is paralleled by Peter's mission to the Jews, a mission not recorded in Acts, but real, none-the-less.

nun "now". A difficult variant reading which difficulty may well have prompted a scribe to leave it out. The usual principle probably applies, the more difficult reading is likely to be authentic. The "now" is the present dispensation which will end at the return of Christ. This may well support the argument that the conversion of apostate Jewry is a present and ongoing reality, rather than a final-days phenomenon.

tw/ uJmeterw/ adj. "as a result of [God's mercy] to you" - the to you [mercy]. The dative article tw/ before the possessive adjective, "your", serves as a nominalizer; "the for you mercy from God." The dative as for apeiqeia/, v30, objective, "the mercy shown to you." The position of this phrase in the Greek text may support its placement in the first clause of a translated sentence, "in the same way, because of the mercy that you have received, the Jews now disobey God, in order that ....", TEV. The NIV, and most others translations, go with a logical positioning, taking the placement of this phrase as emphatic, serving to underline God's mercy.


iii] Conclusion: All humanity is in rebellion against God, both Jew and Gentile, and we are held to this state of rebellion ("disobedience") by the law. Yet, this confinement to sin ("bound to disobedience") has as its purpose the application of divine mercy to all who believe, both Jew and Gentile.

gar "for" - More explanatory than causal; introducing a summary statement; "This is the sum of the matter, ..." Both Jews and Gentiles have undergone the same alienation from God, and both can be included in God's remnant Israel on the ground of grace through faith.

sunekleisen (sugkleiw) aor. "had bound [all men] over" - [God] shut up, made a prisoner, consigned, confined. Consummative aorist. "Has imprisoned them all in disobedience, ie. put them under compulsion to be disobedient (unlikely!) or given them over to disobedience", BAGD. Possibly in the sense of "imprisoned in disbelief", but better, "rebellion against God", a rebellion ("disobedience") to which we are confined by the law. "Has shut up", NASB.

touV pantaV "all men" - the all/everyone [to / in disobedience]. This "all" is obviously the same as the "them all". All are held to their sin by divine law and all stand under the mercy of God. The "all" may be the elect, or a universal whole, "all people", TEV, or a general all, ie. all who believe, but surely, in the context, it is "all" the disobedient representative Jews who are being prompted "now" to receive God's mercy by the mercy shown the Gentiles, and "all" the disobedient Gentiles who believe in Christ and so receive God's mercy.

iJna + subj. "so that" - that [he may show mercy to all]. Again forming a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that", ie. the confining ("bound over") of rebellion ("disobedience") has as its ultimate purpose the delivery of mercy.


Romans Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]