Romans 11:25-32 - Profound Mercy to Gentiles for the Sake of Israel
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25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; - Romans 11:25


"For I do not want you, brethren" This is a message, a warning to believers, to Christians, to those who have become partakers of the diving gifts of God (2 Pet. 1:4).


"To be uninformed of this mystery" This is largely what Paul has been walking us through in these last three chapters of Romans (9-11). This is in reference to something formerly hidden or obscure which is now revealed by God for all to know and understand (Rom. 16:25, 1 Cor. 2:7, 4:1, 13:2, 14:2, 15:51, Eph. 1:9, 3:3-4, 9, 5:32, 6:19, col 1:26-27, 2:2, 4:3, 2 Thess. 2:7, 1 Tim.3:9,16)


"So that" The reason Paul is informing us of this mystery isn't just to reveal the mystery, but proper knowledge of this mystery should bring a sense of humility.


"You will not be wise in your own estimation" Jesus gave stern warnings to hypocritical Jews, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" (Matt 23:13-29). These Pharisees would often hold those not in their social circles with contempt (Matt. 9:11, Luke 18:11), and they would expect others to hold to laws and rules that they themselves couldn't keep (Acts 15:10). Basically they would look down their noses (figuratively speaking) toward Gentiles. Jesus exposed this foolishness. Now, Paul is warning us to not fall into that same foolish error. That we, who for now being given the Holy Spirit through God's grace, should not look down our noses at the Jews nor should we hold in contempt the Pharisees.

Note: It's ok to judge sin but it's not ok to judge the sinner. We have to be careful when we are judging sin to not do so with a inner arrogance toward the one doing it. This too is judging the sinner.


I remember as a new believer hearing about Israel wandering through the desert wondering how could they not get it! The fact is, without God, we're just as fallible. Just because we have been enlightened by God's Spirit, God's word, we shouldn't boast as if we are superior because of it. We have indeed received enlightenment, but that's just it, we received it.


For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? - 1 Corinthians 4:7


If we, who were wild olive branches (Rom. 11:24) were grafted in to what God is doing, then just wait until those who were broken off by nature, those we may arrogantly hold in contempt, those that are by nature the natural cultivated olive branches, just wait until they are grafted back in. We Gentiles were adapted to fit by God's doing, but they are naturally compatible. By extension we partake of the blessings that they were set apart for. The very reason we are set apart is because we are the remaining lump of dough from the original dough God used to form them (Rom. 11:16). We are sanctified because God set out to sanctify them. So if as a Gentile you feel any sense of anti-Semitism, take heed Paul's warning.


"Partial", not total. It is not all of Israel that has been hardened, even today we see a remnant of Israel who has accepted the Messiah.


"Hardening". The Judicial hardening defined as God's sinless use of man's sinful actions. God is making firm unbelieving Israel in their stubborn position, in order to temporarily prevent them from recognizing the Messiah for the sake of us Gentiles. See our previous study, and especially our studies through Romans 9:13-18, and Romans 9:19-23 or an in-depth look at what this is and why.


"Until" This partial hardening of Israel is temporary. One day it will be lifted, we don't know what day but we know such day will coincide with the fullness of the Gentiles.


"Fullness of the Gentiles", The total number of the elect Gentiles. When this number is reached the blindness, the partial hardening of Israel ceases. We've seen in our study through Romans, especially 9-11 that this hardness has resulted in the blindness of Israelites from seeing the Messiah and other accompanying revelations, therefore when this hardening ceases we can expect just the opposite to occur.


My crude analogies:


Right now a dam has been created by God allowing a remnant of the water through, thereby also allowing the Gentiles entry into the river which otherwise had no room. Right now most of the water is being held back by this hardened dam. A glorious day when the dam is removed and not only does the river flow, but all of the water that has been held back all this time is allowed to flow! However, such a dam must stay in place until the fullness of the Gentiles have made safe passage.


There is only One Narrow Gate entering into Heaven. Many Israelites, though having instruction to enter through the Narrow Gate have failed to heed those instructions (but not all). So the Bouncer (God) halted intervening with them and instead commissioned His staff to send word to those in the streets, even those who did not have an invitation, that they would come, and that without cost. Once all those in the streets respond that are going to respond, then the Bouncer will once again focus on Israel, ushering them in until their numbers are complete.


26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

The Deliverer will come from Zion,
He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
27 This is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.” - Romans 11:26-27


Some feel that Israel represents the church here but that would be confusing since the verse before that Paul contrasts Israel from the Gentiles and it would be unlikely that he would change the definition of Israel in the middle of making a point. Paul is quoting from the end of Isaiah 59 here, verses 20 and 21. Interestingly the quote "When I take away their sins." is not being quoted but rather I believe Paul is paraphrasing the concept of what is being spoken of in these passages from Isaiah. He is properly quoting what the intended message is therefore not perverting the text but rather bring us right to the revelation of the text. Like Jesus explaining parables to His disciples (Luke 8:9-15, Matt. 13:18-23, Mark 4:13-20), Paul brought us to the conclusion.


28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; - Romans 11:28


There are two points of view here. One is from that of the gospel and how it looks at Israel and one is from God's choice and how His choice looks at Israel. There are two different points of view, but there is only one object, that is Israel. The good news sees Israel as enemies, why? for Gentiles sake (cf Rom. 9:13). However God's choice views Israel as beloved, why? For the sake of the fathers. The same fathers mentioned in Romans 9:5, namely, Ancient Israel. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The same Israel who may be seen as enemies of the gospel are also beloved for the sake of the fathers.


When you see Jews reject the gospel you aren't also to adopt a rejecting attitude toward them as God is reminding us they are beloved. It is actually for our sake that they are currently enemies of the gospel. When they are attacking Christianity it's not because God is against Christianity but rather because God is for Christians. As their ultimate sin in rejecting Christ resulted in His dying for our sins, as God ordained it, furthermore their present transgression in rejecting Christianity (the gospel) God has ordained for our sake.


29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. - Romans 11:29


According to God's choice (as we covered in Romans 9) they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. God's gifts, promises, callings, are irrevocable therefore not because of Israel's merit are they beloved but rather because God in love made a covenant to Abraham (Gen. 17:7-8) which is reaffirmed to Isaac (Gen. 26:3-5), and Jacob (Gen. 28:13-15). These three are the fathers (Lev. 26:42), it does not repeat after that which is why Jacob is the namesake of Israel (Gen. 35:10). This covenant, this calling of God is irrevocable. Paul is stating the fact that God made an unconditional promise and God cannot then take it back on the basis of a condition. Paul argues that it is solely on this promise that Israel stands otherwise it would have gone the way of Sodom and would have resembled Gomorrah (Rom. 9:29).


Some may argue that Israel failed so God's calling is nullified but this was an unconditional calling, and gifts by nature are unconditional otherwise they are not gifts but a wage. If one were to argue that the law and the rules thereof nullified the promise of God then you could apply what Paul said in Galatians 3:17 "What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise."


Some error in thinking this verse is about gifts of God to the individual but if read in context it seems clear to me it's about Israel. That said, the same God is our God. The concept that God's gifts and promises to you are irrevocable remains true. The same God who promises to remain faithful to Israel; the very same God who gives them grace after grace through their betrayals, doubts, transgressions, offenses, is the same God who is faithful to you! (2 Tim. 2:13, Phil. 1:6).


30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, - Romans 11:30


A summary verse of what we've been discussing. Gentiles in the pre-Christian era were disobedient to the knowledge of God, but now because of Israel's unbelief Gentiles have been shown mercy.


31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. - Romans 11:31


Israel was in an elevated position, Gentiles were the disobedient outsiders. However Israel moved to a state of disobedience resembling that of Gentiles. Therefore God has shown us Gentiles mercy, partly to make them jealous. Now that God has expanded His grace to include Gentiles, unbelieving Israelites may receive mercy in the same way. It's not as though the latter act of mercy is like the former though, the former was a result of Israel being broken off, the latter act of mercy will be because the Gentiles were included. The latter mercy mysteriously results from the mercy shown to the Gentiles.


32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. - Romans 11:32


"Has shut", the Greek word is sunekleisen which means "to shut together, i.e. enclose" used in Luke 5:6 referring to catching fish in a net, and it's the same word used in a similar passage of scripture found in Galatians 3:22. It's the idea that we are all in custody, all in prison, put there by God but not with the intent to see us rot in Jail but rather that He may show us mercy. For illustrative purposes, if a man does wrong, but remains free, how then will mercy mean anything to that man. But if the man is caught, convicted, and put in prison, he then can be shown mercy by the One who has the power to pardon and release him from prison.


This does not mean all are pardoned. Galatians 3:22 states the condition "might be given to those who believe". Notice the word "may" show mercy.


By imprisoning us all God was able to set a common term of release for all. That condition is not by behaving better or doing good things, but solely available to the one who receive His mercy, that is, heeds the gospel and believes in Christ.


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