Romans 11: Stanly Community Church

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1 While God has used Israel s rejection of Jesus Christ as an opportunity to spread the Gospel to the world, non- Jewish people are no more deserving of the grace it offers. The salvation God provides is an undeserved gift, and it is only truly received through faith. Jews and Gentiles alike must humbly believe the Gospel or be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. The unbelief of the Jews on a national level is beneficial for the elect of every nation. As Paul explained in 11:11-15, Israel s rejection of Christ provided the avenue for the Gospel to be widely proclaimed to the Gentiles. Once Christ established His Church (Matt. 16:16-20), the message of justification by grace through faith moved beyond Israel to the all the world (Matt. 28:18-20). The Lord s Church (consisting of Jewish and Gentile believers) replaced Israel the nation as heaven s ambassador to the world (2 Cor. 5:20). Now God is provoking unbelieving Jews to jealousy (vv. 11, 14) by using the predominantly Gentile Church to advance His kingdom (v. 13). A Jewish remnant (11:1-7) is coming to faith in Christ as they see the result of their nation's rejection. God is using their national situation to draw them to their Messiah (vv. 11, 15). Thus the Lord is ultimately preserving Israel for the kingdom (Deut. 30:1-6). He will completely fulfill His national covenants with Abraham s descendants who share His faith (Lk. 1:68-75). 1 Copyright All rights reserved.

2 Gentile believers will inherit the kingdom because they likewise share Abraham s faith (Rom. 4:11). And so, as Paul said in 11:12, Israel s fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles ). However, Paul warns Gentile believers to keep all of this in perspective. We must always view Israel through the lens of Scripture. God s terms for entering His kingdom are the same for all people. Unbelief always results in eternal condemnation, and humble faith always results in eternal life. Gentile Christians should always remember that we are the beneficiaries of Israel s rejection, and that should keep us humble. For, unless the Gospel came to us, we could not believe and be saved (Rom. 10:8-15). In the end, God justifies His elect for His glory (11:36). Any professing believer who arrogantly believes otherwise needs to examine their faith (2 Cor. 13:5). With this in mind, we now continue Paul s teaching on Israel, Gentiles and the glory of God. We have already seen how Israel s national rejection has benefited the world of Gentiles (11:11-15). Now let us begin to consider in Romans 11:16-24 that Gentile s must receive the benefits of that rejection with humility. For the salvation of Gentiles is rooted in God s promises to Israel as seen in verse All must, therefore, reverence His sovereignty in salvation as seen in verses Today we will cover the first three verses of this section. 2 Copyright All rights reserved.

3 Israel, Gentiles & God s Glory Part II (11:16-18) Received with Humility (vv ) Rooted in God s Promise (vv ) God s covenant with Abraham expressed His plan to establish His kingdom on earth and to populate it with redeemed sinners. The nation of Israel itself was called by God and given His moral law. The associated ceremonial worship emphasized the atonement for sin that would ultimately be secured by the coming Savior (9:4-5). This atonement was necessary to actually be a citizen of the heavenly kingdom. The faithful were also guaranteed an eternal inheritance in the Promised Land. The Jews were required to obediently serve as the Lord s representative on earth or forfeit their privileged position (Deut. 28). Of course, only those who trusted God as Abraham did were faithful. As a whole, the nation failed miserably. This proved that unbelief receives a curse and genuine faith produces obedience that leads to blessing. Such obedience was first exemplified in the life of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This helps us to understand Paul s statement in verse 16: For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. That is to say, there will be a believing remnant of Jews who follow in the footsteps of their faithful forefathers. Since God s promise to Abraham was sure, then so it will be to all of his descendants who share his faith in the Lord (v. 15). Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were a foretaste of things to come for believing Jews. 3 Copyright All rights reserved.

4 The firstfruit actually refers to the first ripe produce of the harvest that God required as an offering from Israel (Ex. 23:19; Lev. 2:12). The Jews were to celebrate a feast at the beginning of harvest when the first of their crops were gathered. Then they were to celebrate a feast at the end (ingathering; Ex. 23:16). The offering of the firstfruits expressed faith in God to provide the entire harvest. Since the firstfruit was set apart to God (i.e. holy ), it represented the entire harvest. Thus Israel s food from the harvest in the Promised Land (expressed here as a lump of dough used to make bread) was also dedicated to the Lord. That is, the harvest God provided sustained them as His people who represented His kingdom. This symbolized God s promise to bring all of Abraham s believing descendants into the kingdom. It likewise identifies them as the firstfruits of God s kingdom from the human race. The Lord has since called believers from every nation to experience eternal blessings in the kingdom (Gen. 12:2-3). God is always at work in every age of human history to bring the elect into the kingdom (Rom. 9:23-24; 11:5). Those who believe are a visible guarantee of His salvation in every generation (Rom. 8:23; Jas. 1:18). But Paul s main point here is that unbelieving Jews in no way hinder the elect from entering the kingdom by faith (cf. v. 11). God counted Abraham s faith as righteousness (Gen. 15:6), and so He will do for all who believe the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 4:16). 4 Copyright All rights reserved.

5 Therefore, the Jewish patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) are the root in Paul s analogy, and their descendants are the primary branches. Abraham was the beginning of the nation symbolized in verse 17 by an olive tree. If God set Abraham apart as holy for His kingdom, then the nation is also holy in that regard. After all, that is what God promised. This does not, however, refer to the branches that were broken off because of their unbelief. These are the sons of the kingdom who are cast out (Matt. 8:11-12) i.e. the physical descendants of Abraham who have not shared his faith thus forfeiting the blessings of salvation. But it does include Gentiles who were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree (v. 17). Israel is a cultivated olive tree, planted and tended by God as it were. But as with a real olive tree, some branches do not bear fruit. A gardener will break off those branches and may, as his discretion, graft branches from another tree to make the tree more fruitful. Gentiles were once part of the wild olive tree -- those outside of the covenant promises of God ( the root and fatness of the olive tree ). As Paul says elsewhere, Gentiles were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world (Eph. 2:12). However, through the blood of Christ, they have entered the kingdom (Eph. 2:13). They were not part of the original tree. 5 Copyright All rights reserved.

6 So the faith of Gentiles is rooted in the promise of God to Abraham and those who share his faith. As Paul says in Galatians 3:29: if you are Christ s, then you are Abraham s seed, and heirs according to the promise (cf. Rom. 4:11, 13). For this reason, no Gentile has any reason to boast against the branches (v. 18). The Jews are indeed not worthy of receiving God s salvation any more than the Gentiles. They were nonetheless chosen by God to bring His salvation blessing to the world.f To boast implies that a Gentile might feel as though Israel s rejection of Christ made all Jews unworthy of the kingdom. And now, since Gentiles are offered salvation through Christ, they must somehow have a superior status. This is absolutely not true! Jewish Christians do have a very distinct and prominent place in the kingdom (Matt. 19:28). Again, it is not because they are somehow more deserving. No, God chose them for His purpose and His glory as it is with everything He does. He acts sovereignly over His creation to do as He pleases among us. He will always do that which guarantees His glory, and He owes us no explanation. Likewise, Gentile Christians have not superseded Jews. Both are, in fact, unworthy recipients of God s grace. So if Gentiles are tempted to boast, they should quickly remember that [they] do not support the root, but the root supports [them] (v. 18b). Realizing that the Gospel is to the Jew first and also to the Gentile (Rom. 1:16), even though both are equally unworthy, should keep both humble. 6 Copyright All rights reserved.

7 Gentile Christians should always receive the benefits of Israel s rejection with humility. It is the grace of God that He offers salvation to anyone, and no one has any room to boast. Rather than boasting, we should all praise the Lord for His willingness and ability to save sinners through His Son. And we must remember that everything is rooted in His promises, which are based on His eternal purpose (Rom. 8:28-30). As you go through the Book of Romans, are you understanding more about God s sovereignty in everything especially in your salvation? Whether you are a Jew or a Gentile, have you humbly turned in faith to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins? Have you been grafted into the kingdom of God by believing the promise of justification by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? 7 Copyright All rights reserved.

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