THE REMNANT

Romans 11:1-5

1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

2 God hath not CAST AWAY his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? How he maketh intercession to God AGAINST ISAREL saying,

3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.

But what saith the answer of God unto him? I HAVE RESERVED TO MYSELF seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

5 Even so then at this present time also there is A REMNANT ACCORDING TO THE ELECTION OF GRACE.

At the end of Romans 10, Paul tells us that national Israel is a DISOBEDIENT AND GAINSAYING PEOPLE; that Israel has rejected the gospel even though the gospel was Israel’s sound and Israel’s words. Paul then begins chapter 11 with the question, “Has God cast away his people, whom He foreknew?”

Paul answers this question with a definitive no, and qualifies his answer by declaring that he, himself, is an Israelite: “For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin” (11:1).

Paul then cites the remnant in Elisha’s day who had not bowed their knee to Baal to support his position, saying, “Even so then AT THIS PRESENT TIME ALSO there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (11:5).

Having already made it abundantly clear that only a remnant of Israelites would be saved (9:27), he continues to be true to this theme. Having expressed his great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart for his fellow Israelites according to the flesh (9:1-3). Paul states unequivocally that God’s word has not failed (9:6) because the promises of God are not fulfilled in those who are Israel according the flesh only, but instead, they are fulfilled in those who are Israel according to the promise (9:6-8).

In Romans 10:1 Paul has said, “My heart’s desire and prayer to God FOR ISRAEL is that they might be SAVED.” He does not say “that they might be restored to national prominence.”

Yet, it is “national prominence” or “national distinction” that so many think Paul is referring to when he says, “all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). Paul’s exposition in Romans 9 -11 has nothing to do with the national restoration of ethnic Israel. Instead, it has everything to do with INDIVIDUAL SALVATION, and that is precisely why his focus is on the remnant that would be saved from among the hardened nation of Israel.

This is why Paul states that as an apostle to the Gentiles, one of his desires is to provoke his fellow Israelites to jealously.

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might SAVE SOME OF THEM (Romans 11:13-14).

There is nothing in Romans 9-11 that indicates that Paul is speaking of a national restoration of the physical nation of Israel, nor is there any thought that Paul thinks that ALL JEWS will one day be saved.

What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the VESSELS OF MERCY, which he had afore prepared unto glory, EVEN US, whom he hath called, NOT OF THE JEWS ONLY, but also OF THE GENTILES? (Romans 9:22-24).

Notice that the vessels of mercy are those who are called from among the Jews AND the Gentiles. Does this then mean that God has excluded some while accepting others? Absolutely not!

National Israel, who was hardened, is the vessel of wrath. Yet within Israel there are those individuals who have obtained mercy because of their faith in God. Likewise, the nations which reject God are also vessels of wrath, but within them there are some who obtain mercy because they seek for God.

In Romans 9-11, Paul is not making a case for national Israel. Instead, Paul is showing how that in spite of Israel’s failure, the purpose of God according to election stands. It is in this regard that Paul says “God has not CAST AWAY his people?” Yet later, in verse 15, Paul does use the language of “casting away” (which he uses in 11:1-2) to refer to Israel in unbelief whom God has hardened.

For if THE CASTING AWAY OF THEM be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? (11:15).

Notice that Paul refers to a “casting away” and a “receiving again” in the same verse. What exaclty is he referring to? Is he talking about a regathering of an ethnic people as a covenant nation once again? No, not by any means.

Consider briefly the words of Jesus from John 15:1-6

I AM THE TRUE VINE, and my Father is the husbandman.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

The casting away of which Paul speaks is a reference to hardened Jews who are cut off from the covenant family of God because the do not believe Jesus is the Messiah.

In Romans 3:3-4, Paul says the following:

3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

A major theme throughout Romans is God’s faithfulness. In Christ Jesus God has accomplished exactly what He has always promised He would do. The promises of God have not failed due to the unbelief of many within Israel, but rather, through Christ, God has fulfilled them just as He always promised he would.  

On the heels of the verdict that Israel has not obeyed the gospel (chapter 10), Paul contends that God has not cast away Israel (with regards to His grace to save) because there is a remnant among them who will believe even though the nation at large has rejected the gospel. Therefore, Jews are not beyond the saving grace of God, and they will be saved if they will turn from their unbelief.

20 Well; BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

23 And they also, IF THEY ABIDE NOT STILL IN UNBELIEF, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again (Romans 11:20 -23).

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