God’s Renewing Word of Hope
Romans 11:1-24: Chapter 11 is a summation of what the apostle Paul has been saying in chapters 9 and 10 about bringing all people—Jews and Gentiles—within the reach of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Using the image of an olive tree and grafting, Paul argues that Gentiles are like branches that are cut away from a wild olive tree and grafted into a cultivated tree. The Jews are God’s cultivated olive tree, and the new “Gentile” branches have been grafted into the tree which now stands for the whole people of God.
God’s Mercy on Israel
1 I ask, then: Did God reject his own people? Certainly not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God has not rejected his people, whom he chose from the beginning. You know what the scripture says in the passage where Elijah pleads with God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me.” 4 What answer did God give him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not worshiped the false god Baal.” 5It is the same way now: there is a small number left of those whom God has chosen because of his grace. 6His choice is based on his grace, not on what they have done. For if God’s choice were based on what people do, then his grace would not be real grace.
7What then? The people of Israel did not find what they were looking for. It was only the small group that God chose who found it; the rest grew deaf to God’s call. 8 As the scripture says, “God made their minds and hearts dull; to this very day they cannot see or hear.” 9 And David says,
“May they be caught and trapped at their feasts;
may they fall, may they be punished!
10May their eyes be blinded so that they cannot see;
and make them bend under their troubles at all times.”
11I ask, then: When the Jews stumbled, did they fall to their ruin? By no means! Because they sinned, salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make the Jews jealous of them. 12The sin of the Jews brought rich blessings to the world, and their spiritual poverty brought rich blessings to the Gentiles. Then, how much greater the blessings will be when the complete number of Jews is included!
The Salvation of the Gentiles
13I am speaking now to you Gentiles: As long as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I will take pride in my work. 14Perhaps I can make the people of my own race jealous, and so be able to save some of them. 15For when they were rejected, all other people were changed from God’s enemies into his friends. What will it be, then, when they are accepted? It will be life for the dead!
16If the first piece of bread is given to God, then the whole loaf is his also; and if the roots of a tree are offered to God, the branches are his also. 17Some of the branches of the cultivated olive tree have been broken off, and a branch of a wild olive tree has been joined to it. You Gentiles are like that wild olive tree, and now you share the strong spiritual life of the Jews. 18So then, you must not despise those who were broken off like branches. How can you be proud? You are just a branch; you don’t support the roots—the roots support you.
19But you will say, “Yes, but the branches were broken off to make room for me.” 20That is true. They were broken off because they did not believe, while you remain in place because you do believe. But do not be proud of it; instead, be afraid. 21God did not spare the Jews, who are like natural branches; do you think he will spare you? 22Here we see how kind and how severe God is. He is severe toward those who have fallen, but kind to you—if you continue in his kindness. But if you do not, you too will be broken off. 23And if the Jews abandon their unbelief, they will be put back in the place where they were; for God is able to do that. 24You Gentiles are like the branch of a wild olive tree that is broken off and then, contrary to nature, is joined to a cultivated olive tree. The Jews are like this cultivated tree; and it will be much easier for God to join these broken-off branches to their own tree again.
Today’s Key Verse: Romans 11:22a
Here we see how kind and how severe God is. He is severe toward those who have fallen, but kind to you—if you continue in his kindness.
Part of Paul’s argument is contained within verses 11 and 12. What, according to Paul, will bring about rich blessings for all? In today’s reading, in what ways does Paul lift up God’s grace? When and how in your life have you experienced God’s grace?
Loving, kind, and gracious God, you desire all people to come to know you and the salvation you offer through your Son, Jesus Christ. With a humble and thankful heart, I am open to receive your rich spiritual blessings. In Jesus’s holy name I pray. Amen.
Romans 11:25-36: God’s mercy is for all.