What is the setting of Romans 11:25 and 26 ?
Romans 11 is the third and final chapter in a distinct section of the epistle. Paul asks, “Is there unrighteousness with God?” (Rom 9:14). As he deals with the truth that God had removed Israel from her place of privilege (3:2), he asserts that God is righteous in His dealings with nations. God had chosen Israel and gave to the nation its privileges and blessings. If He had the right to chose and bless the nation, then He had the right to remove its privileges. This is the message of chapter 9. But chapter 10 shows that God is reasonable in setting Israel aside. They had not responded to His Word (10:20, 21). Chapter 11 completes the picture. In setting aside Israel, God brought greater blessing to the Gentiles, but would yet fulfill His promises to Israel. God is reliable. What He promised, He will fulfill.
The chapters before and after these three chapters focus on God’s dealing with individuals, whether Jew or Gentile. Personal responsibility determines personal condemnation (ch 1-3a), justification (ch 3b-5a), sanctification (ch 6-8), and transformation (ch 12-15a). Chapters 9-11 do not deal with individuals’ personal relationship with God or their eternal destiny; the chapters disclose to us God’s dealings with “people-groups,” Jews and Gentiles in particular.
Is the future blessing of Israel certain?
At the beginning of chapter 11, Paul questions, “Have they stumbled that they should fall?” (v 11). Notice that the nation is responsible for “stumbling,” but God’s sovereign purpose is in question. Did God accept their failure as a reason to abandon them as a nation? Paul is emphatic in responding, “By no means” (ESV) or “God forbid” (KJV). Their fall results in salvation for the Gentiles (v 11) and riches for the world (individual Jews and Gentiles alike, v 12). We cannot, however, miss Paul’s point that God has blessed others in order to provoke Israel to jealousy (v 11). Does God intend for them to realize what they have lost and then leave them wallowing in guilt, forever abandoned? No! He has in view their return to “fullness” (v 12).
At the beginning of the chapter Paul asks, “Has God cast away (rejected, ESV) His people?” (v 1). Paul’s initial answer is that God has not rejected every Jew. Paul is a sufficient example himself to demonstrate that Jews individually are being saved. Although Paul began his letter showing that even at the time of writing, individual Jews had a place of priority (“to the Jew first,” 1:16), yet in the epistle he establishes that “there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles. All alike stand condemned before God (3:19, 22b). All alike are candidates for the riches God’s grace provides (10:12).
In Romans 11, the question of verse one has not been fully answered by the end of verse 14. As verse 12 speaks of Israel’s fulness as a nation, now verse 15 speaks of “the receiving of them.” In this verse, their “casting away” (rejection, ESV) stands in contrast to their “receiving” (acceptance, ESV). As they have been rejected in the time of Paul’s writing and to the present, the time of their acceptance awaits the nation. God can graft the natural branches (the national seed of Abraham, Israel) back into their place of privilege (v 23). He not only can, but will, for the sake of His promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (v 28), “for the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (v 29 ESV). All the literal, national, and spiritual promises (covenants) God made with the nation will be fulfilled literally, nationally, and spiritually.
Of all nations, Israel’s future is the brightest and most glorious. God will fulfill His ancient promises!
Will all Jews be saved and in the future kingdom?
The Lord gives us several parables that answer this question. The Lord Who spoke the Parable of the Tares (Matt 13:24-30) interpreted it (vv 37-43). The angels will distinguish the wheat from the tares (vv 39, 40). The wheat represents the “children of the kingdom” (v 38). The tares are the children of the wicked one. Both the children of the kingdom and the children of the wicked one grow together until the end of the age when the Lord returns to the earth. The angels will take the tares (those Jews who had not believed the Word of God) and remove them from the land where the Lord will establish His kingdom. These unbelieving Jews, followers of the deceiver himself, will be removed from the kingdom and cast into the furnace of fire, hell itself (vv 41, 42).
In the Parable of the Virgins (Matt 25:1-13), 10 virgins went out to meet the Bridegroom. They all professed to be waiting for the coming of the Bridegroom with His Bride (v 7). They are Jews claiming to be “Messianic,” but the Lord didn’t know them. Part of that group are Jews who did not have the regenerating power of the Spirit of God enabling their testimony. Their lamps of testimony went out. Not all the professing “Messianic Jews” will be saved and enter the kingdom.
Again, the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-30) directs us to Jewish leaders responsible to guard the valuables of the man who went away to a far country. Two servants gained through trading. The third buried what was given to him so that he, not the master, would have the valuables for himself. Not all those Jewish leaders were saved and entered the kingdom. One was cast into outer darkness (v 30).
But all Israel will be saved – Israel the prince who had power with God (Gen 32:28). These passed through the time of Jacob’s trouble (the three and a half years of the “great tribulation”) clinging to the Lord as they cried out for His blessing (Gen 32:26). Jacob’s princely character shone as the day was about to break. As the Sun of Righteous arises (Mal 4:2) at the beginning of the millennial kingdom, a remnant of Israel will emerge from the dark night of persecution and upheaval. In their weakness, they lean on the Lord. They are believers. They remain while the unbelievers are removed into hell’s fires. All who remain, who have learned to trust in the Lord will be saved and enter the kingdom.