September 30, 2012
Searching the Scriptures
“Search the Scriptures…They are they which testify of me. “John 5: 39”
Author: Bob Moses
Commentary on Romans
While this Chapter 11 of the Book of Romans is a continuation of Chapter 10, it is most noteworthy, in that it captures the essence of Faith. The impact of this Chapter capsulates one of the most provocative messages of Paul, that “faith” is the key to righteouness, whether Jew or Gentile. We will witness here a great separation between the preponderance of the Law as held by the Jews, verses the Spiritual Nation of the Jews who serve as the “remnant” of God’s Chosen. We will also witness how the Gentiles were “grafted-in” as a people who where not my people. As you can graft-in a branch from a foreign tree, into a true tree, and produce fruit, so we will see how God in his infinite wisdom saw fit to graft-in the Gentiles, to produce fruit for his own Glory. This will be made manifest on page 3 of this study of Chapter 11. A most interesting Chapter lay before us. I pray that you might enjoy its riches….
Let us begin by taking a second look at Romans Chapter 10 verses 19—21: “But I (Paul) say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith; “I will provoke you to jealousy by them (Gentiles) that are no people, and by a foolish nation (Gentiles) I will anger you.”
( Jews) But Esaias is very bold, and saith; “ I was found of them (Gentiles) that sought me not: I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people”. (Jews).
Chapter 11; verses 1—6: “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid, For I (Paul) also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew (this is the spiritual people of Israel): Wot (know) ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying; Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine alters: and I am left alone, and they (Israel / Jews) seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? (God says; referring to these same Israelites / Jews; whom Elias feared,) ”I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal”. In other words, God had reserved a small portion of Israel unto himself to be saved. Then Paul states; “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.”
While this last statement of Paul seems confusing, it is really very simple. Grace and Works are two different things entirely. If we rely solely upon the Grace of God then Works merit us nothing, should we attempt to co-mingle grace with works, then grace is no longer grace. And if we rely upon works, then we eliminate grace. The point being, we cannot work our way into heaven. Our pathway to heaven is the Grace of God, to believe by Faith. This is where Israel failed. In their zeal to follow the Law and do all the good works required by the Law, they missed the primary concept of depending upon God and having the Faith to do what he claimed he would do. They were trying to work their way to heaven. Good works, while commendable, demands that we place ourselves into a position of having control of our own destiny. God’s posture is that we rely upon him for our destiny not upon ourselves. Does not the potter have control over the clay? God chooses us, we do not choose him. He says: “There is none righteous, no not one”.
Works only benefit us, after we have been saved. Once we have accepted our Lord Jesus Christ as our own personal Saviour, then we can be about doing good works for Him and His Church and earn crowns for our heavenly journey. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves (works) it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2: 8—9. We also see this shackle upon mankind in our day. Many denominations such as; Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, and a multitude of others going about doing “works”, in their attempt to get to heaven and make themselves feel good. The bottom line is, if they have not received the “gift” of Grace from God, through faith, all this activity, gains them naught. Make up your mind; rely upon God, or rely upon yourself. I am convinced that if you rely upon yourself, you have chosen, poorly.
Let us return to the subject of our inquiry. Paul poses the question in verse one; “Hath God cast away his people? God forbid”. Now to verse 7—11: “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, (the seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal: Verse 4) and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them (Israel) the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, “Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them. Let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and a bow down their back always”. These are the “unsaved” of Israel; “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them (Israel) to jealousy.” Paul is making the same argument as David, if Israel as a nation, refuses to trust in God through faith, then allow God to bestow His Grace on those who will; in Paul’s example; the Gentiles.
Verses: 12—24: “Now if the fall of them (National Israel) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness? 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 (Israel) which are my flesh, and might save some of them.” Paul is still talking about Israel and states that he hope’s to provoke some of them to salvation. “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? For If the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off (Israel’s lost people), and thou (Gentiles), being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partakest (you Gentiles, partake) of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then: “The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.” Well said; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou (Gentiles) stand by faith. Be not high minded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches (Israel), take heed lest he also spare not thee” (Gentiles). “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell,(Israel) severity; but toward thee,(Gentiles) goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shall be cut off. And they also, (Israel) if they abide not still in unbelief, (in other words if they will believe by faith) shall be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again. For if thou wert (you were) cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert (were) grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?”
I am going to assume that the reader will comprehend what has been stated in the above several verses. Paul is forewarning the Gentiles to not fall into disbelief and unfaithfulness as Israel. Otherwise God will abandon them just as He did Israel. Should the Gentiles become high minded and boastful, they too could be cut off, and Israel once again restored to God’s favor. The truth is that God will indeed restore Israel.
Let us read verses 25—27: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. This fullness of the Gentiles are the “Spiritual Gentiles; or the “saved” of the Church, the “Gentile Bride”, the “full body of Christ”. We are not told that the “saved” of Israel are necessarily a part of the Gentile Bride, or the full body of Christ. It appears that there is a “special” dispensation for the saved of Israel. While they also must accept Christ by Faith and live by Faith as do the Gentiles, remember that Israel was and is the Chosen people of God whereas the Gentiles are a part of the body of Christ and the Bride of Christ And so all Israel (Spiritual Israel) shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, (Jesus Christ), and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; (Israel), For this is my (God’s) covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” While this is God’s covenant to Israel, only the God-Man, Jesus Christ could fulfill it by His death on the Cross.
Paul is revealing to us one of the “mysteries” of God. Up to this point, neither Jew nor Gentile, quite understood the nature of salvation or many of the Scriptures relating thereto. Faith and its relation to Law verses Grace being foremost. The Law demands Works. Grace demands Faith. These are two different things entirely and Paul is sharing this unparalleled mystery. Let’s revisit verses: 5—7: “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work: What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (or hardened).”
Vs. 28: “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. Notice this is a two part sentence and hence some exegesis is required for our understanding. “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes”. The definition of gospel according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary New Edition, copyright 2004; 1) the teaching of Christ and the apostles 2) any of the first four books of the New Testament 3) something accepted or promoted as infallible truth. Paul is stating to the Gentiles that concerning the gospel, “they” Israel, namely the Scribes and Pharisees but also Israel as a whole did not believe the gospel and persecuted those who did; thus “they” are enemies for your sakes. “But (or yet) as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes”. Again the “they” are the Scribes and Pharisees and Israel; are a part of the “election of God” as they are beloved by the fathers’ because their “unbelief” made possible salvation to us, the Gentiles. It is my hope that this explanation makes more clear the intent of this verse.
Vs; 29—32: “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye (Gentiles) in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their (Israel) unbelief:” Keep in mind throughout the Old Testament, and much of the New the Gentiles did not believe in God. They worshipped Idols. But because of the unbelief of Israel, we now have access to redemption and salvation and have obtained the mercy of God. “Even so have these (Israel) also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.” Israel is even now, still wandering in the wilderness of unbelief. Nevertheless, since God has shown mercy upon you (Gentiles), he will much more bestow mercy upon Israel. In other words, if I (God) did it for you, he shall also do it for Israel. “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.”
Praise for the Lord!! Vs; 33—36: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
What a marvelous manner in which to close this Chapter. Paul praising the Lord, points out the depth of his wisdom and knowledge, his unsearchable judgments and ways past finding out. Making note that who could possibly know the mind of God, or who could counsel or teach him? And of him and through him, and to him, are all things. Then finally; to Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!! My, My what a God we have!!!
How eloquent this benediction and penmanship of Paul. We can clearly see why God chose him as the apostle to the Gentiles. God always has his instrument; the right man at the right place at the right time, for his glory. Amen!