Romans 11 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of Romans 11)
11:1 I say then, 1 Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For 2 I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, [of] the tribe of Benjamin.

(1) Now the apostle shows how this doctrine is to be applied to others, remaining still in his propounded cause. Therefore he teaches us that all the Jews in particular are not cast away, and therefore we ought not to pronounce rashly of individual persons, whether they are of the number of the elect or not. (2) The first proof: I am a Jew, and yet elected, therefore we may and ought fully to be sure of our election, as has been said before: but of another man's we cannot be so certainly sure, and yet ours may cause us to hope well of others.

11:2 3 God hath not cast away his people which he a foreknew. 4 Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,

(3) The second proof: because God is faithful in his league or covenant, even though men are unfaithful: so then, seeing that God has said that he will be the God of his own to a thousand generations, we must take heed that we do not think that the whole race and offspring is cast off, by reason of the unbelief of a few, but rather that we hope well of every member of the Church.
(a) Whom he loved and chose from eternity past. (4) The third proof taken from the answer that was made to Elijah: even then also, when there appeared openly to the face of the world no elect, yet God knew his elect and chosen, and also that they were a great amount and number. Whereupon this also is concluded, that we ought not rashly to pronounce of any that he is a reprobate, seeing that the Church is often brought to that state, that even the most watchful and sharp-sighted pastors, think that it is completely extinct and put out.

11:4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have b reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to [the image of] c Baal.

(b) He speaks of remnants and reserved people who were chosen from everlasting, and not of remnants that should be chosen afterwards: for they are not chosen, because they were not idolaters: but rather they were not idolaters, because they were chosen and elect.
(c) "Baal" signifies as much as "master" or "patron", or one in whose power another is, which name the idolaters in this day give their idols, naming them "patrons", and "patronesses" or "ladies".

11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the d election of grace.

(d) The election of grace is not that by which men chose grace, but by which God chose us of his grace and goodness.

11:6 5 And if by grace, then [is it] e 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.

(5) Even though all are not elect and chosen, yet let those that are elected remember that they are freely chosen: and let those that stubbornly refuse the grace and free mercy of God impute it to themselves.
(e) This saying demolishes the doctrine of all kinds and manner of works, by which our justifiers of themselves teach that works are either wholly or partly the cause of our justification.

11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were f blinded

(f) See (Mark 3:5).

11:8 6 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of g slumber, eyes that they h should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

(6) And yet this hardness of heart does not come except by God's just decree and judgment, and yet without fault, when he so punishes the unthankful by taking from them all sense and perseverance and by doubling their darkness, that the benefits of God which are offered to them, do result in their just destruction.
(g) A very sound sleep, which takes away all sense.
(h) That is, eyes unfit to see.

11:9 And David saith, i Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:

(i) As unhappy birds are enticed by that which is their sustenance, and then killed, and so did that thing turn to the Jew's destruction, out of which they sought life, that is, the law of God, for the preposterous zeal of which they refused the Gospel.

11:11 7 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 to jealousy.

(7) God appointed this casting off of the Jews, that it might be an occasion to call the Gentiles: and again might turn this calling of the Gentiles, to be an occasion to restore the Jews, that is, that they being inflamed and provoked by jealousy of the Gentiles, then might themselves at length embrace the Gospel. And by this we may learn that the severity of God serves for the setting forth of his glory as well as his mercy does, and also that God prepares himself a way to show mercy by his severity: so that we ought not rashly to despair of any man, nor proudly triumph over other men, but rather provoke them to a holy jealousy, that God may be glorified in them also.

11:12 Now if the fall of them [be] the k riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their l fulness?

(k) By "riches" he means the knowledge of the Gospel to everlasting life: and by the "world", all nations dispersed throughout the whole world.
(l) Of the Jews, when the whole nation without exception will come to Christ.

11:13 8 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, m I magnify mine office:

(8) He witnesses by his own example, that he goes before all others in this regard.
(m) I make noble and famous.

11:15 For if the casting away of them [be] the reconciling of the world, what [shall] the receiving [of them be], n but life from the dead?

(n) It will come to pass that when the Jews come to the Gospel, the world will as it were come to life again, and rise up from death to life.

11:16 9 For if the o firstfruit [be] holy, the lump [is] also [holy]: and if the root p [be] holy, so [are] the branches.

(9) The nation of the Jews being considered in their head and root, that is, in Abraham, is holy, although many of the branches are cut off. Therefore in judging of our brethren, we must not dwell on their unworthiness, to think that they are at once all cast off, but we ought to consider the root of the covenant, and rather go back to their ancestors who were faithful, that we may know that the blessing of the covenant rests in some of their posterity, as we also find proof here in ourselves.
(o) He alludes to the first fruits of those loaves, by the offering of which the whole crop of corn was sanctified, and they might use the rest of the crop for that year with good conscience.
(p) Abraham.

11:17 10 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in q among them, and with them r partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

(10) There is no reason why the Gentiles who have obtained mercy, should triumph over the Jews who condemn the grace of God, seeing they are grafted in place of the Jews. But let them rather take heed, that also in them is not found that which is worthily condemned in the Jews. And from this also the general doctrine may be gathered and taken, that we ought to be zealous for God's glory, even in regards to our neighbours: and we should be very far from bragging and glorying because we are preferred before others by a singular grace.
(q) In place of those branches which are broken off.
(r) It is against the common manner of farming, that the barren juice of the young shoot is changed with the juice of the good tree.

11:18 s Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

(s) We may rejoice in the Lord, but in such a way that we do not despise the Jews, whom we ought rather to encourage to join in the good battle with us.

11:20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but t fear:

(t) See that you stand in awe of God modestly, and carefully.

11:21 For if God spared not the u natural branches, [take heed] lest he also spare not thee.

(u) He calls them natural, not because they had any holiness by nature, but because they were born of those whom the Lord set apart for himself from other nations, by his league and covenant which he freely made with them.

11:22 11 Behold therefore the x goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in [his] y goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

(11) Seeing that the matter itself declares that election comes not by inheritance (although the fault is in men, and not in God, why the blessing of God is not perpetual) we must take good heed that those things are not found in ourselves, which we think blameworthy in others, for the election is sure, but those that are truly elect and ingrafted, are not proud in themselves with contempt of others, but with due reverence to God, and love towards their neighbour, run to the mark which is set before them.
(x) The tender and loving heart.
(y) In that state which God's bountifulness has advanced you to: and we must mark here that he is not speaking of the election of every individual man, which remains steadfast forever, but of the election of the whole nation.

11:23 12 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.

(12) Many are now for a season cut off, that is, are without the root, who in their time will be grafted in: and again there are a great number who after a certain manner, and with regard to the outward show seem to be ingrafted, who nonetheless through their own fault afterwards are cut off, and completely cast away: which thing is especially to be considered in nations and peoples, as in the Gentiles and Jews.

11:24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by z nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural [branches], be graffed into their own olive tree?

(z) Understand nature, not as it was first made, but as it was corrupted in Adam, and so passed on from him to his posterity.
(a) Into the people of the Jews, whom God had sanctified only by his grace: and he speaks of the whole nation, not of any one part.

11:25 13 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your b own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be c come in.

(13) The blindness of the Jews is neither so universal that the Lord has no elect in that nation, neither will it be continual: for there will be a time in which they also (as the prophets have foretold) will effectually embrace that which they now so stubbornly for the most part reject and refuse.
(b) That you are not proud within yourselves.
(c) Into the Church.

11:28 14 As concerning the d gospel, [they are] enemies for your sakes: but as touching the e election, [they are] beloved for the fathers' sakes.

(14) Again, that he may join the Jews and Gentiles together as it were in one body, and especially may teach what duty the Gentiles owe to the Jews, he emphasises, that the nation of the Jews is not utterly cast off without hope of recovery.
(d) Since they do not receive it.
(e) In that God does not give them what they deserve, but what he promised to Abraham.

11:29 15 For the gifts and calling of God [are] without repentance.

(15) The reason or proof: because the covenant made with that nation of everlasting life cannot be frustrated or in vain.

11:30 16 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:

(16) Another reason: because even though they who are hardened are worthily punished, yet this stubbornness of the Jews has not so that there would be a hatred of that nation, but so that an entry might be as it were opened to bring in the Gentiles, and afterward the Jews being inflamed with jealousy of that mercy which is shown to the Gentiles might themselves also be partakers of the same benefit, and so it might appear that both Jews and Gentiles are saved only by the free mercy and grace of God, which could not have been so manifest if at the beginning God had brought all together into the Church, or if he had saved the nation of the Jews without this interruption.

11:32 For God hath concluded them f all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

(f) Both Jews and Gentiles.

11:33 17 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable [are] his g judgments, and his h ways past finding out!

(17) The apostle cries out as one astonished with this wonderful wisdom of God, which he teaches us to revere in a religious manner, and not curiously and profanely to be searched beyond the boundary of that which God has revealed unto us.
(g) The course that he holds in governing all things both generally and particularly.
(h) The order of his counsels and doings.

11:34 18 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

(18) He bridles the wicked boldness of man in three ways: firstly, because God is above all most wise, and therefore it is very absurd and plainly godless to measure him by our folly. Secondly, because he is debtor to no man, and therefore no man can complain of injury done to him. Thirdly, because all things are made for his glory, and therefore we must ascribe all things to his glory, much less may we contend and debate the matter with him.

11:35 Or who hath i first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

(i) This saying overthrows the doctrine of foreseen works and merits.

11:36 For of him, and through him, and to k him, [are] all things: to whom [be] glory for ever. Amen.

(k) That is, for God, to whose glory all things are ascribed, not only things that were made, but especially his new works which he works in his elect.