Many Jews were offended over the movie, “The Passion of the Christ.”.  They did not want it to appear as if they were the ones who caused Jesus to be crucified; but of course, their ancestors were responsible (John 19:11; Matthew 27:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15).

Having said this, should we be anti-semitic?  Absolutely not!  Jesus Himself was a Jew.  Moreover, let us remind ourselves that Jesus really did for us all (Hebrews 2:9).  Further,  the fact that just because someone`s ancestors might have done this or that in the past does not mean that one should be held as guilty of such (Ezekiel 18:20).

Anti-Semitism is nothing new. This is why the Apostle Paul argues that God had not rejected all Israelites. First, he points out that he too was an Israelite (Romans 11:1).  Paul’s salvation demonstrated that God had not arbitrarily rejected Israelites.  Robert Taylor Jr. has written, “Salvation is available for both Jew and Gentile but only if welcomed and obeyed by individuals of each race.  Redemption is individually centered – not nationally accepted” (Studies in Romans, p. 190). Let us consider Romans 1:14-16.  Again, brother Taylor has written, “God had rejected them as a nation for a surety and for good reason… But national rejection had not as much as a particle to do with whether they, as individuals, could be saved” (ibid, 191).

Second, Paul affirms that just as God had a faithful remnant in Elijah’s day, even so He had such in Paul’s day (Romans 11:4-5).  Not all of Israel had rejected the Gospel.

Third, though Paul was primarily working with the Gentiles, he still cared very deeply about the Jewish people (cf. Romans 9:1-3; 10:1; 11:13-14).  Paul’s hope was that the Gentiles might be able to provoke (in a good sense) some of the Jews to obedience to the Gospel (Romans 11:11,13-14).

Fourth, he reminds the Gentiles of “the firstfruit” (Romans 11:16a).  The wording is often used of the first converts in time or area (eg. Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:15; James 1:18).  Let us remember the first of all converts were Israelites (Acts 2).  Bobby Liddell has written, “The believing Jews on Pentecost were the first fruits… As such, they were the pledge of a fuller harvest.  All who will follow their good examples and do as they did will be as they were – saved in Christ” (Annual Denton Lectureship Book, Studies in Romans, p. 215).

Fifth, “the root” is mentioned (Romans 11:16b).  The root, many think, refers to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The promise was made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  All things grew from there.  The Gentiles were beneficiaries of that root.  The root bears or supports the Gentiles, not the other way around (Romans 11:18).  It was Israelites who carried the Gospel into all the world (cf. Romans 15:26-27 with Galatians 6:6).  Salvation was of the Jews (John 4:22; cf. Isaiah 2; Micah 4; Acts 8:4; Acts 10-11; Acts 9:15).

Sixth, they should not boast against the Jews (Romans 11:18).  Why not?  Namely, he mentions that the root bears or supports them (Romans 11:18).  Also, God had not arbitrarily rejected all of Israel (Romans 11:1, 20, 23); nor, had He arbitrarily accepted all of the Gentiles (Romans 11:20-22).

Seventh, Paul compares the Jew and Gentile (Romans 11:19-22).  Some might have thought Israel was broken off due to their own unworthiness and the Gentiles grafted in due to their own worthiness. Some might have concluded –  “Aren’t we special!”  Paul says, you should consider this: Those who know olive trees (or any fruit trees) know that pruning does takes place from time to time.  The fact is – the Jews had no monopoly on unbelief.  If a Gentile did not continue in His goodness, pruning time would come.

Eighth, Paul makes the point that it was indeed possible for an unbeliever to become a believer (Romans 11:23-24).  In grafting an orchard or vineyard one usually chooses the most cultivated branches, branches of similar quality as the stock.  In Paul’s illustration the inferior branch is the Gentiles.  The point is this –  if God is able to graft in an uncultivated branch, then He certainly is able to graft in a branch that had been cultivated (the Jews – Romans 3:1-2; 9:4-5; 10:4).

Ninth, the great point which they weren’t to forget is that Israel could be saved (Romans 11:26-27).  The word ‘so’ (houtos) means ‘in this way’ or ‘by this manner.’  McCord’s New Testament translates the “In this way, all Israel will be saved.”   The context is clear, Israel’s hope is in Christ (Romans 11:26-27).  They must turn from their unbelief  (Romans 11:23).  They must believe the Gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16).  They must obey (Romans 6:16-18; 1:5; 16:26; cf. Hebrews 5:9).

Tenth, Paul again hoped that through the Gentiles living the Gospel, more and more Jews might likewise become obedient (Romans 11:31, 11, 14-15 cf. 2 Corinthians 9:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

Eleventh, though Israel had turned out to be (in general) enemies of the Gospel, the Gentiles should not forget that God chose to work His plan through those people due to His love of the fathers (Romans 11:28). The fathers are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (cf. Deuteronomy 4:37; 7:7-8; 10:15 cf. Romans 11:28).

Twelfth, God’s mercy was what permitted justification (Romans 11:30-31).  This was true of both Jew and Gentile.  So where is the place of boasting? (Romans 11:18, 25a).

Christ is to be Lord of all. The gospel of Christ is God`s power to save both the Jews and the Gentiles (Romans 1:16).  “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him” (Romans 10:12). “For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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