“Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning election, they are beloved for the sake of the Fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all” (Romans 11:28-32).
The pronouns are significant. The pronouns “they” and “their” refer to Israelites. The pronouns “you” and “your” refers to the Gentiles (cf. Romans 11:11-15).
The Israelites, in general, were enemies of Gentile Christians. Much of the early opposition to Christianity came from Israelites (e.g. Acts 14:1-2; 14:19-20; 17:1-5; 17:12-13). There was a remnant of Israel who believed (Romans 11:5). Paul was one of these. He said, “I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1).
The Gentiles had obtained mercy through the Israelites general rejection of the gospel. Their rejection had speeded the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles (e.g. Acts 13:44-46; 18:4-6; 22:17-21; 28:23-28).
Despite so many in Israel rejecting the gospel, God still cared about these people. He wanted the Gentiles to know this. He loved their fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), and He elected to work His redemptive plan through them (cf. Genesis 12:1-3; 22:17-18; 26:4; 28:14; Acts 3:25-26; Galatians 3:26-29). His desire was to now use the Gentiles to reach the Israelites.
All, whether Gentile or Israelite, were in need of God’s mercy (cf. Romans 1-3). K.C. Moser comments, “Here is a most important truth. Whether Jew or Gentiles, God considers every one a sinner. Sin is a spiritual malady, and hence, admits of no racial distinction” (Moser, The Gist of Romans, pp. 108-109).
Application – God had mercy on us, if we are Christians. Therefore, let us be His tool to help others into His mercy. He comforts us so that we may be able to comfort others (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Let us be concerned about others, regardless of their ethnicity. Paul wrote, “I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to the unwise” (Romans 1:14). “Lead me to some soul today, O teach me Lord just what to say; Friends of mine are lost in sin, And cannot find their way. Few there are who seem to care, And few there are who pray; Melt my heart, and fill my life, Give me one soul today.” (Song:Lead Me To Some Soul Today by Will H. Houghton).