1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
This chapter is the climax of Paul’s theodicy of God’s actions (that is, defense of God’s character), presented in chapters 9 to 11 and transitioning now to the final phase. The theodicy here has to do with God’s faithfulness to His people. If the nation rejects Him, Paul argued, He would still be faithful to His covenant by preserving a remnant.
God made unconditional covenants (contracts) with Israel. If God were not to fulfill those promises, it would bring into question His integrity. This chapter shows that God will make good on His unconditional contracts with Israel.
It is interesting to note that chapter 11 uses passages from all three sectors of the Old Testament in Romans 11:8-10: the Torah (Dt 29:4), the Prophets (Is 29:10), and the Writings (Ps 69:22-23).
Chapter 11 also indicates that not only was God not finished with the Jews but conversion of Gentiles (non-Jews) would open the way for future salvation of the Jews. God still had a plan for the nation Israel (Ro 11:26). Between the hardening of Israel and the grafting of them back in (vv. 11ff), God introduced a remnant who truly believed. Gentile acceptance of the gospel would introduce Jews to their Messiah.
Outline of chapter 11:
God has not totally rejected Israel, 11:1-10
God has not finally rejected Israel, 11:11-24
We glorify God because of His plan for the world, 11:25-36
1 I say then,
Paul drew an inference from chapter 10, which deals with God’s preserving a people for His own glory. The “then” indicates a major turning point in his argument of chapters 9 to 11. Most of the nation Israel was in obstinate unbelief about the Messiah during Paul’s day.
has God cast away His people? [Greek indicates a negative answer]
Since most of Israel was in obstinate unbelief, the question would arise: “Is God finished with His chosen nation?” The Greek expects a negative reply to “has God cast away His people?” There is no way that God would spurn the Jews completely.
Israel was a theocratic nation (a nation that ruled politically and religiously for God). Because Israel carried a political element, not everyone in the theocracy was a believer.
Only a remnant of those who truly believe will have eternal life. The designation of “His people” in this verse refers to believing racial Jews.
“Certainly not!” reinforces the idea that God cast away Israel in a permanent sense. God did not reject His people as an operating principle but He spurned their unbelief. The rejection of Israel was not absolute because God preserved for Himself a remnant who believed.
It is impossible that God would ever abrogate the unconditional Abrahamic covenant. To God, a promise is a promise. That is why Paul made such an emphatic statement.
Ps 94:14, For the Lord will not cast off His people, Nor will He forsake His inheritance.
God always makes good on His promises.
God’s integrity will not allow Him to go back on His Word. As God made unconditional promises to Israel, He also makes unconditional promises to the church. God promises salvation based on belief in His Son (Jn 5:24). God promises His operating peace in our lives if we trust Him:
Php 4:6-7, 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.