Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace (Part 31) - Rom 11:14,15,20-23,32Submitted by Pastor Chad Wagner on Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
For a paperback book in outline form which addresses over 150 difficult verses that Arminians use against Sovereign Grace, check out: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace: Rooting Arminianism Out of Every Verse. For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace 75. Rom 11:14,15,20-23,32 A. "If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 15) 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?... 20) Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21) For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22) Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23) And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.... 32) For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." (Rom 11:14,15,20-23,32) B. Is the saving, casting away, reconciling the world, life from the dead, breaking off, sparing not the natural branches, cutting off, graffing in, and having mercy on all in these verses referring to gaining and losing eternal life? C. A general overview and understanding of the context of Romans 11 is necessary before analyzing the specifics of the verses in question. i. In Romans 11, Paul is continuing his dissertation about the two Israels which he began in Romans 9. ii. He began to prove in Rom 9:6 that there is an Israel (spiritual Israel) within Israel (national Israel). a. National or natural Israel is all the physical descendants of Abraham, the "seed of Abraham" (Rom 9:7), who are also called the "children of the flesh" (Rom 9:8). b. Spiritual Israel is the remnant (Rom 9:27) within national Israel, which is also called "the children of God" and "the children of the promise" (Rom 9:8), also the "seed" (Rom 9:8 c/w Rom 9:29). c. The majority of national Israel are not the children of God and have the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah (Rom 9:27-29) and are therefore eternally damned and will never be saved (Jud 1:7). iii. In Romans 10, Paul expressed his desire for the temporal salvation of the unbelieving Israelites who were part of the elect remnant of Israel, which they could experience through belief and confession of the Lord Jesus Christ Who is the end of the law for righteousness to believers. (See Rom 10:4,6,9-10,13 - Section III) iv. After ending Romans 10 (Rom 10:20-21) by quoting Isa 65:1-2 and showing that Israel had for the most part rejected God's outstretched hands to them, Paul then begins chapter 11 with the question as to whether God had completely cast away His people Israel (Rom 11:1). a. Paul then explained that God had not cast away His people which He foreknew (Rom 11:1-2). b. There was still a remnant according to the election of grace in Israel at that time, as there had been in time past (Rom 11:3-6). c. Natural Israel (the fleshly descendants of Abraham) had not obtained the righteousness they were seeking for, but the election (spiritual Israel - the elect remnant within national Israel) had obtained it and the rest (natural Israel) were blinded (Rom 11:7). d. These natural Israelites were permanently, eternally blinded (Rom 11:8-10). e. Alway adv. - 1. All along, all the time, perpetually, throughout all time. v. In Rom 11:11, Paul reverts back to talking about God's people whom He foreknew and had not eternally cast off (Rom 11:1-2). a. Notice how he began verse 11 with the same phrase with which he began verse 1: "I say then..." (Rom 11:11 c/w Rom 11:1). b. The antecedent of the pronoun "they" in verse 11 is God's people which He foreknew (Rom 11:2), the remnant (Rom 11:5), the election (Rom 11:7). c. It's not improper for the antecedent of a pronoun to be several verses prior to it, and with other pronouns being used between them; for example, see: Psa 105:23-37. vi. Paul then in Rom 11:11-32 goes on to show that Israel was the root and natural branches of God's olive tree, the church; and because of unbelief some of the natural branches were broken off (the Jews lost their place in God's church/kingdom), and in their place Gentiles who were wild branches (not of the nation of Israel) were graffed in (brought into the church/kingdom). He explained that though some of the Jews had been cut out of the church (olive tree) because of unbelief, they could be brought back into the church if they believed the gospel. a. The nation of Israel was God's kingdom (1Ch 28:5; 2Ch 13:8; 1Sa 12:12; 1Ch 29:23). b. Israel was God's church/congregation (Act 7:38 c/w Exo 16:2). c. Israel was God's olive tree, which is symbolic of the church/kingdom. d. Israel was called an olive tree by God in the OT (Jer 11:16-17). e. Israel was elsewhere likened to an olive tree (Hos 14:5-6). f. David spoke of an olive tree in connection with the house of God (Psa 52:8). g. In Rom 11:16-24, Paul spoke of Israel as the good and original olive tree of which some of the branches were broken off because of unbelief (Rom 11:17,20). h. Paul explained to the Roman Gentiles, to whom he was writing, that they, being branches of a wild olive tree, were graffed into the holy olive tree (God's church/kingdom which was originally the nation of Israel) (Rom 11:17,24). i. The Gentiles being graffed into the olive tree was them being brought into the church, the house of God, with the believing Jews who made it up originally (Eph 2:11-22). j. If the Jews continued not in unbelief they could be graffed back into the olive tree (the church/kingdom of God) (Rom 11:23-24). vii. Now that the context of Romans 11 is understood, let's look at the problem texts. D. Rom 11:14 i. After the Jews rejected Jesus and fell away from the church, the gospel went to the Gentiles which God used to provoke the Jews to jealousy (Rom 11:11 c/w Rom 10:19). ii. Paul used this fact to provoke the elect Jewish remnant which were his flesh with hopes of saving some of them temporally (Rom 11:14 c/w Rom 10:1-4) - (See Rom 10:1-4, Section III) and having them be received back into the olive tree (the church/kingdom) (Rom 11:15 c/w Rom 11:23-24). E. Rom 11:15 i. The "world" in Rom 11:15 is the Gentiles (Rom 11:12). ii. The reconciling of them was bringing them into the church along with the elect believing Jews (Eph 2:11-22). iii. The receiving of the Jews back into the olive tree (church/kingdom) would be like someone coming back to life from the dead (Rom 11:15 c/w Luk 15:24). iv. The death in this verse is not referring to physical or spiritual death because they could be received back into the olive tree if they believed the gospel (Rom 11:23), which neither physically or spiritually dead people can do (1Co 1:18). F. Rom 11:20-22 i. The breaking/cutting off in these verses is losing their place in the olive tree (the local church). ii. This cannot be referring to them losing their eternal life/salvation because eternal life cannot be lost (Joh 10:27-29), which is why it's called ETERNAL (See Section II,7,A on Eternal Salvation). iii. Eternal adj. - 3. Infinite in future duration; that always will exist; everlasting, endless. The New Testament expressions eternal life, death, punishment, etc. are here referred to sense 3, this being the sense in which the adj. in such contexts is ordinarily taken. iv. God's gift of eternal life and calling from death unto life of His elect is without repentance (God won't change His mind), even to those who are enemies of the gospel (Rom 11:28-29). G. Rom 11:23 i. The graffing back in of the Jews is bringing them back into the olive tree (local church/kingdom of God). ii. This cannot be referring to them regaining their eternal life/salvation because eternal life cannot be lost (Joh 10:27-29), and therefore it can't be gotten back again, which is why it's called ETERNAL. H. Rom 11:32 i. The "all" that God has mercy on is not the entire nation of Israel, but all of the elect remnant within the nation (Rom 9:27-29; Rom 11:2; Rom 11:5; Rom 11:7; Rom 11:28-29). ii. The rest of the nation have the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah (Rom 9:27-29 c/w Jud 1:7). I. For more information on the Olive Tree being NT church, listen this the sermon: Millennialism, End Times, and the Reign of Christ (Part 3). For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace