Paul is still wrestling with the reality that many Israelites have not accepted Jesus even though they should have been first in line. In this section, he focuses on the fact that this is not yet the end of the story. God has not finally rejected his people (Rom 11:1). “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened”(Rom 11:7). Seeking salvation by pursuing law is the dead-end approach that most Jews persisted in (Rom 9:31-32). By not coming to faith, they “were hardened.”
Yet there is still hope! “So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!”(Rom 11:11-12). Paul sees the conversion of so many Gentiles as a positive because it can “make Israel jealous.” They now have a unique relationship with God while the Jews are on the outside looking in. His hope is that this will provoke them to faith and restoration with God. This is the reason Paul talks up his ministry to the Gentiles (Rom 11:13) and holds out hope for more Jews to come to believe in Jesus (Rom 11:15-16).
God is going to have a people—even if we are not a part of it. Yet seeing God pour out blessings on other people can have the positive effect of making us jealous, softening our hearts to respond in a better way to him. Paul has seen firsthand the gospel rejection of many of the Jews, yet he believes a merciful God can still work to bring them in.
------------- One Thing to Think About: How can jealousy be a good thing?
One Thing to Pray For: Enthusiasm to be a part of the people of God
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