I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” 4 But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that would not see
and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.”
9 And David says,
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
and bend their backs forever.”
Did God reject Jewish people and throw them over for Christians? No. Not at all. There is no place for antisemitism in Christianity. God chose Israel and he has not rejected Israel. In this present age Israel may be saved by faithfully following their Messiah. The Messiah is the Christ. Some people may think that Jesus’ surname is Christ, but most people in my circles know that Christ is derived from the Greek for Messiah. The Jewish Messiah has come, but many Jews have rejected him.
There have been divisions regarding whether a Jewish remnant is faithful at various times in the past. A faithful remnant has inherited the promises of God, whereas any group of Jewish people that loses its identity becomes subsumed into the larger pagan culture. There have been developments in history that have transformed what it means to be faithful. How is a Jewish person faithful in exile? How is a Jewish person faithful upon their return to Israel? How is a Jewish person to be faithful now that Messiah has come?
The last question is answered quite extensively by Messianic Jews. This category of believer is not a new distinction. Paul, the author of the passage above, had to make sense of being both Jewish and a follower of Christ. In fact, most of the earliest church were Jewish and followers of Jesus. Paul, in Romans, seems to be showing an honour and continuity to the Jewish experience not a clean break. Jesus is a Jewish saviour, not a saviour without national identity.
Father, after this reading of Romans I long to have more Jewish friends. I want to learn from them the riches of their traditions, and I also want to share the joy of following their Messiah.
- What has God not done?
- What words continue the sub-topic of election?
- How do you think election is talking about individuals and people-groups in this passage?
- Do you think that God chooses people before time?
- How would you support your opinion on #4?