Romans 11

These small group studies of Romans contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Romans 11 Inductive Bible Study

I. God has preserved a remnant of Israel (1-10)
A. Paul is an example that God has not rejected Israel. (1)
B. God’s answer to Elijah about preserving a remnant of 7000 is another example that God has not rejected Israel (2-4)
C. God continues to preserve a remnant by His grace (5-6)
D. Religious zeal didn’t lead Israel to God (7)
E. God judicially hardened some of them in response to their rebellion (8-10)
II. The Israelites, moved to jealousy by the Gentiles, will eventually be restored. (11-16)
A. Their rejection is not final (11)
B. Their restoration will be a joy to the world (12-16)
III. The Gentiles were grafted in and should never have an arrogant attitude towards the Jews (17-24)
A. The “guest” should not be rude/arrogant towards the “family”. (17-18)
B. God judges each one who rejects (natural and wild), and has mercy on each who believes. (19-22)
C. God is ready, willing, and able to restore them again whenever they turn back to Him (23-24)
IV. God will restore Israel fully after the “fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (25-26)
V. God’s eternal choice of the Israelites as a nation will stand and he will show mercy to those who are disobedient (27-32)
VI. God’s ways (ie. His choice of the Jews and plans through history for the salvation of the Gentiles and eventual Jewish restoration) are higher than our ways (33-36)

Discussion Questions:

1. What proof does Paul give in verse 1 of His conclusion that God hasn’t rejected Israel?
2. What evidence does he offer in support of this conclusion in verses 2-4? Did Elijah know of this 7000 person remnant? What was the spiritual climate of that day? If during Israel’s darkest spiritual time 7000 remained, what does this tell us is likely about other times in their history?
5. Name some of those among the remnant during Paul’s time? What was the response of the majority of Israel? Is there a remnant now?
6. Ask someone new to review the definition of grace.
7. What does it mean that the “rest” were hardened? Who does the “those” refer to in verse 7?
8. Why would God do this? Were these people truly seeking God and then He blinded them and wouldn’t allow them to find Him?
9. What kind of Psalm is this?

11. Explain the phrase “stumble so as to fall”. What is their transgression? How did the Jews transgression result in salvation for the Gentiles?
12. What positive effects will the Israelite’s final restoration have on the world? When will this occur?
16. What does this verse mean? What is the root? What are the branches? MacArthur says patriarchs and Israelites. I think Israelites and Gentiles.
17-24. What is Paul’s main practical application point in verses 17-19? 20-23? What is the primary doctrinal teaching of this passage? Who is the “wild olive tree” and who is the natural one? Explain the process of grafting. So what attitude should we have towards the Jews? Towards God? Humility and gratitude. Today most Christians don’t have a lot of contact or issues with Jews, so why did Paul teach on it? What can we learn from it today?
25. What mystery? What does the term “mystery” refer to in the NT?
26. Who does “all Israel” include in this verse?
28. Why were the Jews enemies of Christians from the standpoint of the gospel?
29. What does verse 29 tell us of Israel’s standing before God?
31. How did the mercy shown to the Gentiles help the Jews to receive mercy from God?
33-36 – What is the relationship of this paragraph to the rest of the passage? Why does Paul explain that God’s ways are higher than our ways? What should our response be towards these verses?

Cross-references
:
1. 1 Samuel 12:22, Psalms 89:31-37 – God may punish, but He will never abandon His people.
3-4. See 1 Kings 19.
5. Acts 2:41, 4:4, 6:1 – Jews saved during the same time period that Paul says they (as a nation) rejected Christ.
6. 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 3:5- Saved by grace.
8-9 – Isaiah 29:10, Deuter 29:4, Psalms 69:22-23
12 Zech 8:23, 12:10, Rev 7:4 – Some examples of the Israelites eventual restoration.
18 – Galatians 3:29 – If we belong to Christ, we are spiritually descended from Abraham.
21-23 – John 15:6 – Similar imagery of God destroying the useless vines that didn’t produce fruit. Doesn’t matter whether those vines were natural or wild.
26-27 – Psalms 110:2, Zech 8:2-3 – Zion’s significance in the millennial kingdom.

Teaching Points:

Intro – Perhaps Israelites reading the previous few chapters would wonder if they had any chance to be restored to God. Gentiles might think they were now more important and begin to look down on Jews like Jews had looked down on Gentiles before. They might think of Christianity as a non-Israelite religion. Both of these groups are wrong. The message of this chapter is simple: God has not rejected His people. There will be a restoration one day. Isaiah 11:12.

I. Paul uses the strongest language possible in Greek in verse 1 to confirm that God has not rejected His people. See cross-references. In Psalms we can see that God knew Israel would rebel and disobey, He knew He would punish them, but He also promised never to completely reject them. The word for rejection means something like discard, toss out, or thrust away. It is the difference between me telling my son he deserves discipline for some wrongdoing and just casting him out of my home. We already saw in the previous chapter that Israel did reject the gospel. We can see in the gospels that they rejected Christ as a whole, as a nation. This is very clear. To this day, most Jews do not accept Christ as the Messiah. But Paul gives three proofs by which we can know God has not rejected His people. What are they?

1. Paul himself was an Israelite, yet he was a believer in Christ. It was not only possible for Israelites to come to God through Christ, but the invitation was there. This example shows us that while Israel as a nation rejected God and therefore was condemned by God this didn’t close the door to individuals coming to God through Christ. Besides Paul, who else do we know that was an Israelite that came to faith in Christ? All of the disciples, the seventy, and some 3000 at Pentecost, in addition to the converts of Peter and James’ and other apostle’s Jerusalem based ministry.

2. God foreknew them. God’s sovereign election of the nation of Israel is from eternity to eternity. He made many unconditional promises to the Jews in the OT. This wouldn’t be broken. He knew ahead of time and somehow also sovereignly controlled their rebellion. God knows and controls the future so He wouldn’t change His mind and cast away the Jews whom He had chosen.

3. God has always preserved a remnant of the Jews to be faithful to Himself. The example given is during the time of Elijah. This was one of the darkest times for Israel when Jezebeel used her influence to turn Israel into Baal worship. Worship of Baal was so popular that Elijah though he was the only one dedicated to God left. Little did He know that even during this apostate time God preserved seven thousand faithful men. At the time of the early NT, there were some thousand preserved. How about now? While today the majority of Israelites reject Christ, not all do. There are many thousands who believe in Christ and are part of the church. I have known at least one in churches I went to, and as you know Aaron also goes to Shamian 😀

Although the majority of Israel has not followed God for most of its history, God graciously chose some faithful followers seemingly at all points in history. Similar things could be said about the Gentiles as well. The majority of Gentiles haven’t followed God throughout history, but some have because of God’s gracious choice.

What can we learn from this? 1st. No matter how dark things look, God has not forgotten His people. He hasn’t forgotten the Israelites and He hasn’t forgotten His elect no matter what nationality. 2nd. This shows us God’s grace. It is not because some people are just much more naturally faithful or obedient than others. It is because God continues to show His kindness, grace, and love to those whom He has chosen. 3rd. Sometimes we may feel alone. We may feel like we are the only one in a given place or time or vocation or what have you that is serving God. We may be inclined to despair like Elijah. We would do well to remember that we are very likely not the only one. This feeling of despair is especially common in countries where a lot of persecution takes place like at the time of Elijah. There is some comfort in knowing there are other believers having victory out there (1 Cor 10:13).

In the latter part of this first section, we see that God judicially hardened some as part of His plan to take salvation to the Gentiles through the rejection of the Jews. If we are having questions or doubts as to why/how God does this, we would do well to skip ahead to the end of the chapter where it shows us that God’s ways are not our ways and we cannot counsel Him. Since we already discussed this concept in the last couple of chapters, we will not spend a lot of time on it here. But we should remember that 1. God is not hardening people who are truly seeking Him. It is not like they are going through the narrow gate and He tosses them out again. 2. All people are sinful and totally depraved. These would reject God on their own.

The first of these verses is quoted from Isaiah. Isaiah ministered for years with little fruit. God had already planned to judge them through the Babylonians. The second of these is a prayer by David for judgment on His enemies. David was calling on God’s just nature to punish those evil people who were plotting his destruction. It is a little hard for us to understand this kind of prayer, especially in the age of grace in the NT, but we should take note that David didn’t ask God to do anything foreign to God’s own nature. God’s own nature is just and demands punishment for sins.

II. Explain the phrase “stumble so as to fall”. What is their transgression? How did the Jews transgression result in salvation for the Gentiles?
12. What positive effects will the Israelite’s final restoration have on the world? When will this occur? This rejection is neither final nor permanent. Stumbling refers to a short term rejection while falling refers to a permanent one. God would not cast them out, but in fact planned this as a way to save the Gentiles, which would in turn cause the Jews to become jealous, resulting in their salvation. So in a sense the Gentiles are saved through the Jews and the Jews are saved because of the Gentiles.

Their transgression in verse 12 refers to the crucifixion of Jesus, the crux of their rejection of Christ as the Messiah. Jesus came and declared on several occasions that He was the Messiah. He did the miracles to back it up as well as fulfilling the OT prophecies. They refused to believe in Him.

In verse 15 we see that one day they will be restored. The whole world was blessed by their rejection of the Messiah since their very act of rejected Him, killing him, provided the way for us to be saved. When Israel finally accepts Christ, it will be as King, King over the nation, and King over the world. This will usher in the millennial kingdom, a time of abundant peace, prosperity, and joy for the whole earth.

Because of the context I think verse 16 means that if Israel (roots) are holy then the rest of the tree will be as well. The logic would be a little bit like this.. Now many Gentiles believe even though Israel does not. One day Israel will be a restored and the majority will accept Christ. At that time the Gentiles will be even more fervent in their faith because of the Israelites’ example.

III. 17-24. The example Paul uses here to explain the relationship between the Israelites and the Gentiles is grafting. Can anyone explain the process of grafting? Grafting takes two kind of plants and encourages them to fuse together into one. I would assume that the roots and majority of one plant are used while just a few branches are added from another plant. Who is the olive tree and who is the wild olive tree here? The olive tree represents Israel, who had been cultivated by God for some time. The Gentiles are the wild olive tree. God broke off some branches, or most Israelites, because of their unbelief and fused the Gentiles to the plant. This new plant is the church, which historically came out of Israel, was started by Israelites, has an Israelite (Jesus) as its leader, and uses Scriptures written by Israelites, especially the Old Testament, which is completely Jewish.

Paul admonishes the Gentiles that instead of becoming arrogant and assuming a superior attitude, they should be grateful for the contributions that Israelites made (even though now most reject). They should recognize that the root from which their nourishment comes was the original plant, the Jews. Again, right now we don’t have a lot of contact with Jews. But at that time, they did. There was obviously some friction between the two groups. Historically Jews looked down on Gentiles, but Paul encourages the Gentiles not to act the same way towards the Jews. Practical application number 1 is to be humble and grateful for our position as part of the tree (church). An adopted son has the same rights and privileges of the biological son, but will still do well to remember his humble beginnings and the kindness of his adopted parents to give him these same rights and privileges. Becoming arrogant and looking down on a biological son who may wander away in rebellion wouldn’t go over well.

Practical application number 2 is that we should be careful and alert to keep on persevering in faith. If God is severe/just enough to punish the natural plant/biological son who turns from Him, then he is severe/just enough to punish the wild plant/adopted son who turns from Him. You see that both the Jews and Gentiles are actually treated the same way without any favoritism. Both will be forgiven if they are faithful and both will be cast off if they rebel against God. See John 15:6. Neither side should think that they are superior.

IV. God will restore Israel fully after the “fullness of the Gentiles has come in”. The word “mystery” in the NT typically refers to a major doctrine or part of God’s plan that was hidden in Old Testament times and only revealed in the NT. The church age, a time of rejection of the Israelites and vast numbers of Gentiles being saved, is one of these mysteries. Knowing that this was part of God’s eternal plan should keep us from being prideful in our high spiritual position. Remember it is not because of us, but because of God’s grace.

Partial hardening refers to the fact that it not permanent and not complete, meaning the Jews as a nation will not reject Christ forever and even now it doesn’t apply to all Jews as some are elect. This partial hardening will last until God has mostly finished His work among the Gentiles during the church age. It is perhaps simpler to see this as a vast harvest, a harvest of souls. For whatever reason, God has chosen to mostly work in one field at a time. This doesn’t mean He doesn’t glean from other fields a little bit, but mostly He cultivates the ground, tills it, removes stones and weeds, plants seeds, waters, and finally harvests a crop from one major field at a time. In the OT, the field He worked in was Israel. In the NT and until now it is the Gentiles. When He has mostly finished harvesting the Gentiles (and the Israelites see the blessings He has given to us), He will move back to the Israelites. This will occur during the tribulation period. See cross-references. During this time, He will save at least 144,000 Jews, maybe more if this number refers specifically to Jewish evangelists called to reach the rest of the nation.

V. God’s eternal choice of the Israelites as a nation will stand and he will show mercy to those who are disobedient.

At the time Paul wrote this, Christians were odious to Jews (actually they still are). Jews followed Paul around stirring up trouble and persecuting Christians. They rejected Christ. They hated Christ. They hated Christians. From a human standpoint it appeared that the two sides were enemies. They both stood on different sides of the good news bridge. However, we have no excuse to treat them as enemies. We must not do so. From God’s perspective, they are beloved. He loves them and has a plan for them. Christians should be pro-Israel. One verse says God blesses those who bless Israel and this has shown itself to be true throughout history. Unfortunately, some professed Christians, especially at different periods in the past have been anti-Semitic. They blame Jews for their problems and hate Jews because Jews killed Christ. Perhaps in your country, there aren’t many Jews so you don’t face this issue too much. But even here, it is often politically popular to blast the Jews and support Palestine. Why should we love and support the Jews? It is simple. God does.

VI. Why did God plan things this way? Why not save both the Gentiles and Israelites at once? Why ever even choose one nation as His special people? Why work in one field and then another and then back to the first? If you can answer all of these questions, I should probably start letting you teach. The fact is we often don’t know the “why” or “why nots”. Sometimes God reveals that to us, but often He doesn’t. We don’t have to understand. I watched one movie the other day and there was a Catholic Priest. He was counseling one young man who wondered why God hadn’t answered his prayer when and how he wanted and said, “In more than twenty years of ministry, I have only learned two hard truths. First, there is a God. Second, I am not Him.” Obviously we can know more truths than only these two. But on many tough issues, we can only come back to these two. God is God and we are not. If that is not enough for you, then you are doubting God and setting yourself up as a judge over Him.

Verse 36 is a benediction concluding the first section of Romans. Remember at the beginning of our study I said that the first 11 chapters dealt mostly with the doctrine and the last five were practical application? Well now we have reached the end of the focus on doctrine. But remember that doctrine by itself only builds up knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. It is not enough to know these truths. They should change how we live. The next five chapters focus on this practical application.

Study Romans 12

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