The Blessings of the True Israel
91I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying—my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit 2that I have great sorrow and continuous pain in my heart. 3For I almost wish that I myself could be cursed and separated from Christ in place of my brothers, my relatives according to the flesh, 4those who are Israelites. Theirs are the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, came the Christ, who is God over all, eternally blessed. Amen.
6This does not mean that God's word has failed, because not all who are descended from Israel are really Israel, 7and not all who are descended from Abraham are really his children. On the contrary, “Your line of descent will be traced through Isaac.” 8This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are counted as his descendants. 9For this is what the promise said: “I will arrive at this set time, and Sarah will have a son.”
God's Choice Is Based on His Mercy
10Not only that, but Rebekah also had children by one man, our forefather, Isaac. 11Even before the twins were born or did anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose in election might continue— 12not by works but because of him who calls us—it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
14What will we say then? Does this mean that God is unjust? Absolutely not! 15For God says to Moses:
I will show mercy to whom I show mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.
16So then, it does not depend on human desire or effort, but on God's mercy.
17Indeed, the Scripture says in regard to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I caused you to stand, that I may demonstrate my power in how I deal with you, and that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18So then, God shows mercy to whom he desires, and he hardens whom he desires.
19Then you will say to me, “Why does God still find fault? For who has ever succeeded in resisting his will?” 20But who are you, a mere human being, to talk back to God? Shall the thing that is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” No. 21Doesn't the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay one pot for special use and another for ordinary use?
22What if God, although he wanted to demonstrate his wrath and make his power known, endured with great patience the objects of wrath—ripe for destruction? 23And what if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of mercy whom he prepared in advance for glory, 24including us, whom he called—not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles.
God Shows Mercy to Gentiles and the Remnant of Israel
25This is also what God says in Hosea:
Those who were not my people, I will call my people,
and she who was not loved, I will call my loved one.
26And, it will be that in the place where they were told,
“You are not my people,”
there they will be called “sons of the living God.”
27And Isaiah cries out about Israel:
Although the number of the sons of Israel is as great as the sand of the sea,
only the remnant will be saved.
28For the Lord, who carries out what he says without delay, will do what he said completely and decisively on the earth.
29Just as Isaiah said earlier:
If the Lord of Armies had not left us some descendants, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have been like Gomorrah.
The Majority of Jews Rejected Justification by Faith
30What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who were not pursuing righteousness, have obtained righteousness, a righteousness that is by faith. 31But Israel, while pursuing the law as a way of righteousness, did not reach it. 32Why? Because they kept pursuing it not by faith, but as if it comes by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33Just as it is written:
Look, I am putting a stone in Zion over which they will stumble
and a rock over which they will fall.
The one who believes in him will not be put to shame.
Prayer for Israelites to Believe
101Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God on behalf of the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2Indeed, I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but it is not consistent with knowledge. 3Since they were ignorant of the righteousness from God and sought to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to the righteousness from God. 4For to everyone who believes, Christ is the end of the law, resulting in righteousness.
5Indeed, Moses writes this about the righteousness that comes by the law: “The one who does these things will live by them.” 6But the righteousness that comes by faith speaks like this: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7“or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith that we are proclaiming. 9Certainly, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and it is with the mouth that a person confesses, resulting in salvation. 11For Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12So there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord is Lord of all, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13Yes, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Israel Rejected the Message God Sent
14So then, how can they call on one in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in one about whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news of peace, who preach the gospel of good things!” 16But not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who believed our message?” 17So then, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message comes through the word of Christ.
18But I ask, did they not hear? Of course, they certainly did.
The sound of their voice went out to all the earth,
and their words to the farthest parts of the world.
19Yet I ask, did Israel not understand? First, Moses says:
I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
I will make you angry with a nation that does not understand.
20And Isaiah also boldly says:
I was found by those who were not looking for me;
I became well known to those who were not asking for me.
21But about Israel he says:
All day long I stretched out my hands
to a people who disobey and oppose me.
God Graciously Chose a Remnant
111So I say, did God reject his people? Absolutely not! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham from the tribe of Benjamin. 2God did not reject his people whom he foreknew—or don't you know what Scripture says about Elijah, how he was pleading with God against Israel: 3“Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and they are trying to take my life.” 4But what did God's answer tell him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5So in the same way at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6Now if it is by grace, then it is not the result of works—otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
God Planned a Way to Recover Some of the Hardened Jews
7What then? Israel did not receive what it was striving to get. The elect did, but the rest were hardened. 8Just as it is written:
God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear,
right up to the present day.
9And David says:
Let their table be a trap and a net,
and a snare and a retribution for them.
10Let their eyes be darkened so they do not see,
and let their backs be always bent.
11So I ask, “Did they stumble in order to fall permanently?” Absolutely not! Rather, by their trespass, salvation came to the Gentiles to make the Israelites jealous. 12Now if their trespass meant riches for the world, and their failure meant riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fullness mean!
13I am speaking to you Gentiles. For as long as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I am going to speak highly of my ministry. 14Perhaps I may make my own people jealous, and so save some of them. 15For if their rejection meant the reconciliation of the world, what does their acceptance mean other than the dead coming to life?
Gentiles Should Not Become Proud
16If the part offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole batch. And if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17But if some of the branches were broken off, and you—a wild olive branch—were grafted in among them and share in the rich sap from the root of the olive tree, 18do not boast that you are better than the branches. If you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, but the root is supporting you. 19Then you will say: “Branches were broken off so that I am grafted in.” 20That is true, but remember that they were broken off because of unbelief, and you remain in place by faith. Do not be conceited, but stand in awe. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you. 22So take note of God's kindness and his severity: severity on those who have fallen, but God's kindness on you, if you remain in his kindness; otherwise, you also will be cut off.
Some Jews Will Be Grafted in Again
23And if they do not remain in unbelief, those branches will be grafted in again, because God is able to graft them in again. 24For if you were cut off from a wild olive tree and, contrary to nature, were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more easily will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree?
25For I do not want you to be uninformed about this mystery, brothers, so that you are not conceited in your opinion of yourselves. There has been a hardening of part of Israel until the full number of Gentiles has come in. 26And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
The Deliverer will come out of Zion;
he will remove ungodliness from Jacob.
27And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.
The Paradox of How God Shows Mercy
28In regard to the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But, in regard to election, they are especially dear for the sake of the patriarchs, 29because God's gracious gifts and call are not regretted. 30For just as you were once disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy due to their disobedience, 31so also now they have become disobedient, so that by the mercy shown to you they may be shown mercy too. 32For God imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may show mercy to all.
33Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments
and how untraceable his ways!
34For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his adviser?
35Or who has first given to God
that he will be repaid?
36For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.