“5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. “ 7What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” (Rom.11:5-6).
Paul states here very clearly that it is a Jewish “Remnant” that are not cast away by God. They are those elect Jews who will come to Christ and be saved by grace. If they were saved because they were born to Jewish parents and practiced Jewish customs, it would be works and not grace. This is exactly what Paul is saying. They are not saved by being physical Jews or by other works, but by the grace of God.
** Look at the power of the contrast Paul is drawing on à he is relating his contemporary Old Covenant Israel people to the false god worshippers of Baal of old. National Israel at the time of Elijah was never “all” His people, and only a remnant were saved. Paul is saying exactly the same thing to his audience in his time à only a remnant of OC Israel will be saved.
Sub Study on: “A Remnant Shall Be Saved:”
God never said He would save the majority à all Old Testament prophecy foretold the last days salvation of only the remnant of Old Covenant Israel – not the entire nation.
- Isaiah 2-4 – Those who are left…
- Isaiah 6:9-13 – Judicial hardening of most of Israel. There shall be a tenth portion (remnant saved) (Jesus quoted this passage in the time of His ministry in Matt. 13:10-11; Mark 4:10-12, 34, as it was being fulfilled then. The majority of Old Covenant Hebrew hearts were hardened and rejected Him as their Messiah, but some of Israel (the remnant) were believing, His disciples and followers…then the day of Pentecost 3,000 Jews in Jerusalem, 5,000 a short time later, and the rest of the believing Jewish remnant continued to be saved throughout the time leading up to AD 66-70).
- Isaiah 10:20-23 – The remnant will return.
- Isaiah 65:8-9 – not destroy them all.
- Amos 5:1-3 – the city that goes out by the thousand shall have a hundred left.
- Zechariah 13:8-9- Two thirds shall be cut off from the land. One third left and refined and tested as is gold and silver – by fire. Notice the timing given to us in this passage in verse 7 “…strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered…” à Jesus quotes this in Matt. 26:31 as a “present” reality. Then look how just 34 years later in AD 64 (just 6 years before the complete destruction of the Jerusalem and the temple) how Peter was inspired by the Holy Spirit to quote this passage from Zech. 13:9 as having already begun to be fulfilled in his time and audience in 1 Peter 1:6-7, 4:12-13.
Paul and the Remnant:
- Fact: The remnant of Israel was being saved – in Christ – when Paul wrote.
- Fact: Paul said that the salvation of the remnant taking place was in fulfillment of:
- Hosea 1:10-11 – Peter quotes this in 1 Peter 2:9-10 as being fulfilled with his 1st century audience.
- Isaiah 10:22-23 – O Israel, even though your numbers are as the sand of the sea, only a remnant will return…for the Lord God of hosts will make a determined end in the midst of all of the land.
- Isaiah 1:9 – unless the Lord had left to us a very small remnant, we would have become like Sodom (completely gone).
Israel Has Not, The Elect (Remnant) Has – Rom. 11:7
Paul affirms that the remnant was, when he wrote, receiving the fulfillment of Israel’s hope.
- What was the hope of Israel?:
- The Kingdom
- The New Creation
- The New Covenant
- The Messianic Temple
- Israel Has Not Obtained – The Elect Has!
Fulfillment Not failure!
- Fact: Paul said the elect – the remnant – was, when he wrote, receiving the fulfillment of Israel’s hope – Romans 11:7.
- The remnant was being saved in fulfillment of OT promises, made to OC Israel.
- There was no delay, no postponement – there was no failure (Num. 23:19; Psalm 2, Psa. 89:34-37; Isa. 42:3-4; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 6:17-18, 10:37; Jam. 1:17).
- God’s was faithful in the Fulfillment of Israel’s promises.
Israel Has Not, The Elect (Remnant) Has:
- Romans 11:25-29 must be viewed in the light of Paul’s discussion of the remnant.
- That work of salvation was taking place in the first century – including Paul’s ministry.
- The salvation of “all Israel” is the consummation of that work: Paul develops his work from “some of the remnant à to all the remnant” – not from “some of the remnant to all of Israel.”
- Paul said the work was not only on-going – in direct fulfillment of the OT prophecies – and thus no failure or postponement of God’s promises to Israel, but, he also said…….. –> A Short Work Will He Make:
- “…The remnant will be saved. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth.” (Rom. 9:27-28)
- The salvation of “all Israel” in Romans 11:25-27 would be the completion / perfection of the salvation of the remnant already taking place in the first century – including the ministry of Paul.
- Paul quoted Isaiah in his time indicating its coming fulfillment and that God would complete the work of the salvation of the remnant – and He would complete it shortly (Rom. 9:27-28).
- Therefore, the salvation of “all Israel” of Romans 11:25-27 would come shortly from Paul’s perspective.
- Romans 13:11-12a confirms this, “Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near…” (NASB)
- Knowing = Greek: Eidotes à means “fully knowing, perceiving.”
- The Time = Greek: Ton Kairon à The appointed time.
- Already the hour = Greek: Hora Ede à the hour now. HELPS Word Studies: (a temporal adverb) – already now, even now, referring to what is not yet strictly present but already (now) impacts the present (= “already now”). It means “a point of time preceding another point of time and implying completion – ‘already.'”
- Now our salvation is nearer: See related verses Heb. 9:28; Luke 28:18; 1 Pet. 1:5; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 1:14.
- The Night is almost over: it is so close that the sunrise is about to happen. Heb. 8:13, 10:37.
- Near = Greek: Engiken in the perfect tense à literally = drawn near. HELPS Word Studies: expresses “extreme closeness, immediate imminence – even a presence (‘It is here’) because the moment of this coming happened.”
- This was an extremely powerful and meaningful statement Paul was inspired to write his audience: Hebrew teaching taught that the present age in which they lived was termed as the “night” and the age to come of the Messiah, in which they were waiting for, was called the “day.” Paul was telling them that the sunrise on the “day” had drawn/approached so close it was just about dawn.
Summary and Conclusion (Sub Study: A Remnant Shall be Saved):
- Paul’s discussion of the salvation of “All Israel” needs to be seen in the context of the salvation of the remnant – God never promised to save “the entire nation”.
- That salvation needs to be viewed as the climax of Israel’s history – the coming of the Redeemer out of Zion to take away her sin.
- The promised salvation is distinctly said to be coming shortly – God would make a short work of bringing that salvation to a reality.
See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 11 on Romans 11 (sub study on A Remnant Shall be Saved)”]