in Catechesis

Romans 11:1–10 There has always been a remnant chosen by God’s grace

The following is the twenty-fifth week’s lesson. It is important to review Paul’s line of thought. First, Paul said that God’s Word did not fail. It called to faith everyone whom God chose to come to faith. Those who rejected it, like Pharaoh, were used by God to display his patience and power to those who would believe. That’s Paul’s argument in chapter 9. In chapter 10, Paul made it clear that God was serious about leading the Israelites to know him. For hundreds of years he called to them, imploring them to trust in him. But Israel refused. Now in chapter 11, Paul arrives at his conclusion. In this section, verses 1–10, Paul makes two points: (1) God always has his elect who will be saved. (2) Just as he did with Pharaoh, so he does to those who harden their hearts against him—he hardens them in turn.

Romans 11:1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”? But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And 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.

What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. Just as it is written:

“God has given them a spirit of stupor,
Eyes that they should not see
And ears that they should not hear,
To this very day.”

And David says:

“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
A stumbling block and a recompense to them.
10 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see,
And bow down their back always.”

God did not reject his people, the Israelites. He still had a group of elect whom he would bring to faith (as he did with Paul). He hardened the hearts of Israelites who rejected him.