Romans 11:28
The apostle has cautioned them not to be high-minded because of any seeming preference shown to them; he now guards against their gross speculations as to the nature of Israel's rejection by setting forth emphatically its true character and intent. And in so doing he takes also a bird's-eye view of the religious history and destinies of the world, especially as regards the mutual relations of Jews and Gentiles. We have here the religious dualism and universalism of the natural history of mankind.

I. THE DUALISM. As Godet very strikingly says, "The entire course of the religious history of the world is determined by the antagomsm created among mankind by the calling of Abraham, between a people specially destined by God to receive his revelations, and the other nations given over to themselves. From that moment (Genesis 12.) there begin to be described those two immense curves which traverse the ages of antiquity in opposite directions, and which, crossing one another at the advent of Christianity, are prolonged from that period in inverse directions, and shall terminate by uniting and losing themselves in one another at the goal of history."

1. The early period of the history of the world, after the call of Abraham, consisted of the contrast between believing Israel and the unbelieving nations. The Gentiles, as the beginning of the Epistle reminded us, were given over to their ignorance and sin. Why? Because they "were disobedient to God." Theirs was a negative discipline to fit them for the reception of the truth. They were "shut up unto disobedience," that they might be prepared to receive unmerited mercy at the hands of God. And the discipline did its work. For them there came a "fulness of the times." They became sick of their own endeavours after wisdom and righteousness, and when Christ was preached unto them they received him. How had it been with the Jews? They were chosen by God to receive his truth, and the preparations for his salvation, in trust for the world. Theirs was a positive discipline. But the same sinful nature was in them as in the Gentiles, and it operated against the truth. They became hardened. Their very privileges became a snare to them. And at last, the "fulness of the times" having arrived for them also, when their own Christ came unto them, they received him not!

2. The later period of the world's history, after Christ, consisted of a contrast, which itself was in contrast with the former one. The Jews were given over, are given over still, to their hardness of unbelief. They are the stoutest opponents of the gospel. They are "enemies." God was compelled to cast them off, that the gospel which they refused might be set free for the acceptance of the world. And the Gentiles are reaping the benefits of their rejection still. Not as dogs, eating the crumbs from the children's table, but themselves admitted to the forsaken festal board.

II. THE UNIVERSALISM. The dualism shall not always last; God is preparing the way for the religious fusion of all the peoples of the world; they shall become one in Christ.

1. The gospel which the Jews despised, and the salvation of their own Saviour, is leavening the Gentile world; the nations, one by one, are passing out of heathendom into Christendom. Apart from the question of the conversion to true spiritual religion of individuals, the world is being won for Christ.

2. But what of Israel? "The fulness of the Gentiles" shall "come in; and so all Israel shall be saved." Oh, the strange irony of history! By the agency of the Israelites the world should have been won; now by the example and agency of Gentiles the Israelites shall be won. Yes; the hardening was but "in part," some being believers from the first; but likewise only temporary - "until." For they are still the people fitted by their gifts for God's great work, and therefore his call is not revoked. And the very working of their disobedience, as in the case of the heathen nations once, is but to fit them to receive his grace. And according to their own prophecies the Deliverer shall come, and "from Jacob" ungodliness shall be turned away. So then God will "have mercy upon all." Let us learn his ways of judgment. He will give us up to our sins, if we persist in cherishing them, till we repent. But let us learn also his marvellous love: repenting, he will receive us freely! - T.F.L.







As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes.
During the siege of Sebastopol a Russian shell buried itself in the side of a hill without the city, and opened a spring. A little fountain bubbled forth where the cannon shot had fallen, and during the remainder of the siege afforded to the thirsty troops who were stationed in that vicinity an abundant supply of pure, cold water. Thus the missile of death from an enemy, under the direction of an overruling Providence, proved an almoner of mercy to the parched and weary soldiery of the allies. So often the efforts of men against God's kingdom have been overruled to its furtherance. Every great attack upon the Bible has opened a new fountain of its truth to supply the wants of God's people.

I. PRIOR TO THE PROMULGATION OF THE GOSPEL. It was the relation of —

1. Sole depositories of the Word of God (Psalm 76.; Amos 3:2). They had a revelation of Jehovah, while the others were in that ignorance at which the apostle declares God "winked."

2. The channels for the transmission of the promised seed, in which all the nations of the earth were to be blessed. The tribe of Judah contained within it a sacred deposit, the God-man, the Saviour of the world. In this sense, "salvation is of the Jews," the world was preserved for their sake. 3 The main spring of the politics of the world. Kings and empires were set up and cast down for their sakes.

II. SINCE THE GOSPEL. This must be regarded —

1. As it respects the remnant of the Jewish people converted to the Christian faith, according to the election of grace. These formed the stem of the Christian Church, Jesus Christ Himself, the founder of the Christian system, being a Jew according to the flesh. They were the first to be taken into union with Him; the first branches from Him the living stem; the first members of the body of which He is the head. They were not taken into fellowship with Gentiles, but Gentile converts were taken into fellowship with them (Ephesians 2:12-22; Ephesians 3:10). The relation, therefore, is that of brethen in Christ Jesus. And the relation which the Church, thus formed, bears to the world around is of the same nature as that which the Jews once bare to the Gentiles. The Christian Church —(1) Is the sole depository of the truth. In this Church alone is Christ to be found; and in the Church alone, therefore, can God be known.(2) Has deposited within her the true seed which is to become a blessing to all the earth.(3) Is the main spring of the politics of the world. Can any man think on this subject with the Bible before him, and then deny that such men as Decius, Julian, Charlemagne, Napoleon, and others, were raised up for the promotion, in one way or other, of the interests of the Church.

2. As it respects the Jews as a nation. "As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes"; not the remnant — they are converted — but the nation. But though thus cast off for our sakes, they are not cast off beyond the reach of God; the same hand which put them off will protect and preserve them, for "the gift and calling of God are without repentance." But they are "enemies for our sakes": they bear the relation to us of poor outcasts — outcasts to make room for us; as if the tree could have but a certain number of branches, as if the body could have but a certain number of members, and God had cast off some of the branches, and removed some of the members, that we might become branches in Him who is the true Vine, and members united to Him who is the only head!

III. AFTER THE RESTORATION.

1. Metropolitan pre-eminence (Isaiah 60; Micah 4:1.).

2. Spiritual blessing (Psalm 67.).

(H. M. McNeile, D.D.)

I. ITS NATURE.

1. Enemies for your sakes.

2. Beloved for the fathers' sakes.

II. ITS IMMUTABLE CHARACTER

1. Depends on the immutable character of God.

2. And His unchangeable purpose.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

Beloved for the fathers' sakes. — God loves when compelled to punish, and His affection for His ancient people should teach us to love them too. "For the fathers' sakes" is God's own reason for His love (Deuteronomy 7:7, 8). There was nothing in Israel to attract it, for they were obstinate transgressors from the womb (Isaiah 48:4, 8), and a disobedient and gainsaying people (Romans 10:21). So God loves sinners in Christ for His Son's sake. God's love to the fathers remembered in behalf of the children (Leviticus 26:42). Blessing of godly ancestors. Children loved for their parents' sakes. How privileged are the offspring of a godly stock; how great their responsibility; how deep should be their gratitude!

(T. Robinson, D.D.)

For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. — Without change of mind on God's part; subject to no regret or change of purpose (2 Corinthians 7:10; Hebrews 12:17). God gives without variableness or shadow of turning (James 1:17). His gift to Israel only suspended or withdrawn for a season. He has not repented of calling Abraham and his seed as His people, nor regretted the promises made to the fathers. Man's conduct may change God's manner but not His mind. God's dealings may vary, but not His determinings; His providence may alter, but not His purposes. The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent (1 Samuel 15:29). God's unchangeableness the ground of Israel's safety (Malachi 3:6). God will not cast away His people (Deuteronomy 4:31; 1 Samuel 12:22). Israel is not to be permanently deprived of what God has promised them.

(T. Robinson, D. D.)

They are so in respect to God the giver; He never repents that He hath called His people into the fellowship of His Son; and they are so on the believer's part, who is never sorry, whatever afterwards he meets with, that he is brought to Christ.

(J. Flavel.)

It is a source of comfort to the believer to reflect that that on which he puts his trust is established and immovable. Changes take place above and around the fortress, but its massive buttresses still stand unmoved, and its battlements frown defiance at the strength of the foe. The clouds above are fleeting past, it may be in silvery brightness, or it may be in pall-like gloom; the leaves are budding or fading, according to their seasons upon the earth but there stands the fortress, established and unchanged.

(P. B. Power, M.A.)

It has been supposed that the doctrine of God's decrees would repel men, and drive them into infidelity. On the contrary, it draws men. God's decrees may be taught so as to make men feel that they are oppressive; but the thought that the decrees of God run through time and eternity, and that He is true to them, so far from being repulsive, is exceedingly attractive. You might as well say that the laws of nature are repulsive as to say that God's decrees are so. It is constancy that is the foundation of hope, and civilisation, and everything that is blessed in the world. Men are glad that light is always light, that electricity is always electricity, that all forces of nature are always true to their laws. Men are thankful that the stars revolve perpetually in their appointed courses. Men rejoice in the fact that there is fixity in all those methods by which the material universe is controlled. And the immutableness of God in the great elements of His character — truth, justice, goodness, and love — is subject-matter for profound gratulation.

(H. W. Beecher.)

A man undertakes mining operations in such-and-such a place, he says, "I shall dig for iron." Well, he meets with great difficulties, hard rocks to bore through, and so on. He comes to this conclusion, "If I had known of this labour, and of the expense, I should not have sought for the metal here." But suppose the man to be well aware of everything, and that he meets with nothing but what he foresaw, then you may depend upon it that the man means business, and having commenced operations, he will continue working till he obtains that which he seeks after.

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