(I’m tired.  Tired equals less words.  You’re welcome.)

(3) “All Israel shall be Saved”: (A) Briefly discuss your understanding of Paul’s argument in 11:1–32, and especially his “olive branch” metaphor. How do you see Paul explaining his ministry in relationship to the reception of the gospel by both gentiles and Jews? What do you think he means when he proclaims, “all Israel will be saved” (11:26)? Who is included in this designation of “Israel”, and how does it relate to the ‘fullness’ of the gentiles in 11:25?


3a.  I understand Paul’s argument here to be what I have always been taught as “grafted in.”  Paul begins his discussion here with the question of, “Did God reject his people?” (11:1) which then leads to answering whoconstitutes “the all” that shall be saved.  The transition within this passage occurs at verse 16: if the source is holy, the remainder is holy as well.  Keck states that the remnant is equivalent with the “first fruits” of Israel; they are those who believe presently, however this remnant will represent the whole of Israel.  Israel has not yet been (fully) called by God yet, i.e. there is a sectional “hardening” occurring, therefore God’s plan of redemption to and for the whole may continue.  Because some of Israel rejected Christ, it allowed for the Gentiles to accept Christ or be “grafted in” (11:19). 


The “olive branch” metaphor is as follows:  the olive tree is Israel/the promise of the Abrahamic covenant; the root is God (or Messiah to the Jews); some branches have been broken off which represents the segment of unbelieving Jews who have rejected Christ; and some branches have been grafted in due to the broken branches – they are “wild” olive shoots/branches which represent the Gentiles who are now receiving all the “nutrients” (blessings) of the tree.  Contrary to nature (cf. Rom. 1:18-32 passage) – a farmer would always take a wild olive stump and graft domesticated branches into it, resulting in the best of both worlds.


The fullness (11:25), I believe, is analogical and has dual meaning.  First, it refers to the “fullness” those who are now in Christ receive – fullness of life in the present and eternity to come.  Additionally, it refers to God’s love.  God loves us so much that He has taken a “domesticated” (Israel) olive stump and grafted “wild” (us, Gentiles) branches into it.  Our God loves [all] His chosen people so much that they will someday be grafted in again and will produce more great fruit.




(B) Next, discuss how you understand this passage to relate to the previous argument of Romans. How does this passage reveal the content of “the gospel”? (How does this passage expound upon the theme of the “righteousness of God”? Where else do we see mention of the “gifts and calling of God” [11:29] throughout the epistle? How might the claim that God “consigned all to disobedience, in order that he may have mercy on all” [11:32] relate to possible parallel notions in 7:13 and 8:3?)

I understand this 11:1-32 passage to relate to the previous argument of Romans simply by stating that Paul will have no part in a theology that implies God will not keep promises.  If God won’t prove faithful to promises made throughout Israel’s history, so too no one (then or now) will have good reason to expect God will keep the ones made through Christ.  The reliability, fidelity, and righteousness of God remains a fundament of Paul’s teaching.  I don’t think he develops much of an argument in response to the question in 11:1 (“Has God rejected his people?”) because it’s pretty simple for him – God cannot have rejected the people “whom he foreknew” (11:2) quite simply, because “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (11:29).  Again, God is righteous.    Therefore, as a result, Paul can assuredly claim that “all Israel will be saved” (11:26) and will experience “full inclusion” (11:12) in God’s salvation.

The conclusion of Paul’s arguments set forth in Romans 9-11 is found in 11:32.  The point is, however God works, and for whatever reasons God works, it happens so that God “may be merciful to all” (11:32).  Immediately before this in 11:30-32, Paul expands quickly on the set of those who dwell in disobedience, because all people dwell in disobedience (Rom 1-3).   Paul shows in 7:13 and 8:3 that the problem is not with the law, but with sin.  The law is powerless and “weakened by the flesh.”  So too are we [all] – the problem is not with the “I” but with sin living in us all.  As a result, the salvation of all is absolutely predicated on God’s mercy. 

Once again, Paul’s main emphasis is on God.  It has to be.  God is righteous; Israel is not.  It isn’t because Israel has demonstrated (or will demonstrate) relentless fidelity that it continues to be God’s chosen people – it is because God has demonstrated such fidelity.  He is faithful; He is merciful.  Why is Paul conveying the message that God’s mercy should be trusted?  Because, “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”




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