I ask, then, has God rejected his people, the Jews? Of course not! Remember that I myself am a Jew, a descendant of Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning. Do you remember what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet complained to God about the people of Israel and said,
"Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I alone am left, and now they are trying to kill me, too." a4
And do you remember God's reply? He said, "You are not the only one left. I have seven thousand others who have never bowed down to Baal!" b5
It is the same today, for not all the Jews have turned away from God. A few c are being saved as a result of God's kindness in choosing them.
And if they are saved by God's kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God's wonderful kindness would not be what it really is -- free and undeserved.
So this is the situation: Most of the Jews have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have -- the ones God has chosen -- but the rest were made unresponsive.
As the Scriptures say, "God has put them into a deep sleep. To this very day he has shut their eyes so they do not see, and closed their ears so they do not hear." d9
David spoke of this same thing when he said, "Let their bountiful table become a snare, a trap that makes them think all is well. Let their blessings cause them to stumble.
Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and let their backs grow weaker and weaker." e11
Did God's people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! His purpose was to make his salvation available to the Gentiles, and then the Jews would be jealous and want it for themselves.
Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the Jews turned down God's offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when the Jews finally accept it.
I am saying all of this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I lay great stress on this,
for I want to find a way to make the Jews want what you Gentiles have, and in that way I might save some of them.
For since the Jews' rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, how much more wonderful their acceptance will be. It will be life for those who were dead!
And since Abraham and the other patriarchs were holy, their children will also be holy. f For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too.
But some of these branches from Abraham's tree, some of the Jews, have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, were grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in God's rich nourishment of his special olive tree.
But you must be careful not to brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. Remember, you are just a branch, not the root.
"Well," you may say, "those branches were broken off to make room for me."
Yes, but remember -- those branches, the Jews, were broken off because they didn't believe God, and you are there because you do believe. Don't think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen.
For if God did not spare the branches he put there in the first place, he won't spare you either.
Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe to those who disobeyed, but kind to you as you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off.
And if the Jews turn from their unbelief, God will graft them back into the tree again. He has the power to do it.
For if God was willing to take you who were, by nature, branches from a wild olive tree and graft you into his own good tree -- a very unusual thing to do -- he will be far more eager to graft the Jews back into the tree where they belong.
I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, g so that you will not feel proud and start bragging. Some of the Jews have hard hearts, but this will last only until the complete number of Gentiles comes to Christ.
And so all Israel will be saved. Do you remember what the prophets said about this? "A Deliverer will come from Jerusalem, h and he will turn Israel i from all ungodliness.
And then I will keep my covenant with them and take away their sins." j28
Many of the Jews are now enemies of the Good News. But this has been to your benefit, for God has given his gifts to you Gentiles. Yet the Jews are still his chosen people because of his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
For God's gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.
Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the Jews refused his mercy, God was merciful to you instead.
And now, in the same way, the Jews are the rebels, and God's mercy has come to you. But someday they, k too, will share in God's mercy.
For God has imprisoned all people in their own disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.
Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods!
For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be his counselor? l35
And who could ever give him so much that he would have to pay it back?
For everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and is intended for his glory. To him be glory evermore. Amen.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)