I ask, then: Did God reject his own people? Certainly not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not rejected his people, whom he chose from the beginning. You know what the scripture says in the passage where Elijah pleads with God against Israel:
"Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me."
What answer did God give him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not worshiped the false god Baal."
It is the same way now: there is a small number left of those whom God has chosen because of his grace.
His choice is based on his grace, not on what they have done. For if God's choice were based on what people do, then his grace would not be real grace.
What then? The people of Israel did not find what they were looking for. It was only the small group that God chose who found it; the rest grew deaf to God's call.
As the scripture says, "God made their minds and hearts dull; to this very day they cannot see or hear."
And David says, "May they be caught and trapped at their feasts; may they fall, may they be punished!
May their eyes be blinded so that they cannot see; and make them bend under their troubles at all times."
I ask, then: When the Jews stumbled, did they fall to their ruin? By no means! Because they sinned, salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make the Jews jealous of them.
The sin of the Jews brought rich blessings to the world, and their spiritual poverty brought rich blessings to the Gentiles. Then, how much greater the blessings will be when the complete number of Jews is included!
I am speaking now to you Gentiles: As long as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I will take pride in my work.
Perhaps I can make the people of my own race jealous, and so be able to save some of them.
For when they were rejected, all other people were changed from God's enemies into his friends. What will it be, then, when they are accepted? It will be life for the dead!
If the first piece of bread is given to God, then the whole loaf is his also; and if the roots of a tree are offered to God, the branches are his also.
Some of the branches of the cultivated olive tree have been broken off, and a branch of a wild olive tree has been joined to it. You Gentiles are like that wild olive tree, and now you share the strong spiritual life of the Jews.
So then, you must not despise those who were broken off like branches. How can you be proud? You are just a branch; you don't support the roots - the roots support you.