I ask then, Has God cast off His People? No, indeed. Why, I myself am an Israelite, of the posterity of Abraham and of the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not cast off His People whom He knew beforehand. Or are you ignorant of what Scripture says in speaking of Elijah--how he pleaded with God against Israel, saying,
'Lord, they have put Thy Prophets to death, and have overthrown Thy altars; and, now that I alone remain, they are thirsting for my blood'?
But what did God say to him in reply? 'I have reserved for Myself 7,000 men who have never bent the knee to Baal.'
In the same way also at the present time there has come to be a remnant whom God in His grace has selected.
But if it is in His grace that He has selected them, then His choice is no longer determined by human actions. Otherwise grace would be grace no longer.
How then does the matter stand? It stands thus. That which Israel are in earnest pursuit of, they have not obtained; but God's chosen servants have obtained it, and the rest have become hardened.
And so Scripture says, 'God has given them a spirit of drowsiness--eyes to see nothing with and ears to hear nothing with--even until now.'
And David says, 'Let their very food become a snare and a trap to them, a stumbling-block and a retribution.
Let darkness come over their eyes that they may be unable to see, and make Thou their backs continually to stoop.'
I ask, however, 'Have they stumbled so as to be finally ruined?' No, indeed; but by their lapse salvation has come to the Gentiles in order to arouse the jealousy of the descendants of Israel;
and if their lapse is the enriching of the world, and their overthrow the enriching of the Gentiles, will not still greater good follow their restoration?
But to you Gentiles I say that, since I am an Apostle specially sent to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry,
trying whether I can succeed in rousing my own countrymen to jealousy and thus save some of them.
For if their having been cast aside has carried with it the reconciliation of the world, what will their being accepted again be but Life out of death?
Now if the firstfruits of the dough are holy, so also is the whole mass; and if the root of a tree is holy, so also are the branches.
And if some of the branches have been pruned away, and you, although you were but a wild olive, have been grafted in among them and have become a sharer with others in the rich sap of the root of the olive tree,
beware of glorying over the natural branches. Or if you are so glorying, do not forget that it is not you who uphold the root: the root upholds you.
'Branches have been lopped off,' you will say, 'for the sake of my being grafted in.'
This is true; yet it was their unbelief that cut them off, and you only stand through your faith.
Do not be puffed up with pride. Tremble rather--for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you.
Notice therefore God's kindness and God's severity. On those who have fallen His severity has descended, but upon you His kindness has come, provided that you do not cease to respond to that kindness. Otherwise you will be cut off also.
Moreover, if they turn from their unbelief, they too will be grafted in. For God is powerful enough to graft them in again;
and if you were cut from that which by nature is a wild olive and contrary to nature were grafted into the good olive tree, how much more certainly will these natural branches be grafted on their own olive tree?
For there is a truth, brethren, not revealed hitherto, of which I do not wish to leave you in ignorance, for fear you should attribute superior wisdom to yourselves--the truth, I mean, that partial blindness has fallen upon Israel until the great mass of the Gentiles have come in;
and so all Israel will be saved. As is declared in Scripture, 'From Mount Zion a Deliverer will come: He will remove all ungodliness from Jacob;
and this shall be My Covenant with them; when I have taken away their sins.'
In relation to the Good News, the Jews are God's enemies for your sakes; but in relation to God's choice they are dearly loved for the sake of their forefathers.
For God does not repent of His free gifts nor of His call;
but just as you were formerly disobedient to Him, but now have received mercy at a time when they are disobedient,
so now they also have been disobedient at a time when you are receiving mercy; so that to them too there may now be mercy.
For God has locked up all in the prison of unbelief, that upon all alike He may have mercy.
Oh, how inexhaustible are God's resources and God's wisdom and God's knowledge! How impossible it is to search into His decrees or trace His footsteps!
'Who has ever known the mind of the Lord, or shared His counsels?'
'Who has first given God anything, so as to receive payment in return?'
For the universe owes its origin to Him, was created by Him, and has its aim and purpose in Him. To Him be the glory throughout the Ages! Amen.