(Rom. 11:30-32 ESV) 30 For just as you [Gentiles] were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they [the Jews] too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you [Gentiles] they [the Jews] also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
Paul’s riddles just keep on coming. After contrasting God’s view of the unbelieving Jews as enemies of God who are beloved by God, he now speaks of the Gentiles’ being saved “because of their disobedience.” This doesn’t fit Calvinism very well, because they were supposedly elect long before they disobeyed. But it’s also hardly what you’d expect to hear from an Arminian pulpit! Saved because of disobedience? not despite their disobedience?
Absolutely. Both the Gentiles and the Jews are saved after a period of disobedience — which both are guilty of even at the time of Paul’s writing. The difference is that the Gentiles are repenting of their disobedience in much greater proportions.
God doesn’t save us because we’re good. God saves us because we need saving. And both Jews and Gentiles desperately needed God’s salvation.
This means that all Paul has said about hardening and Israel being vessels of wrath was a temporary condition and had the ultimate purpose of God having mercy on all, or, to put it another way, that God did this so all would have to relate to him on the basis of grace and faith, so none would think they had God in their debt, or that he owed them something. It also means that God did it this way so that all would recognize that he alone sets right sinners, the ungodly, which includes all the human race, even pious humans of all sorts.
This was a very scandalous and unconventional gospel that Paul preached, and it is clear that Paul sees all things in light of his understanding of God’s righteousness, which involves both wrath and salvation.
The whole epistle stands under the sign that no person [not even a Jew] is justified by works and that even the pious do not enter the kingdom of God on the basis of their piety.… Paul is bold enough to view both each individual and world history from the standpoint of the doctrine of justification. The end of the old world and the beginning of the new world can be thought of only as justification of the ungodly. Logically then the problem of Israel can only be solved under the same theme.
Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 276–277.
(Rom. 11:33-36 ESV) 33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Paul concludes this section of Romans with a doxology — a glorification of God.
The concluding doxology emphasizes the sovereignty and inscrutability of God. Paul does not think that God’s ways and purposes are now still invisible; they have been revealed in the Messiah. But he does believe that without the revelation granted in the gospel nobody would ever have worked them out. And yet, seen with hindsight, God’s way of putting the world to rights, God’s way of doing all things from creation to new creation, turns out to be spectacularly right, full of wisdom and insight, of appropriate judgment and overflowing mercy.
N.T. Wright, “The Letter to the Romans,” in The Acts of the Apostles-The First Letter to the Corinthians (vol. 10 of NIB, Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 695.
Well, now for the fourth time, I say that the Vatican’s declaration that the Catholic Church should not evangelize Jews who do not believe in Jesus is worse than irresponsible. Yanking texts out of context to suit the mood of the times is beneath the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
Yes, God’s gifts and calling are irrevocable. Therefore, the true Israel is saved. And the way of salvation remains open for ethnic Israel.
God desperately wants ethnic Israel, whom he loves, to be saved. Therefore, to honor God, we should send missionaries to the Jews. We should tell our Jewish neighbors about Jesus.
(Rom. 10:13-15 ESV) 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”