Romans Bible Study Lesson 44

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A Remnant of Israel Saved

Romans 11:2—6

God is not finished with Israel. Verse 1 makes it clear that God has not rejected Israel. As we work our way through Chapter 11, Paul explains why there was a change in God’s dealings with Israel. This would not be necessary if God did not put Israel aside and went directly to the Gentiles.

Paul reiterates his assertion that Israel has not been rejected (pushed aside). Not only did Paul point to his own salvation as proof that God did not cut off Israel completely, but he also points to God and Elijah as further proof.

Verse 2

God was the One who foreknew Israel. Why would God reject Israel when He knew what they were going to do? We need to take a closer look at what foreknowledge is in order to understand what it means for God to foreknow Israel. Did He look ahead to see that Israel would become a nation or did He plan for Israel to become a nation?


Foreknowledge is the Greek word prognosis. Pro=before and gnosis= know, so prognosis means to know before. Foreknowledge can be divided into two categories, informative (passive) and determinative (active). If God’s foreknowledge was obtained from looking into the future then He is passively observing the future to obtain information. He would use this knowledge to accomplish His will. If God is actively involved in shaping the future then He is determining what will come to pass to accomplish His will. He has foreknowledge about something because He was actively involved in causing it to happen.

When God foreknew Israel did He look into the future and see the nation Israel and then decide to use her as the messenger of His will, or did he determine that He would make a nation called Israel? Let’s see what Scripture says about the word foreknow.

Acts 2:22—23 22“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

Here we see that it was God’s plan for Christ to die. His foreknowledge was not based on looking into the future but by a carefully thought-out plan for the redemption of our sins. He foreknew of Christ’s death because it was planned out from before the creation of the world.

1 Peter 1:18—20 18knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you

Along with the Acts 2 passage, this verse agrees with the thought that God’s foreknowledge of Christ’s death was because it was all planned out ahead of time—before the foundation of the world. Even though this passage could be interpreted to mean that God looked ahead in time, before the world was created, to see that His Son would die on the cross, this interpretation would be inconsistent with the Acts 2 passage.

1 Peter 1:1—2 1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

This passage obviously refers to Israel but is often taken for the Church. Peter is referring to the Diaspora (Greek for dispersion). The Church can never be dispersed because it is composed of people from all Gentile nations. Israel has a specific land and have been dispersed because of God’s judgment. They will also be regathered in the end times into the Promised Land, whereas the Church will be gathered (not regathered) at the rapture into heaven. We also see from 1 Peter 2:9 an obvious reference to Israel, a reference that lines up with Exodus 19:6, Isaiah 61:6 and Revelation 5:10.

From this verse we see that Israel was chosen according to the foreknown of God. Taking a clue from God’s foreknowledge of Christ’s death, we would understand that Israel was foreknown because God planned that Israel would be a great nation and the nation through whom God’s glory would be revealed. This fits in with Old Testament promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I understand this verse to mean that Israel was chosen for a special place of service according to God’s plan and purpose. They were not chosen for salvation because God foreknew that they would believe.

So with a better understanding of foreknowledge we can see that God formed Israel to be a nation and by inference (and prophecy) can see that He will make sure Israel is not exterminated. We have seen how Israel has been protected through the ages and even if there is a small remnant, God will continue to keep Israel alive.

Verses 2b—5

The third proof that God will never reject Israel (Paul being the first and God’s foreknowledge the second) comes from Elijah. After Elijah demonstrated God’s great power over Baal, he ran for his life because Queen Jezebel wanted to kill him (1 Kings 18, 19). He felt like he was the only righteous person in all of Israel. He sought God to take his life but God encouraged him by saying there were 7,000 in Israel who did not worshiped Baal.

Just as there was a remnant in Elijah’s day, God has a remnant today. Paul was a part of that remnant and any believing Jew today is a part of God’s Jewish remnant. Paul calls believing Jews a remnant according to God’s election of Grace. This is in contrast to God’s election of Israel. When God was dealing with Israel, they were God’s elect nation. This election was not about their salvation but about being called out for a special purpose by God. When Israel rejected God’s call for them to believe their Messiah, God turned to the Gentiles and the Dispensation of Grace was put into motion. These Jews were no longer under the election of Israel but now under the election of Grace. Those who believe are members of the Body of Christ and anyone in the Body is called out for special service or purpose to God—the election of Grace.

Verse 6

Paul further delineates the difference between Israel and the Church by showing that Israel came to God by works while we in the Church have come to God by faith alone. By faith we rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Just a couple of final thoughts on God’s rejection of Israel.

The Old Testament makes it clear that God will never completely reject or cast Israel away.

Jeremiah 31:37 Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be measured?And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel?For all that they have done,” declares the LORD.

We can also see a glimmer of hope for future Israel in Matthew. While Israel rejected God and made her house desolate, Jesus says that Israel will finally turn to God in the future. This is in reference to the Second Coming when all (remaining) Israel will be saved when they see Jesus Christ descend upon the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).

Matt. 23:37-39 37“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38“Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39“For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'”