Tuesday 25 February 2014

Bible Book:

“For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.” (v. 32)

Romans 11:25-36 Tuesday 25 February 2014


In the final section of Paul's lengthy argument in Romanschapters 9-11, Paul shares a "mystery" (v. 25) with his readers, amystery that answers the question of God's purposes for Israel.

Paul's key assertion is that "all Israel will be saved" (v. 26),but the interpretation of this text is notoriously disputed. Whilesome commentators argue that Paul sees Israel as saved through thepromises of God (apart from faith in Jesus), and others contendthat "all Israel" includes Gentile (non Jewish) Christians, mostcommentators believe that Paul is pointing to an end-time miraclewhereby Israel embraces the Messiah. Since Israel remains "beloved"for the sake of her ancestors (v. 28) and the promises of Godcannot be broken, the temporary 'disobedience' of the nation willend with God showing mercy (verse 30). In the end, God's mercy willtriumph over human unbelief.

In verses 26-27 Paul supports his claim with a citation fromIsaiah (Isaiah 59:20-21) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:33), which depicts the "Deliverer"coming from Zion, and taking away the sins of "Jacob". Since the"gift ... and the calling of God are irrevocable" (v. 29), God willbe faithful to the promises God has made. Just as Gentiles havereceived mercy while disobedient, so too will Israel. For Paul,such a pattern shows that "God has imprisoned all in disobedienceso that he may be merciful to all" (v. 32). God's mercy is overall!

The passage ends with a doxology - a passage of praise in whichGod's wisdom and judgement are glorified (verses 33-36). Paul drawshere from the Old Testament (Isaiah40:13, Job 41:11). God's ways can sometimes be"inscrutable" (v. 33), and all we can do is bow in wonder andpraise at a God to whom all glory belongs.

To Ponder

  • Why do you think Paul stresses the place of 'Israel' in God'splans?  
  • In what ways have you experienced God 'showing mercy' toyou?
  • What role does doxology - or praising God - play in your prayerlife? 

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