“I ask, then, has God rejected His people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin” (
William Norman Ewer was a British journalist and minor poet known now to have been a Socialist, then a Communist and a spy for the Soviet Union in the 1920s. He is most remembered for a two-line epigram often quoted: “How odd of God/ To choose the Jews.” In our day of political correctness, that might be considered anti-Semitic. One of the published answers to him quipped, “But not so odd/ As those who choose/A Jewish God/Yet spurn the Jews” (Leo Rosten).
Our text is part of that three-chapter section of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome. Some interpreters call
Paul asked the question: Has God rejected His chosen people? He answered it two ways:
Right Now There Are Some Elect Jews Trusting in Christ the Savior
Paul himself is an example of salvation by grace. He was a most zealous Jew before he met Christ on the Road to Damascus. He was on his way to that ancient capital of Syria to arrest Christians for heresy and bring them back to Jerusalem as prisoners for trial and martyrdom. God had another plan (Rom. 8:1, 3; 9:1-6).
Paul reminded his readers of Elijah who thought he was the only one left faithful to Jehovah. God spoke to His discouraged prophet and assured him he graciously had determined that 7,000 select souls were still true to Jehovah and would continue to be (vv. 2b-10).
God’s Marvelous Plan Includes a Call to Every Ethnicity
This is a mystery Paul explained. In the New Testament, a mystery is a truth formerly unknown but then revealed by the Spirit of God. Paul was the agent of God to make known that the Gentiles were always a part of God’s purpose of salvation. The Messiah never was meant just for Israel.
The prophet Joel had promised centuries earlier, “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32). No doubt, many thought that meant every Jew, but God had a bigger vision.
Exactly who is in view in this passage? There are three ways to interpret these verses:
1. The most common interpretation hears Paul saying that in the end time, after the elect Gentiles all are saved, the mass of Jews then living will come to Christ for salvation.
2. John Calvin’s interpretation, followed by many, extends the term all Israel (
3. William Hendricksen and others understand all Israel to mean the total number of elect Jews, the sum of all Israel’s remnants. I like that. The fullness of the Gentiles does not mean every Gentile, but those who are chosen of God and trust Christ as Savior. In the same way, all Israel speaks of all among the Jews who answer the call of their Messiah Jesus, the Savior.
That is the way anyone is saved. The invitation to come to Christ is for all. Some hear that call and answer in the affirmative. Will you?