For decades I believed what I had always been told concerning the Jews: they were no longer God's people and had no special place in His eyes. It was not until many years later that I re-read Romans with a new mind. What I read was stunning and moving. It is this wonder that I wish to share with readers now. The question is "Hath God cast away his people?" (Romans 11:1). The answer follows the question and it is plain as day: "God forbid"!
I urge you to particularly read chapters 9, 10 and 11 of Romans. Paul confides to the Christians in Rome that he was sorrowful for his lost "brethren". He is not referring to Christian gentile brethren in this case, for he qualifies the word by calling them his "kinsmen" or countrymen - fellow Jews. Why was he concerned? Because they were:
"Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came... Amen." (Romans 9:4,5)
Some may argue that this is very similar to the way we ought to view Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus; but, though she had the great privilege to bear the human body of the Messiah, she has no other special place. This reasoning, though, would be a mistake when applied to the Jews. Let us read on...
In the next verse, six, we discover that:
"they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but in Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed."
This tells us that being born an Israelite did not justify a man - what justified him was his faith. The other Israelites, who were worldly, were not considered to be God's chosen people. This is emphasised in verse 11, where we are told that God elected those Israelites who would be saved by faith. Thus, even the ancient Israelites were saved by grace and not by their works (as so many suppose). And very few were ‘saved’, as we see in verse 27: "a remnant shall be saved."
Who is Paul praying for in chapter 10 verse 1, when he says:
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved."
He speaks not of everybody in Israel, but of the elect only: those Jews who were saved before the beginning of the world. "They" refers to the elect, not to all the Jews. Why did God let Israel slide away from His once common Presence? Bearing in mind God's own statement that He is the Potter, Who can do whatever He wishes with us:
"...I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.....
I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched out my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people." (Romans 10:19-21)
God states openly that He deliberately (and temporarily) took His active Presence away from Israel so that the salvation of the Gentiles (i.e. those who are 'no people', etc.) would cause them to think hard about their own privileged position as Jews. This is reiterated later in Romans.
‘Gentile’ is a transliteration for Hellen, which clearly gives us two meanings. The first meaning is ‘a Greek’. The original word for ‘Gentile’ in history, denoted early descendants of Thessalian Hellas. The second meaning refers to all nations that were not Jewish. The term ‘gentiles’ was used from Genesis 10:5, to refer to non-Hebrews and is probably from the root, gevah. The word itself comes from the Latin, gentilis, but is appropriate (based on the Hebrew goy - plural goyim - and nokhn, and the Greek éthne, ethnos, etc), so was used by the AV translators, who also used several other words to refer to non-Jews, depending on context. ‘Gentile’ was usually used to describe pagans and their culture, so the usage was quite precise.
Bear in mind that ALL nations use transliteration when translating the Bible… the only other way is to simply repeat all the original languages! The aim is to provide a word closest to the one used in the original language. In the AV there is no ‘mistranslation’, but only transliteration of the Hebrew and Greek words.
(It is important to understand all this, because many wish to devalue or get rid of the 1611 AV, which is the best Bible version ever to have been published. Dr Bertrand Camparet opposes use of the word ‘Gentile’, saying the AV translators were flawed in using it – he was wrong. He is approved by the racist, white-supremacist ‘Church of True Israel’*, who publish most of his work, and he does not like the 1611 AV! He also says Adam was not the first man, that the Flood was not worldwide, that the northern nations (white) are the ‘surviving members of the tribes of Israel, and so on. He also uses a debatable idea that there are no Jews in Israel today, based on surmise - so why rely on his ideas? His technique is to twist original words and arguments unconventionally, so that they undermine the AV translations. Beware! *This pseudo-church also refers to Hitler, Rudyard Kipling, the ‘Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, the anti-semitic Henry Ford, etc)
Then, in chapter 11, verse 1, Paul asks the all-important question: "Hath God cast away His people?" In context, 'His people' must refer to the Jews as a whole and not just to the elect. Also, Paul speaks of a deliberate action by God: the Jews did not just fall away from God - He actually caused them to fall away. The answer to the question is swift and definite: "God forbid". Verse two confirms Paul's claim:
"God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew... (yet) they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars... but what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace."
Despite their continuous rebellion against God (which occurs to this day), God says that He still saves a remnant of the Jews. Note - a remnant only. And salvation amongst the Jews will continue to be scarce until God again wishes to bestow favour upon them. No amount of fervent activity by evangelists to the Jews will bring more of them into the kingdom until God has thus decided.
Verses seven and eight tell us that Israel has not found salvation by adhering to sacrifices and rites, for salvation comes by election, not works. Because they insisted on their rites, though, God made them blind, as a nation, to the things of God. That this was and is a deliberate act of God, as shown in verses nine and ten. Here we are told that the Jews were fouled-up in nets of their own making. Verse eleven tells us why God has done this:
"Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles..."
Thus, the fall of the Jews from immediate favour was effected that the Gospel might come to the Gentiles. Evidently, some Gentiles were boasting of this fact and so Paul warns them strongly, in verses 18-21. He told them that if God did not hesitate to break off the natural branches (Jews), He certainly would not think twice about breaking off branches that have been grafted onto the true root. Thus he concludes, verse 22:
"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee (i.e. the Gentiles), goodness, if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off."
The key to remaining in God's goodness is 'if thou continue...' (in holiness). Conversely, the errant Jews are told that they will be grafted back into the root if they, too, are faithful (verse 23, 24). Then comes the final proof that the Jews are still God's chosen people (note: chosen nation, not necessarily elect). Romans 11:25 and on:
"blindness in part is happened to Israel (i.e. as a nation), until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written...
For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes, For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance...."
What is this 'fulness of the Gentiles'? It would appear to be the end of the earth's time span. Before the final Day, many Jews will turn back to God. God will do this because He promised to do so thousands of years ago and He cannot change His mind. Verse 31 tells us that presently the Gentiles enjoy God's favour on a fairly large scale and only some Jews (the remnant: a term that can also apply to Gentiles) are saved by their evangelism. We know, categorically, that most Jews will not be saved, because we are told this in verse 32... God Himself has stopped them from believing.
From all this we can say that before the end of the world, Jews will come to Christ in large numbers, regaining their favour with God. Also, the position of the Gentiles will be reversed and their salvation will be scarce. We cannot, then, hold to the view that God has cast off Israel.
On the other hand, we cannot uphold the current Jewish political aims in general, nor the activities of Zionists, because they are opposed to God's will: He promised them their land and peace from enemies only if they remained faithful to Him (today, this means being faithful to Christ, not to Judaism). This fact goes a long way to explain why God did not help the Jews in times past when they were persecuted, horrific though this may appear to human observers.
© April 1994
Revised June 2011
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
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