Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Romans 11:13-18
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Romans 11:13, 14
vs13-14: Paul’s primary assignment from the Lord was to evangelize Gentiles (Ac 9:15; 22:21; 26:15-18), but insofar as he is able to produce Gentile believers so full of the Holy Spirit they provoke those in the watching Jewish community to long to know Jesus, he truly fulfills his calling. Judaism would need more than words, they would need to see life-transformation to convince them the gospel was true. What would move them to jealousy would be seeing the gifts of the Spirit at work, the joy of the Lord, a great love among believers for one another, and a burning faith willing even to die for their Savior. Seeing Gentile neighbors who had formerly lived wild lives become morally pure and worship God would make a powerful statement about the validity of the gospel. Though he now spent most of his time ministering to Gentiles in no way had Paul closed his heart to his Jewish kinsmen. He calls them here his own “flesh.” They were still very special to him. Every time a Jew came to believe in the Messiah Jesus he felt grateful and honored.

Monday: Romans 11:15
v15: Paul assured us earlier that God will never abandon Israel (Ro 11:1, 2) but in this verse he acknowledges that so many had refused to believe in Jesus that they had caused God to “cast them aside,” meaning those individuals were not saved, nor was God’s redemptive work being done through them as a group, at least not in a positive way. But He was using their negative response to drive the focus of evangelism away from the unresponsive Jewish community and out into the responsive Gentile community. This is what Paul means when he says “…their rejection is the reconciliation of the world.”

Tuesday: Romans 11:15
v15 (continued): The arrival of the gospel had exposed widespread unbelief in Judaism. Many hearts were spiritually dead, but Paul was confident that this condition was temporary. He was sure that God had promised that some day He would turn the hearts of the vast majority of Israel to believe in His Son Jesus (Ro 11:25-27). He admits that at present Judaism appeared unwilling to believe, but without speculating as to how long it might take, he looks by faith into the future and sees their “acceptance” (God will take them to Himself). That change will be so profound it will be like a dead person coming back to life. They will become a major force for the gospel throughout the world.

Wednesday: Romans 11:16
v16: Paul wants his readers to keep in mind that in spite of their response to the gospel Jews still receive special treatment because of God’s covenant with Abraham. Those individuals who refuse to believe the gospel are not saved, but they are still loved, and God will continue to reach out to them (Ro 10:21). This is because all future generations of his children were present within Abraham. When God said, “I will bless you” (Ge 12:2) it meant He would not only bless the man, but all the generations of children within him. To illustrate this Paul reminds us of the “first fruits” offering in which the first loaf of bread from a new harvest was thankfully offered to the Lord (Nu 15:17-21; also: Neh 10:37; Ezk 44:30).

Thursday: Romans 11:16
v16 (continued): That single loaf of bread served as a representative of all the dough that would be made throughout the entire season. By acknowledging that this loaf belonged to God the people were saying the whole harvest belonged to Him and that they had received it as a gift from Him. This act of worship set apart the whole harvest declaring it to be “holy” to God (set apart, belonging to God). Another way of illustrating this same truth is the olive tree which is a Biblical symbol for Israel (Isa 11:1; Jer 11:16). Abraham and Sarah are the root of this family tree so all who are descended from them are included, to the measure each will allow, in their promises.

Friday: Romans 11:17
v17: Though God’s commitment to bless Abraham’s descendants remains unchanged, the arrival of the gospel had left those who rejected it in a worse spiritual condition than before. Paul makes it plain that most Jews in his day had heard and understood the gospel (Ro 10:18-21). And by their choice to deliberately reject Jesus they had crossed a threshold and placed themselves under divine judgment. Up to that moment they had been unaware or misinformed about Him. But when they deliberately refused what they fully understood, a line was crossed and their claim to Abraham’s blessings ended, that is until they repented. Like fruitless branches they were now broken off from God’s “olive tree.”

Saturday: Romans 11:17, 18
v17 (continued): For Paul, the olive tree is a symbol for all those who God considers to be truly His, which means they have the righteousness of faith like Abraham. So the main factor which determines whether or not a person is joined to that tree is spiritual, not physical (Ro 4:11, 12). This means when Gentiles have saving-faith like Abraham’s they too become his children, they too are joined to the tree (Ro 4:16-18), and they too receive the blessings promised to him. v18: By the time Paul wrote this letter far more Gentiles than Jews were believing the gospel, so he warns his Gentile readers not to develop an attitude of superiority. Yes, Gentiles were proving to be far more responsive than Jews, but it had been through the faithfulness of untold numbers of Jews over the course of millennia that had made it possible for the promise to reach that present generation. And it was through Judaism that God’s Savior had come into the world (Jn 4:22), so thankfulness, not pride was the proper attitude.

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