Romans 9-11 New Living Translation (NLT)
God’s Selection of Israel
9 With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. 2 My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief 3 for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters.[a] I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them. 4 They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children.[b] God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises. 5 Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.[c]
6 Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people! 7 Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,”[d] though Abraham had other children, too. 8 This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children. 9 For God had promised, “I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”[e]
10 This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he married Rebekah, she gave birth to twins.[f] 11 But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; 12 he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.”[g] 13 In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.”[h]
14 Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! 15 For God said to Moses,
“I will show mercy to anyone I choose,
16 So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
17 For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.”[j] 18 So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.
19 Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?”
20 No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? 22 In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. 23 He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. 24 And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.
25 Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea,
“Those who were not my people,
“Then, at the place where they were told,
27 And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out,
“Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore,
29 And Isaiah said the same thing in another place:
“If the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
30 What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law[o] instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said,
10 Dear brothers and sisters,[r] the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. 2 I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. 3 For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. 4 For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given.[s] As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.
Salvation Is for Everyone
5 For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands.[t] 6 But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth). 7 And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” 8 In fact, it says,
“The message is very close at hand;
And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: 9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”[v] 12 Jew and Gentile[w] are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[x]
14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”[y]
16 But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, “Lord, who has believed our message?”[z] 17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ. 18 But I ask, have the people of Israel actually heard the message? Yes, they have:
“The message has gone throughout the earth,
19 But I ask, did the people of Israel really understand? Yes, they did, for even in the time of Moses, God said,
“I will rouse your jealousy through people who are not even a nation.
20 And later Isaiah spoke boldly for God, saying,
“I was found by people who were not looking for me.
21 But regarding Israel, God said,
“All day long I opened my arms to them,
God’s Mercy on Israel
11 I ask, then, has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel? Of course not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
2 No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning. Do you realize what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet complained to God about the people of Israel and said, 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”[ae]
4 And do you remember God’s reply? He said, “No, I have 7,000 others who have never bowed down to Baal!”[af]
5 It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel[ag] have remained faithful because of God’s grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them. 6 And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.
7 So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have—the ones God has chosen—but the hearts of the rest were hardened. 8 As the Scriptures say,
“God has put them into a deep sleep.
9 Likewise, David said,
“Let their bountiful table become a snare,
11 Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. 12 Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it.
13 I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, 14 for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. 15 For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead! 16 And since Abraham and the other patriarchs were holy, their descendants will also be holy—just as the entire batch of dough is holy because the portion given as an offering is holy. For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too.
17 But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. 18 But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root.
19 “Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” 20 Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. 21 For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t[aj] spare you either.
22 Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off. 23 And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree. 24 You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong.
God’s Mercy Is for Everyone
25 I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters,[ak] so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. 26 And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say,
28 Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 29 For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. 30 Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead. 31 Now they are the rebels, and God’s mercy has come to you so that they, too, will share[ao] in God’s mercy. 32 For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.
33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
36 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
Romans 9-11 New King James Version (NKJV)
Israel’s Rejection of Christ
9 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my [a]countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
Israel’s Rejection and God’s Purpose
6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.”
10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
Israel’s Rejection and God’s Justice
14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
25 As He says also in Hosea:
“I will call them My people, who were not My people,
27 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel:
“Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea,
29 And as Isaiah said before:
“Unless the Lord of [c]Sabaoth had left us a seed,
Present Condition of Israel
30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law [d]of righteousness. 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, [e]by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense,
Israel Needs the Gospel
10 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for [f]Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” 6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Israel Rejects the Gospel
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who [g]preach the gospel of peace,
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
“Their sound has gone out to all the earth,
19 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:
“I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation,
20 But Isaiah is very bold and says:
“I was found by those who did not seek Me;
21 But to Israel he says:
“All day long I have stretched out My hands
Israel’s Rejection Not Total
11 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 3 “Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”? 4 But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. [h]But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
7 What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. 8 Just as it is written:
“God has given them a spirit of stupor,
9 And David says:
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
Israel’s Rejection Not Final
11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their [i]fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. 12 Now if their [j]fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and [k]fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, [l]goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own [m]opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be [n]saved, as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has [o]committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord?
36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Romans 9-11 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Israel’s Rejection of Christ
9 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience testifies to me through the Holy Spirit[a]— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off[b] from Christ for the benefit of my brothers and sisters, my own flesh and blood. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. 5 The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent,[c] came the Christ, who is God over all, praised forever.[d] Amen.
God’s Gracious Election of Israel
6 Now it is not as though the word of God has failed, because not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Neither are all of Abraham’s children his descendants.[e] On the contrary, your offspring will be traced[f] through Isaac.[g] 8 That is, it is not the children by physical descent[h] who are God’s children, but the children of the promise are considered to be the offspring. 9 For this is the statement of the promise: At this time I will come, and Sarah will have a son.[i] 10 And not only that, but Rebekah conceived children through one man, our father Isaac. 11 For though her sons had not been born yet or done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to election might stand— 12 not from works but from the one who calls—she was told, The older will serve the younger.[j] 13 As it is written: I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau.[k]
God’s Selection Is Just
14 What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! 15 For he tells Moses, I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.[l] 16 So then, it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture tells Pharaoh, I raised you up for this reason so that I may display my power in you and that my name may be proclaimed in the whole earth.[m] 18 So then, he has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
19 You will say to me, therefore, “Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 Or has the potter no right over the clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor? 22 And what if God, wanting to display his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And what if he did this to make known the riches of his glory on objects of mercy that he prepared beforehand for glory— 24 on us, the ones he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As it[n] also says in Hosea,
27 But Isaiah cries out concerning Israel,
29 And just as Isaiah predicted:
Israel’s Present State
30 What should we say then? Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained righteousness—namely the righteousness that comes from faith. 31 But Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not achieved the righteousness of the law.[u] 32 Why is that? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were by works.[v] They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written,
Look, I am putting a stone in Zion to stumble over
Righteousness by Faith Alone
10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God concerning them[x] is for their salvation. 2 I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 Since they are ignorant of the righteousness of God and attempted to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end[y] of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes, 5 since Moses writes about the righteousness that is from the law: The one who does these things will live by them. 6 But the righteousness that comes from faith speaks like this: Do not say in your heart, “Who will go up to heaven?” that is, to bring Christ down 7 or, “Who will go down into the abyss?” that is, to bring Christ up from the dead. 8 On the contrary, what does it say? The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith that we proclaim: 9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame, 12 since there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.[z]
Israel’s Rejection of the Message
14 How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful[aa] are the feet of those who bring good news.[ab] 16 But not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message?[ac] 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.[ad] 18 But I ask, “Did they not hear?” Yes, they did:
Their voice has gone out to the whole earth,
19 But I ask, “Did Israel not understand?” First, Moses said,
I will make you jealous
20 And Isaiah says boldly,
I was found
21 But to Israel he says, All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and defiant people.[ah]
Israel’s Rejection Not Total
11 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? Absolutely not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Or don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and they are trying to take my life![ai] 4 But what was God’s answer to him? I have left seven thousand for myself who have not bowed down to Baal.[aj] 5 In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace. 6 Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.[ak]
7 What then? Israel did not find what it was looking for, but the elect did find it. The rest were hardened, 8 as it is written,
God gave them a spirit of stupor,
9 And David says,
Let their table become a snare and a trap,
Israel’s Rejection Not Final
11 I ask, then, have they stumbled so as to fall? Absolutely not! On the contrary, by their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their transgression brings riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fullness bring!
13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Insofar as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if I might somehow make my own people[an] jealous and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brings reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 Now if the firstfruits are holy, so is the whole batch. And if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root[ao] of the cultivated olive tree, 18 do not boast that you are better than those branches. But if you do boast—you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 True enough; they were broken off because of unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but beware,[ap] 21 because if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22 Therefore, consider God’s kindness and severity: severity toward those who have fallen but God’s kindness toward you—if you remain in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they, if they do not remain in unbelief, will be grafted in, because God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from your native wild olive tree and against nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these—the natural branches—be grafted into their own olive tree?
25 I don’t want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you will not be conceited: A partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all[aq] Israel will be saved, as it is written,
28 Regarding the gospel, they are enemies for your advantage, but regarding election, they are loved because of the patriarchs, 29 since God’s gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable.[at] 30 As you once disobeyed God but now have received mercy through their disobedience, 31 so they too have now disobeyed, resulting in mercy to you, so that they also may now[au] receive mercy. 32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may have mercy on all.
A Hymn of Praise
33 Oh, the depth of the riches
Romans 9-11 New International Version (NIV)
Paul’s Anguish Over Israel
9 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised![a] Amen.
God’s Sovereign Choice
6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[b] 8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”[c]
10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”[d] 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”[e]
14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[g] 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”[h] 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea:
“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
“In the very place where it was said to them,
27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:
“Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
29 It is just as Isaiah said previously:
“Unless the Lord Almighty
30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.”[n] 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”[o] (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”[p] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[q] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[r] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[s]
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”[t]
16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”[u] 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. 18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:
“Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
19 Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says,
“I will make you envious by those who are not a nation;
20 And Isaiah boldly says,
“I was found by those who did not seek me;
21 But concerning Israel he says,
“All day long I have held out my hands
The Remnant of Israel
11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”[z]? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”[aa] 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
7 What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, 8 as it is written:
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
9 And David says:
“May their table become a snare and a trap,
11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!
13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
All Israel Will Be Saved
25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way[ad] all Israel will be saved. As it is written:
28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now[ag] receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and[ah] knowledge of God!
Romans 9-11 The Voice (VOICE)
In all of Paul’s letters, there is no more triumphant note than in this declaration. He has reached the climax of what it means to live em powered by God’s Spirit. We are champions, one and all. We will taste victory and sweet success made possible by His love and gifts to us. We may fear the harsh judgment of the majority. We may bristle under the scowls of others. We may even be unsettled by thoughts of death, persecution, and dark spiritual powers. But Paul celebrates the absolute assurance that no one and nothing can come between us and the love of God.
9 Now let me speak the truth as plainly as I know it in the Anointed One. I am not lying when I say that my conscience and the Holy Spirit are witnesses 2 to my state of constant grief. 3 It may sound extreme; but I wish that I were lost, cursed, and totally separated from the Anointed—if that would change the eternal destination of my brothers and sisters, my flesh and countrymen. 4 They are, after all, Israelites who have been adopted into God’s family; the glory, the covenants, the gift of the law, the temple service, and God’s promises are their rightful heritage. 5 The patriarchs are theirs, too; and from their bloodline comes the Anointed One, the Liberating King, who reigns supreme over all things, God blessed forever. Amen.
The tone changes abruptly. One minute Paul is celebrating the power of Jesus’ love; the next he is grieving because they are not pressing their way into the Kingdom.
6 Clearly it is not that God’s word has failed. The truth is that not everyone descended from Israel is truly Israel. 7 Just because people can claim Abraham as their father does not make them his true children. But in the Scriptures, it says, “Through Isaac your covenant children will be named.”[a] 8 The proper interpretation is this: Abraham’s children by natural descent are not necessarily God’s covenant people; what matters is that His children receive and live the promise. 9 For this is the word God promised: “In due time, I will come, and Sarah will give birth to a son.”[b] 10 But the story didn’t stop there. Remember when Rebekah conceived her twin boys by our father Isaac? 11-12 The twins were in Rebekah’s womb when God said to her, “The older will serve the younger.”[c] This was not based on merit or actions; the twins had not done anything to please or displease God. This was God’s call on each son and His desired purposes. 13 Just as the Scriptures say, “I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.”[d]
14 So how do we talk about that? Are God’s dealings unjust? Absolutely not! 15 Because He said to Moses, “I will show mercy to whomever I choose to show mercy, and I will demonstrate compassion on whomever I choose to have compassion.”[e] 16 The point is that God’s mercy has nothing to do with our will or the things we pursue. It is completely up to God. 17 The Scriptures even speak to the Pharaoh himself: “I have given you a position of power so that I might show My greater power through you and so that My name might be declared throughout every land upon the earth.”[f] 18 So when and where God decides to show mercy is completely up to Him. Likewise, when He chooses to harden one’s heart, how can we argue?
19 I can hear one of you asking, “Then how can He blame us if He is the one in complete control? How can we do anything He has not chosen for us?” 20 Here’s my answer: Who are you, a mere human, to argue with God? If God takes the time to shape us from the dust, is it right to point a finger at Him and ask, “Why have You made me this way?” 21 Doesn’t the potter have the right to shape the clay in any way he chooses? Can’t he make one lump into an elegant vase, and another into a common jug? Absolutely. 22 Even though God desires to demonstrate His anger and to reveal His power, He has shown tremendous restraint toward those vessels of wrath that are doomed to be cracked and shattered. 23 And why is that? To make the wealth of His glory known to vessels of mercy that are prepared for great beauty. 24 These vessels of mercy include all of us. God has invited Jews and non-Jews, insiders and outsiders; it makes no difference. 25 The prophet Hosea says:
I will give a new name to those who are not My people; I’ll call them “My people,”
27 And this is what Isaiah cries out when he speaks of Israel, “Even though the number of the children of Israel had once been like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of My people will be rescued and remain. 28 For the Lord will waste no time in carrying out every detail of His sentence upon the earth.”[i] 29 It is as Isaiah predicts:
Except for the fraction of us who hang on by the grace of the Lord, Commander of heavenly armies,
For Paul, the astonishing truth of the gospel has to do with what God is now doing with the non-Jews. Apparently God’s plan all along is to make those who are not His people into His people. All those who never experienced God’s love are now experiencing it as they enter into the life of the Spirit through faith. But what does this mean for Israel? Israel, too, is included in the people of God; but again, this does not mean all of Israel. Pedigree is not what counts; faith is. As it was in the days of the prophets, so it is again. Divine judgment is falling on disobedience, but a remnant of faithful Jews—a fraction of the whole—is being saved.
30 So what does all of this mean? Did the non-Jews stumble into a right standing with God without chasing after it? Yes, they found it through faith. 31 And has Israel, who pursued the law to secure a right standing with God, failed to keep the law? Yes again. 32 And why is that? Because Israel did not follow the path of faith. They thought that whatever they needed to be right with God could be accomplished by doing the works of the law; they tripped over the stumbling stone. 33 As the Scriptures say,
Look what I am going to do in Zion.
10 My brothers and sisters, I pray constantly to God for the salvation of my people; it is the deep desire of my heart. 2 What I can say about them is that they are enthusiastic about God, but that won’t lead them to Him because their zeal is not based on true knowledge. 3 In their ignorance about how God is working to make things right, they have been trying to establish their own right standing with God through the law. But they are not operating under God’s saving, restorative justice. 4 You see, God’s purpose for the law reaches its climax when the Anointed One arrives; now all who trust in Him can have their lives made right with God.
God’s plan to restore the world disfigured by sin and death reaches its climax with the resurrection of Jesus. When the King enters, all the prophecies, all the hopes, all the longings find in Him their true fulfillment. There may have been earlier fulfillments; but these are only partial fulfillments, signposts along the way to God’s true goal. The goal has been the restoration of people to a holy God. With Jesus, we find the only perfect man with right standing before God. He comes to blaze a path defined by God’s justice, not by our own sense of right and wrong. All men, women, and children who commit their lives to Him will be made right with God and will begin new lives defined by faith and God’s new covenant.
5 Moses made this clear long ago when he wrote about what it takes to have a right relationship with God based on the law: “The person devoted to the law’s commands will live by them.”[l] 6 But a right relationship based on faith sounds like this: “Do not say to yourselves, ‘Who will go up into heaven?’”[m] (that is, to bring down the Anointed One), 7 “or, ‘Who will go down into the abyss?’”[n] (that is, to bring the Anointed One up from the dead). 8 But what does it actually say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”[o] (that is, the good news we have been called to preach to you). 9 So if you believe deep in your heart that God raised Jesus from the pit of death and if you voice your allegiance by confessing the truth that “Jesus is Lord,” then you will be saved! 10 Belief begins in the heart and leads to a life that’s right with God; confession departs from our lips and brings eternal salvation. 11 Because what Isaiah said was true: “The one who trusts in Him will not be disgraced.”[p] 12 Remember that the Lord draws no distinction between Jew and non-Jew—He is Lord over all things, and He pours out His treasures on all who invoke His name 13 because as Scripture says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[q]
Faith is not something we do. It is a response to what God has done already on our behalf, the response of a spirit restless in a fragmented world.
14 How can people invoke His name when they do not believe? How can they believe in Him when they have not heard? How can they hear if there is no one proclaiming Him? 15 How can some give voice to the truth if they are not sent by God? As Isaiah said, “Ah, how beautiful the feet of those who declare the good news of victory, of peace and liberation.”[r] 16 But some will hear the good news and refuse to submit to the truth they hear. Isaiah the prophet also says, “Lord, who would ever believe it? Who would possibly accept what we’ve been told?”[s] 17 So faith proceeds from hearing, as we listen to the message about God’s Anointed.
18 But let me ask this: have my people ever heard? Indeed, they have:
Yet from here to the ends of the earth, their voice has gone out;
19 But again let me ask: did Israel perhaps hear and not understand all of this? Well, Moses was the first to say,
I will make you jealous with a people who are not a nation.
20 Then Isaiah the fearless prophet says it this way:
I was found by people who did not seek Me;
21 And as to the fate of Israel, God says,
All day long I opened My hands
11 Now I ask you, has God rejected His people? Absolutely not! I’m living proof that God is faithful. I am an Israelite, Abraham’s my father, and Benjamin’s my tribe. 2 God has not, and will not, abandon His covenant people; He always knew they would belong to Him. Don’t you remember the story of what happens when Elijah pleads with God to deal with Israel? The Scripture tells us his protest: 3 “Lord, they have murdered Your prophets, they have demolished Your altars, and I alone am left faithful to You; now they are seeking to kill me.”[x] 4 How does God answer his pleas for help? He says, “I have held back 7,000 men who are faithful to Me; none have bowed a knee to worship Baal.”[y] 5 The same thing is happening now. God has preserved a remnant, elected by grace. 6 Grace is central in God’s action here, and it has nothing to do with deeds prescribed by the law. If it did, grace would not be grace.
In every generation, God makes sure a few survive the onslaught of judgment. The prophets call these the “remnant.” Paul sees himself living in a critical moment as fewer and fewer Jews pledge obedience to Jesus. But the Anointed’s emissary finds comfort in realizing how God’s faithfulness is playing out in his day. If you ever think that you alone are faithful to God, that somehow God has forgotten His covenant promises, think again. He always has a remnant.
7 Now what does all this mean? Israel has chased an end it has never reached. Yet those chosen by God through grace have reached it while all others were made hard as stones. 8 The Scriptures continue to say it best:
God has confounded them so they are not able to think,
9 David says it this way:
Let their table be turned into a snare and a trap,
11 So I ask: did God’s people stumble and fall off the deep end? Absolutely not! They are not lost forever; but through their misconduct, the door has been opened for salvation to extend even to the outsiders. This has been part of God’s plan all along, and so is the jealousy that comes when they realize the outsiders have been welcomed into God’s new covenant. 12 So if their misconduct leads ultimately to God’s riches coming to the world and if their failure turns into the blessing of salvation to all people, then how much greater will be the riches and blessing when they are included fully?
13 But I have this to say to all of you who are not ethnic Jews: I am God’s emissary[ab] to you, and I honor this call by focusing on what God is doing with and through you. 14 I do this so that somehow my own blood brothers and sisters will be made jealous; and that, I trust, will bring some to salvation. 15 If the fact that they are currently set aside resolves the hostility between God and the rest of the world, what will their acceptance bring if not life from the dead? 16 If the first and best of the dough you offer is sacred, the entire loaf will be as well. If the root of the tree is sacred, the branches will be also.
17 Imagine some branches are cut off of the cultivated olive tree and other branches of a wild olive (which represents all of you outsiders) are grafted in their place. You are nourished by the root of the cultivated olive tree. 18 It doesn’t give you license to become proud and self-righteous about the fact that you’ve been grafted in. If you do boast, remember that the branches do not sustain the root—it is the system of roots that nourishes and supports you.
19 I can almost hear some of you saying, “Branches had to be pruned to make room for me.” 20 Yes, they were. They were removed because they did not believe; and you will stay attached, be strong, and be productive only through faith. So don’t think too highly of yourselves; instead, stand in awe of God’s mercy. 21 Besides we know that God did not spare the natural branches, so there is no reason to think He will spare you. 22 Witness the simultaneous balance of the kindness and severity of our God. Severity is directed at the fallen branches withering without faith. Yet kindness is directed at you. So live in the kindness of God or else prepare to be cut off yourselves. 23 If those branches that have been cut from the tree do not stay in unbelief, then God will carefully graft them back onto the tree because He has the power to do that. 24 So if it is possible for you to be taken from a wild olive tree and become part of a cultivated olive tree, imagine how much easier it would be to reconnect branches that originally grew on that olive tree.
The cultivated olive tree provides Paul with a beautiful image of how believing Jews and non-Jews were organically connected in the plan of God. Life flows from the earth to the branches—some natural, some grafted in—through the rootstock. Paul wants to make sure the grafted branches know they have not arrived on their own; their spiritual life and vitality flow from the root, Israel. God is the Farmer who has tenderly grafted them into the sturdy stock on the basis of faith. So pride and arrogance are completely out of place for those grafted branches. They will bear fruit only as they remain connected by faith to the stock.
25 My brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be in the dark about this mystery—I am going to let you in on the plan so that you will not think too highly of yourselves. A part of Israel has been hardened to the good news until the full number of those outside the Jewish family have entered in. 26 This is the way that all of Israel will be saved. As it was written, so it also stands:
The Deliverer will come from Zion;
28 It may seem strange. When it comes to the work of the gospel, the fact that they oppose it is actually for your benefit. But when you factor in God’s election, they are truly loved because they descended from faithful forefathers. 29 You see, when God gives a grace gift and issues a call to a people, He does not change His mind and take it back. 30 There was a time when you outsiders were disobedient to God and at odds with His purpose, but now you have experienced mercy as a result of their disobedience. 31 In the same way, their disobedience now will make a way for them to receive mercy as a result of the mercy shown to you. 32 For God has assigned all of us together—Jews and non-Jews, insiders and outsiders—to disobedience so He can show His mercy to all.
Paul says that God’s mysterious plan for the ages is being revealed as the number of outsiders swells in the churches and as a part of Israel is hardened, at least for a time. But let’s not forget that hardening is not God’s unilateral action. Whatever hardening takes place happens first on our side before God reluctantly agrees. That part of Israel now hardened has already rejected God’s Anointed. Yet when the full complement of non-Jewish outsiders enters God’s kingdom, “all Israel will be saved.” But clearly “all Israel” can’t mean every last Jew, because Paul has already shown that not every son or daughter of Abraham is an heir to the promise.
33 We cannot wrap our minds around God’s wisdom and knowledge! Its depths can never be measured! We cannot understand His judgments or explain the mysterious ways that He works! For,
34 Who can fathom the mind of the Lord?
Who can give to God in advance
36 For all that exists originates in Him, comes through Him, and is moving toward Him; so give Him the glory forever. Amen.