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God Has Not Rejected His People

11 Am I saying that God has turned his back on his people? Certainly not! I am one of the people of Israel, and I myself am a descendant of Abraham from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not turn his back on his chosen people. Don’t you remember reading in the Scriptures how Elijah complained to God about the people of Israel? He said, “Lord, they killed your prophets and destroyed your altars. I am the only one left, and now they want to kill me.”

But the Lord told Elijah, “I still have seven thousand followers who have not worshiped Baal.” It is the same way now. God was kind to the people of Israel, and so a few of them are still his followers. This happened because of God’s undeserved kindness and not because of anything they have done. It could not have happened except for God’s kindness.

This means that only a chosen few of the people of Israel found what all of them were searching for. And the rest of them were stubborn, just as the Scriptures say,

“God made them so stupid
    that their eyes are blind,
and their ears
    are still deaf.”

Then David said,

“Turn their meals
    into bait for a trap,
so that they will stumble
and be given
    what they deserve.
10 Blindfold their eyes!
    Don’t let them see.
Bend their backs
beneath a burden
    that will never be lifted.”

Gentiles Will Be Saved

11 Do I mean that the people of Israel fell, never to get up again? Certainly not! Their failure made it possible for the Gentiles to be saved, and this will make the people of Israel jealous. 12 But if the rest of the world’s people were helped so much by Israel’s sin and loss, they will be helped even more by their full return.

13 I am now speaking to you Gentiles, and as long as I am an apostle to you, I will take pride in my work. 14 I hope in this way to make some of my own people jealous enough to be saved. 15 When Israel rejected God,[a] the rest of the people in the world were able to turn to him. So when God makes friends with Israel, it will be like bringing the dead back to life. 16 If part of a batch of dough is made holy by being offered to God, then all of the dough is holy. If the roots of a tree are holy, the rest of the tree is holy too.

17 You Gentiles are like branches of a wild olive tree that were made to be part of a cultivated olive tree. You have taken the place of some branches that were cut away from it. And because of this, you enjoy the blessings that come from being part of that cultivated tree. 18 But don’t think you are better than the branches that were cut away. Just remember that you are not supporting the roots of that tree. Its roots are supporting you.

19 Maybe you think those branches were cut away, so that you could be put in their place. 20 That’s true enough. But they were cut away because they did not have faith, and you are where you are because you do have faith. So don’t be proud, but be afraid. 21 If God cut away those natural branches, couldn’t he do the same to you?

22 Now you see both how kind and how hard God can be. He was hard on those who fell, but he was kind to you. And he will keep on being kind to you, if you keep on trusting in his kindness. Otherwise, you will be cut away too.

23 If those other branches will start having faith, they will be made a part of that tree again. God has the power to put them back. 24 After all, it wasn’t natural for branches to be cut from a wild olive tree and to be made part of a cultivated olive tree. So it is much more likely that God will join the natural branches back to the cultivated olive tree.

The People of Israel Will Be Brought Back

25 My friends, I don’t want you Gentiles to be too proud of yourselves. So I will explain the mystery of what has happened to the people of Israel. Some of them have become stubborn, and they will stay like that until the complete number of you Gentiles has come in. 26 In this way all of Israel will be saved, as the Scriptures say,

“From Zion someone will come
    to rescue us.
Then Jacob’s descendants
    will stop being evil.
27 This is what the Lord
    has promised to do
when he forgives their sins.”

28 The people of Israel are treated as God’s enemies, so that the good news can come to you Gentiles. But they are still the chosen ones, and God loves them because of their famous ancestors. 29 God doesn’t take back the gifts he has given or forget about the people he has chosen.

30 At one time you Gentiles rejected God. But now Israel has rejected God, and you have been shown mercy. 31 And because of the mercy shown to you, they will also be shown mercy. 32 All people have disobeyed God, and that’s why he treats them as prisoners. But he does this, so that he can have mercy on all of them.

33 Who can measure the wealth and wisdom and knowledge of God? Who can understand his decisions or explain what he does?

34 “Has anyone known
the thoughts of the Lord
    or given him advice?
35 Has anyone loaned
something to the Lord
    that must be repaid?”

36 Everything comes from the Lord. All things were made because of him and will return to him. Praise the Lord forever! Amen.

Christ Brings New Life

12 Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That’s the most sensible way to serve God. Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.

I realize how kind God has been to me, and so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are. Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you. A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use. That’s how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another.

God has also given each of us different gifts to use. If we can prophesy, we should do it according to the amount of faith we have. If we can serve others, we should serve. If we can teach, we should teach. If we can encourage others, we should encourage them. If we can give, we should be generous. If we are leaders, we should do our best. If we are good to others, we should do it cheerfully.

Rules for Christian Living

Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. 10 Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. 11 Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. 12 Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. 13 Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home.

14 Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them. 15 When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. 16 Be friendly with everyone. Don’t be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people.[b] 17 Don’t mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, 18 and do your best to live at peace with everyone.

19 Dear friends, don’t try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says,

“I am the one to take revenge
    and pay them back.”

20 The Scriptures also say,

“If your enemies are hungry,
    give them something to eat.
And if they are thirsty,
give them something
    to drink.
This will be the same
as piling burning coals
    on their heads.”

21 Don’t let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.

Obey Rulers

13 Obey the rulers who have authority over you. Only God can give authority to anyone, and he puts these rulers in their places of power. People who oppose the authorities are opposing what God has done, and they will be punished. Rulers are a threat to evil people, not to good people. There is no need to be afraid of the authorities. Just do right, and they will praise you for it. After all, they are God’s servants, and it is their duty to help you.

If you do something wrong, you ought to be afraid, because these rulers have the right to punish you. They are God’s servants who punish criminals to show how angry God is. But you should obey the rulers because you know it is the right thing to do, and not just because of God’s anger.

You must also pay your taxes. The authorities are God’s servants, and it is their duty to take care of these matters. Pay all that you owe, whether it is taxes and fees or respect and honor.

Love

Let love be your only debt! If you love others, you have done all that the Law demands. In the Law there are many commands, such as, “Be faithful in marriage. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not want what belongs to others.” But all of these are summed up in the command that says, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” 10 No one who loves others will harm them. So love is all that the Law demands.

The Day When Christ Returns

11 You know what sort of times we live in, and so you should live properly. It is time to wake up. You know that the day when we will be saved is nearer now than when we first put our faith in the Lord. 12 Night is almost over, and day will soon appear. We must stop behaving as people do in the dark and be ready to live in the light. 13 So behave properly, as people do in the day. Don’t go to wild parties or get drunk or be vulgar or indecent. Don’t quarrel or be jealous. 14 Let the Lord Jesus Christ be as near to you as the clothes you wear. Then you won’t try to satisfy your selfish desires.

Footnotes

  1. 11.15 When Israel rejected God: Or “When Israel was rejected.”
  2. 12.16 Make friends with ordinary people: Or “Do ordinary jobs.”

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