The Remnant of Israel: Romans 10:17-11:2-God Has Not Rejected His People Israel Lesson # 8
In Romans 10:17, Paul summarizes his statements in Romans 10:14-16 and draws the conclusion from them that faith in Christ is based on hearing the gospel message.
He then teaches that logically following this is that hearing the gospel message is by means of the proclamation of the gospel, which is concerning Christ.
Romans 10:17 Therefore, faith (in Christ) is based on hearing the (the gospel) message as a source. Consequently, hearing the (the gospel) message is by means of the proclamation concerning Christ. (My translation)
In summary, Paul is teaching in Romans 10:14-17 that in order for God to hold Israel and all men for that matter responsible for their response to the gospel, he must first send those to communicate the gospel to the unsaved (Romans 10:15a).
Secondly, those sent by God must communicate the gospel in order for the unsaved to hear it (Romans 10:14c).
Thirdly, the unsaved must hear about Christ through the communication of the gospel in order for them to believe in Christ as God and Savior (Romans 10:14b).
Lastly, no one can call on Christ unless they have believed in Him (Romans 10:14a).
In Romans 10:17, Paul summarizes his statements in Romans 10:14-16 and draws the conclusion from them by teaching that faith in Christ is based on hearing the gospel message and logically following this is that hearing the gospel message is by means of the proclamation of the gospel, which is concerning Christ.
This passage then sets up Paul’s comments regarding Israel in Romans 10:18-21 where he teaches that God did in fact commission people (Christians) to communicate the gospel and that Israel did hear the gospel about Jesus Christ.
However, instead of acknowledging that He is Lord, i.e. God as a result of believing that the Father raised Him from the dead, they rejected Him.
The apostle Paul in Romans 10:18 poses a rhetorical question that expects a strong affirmation, which asserts that Israel did in fact hear the gospel about Christ and to support this assertion he cites Psalm 19:4.
Romans 10:18 But on the contrary, I ask, have they never heard? Indeed, they have heard! “Their voice has gone out extending throughout all the earth, that is, their teachings extending throughout the ends of the inhabited world.” (My translation)
Now in Romans 10:18, Paul anticipates the possible objection that maybe not all Israel heard the gospel message of Jesus Christ in the first place and that is the reason why they have not believed.
In response to this possible objection, he emphatically refutes such an idea that they did not hear the gospel message of Christ and to support this assertion he cites Psalm 19:4.
Therefore, the Jews did not have an excuse for rejecting their Messiah, Jesus Christ.
In Romans 10:19, Paul anticipates a possible objection that maybe Israel did not understand the gospel and that is why they have not believed in Jesus Christ so as to be saved.
In response to this possible objection, he emphatically refutes such an idea and to support this assertion he cites Deuteronomy 32:21 where states that they did understand.
Romans 10:19 But on the contrary, I ask, has Israel never understood? They have understood! First of all, Moses says, “I myself will provoke each and every one of you to jealousy by a non-nation. By a nation without insight, I will provoke each and every one of you to anger.” (My translation)
Paul in Romans 10:20 advances and intensifies his statement in Romans 10:19 by quoting Isaiah 65:1, which teaches that God was found by the Gentiles who were not diligently seeking after a relationship with Him.
The Gentiles found God in the sense that they personally encountered Him and entered into a relationship Him through faith in Christ.
Romans 10:20 also teaches that God permitted Himself to become accessible to the Gentiles who were not diligently inquiring about a relationship with Him.
God became accessible to the Gentiles in the sense that they experienced fellowship with Him as a result of exercising faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:20 In fact, Isaiah is even very bold, saying, “I was found by those who always existed in a state of not diligently seeking after Me. I permitted Myself to become accessible for the benefit of those who always existed in a state of not diligently inquiring about Me.” (My translation)
Therefore, in Romans 10:20, Paul cites Isaiah 65:1 to demonstrate that God would save the Gentiles and that they would have fellowship with Him.
Then, lastly Paul in Romans 10:21 quotes from Isaiah 65:2 to demonstrate that through her history, unbelieving and obstinate Israel has rejected God’s offer of salvation.
Romans 10:21 However, concerning Israel, he says, “All day long I stretched out My hands to an unbelieving and obstinate people.” (My translation)
This passage teaches that throughout her history God the Father has offered a reconciliation to Israel through the gospel concerning His Son Jesus Christ.
However, Israel has rejected this offer of reconciliation through faith alone in Christ alone.
In Romans 11:1, Paul poses a rhetorical question that is the result of an inference that could be implied from his teaching in Romans chapters nine and ten, namely that God has rejected Israel.
He emphatically rejects this idea and then presents himself as living proof that this is not the case.
Romans 11:1 Therefore, I ask, God the Father has not rejected His people, has He? Absolutely not! Because I myself also am an Israelite, a biological descendant of Abraham, descended from the tribe of Benjamin. (My translation)
The apostle Paul’s statements in this verse is the result of an inference that could be implied from his teaching in Romans 9-10.
That the inference is from a possible implication from Paul’s teaching in Romans 9-10 is indicated by the fact that in these chapters he is discussing Israel’s rejection of Jesus Christ as their Messiah.
Now, in Romans 11:1, Paul addresses the possible implication of this rejection by posing the rhetorical question, “God the Father has not rejected His people, has He?”
This question is a logical one since Paul’s teaching in Romans 9-10 makes clear that Israel has no excuses in rejecting Christ as Savior since she was evangelized and heard and understood the gospel message but refused to believe in Christ.
Thus, in Romans 11:1, Paul is anticipating this possible implication from his teaching in Romans 9-10.
Then, in Romans 11:2a, he emphatically declares that God has by no means rejected the nation of Israel whom He foreknew.
In Romans 11:2b, Paul poses a question in order to introduce the subject of God setting aside a remnant for Himself in Israel in the days of Elijah.
Romans 11:2 God the Father has by no means rejected His people whom He knew in advance. Or, have you totally forgotten what the Scripture says about Elijah, how he repeatedly pleaded with God the Father against Israel? (My translation)
The apostle in the first statement that appears in Romans 11:2 emphatically declares that God has not rejected the nation of Israel whom He foreknew.
Now, in Romans 11:2, the question arises, is the verb proginosko referring to the remnant of believers in Israel whom God foreknew or is it referring to the national election of the nation of Israel?
Leon Morris contends that the verb is used in Romans 11:2 of the latter stating that Paul is referring to “the people God foreknew” and not “those of His people whom He foreknew.”
Douglas Moo concurs with Morris, contending that “the context demands that Paul here be speaking of God’s election of the people as a whole. For it is this national entity whose status is called into question by what Paul said in 9:30-10:21 and about whom Paul then asks in verse 1. Furthermore, verse 28, which appears to reassert the point Paul makes here in verse 2, ascribes the election to Israel as a nation also. Paul, then, uses the verb ‘foreknow’ to indicate God’s election, the purpose of that election being determined by the context.”
The problem with both Morris’s and Moo’s interpretation is that they don’t pay attention to the immediate context, namely, Romans 11:2-5, which clearly indicates that Paul is speaking of a remnant of believers within the nation of Israel, which is a manifestation of the national election of Israel.
Paul cites 1 Kings 19:10 in Romans 11:3 and 1 Kings 19:18 in Romans 11:4 to support his argument in Romans 11:1-2a that God has not rejected Israel.
These verses make clear that in Elijah’s day God has set aside for Himself a remnant of believers.
Paul uses this as support for his argument that God has not rejected Israel.
Thus, he is teaching that God has not rejected the nation of Israel in that just as He set aside for Himself in Elijah’s day a remnant of believers so in Paul’s day God was doing the same and would also do in the future.
Therefore, in Romans 11:2, Paul uses the verb proginosko of God the Father in eternity past having foreknowledge of a remnant of believers in the nation of Israel.
This remnant’s faith in Christ as Savior is the object of the Father’s foreknowledge.
 Leon Morris, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Epistle to the Romans, page William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, U.K., 1996
 Douglas J. Moo, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Epistle to the Romans, pages 674-675; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, U.K., 1988