The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans

By G. Campbell Morgan

Chapter 18

iii. RESTORATION. Rom 11:1-36


1. The Inquiry.

2. The Answer.


1. A Perpetual Remnant. Rom 11:2-6

a. The Affirmation. Rom 11:2 a

b. The Time of Elijah. Rom 11:2-4

c. This Present Time. Rom 11:5-6

2. The Bringing in of the Gentiles. Rom 11:7-11

a. Israel's Failure. Rom 11:7-10

b. Salvation to the Gentiles. Rom 11:11

3. Ultimate Restoration. Rom 11:12

c. ADDRESS TO GENTILES. Rom 11:13-32

1. His Anxiety for Israel. Rom 11:13-16

a. His Gentile Ministry for their Sake. Rom 11:13-14

b. Their Restoration World-wide Blessing. Rom 11:15-16

2. The Figure of the Olive Tree. Rom 11:17-24

a. Glory not over the Branches. Rom 11:17-18

b. Faith the Principle of Union. Rom 11:19-21

c. The Goodness and Severity of God. Rom 11:22-24

The Announcement. Rom 11:22 a

The Activity. Rom 11:22-23

The Application. Rom 11:24

3. His Hope for Israel. Rom 11:25-32

a. The Hardening in Part. Rom 11:25

b. The Certain Salvation. Rom 11:26-27

c. The Economy of the Gospel. Rom 11:28-32


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The rejection of Israel is not final, and the apostle turned to the argument in proof of this, by almost abrupt question and answer. He then proceeded to defend his answer; afterwards writing a paragraph specially to Gentiles on the subject; finally expressing his hope for Israel.


The foregoing discussion gave rise to a new difficulty, which the apostle expressed in the inquiry, "Did God cast off His people?" This he at once answered by emphatic denial, emphasizing that denial by claiming to be himself "an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin,'' this claim illustrating his contention that relation to Abraham in the economy of God is spiritual, and results from faith; so that while all he claimed was true in the realm of the flesh, it was pre-eminently true by grace.


The apostle proceeded to defend his denial along three lines of argument.

He first declared that the original Divine purpose is accomplished progressively by an elect remnant. He then proceeded to show how the temporary casting off of the nation after the flesh, and the bringing in of the Gentiles is a partial fulfillment of the original Divine intention. He finally declared that that Divine purpose will be fulfilled to the letter, in the ultimate restoration of Israel as a nation.

1. A Perpetual Remnant

His argument concerning the remnant really commenced in that personal reference in which he claimed to be "an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin"; for as we saw, by that reference he inferentially claimed that in his life of faith in the Son of God, he realized the true purpose of God in the creation of that nation, whose designation Israel indicated its princely power with God and men; shared relationship to Abraham, the father of the nation; and entered into that kinship wherein his great namesake of the same tribe had so signally failed.

He next quoted the fact of the remnant in the days of Elijah, the seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal, in order to show that God's purpose had never been wholly frustrated by Israel's failure. Even in those dark days of decadence, a remnant far larger than even the prophet knew, were loyal to Jehovah, and thus formed the true Israel of God.

He then declared that "at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." This election of grace is not of works, therefore it is of faith; and thus the apostle affirmed that all the principles and purposes of God in the creation of the peculiar people according to the flesh, are maintained and fulfilled in those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, God's appointed Saviour and King. Israel after the flesh, is for the time being rejected, but all the essential values of the Israel ideal are maintained and safeguarded in that elect race, consisting of the whole company of those who are justified by faith.

2. The Bringing in of the Gentiles

This, however, does not tell all the story. Notice the question, "What then?" that is to say, What is to be the issue of this? Is the fulfillment of the original ideal to which he has referred, the final fulfillment? Is the Israel of history, the earthly nation, indeed abandoned in favour of the new spiritual people? The apostle was careful to correct any such wrong impression. He again admitted, and even definitely stated, that what Israel sought and failed to find as a nation, the elect remnant, that is, those believing and obedient, has found; while the rest, that is, those unbelieving and disobedient, were blind. Now, inquired the apostle, did they stumble that they might fall? That is to say, was the casting off of these people as an earthly people final? He immediately answered his inquiry by an emphatic negative, and proceeded to explain the issue of the national fall. Through that fall, salvation came to the Gentiles.

3. Ultimate Restoration

His confidence in the ultimate restoration of the earthly people is evident in the question in which he indicated his conviction of how much more their fullness will be to the world than their fall has been. The teaching of this argument is that God in over-ruling wisdom and grace, has brought to the world through Israel


1. His Anxiety for Israel

While what the apostle had written in this section had been specially intended to answer the objections of Israelites, he was conscious of the fact that the teaching might be misinterpreted by Gentiles, not only because it meant salvation and blessing to them, but also because such ministry might provoke Israel to jealousy, so that some of them might be saved. Yet even this was not the ultimate in his anxiety. That is marked in a declaration, which indicating his certainty of the restoration of Israel, shows his conception of the final value of that restoration. "If the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? Thus while great blessing has come to the world through the fall of Israel, the greater blessing is yet to come by the way of her restoration.

2. The Figure of the Olive Tree

The possible misconception of his teaching on the part of the Gentiles, the apostle corrected by the figure of the olive tree; a figure which emphasizes the fact that the underlying purpose and power of God are the subjects of supreme importance and value. Nothing can be more solemn than his charge to the Gentile Christians not to glory over the branches which have been broken off; and his solemn warning to them that if God spared not natural branches, which were broken off because of unbelief, neither will He spare those grafted in from the wild tree, save upon the one condition of belief. With evident solemnity the apostle charged the Gentiles, "Behold then the goodness and severity of God." His severity is manifested in the cutting off of the natural branches, because of unbelief. His goodness is evidenced in His reception of the Gentiles upon the basis of belief. The relation resulting from this reception is entirely dependent upon continuity of belief, for if this be absent, those so received will in turn be cut off.

He then stated the subject from the other side. If the branches which have been cut off continue not in their unbelief, they also shall be grafted in.

Nothing can possibly be clearer than the doctrine of human responsibility which runs through this argument. God is unchanging in principle and purpose. His goodness and severity are the two operations of the one purpose, and man's experience of one or the other depends entirely upon his own attitude. Against unbelief, whether of Israel or of the Gentile world, His severity operates in cutting off. Toward belief, whether of one or the other, His goodness operates in grafting in.

3. His Hope for Israel

This hardening of Israel as a whole is only temporary. Through the fullness of the Gentiles at last all Israel shall be saved, that is, the nation as a nation shall be restored.

As touching the Gospel, Israel is for the period treated as an enemy. As touching the election, that is, the elected remnant - for the term here must be used as in verse seven - they are beloved for the fathers' sake. Thus through this maintenance of a remnant God keeps His covenant with the fathers through the period of national rejection, but at last the nation as a whole will be restored. Unbelieving Israel has been rejected as a nation, in order that the outside world they failed to bless, may receive salvation. Through the accomplishment of that larger purpose at last blessing will return to Israel. In this argument the apostle emphasized the certainty of the final restoration of Israel, without giving any details as to time or method.


This doxology is really the conclusion of the whole doctrinal statement of the epistle. The outburst of rapturous praise is the result of the apostle's own consciousness of the wonderful victory of God through Christ over all the opposing forces of evil; and His solution in infinite wisdom of the problems that baffle the intellect of man.

The first note of the doxology is that of an adoring recognition of the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God; and of man's utter inability to perfectly understand or finally to explain.

Nothing brings greater comfort to the human mind, as it contemplates the perplexing mysteries of good and of evil, of the power and limitation of human will, than to fall back upon the certainty that what we know not, God knows.

Here again, however, the comfort of the certainty is the result of conviction concerning the character of God, resulting from His revelation of Himself in Christ. It could hardly bring peace to the heart to know that He knows that of which man is ignorant, unless it were a certainty that His infinite wisdom directs His infinite power, according to the impulse of His infinite love. Of this deepest fact of His love, the heart is convinced by His revelation of Himself in Christ.

Having thus recognized the wisdom of God, the doxology proceeds in the declaration of certainty that "of Him, and through Him, and unto Him are all things." Here again the fact of His character is the true source of comfort. Knowing Him to be love, what comfort there is in the conviction that all things find in Him their origin, their process, and their goal!

The last note of the doxology is an ascription of glory to Him Who in the splendour and loneliness of His wisdom is acting in all conquering power, under the constraint of His nature of love.

At the close of this section it is most important that we remember that the whole interpretation of the inscrutable wisdom, and invincible might of God, is to be found in the revelation of His grace in Jesus, which is the foundation doctrine of the whole Epistle.

Moreover it must never be forgotten, that all the difficulties occurring to the mind, are to find their solution in the certainty of what God is in the light of that revelation; and the consequent assurance that whatever He does, must be right.