Romans 11:25-36

Thursday Evening Bible Study

January 22, 2009


Paul has been talking about how:

Salvation comes to those who believe (Rom.10:9-11).

Not all of Israel has chosen to believe in the gospel (Rom.10:16).

God had predicted that the Jews would be rebellious (Rom. 10:21).

God is NOT finished with the Jewish people. They are still very much in His plans.

:11-35 God isn’t done with Israel

:25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel

mysterymusterion – hidden thing, secret; not obvious to the understanding.

What’s the mystery?

That God is using the blindness of the Jews to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.

blindnessporosis – the covering with a callus; blocking of mental discernment, dulled perception.

It’s just “in part”. It’s just a temporary blindness.

Not all Jews are blind to the truth about the Messiah, Jesus.

:25 until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

fullnesspleroma – that which is (has been) filled; used of a ship that is filled (manned) with sailors, rowers, and soldiers

has come in – aorist active subjunctive. There is a point of time in which the “fullness of the Gentiles” comes to pass.

Let’s look at how this concept of “fullness” is used in Scripture:

The fullness of the Amorite iniquity.

God has used this concept talking to Abraham about his descendants, how they will go into slavery for four hundred years and then come back to the Promised Land.
(Gen 15:16 NKJV) "But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete (KJV – “not yet full”)."

The picture is of some kind of measuring vessel like a pot, being filled with the sins of the Amorites. When the pot is filled, then the time will come for Israel to come into the Promised Land.

Israel’s taking of the Promised Land wasn’t just for the sake of giving them a place to live, but also was done as a way of bringing judgment on the wickedness of the Amorites.

(Deu 9:5 NKJV) "It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Fullness as an expression of salvation.

Paul has already used this term (in this chapter) to describe the Jews coming to trust in Jesus:
(Rom 11:12 NKJV) Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
(Rom 11:12 NLT) Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the Jews turned down God's offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when the Jews finally accept it.

When a person comes to trust in Jesus, they achieve a form of “fullness”.

The filled wedding supper.

(Luke 14:16-24 NKJV) Then He said to him, "A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, {17} "and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, 'Come, for all things are now ready.' {18} "But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.' {19} "And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.' {20} "Still another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' {21} "So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.' {22} "And the servant said, 'Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.' {23} "Then the master said to the servant, 'Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. {24} 'For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.'"
Jesus is giving us a hint that God likes a “full house”. The original guests who were invited to the wedding feast for the Son refers to the Jews. When the invited guests wouldn’t come, the invitation went out to everyone, to “fill” the house.
When Jesus says that those bidden wouldn’t taste of the supper, He doesn’t mean that all Jews for all time won’t be in heaven, but that those who were invited and declined wouldn’t be at the supper.


Fullness can refer to:

A special number being reached
A packed house

God has a special number of Gentiles in mind that He wants to be saved. When His “pot” of Gentiles is full, then God will once again turn His attention to the nation of Israel and remove the blindness that is temporarily upon their eyes.

:26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;

will be saved – future indicative. It’s not a “possible” sort of thing (“might be saved” or “should be saved”). It’s definitely going to happen.

Paul is quoting directly from the Septuagint from Isaiah 59:20.

Isaiah foretold of a day when ungodliness in Israel would be dealt with.

:27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins."

take awayaphaireo – to take from, take away, remove, carry off

Paul is quoting from Jer. 31:31-34, known as God’s “New Covenant” with Israel, where God will forgive the sins of His people.

God’s timetable

There are a couple of passages that give us a clue as to God’s timetable for the nation of Israel:

Daniel 9

Daniel talks about a period of time on God’s calendar where God is working with His chosen Jewish people. Daniel wrote during the time of the Babylonian captivity, when the Jews had been away from their land, living in Babylon. The prophecy speaks of a time of total restoration for Israel.

(Dan 9:24-27 NKJV) "Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.

The term “weeks” simply means “sevens”. This is talking about a period of seventy times seven time periods, which we believe to be years (490 years). The purpose of these “seventy weeks” is for Daniel’s people, Israel and their holy city, Jerusalem. It will bring an end to their transgression, end sin, pay for their iniquities, etc. Some of these have happened (such as Jesus paying for our sins), but some have not (sins haven’t stopped yet).

{25} "Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.

The seventy weeks are broken into sections, the first two sections totally 69 weeks, or 483 years. They would begin at the command to rebuild Jerusalem, which was given by King Artaxerxes on March 14, 445 BC (Neh. 2:5).
You need to keep in mind that Daniel is writing and living in Babylon, and so it’s important to view these as Babylonian years, which contained 360 day years. Translate those years into days (483 x 360) and you get 173,880 days. Starting from Artaxerxes decree, you will end up at April 6, 32 AD, the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.
(Luke 19:41-42 NKJV) Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, {42} saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.

{26} "And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.

Daniel says the Messiah would be cut off, but not for Himself. Jesus died on a cross, but not because He was a criminal, He died for the sins of the world.
It’s at this point, where the Messiah is cut off, that I believe God’s time clock on Israel came to a halt. There will be a 2000 year pause. I believe this “pause” is for the sake of us Gentiles, that we might be given a chance to receive God’s salvation.  It’s when this “fullness of the Gentiles” if finished, that the clock starts again, and God finishes the process of saving Israel.
Of the seventy weeks, the first 69 are completed. There is yet one week to go. One seven year period. We call this period the “Great Tribulation”.
The “prince that shall come” is a reference to the antichrist (vs.27), and his “people” were the Romans, who came and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70.

{27} Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate."

It would seem that at this point, God’s time clock will start again. God will once again be dealing with the nation of Israel. I believe this is to coincide with the “fullness of the Gentiles” being over, and God once again dealing with Israel.
Note: Who is God’s focus for the “Great Tribulation”?

It’s Israel (Dan. 9:24). The tribulation starts when God has finished with His dealings with the Gentile church. This is one of the many reasons why I believe that the church will be “raptured” before the Tribulation. The focus of the Tribulation is NOT the church, it’s Israel. The “fullness” of the Gentiles will be complete.

The “he” mentioned here is the “prince that shall come”, the antichrist. The antichrist will make some kind of a covenant, perhaps a peace treaty, with Israel for “one week”, or, seven years. In the middle of the week (after 3 ½ years), he will reveal his true intentions and cause what we call the “abomination of desolation”. This means that he will do something in the temple that is so horrible, that God will call His holy Temple “unholy”, declaring it “desolate”.
We believe this action will be the declaration that he, the antichrist, is God, and worthy to be worshipped (2Th. 2:4)

(2 Th 2:4 NKJV) who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

It’s at this time, that Jesus has advised the Jews to flee to the wilderness, which perhaps will be Petra or Bozrah (Mat. 24:15; Is. 16, 63).

(Mat 24:15 NKJV) "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand),

Ezekiel 38-39

These chapters describe an invasion of Israel from a group of nations, led by a nation in the north known as “Gog”. We believe this may be a reference either to Russia, or the southern Islamic republics which will join with other nations to invade Israel. God will do a miraculous work, and Israel will be delivered. After this event occurs, God says:

(Ezek 39:28-29 NKJV) 'then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. {29} 'And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,' says the Lord GOD."
I believe that this pouring out of God’s Spirit upon Israel ties in with both the ending of the times of the Gentiles, as well as God starting His timeclock once again with Israel.
It also seems to fit well with the removal of the church on earth, the work of the Holy Spirit in the church, as a force that hinders the revealing of the antichrist:

(2 Th 2:7-8 NKJV) For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. {8} And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.


Hurry it up.

(2 Pet 3:9-12 NKJV) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. {10} But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. {11} Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, {12} looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
Some wonder why Jesus hasn’t come back yet.
One way of looking at it – God’s waiting for that last person to come to Christ before He sets these events in motion.
He’s waiting for His “full” number.
How do we “hasten” the coming of the Lord? Perhaps it’s by continuing to walk with the Lord and reaching out to unbelievers.
Wouldn’t it be cool to be sharing with your friend about Christ, they say “yes” to Jesus, and we all find ourselves in heaven?

:28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.

gospel … enemies – The non-believing Jew can be quite hostile to the believing Gentile.

election … beloved – though they can be hostile, that doesn’t change the fact that God still loves them for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


Love the Jews.

Even though non-believing Jews can be an enemy to Christians, in God’s eyes they are still beloved.
I can’t imagine why in the world people would hate God’s chosen people. Jesus was Jewish. All the apostles were Jewish.
The reason there is anti-Semitism is because there is a person fuelling it.  Revelation 12 tells us the real force behind anti-semitism – Satan.
(Rev 12:13 NLT) And when the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the child.
We don’t love the Jews because they are nice or because they are good. There are some non-believing Jews who can be quite obnoxious, just like some Gentiles.
We love them because God loves them.

:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

giftscharisma – a favor with which one receives without any merit of his own

callingklesis – a calling, invitation; of the divine invitation to salvation

irrevocableametameletos – not repentant of, unregretted

There are two Greek words that are translated “repentance”. One word means “a change of choice” (metanoia), the other means “an emotional change” (metamelomai), the word used here. We could perhaps say, “God isn’t sorry about these gifts and callings”.

The word is only used one other place in the New Testament:

(2 Cor 7:10 NKJV) For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
The good kind of sorrow, the godly kind, makes you turn from your sin. You don’t regret having that kind of sorrow because it brought you to salvation. You’re not sorry for that kind of pain.

God had called Israel as a nation. Even in their unbelief, God’s call hasn’t changed.

He’s not sorry that He called them.


God’s not sorry for calling you.

God’s not sorry for calling us, even if we’ve been reluctant or disobedient.
(Mat 21:28-32 NKJV) "But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.' {29} "He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. {30} "Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go. {31} "Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said to Him, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. {32} "For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.

Did the father’s call on the first son change when he said “no” to his dad? The call stayed the same, but the reward came from turning from his disobedience and doing what his father told him.

Sometimes we hear stories of how God can use a person in a wonderful way, but that they can fall away from the Lord, even while still doing their ministry. Like Jim Bakker. How could he have been operating in his spiritual gifts during the time of his scandals, when he was living such a carnal life?
Gifts and callings are done by grace, not by what we’ve earned.
Perhaps God has had a special call on your life, but rather than follow after it, you’ve run from it. God hasn’t changed His mind. He’s not sorry He’s given you gifts or callings. He’d love if you got back to it.

: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.

disobedientapeitheo (“apathy”) – not to allow one’s self to be persuaded; to refuse belief and obedience

We Gentiles were once unbelievers and disobedient to God.

We obtained mercy because when the Jews became unbelieving and disobedient, God extended mercy toward us.

God’s desire is that as we receive God’s mercy, the Jew might become jealous and want to receive God’s mercy as well.


Be merciful to the unbeliever.

We can fall into a church-lady mindset where the only people we talk to nicely are other Christians. We can become isolated from unbelievers to the point where we never have any contact with them.
We forget that we too at one time were a pagan heathen, just like them. Don’t forget how grateful you were to find Jesus.
God’s desire is that we would show mercy to the unbeliever. He is merciful towards them.

:32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

committedsugkleio to shut up together; of a shoal of fishes in a net

disobedienceapeitheia (“apathy”) – same basic word translated “disobedience” in verses 30-31; obstinacy, obstinate opposition to the divine will

(Rom 11:32 NLT) For God has imprisoned all people in their own disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.

God has trapped people in their rebellion toward Him so that when they get saved, they might realize that they weren’t saved because they were good enough but because He has shown them mercy.

: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!

Four things about God:

wisdomsophia – knowledge put into action

knowledgegnosis – general intelligence

judgmentskrima – a decree, judgments

wayshodos – a way; a course of conduct; a way of thinking

How to describe these things about God:

unsearchableanexereunetos – that cannot be searched out;

from exereunao – search anxiously and diligently; thoroughly investigate (first used to tell of a dog sniffing out something with his nose).
A search dog might catch a scent of God, but he’s not going to catch up to God.

past finding outanexichniastos – that cannot be searched out, that cannot be comprehended;

from ichnos – a footprint, track, footstep
A hunter might follow the footsteps to find his prey. We can track God’s footprints, but never get to the end of His wisdom or His ways.

God is amazing. He is big. He is way bigger than our ability to understand Him.


It’s okay if you don’t understand everything.

I think that sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that we have to understand how all this stuff works. How can God choose me before the foundation of the world, and then I still have the free will to be able to choose Him in this life? How about eternal security? Can I lose my salvation or can’t I? How does this all work?
A fable – not a true story …
When Albert Einstein was making the rounds of the speaker’s circuit, he usually found himself eagerly longing to get back to his laboratory work. One night as they were driving to yet another rubber-chicken dinner, Einstein mentioned to his chauffeur (a man who somewhat resembled Einstein in looks and manner) that he was tired of speechmaking. “I have an idea, boss,” his chauffeur said. “I’ve heard you give this speech so many times. I’ll bet I could give it for you.” Einstein laughed loudly and said, “Why not? Let’s do it!” When they arrived at the dinner, Einstein donned the chauffeur’s cap and jacket and sat in the back of the room. The chauffeur gave a beautiful rendition of Einstein’s speech and even answered a few questions expertly. Then a supremely pompous professor asked an extremely esoteric question about anti-matter formation, digressing here and there to let everyone in the audience know that he was nobody’s fool. Without missing a beat, the chauffeur fixed the professor with a steely stare and said, “Sir, the answer to that question is so simple that I will let my chauffeur, who is sitting in the back, answer it for me.”
Sometimes we think that we are starting to figure it all out and feel we can fill in for God from time to time.  Maybe it’s even okay once in a while to speak for God.  But then you hit a really difficult situation.  You don’t have to know everything.
If you were able to understand everything about God perfectly, I would have to conclude that your God is pretty small.
If He really is the One who created the universe, don’t you think His mind is just a little bigger than ours?
Chuck Smith:
“For years I sought to reconcile divine sovereignty and human responsibility, eternal security and free moral agency. I pondered them, but I found it futile to search the judgments of God. One day in exasperation I slammed down my fist and said, "God, I cannot reconcile Your sovereignty with my responsibility!" God spoke to my heart clearly and said, "I never asked you to reconcile it. I only asked you to believe it." I've had peace ever since. I still cannot reconcile the difficulties, but I don't have to. I just accept and believe in these truths which remain to me irreconcilable.”
Some of you are going through tremendously difficult times.
I think we have a responsibility to find out of we need to change or respond in a certain way to our circumstances.
But we may not always figure out the “why”.

:34 "For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?"

counselorsumboulos – an adviser, counselor

Paul quotes from Is. 40:13

A.T. Robertson: “Some men seem to feel competent for the job. “

We try sometimes, don’t we? Telling God what’s best?


God knows what He’s doing.

I think if we’re honest, sometimes we kind of question that, don’t we? Don’t we wonder sometimes if God really knows what He’s doing?
I think that sometimes we can slip into this when we’re praying. Sometimes we can sound like we’re trying to let God know just how things are, and we’re letting Him in on a little free advice, from us, of course.
One afternoon this guy drives down a highway to visit a nearby lake and relax. On his way to the lake, a guy dressed from head to toe in red standing on the side of the highway gestures for him to stop. The guy rolls down the window and says, "How can I help you?" "I am the red jerk of the highway. You got something to eat?" With a smile in his face, the guy hands a sandwich to the guy in red and drives away. Not even five minutes later, he comes across another guy. This guy is dressed fully in yellow, standing on the side and waving for him to stop. A bit irritated, our guy stops, cranks down the window, and says, "What can I do for you?" "I am the yellow jerk of the highway. You got something to drink?" Hardly managing to smile this time, he hands the guy a can of Coke and stomps on the pedal and takes off again. In order to make it to the lakeside before sunset, he decides to go faster and not stop no matter what. To his frustration, he sees another guy on the side of the road, this one dressed in blue and signaling for him to stop. Reluctantly, our guy decides to stop one last time, rolls down his window, and yells, "Let me guess. You're the blue jerk of the highway, and just what do YOU want?" "Driver's license and registration, please."
God is not the “blue jerk” of anything. He knows what He’s doing.

:35 "Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?"

(Rom 11:35 NLT) And who could ever give him so much that he would have to pay it back?

Paul quotes from Job 41:11


God doesn’t owe us anything.

It’s we who owe God.
(1 John 4:19 NKJV)  We love Him because He first loved us.
We can slip into thinking that because I’ve done this and that for the Lord, that the Lord now owes me a BIG favor!
There are those in the “Word Faith” circles that teach something along the lines of saying that God is somehow obligated to respond to certain things. They say that if you give to God, that God has to give back to you. There is a truth that we will reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7,8) and that if we give, it will be given back to us (Luke 6:38), but God isn’t obligated to us, He is not our debtor. He owes us nothing. We owe Him everything.
During the final days at Denver’s old Stapleton airport, a crowded United flight was cancelled. A single agent was rebooking a long line of inconvenienced travelers. Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said, “I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be first class.” The agent replied, “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll be happy to try to help you, but I’ve got to help these folks first, and I’m sure we’ll be able to work something out.” The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, “Do you have any idea who I am?” Without hesitating, the gate agent smiled and grabbed her public address microphone. “May I have your attention please?” she began, her voice bellowing throughout the terminal. “We have a passenger here at the gate WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to the gate.” With the folks behind him in line laughing hysterically, the man glared at the United agent, gritted his teeth and retreated as the people in the terminal applauded loudly. Although the flight was cancelled and people were late, they were no longer angry at United Airlines.
If we’re not careful we can slip into thinking that God owes us something. He doesn’t. Instead, we owe Him EVERYTHING.

:36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Paul breaks out in praise to God.

ofex – out of, from

He is the Source.

All things come from Him. He is the source of all things, the source of all life. There is nothing that doesn’t come from Him.

throughdia through; by means of; the ground or reason by which something is done

He is the Agent.

Everything happens through Him. He’s the reason things are done or not done.

toeis – into, unto, to, towards, for, among

He is the Goal.

All things are done for Him.

Why is Paul saying these things?

Because he’s blown away at seeing how God’s mercy is woven through the story of man’s disobedience.

The Jews are disobedient and the Gentiles come to faith.
God then takes the mercy shown and uses it to let the world know that He is a merciful God.
Others see His mercy and respond to His mercy.
God is good.