Have you ever heard someone say, The Jews rejected Christ, so God has rejected the Jews”? That statement contradicts the teaching of Scripture. In the 11th chapter of Romans, starting with verse one, the Apostle Paul gives a seven-fold rebuttal of this “rejection idea” when he writes, “…Hath God cast away his people? God forbid…”
The Covenantal Argument
The first refutation of the “rejection idea” appears in Romans 11:1 in the use of the word “his.” Paul refers to Israel as still being God’s people. Since Paul obviously wrote Romans after the Crucifixion and Resurrection, this indicates that there remains a special covenantal relationship between God and Israel, even though Israel as a nation did not recognize her Messiah. God’s promises do not fail. In Jeremiah 31:35-37 God promises that as long as the sun, moon and stars continue to exist, the seed of Israel will remain a special nation before him.
The Biographical Argument
Paul writes further in Romans 11:1, “…For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” Here Paul argues that his own encounter as a Jew with the living Christ, and his subsequent calling to preach the gospel are evidence that the Jews are still God’s people.
The Theological Argument
Paul’s third refutation, based on the foreknowledge of God, is found in Romans 11:2a: “God hath not cast away his people whom he foreknew.” It came as no surprise to the Almighty that all Israel did not accept his Messiah. In fact it was predicted in the Old Testament. Isaiah wrote, “He is despised and rejected…he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (53:3). God knew that this would happen, and Israel’s rejection of the Messiah was part of his universal plan. (Read Acts 2:23 and 4:28 and Romans 11:11 and 25.)
The Historical Argument
The fourth refutation is historical, from Romans 11:2b-10. Paul argues here that it has always been just a minority within Israel that has been faithful to God. This minority is called the “remnant.” Paul gives four examples of this remnant: in Elijah’s day, in Paul’s own day (the Apostles and early church up to Acts 10), in Moses’ day and in David’s day.
The Argument of Origins
Paul’s fifth refutation appears in Romans 11:16. Paul argues that good beginnings result in good endings: the Jewish people and the promises and covenants to the fathers were good; they will eventually result in a good conclusion.
The Botanical Argument
The sixth refutation of the idea that God has rejected Israel as his people is found in Romans 11:17-24. Paul here argues “botanically.” He says that it is natural for the natural branch (the Jews) to be grafted back into the original olive tree. If God can graft a wild olive branch (the Gentiles) into a cultivated olive tree, it’s easy to expect him to graft back the natural branches.
The Prophetic Argument
The seventh refutation is found in Romans 11:25-27. Here Paul (undoubtedly from his knowledge of Hebrew Scripture) argues that Israel’s hardening is only partial and temporary, for there is coming a time when God will once again resume his dealing with Israel—when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, and all Israel will be saved (see Zechariah 12:10). Who is the Israel of Romans 11:26? It is the same Israel of verse 25 which has been partially blinded.
From these seven arguments in Romans 11, we draw the following conclusions to state that God has not rejected the Jewish people:
Covenantally: Israel is still God’s earthly people.
Biographically: Paul, himself an Israelite, was called and used mightily of God.
Theologically: Israel’s general unbelief was in God’s foreknowledge and part of his universal plan of salvation.
Historically: there has always been just a faithful minority within Israel, the “remnant.”
The logic of origins: grace beginnings result in grace endings; Israel’s ultimate destiny is to be in God’s grace.
The botanical metaphor: we can expect that Israel, the natural branch, will be grafted back into the olive tree.
Prophetically: all Israel eventually will be saved in the end times (Romans 11:15) because the entire nation of Israel will then turn to her Savior according to Zechariah, chapter 12.