Romans 11

Some of Israel's people do trust God

1 So, I ask this: ‘Has God turned away from his people?’ No, certainly, he has not done that! I myself belong to Israel's people. I am a descendant of Abraham and I belong to Benjamin's family group. 2 God chose who would be his people from the beginning. He has not turned against them now. Remember what the Bible tells us about Elijah. He wanted God to punish Israel's people. Elijah said: 3 ‘Lord God, they have killed your prophets. They have destroyed the altars where people offered sacrifices to you. I am the only person alive who still serves you. And they are trying to kill me.’ 4 This was God's answer to Elijah: ‘There are still 7,000 men that I have kept for myself. Those men have not worshipped the false god Baal.’

5 It is the same at this time too. There is a small number of Israel's people that God has chosen to trust him. He has chosen them because he is very kind. 6 This shows that God has not chosen them because of any good things that they have done. If that was true, we could not say that God was really being kind to them. It would not be his gift.

7 So, we can say this: Israel's people did not all find what they were looking for. Only those people that God had chosen received it. But the other people of Israel became unable to understand God's message. 8 It says this in the Bible:

‘God caused them to be like people who are sleeping.

Even until this day, their eyes cannot really see,

and their ears cannot really hear.’

9 King David says this:

‘They enjoy eating lots of good food together.

I pray that God will catch them while they are eating!

I want those good things to lead them into trouble.

I want God to punish them because of what they have done.

10 I want their eyes to become dark so that they cannot see.

I want their bodies always to be in pain, like slaves.’

11:10See Psalm 69:22-23.

11 So, now I ask this: ‘When Israel's people failed to accept Jesus as God's Messiah, did they make themselves separate from God for ever?’ No, certainly that is not true! Because of their mistake, God is now saving Gentiles. God is doing that so that Israel's people would become jealous. 12 Because of their mistake, God has done good things for everyone in the world. Israel's people failed to receive what God wanted to give them. As a result, the Gentiles have received very many good things from God. That was the good result when Israel's people failed. So, when the complete number of Israel's people do turn to God, the result will be even better!

Paul speaks to the Gentiles

13 Now I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. God has sent me to be his apostle to the Gentiles. I thank him that he has given this important work to me. 14 I hope that my work among you Gentiles will cause my own people to be jealous. As a result, some of them may turn to God so that he saves them. 15 When God turned away from Israel's people, he then accepted other people in the world as his friends. So, when God does accept Israel's people, the result will be even better! It will be like dead people who have become alive again!

16 If you offer the first piece of bread to God, then all the bread will belong to God. If the roots of a tree belong to God, then the branches will also be his.

17 Israel's people are like an olive tree that a farmer has planted. But God has broken off some of that tree's branches. Then he has taken a branch from a wild olive tree. He has put that wild branch into the farmer's tree, to become part of that tree. You Gentiles are like the wild branch. Now you receive food from the root of the farmer's tree, to make you strong. 18 Israel's people are like the branches that God broke off. But you must not think that you are better than those branches. Remember that you are still only a branch. You do not make the root strong. No, it is the root that holds you up and makes you strong.

19 You might say, ‘God broke off the branches so that I could become part of the tree.’ 20 That is true. God broke them off because they did not believe in Christ. God has accepted you as part of the tree because you do believe in Christ. So, do not become proud. Instead, be afraid. 21 God broke off the proper branches and he did not let them stay in the tree. So, if you no longer trust him, he will not let you stay either.

22 So, you should think about what God is like. He is kind, but he also punishes people. He has punished Israel's people, because they turned away from him. He has been kind to you. But you must continue to accept his kind gift. If you do not do that, he will break you off from his tree as well.

23 God is able to accept Israel's people back again. If they come to believe in Christ, God will put them back as part of the tree. He is able to make them become branches of the tree again. 24 God cut you like branches from a wild olive tree. Then he put you into the farmer's olive tree so that you became part of it. He could do that even though that was not your own tree before. So God will be able to do that for Israel's people. He can easily put them back into their own tree, that they were part of before.

11:24When Jesus came, most of Israel's people, the Jews, did not believe that Jesus was God's Messiah. They were no longer part of God's true people, like an olive tree that God had planted long ago. The wild olive tree is like the Gentiles. If they believe in Jesus, they become part of God's people. If the Jews decide to believe in Jesus, then they also belong to God's people again.

God will save Israel's people

25 My Christian friends, I want to help you to understand about Israel's people. It is a secret that God has shown to us. If you really understand it, you will not be proud that you are so clever. Many of Israel's people have refused to believe in Christ. They will continue to refuse him until the complete number of Gentiles have believed. 26 When that has happened, God will save all Israel's people. This is written in the Bible:

‘The one who rescues will come from Zion.

He will turn Jacob's people away from their sins.

11:26Zion is God's city, on earth (Jerusalem) or in heaven. See Revelation 21:2. ‘Jacob's people’ is another name for Israel's people, the Jews. Jacob was Abraham's grandson and God gave him the name ‘Israel’.

27 And I will make this agreement with them.

I will forgive them for their sins.’

28 Israel's people have become God's enemies, because they have refused to believe the good news about Christ. This has happened to help you Gentiles. But God still loves Israel's people, because he has chosen them as his own people. That is what he promised to their ancestors. 29 God's thoughts about his people cannot change. He has blessed them with gifts and he has chosen them to belong to him.

30 In past times, you Gentiles did not obey God. But now God has been very kind to you, because Israel's people refused to obey him. 31 They do not obey God now. As a result God has been very kind to you. That has happened so that God may now be very kind to them too. 32 God says that everyone is guilty because they do not obey him. He says that so that he can be kind and he can forgive everyone.

33 Yes! God is very great! He has everything! He knows and he understands all things! Nobody can completely understand the things that he decides. Nobody can explain the ways in which he works. 34 The Bible says this:

‘Nobody knows the thoughts of the Lord God.

Nobody is able to tell him what he should do.’

11:34See Isaiah 40:13.

35 ‘Nobody has ever given anything to God,

so that God had a debt to pay back to them.’

11:35See Job 41:11.

36 It is God who made all things. He also causes all things to continue. And all things are there to show how great he is.

We praise him! He is great for ever! Amen. This is true!