God’s Covenant Promises with Israel are still valid
While God now is mainly working with the Gentiles, He is not through with the Jews! His covenant promises remain and will have ultimate fulfillment. Presently, however, during this dispensation (PERIOD) of grace, there is a remnant now coming to Christ and receiving personal salvation. National salvation is yet to take place. To make his point Paul uses in this chapter nine Future Tenses and forty Aorist Tenses. What he says here is distinct, definite, and certain to come about in time!
Romans 11:1-6 A Jewish Remnant is being saved according to Grace
The Lord has not permanently and forever discarded the Jewish people. They are not replaced by the church. God "foreknew" them in an intimate and personal spiritual way. And though they as a whole have grown arrogant, the Lord still has a remnant "according to God’s gracious election."
I am saying then, the God did not Himself reject the people (His)? May it never be! For I am also an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, tribe of Benjamin. (11:1) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:1 The apostle continues his discussions about Israel using the Present Tense with "I am saying." He wants to make sure his audience understands that these issues are pertinent to the present. They are not facts that touched only on the past. It is presently certain in Paul’s mind that God has not rejected His own earthly people though they are now in unbelief.
The then is oun in Greek and here has the force of however. (D&M, p. 258) The apostle Paul sees this verse as a contrasting thought. Though Israel has been unfaithful, yet (however) God is still not finished with them. His promises in the Old Testament will be brought to pass.
The God did not Himself reject the people (His) whom He foreknew (in an intimate way). Do you not know what the Scripture is saying concerning Elijah, how he is engaged in accusation with the God concerning the Israel? (11:2) (Couch, Greek Translation)11:2 The concerning Elijah ties the story of that prophet closely with the events that were taking place in his day. This is called "The Instrumental of Association." (D&M, p. 90) During the lifetime of Elijah, when Ahab and his wife Jezebel were in power, it seemed as if none of the Jews were trusting God. It appeared as if all the Jews were apostate. Elijah cried out, "The sons of Israel have forsaken Thy prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away" (1 Kings 19:10). The Lord replied, "Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him" (v. 18).
Paul draws on the Scripture to get his point across. The Word of God is authoritative and it alone gives the full story as to what was happening in Elijah’s day. The story is applicable now. Not all the Jews have become apostate. Even now during the dispensation (PERIOD) not all have forsaken the truth!
Lord, they killed the prophets (of You), Your altars they tore down, and I am left alone, and they are seeking the life of me. (11:3) (Couch, Greek Translation)11:3 The slaying of a group of Old Testaments prophets by Ahab is mentioned in 1 Kings 19:1. Elijah then fled from the wrath of Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, when she threatened his life (vv. 2-3). In fear, he begged for the Lord to take him home (v. 4). "It is enough now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers." Nevertheless, Elijah was zealous for the Lord and desired to serve Him. He then mentions the death of the prophets and the destruction of the altars that were for the purpose of worshipping God (vv. 10, 14). Paul’s point in quoting this incident is that Elijah said that "he was left alone" (v. 10), and of course this was not true. So even now, there is a remnant of Jews who come to Christ for salvation. God continues to work with Israel but also will restore to them the promised theocracy, with Christ reigning in Jerusalem!
But what is saying to him the divine statement? I have received down for Myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal! (11:4) (Couch, Greek Translation)11:4 God made it clear that seven thousand Jews had not bowed the knees to Baal nor had they kissed the idol representing him (v. 18).
Yet likewise also in the now time there has come to be a remnant according to the gracious outcalling! (11:5) (Couch, Greek Translation)11:5 The word remnant (limma) is only used here in the New Testament. When a word so technical is used only once the word is considered very important and significant. We get a better fix on the meaning as it is used in Classical Greek. There it can be translated residue, remains. It is used in music to describe an interval, something left over. In medicine it was used to describe an intermission in fever, or a deficiency.
In other words, what is now happening with the Jews is but temporary, transitional. There is something missing but a restoration is implied. And what is taking place is not the real or final purpose meant for them. The present Jews coming to Christ constitute a left-over with something else yet on the horizon.
In 11:7 Paul will use another word for remnant (loipos) but only once in the contextual meaning of the Jews. Surprisingly, John the apostle uses the word in the same way to describe the remnant of the Jews being pursued by Satan in the tribulation. He writes, "And the dragon was enraged with the woman (Israel), and went off to make war with the rest (the remnant, loipos) of her (Israel’s) offspring who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (Rev. 12:17). This is the devil’s last attempt to subvert God’s plans for the Jewish people. Satan would like to destroy every last Jew because they are living symbols that the Lord is going to restore the nation under the leadership of Jesus the Messiah who returns from glory!
The out calling is divine election. God must by His providence save all by this miraculous calling that brings one to Christ. Outcalling is a compound Greek word (eklogee) with ek=out and logee=word, or summon out with a word. This is a word synonymous with ekklatos or outcalling. The Lord uses eklogee when describing Paul’s salvation. "He is a chosen vessel unto Me" (Acts 9:15). It is to be translated chosen or election in all of the other verses where it is used (Rom. 9:11; 11:5, 7, 28; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Pet. 1:10).
But if by grace, it is no longer out of works, otherwise the grace is no longer grace! (11:6) (Couch, Greek Translation)11:6 The Greek conjunction epei translated otherwise, is in a rare use here. Its significance is "else, otherwise," with a causal sense. (D&M, pp. 247-48) Grace comes about by the graciousness of God and it can in no way be based on works!
Paul wants the point made that the Jews are not presently blessed by good works but by the grace of God that comes through trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. Jews and Gentiles are presently saved only by faith in Him!