Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Romans 11:7-12 by Dr. Mal Couch

Mal Couch, Ph.D., Th.D.

Romans 11:7-12

Though Israel stumbled over Christ, a Restoration of the Nation is Certain

There is no question that Paul’s generation of Jews, as a whole, rejected Christ. However they are to be restored. A future fulfillment is guaranteed and promised. That Gentiles are now being saved through the Jewish Old Testament promises, is only making the Jews angry! But one day they will see the light! The Jews had forgotten Genesis 12:3: Through you (Abraham) I will bless all nations!"

What then, that which Israel is seeking, it did not hit upon, but the outcalled ones hit upon (it), and the remaining ones were hardened! (11:7) (Couch, Greek Translation)


Some of the Jews found the truth but the rest, the remaining ones (the left over ones, hoi loipoi), were rejected and hardened by God. Hardened is the Aorist Passive of poroo. The word is used to describe hardened skin, a callus. It means to lose the power of understanding. It can mean the mind has been blunted, dulled, or, the hardening of the heart, stubbornness. Since it is a Passive Voice it means the action is coming from outside, from God. He is the one who has hardened the hearts of the Jews so that they may be judged! There is a judicial blindness that has fallen temporarily upon the people of Israel, yet they are to be restored as a nation, a theocracy established soon in the future!

But as it has been written, the God has given to them a spirit of sleep and an eye to not see and an ear to not hear even to this very day! (11:8) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:8 This substantiates the verse above. God has brought a judgment down upon the Jews!

With "it has been written" Paul uses what is called a Perfect Tense. The action starts in the past and comes right up to the present. What God said in the past (in Deut. 19:4; Isa. 29:10; 6:9) has come all the way up to the present time and, in a sense, is now being fulfilled. A "spirit of stupor" could better imply going to sleep. The spirit is pulled down as if asleep or as if the person is drunk. The word "sleep" has the thought that the spirit has been pricked or stuck. It has lost its sensation, dulled by incitement into apathy, as if one is sound asleep! The majority of Jews at that time could in no way comprehend the gospel message.

Nicoll adds: "The ‘spirit of sleep’ is defined by what follows—unseeing eyes, unhearing ears; a spirit which produces a condition of insensibility, to which every appeal is vain. … Who sends this spirit of stupor? It is God! He does not send it arbitrarily nor at random; it is always a judgment." (p. 677)

And David is saying, let their table become into a snare and into a trap, and into a stumbling block and into a retribution to them. (11:9) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:9 The table represents the abundance of plenty found at a banquet meal. The blessings to the Jews have become a snare and a trap. God’s goodness has become a stumbling block and a retribution. The word means something paid back, a requital, something returned, a vengeance. In the bad sense it is only used here by the apostle Paul. For the Jews there is a pay-back judgment for rejecting God’s goodness, and especially His provision for salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ! Paul is quoting Psalm 69:23.

Let their eyes be darkened and to not see and let their back (be) together bent always (11:10) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:10 The Psalm 69:23 quotation continues. This Psalm is an amazing prophecy of Israel’s rejection of Christ. It foreshadows His death on the cross. The notes of the Scofield Reference Bible add:

Christ’s rejection and humiliation are mentioned in verses 4, 7-8, 10-12, with verses 14-20 describing the suffering of His soul in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-45). Verse 21 is a direct reference to the cross (Matt. 27:34, 48; John 19:28-30). The imprecation or judgment section is found in verses 22-28 which is connected to Romans 11:9-10. Israel’s present blindness is prophesied in verse 25.
On Psalm 69 Unger writes: "The psalm is about the sufferings of the suffering One, the rejected Messiah-Savior, at His first advent, as the numerous quotations and references to it in the New Testament amply attest, demonstrating it to be a great Messianic psalm."

The "back bent" is often used as an expression of a slave carrying a heavy load or burden. The Law will weigh the stubborn Jews down but too, they will suffer the penalty of their rejection through the present dispensation (PERIOD) of grace. Persecution and rejection among the nations will follow the scattered Jews far and wide! Some translations cite always (pantos) as forever but this is a bad way of explaining the word from the root pas. It is better translated by all means, in every way, certainly, altogether. The Jews will not remain in this humiliated position "forever." They are to be redeemed soon and rescued by the return of the Lord Jesus as their promised King!

I am saying then, they did not stumble [merely] to fall? May it never be! But in contrast, by their transgressions the salvation [came] to the Gentile into the anger of them! (11:11) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:11 T. Robertson says that we need to add the word "merely" to the passage. Did the Jews stumble "merely that they might fall"? The implication is that their stumbling is but temporary and that they will rise again as a believing nation!

Even allegorist and amillennialist Nicoll sees the light on this passage. Their fall is not to be permanent. He writes "This stumbling of the Jews is not to be interpreted in the sense of a final fall. A recovery is in prospect." (Nicoll, p. 679) Hodge adds: "Paul shows that the rejection of the Jews was not intended to result in their being finally cast away." (Commentary, p. 362) This does not sound like REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY to me!

Vine concurs: The word "fall" denotes a moral fall as in 5:15. "Neither is the rejection of Israel total nor is it final. … There will be a recovery of divine favor." (Vine, p. 407) Kroll concludes: "Thus Paul begins to lay the groundwork for the proof that Israel’s rejection is not permanent. The Jews will be restored to God." (p. 179)

Now if their transgressions [became] riches for [the] world and the failure of them riches for [the] Gentiles, how much more the fulfillment of them [be]! (11:12) (Couch, Greek Translation)
11:12 The old scholar Alford gets it though Hank does not! Alford writes about this verse that the word "fulfillment" (plaroma) carries the idea of enrichment, completion, re-exaltation. (p. 428) "How much more their full (restored) number! If so few Jews can do so much for the Gentile world, what will not the whole number do? … If then the disgrace of Israel has had such a blessing accompaniment, how much more blessed shall Israel’s honor bring with it, when His own people shall once more be set as a praise in the midst of the earth, and the glory of the nations." (pp. 428-29)

End of argument! Sorry, Hank, you missed it!
11:7 Since it is a fact that God did not push Israel away, as with His hand in their face (see v. 1), what then happened to them? The outcalled ones (the elect) obtained (or actually in the Greek), hit upon the truth. This word (epitugkano, Aorist Tense) is only used by Paul here. Seeking is the Present Tense of epizateo and is an unusual word. It may be translated as meditating on, reasoning about, seeking in order to find, striving for. With the epi at the front of the word it takes the idea of to intently strive for. But the Jews sought God’s blessings and approval by their own efforts and not by His mercy and grace.

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