Published on
October 3, 2023

Romans 11

“I ask then, have they stumbled so as to fall? Absolutely not! On the contrary, by their stumbling, salvation has come to the Gentiles..."

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Romans 11
“I ask, then, have they stumbled in order to fall?  Absolutely not!  On the contrary, by their stumbling, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous. Now if their stumbling brings riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full number bring!”  Romans 11:11-12 (HCSB)

In today’s passage, Paul suggests a quasi-role reversal between non-Messianic Jews and followers of Jesus.  Paul describes how the Lord allows the integrated (Jew and Gentile) Messianic Community (the Church) to act as a “bride,” a role Israel had previously exclusively held in Scripture.  

Consider the words of the prophet Jeremiah...

“‘Look, the days are coming’ – This is the Lord’s declaration – ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.  This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. – a covenant they broke even though I MARRIED them.’ – The Lord’s declaration.’”  Jeremiah 31:31-32 (emphasis mine) (HCSB)

And now the words of Paul…

“For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband – to present a pure virgin to Messiah (Christ)”  2 Corinthians 11:2 (HCSB)

I want to stress that I am not suggesting “replacement theology,” which is the teaching that the “Church” has replaced Israel in God’s heart.  A primary goal of Paul’s letter to the Romans was to counteract the “replacement” message as heresy and contra to God’s continued heart and plan for Israel.

Paul puts forth the role reversals between Messianic Gentiles and non-Messianic Jews for two primary reasons:  1) So that the non-believing Jews would become jealous for a saving relationship with God through Jesus by observing God’s love and favor toward the Gentile believers.  This Godly love was previously believed to be exclusively for Jews.  2) To expose how given similar “chosen” status, Gentiles could fall into the same religious pride as the Jews.  In fact, Paul addresses a growing prejudice against the Jews by Gentile believers.

This leads us to two obvious questions: 1) Do you live a life of faith that would make Jewish people jealous for your relationship with God, or anyone else, for that matter?  2) Has spiritual pride caused you to look down on others to the point where you have forgotten the Lord’s grace toward you?  There is no personal boasting for anyone saved by Grace, Jew, or Gentile.

“When the Lord your God drives them (Canaanites) out before you, do not say to yourself, ‘The Lord brought me in to take possession of this land, because of MY righteousness.’  Instead, the Lord will drive out these nations before you because of THEIR wickedness.”   Deuteronomy 9:4 (emphasis mine) (HCSB)

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