Brothers and sisters:
I am speaking to you Gentiles.
Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles,
I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous
and thus save some of them.
For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world,
what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
Just as you once disobeyed God
but have now received mercy because of their disobedience,
so they have now disobeyed in order that,
by virtue of the mercy shown to you,
they too may now receive mercy.
For God delivered all to disobedience,
that he might have mercy upon all.
(Romans 11:13-15, 29-32)
11:13 to you Gentiles: Paul addresses his Gentile readers directly, cautioning them against pride. Some Gentile converts looked disdainfully upon Israel, as though they had replaced the covenant people in the messianic age. Paul not only rejects this (11:1); he warns that Gentiles, too, can be rejected as easily as they have been accepted. They should rather marvel that God has given them a share in Israel’s spiritual blessings (15:27). Pagan anti-Semitism was pervasive in Roman antiquity.
11:14 my race: Literally, “my flesh”. Paul is thinking of Israelites related to him by race (9:3–4).
11:15 life from the dead?: Like the OT prophets, Paul envisions the spiritual recovery of Israel as a national resurrection (Is 26:19; Ezek 37:1–12; Hos 6:2).
11:32 all to disobedience: God allows all to sin that all might taste salvation (3:9, 23). His saving plan moves forward despite man’s rebellion.
God never goes back on anything he promises; therefore, he continues to call the Jews to enter the chosen people. He does not take account of their disobedience or their sins: he will love them with an everlasting love, as he promised the patriarchs and in line with the merits accruing to them for their fidelity.
It is this very immutability of God’s love that makes it possible for “all Israel” to be saved. God’s calling, which is eternal, cannot cease; but we for our part can reject his call. The immutability of God’s plan is reassuring to us: it means that even if we abandon him at any point, we can always return to our earlier fidelity: he is still there, waiting for us.