Israel’s Jealously and their Apostasy

It is important to understand that it was nothing that the Gentiles had done, nor could ever do, but only God’s mission that went forth that brought them to believe in the gospel and receive the blessings of His covenant made with His people. With this understanding, it is then important to see exactly why God brought His mission forth to the Gentiles, and how He uses that today with Israel. So far we have seen the following: Israel’s apostasy as a nation, Israel’s apostasy done by God, Israel’s apostasy used by God for the mission to the Gentiles, and now here in verses 13-16 of Romans 11 we see why God has sent forth the gospel to the Gentiles. The reason is seen in verse 14 as Paul says specifically to the Gentiles, “In order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.” Paul sees that it is God’s mission to send forth the Gospel to all the nations in order that His chosen nation Israel would become jealous that the Gentiles now reap the blessings of God’s mission, and are enjoying the message of Christ. This mission is to reach the Gentiles, but in doing so it is also to Israel as it will “thus save some of them.” It is Paul’s desire that some of his former Jews would follow him in understanding that God’s mission has laid aside Israel for now, and went forth to the Gentiles for a purpose.

Paul continues and presents a very unique statement in verse 16, which says,[1]If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.” Paul is referring here back to the Jubilee Law which was the foreshadowing of Christ’s rest, thus referring to Christ who gives His people – the elect – His rest.[2]

The Jubilee Law: Leviticus 23:16-17 – “You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the LORD. You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the LORD.

In these words, Paul seems to be showing that Israel still belongs to Him, and now that the mission has gone forth to the Gentiles, they are also part of spiritual Israel; therefore illustrating that Israel, as was in the Old Testament, and spiritual Israel, are both of the same entities.

[1] Cf. For how this illustration fits into the Future of Israel Barry Horner, Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged. Ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville: Tennessee, 2004), p. 258.

[2] Cf. For further explanation of this in Moo, NIC: Romans, p. 697-701 and Schriner, ECNT: Romans. p.599-601.


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