1 Then I ask, "Did God reject His [own] people [i.e., the Jews]?" Certainly not! For I am an Israelite too, a descendant of Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject His people whom He knew previously. Or, do you not know what the Scriptures say in the passage where Elijah pleads with God against Israel?
3 [I Kings 19:10], "Lord, they [i.e., the Israelites] have killed your prophets and have destroyed your altars; I am the only one left and they are trying to kill me, too."
4 But how did God answer him? [I Kings 19:18 says], "I [i.e., God] have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed their knee [in worship] to Baal [Note: "Baal" was a term used for one of the idols worshiped in Elijah's day by Canaanites and others in Palestine]. 5 So, now also, there is a small minority which has been selected by God's unearned favor [i.e., to be saved]. 6 And if [they were selected] by God's unearned favor, [then] the choice is not based on the good that people may do. Otherwise, God's favor would not be [really] unearned.
7 What then? [Just this]: The very thing that the Israelites are looking for [i.e., a right relationship with God], they have not found. But God's selected ones obtained [this right relationship with Him] and the rest [of the Israelites] were made insensitive to God's call, 8 as it has been written [Isa. 19:10], "God gave them a spirit of numbness [i.e., they developed a spiritual insensitivity to God and His word]. [He gave them] eyes to see with [but they would not look], and ears to hear with [but they did not listen]. And they still have this spirit."
9 And King David said [Psa. 69:22-23], "Let their table ensnare and trap them [i.e., let the Jews' devotion to such things as lavish feasts become the occasion for leading them astray], and become an occasion for their falling [away from God]. And let them be repaid [for such conduct with punishment]. 10 Let their eyes become [spiritually] dim so they cannot see, and may their backs always bend [i.e., under heavy burdens]."
11 I say then, did the Jews trip [over Jesus] just so they could fall [away from God]? Certainly not! [There was another reason]: Instead, it was by means of their sin that salvation was made available to the Gentiles, so that the Jews might become jealous of them [i.e., causing them to want what the Gentiles now had]. 12 Now if the Jews sinning meant blessings for [the rest of] the world, and their [spiritual] defection meant blessings for the Gentiles, how much more will their fullness [also produce blessings]! [Note: "Fullness" here may mean either a large or the complete number of Jews who will be saved, or become completely obedient to God].
13 Now I am talking to you Gentiles, [and] since I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I will make the most of my ministry [to you], 14 in hope that somehow I might stir up jealousy among my fellow-Jews, and thereby save some of them. 15 For if their rejection [by God] meant that [the rest of] the world could be restored to favor [with God], what would [God's] receiving the Jews back into fellowship be, except like dead people coming back to life? 16 And if the first part of the dough is dedicated to God, the entire batch of dough will be also. And if the roots [of a tree] are dedicated to God, the branches will be also.
17 But some of the branches [of a cultivated olive tree] were broken off [i.e., God's rejection of the Jews] and you [Gentiles], representing a wild olive tree [branch], were grafted into it. So then, you [Gentiles] were able to benefit from the roots and sap of the olive tree, along with the Jews. 18 Therefore, you should not brag [about your superiority] over the [natural] branches [i.e., the rejected Jews]. But, if you must brag, it should not be over you [Gentiles] nourishing the roots [i.e., the Jews], but over the roots nourishing you. 19 But you [Gentiles] will then say, "The branches were broken off so that we could be grafted in." 20 True, but they [i.e., the Jews] were [really] broken off because they did not believe [in Christ], and you [Gentiles] remain [in God's favor] because you do believe [in Him]. So, do not become arrogant [about it], but be fearful. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches [i.e., the Jews], He will not spare you [Gentiles] either. 22 So, look at God's kindness and severity. He was severe with those [Jews] who have fallen, but He is kind to you [Gentiles], if you continue to accept His kindness [i.e., by living for Him faithfully]. Otherwise, you too will be cut off [like the Jews were]. 23 And these Jews also will be grafted [back] in [to the olive tree] if they do not continue in their lack of faith [in Christ], because God is able to graft them back in again. 24 For you [Gentiles] were cut off from a natural wild olive tree and [then], contrary to the natural process, were grafted into a cultivated olive tree. [Since that has happened], how much more likely is it for these [Jews], who are the natural branches, to be grafted [back] into their own olive tree [again]?
25 For I want you to know this secret, brothers, so you will not become conceited: Part of the Israelites have become [spiritually] insensitive [to God], [and will remain that way] until the fullness of the Gentiles occurs. [Note: As with verse 12, concerning the Jews, "fullness" here may mean either a large or the complete number of Gentiles who will be saved]. 26 And so [i.e., in this way] all the Israelites will be saved. [Note: The "all" here is thought by many to refer to a large number of the physical Jews who will be saved, not necessarily to every single individual Jew]. Even as it is written [Isa. 59:20-21], "The Deliverer [i.e., Christ] will come from Zion [i.e., the city of Jerusalem, or from the nation of Israel]. He will take away the wickedness from Jacob [i.e., the Jews]." 27 [A summary of Jer. 31:31-34 says], "And I [i.e., God] will make this Agreement with them [i.e., Jewish and Gentile believers] when I take away their sins."
28 Now in response to the [proclamation of the] good news [about Christ], the Jews became [God's] enemies for the sake of you [Gentiles]. But concerning [God's] select people, these Jews became [God's] dearly loved ones for the sake of their forefathers [i.e, who believed God's promises regarding their descendants]. 29 For God does not change His mind about the gifts He gives and the people He calls [to Him]. 30 For you Gentiles were disobedient to God in the past, but now you have obtained [God's] mercy by means of the disobedience of the Jews. 31 So, now these [same] Jews have also been disobedient [to God], so that they may also now obtain [God's] mercy by means of the mercy [He has] shown to you [Gentiles]. 32 For God has made all people prisoners of a disobedient life, so that He could show mercy to everyone.
33 O, how deep is the richness of God's wisdom and knowledge! How difficult [it is for us] to explain His judgments and how impossible [for us] to accurately track how He operates! 34 [Note: The following are rhetorical questions raised from their reading of the Old Testament]. For who has known [what goes on in] the Lord's mind? Or, who has been His advisor? 35 Or, who has given [something] to God that He has to pay back? 36 For everything was created by Him, exists through His [power] and is intended for His [glory]. May He be praised forever. May it be so.