Romans 11:14-32 – Romans, Jews, & Salvation
This is a fairly long passage of scripture to discuss. Let’s look at it and see if we can understand what is being taught in this part of the Bible.
This passage comes right in the middle of a discussion regarding the question of the salvation of the Jews. Paul asks the question in 11:1 “Did God cast off his people?” This question is referring to the Jewish nation. The answer is “No, he has not cast them off, but they, in their rejection of God’s Son Jesus, have rejected Him.” In fact, not all Jewish people who rejected Christ were lost at the time that Paul wrote this epistle. From Acts 2 to Acts 10 the only people who were being saved were Jews! However, there were some Jews who still rejected Jesus as the Messiah. These are the ones who crucified Jesus and by so doing, salvation was able to come to the Gentiles (verse 11).
However, there were some Gentiles who thought that since the Jews had rejected Jesus as the Messiah, that they could no longer be saved. So Paul turns his attention to these Gentiles in verse 13. Then we start our text. We do not have time to give the entire text a complete discussion. Suffice it to say that the following things are being taught here. 1) Both Jews and Gentiles could be saved through the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16,17). 2) While it was through the Jews that the Messiah came, the offer of salvation was given to both Jew and Gentile (verses 14,15). 3) God’s goodness will be shown toward those who continue in His goodness; God’s severity will be shown toward those who fall (verses 16-24). 4) There is only one covenant under which man can be saved today; this is the covenant that offers forgiveness of sins (verses 25-29). 5) It is due to unbelief and disobedience that men have fallen from God’s grace; this necessitates that to both Jews and Gentiles that God’s mercy would be bestowed (30-32).
Some try to come to this passage and say that there is another way of salvation for the Jews who disbelieve. However, this is a complete mishandling of the scriptures. Remember our very important principle of interpretation. Scriptures that are difficult in understanding should be interpreted in light of scriptures that are easy to understand. Romans 1:16, 17 makes it clear that the gospel is the only way for both Jews and Gentiles to be saved. Therefore, this passage cannot be teaching that there is some other way for Jews to be saved than other through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Rather, what we have with some is an effort to go to the most difficult passages in the Bible such as the book of Daniel, Revelation, Matthew 24, Romans 11, and some other passages and build a doctrine based upon symbolic language in scripture which is simply not found in the plain teaching of scripture. This is largely done by those who advocate the doctrine of premillenialism. Basically this doctrine states that mankind will be given a second chance at salvation. You can read about this doctrine in popular books such as the left behind series by Jenkins and Lahue. You can also see it in movies such as “The Omega Code.” Part of the teaching of this doctrine is that the Jewish nation is going to have a second opportunity to accept Jesus as the Messiah and it is to THIS passage in Romans 11 that many go as their proof text to establish this. But this CANNOT be established from this context. Premillenialism is a dangerous doctrine because it can cause some to reject the teaching of Jesus Christ now in the hope that they can accept Him after all of these “signs” happen.