The Context of Romans 9-11

By Justin Johnson

Romans 9-11 has skeletons scattered all over it where people have ventured in and break their necks trying to figure out if the passage applies to the church.

It is possible to exit these chapters alive, but you must remember the context of the passage. To determine the context, ask these questions:

Who is speaking? (authorship)
To whom are they speaking? (audience)
What are they speaking about? (content)

If ‘Israel’ is the answer to any of these questions then the passage is not doctrinally applicable to the church today.

The more verses next to each other with ‘Israel’ as the context makes any single verse in the passage more likely to talk about Israel.

The chart below applies these simple rules to Romans 9-11.

Passage Summary Context
Romans 9:1-5 – Paul’s sorrow over Israel’s failure. Israel
Romans 9:6 – There is a true and false Israel. Israel
Romans 9:7-8 – Identifying Abraham’s seed of promise. Israel
Romans 9:9 – The word of promise is a prophecy about Isaac. Israel
Romans 9:10-12 – The word of promise is also a prophecy about Jacob (the prophecy was not based on Jacob’s works). Israel
Romans 9:13 – Quote from Mal 1:2-3 about God’s preservation of Israel because of Jacob’s promise. Israel
Romans 9:14 – Is God unrighteous because Israel did not believe? No. (See also Rom 3:3-6). Israel
Romans 9:15 – Paul quotes what God told Moses about God’s will. Israel
Romans 9:16 – Paul’s explanation of Exodus 33:19. God shows mercy to whom he wants. Israel
Romans 9:17 – Quote from Exodus 9:16 where God uses Pharaoh for his earthly purpose to make Israel a name. Israel
Romans 9:18 – To fulfill his promise to Israel, God showed some mercy, and others a hard hand. Israel
Romans 9:19 – A repeat of Rom 3:5-7, questioning God’s authority to judge Israel. Israel
Romans 9:20 – A quote from Isa 29:16 about the righteousness of God to judge his own creation (Israel). Israel
Romans 9:21 – A reference to Jeremiah 18:1-12 about two pots of Israel: faithful and disobedient. Israel
Romans 9:22-23 – Paul’s explanation of how God responded to Israel’s vessels. Israel
Romans 9:24 – Jews and Gentiles could both be in God’s vessel of mercy. The first verse mention of the word ‘Gentile’, and it is in the context of what God had prepared since the world began. This is God’s purpose for the earth through Israel.
Romans 9:25 – Quote from Hosea 2:23 about God’s mercy toward Israel. Israel
Romans 9:26 – Quote from Hosea 1:9-11 about the restoration of faithful Israel. Israel
Romans 9:27 – Quote from Isaiah 10:20-22 about the Israel being only a remnant. Israel
Romans 9:28 – Reference to Isaiah 10:23 and Isaiah 30:12-14 about God chopping off and burning Israel’s branches. Israel
Romans 9:29 – Prophecy from Isaiah 1:9 about God leaving a remnant in Israel. Israel
Romans 9:30-31 – What happened? Gentiles received righteousness, but Israel didn’t. Gentiles during the time when Israel did not believe (remember Luke 7:9).
Romans 9:32 – Why? Because Israel did not have faith when the stone of stumbling came. Israel
Romans 9:33 – Quote from Isaiah 28:16 and Psa 31:17. Israel
Chapter 10
Romans 10:1 – Paul’s heart for Israel’s salvation. Israel
Romans 10:2 – Israel’s ignorant zeal for God. Israel
Romans 10:3 – Israel’s failure to submit to God’s righteousness. Israel
Romans 10:4 – Belief in Christ puts an end to Deu 6:25. Israel (see John 20:31)
Romans 10:5 – What Moses said about the law in Lev 18:5. Israel
Romans 10:6 – Quote from Deu 30:11-12 about what was in Israel’s heart. Israel
Romans 10:7 – Quote from Deu 30:13 about what was in Israel’s heart. Israel
Romans 10:8 – Quote from Deu 30:14 about the faith in Israel’s mouth and heart that would accompany their doing. Israel
Romans 10:9 – What Israel needed to have in their heart and mouth to be saved in Jesus’ ministry and with Peter. Israel
Romans 10:10 – What is in the heart and mouth lead to salvation (Matt 10:32) Israel
Romans 10:11 – Paul quoting prophetic scripture about the need for faith. Israel
Romans 10:12 – Quote from Psalm 145:9 and Psalm 145:18 about Israel’s kingdom where God would show mercy to all that called on him. Israel
Romans 10:13 – Quote from Joel 2:32 about Israel’s kingdom where deliverance comes to all who call upon him. Israel
Romans 10:14 – The need for Israel to have messengers so they can hear and believe. Israel
Romans 10:15 – A quote from Isaiah 52:7 about the messenger sent to Jerusalem (the Messiah). Israel
Romans 10:16 – A quote from Isaiah 53:1 about Israel’s rejection of the messenger sent (the Messiah). Israel
Romans 10:17 – They could hear by the scriptures about faith. Israel
Romans 10:18 – Quote from Psalm 19:4, and Psalm 98:3 about the word to Israel heard by the world. They had heard. Israel
Romans 10:19 – Moses told them in Deu 32:18-21, that if they had no faith and rejected the Rock, God would punish them. Israel
Romans 10:20 – Isaiah told them in Isaiah 65, that a remnant would find him in the place that did not seek him. Israel
Romans 10:21 – Quote from Isaiah 65:2 about God’s longsuffering towards the disobedient nation of Israel. Israel
Chapter 11
Romans 11:1 – God has not cast away Israel forever. Paul is a Jew. Israel
Romans 11:2-4 – The scripture shows a remnant of Israel in 1 Kings 19:14-18. Israel
Romans 11:5-6 – There is a remnant of Israel that believed instead of offering their works for righteousness. Israel
Romans 11:7 – The remnant obtained righteousness, but the rest of Israel did not. Israel
Romans 11:8 – Quote from Isaiah 29:10 and Isaiah 6:9 about the blinding of unfaithful Israel. Israel
Romans 11:9 – Quote from Psalm 69:22 about ensnaring those who put Christ on the cross in unbelief. Israel
Romans 11:10 – Quote from Psalm 69:23 about Israel’s blindness. Israel
Romans 11:11 – Israel didn’t stumble to be destroyed, but even through their fall they are given opportunity to repent. Israel
Romans 11:12 – Israel’s restoration will be greater than their fall or diminishing. Israel
Romans 11:13 – Paul speaks to Gentiles about Israel. Gentiles that believed when Israel did not (remember Matt 15:28).
Romans 11:14 – Paul wants to save some of Israel. Israel.
Romans 11:15 – If the prophecies of Israel’s casting away are true, then their restoration will be more glorious. Israel
Romans 11:16 – A reference to the law of firstfruits applied to the fulfillment of Israel’s promises. Israel
Romans 11:17 – Unbelieving Israel broken off. The faithful remnant graffed in. The remnant of Israel (made of Jew and Gentile, consider Acts 10).
Romans 11:18 – Boast not against Israel as if you earned something they didn’t. Israel
Romans 11:19-20 – Unbelieving Israel stumbled at faith in Christ, and the remnant didn’t, but be fearful. Remnant of Israel
Romans 11:21 – God cut off unfaithful Israel, he will cut off the unfaithful remnant also. Remnant of Israel
Romans 11:22 – If the remnant does not continue they will be cut off (consider Mark 13:13, and Heb 10:38). Remnant of Israel
Romans 11:23-24 – Israel can return if they believe. Israel
Romans 11:25 – Israel is blind until the fulness of the Gentiles. Israel
Romans 11:26 – Quote from Isaiah 59:20 about Israel’s salvation from Zion Israel
Romans 11:27 – Quote from Jeremiah 31:34 about Israel’s new testament being fulfilled in the kingdom. Israel
Romans 11:28 – They are enemies because they do not have faith, but God has a promise reserved for Israel. Israel
Romans 11:29 – God keeps his promises. Israel
Romans 11:30-31 – Gentiles received mercy through Israel’s unbelief. Israel can receive mercy by those who now believe. Israel
Romans 11:32 – Israel is in unbelief now, so that we can minister to them, not for them to be disregarded. Israel
Romans 11:33-36 – Even in their failure God shows mercy. God is wise and deserving of all glory. Israel

In Romans 9-11 Paul addresses the remnant of Israel about God’s faithfulness to keep his promises to them. This was necessary because the Gentiles who believed during Jesus and Peter’s ministries were boasting about replacing Israel, since Israel failed in unbelief.

Paul had to explain first why this was (Romans 9), where Israel failed (Romans 10), and, finally, why those Gentiles could not boast against Israel (Romans 11), because God will be faithful to keep his promises to them.

When Paul starts talking about Israel in Romans 9-11 the mystery church of Christ’s body does not show up in the context again until Romans 12:3-5.

We must rightly divide even Paul’s epistles.

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Listen to Romans 9-11 verse by verse in more detail here.

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Published: August 10, 2013
Last Modified: March 7, 2018
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