Faithful all week. Pronouns, antecedents, and making sense of Romans 11.

August 21, 2017


If you had a hard time following the Romans reading on August 20, you aren't alone.  There are just too many pronouns with unclear antecedents, the result of only getting a few verses from the beginning and the end of Romans 11.  It is worth the time to read all of it!   Below, I have replaced the pronouns with what is behind them in hopes that it will make more sense:


For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you [Gentile Christians]  were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of [the Israelites'] disobedience, so [the Israelites] have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you [Gentile Christians], {the Israelites] too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all. - Romans 11.29-32


Israelite/Jewish disobedience leads to God's opportunity to bring the Gentiles in by mercy (by faith).  And that mercy then extends to cover even the disobedience of the Israelites.  So that God may win us by mercy rather than by the Law, as Paul writes in Romans 10.1-4:


Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for [the Israelites] is that they may be saved. I can testify that [the Israelites] have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.


Disobedience, mercy, faith - these are the great equalizers of all humanity. 



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