Monday, September 1, 2014

1 Corinthians Chapter 14 – Part One

1 Corinthians 14:1

Priority of prophecy to tongues

1Co_13:1-13 is one of the most sublime digressions in any letter in any language. But it was nonetheless a deviation from the central theme of gifts and their use by the church which Paul began in 1Co_12:1-31 and then concluded in 1Co_14:1-40. Paul had intimated in 1Co_12:1-31 that the Corinthian were perverting the purpose of gifts from a unifying influence on the church to one fostering fragmentation and discord (esp. 1Co_12:21-25). A contributing factor to their factious spirit was the Corinthian pursuit of individual freedom and personal enhancement at the expense of other members of the body whose needs may have been trampled or ignored along the way. Manifestations of this self-centeredness affected each of the problem issues taken up since 1Co_8:1-13.
The focal problem in the matter of the use and abuse of gifts seemed to be the Corinthian fascination with tongues, a gift which apparently lent itself most readily to perversion from something intended “for the common good” (1Co_12:7) to something employed for personal enhancement (1Co_14:4). Paul’s corrective was not to stifle the use of gifts (1Co_14:39; cf. 1Th_5:19-20) but to urge that their use be regulated by love. Charity is love. If you love as God loves, then you will want all mankind to be saved.
Every believer is commanded to pursue love. Because love-lessness was a root spiritual problem in the Corinthian church, the godly love just described should have been sought after by them with particular determination and diligence.
“Desire spiritual gifts”: Love does not preclude the use of these enablement’s. Since Paul has addressed not desiring showy gifts in 12:31, and not elevating one over the other in 12:-14-25, some might think it best to set them all aside for unity’s sake. Spiritual gifts on the other hand, are sovereignly bestowed by God on each believer and necessary for the building of the church (12:1-10)
Desire for them in this context, is in reference to their use collectively and faithfully in His service, not a personal yearning to have an admired gift that one did not possess. As a congregation, the Corinthians should be wanting the full expression of all the gifts to be exercised. “You” is plural, emphasizing the corporate desire of the church.
“Prophesy”: This spiritual gift was desirable in the life of the church to serve in a way that tongues cannot, namely, by edifying the entire church, verse 5.
The gifts of the Spirit should be controlled by the fruit of the Spirit, chief among which was love (Gal_5:22). This would lead to exercising the gifts so they would benefit the church body as a whole (1Co_14:5) and also honor God (1Co_14:25, 1Co_14:33, 1Co_14:40). By way of illustration and correction, Paul compared and contrasted the Corinthians’ preoccupation with tongues with their apparent disinterest in prophecy.
1 Corinthians 14:2

What Paul meant by speaking in a tongue is a matter of considerable debate. One common view is to see Paul’s use of the word “tongue” (glōssa) against the background of first-century pagan religions and thus define it as ecstatic speech similar to that expressed by the sibylla, or female prophetesses. The Cumaen sibyl was the most famous of the 10 female prophetesses claimed by various regions. Others see the tongues-speaking in 1 Corinthians as ecstatic speech similar to that of Pythia, the female oracle at Delphi or similar to the maenads of Dionysus in their ecstatic frenzy. That the Corinthians may have thought of this gift as analogous to the pagan ecstatics is certainly possible, but to suggest that Paul used the term with reference to this pagan background is hardly enlightened scholarship. In fact the seedbed for most of Paul’s theological concepts and the usual source of his terms was the Old Testament. This is evident by Paul’s use of glōssa outside of these three Corinthian chapters. He used the word 21 times in 1 Corinthians 12-14 but only 3 other times in his other letters. Each of Paul’s other uses was either in a quotation from the Old Testament (Psa_5:9 in Rom_3:13; Isa_45:23 in Rom_14:11) or in an allusion to it (Isa_45:23 in Php_2:11). In all three instances he used the word “tongue” as a figure of speech for the statement or confession made. Whether good (Rom_14:11; Php_2:11) or bad (Rom_3:13) the statement was clearly intelligible.
The same may be said of the meaning of the word glōssa elsewhere in the New Testament. Whether it was used literally of the physical organ (e.g., Mar_7:33; Jas_3:5; Rev_16:10) or figuratively of human languages (e.g., Act_2:11; Rev_5:9; Rev_7:9; Rev_10:11; Rev_11:9; Rev_13:7; Rev_14:6; Rev_17:15), it nowhere referred to ecstatic speech. If it is reasonable to interpret the unknown with the help of the known, the obscure by the clear, then the burden of proof rests with those who find in this term a meaning other than human language.
The context of this verse is the assembled congregation in Corinth (1 Cor. 11:2-14:40, esp. 1Co_14:4-5) in which utterance in a tongue was given without the benefit of interpretation (cf. 1Co_14:13, 1Co_14:19). Apparently no native speaker of the tongue was present in the assembly (cf. 1Co_14:10-11), and no one was given supernatural enablement to interpret it. The utterances therefore were mysteries, truths requiring a supernatural disclosure which God had not provided the Corinthians in this particular instance. As a result, the expression of tongues became an exercise in futility for the assembly as a whole, with only the speaker deriving some benefit if any (1Co_14:4) in his spirit (cf. 1Co_14:14), the sentient aspect of his being (pneuma; cf. Mat_5:3; Act_17:16; 2Co_2:13).

1 Corinthians 14:3

One with the gift of prophecy (cf. 1Co_12:10), on the other hand, spoke in the tongue of his listeners, in this case Greek, and edified them by proclaiming God’s Word in such a way that it gave them strengthening, (oikodomēn, “edification”), encouragement, (paraklēsin), and comfort (paramythian, “consolation,” used only here in the NT). Prophesying in this sense is to predict to speak as a prophet to reveal a divine message Edification the condition of being informed spiritually. "Exhortation" the act of persuading (or attempting to persuade); communication intended to induce belief or action. We see then, that preaching should not just win people to the Lord, but should build them up after they are saved. It should comfort and console them, as well. The gospel message is good news.
“Prophesieth”: In dramatic contrast to the bedlam of counterfeit tongues was the gift of genuine prophecy or preaching of the truth. It produced the building up in truth, the encouragement to obedience, and the comfort in trouble that God desired for His church. Spiritual gifts are always for the benefit of others, never self.
1 Corinthians 14:4

A person with the gift of tongues (cf. 1Co_12:10) who spoke without the benefit of the gift of interpretation (cf. 1Co_12:10) could edify himself but not others in the church. The edification resulted from the fact that the user of a gift experienced the confirmation that he was the individual object of God’s grace (cf. 1Co_12:18, 1Co_12:28) and able to offer praise to God (1Co_14:16). Though he himself would not comprehend the content of that praise, his feelings and emotions would be enlivened, leading to a general exhilaration and euphoria. This was not a bad thing. Paul certainly was no advocate of cold, dispassionate worship. The gifts were not given for personal enrichment, however, but for the benefit of others (1Co_12:7; cf. 1Co_10:24; 1Pe_4:10). Personal edification and exhilaration were often natural by-products of the legitimate exercise of one’s gift, but they were not the main reasons for its exercise.
1 Corinthians 14:5

Paul had no intention of depreciating the gift of tongues; he was simply interested in appreciating the gift of prophecy. There was nothing wrong with the gift of tongues; in fact Paul thought it would be good if everyone had the gift. Of course he had said the same thing about celibacy (1Co_7:7), but in neither instance did he expect universal compliance with his statement. Since both were gifts from God, neither should be despised. “All spake with tongues … ye prophesied”: Here the plural “tongues”, appears as Paul was referring to the real gift of languages. Obviously this was not Paul’s true desire, even for the true gift, since the very idea was impossible and contrary to God’s sovereign distribution of gifts.
He was simply suggesting hypothetically that, if they insisted on clamoring after gifts they did not possess, they at least should seek the one that was more enduring and more valuable for the church. The only purpose tongues renders to the church is when it is interpreted (the normal Greek word for translation).
Wherever God gave the gift of languages, He also gave the gift for translation, so that the sign would also be edifying. Never was the gift to be used without such translation (v.28), so that the church would always be edified.
Paul is not telling them not to speak in tongues. In fact, he says, I wish you all had the evidence that the Holy Spirit had filled you with spiritual gifts. When the person speaking is moved upon by the Spirit of God and brings the message in tongues to the body of Christ, there should always be an interpreter to tell the congregation exactly what the message is from God. Then the church is built up, when it knows the message is from God to them.
In a church gathering, however, the gift of prophecy and its exercise was greatly to be preferred to uninterpreted tongues simply because the former built up others. As already stated, the tongues gift was confirmatory and thus temporary               (1Co_13:8). Thus those instructions, specifically directed to the Corinthians’ misuse of tongues, are not directives for the use of tongues today.
1 Corinthians 14:6

Two illustrations (in 1Co_14:6 and 1Co_14:7-9) made this plain. In the first, Paul used himself with a possible glance back to his initial ministry in Corinth. He could have come proclaiming his message in the tongue of a language which they did not know (cf. 1Co_14:18), but it would have produced only disinterest at best (1Co_14:11) or at worst, derision (1Co_14:23). As it was, he brought them a revelation from God (cf. 1Co_2:10) by his ministry of prophecy (1Co_12:29), or he brought them a word of knowledge (cf. 1Co_2:12) by his ministry of instruction (1Co_12:29; cf. 1Co_14:26) which they would understand and to which they could respond (cf. 1Co_14:24-25). Paul is saying, here, that he will not speak to them in tongues, because they would not benefit from it. He will preach by revelation knowledge from God. He, also, speaks to them of the things he has learned. Preaching comes in several different forms; I personally believe the most effective sermons are when the speaker is overwhelmed by the Spirit of God, and God speaks through the preacher.
Even an apostle who spoke in tongues did not spiritually benefit a congregation unless, through interpretation, his utterance was clarified so that the revelation and knowledge could be understandably preached and taught. Any private use of this gift is excluded for several reasons:
(1) It is a sign to unbelievers, verse 22
(2) It must have a translator to have any meaning, even to the speaker, verse 2, and
(3) It must edify the church, verse 6.
In verses 7-9, Paul illustrates his previous point about the uselessness of even the true gift apart from translation for the church to understand. If even inanimate musical instruments are expected to make sensible sounds, how much more should human speech make sense, especially when it deals with the things of God?
1 Corinthians 14:7-9

The same was true in a musical tune or a call to battle. To be profitable for others the notes of a flute or harp or trumpet needed to be clear and intelligible; otherwise they amounted to no more than the venting of air with consequences which, besides being annoying (1Co_14:7), might be devastating (1Co_14:8). If an instrument of music is out of tune, it would be impossible to bless anyone with the sounds it produced.
The trumpet was used to call the people to battle when it was played a certain way. You would not know what to do, if a recognizable sound did not come from the instrument. This same trumpet was used to call the people to worship. The trumpet was silver {redemption} that was used for the gathering of the people. This is the same trumpet {silver} that will be blown to redeem the Christians from the earth. We will know the sound well and go to meet the Lord in the air. To speak in tongues and no one interpret would be of no use to the winning of souls at all. Speaking in tongues in public should never be done without an interpreter.
1 Corinthians 14:10-12

Human communication operated on the same principles as instrumental communication. The word languages in 1Co_14:10 is phōnōn, the plural of the same word phōnēn, rendered “sounds” of the harp (1Co_14:7) and “call” of the trumpet (1Co_14:8). Human sounds, apart from a shared understanding of their meanings, were worthless. Paul simply points up the obvious: the purpose of every language is to communicate, not to impress and certainly not to confuse, as the Corinthians had been doing with their counterfeits. That was clearly the point in the first instance of tongues: Each heard the apostles speak in his own language, Acts 2:6.
This section makes an undeniable case for the fact that the true gift of tongues was never some unintelligible gibberish, but was human language that was to be translated.
So was the Corinthian preoccupation with uninterpreted tongues. That was why Paul did not discourage their interest in spiritual gifts but did encourage them to pursue those gifts that benefited all in the church (1Co_14:12; cf. 1Co_12:31; 1Co_14:1). Again Paul returned to the issue of edification, central to all gifts.
We all want to be able to minister more effectively in the church. The various gifts of the Spirit are for that very purpose. Paul is saying here, seek the gifts that will do the most good to build the church up.
 1 Corinthians 14:13

Interpreted tongues, like prophecy, could benefit the assembly (cf. Act_19:6). Therefore the gift of interpretation should be requested of God. If no one was present who was able to interpret, the tongues-speaker was to keep silent (1Co_14:28). Many, who speak in tongues, also have the gift of interpretation. That is one way that you would know for sure that the message in tongues would be understood by all in the church. Paul is saying pray for the gift of interpretation to go with your gift of tongues.
1 Corinthians 14:14-17

It was also true that however beneficial the gift of tongues might be to its recipient (cf. 1Co_14:4), when coupled with the gift of interpretation it had much more value because it involved not only the feeling aspects of a person, but his mental faculties as well. If it were true that one who possessed the gift of tongues would find his worship enhanced by the possession and use of the gift of interpretation (1Co_14:15), it was certainly true that anyone listening to him who did not have the same gift could not empathize with the tongues-speaker. At least another person with the gift of tongues could identify with the exhilaration experienced in the exercise of the gift. In verses 14-17 Paul continues to speak sarcastically, (verse 16 and chapter 4:8-10) about counterfeit tongues, so he used the singular “tongue”, which refers to the fake gift. He was speaking hypothetically to illustrate the foolishness and pointlessness of speaking in ecstatic gibberish. The speaker could not understand, and what virtue is there in praying to God or praising God without understanding? No one can “Amen” such nonsense. Amen means so be it.
Without the interpretation, the people around you would not be able to praise God with you. How in the world could they agree, if they did not know what you were saying?
“Unlearned”: Meaning uninformed or ignorant.
However, a Christian with a different gift required intelligible communication if he were to gain any benefit from what was said and so have a basis for affirming his agreement by saying an Amen. But such comprehension did not exist if the tongue were not interpreted and so the brother was not edified.
1 Corinthians 14:18-19

Paul’s concern to harness the enthusiasm for the gift of tongues in Corinth was not motivated by sour grapes. When it came to the gift of tongues, he could outtalk them all. But Paul was not primarily interested in self-fulfillment. Instead he was concerned with ministering to others and thereby glorifying God (cf. 1Co_10:31-33). For that reason he did not use his gift of tongues with the assembled church but he did exercise his gift of prophecy (1Co_14:6). That, in fact, was in accord with God’s purpose. Where then did tongues fit into God’s purpose? Paul discussed that next. “I speak with tongues more than ye all”: Paul emphasized that by writing all of this, he was not condemning genuine tongues (plural); nor, as some may have thought to accuse him, was he envious of a gift he did not possess.
At that point, he stopped speaking hypothetically about counterfeit tongue speaking. He actually had more occasions to use the true gift than all of them. He knew the true gift and had used it properly.
Paul, in all of this, is not speaking against tongues. He is just explaining the proper use of tongues. Paul is not ashamed that he has the evidence of speaking in tongues and that he is filled with the Holy Spirit. He just wants to explain not to run people who do not understand off from the church. “Teach others”: This is the general principle that summarizes what Paul has been saying, i.e., teaching others are the important matter and that requires understanding.
1 Corinthians 14:20

The Corinthian infatuation with tongues was for Paul another manifestation of their immaturity and worldliness (cf. 1Co_3:1-3). This he hoped would change, especially in regard to an enhanced appraisal of prophecy and recognition of the importance of this gift for the assembled church. We are God's children, so we should always be humble before God as His dear children. We should be forgiving as children forgive, as well. Children can fight one minute, and in the next five minutes be playing again. They are quick to forgive and forget. In that, we should be just like them. We should not be children in the decisions we make, however. We should be mature Christians in understanding. We should grow in the Lord each day, so that we will be wise in the decisions that we make. Our understanding of the things of God must be influenced by the teaching of the Holy Spirit of God.
Most of the Corinthian believers were the opposite of what Paul here admonished. They were extremely experienced in evil, but greatly lacking in wisdom. Yet mature understanding was especially essential for proper comprehension and use of the gift of tongues, because the conspicuous and fascinating nature of the gift made it so attractive to the flesh. He was asking his readers to put aside emotion and experience, along with the desires of the flesh and pride, to think carefully about the purpose of tongues.
His final words, contrasting prophecy and tongues (1Co_14:21-25), were intended to conclude the exhortation begun in 1Co_14:1.

Romans Chapter 11 Part One

Romans 11:1-6

 God’s sovereign choice fulfilled
To this point in this major section of Romans (chaps. 9-11) God’s personal righteousness and His provided righteousness for people has been displayed primarily in Israel’s rejecting Christ and rebelling against God, and in God’s choosing and turning to Gentiles in grace. These themes continue in this chapter, but God’s sovereign choice also involves His restoring Israel and His being magnified thereby.
In Election Of Grace
Paul’s transition from Rom_10:1-21 is seen in the repetition of his rhetorical clause “I ask” (Rom_10:18-19). I ask then is literally, “Therefore, I say.” The apostle’s question is, Did God reject His people? In Greek the question is asked to elicit a negative reply: “God did not reject His people, did He?” This is reinforced by Paul’s characteristic negative ejaculation, By no means! (mē genoito; cf. comments on Rom_3:4) Then Paul presented himself as his first proof. He had responded by faith to Jesus Christ and had received God’s provided righteousness, and yet he was an Israelite (cf. Php_3:5) and of the tribe of Benjamin. Though small, Benjamin was a significant tribe (Saul, Israel’s first king, was from Benjamin). “Cast away”: To thrust away from oneself. The form of the question in the Greek text expects a negative answer. Despite Israel’s disobedience, God has not rejected His people. God forbid is the strongest form of negation in Greek.
We see here, again, that Paul is proud of his Israelite heritage. Paul mentions this heritage several times in his writings.
2 Corinthians 11:22 "Are they Hebrews? so [am] I.  Are they Israelites? so [am] I.  Are they the seed of Abraham?  so [am] I." And we, also, read in Paul's writings:
Philippians 3:5 "Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;"
Paul is very proud that he was of the physical house of Israel as well as the spiritual house of Israel.
We, also, see that God never completely gives up on the physical house of Israel even if they have walked away from Him.
Jeremiah 33:24-26 "Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, the two families which the LORD hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? Thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them." "Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant [be] not with day and night, [and if] I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth;" "Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, [so] that I will not take [any] of his seed [to be] rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them."
God is long-suffering and is always ready to forgive them and receive them back.
If God could save Paul (Act_9:1-43; Act_22:1-30; Act_26:1-32), He certainly could save other Jews (1Ti_1:15-16). Then he positively declared, God did not reject His people (quoted from 1Sa_12:22; Psa_94:14), whom He foreknew (proegnō, “had a meaningful relationship with”; cf. Amo_3:2. God had chosen Israel as His covenant people from eternity past and entered into a relationship with them that will never be destroyed (cf. Jer_31:37).
 Paul’s second proof that God has not rejected His people was taken from Israel’s history during Elijah’s ministry. The prophet was deeply depressed, having fled for his life from Jezebel. Paul said, Elijah… appealed to (entynchanei, “petitioned”; trans. “intercedes” in Rom_8:27 and “is… interceding” in Rom_8:34) God against Israel. “Which He foreknew”: Israel’s disobedience does not nullify God’s predetermined love relationship with her.
This scripture is speaking of God withholding the autumn and spring rains and summer dew which were necessities for the crops of Israel. The Lord had threatened to withhold these from the land if His people turned from Him to serve other gods. Elijah had prayed for the drought and God answered. It lasted 3 years and six months according to James 5:17. The drought proved that Baal, the god of the rains and fertility, was impotent before the Lord.
Paul then quoted part of the prophet’s complaint (1Ki_19:10, 1Ki_19:14), reversing the order of the details quoted and concluding with Elijah’s lament, I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me. This is a quote from I Kings:
19:10-14 "And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, [even] I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." "And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD.  And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; [but] the LORD [was] not in the wind: and  after the wind an earthquake; [but] the LORD [was] not in the earthquake:" "And after the earthquake a fire; [but] the LORD [was] not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice." "And it was [so], when Elijah heard [it] that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, [there came] a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?" "And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, [even] I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." 
We can see from this that God is interested in just one prophet that belongs to Him. God will not forsake His own. Just as any parent will not forsake their children, God will not forsake His own.
Elijah considered himself the only believing person left in Israel. Paul asked, And what was God’s answer (lit., “the divine response”) to him? God was not limited to one fearful, depressed prophet; He had reserved for Himself a godly remnant in Israel that numbered 7,000 (1Ki_19:18). The preservation of the faithful remnant was a work of God. After Elijah had finished killing the 450 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:40), Ahab had told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and she sent a message to Elijah saying that she would take his life by the next day. He fled for his life and ended up in the wilderness under a broom tree and prayed for death. It was at this point he was so discouraged and didn’t want to go on. Elijah thought at this point that he was all alone. As he slept, an angel touched him waking him up. God had provided food and drink for Elijah in the midst of his distress and the surrounding famine. That’s when God told him:
I Kings 19:18 "Yet I have left [me] seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him."
Paul points to himself in verse 1 as an example that God did not make a blanket rejection of the Jews. He then proceeds in verses 2 to 4 to draw a parallel with Elijah and the 7,000 from among the millions of Israel who had not served Baal.

After the historical illustration Paul drew a conclusion for his day: So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace (lit., “a remnant according to the election of grace has come to be”). Paul then writes: "So, then, also, at the present time a remnant [of Israel] has come to be by [God's] choosing and unmerited favor." This "remnant" composed of Jews, by believing in Jesus Christ, became a part of that real "Israel" composed of "true Jews."
Although the nation had rejected Jesus, thousands of individual Jews had come to faith in Him.
Paul was only one of many in his generation elected to faith from the people of Israel. In every generation of the church “a remnant chosen by grace” has been called from among the Jews. Paul added that this choice is totally by God’s grace (cf. Eph_2:8-9) and he emphasized the antithesis between grace and works (cf. Rom_4:4-5; Rom_9:30-32). "Grace versus Works". "Grace" is CHARis, meaning "favor." A closely-related word, CHARisma, means "a free gift." For a gift to truly be a gift, it must be unmerited and unearned. Once you mix one particle of work into the transaction, it is no longer fully grace since merit becomes involved. Israel Does Not Deserve God's Continued Favor Like all who have been chosen by God, the nation Israel, as represented by the believing remnant among the Jews, does not deserve God's continued election.
Paul emphasizes that it is by God's undeserved, unmerited favor, which overcomes the rejection and crucifixion of Israel's own Messiah. Israel neither earned nor deserves God's favor. He stands by Israel because of His name's sake (Ezek. 36:20-24).
Concerning the gospel, unbelieving Jews are enemies, but concerning election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Rom. 11:28-32).
Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:" "Not of works, lest any man should boast." 
We see from this that we can not work our way to heaven. Salvation is a free gift. Truly even the Holy Spirit must woo you, or the desire to come to Jesus would never be there. Our part in all of this is to reach out and take what God has offered to us. Truly we have nothing to do with who we are as we read in this next Scripture.
I Corinthians 15:10 "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which [was bestowed] upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."

Romans 11:7-10

Paul then discussed what “a remnant chosen by grace” out of Israel meant for the people as a whole. The situation was ironic. The Jews zealously sought to be accepted by God on the basis of works and the righteousness of the Law (cf. Rom_10:2-3). However, they were not accepted by God; only the elect were, because of God’s sovereign choice by grace. The others were hardened (cf. Rom_11:25). In spite of their intense religious zeal, the Jews of Paul’s day had failed to obtain God’s righteousness.
The Elect are those whom God graciously had chosen in turn sought and found His righteousness.
“Were blinded”: By a judicial act of God, in response to their hardened hearts. As we learned in Romans 1, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.
What it means to be hardened is seen from Paul’s explanatory and supporting quotations. The first is taken from both Deu_29:3-4 and Isa_29:10, and indicates that hardening involves spiritual drowsiness (stupor is the rendering of katanyxeōs, “a numbness resulting from a sting”), blindness, and deafness (cf. Isa_6:9-10). Matthew 13:14-15 "And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:" "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."
These Scriptures leave no doubt that God first must call us and the Holy Spirit has to reveal to us the meaning, or we, too, would be blinded. It is God that opens our ears of understanding to His Word. He is our source, we must depend on Him. The beginning of wisdom is to fear God. This fear is to reverence Him or to hold Him in awe. Unless God reveals Himself to us, we do not truly know Him. He loves everyone and wants us all to love Him, but if we choose not to follow Him, He will stop up our ears and eyes and we will not be able to understand.
He does not want us to come to Him with our mind, He wants our heart.
Ezekiel 12:2 "Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they [are] a rebellious house."
Mark 4:11-12 "And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all [these] things are done in parables:" "That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and [their] sins should be forgiven them." This is because of their evil heart that Jesus does not reveal Himself to them.
The first line of this scripture was quoted from Isaiah 29:10 and the last lines are from Deut. 29:4.
The second quotation (in Rom_11:9-10) is of Psa_69:22-23, which predicts that the very things which should have been the source of nourishment and blessing to Israel (table means their blessings from the hand of God, which should have led them to Christ; cf. Gal_3:24) became the occasion for their rejection of God (a snare and a trap, a stumbling block; cf. Rom_9:32-33) and God’s judgment (retribution) on them. A person’s “table” was thought to be a place of safety, but the table of the ungodly is a trap. Many people trust in the very things that damn them.
In the 23rd Psalm, we see the opposite of this table. Psalms 23:5 "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."
David's table was a blessing and theirs was a curse. They did not have their heart right with God.
I Timothy 6:17-19 "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;" “That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;" "Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
We see from these 3 Scriptures that to whom much is given, much is required. This does not mean just wealth of money, but has to do with knowledge of the Bible, as well. To know God and His Word and then to sin is much worse than to sin in ignorance.
Because they refused to receive God’s truth (cf. Isa_6:9-10; Joh_5:40) their backs will be bent under the weight of guilt and punishment forever.

Romans 11:11-12

In Gentiles)
Paul asked still another question he anticipated from his readers. Did they stumble (cf. Rom_9:32) so as to fall beyond recovery? Literally, the Greek says simply, “Did they stumble so that they fell?” But the tense of the verb “fell” and its contrast with the verb translated “stumble” imply the idea of falling beyond recovery. Once again the question in Greek was worded to elicit a negative answer, and for the 10th and last time in Romans, Paul responded, Not at all! (mē genoito; cf. Rom_3:4, Rom_3:6, Rom_3:31; Rom_6:2, Rom_6:15; Rom_7:7, Rom_7:13; Rom_9:14; Rom_11:1) “They” refers to “the others” (Rom_11:7), the majority of the people of Israel, excluding the “remnant chosen by grace” (Rom_11:5).
Israel experienced not a permanent fall, but a stumbling. It served at least two divine purposes: (a) to offer salvation… to the Gentiles, and (b) to make Israel envious (lit., “to the provoking of them to jealousy”; cf. Deu_32:21). The form of Paul’s question and his strong response confirm that Isarel’s blindness, hardening and apostasy are not irreversible. Their “fall” is Israel’s rejection of Jesus Christ.
“To provoke them to jealousy”: God intends to use His offer of salvation to the despised Gentiles to draw the nation back to Him. Salvation to the Gentiles is something the Old Testament had long prophesied.

Acts 13:42 "And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath."  We see that the Gentiles readily accepted the Lord Jesus Christ when the Jews rejected Jesus. God still loves the Jew [the physical house of Israel] and, as we have been reading, He will save a remnant of them.
Twice already in his ministry Paul had turned away from unbelieving Jews to the Gentiles (Act_13:46; Act_18:6), and he would do so at least once more in Rome (Act_28:25-28). In so doing he was fulfilling these purposes of God. But Paul was convinced that Israel’s transgression (paraptōma, “false step,” which seems to fit with “stumble”; cf. paraptōma, trans. “trespass” in Rom_5:17-18, Rom_5:20) was temporary. So he looked beyond its immediate results (riches for the world and… riches for the Gentiles) to the possibility of its removal (how much greater riches will their fullness bring!). This is just God's way of allowing the Gentile believers to be saved. We Gentile believers have been grafted in to the family of God. The failure of the Jews to acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah and be God’s witness nation resulted in the Gentile church being given that privilege.
“How much more their fullness” meaning the Jews future spiritual renewal. Israel’s “fall” and “diminishing” is temporary.
 “World” here means mankind, not the physical world (cf. “world” in Rom_11:15). Certainly the world has been enriched spiritually because of so many Gentiles coming to Christ. But even greater riches will be enjoyed by Gentiles after the conversion of Israel at the Lord’s return (cf. Rom_11:26). Israel’s “fullness” suggests a large-scale conversion (cf. “full number [lit., ‘fullness’] of the Gentiles,” Rom_11:25).

Romans 11:13-15

Paul then singled out a part of the Christian community at Rome, saying, I am talking to you Gentiles. Though writing, Paul used terms referring to oral communication, a fact with implications for the inspiration of the Scriptures. Paul then affirmed his special position as the apostle to the Gentiles (cf. Act_9:15; Gal_1:16; Gal_2:7-8; Eph_3:8), and declared, I make much of (lit., “I glorify” or “I magnify”) my ministry. “Office”: meaning ministry.
Here is what God said of Saul/Paul: Acts 9:15 "But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:"

You can see from this that his first call was to the Gentile. I will give you one Scripture of many that shows that Paul was aware of his call to the Gentiles.
II Timothy 1:11: "Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles".

Eph. 3:8-9 "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;" "And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:"
Part of Paul’s purpose for magnifying his service to the Gentiles was to provoke to jealousy his fellow Jews (Rom_11:11), resulting in the salvation of some of them (cf. Rom_9:1-4; Rom_10:1). Paul was actually commissioned of God to bring the salvation message to the Gentiles, but he could not quite ever give up on his brothers, the Jews.
Paul in verse 14 above is saying that, perhaps, while he is bringing this message to the Gentiles, some of his Hebrew brothers will hear and understand, as well.

Any such Jews won to Christ would be part of the “remnant chosen by grace.” Then Paul reminded his Gentiles readers that Israel’s rejection meant the reconciliation of the world in the purpose of God. Because Israel rejected Christ, the gospel was taken to these Gentiles. In Scripture reconciliation is a work of God in the death of Christ which does not actually restore an individual to fellowship with God but provides the basis for him to be restored to fellowship (cf. 2Co_5:18-20). This statement serves to explain the meaning of the phrases “riches for the world” and “riches for the Gentiles” in Rom_11:12. (When a person comes to Christ by faith God’s work of reconciliation is appropriated to him and he then has fellowship with God and the spiritual enmity is removed.)
Because Paul was convinced that Israel’s stumbling is temporary, he asked, What will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (lit., “out from dead ones”) This is not speaking of bodily resurrection but the passing from spiritual death to spiritual life. This phrase also describes the future spiritual rebirth of Israel.
There is no better example of this in the entire Bible than in Ezekiel where the story of the dry bones is found. In this account we will see, that at the end God will bring back to life the natural Israelite, and they and the spiritual house of Israel {Christians} will all be part of the family of God. The 2 sticks that come together are the spiritual and the physical houses of Israel. Jesus Christ {their Messiah} saves us all.

Ezekiel 37:1-14 "The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which [was] full of bones," "And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, [there were] very many in the open valley; and, lo, [they were] very dry." "And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest." "Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD." "Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:" "And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD." "So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone."  "And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but [there was] no breath in them."  "Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." "So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army." 

"Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts." "Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel." "And ye shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves," "And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken [it], and performed [it], saith the LORD."

 This question explains the clause, “How much greater riches will their fullness bring” (Rom_11:12). Israel’s “acceptance” of Christ is related to “the first resurrection” (Rev_20:4-6), the resurrection of life (Joh_5:29 1, KJV). The first resurrection includes dead saints at the Rapture (1Th_4:13-18), martyred Great Tribulation saints raised at Christ’s return (Rev_20:4, Rev_20:5), and believing Old Testament saints (Dan_12:1-2). The second resurrection will include all the wicked dead to be judged at the great white throne judgment (Rev_20:5, Rev_20:12-13). The teaching that there will be one general resurrection of all humanity at one time fails to take these distinctions into account.