After writing the words recorded in Chapter Ten, Paul saw an objection arising from his adversaries. Has God cast away all of His people who are called Jews? Where is His covenant with Israel? How are His promises to Israel to be understood? What hope can the Jew have of obtaining salvation? Paul proceeds to deal with these questions.
(Vs. 1) In his usual way, when objection is contrary to Scripture and very displeasing to him, he exclaims, "God forbid" (Rom. 3:3-4, 3:31; 6:1-2). "Has God cast away all Jews?" "God forbid; I am a Jew." The Lord was pleased to save Saul of Tarsus who was of the seed of Abraham and of the little tribe of Benjamin. God even made him a minister of the gospel.
(Vs. 2) Here is the most important statement: "God hath not cast away His people WHICH HE FOREKNEW" among the Jews or Gentiles. There is a sense in which all mankind are God's people. They are certainly His creatures, His subjects, His to do with as He will. But all are not foreknown; all are not objects of His eternal love and grace (Rom. 8:28-30). Many will hear Him say, "I never knew you." Even so, Israel was chosen from among the nations. They were called the people of God and were blessed with the promises, the prophets, the Law, and the sacrifices; but all were not foreknown, for most of them perished in unbelief (Heb. 4:2). Elijah made intercession, not FOR Israel but against them.
(Vs. 3) Instead of praying for them as prophets were accustomed to do, Elijah was obliged to complain against them for their idolatry, contempt, and unbelief. He, too, thought that God was finished with Israel and would totally abandon them, for "they have destroyed the altars of God;" and he felt that he was the only Israelite left who worshipped the true God (I Kings 19:10).
(Vs. 4) How did God answer Elijah? (I Kings 19:18). "You are not aloneI have seven thousand men in Israel who know my name and seek my glory." God had not completely cast Israel away then, nor has He cast all Jews away now. Sincere men, like Elijah, are often wrong when they despair for the cause of God and truth. When the church and the cause of Christ seem at the lowest (idolatry, superstition, and error are seemingly in full command), God always has a people whom He foreknew, redeemed, and called.
(Vs. 5) Even so, at this present time there is a remnant (there are some); there always has been, is now, and always will be. Elijah was not the only Jewish believer in his day; and Paul says, "I am not the only one today." The number may be small (Rom. 9:27), but God has His people.
"According to the election of grace" (Eph. 1:3-4; II Thess. 2:13). (1) God chose us. (2) God chose us in Christ. (3) God chose us from eternity. (4) God chose us to be like Christ. (5) God chose according to His own will (John 1:12-13; Rom. 9:16).
Almost every religionist believes in some sort of election. He must, because election is a Bible term. But the election taught in Scripture is not based on works, foreseen merit, nor man's will; but God elected us according to His will, purpose, mercy, and grace (II Tim. 1:8-9). Left to ourselves we would not love God, seek God, nor come to Christ (John 5:40-44; I Cor. 2:14).
(Vs. 6) Salvation is by the pure, unmerited grace and mercy of God. The works, efforts, and deeds of men are not involved (John 1:12-13; Rom. 9:15-16). If salvation comes to us because of our works (however small), then it is not of grace. If you can find any reason why God should save you other than that by His grace in Christ He was pleased to show mercy, then you are advocating salvation by works.
(Vs. 7) "What then?" What can be said to this point that the apostle advocates? It is as clear as the sun. God has not cast away all the people of the Jews nor any whom He foreknew and gave to Christ of any age or period of time.
"Israel hath not obtained what they sought"that is, carnal Israel (the body and bulk of that people who sought life and righteousness by the deeds and ceremonies of the Law); for this is impossible (Rom. 3:20; Heb. 10:4). They sought righteousness in the wrong place, in the wrong way.
"But the election hath obtained it and the rest were blinded." Paul divides Israel into two partsTHE ELECTION and THE REST. These chosen ones obtained mercy, grace, and righteousness in Christ as the apostle himself did, and the rest were left in darkness (II Cor. 4:3-6).