Question 1: Romans 11:28 says that God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable-He never withdraws them once they are given, and He does not change. Then read verses 30 through 32. It seems like the Jews will get another chance, especially verse 31: “Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.” Doesn’t this contradict the rest of the teachings of Scripture with regards to obtaining salvation?
Question 2: Why then did Paul say in verse 32: “For God hath concluded them all [shut them all up together, margin], in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all?”
Question 3: We are told that the Jews are the enemies of God, which is to the apostles’ advantage and benefit. But from the point of view of God’s choice–of election, of Divine selection–they are still beloved or dear to Him for the sake of their fathers. Read verse 28.
Question 4: Why does it say that part of God’s agreement is to ‘take away their sins’ (Rom. 11:27)?
There is nothing unscriptural about the proposition of living people getting a second chance. The way is open to the most wicked sinner as long as he lives. This has been God’s appeal again and again: “Therefore turn and live!” (Ezek. 18:32). During one’s lifetime, one may be given many chances, even when he is sinning willfully and knows better. However, death is the end of such opportunities; there is no second chance after one’s death (Eccl. 11:3).
Verses 30-32 are clearer as translated in the New English Bible, “For the gracious gifts of God and his calling are irrevocable. Just as formerly you [Gentiles] were disobedient to God, but now have obtained mercy in the time of their [the Jews] disobedience, so now, when you received mercy, they have proved disobedient, but only in order that they too may receive mercy. For in making all mankind prisoners to disobedience, God’s purpose was to show mercy to all mankind.” In this way the Apostle reaffirms God’s justice in giving opportunity to both Jews and Gentiles; He is no respecter of persons–He judges only by character.
In His fairness, He is giving equal opportunity to all. All are by nature disobedient, all are unbelieving (for “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God”–Romans 3:23), and all are in need of God’s mercy so that they can repent and reform. When they do, He promises to forgive abundantly (Isa. 55:6-9). “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not” (Lam. 3:22).
In Romans 11:28, Paul says, “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.” Other translations are helpful in understanding Paul’s thought. For example, Knox translates: God rejects them, to make room for you [Gentiles].” Goodspeed phrases it, “They are treated as enemies of God on your account.” It seems that Paul was using the backsliding of the Jewish people as a reason for God bringing in the Gentiles, and at the same time to make the Jews jealous of what had been their natural heritage. He spoke as though the temporary disfavor upon the Jews was making opportunity for the Gentiles. This was not actually true, as the door had never been closed to the Gentiles. The Lord said through Moses: “And if a stranger dwells among you, and would keep the Lord’s Passover, he must do so according to the rite of the Passover, and according to its ceremony, you shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger the native of the land” (Num. 9:14).
In the book of Romans (chapter 9), Paul seems to stress God’s right to choose His raw material from any source He wishes, though we must realize He is always choosing by the quality of the material itself, and not by such factors as nationality; else He would be a respecter of persons. The promise is that all who will do His will shall know of the doctrine (John 7:17), and it would be impossible for such to be limited to one particular race. The promise is that “God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35).
There will be no sin in God’s finished handiwork, and nothing to hurt nor destroy (Ezek. 34:25; Isa. 11:9). There will be no sickness, sorrow or death (Rev. 21:3-4). “He will destroy its sinners from it” (Isa. 13:9). All wicked doers will be removed by the cleansing fire of God’s judgments, and only the upright will remain (Prov. 2:21-22; Isa. 32: 17-18).
As for the records of His own people, God has promised to take away their sins by forgiveness, so that there is no stain left to even be mentioned against them (Ezek. 33:14-15), and nothing shall enter the “eternal city” which in any way defiles or is defiled (Rev. 21:27).
It seems also that God will remove all tendency to sin from those who are glorified. “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36)–free from everything that can harm or defile. But God’s plan is that this freedom from sin will be given only to those who have met His highest standard of excellence, who have become “pure in heart” (Matt. 5:8); pure even as Christ is pure (1 John 3:3), who have purified their souls by “obeying the truth” (1 Pet. 1:22). We cannot picture the angels struggling against evil dispositions or temptations to sin. God’s finished creation will not be battling evil through all eternity. We do not know just how this will be done, but the result will be individuals that are pure and clean through and through for all eternity.