What Are Romans 9,10, and 11 About?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

I’ve touched on this topic before, but it continues to interest me, so I thought I would cover some new ground on this important section of the New Testament.

Context, when reading any passage of the Bible, is crucial to understanding it.  When we look at the context of Romans 9-11, we immediately discover that the Apostle Paul is speaking of the national condition of Israel.  If you take nothing else from this post, please take that!  Every verse in Romans 9-11 is advancing Paul’s treatment of national Israel.

Dr. Barry Leventhal, of Southern Evangelical Seminary, explains that Romans 9-11 can be outlined as Paul asking and answering a series of four questions:

  1. Haven’t God’s promises to Israel utterly failed? (Rom. 9:1-29)
  2. Why then did Israel fail to attain the righteousness of God? (Rom. 9:30-10:21)
  3. So then God has finally rejected Israel, hasn’t he? (Rom. 11:1-10)
  4. If Israel’s failure is neither total nor final, then what possible purposes could her failure serve in the overall plan of God? (Rom. 11:11-36)

Rather then answering these questions in this blog post, I invite the reader to read these three chapters and attempt to answer these questions herself.

A final point.  Some Christians attempt to draw from these chapters doctrines about individual believers’ justification before God.  But Paul has already dealt with individual justification in the first four chapters of Romans.  Certainly Paul could review what he taught in chapters 1-4, but the context of chapters 9-11 seems to deal with a completely different topic.  So be very careful when making claims about justification from chapters 9-11; you may be placing the words of Paul in a subservient position to your particular theological views.

  • I enjoyed this article very much. I see to the right of me are many more things I want to read. God bless you and your wonderful ministry. Doylene

  • Ronnie J

    Just to push back on your hermeneutic here, based on the opening verses of chapter 9 I would agree that Paul is speaking of the nation Israel directly. But based on your comments I think you would have to say based on your premise that all application of Romans 9-11 to the 21st century Christian is only secondary in nature and only primary to Jews. I.E. This text, to gentiles like us, would be only to see God’s faithfulness in His covenantal promises and His faithfulness in His electing promise of only the people of Israel and the election that is spoken of here has nothing to do with non-Jewish people. Do I understand this to be how you are interpreting this? Thanks!

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Ronnie,
    I would say that election in Rom 9-11 is referring to the selection of the nation of Israel as God’s chosen people, which carries with it several privileges. I do not believe that the election in Rom 9-11 is meant to be applied to the individual justification (salvation) of Christians. I realize that many people read these chapters in that vein, but I think it is incorrect and it takes the verses out of context.

  • Thank you – very helpful and I agree with you. God bless.

  • Bill Pratt

    Thanks for the encouragement.

    God bless,

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