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1THIS leads me to the question, "Has God then totally repudiated his people?" Certainly not! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham and of the tribe of Benjamin.

2It is unthinkable that God should have repudiated his own people, the people whose destiny he himself appointed. Don't you remember what the scripture says in the story of Elijah? How he pleaded with God on Israel's behalf:

3Lord, they have killed thy prophets They have digged down thine altars: And I am left alone, and they seek my life.

4And do you remember God's reply? I have left for myself seven thousand men Who have not bowed the knee to Baal.

5In just the same way, there is at the present time a minority, chosen by the grace of God.

6And if it is a matter of the grace of God, it cannot be a question of their actions especially deserving God's favor, for that would make grace meaningless.

7What conclusion do we reach now? That Israel did not, as a whole, obtain the object of his striving, but a chosen few achieved it. The remainder became more and more insensitive to the righteousness of God.

8This is borne out by the scripture: God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this very day.

9And David says of them: Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, And a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them:

10Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, And bow thou down their back alway.

11Now I ask myself, "Was this fall of theirs an utter disaster?" It was not! For through their failure the benefit of salvation has passed to the gentiles, with the result that Israel is made to see and feel what they have missed.

12For if their failure has so enriched the world, and their defection proved such a benefit to the gentiles, think what tremendous advantages their fulfilling of God's plan could mean!

13Now a word to you who are gentiles. I should like you to know that I make as much as I can of my ministry as "God's messenger to the gentiles"

14so as to make my kinsfolk jealous and thus save some of them.

15For if their exclusion from the pale of salvation has meant the reconciliation of the rest of mankind to God, what would their inclusion mean? It would be nothing less than life from the dead!

16If the flour is consecrated to God so is the whole loaf, and if the roots of a tree are dedicated to God every branch will belong to him also.

17But if some of the branches of the tree have been lopped off, while you, a shoot of wildolive, have been grafted in, and share like a natural branch the rich nourishment of the root,

18don't let yourself feel superior to the former branches. If you feel inclined that way, remind yourself that you do not support the root, the root supports you.

19You may make the natural retort, "But the branches were lopped off to make room for my grafting!"

20Very well, then: They lost their position because they failed to believe; you only maintain yours because you do believe. The situation does not call for conceit but for a certain wholesome fear.

21If God removed the natural branches for a good reason, take care that you don't give him the same reason for removing you.

22You must try to appreciate both the kindness and the strict justice of God. Those who fell experienced his justice, while you are experiencing his kindness, and will continue to do so as long as you do not abuse that kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off from the tree.

23And as for the fallen branches, unless they are obstinate in their unbelief, they will be grafted in again. Such a restoration is by no means beyond the power of God.

24And, in any case, if you who were, so to speak, a cutting from a wildolive, were grafted in against the natural order, is it not a far simpler matter for the natural branches to be grafted back into the parent stem?

25Now I don't want you, my brothers, to be totally ignorant of God s secret plan. And I should not wish you to have ideas of your own which may be false. No, the partial insensibility which has come to Israel is only to last until the full number of the gentiles has been called in.

26Once this has happened, all Israel will be saved, as the scripture says: There shall come out of Zion the deliver, He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

27And this is my covenant unto them, When I shall take away their sins.

28As far as the gospel goes, they are at present God's enemieswhich is to your advantage. But as far as God's purpose in choosing is concerned, they are still beloved for their fathers' sakes.

29For once they are made, God does not withdraw his gifts or his calling.

30Just as in the past you were disobedient to God but have found that mercy which might have been theirs but for their disobedience,

31so they, who at the present moment are disobedient, will eventually share the mercy which has been extended to you.

32God has all men penned together in the prison of disobedience, that he may have mercy upon them all.

33I stand amazed at the fathomless wealth of God's wisdom and God's knowledge. How could man ever understand his reasons for action, or explain his methods of working?

34For: Who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor?

35Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

36For everything began with him, continues its existence because of him, and ends in him. To him be the glory for ever, amen.

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