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1I ASK, then: Has God rejected his people? Of course not! I am an Israelite myself, of the stock of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

2God has not rejected the people he acknowledged of old as his own. Surely you know what scripture says in the story of Elijah -- how he pleads with God against Israel:

3“Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have torn down your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.”

4But what was the divine word to him? “I have left myself seven thousand men who have not knelt to Baal.”

5In just the same way at the present time a “remnant” has come into being, chosen by the grace of God.

6But if it is by grace, then it does not rest on deeds, or grace would cease to be grace.

7What follows? What Israel sought, Israel has not attained, but the chosen few have attained it. The rest were hardened,

8as it stands written: “God has dulled their senses; he has given them blind eyes and deaf ears, and so it is to this day.”

9Similarly David says: May their table be a snare and a trap, their downfall and their retribution!

10May their eyes become darkened and blind! Bow down their backs unceasingly!

11I ask, then: When they stumbled, was their fall final? Far from it! Through a false step on their part salvation has come to the Gentiles, and this in turn will stir them to envy.

12If their false step means the enrichment of the world, if their falling short means the enrichment of the Gentiles, how much more will their coming to full strength mean!

13It is to you Gentiles that I am speaking. As an apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of that ministry,

14yet always in the hope of stirring those of my own race to envy, and so saving some of them.

15For if their rejection has meant the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean? Nothing less than life from the dead!

16If the first loaf is holy, so is the whole batch. If the root is holy, so are the branches.

17But if some of the branches have been lopped off, and you, a wild olive, have been grafted in among them, and have come to share the same root and sap as the olive,

18do not make yourself superior to the branches. If you do, remember that you do not sustain the root: the root sustains you.

19You will say, “Branches were lopped off so that I might be grafted in.”

20Very well: they were lopped off for lack of faith, and by faith you hold your place. Put away your pride, and be on your guard;

21for if God did not spare the natural branches, no more will he spare you.

22Observe the kindness and the severity of God -- severity to those who fell away, divine kindness to you provided that you remain within its scope; otherwise you too will be cut off,

23whereas they, if they do not continue faithless, will be grafted in, since it is in God's power to graft them in again.

24For if you were cut from your native wild olive and against nature grafted into the cultivated olive, how much more readily will they, the natural olive branches, be grafted into their native stock!

25There is a divine secret here, my friends, which I want to share with you, to keep you from thinking yourselves wise: this partial hardening has come on Israel only until the Gentiles have been admitted in full strength;

26once that has happened, the whole of Israel will be saved, in accordance with scripture: From Zion shall come the Deliverer; he shall remove wickedness from Jacob.

27And this is the covenant I will grant them, when I take away their sins.

28Judged by their response to the gospel, they are God's enemies for your sake; but judged by his choice, they are dear to him for the sake of the patriarchs;

29for the gracious gifts of God and his calling are irrevocable.

30Just as formerly you were disobedient to God, but now have received mercy because of their disobedience,

31so now, because of the mercy shown to you, they have proved disobedient, but only in order that they too may receive mercy.

32For in shutting all mankind in the prison of their disobedience, God's purpose was to show mercy to all mankind.

33How deep are the wealth and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How inscrutable his judgements, how unsearchable his ways!

34“Who knows the mind of the Lord? Who has been his counsellor?”

35“Who has made a gift to him first, and earned a gift in return?”

36From him and through him and for him all things exist -- to him be glory for ever! Amen.


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