Question on Romans 11; Jews, Gentiles, & Branches.

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SoldierOfTheRock

Puritan Board Freshman
Ok, so tonight I was reading through Romans... and I understand most of it... at least I think I follow Paul somewhat competantly. I was doing pretty good until I got to Romans 11. I would like to say I understand that as well, but I still have a couple of questions.

Realizing that God is completely sovereign (Romans chapter nine for sure) I have come to these questions. (Far below.)

Paul talks about the Jews not believing, for the most part, and this makes room for the gentiles to be brought in.

(Romans 9:11 - "So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.") ESV

Then Paul tells the gentiles not to become proud as the Jews had, and know that they are not permanent fixtures either.

(Romans 9:25-27 - "Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”) ESV

Questions:

1) What is the fulness of the gentiles?

2) Does this mean that they will be taken out again and then the rest of the Jews brought in?

3) Must God remove one group to bring in the other?

A huge thanks in advance to any replies!
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
1) What is the fulness of the gentiles?

The Frisians.

2) Does this mean that they will be taken out again and then the rest of the Jews brought in?

Once the Frisians are in, it's difficult to get them to change to anything else.

3) Must God remove one group to bring in the other?

The Frisians do that themselves.

Just kidding, Joshua. I'm Frisian myself, and as such you hear all kinds of these things. It's almost worse than being Scottish.

Seriously, though, the fullness of the gentiles is a matter for God to know. We can only conjecture, and if we do it would be a dangerous thing.

The last question, I think, is the one that concerns us theologically. I think it is a misunderstanding of the text to take it to mean that one people is dislodged from the Covenant and that another is found to take their place. I think the idea is that once your place is lost to you then it is not yours to reclaim anymore. It is like the flower of the field, which after it dies and is gone, its place "knows it no more". That piece of ground no longer remembers nor recognizes the flower that once was there.

That's the idea I have of the meaning of that text.
 

SoldierOfTheRock

Puritan Board Freshman
I actually had to wikipedia these Frisians you speak of, congrats on knowing where you are from... I am more of a mutt than anything else.

I think I understand what you mean about the last question, that is why I phrased my question in that way. I was not sure that the text necessitated that one group must fall for the other to be brought in. Of course, I am sure that depending on different eschatological views there are many differing explanations of these verses.

I am really not sure what camp I would fall under at this point eschatologically, but I know I am not premillennial, pretrib, dispensationalist... which is the only interpretation I ever hear.

Not trying to disregard the warning against conjecture from John, I am however still a bit fuzzy on the fulness of the gentiles... what do you all see Paul as saying? Can this be answered in a way that does not put things into the text? What is the most basic, and scripturally sound, meaning of this portion of text?
 
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KMK

Administrator
Staff member
1) What is the fulness of the gentiles?

The Frisians.

2) Does this mean that they will be taken out again and then the rest of the Jews brought in?

Once the Frisians are in, it's difficult to get them to change to anything else.

3) Must God remove one group to bring in the other?

The Frisians do that themselves.

Just kidding, Joshua. I'm Frisian myself, and as such you hear all kinds of these things. It's almost worse than being Scottish.

Seriously, though, the fullness of the gentiles is a matter for God to know. We can only conjecture, and if we do it would be a dangerous thing.

The last question, I think, is the one that concerns us theologically. I think it is a misunderstanding of the text to take it to mean that one people is dislodged from the Covenant and that another is found to take their place. I think the idea is that once your place is lost to you then it is not yours to reclaim anymore. It is like the flower of the field, which after it dies and is gone, its place "knows it no more". That piece of ground no longer remembers nor recognizes the flower that once was there.

That's the idea I have of the meaning of that text.

Nice to see a post from John again! I had to Google 'Frisians'. Very interesting.

Your post prompted me to ask a question about baptism and I do not wish to hijack the thread, nor start a debate, but if it is true that once you have been dislodged from the covenant then it is no longer yours to reclaim, how does that play into an apostate paedobaptist. If a person lawfully baptized as an infant grows up to apostasize and then returns, should they repent and be rebaptized or simply repent?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I think I can answer both your questions with the same answer. It is God who elects, and it is God who preserves those whom He elects. It is not our place, not even the elders' place, to "put" people into the Covenant. Baptism does not signify that, Ken; it signifies that God has placed someone into the Covenant. In this case, Joshua, I'm not so concerned about adding our own things into the text, but more about putting ourselves in God's place where we have no business.

I think it is very perceptive of you, Ken, to recognize the significance of baptism to this issue. It seems to me that this is where many of us, paedos and credos alike, have difficulty with it. In that respect I'm credo, but I firmly believe that the children of believers are included in that. But it is God's doing, not the church's, or the parents', or even the believer's himself!

And thanks for the kind words, Ken.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I think I can answer both your questions with the same answer. It is God who elects, and it is God who preserves those whom He elects. It is not our place, not even the elders' place, to "put" people into the Covenant. Baptism does not signify that, Ken; it signifies that God has placed someone into the Covenant. In this case, Joshua, I'm not so concerned about adding our own things into the text, but more about putting ourselves in God's place where we have no business.

I think it is very perceptive of you, Ken, to recognize the significance of baptism to this issue. It seems to me that this is where many of us, paedos and credos alike, have difficulty with it. In that respect I'm credo, but I firmly believe that the children of believers are included in that. But it is God's doing, not the church's, or the parents', or even the believer's himself!

And thanks for the kind words, Ken.

I see your point and agree that in some respects all of us are credos, but I was wondering what the rule of thumb was (if there is one) for Presbyterian churches. If an infant is baptized, signifying that God has grafted them into the tree, but later apostasizes for a long season, then repents, is repentance all that is required or should they repent and be rebaptized. In other words, does the Presbyterian see the repentance of this individual as God preserving the saint, or regenerating the unbeliever? Was the individual never actually grafted into the tree? Or was he grafted in, by God, and never left the tree?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
A person never needs to be rebaptized. Baptism does not depend on the faithfulness of the ordained person doing the baptism, otherwise we would have to examine ourselves as well as the minister who is baptizing our child, as well as the elders overseeing it, as well as the local church before whose witness our child is being baptized. Our examination consists of believing God's promises and faithfulness. If we remain faithful throughout, then it is a fruit of Covenant membership, not a condition of it. If we fall, even to the point of having been excommunicated from the church, yet after many, many years, if we should repent we are received again into the body, as a prodigal son and not merely as a newly adopted son.

That is my understanding.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I understand and agree that the effectiveness of baptism should never be shouldered by the individual doing the baptizing.

But my question is more to the Reformed view of a man who although baptized as an infant, apostasized from the faith, and then comes back. Does the Reformed church view this man as a man who is being engrafted into the tree, or a man who always was a part of the tree but had simply 'fallen away'? If Madonna confessed faith in Christ, would a Reformed church require her to be rebaptized? And I know that she was baptized RC, but take that out of the equation. Let us pretend she had been baptized as an infant in a Reformed church. What now? Is repentance enough? Or would Reformed churches differ on this issue?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
As I said, a person never needs to be rebaptized.

If it was that Madonna had been baptized in a Reformed church and she repented then she would be received back again, and her baptism would be recognized. She would be restored, as it were. She is a man (of the the race of man), who apostasized, and then came back: she would be restored if she repented. A true repentance is enough. Baptizing again would only be a denial of the meaning and practice of baptism to a Reformed church.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'm glad if it helped, Ken. Is that Kool-aid you've got there? Wouldn't mind if I do.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Ahh! Yes, if you're a Baptist pastor, then its not a portable baptistry you've got there, that's for sure.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I've got a question for you, Ken. The same one: if one of your members falls away for a long time, would he have to be rebaptized if he repented and came back?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
No. But I was asking about paedos in light of Rom 11 and the 'breaking off' of branches. These issues would be so much easier if no one ever apostasized! :D
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
No. But I was asking about paedos in light of Rom 11 and the 'breaking off' of branches. These issues would be so much easier if no one ever apostasized! :D

Amen to that, brother. But it seems that we've got two choices here. Either a few are apostasizing, or everyone is. It doesn't seem that no apostasy happens. The reason, I would think, would be so that we can know that when things are going wrong we can take steps toward correction for ourselves and for our church communities. Once people have it in their minds to adopt a new orthodoxy (which how it usually comes across at first), it's really hard to change their course. That too makes this passage difficult. It adds to the difficulty because the question pops up whether that particular church was ever really grafted in if it goes astray so quickly or so easily.

I don't think it's up to us to know or to judge that. We still have to accept all credible confessions as callings from Christ Himself, and accept people into the church community on that grounds. It's not like they have a bar code on them that we can scan to see if they're for real.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
That is true! In fact the Father Himself modeled that for us with Israel. He treated 'him' like a father does a son. He loved, disciplined, nurtured, instructed and was looooooooongsuffering with 'him'. And even when Israel rejected the Messiah, and left the door open for 'his' return:

Rom 11:26 And so all Israel shall be saved...
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
Questions:

1) What is the fulness of the gentiles?

2) Does this mean that they will be taken out again and then the rest of the Jews brought in?

3) Must God remove one group to bring in the other?

A huge thanks in advance to any replies!


I believe 'the fullness of the Gentiles' is "in this manner all Israel will be saved."

'Until the fullness of the Gentiles' is 'until the end.'

I don't think it means 'after the gentiles are brought in something else happens', but rather 'this happens up until the gentiles are all brought in.'

Remember, the Israel of God is marked by faith in her Messiah. The promise is sure.

"But there are those who call themselves Jews and who are not." Revelation 2:9
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
SoldierOfTheRock;

I haven't read all of the responses...but this is my understanding..

1) What is the fulness of the gentiles?

When all the Gentiles that God has called to salvation....have come to Him.


2) Does this mean that they will be taken out again and then the rest of the Jews brought in?

Taken out again? By no means, they will all be in together...as they are all elect. (jews being a distinct race of people, gentiles all other races)

3) Must God remove one group to bring in the other?

No, I don't believe it's about 'removing' one group or another, but the calling of ALL 'elect' of both groups..

the only thing is, none of us know when the last of Gentiles will come to Christ or even who the last one is..I don't believe it has anything to do with pre, post, amil, or any of that...it's all in God's timing on calling ALL of the elect...who are elect...and in that God knows WHO all the elect are, when they will be born (what generation), what it will take for them to hear His voice and turn to Him--when the fullness of all the elect gentiles will come in then God will call the rest of the elect Jews to come..

Again, this is just my understanding...and I could be wrong...
 
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SoldierOfTheRock

Puritan Board Freshman
My thanks to you both, I will go grab Calvin's commentary on all this to get a little more... commentary. :)

So, from what both of you have said, the fulness of the gentiles is when all the elect gentiles have been saved... and this does not necessitate that God stops saving gentiles, but rather, that it is at the end of time. Somthing along those lines...

Thanks much guys.
 
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