Romans 11: Life from the Dead

The following devotion was taken from a sermon given by Dr. Greg Silverman at Desert Hope Lutheran Church in Tucson, Arizona, on 2 July 2023 | 13 Tamuz 5783. To watch the complete sermon please visit
Dr. Greg teaches Romans 11 at Desert Hope Lutheran Church.


Life from the Dead  


God takes dead things and brings them back to life again!  He can take dead relationships and bring those back to life.  He can take hopeless scenarios and bring resurrection life back into the lives of His sons and daughters.  I have seen Him take dry bones and dead things in my own life and bring them back to life again!  Yeshua brings people life from the dead.  Amen?  Amen.  


Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring! I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
Romans 11:11-15, New International Version

This passage in Romans 11 is very important to me personally because it deals with God’s plans and purposes for both Jews and Gentiles.  As we look at what Paul says about salvation for both Jews and Gentiles, we first need to acknowledge that many Christians today mix up who is Israel and who are Gentiles according to the Bible.  There are even some churches today that teach that God has forgotten about the Jewish people altogether.  The first eleven chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans are one big treatise on salvation, and how God uses both Israel and the Gentile nations to accomplish His mysterious master salvation plan.  I hope this devotion will help us peel back the layers and see more of God’s perspective on Israel and the nations.  Would you come on this journey with me?


There is a distinction between Israel and the Gentile nations according to the Bible.


Romans chapters 9, 10, and 11 are all part of one package of Scripture and all three of these chapters go together.  Then the end of Romans 11 is the culmination of Paul’s treatise on salvation.  I would like to read a bit from the beginning of Romans chapter 9.  Here are the first five verses from the NIV translation.


I speak the truth in Messiah—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.  For I wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Messiah for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.  Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.  Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised!  Amen.


God loves us all the same, and He desires for all people to be one in Messiah.  All of us are in desperate need of the saving power of Yeshua.  Regarding our need for salvation, Paul says in Romans chapter 3 verse 22:  There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Messiah Yeshua.


Even though both Israel and the Gentile nations have the same need for salvation in Messiah, God, in His mysterious and infinite wisdom has called Israel and the Gentiles to differing roles and purposes in His great salvation plan.  Oftentimes, believers mix and mesh these two groups of people together to the point that there is confusion as to who is Israel and who are the Gentiles.  Many in the church today even try to say that the church has supplanted or replaced Israel.  Many say that the Jews rejected Yeshua, so God is finished with saving them, and now God’s promises have gone to the church instead.  Is that perspective supported by Scripture?  In order to understand what Paul is saying in the book of Romans we need to define and delineate among these two groups of people.  


So, who is Israel?


According to the Bible, the Jewish people (another phrase for the people of Israel) are those people who have a bloodline connection to the Patriarchs – to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Also, today in the year 2023, when a person says, “I’m Jewish,” what they mean is that they have a Jewish parent, grandparent, great-great-great-great-great grandparent, etc.  There is a bloodline connection.  Unless the Bible specifically says “spiritual Israel,” it is referring to Israel as a race, those with a genetic family connection to the Jewish people.


My father was Jewish.  His parents came from Poland and somewhere in Russia, yet they were both Jewish and had a bloodline connection that went back originally to the nation of Israel.  Similarly, when I say I am half-Italian from my mother’s side of the family, I am referring to a bloodline connection with people who once lived in Italy.  I’m an Italian-Jew by heritage.  My faith is Messianic Jewish, but my heritage is Italian and Jewish.


So, in Romans chapter 9 when Paul refers to, “my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel,” he is talking about those with family connections that go all the way back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


Who, then, are Gentiles?


Gentiles is a word meaning “nations”.  So, when God refers to Gentiles in the Bible, He is talking about all of the other people groups, all of the nations of the Earth.


Since I am an Italian Jew by heritage, I would say that I am half Jewish and half Gentile.


But, some of you might be saying to yourselves, Greg, the Bible says in Galatians that “there is neither Jew nor Gentile?”  Why are you making such a distinction?  Well, we would need to read the remainder of that verse and put this text into context to understand it.  The full verse in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, chapter 3, verse 28 says,


There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.


This verse emphasizes that all believers are one in Messiah.  The verse also says that there is neither male nor female.  Is Paul really telling us that there is no way to distinguish between a man and woman?  Of course not.  He is saying that we all need Messiah Yeshua and that in Him we are all part of one big family of brothers and sisters.  Similarly, Paul is not saying that Jews and Gentiles are totally indistinguishable.  Instead, he is emphasizing that all of us are one in Yeshua.


Now that we have clarified some Biblical definitions of who is involved in the discussion of Romans chapter 11, we can look more closely into our key verses for the day.  


God’s salvation plan is to save all people from all nations.  However, Israel and Gentiles have different roles and purposes in God’s great salvation plan.  


Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery?  Not at all!  Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.  But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!
Romans 11:11


Let’s go line by line…


Again I ask: Did they stumble…  What is this stumble that Paul speaks of?  The stumble is the Jewish people’s rejection of Yeshua during that 1st century.  Did they stumble so as to fall…  There is a difference between a stumble and a fall.  As I walk or run down the sidewalk, I might lose my balance for a moment, or trip over something and stumble.  Does that mean I have fallen?  No.  Paul refers to Israel’s rejection of Yeshua as a stumble, not a full on fall.  And he points out that Israel has not fallen beyond recovery.  In other words, there is still a future hope for the Jewish people.  Jewish people will still be coming to their Messiah and becoming saved.  In fact, we are living in a unique day and age right now where more and more Jewish people are returning to Yeshua, their Jewish Messiah.  Just because the majority of Israel rejected Yeshua in that first century, does not mean that God is finished with them forever.  Israel is still part of God’s master salvation plan.


Let’s take the next sentence in the same passage…


Rather, because of their transgression…  What is the transgression that Paul is talking about?  The Jewish people’s transgression of rejecting Yeshua the Messiah.


Rather, because of their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.


Whoah, wait just a moment here.  This is a huge statement.  Does Paul seem to be saying that God used the Jewish people’s rejection of Yeshua in order to push the Gospel out to all the other nations of the entire Earth?  Yes.  Salvation has come to the Gentiles all over the world in these past 2000 years.  And Praise God that the Gospel has gone out to all the people groups!  How?  Well, according to Romans 11:11 it is because of the Jews rejection of Yeshua that salvation has come to the Gentile nations!


Let’s unpack this some more.  What would have happened if all of the Jews had accepted Yeshua right away when He came to Israel about 2000 years ago?  Would the Gospel message have ever made it beyond only Israel?  Or would the message have basically stopped with the salvation of the Jews and never made it out to the rest of the world?  


In God Almighty’s masterful plan, Yeshua’s very own people group, His very own brothers and sisters, the same race and family line that Yeshua chose to come through, rejected Him in part.  And because Yeshua’s Jewish brothers and sisters rejected Him, that resulted in the Good News being preached beyond Israel…  The Gospel began getting preached to the Ephesians, to the Galatians, to the Romans, and eventually in history to the Irish, and Germans, the South Africans, Chinese, Japanese, and all over the world.


In the Old Testament, it was foretold many years before the time of Yeshua’s earthly ministry that the Messiah would come through Israel and be a light to all nations.  In Isaiah chapter 49 verse 6  God says, 


“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a 
light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”


Yeshua chose to come through the nation of Israel and be a light to all nations.  HalleluYah.


Back to Romans 11:11 again…


Rather, because of their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles to do what?


to make Israel envious, or the King James translation says to provoke them to jealousy.


So, God’s role for Israel is to be the nation through which the Gospel Light comes to the nations and His role for the Gentiles is to provoke the Jews to become envious or jealous and want a relationship with their Jewish-Jesus.


How does this play out in our everyday lives in the year 2023?


Yeshua came and saved you from your sins and He has given you a testimony of how magnificent He’s been in your own life.  Thank You Yeshua for how magnificent and marvelous you have been in each of our own personal lives.  HalleluYah for saving us.  Amen? Amen!


Next, you just happen to happen to end up with a Jewish coworker or neighbor or even family member.  Is it a random coincidence that your new colleague in the very next office over is a Jewish person who doesn’t yet know Yeshua?  You talk with your Jewish friend.  They begin to get jealous and say, “How did you end up getting saved by our Jewish Messiah?  I want what you have.  I want to be saved by our Jewish Messiah as well!”  So, you share with them how good God has been to you.  Perhaps you also share with them some passages from God’s Word, for example Romans chapter 10 verse 9 where it says, If you confess with your mouth, ‘Yeshua is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.


You, as a Gentile believer, provoked a Jewish person to jealousy which resulted in them being drawn to the Light of Yeshua. Now that’s exciting!


God brings forth “life from the dead”!  


Here is Romans chapter 11 verses 12-14:


But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!  I am talking to you Gentiles.  Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.  For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?


Let’s go line by line again. 


But if their transgression:  What is Israel’s transgression here?  Rejecting Yeshua.


If their transgression means riches for the world:  Israel’s rejection of Yeshua in the first century resulted in the riches of salvation for all of the nations of the entire world!


And their loss:  Israel suffered a devastating loss by not all accepting Yeshua when he first came to His people.


And their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!  Skipping to verse 14:  For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?


Paul is saying that in the end of days when Israel finally does return to her Messiah Yeshua, that will mysteriously result in something that Paul calls life from the dead.


To conclude, God’s master salvation plan is for all people.  This is a mystery to me how God orchestrates all things together to reach all people.  Are His ways mysterious to you as well?  If so, you are in good company, because Paul says that God’s ways are mysterious to him too.  Listen to how Paul concludes Romans chapter 11 and this treatise on salvation.


Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements, and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36


You may ask, what does this passage in Romans have to do with my life and the lives of other believers? Much in every way!  Through Paul’s letter to the Romans, God is giving us a glimpse of His mysterious ways of doing things through both Jews and Gentiles. For you personally, God may be giving you opportunities this very week, and opening doors for you to share what God has done in your life with your loved ones, both friends and family members.  


Who has God placed in your life who needs the Good News of Yeshua?  In Matthew chapter 5 it says, Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  May the light that Yeshua your Messiah put in you shine brightly to others.  Who knows, perhaps God may be getting ready to use you and your testimony to lead someone to the ultimate freedom found in Yeshua.  Are you ready for God to use you to help lead someone else to life from the dead?