For as ye in times past - The apostle pursues his argument in favor of the restoration of the Jews. As ye, Gentiles, in times past - for many ages back.
Have not believed - Were in a state of alienation from God, yet not so as to be totally and for ever excluded,
Have now obtained mercy - For ye are now taken into the kingdom of the Messiah; through their unbelief - by that method which, in destroying the Jewish peculiarity, and fulfilling the Abrahamic covenant, has occasioned the unbelief and obstinate opposition of the Jews.
For as ye - You who were Gentiles.
Have not believed God - Or have not obeyed God. This was the character of all the pagan nations.
Yet have now obtained mercy - Have been pardoned and admitted to the favor of God.
Through their unbelief - By means of the unbelief and rejection of the Jews; see the note at Romans 11:11.
The prophet Isaiah, looking down through the centuries and witnessing the rejection of prophet after prophet and finally of the Son of God, was inspired to write concerning the acceptance of the Redeemer by those who had never before been numbered among the children of Israel. Referring to this prophecy, Paul declares: “Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought Me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after Me. But to Israel He saith, All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” AA 375.1
Even though Israel rejected His Son, God did not reject them. Listen to Paul as he continues the argument: “I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew. Wot ye not what the Scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed Thy prophets, and digged down Thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” AA 375.2
Israel had stumbled and fallen, but this did not make it impossible for them to rise again. In answer to the question, “Have they stumbled that they should fall?” the apostle replies: “God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” AA 375.3Read in context »