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Update

This question is based on reading the text in English. In Greek it is Israel that is made jealous, not the gentiles, to the question (and the answers) are invalid!!

Please see the updated question here: In Romans 11:19 why did the Jewish branches have to be cut off in order for the gentiles to saved?

Question

Paul makes the rather absurd claim that the Jews were not tripped up by God simply so He could watch them fall, but rather to instill jealousy in the gentiles:

YLT Rom 11:11 I say, then, Did they stumble that they might fall? let it not be! but by their fall the salvation is to the nations, to arouse them to jealousy;

Eh? Why would the gentiles be jealous that God stuck an obstacle, for tripping over, in the path of the Jews? It does not follow.

But the absurdity is in the madness of the idea that God "used the force" on the minds of the Jews so that they refused to abandon Torah such that they all took a wrong step and had a bad fall as an ad campaign for God to get gentiles interested in him.

Is Romans 11:11 a form of hyperbole or does he really want us to understand that the Jews' dismissal of Jesus as their Messiah was part of a divine scheme to woo gentiles?

Related: In Romans 11:11 who is made jealous of whom?

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  • I think Paul's argument is logical, cogent and masterfully explained. I think your objection is what is absurd. – Nigel J Apr 29 '18 at 14:38
  • What makes the Jews jealous of what is theirs is that the salvation promised them (the Messiah etc.) was being given to Gentiles who went through no Red Sea, wandered no wilderness and were currently steeped in idolatry and paganism. Which part of that is "absurd"? – Sola Gratia Nov 5 '18 at 13:55
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To really understand this passage lets work backwards

The phrase "arouse them to jealousy" leads me to consider the nature of jealousy.

Jealousy by Definition
An unhappy or angry feeling of wanting to have what someone else has.

Now through this definition we can see that this means that someone else will have what they want. Lets look back to the passage to find out what this is:

"the salvation is to the nations"

The passage shows us that what they will want is the salvation that is to the nations. This makes sense considering that the salvation did belong to them to begin with.

The Parable of the Cake
A parent offers a piece of cake to a child, then after the child refuses, the cake was given to the little brother in hopes that jealousy will arise and cause both to want to eat the cake. Whereas the the older child metaphors to the Jews, the younger child metaphors to the Gentiles, and the cake metaphors to the salvation.

"but by their fall"

Looking back to the Parable of the Cake we see that the older brother refused to take the cake. This was against the wishes of the parent, therefore in similarity a transgression or a falling away from the desire of the parent. The Jews did this by refusing the message of salvation. Yet it was by their refusal to "eat the cake" that the younger brother got a chance to eat some ^^,

"Did they stumble that they might fall? let it not be!"

God who is the best parent ever planned it that the Jews would "refuse the cake" because he loves his gentiles to.

What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened (Romans 11:7 NASB)

Some added correction for the growth of the questioner

Question: "Paul makes the rather absurd claim that the Jews were not tripped up by God simply so He could watch them fall, but rather to instill jealousy in the gentiles:"

Paul gives the reason that the hearts where hardened for the Jews:

But what is the divine response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” (Romans 11:4 NASB)

Therefore we can see that the reason Paul offers for the hardened hearts of those Jews came from their Baal worship.

Question: "Why would the gentiles be jealous that God stuck an obstacle, for tripping over, in the path of the Jews?"

It's designed that the Jews would go to jealousy over the Gentiles salvation.

In Question: "that the Jews refused to abandon Torah" (edited slightly)

Salvation requires the abandonment of the "Law that causes curses" and attachment to the "Law that causes grace" yet both defined in the Torah.

  • "Law that causes grace" (Ten Commandments)
  • "Law that causes curses" - Exodus 21 +

Why two sets of Laws?

The second set of laws where the punishment for the Israelite's worshiping the calf at the bottom of the mountain while the ten commandments where given.

Therefore instead of abandoning the Torah, they only have to abandon the curse.

The Last Question

"Is Romans 11:11 a form of hyperbole or does he really want us to understand that the Jews' dismissal of Jesus as their Messiah was part of a divine scheme to woo gentiles?"

God understands all things, and he was the one that hardened their hearts. He also will be the one to soften their hearts to realize the salvation. That this became true:

As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’” (Romans 9:25 NASB)

For clarity it was God's plan, it happened, therefore part of his plan.

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    (+1) because your answer is well ordered and adds to the understanding. I'm not sure that you really answered the last question, though. – user10231 Nov 9 '16 at 1:35
  • Updated answer for clarity. – Decrypted Nov 9 '16 at 2:58
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Such passage may sound absurd only to those who have no understanding of biblical literature and idiomatic language. Paul portrays a divine plan of God even in the unbelief of Israel. As the Gentiles had been provoked with jealousy by the spiritual blessings and religion of Israel, to be attracted towards God; now the time of Gentiles has come to enjoy the blessing, and ironically the chosen nation in their majority unbelief is being provoked to jealousy.

salvation is come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy—Here, as also in Ro 10:19 (quoted from De 32:21), we see that emulation is a legitimate stimulus to what is good. [JFB commentary].

Cf Hos 1:10; Deut 32:21; Rom 9:25; Rom 10:19; Rom 11:11-14; Rom 11:31; Acts 13:42; Acts 13:46-48; Acts 18:6; Acts 22:18-21; Acts 28:24-28

In Bullinger's Figure of Speech, Idiom is defined as

Id-i-ô´-ma. Greek, ἰδίωμα, a peculiarity, from ἴδιος (idios), one’s own,* [Note: Hence ἰδιώτης (idiˊtees), our English idiot: i.e., a private person, as opposite to one, engaged in public affairs. Hence, a civilian as opposed to a military man; a layman, as opposed to a cleric or lawyer; an amateur, as opposed to a professional; a prose-writer, as opposed to a poet; an ignorant person, as opposed to a learned person. Hence, again, anyone unskilled or unpractised in any particular art or science; the opposite of expert. Thus, as knowledge and learning became more common, the term idiot came to be limited to one who is ignorant and unable to understand much.] and ἰδιωτισμός (id-i-o-tisˊ-mos), the common manner of speaking. Whence the Latin name for the figure IDIOTISMUS. The English name for it is IDIOM.

To quote an example:

4. Active verbs were used by the Hebrews to express, not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do.
Thus:

Genesis 31:7.-Jacob says to Laban: "God did not give him to do me evil": i.e., as in A.V. [Note: The Authorized Version, or current Text of our English Bible, 1611.] , God suffered him not, etc.

Exodus 4:21.-"I will harden his heart (i.e., I will permit or suffer his heart to be hardened), that he shall not let the people go." So in all the passages which speak of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. As is clear from the common use of the same Idiom in the following passages.

Exodus 5:22.-"Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people?" i.e., suffered them to be so evil entreated.

Psalms 16:10.-"Thou wilt not give thine Holy One (i.e., suffer Him) to see corruption." So the A.V. [Note: The Authorized Version, or current Text of our English Bible, 1611.]

Jeremiah 4:10.-"Lord God, surely thou hast greatly deceived this people": i.e., thou hast suffered this People to be greatly deceived, by the false prophets, saying: Ye shall have peace, etc.

Ezekiel 14:9.-"If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet": i.e., I have permitted him to deceive himself.

Matthew 6:13.-"Lead us not (i.e., suffer us not to be led) into temptation."

Matthew 11:25.-"I thank thee, O Father … because thou hast hid (i.e., not revealed) these things," etc.

Matthew 13:11.-"It is given to know unto you," etc. (i.e., ye are permitted to know … but they are not permitted to know them.

Acts 13:29.-"When they (i.e., the rulers, verse 27) had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre": i.e., they permitted Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to do so.

Romans 9:18.-"Whom he will he hardeneth": i.e., he suffereth to be hardened. Not that this in any way weakens the absolute sovereignty of God.

Romans 11:7.-"The rest were hardened": i.e., were suffered to become blind (as in A.V. [Note: The Authorized Version, or current Text of our English Bible, 1611.] marg. [Note: arg. Margin.] ).

Romans 11:8.-"God hath given them the spirit of slumber": i.e., hath suffered them to fall asleep.

2 Thessalonians 2:11.-"For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie": i.e., God will leave them and suffer them to be deceived by the great Lie which will come on all the world.

Also see Ellipsis

Rom 11:11.-“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall [for ever]? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”

The fall mentioned here must be interpreted by verse 1 “cast away,” and verse 25 “until,” and by the condition of verse 23. Is their fall the object or end of their stumbling?

See John 11: 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

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