Romans 11:7 (ESV):

7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,

How were the elect of Israel elected? Why were the rest not elected?

5 Answers 5


The elect are those found in Christ.

“even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined (set the GPS destination in advance) us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:4-5‬ ‭

No human born from Adam’s loins was in Christ before the foundation of the world, all were in sin

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:1‬ ‭

And in Ezekiel 33:11 (NASB)

11 Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure at all in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then should you die, house of Israel?’ 12 And you, son of man, say to your fellow citizens, ‘The righteousness of a righteous one will not save him on the day of his offense, and as for the wickedness of a wicked one, he will not stumble because of it on the day when he turns from his wickedness; whereas a righteous one will not be able to live by his righteousness on the day when he commits sin.’

we see that God is sovereign and His will isn't the death of the wicked.

Upon entering Christ by faith, being born of God through the Word by the Spirit, a person enters into Christ.

Once in Christ that person is predestined to end up where Christ was predestined to be from before the foundation of the world. If that person remains in Christ, he will end up where Christ is predestined to be and if that person forsakes Christ, he will forfeit his (pre)destination

“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭24:13‬ ‭

Who are therefore the elect?

They are those who have entered into Christ by faith in Him, drawn by the Father through faith in the Scriptures.

Why were only some Israelites elect and not others?

“That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭11:20‬ ‭

Notice they are elect not pre-elected.

Also the term predestined doesn’t mean to pre-determine someone’s final position irrespective of their choices, it means to pre-plan a destination. I can board a train predestined for downtown but if I get off early it doesn’t matter that I was predestined to arrive in downtown. The predestined location doesn’t guarantee my arrival if I don’t commit to getting there by staying the full course.

And God will not accept everyone just because they were at one point elect. Case and point Israel was chosen to reunite the nations back to God through a lineage that would give birth to a Messiah. But not everyone who is called Israel will make it only those that remain faithful.

“Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭11:22‬ ‭

Why were some rejected? Having been blessed with freedom, we can resist God and by own choice go to hell and by doing it without faith based on personal righteousness

“Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone,” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭9:32‬ ‭

or simply because they reject the light. For instances in John 3:19

And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil.

in Acts 7:39

Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him; on the contrary they rejected him and turned back to Egypt in their hearts,

and Romans 1:21

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their reasonings, and their senseless hearts were darkened.

  • Nihil Sine Deo, included some more references. Make sure you're ok with what I've included Apr 3, 2021 at 14:40
  • Uhhh what a weird sense of community you have... If you're not ok with the edit, you can rollback. Apr 3, 2021 at 14:46
  • 3
    Excellent answer. Many thanks. +1.
    – Dottard
    Apr 3, 2021 at 20:53
  • @TiagoMartinsPeres李大仁 I got two -1 since your edit and whileI can’t say for certain why I can’t help but wonder now why? Was it was I wrote, what you added or a combination and the latter two are not going to help me improve Apr 5, 2021 at 12:22
  • @NihilSineDeo it was the comment you deleted. If you're not happy with the edit, you're welcome to rollback. My intention, just like we expect from anyone here, is that we're trying to help Apr 5, 2021 at 12:28

In addition to the excellent answer by Nihil, I offer a first-order logical perspective here.

Romans 11:7b

The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,

2 Corinthians 3:14

But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.

There are two mutually exclusive groups: the elect and the hardened.

One belongs to the elect group if and only if he is not hardened.

How were the elect of Israel elected?

If he is not hardened, he goes to the elect group.

Why were the rest not elected?

If he is hardened, then he is not elected.

  • "but the rest were hardened" - that is in passive voice. Were the hardened hardened by themselves or hardened by someone else?
    – user38524
    Apr 3, 2021 at 15:13
  • Good point. I modified.
    – user35953
    Apr 3, 2021 at 15:22
  • Were the hardened hardened by themselves or hardened by someone else? Co-reality. Both true.
    – user35953
    Apr 3, 2021 at 15:23
  • Here, Paul's emphasis was on by God.
    – user35953
    Apr 3, 2021 at 15:28

How were the elect elected in Romans 11:7?

Romans 11:7 (ESV):

7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,

The elect are those people that accepted Jesus and exercised faith in his name, they will become children of God

John 1:11-12 NASB

11 He came to His [a]own, and His own people did not [b]accept Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who [d]believe in His name,

Do those Christians who are elect or chosen to become children of God have a guaranteed future in heaven? That person is sure of his invitation. But whether he finally receives his reward in heaven or not depends on his proving faithful to his calling. Peter explained it this way:

2 Peter 1:10-11 NET

10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. For by doing this[c] you will never[d] stumble into sin. 11 For thus an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be richly provided for you.

Each elect/chosen Christian must, therefore, struggle to remain faithful. If he does not, his heavenly calling, or invitation, will be of no value to him.​, Hebrews. 3:1; Rev. 2:10.

Revelation 2:10 NET

10 Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. The devil is about to have some of you thrown[a] into prison so you may be tested,[b] and you will experience suffering[c] for ten days. Remain faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown that is life itself.

Hebrews 3:1 NASB

Jesus Our High Priest

3 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession: Jesus


The elect are Israel. The offspring of Jacob.

DEUT 7:6 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

The only people ever chosen by God. At Babel, the people of the earth rejected God, so he gave them over. Divided them up into nations. But he needed a people. He needed a nation through which to redeem man, and the nations. Enter Abraham.

So, Gods elect is Israel. And, they were ‘elected’, chosen by God. A sovereign choice, apparently based on no set criteria. Simply - God needed a people, nation. The elect, is all about nations! A nation.

ROMANS 11:7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,

The issue that some have is that it appears in this verse that Israel is excluded. But, you need to consider context - the wider context. At this time, when Paul is writing this letter, Israel referred to the northern tribes, the 10 that rejected God, and his ways. So God gave them over to captivity and spread them through the nations. (Divorced them). And that left Judah, two tribes, (Judah and Benjamin). Who although went into captivity, they returned. (Well, a remnant did).

So here, in Romans 11, the elect is Judah. And in ‘second temple thinking’ everyone Paul was writing to would have known this, it was common knowledge. And this is clearly reflected in the writings of Josephus.

  • What you say is true (in part I agree with you) but Judah was hardened (the older brother who refused to join the banquet) and Israel (the prodigal son) became one with the nations yet returned home. Since Christ died the certificate of divorce was annulled for Judah and the ten lost tribes, and a new covenant was put into place. Now Judah had to reenter into covenant with God and this not by blood line but by faith. Which is why their works and bloodline now failed them miserably. Apr 3, 2021 at 21:11
  • @Nihil Sine Deo This Q touches several firmly held doctrinal views within Christianity - and this particular view will touch some sensitivities. Nevertheless, despite knowing many may not necessarily agree, and possibly downvote, I present it for consideration - because IMHO it needs to be :-)
    – Dave
    Apr 3, 2021 at 22:57

My hunch is the narrower answers focusing in on Israel is accurate here, not the general and broad discussion on election, predestination, free will and all of that other material. There is plenty of time for that discussion but in this instance and in these chapters, Paul is dealing specifically with the Jews/ Israel in this conversation

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