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“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in,” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭11‬:‭25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Does this mean that the hardening was only a short termed thing that was meant to end soon?

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  • Note that ἀπὸ μέρους is an idiom that could mean "partially" or that could also be understood temporally as "for a while" (which may make sense here given the preposition ἄχρις). This could therefore be translated to the effect: "A hardening has come upon Israel for a while, until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in."
    – Dan
    Apr 7, 2023 at 3:25
  • As an example of another temporal translation of this idiom in the same letter, ἀπὸ μέρους is translated in a temporal sense in the NIV in Romans 15:24 ("I have enjoyed your company for a while").
    – Dan
    Apr 7, 2023 at 3:31
  • The temporal sense would support the proposed meaning in your question; namely, that the hardening is temporary until the fullness of the Gentiles becomes Israel (cf. Rom. 9:6: "not all who are of Israel are Israel", and note that 9–11 is a single argument unit). This interpretation still makes sense even if translated as "partially," it just clarifies that the Jews were divided between a true remnant and hardened ones until the Gentiles fully entered "the Israel of God" (cf. Gal. 6:16).
    – Dan
    Apr 7, 2023 at 3:39
  • This all makes sense flowing from Rom. 11:7: "What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened...." v. 25 essentially restates and clarifies this.
    – Dan
    Apr 7, 2023 at 3:39

3 Answers 3

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The discussion in this chapter and the previous two chapters is about the fact that most of the Jews had not chosen to follow Christ. He has been arguing to establish the point that they cannot blame God for this failure, because he has spoken to them over the generations, but they have not listened and they have not had faith.

Then in ch11 Paul finds reasons to feel more comfortable about this problem.

One is that it does not affect every single Jew. He himself (v1) is one of the most obvious exceptions. he explains this in terms of "remnant" theory. Elijah was promised that there remained "seven thousand" who had not bowed the knee to Baal (v4). "So at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace" (v5), which in the immediate context refers to those other Jews who had chosen to become Christians.

Another is that this alienation serves God's immediate purpose because it helps to bring in the Gentiles (v11). He may be thinking of the way that he and Barnabas "turned to the Gentiles" when the Jews rejected their message (Acts ch13 v46)

A third reason is the hope that the alienation is only temporary. The presentation of Christ to the Gentiles serves to make the Jews "jealous" (of their status as God's people) and might prompt them to turn to Christ themselves so as not to be left behind (vv11-12). The Gentiles have taken their place as branches of God's metaphorical "olive tree", but they should not ignore the possibility that the original branches might be grafted back in (vv17-24).

In the structure of ch11, v25 appears to begin a summary of the whole chapter, covering all the reasons for comfort. And there is reason to think that "in part" is actually about the remnant theory, rather then the "short-term" aspect. The RSV translates the expression as "a hardening has come upon part of Israel".

It comes down to the signnificance of the Greek APO MEROUS. In Thayer, one of the meanings of MEROS is "one of the constituent parts of the whole". He quotes Romans ch11 v25 as one of the examples of this usage, offering the translation "as respects a part".

So, to answer your question, "in part" appears to mean "only some of them have been hardened".

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"In part" means partial. Not the whole. Part of Israel has experienced this hardening against the gospel of Christ, resulting in them rejecting it, and him.

As for the time element you ask about: there is no specific reference to whether the hardening will cease soon, or after a very long time. The only qualification given is that the hardening will stop once "the full number of the Gentiles has come in".

As Gentiles are still coming in (to the Christian faith), it is clear that the time limit has not yet been reached. Only God knows when that will be. Of course, it is also true that some Jewish people also continue to come to faith in Christ. The fact that the Gentiles had the door to salvation opened up to them in the first century did not mean that the door to the salvation of the Jews was slammed shut. No, a few did continue to come to faith, even though a hardening in general became obvious, and continues. The Day of Salvation is still on-going, for both Jews and Gentiles, but when the "full number of the Gentiles has been reached", then something special will happen with Israel.

Paul spoke of this to warn Gentile Christians against becoming conceited about receiving the grace of God's salvation. He was opening up this spiritual 'mystery', but the whole section in Romans, starting with chapter 9 verse 1 through to the end of chapter 11, needs to be considered.

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This verse is talking about the nation of Israel, part of them have become calloused or hardened.

Looking back a few verses in Romans 11, it shows that there were a few out of the nation of Israel that believed the evangel . This remanent, or little flock was totally a choice of grace on God's part.

so then also, in the present time, there has been a remnant according to the election of grace. 6And if by grace, it is no longer from works; otherwise grace no longer would be grace.c 7What then? What Israel is seeking, this it has not obtained, but the elect obtained it. And the rest were hardened, 8as it has been written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes not to see, and ears not to hear, unto this very day.”

This callusing or hardening of Israel is only temporary.

for I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, of this secret -- that ye may not be wise in your own conceits -- that hardness in part to Israel hath happened till the fulness of the nations may come in.

The word hardness is described: 4457. pórósis ► Thayer's Greek Lexicon STRONGS NT 4457: πώρωσις

πώρωσις, πωρωσεως, ἡ (πωρόω, which see), properly, the covering with a callus; tropically, obtuseness of mental discernment, dulled perception: γέγονε τίνι, the mind of one has been blunted (R. V. a hardening hath befallen), Romans 11:25; τῆς καρδίας (hardening of heart), of stubbornness

Here are the three times the hardness of heart is used.

Mark 3:5 N-DFS
GRK: ἐπὶ τῇ πωρώσει τῆς καρδίας
NAS: grieved at their hardness of heart,
KJV: for the hardness of their
INT: at the hardness of the heart

Romans 11:25 N-NFS
GRK: φρόνιμοι ὅτι πώρωσις ἀπὸ μέρους
NAS: that a partial hardening has happened
KJV: that blindness in
INT: wise that hardness in part

Ephesians 4:18 N-AFS
GRK: διὰ τὴν πώρωσιν τῆς καρδίας
NAS: that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;
KJV: because of the blindness of their
INT: on account of the hardness of the heart

A very striking statement is then made in the following verse. The hardness or callousness of Israel's heart will vanish and All of Israel will be saved.

And so all Israel shall be saved, according as it hath been written, ‘There shall come forth out of Sion he who is delivering, and he shall turn away impiety from Jacob, And this to them [is] the covenant from Me, when I may take away their sins.' Romans 11:26

We know from Israel's history, that, even though they had the law of God, they still had the law of sin and death working in them, just like the rest of the nations. The elected believers by grace in Israel are the the fruit of the whole..

"When the nation of Israel is saved as a whole, regains is proper place the whole nation, from the least to greatest, will know God. And they will become the light of the world, as they were always intended to be. " Concordant Commentary.

It will be life out of the dead for that nation.

If they're casting away is the conciliation of the world, what will their taking back be, if not life from among the dead? Romans 11:15

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