Are the Jews still God's people? (continued)
Paul continues his answer to explain that the Jewish people relate to God as His people on two levels: the individual and the national levels.
When he speaks about the individual level, Paul provides the example of himself, a Jew. He concludes, “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5,7). What Paul is saying is that there was a remnant—a group of Jews remaining--whom he also calls the elect, who had accepted that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah of Israel. Through the grace in his name, the Jewish remnant was accepted by God.
When Paul speaks about the national level, he refers to Israel as a nation as “the rest (who) were hardened” in contrast to the remnant chosen by grace who believed.
Paul then develops an agricultural analogy related to the practice of grafting branches into an olive tree. Israel, as a nation, was like the branches broken off from the cultivated olive tree because of their unbelief. In their place, God grafted wild olive branches into the olive tree. These wild olive branches represent the Gentiles who believed in Christ.
But that is not the end of the matter. The natural branches (Israel) were not destined to be broken off forever, for Paul declares,
“And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again” (Romans 11:23).
Olive tree showing where a graft has been made, introducing a branch of one tree to the stalk of another tree. The apostle Paul uses this analogy to explain how the Gentiles are grafted in to the nourishing root of Israel by reason of their faith in Christ. He then explains how the nation of Israel was broken off for lack of faith but will be grafted in again by Christ at his second coming.