Romans 11:5: God’s Remnant


  • A key for interpretation
  • A philosophy of history
  • A defence of grace


Today we are going to study one of the most important theological topics in the bible, the remnant. This little word with its pedestrian meaning of ‘leftovers’; residue; a surviving group; a part, trace or member remaining; remains; the leavings, etc. is a vital teaching in the bible. A word that usually has negative connotations has some wonderful light to share with us today. Paul brings in this word in 11:5 to help us understand God’s dealings with Israel, ‘So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.’ Paul has been speaking of Elijah’s having learnt the lesson of God’s gracious dealings with Israel and how God has kept for Himself 7000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Paul alerts us to the fact that this way of acting is paradigmatic; it is the pattern for God’s dealings with Israel. Today as we continue to attempt to come to grips with this chapter will have to camp out on this concept of the remnant. There are three things that I want to show.

Firstly, we need to see that Paul is using this notion of the remnant as a main idea for God’s dealings with Israel. If you want to understand the argument of 9-11 you can only do so with this teaching of the remnant. We will show the three main views of interpretation on the question of Jewish salvation and show how we will be using the idea of the remnant to help us interpret these chapters.

Secondly, this idea of the remnant is a lens through which we can understand God’s gracious dealings with all of mankind, and the theme of the storyline of the bible. We will trace a bit of the history of the OT to show how God for the purposes of His own glory in demonstrating His justice and mercy saves a remnant.

Thirdly, you will notice that Paul speaks of a remnant that is chosen by grace. The doctrine of the remnant is a defence of God’s sovereign electing grace in salvation. The fact that any are saved is God’s grace, the remnant exists by virtue of God’s electing grace not any merit on the part of the Jews.
A true grasp of this doctrine should straighten your thinking and grab your heart.