Paul appeals to the well-known “remnant” promises of Israel’s prophets to maintain his thesis that God’s covenant promises have not failed, although natural Israel, as a nation, refused to accept the kingship of Messiah Jesus. It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Romans 9:6
Thus, Paul continues the Old Testament distinction of a spiritual Israel within national Israel. The 7000 who did not bend the knee to Baal, is an example. The prophets called this spiritual Israel “the remnant,” and it was to be the bearer of God’s covenant promises. In the faithful remnant, Israel continued always as the people of God. God provided the remnant by His sovereign grace and thus showed that in every judgment on natural Israel He did not reject those of His people who trusted and obeyed Him. The promise and faith belong inseparably together, as Paul states: The promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace. Romans 4:16
In Paul’s view a natural Israelite has no right to claim God’s covenant promise of “life and favor” that God has assured in both the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. Why not? Because faith and trust in the Lord and His Messiah are God’s condition for receiving His blessings!
However, this condition is safeguarded and maintained in Israel’s remnant, chosen by God’s sovereign will.
A ‘remnant’ is not just a group of separate individuals, taken out of Jews and gentiles; it is itself the chosen people, it is the Israel of God. God’s sovereign grace decides who shall belong to the ‘remnant.’ But according to God’s election, and their free will acceptance, the ‘remnant’ has been brought to faith in Christ. Therefore, as the spiritual Israel, true Christians receive the fulfillment of the promise.
Paul continues the theology of the faithful remnant. Only the remnant will be saved. Romans 9:27; citing Isaiah 10:21-23 where a Jewish remnant returns to the Lord. Note: this happens after the holy Land is devastated by the Lord’s Day of wrath.
Paul’s message is that God is faithful to His word because He has again graciously provided a believing remnant of ethnic Israel through the creative power of His promise: So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. Romans 11:5
The whole line of legitimate heirs of the Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants are not the unbelieving natural descendants of Abraham: ethnic Israel, 1 Corinthians 10:18, but exclusively a spiritual Israel, the children of God. In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. Romans 9:8 Be they Jew or Gentile Christians.
The Israel “of the promise,” the new community of faith in Christ, or the true church, is not restricted just to believing Jews. Paul states in Romans 9:24 that God calls all believing Christians; the church of Christ, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles. He supports this conclusion with an appeal to Hosea 2:23 and where God makes promises of restoration to the ten apostate tribes of Israel who had virtually become like their heathen captors in the Assyrian exile. Thus Paul explicitly applies the eschatological fulfillment of Hosea’s restoration promises for Israel to the church of Christ as a whole, consisting of all the 12 tribes of Israel and the Gentiles grafted in, all the true Christian Israel of God, from every tribe, race, nation and language. Seen by John in the holy Land, soon after the Sixth Seal event, Revelation 7:9-14