Romans 11 – The Remnant of Israel & Family and Children

Roman couple joining hands; the bride’s belt may show the knot symbolizing that the husband was “belted and bound” to her, which he was to untie in their bed (4th century sarcophagus).
Marriage in ancient Rome was a strictly monogamous institution: a Roman citizen by law could have only one spouse at a time.

The practice of monogamy distinguished the Greeks and Romans from other ancient civilizations, in which elite males typically had multiple wives.

Greco-Roman monogamy may have arisen from the egalitarianism of the democratic and republican political systems of the city-states. It is one aspect of ancient Roman culture that was embraced by early Christianity, which in turn perpetuated it as an ideal in later Western culture.

We’re almost done with this study of the Romans, tomorrow we’ll take a short look at…

Romans 11
The Remnant of Israel

1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,

3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.

4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

“Remnant” – as it was in Elijah’s day, so it was in Paul’s day.  Despite widespread apostasy, a faithful remnant of Jews remained, as it is today too.

6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded

8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and recompense unto them:

11:9-10 – the passage from Ps 69:22-23 was probably originally spoken by David concerning his enemies; Paul uses it to describe the results of the divine hardening.

10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.

11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

A group portrait of a mother, son and daughter on glass (c. 250 A.D.), once thought to be the family of Valentinian III.

12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

16 For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

The first half of this verse is a reference to Num 15:17-21.  part of the dough made from the first of the harvested grain (first fruit) was offered to the Lord.  This consecrated the whole a batch.

17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

Vindolanda was a Roman auxiliary fort just south of Hadrian’s Wall in northern England.
Located near the modern village of Bardon Mill, it guarded the Stanegate, the Roman road from the River Tyne to the Solway Firth.

“Thou bearest not the root, but the root thee” – the salvation of Gentile Christians is dependent on the Jews, especially the patriarchs (e.g., the Abrahamic covenant).

19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.

20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear:

21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.

24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?

25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

Women’s names took the feminine form of their father’s family name: thus, Claudia Severa came from the family of the Claudii, while her friend Sulpicia Lepidina was from the Sulpicii.

“Mystery” – the so-called mystery religions of Paul’s day used the Greek word (mysterion) in the sense of something that was to be revealed only the initiated. 

Paul himself, however, used ti to refer to something formerly hidden or obscure but now revealed by God for all to know and understand.

26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.

29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:

31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.

32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

Wood writing tablet with a party invitation written in ink, in two hands, from Claudia Severa to Lepidina.

34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Family and Children

What was life like for a Roman family?

Life for women in Roman times was often hard. The mother was less important than the father in the family. The father had the power of life or death over everyone.

Knucklebones, or Jacks, is a game of very ancient origin, played with usually five small objects, originally the “knucklebones” (actually the astragalus: a bone in the ankle, or hock of a sheep, which are thrown up and caught in various ways.

Modern knucklebones consist of six points, or knobs, proceeding from a common base, and are usually made of metal or plastic.

The winner is the first player to successfully complete a prescribed series of throws, which, while of the same general character, differ widely in detail.

The simplest consists in tossing up one stone, the jack, and picking up one or more from the table while it is in the air; and so on until all five stones have been picked up.

Another consists in tossing up first one stone, then two, then three and so on, and catching them on the back of the hand.

Different throws have received distinctive names, such as riding the elephant, peas in the pod, and horses in the stable.

As with many children’s playground games, the game is known by a wide variety of names including astragaloi, hucklebones, dibs, dibstones, jackstones, chuckstones, five-stones jackrocks, onesies, jax, kugelach, batu seremban, or snobs.

When a new baby was born it would be laid at its father’s feet – if the father picked the baby up it would live, but if he ignored the baby it would be taken away to die.

Women were expected to run the home, cook meals, and raise children. If they were wealthy, women were lucky; they had slaves to do the work.

Many girls were married at the age of 14. Marriages were often arranged between families. A man could divorce his wife if she did not give birth to a son.

Many women died young (in their 30s), because childbirth could be dangerous, and diseases were common.

Did Romans go to school?

Most children in Roman times did not go to school. Only quite rich families could afford to pay a teacher. Most schools were in towns.

Not many girls went to school, but some were taught at home by tutors, who were often educated slaves.

Boys from rich families learned history, mathematics, and literature at school, to prepare them for jobs in the army or government.

In poor families, girls and boys had to work, helping their parents.

What did Romans write with?

For short messages and at school, Roman wrote on soft wax tablets using a pointed metal stylus.

To use the tablet again, or rub out a mistake you smoothed the wax over with the blunt end of the stylus.

For important letters the Romans used a metal pen dipped in ink. They wrote on thin pieces of wood or on specially prepared animal skins.

Books did not have pages, they were written on scrolls made from pieces of animal skin glued together and then rolled up.

We know that Roman women wrote letters because some of their letters have survived. One was found at Vindolanda, a fort near Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland.

It is a birthday party invitation from Claudia Severa to her friend Sulpicia Lepidina and was written about 100 A.D.

What did Romans eat?

Poor Romans ate bread, vegetable soup, and porridge. Meat was a luxury, unless they lived in the countryside and could go hunting or fishing.

A Roman lamp, made in the shape of a foot. It would have been filled with oil.
Production of oil-lamps shifted to Italy as the main source of supply. Molds used. All lamps are closed in type.

Lamps produced in large scale in factories. The lamp is produced in two parts, the upper part with the spout and the lower part with the fuel chamber.

Most are of the characteristic Imperial Type. It was round with nozzles of different forms (volute, semi-volute, U shaped), with a closed body and with a central disk decorated with reliefs and its filling hole.

Poor people’s small homes had no kitchens. So they often took food round to the baker, to cook in his oven.

Many people bought takeways, such as sausages or fried fish, from food-shops.

Rich Romans had food cooked at home in the kitchen by slaves. Most ate a light breakfast and a snack at mid-day – perhaps bread and cheese, or boiled eggs and salad.

They ate dinner in late afternoon, with a starter, a meat course (such as hare, pig, beef, goat, chicken, fish or pigeon) followed by fruit or nuts. Ice cream was a treat.

Lettuce was served at the end of a meal because Romans believed it helped you sleep.

What were Roman toys like?

Roman children had some toys very like ones we play with today – such as toy soldiers, rattles, balls, doll’s houses, carts and pull-along animals on wheels.

Even poor children had board games, using pebbles for counters, and wooden dolls.

Some dolls had moveable arms and legs. Roman children had ivory letters to practice their spellings with. Favorite Roman pets were dogs, birds and monkeys.

A Roman pull-along toy – a pottery horse and rider on wheels.

Fun Facts:

Some Romans liked to eat snails fattened on milk, peacocks’ brains and flamingos’ tongues.

At dinner, slaves gave guests small hot bread rolls to wipe their plates clean.

Roman flour contained a lot of dust and bits. This made bread so coarse that it wore down people’s teeth.

Romans liked fun foods, such as a roast hare with bird’s wings stuck on, to look like a flying horse!

…religion.