Romans 11:1 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.
A proper understanding of this section of Romans includes a general knowledge of two major Bible covenants: the Abrahamic and the Mosaic. A covenant is a binding legal agreement.
The Mosaic covenant is often, but incorrectly, used as the primary covenant between God and Israel. This covenant was conditional and agreed to by Israel at Mount Sinai. Exodus 19:1-8; 24:3, 7 Conditional means there were commitments in the covenant that Israel must fulfill. Exodus 19:5 If those conditions were not met then God could implement the remedy for breach of the covenant which was also written in the covenant. Deuteronomy 11:27, 28; 28:14-29:1 Israel did not fulfill her covenant obligations, and, therefore, has received the punishment described in the Covenant. The final remedy described in the Mosaic covenant was to end the relationship established by the covenant.
The Abrahamic Covenant was not conditional except to the extent that it was conditioned upon Abraham’s faith and obedience. After Abraham met the conditions it became unconditional to his covenant descendants. So Israel is still in a covenant relationship with God. An example of the difference between the two covenants can be seen when Israel broke the Mosaic Covenant and Moses appealed to God for mercy based on the Abrahamic Covenant:
Exodus 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. 14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
The Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional and, therefore, everlasting. Since this covenant relationship is everlasting it must be based in the Grace relationship established by the gospel work of Jesus Christ, not Israel’s obedience to the demands of Covenant Law. Paul said:
11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.