The Kindness and Severity of God

Text: Romans 11:17-24

People often imagine God as they want to imagine Him. Many religious people focus on His love to the point that they see Him as incapable of punishing evil. Many non-religious people see Him as a monster who is quick to destroy people. Neither one is an accurate representation of God. Paul described two characteristics of God in our text – His kindness and His severity. Both characteristics need to be taught and understood.

Defining Terms

  • Kindness – goodness (KJV); idea of doing good to us when we were undeserving (Romans 2:4; Ephesians 2:7); God’s kindness has been shown in sending Christ (John 3:16) and offering salvation (Ephesians 2:4-8)
  • Severity – from a root word that means to cut abruptly; patience for a time, then suddenly cut off; an example of God’s severity was shown in the flood (1 Peter 3:20; Genesis 6:5-8; Matthew 24:37-39)

Those Who Receive God’s Kindness

  • Those who stand by their faith (Romans 11:20) – those who have been justified by faith (Romans 5:1); to stand by faith means to be established in faith (Colossians 2:6-7); this faith is available to everyone (Romans 1:16-17)
  • Those who continue in God’s kindness (Romans 11:22) – if we do not continue, we will be cut off (Romans 11:21); to continue in God’s kindness means to continue in the state that allows us to enjoy His kindness (faithfulness – Colossians 1:21-23); we must continue in faithfulness until death (Revelation 2:10)

Those Who Receive God’s Severity

  • Those who do not believe (Romans 11:20) – Jesus is the only way to salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12); the gospel is the message that shows the way of salvation (Romans 1:16); those who reject Jesus have no hope (Ephesians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14); those who reject His word also have no hope (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)
  • Those who fell (Romans 11:22) – they were among God’s people, but failed to continue following Him; fell away from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 3:12-13); there is a danger for God’s people to fall into sin (1 Thessalonians 3:5)
  • Those who fail to learn from the failings of others (Romans 11:21-22) – the examples are there for a reason; we have the examples of the Israelites’ sins (1 Corinthians 10:6-12; Hebrews 4:1-2, 11); we should observe the sins of others and “not do likewise” (Ezekiel 18:14)
  • Those who arrogantly forget their dependence upon God (Romans 11:18) – God does not need us (Acts 17:24-25); we need to guard against a sense of entitlement when it comes to salvation (Luke 17:10); we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8); the only thing we deserve is punishment for sin (Romans 6:23); this also means we should not be arrogant against others (Titus 3:2-3)

Those Who Can Still Receive God’s Kindness

  • Those who have never been part of God’s people (Romans 11:17) – then, this was the Gentiles; now, it is all non-Christians; the Lord wants all to be saved (2 Peter 3:9); He has made salvation available to all (Titus 2:11); He has shown us the way to be saved in His word (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9-10)
  • Those who repent after being cut off (Romans 11:23) – those who have fallen away can always return (2 Peter 3:9); God will forgive us (1 John 1:9), but we must repent and ask for forgiveness (Acts 8:22)


  • God’s kindness has been shown to us by extending His grace and giving us a way to be saved
  • God’s severity has been shown and is a warning to us that He will punish those who do not obey Him
  • We need to appreciate His kindness and His severity so that we might fear and obey Him (Acts 10:34-35)

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