THE BOOK OF ROMANS
Chapter 11, The Study
The Faithfulness of God


J. Deering, AncientPath.net


 

Romans 11:1-21

Paul Continues his Questions
Israel Is Not Cast Away

 

 1I say then, God has not (A) rejected His people, has He? (B) May it never be! For (C) I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

 

Paul offers himself up as evidence that God has not rejected His people (the Nation of Israel) even in the face of rampant disbelief. The physical line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Benjamin – had not ended and the physical Nation of Israel is still guaranteed to be the recipients of God’s special blessings (see Vs. :29).

 

Paul is speaking concerning the unsaved (un-reconciled) nation, not of the remnant of believing Jews. God’s plan includes not only those who would, by faith, believe, but also those who would not. His blessings – once pronounced – cannot be denied. The nation of Israel will continue to be blessed and will continue to bless the nations of the world – regardless of their lack of faith.

 

Who are God’s people – The Jew – All are the benefactors of His promises, Some the more so, because of their FAITH.

Leviticus 26:44-45
 

44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the LORD their God. 45 But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the LORD.’”

 

Matthew 21:42-43
42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner; This was from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The
kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

 

 2God (D) has not rejected His people whom He (E) foreknew (F) Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?

 

God Has Not Rejected His People Whom He Foreknew. At every step of the way through the Old Testament the Nation of Israel turns away from God. She turns to idols, she turns her back in disobedience, she fails in faith and she rejects God’s offered salvation. BUT God made promises and God’s nature is that He is Faithful and merciful and gracious … and … He keeps His Promises.

 3"Lord, (G) THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE."

 

Ahab, the eighth king of Israel (approx. 850 b.c.), had married the Canaanite heathen princess Jezebel (daughter of the King of Zidon). She was an evil woman and sought to exploit her marriage to Ahab for the establishment of her idolatrous heathen religion. Ahab did everything Jezebel demanded, including the persecution and killing of Israel’s prophets (she already had thrown the Levite priesthood out of the country). Elijah, a remaining prophet, hiding in a cave) allowed himself to become near-sighted in his anger against the nation. He became so angry with the disobedience of Israel that he forgot about the nature of His loving God.

 

With all that we know about the failings of Israel, the failings of others around us, the failings of the church, and our own failings – we may also forget about the faithfulness of God and how much he loves everyone, even those who will NEVER turn to Him for reconciliation. It is good to remember this anonymous quote: “The sinner can go to hell unsaved, but he cannot go to hell unloved.” The same is true for the Nation of Israel. It will always be the recipient of a special grace and a special relationship with God – even if many there never get saved.

 4But what is the divine response to him? "(H) I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL."

The message here is not the number of people who have remained faithful, it is the fact that GOD HAS “KEPT” THEM FOR HIMSELF! Elijah was worried that the entire nation had become unfaithful – but it was God who KEPT the faithful - faithful. Those of faith cannot be lost!

It is good to remember too that the context of Elijah’s problem was the bowing of the knee to Baal. This was the problem of Elijah’s time but not the only disobedience which has set Israel apart in this age.

 5In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time (I) a remnant according to God's gracious choice.

Consider Paul’s words – IN THE SAME WAY – Those in Paul’s day considered that the nation of Israel had failed in faith. They did not know that God was superintending the faithfulness of the faithful. Paul is saying that even when the nation of Israel collectively chose to murder the Christ – God was superintending the faithful of the nation.

 

Those in Paul’s day considered that the actions of those in a blessed relationship with God were somehow out of His control and grace. People of faith are people of faith because of God’s grace – not because of any merit, value, or work on their part.

 

And the remnant comes about not by an accident of history, but by the very choice of our Gracious God.

 

Also please note that Paul does not specifically identify the nation of Israel with THE REMNANT, but uses a generic term A REMNANT speaking of the grouping of the faithful in this age.

 

There are many today who would like to see the Church as an extension of the nation of Israel, they do so at the cost of leaving the Normal, Literal, Historical interpretation of the scriptures. They often do so to make the matters of eschatology more appealing to their own ideas of what God has said.

 

For those who follow the Normal, Literal, Historical interpretation of the scriptures there can be not other resolve for Israel and the Church – ISRAEL IS NOT THE CHURCH, THE CHURCH IS NOT ISRAEL.

 

In these verses Paul is making this very important distinction. The blessings of God continue – including the Nation’s extremely important role in future events – and clearly delineating that believers in this age are a separate and distinct REMNANT from the REMNANT God kept for Himself of the Faithful of Israel.

 6But (J) if (since) it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

 

If a remnant (a body of believers - either age) is not the result of God’s GRACE, but in any way made possible by merit, value, or work(s) … THEN GRACE IS NO LONGER GRACE.

 

Like the gift that requires one cent of payment is no gift. The gift that has the tiniest payment, or demand upon it, is not grace (the kind of Grace that God gives). God’s grace is 100% pure grace – no merit, no value, no work, no demand, no payment, and no “Strings.”

 7What then? What (K) Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were (L) hardened;

Once again we need to be cautioned that Paul is dealing with issues that explain the Sovereignty of God. For the time being Paul has set aside discussions concerning the Free Will of Man.

 

It is interesting that Paul uses the present tense when talking here about what Israel is seeking. In Chapter ten Paul defines Israel as “Zealous for God,” even though they did not know Him personally. Their zealousness was to find their own righteousness without submission to God. Paul’s reference to this here indicates that he recognizes that the Nation of Israel was still zealous but non-submissive in his time.

 

In their looking for righteousness, everywhere but in submission to God, they never obtained it.

Now the hard part – “but those who were chosen obtained it,…” God is sovereign. No one comes to the Father except through the Son. The method

 

God chose includes:

Ephesians 1:4-6
“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”

And now even harder words, “And the rest were hardened.” The original language makes it clear – “were hardened” is in the passive mood – they did not harden themselves against God’s grace, they were hardened by God (see verse 8)

 8just as it is written,
         "
(M) GOD GAVE THEM A SPIRIT OF STUPOR,
         EYES TO SEE NOT AND EARS TO HEAR NOT,
         DOWN TO THIS VERY DAY."

“just as” indicates that the nation of Israel, in it’s zealousness for God, was hardened just as God had hardened them before – for His purposes, for His glory. Paul says their spiritual progress, as a nation, has been hindered. They won’t see and they won’t hear – even in the age of the church – for His purposes, and for His glory. “As a nation” they have been hindered and they will not come to Him. As individual Jews however, SOME have been:

 

Foreknown
Foreordained
Predestined
Made an Elect of God
Chosen
Called

By Grace for the Glory of God.

 

 9And David says,
         "
(N) LET (passive) THEIR TABLE BECOME A SNARE AND A TRAP,
         AND LET (passive) A STUMBLING BLOCK AND A RETRIBUTION TO THEM.
 

    10"(O)LET (passive) THEIR EYES BE DARKENED TO SEE NOT,
         AND BEND (active) THEIR BACKS FOREVER."

 

Paul references David here where he writes concerning those who will not submit to God. Paul does give a glimpse into the free will of man and the responsibilities that go with it – but just a glimpse here, for the main thrust is the sovereignty of God.

 11(P) I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? (Q) May it never be! But by their transgression (R) salvation has come to the Gentiles, to (S) make them jealous.

 

The view that Paul is teaching is the LONG VIEW. Is Israel utterly lost? That’s not the question here. “Is Israel now out of the center of God’s plan for the ages?” is the correct question asked.

 

Has the age of the church supplanted the plan and purposes of the nation of Israel; Has God  totally and completely removed them from being His chosen nation, His chosen people.

 

ABSOLUTELY NOT! God has dealt with them in such a manner that the age of the church has been made possible (according to His eternal plan), and the focus of God’s salvation plans moves to the Gentiles.

 

I remember when I was in the eighth grade. We had two eighth grades, and “A,” and a “B.” The distinction between the two classes was grade performance – the “A” class was the class that achieved much better grade performance than the “B” class. I was in the “B” class (and rightly so).

 

When we moved up from seventh grade the balance of power was in the hands of the “A” group as the president of the class was from that group (and all his other officers). When elections were held for the new classes I ran and was elected president of the class. The balance of power quickly shifted to the “B” group.

 

The question then is, did the state of Massachusetts, and the town of Shirley, change their regard for the wellbeing of the eighth grade upon the change of dominance from group “A” to “B?” Absolutely Not!

 

God changes the balance of Salvatory power from Israel to the Gentiles and that does not change His love, or the fulfillment of His promises, for Israel.

As a matter of fact, God has done this to make Israel JEALOUS! It makes them ask the question, “Why is God bringing salvation to the World through the World instead of through Us?”

 12Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their (T) fulfillment be!

 

In case you have lost your focus on “the big picture,” Paul yanks us back to the blessings and fulfillment of the purposes of ISRAEL – His Chosen People. The end result of Israel’s TRANSGRESSIONS and their FAILURE will make possible the FULFILLMENT of God’s BLESSINGS and fulfillment of all things for the nation of Israel because the whole world (Gentiles) was put into the place of receiving the focus of BLESSING and RICHES. God says to Israel, “You are blessed because your actions allowed me to bless them!”

 13But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as (U) I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,

 

Paul says, “I am a JEW, but I am speaking to you Gentiles.” He is about to explain the importance of his ministry to the Gentiles.

 14if somehow I might (V) move to jealousy (W) my fellow countrymen and (X) save some of them.

 

It is the fulfillment of verse 11 above. There is this nation of Israel that used to have the responsibility of bringing salvation to the world through individual members of that nation who were submitted to God. Because the Nation of Israel failed miserably at doing this, God took that responsibility away from Israel and gave it to everybody else, for the purpose of bringing forth SOME believers (those who would submit) and for the purpose of making the nation of Israel Jealous in order that SOME of them would become believers as well.

 

Paul wants to bring SOME Gentiles to salvation in order that SOME Jews would come to salvation – In Jesus Christ.

 

 15For if their rejection is the (Y) reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but (Z) life from the dead?

 

Paul again restates God’s position: Israel’s REJECTION of the Gospel is the means of the RECONCILIATION of the world. The result for those who believe (Jews and Gentiles (i.e., the world) will be LIFE FROM THE DEAD.

 

NOW ABOUT THE CHURCH

 16If the (AA) first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.

 

Object Lesson – 1

 

If you are making bread for an offering and you have set it apart to be holy, then any portion you break off as a lump will continue to be holy.

 

Object Lesson – 2 (understanding Object Lesson - 1 will allow you to understand Object Lesson – 2)

 

If you have a plant root, and you set it apart to be holy, then every part of the plant – branches – are also holy.

 

 17But if some of the (AB) branches were broken off (passive), and (AC) you, being a wild olive, were grafted (passive) in among them and

became partaker (passive) with them of the rich root of the olive tree,

 

You have a plant and you have set it aside to be holy and it’s covered with branches, and some of them are broken off. You wish to restore the full plant by grafting branches onto the broken plant. Then it is a matter of fact that the grafted branches are fed by the plant’s root system just as all the other branches are. (it is an olive tree, in case you missed the point that Paul is talking about God, Believing Israel, and Believing Gentiles).

 

 18do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that (AD) it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.

 

At this point (changes in the next verse) it doesn’t matter whether we are talking about the cultivated olive branches or the grafted wild olive branches, DON’T BE ARROGANT about your position (original or grafted). The original can say, “I’m important as an original, I make original tasting fruit and this is my root,” and the grafted can say, “I’m important as a graft, I make fruit that is a combination of cultivated and wild, and this is my root.”

 19(AE) You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in."

 

The arrogant Gentile will perhaps understand their place as … the original branch was no longer any good, now I was grafted in place of it.

 

 20Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you (AF) stand by your faith (AG) Do not be conceited, but fear;

 

But Paul WARNS, “You STAND by your faith,” and Faith is the Gift of God, you are there living by the Grace of the root – God, not anything you have done (reason all the words above were PASSIVE).

 

You don’t hold your position before God because you are a replacement as a branch on the tree. You exist on the tree by the grace of the ROOT (God).

 

You were grafted – you did not graft yourself in.

 21for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.

 

BEWARE you who are grafted into the tree (vine). If you fail your test of submission, you will not be spared, just as the original was not spared.

This is not about eternal salvation for this verse is much like the parable of the SOILS. Coming to Christ requires submission to God. Not as some understand it as compliance to a list of rules, but rather the matter of submitting your HEART to God through Jesus Christ and allowing Him to work through you.

 22Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's (AH) kindness, (AI ) if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also (AJ) will be cut off.

The kindness and the severity of God are determined by your response to His call. Come, submit, partake of His kindness. Come, refuse His terms, partake of his severity.

 

SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD   -   FREE WILL OF MAN

Foreknown
Foreordained
Predestined
Elected
Called
Chosen
Reconciled Himself to All
God Knew the all
God Purposed all
God Predestined all
God Elected Some
God Called All
God Chose Some
All need to Chose Reconciliation

Redeemed
Propitiation
Forgiveness
Adoption
Acceptable
Justified
Inherit

God Redeemed All
God Provides Himself as Satisfaction for All demands
All are Forgiven
Some are Grafted In
Some are Found Acceptable through Faith in Jesus
Some are Found Justified through Faith in Jesus
Some Receive the Holy Spirit of God as a Mark of Salvation, destined to receive the full inheritance  of God

 

 23And they also, (AK) if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

 

Salvation is a process. Portions of that process require certain amounts of time to complete. God calls – how long God waits for an answer is up to God. God elects – He elected in the pre-creation past but His election of an individual is not apparent until God seals His choice with the Holy Spirit of God.

 

Does God call based upon His foreknowledge of acceptance – Absolutely not! Being God He simply knows and being God He is free to choose whom He will. God is free in both cases to do either independent of each other.

 

It’s difficult for us – we live in a finite world where everything works according to fixed rules about beginnings and endings. These are constraints placed upon His creation, by Him, for His purposes – but they DO NOT APPLY to Him.

 

 24For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?

 

Paul uses illustrations and examples to help his readers to understand profound truths using simple images. Grafting is a technique used to connect living tissue with living tissue. While we may assume that grafting is for the purpose of altering the taste of fruit or preventing diseases in fruit trees, early grafting was for the purpose of restoring broken limbs to almost any kind of tree.

 

In Paul’s example, he speaks of the success of grafting a wild olive branch onto a broken branch of a cultivated olive tree. If done properly it successfully restores the branch. Paul says that if this is true, then grafting in a branch from the very tree to itself will be much easier and much more successful.

 

The imagery concerns the “grafting in” of Gentiles – done with ease and success – into the family of God, and Paul’s point of how much easier and more successful is the “grafting in” of a Jew who has come to faith in Jesus, who is already a part of God’s plan (part of the Nation of Israel) … who is already considered a part of the original “tree.”

 

 25For (AL) I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this (AM) mystery--so that you will not be (AN) wise in your own estimation--that a partial (AO) hardening has happened to Israel until the (AP) fullness of the Gentiles has come in;

 

Paul tells us that it is important to know – that you will see these things from God’s perspective, and not see ourselves as “smarter” because of our belief.

 

Much of the Nation of Israel does not come to Christ – because they have been hardened by God toward belief – many generations of them. It isn’t that a Gentile is predisposed to accepting the Gospel, it is that the Jew has been hardened towards it. The language is passive, the Jew does not harden himself against God’s grace, he has been hardened by God for God’s purposes.

 

There is a time limit on this action – “When the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” When God is finished with the Gentiles He will once again take up the National Salvation of His people Israel. Eschatology teaches us that the time is coming when God will remove His believing assembly from the earth and will purge the nation of Israel of those who continue to refuse His grace. With the end of the Tribulation (Small and Great) will come the time of the Believing Nation of Israel (along with millions of Gentiles – but it is not their story then) – The Millennieum.

 

 26and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,
         "
(AQ) THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION,
         HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB."

 

Remember: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob – the route of the Promises of God.

    27"(AR) THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM,
         
(AS) WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS."

 28From the standpoint of the gospel they are (AT) enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God's choice they are beloved for (AU) the sake of the fathers;

 

Apart from the Remnant the Jew stands on their home soil with their feet firmly planted in the good earth God swore to them that they would inherit it – only to stand there and shout out loud, “NO to You God on your terms, NO to the testimony of Your Holy Spirit, and NO to your Son!” Enemies to the Gospel – however, each and every one is God’s Choice and greatly loved by God, because of the love He has for their Fathers – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David ….

 29for the gifts and the (AV) calling of God (AW) are irrevocable.

 

IRRESTIBLE GRACE – that’s how John Calvin defined it. Irrevocable – you cannot change the Gifts and the Calling of God. Men and women with puny little lives and minds proclaim that God is dead, that God wound up the universe and left it to us, or that the Church is Israel’s replacement. God’s calling is IRREVOCABLE. Before the foundation of time God declared and ever since His will has been absolutely seen and demonstrated – exactly as He had proclaimed.

 

 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience,

 

Paul calls us who believe to remember that we too were once disobedient to God – but the mercy of God and His marvelous grace has been released upon us BECAUSE OF THE DISOBEDIENCE OF ISRAEL. That’s how He used them, to bring about Grace, Mercy, Love, and Salvation.

 31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy.

 

AND the Grace, Mercy, Love, and Salvation that was shown to us, because of them, can now be shown to them.

 32For (AX) God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

 

They had God and were disobedient. We did not have God and were disobedient. All had been “shut up” in disobedience – that He may show mercy TO ALL.

 33 Oh, the depth of (AY) the riches both of the (AZ) wisdom and knowledge of God! (BA) How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

 34For (BB) WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?

 35Or (BC) WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN?

 36For (BD) from Him and through Him and to Him are all things (BE)To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

 


Cross references:

  1. Romans 11:1 : 1 Sam 12:22; Jer 31:37; 33:24-26

  2. Romans 11:1 : Luke 20:16

  3. Romans 11:1 : 2 Cor 11:22; Phil 3:5

  4. Romans 11:2 : Ps 94:14

  5. Romans 11:2 : Rom 8:29

  6. Romans 11:2 : Rom 6:16

  7. Romans 11:3 : 1 Kin 19:10, 14

  8. Romans 11:4 : 1 Kin 19:18

  9. Romans 11:5 : 2 Kin 19:4; Rom 9:27

  10. Romans 11:6 : Rom 4:4

  11. Romans 11:7 : Rom 9:31

  12. Romans 11:7 : Mark 6:52; Rom 9:18; 11:25; 2 Cor 3:14

  13. Romans 11:8 : Deut 29:4; Is 29:10; Matt 13:13

  14. Romans 11:9 : Ps 69:22

  15. Romans 11:10 : Ps 69:23

  16. Romans 11:11 : Rom 11:1

  17. Romans 11:11 : Luke 20:16

  18. Romans 11:11 : Acts 28:28

  19. Romans 11:11 : Rom 11:14

  20. Romans 11:12 : Rom 11:25

  21. Romans 11:13 : Acts 9:15

  22. Romans 11:14 : Rom 11:11

  23. Romans 11:14 : Gen 29:14; 2 Sam 19:12; Rom 9:3

  24. Romans 11:14 : 1 Cor 1:21; 7:16; 9:22; 1 Tim 1:15; 2:4; 2 Tim 1:9; Titus 3:5

  25. Romans 11:15 : Rom 5:11

  26. Romans 11:15 : Luke 15:24, 32

  27. Romans 11:16 : Num 15:18-ff; Neh 10:37; Ezek 44:30

  28. Romans 11:17 : Jer 11:16; John 15:2

  29. Romans 11:17 : Eph 2:11-ff

  30. Romans 11:18 : John 4:22

  31. Romans 11:19 : Rom 9:19

  32. Romans 11:20 : Rom 5:2; 1 Cor 10:12; 2 Cor 1:24

  33. Romans 11:20 : Rom 12:16; 1 Tim 6:17; 1 Pet 1:17

  34. Romans 11:22 : Rom 2:4

  35. Romans 11:22 : 1 Cor 15:2; Heb 3:6, 14

  36. Romans 11:22 : John 15:2

  37. Romans 11:23 : 2 Cor 3:16

  38. Romans 11:25 : Rom 1:13

  39. Romans 11:25 : Matt 13:11; Rom 16:25; 1 Cor 2:7-10; Eph 3:3-5, 9

  40. Romans 11:25 : Rom 12:16

  41. Romans 11:25 : Rom 11:7

  42. Romans 11:25 : Luke 21:24; John 10:16; Rom 11:12

  43. Romans 11:26 : Is 59:20

  44. Romans 11:27 : Is 59:21; Jer 31:33, 34; Heb 8:10

  45. Romans 11:27 : Is 27:9; Heb 8:12

  46. Romans 11:28 : Rom 5:10

  47. Romans 11:28 : Deut 7:8; 10:15; Rom 9:5

  48. Romans 11:29 : Rom 8:28; 1 Cor 1:26; Eph 1:18; 4:1, 4; Phil 3:14; 2 Thess 1:11; 2 Tim 1:9; Heb 3:1; 2 Pet 1:10

  49. Romans 11:29 : Heb 7:21

  50. Romans 11:32 : Rom 3:9; Gal 3:22

  51. Romans 11:33 : Rom 2:4; Eph 3:8

  52. Romans 11:33 : Eph 3:10; Col 2:3

  53. Romans 11:33 : Job 5:9; 11:7; 15:8

  54. Romans 11:34 : Is 40:13; 1 Cor 2:16

  55. Romans 11:35 : Job 35:7; 41:11

  56. Romans 11:36 : 1 Cor 8:6; 11:12; Col 1:16; Heb 2:10

  57. Romans 11:36 : Rom 16:27; Eph 3:21; Phil 4:20; 1 Tim 1:17; 2 Tim 4:18; 1 Pet 4:11; 5:11; 2 Pet 3:18; Jude 25; Rev 1:6; 5:13; 7:12

 


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2012-11-21