Romans Chapters 9 to 11, Part 8
by Karl Kemp
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Part 8 continues with Rom. 11:12.
(12) Now if their [Israel's] transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles [Compare Matt. 21:43. The "transgression" and "failure" of Israel refer to the fact that they didn't submit to Christ and the gospel in faith. The "riches for the world" and "riches for the Gentiles" speak of the salvation of the Gentiles that come through faith in Christ.], how much more will their [Israel's (the Jews)] fulfillment [or, fullness] be! [[Paul specifies what he means by these words in verse 15b: When Israel repents and is accepted by God (when all Israel is saved [Rom. 11:26]), it will be time for "life from the dead," that is, it will be time for the resurrection and glorification of true Israel and the creation. The repentance and conversion of Israel (the Jews) must take place before the "restoration of all things" (Acts 3:19-21). The creation itself will also be glorified along with the people of God (all believers, true Israel; see Rom. 8:18-22). Many prophetic verses demonstrate that Jerusalem will be the center of God's kingdom during the millennium; in the eternal state it will be new Jerusalem (cf., e.g., Isa. 2:2-4; Rev. 21:2). We'll get into some important details under verse 15 and under verses 25-27.]] (13) But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles ["the apostle of the Gentiles" (NIV). Compare Acts 9:15; 22:21; 26:17; Rom. 1:5; 15:16; Gal. 1:15, 16; 2:7-9; and 1 Tim. 2:7], I magnify my ministry [[That is, Paul was faithful (by the grace of God) to do everything he could do to get Gentiles saved, solidly saved. As he will go on to show, one reason he magnified his ministry with the Gentiles was to move to jealousy the Israelites, which he mentions in the next verse. But Paul isn't saying here that he magnifies his ministry with the Gentiles for the sake of the Israelites (though the Israelites were on his heart, and he was concerned for their salvation and well being, as he mentions several times in Romans chapters 9-11); he is saying that the conversion of the Israelites will lead to glory for Gentile believers (as he states in verses 12, 15).]], (14) if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen [cf. Rom. 9:3] and save some of them. [[Paul is speaking, of course, of Israelites being saved through faith in Christ Jesus. On the theme of God's using the conversion of the Gentiles to make Israel jealous, see under verse 11. In verses 25-27, 31 Paul goes on to show that ultimately "all Israel will be saved."]] (15) For if their rejection [the partial, temporary rejection of Israel] is the reconciliation [cf. Rom. 5:10, 11; 2 Cor. 5:18, 19] of the world [in the sense mentioned in verse 11, "by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles"], what will their acceptance [Their "acceptance" will take place at the end when "all Israel [the end-time remnant of Israel] will be saved" (Rom. 11:26).] be but life from the dead? [[For a start, see under verse 12. It seems clear that Paul is speaking of the resurrection and glorification that will take place at the end of this age. Here in verse 15 he informs us that the conversion of Israel will signal that the time has come for these glorious things to come to pass. This viewpoint seems to fit with everything the apostle Paul taught on the end times (as recorded in his epistles).
Paul's teaching on the end times was incomplete. I believe we know enough (based on subsequent, fuller revelation, mostly from the book of Revelation, which was given to the apostle John some thirty years after Paul died) to get into several details that Paul didn't mention (and he probably didn't know) and to qualify a few things that he said. (I had a footnote: God's revelation is progressive. For example, there were many very important things that He didn't fully reveal through the Old Testament prophets. Israel didn't understand, for example, that Messiah was to be deity, God the Son, and they didn't know that He was to have two totally different comings to the earth. We can only know as much as God chooses to reveal to us.)
Although it's true that the glory of the millennial kingdom will not come forth until after Israel has been saved through Christ (Rom. 11:12, 15), I believe the resurrection (for the believers who will have died before Christ returns in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, including the believers from Old Testament days), the transformation (for the believers who will still be alive when Christ returns), and the rapture (for all the believers who will have been converted before Christ's mid-week return) will come to pass before the end-time remnant of Israel submits to Christ as Savior. The end-time remnant of Israel will not be converted until they look on Him whom they have pierced (Zech 12:10), which they won't do until after it's too late for them to be taken in the rapture. (I had a footnote: On the conversion of the end-time remnant of Israel, start with number 14 on page 17 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." (The book is available on my website [Google to Karl Kemp Teaching] and at amazon.com and armageddonbooks.com.)
Based on verses like Rom. 8:18-22; 1 Cor. 15:20-28, 42-57; 1 Thess. 4:13-5:11; and 2 Thess. 1:6-2:15, we can say, I believe, that Paul didn't think in terms of any people (whether Jews or Gentiles) being converted after the rapture. ((I had a footnote: Most of the verses cited from 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and 1 and 2 Thessalonians are discussed in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." All of 1 Corinthians Chapter 15 is discussed in my paper on that chapter; the verses from Romans chapter 8 are discussed in my paper on Rom. 8:16-39.)) The book of Revelation, however, shows that the end-time remnant of Israel (and more Gentiles too) will become Christians after the rapture. (See on Rev. 7:1-8 (pages 176-179 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture"); see on Rev. 11:13 (pages 288, 289 of that book); on Rev. 12:6-17 (pages 317-324 of that book); on Rev. 13:7-10 (pages 332-334 of that book); on Rev. 14:6, 7, 9-13; 15:2 (in my paper on Rev. 14:6-19:21); and on Rev. 20:4 (in my paper on Revelation chapters 20-22).
When does the rapture come to pass in the view of Paul? If Paul thought in terms of the final seven-year period that is sometimes called Daniel's 70th week (which he never mentioned in his writings that we possess), he probably would have thought of Christ's returning very near the end of that seven-year period (not long before the millennial kingdom begins). (See the last chapter of "The Mid-Week Rapture," which deals with 2 Thess. 2:1-12; especially see pages 347-349.)]] (16) If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. [["The first piece of dough" and "the root" both speak of Abraham (or Abraham and the other fathers of Israel [cf. Rom. 9:5]), in whom Israel originated. "The lump" speaks of Israel, and "the branches" speak of individual Israelites, including, as the next verse shows, the Israelites who had been cut off in Paul's day (some of them were only temporarily cut off) from the tree of God's true Israel because they rejected Christ and the gospel.
Paul clearly didn't mean to say that the unbelieving Israelites were "holy" in the full new-covenant sense of the word. A person must be born-again through Christ and walk by the Spirit to be holy in that sense. They were not even holy in the sense that believers were holy under the old covenant. The words "holy" and "sanctified" are sometimes used in special, limited senses (cf., e.g., 1 Cor. 7:14).
Paul has already made the point in Rom. 9:6 that the Israelites were not all part of God's true Israel. He wanted the Gentile Christians to understand, however, that God hadn't cast off unbelieving Israel; many of the Israelites were yet to be saved, especially at the end when "all Israel [the end-time remnant of Israel] will be saved." The Israelites deserved respect; all people deserve some respect as those who have been created in the image of God (cf., e.g., Gen. 9:5, 6). When people accept viewpoints that deny that man was created by God in His image (and that we are obligated to Him as Savior, God, and Judge), they often begin to treat other people as animals, or things. If people are animals, or things, issues like genocide, murder, abortion, enslaving people, and other abominable things are no big deal.]] (17) But if some of the branches were broken off [speaking of the Israelites who were broken off when they rejected Christ and the gospel], and you [speaking to the Gentiles who had become part of the tree of God's true Israel through faith in Christ], being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree [cf., e.g., John 4:22; Eph. 2:11-22], (18) do not be arrogant toward the branches [[Paul cautioned the Gentile Christians to humble themselves regarding the Israelites. If we aren't very careful, pride (pride is a big part of what sin and the old man is all about) will manifest itself against others. I'm sure Paul knew of cases where Gentile Christians were arrogant toward unbelieving Jews, and even some cases where they were arrogant toward Jewish Christians. Of course arrogance was often manifested from the Jewish side too, but the sin of the other person doesn't make it OK for us to sin too, whether Jews or Gentiles. God's plan of salvation is designed, for one thing, to humble all believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, and eventually He will humble all of His enemies (cf., e.g., Rom. 11:30-36; Phil. 2:9-11).]]; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. [Gentile Christians were grafted into the tree of true Israel. Abraham became their father; he is the father of all believers (e.g., Rom. 4:11-17; Gal. 3:29).] (19) You [Gentile Christians] will say then, 'Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.' [Individual Israelites were broken off the tree of God's true Israel when they failed to submit to Christ and the gospel.] (20) Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith [[Gentile Christians stand (they stand, as opposed to falling; falling is the equivalent of being broken off the tree of God's true Israel).]. [[Paul has already made it clear that the Israelites were responsible for their unbelief regarding Christ and the gospel (e.g., Rom. 2:5, 8; 3:3; 9:32, 33; 10:3, and 16-21). Romans 11:20-24 are some of the most important verses in the Bible to demonstrate that faith is something we do (but we couldn't have saving faith if God didn't take the initiative in our salvation) and something we must keep on doing (by His grace), not something God does, or something He just gives us, or something that He makes us continue to do. I believe the Bible makes this quite clear (see my papers, "A Paper on Faith" and "Once Saved, Always Saved?").
Even in a passage like Rom. 9:6-29, which is written from a perspective that puts all the emphasis on God's role in our salvation, Paul doesn't come close to saying that God gives His chosen ones faith or that He makes them continue in faith to the end. He does speak of a special call for His chosen ones (Rom. 9:24), but that is very different from saying that He gives them faith. They still must submit to the call of the gospel in faith, and they still must continue in faith to the end (by grace). The Bible makes it very clear (including the writings of the apostle Paul, very much including the verses we are discussing now, verses 20-24) that there is no guarantee that those who start in faith will continue in faith to the end. (For a discussion of this important topic and for a listing of many more passages that are as clear on this topic as Rom. 11:20-24, see my paper "Once Saved, Always Saved?")
I'm not suggesting that God is trying to get rid of us, quite the contrary, but I'm very sure that He intended for us to take His exhortations and warnings seriously. They should put a healthy, necessary fear of God in us so we will make it a top priority to live in His will by His grace and for His glory. We'll speak more about the need to fear sinning against God as we continue discussing this verse.]] Do not be conceited [Here Paul means "do not be conceited against the Israelites who have been broken off."], but fear [[In the next verse Paul shows why they must fear God: They too will be cut off (like the unbelieving Israelites) if they do not maintain their faith as Christians, which includes believing what Christians are required to believe and living like Christians are required to live (by the grace of God through faith, in accordance with His Word). I have found that most Christians in our day don't want to hear about fearing God (they want to hear how God will continue to love them just the same forever no matter what they do [unconditional love]), but the New Testament is as clear as the Old Testament that we must fear God, that is, we must fear sinning against Him; it could cost us our soul if we don't.
I had a footnote: For a discussion on the need to fear God see under Phil. 2:12 in my paper "The Christian, the Law, and Legalism." For a refutation of the unbiblical idea that God will always continue to love us just the same no matter what we believe or what we do, see my paper on Ephesians chapter 1 on my internet site or on this Christian article site (under Eph. 1:4 and in the lengthy discussion that starts after verse 29). I'm not suggesting that we can in any way earn God's love or be worthy of it in ourselves (we can't), but the Bible is full of warnings that we will experience God's eternal wrath, not His eternal love, if we insist on continuing in rebellion against Him. If we really have faith in God, we will make it top priority to please Him and to live in His righteousness and truth (by His grace, in accordance with His Word).]]; (21) for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. [If God did not spare the Israelites, but cut them off for their unbelief when they rejected Christ and the gospel, He will also cut off Gentile Christians if they do not "continue in His kindness" (Rom. 11:22) by continuing to live/walk in faith.] (22) Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off [cf. John 15:2]. [[I'll quote part of what James D. G. Dunn says under verses 20-22 ("Romans 9-16" [Word, 1988]. First I'll quote part of what he says under verse 20. "...the warning example continues to be Israel whose PRESUMPTION [my emphasis throughout these excerpts] transformed "pistis" [faith] into "apistia" [unbelief; unfaithfulness]. In advocating 'fear' Paul draws on a strong strand of Jewish piety prominent in the wisdom tradition, the fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom (e.g., Psalms 2:11; 34:9, 11; 111:10; 112:1; Prov 1:7; 3:7...); so in Paul himself particularly 2 Cor 5:11; 7:1; Phil 2:12; and Col 3:22. Compare also [Rom.] 3:18 and 13:7. Only fear of God can keep faith from deteriorating into PRESUMPTION, since only in trembling creatureliness does faith retain its character as dependent trust..." (page 663).
I'll quote a small part of what Dunn says under verse 22 regarding the words "but to you, God's kindness, if [Greek "ean"] you continue in His kindness." "...Paul's whole point is that PRESUMPTION is fatal, whether Jew or Gentile. ... Once again Paul underlines the point that perseverance is a Christian responsibility rather than an unconditional promise..." (page 665).
I'll quote a small part of what Dunn says under verses 20, 21. "Man's response to God's purpose is also part of the picture, and it is here that attention should be focused. [God will take care of His part all right; the only question is whether we will do what He requires us to do (in accordance with His word and by His grace through faith).] ... [A major point that the apostle made in Romans chapter 2 was that Israel couldn't boast of their privilege of having the Law of God while failing to keep the commandments of the Law.] ... [Bible faith includes obedience to God and His Word, including His Law. Believers are enabled, and required, to keep the Law (excluding the ceremonial law) by the grace of God in Christ. (See my paper, "The Christian, the Law, and Legalism.")]] For such PRESUMPTION IS THE VERY OPPOSITE OF THE HUMBLE TRUST which relies only on God's power for the fulfillment of his promise (chap. 4). ..." (pages 673, 674).]] (23) And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. (24) For if you [the Gentile Christians] were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree [the tree of God's true Israel], how much more will these who are the natural branches [the Israelites who had been cut off because of unbelief] be grafted into their own olive tree? (25) For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery [[God's plan to partially harden Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has been saved and then to save Israel is called a "mystery" in that this plan of God, which had not been revealed, was now being revealed through the apostle Paul. (Some other verses that will help us to understand what Paul meant by the word "mystery" here are Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 2:7-10; 15:50-53; and Eph. 3:3-12.)]] - so that you will not be wise in your own estimation [These Gentile Christians could now have real wisdom, God's wisdom, not being limited to their own "wisdom" (their ideas) regarding God's plans for Israel and the Gentiles. (The BAGD Greek Lexicon (under "phronimos," the Greek adjective that is translated "wise" here) says that the meaning here is "relying on your own wisdom.")] - that a partial hardening has happened to Israel [God's hardening of Israel was only partial in that some of the Israelites (like Paul) were not hardened (cf. Rom. 11:1-10).] until the fullness ["full number" NIV] of the Gentiles has come in [or, "has entered." Compare Luke 21:24. (Luke 21:20-24 are discussed on page 278 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture.")]; (26) and so [or, "thus"] all Israel will be saved [[When the full number of the (elect) Gentiles has come in to (has entered) the church (I assume this is what Paul intended by his words at the end of verse 25), "all Israel will be saved." It seems clear that Paul is building on the theme begun in Rom. 10:19 (and continued in Rom. 11:11, 13, 14, 25, 26, 30, 31), that God uses the Gentile Christians to make Israel jealous. The word "so," (or, "thus,") undoubtedly refers (at least to some extent) to the fact that the full number of the Gentiles will have come in, which will make Israel jealous.
The end-time remnant of Israel will be humble and repentant before God. They will be ready to submit to Christ with all their hearts and for the right reasons. (God had to humble many of us to a significant extent before we were willing to listen to the gospel.)
Some important qualifications regarding what Paul says in verses 15, 25-27 are required because of God's subsequent revelation (referring especially to the book of Revelation). See under Rom. 11:15. With the insight we have from the book of Revelation (which was given to the church some thirty years after Paul died), I believe we can interpret the fulfillment of Paul's words about all Israel being saved after the full number of the Gentiles has come in (entered) in a higher, much more significant sense than the one (apparently) intended by Paul.
With the insight we have from subsequent revelation, we can see that the Christian church (which includes all true Christians and consists mostly of Gentiles) will enter eternal glory (including being raptured from the earth) in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, just before God begins to save the end-time remnant of Israel. It's not hard to imagine that the end-time remnant's seeing the rapture of the glorified saints (at the time they enter eternal glory) will be sufficient to cause substantial jealousy on the part of Israel, jealousy that will work for good; they certainly won't want to miss God's eternal glory.]]; just as it is written, 'THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.' [God will remove ungodliness from the end-time remnant of Jacob/Israel/Judah through new-covenant salvation, with some emphasis on making them righteous and holy (cf., e.g., Jer. 31:31-34; Zech. 12:10-13:1 [Zechariah chapters 10-14 are discussed in chapter 15 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture"]; Heb. 8:7-13; and 10:15-18 [On these verses from the book of Hebrews, see pages 156-163 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin"]). Also see under verse 27.] (27) 'THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.' [The apostle "quoted" part of Isa. 59:20, 21 from the Septuagint version, except for the last words, "when I take away their sins," which he apparently took from Isa. 29:7. (The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament.) Also, the Hebrew has "to [or, for] Zion," instead of "from Zion," and the Septuagint has "for the sake of Zion." Paul could have taken the words "from [out of] Zion" from Psalms 14:7; 53:6. ((I had a footnote: The Septuagint of Psalms 14:7; 53:6 used the same Greek preposition ("ek") that Paul uses here in Rom. 11:26. The Hebrew preposition ("min") used in Psalms 14:7; 53:6 is typically translated "from." I'll quote the first line of Psalm 14:7, which is the same as the first line of Psalm 53:6, "Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of [from] Zion!"
Paul probably understood the Deliverer's coming from Zion (cf. Heb. 12:22) to speak of Christ's coming from heaven at the end of the age to save the end-time remnant of Israel. If so, he probably thought of His coming to save them before the rapture of the saints; it seems Paul thought of the end-time remnant of Israel's being saved in time to be taken in the rapture with the rest of the saints.)) Paul used this composite "quotation" from the Old Testament to confirm that God will save the end-time remnant of Israel, which is a common theme in Old Testament prophecy. (See my eschatological paper on Isaiah on my internet site. For one thing, Isaiah 59:19-21, verses that deal (in part) with God's salvation of the humbled, repentant end-time remnant of Israel, are discussed there.)]] (28) From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake [Paul means that they are "enemies" of God in the sense that unbelieving Israel has been cut off from true Israel (e.g., Rom. 11:19-24). "For your sake" means that (in some ways) salvation has come to the Gentiles through the temporary cutting off of Israel (cf. Rom. 11:11, 12, 15, 19, 30, and 32).] but from the standpoint of God's choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers [cf. Deut. 7:8; 10:15; Rom. 9:3-5; and 11:2]; (29) for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. [In other words, God hasn't rejected (and in some ways He couldn't reject) Israel (cf., e.g. Rom. 11:1, 2, 11-16, 25-29, 31, 32). Based on what Paul has said already in Romans chapters 9-11, we know, however, that this doesn't mean that every Israelite of every generation will be saved, far from it.] (30) For just as you once were disobedient to God [Paul is speaking directly to the Gentile Christians (as he has been since at least verse 17); they had been disobedient to God in the years before they became Christians.], but now have been shown mercy because of their [Israel's] disobedience [Now the Gentile Christians had been shown mercy in that God had saved them. And, as we have seen, a major theme of Paul in this chapter is that the disobedience of Israel (their rejection of Christ and the gospel) opened the door (in some ways) for the gospel to come to the Gentiles.], (31) so these also now have been disobedient [Here Paul was speaking of Israel's disobedience in rejecting Christ and the gospel.], that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. [And here Paul means that because of the mercy shown to the Gentile Christians, Israel will be saved, building on the theme that was first mentioned in Rom. 10:19 that is so often mentioned in this chapter, that God uses the Gentile Christians to make Israel jealous.] (32) For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. [[In the first place, there's no idea here of God's being the author of the rebellion, sinfulness, and disobedience of any people, Jews or Gentiles (or of Satan and the evil angels or demons). Paul would say, however, along with the rest of the Bible, that all men are sinful and need to be saved through Christ Jesus (cf., e.g., Rom. 3:9-19, 23). One primary point that Paul includes here is that God, in His overall plan of salvation, didn't give Israel a covenant at Mt. Sinai that would dethrone spiritual death and sin; He didn't give the Mosaic covenant (the old covenant) to solve the sin problem; before the foundation of the world, He had already planned to send His Son as the Lamb of God to fully solve the sin problem (e.g., 1 Pet. 1:20; Eph. 1:4-7 [see my paper on Ephesians chapter 1]; cf. Gen. 3:15). In some ways the Mosaic Law intensified, rather than solved, the sin problem (cf., e.g., Rom. 4:15; 5:13, 29; and 7:8-11).
It is only the new covenant established on the atoning death of the Lamb of God that has the authority and power to dethrone spiritual death and sin, as Paul so often teaches in Romans and his other epistles (cf., e.g., Rom. 1:16, 17; 2:26-29; 3:21, 22; 5:1-6:23; 8:1-14; and 1 Pet. 2:24, 25). If the old covenant had solved the sin problem, there would have been no need for the new covenant, and the Gentiles could have been left out of God's salvation plans (cf., e.g., Gal. 3:19-4:7). But, as Paul shows in this chapter, God is working out His new-covenant plan of salvation in a way that includes some Jews and many Gentiles and that will eventually lead to the salvation of all Israel (the end-time remnant of Israel).
It is very significant that God's plan of salvation was designed to humble His people. Pride is at the root of sin, starting with the devil and his rebellion against God (cf. 1 Tim. 3:6). If we could have been saved through keeping the Law, there would be an opening for us to think that God owes us something, that we have earned a place in heaven. To that extent we could boast in ourselves and in our accomplishments instead of boasting only in Him, as it must be (cf., e.g., 1 Cor. 1:29-31). He is the Creator, Savior, and Judge; we must be totally committed to Him; we must love Him; and we must give Him all the glory. He is a good God! He paid an infinite price to save us by His mercy and grace! Thanks be to God (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit)!]] (33) Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom [cf. Eph. 3:10; Col. 2:3] and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways [cf. Job 5:9; 11:7]! (34) For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? [cf. Isa. 40:13 (Septuagint)] (35) Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? [cf. Job 35:7; 41:11.] (36) For from Him and through Him; and to Him are all things [cf. 1 Cor. 8:6; 11:12; Col. 1:16; and Heb. 2:10]. To Him be the glory forever [cf. Rom. 16:27; Eph. 3:21; Phil. 4:20; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2 Tim. 4:18; 2 Pet. 3:18; Jude 1:25; Rev. 1:6; 5:13; and 7:12]. Amen." [And, Amen!]
May God's will be fully accomplished through this paper and His people be edified!
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