Romans 11:11-24

So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

Observation

  • Israel’s stumbling had a purpose, to bring salvation to the Gentiles.
  • Salvation came to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous.
  • The trespass of Israel brought riches to the rest of the world.
  • Israel’s failure brought riches to the Gentiles.
  • The inclusion of the Jews into the Kingdom of God will be even better for the world.
  • Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles
  • Paul tells Gentiles he hoped his ministry to them would make the Jews jealous and save some of them.
  • The rejection of the Jews meant reconciliation of the rest of the world.
  • The acceptance of the Jews would mean life from death.
  • If part of a lump of dough is holy the whole loaf is holy.
  • If the roots of a tree are holy the whole tree is holy.
  • If a part is holy the whole is holy.
  • Gentiles should not be arrogant towards the Jews.
  • Gentiles are to remember what supports them, the roots i.e. the history of the Jews.
  • Some of the Jews were cut off or broken off to allow for Gentiles to be grafted in.
  • Some Jews who were broken off were broken off because of their unbelief.
  • The Gentiles who were grafted in stand by faith.
  • Gentiles are not to be proud of their new position with God but fearful.
  • God did not spare the Jews because of their unbelief and he will not spare Gentiles either.
  • We are to take note of both the kindness and severity of God.
  • God is severe to those who have fallen.
  • God is kind toward us as long as we abide in His kindness.
  • If we do not abide in His kindness we too will be cut off.
  • If the Jews do not continue in their unbelief, they will be re-grafted in.
  • The Jews naturally belong grafted in
  • Gentiles who have been grafted in do not belong there naturally.
  • Gentiles who have been grafted in, contrary to nature, are in the tree of life.
  • The Jews belong there by nature and will be readily grafted back in.

Interpretation

Sometime Paul speaks of the whole nation of Jews and sometimes of single individuals. Therefore, it is easy to get confused if we do not pay careful attention to the context. Paul just defended the fact that not all Jews were cut off. He gave as his primary evidence himself. For if all Jews were cut off, he too would be cut off. So when Paul says “their rejection means the reconciliation of the world.” is not to be understood that all Jews have been rejected or that all of the rest of the world has been reconciled. Paul uses the analogy of branches being cut off. He does not use an analogy of the tree being cut down.

Even though the Jews, for the most part, had rejected Christ, Paul denies that there is no hope of repentance. The covenant of grace God made with the Jews was still in place. It is only those who stumble at Christ who fall into destruction. By their fall salvation came to the Gentiles. Salvation came to the Gentiles to make the Jews jealous so they might come to repentance.

So as to not allow us to think the salvation of the Gentiles was dependent on the rejection of the Jews. Paul says “Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!” If the rejection of the Jews means the world is reconciled to God, the acceptance of the Jews means more. It is so glorious that even the dead come back to life.

There is no cause for either pride or jealousy by the Gentiles. Paul demonstrates that the Gentiles should not take pride because if they are compared to the Jews they are left in the dust. Yet God has adopted the Gentiles as His children. Both are children of Adam. The only difference is the Jews were separated from the Gentiles so they might be a peculiar people for the Lord. Paul uses two analogies the first is from the ceremonial law and the second is from the nature. The first fruit which were offered sanctified the entire loaf. In the same way the roots support and distribute life giving nourishment to the branches. The Jewish history is the basis of the Christian’s history. A Christian is supported by the roots of Judaism. So Gentiles did not receive grace because God rejected Israel. Gentiles received grace from God through Israel.

If God cut off some of the Jews because of unbelief and grafted in Gentiles by faith, the duty of the Gentiles is then to acknowledge the favor of God and to cherish modesty and humility. That is it should not be a source of pride because Gentiles have done nothing to earn, deserve, or merit it. Paul goes on to say that not only should there be no pride but there should be fear.

What kind of fear is Paul talking about? First we must bear in mind that the Jews were cut off for their lack of faith. Gentiles too could be cut off of their lack of faith. So the fear Paul talks about is an antidote to a pride or contempt for the Jews. Everyone who claims for themselves more than they ought becomes too secure and insolent towards others. Our real fear then should be our own heart swelling with pride.

When Paul gives the warning that we should take care and continue in His kindness least we be cut off, he is speaking corporately rather than individually. Otherwise he would be contradicting himself from the point he made in chapter 8 that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Application

It is difficult for us to understand the grace of God. We think that God must have a reason for giving us His grace. And He does have a reason even if we do not understand it. Since we are the beneficiaries of that grace we think that reason must be within us. It does not.

I have to admit I do not fully grasp the grace of God. Deep, deep down inside we all want to believe that it is because of something God saw in us. Something in us deserves grace and mercy, even if we did not earn it. We believe that we did something or we are something.

When we let that type if thinking creep into thoughts we start to become prideful. “I have God’s grace. I am better than you. Na nanny boo boo.” But Paul reminds us that we have no reason to be prideful. We are the passive recipients of God’s grace. Therefore, we ought to live in fear of our own pride lest we take God’s grace of granted.

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