Study of Romans 11:11-24

Gentiles Grafted In

Rom 11:11  I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 
Rom 11:12  Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! 
Rom 11:13  But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 
Rom 11:14  if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. 
Rom 11:15  For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 
Rom 11:16  If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. 
Rom 11:17  But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 
Rom 11:18  do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 
Rom 11:19  You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 
Rom 11:20  Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 
Rom 11:21  for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 
Rom 11:22  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. 
Rom 11:23  And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 
Rom 11:24  For 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? 

v11 – This is to be regarded as an objection, which the apostle proceeds to answer. The meaning is, is it the design of God that the Jews should totally and irrecoverably be cast off? Even admitting that they are now unbelieving, that they have rejected the Messiah, that they have stumbled, is it the purpose of God finally to exclude them from mercy?

Stumble means to err, to sin, to be in danger. To fall expresses the state when a man pitches over an obstacle so that he cannot recover himself but falls to the ground. Hence, to err, to sin, or to be cast off irrecoverably. The apostle shows that this last was not the way in which the Jews had fallen that they were not to be cast off forever, but that occasion was taken by their fall to introduce the Gentiles to the privileges of the gospel, and then they should be restored.

v12 – If their trespass means the riches of the gospel will be given to the world; gentiles.  If they, the Jews, would come to Christ, much more would the riches be spread throughout the world.

vs13-14 – What I am saying respecting the Jews, I say with reference to you who are Gentiles, to show you in what manner you have been admitted to the privileges of the people of God; to excite your gratitude; to warn you against abusing those mercies. etc. As Paul also was appointed to preach to them, he had a right to speak to them with authority. He is an apostle to the Gentiles. “But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name. But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:13-16.

I esteem it of great importance; and by thus showing that the gospel is to be preached to the Gentiles, that the barrier between them and the Jews is to be broken down, that the gospel may be preached to all people, I show that the office which proclaims this is one of signal honor. A minister may not magnify himself, but he may magnify his office. He may esteem himself as less than the least of all saints, and unworthy to be called a servant of God, yet he may feel that he is an ambassador of Christ, entrusted with a message of salvation, entitled to the respect due to an ambassador, and to the honor which is appropriate to a messenger of God To unite these two things constitutes the dignity of the Christian ministry. “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.” Ephesians 3:8-13.

v15 – If the rejection of the Jews became the occasion of our receiving the Gospel, so that we can even glory in our tribulations, though they themselves became chief instruments of our sufferings; yet so far must we feel from exulting over them that we should esteem their full conversion to God as great and choice a favor as we would the restoration of a most intimate friend to life, who had been at the gates of death.

v17 – The illustration here is taken from the practice of those who ingraft trees. The useless branches, or those which bear poor fruit, are cut off, and a better kind inserted. “If some of the natural descendants of Abraham, the holy root, are cast off because they are unfruitful, that is, because of unbelief and sin.”

From this passage it would seem that the olive-tree was sometimes cultivated, and that cultivation was necessary in order to render it fruitful. The cultivated olive-tree is “of the a moderate height, its trunk knotty, its bark smooth and ash-colored, its wood is solid and yellowish, the leaves are oblong, and almost like those of the willow, of a green color, etc. The wild olive is smaller in all its parts.” (Calmet.) The wild olive was unfruitful, or its fruit very imperfect and useless. The ancient writers explain this word by “unfruitful, barren.” (Sehleusner.) This was used, therefore, as the emblem of unfruitfulness and barrenness, while the cultivated olive produced much fruit. The meaning here is, that the Gentiles had been like the wild olive, unfruitful in holiness; that they had been uncultivated by the institutions of the true religion, and consequently had grown up in the wildness and sin of nature. The Jews had been like a cultivated olive, long under the training and blessing of God.

The process of grafting consists in inserting a scion or a young shoot into another tree. To do this, a useless limb is removed; and the ingrafted limb produces fruit according to its new nature or kind, and not according to the tree in which it is inserted. In this way a tree which bears no fruit, or whose branches are decaying, may be recovered, and become valuable. The figure of the apostle is a very vivid and beautiful one. The ancient root or stock, that of Abraham, etc. was good. The branches – the Jews in the time of the apostle – had become decayed and unfruitful, and broken off. The Gentiles had been grafted into this stock and had restored the decayed vigor of the ancient people of God; and a fruitless church had become vigorous and flourishing. But the apostle soon proceeds to keep the Gentiles from exaltation on account of this.

Among the branches, so as to partake with them of the juices of the root.  The grafted limb would derive nourishment from the root as much as though it were a natural branch of the tree. The Gentiles derived now the benefit of Abraham’s faith and holy labors, and of the promises made to him and to his seed.

v18 – The tendency of people is to triumph over one that is fallen and rejected. The danger of pride and boasting on account of privileges is not less in the church than elsewhere. Paul saw that some of the Gentiles might be in danger of exultation over the fallen Jews, and therefore cautions them against it. The grafted shoot, deriving all its vigor and fruitfulness from the stock of another tree, ought not to boast against the branches.

If you are so inconsiderate and wicked, so devoid of humility, and lifted up with pride, as to boast, yet know that there is no occasion for it. If there were occasion for boasting, it would rather be in the root or stock which sustains the branches; least of all can it be in those which were grafted in, having been before wholly unfruitful.

The source of all your blessings is in the ancient stock. It is clear from this, that the apostle regarded the church as one; and that the Christian economy was only a prolongation of the ancient dispensation. The tree, even with a part of the branches removed. and others grafted, retains its identity, and is never regarded as a different tree.

vs19-20 – The Jews were rejected in order that the gospel might be preached to the Gentiles. This would seem to follow from what the apostle had said in Rom 11:11-12. “I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!”  Perhaps it might be said that there was some ground of exultation from the fact that God had rejected his ancient people for the sake of making a way open to admit the Gentiles to the church. The objection is, that the branches were broken off in order that others might be grafted in. To this Paul replies in the next verse, that this was not the reason why they were rejected, but their unbelief was the cause.

v21 – If God did not refrain from rejecting the Jews who became unbelievers, assuredly he will not refrain from rejecting you in the same circumstances. It may be supposed that he will be quite as ready to reject the grafted branches, as to cast off those which belonged to the parent stock. The situation of the Gentiles is not such as to give them any security over the condition of the rejected Jew.

v22 – The exclamation Behold the goodness of God! is frequent among the Jewish writers, when they wish to call the attention of men to particular displays of God’s mercy, especially towards those who are singularly unworthy.

Severity, as it is here translated, signifies that particular exercise of his goodness and holiness which leads him to sever from his mystical body whatsoever would injure, corrupt, or destroy it. The apostle in these verses uses a metaphor taken from grafting,

v23 – If they do not continue in willful obstinacy and rejection of the Messiah. As their unbelief was the sole cause of their rejection, so if that be removed, they may be again restored to the divine favor.

v24 – If you who are Gentiles. if you were of the cutting of the wild olive-tree.  Which is uncultivated and unfruitful. That is, if you were introduced into a state of favor with God from a condition which was one of enmity and hostility to him. The argument here is, that it was in itself as difficult a thing to reclaim them, and change them from opposition to God to friendship, as it would seem difficult or impossible to reclaim and make fruitful the wild olive-tree.

Contrary to your natural habits, thoughts, and practices. There was among the Gentiles no inclination or tendency toward God. This does not mean that they were physically depraved, or that their disposition was literally like the wild olive; but it is used, for the sake of illustration, to show that their moral character and habits were unlike those of the friends of God.

The meaning of this whole verse may be thus expressed; “If God had mercy on the Gentiles, who were outcasts from his favor, shall he not much rather on those who were so long his people, to whom had been given the promises, and the covenants, and the Law, whose ancestors had been so many of them his friends, and among whom the Messiah was born?” In some respects, there are facilities among the Jews for their conversion, which had not existed among the Gentiles. They worship one God; they admit the authority of revelation; they have the Scriptures of the Old Testament; they expect a Messiah; and they have a habit of professed reverence for the will of God.

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