Thursday, October 2, 2014

Romans Chapter 11 – Part Two

Romans 11:16

Paul was convinced that Israel’s stumbling is temporary rather than permanent and that the nation will be restored as God’s people. With two illustrations Paul showed why he believed this. His first illustration was taken from God’s instructions to Israel to take “a cake from the first of [their] ground meal and present it as an offering” (Num_15:20) after they entered the land of Canaan and reaped their first wheat harvest. This offering was to be repeated each year at their harvests. The cake made from the first ground meal of the wheat harvest was sanctified or made holy by being offered to God. As Paul explained, If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits (lit., “If the firstfruits”) is holy, then the whole batch is holy (lit., “the lump is also”). Paul’s second illustration was that of a tree: If the root is holy, so are the branches. The “firstfruit” it the first portion of the harvest, which was to be given to the Lord.
“The lump is also holy”: Because the firstfruit offering represented the entire portion, the entire piece of dough could be said to be holy, set apart to God.
“The root”: The root of the tree is the covenantal promise to Abraham, which anticipated blessing to Jew and Gentile. Israel’s essential nature is holy (set apart of God’s purpose). The first fruit signifies Abraham; the branches refer to Israel Individually.
James 1:18 "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."
Jesus Christ is the root. In fact, He is the Tree and we are the branches. A peach tree does not produce apples, but peaches. If Christ is the tree, then we Christians are the branches. A Christian should be Christ like.
 In verses 17-24 Paul sternly warns the Gentiles against pride and arrogance because of Israel’s rejection and their being grafted in.
In both illustrations the principle is the same: what is considered first contributes its character to what is related to it. With a tree, the root obviously comes first and contributes the nature of that type of tree to the branches that come later. With the cake presented to the Lord, the flour for the cake is taken from the ground meal, but that cake is formed and baked first and presented as a firstfruit. Since it is set apart to the Lord first, it sanctifies the whole harvest. The firstfruits and the root represent the patriarchs of Israel or Abraham personally, and the lump and the branches represent the people of Israel. As a result Israel is set apart (holy) to God, and her “stumbling” (rejection of Christ) must therefore be temporary.

Romans 11:17-21

In the apostolic generation God put aside as a whole the people of Israel, an action Paul described as one in which some of the branches have been broken off. The apostle then spoke directly to Gentile Christians: And you (sing.), though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root (lit., “have become a co-partner of the root of the fatness of the olive”). Some, but not all, of the branches of Israel were broken off or removed. God always preserved a believing remnant. “A wild olive tree … grafted in”: Olive trees were an important crop in the ancient world. Although trees often lived for hundreds of years, individual branches eventually stopped producing olives. When that happened, branches from younger trees were grafted in to restore productivity.
Paul’s point is that the old, unproductive branches (Israel) were broken off and branches from a wild olive tree (Gentiles) were grafted in. Once grafted in, Gentiles partake of the richness of God’s covenant blessings as the spiritual heirs of Abraham.
The Olive tree: The place of divine blessing, God’s covenant of salvation made with Abraham.
The natural branches were the physical house of Israel {Hebrews} and we Christians are the grafted in branches. All believers are the spiritual house of Israel.
Ephesians 3:6 "That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:"
To be so blessed by God and His grace, however, is no reason to boast, which Paul warned against. Since they were like “a wild olive shoot” grafted to a regular cultivated olive tree, they were indebted to Israel, not Israel to them. “Salvation is from the Jews” (Joh_4:22).
Normally a branch of a cultivated olive tree is grafted into a wild olive tree, the opposite of what Paul spoke of here. But he knew that grafting the wild into the cultivated was not the norm (though it was done), for later he said it was “contrary to nature” (Rom_11:24).
To reinforce his warning Paul declared, You do not support the root, but the root supports you. There is no place in the church for spiritual pride, still less for anti Semitism. We are the spiritual offspring of Abraham.
Branches: The unbelieving Jews who had been broken off.
The root that supports you means Gentiles are not the source of blessing, but have been grafted into the covenant of salvation that God made with Abraham.
The root of the tree is the source of life and nourishment to all the branches, and Abraham is “the father of all who believe” (Rom_4:11-12, Rom_4:16-17). So Gentile believers are linked to Abraham; in one sense they owe their salvation to him, not vice versa.
The apostle anticipated the rebuttal a Gentile believer might make: Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in. Some of the branches of Israel were broken off or removed. Paul’s point is that the old, unproductive branches (Israel) were broken off and branches from a wild olive tree (Gentiles) were grafted in. Once grafted in, the Gentiles were able to partake of the richness of God’s covenant blessings as the spiritual heirs of Abraham, but as we learn in the next scripture, they were not to brag about that.
Though that was not the real reason the branches were broken off, Paul accepted the statement for the sake of argument. Then he pointed out that the real reason the branches were broken off was Israel’s unbelief and that any Gentile as a grafted-in branch stands (cf. Rom_5:2) by faith. Therefore Paul warned Gentile Christians individually again, Do not be arrogant (lit., “Do not think high” of yourself; cf. Rom_12:16) but be afraid, have a proper fear of God. We Christians are like faithful Abraham: saved by faith in Jesus Christ.
Galatians 3:29: "And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Lack of faith got the Hebrew branches cut off and our faith got the Gentile Christian branches grafted in. Without faith it is impossible to please God.
Branches were broken off and others grafted in based solely on the issue of faith, not race, ethnicity, social or intellectual background or external morality.
Salvation is ever and always by faith alone.
God will judge the apostate church just as surely as He judged apostate Israel.
Paul reminded them, For if God did not spare the natural branches, Israel, He will not spare you either. If Israel, the “natural branches” was not spared despite being God’s covenant nation, why should Gentiles, strangers to God’s covenants expect to be spared if they sin against the truth of the gospel?
In Greek this is a first-class condition in which the conditional statement beginning with “if” is assumed to be true. As clearly stated in the previous verses, this speaks of Israel’s “fall” (Rom_11:11), “loss” (Rom_11:12), and “rejection” (Rom_11:15), for “the branches have been broken off” (Rom_11:17) “because of unbelief” (Rom_11:20). This section (Rom_11:11-21) explains the righteousness of God’s sovereign choice. If God is righteous in temporarily putting aside Israel as a whole for unbelief, He certainly could put aside the Gentiles for boasting and haughtiness.

Romans 11:22-24

In these verses Paul summarized his whole discussion of God’s sovereign choice in temporarily putting Israel aside corporately and proclaiming righteousness by faith to all mankind. Consider (ide, “see, behold”) therefore the kindness (chrēstotēta, “benevolence in action”; also used of God in Rom_2:4; Eph_2:7; Tit_3:4) and sternness of God. “Sternness” translates apotomian, used only here in the New Testament (cf. the adverb apotomōs in 2Co_13:10 [“be harsh”] and Tit_1:13 [“sharply”]). God’s sovereign choice involved severity toward the Jews who stumbled (fell; cf. Rom_11:11) in unbelief and were hardened (Rom_11:25), but that same decision displayed the goodness of God toward individual Gentiles. God’s continuing His goodness to the Gentiles depends on their continuing in His kindness. If Gentiles do not continue in God’s kindness, they also will be cut off. All of God’s attributes work in harmony, there is no conflict between His goodness and love, and His justice and wrath. Those who accept His gracious offer of salvation experience His goodness. Those who reject it experience His severity.
“On them which fell”: The unbelieving Jews described in verses 12-21. “Fell” translates a Greek work meaning “to fall so as to be completely ruined.” Those who reject God’s offer of salvation bring upon themselves utter spiritual ruin.
“If thou continue”: Genuine saving faith always perseveres. God will deal swiftly and severely with those who reject Him.
Revelation 2:5 "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."
God will help us, if we love Him and do our best to follow Him.
This does not suggest that a Christian can lose his salvation; it refers to Gentiles as a whole (suggested by the sing. you) turning from the gospel much as Israel as a nation had done.
Conversely for the people of Israel, if they do not persist (lit., “continue”) in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. At issue is not God’s ability but God’s decision. God sovereignly chose to put Israel aside corporately because of unbelief and to extend righteousness by faith to everyone. This demonstrates His decision to graft Gentiles into the spiritual stock of Abraham (cf. Rom_4:12, Rom_4:16-17; Gal_3:14).
Obviously, therefore, if the unbelief which caused Israel’s rejection by God is removed, God is able and will graft the people of Israel (the natural branches) back into the spiritual stock to which they belong (their own olive tree). Luke 21:24 "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
The they is speaking of the Jews. The end of the Gentile age is near. God's blessings will go back to the physical house of Israel.
Jeremiah 31:33 "But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."
Hebrews 8:10 "For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:"
You see, this is not a statement of just the Old Testament, but of the New Testament, as well. God loves all Israel; physical and spiritual. Those 2 are the branches of the olive tree.
In the future, Israel will repent of unbelief and embrace the Messiah. In the terms of Paul’s analogy, God will at that time, gladly graft the believing Jewish people back into the olive tree of His covenant blessings because it was theirs originally, unlike the wild branches, the Gentiles.
After all, as Paul wrote earlier, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom_10:13).
The “olive tree” is not the church; it is the spiritual stock of Abraham. Believing Gentiles are included in that sphere of blessing so that in the Church Age both Jews and Gentiles are in Christ’s body (Eph_2:11-22; Eph_3:6). Yet someday Israel as a whole will turn to Christ (as Paul discussed in Rom_11:25-27). This passage does not teach that the national promises to Israel have been abrogated and are now being fulfilled by the church. This idea, taught by amillenarians, is foreign to Paul’s point, for he said Israel’s fall is temporary. While believing Gentiles share in the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen_12:3) as Abraham’s spiritual children (Gal_3:8-9), they do not permanently replace Israel as the heirs of God’s promises (Gen_12:2-3; Gen_15:18-21; Gen_17:19-21; Gen_22:15-18).