“Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread." (Isaiah 8:12-13). The people of Judah were terrified by the imminent prospect of invasion by the cruel Assyrian hordes who had been further strengthened by a confederacy with Judah's own brethren in the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. It is indeed cause for concern when compromising Christians join ranks with ungodly pagans in opposing those who defend the true word of God, for such a combination seems almost too strong to resist. A modern example is the current collaboration between the secular evolutionists and those Christian evolutionists and "progressive creationists" who oppose Christians who stand for the literal truth of the biblical record of creation and earth history. This is cause only for concern, however, not for fear! Just as in Isaiah's day, we must fear God--not men. In the coming judgment it will be far easier to explain to God why we had too much faith in His word than too little! These verses are referred to by the apostle Peter in a well-known New Testament passage: "Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:14-15). Therefore, when unbelievers and compromising believers join forces against those who fully believe the Bible, the proper response is not panic, or submission, or even belligerent opposition, but an implicit confidence in God and His word, accompanied by a gracious "answer" (literally "apologetic") in defense of the truth, given in a meek spirit and in fear only of God — Henry Morris (1918-2006).
When we say that there is “a being damned for not believing the Gospel,” we do not mean that those who are lost are damned for want of that spiritual faith which is a grace of the Spirit, and given only to the elect of God; but that they are damned as, through the unbelief of their hearts, rejecting and despising the Gospel, and resisting even their natural convictions of its truth. In this sense, and in this sense only, do we mean that there is a being damned for not believing the Gospel — J. C. Philpot (1802-1869).
He who fears God has nothing else to fear. — C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892).
Verse 21. It is necessary for those whom the Lord knows to be heirs of salvation in certain circumstances, to be threatened with damnation, as a means of preserving them from it. Such passages as Romans 11:18-20; Galatians 6:7-8; Hebrews 10:26-30; are addressed to believers. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
All sis are rooted in love of pleasure. Therefore be watchful. — Thomas Manton (1620-1677).
Unless we keep a strict watch, we shall be betrayed into the hands of our spiritual enemies. — John Owen (1616-1683).
He who gives over never truly began. — William Jenkyn (1613-1685).
Verse 22. A Christian is not one who by searching has found out God, but one whom God has found. — T. T. Shields (1873-1955).
God graciously causes a man to preserve in willing. That is the whole truth . . . the true doctrine is not that salvation is certain if we have once believed, but that perseverance in holiness is certain if we have truly believed. — A. A. Hodge (1823-1886).
The blessings which the Gentiles have obtained possession of, through the preaching of the gospel among them, originate in, and are necessarily connected with, the faith of the Gospel; and should those bodies of men — now Christian Churches among the Gentiles, and enjoying, in their true members, all heavenly and spiritual blessings — should those churches fall from the faith of the Gospel — should there cease to be a succession of true believers in them — they would cease to enjoy the advantages conferred on them, and be cut off like the unbelieving Jews — cease to be recognized by God as a part of His people. The desolations of many generations of once famous Christian churches, in Asia, and Africa, and some portions of Europe, are an awfully impressive commentary on these words. — John Brown (1784-1858).
Christian faith rests not upon human discovery, but upon Divine revelation. Christian faith consists essentially in the heart’s enthronement of Christ. — T. T. Shields (1873-1955).
Those are the best prepared for the greatest mercies that see themselves unworthy of the least. — Thomas Watson (1620-1686).
The real horror of being outside of Christ is that there is no shelter from the wrath of God. — Eric Alexander.
Verse 23. It is great, yea, it is infinite grace that seeks wanderers from the path of duty and brings them home to God and gives them good hope through grace, and raises them to the full and everlasting enjoyment of God in Heaven. — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
As by the grace of God we are what we are, so by His grace it is we are not what we are not. — Francis Burkitt (1864-1935).
Our salvation is a pure gratuity from God. — B. B. Warfield (1851-1921).
Nothing is sure for sinners that is not gratuitous . . . Unless we are saved by grace, we cannot be saved at all. — Charles Hodge (1797-1878).
Grace is power. It does not instruct, it energizes; and what dead men need is energizing, such energizing as raises the dead. — B. B. Warfield (1851-1921).
Verse 24. Therefore nature contributes nothing toward the work of conversion. — John Trapp (1601-1669).
Apart from special, saving revelation — the revelation that centers upon the Lord Jesus Christ — we do not and cannot know God. — J. I Packer (b. 1926).
Christianity . . . is the revelation of God, not the research of man. — James A. Stewart (1896-1990).
IN RECENT YEARS there has been a great proliferation of books on the subject of prophecy, and especially books setting forth the idea that the present-day Republic of Israel is a fulfillment of prophecy and an indication of the nearness of the return of the Lord. The present intense continued crisis between the Republic of Israel and the Arab nations is bound to result in a profuse new crop of this type of books.
Most of this literature will be without value to Christians who adhere with mature conviction to the historic Christian Faith and its expression in the church’s historic confessions, because the literature is and will be based on unwarranted presuppositions characteristic of Darby-Scofield Dispensationalism — the imminent secret rapture, the great tribulation, the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple, restoration of the ritual sacrifices, and so forth.
Those who have examined this popular and energetically promoted scheme and found it unconvincing and not supported by sound exegesis of the Scriptures, will certainly not be impressed by the type of literature just described. In addition, many if not most of these books will fall naively into the error of confusing the meaning of Scripture prophecies with identification of the fulfillment, thus introducing an element of fallible human opinion in dealing with statements of the infallible Word.
If it is true that ALL the promises of God are YEA and AMEN in CHRIST (2 Cor. 1:20), it follows that there are NO promises of God addressed to those NOT in Christ. Zionism and the Republic of Israel today are nationalistic and secular movements and certainly do not involve being in Christ. Popular writers on prophecy overlook this most important consideration, and assume that Bible promises and prophecies can pledge benefits and success to a nation and a movement that is certainly in unbelief. — J. G. Vos (1903-1983).
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Vol. II — Chapter 9 — Romans 11: 11- 24
Vol. II — Chapter 9 — Romans 11: 11- 24
BELIEVING JEWS AND GENTILES THE TRUE
ISRAEL OF GOD
Romans 11:11-24 (11) I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. (12) Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? (13) Fir I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: (14) If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. (15) For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? (16) For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. (17) And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakes of the root and fatness of the olive tree; (18) Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. (19) Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off. That I might be grafted in. (20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear. (21) For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. (22) Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. (23) And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. (24) For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? In this passage the apostle gives us a very clear presentation of the relation which exists between the true Church and that Old Testament economy in which he had grown up and the true nature of which he had so completely misunderstood, before his saving encounter with Christ, that he had persecuted the “church of God.” This passage tells us that, not Israel after the flesh will be established as a nation on earth, but that all Israel will be saved by being grafted into that very “olive tree” which is a figure of spiritual Israel, into which all true believers, Jew and Gentile alike, are now being grafted.
Verse 11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles; for to provoke them to jealousy. “Have they stumbled that they should fall?” That is, has God no other end to serve in the judgment which has overtaken them than that of their destruction? “By no means” is the apostle’s reply. The product of their fall is the riches of the world and refers to the riches of salvation including believers of all nationalities. The removal of the special nation clause, from the program of God, has meant the opening of the door of grace on the grandest and most world-wide scale, to poor sinners of mankind everywhere. “Through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles to provoke them to jealously.” God used their rejection of the Gospel to send the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 13:44-48; 28:27-28). This provoking to jealously is not the provoking to emulation of vs. 14, but is a judgment of God upon the willfully hardened as in chapter 10:19, “I will provoke you to jealously by them that are no people and by a foolish nation will I anger you.” The “diminishing of them” speaks of their decline in great numbers — the number of true believing Jews dwindling to a small flock.
The offence of the Jews resulted in a great good to others throughout the world. Their persecuting of Christians and the preachers of the Gospel drove them from the old mother church, and they were scattered abroad, going everywhere preaching the Gospel (Acts 13:46). The opposition and blasphemy exhibited by the Christ hating, Gospel despising Jewish nation left the propagators of true Christianity no choice but to turn to the Gentiles (Acts 13:14-48; 28:17-28).
Verse 12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? “Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the gentiles, how much more their fullness?” The “fall of them” is God’s rejection of the Jews for their refusal of the Messiah. The “riches of the world” means for the benefit of the world, and refers to the riches of salvation including believers of all nationalities. The “diminishing of them” speaks of the great decline of true believing Jews. Our opponents make much of this verse and their misinterpretation of it. They claim it means that at some time yet future the Jews will be returned nationally to their former privileges, be converted as a nation, and as a consequence the Gentile world will be enriched beyond anything that has ever taken place during the last two thousand plus years of Christian history. Even John Murray, a man whom we greatly respect, says “that the fulness of Israel will bring the Gentiles much greater Gospel blessings than that occasioned by Israel’s unbelief.” They say that this fulfillment of prophecy applies to a period richer and fuller in scope even than that of Pentecost.
Now we do not hesitate nor apologize for saying that the text says no such thing. What a shame for any school of thought, in order to uphold their theory, teach that the triumphs of faith, patience, suffering, and achievement of 2,000 plus years of Church history will be diminished by the activities of Jewish missionaries in a golden age. What enjoyment of Gospel blessings is there on this earth beyond beholding the glory of God in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the privilege of every true believer now under the new Covenant of Grace? Are they claiming that large numbers of converts will make the difference? Numbers of converts will not make Christ more precious to the seeking sinner that leans on Him now in this day of famine of hearing the true Gospel. How dare any man or numbers of men say that all the labors of the apostle Paul and all the mighty spiritual music of the Beloved Apostle John will be eclipsed by the events of some supposed coming golden age. Have these men never read the 11th chapter of the great book of Hebrews? He whom our soul loveth comes in the night-time as well as the day and declares, “I am the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the valleys” (Song of Sol. 2:1) and beneath His shadow we rest with great delight and find His fruit sweet to our souls.
Paul’s purpose is far otherwise than what our opponents claim here. When he says, “How much more their fullness,” he is not pointing to a future race of Jews, but to himself, as representing a part of that fullness—a fullness then existing in his day; not something to be waited for till the end of 2,000+ years. His argument is, “If the national rejection of Israel has meant great blessing to the world at large, how much more blessing will it be when out of the nation of Israel comes a steady stream of Jewish converts, an election of grace to join the main stream of Divine election flowing from the Gentile world? — joined together in the body of our Lord Christ, the true Church of Christ. This is indeed Life from the dead.” (Charles D. Alexander).
Notice dear reader, it is not the supposed return of the Jews, as our opponents
claim, that is the “riches of the gentiles.” Our verse tells us it is the very opposite, as it speaks of “the fall of them” and “the diminishing of them” being “the riches of the gentiles,” not their return (Zech. 2:11).
Verse 13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office. In setting forth your privileges in the body of Christ our Lord “I magnify mine office.” Paul honors His Master and the office He called him to fill. This statement by Paul proves that this is the true meaning of what we’ve stated concerning the phrase ‘their fullness.’ He points not to a future generation of millennial Jews but to the elect remnant in Israel which was powerful then, and has endured in every generation since, and will to the end of time.
The Holy Ghost presents Paul to his hearers in this verse as the apostle of the Gentiles and sent chiefly unto them (Acts 9:15; Gal. 1:16; Eph. 3:8), and magnifies his office therein, thus indicating the blessing bestowed on the world by God’s usage of this one Jew. When telling of his conversion experience Paul stated that Christ spoke to him and said “Depart, for I will send the far hence unto the Gentiles” (Acts 22:21). This was the calling he had received from His Heavenly Master, a special call and charge from Christ to carry the glad news of salvation to the nations. Notice the extent of Paul’s abundant labors, his fruitful ministry, his vast understanding of the mystery of God, his clear preaching of the true Gospel and his defense of Gentile liberty against all the encroachments of sly Judaizers who crept in unawares to spy out and to destroy the peace and quiet of the churches by their Jewish pride and envy. This is THE FULNESS OF ISRAEL coming into the Gospel church. To this day we read the Holy Scriptures which came to us entirely through men of Israel whom Christ called and equipped and sent to establish His church and lay its foundations in every land.
This is the riches of the world coming in through the “fullness” of Israel. Let those who take a derogatory view of Church history and give it an almost contemptible comparison with what may be expected when Jewry as a nation is converted (as they maintain), reckon with the labors of the Apostle Paul. Let them come forth and tell us that those apostolic labors will pale into insignificance beside the fabulous results of Jewish ministry in an age yet to come. But what Bible are those who make such claims reading?
Verse 14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some. SOME OF THEM—NOT ALL. “If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.” This is the emulation of following a good and noble example. Having presented himself and his own conversion as part of the continuing “fullness” of earthly Israel during the long Gospel day, he holds out to his benighted countrymen that same destiny which he enjoys, if by any means some might hear and perceive and be saved (1 Cor 9:20-22). Paul uses their jealousy to call them to faith in Christ. He tells the Jews of their replacement by the Gentiles, not to shut them out of the faith, but to draw them into it. Paul genuinely expects some, hopefully many, to be saved! Let his countrymen consider for themselves the super-abundant mercy of God in Christ and see that the crowning and the fullness of their destiny also lies in that Kingdom of Grace over which the Lord Jesus Christ reigns, and ever will reign, world without end.
Not that Paul expected his example to provoke a national acceptance of Christ. He was far too spiritually informed to commit so gross an error. “That I might save SOME OF THEM” — Paul knew nothing of national salvation or a restoration of national Israel to their former privileges. He is not speaking of a future salvation for the nation of Israel, but of the contemporary success of the Gospel in his own day (and by inference, of course, in all generations of the Church) in saving elect individuals out of the rejected nation. As God’s penman he wrote chapters 9 through 11 to eliminate the error of salvation of the Jewish nation. The sovereignty of God’s elective grace was always uppermost in his theology, and it is only of this he speaks when he says, that I “might save some.”
“Observe here that the minister of the word is said in some way to save those whom he leads to the obedience of faith. So conducted indeed ought to be the ministry of our salvation, as that we may feel that the whole power and efficacy of it depends on God, and that we may give him his due praise: we ought at the same time to understand that preaching is an instrument for effecting the salvation of the faithful, and though it can do nothing without the Spirit of God, yet through His inward operation it produces the most powerful effects” (John Calvin).
Verse 15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? It is quite evident as those referred to as “'them” who are cast away, are a different people from the “them” who are received. Our friends fail to distinguish between the nation of 2,000+ years ago and the nation which is yet to be, but at least they must acknowledge they are not the same individuals. But what they fail to see is that the two peoples in the text are NOT separated by 2,000 years at all, but are contemporary. The unbelieving majority of the nation is contrasted with the believing minority—that remnant according to the election of grace of which, again, Paul presents himself as a sample. None of the elect, or spiritual Israel, were ever cast off. From Abraham to Paul every Israelite who looked through the types and by faith laid hold of the Antitype, was saved. Paul is careful to show that this elect remnant was never cast off (Rom. 11:2) and that every one of them is saved by God’s free grace.
That some should be saved from the ruin of Israel—this is indeed life from the dead. For our friends to allege that “life from the dead” does not refer to Israel at all but to Gentiles becoming converted in unbelievable numbers through Israelitish testimony after the nation is “restored,” would be beyond exegetical credence if we had not seen it numerous times in print. A high percentage of expositors, both now and years gone by, have made this error.
These expositors have also erroneously held as the fall of Israel from the favor of God resulted in the blessings of the Gentiles (through the Gospel being transferred to them through defaulting Israel), the blessings which will come to the Gentiles through the restoration of Israel will be so great that it could be described as “life from the dead.” The text says nothing of the kind for this phrase in no way applies to the Gentiles. “Life from the dead” applies to the salvation of the elect taken out of the Jewish people. Paul is saying that not all Jewry is cast off. There remains in our day a remnant according to the election of grace. From the carcass of the rejected nation, the grace of God calls forth, in every generation, a remnant of Jews to salvation and this is indeed “life from the dead.” These schools of thought try to force their meaning from this passage in order to support their false theory.
The casting away of the Jewish nation meant the opening of the door of mercy to the entire world (as contrasted with that very small portion of the world which Israel represents). The return of some Jews in repentance to Christ is therefore regarded by Paul as “life from the dead.” If God can cast away some because of their unbelief, He can restore them if they repent and turn to Him in faith!
Our opponents would make this verse mean a national regrafting of Israel, but that would require that the Gentile nations as such were already grafted in and that is absolutely not the case. No Gentile nation has ever been grafted into the covenant of God. Only individual sinners are so treated, and it is only as individuals that they can be broken off. The Gentiles were never (as the Jewish nation), a theocratic community entirely governed by Divine regulation so that their very name became synonymous with their religion. No Gentile nation ever stood in that relation to God nor ever can, therefore no Gentile nation can be broken off from that stem into which they were never grafted. Individuals only are in view, and these are warned not to boast of their security and privilege as against the Jew, but to remember that God given faith alone puts us into the covenant and unbelief can cause us to be left out, even as Jewish persons. If they remain not still in unbelief, they will be grafted again into the Gospel stock. This “Receiving of repentant Jews into the Kingdom of Christ is described by Paul as “life from the dead” as indeed it is, but it is altogether beyond reason for our opponents to interpret this as life for the Gentile world.
Verse 16: For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy and if the root be holy, so are the branches. No, not all Jews are rejected. Paul is stating the same thing in different words. He is showing that it is not his teaching that the rejection of the nation from its privileges meant likewise the rejection of every individual in the nation. Let not the Gentiles glory therefore over the Jewish nation because the Jewish privileges had become forfeited through unbelief. The fall of the nation did not mean there was no life remaining therein. That of which the first fruit was but a sample must be the same in its substance and nature. The salvation of individual Jews was to be expected to continue in accord with the Apostle’s position at the beginning of the discussion—“Hath God cast away His people?” God’s working salvation in earthly Israel continues as it did from the beginning. The election of grace remaineth.
That which springs from the same root must be the same nature and substance. If the one is holy so is the other. Many commentators, ancient and modern, try to fit this into their pattern of pre-conceived notions of Jewish restoration. Their attempt to describe how and in what sense unbelieving Israel is holy though lost and rejected, is ludicrous. There can be only one meaning. Those of the rejected nation who bring forth the fruits of God-given faith evidence thereby that they are the true children of Abraham. They are the holy seed of a holy stock. The unbelieving portion of the nation is reprobate, never was holy, and is not to be considered as the rightful seed of Abraham. Our Lord said to them, “Ye are of your father the devil” (John 8:44).
Christ is the “root” of the tree. This is stated clearly in Isa. 11:1; Rom. 15:12; Rev. 5:5. “The believer being one with Christ is made ‘a new creature,’ because He is such a Stock as changes the graft into its own nature: ‘If the Root be holy, so are the branches.’ The same Spirit which Christ received ‘without measure’ (John 3:34) is communicated to the members of His body, so that it can be said, ‘Of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace’ (John 1:16). Being united to Christ by faith, and through the communication of the quickening Spirit from Christ unto him, the believer is thereupon not only justified and reconciled to God, but sanctified, made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, and made an heir of God” (A. W. Pink).
Verse 17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree. In verses 17-24 Paul is giving his familiar illustration of the olive tree. Concerning this passage O. T. Allis stated, “For in it the apostle gives us a very clear presentation of the relation which exists between the Church and that Old Testament economy in which he had grown up and the true nature of which he had so completely misunderstood that he persecuted the ‘Church of God.’ The Church of God is here spoken of under the figure of the olive-tree. In this passage of Scripture Paul regards the salvation of Jews and Gentiles as a joint undertaking, simultaneously accomplished, in the purpose of God in the calling them into His fold. This resulted in their partaking together of the life and nourishment of the olive tree. As Ephesians 3:6 states they are ‘fellow heirs,’ or fellow-members, ‘of the same body.’ The Gentiles ‘were aliens from the common-wealth of Israel’ (in the time of the prophets), but now ye are members of the true Israel, built upon the foundation of the New Testament Apostles and Old Testament Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:12-19).”
“And if some of the branches were broken off and thou ... grafted in among them.” Here is confirmation of what we have written. All of earthly Israel were not cast away (Matt. 8:11-12) — only the unbeliever; “some of the branches.” What could be plainer than this, that the apostle is speaking of individual believers throughout this entire chapter? “Some of the branches,” dear reader; not all of them were broken off (John 15:6). The holy stock was not uprooted, just “some of the branches.” The Jews are considered the natural branches. They were the descendants of the patriarchs and, till Christ came, the true members of the Church of God were to be found almost exclusively among them. Even though history has proven that the old stock was well nigh stripped of its natural branches, in consequence of their unbelief, there still remained God’s chosen remnant according to the election of grace.
This is borne out by the remainder of the verse as Paul turns to the Gentile believers — the new branches grafted in represent Gentile Christians. At the new birth Gentile believers are added to the true Christian Church and become members of Christ’s body (Acts 2:39), a church or theocracy, which has its roots in the Abrahamic covenant and to which all true descendants of Abraham belong. You Gentiles believers were grafted in among them, but he does not say the nations of the Gentiles. Not nations but individual believers from among the Gentiles. There is no record of any Gentile nation from the foundation of the world being grafted into the Divine covenant. Only individuals are in view. Let our opponents tell us from this verse, who are the branches which have been grafted into the Abrahamic stem to partake of the root and the fatness of the Covenant of Grace in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no such thing as national salvation either of Jew or Gentile—no, not since the foundation of the world, and never even in a minor sense in the family and immediate descendants of the first and second generations of the Abrahamic stock. Ishmael was never in, nor Esau, nor half the sons of Jacob. Read what their father, Jacob, says of them on his deathbed in Genesis 49.
Paul is simply by way of illustration and application repeating what he had said in chapter 4:11, that Abraham is “the father of all them that believe,” whether Jew or Gentile, circumcision or uncircumcision. They are the true “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:15). Paul’s aim in giving this illustration is to show that the Gentiles are to partake of the “root and fatness” of the olive tree, i. e., are to enjoy with the Jews all that is of real and lasting worth in the blessings promised to the true seed of Abraham.
Verse 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Boast not against the branches that were broken. If we had our just dessert we would have been damned. We Gentiles have been made partakers of God’s saving mercy by a supernatural act of Divine grace for it is solely God’s sovereign and unmerited favor that made the difference. Remember that it was the elect remnant among the Jews who were the first believers. They received no advantage from the Gentiles, but the Gentiles much from the Jews. The first preachers, prophets and apostles, were Jews, and of Israel Christ our Lord came.
Gentile believers must resist the temptation to boast against rejected Israel, for they, like Israel before them, stand only by faith and unless their faith is proven to be genuine evangelical faith, they would suffer the same fate (as individuals), as the reprobate Jew—and for the same cause (1 Cor. 10:12). If the Jew abides not still in unbelief he will be grafted in again. If the Gentile abides not in faith he will be cut out. But the absurdity of saying that this is a NATIONAL grafting, cutting out, and re-grafting, must be self evident for Paul is not speaking to nations but to individuals.
“Thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.” John Gill stated that “The Jews received no advantages from the Gentiles, but on the contrary the Gentiles from the Jews, to whom were committed the oracles of God, and by whom they were faithfully kept and transmitted to the Gentiles; the Gospel itself came out first from among them; the first preachers of it were Jews, who carried it into the Gentile world, where it was greatly succeeded to the conversion of many, who by this means were brought into a Gospel church, and so enjoyed all the privileges they did: yea, Christ himself, according to the flesh, came of them, was sent unto them, was the minister of them, lived and died among them, and wrought out the great salvation for his people; hence ‘salvation’ itself is said to be ‘of the Jews’(John 4:24), so that the root and foundation of all their enjoyments were from the Jews, and not those of the Jews from them; hence there was no room, nor reason, for boasting against them, and vaunting it over them.”
Verse 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Paul insists that pride and boasting are not to be exhibited by the believing Gentiles, but that the true lessons to be learned by them are caution, humility, and gratitude to God. It is true that Paul agreed that the casting off of the Jews was, in the order of God’s providence, among the intended means of the calling of the Gentiles. It was not, however, the reason for their being cast off: there was no worthiness in the Gentiles that was the reason the Jews were cut off: the reason was their unbelief. Believing Gentiles have no reason at all to assume an attitude of pride and contempt over against the unconverted Jews.
Verse 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standeth by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear. It was “because of unbelief” — their own unbelief — “they were broken off.” They forfeited their priority through unbelief, and faith alone is standing ground for Jew and Gentile alike. Paul’s concern for the well being of his kinsman according to the flesh is not for revival of their nationhood or material establishment in Canaan, but for their spiritual and eternal salvation in Christ. They refused to bow down to the Lord Jesus Christ; they crucified Him (John 1:11). They went about to establish their own righteousness, and would not submit themselves to the righteousness of God (Rom. 10:3). Had they truly believed they would not have been cast off for our Lord Christ will “in no wise” cast out a humbled believer (John 6:37).
In the Scriptures, unbelief and disobedience are synonymous, and the disobedient are barred from entering Heaven. A Scriptural definition of “unbelief” will keep us from the error that it is but an error in judgment or a failure to assent unto the Truth. Scripture depicts unbelief as a virulent and violent principal of opposition to God. The Scriptures present the Greek noun as unbelief in this verse and Hebrews 4:6, 11 which represents the passive, negative side. The positive and active side is shown by the word “disobedience” (Eph. 2:2; 5:6) and “obeyed not” (I Pet. 4:17).
In the case of Adam he did not merely fail to believe the threat of his Holy Lawgiver that he would surely die if he ate the fruit and disobeyed his Lord. It was by his disobedience that man became sinners (Rom. 5:12). “Adam was not deceived” (1 Tim. 2:14), and he was determined to have his own way of deliberate defiance of and rebellion against Jehovah. In the case of the children of Israel in the wilderness, “They could not enter [the Promised Land] because of unbelief” (Heb. 3:19) — they were openly disobedient against God. They would not go up and possess the land, “but rebelled against the commandments of the Lord your God” (Deut. 1:26). They were active in their self will, disobedience, and defiance.
When our Lord Jesus came to this earth “He came unto his own, and they received him not” (John 1:11), and the 12th verse tells us that activity was the same as “believing not” in Him. But there was much more than this negative side of their unbelief for they “hated” Him (John 15:25), and “would not come to him” (John 5:40). They loved their fleshly desires and hated His holy demands, rebelling against Him, they said, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). Their unbelief continuously manifested itself in their self-will, open defiance, hatred of Christ, and determination to please themselves at all costs.
Unbelief is much more that an infirmity of fallen human nature. All Scripture presents it as a heinous crime. It goes far beyond merely failing to believe the truth. It is love of sin, obstinacy of will, hardness of heart. It springs from a depraved nature with a mind which is enmity against God (Rom. 8:7). God’s powerful words in John 3:19 make it clear that love of sin is the immediate cause of unbelief: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
They fell by unbelief; “thou standest by faith.” Standing by faith, and living by faith, are ever opposed to pride, vain confidence, self righteousness, and a high conceit of our own abilities and attainments. True faith in our Lord Christ melts our hearts in humility, works by real love to our Lord God, and is accompanied with a child-like fear of offending Him (Col. 2:7). Our standing, living, walking, persevering, all is by faith. God-given faith gladly receives and puts on Christ as our righteousness and hope.
“Be not highminded, but fear.” The apostle warned them not be elated with their gifts, privileges, and enjoyments, shunning others, and looking down upon them with contempt and disdain, considering that all they had and enjoyed were owing to the goodness of God, and not to any deserts of their own. Be advised and take heed of being self-conceited and secure: be not proud, or arrogant, but fear (Isa. 11:17). Be distrustful of self, for it is pride and self-sufficiency which stifle the breathings of faith. “If we fall into unbelief, we may expect the same fate. and therefore should fear the Lord and his goodness; for not a fear of Hell and damnation, or a distrust of the grace of God, is here meant; but a fear of offending him, and that not from a dread of punishment, but from a sense of his grace and goodness; and also designs humility of soul, in opposition to pride, haughtiness, and elation of mind, a lowly carriage and behavior to others, and an humble dependence on grace and strength from above, to enable to persevere and hold out to the end; for ‘let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall’ into sin, (1 Cor. 10:12); so as to dishonour God and Christ, grieve the Holy Spirit, wound his own conscience, and bring himself under the censure of the church, and to be cut off from the good olive tree, the root and fatness of which he now partakes.” (John Gill).
To be without godly fear is to be without Christ. “Know therefore, and see, that it is an evil and bitter thing, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts’ (Jer. 2:19), describes the terrible state and the fearful judgment that awaits those who fear not the Lord. “I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts that they may not depart from me” (Jer. 32:40), describes the work of God in putting His fear into His people’s hearts. The Holy Spirit makes the soul to realize that God is not to be trifled with nor shall we wickedly presume upon His mercy (Isa. 66:2). By His grace the bands of legal bondage are broken asunder; the cords of slavish fear, of wrath and Hell are cast from us. Yet godly fear and saving faith go hand in hand. He stimulates a spirit of filial in the saints, so that we shun those things that would dishonor our Heavenly Father. “I, saith Jehovah, will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. So shall they fear me for ever for their good” (Jer. 32:40).
The saintly William Mason said, “This is the precious fear the apostle exhorts to, which is ever to be cherished in the heart, and attended to in our daily walk. A fear of departing from the Lord, tends to keep the soul close to Him. Fear of offending causes watchfulness. Hope in a sin-pardoning God produceth fear. A sense of pardon increaseth it. ‘There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared’ (Psa. 130:4). ‘Happy is the man who feareth always: but he who hardeneth his heart, shall fall into mischief’ (Prov. 28:14).”
Verse 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. The apostle states that if God preceded with so much severity with His ancient people the Jews, the Gentiles may expect as great severity, if they take not heed to themselves, and their standing (Jude vs. 5).
“For if God has not spared the natural branches, etc. This is a most powerful reason to beat down all self-confidence: for the rejection of the Jews should never come across our minds without striking and shaking us with dread. For what ruined them, but that through supine dependence on the dignity which they had obtained, they despised what God had appointed? They were not spared, though they were natural branches; what then shall be done to us, who are the wild olive and aliens, if we become beyond measure arrogant? But this thought, as it leads us to distrust ourselves, so it tends to make us to cleave more firmly and steadfastly to the goodness of God.” (John Calvin).
Verse 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them with fell, severity; but toward thee goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. “Behold therefore the goodness,” gentleness, kindness, “and severity,” the strict justice, “of God.” Men are willing to acknowledge the goodness of God for they foolishly imagine that He has no other purpose than their profit and pleasure in this life. On the other hand, the severity of God is a most distasteful concept to man because it robs man of his supposed independence and is a clear assertion of God’s absolute sovereignty.
“Behold.” Paul more clearly confirms the fact that the Gentile believers had no reason to be proud and he further persuades them to humility and godly fear. The example of God’s severity in the case of the unbelieving Jews ought to have terrified them. The believing Gentiles had evidence of God’s grace and goodness in their lives and this should stimulate them to thankfulness, exalting the Lord and not themselves.
“The goodness” of God — His rich, free, sovereign mercy — was graciously displayed in the calling of His elect from among the Gentiles. They certainly had not deserved to be partakers of God’s distinguishing grace. The description of them and all fallen mankind in their ungodliness and unrighteousness is given in Romans 1:18-32. How merciful is our gracious Lord God to call us evil wretches from the cesspool of wickedness, impiety, impurity, ingratitude and malignity. We were not only non-deserving, worthy of Hell and eternal damnation, we were not seeking to be reconciled to a Holy God. Yet God determined from all eternity to savingly call out His elect from this polluted mass of corruption (Jer. 31:3). By His Spirit He would awaken them to their lost condition and reveal Himself, the only true God, in and through His eternally begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. O, such mercy and blessings in giving the inward revelation of the only way in which the elect remnant could escape destruction, and be made truly wise, good, and happy for ever — the means of deliverance from error, guilt, depravity, misery, in all their forms — of obtaining glory, honor, and immortality.
“On them which fell, severity.” The great majority of the Jews, falling into apostasy and unbelief, cut off and cast away by the Lord (Matt. 221:43). Consider the high privileges they once held and are now deprived of. Look at the variety, weight, and continuance of the judgments inflicted upon them — exiled from a land far dearer to them than any land could be to a Gentile patriot — scattered throughout the nations of the world as a degraded, hated, ill-used people; exposed to “wrath to the uttermost.” Ah, dear reader, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
But toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness.” Paul address the called Gentiles as a body, stating to them that the inestimable privilege, for which they were indebted to the goodness of God, His benignity, pure free grace, and sovereign mercy, would be continued only if they dwelt therein; but if unimproved or misimproved, it would be taken from them (John 8:31). If they are guilty of the sins of which the Jews lived in, they would experience the same punishment. To “continue in God’s goodness,” is to continue within the sphere in which this kind of goodness operates — to continue in the faith and profession of the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:2). It was an act of sovereign goodness that grafted you in, so it is an act of that same free and sovereign goodness that makes you continue in the fellowship of Christ and His truth. The vengeance which God had executed on the Jews, is pronounced on the Gentiles, in case they become like them.
“Otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” John Calvin wrote, “We now understand in what sense Paul threatens them with excision, whom he has already allowed to have been grafted into the hope of life through God’s election. For, first, though this cannot happen to the elect, they have yet need of such warning, in order to subdue the pride of the flesh; which being really opposed to their salvation, ought justly to be terrified with the dread of perdition. As far then as Christians are illuminated by faith, they hear, for their assurance, that the calling of God is without repentance; but as far as they carry about them the flesh, which wantonly resists the grace of God, they are taught humility by this warning, ‘Take heed lest thou be cut off.’ Secondly, we must bear in mind the solution which I have before mentioned, — that Paul speaks not here of the special election of individuals, but sets the Gentiles and Jews in opposition the one to the other; and that therefore the elect are not so much addressed in these words, as those who falsely gloried that they had obtained the place of the Jews: nay, he speaks to the Gentiles generally, and addresses the whole body in common, among whom there were many who were faithful, and those who were members of Christ in name only.
“But if it be asked respecting individuals, ‘How anyone could be cut off from the grafting, and how, after excision, he could be grafted again.’ Bear in mind, that there are three modes of insition, and two modes of excision. For instance, the children of the faithful are ingrafted, to whom the promise belongs according to the covenant made with the fathers; ingrafted are also they who indeed receive the seed of the gospel, but it strikes no root, or it is choked before it brings any fruit; and thirdly, the elect are ingrafted, who are illuminated unto eternal life according to the immutable purpose of God. The first are cut off, when they refuse the promise given to their fathers, or do not receive it on account of their ingratitude; the second are cut off, when the seed is withered and destroyed; and as the danger of this impends over all, with regard to their own nature, it must be allowed that this warning which Paul gives belongs in a certain way to the faithful, lest they indulge themselves in the sloth of the flesh. But with regard to the present passage, it is enough for us to know, that the vengeance which God had executed on the Jews, is pronounced on the Gentiles, in case they become like them.”
Verse 23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. “The apostle has shown that, as it is by faith that standing in the Church of God under the Messianic economy is enjoyed, the Gentiles, who had found a place in that Church, would lose it if they fell from the faith; and he now goes on to state and prove that the Jews, if they continue not in unbelief, may still obtain a place in that Church.” (John Brown).
“And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.” Paul is saying, if the unbelieving Jews come to a saving encounter with the Lord Christ, embrace the Gospel of grace, they shall be brought into the Church of God with the Gentiles, enjoying its privileges. The same God that rejected them can cause dead and dry bones to live. It is the salvation of Jewish sinners, not the restoration of the Jewish Nation to prosperity that is here promised. The message of the Scriptures makes it perfectly plain the only way of salvation is through believing in Christ. When Jews become true Christians, their racial identity is merged into the Christian stream, and the distinction between Jews and Gentiles disappears. They are all one in Christ Jesus, both are in the “olive tree,” and the body of Christ, the true Church (Eph. 2:11-22).
The idea that any sinner, nation, etc. can have life outside of a mystical union with the Lord Jesus Christ is but a fiction of the imagination. There can be no life outside of a saving union with Christ. All the promises of God are yea and amen in Christ our Lord (2 Cor. 1:20). Outside of Christ there is only wrath and condemnation (John 3:18; 36). Let any person or nation claim what they will, but “He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent him (John 5:23).Our Lord does not heap privileges upon Christless nations or individuals for He commands all to “Kiss the Son” or they shall, in the anger and wrath of God “perish from the way” (Psa. 2:12).
Our 11th chapter of the Romans epistle does not tell us that Israel after the flesh will be re-established as a nation on earth, but states that all Israel will be saved by being grafted into the “olive tree,” a figure of Spiritual Israel, into which believing Gentiles and some individual Jews are now being grafted.
Verse 24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? So the apostle regards the salvation of Jews and Gentiles as a joint undertaking by the sovereign call of God. They are now partaking together of the life and nourishment of the olive tree. Paul tells us in the Ephesian epistle that Jew and Gentile are “fellowmembers of the same body” (Eph. 2:12-19). Ye (the Gentiles) were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel (in the time of the prophets), but now ye are members of the true Israel, built upon the foundation of the New Testament apostles, and Old Testament prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. Therefore the Scriptures plainly teach that the true, spiritual “all Israel” is inclusive of all true believing Jews and Gentiles. What is expressed here in verses 17-25 of the olive-tree in its final form is given in Rev: 7:9-10 showing the elect, the “whole family” of God (Eph. 3:15), is a vast number, taken out of all nations and tribes of earth.
So Paul has pursued his analogy of the olive tree and the graft. He warns Gentile believers to resist boasting against rejected Israel, for we, like Israel before us, stand only by true God-given faith and unless our faith is proven to be genuine, we, as individuals, will suffer the same fate as the reprobate Jew. If the Jew abides not in unbelief, he will be grafted in again. If the Gentile abides not in faith he will be cut out. The absurdity of some prophetic teachers saying that this is a national grafting, cutting out, and regrafting is self evident for Paul is not speaking to nations but to individuals.
Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 11:11-24
Verses 11-24. Heaven is populated by faith. There are none there who have earned their way; all are there by the grace of God, purchased in the blood of His dear Son. The apostle is specific in his declaration in his Epistle to the Romans to include none in the family of faith because of natural causes and all who come to God in the faith of His Christ. — Jay Wimberly (1936-2012).
Verse 11. But rather through their fall salvation is come - The Church of God cannot fail; if the Jews have broken the everlasting covenant, Isa 24:5, the Gentiles shall be taken into it; and this very circumstance shall be ultimately the means of exciting them to seek and claim a share in the blessings of the new covenant; and this is what the apostle terms provoking them to jealousy, i.e. exciting them to emulation, for so the word should be understood. We should observe here, that the fall of the Jews was not in itself the cause or reason of the calling of the Gentiles; for whether the Jews had stood or fallen, whether they had embraced or rejected the Gospel, it was the original purpose of God to take the Gentiles into the Church; for this was absolutely implied in the covenant made with Abraham: and it was in virtue of that covenant that the Gentiles were now called, and not Because of the unbelief of the Jews. And hence we see that their fall was not the necessary means of the salvation of the Gentiles; for certainly the unbelief of the Jews could never produce faith in the Gentiles. The simple state of the case is: the Jews, in the most obstinate and unprincipled manner, rejected Jesus Christ and the salvation preached to them in His name; then the apostles turned to the Gentiles, and they heard and believed. The Jews themselves perceived that the Gentiles were to be put in possession of similar privileges to those which they, as the peculiar people of God, had enjoyed; and this they could not bear, and put forth all their strength in opposition and persecution. The calling of the Gentiles, which existed in the original purpose of God, became in a certain way accelerated by the unbelief of the Jews, through which they forfeited all their privileges, and fell from that state of glory and dignity in which they had been long placed as the peculiar people of God. — Adam Clarke (1760-1832).
Ministers should not state the doctrines and facts of the Gospel with needless harshness; but, in announcing the most awful truths and judgments, show how the holy, just and wise ends of God in sending wrath upon any of the race. — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
Punishment, that is the justice of the unjust. — Augustine (354-430).
One underlying lesson is throughout this discussion: God hates religious rebellion. One of the foremost indications of this spiritual resistance is simple neglect. This evil happens so gradually and unwittingly that its tentacles are wrapped about the soul, its talons deeply embedded, before one realizes its seriousness. The Jews did not one day decide to become rebellious, but over the years they let the meaning of their faith slip away into traditional applications. Let every believer, every Church, take great caution; none is immune to this sneaking evil! — Jay Wimberly (1936-2012).
If men refuse to be taught by precept they must be taught by punishment. — Thomas V. Moore.
Verse 12. The fall of them was the riches of the world, that is, it hastened the gospel so much the sooner into the Gentile world. The gospel is the greatest riches of the place where it is; it is better than thousands of gold and silver. Or, the riches of the Gentiles was the multitude of converts among them. True believers are God's jewels. — Matthew Henry (1662-1714).
The Gospel is the chariot wherein the Spirit rides victoriously when He makes His entrance into the hearts of men. — William Gurnall (1617-1679).
The Gospel no more excuses sin than the Law does. What is repugnant to the moral Law of God is also contrary to the Gospel of Christ. — Henry T. Mahan (b. 1926).
The Gospel is a glorious declaration of the mighty acts of God when He invaded this earth in the Person of His eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. — Anonymous.
Verse 13. Do we make our office in the Church to be respected by men? Do we magnify our calling? Many have a great desire to obtain a high office in the Church, and after they get it, they do not honor their office, nor does it honor them. It is better to hold the humblest station and adorn it, than to fill the highest and disgrace it. High station is not essential to extensive usefulness. — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
A Christian’s life should be nothing but a visible representation of Christ. — Thomas Brooks (1608-1680).
When those called, or commissioned, of God realize His calling, they are compelled by His Spirit to carry out their assignment. Whether or not others may agree with that calling (Paul was bitterly opposed by many of the Jews), is of no real consequence to the one truly called of God, the driving interest is responding in faithful obedience to the One calling, to the call itself. How sad it is that many have had to carry out their commission from Christ (as Paul did) against resistance rather than support from those served! — Jay Wimberly (1936-2012).
The real problem of Christianity is not atheism or skepticism, but the non-witnessing Christian trying to smuggle his own soul into Heaven. — James A. Stewart (d. 1975).
Verse 14. If by any means I may provoke to emulation ... What he had in view, even in discharging his office among the Gentiles with so much labour, assiduity, and indefatigableness, was, that if possible he might stir up the Jews to emulate and imitate the Gentiles, in seeking after Christ; for these he means when he says, them which are my flesh; they being his brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh, for it was common with the eastern nations to call such persons their flesh; see Genesis 29:14; and carries in it a reason why he was so solicitous for their welfare, because of the relation of them to him, and the natural affection he bore towards them; and his hope was, that they seeing the nations of the earth blessed in the promised seed, through his preaching the Gospel to them, great gatherings of the people to Shiloh, and the Gentiles seeking to the root of Jesse, set up for an ensign to the people, might be provoked to an emulation of them; and likewise seek the Lord their God, and David their King, and thereby have his end he so much wished for and desired: and might save some of them; he says "some", not all, for he knew the bulk of the people was rejected, only a seed was left among them, a remnant according to the election of grace that should be saved, and which did obtain righteousness and life, while the rest were blinded. The ministers of the Gospel may be said to save souls, not efficiently, for the author or efficient cause of salvation is God only; the Father has chose unto it, the Son has effected it, and the Spirit applies it; but instrumentally, as the word preached by them is the means of regeneration, faith, and conversion, with which salvation is connected: and as they show unto men the way of salvation, and encourage souls to believe in Christ, in whom alone it is. Now the apostle argues from his office, and the usefulness of it, to some among the Jews, to saving purposes, to prove that their rejection was not total. — John Gill (1697-1771).
Witnessing is not something we do; it is something we are. — Anonymous.
Paul properly understands that it is Christ Who saves, without the assistance of men. But he also demonstrated how Christ has chosen to do that saving. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe “(1 Cor. 1:21). While we clearly hold to God as the Author and Finisher of saving faith in every aspect, we also acknowledge and accept that responsibility He has given His Church to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15). — Jay Wimberly (1936-2012).
I was never fit to say a word to a sinner, except when I had a broken heart myself. — Edward Payson (1783-1827).
Verse 15. Reconciliation in the New Testament sense is not something which we accomplish when we lay aside our enmity to God; it is something which God accomplished when in the death of Christ He put away everything that on His side meant estrangement. — James Denney (1856-1917).
Verse 16. But by them are intended the first converts among the Jews, under the Gospel dispensation; it being usual with the apostle to call those persons, that were first converted in any place, the firstfruits of it; see ( Romans 16:5 ) ( 1 Corinthians 16:15 ) ; These were they who received the firstfruits of the Spirit in Judea, and who first among the Jews hoped and believed in Christ; these were but few in number, as the "firstfruit" is but small in comparison of "the lump", and mean, abject, and despicable, as the "root" under, and in a dry ground is; but yet were pledges and presages of a larger number of souls among that people, to be converted in the latter day: now the apostle's argument is, "if the firstfruit be holy.” — John Gill (1697-1771).
The Apostle all along must be considered, as speaking of a distinction, between Israel after the flesh, and the Israel of God by promise. The Israel after the flesh, had no privileges, but in the outward ministry of the word. The Israel of promise, though they stumbled in the Adam - fall in common with the rest, and for a while (as in the instance of those who crucified Christ, but afterwards were pricked to the heart and saved: Acts 2:23-37.) were living without God and without Christ; yet being in the Covenant, were brought to the knowledge of the truth, and saved with an everlasting salvation. If the Reader, in going over those and the like passages of Scripture, had these things always in remembrance, it would serve, under God, to throw a great light upon the subject throughout. — Robert Hawker (1753-1827).
Verse 17. The Church of God is one and not many. She is the same in all ages and under all dispensations. We have the same true old olive stock from Adam to the end of the world. Various indeed are her aspects and the degrees of luster with which she shines; but she is still the same. Christ never had but one spouse and she was His beloved. Uniformity is not unity nor is it essential thereto. — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
The Gentiles could not contend with the Jews respecting the excellency of their race without contending with Abraham himself; which would have been extremely unbecoming, since he was like a root by which they were borne and nourished. As unreasonable as it would be for the branches to boast against the root, so unreasonable would it have been for the Gentiles to glory against the Jews. — John Calvin (1509-1564).
Those who argue against the security of the believer in Christ misuse this passage to support their error. They suppose that all Jews were saved, and those referred to here as broken off lost their salvation through unbelief. Exactly opposite is taught here: salvation itself is not by national or ethnic heritage, but by grace through faith. What happened in the rejection of the Jews was not a backup alternative for a failed plan, but was part of the eternal purpose of grace, known from the beginning because it was planned before the beginning . . . Those branches . . . broken off were unbelieving Jews, removed from the foundation of the earth for their unbelief. The wild olive tree refers to believing Gentiles. The picture painted is the removal of unbelieving branches to make room for believing ones to be grafted into the tree. — Jay Wimberly (1936-2012).
There is no doubt but if there be one God, there is but one Church; if there be but one Christ, there is but one Church; it there be but one Cross, there is but one Church; if there be but one Holy Ghost, there is but one Church. — A. A. Hodge (1823-1886).
Verse 18. Every breathing of pride in its first stirrings, if it had its way, would run and tear the crown off God’s head. — Albert N. Martin.
The grafted in branches draw their life and sustenance from the good tree, receiving nutrients and moisture from the same root as the rest of the tree. How could the grafted in branches boast of the position? They certainly did not bring anything to the tree; rather, they were sustained by the tree! — Jay Wimberly (1936-20120).
Today we live in the day of the broken branches of Israel. Onto the root and stock of Abraham, God grafted the multitude of Gentile believers, but the Gentiles have come to presume upon the grace of God, just as Israel did in the days of her first great apostasy. The individual, who knows that his blessings are through Jesus Christ, the son of Abraham, must ever remain humble. The mass of Gentiles, who have come into Christendom, though they are not within true Christianity, must not boast. With the coming of true Christianity to the Gentiles, a mixed multitude came under the shade of the olive tree. There was a grafting into the rich, leafy olive tree for the fulfillment of God’s national purposes as well as for the fulfillment of His plan for the lives of some individuals. — Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895-1960).
Improper Boasting The wrong way to boast is to boast in ourselves. After saying that we have received everything from God, Paul poses the question, "Why do you boast as though you did not?" ( 1 Co 4:7 ), clearly implying that any time we boast in ourselves we are taking praise that belongs to God alone. Paul also mentions the fact that we should not boast in other people ( 1 Co 3:21 ), in the sense of putting them above Christ. We should also not boast in appearances rather than what is in the heart ( 2 Cor 5:12 ). We are warned not to boast beyond proper limits ( 2 Cor 10:13 ). We must refrain from presenting an exaggerated description of ourselves. In the great passage on grace as the means of salvation Paul describes salvation as not being "by works." Because it is God's gift, "no one can boast" ( Eph 2:9 ). Therefore, we are not to boast as if we were self-sufficient. James reminds us that all arrogant boasting is evil (4:16). — Anonymous.
Verse 19. Men have in their human nature the inclination to take pride even in things and events in which they are passive, over which they have no control and to which they make no contribution. The believing Gentile must be on alert to the arguments of his flesh that he has whereof he might glory. — Jay Wimberly (1936-2012).
Just as the sinner’s despair of any help from himself is the first prerequisite of a sound conversion, so the loss of all confidence in himself is the first essential in the believer’s growth in grace. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
They are quite mistaken that faith and humility are inconsistent; they not only agree well together, but they cannot be parted. — Robert Traill (1642-1716).
They that know God will be humble; they that know themselves cannot be proud. — John Flavel (1628-1691).
God will never come to His right unless we are totally reduced to nothing, so that it may be clearly seen that in all that is laudable in us comes from Him. — John Calvin (1509-1564).
Verse 20. Unbelief is not an intellectual inability, but the expression of moral bias against God. — T. T. Shields (1873-1955).