Paul had an intense desire to see his Jewish kinsmen be saved. We have already seen that so far in Romans 9-11 as Paul has tried to think through why only a small number of the Israelites had accepted Christ. As we read on today in verses 11-22 of Romans 11, we see that it is not God’s fault that His chosen nation has rejected His Son. God has been faithful, but Israel has not. They have perished spiritually because of their unbelief. Yet their lack of faith in Christ had caused God to open the gospel up to the Gentiles, too (Romans 11:11-12). Non-Jews all over the world could now hear about Jesus and be saved. Paul’s great hope was that Israel would see the many Gentiles entering Christ’s kingdom through his ministry and be made jealous enough to join them (Romans 11:13-15). For the Jews were given salvation first. They are the “root” and the “natural branches” of God’s family tree of faith; the Gentiles were “wild branches” that were added or “grafted in” to the tree later (Romans 11:16-18).
The tree of faith metaphor means for Gentile Christians today (which includes most of us using this blog), we should not brag about our present spiritual status (Romans 11:19-20). Salvation was not extended to us because we were good, but because God’s chosen people Israel rejected Him. If the Gentile Christians as a group abandon Christ (which has been happening rapidly in America in recent years and has already happened in Western Europe and Canada), then all those who raised in the church who grow up to reject Christ will in turn be rejected by Him (Romans 11:21). Why? Because God’s “goodness” comes to those who put their faith in His Son Jesus, but His “severity” or harsh judgment comes against those who reject Him (Romans 11:22). This should be a stern warning for us to accept Jesus and be thankful for His grace and mercy in saving us. At the same time, we should pray for all lost people, but especially lost Jews, to embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior, too.
The Text (Romans 11:11-22)
11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. 12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
Questions to Think About
- What are the spiritual advantages of being raised in a Christian school, the church, and/or a Christian home? What are the dangers?
- In what ways have you experienced God’s goodness in your life since being saved?
- How have you experienced God’s “severity” or discipline in your life when you have disobeyed Him?
- Do you have any Jewish friends, family members, neighbors, or teammates? Have you ever talked to them about Jesus? Explain.