Romans Bible Study #36
A Word to Those Without
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. 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! 13 But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.
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, 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. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 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. 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. 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? NASB
Pruning and Grafting Branches
11-12The next question is, "Are they down for the count? Are they out of this for good?" And the answer is a clear-cut No. Ironically when they walked out, they left the door open and the outsiders walked in. But the next thing you know, the Jews were starting to wonder if perhaps they had walked out on a good thing. Now, if their leaving triggered this worldwide coming of non-Jewish outsiders to God's kingdom, just imagine the effect of their coming back! What a homecoming!
13-15But I don't want to go on about them. It's you, the outsiders, that I'm concerned with now. Because my personal assignment is focused on the so-called outsiders, I make as much of this as I can when I'm among my Israelite kin, the so-called insiders, hoping they'll realize what they're missing and want to get in on what God is doing. If their falling out initiated this worldwide coming together, their recovery is going to set off something even better: mass homecoming! If the first thing the Jews did, even though it was wrong for them, turned out for your good, just think what's going to happen when they get it right!
16-18Behind and underneath all this there is a holy, God-planted, God-tended root. If the primary root of the tree is holy, there's bound to be some holy fruit. Some of the tree's branches were pruned and you wild olive shoots were grafted in. Yet the fact that you are now fed by that rich and holy root gives you no cause to crow over the pruned branches. Remember, you aren't feeding the root; the root is feeding you.
19-20It's certainly possible to say, "Other branches were pruned so that I could be grafted in!" Well and good. But they were pruned because they were deadwood, no longer connected by belief and commitment to the root. The only reason you're on the tree is because your graft "took" when you believed, and because you're connected to that belief-nurturing root. So don't get cocky and strut your branch. Be humbly mindful of the root that keeps you lithe and green.
21-22If God didn't think twice about taking pruning shears to the natural branches, why would he hesitate over you? He wouldn't give it a second thought. Make sure you stay alert to these qualities of gentle kindness and ruthless severity that exist side by side in God—ruthless with the deadwood, gentle with the grafted shoot. But don't presume on this gentleness. The moment you become deadwood, you're out of there.
23-24And don't get to feeling superior to those pruned branches down on the ground. If they don't persist in remaining deadwood, they could very well get grafted back in. God can do that. He can perform miracle grafts. Why, if he could graft you—branches cut from a tree out in the wild—into an orchard tree, he certainly isn't going to have any trouble grafting branches back into the tree they grew from in the first place. Just be glad you're in the tree, and hope for the best for the others. The Message
God is out to decimate human pride, keep that in mind, and this section of scripture will make perfect sense. The pride of being the “chosen people” was wrecked when God chose a people not even seeking Him. And the pride of being chosen, by grace alone, is broken, when grace is truly seen as grace and the “chosen people”.. completely unworthy and having rejected God at every turn, are grafted back in by the same ‘amazing grace’ that we sing about, but do not fully comprehend or extend to others. And they are not only grafted back in as individuals, but to display the sovereignty of God’s choice, they are grafted back in as a nation. The purpose of God, the choosing of God, the ‘specificity’ of God, is exalted and the pride of man lies in ashes, as it should, as it must.
Also note that this is a very round-about way to go about ‘salvation.’ God is not in a hurry and rarely does He do things in a straight line. He is not ‘reasonable,' although He does invite us to ‘come and reason together.' He does things in His way, in His time, for His glory.
Barth thoughts: The fall is not the end, the stumbling is not the end, the knowledge that Israel is failing in its call, or that the ‘church’ is failing in its call, is contrasted with the fact that God has chosen to ‘keep’ it. Failure does not mean ‘the end’, because God is in control and chooses to be revealed to the world through ‘clay vessels.’
We stand in the presence of God, naked of any human righteousness, relying on the ‘divine’ forgiveness of sins. We await God. His grace that allows us to hear His the life-giving word, that He utters. Election is by grace, it is hazardous, to be so certain as to remove the fear of God. Our hope is totally in Him. “He that scattered Israel will gather him.” Jeremiah 31:10
Verse 11 - The stumble is just that a stumble, not a fall. In the big picture God is working out salvation. This is part of the plan, a plan that ultimately includes Israel. Honestly, we would not want it any other way. It is a great comfort to know that when God chooses, He continues to choose and pursue. To be “called according to His purpose,” is our rock.
Verse 12 - God is always about ‘over flowing giving’ over and above our expectations, and redeeming situations in such a way that they shout, “Glory to God.” He is taking the stumbling of Israel and turning it into salvation for the gentiles. Wow. Imagine what He will do when He causes Israel to turn to Him again!
Verse 13,14 - I want you gentiles to really get this, because as you live and love God, Israel will see that and say, “Hey that is ours, we want that again.”
Verse 15 - “Life from the dead”, the resurrection of the last day. Same day as Jewish conversion of the nation as a whole. Daniel 12:1,2 Zech. 13:8,9
8 “It will come about in all the land,” Declares the LORD,
“That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it.
9 “And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name,
And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’
And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”
Life from the dead, one of the most prevalent themes in scripture
Isaac from Abraham and Sarah
Samuel from Hannah
Honey from Samson’s lion carcass
The nation of Israel, this is really the only reason why Jesus could say to Nicodemus that he should know “you must be born again.” The nation had many prophecies about it, the individual had a few about hearts of stone being made new, but there were more about the nation rising from the ashes.
The old woman’s son Elijah
The widow’s son Elisha
Ezekiel’s dry bones
The widow’s son Jesus
Verse 16 - GRACE and only grace refers to a people as ‘holy’ when they are not. It sees the ultimate purpose of God, being fulfilled. It sees the people as “set apart” by God for a purpose that will not be overcome. It sees an ‘everlasting covenant’ made and kept by God.
Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. 6 I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not uproot them. 7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
Verse 17,18 - Here is where a true deep understanding of grace will show up in the life of a person. If you can look at someone else’s life and say, “Well I would never do that...” “They are so bad, there is no hope for them...” “He is getting what he deserves, and I’m glad...” You do not know grace. The fact that Israel is broken off, and that we are grafted in is all God. “From Him, through Him and to Him are all things.” Grace at its most true root, is a pride-killing machine. If you are saying ANYTHING about the branches that were broken off, that implies you are better than them, you have fallen from grace. Galatians 5:4 “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” If you are secretly thinking or relying on ANY goodness inside of you as the source of your being right with God, Paul says, you are not ‘just a little bit wrong’ no, he says, “you have fallen from grace.” Some very famous people have fallen short of this command, “do not be arrogant toward the branches.” Martin Luther was one of them, the anti-semitic tone in some of his writings, was twisted and used by the Nazi’s.
Amazing how when you open a door just a ‘crack’ all sorts of evil can rush in. (stop and pray)
“Oh God, help us to stick to the simple truth of your word as we study Your Bible. Keep us, by Your Grace, without You and Your Mercy, we will fall.”
Verse 19,20,21 - ‘You stand’ indeed you do, but not by anything in yourself, but by faith in what God did. That is the only ground of standing, and in the purpose of God, they were removed from that ground and you were planted, but be very aware that what you have gained is a gift, and the thought that you ‘earned’ the gift can and will and should drop you out of and cut you off from the tree, ‘without prejudice’ the same as it did to them.
Verse 22 - The most amazing, practical command we have been given to save us from turning to sin. “Behold,” look, focus on, consider, not just the kindness, but the severity of God. You need both sides of the coin. Both sides are real and have real consequences. Both sides are necessary if you are to have a true view of God. A true understanding of God requires embracing His severity as good, and just, and right. The balance of the two, leads to a productive life for Jesus. The leaning in either direction and the putting more weight in either direction, leads us down all sorts of wrong paths, either too harsh or the much more common sin these days, way, way, way, too lenient. “God is love and He would never send anyone to hell,” is a prime example of this type of thinking. Severity is necessary for heaven to be a place of perfection. Severity, and justice, at a deep level, we cry out for it, but in the back of our mind is, “but I want mercy for my sins.” It is in fact, in our looking at the severity of God, truly contemplating it, that we come to a real, true, deep appreciation for the kindness of God. God does not choose to use the words “cut off” very often and we should take them seriously.
Piper thoughts: Philippians 2:12 Fear is a part of our salvation. mercy/wrath salvation/judgment Look at the kindness AND severity of God. Exodus 34:6 Matt. 10:28 Neh. 1:11 Isaiah 11:3
Three times in this section arrogant, pride, conceit are mentioned.
Fear keeps us from looking at His love, with lightness, triviality, or silliness.
From my own life is an example of “fear" balancing and strengthening love.
Laura was divorced by her first husband. The divorce was the result of leaving Laura for another woman. When I married Laura, I was very aware that God deeply loved her and was not going to allow her to be hurt in that way again. I knew that divorce was not an option and that God was the ‘enforcer,’ in this situation. So behind the love that we share, is a “you had better never go there.”
One last thought on this verse Psalm 36:1 “Transgression speaks to the ungodly within [a]his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes.” So, because there is no fear of God, transgression/sin is in charge of his decisions and his life.
Verse 23 - “God is able” that is such hope-giving, despair destroying word. (prayer) Lord, we receive the truth of this word, when we look out at any un-believing people that we know or will meet. “God is able,” hang it as a banner over our lives. Put it always before our eyes, so that it is all that we can see. Thank you Lord.
Matt. 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10 The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
God has chosen to take our hearts of stone and make us His children, and He can and will do the same with Israel.
Verse 24 - Ok quiz time, we have been studying Romans for a while now, “much more,” is a phrase that Paul has used before, remember where? The main spot was in Chapter 5 where the ‘much more’ was regarding the Life of Jesus and how it so overwhelmed the death that Adam brought in to the world. So in the same way that the life of Jesus was so much more than the death of Adam, it is ‘much more’ simple and believable to graft a natural branch into a natural tree. When it happens all of their history as a people, all the struggles, all the laws, all the festivals will make sense. All the types and shadows will be seen as the God-glorifying ‘lessons’ they were intended to be.
Zechariah 12:9 And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
10 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.
2Kings 19:20-28 is an example of God’s (unseen) controlling hand of a gentile king and his army.
20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard you.’ 21 This is the word that the LORD has spoken against him:
‘She has despised you and mocked you,
The virgin daughter of Zion;
She has shaken her head behind you,
The daughter of Jerusalem!
22 ‘Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?
And against whom have you raised your voice,
And haughtily lifted up your eyes?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
23 ‘Through your messengers you have reproached the Lord,
And you have said, “With my many chariots
I came up to the heights of the mountains,
To the remotest parts of Lebanon;
And I cut down its tall cedars and its choice cypresses.
And I entered its farthest lodging place, its thickest forest.
24 “I dug wells and drank foreign waters,
And with the sole of my feet I dried up All the rivers of Egypt.”
25 ‘Have you not heard? Long ago I did it;
From ancient times I planned it. Now I have brought it to pass,
That you should turn fortified cities into ruinous heaps.
26 ‘Therefore their inhabitants were short of strength,
They were dismayed and put to shame;
They were as the vegetation of the field and as the green herb,
As grass on the housetops is scorched before it is grown up.
27 ‘But I know your sitting down,
And your going out and your coming in,
And your raging against Me.
28 ‘Because of your raging against Me,
And because your arrogance has come up to My ears,
Therefore I will put My hook in your nose,
And My bridle in your lips,
And I will turn you back by the way which you came.