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The Olive Tree – Are We Graft In?

The Olive Tree – are we graft in? This question seems to have an obvious answer. “Of course we are graft into the olive tree because that is what Romans 11:17 says!” Lets read it together:

17  (AV) And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
17  (TR) ει δε τινες των κλαδων εξεκλασθησαν συ δε αγριελαιος ων ενεκεντρισθης εν αυτοις και συγκοινωνος της ριζης και της πιοτητος της ελαιας εγενου

Before answering this we will back up a little and discover important and interesting contextual information about the book we are reading from. The epistle of Paul to the Romans is a book of huge consequence because it lays down some very clear truths concerning justification by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is undeniable and is affirmed by the present author. But what is also true and must also be equally affirmed is that the book is written in an age when Jew was first Rom. 1:16

16 ¶  (AV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
16  (TR) ου γαρ επαισχυνομαι το ευαγγελιον του χριστου δυναμις γαρ θεου εστιν εις σωτηριαν παντι τω πιστευοντι ιουδαιω τε πρωτον και ελληνι

The gospel of Christ “is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth” BUT there is an order! TO THE JEW FIRST!! Where is the Greek person in all this? We have to say SECOND!

The gospel Paul was separated unto was promised before by God’s prophets in the holy scriptures (OT)

Rom. 1:1 ¶  (AV) Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
           1  (TR) παυλος δουλος ιησου χριστου κλητος αποστολος αφωρισμενος εις ευαγγελιον θεου

Rom. 1:2  (AV) (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
           2  (TR) ο προεπηγγειλατο δια των προφητων αυτου εν γραφαις αγιαις

Is this gospel “The MYSTERY” hidden in God and kept secret from the prophets of old? The answer is emphatically  NO!!! It was promised afore by prophets and written in the scriptures.

What shall we say of the hope presented in Romans? Was it the heavenly places PAul presents in Ephesians? Lets read Romans 15:

8  (AV) Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:
8  (TR) λεγω δε ιησουν χριστον διακονον γεγενησθαι περιτομης υπερ αληθειας θεου εις το βεβαιωσαι τας επαγγελιας των πατερων

Notice that the Lord “was” a minister of the circumcision and functioned to confirm promises made to the fathers of Israel.

9  (AV) And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
9  (TR) τα δε εθνη υπερ ελεους δοξασαι τον θεον καθως γεγραπται δια τουτο εξομολογησομαι σοι εν εθνεσιν και τω ονοματι σου ψαλω

Verse nine begins with the conjuction “AND” — the Lord not only intended that the circumcision receive ministry through fulfilment of promises but that the Gentiles would glorify God because of his mercy – a clear contrast between rights according to promises and mercy toward those outside the promises and covenants of glory. While the Syrophenician woman gained mercy she did so by acknowledging Israel had the first place. When then did this purpose of the Lord come to be expressed? Only as Israel rebelled, Peter begrudgingly came to accept this in the events surrounding Cornelius. But, it was Paul who perfects this ministry, here he makes three quotes to back up the prophetic nature of the turn to the Gentiles by the quotation of three portions of holy writ. Here “as it is written” … Psalm 18:49

Rom. 15:10  (AV) And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
10  (TR) και παλιν λεγει ευφρανθητε εθνη μετα του λαου αυτου

The above is taken from Deut 32:43

11  (AV) And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
11  (TR) και παλιν αινειτε τον κυριον παντα τα εθνη και επαινεσατε αυτον παντες οι λαοι

The above passage comes from Psalm 117:1

12  (AV) And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
12  (TR) και παλιν ησαιας λεγει εσται η ριζα του ιεσσαι και ο ανισταμενος αρχειν εθνων επ αυτω εθνη ελπιουσιν

This is taken from Isaiah 11:10 and is clearly a millennial hope! The last clause of verse 12 says “επ αυτω εθνη ελπιουσιν”, literally “upon him shall the Gentiles hope”, the trust they were to possess was specifically a hope in the root of Jesse that will reign over them in the millennium. The importance to the Gentile living during the time of the acts and NOT NOW, is that this was the hope presented to him or her. This is seen more clearly when we read the following verse.

13 ¶  (AV) Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
13  (TR) ο δε θεος της ελπιδος πληρωσαι υμας πασης χαρας και ειρηνης εν τω πιστευειν εις το περισσευειν υμας εν τη ελπιδι εν δυναμει πνευματος αγιου

In this verse, the word hope is expressed arthrous, that is it has the article placed with it — Now the God of THE HOPE, that is the particular hope just introduced in verse 12. The God of the hope that Isaiah published, was the God that would fill them with joy and peace as they believed on him, their work was based on the millennial hope and this would be carried forth through demonstrable power that the Holy Spirit would perform through them. Indeed Paul demostrated this when he came in the fullness of the gospel with signs and wonders – Ro 15:19  Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

14 ¶  (AV) And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
14  (TR) πεπεισμαι δε αδελφοι μου και αυτος εγω περι υμων οτι και αυτοι μεστοι εστε αγαθωσυνης πεπληρωμενοι πασης γνωσεως δυναμενοι και αλληλους νουθετειν

15  (AV) Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God,
15  (TR) τολμηροτερον δε εγραψα υμιν αδελφοι απο μερους ως επαναμιμνησκων υμας δια την χαριν την δοθεισαν μοι υπο του θεου

The fact that the Gentiles had a millennial hope is no surprize since Paul says in Rom 15

Ro 15:27  It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.

If you believe in mid-acts as the start of the church for which Christ is head then I should ask:

  1. Do you go to the Jew first? Paul said the gospel should go first to the Jew.
  2. Do you preach a millennial hope to the Gentiles? Paul did!
  3. Do you have the powers of the age to come? Paul did and so did the Acts church indeed the body in 1Cor12 was made on the basis of these gifts.
  4. Do you make a collection for those Jewish believers who are poor and do you do so BECAUSE you are participating in their spiritual things? Paul did and so also did the Romans and Corinthians.

Now we come to the olive of Romans 11, the setting is clear and begins with a question

1 ¶  (AV) I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
1  (TR) λεγω ουν μη απωσατο ο θεος τον λαον αυτου μη γενοιτο και γαρ εγω ισραηλιτης ειμι εκ σπερματος αβρααμ φυλης βενιαμιν

Paul asks a question which we should ask ourselves — Hath God cast away his people? If you believe in the revelation given by PAul post Acts 28 then you have to say that NOW in this age —  yes He has! Why? Because Acts 28 happened.


Paul’s answer in the time of the Acts is “God forbid” — his reason is that he is an Israelite – Paul was a practicing Jew and held to the hope of Israel, in Acts 26 we read

Ac 26:22  Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:

this was stated after retelling the account of how the Jews opposed his ministry of going to the Gentiles.

In the last chapter of Acts we read, 

Ac 28:20  For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.

The hope of Israel continues right to the last chapter of Acts — then it is no wonder that all epistles of the Acts period can go no further! That includes ROMANS.

Paul states also that God has not cast away his people but that there was then during the Acts a remnant according to the election of grace, these are Paul’s target. The figure of the olive will ultimately come in this context, and the function of the Gentile in relation to Israel will be fully expalined. The Jew first economy is throughout and magnified in Romans 11, take an example, a passage that many would affirm:

13  (AV) For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
13  (TR) υμιν γαρ λεγω τοις εθνεσιν εφ οσον μεν ειμι εγω εθνων αποστολος την διακονιαν μου δοξαζω

So here we have Paul the apostle to the Gentiles — yes but he qualifies this. The reason for the magnification of this office in which he speaks to the Gentiles is given in the next verse! 

14  (AV) If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
14  (TR) ει πως παραζηλωσω μου την σαρκα και σωσω τινας εξ αυτων

If by any means I may provoke to emulation — this is an important qualification to his ministry. In the Acts Paul is not simply an apostle to the Gentiles he is ministering first to Israel using the Gentiles to provoke the Jews to emulation!.

The Olive tree comes into this context. Lets read the passage

15  (AV) 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?
15  (TR) ει γαρ η αποβολη αυτων καταλλαγη κοσμου τις η προσληψις ει μη ζωη εκ νεκρων

Who is being cast away in the Acts? This is equivalent to identifying the antecedent of “them”, it has to be the same “them” of the previous verse (verse 14) and these are those who Paul identifies as “them which are my flesh”.  This verse while showing judgment on Israel aslo looks forward to a time of reconciliation for the same group.

16  (AV) For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
16  (TR) ει δε η απαρχη αγια και το φυραμα και ει η ριζα αγια και οι κλαδοι

This is very instructive — look at the order and metaphor, firstfruit then lump and root then branches. Israel is holy unto the Lord, God has a purpose for it. If some of the branches are broken off this does not change their inherent holiness. In all these passages we should be constantly asking ourselves – What is the Olive tree? 

17  (AV) And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
17  (TR) ει δε τινες των κλαδων εξεκλασθησαν συ δε αγριελαιος ων ενεκεντρισθης εν αυτοις και συγκοινωνος της ριζης και της πιοτητος της ελαιας εγενου

Again some not all of the branches are broken off. Who is Paul adressing as “thou” – we have no option but to go back and find the nearest antecedent which is in Vs 13 “you Gentiles”, while here in verse 17 it is singular by virtue of referring to a single tree. The Gentiles were graft in and partook of the root and fatness of the olive tree. This is consistent with the teaching shown above that the Gentiles were partaking of Israel’s spiritual things.

18  (AV) Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
18  (TR) μη κατακαυχω των κλαδων ει δε κατακαυχασαι ου συ την ριζαν βασταζεις αλλ η ριζα σε

19  (AV) Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
19  (TR) ερεις ουν εξεκλασθησαν οι κλαδοι ινα εγω εγκεντρισθω

20  (AV) Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
20  (TR) καλως τη απιστια εξεκλασθησαν συ δε τη πιστει εστηκας μη υψηλοφρονει αλλα φοβου

How did they get broken off? By unbelief! If they received Christ they would remain in belief and stay in the tree otherwise they would be cut out.

21  (AV) For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
21  (TR) ει γαρ ο θεος των κατα φυσιν κλαδων ουκ εφεισατο μηπως ουδε σου φεισηται

This is the natural order, those who are descendents of the prophets will believe the prophets and remain in the tree. That is NATURAL. 

22  (AV) 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.
22  (TR) ιδε ουν χρηστοτητα και αποτομιαν θεου επι μεν τους πεσοντας αποτομιαν επι δε σε χρηστοτητα εαν επιμεινης τη χρηστοτητι επει και συ εκκοπηση

23  (AV) And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
23  (TR) και εκεινοι δε εαν μη επιμεινωσιν τη απιστια εγκεντρισθησονται δυνατος γαρ εστιν ο θεος παλιν εγκεντρισαι αυτους

Clearly believing ISRAEL will make up the tree. This belief is tested with the coming of Messiah.

24  (AV) For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
24  (TR) ει γαρ συ εκ της κατα φυσιν εξεκοπης αγριελαιου και παρα φυσιν ενεκεντρισθης εις καλλιελαιον ποσω μαλλον ουτοι οι κατα φυσιν εγκεντρισθησονται τη ιδια ελαια

If the branches are again graft into their own olive tree, what must this tree be? 

25  (AV) For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
25  (TR) ου γαρ θελω υμας αγνοειν αδελφοι το μυστηριον τουτο ινα μη ητε παρ εαυτοις φρονιμοι οτι πωρωσις απο μερους τω ισραηλ γεγονεν αχρις ου το πληρωμα των εθνων εισελθη

What could be clearer? Blindness in part has happenned to ISRAEL!

26  (AV) And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
26  (TR) και ουτως πας ισραηλ σωθησεται καθως γεγραπται ηξει εκ σιων ο ρυομενος και αποστρεψει ασεβειας απο ιακωβ

27  (AV) For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
27  (TR) και αυτη αυτοις η παρ εμου διαθηκη οταν αφελωμαι τας αμαρτιας αυτων

What! — A covenant? Who were given the covenants? 

The olive tree is no new metaphor — look at Jer. 11:16

Jer 11:16  The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.

Wow, Jeremiah the prophet to the nations gives the context of judgment on Israel by way of branches broken. Why would you make mid-acts the beginning of the Church for which Christ is head?

So are we graft in? NO! We couldn’t be, because the tree is cut to the ground and Israel is divorced (for a season of blindness). 

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