THE OLIVE TREE; Romans Part 55

There was nothing as common to the people of the east as the olive tree. The olive was a rich source of food and oil and as such provided a steady income for the farmer. Therefore the Apostle lifts up this humble example and uses it to reinforce the truth concerning God’s Plan for Israel.

God’s Plan For Israel

(l) The Parable of the Olive Tree

Romans 11:16-24

In this chapter Paul has come to the heart of his argument in relation to God’s Plan for Israel. God allowed them to stumble in order that the Gentiles might be saved and there will be greater blessings in store for all people when the fullness of the Jews comes in. In this passage he continues with this vein of thought by making use of a parable. There was nothing as common to the people of the east as the olive tree. The olive was a rich source of food and oil and as such provided a steady income for the farmer. Therefore the Apostle lifts up this humble example and uses it to reinforce the truth concerning God’s Plan for Israel.

Paul, however, introduces the parable with a statement concerning the holy destiny of God’s ancient people. Most commentators believe that the reference to the first fruits and the lump is drawn from Numbers 15:17-21. The first crops were holy and with the grain the bread was baked and was offered. Therefore as the first fruits were holy so also was the dough which was made from that crop. Likewise as God has chosen Israel to be a holy people so they will be always set apart in his plan and purpose. The argument from God’s Holiness is another reason why Israel cannot be forsaken. Having made that statement he progresses to the Olive Tree.

1: Comprehending the Olive Tree

  • A Confusing Parable. There are two Olive Trees in Paul’s picture lesson. There is the domesticated variety and the wild olive tree. The branches of the home bred plant are broken off, however, and the wild olive tree is grafted into the domestic stem. Apparently this as a rule does not happen in nature. Normally the domestic plant is grafted into the wild, not vice versa. Paul, however, was aware of this because he spoke of the wild tree being grafted in “contrary to nature”. This begs the question, why did Paul introduce a parable with a hypothetical basis? He did so to stress that the Gentiles had nothing to offer God. They were wild and rebellious yet God graciously brought them in, not that they give to him but that he might give his love to them, v17.

  • Therefore we now understand that the domestic Olive tree in its original condition was Israel. As a consequence of their unbelief they were broken off and lost those blessings that they received through Abraham. The Gentiles were then grafted into enjoy the benefits of the Covenant of Grace.

  • Understanding this parable supplies us with some New Testament teaching in relation to God’s people.

    1. There is only one people of God. The Gentiles are God’s Israel in this age and when the Jews are brought in they will stand in the same Church with the Gentiles.

    2. The people of God will, bear fruit.

    3. Fruitfulness is drawn from the root, not the branch.

2: Challenged by the Olive Tree

From this metaphor Paul delivers a stern warning to the Gentiles against the danger of boasting, which of course is pride.

  • While God does not forsake individuals who are saved by his grace he does remove his blessings from peoples, nations and churches.

  • This removal of his blessing is caused by a forgetting of God

  • Therefore Paul teaches us to be mindful of God’s goodness towards us,v22, and exercise a fear of the Lord, v20.

  • Ultimately if God broke off the natural branches every Gentile nation and denomination is in danger of this same judgement.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: