The Letter to the Romans



40. Broken and Grafted Branches


Romans 11:17-24

17 If some of the branches have been broken of, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,

18 do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.

19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in."

20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.

21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.

23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!


Key Words

Broken off

Grafted in

Natural branches

Wild olive shoot


Paul has just explained that Israel's transgression and fall from grace has meant that Gentiles have been brought into salvation. Their new status as part of God's people, Paul further says, is designed to make Israel envious so they will be motivated to turn their attention back to God. He also directs us to ponder the fact that if Israel's rejection of Jesus has meant the riches of salvation for the world at large, their eventual reconciliation will result in riches for the world so great that it will generate rejoicing and glory akin to resurrection from death.


1. Who are the branches that have been broken off the olive tree, and who are "the others" among whom the wild olive shoots have been grafted? (By implication, who are the "wild olive shoot[s]"?)(see Jeremiah 11:16; John 15:2; Acts 2:39; Ephesians 2:11-13)



2. In lesson 39 we learned that the root of the olive tree consists of the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What is the "nourishing sap" from the olive root in which the wild grafts now share? (see Genesis 15:4-7, 12-18; 17:2, 4-8; 21:12; Romans 9:6-8; Hebrews 11:17-19; 28:10-15)



3. What does Paul mean when he says to the Gentile Christians, "the root supports you"? (see Genesis 15:4-7; John 4:22; Isaiah 2:1-3; Romans 3:1-2; 9:4-5)



4. Paul warns the Gentile believers against arrogance, reminding them that the "natural branches" were cut off because of unbelief, but they themselves stand by faith. What is Paul's point here-against what is he warning the Gentiles? (see Romans 9:30-32; 1 Timothy 6:17; Hebrews 3:12-19; 6:4-8)



5. What does Paul mean when he tells the Romans to "be afraid" (verse 20)? (see Genesis 20:11; Proverbs 3:7; Philippians 2:12-13; Hebrews 4:1; 1 Peter 2:17-19)



6. Why does Paul stress that we must consider both the "kindness and sternness of God"? (Romans 2:1-6; 1:18-21, 24, 26, 28; Ephesians 2:2-5; 4:17-19; Psalm 81:11-14; Matthew 24:45-51; 25:41-46)



7. What does Paul mean when he says to consider God's kindness to them, "provided that you continue in his kindness"? (see 1 Corinthians 15:2; Colossians 1:22-23; Hebrews 3:6; Matthew 13:16-23)



8. How is God "able" to graft the Israelites into the olive tree again? (see 2 Corinthians 3:15-16; Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:24-26; Luke 18:26-30)



9. Paul uses a horticultural metaphor to describe the Gentiles' grafting into the olive tree of God's people. In real life, nurserymen use wild roots, because of their hardiness, as the grafting base for cultivated, high-yield branches. Paul stresses that the opposite is true in regards to the olive tree of God's people: the root is from the cultivated plant-the Jews-and the grafted branches are wild-the Gentiles. In nature this arrangement would produce a plant with vulnerable roots and branches with underdeveloped fruit. Similarly, in nature, broken branches would not be able to be re-grafted into the tree. What does Paul mean when he says inclusion of the Gentiles in the family of God is "contrary to nature"? (see Ephesians 2:11-12; 17; 19; Isaiah 14:1; 65:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; Romans 4:16-17; Galatians 3:6-9; 28-29; 4:28-31)




10. How have you experienced God's kindness and His sternness in your life?



11. God warned the grafted branches against arrogance about their position in Him. On a personal level, what issues is God bringing into focus repeatedly in your life? What underlying fear or flattery or arrogance is He asking you to surrender to Him?



12. Ask God to guard your heart against deception, temptation, and flattery. Ask the Spirit to strengthen you to see clearly the wounds and weakness God wants to heal in your life. Pray that He will give you the desire to be healed and the willingness to surrender whatever He clarifies that you must give up. Thank God that He is faithful to complete what He begins in you, and praise Jesus that He is already forming His likeness in you.



Copyright (c) 2006 Graphics Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted June 21, 2006.
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