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Friday, September 25 2020

Contributor: Peter Folikwe

INTRODUCTION

Review of last week’s study: The remnant of Israel.

  • Israel as a nation rejected the good news of salvation through Christ Jesus.
  • They became hardened in their unbelief by reason of their rejection of the Gospel.
  • God however kept a remnant (reserve) who still believe. Paul himself being an example.
  • By reason of their rejection however, the gospel was preached to Gentiles who believed.
  • Finally, we learnt that God’s ultimate plan was to save more people – Jews and Gentiles. As the number of believing Gentiles increased, the Jews will become envious and ultimately turn around to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

In today’s study Paul takes us through how the Gentiles became saved by grace and were ingrafted into the body of Christ. This brings untold blessings to Gentiles that will make the Jews envious and come to accept Christ as Messiah. Ultimately, God’s originally purpose to save the whole world – Jews and Gentiles will become fulfilled.  

VERSE 11

“Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” NIV

Here Apostle Paul refers to the notion within the body of Christ whereby some believe that God no longer regard the Jews as His chosen people, that the Christian church is now the Israel of God. Paul here says that is not the case.

In V11b Paul says that salvation came to the rest of the world (the Gentiles) because the Jews rejected the Messiah. That is true till date. Majority in Israelites hold the strong belief that the Messiah is yet to come. It was part of God’s plan for the Jews to reject salvation, so that God bring even more people to the saving faith in Jesus.

VERSE 12

“Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it” NLT

Paul here is asking if the failure of the Jews to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah brought riches, blessing & salvation in particular to us - Gentiles, it is therefore unimaginable the blessings and riches the Gentiles will receive when the Jews eventually acknowledge Jesus as Messiah.

VERSES 13-14

“13 I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, 14 for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them.” NLT

Paul considers his ministry to the Gentiles as a way of indirectly reaching out to his own people - the Jews. In pursuant of his ministry as an Apostle to the Gentiles, his belief is that the more the Gentiles believers, the better the chances of saving the unbelieving Jews.

Remember, Paul was not part of the original 12 Apostles selected by Jesus, until Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the way to Damascus.

Paul’s objective is to make Israelites jealous of the blessings of the Gentiles which should have been for the Jews, if not for their sheer disobedience and rejection of the Messiah. By this action Paul believes that the Jews will be won back to Christ which is God’s original plan for saving the world. Rom 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

VERSES 15-17

“15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 If some of the branches have been broken off, 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,” NIV

Paul here drives the point home that if their rejection of Jesus Christ brought salvation and blessings to Gentiles, it connotes that their acceptance of Christ as the Messiah would bring untold blessings to the word, when they eventually do. That so many more people will be gained into the faith if the Jews believe the gospel.

Since Jesus (offered as firstfruit) the root/source of Salvation is holy, therefore all who accept Him as Lord and Saviour will be counted as holy – Jew and Gentile. Paul also metaphorically used the root of a tree (Abraham in this case) is holy, it means the branches (the children) of Abraham should also be holy (saints/sanctified). 1Pet 1:16 reminds us: “…. Be ye holy; for I am holy.” Paul declared that some of the branches (Abraham’s offsprings) have been broken off from their source.

In V17 the Bible says “And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in”.

So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.”

The Israelites were the natural branches, but we were grafted branches (e.g. Implantation of a donor tissue into another body). We were supernaturally grafted as branches to the root by God. Paul uses the olive tree here to represent God’s kingdom and those of us connected to it are like branches connected to a tree.

The root represents the good news (Gospel of Jesus) that feeds the branches (believers). Therefore, the branches do not support the root to survive but the other way round. The branches cannot survive without the root.

VERSE 18

“18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

Paul admonishes us - Gentiles not to be swollen headed because we replaced the original branches and enjoy the benefits accruing; just because they rejected Christ and we accepted Him. Paul warmed us to jealousy guard our salvation with humility, because verse 21 says For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either.”

We need to constantly remember as grafted branches that the Israelites (the original) branches were cut off because of unbelief. It calls for us to guide our faith (salvation) with fear and trembling. Phil 2:12b “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

VERSES 19-21

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

Paul warns the Gentiles that it is possible to lose your faith when as a believer your cut yourself off from the gospel. Worship, prayer & fasting, the Word of God and the Holy communion are unique avenues through which believers’ faith are fed regularly, therefore you cannot afford to cut yourself from these sources of spiritual nourishment.

The branches can be broken from the root could also mean; believers cutting themselves off from the gospel all the time. It is the gospel that nourishes & sustains believers’ faith in Jesus. Just like a river do not cut itself form its source; otherwise it dries off.

VERSES 22-24

“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!” NIV

Paul reminds us that God has shown kindness to us by reason of our faith - accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord & Saviour. He urges us to continue in the forgiveness message in Christ lest we harden our heart against God’s words and lose our faith. That God will not hesitate to cut us off as branches if we misbehave “And if the Jews do not persist in unbelief, they will ultimately be grafted in, for God is able to graft them back again to the original root.

Paul here reiterates that nobody is beyond salvation. Paul himself was saved. If Israel turns around to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah, they have another opportunity to be grafted back to the original root.

CONCLUSION

Finally, Paul says if God could graft us - Gentiles (wild olives) to the original olive tree, God can graft the original branches back to the original olive tree with ease. God bless you.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:24 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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