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The Olive Tree: The Pattern of God’s Saving Plan for all People

July 4, 2021 Speaker: Series: Acts

Passage: Romans 11:16–36

“Mystery” definition: revelation from God that the Old Testament did not clearly reveal, but has now been clearly revealed in Jesus Christ – particularly the saving, salvation purposes of God now effected in Jesus, and summed up in the gospel itself (see Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 2:1,7; 4:1; 13:2; 14:2; 15:51; Eph. 1:9; 3:3,4,9; 5:32; 6:19; Col. 1:26,27; 2:2; 4:3; 2 Thess. 2:7; 1 Tim. 3:9,16).

Point 1:  The inter-relationship of Jews and Gentiles, and a warning against Gentile pride (16-24).

Paul’s "olive tree” metaphor achieves at least three pastoral goals

  • It instills godly fear into Gentile Christians against being arrogant and presumptuous since they enjoy God’s spiritual blessings only through the Jews and solely on the basis of God’s grace, not because they earned them. God is under no obligation to spare them if they do not persevere in faith. Gentiles must not be proud for being engrafted, especially since the original branches could be engrafted much more easily than they.  Gentile Christians are part of Israel’s spiritual heritage, so they must not despise or look down on Israel. This is the primary exhortatory point of the metaphor.
  • It instills hope regarding the future of ethnic Israel because “God as the power to graft them in again” (11:23).
  • It exalts God’s sovereign grace by highlighting surprising turns in God’s salvation-historical plan, which is “contrary to nature,” namely, his plan to include many gentiles as part of the people of God (11:24).

Point 2: Theology and doxology: praise to God in light of his awesome plan (33-36).




The Pattern of God’s Saving Plan Jews and Gentiles in Romans 11


v. 11: because of their (the Jews) transgression → salvation has come to the Gentiles → to make Israel envious

v. 12: their (the Jews) transgression → riches for the world their loss → riches for the Gentiles their full inclusion → greater riches

v. 15: their (the Jews) rejection → reconciliation to the world their acceptance → life from the dead

vv. 17–23: some of the branches have been broken off → you (Gentiles), though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in → God is able to graft them in again

vv. 25–26: Israel has experienced a hardening in part → until the full number of the Gentiles has come in → and in this way all Israel will be saved

vv. 30–31: as a result of their (the Jews) disobedience → you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy, and as a result of God’s mercy to you → they too may now receive mercy