Chapter # 11 Paragraph # 5 Study # 3
September 22, 2009
17 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;
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22 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.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
24 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?
1901 ASV Translation:
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and thou, being a wild olive, wast grafted in among them, and didst become partaker with them of the root of the fatness of the olive tree;
18 glory not over the branches: but if thou gloriest, it is not thou that bearest the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20 Well; by their unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by thy faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare thee.
22 Behold then the goodness and severity of God: toward them that fell, severity; but toward thee, God's goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they continue not in their unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if thou wast cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree, and wast grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more shall these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
- I. The Problem Paul Anticipated: Gentile Arrogance.
- A. Branches were broken off.
- 1. These were not "elect branches". In other words, the "holiness" of these branches was the kind of "holiness" that one has by "association" with a truly holy person. Paul taught this "holiness by association" truth in 1 Corinthians 7:14.
- a. On the face of it, no one is essentially "holy" except God. All others have only a derived holiness that has its actuality in the fact of an association with Him. This is the root of Paul's doctrines of justification by faith and faith's essence as an attitude of a willingness to be "in association with" God.
- b. Thus, to argue that a person who has not exercised "faith" in God is "holy" because that person is "willing to be associated with" one who has exercised such faith (1 Corinthians 7:12-14) is simply an extension of the same basic principle: holiness by association. Paul even holds out the possibility that the willingness to be associated with one who is associated with Christ might lead to eternal salvation (1 Corinthians 7:16).
- c. In bottom line terms, this is the root of "salvation by baptism" when "baptism" is seen to be the act of putting two into this "associational relationship". This is why "water" baptism can never save and why "Spirit" baptism is absolutely crucial to salvation. One has only come to "salvation" when he/she has been "baptized into (actually associated with) Christ by His Spirit". Thus John the "Baptist" acknowledged that the maximum he could "do" was "baptize you with water", but promised that the Coming One would "baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 3:11).
- d. According to the doctrine of "election", God not only "baptizes with the Holy Spirit", He also "creates a new heart within a new creation" that precludes the possibility of being broken off because the new heart precludes the possibility of a rejection of the associational relationship upon which salvation stands. Thus, in the most direct terms, the "elect" do not "bow the knee to Baal" (Romans 11:4) because God has put the refusal to break with Him into their hearts and they neither want, nor act, to break their associational relationship with Him.
- e. Our text says "because of unbelief they were broken off" (11:20). When "faith" is seen as "an attitude of willingness to be in association with God" we can easily see that "unbelief" is "an attitude of willingness to break whatever association(s) that has/have led to holiness". The worship of Baal was as clear a revelation of such "unbelief" as there is.
- 2. These were branches that were initially connected with the olive tree by natural association and determined at some point to break that association because their "natural hearts" were never changed/replaced (Jeremiah 31:33 and 32:40-41).
- B. Branches were grafted in.
- 1. This does not automatically signal "election". Paul says this occurred by "faith" (11:20) and the possibility of being broken off remains (11:21-22). Since the "new heart" covenant of Jeremiah 32:40 includes the promise that such action results in the reality that "they shall not depart from Me", the idea that one of the "elect" could turn from Him and be broken off is a false idea.
- a. Any time there is a willingness to be associated with the "olive tree" (the people of God), "faith" has been exercised.
- b. Just as an unbelieving spouse can be willing to be in association with his/her believing spouse and, as a consequence "partake of the blessing God pours out upon His people", so also can any person decide to be in association with the olive tree without this willingness automatically indicating "election".
- 2. This does automatically signal participation in "the root and fatness of the olive tree".
- C. The possibility of "boasting against" the branches that were broken off apparently exists as a very real possibility, for this is the heart of Paul's warning.
- 1. The issue, then, is this: what does "boasting against the natural branches" indicate? Does not such "boasting" automatically signal a proud heart? Does not a proud heart automatically signal an essential lack of transformation according to the promise of the everlasting covenant of the new heart (Jeremiah 32:40)? And does not the absence of a genuine transformation signal the reality of a "faith" that is not driven by the agenda of Love (1 Corinthians 13:2)?
- 2. Ultimately, if there is such "boasting", there will, at some point, be a determination to break the association because pride always, ultimately, parts company with the Humble One and His humble people.
- 3. The point is this: pride is so fundamentally contrary to the doctrine of justification by faith that if a person indulges in it he/she is revealing a very basic contradiction to the claim to "believe" unto justification. How can one "boast" if he/she has nothing of which to boast?