“19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” (Rom. 11:19-22).
- Paul describes how unbelief caused the Old Covenant Jews who had rejected Christ as Messiah to be cut off from the Olive tree. His warning is to all to remember that salvation is not of us, and to always be mindful and thankful that God has shown goodness to us Gentiles. He is re-enforcing the same thing he wrote to the Ephesian church in Eph. 2:14-15 how there is no distinction in Christ of Jew or Gentile anymore. Neither is to consider being better than the other. He has made one from the two.
“23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?” (Rom.11:23-24).
- The unbelieving nation of Israel was cut off from the blessings of the Kingdom of Christ. However, the righteous remnant of believing Jews were already being saved, such as the Apostles and their followers, who were grafted back into the Kingdom blessings. Only believers were grafted into the rich Olive Tree to inherit the promises to Israel and receive covenant blessings of the Kingdom. God opened the covenant to all, including all Gentiles who would believe in Christ, and Paul is also saying that if any Jew turns to Christ for salvation he will be able to be grafted back into the Olive Tree.
So we have the rich root of the Olive Tree used as an example of the Kingdom of Christ. The believing Gentiles were grafted/brought into it. Also individual Israelites could be brought back in, if they turned to the Messiah in faith. The promises to Israel were kept by God, but they were only meant for the faithful remnant of believing Jews as was promised in the OT, and to all of the believing Gentiles. The Kingdom of Christ (i.e., the Olive Tree) consisted of re-grafted believing Jews and in-grafted believing Gentiles. These are all “one in Christ,” called “Christians.”
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 11 on Romans 11”]