Romans 11:24
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?
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Romans 11:24. For, &c. — As if he had said, And it appears that he will do it, because he has done that which was more unlikely, as being contrary to nature: if thou wert cut out of the tree wild by nature, &c. — If thou wert admitted into the family of God, though descended from parents that were strangers and enemies, how much more shall they who were children of the covenant, to whom the promises originally belonged, be taken into covenant with him. In other words, God will not seem to do so wonderful a thing, in restoring them to what might appear the privilege of their birthright, and in saving the seed of Abraham his friend, as he hath done in calling you sinners of the Gentiles, to participate the blessings of which you had not the least notion, and to which you cannot be supposed to have had any imaginable claim. This reasoning is certainly very just; the conversion of the Jews, though it hath not yet happened, appearing much more probable than did the conversion of the Gentiles, before that event took place. Some understand the expression, grafted contrary to nature, as signifying contrary to the usual way of ingrafting; which is, not to insert a wild scion into a good stock, but a good scion into a wild stock, to which it communicates its changing efficacy, causing it to bear good fruit. But that circumstance appears not to have been at all regarded by the apostle; nor was it necessary, as Doddridge justly observes, that the simile taken from ingrafting should hold in all its particulars: and certainly the engagement to humility arises, in a considerable degree, from the circumstances of the ingrafting here supposed being the reverse of that commonly used. Indeed, had the scion been nobler than the stock into which it was inserted, its dependance on it for life and nourishment would have rendered it unreasonable that it should boast against it; how much more when the case was the reverse of that in use, and the wild olive was ingrafted on the good.

11:22-32 Of all judgments, spiritual judgments are the sorest; of these the apostle is here speaking. The restoration of the Jews is, in the course of things, far less improbable than the call of the Gentiles to be the children of Abraham; and though others now possess these privileges, it will not hinder their being admitted again. By rejecting the gospel, and by their indignation at its being preached to the Gentiles, the Jews were become enemies to God; yet they are still to be favoured for the sake of their pious fathers. Though at present they are enemies to the gospel, for their hatred to the Gentiles; yet, when God's time is come, that will no longer exist, and God's love to their fathers will be remembered. True grace seeks not to confine God's favour. Those who find mercy themselves, should endeavour that through their mercy others also may obtain mercy. Not that the Jews will be restored to have their priesthood, and temple, and ceremonies again; an end is put to all these; but they are to be brought to believe in Christ, the true become one sheep-fold with the Gentiles, under Christ the Great Shepherd. The captivities of Israel, their dispersion, and their being shut out from the church, are emblems of the believer's corrections for doing wrong; and the continued care of the Lord towards that people, and the final mercy and blessed restoration intended for them, show the patience and love of God.For if thou - If you who are Gentiles.

Wert cut out of - Or, if thou wert of the cutting of the wild olive-tree.

Which is wild by nature - Which is uncultivated and unfruitful. That is, if you were introduced into a state of favor with God from a condition which was one of enmity and hostility to him. The argument here is, that it was in itself as difficult a thing to reclaim them, and change them from opposition to God to friendship, as it would seem difficult or impossible to reclaim and make fruitful the wild olive-tree.

And were graffed contrary to nature - Contrary to your natural habits, thoughts, and practices. There was among the Gentiles no inclination or tendency toward God. This does not mean that they were physically depraved, or that their disposition was literally like the wild olive; but it is used, for the sake of illustration, to show that their moral character and habits were unlike those of the friends of God.

How much more ... - The meaning of this whole verse may be thus expressed; "If God had mercy on the Gentiles, who were outcasts from his favor, shall he not much rather on those who were so long his people, to whom had been given the promises, and the covenants, and the Law, whose ancestors had been so many of them his friends, and among whom the Messiah was born?" In some respects, there are facilities among the Jews for their conversion, which had not existed among the Gentiles. They worship one God; they admit the authority of revelation; they have the Scriptures of the Old Testament; they expect a Messiah; and they have a habit of professed reverence for the will of God.

24. For if thou wert cut—"wert cut off"

from the olive tree, which is wild by nature, and wast grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more shall these, &c.—This is just the converse of Ro 11:21: "As the excision of the merely engrafted Gentiles through unbelief is a thing much more to be expected than was the excision of the natural Israel, before it happened; so the restoration of Israel, when they shall be brought to believe in Jesus, is a thing far more in the line of what we should expect, than the admission of the Gentiles to a standing which they never before enjoyed."

He here shows the probability, as well as possibility, of the Jews’ conversion, because God hath done that which is more unlikely: q.d. If the Gentiles, which were a kind of wild olive branches, were grafted into a good olive tree, the church of God, which is contrary to nature, seeing men use to graft a good scion into a wild stock, (as an apple into a crab), and not a wild scion into a good stock; how much more shall the Jews, which are the natural branches, yea, branches of that olive tree into which the Gentiles are now ingrafted, be grafted into their own olive tree, to which formerly they did belong! According to the custom of grafting which was common amongst them, to graft one tree upon another of the same kind; and grounded on Leviticus 19:19.

For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree,.... As the apostle argues the possibility of bringing the Jews into a Gospel church state, from the power of God; so here the probability of it, or the easiness and likelihood of its being performed, from the ingrafting of the Gentiles; who were originally like an olive tree,

which is wild by nature, grows in the field, bears no fruit, and is useless and unprofitable; so they by nature were sinners of the Gentiles, children of wrath, full of unrighteousness, without any fruit of holiness; being not within the pale of the Jewish church and commonwealth; but in the wide field of the world, worthless, and of no account; and yet many were "cut out of" this wild olive tree; were, through the ministration of the Gospel, by the power of divine grace separated from the rest of the world; were effectually called and brought into a Gospel church state; God took out from among them a people for his name. This their being cut out of the wild olive, as it expresses the power and grace of God towards them, it might teach them humility, as it led them to observe their original state and condition:

and wert grafted, contrary to nature, into a good olive tree: for an olive tree being full of fatness, will not admit of ingrafting; nor was it ever usual to ingraft upon olive; hence the Jews say (y) , "there is no ingrafting on olives": besides, it is contrary to nature, use, and custom, to ingraft wild scions, or grafts of any sort into a good stock; but always good scions or grafts into a wild stock, for in wild hungry stocks, grafts grow best: but in the ingrafting of the Gentiles into a Gospel church state, just such a method was taken, as if a wild graft were let into a good stock; so that this ingrafting was not of nature, it was contrary to it; but of pure grace, and, sovereign good will and pleasure; and the apostle's argument is this, that if the Gentiles, who were originally as a wild olive tree; if some as grafts were taken out from among them, and, quite contrary to their own nature, and the nature of things, were, by the goodness and grace of God, grafted into a good olive, the Gospel church state;

how much more shall these which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? that there is a greater likelihood, and more easily may it be, according to all appearance of things, that the Jews, the natural branches or descendants of Abraham, should be brought into a Gospel church state, which first began among them, and which at first only consisted of some of their nation. The Gospel church is called "their own olive tree", in allusion to Israel, or the Jewish church, which is often so called in their writings.

"Says (z) R. Joshua ben Levi, to what are the Israelites like? "to an olive tree"; to teach them that as the leaves of an olive tree do not fall, neither on sunshine days, nor on rainy days; so the Israelites will never cease, neither in this world, nor in the world to come; and says R. Jochanan, to what are the Israelites like? "to an olive"; to teach thee that as an olive does not send forth its oil, but by the means of pressing, so the Israelites do not return to do good, but by the means of chastisement:''

and says another (a) of their writers,

"as oil ascendeth above all liquids, and is not mixed with them; so the Israelites ascend above all nations, and are not mixed with them; and there is an intimation that they are even like "to an olive", that is pressed or squeezed; for so the Israelites are bruised and afflicted, and yet, notwithstanding all this, they ascend by virtue of the law, which is called "oil olive".''

It is easy to see from whence this simile is borrowed.

(y) T. Hieros. Celaim, c. 1. fol. 27. 2.((z) T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 53. 2.((a) R. Abraham Seba, Tzeror Hammor, fol. 83. 4.

For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by {z} nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a {a} good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?

(z) Understand nature, not as it was first made, but as it was corrupted in Adam, and so passed on from him to his posterity.

(a) Into the people of the Jews, whom God had sanctified only by his grace: and he speaks of the whole nation, not of any one part.

Romans 11:24. Γάρ] does not serve to assign the reason of δυνατὸς κ.τ.λ., so that the ability of God for that reingrafting would be popularly illustrated from the facility of this process, as according to nature (the ordinary view). Against this it may be decisively urged, that—apart from the difficulty which experience attests in the conversion of unbelieving Jews—the power of God is the correlative, not of that which is easy, but precisely of that which is difficult, or which humanly speaking appears impossible (Romans 4:21, Romans 14:4; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Romans 9:22; Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37, et al.); and that πόσῳ μᾶλλον, as a designation of greater easiness, must have found in the context a more precise explanation to that effect, if it was not intended to express generally, as elsewhere (comp. Philemon 1:16, and the similar use of πολλῷ μᾶλλον), the greater degree of probability or certainty. Rightly, therefore, have Winzer, Progr. 1828, Reiche, Philippi, and Tholuck, referred the γάρ to the main thought of the previous verse, to ἐγκεντρισθήσονται. Yet they should not have taken this γάρ as purely co-ordinate with the preceding γάρ, but—as must always be done with two such apparently parallel instances of γάρ—as explicative (see on Romans 8:6), namely, so that after the brief ground assigned for ἐγκεντρισθήσονται (δυνατὸς κ.τ.λ.), the same is now yet more fully elucidated in regard to its certainty, and by this elucidation is still further confirmed. To this the confirmatory reference to ἐγκεντ. in Hofmann substantially amounts.

σύ] Gentile-Christian.

ἐκ τῆς κατὰ φύσινἀγριελ.] out of the wild olive, which is so according to nature, which by nature has grown a wild olive.

παρὰ φύσιν] for the grafting, as an artificial proceeding, alters the natural development, and is so far contrary to nature (Romans 1:26). The interposition of ἐξεκοπ. brings out more markedly the contrast between κατὰ φύσιν and παρὰ φ. Very violently the simple words are twisted by Hofmann as follows: ἀγριελαίου is in apposition to ἐκ τῆς κατὰ φύσιν; while for the latter there is to be borrowed from ἀγριελαίου the more general notion of the olive tree, and ἡ κατὰ φύσιν is the tree, which is so for the branch in a natural manner.

εἰς καλλιέλ.] into a (not the) noble olive tree. The word is also found in Aristotle, Plant. i. 6, in contrast to ἀγριέλ.

οὗτοι] the Jews who have refused to believe.

οἱ κατὰ φύσιν] sc. ὄντες, those according to nature. In what respect they are so, the context exhibits, namely, as the original branches of the holy olive tree, whose root the patriarchs are, Romans 11:16.

τῇ ἰδίᾳ ἐλ.] for they have originally grown upon it, and then have been cut off from it; hence it is still their own olive tree.

Romans 11:24. God’s power to engraft the Jews again into the stock of His people proved a fortiori by comparison with what He has done for the Gentiles. To restore His own is more natural, conceivable, and one may even say easy, than to call those who are not His own. The Gentile Christian (1) was cut ἐκ τῆς κατὰ φύσιν ἀγριελαίου, from what is in its own nature an uncultivated olive, with no suitableness for the uses which the olive is intended to subserve, and (2) παρὰ φύσιν in violation of nature was engrafted into a good olive; in comparison with this doubly unnatural process one may well argue πόσῳ μᾶλλον κ.τ.λ. how much more shall these, the Jews who κατὰ φύσιν (in their own nature) belong to the good tree, have their connection with it re-established? Weiss takes ἐγκεντρισθήσονται as a logical future, and it may be so; but Paul believes in his logic, and has probably in view in the word that actual restoration of the Jews of which he now proceeds to speak.

24. For if thou, &c.] Cp. on this verse notes on Romans 11:17.

how much more] i.e. “how much more easily to our conception.” As a fact, the Gentile had been grafted in, and no more than this could happen to the Jew. But the latter fact was antecedently much more likely than the former.

Romans 11:24. Ἀγριελαίου, of the wild olive tree) There is as great a distinction between those, who either have not, or have the revealed word, as there is between the wild and cultivated olive-tree.—παρὰ φύσιν) quite contrary to nature, for in the art of gardening, the process of engrafting, which unites two trees of a different nature, commits the soft graft, which is followed by the fruit, to the woody stem: but Paul says, that the graft of the wild olive is inserted into the good olive-tree, in order that it may follow [in consequence partake of] the fatness of the good olive.—πόσῳ μᾶλλον, how much more) He gradually comes from that which can be, to that which actually is. The discourse in fact assumes an augmentation of force; formerly Paul demonstrated from the prophets, that in Israel there were more wicked than good men, he now demonstrates in like manner from the prophets, that there will be hereafter more good than wicked men; and while he is drawing forth this statement, he calls it a mystery, fitted to check the pride of the Gentiles, lest they should think that the part assigned to the Jews was to be always inferior.

Verse 24. - For if thou wast cut out of that which was by nature a wild olive tree (ἀγριελαίου), and wast grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree (καλλιελαίου): how much rather shall these, which be branches by nature, be grafted into their own olive tree? In what follows next the eventual coming of the Jewish nation into the Church is not only anticipated as possible or probable, but foretold prophetically. St. Paul announces it as a "mystery," which his readers may be ignorant of, but which he wishes them to know. By the word μυστήριον, as used by St. Paul, is meant something hidden from man in the Divine counsels till made known by revelation (see 1 Corinthians 2:7, 10; 1 Corinthians 15:51; and, in this Epistle, Romans 16:25, 26 - a passage which expresses clearly the apostle's meaning in his use of the word). In the LXX. it denotes any Divine secret, which may or may not be made known to man (cf. Daniel 2:18, 19, etc.; Job 11:6; Wisd. 2:22; Ecclus. 22:22 Ecclus. 27:16). So also in the Gospels (Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10) it is said to be given to the disciples to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to others in parables. In classical Greek μυστήρια were Divine secrets (as in the Eleusinian Mysteries) which were revealed to the initiated alone. St. Paul uses the word with the same essential meaning; only he speaks of mysteries which had already been revealed to himself and others by the Spirit, and has ever in view the Divine purposes, previously unknown, for the salvation of mankind. Thus in Ephesians 1:9, seq.; and Ephesians 3:3, seq., he speaks of the Divine purpose to "gather in one all things in Christ," and that "the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs," etc., as a mystery, "not made known in other ages unto the sons of men," but now revealed to the "holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit." (The other passages in which St. Paul uses the word are 1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 13:2; Ephesians 5:32; Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 1:26, 27; Colossians 2:2; Colossians 4:3; 1 Timothy 3:9, 16; 2 Thessalonians 2:7.) Here he announces the Divine purpose to save "all Israel" at last through the calling of the Gentiles as a mystery which has been revealed to himself and others, and which he desires the Gentile Christians to be aware of, lest they should be "wise in their own conceits," i.e. presume on their present position of privilege through ignorance of what is in store for Israel. Romans 11:24Contrary to nature

See remarks on Romans 11:17.

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