And if some of the branches be broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them…
There are two general remarks suggested by the language of the text.
1. The principle of God's displeasure against sin and sinners is the same, whether it has reference to nations or to individuals. Hence the dismemberment of the Jewish community is adduced as a warning to every professor of the gospel of Christ.
2. The language of the text derives force from the contrast which it involves. Compare it with verse 24.
I. IT IS A DREADFUL THING TO ABUSE SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS. Yes, it is so dreadful that, in the instance referred to, Jehovah, in His fiery indignation, turned the highest favours He could impart to a nation into a tremendous national curse. "God spared not the natural branches." He spared them for a while, 'tis true; just as He spared the old world in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing; but in the end He destroyed them, and that with a sore destruction! The pleading voice of Christ in His gospel, accompanied as I believe it to be in every instance with some degree of Divine visitation, as regards the conscience, tends either to raise the soul to glory, and honour, and immortality, or to sink it into the lowest depths of misery and woe. Men walk in gospel pastures, but they do not feed upon them. The broad sunshine of mercy beams around them, but it finds no avenue to the recesses of their hearts. They approach just so near to the Saviour as to receive from His Spirit an influence, the abuse of which ripens them for destruction, and prepares them as fuel to feed the hottest flames of hell!
II. HOW HIGHLY IT BEHOVES ALL THOSE WHO ARE PRIVILEGED TO ENJOY SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS TO LOOK DILIGENTLY TO THEMSELVES LEST THEY SHOULD FAIL OF THE GRACE OF GOD.
1. Beware of procrastination, that is of putting off till to-morrow what ought to be done to-day. St. prayed for victory over his besetting sin; but then he acknowledges that he did not wish his prayer to be answered just then. This is human nature; conscience and passion pleading against each other; reason warning and inclination rebelling. To put off coming to Christ until you have tasted more of the pleasures of the world is to create a fearful probability that you will never come to Him at all. If God, when His justice has been insulted, and His patience long tried, has refused to spare others, "O take heed lest He spare not thee."
2. The subject says to us all — Beware of self-imposition. In other words, it says — Beware of a religion which is unable to protect the soul in an hour of emergency.
3. The subject says to each of us — Beware of trifling or tampering with conscience, and that not merely in reference to delays, but in reference to every other point. One will give up everything save a single prohibited indulgence; and another will give up everything except a single unhallowed pursuit; and each is willing to balance accounts by giving an overmeasure of piety in some other point: for example — the covetous man will be scrupulously honest, and the licentious man will be profusely liberal; but neither will yield, to the claims of the gospel, his besetting sin. Here is the solitary leak which sinks the vessel! You cannot compromise with Heaven. It were more easy to alter the laws of nature, to shiver a sunbeam, or to wrench a planet out of its orbit, than to change one iota of the Divine purpose, in regard to the terms of a sinner's salvation.
(W. Knight, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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;