*Scripture verses covered in this section's commentary are noted in italics

Romans 11:13-16 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 11:13
  • Romans 11:14
  • Romans 11:15
  • Romans 11:16

When Israel is restored, it will be like a dead body coming back to life. God is a God who redeems and restores.

The Romans in Paul’s audience are mostly Gentiles, he is speaking to you who are Gentiles, Gentile believers whose faith is spoken of throughout the whole world (Romans 1:8). Paul desires the Israelites be reconciled with God, he wishes they would take note of God’s new favor on the Gentiles, and call out to Him again (Romans 10:13). He is hoping that somehow [he] might move to jealousy [his] fellow countrymen and save some of them. Paul is also convinced that eventually the nation of Israel will be reconciled with God, just as their rejection of God has paved a way for the reconciliation of the world. And then, their acceptance will be like a resurrection from the dead. It will be an amazing, miraculous, celebratory event—life from the dead. 

Therefore, Paul is asserting the exact opposite of the idea that God rejected Israel and rejected the Jews. It ought to be our goal as Christians to do everything we can to bless them and to bring them back into their own fold. And if they’re grafted back into their own natural tree, it’s even greater for all of us. Paul is definitively refuting the slanderous allegations made by the competing Jewish “authorities” that Paul teaches God has rejected Israel. In fact, verse 16 makes it clear that Israel is the first piece of dough in the bread, and if the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also. Israel is the root of the tree and if the root is holy, the branches are too.

Biblical Text

13 But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.

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