Romans 11:13-16

Verses covered in this passage:

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

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.

In chapter 11, Paul explains that God has not abandoned nor rejected Israel. God will keep His promises to His people. For now, God has set aside a remnant of faithful believers, including Paul himself. Even so, Israel has broken fellowship with God and has stumbled against Christ’s gospel of grace. This has allowed the Gentiles to come to faith in Christ, being like wild olive branches grafted into a tree, where unbelieving branches were broken off to make room for them. In light of this, Paul warns his Roman readers not to become haughty toward the Israelites. God will punish those who are proud. God will also restore Israel to Him, He will keep His covenant promises. The mercy of God is unfathomable.

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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