SUMMARY.--A Part of Israel Saved. The Rest Blinded by their Hardness of Heart. The Salvation of the Gentiles through the Fall of Israel. The Figure of the Two Olive Trees. The Jewish Branches Broken Off. The Gentile Branches Grafted In. Yet Israel Shall Be Saved. God's Unsearchable Judgments.
16-24. For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy. See Numbers 15:18-21 . Some explain the first fruits by Abraham and the patriarchs. It probably refers, rather, to the Jewish Christians, "the election by grace" ( verse 5 ). If a portion of the nation has been saved, it is an assurance that the whole nation can be saved. And if the root be holy. The root may refer to Abraham. The figure is that of a tree, with the patriarchs for the root. "Holy" is used in the sense of acceptable to God, a common sense in the Scriptures. In the next verse the figure of the root, the stalk and the tree, is expanded. 17. Now if some of the branches were broken off. To understand the next seven verses we must have a clear idea of what is meant by the olive tree. That it means the chosen family of Abraham, not his children merely of the flesh, but his believing children, the heirs of the promise, is clear. The Jewish nation inherited the temporal promises as Abraham's children; we become heirs of the promise when we become his children by faith. See Galatians 3:28 Galatians 3:29 . The Jews, the natural branches of this olive tree, "were broken off" by unbelief. The root is Abraham. Thou, being a wild olive, wast grafted in. When the Jews, the natural branches, were broken off by their unbelief, the Gentile Christians, not natural branches, not of the seed of Abraham, but wild olive, "were grafted in;" that is, were adopted into God's family, and became Abraham's children. With them partakest of the root. With Jewish Christians, these Gentile Christians became partakers of all the blessings belonging to Abraham's seed. 18. Boast not over the branches. There is too much of this in the prejudice against the Jewish race. The root beareth thee. The riches of grace of the Gentile Christian are due to the fact that he is "grafted in" upon the Abrahamic stock, and becomes his child by faith. 19. Thou wilt say. Perhaps the Gentile believer might boast over the Jews: "The Jewish branches were broken off, that we Gentiles might be grafted in. Is not this a preference of the Gentile?" 20. It is not. Because of unbelief they were broken off. Had they believed, they would have remained. The Gentile is grafted in when he believes. Thou standest by faith. Unbelief would cut off the Gentile branch as well as the Jew. 21. For if God spared not the natural branches, the Jews, but broke them off on account of their unbelief, certainly he would not spare the Gentile, not a natural branch, if he was an unbeliever. 22. Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God. "Severity" is shown in breaking off the Jewish branches on account of their unbelief; "goodness," in admitting Gentile believers. 23. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief. As Gentile believers will be cut off unless they "continue in the goodness of God," so the Jews, if they abandon their unbelief, shall again be grafted in. They are not cut off by a decree of God casting them away, but by their own unbelief. 24. For if thou, etc. This argument is to the Gentile. If wild branches were grafted into the good olive tree, the Gentiles grafted into the spiritual stock of Abraham, how much more likely is it that the natural branches, the Jews, shall be grafted again into their own olive tree, the seed of Abraham to which they belong by nature.
25-27. I would not . . . have you ignorant of this mystery. Any secret thing, known to but a few, is called "a mystery." The mystery that Paul is about to unfold is concerning the conversion of Israel. He unfolds it lest the Gentile Christians may have incorrect views, or be wise in their own conceits. The first thing noted in explaining this mystery, is that hardening hath happened to Israel. This blindness, or hardening, had been due to Israel's sins, especially to unbelief. The second fact is that it would continue until the fulness of the Gentiles had come in, or the greater part of the Gentile world been converted. 26. So all Israel shall be saved. After the fulness of the Gentiles has come in, the Jews, as a people, shall be saved. That is, of the Jews then living, the great part shall be converted. The nation shall turn to the Lord. Even as it is written. Paul does not quote literally in what follows, but cites the sense of Isaiah 59:20 Isaiah 59:21 21 . There shall come a Deliverer out of Zion. Christ. He shall turn ungodliness from Jacob. Convert to righteousness the descendants of Jacob, the Jews. 27. This is my covenant unto them. The Lord's covenant unto them is what follows, "Take away their sins." Hence these passages imply the restoration of Israel to the divine favor.
28-32. As touching the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. Their rejection of the gospel had proved a blessing to the Gentile world. See verse 11 . Hence their enmity was allowed for the sake of the conversion of the Gentiles. As touching the election. The nation was a chosen nation. Though enemies of God, God still remembered that they were children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and did not cast them off forever, but remembered them in love. To this day he has preserved Israel, and yet purposes the salvation of the nation. 29. For the gifts and calling, etc. God does not change his purposes or fail to keep his covenant. What he has promised concerning Israel will be fulfilled. 30. For as ye, etc. The Gentiles. Formerly they were without God, but had now obtained mercy. This was due, indirectly, as shown, to the Jewish unbelief. 31. Even so have these also now not believed. These Jews who were now in unbelief. Their disobedience had opened the door for the Gentiles. But the mercy shown the Gentiles, the fact that they are honoring and worshiping God, shall be a means of converting the Jews. Thus shall they also (the Jews) may also obtain mercy. 32. For God hath shut up all unto disobedience. Hath included all under disobedience. First the Gentiles were disobedient, but now were called. Now the Jews were disobedient, but would finally be saved. God would have mercy on all, both Jew and Gentile.
33-36. O the depth of the riches. The rest of the chapter is an outburst of wonder and praise. From a mountain height the apostle surveys the sublime plan of God, and his soul breaks out in a transport of delight. In this wonderful plan for the salvation of Jew and Gentile there is an unfathomable depth of riches, and wisdom, and knowledge. The depth of the knowledge is shown in the latter part of verse 33 . The wisdom is described in verse 34 , and the riches in verse 35 .