Lesson 79 - Chapter 11 verses 16-21

Lesson 79 - Chapter 11 verses 16-21

Verse 16

And if the first piece of dough be holy, the lump is also; and if the root be holy, the branches are too.

Paul used an analogy from the Old Testament, which the Judiaziers would understand.  The “dough analogy” begins with the Greek word “aparche” and refers to sacrificial firstfruits of a heave offering.  A heave offering is an offering that is “waved” before the Lord.  The heave offering goes back to the Old Testament ritual of a gift of food brought to the temple for the priest.  It derives its name from the fact that a portion was lifted from it or taken by a person from his property as an offering to God.  If you remove a piece of dough from the whole lump, then it stands to reason that the rest of the lump is in the same condition (first piece holy, lump is holy).  It included anything offered by the Jews for the erection and maintenance of the temple and for the living of the Levitical priests.  Here it refers to a portion of dough taken as a heave offering.  This reference to a heave offering is found in Numbers 15:18-21.

Paul used the firstfruits of this heave offering to form an analogy as to the meaning of true Israel in the dispensation of Israel.  The firstfruits were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  All were believers and all eventually advanced to maturity.  They were holy in the sense that they were believers and that they followed the plan of God to its logical conclusion, spiritual maturity.  So the true Israel must follow the pattern of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and believe in Jesus Christ.  Throughout all history there will always be racial Israel but the true Israel is not racial Israel, it is the Jews who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The firstfruits are the representation of the entire mass of true Israel.  The mass of true Israel is the believing Jews.  True Israel is composed of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  When Israel is restored as a nation, it will be true Israel who is restored.

The Greek word for holy is “hagiasmos” and is a reference to God’s righteousness and justice.  The believer becomes holy positionally when he or she believes in Jesus Christ as Savior because he or she possesses the righteousness of Christ.  In other words, they follow the pattern of the “lump,” which in Paul’s analogy is Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, all who believed in Jesus Christ. 

The second half of this verse deals with the true Israel in the Church Age.  While the heave offering is used as a simile for the true Israel in the dispensation of Israel, a change of simile is needed to represent the true Israel in the Church Age.  The root and branch simile was used because it conforms perfectly to the concept of positional truth.  The root in this case is the Lord Jesus Christ.  Out of the root comes the tree, Israel and out of the tree comes many Jewish branches.  It is a picture of the Jewish believers in the Church Age, being in union with the root, Jesus Christ.  

In the Church Age all believing Jews (true Israel) are in union with Christ through the baptism of the Spirit and positional sanctification.  The branches (believing Jews) are holy because the root (Jesus Christ) is holy.  In the next paragraph we are going to see another type of branch, a branch that has been broken off, who are the unbelieving Jews.

Verses 17-18

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.

This is a reference to Jewish unbelievers in every generation of the dispensation of Israel and the Church Age. They do not partake of the root Jesus Christ because they are not in union with Christ in this dispensation.  A broken branch is an unbelieving racial Jew.  He has the genes of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but he has not personally believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The tree has branches.  The branches are all Jews but some branches have been broken off.  A wild olive tree, analogous to the Gentiles, is going to be grafted in to the tree, Jesus Christ, which means believing Gentiles are going to become members into the body of Christ as well. The body of Christ was originally composed primarily of Jews.  The first members of the Royal Family of God were also primarily Jews on the day of Pentecost.  Gentile believers became joint-heirs with Jewish believers in the Church Age, which began on the day of Pentecost.  God, in the Church Age, has broken down “the wall of partition” that separated Jews and Gentiles, so that Jews and Gentiles become one body in Christ. (Ephesians 3:6)  

Paul, anticipating that some Gentiles might become arrogant because of their new position in Christ, warns the Gentiles in the church in Rome not to become arrogant.  Of course, they had no reason to become arrogant since the root, the Lord Jesus Christ was the true support system for the entire tree, Jews and Gentiles.

Verse 19

You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”

The Gentile believer might assume an imagined superiority over the Jews because of some Jews rejection of Jesus Christ.  Arrogance can lead to anti-Semitism.  Gentile believers might distort grace blessing into racial superiority.  Because the Jews are under divine punishment of the fifth cycle of discipline does not infer that they are inferior to the Gentiles. Contempt for those under historical discipline is arrogance, which divorces the believer from doctrinal reality and dishonors the Royal Family of God honor code.

Verse 20-21

Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, and you stand only by your faith.  Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you.

When this verse says they were broken off because of unbelief, it does not simply mean rejection of Christ, though that is the heart of it.  There was negative volition toward the Cross, toward Jesus Christ Himself and Bible doctrine.  It meant rejection of the Laws of Divine Establishment; it meant the destruction of their freedom.  Some believed, but instead of advancing to maturity so that there would be a pivot of mature believers to protect them in times of apostasy, they went into reversionism.

Gentile believers in Rome stood on the basis of the grace of God and what He had provided.  By faith refers to faith which saves, to the Faith-Rest Technique and for Bible doctrine.  There was no logical reason for the believers in Rome to be arrogant.  God had provided everything for them by means of His grace policies.  Remember this saying, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Conceited is the Greek word “tuphoo,” which literally means to wrap in smoke.  It is a perfect picture of someone who is arrogant (puffed up, high-minded, lifted up with pride).  The prohibition was that the arrogant thinking be stopped or never started.  So the Gentile believers to whom Paul originally addressed the book of Romans were thinking or in danger of thinking in terms of arrogance.  Arrogance divorces the believer from reality as far as God is concerned.

Fear in this context means respect - respect for God’s authority in dealing with unbelieving Israel.  It is not the job of believers to judge others.  Judging is God’s job and He never needs our help.  God does not require the help of anyone else in punishing someone in the human race, believer or unbeliever.  Paul was apparently concerned that this was occurring or could occur among the church in Rome.

The natural branches are Jewish unbelievers.  This is a reference to the Jews whose spiritual heritage included the original client nation to God, the great heritage of the Mosaic Law, the prophets, the Old Testament canon and everything that goes to make up their spiritual heritage, including the covenants.  Even with all their spiritual heritage, God does not spare the Jews who reject Christ as Savior.  If God judges the unbeliever, He must also discipline His own children.  God’s righteousness demands justice, whether it is directed toward the unbeliever or believer.

Neither will he spare you does not imply that the believer can lose his salvation but simply the fact of divine discipline from the justice of God to the believer who is guilty of the evil of anti-Semitism, gets himself involved in a system of arrogance or turns his back on doctrine and becomes a reversionist.

The reversionist is said to be an enemy of God, an enemy of The Cross, “a child of the devil,” “double-minded” and “unstable in all his ways.”  He does not abide in the teaching of Christ, he deludes himself, he lacks faith, he faints in his mind, he is a prisoner to sin, he has come short of the grace of God, his soul is tortured and he is subject to divine discipline.  The reversionist has left his first love, fallen away from his spiritual life and has become a lukewarm believer.  (James 4:4; Philippians 3:18-19; I John 3:10; James 1:8, 4:8; II John 9; James 1:22-24; Romans 7:23; Hebrews 12:3-15; II Peter 2:7-8; Revelation 2)

Reversionism is the condition of a believer that is negative toward Bible doctrine and as a result has stopped growing spiritually.  It is failure to follow God’s plan of executing the Christian Way of Life.  The reversionist is a believer in perpetual carnality, out of fellowship with God and controlled by his/her sin nature.  (If you are not advancing toward spiritual maturity as a Christian, you are retreating into reversionism).  Recovery from this condition is accomplished by restoration to fellowship with God by acknowledging your sins to God, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and by the consistent intake and application of accurate Bible doctrine.