29 June, 2022

Lesson for August 21, 2016: Grafted In (Romans 11:11-24)

by | 15 August, 2016

Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. This lesson treatment is published in the August 14 issue of The Lookout magazine, and is also available online at www.lookoutmag.com.


By Mark Scott 

Dad used to say, “The greatest word in John 3:16 is “˜whosoever,” because that one word gets us into the kingdom of God.” Paul would likely agree. Paul was a Jew, and due to that heritage had ready access to salvation. But Paul was also the apostle to the Gentiles, and due to that calling wanted them to have ready access to salvation as well. At points one is tempted to think that the Jews have squandered their opportunity to be saved at all. But Paul reassured that God has reserved for himself a remnant of believing Jews (Romans 11:1-10). Paul used our text to remind the Gentiles not to feel haughty about their opportunity to believe the gospel.

All things being equal one would think that Jews and Gentiles would rejoice in the wide embrace of God. But alas, that was not the case. Our text was written to address some of the ethnic tensions in the church at Rome.

The Formula | Romans 11:11-15

An involved formula developed during the missionary journeys of Paul (Acts 13″“21). It goes like this: Jewish rejection leads to Gentile inclusion, which leads to Jewish jealousy; that produces two things””further Jewish rejection and persecution or Jewish and Gentile inclusion in the new Israel. This is exactly what we see in our text.

One could conclude that since the Jews rejected the gospel and since the Gentiles accepted the gospel that the die is cast, end of story. To that Paul says, “Not so fast.” The Jewish stumbling (also called transgression, rejection, and loss) did not mean they could not recover. In fact Paul had already affirmed that he was a Jew and embraced God”s call (Romans 11:1).

Jewish rejection did give the Gentiles a crack at the gospel, and that is a great thing. Paul refers to it as riches and reconciliation. But Paul was shooting for the stars. He held out hope that many Jews would turn back to God. Paul hoped that the Gentile inclusion would stir up Jewish envy (mentioned twice in our text) and would bring a great revival of interest for the gospel among the Jews. For Paul this would have been the greatest thing since sliced bread””the full inclusion of Jews and Gentiles and life from the dead for everyone.

The Analogy | Romans 11:16-24

Verse 16 functions as a transition from the formula to the analogy. Paul mixed metaphors. He moved from the kitchen to the olive orchard. He likened Israel to dough offered as firstfruits in an offering to God (think Leviticus 1″“7). He likened the Gentiles to the whole batch of dough since they have become part of the whole lump with the Jews. Then Paul said, If the root is holy, so are the branches. This parable gets extended next.

Paul particularly addressed the Gentiles here. Evidently they needed a “come to Jesus meeting.” In light of the Jewish expulsion from Rome (Acts 18:2), perhaps the church at Rome was primarily Gentile. Now the Jews were coming back to Rome and the church, and perhaps the Gentiles were resenting the Jews reclaiming their Christian heritage. The Gentiles had begun to take on a bit of superiority.

The branches broken off were Israelites. The wild olive shoot grafted in was Gentiles. This combination tree was exactly what God wanted. So arrogance is totally out of place. Gentile branches needed the Jewish roots. Regardless of what happened to the Jews, the Gentiles had to realize that they had their standing with God by active obedient faith. God could take them out as easily as he grafted them in. Instead of arrogance this should foster a healthy fear. Next Paul entertained the reality that the Jews could come back to Christ. At least he held out an olive branch of hope for it. God”s toughness (sternness) and tenderness (kindness) worked in the favor of both Jews and Gentiles.

God”s tree today is primarily Gentile, but the first missionary of the Restoration Movement was a man named Barclay, who went to the Jews. After all, the gospel is to the Jews first (Romans 1:16).


*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

August 15: Isaiah 49:8″“13
August 16: Hosea 14:1″“7
August 17: Ezra 9:5″“9
August 18: Zechariah 8:9″“17
August 19: Zechariah 9:16″“17; 10:6″“12
August 20: John 15:1″“8
August 21: Romans 11:11″“24

Christian Standard

Contact us at cs@christianstandardmedia.com


Latest News

Fire Destroys Iowa City Church Building (Plus Other News Briefs)

The Iowa City Church building was destroyed in an early morning fire Saturday as a strong storm that produced lightning and caused flash flood warnings rolled through the area. . . . Plus briefs from Tonganoxie Christian Church, Casas por Cristo, Garfield Christian Church, and more.

Roe v. Wade Has Been Overturned . . . What Now?

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade on Friday, the church has a lot to consider. How will we love people with whom we disagree? How can we say we love babies and we love women? How can we share Jesus? How can we best serve our communities?

Fresno Church Sponsoring Summer Camp for Afghan Refugee Children

CrossCity Christian Church in Fresno, Calif., is spearheading an effort to offer a summer camp for Afghan refugee children in its community. Forty families relocated to Fresno after the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer. CrossCity has been sponsoring one of those families . . .

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Owen Crouch’s ‘Study of Acts 2:44, 45’ (1953)

Greek scholar Owen Crouch was mentioned earlier this week in an article about Del Harris’s induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Dr. Crouch served several Christian colleges and wrote 10 books. Today we share an article from 1953 that Dr. Crouch wrote about Acts 2:44-45.

e2: effective elders Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary (Plus News Briefs)

e2: effective elders is marking 10 years as a nonprofit parachurch ministry. During that time, e2 has trained more than 9,600 elders and church leaders. Also briefs about the Church of Christ on Lewis Street (in Little Rock), Tony Darling, Jack Cottrell, and more.

Follow Us