By Gray Clark
“THIS is the book (Bible) of the generations of Adam” (Genesis 5:1).
“He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them” (Psalm 147:19,20).
“But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. I SAY then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbide. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew”
(Romans 10:21- 11:2).
The above passages direct the reader to the correct presupposition that grafting in Romans 11 is all about Israel and does not include any other people. The reader will see, by this study, that the churches who wrongly teach all people are included in the grafting language have actually created a theology without scriptural support. As an example, Romans 11:17, by exercising the correct presupposition, is then understood as such: “And if some of the branches (Judah) be broken off, and thou (Divorced Israel; not the whole world), being a wild olive tree (Divorced Israel; not the whole world), wert graffed in among them (Judah), and with them (Judah) partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree.”
The grafting portion of Romans 11 is about God bringing together the divorced in Israel, the house of Israel, called Gentiles, with the house of Judah for their salvation in Christ as attested to in this Romans 11:26,27 passage: “So all Israel (in election) shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer (Jesus) and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” In support, Jeremiah and Isaiah give these recordings, respectively: “In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together” (Jeremiah 3:18) and “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of they mouth, nor out of the mouth of they seed, nor out of the mouth of they seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever” (Isaiah 59:20,21). Scripture is silent about negating what God has promised and covenanted with Israel in the Old Testament and transferring these promises to non-Israel people or including in the New Testament non-Israel people under God’s promises to Israel. Grafting, therefore, is not about bringing the non-Israelite world into the covenant of salvation or any of the promises of God to Israel, for that matter, being a common error in Church theology, but about only Israel to whom the promises and covenants were made.
To best understand the grafting portion of Romans 11, a brief view into grafting principles will help, as Romans 11 is about the olive tree being grafted to itself. An ancient process used to join two or more plants or trees describes grafting. Cultivated olive trees cannot be propagated from seed, as they will revert to their original small-fruited wild variety. “In Bible times, it was very common to graft olive trees. A branch from a good olive tree was taken and grafted onto a wild olive tree. The wild olive tree, called agrielaios, did not produce very good fruit. Wild olive trees would grow up and take up space with it’s root system. To keep from having to cut down a tree and plant a new seedling, a branch from the good tree would be grafted onto the wild tree. This good branch would then produce fruit while getting nourishment from the wild tree root system. Several branches would be grafted onto a wild tree”(Mark McWhorter. Wisdom’s Corner; The Grafted Olive Tree. www.oldpaths.org). According to the University of Missouri-Columbia, Extension Division, the following points are true of grafting (Grounds for Gardening: page 6971): “1) Not all plants can be grafted. 2) Generally, only plants closely related botanically form a good graft union. 3) The stock and scion must be compatible. 4) Plants with the same genus (class of plants with common characteristics, like apples, green beans, etc) but of a different species may often be grafted. But the result may be weak, short-lived, or they may not unite at all. 5) Plants of different genera (genus, pl) are less successfully grafted.” The grafting of the olive tree will be good grafts because they are the same kind or shall we say a close relative, genus. A successful graft requires a close relative like apple to apple or olive tree to olive tree not olive to apple or vise versa.
With this understanding of grafting, the figurative symbols of the olive tree, to be given later in the study, must be restricted to like kind. This principle is quite simple to see upon applying it to Israel. Israel was Adamic before the division into the Northern Kingdom and later becoming divorced Israel and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). Obviously the divided kingdoms were Adamic after the division remaining the same kind as before, Adamic Israelites. Room is lacking by grafting principles for any other kind (that is people-pre Adamites) to be read into the grafting symbolism reserved for Jacob-Israel. To do so would require Israel and non-Israel people who are not even distant cousins, be joined in an unnatural way. Being unrelated stock (Israel is from Adam and all others on earth are from a pre-Adamite creation), defeats the grafting olive tree story which, again, the olive tree is reserved symbolism for Israel, Israelites; for David said: “I am like a green olive tree” (Psalm 52:8). “The LORD called thy name (Israel), A green olive tree…and branches of it are broken” (Jeremiah 11:16). Further examples the olive and olive tree being closely associated with the Israelites in the Old Testament are found in Genesis 8:11; Exodus 27:20; Leviticus 24:2; Exodus 30:24; Deuteronomy 28:40; Samual 8:14; Nehemiah 5:11; Psalm 128:3; Joshua 24:13; Hosea 14:6 which have carried naturally into Romans 11. Additionally, olive tree grafting principles would be well understood in the Roman world being the center then, and now, of olive tree propagation. The Israelite Romans of Paul’s letter would only understand Romans 11 in light of normal grafting principles being applied to the symbolism of the passage. If God had meant for non-Israel people to be joined with Israel, he would have chosen them to be symbolized by a non-olive tree representing all non Israelites to be grafted to the olive tree representing Israel, assuming such a graft is possible.
Before commenting on Romans 11 grafting passages, it is important to have in mind these two scriptures: 1) “God has not case away his people which he foreknew” (Romans 11:2). Israelites are the only people God foreknew making only promises and covenants with them. 2) “Who are the Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption” (Romans 9:4). Romans 11 grafting is about the adoption of divorced Israel rejoining her Judah family making one Jacob-Israel family again for election in salvation as promised by God. Adoption is not about bringing under the covenants and promises God made with Israel with people outside the family of Israel. “God is not the author of confusion” (Corinthians 14:33). It is confusion to have the entire Old Testament be about one people, Israel, and believe the New Testament negates it all by being about and including all the people the Old Testament excluded. To see grafting of Romans 11 in its true light use the following key. In addition to the key, it would be helpful to remember that Paul is writing to divorced Israel living in Rome. This will help to keep the pronouns straight.
The key to understanding Romans 11 grafting passage
Olive tree—House of Israel and House of Judah as one—
Wild olive tree—House of Israel, Divorced Israel, Gentiles.
Natural branches—House of Judah, Judah.
Broken-off branches—Judah who rejected Christ. Majority of
Gentiles—House of Israel. Divorced Israel, Brethren.
Blinding of House of Israel: Occurred at their divorce.
Blinding of Judah: Occurred when they crucified Christ.
Divorced Israel: thou, thee, ye, your
Judah: they, them, these, unbelieving Israelites
Grafting, Romans 11:11-30
Verse 11: “I say then, Have they (Judah) stumbled that they (Judah) should fall? God forbid: but rather through their (Judah) fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles (Divorced Israel) to provoke them (Judah) to jealousy.”
Verse 12: “Now if the fall of them (Judah) be the riches of the world (Israelite), and the diminishing of them (Judah) the riches of the Gentiles (Divorced Israel) how much more their (Judah) fullness?
Majority of Judah rejected Christianity. The Gospel then went to Gentiles, Divorced Israel.
Verse 13: “For I speak to your Gentiles (Divorced Israel), in as much as I am the apostle of the Gentiles (Divorced Israel) I magnify mine office.”
Verse 14: “If by any means I may provoke to emulation them (Judah) which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”
Paul, being part of the Judean Israelites, and trained a Pharisee, and living in Judea might inspire the hardened Judean Israelites to do as he did, accept Christ.
Verse 15: “For if the casting away of them (Judah) be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them (Judah) be, but life from the dead.”
What a great thing it would be if the Judean Israelites would reconsider. They would be blessed.
Verse 16: “For if the first fruit be holy (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, 12 tribes), the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches (all Israel).
Verse 17: “And if some of the branches be broken off (Judah), and thou (Divorced Israel), being a wild olive tree, wert graffed (grafted) in among them (Judah) partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree.”
Verse 18: “Boast, (Divorced Israel) not against the (broken) branches (Judah). But if thou (Israel) boast, thou (Israel) bearest not the root, but the root thee (Israel).
Don’t, Divorced Israel, be prideful to the broken Judah branches. You have gained no advantages over the Judeans for they were never divorced by God as you were. Judah continued as a nation, not you. Christ came from the line of Judah. You, Divorced Israel have no basis to boast against them. Both Judah and Israel depend upon their common root stock.
Verse 19: “Thou (Israel) will say then, the (broken) branches (Judah) were broken off, that I (Divorced Israel), might be graffed in.
Verse 20: “Well, because of unbelief they (Judah) were broken off, and thou (Israel) standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear;
Verse 21: “For if God spared not the natural branches (Judah) take heed least he also spare not thee (Israel).
Judah branches were not broken off to make room for Israel or because they were more wicked then you. They rejected Christ that is the reason. You, Divorced Israel, are grafted in because of the Grace of God you believe in Christ. There is no room for pride. The same fate God dealt to unbelieving Judeans who were not divorced but very wicked can also be applied to you.
Verse 22: “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them (Judah) which fell, severity; but toward thee (Israel), goodness: otherwise thou (Israel) also shalt be cut off.”
Verse 23: “And they (Judah) also, if they (Judah) abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed (grafted) in: for God is able to graff them (Judah) in again.”
Those Judeans severed could return by God’s grace, if they do not continue in unbelief.
Verse 24: “For if thou (Israel) wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, into a good olive tree: how much more shall these (Judah), which be the natural branches, be graffed (grafted) into their own olive tree?
It is not natural or the custom to graft a wild olive branch onto a good stock but to graft a good olive branch into a wild olive tree because these grow the best olives by taking advantage of a strong wild olive root system. So to ingraft wild olive Israel, by the goodness and grace of God, onto the good olive tree how much easier it is to graft Judah back to Judah.
Judah not being divorced is viewed as the natural branches and Israel who was divorced the wild branches (Ephesians 2:11-13).
Verse 25: “For I would not, brethren (Gentiles) that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness is happened to Israel (Judah in Judea) until the fullness of the Gentiles (Divorced Israel) be come in.”
Verse 26: “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”
Divorced Israel, do not be prideful about your salvation standing. The blindness to your cousins, Judah, will not last forever but will be lifted when all the Gentiles of Israel receive the Gospel and all Israel in election shall be saved.
Israel was blinded to their identity and Judah to the need for Christ as savior and redeemer of Israel.
Verse 27: “For this is my covenant unto them (Judah), when I shall take away their sins.
Verse 28: “As concerning the gospel, they (Judah) are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they (all Israel) are beloved for the father’s sakes.”
Verse 29: “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
Verse 30: “For as ye (Divorced Israel) in time past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their (Judah’s) unbelief.”
Verse 31: “Even so have these (Judah) also now not believed, that through your (Gentiles) mercy they (Judah) also my obtain mercy.
Verse 32: “For God hath concluded them (Judah) all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all (tribes).
End of story! The grafting story of Romans is about the salvation and redemption by Jesus Christ pertaining to both the house of Judah, Israelites, and the house of Israel, Israelites. It is not about any other people, non-Israelites, pre-Adamites being included in the Gospel of salvation as is generally taught by most churches. Jehovah is speaking through Paul to Israelites and only Israelites.