The Apostle Paul, in Romans 11, speaks of the Gentiles being grafted in to the olive tree, but many times people read these verses without really understanding its true meaning. We know that as Jew and Gentile, we are one in Messiah, but what is grafted in, and what does this mean for the gentile Christian?
Grafted In Meaning Inclusion, Joined to the Promise
The rejection spoken of in these verses below do not refer to the rejection BY God OF Israel. This is the rejection BY Israel, not of God but of Messiah.
These verses are often used to promote supersessionism or replacement theology, which is a belief that the church has replaced Israel and that the New Testament replaces the old.
This is a false doctrine and we will explore it more in a moment.
Romans 11:15-24 continues:
Grafted in Meaning
To understand what the grafted in meaning is in Romans, we first have to understand the meaning in general of being grafted.
Grafted, by definition, means to cause something to unite with a stock. It is a process within horticulture where the tissues of a plant are joined together so that they may continue to grow as one plant.
The grafted in plant has two parts; the scion, which is the upper part of the plant where you would normally see leaves, fruit, flowers, etc., and the lower part known as the rootstock.
The rootstock is what supports the plant and provides its nourishment. The scion produces fruit and flowers! One plant was chosen for the strength of its rootstock while the other was chosen for what it produces.
Israel here is the rootstock. It gave the world their Messiah. It supports the branches. It supports you as a believer!
Grafted In – Joined to the Olive Tree
In the verses above, Paul is speaking to the Gentiles. He is explaining to them that salvation came to the Gentiles in order to provoke the Jews to jealousy so some of them would come to Yeshua.
He was cautioning them to not be haughty!
Paul is telling the Gentiles that the Jews are in unbelief for a time so that salvation could be extended to the Gentiles but, just as the “branches” were broken off to allow for the Gentiles to be grafted in, they too can be grafted back in at any time and since they are of the natural root, they will be easily brought back in to the olive tree.
In this, he spoke of Gentiles being grafted in meaning an adoption into the root, but the natural descendants who were temporarily broken off are always able (and He desires them) to be grafted back in.
You see, Yeshua never came to form a new religion! He didn’t “create” Christianity! He lived as a Jew and died as a Jew. He studied the Torah, He kept the Law. The Jewish Messiah was meant for the Jewish people! Many are, like me, Messianic Jews. We are Jews who have accepted Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah.
His Disciples and Apostles were Jews. There was no new religion. There was no conversion. There was no forsaking of Torah for them. They lived as Jews who found their Messiah.
Matthew 15:24 sees Jesus telling the Canaanite woman:
But as Paul explains in these verses, He was rejected as Messiah. While most regarded Him as a great teacher and Rabbi, many could not comprehend a suffering Messiah, a substitutionary atonement, even though they had just that in the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement and the idea of a righteous person (tzadik) making atonement for another is not a foreign concept in Judaism.
This is much like the parable in Matthew 22:1-10
Parable of the Wedding Feast
Matthew 22:1-10 says:
The God who was once the God of the Jews has now become the God of all nations. The olive tree made room for all those of the nations who would come to believe in the God of Israel and receive a place in the Olam Haba, the World to Come.
The Jewish people are under covenant relationship with Hashem and always will be. The Lord is not a covenant breaker. He does not replace one covenant with another but He CAN add additional covenants, much like was done with the Abrahamic Covenant by then instituting the Sinai Covenant. The one did not negate the other. It established a relationship specifically with the people of Israel.
The Renewed Covenant allows for people among the nations to become of the family of God.
Remember, in this period most people outside the Jewish people worshipped foreign gods. They were deeply rooted in pagan worship so accepting the God of Israel involved rejecting the gods of their nation, their communities and their families. We see this pictured in the Book of Ruth where she decides for forsake the gods of Moab, the gods of her family and follow Naomi and her God.
So they were brought into the family of Hashem and, through Yeshua, received the promises thereof.
Grafted In With, Not In Place Of
Because of the rejection of Messiah, their branches were “broken off” to allow room for the new branches to, not REPLACE them, but join in WITH them in the Messianic Kingdom to come. He spoke of being grafted in meaning ‘with’ and not ‘instead of’. As Paul said, they will easily be grafted back in as the natural branches!
Paul continues in verse 25:
Paul is careful to point out that this was a partial hardening of Israel so that the gentile nations could be saved!
It was to allow for all nations to know God of Israel, the Messiah and His saving grace. This is why he gives his cautionary advice to not ever become haughty and think you replace the Jews in the heart of God.
The Jewish people are NOT cast off nor are they rejected! They are still under covenant!
Believing they are cut off or somehow replaced by the Gentile Church is that supersessionism we spoke of and it is a dangerous tenet and an unbiblical one at that! God is NOT finished with the Jewish people and they have not been replaced! Far from it!
Gentiles have entered a covenant with God through the blood of Yeshua! You either accept Him or reject Him, but the choice is yours alone!
Rather than requiring circumcision and conversion to Judaism, Yeshua has made a way for gentile Christians to come to Hashem right as they are.
I want to stress here that I am speaking of GENTILE Christians. Jews should be Jews and live as Jews. Gentiles should be gentiles. To convert to Judaism by circumcision in order to follow the God of Israel would have been to say He is still only the God of the Jews and NOT the God of all nations as well.
It is NOT to say that Jews who believe should stop being Jews.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:18-20, in one of the most misinterpreted verses I believe I have ever seen:
People read this and think this means circumcision is just a legalistic rite and should not be continued amongst believers, Jewish or not and that the Bible is clearly stating you should NOT be circumcised.
Well yes that is true…if you are a gentile.
You see, in those times, gentile believers were brought into what was a primarily Jewish community of believers. They felt the need, now that they had surrendered all their gods and were following the God of Israel, to be like their fellow believers who were Messianic Jews.
But what Paul is explaining here is that for them, circumcision profits them nothing. In fact, it is actually undoing what Yeshua came to do for them.
Yeshua came to bring the nations to Hashem. If they then were circumcised to “fit in”, they would in essence be converting to Judaism and thereby becoming Jews, making God the God of the Jews only as I mentioned earlier.
Paul is saying, if you are a Jew, continue to BE a Jew. Don’t seek to change who you are. And if you are a gentile, continue to be a gentile who follows Hashem AS a gentile.
Be who you are. Don’t try to act or be Jewish! If you are Jewish, you do not have to abandon your Jewishness to follow a Jewish Messiah. You are not converting to anything new! You are simply a Jew following the Messiah.
Remain in the calling in which you were called!
Grafted In – Jew and Gentile One in Messiah
Being grafted in means Jew and gentile are now one in union with Messiah. They are still distinct peoples, with one Lord. It doesn’t mean either are to abandon who God made them to be. They are just now seen as people of God who will inherit the Messianic Kingdom.
So I will tell you this: if you are a Christian and you hate Israel or the Jewish people, you are hating the very heart of God, period!
If you dispute that, read those verses again! Israel IS at the center of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind and it IS where He will set up the Messianic Kingdom!
Salvation came to you through the Jewish people! Every Christian should have a heart for the Jewish people and for Israel.
The Law is not done away with and neither is Israel. God does not break covenant nor does He change! The Law does not save you but Yeshua did not do away with the Torah. In fact He states in Matthew 5:18:
A serif here refers to little markings that are made in the Torah in the Hebrew and the ornate crown on some of the letters. These markings are important and they are there for various reasons and serve various purposes which is a whole other post completely!
But suffice it to say that Yeshua is stating that not even the smallest marking in Torah (and Torah means “teaching” and while the Law is IN Torah, Torah does not mean Law) should be disregarded or discarded.
But again, while the Torah is not to be discarded, it cannot save you.
You are saved by faith. Jews are not saved by Torah but by faith. This goes back to the faith of Abraham.
Jews never believed Torah is what saves them. They believe in faith, repentance and atonement just as much as any Christian does. It may look different but those things are equally important in the life of the Jew.
As I said, God does not break covenant.
Israel IS the rootstock every Christian is grafted into so if you despise her, you despise the apple of God’s eye!
Right now, Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish people but, according to Revelation, when Yeshua returns there will be a New Jerusalem come out of Heaven that will be where Jew and Gentile alike dwell together with their Messiah in the Messianic Era!
If you are a Christian you worship a Jewish Messiah!I will tell you this, if you are a Christian and you hate Israel, you are hating the very heart of God, period! Click To Tweet
Middle Wall of Separation
The middle wall of separation has been broken down! The Bible tells us that we are Jew and Gentile ONE in Messiah! Not that you become as Jews. No! Just no! Please do not seek to replace or usurp the Jewish people.
But it means that the Jewish Messiah and the Kingdom to come belongs to all those who believe.
Both, reconciled to HaShem (“The Name” – God). This does not mean you become a Jew! If you are a Jew you don’t become a gentile! You are to remain, as Paul says, as you were when you were saved. You are grafted in meaning you are together into the root! There is no “conversion”.
You do not have to all of a sudden shed your Jewishness to follow the Jewish Messiah and you do not shed your non-Jewishness and all of a sudden become like a Jew! Again, please don’t!
Messiah meets you where you are and who you are!
You are part of that olive tree that is Israel because of the grace and mercy of HaShem who no longer makes distinction between the two regarding salvation, but calls all His children who call upon His name and are redeemed by the blood of His Son, Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah!The Bible tells us that we are Jew and Gentile ONE in Messiah! Click To Tweet
Tree of Life (TLV) – Scripture taken from the Holy Scriptures, Tree of Life Version*. Copyright © 2014,2016 by the Tree of Life Bible Society. Used by permission of the Tree of Life Bible Society.
CJB – Taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.