Grafted In

God’s kingdom isn’t divided into factions (Mk 3:24); it’s a holistic, integrated organism(Jn 17:20) What comprises this kingdom? What does it look like?

We all start out with a bad father, children of the wicked one. (Ep 2:3) But when God quickens us, from being dead in our sin, becoming our sin and giving us His resurrection life (Ep 2:5), everything changes: we’re transformed and adopted into His family (Ep 1:5), such that we become part of Him (Ep 5:30), and He becomes part of us. (Jn 17:23)

To illustrate, God uses the grafting of an olive branch into an olive tree. (Ro 11:17) He cuts us off from our original trunk, makes a deep slit in the host tree to expose its vascular system, fixes us into this new host and stabilizes our connection until the two of us begin to grow into and out from each other, becoming one life together.

In this allegory, it’s easy to mistake the root, the olive tree that we’re grafted into, for Israel, God’s chosen people. Consequently, many think redeemed Gentiles should somehow emulate the Jewish people, and adopt Jewish language, traditions and rituals into their worship and obedience. However, God says Israelites are natural branches of the olive tree (Ro 11:24): Gentiles aren’t grafted into branches, but into the tree trunk. (Ro 11:18) If Jews are natural branches, they aren’t the tree.

So, what does the olive tree itself represent? God says Gentiles partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree, along with the Jews, the natural branches. (Ro 11:17) Christ Himself is the One we partake of (He 3:14); He’s the vine, we’re branches. (Jn 15:5) We’re not partakers of Israel in the flesh, what we can outwardly observe of Judaism, but of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4), partakers of the Holy Spirit. (He 6:4)

God’s kingdom doesn’t necessarily look Jewish, or eastern or western, or anything in particular. It’s distinctive is not in its likeness to any particular race or culture, but in it’s amazing cultural diversity, all blended within a single family, comprising souls of every race and culture. (Re 5:9) The commonality lies in conformity to God’s Law, which doesn’t prescribe or forbid any particular culture; it even protects culture by forbidding the imposition of extra-biblical tradition. (De 4:2)

Israel isn’t the divine nature, nor its wellspring; she is in fact, for the most part, void of divine life (1Jn 5:12), and does not have a proper understanding of spiritual things (Ro 10:1); though beloved of God, she is still His enemy. (Ro 11:28) She does not honor the Son; she has persistently (Ro 10:21) and flagrantly dishonored Him (Jn 8:49), so her worship cannot glorify either the Father or the Son. (Jn 5:23)

Only a remnant of the Jewish people will ever know Him (Ro 9:27), so why should we emulate her ways, or pattern our worship after hers? In teaching her tradition as God’s command, she’s corrupted her worship such that it’s largely empty and lifeless. (Mk 7:7) How can this, in itself, be pleasing to the Godhead? (Ps 2:12)

Salvation is of the Jews (Jn 4:22), in the sense that God’s revealing Himself and His salvation to the world through them (Re 21:12): the adoption, the covenants, the giving of the Torah, and the promises all pertain to them. (Ro 9:4-5) But it isn’t all just for them (Ro 9:17): there is one law for us all. In no sense do we become part of physical Israel in salvation, nor do we obtain salvation through them. We come to salvation just like Israelites always have (Jn 3:7), and we become part of God, just like they do. (2Co 6:17-18) There’s no difference between Jew and Greek here (Ro 10:12); in this, neither circumcision (formal conversion to Judaism) helps, nor uncircumcision (formally renouncing Judaism), but a new creature(Ga 6:15)

The Jews certainly have an advantage in that they’re custodians of God’s Word, so it’s embedded more deeply in their culture, and as a rule they’re much more familiar with it. (Ro 3:1-2) We can certainly learn much from them, and it’s not necessarily wrong to adopt parts of their tradition that aren’t inconsistent with scripture, but hoping this will bring us closer to God is a mistake: as a nation and culture, they’ve actually largely missed God Himself. (Mt 8:12)

Supporting Israel and praying for her as God’s chosen nation is wise (Ro 11:29), and we must not in any way boast of being greater or more favored of God than she is (Ro 11:18), yet we must also acknowledge that she is partially blinded for now (Ro 11:25), and filter everything she says and does through the lens of Scripture, staying as true to the Word as we can.

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4 thoughts on “Grafted In”

  1. Great insight Tim.
    The question arises, are we grafted into Israel or independent branches and root? Revelation’s depiction of the New Jerusalem provides 12 gates named after the 12 sons of Jacob.
    Ezekiel 37 may be addressing this topic.
    15 The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying.
    16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and for all the house of Israel his companions:

    17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.

    18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?

    19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.

    20 And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.

    21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:

    22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.

    John 17:21 states,” That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

    John 10:16 is of a similar thought,” And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
    There is a lot of confusion on the topic, yet in time and eternity we will have the advantage of eye witness instructors!
    Blessing on you and your’s

  2. Tim,

    This blog appears to be one which would take more serious digestion than just a quick surmise. I see room for improvement, but my personal bias [pro Israel without being in favor or disfavor of anything Israel goes through, just acknowledging that I see Israel as being in the Last Days.] – my own bias which I admit to, may shade me from seeing correctly.

    You make an excellent point about branches which I have been semi-blind to; however in looking at just scripture — in the context of what Paul speaks to here, the initial focus here is that the gentile branches come from a wild olive tree…..

    16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. Of course: Rev: 22:16 where Jesus IS the Root AND Offspring of David would speak TO your argument.

    vs 18 is a verse that constrains me, admittedly with some bias towards Israel — I would suggest only, that you look at your
    blog and examine it in the context of —- am I boasting against the branches — prune your writing so to speak, IF it even
    needs pruned.

    I [love – appreciate – respect] [defined as appreciating Christ in you] to the point that I am reticent to suggest any changes on the subject, due to my own admitted bias in this area. I have NO problem suggesting that in love, you yourself examine the blog
    to make sure it gives no appearance of boasting against the branches.

    It’s a tough subject. 🙂 🙂

    For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

    I read, I believe it was Ben’s comment also, not quite sure where he was going with it.


  3. Very good point brother! You are pointing out that we (gentiles) are referred to as being “a wild olive tree” (Ro 11:17), as well as being “cut out” of a wild olive tree (vs 24), thus (presumably) also a branch. So, what’s the difference between a branch and a tree, if any? Since Israel is a branch of the good olive tree, can we say that they’re also the olive tree itself?

    In one sense, there’s not much difference between an olive branch and an olive tree; if we plant an olive branch it will turn into an olive tree. A branch in itself has the substance and form of a tree, so once it’s cut off you could see it either as a branch or the start of a new tree. But a branch on a tree is clearly not a tree; it’s attachment to the tree is what defines it as a branch. So the branches on the olive tree aren’t the tree; since Israel are natural branches on the tree, they are not the good olive tree.

    Perhaps it is also good to remember that parables don’t walk on all fours, so to speak; we should not milk them of more than they are intended to illustrate. Even if we think of Israel as the olive tree, and think of what “the root and fatness of the olive tree” is of which we partake (Ro 11:17), then we are looking at Israel’s spiritual things (Ro 15:27), which brings us back to Yeshua (He 3:14), the divine nature (2Pe 1:4), the Holy Ghost (He 6:4), God’s promise in Christ by the gospel (Ep 3:6), for that is what is nourishing us, and it has come to us through Israel. (Jn 4:22) Trying to derive from this that we must become like Israel in non-spiritual, ritualistic, mechanical, physical ways, is I think, to miss the whole point.

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