Romans 11:19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”
Who is the apostle Paul talking to, who is being ‘grafted-in’, and what are they being grafted into?
In ‘Part 1: Not My People‘, we learned from Paul himself that his audience in Rome was the remnant of the Northern Kingdom, the ‘scattered House of Israel’, who were living out among the nations/gentiles. Paul verified this in ‘Romans’ chapter 9, by quoting the Scriptures that specifically prophesied about them.
Let’s proceed in ‘Romans’ 11 with the understanding that Paul is continuing his discourse from chapters 9 and 10. His original letter did not have verses, or chapter breaks; it was a free-flowing letter.
That being said, Chapter 11 of ‘Romans’ starts with Paul reminding us that God has not abandoned ‘His chosen people’, ‘His elect’, ‘Israel’.
Israel is not rejected by God, at least according to the apostle Paul.
Romans 11:1-2 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.
Paul quotes the Scriptures to prove his point, that God has always made a way for a remnant of ‘His Chosen’ to remain. Just as in the days of Elijah, we see in Paul’s day, that there is a remnant of Israel who are “the chosen” or “the elect” v.1-7.
The remnant seed of Abraham from v. 5 are those “elect” of v. 7; the rest who are not of the remnant are still hardened, or blind and deaf to the truth of Messiah.
Romans 11:5,7 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace… What then, Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking? The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened…
Who are these “Chosen” and “Elect” of God? What does the text say?
For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” | Genesis 18:19
“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. | Deuteronomy 7:6
Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. | Deuteronomy 10:15
For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. | Deuteronomy 14:2
O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones! He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth. He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant | Psalm 105:6-10
For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel as His own possession. | Psalm 135:4
“But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen! | Isaiah 44:1
Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD of hosts is his name: “If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.” Thus says the LORD: “If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the LORD.”? | Jeremiah 31:35-37
How do the gentiles/nations enter into the mix? What does the apostle Paul say?
Romans 11:11 “So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the G1484Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.”
Who stumbled? It was not the entirety of Israel that failed, as many in the mainstream teach. Context, context, context; as Paul stated, it was “the rest who were hardened‘ from verse 7 that stumbled. God’s ‘Chosen Elect’, those of Israel who believed, the ‘remnant of faith were chosen by ‘favor’; verse 5. Those that failed to believe and trust in all that the Messiah is, it is they who stumbled, that salvation could be offered to those among the nations/gentiles.
So, here we come to it; “Gentiles”. I ask this ahead of time, to please think logically and not emotionally.
In almost every single translation, we have here (as well as, scores of other verses) the English word ‘Gentiles‘. This is Strong’s G1484, ἔθνος/ethnos. Strong’s Definition is: “a race, a nation, the nations.”
NAS Exhaustive Concordance defines Gentiles as: “a race, a nation, pl. the nations.”
Webster’s Dictionary 1828 defines Gentile as: “GEN’TILE, noun [Latin gentilis; from Latin gens, nation, race; applied to pagans.]
Strong’s G1482, ἐθνικός/ethnikos, is the adjective cognate, and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states this word as: “in the New Testament savoring of the nature of pagans, alien to the worship of the true God, heathenish; substantively the pagan, the Gentile.”
We are being lied to, or at the very least, ignorantly misled.
There is no such thing as a ‘single person’ that is a “gentile“. The word “ethnos” (G1484) literally means ‘a nation’ or a homogenous race of people. It cannot be applied to an individual. A single person cannot be addressed as a nation or race of people. This notion that a single person can be “a gentile” stems from an incorrect understanding and translation of the original Latin word “gentilis”. The ‘word’ gentile/s should be stricken from the bible and changed to either, ‘pagans’, ‘heathens’, or ‘nations‘, which is what the words ethnos and ethnikos actually mean.
Another fact that is never discussed in today’s mainstream theology, is that Paul never spoke or wrote the English word ‘gentiles’, he wrote the Greek word “ethnos”. Again, logic not emotion. The word ‘gentiles‘ is an English ‘transliteration‘ of the Latin word ‘gentilis’, which means “a race, a nation, a tribe; the same as the Greek word ‘ethnos’. When Paul wrote about people, he either referred to the Jews/Israelites or he referred to the nations/gentiles, “ethnos”.
Again, the word ‘ethnos’ means a race of people, a nation, tribe of people, and pagan at that! Regardless of what mainstream theology may now think or preach, ‘the gentiles/ethnos’ or ‘the nations’ are not a separate set of “believers”; there is no such thing as a “gentile believer“. The Gentiles/Nations are pagans, heathens and non-believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is what the word means. Period. If you refer to yourself as a “gentile believer”, you’re actually calling yourself a “pagan believer”!
Those to whom Paul was sent, those out ‘among the nations/gentiles’, were the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”. These sheep however did not look like the sheep of God. They had been inter-mixed and sifted into the world of the “H1471goim“, the nations/gentiles. They were considered to be “of the nations”, “of the gentiles” because they had been scattered among the the nations/gentiles for so long they looked like, and acted like the nations/gentiles. Paul preached to everyone; Jews, Greeks, Romans, heathens, pagans… everyone. He had to, because the “House of Israel”, the “Northern Kingdom” had become so scattered, they were everywhere (and still are). Once these people-groups heard Paul’s good news, they would either decide to believe and be grafted into God’s “Chosen People“ or they could choose to stay in the nations/gentiles and remain pagan/heathen. They could either remain part of the nations/gentiles or they could become “citizens of the common wealth of Israel“.
What did Paul’s master, Jesus, think of “being of the gentiles/nations”?
Matthew 18:15-17 15“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a G1482Gentile and a tax collector.
What did Paul think of “being of the gentiles/nations”?
What does the text say?
1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the G1484Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!
1 Corinthians 10:20 Rather, that the things which the G1484Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.
Ephesians 2:11-12 Therefore remember that you once G1484Gentiles in the flesh… that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Ephesians 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the G1484Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.
The apostle Paul considered the ‘believers‘ in these passages to be “formerly of the gentiles/nations”, and now ‘part of the body of Messiah’, grafted-into the Commonwealth of Israel; thereby, Israelites.
Being ‘of the gentiles’ is not what you want to be, it’s what you want to ‘formerly be‘.
Another critical deception in translation that has been kept from us, is the fact that in 1 Corinthians 5:1, 10:20, 12:2, listed above, almost every single contemporary translation changes the Greek word “ethnos” from ‘gentiles/nations’ to the English word “pagans”, in order to propagate the dogma that believers “from among the nations” are still gentiles but no longer pagans. All of the early translations of these verses use the English words gentiles/nations. The contemporary translators “conveniently” use the word “pagans” here to fit their own agenda, when in a hundred other places they always translate ‘ethnos’ as G1484Gentiles!
However, as you can see from Paul’s own mouth, in the original Greek, those that choose to believe in the Messiah of Israel and choose to covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob MUST cast off their “former” citizenship with “the nations/gentiles” and “graft into the Olive Tree of Israel“; to be citizens of Israel and “no longer of the gentiles”.
What does the apostle Paul say?
Romans 2:28-29 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
What did Paul just say; “a Jew”? Paul just stated that if you are circumcised in heart, then you are a “Jew”. Paul considered a true follower of God and His Messiah to be a “Jew”.
Don’t panic; remember, logic not emotion.
When Paul wrote his letters, the only remnant of God’s ‘Chosen Elect’ were those that lived in Judea, the majority from the tribe of Judah; ‘Jews’, like our Messiah. Judea was inhabited by the tribes of Judah, Benjamin (like Paul) and a very small number from Levi. The lost 10 tribes of Israel had assimilated among the “nations/gentiles” for the past 800 years. They looked like, acted like and most certainly were considered to be ‘pagans/gentiles’ to Paul and his brothers in Judea.
God is pretty smart; can we agree on that? He had a plan to bless all the nations and redeem the lost 10 tribes. The Northern Kingdom was scattered everywhere, and God used this fact to take the “good news” of the Redeemer to the ‘four corners of the earth’. So that whoever would hear, believe, repent and follow the Messiah of Israel could be saved from their bondage to sin. Whomsoever chooses, can be grafted into the “cultivated Olive Tree“.
Romans 11:17,24 and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree… you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree (cut from the gentiles) and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree
Who is the Cultivated Olive Tree that these former pagans/gentiles have been ‘grafted-into’?
What does the text say?
The LORD once called you a green olive tree, beautiful with good fruit.’ But with the roar of a great tempest he will set fire to it, and its branches will be consumed. The LORD of hosts, who planted you, has decreed disaster against you, because of the evil that the house of Israel and the house of Judah have done, provoking me to anger by making offerings to Baal.” | Jeremiah 11:16
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. | Psalm 52:8
Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. | Psalm 128:1-3
Israel is the Olive Tree; Israel is what we graft into. As Jeremiah above states, both Houses did evil and provoked the LORD. The House of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) was exiled and dispersed among the gentiles/nations, as I said, for almost 800 years. The House of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) was exiled to Babylon for 70 years for their sins, but they came back to the land. What is to become of the House of Israel?
Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the LORD, like showers on the grass, which delay not for a man nor wait for the children of man. And the remnant of Jacob shall be “among” the H1471nations, in the midst of many peoples, | Micah 5:7-8
Jeremiah tells us of their restoration, of a greater ‘Exodus’ than that which came out of Egypt.
“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when it shall no longer be said, As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers. | Jeremiah 16:14-15
Isaiah tells us that even those outside the camp of Israel, those among the nations/gentiles, who wish to ‘join themselves’ with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel can choose to do so ~
Neither let the son of the strangers, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them I will give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the strangers, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keeps the sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord GOD which gathers the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him. | Isaiah 56:3-8
Those that choose to abandon their life of sin, repent and turn to the ways of God, choosing to put their faith, trust and belief in the Messiah, can then become a Citizen of the Commonwealth of Israel. Those that choose to covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and submit to Him, can be grafted into the Olive Tree, which is Israel; these are the “Chosen and Elect” of God.
Do you see, those outside the camp of the LORD, those outside of Israel that wanted to join with and ‘take hold of the covenant’ of the LORD can choose to do so. It’s the same now, as Paul has been telling those in Rome. Those “among the gentiles” in Rome, as we learned from ‘Romans’ chapter 9, Paul tells us that their being grafted in to the Olive Tree of Israel is a fulfilling of Prophecy that actually goes all the way back to Genesis. That’s why he tells us in verses 25 and 26 of chapter 11 that by their grafting-in, “all Israel will be saved” ~
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved | Romans 11:25-26
Paul is actually re-telling what was foretold by Jacob in Genesis 48 ~
When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations. | Genesis 48:17-19
Ephraim was prophesied to become “a multitude of nations”. Ephraim in Hebrew means “doubly fruitful”, and Jacob prophesies that his offspring will become a multitude of nations. This is what the apostle Paul is referring to: “the fullness of the gentiles“. Remember, ‘gentiles’ just means ‘nations’.
The Hebrew translation of “a multitude of nations” in Genesis 48 is as follows: “a multitude” is Strong’s H4393, mə·lō / מְלֹֽא which means: fullness, that which fills; “of nations” is H1471, hag·gō·w·yim / הַגּוֹיִֽם which is plural and means: the nations, the peoples.
This is CRITICAL to understand; Jacob prophesied that his adopted son Ephraim would be “the fullness of the nations/gentiles“. Jacob is telling us that Ephraim’s offspring, who actually became the ‘Northern Kingdom’, the ‘House of Israel’, the scattered 10 tribes, their descendants would become “the fullness of the nations/gentiles“. That is the audience that Paul is speaking to in Romans chapter 11!
O LORD, save your people, the remnant of Israel.’ Behold, I will bring them from the north country and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the pregnant woman and she who is in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. “Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’ For the LORD has ransomed Jacob and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. | Jeremiah 31:7-11
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, take a stick and write on it, ‘For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.’ | Ezekiel 37:15-16
then say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from among the nations which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. | Ezekiel 37:21-22
All Israel will be saved; all “Israel“. Both the Northern and Southern Houses will finally be ransomed and then gathered together as one House under one King, the Messiah.
So, Paul brings ‘Genesis 48’ full circle here in ‘Romans 11’; the remnant, the scattered sheep of the House of Israel (Ephraim), dispersed among the nations, prophesied to to be the ‘fullness of the nations/gentiles’ are now able to be “Grafted-In” to the Olive Tree of Israel because of the work of the Messiah.
Those that believe in Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, ‘must choose‘ to covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They ‘must choose‘ to change their allegiance and citizenship to the Commonwealth of Israel; no longer a citizen of the nations. Therefore, by being grafted into the cultivated Olive Tree, which is Israel, we are ‘No Longer Gentiles’, but Israelites; at least according to the apostle Paul.
In our next study (‘Why the Messiah Had to Die… and Rise Again!‘) in ‘Romans’, we’ll back up a few chapters to find out how and why this prophesy was fulfilled by Jesus. This was one of, if not the primary mission of Jesus; and only God-in-the-flesh could fulfill it.
Final Thought: In Part 1, I asked “how does this apply to me then; I can’t know if I’m from the ‘lost 10 tribes of Israel’?”
I also said don’t worry, God is pretty smart. He knew that His plan of salvation would work out like it has; please read the study, ‘Salvation vs. Eternal Life‘ . In order for all of the ‘Lost Sheep of the House of Israel’ to have the opportunity to hear the good news, it has to be preached to all the nations, everywhere. Paul’s missionary journeys were just the beginning. ‘All who hunger and thirst for righteousness’ can “choose” to covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) to serve Him; even the stranger. Just as Ruth, the ex-Moabite/ex-gentile chose; she said “your people are my people, your ways are my ways, your God is my God”. So, “choose this day whom you will serve” ~
Isaiah 14:1 For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
Isaiah 56:6-8 Also the sons of the stranger that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keeps the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. The Lord GOD which gathers the outcasts of Israel says, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.
Joshua 24:15 choose this day whom you will serve…
- For further study of Paul’s teachings, as well as the original Greek, please see the ‘Page Links’ at the top of this page or blog posts at the bottom. Be like the Bereans, and test Paul’s doctrines to the “Scriptures”. Please ‘share’ this study. Thank you for your time!