KJV Romans 11:19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.

A big part of Paul's theodicy of Romans 9-11 is the notion that it was an essential part of the salvation of the gentiles that the Jews fail to obtain God's righteousness.

So how did the "casting away" of the Jews become the "reconciliation of the world"?

KJV Romans 11:15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

  • Good question +1
    – alb
    Nov 22, 2018 at 13:48
  • Are you asking if the Jews had to fall for the gentiles to be grafted in? Because the answer is a definite no.>> “So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? BY NO MEANS! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.”<< ‭‭Romans‬ ‭11:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬ they stumbled but they didn’t need to also fall or be removed from the olive tree. They ended up this way because of their unbelief v20. Unless you don’t believe in freewill then it makes no sense to me that you would ask if Jews had to be broken off. They could have remained in by faith. Mar 9, 2019 at 13:04
  • Paul's point in Romans 9-11 is that the Jewish leadership and the people of Jerusalem, except for an elect remnant were blinded by God so they would not believe and be saved, so that the gentiles could be received in. Please see my answer below and the "right of first refusal".
    – Ruminator
    Mar 9, 2019 at 13:08

9 Answers 9



I'm in accord with some parts of the other answers (I can go into detail in the comments about this if you'd like), but I have a few things to add to that effect.

I begin with the idea that you have one question in mind in two forms, them being: a) why did Jews have to be cut off for the Gentiles to be saved? and b) how did the "casting away" of the Jews become the "reconciliation of the world"? I assume you know already that "the world" in question B references the Gentiles in question A. If you would need another edit of this answer to explain how the above is so, I would like to suggest leaving a comment below.

Now, let's really begin.

Discussion on Sources/Verses

Romans 11:11-21 KJV

11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.

20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

My commentary/answer

I believe your answer lies within certain keywords in this chapter that you have to pay attention to. The first of them being "some of the branches be broken off". Notice how it's not all Jews, but some of them were broken off. Moreover in verse 25,

that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

Notice again, there is only "in part" blindness has occurred to Israel. There are still Jews that are saved to this day, but a majority of "broken off" because of their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. They were "broken off" to fulfill what Jesus said about them, that

Matthew 21:43 Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

The context of this verse is that Jesus is the cornerstone that they rejected to fulfill part of Psalm 118. Most of the Jews were simply "broken off" because of their general unbelief, which produced no fruits in the vine of Jesus as in John 15. Still, the question remains, why did the cutting off of some Jewish branches cause the "grafting" of the Gentile branches? While I resound with Sola Gratia's answer about causation, I also see that you need a reason to be fully satisfied (as do we all). So here it is.

The ingrafting of Gentiles was to provoke the Jews, who had previously been cut off, back to righteousness through the belief of Jesus Christ; when Jews would see Gentiles producing fruit while being a part of the Vine of Jesus, they would want to produce this kind of fruit as well and, therefore, believe in Jesus. When the "fullness of the Gentiles" finally comes in and we become as one like the Son and the Father are one, then the world (which includes the Jews) will believe John 3:16, and the dead (in Spirit) will live once again in the true Vine. So, to put it simply, Jews get cut off for unbelief and no fruit, which causes the Gentiles to be grafted to provoke the Jews back to the true Vine and bear good fruit. It's like when a girl breaks up with a boy, then that boy gets with another girl to make that girl who broke up with him jealous and return back to him (except in the end both girls become one?).

Other commentaries:

Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary on Romans 11:11-21

The gospel is the greatest riches of every place where it is. As therefore the righteous rejection of the unbelieving Jews, was the occasion of so large a multitude of the Gentiles being reconciled to God, and at peace with him; the future receiving of the Jews into the church would be such a change, as would resemble a general resurrection of the dead in sin to a life of righteousness. Abraham was as the root of the church. The Jews continued branches of this tree till, as a nation, they rejected the Messiah; after that, their relation to Abraham and to God was, as it were, cut off. The Gentiles were grafted into this tree in their room; being admitted into the church of God. Multitudes were made heirs of Abraham's faith, holiness, and blessedness. It is the natural state of every one of us, to be wild by nature. Conversion is as the grafting in of wild branches into the good olive. The wild olive was often ingrafted into the fruitful one when it began to decay, and this not only brought forth fruit but caused the decaying olive to revive and flourish. The Gentiles, of free grace, had been grafted in to share advantages. They ought, therefore, to beware of self-confidence and every kind of pride or ambition; lest, having only a dead faith, and an empty profession, they should turn from God, and forfeit their privileges. If we stand at all, it is by faith; we are guilty and helpless in ourselves and are to be humble, watchful, afraid of self-deception, or of being overcome by temptation. Not only are we at first justified by faith, but kept to the end in that justified state by faith only; yet, by a faith which is not alone, but which worketh by love to God and man.

NET Bible on Roman 11:15

15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

Constable's Note on Net Bible Roman 11:15

When Israel returns to God and He accepts her, the results for all humankind will be comparable to life from the dead (cf. Ezek. 37). God’s blessings on humanity now will pale by comparison with what the world will experience then (i.e., during the Millennium).


So how did the "casting away" of the Jews become the "reconciliation of the world"? Well, when the Jews were cast away (not all of them), there was a plan made by God to reconcile the world (the Gentiles) with Him to provoke the Jews to jealousy and return God and recognize that Jesus was sent by Him. In essence, Paul is trying to say that Gentiles were brought to believe in Jesus and were grafted in as healthy branches until the full number of Gentiles are grafted in through the will of God; this gathering of Gentiles is meant to provoke thought and jealousy in Jewish branches, who desire to bear good fruit and follow God as well. And when all of God's is given back to God (the fullness of Jews return in the endtimes), then we will all experience live as though we were dead.

  • 2
    Thanks and congratulations phil. This was a tricky question I think because the "cause" was really the plan of God (Rom 9-11). IE: The "cause" was not automatic but was a wise and gracious decision by God for purposes that extend far beyond humanity. Please see Ephesians 3:5-12. To everyone else, a hearty thanks for participating.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 29, 2018 at 14:02

Paul explicitly gives the reason they were cut off:

Romans 11:20 (ESV) That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. [...Because the same can happen to you... etc]

The text doesn't say anything like 'they had to be cut off so that' but that 'they were cut off with the result of.'

The reason this is in any way viewed as a necessary prerequisite for Gentiles being reconciled to God is because of what the following episode conveys:

Matthew 15:21-28 (ESV)

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Here a Gentile wants the equivalent of mercy or salvation given to hitherto only to the faithful Jew. Jesus ignores her for what appears to be didactic reasons, given the didactive lesson at the end: "O woman, great is your faith!" (i.e. if the dogs have the faith the 'child,' a Jew, lacks, they will recieve the goods proper to him instead).

What we're looking at is a whole lot of children losing faith and leaving the table, and their 'bread' falling to the Gentiles instead of them because they had the faith—the only thing that made you a true child of Abraham to begin with (Gal 3:7 et seq.; cf. Mt 3:9).

Ephesians 3:6 (ESV)

This mystery [revealed especially in these latter days] is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

  • So how does the "casting away of them" become "the reconciliation of the world"? KJV Romans 11:15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
    – Ruminator
    Oct 24, 2018 at 16:28
  • Romans 11:16 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? How does the fall of one benefit the other?
    – Ruminator
    Oct 24, 2018 at 16:31
  • The reconciliation of the world clearly refers to the Gentiles who make up almost all the world, but who were considered lost before, and needed reconciliation just as much as the Jews, sin-wise. How does the loss of bread benefit the dog? Because there is a resource analogy at play both here in Paul, and with Jesus, which is being used to describe the graces and promises falling on someone whether it be those 'to whom it was sent,' or an equivalent to whom it falls instead—and somewhat as a punishment (Rom 11:11). Oct 24, 2018 at 16:35
  • If you read carefully, you'll find you didn't quite read what I said. I didn't mention any shortage of supplies with God or God 'owing' anyone graces. Oct 24, 2018 at 17:04
  • @Ruminator For your second comment, I think you meant to quote Romans 11:12, not 11:16. Nov 25, 2018 at 18:49

Paul was used in a big way to take The Good News of Jesus and God's Kingdom to the Gentiles to give them the oppertunity to become sons of the Kingdom becaue the Jews had rejected it:-

[] Added

NWT Romans 11:13-16 "Now I speak to you who are people of the nations [Gentiles]. Seeing that I am an apostle to the nations, I glorify my ministry [preaching Jesus]

14 to see if I may in some way incite my own people [Jews] to jealousy [see what they gave up by lack of faith in Jesus The Messiah] and save some from among them.

15 For if their being cast away means reconciliation for the world [future Kingdom Blessing of God's rule by The Kingdom], what will the acceptance of them mean but life from the dead [revived spiritualy]?

16 Further, if the part of the dough taken as firstfruits [sons of the Kingdom] is holy, the entire batch is also holy; and if the root is holy [root being God], the branches [Jewish or Gentile] are also.

The Jews did not remain Holy they became unclean fruitless branches due to lake of faith in Jesus Christ so they had to be lopped of and faithful Gentiles grafted in to become son of the kingdom replacing the Jews, for Jesus said:-

[] Added

NWt Matthew 8:11, 12 "But I tell you that many from east and west will come [Gentiles] and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of the heavens; 12 whereas the sons of the Kingdom [Jews] will be thrown into the darkness outside. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be.”

Then to Paul:-

[] Added

NWT Romans 11:19, 20 "You will say, then: “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true! For their lack of faith, they were broken off, but you [Roman Gentiles, now Christian] are standing by faith. Do not be haughty, but be in fear.

The Jews had the option to not be cut of but as they rejected The Messiah and Murdered him, as a whole (a few Jews did have faith) because they did not belevie what the Scriptures said about the coming one! Talking to The Jews in his day Jesus said:-

NWT Matthew 13:15 "For the heart of this people has grown unreceptive, and with their ears they have heard without response, and they have shut their eyes, so that they might never see with their eyes and hear with their ears and get the sense of it with their hearts and turn back and I heal them."

Paul spoke of The Jews:-

NWT Acts 28:25-27 “The holy spirit aptly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your forefathers, "saying, ‘Go to this people and say: “You will indeed hear but by no means understand, and you will indeed look but by no means see. 27 For the heart of this people has grown unreceptive, and with their ears they have heard without response, and they have shut their eyes, so that they might never see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn back and I heal them.”’

Then he added:-

NWT Acts 28:28 "So let it be known to you that this salvation from God has been sent out to the nations [gentiles]; they will certainly listen to it.”

The Gentiles replaced The Jews because they did except Jesus as The Messiah, The Saviour of The World!

  • Acts 28:25-28 is a statement made by Paul, not Peter. Nov 21, 2018 at 22:04

This is a great question.

The answer lies in recognizing the plan of God for the salvation of mankind. God’s plan has two parts, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. The Jews are a part of the Old Covenant which attempted to attain righteousness through self effort (works) by attempting to keep the Law of Moses. The Jews are akin to the Law, works and the Old Covenant.

The Gentiles are a part of the New Covenant of grace and mercy. The Gentiles knew nothing of the Law of Moses and just lived as they pleased. The Gentiles are akin to grace, faith and the New Covenant.

God who is rich in mercy and who is no respecter of persons, provided that a relationship with Him would not be established via any self righteous work of keeping the law but would be based on unconditional love through His goodness and mercy.

God established the first covenant in order to show the weakness of that way of approaching God and then replaced that covenant with a better covenant and a better way of approaching God which was based on love, faith and trust.

Hebrews 10:9 (KJV)

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

In the execution of God’s plan, the Jew (as representing the Old Covenant, works and self righteousness) must be rejected in order that the Gentile (as representing the New Covenant, grace and God’s righteousness) could be accepted.

Romans 11:6 (KJV):

6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

So via the plan of God, the Jews way of self righteous works are rejected so that through the pride that is associated with self righteousness, the Jews would then become jealous of the relationship of love the Gentiles have with God and seek God though faith and not work.

Romans 11:7-11 (KJV):

7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. 8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. 9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: 10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. 11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

So, the end result is the same for both Jew and Gentile, ie that God concluded everyone in unbelief that He might have mercy upon all.

Romans 11:30-32 (KJV):

30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

  • In 11:1 you quote Paul saying "through their fall salvation is come to the gentiles". How? I don't see anything in your post that would explain the cause and effect. How does Israel falling result in the gentiles being saved? They seem like apples and oranges. The are independent, aren't they? Why couldn't God save the gentiles without some of the Jewish branches being cut off? Not enough room on the tree?
    – Ruminator
    Nov 22, 2018 at 14:37
  • Verse 33 tells us that “His ways are past finding out.” So, I think we need to just stay with what scripture says. God had a plan. He started with the Jews under the law; allowed them to demonstrate that living under the law was not the way to establish a relationship with Him and through the unbelief of the Jews, God creates an alternate way; grace. That grace then was passed to the Gentiles in order to provoke the Jews to jealousy, that by their (Gentiles) obtaining mercy, that same mercy then passed back to the Jews. Don’t know why God chose the two Covenant plan but He did.
    – alb
    Nov 23, 2018 at 0:05

Paul's Use of Diatribe
It is a mistake to say the Jewish people had to be cast away in order for gentiles to be saved:

1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying, 3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (Romans 11 KJV)

Paul begins the passage by explicitly stating they were not cast away and he is part of a remnant who brought the Gospel to the gentiles. None had to be broken off, lost, or rejected. That some were meant there were fewer Jewish evangelists. God's works were such that an initial rejection by some of the Jewish people (and those gentiles who likewise rejected the message) led to a greater display of His mercy and grace.

Next, of verse 11:19 Leander E. Keck comments (emphasis added):

11:19 In diatribe style, Paul formulates a hypothetical objection of gentile Christians.1

19 You will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you. 22 Note the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And even those of Israel, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you have been cut off from nature a wild tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own tree. (Romans 11 NRSV)

Paul's hypothetical argument is addressed specifically to gentile Christians warning them not to become proud (vv. 20-21) and should not taken literally as doctrine.2 Obviously, not all Jewish people were cut off. Some, like Paul were instrumental in the gentiles being grafted on (11:1-6) and others will be grafted back on (11:24). There was never a necessity for any to be cut off.

The Two Trees
The metaphor uses trees to represent the Jewish people and the gentiles. Before breaking off and grafting, branches of belief (green) and/or unbelief (red) could be found on both trees:

enter image description here

A person was either Jewish or gentile and either a believer or not. However, God's grace, which planted and cultivated the tree and then left a remnant of believing branches, now gives gentiles the ability to become "Jewish" through faith (Romans 4). That is, belief and acceptance of God's grace replaced physical ancestry as the means by which the world is divided:

enter image description here

Since the final condition is determined by the root (11:16), branches must be exchanged: an unbelieving branch must not remain on the tree with a holy root, nor a believing branch on the tree lacking a holy root.

In the metaphor placement is not permanent as branches may be "returned" to their original tree. In other words, neither cultivated nor wild branches of unbelief were "cast away." They were moved or left in place to create a tree of unbelief. Also, all of the branches on the cultivated tree are there for the same reason: God's grace. And all of the branches are on the wild tree for the same reason: rejecting God's grace. In essence, God, who planted and cultivated the tree to initiate salvation, is continuing His work by exchanging branches to make a tree of His choosing.

Branches from the cultivated tree which were broken off because of unbelief are now in the same condition as the wild branches of unbelief. Moreover, when the message of belief is seen as the main purpose, the gist of the warning is a gentile Christian who believes a Jewish person cannot still be saved, is an unbeliever. That is, they do not believe in salvation by grace and risk being returned to the tree of unbelief (11:23-24). Apparently, unbelief in any form, will be cut off from the tree of belief. The metaphor's primary purpose then is to stress the importance to continue to believe in God's mercy and grace.

Whether or not Paul intended, the imagery parallels the two trees in the Garden of Eden. The cultivated olive tree is the tree of life and the wild tree the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The cultivated branches on the wild tree correspond to the knowledge of good, and the wild branches, the knowledge of evil. The cultivated branches now on the tree of unbelief give the tree an appearance of having the knowledge of good because the Jewish people who rejected The Christ still have the Law. In the Garden, man had to be removed to prevent him eating from the tree of life; in the metaphor, the exchanging of branches ensures all who eat from the cultivated tree, "eat" only from a branch of belief nourished by a holy root.

The "Loss" of the Jewish People
Verse 15 is a rhetorical question which the King James Version renders as "casting away:"

For if the casting away (ἀποβολὴ) of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

I believe there are two confusing aspects of this translation. First, the passage is preceded by two statements God has not cast them away:

I say then, Hath God cast away (ἀπώσατο) his people? God forbid... (11:1 KJV)
God hath not cast away (ἀπώσατο) his people which he foreknew... (11:2 KJV)

It is misleading to say the people were cast away when Paul opened the passage by stating and immediately repeating, that is not what happened.

Second, ἀποβολὴ is a noun meaning rejection or a loss and ἀπωθέω in vv. 1-2 is a verb meaning to thrust away, push away, repel; to thrust away from one's self, to drive away from one's self; repudiate, reject, refuse. Apparently translators are challenged by the lack of a verb in verse 15 and choose "casting away" or "rejecting" to express the action, despite the earlier statements that is not what happened.

The better approach to the verse is to preserve both the opening statements and the original text:

For if the loss (ἀποβολὴ) of them be the reconciliation (καταλλαγὴ) of the world, what shall the receiving (πρόσληψις) of them be, but life from the dead? (DRA)

This follows the only other use of ἀποβολὴ, also by Paul:

I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. (Acts 27:22)

The essence of Romans 11:15 is found in the three nouns which describe three different states:

These three are also found in the tree/branch metaphor. The cultivated tree "lost" some of its original branches. The loss was not total as the cultivated tree retained a remnant. The tree took on different branches by "exchanging" unbelieving branches for believing ones. The initial loss is not permanent as the cultivated tree will "receive" them again. Finally, the important action in this verb less rhetorical question is in the answer: branches received back on to the cultivated tree is an action like resurrection from the dead.

How did the temporary loss of the Jewish people result in the reconciliation of the world? It proved grace is the only way anyone is made righteous before God:

  • Grace planted the tree with a holy root
  • Grace cultivated the tree
  • Grace ensured a remnant remained on the tree
  • Grace grafted wild branches onto a holy root
  • Grace preserved all of the unbelieving branches
  • Grace will continue to graft believing branches onto a holy root

If there is a necessity in temporarily "casting away" some Jewish people, it is the need to prevent distorting the message of God's grace. That is, after being chosen by grace and receiving the Word of God by grace, some Jewish people teach righteousness is determined by physical ancestry and by works; left unbridled this will pervert God's works which show grace is the only means to obtain righteousness and to remain righteous. Essentially there are two groups of Jewish evangelists, one who preach God's grace as the means to obtain righteousness and one who preach God's Law.

However, the other side of the "cast away" condition is the continued display of God's grace: the gentiles are brought in. Therefore the new condition is more of the same: grace is the only way anyone will be made and remain righteous. Just as God's mercy and grace was only reason for planting and cultivating the tree, it is proved to be the only reason anyone remains or is added. "Casting away" was not necessary, if all had believed, the message would still have gone to the gentiles. Those who reject grace as the means of righteousness become proof grace is the only means and when they return there is a greater display of God's grace; for in His mercy, He receives back those whom He foreknew and chose but rejected Him.

The Christ, having made the ultimate and final sacrifice, has forever eradicated any human sacrifice as a means of being made righteous, or restoring righteousness after sin. Once saved (or chosen) by grace, the solution for breaking the Law, is not to be found in the explicit rituals of The Law, but in seeking the same mercy and grace of the one who brought salvation:

If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NRSV)

1. Leander E. Keck, The Harper Collins Study Bible, Harper Collins Publishers, 1993, p. 2131
2. "...otherwise you also will be cut off." (v 22) is not doctrine about salvation.


The short answer is that, as the account of the Syrian woman shows, it isn't appropriate to take the children's bread and feed it to the dogs - unless it was refused or forfeited by the "children".

Mat 15:27 KJV - 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.

Jesus had said that it wasn't appropriate for him to heal her daughter because he was not sent for the healing of the nations at this time, only to the lost sheep of Israel. Jesus was enthusiastic about her response:

Mat 15:28 KJV - 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Hidden in this simple story is a big idea: it was okay for a gentile to partake of that which had been promised only to the Jews, if the Jews refuse it, or forfeit it.

This is more evident in the story of David and the showbread:

Mat 12:2-4 KJV - 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. 3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; 4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?

The way it worked is that loaves of pita bread was displayed in God's presence on a table. This is hinted at in the story where the women refers to "crumbs that fall from Master's table". IE: God is the master.

Each day, the loaves were replaced with fresh ones and the loaves were given to the priests as regular food:

1Sa 21:6 NLT - 6 Since there was no other food available, the priest gave him [IE: to David and his men] the holy bread--the Bread of the Presence that was placed before the LORD in the Tabernacle. It had just been replaced that day with fresh bread.

It is interesting is that the bread from which the priests partook was the "old, passing away" bread, ala the old covenant.

[If the above says that Jesus and his men ate of the new bread (new covenant) then that is more exceptional].

But at any rate, the loaves David ate were holy and only for the priests to eat and were "children's bread". But since they had not eaten the bread, it was okay for David and his men to take the "refuse", like the dogs in the woman's plea.

So, since the messiah was rejected by Israel God was free to give their inheritance to others:

Mat 21:39-43 KJV - 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

Act 13:46 KJV - 46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.


It occurs to me that the principle of "the right of first refusal" appears also in Real Estate and seems to operate on similar rules.

However, in addition to the right of refusal are the conditions placed on the Jews for remaining in the land. If they failed to meet those conditions they were to forfeit the promises:

Ezr 10:8 NIV - 8 Anyone who failed to appear within three days would forfeit all his property, in accordance with the decision of the officials and elders, and would himself be expelled from the assembly of the exiles.

Mat 22:1-14 NIV - 1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. 4 "Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.' 5 "But they paid no attention and went off--one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, 'How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?' The man was speechless. 13 "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 "For many are invited, but few are chosen."


The jews didn't know the time of God's visitation to them(blindness in part happened to them) and so it was imperative for them to be cut off for the gentiles to be grafted in.

  • 1
    But why does one have to die so the other can live?
    – Ruminator
    Nov 24, 2018 at 21:43
  • It's simply God working out His plan. The secret things belong to Him. Humanity can only know as much as it is reavealed to them. God reveals to us as much as it is for our good to know as humans. Nov 24, 2018 at 23:04

It is absolutely imperative to read the verses in context: first and foremost of the whole letter, and secondly, but more less so, within Pauline theology. Paul displays quite a progression within his (authentic) letters and clues from earlier or later letters are often valuable, but each text first has to be analysed alone in its argument structure. And for theat we should not overstretch the metaphor.

It seems quite possible, and is historically often the case, to read Paul in an anti-judaist way. But on closer inspection this interpretations appears to be flawed. The metaphor probably has to be read within the almost ruthless gardener perspective as well as the mercy that God offers. In today's terms this might be much more like organic gardening than the previous ruthless cutting and chopping. Jews are not cast away. Those branches present possibilities. Everything runs according to plan.

Further, the "grafting" implies by necessity that the roots, the stem or the trunk are to be kept. They are vital for the survival of the grafts. One cannot exist without the other. The invitation is for anyone who doesn't believe that that he should try a wild apple for taste or attempt to plant one of the hybrid seeds.

To warn against his Gentile listeners’ being or becoming contemptuous of Jews who are outside the church, Paul employs yet another metaphor, this one agricultural, to describe the same back-and-forth dynamic of God’s dealings with Israel that the footrace image portrayed in 9:30–33. Israel is a cultivated tree, another image familiar from the Bible (Ps 1:3; Jer 11:16–17; cf. Isa 5:1–7, where the picture is of a vineyard). Branches from a wild olive tree—the Gentiles—have been gra ed onto this cultivated olive tree that is Israel, which means that, against all odds and contrary to nature (11:24), they share in the riches of Israel’s heritage, God’s promised redemption. Although some of the original branches have been broken off (Jews who do not accept the gospel), God has the power to graft them back in, just as the wild branches have been included.

The "casting away" of the Jews did not become the "reconciliation of the world":

Chapter 11 represents the culmination of the arguments Paul began in chapter 1, followed by the “therefore” of 12:1, which initiates a transition to the instructions that occupy the rest of the letter. Paul seeks to explain to non-Jewish Christ-followers the present anomalous situation in which many Jews (members of the nation Israel) are not persuaded about the meaning of Jesus at the same time that a number of members of the other nations, such as his addressees, are persuaded. is is the case even though the Scriptures, as Paul understands them, uphold the covenant promise that “all Israel will be restored,” “removing godlessness from Jacob” (i.e., Israel), and “taking away their sins” (11:26–27).
Throughout the argument Paul instructs these non-Jews to resist any temptation to grow arrogant or suppose that they have replaced those Israelites who are “stumbling,” that is, those Jews not joining Paul as heralds who proclaim the message of Christ to the nations. These non-Jews should not be concerned only about their own success. Rather, they are to recognize humbly the generosity (grace/favor/benefaction) of God toward themselves and, in reciprocity, to think and to live generously toward those who are temporarily suffering this fate, which is somehow, mysteriously, tied up with how God is bringing about the promised restoration of these members of Israel. Nevertheless, those Jews remain in the covenant relationship, albeit in some kind of disciplinary state. He seeks to clarify that, however inscrutable the plan may be, it involves some Israelites now requiring God’s mercy for their present failure to be persuaded to proclaim Christ to the nations alongside Paul. This is similar to the mercy extended to these former idolaters from the other nations for their failure to be persuaded about the one Creator God. Now, although for different reasons, all are joined in equal need of God’s mercy (vv. 25–32). […]

Now, although for di erent reasons, all are joined in equal need of God’s mercy (vv. 25–32). In making his case, Paul develops an allegory in which the non-Jewish audience is one shoot cut o of a wild olive tree and gra ed among the many branches natural to a cultivated olive tree, which represent members of Israel (vv. 17–24).21 By way of the olive tree allegory, Paul argues that God will not tolerate arrogant attitudes or behavior toward those branches su ering some kind of temporary state of harm, which are being cloaked in a divine “callus [pōrōsis]” to keep them, and the overall tree, protected until they are prepared to produce fruit.
Paul has drawn for his readers an ethnic family tree, which arranges Jews and Gentiles as related but distinct peoples of the God of Israel. In this family tree, some groups are “natural” and some are “grafted.” As recent adoptees, baptized Gentiles are the grafted branches, and Paul reminds them of their dependence on the root that sustains them. Both the natural and unnatural members, however, are subject to the power of God, who is like a horticulturalist grafting on new branches or chopping off existing ones. God’s mercy and judgment fall on both.
It is true that some branches have been cut off, which continues Paul’s theme in these chapters about the failure of at least part of Israel to understand who Christ is. But Paul is clear that this is not a signal that Israel— the tree itself—has fallen or that God has abandoned or rejected Israel. Likewise, although the Gentiles in Christ currently “stand by means of faithfulness,” they should nevertheless be wary, for God can easily cut them off and graft others on again.

Cited from:

Jerry L. Sumney (Ed): "Reading Paul’s Letter To The Romans", Society of Biblical Literature Atlanta, 2012.

Mark D. Nanos: "To the Churches within the Synagogues of Rome", p 11–28.
E. Elizabeth Johnson: "God’s Covenant Faithfulness to Israel", p 157–168.
Caroline Johnson Hodge: "“A Light to the Nations”: e Role of Israel in Romans 9–11", p 169–186.

Paul sought to confront any temptation to be dismissive of or arrogant toward these Israelites, to suppose that God now loved the members from the nations other than Israel best. He sought to communicate how their new membership and its responsibilities were intimately involved with the way that God was going to restore these Israelites in due time. That would be, in part, by way of his activity among themselves, and thus, by the way of how they lived their lives among these Israelites, to which Paul turns in chapters 12--15. I believe this was also the way that Paul understood his service to these Gentiles, and therefore, lived out his dedication to the restoration of his Israelite brothers and sisters. Attending to Paul's arguments from this perspective just might make his tree allegory more able to properly stand.

Mark D. Nanos: "'Broken Branches': A Pauline Metaphor Gone Awry? (Romans 11:11-24)1", (updated for web 8-1-08) first presented at the International Symposium: "Romans 9—11 at the Interface Between the 'New Perspective on Paul' and Jewish-Christian Dialog," Göttingen, Germany, May 1-4, 2008 (PDF)

  • So are you saying that Judaism and the sacrificial system continue to this day to be a viable way for Jews to please God?
    – Ruminator
    Nov 27, 2018 at 21:51
  • And do you anticipate Jesus reigning as king of Israel (IE: in the promised land) some time in the future? I know the scriptures seem to suggest that but I'm warming up to the idea that Israel has been judged (70ad) and are just like anyone else now. It pains me to say that.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 27, 2018 at 21:56

Those who were not Jewish were excluded from salvation by the requirement to be blood descendants of Abraham. In order to include Gentiles, it was essential for Jews to be made non-compliant, black listed. Once this was done, by a putting into force a new covenant, which can only be done with blood, the old covenant became obsolete.

Ephesians 2:11Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Now by teaching Jesus was God, an anathema to the monotheism of Judaism, the disbelief, REQUIRED BY THE OLD COVENANT, led to hardening and exclusion.

We can see that the problem of Gentiles being excluded was solved by replacing 'blood descent' with 'belief in Christ' as the requirement for inclusion through the administration of the New Covenant. Everybody, the whole world, was now eligible for inclusion.

Thus, the "casting away" of the Jews become the "reconciliation of the world".

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