Romans 11:16 (ISV)

If the first part of the dough is holy, so is the whole batch. If the root is holy, so are the branches.

What's the connection here?

Is all of Israel holy solely because they are the branches and their root is Abraham/Jesus?

  • Romans 11:26-28 seems to reinforce your thinking
    – Miles Fett
    Oct 8, 2019 at 16:22
  • Maybe not... Israel ישראל is man יש joined to God אל by revelation ר. The mistake of the Jews of Jesus's time was that they thought that merely being Jews would save them. Mt 3:9 , Lu 3:8 So did God mean literal Israel, or those who were connected to him by revelation? The key being 'connected'. Though Israel was called to be holy, they were separated and divorced by God. Jer 3:8
    – Bob Jones
    Jan 14, 2020 at 4:59

1 Answer 1


No, but this passage is more about Gentiles and God's work...

I. Interpret through context

As a hermeneutics site, "how" we arrive at the answer is the most important answer to any question. The first "hermeneutic" here is: context.

In summary, the point is not about whether everyone in Israel is holy, but whether Gentiles who believe Jesus have just as much right to consider themselves as God's children in the New Testament as Israel did in the Old Testament.

In these verses, about 11-24, but also beyond, Paul is talking about how Gentiles are just as equally part of God's redeemed family because of Jesus, just as much as Israel.

He uses the concept of being "grafted" from v17 on, referring to the Gentiles. This is a discussion throughout the entire New Testament and is a theological topic many libraries aren't enough to fill. So, we won't dive into those inexhaustible discussions here.

First and foremost, look at the verses before and after to see that this greater topic of "Gentiles also following God" is what Paul is talking about—not "the percentage of Jews who are holy".

II. Use the passage to understand the point of the passage, no more

Paul is not making illustrations to explain Israel in these verses; he is creating an illustration to explain that grafted branches (Gentiles), though not genetic, are just as dependent on the root system as the natural branches (Israel).

Romans 11:17-18 (NASB)

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.

After that hermeneutical diligence, we can answer your question directly...

Is all of Israel "holy" because of v16?


Many in Israel were "broken off [branches]", making room for the Gentiles. Again, Paul says this clearly, but then redirects his point to be in awe of God, not to wonder who is better than who.

Romans 11:20 (NASB)

Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear;

  • Romans 9:6But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.” It seems that ALL of Israel was broken off, both those identified by faith (the remnant) and those by descent. However since they were set apart as holy before they were broken off, they remain holy after being broken off. The hardening is temporary.
    – Seeker
    Oct 9, 2019 at 19:06
  • Yep, as I said, inexhaustible and many libraries. :-)
    – Jesse
    Oct 9, 2019 at 19:12
  • Maybe you should change your view that all of Israel is not holy? Circumcision sets a person apart to serve God in the Old Covenant, just as baptism in the name of Christ does in the New. John 6:70Jesus answered them, "Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?" Making holy does not automatically mean adoption, it only means setting apart.
    – Seeker
    Oct 10, 2019 at 0:03
  • 1
    @Seeker This is not a theological site and I never expressed an opinion about that anyway, only addressed that particular part of that particular Bible passage.
    – Jesse
    Oct 10, 2019 at 0:13
  • If the defence department classifies a rifle as military, it means it has set it apart for military use, categorizes it as complying with military specs. It does not mean it adopts it as Government Issue, because although it specs out right, performance or suitability to conditions seen by user does not allow adoption. So if Gentiles have been accepted as a viable category for God to use, arbitrarily declared clean, holy, they may not be adopted for reasons of performance or suitability! Acts 10:14
    – Seeker
    Oct 10, 2019 at 0:27

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