do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. Romans 11:18

The Olive Tree

What exactly are we grafted in to?

We have established that we have been grafted in to the Olive tree, but who or what is the olive tree?

Perhaps it is worth reminding ourselves who the players are - read Ephesians 2 and note the references to “you”, “we” and “us”, remembering that Paul was a Jew writing to Gentiles.

You - is the Gentiles to whom Paul was writing

We - is the Jews – the people chosen by God for his ministry to the world

Us - is Jews and Gentiles together – all sinners saved by grace

Some might look at the church and God’s plan of salvation and ask, “Where does the Jew fit in?”.

If you read the New Testament more carefully you will see that this is the wrong question – the question should be, “Where do I fit in?”

The Jews were already "in".

Jesus’ ministry was to the Jews with very few exceptions, like two Gentile women (John 4) (Matt 15 v21) and a Roman centurion (Mattthew 8). But He remarked (John 1 v16 )

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd

Acts 2 was not the birth of the Church (Gentile church) but a Jewish revival, which spread to Jews from all over the known world.

The first Gentiles do not come in to the story until Acts 10,

The Jewish Church accepted Gentiles in Acts 11

The Jewish church launched its first outreach to Gentiles in Acts 11.

In Acts 14 Paul was still working out from Jewish Synagogues to reach the Gentiles.

In Acts 15 we have the official acceptance by the Jewish church fathers of the Gentiles who have believed in Yeshua.

God’s purpose all along was for the Jews to bring His salvation to the world. Consider Old Testament figures showing God’s dealings with Gentiles; Ruth, Jonah, Daniel and Abraham –

Gen 18:18 "Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, …."

In Isaiah 60 we see the ultimate fulfilment in Jesus,

"darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, ……..."

Acts records the process by which this body of faith burst out into the Gentile world and gentiles started to knock at the door and ask to come in.

But what were the Gentiles coming in to?

They were coming into the God’s olive tree – as Paul put it in Romans 11.

But what exactly is the olive tree?

It is not just the Jews – not all Jews trust in God. See Romans 2 v28

A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.

It is not the land of Israel (Eretz Israel)

Although Eretz Israel is the place where God chose to reveal His salvation in Space and Time. For long periods nothing happened in Israel, but then Jesus appeared there. After another long period God brought Am Israel and Eretz Israel together again for the place and time when Jesus returns as conquering King.

It is not the secular state of Israel.

We are to comfort (Isaiah 40v1) and pray for (Isaiah 62) the state of Israel, but we are not grafted into it. Hebrews 12 v22

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.

So - consider Hebrews 11 v13

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. ………... Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

And 12 v1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, ….

and Matthew 27

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

This is the body of Jewish people who we strangers have been grafted in with and whom Paul referred to as the Olive Tree. These references, written so early, can not refer to Gentile members of a New Testament Church, but to the body of believing, trusting people, starting with Abraham, which was a Jewish body with a few Gentile additions such as Ruth. These people were living before the coming of the Messiah but looked forward to it for their salvation. Two such people, Anna and Simeon, were fortunate enough to live late enough to actually see Yeshua (Yehovah’s Salvation)

The (real) Church is not the “New Israel of God”; it is the Old Israel of God – the Olive Tree, and it existed before Acts 2. In this olive tree, Galatians 6v15 applies,

“ Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.”

So we are grafted into Spiritual Israel, but we know Natural and Spiritual Israel will be united;

Romans 11 v 25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

"The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."

(The Jewish branches removed for unbelief will be grafted back in – verse 24)

This page was made possible by messages given by God’s servants at the first ICEJ conference held in the UK in 2007; Malcolm Hedding, (Friday Evening) Graham Field (Strangers at the Door) and David Pawson (sixteen surprises in Romans 11)

David Pawson's messages (including "Replacement Theology - Too Anti Israel" and "Dispensationalism - Too Pro Israel" ) are available from Anchor Recordings.

Malcolm Hedding's and Graham Field's messages should be available from somewhere - not yet known.

Study Romans

Wildolive now has a series of podcasts studying the whole letter of Paul to the church in Rome, following the thread of Paul's concern about the church's attitude to Jews.


Updated 08/12/16

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