Romans 11:17
Now if some branches have been broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others to share in the nourishment of the olive root,
Church Offices and Magnifying ThemJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 11:11-22
Concern for KindredJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 11:11-22
Necessaries of the Ministerial OfficeR. M'All, D.D.Romans 11:11-22
Paul Magnifying His OfficeJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 11:11-22
Provoking to EmulationS. Martin.Romans 11:11-22
The Benefit Resulting from the Conversion of the JewsElnathan Parr, B.D.Romans 11:11-22
The Calling of the Jews the Enriching of the WorldElnathan Parr, B.D.Romans 11:11-22
The Conversion of the JewsN. Emmons, D.D.Romans 11:11-22
The Dignity of the Christian MinistryD. Kennedy, D.D.Romans 11:11-22
The Fall of IsraelJ. Lyth, D.DRomans 11:11-22
The Holiness of the Firstfruit and the LumpElnathan Parr, B.D.Romans 11:11-22
The Ministerial Office not an Easy OneRomans 11:11-22
The Rejection of IsraelJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 11:11-22
Israel's FutureR.M. Edgar Romans 11:11-32
The Jewish People: Their Past History and Their Future ProspectsC.H. Irwin Romans 11:11-32
All Which Continue not in Grace Shall be Broken OffElnathan Parr, B.D.Romans 11:17-24
BoastingJ. Lyth, D.DRomans 11:17-24
Gentile and JewT. Robinson, D.D.Romans 11:17-24
Gentile and JewJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 11:17-24
God's CharacterW. W. Wythe.Romans 11:17-24
God's Grace to the Gentile an Argument for the Recovery of the JewsJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 11:17-24
Haughtiness of Mind and its AntidoteA. Farindon, D.D.Romans 11:17-24
HighmindednessElnathan Parr, B.D.Romans 11:17-24
Highmindedness and FearHomilistRomans 11:17-24
Our Duty to the JewJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 11:17-24
Salvation Barred by Unbelief Possible to FaithElnathan Parr, B.D.Romans 11:17-24
Severity and GoodnessDean Vaughan.Romans 11:17-24
Standing by FaithJ. Vaughan, M.A.Romans 11:17-24
The Gentiles Like a Wild Olive-TreeT. Robinson, D.D.Romans 11:17-24
The Gentiles May not Despise the JewsElnathan Parr, B.D.Romans 11:17-24
The Goodness and Severity of GodT. Levi.Romans 11:17-24
The Goodness and Severity of GodT. Chalmers, D.D.Romans 11:17-24
The Goodness and Severity of GodDean Goulburn.Romans 11:17-24
The Natural Branches BrokenW. P. Taylor.Romans 11:17-24
The Olive-TreeT. Robinson, D.D.Romans 11:17-24
The Parable of the OliveJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 11:17-24
The Parable of the OliveElnathan Parr, D.D.Romans 11:17-24
The Privilege and Duty of the GentileJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 11:17-24
The Prospects of Jew and GentileElnathan Parr, B.D.Romans 11:17-24
The Rejection of the Jews a Warning to ChristiansW. Knight, M.A.Romans 11:17-24
The Restoration of the JewsJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 11:17-24
The Solemn WarningT.F. Lockyer Romans 11:17-24
The True Hope of IsraelJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 11:17-24

It may be difficult, in such a passage as this, to keep the matters of individual salvation and election to privileges and responsibilities in the kingdom of God distinct. They do naturally bear an intimate relation the one to the other. But we shall be on safer ground in following the tenor of the entire argument here also, and seeing both the Jews of whom he speaks and the Gentiles to whom he speaks as related to God's great world-purposes of salvation. For though it is true that the Jews who believed not forfeited their individual part in the kingdom of God, as well as the honour of extending that kingdom in the world; and that the Gentiles who believed became first partakers of a personal salvation, and then agents in disseminating God's truth in Christ; yet it is the objective kingdom of Christ, and its extension, to which the apostle looks, and to which he would have them look. They, his readers, were now, in place, as it were, of the unbelieving Israelites, entrusted with the living power; it was for them, in conjunction with the believing Jews, to make known salvation to the world. We have here - their position in the kingdom of God, their danger, and the ultimate aspect of the kingdom.

I. First, the position of these Gentiles in the kingdom of God. "Grafted in among them." They had been "without God in the world;" but now, what a glory was theirs! made "partakers of the Divine nature"! And, being saved, charged as the heralds of God to carry this salvation to the ends of the earth] Truly, they had become "partaker of the fatness of the olive tree." And so they seemed to be in the place of the broken-off branches; they were "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets." Out of the very ruin of the Israelites had come their salvation; in the very room of the rejected Israelites they stood. Here was a transfer of blessing.

II. But this very position was fraught with danger. "Glory not;" "Thou standest by thy faith." The danger of false pride was not an imaginary one; Gentiles probably did glory over the Jews. Nay, do they not glory still over these "unbelievers"? Do they not sometimes persecute them even to death? But how false was the pride! They were only grafted branches, borne by the ancient root of Israel. And yet they deported themselves with such consequence, and affected to despise their neighbour branches, as well as those that had been broken off. Another danger was involved in this: false, uncharitable pride was perilously near to a damnable unbelief; it was indeed that unbelief begun. Why had these branches been broken from the ancient tree? "Because of their unbelief." Was not the same excision impending over unbelief still? Instead, then, of pride, let them cherish a holy fear, and walk humbly with their God. For most surely, if God spared not the natural branches, neither would he spare them.

III. Once again, if faith was the condition of a part in the kingdom of God, and unbelief alone incurred exclusion from its benefits and work, then these very Jew. s, unbelieving as they now were, might, in the time to come, by faith become again partakers: "God is able to graft them in again." God is severe indeed, and all wilfully wicked ones incur his wrath; he cuts off his very chosen ones if they cherish an evil heart of unbelief. But God is good, and none shall ever seek his face in vain. And seeking him, and finding him, they shall surely be restored to their forfeited place. Think of the history of the Gentiles - their long abandonment because of unbelief. But God receives them freely as instruments for his work. "Much more shall the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree." Let us learn how terribly we may fall, and therefore be not high-minded. But let us also learn how gracious and forgiving is the God of love, and how he will heal our backslidings, and will not remember our sins. - T.F.L.

And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive-tree, wert grafted in.

1. Of God's faithful witnesses (Zechariah 4:5; Revelation 11:3).

2. Of the Church, as the channel of grace to men.


1. The holy anointing oil produced by it (Exodus 25:6).

2. Its beauty (Hosea 14:6).

3. Its constant greenness (Psalm 52:8).

4. Its fruitfulness.

5. Its usefulness.

6. Its long duration:

(T. Robinson, D.D.)

This teaches us —

1. To compassionate the outcasts of Israel.

2. To watch lest we also fall.

3. To reverence and magnify the goodness and severity of God.

4. To look for the recovery of God's ancient people.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. WE WERE BEFORE OUR ENGRAFTING WILD OLIVES. Without God, strangers from the commonwealth of Israel. This Paul bids us remember, that we may praise God for His mercy.

II. HAVING RECEIVED GRACE LET US CARRY OURSELVES WITHOUT BOASTING AGAINST THEM THAT WANT GRACE. When thou seest a profane man disdain him not, but pray for him, remembering thy former estate.

III. THOSE WHICH PARTAKE OF THE FATNESS OF THE OLIVE ARE ENGRAFTED. This fatness is the grace given to the root.

1. The grace of justification. Oil is good for medicine-healing wounds and assuaging pain. Also it makes the countenance cheerful; so the grace of Christ, which is called the oil of gladness, maketh the righteous joyful.

2. The grace of sanctification. This may be known by its effects, which are —(1) In the heart. If thou art engrafted thou hast the heart of Abraham: thou lovest goodness and hatest evil. The wood of the olive will not rot. This denotes soundness. The nature also of the oil is not to be mixed with other things. You may as soon mix light and darkness as grace and sin. The nature of oil, too, is to keep metal from rusting. So the virtue of this grace preserves the soul from sinning, which would eat in and perish the soul.(2) In the tongue. The blossom of the olive is wonderful sweet; so if thou art of this tree thy speech will be gracious to the hearers. It is a vain thing for a man to seem religious if he refrain not his tongue.(3) In the life if thou art engrafted thou wilt bring forth much fruit, for the olive is exceeding fruitful.

(a)For God. Oil was consecrated to the Lord, was used in sacrifice, and for the holy lamps.

(b)For man. It is both for medicine and meat. Our lives must be fruitful and profitable to the Church.

3. Sanctification may also be known by its properties.(1) The olive is a quick bearer; so we must bring forth fruit quickly.(2) An olive branch was a token of peace. If you pour out water it maketh a noise, but oil falls down softly and with great silence. So the servants of God must be peaceable.(3) The olive is always green, and never casts the leaves, noting the constant tenor we should keep in our obedience (Psalm 92:14).(4) Our obedience must be cheerful and free. Anointing with oil makes us nimble, for if we have received hereof we shall not be stiff in the joints, but will run in the ways of the commandments. The olive requires no great cost to make it fruitful, nor a man truly sanctified great entreaty to persuade him to do good.

(Elnathan Parr, D.D.)

His —

1. Past condition.

2. Gracious acceptance.

3. Present privilege.

4. Consequent duty.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)


1. Boast not, etc.

2. Despise not.

3. Insult not.

4. But pity and pray for him.

II. THE REASONS. Remember —

1. What you were.




2. Your calling.

(1)Grafted in.

(2)Through grace at his expense.

3. Your privileges; enjoying the blessings of the covenant.

4. Your dependence.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

They which are advanced by grace are not to boast against them which are in misery (Psalm 12:1; Exodus 3:9; Deuteronomy 10:19; 1 Corinthians 13:4, 5): The Pharisee disdained the publican, but the publican disdains not him, nor is disdained of God. The use of this.

I. IN RESPECT OF THE JEW. Some are broken off, not all. The Church of the Jews was never east away, only the unbelievers. The olive-tree is pruned, but not stocked up. The body and some of the branches remain, among whom we are grafted. We are grafted in among them, and receive of the fatness with them. The Church of the Jews, not of Rome, is our mother Church. We must be the seed of Abraham if we will have the promises, and therefore believing Gentiles are called the children of Abraham, not naturally, but by incision.

II. IN REGARD OF THE GENTILES. Thou art made partaker of the fatness. The same fatness nourisheth the natural and ingrafted branches. The Jew is saved by faith in Christ, so are we. There is no difference between the way of salvation in the Old and New Testament, but as this, in grafting there is clay and binding about. The Jew is bound about with a red ligature in regard of circumcision, we with a white in regard of baptism and the white garments then used. Let us not then boast ourselves against the branches, for though they deserve contempt, woe be to them which are instruments to vex them. Let us love them, as we have good cause, for the root's sake. There is no name so honourable as that of a Jew; take heed thou use it not in contempt.

(Elnathan Parr, B.D.)

I. THE EXHORTATION. Glory not with supercilious contempt. Gentile Christians probably already began to show —

1. An overbearing disposition towards the Jews.

2. A policy of complacency in themselves. Such a spirit soon and long manifested by Gentile Churches. Faith excludes boasting either of ourselves or over others, and charity vaunteth not itself.


1. Thou bearest not the root. The Church not sprung from the Gentiles, and the Jews owe nothing to them.

2. But the root thee. Gentiles owe all to the Jews. Salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). Christ Himself was a Jew. The Jewish Church was the foundation; Gentiles were built upon it (Ephesians 2:20). The true Christian and Jewish Church but one.

(T. Robinson, D.D.)

The Gentile


1. The Jew fell by unbelief.

2. Privileged by His fall the Gentile only stands by faith.


1. God, who spared not His chosen people.

2. Will not spare the unbelieving Gentile.

3. Therefore be not highminded, etc.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

Observe —

1. The disposition in man to boast of his privileges.

2. The folly of this.

3. Its danger.

(J. Lyth, D.D).

Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in
and the sinner for whose conversion things are working, spared a time.


1. These branches were broken off.

2. For a double cause.

(1)"That I might be grafted in."

(2)Because of unbelief.

II. A CAUTION GIVEN — against —

1. Pride.

2. Indifference to God.

3. Carelessness.

III. AN AWFUL JUDGMENT IMPLIED. If we take not heed we too shall be broken off. Therefore, serve the Lord, and fear and love Him now.

(W. P. Taylor.)

Well; because of unbelief they were broken off; and thou standest by faith

1. They came to the confines of the "land flowing with milk and honey"; the Anakims, and the cities fenced and walled up to heaven, stood before them for their prey. They measured the men and the walls accurately, but they did not measure how "He that was for them was greater than all that was against them," and therefore they were sent back to wander and "perish in the wilderness."

2. Presently we see them with God only as their King, but they could not appreciate an invisible King. As they had before shown no "faith" in God's protection, so now they disbelieved His sovereignty. "He gave them a king in His anger, and He took him away in His wrath."

3. In the midst of their distresses they began to lean on idols and arms of flesh, until "unbelief," ripening into apostasy, they were carried away into Babylon. "Because of unbelief they were broken off."

4. But in mercy God brought them back again, and infinite was their privilege and opportunity when Christ walked their streets. But "their eyes were blinded," the living Truth was before their eyes, but "they perceived Him not." The Holy Ghost descended upon them, they witnessed His wonder-works, they felt the drawings of His grace, but they denied His convictions and blasphemed His glory. And such as was their "unbelief," so is their punishment. They were "broken off," and there they lie, fruitless, despised, but never dead, till they shall be "grafted in again."

II. WHAT IT IS TO "STAND BY FAITH." "Faith" is simply a medium to transmit pardon and grace. But every saved man finds "faith" the actual instrument which holds him up. In the one case it is as the wire which conveys the message; in the other it is the invisible chain which holds the planet in its course.

2. There is an inferior sense in which a man "stands by faith," since confidence is always the secret of composure, as composure is the secret of power. The little child will walk, and what is much harder, will "stand" as soon as he has confidence enough.

3. But in its truer signification to "stand by faith" is —

1. To have thrown away every other dependence. I am unable, everything in the universe is unable to keep me, "Hold Thou me up and I shall stand."

2. To believe, and not doubt, that you are in a state of full acceptance with God. Without this there never will be firmness of principle enough to make you "stand."

3. To be in continual communication with the Unseen. It is the strength of secret prayer. It is to feel yourself in the deep waters, upheld by an arm that will never, never let you sink.

4. To have the most entire conviction that the work is God's work, and that He will complete it.Conclusion:

1. Let us be very humble, for it is an easy thing to fall, seeing we only "stand by faith," and "faith" is a fine, delicate thing, and we all know how hard it is to believe at all times.

2. Nevertheless, let us have a holy confidence, for Christ says, "I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not."

3. And by and by the Jews will "stand" as never a nation stood, and then that word will be true to them also, "thou standest by faith." To help along, to help along one single child of Abraham to that "stand of faith" is the present duty.

(J. Vaughan, M.A.)

Be not highminded, but fear
1. At every turn remember this saying, Be not highminded. Hath God given thee riches, wit, beauty, etc.? Let this sentence alway sound in thine ears. Hearest thou any say: few have the knowledge you have, or can speak as you do? Let this sentence stand sentinel to keep thee from pride.

2. All other sinners fly from God. The proud man resists Him (James 4:6). God gives grace to the lowly. The rain stays not on the tops of the mountains, but the valleys are watered and made fruitful. God teacheth the humble. The proud man is empty. Height. weakens a thing; and an empty vessel makes the loudest sound. They which brag most have least in them. The chaff is above the corn, not because it is best, but because it is lightest. Observe —


1. Impatience of admonition. The Pharisees take it in great scorn, that Christ reproveth them of blindness, when indeed they were beetle blind. Proud Zedekiah cannot endure Micah's admonition.

2. Diminishing the gifts of others while boasting of our own. The proud Pharisee abased the publican and exalted himself. Dost thou impute unto others coldness, covetousness, etc., saying thou wouldest be ashamed if thou wert no better than they, never looking at thine own infidelity, hypocrisy, etc.

3. Meddling with things above us. Many presently upon their supposed conversion enter into controversies and censure whole Churches. David approved his humility by not meddling with things which were too high for him.

4. Contention (Proverbs 13:20).


1. The place to which the remedy is to be applied. The heart, as Peter adviseth, "Deck yourselves inwardly with lowliness of mind." There may be an abatement of pride outwardly, and none within. There may be as much pride under a leather jacket as under a velvet gown: who seemed more humble or was more proud than Diogenes in his tub?

2. The remedy itself —(1) A continual remembrance of this and the like Scriptures. Draw these as a sword to take down this peacock.(2) Remember the example and monition of Christ: Learn of Me (not to walk upon the sea, or to make a world), but to be humble and lowly in spirit.(3) Consider how God hath judged the proud. Pride thrust angels out of heaven; our first parents out of paradise; hanged Haman upon his own gallows; made Nebuchadnezzar a beast, etc.(4) Consider that if thou hast any excellency, it is the gift of God (1 Corinthians 4:6, 7). It is an ass that will be proud of a lion's skin, which is not his own. And God can take away thy knowledge, and make thee an idiot; and if thou beest rich, He can make thee poor.(5) Doth thy heart tickle thee because of thy knowledge, faith, patience, etc.? Cast thy account, thou shalt find that thy wants are more than thy receipts. For one thing thou knowest thou art ignorant of ten. If thou hast one good thought, thou hast a thousand ill ones. Pliny records a secret of the bee — that in a storm it getteth up a little stone, by the weight of it to fly the more steadily, and to get home in safety. If thou be in danger to be blown away with pride, let the thoughts of thy wants be to thee as this little stone.

3. The parties that stand in need of it. All men, specially those which are extraordinarily graced by God. All other sins are in evil, this is in that which is good, and therefore the harder to be avoided. We are all of his mind, who, being asked what song he delighted most to hear, said that wherein his praises were set forth. Even Paul must be taken down with the buffetings of Satan, lest he be proud. Study and pray for humility, the honour of a Christian. Moses' face shone when he had talked with God, and he wist not. An excellent degree of grace is it to be excellent and not to take notice of it. As boughs the more laden with fruit are the more lowly, and as when the sun is at the highest our shadows are at the lowest, so the more graze would be adorned with the more humility. The devil will tempt thee to all viciousness; if he cannot prevail that way, he will tempt thee to be proud of thy goodness; yea, to be proud because thou art not proud. In the midst of grace pray for a humble heart.

(Elnathan Parr, B.D.)

There is no sin so heinous as self-satisfaction, and no virtue so agreeable to God as humility. These words are addressed to Christians, so highmindedness is not confined to worldly men. Notice —


1. Presuming on our privileges. The Christian has many privileges above the world.

(1)Liberty. But he must not presume on that liberty for egotism.

(2)Enlightenment. But he must not make the light to be a pretext for self-assertion.

(3)Holiness. This must not cause him to think more highly of himself than he ought to think.

2. Trusting too much in worldly advantages.

(1)Wealth will make a man high-minded if not properly used.

(2)Ancestry and pedigree.

(3)Beauty of person, strength of limb, a high education, even personal liberality or usefulness.

3. Haughtiness towards others. The man who thinks highly of himself will act it, and treat his fellows with contempt. Like the Pharisee.

II. THE ANTIDOTE. In this case fear indicates self-mistrust, dread of falling, and reverence for God.

1. Fear is a restraining power. Dread of consequences is an important factor in society. Fear of God is not a slavish torment, but awe and self-abnegation.

2. "But fear." It is the picture of one feeling his way in the gloom, knowing his own weakness and the awful consequences of a fall, and so taking all needful precautions. It induces therefore —





1. The natural pride and teaching of the human heart.

2. The effects of self-righteousness. "Pride goeth before a fall."

3. The danger of being a castaway.

4. The danger of perverting truth.


I. BE NOT HIGHMINDED is good counsel Men of "lofty eyes" (Psalm 131:1), being busy in the pursuit of things out of reach, oversee those more necessary things which are at hand. The malady here aimed at is an overweening conceit of our own worth, in respect of either knowledge or virtue. A disease fatal to the Jew, and to which the Gentile was most obnoxious. Men raised from the dung-hill to great fortunes have commonly all the vices of rich men, and more.

1. The cause of this malady is not in the gospel, or in the riches of the gospel; but in ourselves, who are willing to be deceived; and in the devil, the forger of all error and deceit. For as God, whose very essence is goodness, doth manifest that goodness out of sin itself, so the devil abuseth good unto evil; and when he cannot drive us to despair by reason of our sin, he makes us presume upon conceit of our righteousness. And all this proceeds from our own wilful error: for, "Pride is the daughter of ignorance." We see the gospel ex uno situ, but on one side, and that the wrong side. We behold Christ as a Saviour, not as a Lord as well. We entertain prerogatives as prerogatives, and not as obligations also. We contemplate virtues as the work of our own hands, but are blind to their imperfections. We consider ourselves as "branches grafted in," but cannot see that we may "be cut off" (ver. 22). We consider our strength, not our weakness.

2. This haughtiness of mind hinders the very continuance of goodness: it doth not only wither the branch, but it also cuts it off. The Christian may fall, as the Jew; and, if he "continue not in God's goodness, he also shall be cut off " (ver. 22). When we have gone but a sabbath-day's journey with the Jew and done but "what was said to them of old," do we not begin to canonise ourselves? But if we forgive and do good to an enemy; if we fast a day, and give our provision to the poor; then straight, with Absalom, we raise up a pillar and write upon it, "We shall never be moved." A cup of cold water shall answer for our oppression, an alms at our door for the fraud in our shop, our frequenting of sermons for our neglect of prayer. And all is now quiet within us; we seem to walk on the pavement of heaven, and from thence to behold our brethren (who have more piety, with less noise) as nothing in respect of ourselves. When our hypocrisy hath edge enough to cut us from the olive, our spiritual pride keepeth us in. But one day they will find it true, that doubting out of humility may find heaven-gates wide open, when bold presumption shall be shut out of doors.

II. BUT FEAR. Fear and hope are hewed out of the same rock. As hope is an expectation of good to come, so fear is the apprehension of some approaching evil. And seldom is any hope so strong as to be without some tincture of fear; seldom any fear so strong as to admit of no mixture of hope. For if they be alone and in excessu, they lose their names. Hope without fear is but confidence; and fear without hope is but despair (ver. 21). Fear of being cut off, if St. Paul's reason be good, is the best means to repress in us all proud conceit.

1. And in a matter so great no care and circumspection can be enough. And the reasons are plain. For —(1) There is an over-easiness to persuade ourselves that we are in favour with God. Men are more apt to presume than to despair, and if despair hath killed her thousands, presumption hath killed her ten thousands. The difference between the sicknesses of the body and of the mind is that in the one we are sensible of our grief, we send for the physician; but in the other we are senseless, and are more afraid of our physic than of our disease. We admit of miserable comforters, that will flatter us to death; and rather than we will want flatterers, we take the office on ourselves.(2) There is the uncertain knowledge we have of the quality of our works. For in our best intentions there may be imperfections which we know not. My devotion may be irregular; my patience, stupidity; my zeal, rage. With what good meaning do many poor souls do evil!" Who can tell how oft he offendeth?" (Psalm 19:12); therefore let us "work out our salvation with fear and trembling."(3) There is the over-ripe conceit and too speedy apprehension of our sufficiency and growth in the duties of Christianity. We are very apt to flatter ourselves that, when we are but newly set forth, we are at our journey's end. All excellency we can put off to others that have more time to learn it. The Jew is content with his ceremonies; and the Christian, with his outward profession, but less significant than they. But this fear is most requisite in respect of those enemies of our souls which are ever in readiness to surprise us (1 John 2:16). Many men are cut off by themselves and their own folly, when the devil beareth the blame.

2. And, therefore, to keep this jealousy awake in us, the apostle awakes one fear with another, the fear of circumspection with the fear of "being cut off." For, naturally, fear of evil works a fear of circumspection: and this fear ushers in that fear by which we may call, "Abba, Father" (Romans 8:15). For, seeing evil before us ready to seize upon us, we begin to advise with ourselves how to avoid it (Luke 16:3; Luke 14:31). Fear is the mother of advice; and consultation dies with fear (Luke 16:4). When we presume, counsel is needless; and when we despair, it is too late. The best preservative of a branch new-grafted is the sight and fear of that knife which may cut him off; and for want of it many branches have been cut off and cast away.

(A. Farindon, D.D.)

For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee
(Luke 13:3, 5; Revelation 2:1.): — God is not moved with outward privileges to tolerate in His orchard those which only cumber the ground. Thou art planted in the Church, which is Paradise, and art watered with those rivers of God, the Word and sacraments. If thou bringest forth no fruit, though Christ Himself had come of thy stock, thou shalt be broken off and thrown away. Here is a good take-heed for many.

I. FOR ENGLAND, GERMANY, ALL REFORMED CHURCHES. The Jews were the famous people of God, and yet cast away for their faithlessness. Where are those renowned Churches of Asia, of Greece? If we continue not to bring forth fruit we must look for the same measure which God hath meted out to them.

II. FOR PROFANE PERSONS. If judgment begin at God's own house, how shall the wicked escape? If an Israelite go to the pot, what should a Canaanite, a hypocrite, a rebel look for?

III. FOR THE CHILDREN OF GOD. Art thou one? Walk according to thy profession; if thou growest cold as others, take heed. Hast thou faith? keep it. Hast thou a good conscience? better the peace of it every day by righteous living. Hold that thou hast. Remember what is come to the Jews. When thou seest thy neighbour's house on fire, it is time to provide water to save thine own. When two ships set forth, if the foremost run upon a rock and split, her consort will be warned. Thou seest covetousness to be the destruction of this man, pride of that, whoredom of another; pray thou against these sins and all other, and be careful.

(Elnathan Parr, B.D.)

There are two general remarks suggested by the language of the text.

1. The principle of God's displeasure against sin and sinners is the same, whether it has reference to nations or to individuals. Hence the dismemberment of the Jewish community is adduced as a warning to every professor of the gospel of Christ.

2. The language of the text derives force from the contrast which it involves. Compare it with verse 24.

I. IT IS A DREADFUL THING TO ABUSE SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS. Yes, it is so dreadful that, in the instance referred to, Jehovah, in His fiery indignation, turned the highest favours He could impart to a nation into a tremendous national curse. "God spared not the natural branches." He spared them for a while, 'tis true; just as He spared the old world in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing; but in the end He destroyed them, and that with a sore destruction! The pleading voice of Christ in His gospel, accompanied as I believe it to be in every instance with some degree of Divine visitation, as regards the conscience, tends either to raise the soul to glory, and honour, and immortality, or to sink it into the lowest depths of misery and woe. Men walk in gospel pastures, but they do not feed upon them. The broad sunshine of mercy beams around them, but it finds no avenue to the recesses of their hearts. They approach just so near to the Saviour as to receive from His Spirit an influence, the abuse of which ripens them for destruction, and prepares them as fuel to feed the hottest flames of hell!


1. Beware of procrastination, that is of putting off till to-morrow what ought to be done to-day. St. prayed for victory over his besetting sin; but then he acknowledges that he did not wish his prayer to be answered just then. This is human nature; conscience and passion pleading against each other; reason warning and inclination rebelling. To put off coming to Christ until you have tasted more of the pleasures of the world is to create a fearful probability that you will never come to Him at all. If God, when His justice has been insulted, and His patience long tried, has refused to spare others, "O take heed lest He spare not thee."

2. The subject says to us all — Beware of self-imposition. In other words, it says — Beware of a religion which is unable to protect the soul in an hour of emergency.

3. The subject says to each of us — Beware of trifling or tampering with conscience, and that not merely in reference to delays, but in reference to every other point. One will give up everything save a single prohibited indulgence; and another will give up everything except a single unhallowed pursuit; and each is willing to balance accounts by giving an overmeasure of piety in some other point: for example — the covetous man will be scrupulously honest, and the licentious man will be profusely liberal; but neither will yield, to the claims of the gospel, his besetting sin. Here is the solitary leak which sinks the vessel! You cannot compromise with Heaven. It were more easy to alter the laws of nature, to shiver a sunbeam, or to wrench a planet out of its orbit, than to change one iota of the Divine purpose, in regard to the terms of a sinner's salvation.

(W. Knight, M.A.)

Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God

1. Nature.

2. Providence.

3. The Bible.

4. The Cross.

5. The Jewish nation.


1. To keep the mind from extremes.

2. To induce sinners to repent.

(T. Levi.)

Let me endeavour —


1. One is incidental to those who bear a single respect to the attribute of goodness.(1) They look to Him as a God of tenderness and nothing else, and ascribe to Him the fondness rather than the authority of a father. They would admit of no other aspect for religion than that of uniform placidness; and to decorate this bland and beauteous imagination the more, they would appeal to all that looks mild and merciful in the scenery of nature, and it is inferred that surely He, at whose creative touch all this loveliness hath arisen, must Himself be placid as the breeze, and gentle as the zephyr which He causes to blow over it. But Nature has her hurricanes, earthquakes, and thunder, as well as these kindlier exhibitions.(2) This beholding of the goodness, without the severity of God, lulls the human spirit into a fatal complacency to its own state and prospects, and serves, in practice, to break down the fence between obedience and sin, and to nullify all moral government.

2. But there is also a mischief in looking singly to the sovereignty of God apart from His goodness.(1) Theologians who have thus erred, and not so much by the views they have given forth of His inviolable sanctity; but rather by the views which they have given forth of such a dread and despotic sovereignty, as to impress the conception of a fatalism, against which all prayer and all performance of man are unavailing. However difficult it may be to adjust the metaphysics of the question, there is one thing unquestionable, and that is an amnesty, offered to all; a propitiation for the sins of the whole world. And, therefore, we would not that so much as one individual should be chilled into hopelessness by the dogmata of a hard or unfeeling theology, against returning to a God who waiteth to be gracious.(2) But independent of all lofty speculations, there is abroad an impression of severity to which much of this world's irreligion is owing, and it is a frequent anomaly that they who at times can take comfort in sin under an impression of His goodness have at all times such a sense of His severity as never to attain a thorough confidence in His favour. And just as a man would shut his eyes against a spectacle that pains them, so will they shrink from a contemplation that only serves to put dread into their bosoms, and there is an habitual distance kept up between the spirits of all flesh and Him who is the Father of them. Just as you would rather avoid than encounter the man with whom you are not perfectly at ease, so you have the same motive for shunning God. But it is our very distance from God that sheds a dimness over His character and ways, over His wrath, as well as over His love.


1. There is a severity. There is a law that will not be trampled on, a lawgiver that will not be insulted. The face of God is unchangeably set against evil.(1) We cannot light upon a single instance of God so falling back from the severity of His denunciations against sin, as at all to soften the expression of His hatred towards it: not at the Fall, not at the Flood, not at the promulgation of the law on Mount Sinai, not at the entrance of Israel into the Promised Land, not in the subsequent dealings of many centuries with His own perverse and stiff-necked children, and, lastly, not at that terrible period when the Jewish economy was swept away, and even the tears of a compassionate Saviour did not avert the approaching overthrow. In all this there is an admonition to us.(2) There is an immense delusion on this subject. We estimate God by ourselves — His antipathy to sin by our own slight and careless imagination of Him. Now if we measure God by ourselves, we should have little fear indeed of severity from His hand; for, save when there is gross and monstrous delinquency, we can bear very well, both with our own transgressions and those of others. No man, e.g., would ever think of vehemently denouncing another just because he thought little of God. This is adverted to by the Psalmist, "Thou thoughtest I was altogether such an one as thyself," etc. Not therefore to you who are disgraced by profligacy, but even to you who live in a state of total and practical unconcern about another world, would we ask, "Behold the severity of God." I am perfectly aware of many who look upon such representations as these to be too strong. They can see, and be impressed by it, as a great moral delinquency, when an earthly parent is thus robbed of the love and loyalty of his own offspring; but how then can you miss the more emphatic application of the same principle, though far more intense in degree to our Father who is in heaven? You know how to feel for the wounded feelings of the parents; and is there no reply to the complaining voice of Him who saith to us from heaven, "Behold I stretch out My hand, but no man regardeth"?

2. But along with this severity there is a goodness, and they meet together in the fullest harmony. It is this, in fact, which constitutes the leading peculiarity of the gospel. When God is severe it is never because of His delight in the sufferings of His creatures, but always because of His justice, holiness, and truth. Could a way be devised by which these might be inscribed as legibly in a deed of amnesty, then we may be assured that He who hath no pleasure in the death of His children, but who hath sworn by Himself that He would rather that they should all live, cause it richly to flow over to the utmost limits of this sinful creation. Now it is precisely this which distinguishes the evangelical system. The gospel is a mercy in full and visible conjunction with righteousness. With the pardon which it deals out for sin it makes most impressive demonstration of the evil of it, the mercy of the gospel meets with the truth of the law, and God can at once be a just God and a Saviour. A Saviour has been born, on whom God did lay the iniquities of us all. The Holy One of Israel now sitteth upon a throne of grace, The uncompromising doctrine of Scripture is this, if you refuse the mercy of God upon this footing, you will receive it upon no other. "No man cometh unto the Father, but by the Son": while all that enter into His presence by the open door of the Son's mediatorship shall be saved. The mighty problem was resolved by God. You will meet with several expressions in Scripture on that subject: "God being just, and a Saviour"; "God being just, and the justifier of them that believed in Jesus"; "Mercy and truth meet each other; righteousness and peace kiss each other."


1. Such is the goodness of God, now that this goodness has been harmonised with the other attributes of His nature, that it overpasses the guilt even of the most daring and stout-hearted offender among you.

2. In every proportion to this goodness will be the severity of God on those who have rejected Him.

3. None truly embrace Christ as their Saviour who do not submit to Him as their Master and Lord.

(T. Chalmers, D.D.)


1. Without goodness, the character repels instead of winning. There may be certain qualities which command our respect in a Draco, who ordains death as the penalty for every trifling violation of the law, or in a Brutus, who with tearless eye gives orders, in the way of duty, for the execution of his sons; but from such untempered austerity we recoil.

2. Without severity goodness degenerates into that moral pliancy which, under the name of good-nature, has often made men "consent" to the enticement of sinners, and has given them nothing in return, but the insipid reputation of having been enemies to none but themselves.

3. In a perfect character, if such existed among men, you would see the counterbalancing powers of goodness and severity held in exact equilibrium. And such, the Word of God assures us, is the character of Him with whom we have to do.

II. AN ILLUSTRATION OF THIS TWOFOLD ELEMENT OF THE DIVINE CHARACTER MAY BE DRAWN FROM NATURE. " God is light," says the Scripture. Now light is compounded of seven different rays; but it has two main ingredients: the sombre rays (blue, indigo, violet); the bright rays (orange, red, yellow, green). Both are essential to the delicacy and purity of the substance. Without the sombre rays light would be a glare — the eyeball would ache beneath it; without the bright rays light would approximate to darkness, and lose the gay smile which lights up the face of nature, and twinkles on the sea. Similarly, the holiness, justice, and truth of God (attributes which wear an awful aspect to the sinner), are an element of His nature as essential to its perfectness, as mercy, love, and goodness. Suppose in Him, for a moment, no stern defiance against moral evil, but an allowance and admission of it, and you degrade Jehovah to the level of a pagan deity. Suppose in Him, on the other hand, an absence of love, and you supplant the very being of God, for "God is love." But combine both righteousness and love, intensified to the highest conceivable degree, and you are then possessed of the Scriptural idea of the Most High.

III. IT IS THIS ESSENTIAL CHARACTER OF THE DIVINE BEING WHICH FORMS THE BASIS OF THE GREAT DOCTRINE OF THE ATONEMENT. God presents us in this with the highest illustration of both His attributes. He may be conceived as standing by the Cross and pointing to it, saying, "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God."

(Dean Goulburn.)

Two cases are here set before us. There are those who have fallen, and have consequently been broken off from the olive-tree. There are those too who continue in God's goodness, and who still therefore partake of the root and fatness of the olive-tree. These are the present most opposite conditions of the two classes of persons described. It is added that, as the former may by God's power and mercy be restored, so the latter must take heed lest they also be cut off. And, finally, as one great means of keeping themselves in their steadfastness, they are counselled to dwell earnestly upon the thought of the goodness of God, and of His severity, as displayed in the two examples brought to their recollection.

1. First, then, there are those who have fallen, and have consequently been broken off from God's olive-tree. Who in our days are they? St. Paul, in his first Epistle to Timothy, makes a distinction which may assist us here. He says, "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment: and some men they follow after." There are some whose sins are so manifest, that they speak for themselves, and almost challenge the judgment which overtakes them. In our own days, amidst a very general toleration of some kinds of sin, there are others which even the world calls scandalous; which the common language of the least religious condemns; and which are visited even by them with a severity which, if not excessive in itself, is at least most inconsistent with their estimate of the criminality of other transgressions. Of this kind are acts of dishonesty and of meanness, of cowardice and open falsehood. One who has thus fallen meets with no tenderness. His sin goes before unto judgment. He has fallen; and even by the world's sentence he is cut off from God's olive-tree. Now what in such a case says the infallible Word of God? It does not palliate the grievousness of this man's transgression. It echoes the judgment already pronounced upon him by the conscience of his fellow-men; and adds to it, in tones yet more alarming, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." But is this all? Has the gospel no word of encouragement for the fallen sinner, none of special warning to those who have cast him out? To him its language is, Thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Thou hast lived as if there were no God, no Christ; no death, no judgment, no eternity. Because of unbelief therefore thou hast been broken off. God in His infinite mercy — because He desires not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live — has cut thee off for a while as it were from His olive-tree. He has brought thee to shame and suffering in this life, if perhaps thy soul may be saved in the day of the Lord. And know now that, if thou abide not still in unbelief: if thou refuse not still to hear the voice of Him who has afflicted thee; thy fall is not final: thou shalt be grafted in: thou shalt be restored to far more than thou hast ever yet known of the enjoyment of the grace of God. O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself: but in Me is thy help. And then of warning to all those who may be disposed to judge harshly of one who has thus openly fallen. To them, to all of us, the gospel says, Behold in every such example the severity of God. If for you this particular form of sin seems to have no attraction; if you cannot even conceive yourself to have been tempted to its commission; yet consider, to whom is this blessing due? Remember too that, if there be one class of sins which goes before to judgment, which outruns as it were by its open heinousness the adversary who is haling it to the judge, there is yet another kind which ends in the same result with the former, however much in this life it may seem to differ from it. Your sins may be more secret; you may fence them more carefully from the sight and the hearing of men: yet, if this be all, it amounts only to a postponement of the day of exposure; at last it will come. and will not tarry. Or even if your sins be of such a kind that their disclosure in the world's sight would bring with it no disgrace or punishment; yet a day is before each one of us, which will rectify these erring judgments, and in which even they whose only crime has been that they have forgotten God, that God has not been in all their thoughts, will awake from their sleep in the dust of the earth only to shame and everlasting contempt.

2. But we must turn now, in conclusion, to the other class here spoken of; that of those who, continuing in God's goodness, are partaking day by day of the root and fatness of the olive-tree. Who amongst us are these? What is it to continue in God's goodness? It must be something more than merely keeping ourselves from gross transgression; something more than partaking week by week in the ordinances of Christian worship; something more than the merely being appended, as a dead or fruitless branch may be, to the stock of God's Israel: there must be a vitality in our connection with the olive-tree — a communication ever kept up with its root, with the living centre of all its growth and vigour — to give us any place amongst those Who are truly continuing in God's goodness. Are we daily applying to Christ Himself, as our living Saviour, for grace and spiritual life? Do we return to Him in hearty sorrow when we have sinned? Do we take refuge in Him when we feel the power of temptation? Do we ask strength from Him to resist sin? Do we day by day commit the keeping of our souls to God through Him as to a faithful Creator and most merciful Redeemer? This and this only is the life of one who continues in God's goodness.

(Dean Vaughan.)


1. All goodness.

2. All severity.


1. They are partial.

2. The one leads to presumption.

3. The other to despair.


1. A Sovereign.

2. A Father.

(W. W. Wythe.)

And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in
1. Is a matter of promise.

2. Will be effected by Divine power.

3. Is suspended on their reception of Christ.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. WHEREIN IT CONSISTS — the prospect of restoration to the privileges of God's people.


1. The power of promise of God.

2. Suspended in faith.


1. By the calling of the Gentiles.

(1)Once not a people.

(2)Now raised to loftier privileges than the Jews ever possessed.

2. How much more, etc. (ver. 24).

IV. WHAT FEELINGS THIS HOPE SHOULD AWAKEN IN US. Zeal and prayer for the Jew that he may —

1. Relinquish his false hopes.

2. Embrace Christ in faith,

3. Become united with the living Church of God.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. THE CHIEF BAR TO A MAN'S SALVATION IS AN UNBELIEVING HEART. Our Saviour told the Pharisees, who exceeded all men in morality, that publicans and harlots should go before them into the kingdom of heaven. Why? Because they believed not. Morality is good, but not good enough to save a man. Faith cannot be without it, but it may be without faith. Morality without faith is like a goodly picture, which is fair to look upon, but a man can have no society with because it wants life. Labour therefore for faith, which is the soul of obedience, and it will save thy soul.

II. HERE IS A SINGULAR COMFORT TO CONSCIENCES DISTRESSED FOR SINS. It is a comfort to a sick man if the physician tell him his disease, though dangerous, is yet curable, if it be not driven too long before remedies be appointed. So God is able to save thee if thou deferrest not thy repentance. If we look only to ourselves there is nothing but desperation; but if we look up to see what God is ready to do (only staying for our believing and repenting), there is great hope. Even thou, Jew, which hast crucified Christ, if thou canst cease from unbelief, thou shalt be saved. For as all the promises in the world, so the threatnings are conditional (Jonah 3:9).

III. DESPAIR NOT OF THE SALVATION OF ANY, neither finally censure even though never so wicked, for God is able to turn the heart of a Jew. He that converted thee can convert thy neighbour also.

IV. GOD IS ABLE TO SAVE, SO HE IS ABLE TO DESTROY. Let His power make thee wary how thou livest. Art thou stronger than He that thou shouldst dare by thy sins daily to provoke Him?

(Elnathan Parr, B.D.)


1. Nations before Christ were without spiritual culture.

2. The Mosaic law was confined to Israel.

3. The times of this ignorance were winked at by God.

II. THEY WERE CHRISTIANISED CONTRARY TO NATURE. Grafting from a different kind of tree not natural.

1. Gentilism was pervaded with idolatry.

2. Gentile notions and practices were all opposed to a Divine life.

3. It is contrary to every man's nature to be a Christian.

4. This contrariety is increased by sin.

(T. Robinson, D.D.)


1. Not a people.

2. Strangers to the covenant of promise.

3. Given up to their heart's lusts.


1. Brought nigh.

2. Accepted.

3. Made children of Abraham.

4. By faith.


1. Still heirs of the covenant.

2. Beloved for their fathers' sake.

3. How much more, etc., when they believe?

(J. Lyth, D.D.)


1. A tree is not dead because it buds not in winter. This is the Jews' winter, there is yet hope of a summer wherein they may yield fruit. The Jew is oft compared to a fig-tree, which buds first, but whose fruit ripens last. The Jews budded before us, the time of their ripe fruit is at hand.

2. Speak honourably of a Jew, for whatsoever he is in regard of his unbelief, yet Paul calls it a natural branch.

3. The Church is called the Jews' own olive, into whom we are grafted; but when they shall be called they shall not be grafted into us, but into their own flock.


1. Our natural condition is miserable. We should have been idolaters or savages if God had not given us His special grace. It is contrary to our nature to be in the right olive, to be worshippers of God, to please Him. We delight in good as a fish to be out of the water, we are out of our element.

2. By creation goodness was natural to us, as now evil, and goodness supernatural. We delight to possess the inheritance of our progenitors in us; let us then strive to recover that grace which our first parents spent in the subtilty of the devil.

3. Our conversion is contrary to our present nature. God will invert the nature and course of things for the salvation of His elect.

4. The state of nature and grace is easily discerned. He that despiseth the gospel and liveth wickedly is natural, but to believe and repent is gracious.

5. Contrary to nature, keep diligent watch over thine heart or else Nature will soon run after her Old course. Bend the bough of a tree downward, when thou lettest it go it will strive upward by and by. Waterfowls hatched under a land fowl will quickly to the water by nature. So, though by the warmth of the Spirit we be hatched under the Word, and become God's chickens, as Christ compared us, yet we will be drawing to corruption if we daily mortify it not. By nature boats go down the stream, but by the force of wind and oars they be got up, and if such means cease they go faster downward than they were forced upward; so to proceed in grace is against the stream of nature. If God's Spirit like a good wind blow not a prosperous gale upon us and we labour at the means, we are easily carried down the stream of our corruption.

(Elnathan Parr, B.D.)

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