Paul has been speaking to the Jewish portion of the congregation in the church at Rome, now he begins to speak to the Gentile portion. The enemy hasn’t changed his strategy much over the last 2,000+ years, in that he has desired to keep the prayer of Jesus in John 17 from becoming reality in the Living Body of Christ at a global level; specifically keeping believing Jews and Gentiles divided. When the Body is divided at any level, the enemy rejoices; but especially when the focus of the Lord’s prayer (John 17) is to see “them be one even as We are One” that Jesus prayed.
There are those who purport God is finished with the Jewish people, yet that isn’t what scripture has to say; “has God cast away His people? Certainly not!” Paul continues to say that there has been and always will be a “remnant” that will remain who will hear, believe and place their unequivocal trust in Jesus as Messiah. Again, the basis for that faith isn’t on “works”, but on “grace” that isn’t earned. Why haven’t more come to faith in Jesus as Messiah? Their eyes have been blinded to the truth of what the law was designed to do, lead them to Christ and His gift of grace; their ears have become dull and they can’t hear truth. As a result, “their table” (the law), has become a “snare and a trap, a stumbling block”. They have become so weighted down with keeping the law, that was perverted by the Rabbis.
Their stumbling and falling has been a part of God’s cosmic strategy to “provoke them to jealousy” by the Gentiles coming to faith. As a Gentile, we can’t afford to rejoice in their stumbling! If their stumbling has resulted in the glory of God expanding into the Gentile world, what will happen when they (the Jews) come to faith in Messiah? Essentially there are only 2 groups of people; Jews and Gentiles. Recall Paul stated earlier that even creation groans for the manifestation of the sons of God? Could it be that when Jew and Gentile are united by faith in the Living Lord, the “sons” will come to maturity and then creation will rejoice as well? Just a question!
The apostle reminds the Gentile believers that the first fruit (Israel) and the root (Israel) are holy; then the lump (the whole of humanity that place their faith in Jesus) and the branches are holy also. To carry the analogy a step further he reminds them that, in terms of “faith” that they had no reason to boast as a branch over the root of an olive tree. Abraham was a Gentile that became a Jew by faith in the Seed of Christ (even though he likely didn’t understand it in those terms), and through him a “nation” was born and nearly 600 years later over a million people were released from Egyptian bondage to become that nation in a literal sense with geographic boundaries; Israel, the Land of Promise.
The problem whether Jew or Gentile when diligently searched out reveals pride and arrogance as being at the root. We too, need to guard against those two culprits that would lead to division and strife within any local fellowship and the greater Body of Christ at a global level. Every time I travel outside the US, there are awesome insights gleaned by listening to my brothers and sisters regardless of their national allegiance or location.
Paul follows up his statement by warning the Gentile believers if God cut off those to whom all the blessings mentioned in the previous chapter, because of transgression; He would not hesitate to cut off Gentiles either. The central issue, whether Jew or Gentile is belief/faith in Christ’s work, without it neither receives eternal life.
The Gentiles are cautioned to 1) not be ignorant of the facts of faith or 2) become proud. In a spiritual sense, the non-believing Jew was an “enemy” that became a benefit to the Gentiles; which resulted in the door being opened to receive the faith of Abraham. Further that “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” That speaks of Israel ultimately coming to faith in Christ. It doesn’t mean that every Jew will come to faith, as some teach; rather it speaks of opportunity to come to faith and receive by faith in their hearts and then confession by their mouths Jesus as Lord.
All of this has come “to Him and through Him and to Him are all things”. The consequence is eternal glory, “glory forever”. AMEN!