In Romans 11:16-24 (which I would encourage you to read) the apostle Paul uses the figure of two “olive trees” to illustrate spiritual truth. The first “olive tree” represents the nation of Israel and the second “wild olive tree” pictures the Gentile nations. We know that God, in His sovereign grace, chose to bless Israel out of all the nations of the earth. They were in a special “place of privilege” (which the olive tree represents). This does not mean that every “individual” Israelite was saved, but that God blessed the nation by giving them His Word and setting them apart from the rest of the world. One has said that they received “favored-nation status.” Yet when the Messiah of Israel presented Himself to the nation THEY REJECTED HIM, as we see in John 1:11, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” Because of their rejection of Christ and having Him crucified, God set them aside and they lost their “place of privilege.” God then turned, in grace, to the Gentiles with the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, the Gentiles were now in the “place of privilege” instead of Israel. This is all pictured in a few words in Romans 11:17: “And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them” (NKJV).

This all sounds good for the Gentiles, but Paul knew that just as the nation of Israel failed to appreciate the place of privilege they had and were “broken off,” so the Gentiles too may fail to value the position of blessing they were in and thus they could be “cut off.” This is brought out clearly in verses 19-21, “You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.’ Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.” In short, Paul is warning the Gentile nations to beware of pride, for if they think they are better than the nation of Israel God wouldn’t spare them either.

Now we come to the verses in question. Besides issuing a warning to the Gentiles against PRIDE, he exhorts them to realize that it is God’s GOODNESS toward them that has brought them into blessing, and not because they were better than Israel. Verse 22 confirms this: “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” Paul is reminding them that their present place of privilege was due to God’s GOODNESS, while Israel’s being broken off was a manifestation of His SEVERITY. But if they failed to appreciate God’s goodness toward them (by rejecting His Word as Israel had done), they too would be cut off! Then Paul goes one step further in verses 23, “And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.” Not only would God “cut off” the Gentiles if they took His goodness for granted and rejected the Savior, but if Israel turns again to God in repentance and faith, they “will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.”

This was written nearly 2,000 years ago and time has proven that the Gentiles have indeed been PROUD and have not “continued in His goodness.” Most of the Gentile nations have turned their back on God’s message of salvation through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe it won’t be long and they will indeed be “cut off” and then God will resume His dealings with Israel and they will “be grafted in again.” Verses 25-26 speak to this: “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved.” (232.7) (DO)