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What is the ROOT of the Olive Tree in Romans 11?

The Question:

What is the ROOT of the Olive Tree in Romans 11?

The Answer:

Isaiah 11:10 In that day the ROOT OF JESSE will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.

Isaiah called the future Messiah the "Root of Jesse", who will stand as a banner for all nations.

Isaiah 53:2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a ROOT out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

Isaiah also speaks of the Messiah as growing up like a root out of dry ground.

Matthew 13:6, 21 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no ROOT. …But since he has no ROOT, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus talks about plants springing up that have no root, which exemplify people who at first receive the Word and but do have a ROOT, which is Christ Himself, to anchor them.

Mark 4:17 But since they have no ROOT, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

Mark identifies trouble and persecution that comes because of the Word as the reason that rootless believers fall away quickly.

Luke 8:13 Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no ROOT. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.

Luke goes further to tell us that they receive the Word with joy when they hear it, but still fail to have a root. And he tells us that the persecution and troubles are times of testing, but without a root, they wither and die.

Romans 11:16-18 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the ROOT is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive ROOT, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the ROOT, but the ROOT supports you.

In Romans 11, Paul compares the kingdom of God, with both Jewish and Gentile believers, to an olive tree. This olive tree has a "Holy ROOT" that "supports" both the Jewish and Gentile branches and nourishes them.

Romans 15:8-12 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews [literally circumcision] on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name." Again, it says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people." And again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples." And again, Isaiah says, "The ROOT OF JESSE will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him."

This root is identified by Paul as Jesus Himself.

Revelation 5:5, 22:6 Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the ROOT of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." …"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the ROOT and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star."

The Apostle John in his great Revelation of Jesus Christ and the end times also identifies Jesus as the Root. Notice that Jesus is identified as the Root AND Offspring of David. Not only is Jesus a descendant of David, but since He created all things and is the source of everything, He is also identified as the Root of David.

So what is Paul talking about in Romans 11? The imagery of the Olive Tree is similar to the imagery of the Body of Christ. Whereas in the Body of Christ, Jesus is the Head and we are all members one with another, Jewish and Gentile, in the Olive Tree we are all branches, Jewish and Gentile, and flourish from the support of the Root, which is Jesus.

In both cases, Paul is stressing our need for unity one with another, and that no branch or body member can be arrogant and think they are superior than any other branch or body member.

What this is NOT teaching is that Jewish and Gentile believers alike have to be Torah observant to partake of Jesus and to fellowship one with another. It is also NOT teaching that the ROOT is Abraham, Jacob, Moses or any other Biblical personage. While it is true that Christianity has Jewish "roots", THE ROOT, the stabilizing and nourishing factor in the Kingdom of God is Christ.

Paul’s theme and rationale for writing the book of Romans is summed up like this:

Romans 15:4-7 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

All of the branches of the Olive Tree need to accept each other and glorify God the Father with one heart and mouth, drawing nourishment and support from our one and only ROOT, our Lord Jesus Christ.

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