"If the root is holy, so are the branches."
Text: Romans 11:16
No matter how much Paul was personally persecuted by his fellow Jews, he never lost hope that some would come to find faith in the Gospel he espoused! He drew much encouragement from the following thoughts.
“For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy;
and if the root is holy, so are the branches.”
1. The firstfruit
The imagery is drawn from the Old Testament (Cf. Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 2:12). The firstfruit is a reference to the harvest. The firstfruits were the people who became apostles (all of them were Jews)! There was yet hope for a good harvest, based on the imagery of “firstfruits”.
2. The lump
There is a mixed metaphor here. The firstfruit idea is joined to “a lump” of dough. The intended idea is to suggest indivisibility. The firstfruit represents the entire harvest (which Paul called “the lump” in this mixed metaphor). Paul was persuaded that God had not cast Israel away!
3. The root and the branches
There is a third imagery employed here. Paul’s imagery is now drawn from a tree.
a) A tree must have roots.
b) A tree must also have branches.
c) Together they form “the tree” .
i) There is an integral whole.
ii) One cannot speak of a tree with only roots.
iii) One must speak of roots and branches in the same breath.
THE POINT OF THESE IMAGERIES
What was Paul’s point in making these imageries? He obviously wanted to highlight the following vital truths!
1. God had not cast away Israel permanently.
2. God still regarded Israel as “holy”.
The nation was still sanctified for the sake of His covenant oath to Abraham!