Romans 11:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 11:17, NIV: 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,

Romans 11:17, ESV: But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree,

Romans 11:17, KJV: And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

Romans 11:17, NASB: But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,

Romans 11:17, NLT: But some of these branches from Abraham's tree--some of the people of Israel--have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God's special olive tree.

Romans 11:17, CSB: Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree,

What does Romans 11:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse begins an if/then statement that will be concluded in the following verse. Paul is building on the previous verse in which he compared Israel to a tree. In this analogy, he uses versions of the Greek term rhiza, which suggests the life-sustaining part of the plant from the soil surface on down. If the root of the tree is holy, then the branches of the tree will be holy. Paul was making the point that Israel will eventually return to their first nature as the set-apart people of God by coming to faith in Christ.

Now Paul begins a sentence meant for Gentile Christians. He writes that some of the branches of Israel's tree have been broken off. In this context, that seems to mean they have been deliberately pruned away because of their refusal to trust in Christ for salvation. He describes Gentile Christians as being grafted in among the other branches on this metaphorical tree. The Gentiles now receive nourishment through those holy roots, just as believing Jewish people do.

Paul is describing an apparently common practice of olive tree farming. To mingle plants, caretakers can transplant branches from one tree to another. Paul's take on the practice seems unusual, however. It was unlikely that a farmer would graft a wild olive branch onto a cultivated olive tree. However, that may well be Paul's point. God's choice to graft the "wild" and unspiritual Gentile people onto the tree of God's grace to the Israelites also seems unlikely. And yet, this is exactly what God has done.

Paul's if/then statement concludes in the following verse with the "then" part in which he warns Gentile Christians not to be arrogant.