What does Romans 11:17 mean?
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,
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,
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,
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,
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.
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;
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Romans 11:11–24 describes why God has hardened Israel in her unbelief in Christ. It is to make room on God's figurative olive tree for the Gentile Christians. The old branches of unbelieving Jews have been broken off for now, and the new branches have been grafted in to the root. In turn, the salvation of so many Gentiles will provoke Israel to jealousy, drawing her back to God through faith in Christ when He removes the hardening of her unbelief. When that happens, after enough Gentiles have believed, the old branches of Jewish believers will be grafted back into the tree.
Chapter Summary:
In Romans 11, Paul concludes his exploration of God's plan for His chosen people Israel. It's true that as a nation, Israel has rejected faith in Christ, but a remnant of Israelites has believed in Jesus. God has hardened the rest in unbelief, but will bring Israel back to faith when enough Gentiles have come to Him through Christ. Then many Israelites will trust in Christ, as well, and God will renew His covenant with His people. Paul concludes this section with a powerful poem or hymn about God's independence and how He is beyond our full comprehension.
Chapter Context:
Romans 11 concludes Paul's discussion about God's plan for the Israelites begun in Romans 9 and 10. Paul insists that, though Israel as a nation has rejected Christ, a remnant of Jewish Christians exists by God's grace. God has hardened the rest in their unbelief until enough Gentiles have come to Him through Christ. Then God will release Israel to believe in Christ and restore His covenant with her as many individual Jews come to faith in Christ, as well. Paul stands in awe of God's vast and unknowable mind and complete ownership of all things.
Book Summary:
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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