Matt Denzer
Student at Bethlehem Seminary. Strongly helped by my wife and completely sustained by my God.
User since 2015
Matt's published pages
Let us persevere in the shadows of the dawn, receiving grace to help us in every time of need until the Son shines in his fullness.
Romans 7:25–8:30
The law of God is holy and good, but I can't fulfill it. When I recognize this, I am either driven to despair or to the cross of Christ.
Romans 7:7–25
Since we are no longer slaves to sin, let us pursue righteousness with all of our might, even as we once pursued sin with all of our might.
Romans 6:1–7:6
Far greater will be the life-giving effects of the free gift of God's grace in Christ than the death-bringing effects of Adam's sin.
Romans 5:1–21
Abraham was justified by faith in order that the promise might be fulfilled for all of his offspring
Romans 4:1–25
True Jews are Jews inwardly, and the truly circumcised are those whose hearts and spirits have been circumcised.
Romans 2:2–29
There is no room for boasting, for those who are righteous are made righteous only by grace through faith in Christ.
Romans 3:1–31
The gospel of Jesus Christ was promised beforehand in the holy Scriptures and has been fulfilled for the sake of all who are called.
Romans 1:1–2:1
The depth of God's riches, wisdom, and knowledge are decisively revealed in his unfathomable judgments and unsearchable ways.
Romans 11:33-36
Those who are hardened and remain in unbelief will be rejected, but those whose sins have been forgiven will dwell securely.
Romans 11:23-32
God uses even the exceeding sinfulness of sin to bring about ends that resound to his glory and the good of his people.
Romans 11:11-16
There remains a remnant of true Israelites, for the Lord has not rejected any of his people whom he foreknew.
Romans 11:1-10
Those who are sent to proclaim the good news are those who have heard it and obey it.
Romans 10:14-21
The only option we have to attain to the righteousness of God is to renounce all attempts to do the works of the law unto salvation.
Romans 10:5-13
The One who has accomplished all of the law's demands offers righteousness and life to all who believe.
Romans 9:30-10:5
Everyone whom the Lord saves, whether Jew or Gentile, he sovereignly calls when they were not his people.
Romans 9:24-29
God's sovereign freedom to have mercy on whomever he wills and to harden whomever he wills further establishes his purpose of election.
Romans 9:18-23
The justification of God is the justification of God.
Romans 9:14-18
The Word of God has not failed, for he has been faithful to those whom he has called according to his purpose.
Romans 9:6-13
Paul is concerned that the glories of Romans 8 will not produce assurance in the heart of his hearers.
Romans 8:31–9:5
When we yearn with an affectionate longing for those who have become beloved to us, we overflow in joyfully steadfast, sacrificial ministry.
1 Thessalonians 2:8
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Boasting Makes for Broken Branches
Romans 11:16-22
Do not boast over another as if you have done anything to deserve the glorious position in which you stand, lest you forfeit the prize.
Published December 13th, 2016; Updated December 15th, 2016
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Main point summary
11:16-22 Arc
Grammar Notes, Questions
Other Notes
Main point summary
If Christ is the holy one in whom you have salvation, and if it is by faith that you have been grafted into him, obtaining reconciliation to God and newness of life, then do not boast over another as if you have done anything to deserve the glorious position in which you stand, lest you forfeit the prize through your pride and fall from his saving kindness.
11:16-22 Arc
Romans 11:16-22
εἰ δὲ ἡ ἀπαρχὴ ἁγία,
Now if the firstfruits is holy,
καὶ τὸ φύραμα•
also the lump,
καὶ εἰ ἡ ῥίζα ἁγία,
and if the root is holy,
καὶ οἱ κλάδοι.
also the branches.
Εἰ δέ τινες τῶν κλάδων ἐξεκλάσθησαν,
Now if some of the branches were broken off,
σὺ δὲ ἀγριέλαιος ὢν
and now you, being a wild olive branch,
ἐνεκεντρίσθης ἐν αὐτοῖς
have been grafted in among them
καὶ συγκοινωνὸς τῆς ῥίζης τῆς πιότητος τῆς ἐλαίας ἐγένου,
and became a participant of the root of the richness of the olive tree,
μὴ κατακαυχῶ τῶν κλάδων•
do not boast against the branches.
εἰ δὲ κατακαυχᾶσαι
Now if you boast against [them],
οὐ σὺ τὴν ῥίζαν βαστάζεις
[consider that] you do not bear the root;
ἀλλʼ ἡ ῥίζα σέ.
instead, the root bears you.
ἐρεῖς οὖν•
Therefore you will say,
ἐξεκλάσθησαν κλάδοι
"Branches were broken off
ἵνα ἐγὼ ἐγκεντρισθῶ.
in order that I might be grafted in."
...τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ...
Because of their unbelief,
καλῶς• ... ἐξεκλάσθησαν,
they were appropriately broken off.
σὺ δὲ ... ἕστηκας.
Now you have stood
...τῇ πίστει...
by means of faith.
μὴ ὑψηλὰ φρόνει
Do not think proud things,
ἀλλὰ φοβοῦ•
but fear,
εἰ γὰρ ὁ θεὸς τῶν κατὰ φύσιν κλάδων οὐκ ἐφείσατο,
for if God did not spare the branches according to nature,
[μή πως] οὐδὲ σοῦ φείσεται.
perhaps he will not even spare you.
ἴδε οὖν χρηστότητα καὶ ἀποτομίαν θεοῦ•
Behold, therefore, the kindness and severity of God,
ἐπὶ μὲν τοὺς πεσόντας ἀποτομία,
namely, on the one hand, severity upon those who have fallen,
ἐπὶ δὲ σὲ χρηστότης θεοῦ,
now, on the other hand, the kindness of God upon you,
ἐὰν ἐπιμένῃς τῇ χρηστότητι,
if you continue in his kindness,
ἐπεὶ καὶ σὺ ἐκκοπήσῃ.
otherwise you will also be cut off.
-Placing the protasis after the apodosis causes the emphasis to lean on the protasis as the ground for the apodosis. -What does it mean to continue in the kindness of God? How do we do that? Fearing him and believing and boasting only in the Son whom he has sent.
Inferential "if-then"
Hearer's potential arrogant restatement of Paul's argument explaining the purpose of God in the rejection of the hardened.
Inferential "if-then" where Paul anticipates a situation in which attitudinal correction would be needed
Romans 11:17-22
Dative of cause
Dative of Means
Genitive of subordination
Partitive or Source Genitive (objective)
Attributive? (or Content, or Epexegetical?) Genitive
Possessive (or Source) Genitive
Partitive Genitive
Perhaps a concessive adverbial participle. I suppose if he wanted to do a straight adjectival relationship he could have done this without a participle.
Grammar Notes, Questions
Parsing -αγριελαιος - fem nom sg -ενεκεντρισθης - aor mid/pas indic 2 sg - κατακαυχω - imperfective mid/pas imperative 2 sg -ερεις - fut act indic 2 sg -ιδε - perfective active imperative 2 sg Translation -Now if some of the branches were broken off, and now you, being a wild olive branch, have been grafted in among them and became a participant of the root of the richness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. Now if you boast against [them], [consider that] you do not bear the root; instead, the root bears you. Therefore you will say, "Branches were broken off in order that I might be grafted in." Because of their unbelief, they were appropriately broken off. Now you have stood by means of faith. Do not think proud things, but fear, for if God did not spare the branches according to nature, perhaps he will not even spare you. Behold, therefore, the kindness and severity of God, namely, on the one hand, severity upon those who have fallen, now, on the other hand, the kindness of God upon you, if you continue in his kindness, otherwise you will also be cut off. Grammar Notes -των κλαδων - genitive of subordination -της ριζης - partitive or source genitive -της πιοτητος - content genitive -της ελαιας - possessive genitive -φοβεω and φοβος - Rom. 3:9-18 -καλως could be functioning adverbially with the verb that follows, meaning that they were "rightly" or "appropriately" broken off because of their unbelief. Questions 1. Who is the root? -κατακαυχαομαι and καυχαομαι - Rom. 3:27; Rom. 5:2, 11 --> What we boast in and what we do not boast in -Isa 11:1, 10; 53:2 - 2. How is a branch grafted in? How is a branch cut off?
Other Notes
Exegetical Notes -The επει clause in v. 22 might be dependent directly off of 22c ("the kindness of God upon you") in order to emphasize that the state of the believer is such only because of God's sovereign, merciful election of them -ων in v. 17 likely an adverbial concessive participle because if he simply wanted to describe adjectivally or predicate something about the "you," he could have done that without the use of a participle. -The superfluous use of εγω in v. 19 seems to draw out the boastful posture of the one that Paul is quoting here. Therefore, he seems to be offering a correction to this attitude (and possibly the entire statement). --> This seems to be confirmed by his exhortation not to think proud things. They should be humble because they only stand by faith and the kindness of God. Questions 1. Who is the root? -The assertion that " the holiness of 'part' of Israel is good reason to anticipate a 'fullness' and 'acceptance' for the whole of Israel (Moo, 698)" seems to go against everything that Paul has been arguing for thus far. He has labored to show that all who are from Israel are not Israel (Rom. 9:6-13) and that salvation is by nothing but the gracious, merciful election of God (Rom. 9:14-18) and is appropriated to all who renounce their own righteousness and believe in the one who has fulfilled the law on their behalf (Rom. 10:1-13). "Gentile Christians who boast over Jews are demonstrating an attitude of disdain for the Jewish heritage. Yet it is that very heritage upon which the Gentile Christians themselves depend for their own spiritual standing. For “the root” that gives spiritual nourishment to Jewish and Gentile believers alike is the patriarchs as recipients and transmitters of the promises of God. And that root is not only of historical interest. As the present tense Paul uses here indicates, the root of the patriarchs continues to be the source of spiritual nourishment that believers require. 41 There is only one root and only one tree; branches, whether Jewish or Gentile, that do not remain attached to that tree are doomed to wither and die." (Moo, 704) --> This makes no sense in light of everything Paul has said up until now. How can we think for a second that Paul would suggest that anything would uphold a believer but Christ himself? He has argued for the absolute sovereignty and freedom of God to do whatever he wants, that salvation is from him and him alone, according to his gracious election, that he is the one who has predestined, called, justified, and glorified. For what reason would we think that he departs from this high theology and Christology to suggest that the Patriarchs are in some way keeping Christians in the present time? -κατακαυχαομαι and καυχαομαι - Rom. 3:27; Rom. 5:2, 11 --> What we boast in and what we do not boast in appears to relate to the work of God and the work of humanity. The idea of boasting appears to be related in these contexts to the concepts of works, faith, and righteousness. --> All boasting is excluded because the righteousness of God has been revealed apart from the law through the sacrifice of Jesus as the propitiation for sins to be received by faith. --> The fact that he commands them not to boast must be read in light of these previous passages where he has outlined what should be boasted in and what should not be boasted in. The only boast we have is in the finished work of Christ. -The preceding context (11:11-15), specifically that which speaks of the reconciliation and life from the dead, recalls Paul's previous discussion of these same topics. --> Rom. 5:10-11 in connection with this passage. We were reconciled by the death of Jesus (which was the rejection spoken of here) and now, much more shall we be saved by his life! --> Life from the dead: Rom. 6:1-11 - the acceptance brings life from the dead, just as he was declared to be the Son of God in power by the resurrection, we too, having been accepted, shall be raised from death to life. We are raised from the deadness of our sin and made alive to God in Christ. Death to life . -Isa 11:1, 10; 53:2 --> These parallels make it even more likely that Paul had Jesus in mind when writing about the root. Especially Isaiah 53, in the context of which the suffering servant, who grows up like a root out of dry ground, makes many to be accounted righteous. -Further confirmation could come from the identification of the firstfruits as well. Elsewhere, and particularly in 1 Cor 15:20-23 Paul identifies Christ specifically as the firstfruits, again in direct relation to the life that comes out of death because of Christ's resurrection. --> It can be conceded also, that the firstfruits are part of a progression in intensity and represent the first believers, for Paul also consistently refers to the first believers as the firstfruits (Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:15; 2 Thess 2:13). If this is the case, then it would be a lesser to greater argument: "If the first believers are holy, then the last believers will be as well. And if Christ is holy, then those who are in him will be as well." However, the context of 1 Cor 15:20-23 seems to be much more related to the present context, speaking of life from the dead and the translation of holiness from the firstfruits to the root, a feat unable to be accomplished by one believer or a group of believers on behalf of another. --> In any case, the argument for the patriarchs as the firstfruits and the root seems the weakest in context. 2. How is a branch grafted in? How is a branch broken off? -If the root represents the patriarchs of Israel, as Moo asserts (pp. 697–701), then he rightly affirms that the holiness that is transferred from the root to the branches (and the firstfruits to the lump) is not a salvific holiness. In accordance with the argument above, this seems to be the only appropriate stance to take because to suggest that the holiness of the fathers logically leads one to assume that the rest will likewise be holy sounds a lot like the assumption that because Abraham was holy then both Isaac and Ishmael are holy, and because Isaac was holy both Jacob and Esau are holy. Yet, this is precisely the opposite of what Paul has argued up to this point. --> Establishing the means by which a branch is grafted in or cut off is necessary to understanding what kind of holiness is referred to in 11:16. Those who stand (e.g. those who are grafted in ), stand by faith , and those who have fallen (e.g. those who have been broken off ), have been cut off appropriately because of their unbelief . How do faith and unbelief measure our connectedness or disconnectedness to the patriarchs? In so far as we are connected to Christ by faith, we are one people with the patriarchs, and Abraham is our father (Rom. 4:1-25). Rather than being support for seeing the root as the patriarchs, this passage in context serves as an illustrative excursus proving that Abraham was not made righteous by works but by faith in Christ, just as we are also (Rom 3:21–26). So the main point is that by faith we are accounted righteous because by faith we receive the righteousness of Christ because by faith we are grafted into Christ himself. --> The abundance of "in Christ" language in the NT further suggests that who we are grafted into by faith is Christ himself. --> Gal 3:15–19 shows that the promise was made to the singular offspring, which is Christ --> John the Baptizer says God can raise up children for Abraham from the stones; therefore, repent and bear fruit . (Matt 3:7–10; Luke 3:7–9) --> John 15:1-8 says that those who bear fruit are those who abide in Christ, the true Vine. -Rom 5:1–2 - faith and standing connected once again in the context of proper boasting. --> And this passage follows the extended discourse on the justification of Abraham referred to above. Doxological Response Two wonderful implications of this passage jump out at me. First, the kindness of God rests upon those whom he is pleased to save. The work of salvation is his from beginning to end, and I am a beneficiary of his immeasurable kindness! How it ought to humble us to know that it is only by means of his mercy and the restraint of the justly deserved judicial hardening of our hearts that we are able to believe and embrace him. How it ought to exclude all boasting, may it be far from our hearts that it may never cross our minds or our lips! How it ought to also give us the supreme confidence that he has set his love upon us and nothing can separate us from him. How it ought to drive us to prayer for those we long to see come to know Christ, for he alone can draw them to himself. And in light of this, second, none are ever too far away for him to save, if only they will repent. Praise God who humbles the proud and exalts the lowly, displaying his matchless glory in both his severity and kindness!
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.