HAVE WE BEEN “GRAFTED INTO ISRAEL?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
Have we been grafted into Israel? Is that what Romans 11:16-24 teaches? As always, my dear readers, we look at the Bible and let it interpret itself. We should not have a denomination or religious tradition to promote. We should have a Person to exalt, and the Lord Jesus Christ is magnified when His Word is studied and believed no matter whom it contradicts!
No question about it. There is much controversy surrounding Romans 11:16-24. Honestly, there are some very outlandish ideas about what it teaches. Beloved, we should never, ever isolate a Bible passage. This set of verses is especially critical to our understanding as members of the Church the Body of Christ. We must get it right or we will face unanswerable confusion for the rest of our lives on Earth. Remember—Context! Context! Context! There are five preceding verses that lead up to Romans 11:16-24, and we need to heed them, lest we stumble over the verses they precede.
We begin reading Romans chapter 11: “ I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.  Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?  For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:  If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”
According to the Old Testament, Israel was to rise to kingdom glory and be the channel of blessing and salvation to the Gentiles/nations (Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:3-6; Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 61:6; Zechariah 8:20-23). Through Israel (in her literal, physical, visible, earthly kingdom), Gentiles were to have a relationship with the one true God. Israel was to be God’s kingdom of priests. That has yet to happen. Something interrupted that prophetic program. It is our Dispensation of Grace, called “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2). In light of Romans 16:25, we can call it “the mystery program.” (Contrasted with Israel’s “prophetic program” of Acts 3:21). This present-day administration or arrangement was a mystery (secret) that God hid in Himself until He revealed it to the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:1-11; Colossians 1:24-29). In Romans chapter 11, we are reading about some truths that make up that revelation the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ gave to the Apostle Paul.
Romans chapter 11 declares that Israel has fallen before God. She has now lost her special status before God, albeit only temporarily Israel is fallen. That was the secret God kept hidden in the Old Testament. That was the mystery that He finally revealed to the Apostle Paul. In our Dispensation of Grace, Israel has lost the opportunity to be the head of the nations. She cannot be God’s channel of salvation and blessing to the Gentiles (nations). Gentiles cannot approach God through Israel and her kingdom. Why? Because Israel herself is in unbelief and Satanic captivity. Yet, we Gentiles have access to God today, and we Gentiles have had access to Him for almost 2,000 years now. How is this possible?
As we read earlier in Romans 11:11-12, Israel is temporarily “cast away,” fallen before God. By God removing Israel from her privileged position, Romans 11:11-12 explains what this means for the whole world: “ I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.  Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
In our dispensation, “the world” (all people/nations) has been “reconciled” to God. All people (Jew and Gentile) can now approach Him—not through Israel or her kingdom—but through Paul’s ministry (Romans 11:13) and Paul’s Gospel. God no longer makes the distinction between Jew and Gentile—to God, even Jews are “Gentiles.” Unlike in time past, in the but now, there is no “special nation of God” today. God only sees people in His Son (whether Jew or Gentile), and people outside of His Son (whether Jew or Gentile).
Romans 11:13, again: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” Paul is our apostle. That is, the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ commissioned him to preach to us—all nations (Romans 1:5; Romans 16:26)—the good news of Calvary (“the Gospel of the Grace of God;” Acts 20:24). Reading from 2 Corinthians 5:19,21: “ To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Now, “the world” (all nations) has the opportunity to be made “nigh” (near) to God by Christ’s shed blood. It has nothing to do with Israel because Israel is not an issue with God today. We have not been “grafted into Israel” because there is no “Israel” to be grafted into! Let us see Ephesians 2:11-13: “ Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:  But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
“In Christ Jesus,” in this context (verse 13), is a reference to members of the Church the Body of Christ. “The blood of Christ”—the Gospel Message that Paul preached—is the means whereby we approach Father God today. When we trust the shed blood of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for our sins, God credits that to our account as righteousness, and we are fit for heaven forever (Romans 4:1-8). There is no redeemed Israel here. There is no earthly Israeli kingdom here. Our salvation is dependent entirely upon what Jesus Christ did at Calvary, not upon what we do or do not do, not upon Israel, not upon her kingdom, not upon anything else.
While more could be said, for brevity’s sake, we must move on to the rest of Romans chapter 11.
Reading Paul’s words in Romans chapter 11: “ For if the casting away of them [Israel] be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?  For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.  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;  Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.  Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.  Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:  For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.  Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.  For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?”
What Romans 11:16-24 is talking about is that we (“the world,” the nations; see verse 15) have now been given access to God, the access Israel enjoyed before she fell, the access we were to have as Gentiles had Israel not fallen. Because of Christ’s finished crosswork, we can partake of the spiritual things once offered to Israel—eternal life, justification, sanctification, peace, forgiveness, love, acceptance, et cetera. Olive wood is a symbol of access or entry into God’s fellowship/blessings. The Temple, God’s house, had olive doors (1 Kings 6:31-32). Access to God’s glory back then involved passing through olive-wood doors.
One day, God will “cut off” the nations of the world (verses 20-22). They will no longer have access to Him apart from Israel. As Israel’s unbelief led to her fall, the nations’ unbelief (rejection of Paul’s Gospel) will eventually lead to their fall (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). Once prophecy resumes, Israel will again be brought to the forefront in God’s dealings with mankind. When our program ends with the Rapture, Gentiles who remain on Earth will have to approach God through Israel as Gentiles did before our Dispensation of Grace began. That is the warning of Romans 11:20-24. (It is not loss of salvation for members of the Body of Christ. People make that mistake here. It is talking about unsaved Gentiles losing their “without-Israel” method of access to the God of the Bible.) God’s grace will not always be offered to mankind as it has been in our Dispensation of Grace. Gentiles who are not part of the Body of Christ are urged not to be prideful, bragging about how Israel fell so they (Gentiles) could enjoy God’s blessings, for one day Gentiles will lose the privilege we as the Body of Christ members now enjoy. Israel will be restored one day, and those Gentiles outside of the Body of Christ will have to bless Israel to fellowship with the one true God (Matthew 25:31-46). Once Israel’s program resumes after our program, those Gentiles who do not bless Israel will wind up in everlasting hellfire (again, see Matthew 25:31-46).
We are not grafted into Israel. Israel is “fallen” and “enemies of God” (Romans 11:11,28). In 1 Thessalonians 2:16, Paul says, “the wrath [of God] is come upon them to the uttermost.” What advantage is there in being grafted into a nation that God does not acknowledge? It is nonsense. Is it really a privilege to be in a nation that God’s wrath has fallen upon, which wrath caused that nation’s fall? Of course not.
We (Gentiles, the world) have been “graffed in” in that God has paid for our sins at Calvary and He offers us fellowship with Him without Israel’s participation. We have access to Father God by faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. In fact, Jesus Christ’s faith is His trust in God the Father’s Word to send Him to Calvary. Notice again what Paul wrote to us Gentiles. “For through him [Jesus Christ] we both [Jew and Gentile] have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). “[Christ Jesus our Lord] In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him” (Ephesians 3:12). There is nothing about Israel’s involvement. We have fellowship with Father God through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary. Jesus Christ alone is the one Mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5).
Romans 11:15-24 is basically saying that all Gentile nations are “graffed in” in the sense of we having equal access to God through Calvary (Ephesians 2:11-15). All nations can approach God today without Israel. In fact, even Israel is considered as a Gentile nation. Olive wood in the Bible symbolizes access to God: for example, the doors of the Temple were olive wood (1 Kings 6:31-34).
One day, after our Dispensation of Grace, God will resume His dealings with Israel, thus “cutting off” the Gentile nations. At that time, Israel will have preeminence again and every nation will have to approach God through Israel (as prophecy dictates). The Gentiles should not boast about God cutting off Israel today, since God will one day restore Israel and judge and destroy those Gentiles who fail to approach Him through Israel (verses 20-24). This passage, contrary to common belief, is not talking about the Church the Body of Christ being cut off (as in “loss of salvation”), but rather the warning in Romans 11:19-22 is spoken to those Gentiles who do not become members of the Body of Christ. If they do not become members of the Body of Christ by faith in Paul’s Gospel, they will have spurned God’s offer of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19-21), and they will be lost in Israel’s program when it resumes under the Antichrist’s reign (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).