16-18 Behind and underneath all this there is a holy, God-planted, God-tended root. If the primary root of the tree is holy, there’s bound to be some holy fruit. Some of the tree’s branches were pruned and you wild olive shoots were grafted in. Yet the fact that you are now fed by that rich and holy root gives you no cause to gloat over the pruned branches. Remember, you aren’t feeding the root; the root is feeding you.
19-20 It’s certainly possible to say, “Other branches were pruned so that I could be grafted in!” Well and good. But they were pruned because they were deadwood, no longer connected by belief and commitment to the root. The only reason you’re on the tree is because your graft “took” when you believed, and because you’re connected to that belief-nurturing root. So don’t get cocky and strut your branch. Be humbly mindful of the root that keeps you lithe and green.
21-22 If God didn’t think twice about taking pruning shears to the natural branches, why would he hesitate over you? He wouldn’t give it a second thought. Make sure you stay alert to these qualities of gentle kindness and ruthless severity that exist side by side in God—ruthless with the deadwood, gentle with the grafted shoot. But don’t presume on this gentleness. The moment you become deadwood, it’s game over.
23-24 And don’t get to feeling superior to those pruned branches down on the ground. If they don’t persist in remaining deadwood, they could very well get grafted back in. God can do that. He can perform miracle grafts. Why, if he could graft you—branches cut from a tree out in the wild—into an orchard tree, he certainly isn’t going to have any trouble grafting branches back into the tree they grew from in the first place. Just be glad you’re in the tree, and hope for the best for the others.Read full chapter
New International Version
16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits(A) is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 If some of the branches have been broken off,(B) and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others(C) and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.(D) 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith.(E) Do not be arrogant,(F) but tremble.(G) 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
22 Consider therefore the kindness(H) and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue(I) in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.(J) 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.(K) 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree,(L) how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!