Romans 11:22 – Wild Branches Can be Cut Off
It is interesting to see that Romans 11 is very closely related to the figure of the Vine and the branches Jesus used in John 15:1-6. If you are interested in the study of John 15:1-6 and how this analogy completely contradicts the false doctrine of “Once Saved Always Saved”, please follow the following link: Study of the Vine and the Branches
In the letter to the Romans which is one of the longest letters in ancient history, Paul addresses many issues and lays out foundational truths about the gospel. In chapters 9, 10 and 11, he speaks about the Israelites whom he calls his Jewish Kinsmen according to the flesh and how he has great sorrow because of them not accepting the gospel of Christ. In chapter 11, Paul continues saying that God did not forsake Israel and that a remnant will remain. He expands on how their rejection of the gospel allowed gentiles to be grafted in as wild branches in the olive tree. It is in this context that Paul says in Romans 11:22 that Gentile believers can be cut off if they are not careful.
Let’s look at this passage and see how it relates to the doctrine of “Once Saved Always Saved”:
Romans 11:13-23 (KJV)
13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world (“them” being Paul’s Jewish Kinsmen the Israelites. Casting away of the Jews causes reconciliation of the world, reconciliation means saved), what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? (if they are received into the gospel they will come alive. When they are cast away they are dead)
16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. (This is the start of the Olive Tree analogy, if the root is holy, the grafted in branches are holy too. Salvation is for the Holy don’t you think? Who is the root, it is God, His Spirit, the Gospel of Christ. If we are grafted into the tree, we are saved)
17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree (in other words, if the Jews who were given the promises were broken off as natural branches and you gentiles the wild branches are grafted in, you will partake of the root which is Holy);
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. (in other words, don’t boast gentiles because it is God’s mercy and grace that allowed you to be grafted into the olive tree)
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear (how do we stand in the tree? by faith, so it is by continued faith that we endure but we should also fear and not become presumptuous and overconfident):
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee (to the gentiles Paul says then to take heed because God could also not spare them if they are not careful like He did with the Jews).
22 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 (this verse speaks for itself, if we don’t continue in the goodness of God while we are grafted in the olive tree and supported by the holy root, we too shall be cut off, this is loss of salvation).
The general message intended by the apostle Paul is one of exhortation to the Gentiles not to be highminded about their salvation and to continue in the faith and in the goodness of God. He is telling them the promises were to the Jews by whom salvation came and that they were cast away from the olive tree because of unbelief. Now the rejection of the Jews has allowed the Gentiles to have access to the grace of God and the Gentiles who believed in Christ STAND by faith. This word to “stand” means that the Gentiles are willingly standing in the tree, they are cooperating with God, they are letting themselves be nourished by the fatness of the olive tree. They are therefore grafted in the tree which means these Gentile believers are saved. Why are they saved? because they are supported by the root of the tree of God, and its root is holy. Verse 18 says that if the root is holy, the branches are also.
It is very telling that this figure fits PERFECTLY with John 15:1-6 where Jesus says that He is the Vine and we are the branches. He says that a branch has to ABIDE in the vine which means to STAND by faith. He also says that if the branch does not bear fruit, it will be cut off, the same principle taken by Paul in Romans 11.
Dear friend, I am a wild branch, I am not a natural one, but I know I am grafted in the tree of God. I know I can do nothing on my own but I stand by faith in the Vine, in Jesus Christ Himself, the promised Messiah who was rejected by the Jewish people. Are you standing by faith? Do you deny yourself every day, pick up your cross and follow Jesus?
Don’t get comfortable dear friends, we are not “Once Saved Always Saved”, we have to work out our salvation, it is a process by which we stand by an enduring faith. Don’t lose faith, don’t go back to sin dear child of God. Continue in the kindness of God so that you don’t get cut off (Romans 11:22).
May the Lord keep you grafted in by His power and by strengthening your faith!