“13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
16 For if the first fruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?”
This section of Romans 11 is a nonstop list of arguments, mostly in the “if…then,” propositional form. These arguments are mainly dealing with ontology and range from ultimate level to relative level ontology perspectives. These arguments also range from more basic modus ponens to modus ponens with conjunctions, and with some formulated as, “if a is b, then much more c is d.”
It seems after doing some systematic theology and explaining Paul is quickly laying out many arguments before wrapping up this section.
As said in the last section, the chapter begins with ultimate level ontology. This is about the order of God’s decrees or the logical order of what God is causing. (logic of ontology) Paul tells us what God “did” do, “is” doing, and “will” do. God had a preordained purpose, and is now, in reverse order, executing this plan in history. And so, we are still in the ultimate level ontology. However, in this section Paul is relating it more on a relative level, teaching us how we ought to think and respond in light of God’s sovereign decrees. The main gist is that we are not to be boasters of our selves or against others, but in fear, we are to keep believing Christ and boast in His kindness to us. We are also to look forward to the completion of God’s plan when endless life will overtake our lives in all aspects.
Paul does this usual argument in the form of a question. The mode is a fortiori, and the structure is, “If A is B, then much more C is D.”
This is said as ultimate level ontology, in logical order. God has temporarily rejected the Jews, so that He might bring reconciliation to the Gentiles. Next, God will accept the Jews so that He might bring endless life to His whole church.
J.1. If (a)rejection is (b)reconciliation, then (c)acceptance is (d)endless life.
J.2. a is b.
J.3. Thus, c is d.
This is a basic, “if p then q,” modus ponens. This is similar to Jesus’ analogy of the house built on the rock foundation versus the sand foundation. The right foundation has a necessary connection to how it will withstand the storm. Or the right foundation of faith, will have a necessary connection to how one is judged by God.
Paul says because Jesus is holy, there is a necessary connection to how you will turn out if you are connected to Him in faith. There might be a hidden premise here, that is said later by Paul. This premise is that Jesus the root is the one who supports the branches. That is, just in case the analogy is missed by some, Paul makes sure one cannot misunderstand the terms and connections. Christ is holy. He supports us, not the other way. That is, if connected to Him, then holiness and life flows from Him to you. Because of this (a and b), if you are connected to Him, then you are also holy.
This modus ponens has a conjunction in the antecedent, and so it would be best for Natural Deduction, but for simplicity we will keep it as is.
If A and B, then C / A and B ⸫ C
K.1. If the (a) root is holy, and the (b) root supports the branches, then (c) the branches are holy.
K.2. a and b
K.3. Thus, c.
Paul argues that the gentiles, who were outsiders to the covenants, should not boast against the Jews (insiders), because God is the one who caused them to be insiders. It was not their power and holiness that made them insiders of the covenant and its blessings; rather, it was Jesus’ power and holiness that made them and keeps them as insiders. If they boast, then let them not boast against the Jews and not in themselves. If outsiders are grafted into the benefits of the insiders, then the outsiders should not boast against the insiders. If the outsiders boast, then they should remember Christ supports them.
“Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith.”
This verse has two partial syllogisms. One about the unbelieving Jews, and the second is about the gentiles and faith.
A = minor term, B = middle term, C = major term,
Jews(A) – Unbelief(B) – Broken off(C).
You(A) – Faith(B) – Stand firm (C)
The context is being connected to God’s covenant and blessings. The Jews were broken off from this because of their unbelief. Their unbelief was always there, as God and the prophets kept telling them in the Old Testament. Jesus said they did not believe in Moses (John 5), and so they do not believe Him. Paul says the gentiles stand firm in God’s blessings and covenant because of their faith in Jesus Christ. This is the context of our terms, and what Paul means by “standing” in our verse.
L.1. Unbelieving persons are those broken off from God’s blessings.
L.2. Jews are unbelieving persons.
L.3. Thus, Jews are those broken off from God’s blessings.
M.1. Believing persons are those who stand in God’s blessings.
M.2. You are a believing person.
M.3. Thus, you are a person who stands in God’s blessings.
We will separate this into 2 simple modus ponens. God’s goodness the gospel of Jesus Christ through faith. Paul’s seems to be speaking of these in a larger group context. That is, if the gentiles stop their believing in Jesus, the God will reject them as He did the Jews, and graft a large number of Jews back if they start to believe. This is said on the relative level ontology. Paul in the same chapter when speaking on ultimate ontology says, God has planned and made this to happen by His power. Just like in Romans 9, these decrees are from a neutral lump (before good or evil choices), or that is, God’s choices are from His own plans and not on what people do, because God is the one who controls choices in the first place. Christian ontology is that God controls all things.
N.1. (P) If stop continuing in God’s goodness, (Q) then broken off.
N.3. Thus, (Q)
O.1. (P) If Jews stop unbelief, (Q) then grafted back in.
The form of this argument is like the argument in verse 15,
“If A is B, then much more C is D.”
God planned and caused the Jews to reject Him. In this moment of Jewish rejection God wanted and has caused the gentiles to be reconciled to Him by His Son. However, God has already established His covenants with the Jewish people (Eph 2:11-13, Romans 9:1-5). His Son was born in the Jewish people. Thus, when God finally causes the Jewish people to start believing in His Son, then much more will this lead into abundant life for His chosen ones. This is a necessary connection because of systematic theology about the Jewish people, and the grafting of the gentiles by Christ. And because in the sense of creation, God’s chosen ones are the glory of the world. Or that the world is for the glory of God’s children. This is in fact what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:7, “which God predestined before the ages for our glory.” Paul further says that “all things are ours.” And so, if God blesses the gentiles with reconciliation by spiting the Jews, then how much more will God’s blessing spillover in abundance of everything, when God decides to lavish the Jewish people with acceptance? Or that, if the world was predestined for our glory (weighty value) and all creation is ours, and we become children of God in Christ with the Spirit, through the Jews rejection, then how much more will the world be for our weighty value and all things for us, when the Jews are brought back to God?
T.1. (P) If rejection is reconciliation, (Q) then much more will acceptance be endless life.
T.3. Thus, (Q)