The olive tree, which is wild by nature - Which is κατα φυσιν, naturally, wild and barren; for that the wild olive bore no fruit is sufficiently evident from the testimony of the authors who have written on the subject; hence the proverb, Ακαρποτερος αγριππου· more unfruitful than the wild olive. Λακωνες γαρ αγριαν ελαιαν αγιππον καλουσι· for the Lacedemonians term the wild olive αγριππον . See Suidas. And hence Hesychius interprets αγριελαιος, the wild olive, (the word used here by St. Paul), by ακαρπος, unfruitful: and the reason given in Diogen. Proverb. Cent. ii. n. 63, is φυτον γαρ εστιν ὁ αγριππος ακαρπον· for the wild olive is an unfruitful tree. On this account the apostle very properly says: Thou wert cut, εκ της κατα φυσιν αγριελαιου, out of that olive which is uncultivated, because it is barren: the κατα φυσιν does not refer here to its being naturally barren; but to its being commonly or customarily permitted to remain so. And that this is the import of the phrase here is evident from the next clause of the verse.
And wert grafted contrary to nature - Παρα φυσιν, contrary to all custom; for a scion taken from a barren or useless tree is scarcely ever known to be grafted into a good stock; but here the Gentiles, a fruitless and sinful race, are grafted on the ancient patriarchal stock. Now, if it was possible to effect such a change in the state and disposition of the Gentiles, who were αθεοι εν τῳ κοσμῳ, Ephesians 2:12, without God, Atheists, in the world; how much more possible is it, speaking after the manner of men, to bring about a similar change in the Jews, who acknowledge the one, only, and true God, and receive the law and the prophets as a revelation from him. This seems to be the drift of the apostle's argument.
For if thou - If you who are Gentiles.
Wert cut out of - Or, if thou wert of the cutting of the wild olive-tree.
Which is wild by nature - Which is uncultivated and unfruitful. That is, if you were introduced into a state of favor with God from a condition which was one of enmity and hostility to him. The argument here is, that it was in itself as difficult a thing to reclaim them, and change them from opposition to God to friendship, as it would seem difficult or impossible to reclaim and make fruitful the wild olive-tree.
And were graffed contrary to nature - Contrary to your natural habits, thoughts, and practices. There was among the Gentiles no inclination or tendency toward God. This does not mean that they were physically depraved, or that their disposition was literally like the wild olive; but it is used, for the sake of illustration, to show that their moral character and habits were unlike those of the friends of God.
How much more - The meaning of this whole verse may be thus expressed; “If God had mercy on the Gentiles, who were outcasts from his favor, shall he not much rather on those who were so long his people, to whom had been given the promises, and the covenants, and the Law, whose ancestors had been so many of them his friends, and among whom the Messiah was born?” In some respects, there are facilities among the Jews for their conversion, which had not existed among the Gentiles. They worship one God; they admit the authority of revelation; they have the Scriptures of the Old Testament; they expect a Messiah; and they have a habit of professed reverence for the will of God.
Some feel their need of the atonement, and with the recognition of this need, and the desire for a change of heart, a struggle begins. To renounce their own will, perhaps their chosen objects of affection or pursuit, requires an effort, at which many hesitate and falter and turn back. Yet this battle must be fought by every heart that is truly converted. We must war against temptations without and within. We must gain the victory over self, crucify the affections and lusts; and then begins the union of the soul with Christ. As the dry and apparently lifeless branch is grafted into the living tree, so may we become living branches of the True Vine. And the fruit which was borne by Christ will be borne by all His followers. After this union is formed, it can be preserved only by continual, earnest, painstaking effort. Christ exercises His power to preserve and guard this sacred tie, and the dependent, helpless sinner must act his part with untiring energy, or Satan by his cruel, cunning power will separate him from Christ. 5T 47.1
Every Christian must stand on guard continually, watching every avenue of the soul where Satan might find access. He must pray for divine help and at the same time resolutely resist every inclination to sin. By courage, by faith, by persevering toil, he can conquer. But let him remember that to gain the victory Christ must abide in him and he in Christ. 5T 47.2
A union of believers with Christ will as a natural result lead to a union with one another, which bond of union is the most enduring upon earth. We are one in Christ, as Christ is one with the Father. Christians are branches, and only branches, in the living Vine. One branch is not to borrow its sustenance from another. Our life must come from the parent vine. It is only by personal union with Christ, by communion with Him daily, hourly, that we can bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit. 5T 47.3Read in context »
To us God's messengers come at the bidding of the Master. They come demanding, as did Christ, obedience to the word of God. They present His claim to the fruits of the vineyard, the fruits of love, and humility, and self-sacrificing service. Like the Jewish leaders, are not many of the husbandmen of the vineyard stirred to anger? When the claim of God's law is set before the people, do not these teachers use their influence in leading men to reject it? Such teachers God calls unfaithful servants. COL 306.1
The words of God to ancient Israel have a solemn warning to the church and its leaders today. Of Israel the Lord said, “I have written to him the great things of My law; but they were counted as a strange thing.” Hosea 8:12. And to the priests and teachers He declared, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee; ... seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” Hosea 4:6. COL 306.2
Shall the warnings from God be passed by unheeded? Shall the opportunities for service be unimproved? Shall the world's scorn, the pride of reason, conformity to human customs and traditions, hold the professed followers of Christ from service to Him? Will they reject God's word as the Jewish leaders rejected Christ? The result of Israel's sin is before us. Will the church of today take warning? COL 306.3Read in context »
Divine pity marked the countenance of the Son of God as He cast one lingering look upon the temple and then upon His hearers. In a voice choked by deep anguish of heart and bitter tears He exclaimed, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” This is the separation struggle. In the lamentation of Christ the very heart of God is pouring itself forth. It is the mysterious farewell of the long-suffering love of the Deity. DA 620.1
Pharisees and Sadducees were alike silenced. Jesus summoned His disciples, and prepared to leave the temple, not as one defeated and forced from the presence of his adversaries, but as one whose work was accomplished. He retired a victor from the contest. DA 620.2
The gems of truth that fell from Christ's lips on that eventful day were treasured in many hearts. For them new thoughts started into life, new aspirations were awakened, and a new history began. After the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, these persons came to the front, and fulfilled their divine commission with a wisdom and zeal corresponding to the greatness of the work. They bore a message that appealed to the hearts of men, weakening the old superstitions that had long dwarfed the lives of thousands. Before their testimony human theories and philosophies became as idle fables. Mighty were the results flowing from the words of the Saviour to that wondering, awestruck crowd in the temple at Jerusalem. DA 620.3Read in context »
It is true there are tares among the wheat; in the body of Sabbathkeepers evils are seen; but because of this shall we disparage the church? Shall not the managers of every institution, the leaders of every church, take up the work of purification in such a way that the transformation in the church shall make it a bright light in a dark place? 6T 239.1
What may not even one believer do in the exercise of pure, heavenly principles if he refuses to be contaminated, if he will stand as firm as a rock to a “Thus saith the Lord”? Angels of God will come to his help, preparing the way before him. 6T 239.2
Paul wrote to the Romans: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1, 2. This entire chapter is a lesson which I entreat all who claim to be members of the body of Christ to study. Again Paul wrote: “If the first fruit 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 grafted 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 grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, 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.” Romans 11:16-22. Very plainly these words show that there is to be no disparaging of the agencies which God has placed in the church. 6T 239.3Read in context »