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The Olive Tree

"... and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree..."

The Mystery of the Olive Tree

Throughout the Church Age the Olive Tree metaphor in Romans 11 has been an enigma to many students of the Bible.

And if the first piece of dough be holy, the lump is also; and if the root be holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more shall these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? (Romans 11:16 - 11:24)

The Olive Tree is Not the Church

Amillennial Bible teachers generally conclude that the Olive Tree is the Church, which they say began in the Old Testament and continues today. Their view is that the Church becomes the "New Israel," and that the Jewish people are cast aside as an unbelieving, irrelevant people, a former part of God's plan of redemption. Replacement theology was born from this teaching and continues as the dominant teaching of the vast majority of Christian Churches. In fact, it is probably safe to say that all non-dispensational Bible Churches subscribe to Replacement Theology in one form or another. From the New Testament we know that the Church began at Pentecost, about 33 AD, when the believers were baptized into the Body of Christ. It did not begin in the Old Testament as Amillennialists contend. So, The Olive Tree, which began with Abraham, the root (some Bible teachers include Isaac and Jacob) can't be identical with the Church.

The Olive Tree is Not Israel

At the other end of the spectrum there are Bible teachers who teach that the Olive Tree is Israel, the Jewish people. They teach that Gentile believers, who are grafted in to the olive tree, have become Israelites, or spiritual Jews, and that believers in Christ today should consider themselves as literal Jews. The teaching that believers are spiritual Jews is often justified, by some, from the passage in Galatians.

And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon "the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16).

Paul is probably referring to Jews only here, responding to the Judaizers, the theme of Galatians. He says that those who are of Faith are the "Israel of God," the true Jews. But, even if Paul is referring to "Christians" here, he still is not saying that believing Gentiles are Jews or spiritual Jews, he would be saying that believing Jew and Gentile alike form the "Israel of God." The view that The Olive Tree is Israel, or spiritual Israel, is no better a view than that of Replacement Theology, it too falls far short of what the Apostle Paul is teaching. The natural branches broken off the Olive Tree represent national Israel in unbelief, who nationally are spiritually dead, broken off branches from the tree.

What is The Olive Tree?

The Olive Tree is not the Church and it is not Israel. The Olive Tree is those partaking of the divine blessing from Abraham through faith in Christ. In other words, both Jews and Gentiles who believe come to partake of the heavenly calling in the Church, during this dispensation, which is the "assembly of God." So, The Olive Tree is spiritual, it is composed of righteous, born-again people. It is spiritual, because only righteous, born-again, believers are in the Olive Tree, whether Jews or Gentiles.

Gentiles who have been grafted in to the Olive Tree, by faith in Christ, among the natural branches, believing Jews, have a special relationship to each other in the body of Christ. There are two kinds of branches in the Olive Tree, Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ. Believers can now worship Yeshua, Christ, our Lord together. What a powerful testimony we have to the world as we are united together worshiping Him!

Written by Alan Torres

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