The Historical Outworking Of God’s Plan To Dispense His Mercy Illustrated In The Olive Tree OF Romans 11:16-24 -- By: Samuel A. Dawson

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 21:0 (NA 2016)
Article: The Historical Outworking Of God’s Plan To Dispense His Mercy Illustrated In The Olive Tree OF Romans 11:16-24
Author: Samuel A. Dawson


The Historical Outworking Of God’s Plan To Dispense His Mercy Illustrated In The Olive Tree OF Romans 11:16-241

Samuel A. Dawson2

Salvation belongs to God. He planned it in eternity past. He procured it in history through his Son. He applies it to believers by means of the Spirit. Man did not plan it. Man did not procure it. And man does not apply it. God dispenses his salvation as he sees fit. And through the dispensing of his salvation God highlights his amazing mercy toward poor, miserable sinners who deserve judgment, not mercy.

And yet, as strange as it seems from a distance, those who believe they have benefitted from God’s mercy are prone to boast in their “perceived achievement” over those less fortunate. The Jewish Pharisee did so against the poor publican (Luke 18:9-14). And the Gentile is prone to do so against the Jew. Paul’s olive tree analogy “cuts” those who may boast in their “achievement” of God’s mercy down to size, warning them that if they continue to be arrogant God may “cut” them off from his mercy altogether.3 To forcefully drive this point home Paul uses an olive tree analogy to establish the continuity and discontinuity of God’s plan in dispensing his mercy. And although Paul begins this analogy by emphasizing the one historical root from which God dispenses his mercy to both Jew and Gentile (continuity), he mainly emphasizes the diverse way in which God dispenses his mercy throughout history (discontinuity), which opens up a future salvation for Israel that is in harmony with Old Testament prophecies.

To back up this claim, we attempt to do several things in this article. Chiefly, we seek to establish the meaning of the context which surrounds this analogy, since we believe this analogy supports the meaning of the context, not makes meaning by itself. Second, having established

the context’s main thrust, we attempt to demonstrate how Paul’s analogy helps support it. Third, having done this, we seek to demonstrate the validity of our claim by surveying both the discontinuity and continuity aspects of this illustration. In the process, we sketch out how we believe the discontinuity aspects harmonize with the Old Testament claim of a future salvation for Israel. To conclude, we stand back in amazement, with Paul, and marvel at God’s amazing mercy.

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