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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.

 

Verses 22 to 24 summarize the idea of God’s temporary rejection of Israel as a nation. God will one day restore the entire nation in the Millennium.

22 Therefore

The word “therefore” draws a conclusion from verse 21. Verse 22 restates verse 20 and is another way of stating the same thing.

consider [behold, notice] the goodness and severity of God:

Instead of exercising pride, Paul said the Gentiles should “consider” or notice something very carefully. They should think about both the “goodness and severity of God.” Giving due attention to this would remove the pride of the Gentiles.

The word “goodness” carries the idea of compassion in action or grace in action. There is a dovetail between grace and faith.

“Severity” is sternness that relates to justice. God possesses both dimensions of grace and justice in His character. Neither is contradictory to the other. Both must be sustained in balance. If we negate God’s justice, we make Him a person without standard or character. If we eliminate His mercy, then He becomes a despot.

on those [Israel] who fell, severity [cut off];

“Those who fell” are unbelieving Jews as a group. God deals with severity toward Israel, who rejected His plan of salvation through the Messiah. He cannot compromise the integrity of His person and character. If we do not accept the grace principle, then God has no other option but to deal with us in judgment. Those who commit to unbelief have nothing but severity ahead.

but toward you [Gentiles], goodness,

God deals in “goodness” toward Gentiles who accept by grace through faith the provision found in the Messiah. It has nothing to do with the personal status or works of the Gentile.

We cannot truly appreciate God’s grace or “goodness” until we understand something of His severe judgment on those who do not accept it. Keeping a balance of thinking on both God’s grace (goodness) and severity will protect the Christian from pride.

if [hypothetically] you [believing Gentiles] continue [persist] in His goodness.

God’s “goodness” here is His grace toward the Gentiles as a group. Believers need to continue to operate on the principle of grace and must always keep God’s grace in view. They should never fall from the principle of grace.

Ga 5: 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

Otherwise you [singular, a Gentile] also will be cut off [complete ruin].

The cutting off of Gentiles has to do with the principle of salvation by faith through grace. This is not a reference to individual salvation but to the entirety of the group of Gentiles; that is, Gentiles as a group will be cut off if they do not accept grace as the means of salvation.

God cannot save anyone other than by grace through faith, even Gentiles. The argument here is not about an individual Gentile but Gentiles as a whole—note the singular use of “you” in this phrase.

The word “also” indicates that Gentiles as a group could be cut off from God’s plan just like the nation Israel. There is no way to relate to God other than by grace. If we do not come to God on the basis of grace, then He will cut us off. Faith in God’s grace provision is the only way to be saved. If God would not spare His chosen people but cut them off, He would do no less than cut off the Gentiles as a group if they chose to reject the Messiah.

Once “cut off,” there will be no further opportunity to accept the gospel. Only judgment remains for these people. Verses 22 and 23 do not refer to individual salvation but to God’s program for both Jews and Gentiles. “Cut off,” then, does not refer to individual salvation but to corporate salvation. God cut off the nation Israel as a whole and He would cut off the Gentiles as a group.

When Israel rejected grace offered in the person of the Messiah, God cut her off. If Gentiles reject the grace principle, then God will cut them off as well as a group in the future as well.

The position of unbelieving Jews and believing Gentiles as groups is reversible. Gentiles can be the objects of God’s sternness and Israel can be the object of God’s grace again. If God set aside Israel as a group, He can set aside Gentiles as a group. Everything depends on belief in God’s grace.

PRINCIPLE:

The antidote to pride is reverence for God.

APPLICATION:

If we are prone to pride, we need to look at life from God’s viewpoint. There is no ethnic superiority in any of us. Nothing in ourselves renders us acceptable to God.

A penetrating understanding of God will humble us. No one can have a sense of pride and have a reverence for God at the same time. The antidote for pride is reverence for who and what God is.

It is doctrinal error to emphasize the love of God over the justice of God. God is justified in His wrath against unbelievers because they flagrantly reject His revelation. He is very severe in this matter because He has no other option than to send people to hell if they reject His movement on their soul. His movement toward their soul was one of grace.

All the onus for meeting the demands of salvation rests upon God Himself. God’s grace is unconditional; He will provide it no matter who or what we are. It has a conditional sense in that we have to accept His grace by faith. If we reject that condition, then we imbibe God’s severity. A judge cannot bend the law to suit his purposes or desires.

Eph 2: 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

Ti 3: 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,

We cannot trifle with God’s grace. Grace brought us into the family of God and grace gave us many operating principles for Christian living.

Paul did not reject the idea of eternal security of the believer in verses 21 and 22. The context does not deal with individual salvation but with the institutions of the nation Israel and the church. The context is Gentile temptation to be arrogant about their superiority over the Jews. There is nothing in context about salvation at this point. As Israel lost her privilege to share in the Abrahamic Covenant, so the church can lose blessings of God’s provision.

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