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Romans 11:16– A good start…

15-09-2021 - Posted by Hans

Now if the firstfruit is holy, the kneading is also; and if the root is holy, the boughs are also

Paul makes two comparisons here that run parallel. It serves to illustrate that what God begins with, even though it is small and unsightly, is a guarantee of the good continuation.

The first comparison with the firstfruits and the kneading is taken from Numbers 15:18-20. There we read that when the first grain is harvested and offered to God, it sanctifies “the kneading” of the bread that is eaten afterwards. “The firstfruits” here (apparently) refers to the current elect and believing part of Israel (:7). They are the firstfruits. “The kneading” is “all Israel” that will follow in the future (:26). By the way, “the kneading” is the same word as in 9:21.

The second comparison Paul makes is that of the holy root and branches. This image is elaborated in the following verses (:16-24). “The root” refers to the origin of Israel as a people: the patriarchs. Starting with Abraham to whom the promises were given. All God’s dealings with the people are based on that holy beginning. Because of God’s oath to the fathers, those who proceed from them (“the boughs”) are also holy.