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The Net Bible rendering of today’s text.

Paul uses the metaphor of an olive tree in today’s passage. This is a common word picture in scripture, depicting the dependancy of the branches on the root. He makes the point that the Jews were like branches that were removed from the root and that the Gentiles were grafted in. They now are receiving the life-giving spiritual nourishment from the vine. That’s good news.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. But Paul adds a caution–watch your attitude! Don’t gloat over the Jews’ removal. And don’t boast about the fact that God chose to graft you in. It wasn’t your doing. If you’re going to boast about anything, boast about how generous God is in treating you so well

Our passage ends with this statement: “Don’t be arrogant, but fear.” What do you suppose that means? I think it means to keep a healthy respect for God’s sovereignty and never to presume upon it. I’ve heard parents tell their presumptuous children: “I brought you into this world and I can take you out!” (I don’t recommend they follow through with that threat, by the way!) But God could literally take us out if He chose to! We must maintain a humble attitude, recognizing that we don’t at all deserve to be recipients of God’s grace. We should remain in awe of how generous He has been to us, bestowing such benefits even though we don’t at all deserve it.

We should live with a grateful attitude of appreciation, not with an arrogant one of entitlement.