NKJV - 16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
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Paul makes this statement in the context of discussion of God's grace in accepting Gentile Christians into the covenant relationship that He formerly had exclusively with Israel. Paul compares the acceptance of the Gentiles to the grafting of a wild olive shoot (that is, the Gentiles) onto an existing olive tree (the long history of God's dealings with the Jewish people, starting with Abraham), and says that if the root of the tree (that is, the patriarchs of Judaism, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) are holy or blessed by God, then the Gentile Christians who have been figuratively grafted on to the tree are blessed, also. In the same way, a lump of dough (representing the Gentile Christians) is made holy or sanctified by the offering of a firstfruit portion of that lump (representing the patriarchs) to God (as described, for example, in Numbers 15:19-21).
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