Pastor David B. Curtis

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The Salvation of All Israel

Romans 11:25-26

Delivered 04/8/18

This morning what I want to do is expand on the teaching I did two weeks ago about the True Vine in John 15:1. In that message I said, "Yeshua identifies Himself, not Judah/Israel, as the genuine 'True Vine.' So what happened to old Israel, physical Israel, the unfaithful vine? Physical Israel is gone, when Yahweh destroyed Israel in A.D. 70 the Church received her inheritance. The only Israel there is today is true Israel, those who believe in Yeshua."

To think that Yahweh was done with physical Israel, is problematic for many believers. They think that God has promises that He must fulfill to physical Israel. So what I want us to do this morning is to look at Paul's words in Romans 11, "In this way all Israel will be saved." This phrase is only five words in the Greek, but upon it have been built multiple theories about Israel.

Bob Deffenbough who is a dispensationalist writes, "Israel's full and final recovery has surely been implied in the preceding verses, but lest there be any doubt that God is going to restore Israel to a place of prominence and blessing in fulfillment of His covenants with the patriarchs, the final recovery of Israel is clearly established in verses 25-32."

It seems to me that Israel's blindness and judgment is what is clearly taught in the preceding verses. Nowhere in these verses is it even hinted that Israel will be restored nationally. As we look at verses 25-26 this morning please keep in mind that Romans 11:11-32 is one section; we must keep this context in mind.

In the message on the True Vine we talked about the olive tree analogy that Paul uses here in chapter 11. I said that I see the "root" of the tree as Abraham and the unilateral covenant that Yahweh made with him. And I see the olive tree as the people of Yahweh, which is made up of both Jews and Gentiles.

Through the analogy of the olive tree Paul shows that the Messianic promises were for one people of Yahweh composed of two separate and distinct national origins. The olive tree represents all believers; both Jews and Gentiles are in this tree, and together they make up the one people of Yahweh. From this analogy Paul writes:

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Romans 11:25 ESV

Paul begins this verse with the Greek word gar, which joins it with what proceeds. Paul is saying that this passage explains what has already been said. I see this as referring to the olive tree and the union of Jews and Gentiles into one tree, which he calls a mystery.

"I do not want you to be unaware "— this is a familiar phrase with Paul, he uses it to draw attention to the importance of what is about to be said. Paul switches here from the singular of verse 24 to the plural in verse 25. He moves from his warning to Gentiles to address the entire congregation.

"Unaware of this mystery"—there are many different views on what this mystery is. But the definition of a mystery is given in chapter 16 verse 25:

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Yeshua the Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith. Romans 16:25-26 ESV

A mystery is something that's been hidden in the past and is now revealed in the Scripture. The word translated "mystery" is the Greek word musterion. Vines writes:

In the New Testament it denotes not the mysterious…but that which, being outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by Divine revelation and is made known in a manner and at a time appointed by God and to those only who are illuminated by His Spirit. In the ordinary sense, a mystery implies knowledge withheld; its Scriptural significance is truth revealed.

In Colossians Paul writes:

the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. Colossians 1:26 ESV

Here Paul talks about the mystery that is "now" being manifested to His saints. What is interesting and very important to understand is that the word "mystery" in Paul's writings occurs in close proximity to the word "stewardship" that Paul used in verse 25:

of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, Colossians 1:25 ESV

Paul associates the two words, mystery and stewardship, many times in his own letters. His stewardship, therefore, is seen to be tied up with the deliverance of the mystery. We could almost say that it's the sum total of what's been committed into his hands.

The Greek word musterion occurs twenty-seven times in the New Testament, three of which are in the Gospels (where it's used in the same context in Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and four in Revelation. The remaining twenty occurrences are all in Paul's letters where it takes on the form of a descriptor for the Gospel.

Paul's use of this word, musterion is not to indicate a secret teaching, rite, or ceremony revealed only to some elite initiates (as in the mystery religions), but truth revealed to all believers in the New Testament. This truth, as Paul says in Colossians 1:26, that, "…has now been revealed to His saints…" Is, "the mystery hidden for ages and generations," namely the Old Covenant era and people.

In Ephesians 3 Paul unfolds in detail this mystery:

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Yeshua on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. Ephesians 3:1-3 ESV

We see here that Paul's stewardship is the mystery. Paul says in verse 4, "Look, you can understand how I gained my insight into the mystery of Christ. God revealed it to me." What is the mystery?

which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Yeshua through the gospel. Ephesians 3:5-6 ESV

The mystery very simply is that Jew and Gentile are brought together now in one body called the Church. The Tanakh spoke about Gentile salvation. The Tanakh spoke about Jewish salvation. The Tanakh never fully revealed that these two would be brought together in one body, the body of Christ, the Church. Gentiles are seen experiencing salvation in the Tanakh. But it is always in the context of Israel. Now here we find God is going to bring Gentile and Jews together in a relationship of oneness in the body. Paul further explains this in chapter 2:

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:11-12 ESV

Gentiles were "strangers to the covenants of promise," which are the roots of the olive tree. This was the position of all Gentiles; hopeless, without God.

But now in Christ Yeshua you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility Ephesians 2:13-14 ESV

We have been brought near to the God of Israel, Yahweh by the blood of Christ. We have been grafted into the roots of Israel. Notice that both groups are now one:

and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. Ephesians 2:16-18 ESV

Both groups, Jew and Gentile, are in one body. In Christ we both have access to the Father. This is the mystery; Jew and Gentile are one in Christ, we are both in the body of Christ, we are fellow citizens. This what Paul just said in Romans 11:17-24 about the olive tree. Jews and Gentiles were grafted into the SAME tree, sharing the same root.

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Romans 11:25 ESV

Again he emphasizes that he does not want the Gentiles or the Jews to be conceited. Neither is better than the other both of them stand by grace in the same body. So there is no room for pride.

"A partial hardening has come upon Israel"—"partial" here is adverbial and modifies "has come upon," not hardening. It should read, "A hardening has happened in part to Israel." The hardening isn't partial, it is that it has happened to part of Israel. The remnant is not hardened. This is what Paul said in:

What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, Romans 11:7 ESV

Please notice that the "elect" obtained it, and the rest, which is Israel, were hardened. So only part of Israel is hardened, and that part is the great majority of them.

He's just saying that the hardening is not complete. There are some who have been saved out of their total depravity and brought to the knowledge of the Lord Yeshua. In other words, he's saying the same thing that he said in verse 5:

So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. Romans 11:5 ESV

Now remember what Paul has said, if there is no partial hardening of Israel, then there is no Gentile salvation:

Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! Romans 11:12 ESV

So Israel's sin brought about Gentile salvation. Let me ask you this: What else did Israel's hardening bring about? It brought about the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, which brought to an end the Old Covenant mode of existence and brought in the full consummation of the New Covenant. Judgment had to come on Israel because of her sin.

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Romans 11:25 ESV

"Until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in"what does the word "until" mean? The Greek phrase used here is achri hos. This phrase means: "even unto a point." Thayer says, "It is used of things that actually occurred and up to the beginning of which something continued." It is a point of reference and not a point of cessation. Let's look at some other uses in the New Testament, which I hope will help you understand this Greek phrase.

Stephen, recounting Israel's history before the High Priest, says this:

"But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. Acts 7:17-18 ESV

The word "until" in verse 18 is achri hos. Does this mean that when the king, that didn't know Joseph, took the throne that the people didn't multiply any more? No, of course not! It is a point of reference. I can prove to you that "until" here does not mean termination. Look with me at Exodus:

Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them. Exodus 1:6-7 ESV

That is what Stephen said in Acts 7. Now let's see what happened when the new king took over.

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. Exodus 1:8 ESV

So if "until" (achri hos used by Stephen in Acts) means: "cessation or termination," then the children of Israel would no longer increase or multiply. The new king did in fact try to stop their growth, but notice what happened:

But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. Exodus 1:12 ESV

The king commanded the midwives to kill the male Israelites at birth, but they would not and so the children of Israel continued to multiply.

So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. Exodus 1:20 ESV

This is after the new king, who didn't know Joseph, did every thing in his power to stop them from growing. The people multiplied and became very mighty! So, I hope you can clearly see that the Greek phrase achri hos does not mean cessation or termination, but is a point of reference.

Let's look at another use of achri hos in the New Testament:

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Galatians 3:19 ESV

Did the Law of Moses end when Christ was born? No! The Law ended at A.D. 70 when it was all fulfilled. Part of the Law was the covenantal curses for disobedience, and this took place in A.D. 70 when Yahweh judged Israel.

So we could read our text, "a hardening has happened to part of Israel 'even unto the point'where the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." So it is not saying that Israel's hardening stops when the fulness of the Gentiles happens. This is very important.

"Until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in"what is the "fulness of the Gentiles"? Bob Deffinbaugh writes, "The fulness of the Gentiles refers to that time when the day of the Gentiles ends and the restoration of Israel begins." He sees the fulness of the Gentiles as signaling the removal of Israel's hardness. This is not what the text says. Paul has already said:

What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, Romans 11:7 ESV

The form of the word indicates that they were hardened by some outside power, some outside force. And that force is none other than Yahweh Himself. Now think about this with me, Paul says, "the elect obtained it," the chosen obtained covenant membership. But the "rest" would be those who were not chosen from eternity past. And since they were not chosen, they never will be chosen, they were hardened. This hardening is a permanent state which will bring judgment. So those of Israel who are hardened will always be that way. So the fulness of the Gentiles will not change that.

John MacArthur writes, "And what is the fullness of the Gentiles? That's the church. When God has all His redeemed in the church collected together, He'll gather them to Himself in the Rapture, I believe, destroy the apostate church on earth and graft back Israel in the Tribulation and then comes the millennial Kingdom and the world blessing."

One commentator writes, "The most credible interpretation seems to be that a day will come when God finishes His work among the Gentiles and then will turn once again with mighty power in saving Jews."

Another writer says, "God knows the number of elect Gentiles He is calling to Christ. When that number is complete, Israel's blindness will be removed. That will happen when Jesus returns to the earth."

Listen, Israel's hardening will never be removed, the ones hardened are the non-elect and they will be judged not saved.

Most commentators see "Fullness" as meaning the full number of Gentiles. The NIV here has, "full number," which is a bad translation. The Contemporary English Version has, "complete number," which is also bad. This word "fullness" is the Greek word pleroma, which means: "completeness." It is the same word Paul used in:

Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! Romans 11:12 ESV

"Full inclusion" is the same word as in our text, it is the word pleroma, and here it is talking about Israel. This fullness of the Gentiles coincides with the fullness of Israel. I think that "Full inclusion" here is referring to the fullness of salvation that was to come in the age to come. This happens at the Parousia of Christ.

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, Ephesians 4:11-13 ESV

The word "until" here is the Greek word mechri, which means, "up to a certain point" (as preposition of extent, denoting the terminus). And the word "fullness" is the Greek pleroma. The gifts stopped when the body was matured. The fullness of the Gentiles has to do with their perfection in Christ; it has nothing to do with numbers. It has to do with the maturity of the body and when it is matured:

And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob"; Romans 11:26 ESV

"All Israel will be saved"there are three main questions here that we must answer: 1) Who is "all Israel"? 2) When will its salvation occur? 3) How will it be accomplished? Cranfield lists four options for Who: (a) all the elect, Jews and Gentiles alike; (b) all the elect of the nation Israel; (c) the whole nation of Israel, including every individual; (d) national Israel as a whole, but not necessarily every individual.

The different views as to When all Israel will be saved are: (a) during the course of present history; (b) immediately before the second coming; (c) at the second coming.

The different view of How all Israel will be saved are: (a) through them coming to faith in Yeshua; (b) through their own faith; (c) through some direct divine intervention, which may or may not involve Christian faith.

Dispensationalism says that at the end of the church age the Church will be raptured out, and God will once again begin to deal with national Israel. During the Tribulation many Jews will be saved and the Millennium will be a time of Jewish dominance. They say that "And so all Israel will be saved" refers to Israel being restored as a nation.

John MacArthur writes, "And so all Israel shall be saved. You know he wanted to say that. And please, there is no way to interpret that other than as the nation Israel and be fair with the text…no way. It cannot refer to a Jewish remnant, it is set in contrast to the doctrine of the remnant, which has already been given. What he is saying is there has always been a remnant, and there's always been a group of Jews redeemed, but some day the nation will be redeemed. Any other viewpoint does terrible injustice to the text…"

There is nothing in this text about "national" Israel. And as we have said those who are not chosen are hardened, and that is the end of it. Many commentators see an insoluble contradiction between chapters 9 and 11. This is because they see chapter 9 teaching that salvation is promised only for spiritual Israel, but they see chapter 11 arguing that ethnic Israel will be saved. Yes, this would be a contradiction if Paul was in fact saying that all ethnic Israel would be saved., but he is not saying that. It is only a remnant that is saved. Other scholars, I use that term loosely, have suggested that Paul did not realize what he would write in chapter 11 when he wrote chapter 9. As you can see making "all Israel" mean ethnic national Israel causes huge problems with this text.

Some scholars also say that the promise of salvation to "all ethnic Israel" contradicts what Paul says about the Jews in:

who killed both the Lord Yeshua and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last! 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 ESV

The non-chosen are hardened and will receive wrath.

After all the time Paul spent in Romans teaching that nationality doesn't matter, it is faith that matters; does he now contradict all he has said and say that someday nationality will be everything? No, he does not!

John Piper writes, "I don't think the meaning of Israel changes between verse 25 and 26. The hardened Israel (the nation as a whole) will be the saved Israel (the nation as a whole)." First of all, the hardened Israel was only part of the nation and the saved have always been the remnant. Secondly, if you don't think the meaning of Israel changes between two verses, you don't understand Paul's opening statement to this whole argument:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, Romans 9:6 ESV

Paul opened his argument with a clear signal that he was redefining "Israel."

As far as the Who, I see "all Israel" here as referring to the remnant of the house of Israel and the remnant of the house of Judah and all the believing Gentiles. The "all" here is the all of:

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. Romans 10:12 ESV

This is "all Israel", it is all who call upon Him, it is all who share the faith of Abraham:

That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, Romans 4:16 ESV

The "it" refers back to verse 13, "the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world" It is the promise that is by faith. What is it that guarantees the promise that you will be an heir? The answer is: God's grace. The only way that our eternal future can be guaranteed is if it rests on God's grace. Grace is the free and undeserved work of God to bring His people to glory.

The last part of this verse sounds a little confusing, but the intent is to say that the inheritance is available to both Jewish believers and Gentile believers who share the faith of Abraham. It was always God's plan to have a single worldwide family; a single seed, Messiah and His people:

Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ. Galatians 3:16 ESV

Then in verse 26 he says:

for in Christ Yeshua you are all sons of God, through faith. Galatians 3:26 ESV

"Sons of God" is a designation for Israel, but it is now used for all believers. Abraham is now the father of all who believe, not just Jews, but Gentiles also:

He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, Romans 4:11 ESV

Paul has been redefining Israel all through this letter:

For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. Romans 2:28-29 ESV

Here Paul makes a distinction between the outward/physical and the inward/spiritual. Once the New Covenant arrived, the only true Jews were those who trusted in the Christ. All other Jews were covenant breakers, no matter what rites they held to.

In this context, Paul uses "Jew" as the people of God, those chosen by Him, those shown God's favor, and those in covenant with God:

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Yeshua and put no confidence in the flesh— Philippians 3:3 ESV

Paul says, "For we are the true circumcision." Circumcision was a technical designation for Israel. But Paul says "we" are the true circumcision, referring to himself and the Philippian Christians. But what Paul says of them is true of all Christians. Theologically, this is very significant. This is Paul's description of the Church of Yeshua the Christ. The Church is the "true circumcision."

Paul seems to be telling us that the "true circumcision" is not determined by ethnic derivation, not determined by the blood flowing in your veins, but rather by the faith that is in your heart. It's a matter of circumcision of the heart.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, Romans 9:6 ESV

"For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel." There is a true Israel, a believing remnant, within the nation Israel. He was telling them that physical decent didn't mean that they were the true people of God:

And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:29 ESV

If you by faith belong to Christ, you are Abraham's seed and an heir according to the promise, it doesn't matter who's blood you have in your veins, but who's faith you have in your heart. It is covenant, not race, that makes one a Jew.

For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. Galatians 6:15-16 ESV

What is the "rule" that we are to walk by? The "rule" ties directly to the previous verses. Paul has no boast except in the cross. That is the "rule" of his life. There is only one walk that we are to walk, and that is the way of the cross, which is metonymy for justification by faith alone. We are to walk by that rule. It is a very narrow path and very few find it. Those who find it are the remnant chosen by grace whom God has drawn.

We, believers, are the Israel of God by faith in Yeshua Christ.

Every Jew and Gentile who has trusted in the Lord Yeshua can say, "I am a Jew. These are my promises. This is my story. This is my Messiah. This is my God"

"All Israel" is all of true Israel, all of spiritual Israel, all of those who are united to Christ by faith. It is all of those who are in the olive tree.

Verse 26 begins with "and in this way" which is the adverb houto and can be translated, "in this manner" all Israel will be saved. Houto can refer to what precedes or to what follows. It seems logical here to connect it with what follows. In this manner all Israel will be saved by the Deliverer who comes out of Zion.

As to the question When; this happens at the parousia:

"THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL BANISH UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB"—this text is conflated from Isaiah 59:20 and 27:9. It is a reference to the second coming. This is one of those places where if you don't know what time it is you will miss-interpret Scripture. All Israel being saved is not future to us. It happened at the return of Christ, which happened in A.D. 70. Preterism is more than just an eschatology, it is a hermeneutic! It effects how you interpret Scripture.

Salvation, which was their perfection in Christ, was not complete until the return of Christ:

so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:28 ESV

This is the only place in the New Testament where the return of Christ is called a Second Coming. His appearing is said to be "for salvation."

Peter states that their salvation was not yet complete:

who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5 ESV

Salvation was ready to be revealed, when? In the last time, which would happen at the return of Christ. Eternal life was something that was to come to them at the Second Coming, in the "age to come":

who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. Mark 10:30 ESV

Eternal life was a condition of the age to come! So at the return of Christ Israel, both houses, receive their salvation, their fullness, and the Gentiles also receive their salvation in its consummated form, in its fullness!

In the Tanakh "the deliverer" is clearly Yahweh, but for Paul it is Yeshua. Because as we have said over and over, Yeshua is Yahweh! The God of Israel.

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