Pastor David B. Curtis


All Israel Will Be Saved

Romans 11:25-26

Delivered 06/03/2012

We are continuing our study of Romans 11 and we come this morning to the words, "As so all Israel will be saved." This phrase is only five words in the Greek, but upon it have been built multiple theories about Israel. I have been saying that this chapter is a dispensational strong hold, well these are their most important verses.

Bob Deffenbough 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 25-32 this morning please keep in mind that Romans 11:11-32 is one section; we must keep this in mind because we haven't been able to look at the whole section in one study.

In our last study we looked at the olive tree. 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:

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery--so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; Romans 11:25 NASB

Paul begins this verse with "for," which is 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, brethren, to be uninformed"-- 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.

"Uninformed 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 establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested... Romans 16:25-26 NASB

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:

that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, Colossians 1:26 NASB

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 this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, Colossians 1:25 NASB

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 manifested to His saints..." Is that which "...has been hidden from the past ages and generations," namely the Old Covenant era and people.

In Ephesians 3 Paul unfolds in detail this mystery:

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles-- if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. Ephesians 3:1-3 NASB

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 in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, Ephesians 3:5-6 NASB

The mystery very simply is that Jew and Gentile are brought together now in one body called the Church. The First Testament spoke about Gentile salvation. The First Testament spoke about Jewish salvation. The First Testament 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 First Testament. 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 formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands-- remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded 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 NASB

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 Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, Ephesians 2:13-14 NASB

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 them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. Ephesians 2:16-18 NASB

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. Isn't 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.

"So that you will not be wise in your own estimation"--again he emphasizes that he does not want the Gentiles or the Jews to be conceited. Neither is better than the othe;r both of them stand by grace in the same body. So there is no room for pride.

"That a partial hardening has happened to Israel"--"partial" here is adverbial and modifies "has happened," 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? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; Romans 11:7 NASB

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 Jesus Christ. In other words, he's saying the same thing that he said in verse 5:

In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God's gracious choice. Romans 11:5 NASB

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

Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! Romans 11:12 NASB

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.

"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 was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, 18 until THERE AROSE ANOTHER KING OVER EGYPT WHO KNEW NOTHING ABOUT JOSEPH. Acts 7:17-18 NASB

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:

And Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7 But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them. Exodus 1:6-7 NASB

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

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

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 afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel. Exodus 1:12 NASB

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 was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. Exodus 1:20 NASB

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 the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made. Galatians 3:19 NASB

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.

"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? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; Romans 11:7 NASB

The form of t he 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, "those who were chosen 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 transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! Romans 11:12 NASB

"Fulfillment" 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 "fulfillment" 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 some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 NASB

The word "until" here is the Greek word mechri (meck-re), 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 so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB." Romans 11:26 NASB

"And so 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 Yeshau; (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 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 insists 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 both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost. 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 NASB

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 they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; Romans 9:6 NASB

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, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; Romans 10:12 NASB

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

For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, Romans 4:16 NASB

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 spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ. Galatians 3:16 NASB

Then in verse 26 he says:

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26 NASB

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

and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, Romans 4:11 NASB

Paul has been redefining Israel all through this letter:

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. Romans 2:28-29 NASB

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 true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, Philippians 3:3 NASB

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 Jesus 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 they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; Romans 9:6 NASB

"All are not Israel who are from the nation 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 belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:29 NASB

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 is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. Galatians 6:15-16 NASB

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 Jesus Christ.

Every Jew and Gentile who has trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ 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 so" which is the adverb houto (who-toe) 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 REMOVE 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 Chris,t which happened in A.D. 70. Preterism is more than just an eschatology, it is a hermeneutic! It affects how you interpret Scripture.

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

so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. Hebrews 9:28 NASB

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 are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5 NASB

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":

but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. Mark 10:30 NASB

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 First Testament "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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