All Israel Will Be Saved // Understanding God in Romans 11
Do we believe that all Israel will be saved?
For most of Church history, a large part of the Church believed that we were moving away from Israel and God’s plan for the Jewish people—that all Israel will be saved. However, Paul paints a much different picture for us in Romans 11.
Paul reveals that not only does God still have a plan for Israel now… But that all of history is moving towards the final salvation of Israel when the Messiah returns to Zion.
The Faithfulness of God
Before we get to the question of “Israel in the plan of God”, look at God’s faithfulness now.
Paul uses himself as the ultimate example. Romans 11:1 says, “Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.”
God couldn’t have rejected Israel, Paul says, because I’m part of Israel and he saved me. Israel maintains her place in the plan of God, for the sake of God’s promises to the forefathers.
So, what is this plan Paul refers to?
Romans 11:25-26 lays the blueprint out and demonstrates how God involves Gentile believers in it as well.
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in”. (NKJV)
Place for Jews and Gentiles
Based on this verse alone, it’s clear that God’s design for his people, it directly connects to the Gentile world.
Earlier in verse 11 we see that salvation arrives to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous. The Gentile world has a very specific calling to the Jewish people. Deuteronomy 32:21 foretells this.
The Gentile world sometimes ignores her calling: provoking the Jewish people to jealously because of her relationship with the God of Israel. Sadly, throughout most of history, the Gentile Church has done quite the opposite.
Turning the Tide
Christians were to behave in such a way that would stir up a desire that demands a response. They were to draw the Jewish people to the love of Messiah. Instead, the Church has widely persecuted the Jewish People.
Many Gentile believers have come to see the error in this. More and more churches are becoming involved in dialogues with the Jewish community. They are learning how they can turn the tide of antisemitism and be a light to their Jewish brothers and sisters.
Yet, until the Gentile Church comes into a full understanding of their calling in their relationship and responsibility to Israel, this partial blindness will continue.
All Israel Will be Saved
Messianic Jewish theologian Dr. David H. Stern explains:
“Greek plerdma (“fullness”) probably refers not to number (the full complement of Gentiles saved throughout history) but to breadth of representation… The fullness of the Gentile world comes in when all components and subgroups of humanity are contributing people to the Kingdom.”.
The Gentile members of the Church play a crucial role in God’s plan for salvation for Israel, including the day when “all Israel will be saved”.
When the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, God will turn his gaze towards Israel, as Romans 11:26 lays it out. It entreats the reader to ask, who is Israel?
What does “Israel” mean?
“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)
Who exactly is this powerful verse speaking of?
Some scholars believe Paul refers to a spiritual Israel. Meaning, it enmeshes the Gentile Church with Israel, creating a so-called “new Israel”.
But this perspective reduces the purposes and promises specifically made to the descendants of Abraham! And it doesn’t line up with Paul’s careful distinction between his kinsmen and the believing Gentiles throughout his passionate letter.
In fact, Israel here refers to actual, ethnic Israel.
All Israel will be saved when the Deliverer comes from Zion. The existing, partial hardening of Israel dissolves. The salvation of Israel leads from death to life for the whole world.
How can we know for sure that this will happen?
The Meaning of Irrevocable
Romans 11:29 says: “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (NASB)
This is a curious word, irrevocable. Legal contexts commonly employ it. To put it quite simply, something irrevocable cannot be altered. Consider irrevocable trusts – they are in-dissolvable funds. Or, irrevocable gifts which under U.S. tax law the giver cannot reclaim.
Now apply that in a spiritual context. What God ordains does not have a “return to sender” option. The Greek word used in Romans 11:29 is ametamelēta. In English, this relates to something from which one cannot repent, something permanent.
Israel’s calling as an elect people still has a place in God’s plan, now and even in the future.
The Relationship Between God and Israel
“Despite the majority of Israel currently still being in rebellion, God will not forget His people, and will pour His Spirit on Israel at a specific point in time, in agreement with the covenantal promises.” Dr. Eitan Bar, One for Israel.
God’s might and power is evident in His everlasting promise to Israel (first laid out in Genesis 12:1-3). There, the Lord promises He will make Abram into a great nation and will bless him.
Even when Israel rejected God, her calling was certain. When we are faithless, He is faithful. You can look at Israel to understand how a righteous King relates to his people. How a father relates to his oldest child. It’s both severe and faithful.
Until All Israel Will Be Saved
Romans 11 establishes that Gentile believers in Jesus have a very important role in God’s plan of salvation. It is an incredibly rich and yet also mysterious passage of Scripture. In this plan, Israel too has a specific function.
And from Paul’s vantage point, God’s specific purpose for Israel combines with the purposes He has for the nations – for the entire world.
This is because, we see in Romans 11:15 that their rejection of the Messiah resulted in reconciliation to the world. So then, when the Jewish People accept their Messiah, it will result in nothing less than life from the dead.
“This seems to suggest that Israel entering her fullness will trigger the general resurrection and the consummation of all things,” explains Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann.
Jew and Gentile Together
One thing becomes clear. Sharing the Gospel with the Jewish people, which some think has an unusual amount of attention or priority, significantly relates to all humanity.
In the Kingdom to come, Israel and the nations will worship God together. As we walk in our God-ordained callings as Jews and Gentiles in Messiah, we honor Adonai and get a taste of that Kingdom fellowship now!
Consider today how you contribute to the fulfillment of Paul’s exhortation to awaken the Jewish people. May we press on until all Israel believes and the King is on the throne.
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