The title assigned this little piece is one which I suppose has been hashed and re-hashed many times and with differing views as to its application by Paul in his Roman epistle. Therefore, for what it's worth, I would like to offer what I understand the apostle Paul to mean when he spoke those words, "And thus, all Israel shall be saved" in Rom. 11:26.
First of all, I realize that a large portion of Christians believe that this is a declaration that at some point yet in our future, the entire nation of the Jews are all suddenly going to collectively accept Jesus as the Messiah and that God will then save them all i.e., the entire Jewish race. But brethren, is this really what the beloved apostle means by these words? Please understand that I do not disparage those who may have that understanding. So, if you should hold that view please, I genuinely mean no disrespect, and I certainly will not be unkind to you! At the same time, I would just simply ask you to share just a thought or two with me as we consider this most intriguing controversy. I certainly don't claim that I have the corner on "truth," so maybe we can both learn from this little study.
I would like to begin by calling our attention to several other things that this very same apostle says in this epistle that has persuaded me that Paul's meaning here is something other than this popularly held view. First of all, in my opinion, if this proposed view is correct, then I just believe that it would render other indisputable statements by Paul contradictory and/or meaningless. For example, just two chapters earlier, Paul said this:
"I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have GREAT SORROW and INCREASING GRIEF IN MY HEART, For I could WISH MYSELF were ACCURSED, SEPARATED FROM CHRIST for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites..." (Rom. 9:1-4)
Brethren, in light of this statement, I believe that a question of great moment is warranted here: Now, if Paul is about to, just two chapters later in this same epistle, declare that all those Jews of National Israel (Abraham's physical descendants) are going to be saved anyway, then why should Paul have "great sorrow and increasing grief" in his heart for his kinsmen according to the flesh? And even more than that, why would Paul declare that he could even "wish himself accursed and separated from Christ," if they were all going to be saved anyway? Do you see the problem here? Beloved, with all due respect, I am just simply not able to find any consistency or harmony at all between that popular doctrine and what Paul says there in 9:1-4. In my mind, they just don't square.
Now that I have explained to you what I do NOT believe Paul meant by that statement in Rom. 11:26, I would at this time like to set forth what I DO understand Paul to mean by that remarkable declaration. I believe that Paul explains himself for us so that we are not left to guess or wonder what he means by his statement, for I sincerely believe that he has NOT left us with some great mystery, but rather speaks with great clarity as to what he means by these things. For example, lets go back to chapter 9 again! After Paul speaks those words of intense grief and grave concern for his kinsmen according to the flesh, he then begins to explain himself. In vs. 6 he says, "But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they ARE NOT all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: "Through Isaac your descendants will be named! That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise--those of the faith of Abraham (the remnant-Emph. mine JG)--would be saved. To put it in its simplest terms---those who believe the gospel of Christ. But really, these words of Paul here, only confirm what he had already spoken way back in chapter 2:28,29 where he said, "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither 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."
Yes, beloved, Paul understood that there was only a "remnant" of all the descendants of Abraham who would ultimately be saved, and it was this that grieved him so deeply. Remember the prophecy he quoted in 9:27, "And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved. (Is. 10:23)
Now with Paul's clear explanation that the "true" Jews were those few who were of the faith of Abraham (the remnant), let us go back now to chapter 11 once more, and again consider Paul's statement, "And thus all Israel will be saved." When one considers the context of the entire chapter, one learns that Paul does not deal only with that remnant of the Jews but also with the addition of the Gentiles, who were brought into the "Israel of God" as a result of "hardening" on the part of the majority of the Jews (vss. 7,11). In vs. 13, Paul begins addressing the Gentile disciples and using the analogy of the olive tree, shows them that they (The Gentiles) being branches from a wild olive tree, have by God's grace through faith, been grafted into the good olive tree as some of the natural branches (apostate majority of Jews) were broken off (vss. 13-19). He says in vss 20,21 that the Jews were broken off for one reason and that was because of their lack of faith, or "unbelief" i.e., because of their rejecting of the Messiah and the Gospel, and then he warns the Gentiles that ONLY because of their "faith" did THEY stand. So, if not for their faith, then God would also break them off as well. So, as the "olive tree" is now indicative of the "Israel of God," it is so very, very important that we not forget, that because of Gentiles now having been grafted into the Olive Tree, that "The Israel of God' now consists of both Jews and Gentiles!" But brethren, wasn't this God's plan from the beginning? Listen to Paul's words to a church of Gentiles: "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. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ! (Eph. 2:12,13) Then he further said to them:
"...that by revelation, there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations were 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." (Eph 3:3-6)
Now, this brings us to a critical part of the Romans Chapter 11 passage, and that is vss. 23-26, for herein, I believe, lies the explanation of Paul's meaning of his statement, "And thus all Israel will be saved." However, before going any further, we must first take a close look at the word "thus" ("so" in the KJV). The word "thus" here, literally means "in this manner, or, in this way." Grammatically speaking, "thus" is an "adverb," and as we all know, "adverbs" are modifiers that tell us how, when, where, or how much." They are used to modify "verbs, adjectives, phrases, clauses, or other adverbs." In our verse under consideration, the word "thus" ("so" in the KJV) is an adverb telling us "how" and it modifies the clause "all Israel will be saved." In its simplest terms, this verse is saying, "And in this manner (in this way), all Israel will be saved." Then in vs. 23, after having already, in the previous verses, explained that it was because of their "faith" in the Christ and the gospel, that the Gentiles had been grafted into the good olive tree (The Israel of God), he now explains how that his kinsmen according to the flesh, could be grafted in AGAIN, but that it was contingent upon the basis that they continue NOT in their unbelief. And this would be a perpetual condition continuing on till the "fulness of the Gentiles has come in."
Therefore, to sum it up, it is my understanding that "The Israel of God" are ALL those, whether Jew or Gentile are His on the basis of their faith in Him and His blood, and Brethren, this is what I understand Paul to be saying in this marvelous passage from our Father's Word.
What do YOU think ?
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- 01 Apr 2004
Could not have said it any better myself.
- 11 Jun 2004
The article on the Israel of God was very helpful. Thank you, A. Griffin, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
- 21 Sep 2004
I was studing this passage and knew who the "Israel of God" is and wanted to put into words an explanation of 11:26. I have several commentaries including that of Calvin, but this by far was the most helpful. R. Converse Philadlephia
- 20 Oct 2004
Nice job Jim. Enjoyed your article very much. Hank
- 23 Oct 2004
Would the "hardening" end? When? Who controlled the "hardening" duration? Why? Is Chapter 11 still in the context of Chapter 9 where it seems that Paul is explaining God's plan for His grace to be basis of salvation rather than man's actions? In 11:28, who is "they" who are enemies for sake of Gentiles(??) concerning the "Gospel"? The "remnant Jews"? Why? Who did God in His sovereign election conclude in unbelief? All? Why?? To have mercy on them all? Who? Does Paul switch back and forth in 25-32 from spiritual Israel to fleshly Israel to spiritual Israel to fleshly Israel? It seems to me that our traditional explanation of ch 9-11 is almost always to attempt to prove that God could not have controlled some men's destiny in order to accomplish His Plan. Yet Paul in the doxology says that our explantions for God's actions to accomplish His Plan are probably deficient.
- 11 Nov 2004
Jim, I found your article concise, understandable, and well written. The question, "Will all Israel be saved?" came up in a Bible study at my church in Miami, Florida. For lack of time the question went unanswered. I Googled the question and found your clear answer. I copied your article for my friend who brought up the question. Thanks for writing and publishing! Miriam Gautier
- 17 Nov 2004
Although I am not a premillenialist, it does not seem altogether responsible to interpret "Israel" to mean the church when the word is used in a positive sense and interpret "Israel" to mean the race of Jews when it is used in a negative sense.
Date: 27 Feb 2006
NASB (modified from the Greek)
25 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 while the fullness of the Gentiles comes in; 26 and
so all Israel will be saved.
NIV (modified from the Greek)
do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may
not be conceited: The Jewish people have experienced a partial blindness
while the fullness (fulfillment) of the Gentiles enter in. 26 And so all
Israel will be saved
Date: 04 Jan 2007
why do you think this interpretation is more correct than alternative
interpretation? how does what follows help our understanding?
Date: 10 Feb 2007
The way the verse is written, the meaning of Romans 11:25 is not clear. Was
all of Israel "partially" blinded, or was part of Israel totally blinded?
Romans 11:7 clears that up. "What then? Israel hath not obtained that which
he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were
election were the remnant, the true Israelites who were faithful to God the
Father, and consequently faithful to God the son. The rest were blinded.
Were they partially blinded, or totally blinded? The answer to that is given
in 2 Thes. 2:11-12, "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion,
that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed
not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." So, these that hated
the truth were blinded that they all might be damned. While I do not fully
understand why they were blinded, since they didn't believe the truth
anyway, it may be that, by stubborn rejection of the truth, they had crossed
the point of no return, and afterward, there was no chance of repentance.
But I don't know.
Israel was not blinded to make way for the Gentiles to be saved. That
wouldn't make any sense. Their blindness had nothing to do with salvation of
It was only for the purpose of damning the chronic unbelievers.
So, what did happen to Israel that would make way for the Gentiles? God
turned them all into unbelievers. Romans 11:32 "For God hath concluded them
all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." To understand this
verse, we need to choose a Bible translation that makes sense, not
necessarily one that is the "latest and greatest." The JFB Commentary
(1961), for example, rejects a careful reading of the KJV in favor of a
modern translation: "Hath shut them all up to unbelief...that He might have
mercy upon all -- i.e., those all of whome he had been discoursing; the
Gentiles first, and after them the Jews...what he says here is that God's
purpose was to shut each of these divisions of men [Jew and Gentile] to the
experience first of an humbled, condemned state, without Christ, and then to
the experience of His mercy in Christ" (JFB p 1173).
I am not condemning the JFB, but I feel the need to show what can happen if
we don't get all our facts clear.
The biblical story, as I see it, is this: Jews, from their beginning, were
"born saved." They were not born sinless, but saved. Under the Law, and the
Mosaic system if they sinned, there were sacrifices and oblations to get
them back into God's favor. It seems that the salvation of Gentiles was, in
large part, dependent upon the Jews (John 4:22). But Israel was continually
a rebellious nation, and the time came when God would have to shut the
nation down, and open the way for everyone to come to the Father on an equal
basis. So He concluded all Israel in unbelief -- meaning ALL Israel, the
believers and the unbelievers alike. He turned all His people into Gentiles
type unbelievers. In a sense, He did, indeed, cast away all His people. Even
Paul, who was tutored by Jesus Himself, understood that if he didn't believe
on the Lord Jesus Christ, he could not be saved.
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the
faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might
be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by
the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." (Galatians 2:16)
But immediately after God turned His people into unbelievers, no effort was
spared in getting the Word of the Gospel of salvation in Christ to all the
Jews in the world. That was accomplished before AD70, which was the
"deadline" (Colossians 1:23). So, in truth, God did not cast away His
people. They all were given a free ride back into the Family of God, by
faith in Jesus Christ, just like the Gentiles.
Incidentally, JFB misread the Scriptures. God did not conclude all men in
unbelief. There was no need. All Gentiles are born in unbelief, so there was
no need to conclude them in unbelief. So, only the Jews were concluded in
Many today believe that Israel will be blinded until the Church is
"Raptured," and then the blindness will be lifted. That begs the question,
Why would the Jews be blinded while the Church is on earth? Some think that
they are blinded to make witness Christ to them more difficult. Why? That
goes against everything we have ever learned about God since our first year
in Sunday School. Jews today are not blinded, because there are no Jews
today. Many people are deceived into believing that they can be Jews by
taking vows, or whatever one does to be become a Jew. Others believe that
they are natural Jews by virtue of family lineage. But since the holocaust
of AD70, there have been no Jews. If you care to look, the Old Testament
pinpoints the time when the blindness was "lifted." Isaiah 6:11-12 describes
the Roman holocaust. That was the time of the end, so often mentioned in the
Bible, and also the time when all Israel was saved.
Date: 26 May 2007
Response to the message dated 23 Oct 2004, 17:03:12.
Would the "hardening" end?
When the fullness of the Gentiles has entered into the believing/saved
Â“tree/IsraelÂ” described in Romans 9:6-8 and 11:16-27.
Who controlled the "hardening" duration?
Because God ordained the fullness of the Gentiles to precede the fullness of
the Jews into the believing/saved Â“tree/IsraelÂ” described in Romans 9:6-8
Is Chapter 11 still in the context of Chapter 9 where it seems that Paul is
explaining God's plan for His grace to be basis of salvation rather than
In 11:28, who is "they" who are enemies for sake of Gentiles (??)
The Â“excised/hardenedÂ” part of the believing/saved Â“tree/IsraelÂ” in
Romans 9:6-8 and 11:25-27.
concerning the "Gospel"?
They donÂ’t believe the Gospel so that the Gentiles will be saved in order
to make them jealous; thus, they are enemies. Once the fullness of the
Gentiles has entered into the believing/saved Â“tree/Israel,Â” then the
Â“excised/hardenedÂ” part can likewise believe and enter; thus, they are
The "remnant Jews"?
Because God wants the fullness of the Gentiles to precede the fullness of
the Jews into the believing/saved Â“tree/Israel,Â” presumably so that no one
Who did God in His sovereign election conclude in unbelief?
First the Gentiles, then the Jews.
Yes, all meaning both.
So that both Gentile and Jew would be shown mercy in disobedience.
To have mercy on them all?
Yes, all meaning both.
God showing mercy to both Gentile and Jew in their disobedience.
Does Paul switch back and forth in 25-32 from spiritual Israel to fleshly
Israel to spiritual Israel to fleshly Israel?
No. The Israel in 11:25-27 is believing/saved Israel, New Covenant Israel,
the Israel described in 9:6-8. The Israel in 11:28-32 is unbelieving/unsaved
Israel, Old Covenant Israel, he Israel described in 9:31 Â– 10:3 and
It seems to me that our traditional explanation of ch 9-11 is almost always
to attempt to prove that God could not have controlled some men's destiny in
order to accomplish His Plan. Yet Paul in the doxology says that our
explanations for God's actions to accomplish His Plan are probably
Yes, chapters 9-11 describe GodÂ’s sovereign election. God controls who gets
saved and when. And yet Paul implies in 11:22 the potential to walk away
from the Faith and lose it all.
Date: 26 May 2007
Hi Mr. Gunter,
I don't think that Paul's grief over the failure of most Jews to be saved in
his day disproves the view that he expected the entire nation of Israel to
be saved at some future point in time. Until that time, they're still dying
in their sins. That's a reason to grieve.
However, I agree that the Israel in 9:6-8 and 11:25-27 is the tree in
11:16-24. It's New Covenant Israel. It will ultimately be comprised of the
part of Israel that is not hardened, the Gentile part that enters and the
no-longer-hardened part that likewise enters. It is in this manner, this
sequence, that all Israel (New Covenant Israel) will be saved, some Jews and
many Gentiles first, and then many more Jews. The Israel in 11:26 is the
entire Israel in 11:25, not just the hardened part.