By James W. Hester
As a whole, the denominational world accepts the above proposition verbatim. One would be hard pressed indeed to find a preacher among them who did not believe that Israel by some mysterious happenstance shall be saved. As to how this will come about, they differ; some could not tell you if they had to, yet believe that it will happen. And while Israel is heralded as God’s chosen people; they cry out for her restoration, and need of salvation. Multitudes stand in awe of her; she is both loved and feared. All eyes are fixed upon Israel, and all the things she does are viewed with great interest. Her shortcomings are never seen for she can do no wrong. You hear it said that we had better be good to Israel if we want the blessings of God.
But what is the meaning of Romans 11:26, as it is believed by many?
All Israel Shall Be Saved
Adam Clarke: “Shall be brought in the way of salvation by acknowledging the Messiah. . . In what way Christ is to come out of Zion, and what way or by what means He is to turn away transgression from Jacob, we cannot tell.”
Albert Barnes: “That is in this manner; or when the great abundance of the Gentiles shall be converted, then all Israel shall be saved. . . Shall be recovered from their rejection; be restored to the divine favor; become followers of the Messiah, and thus be saved as all other Christians. “
The Catholic Douay [Confraternity] (in footnote): “The Jews remain the people of God’s predilection, and will eventually be converted and saved.”
The Scofield Bible (in footnote): “During the great tribulation a remnant out of Israel will turn to Jesus the Messiah, and will become His witnesses after the removal of the church. Some of these will undergo martyrdom and some will be spared to enter the millennial kingdom.”
Dake’s Annotated Bible (in footnote): “This refers to the whole nation of Israel that will be alive in Palestine when Christ comes. It is at that time that all the rest of Israel will be gathered.
Notes by B. W. Johnson: “After the fulness of the Gentiles has come in, the Jews, as a people, shall be saved. That is of the Jews then living, the greater part shall be converted. The nation shall turn to the Lord.” Now note his comment on verse 28-32, “To this day He has preserved Israel, and yet purposes the salvation of the nation.”
E.M. Zerr: “It means that the Jews as a nation will give up its stand against Christ and acknowledge Him to be the Messiah of the scriptures.”
The Bible Handbook: By Joseph Angus, but revised, by Samuel G. Green, has this to say: “By and by Israel, as a whole, shall be converted to God.”
While we respect scholarship, yet appropriate for this time are the words of I.B. Grubbs in the preface of hiss Exegetical Analysis, of which we quote in part.
There is a sort of idolatrous worship offered at the shrine of scholarship that greatly interferes with mental independence in interpretation and the ready acceptance of conclusions that may be justified by the principles applicable in the case apart from the mere approbation of learned expositors. Exegetes should be consulted as aids and not quoted as authorities whatever may be their learning or the weight of their names. . . The unreasonable reverence for great names and the idolatry offered to learning which is so prevalent must be abandoned.
To this we say, well said and amen.
Other works could have been quoted, but may these few suffice for they seem to represent the thinking of the whole. Please note that all hold to a future event for the salvation of Israel. How do they do this? By the mis-use of some Old Testament Scriptures, many of which point directly to the New Testament age which we are now in. For this study, I request the reader to please open to Romans 11:25-27 and note:
The Bible, A Good Commentary
Looking now in Romans 11:26,27 we see that (1) All Israel shall be saved; (2) Saved in the same way [or manner] in which it was written; (3) The Deliverer shall come out of Zion and turn away ungodliness from Jacob; (4) And in compliance to God’s new covenant their sins would be forgiven. Abridged as the words of Paul are, as it is often also with prophecy, it is necessary to turn to Isaiah 59:20,21 where “it is written,” that Israel shall be saved to learn the condition of her salvation, and when it will take place. We quote from the [KJV]:
And the redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.
In considering both the words of Isaiah and Paul, Christ is called both a Redeemer and Deliverer; and so he is. He was to come to Zion; and so he did. “I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies; my house shall be built in it” (Zech. 1:16). Isaiah in speaking of the establishment of the Lord’s house said, “And will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:3). Now let us note unto whom he would return.
In a special way and for salvation would he come unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob. His purpose in coming was to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15; Jn. 1:11, 12; Acts 13:38,39). Peter too, did emphasize conditional salvation for Israel, “Unto you first God, having raised up His son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:26). This took place on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem (Lk. 24:49; Acts 2:37-41). Jesus became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him (Heb. 5:9), as the angel had announced (Mt. 1:21; Lk. 2:11). And, as God would have all men saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4); the Redeemer had come for that purpose, just like the prophet said he would (Isa. 59:20); and like Jesus said must come to pass (Lk. 24:44).
It is astonishing how God can call things that be not as though they were (Rom. 4:17), and look down the stream of time and state volumes in few words, as he did in Isaiah 59:20,21. Note again verse 20: “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.” That some would reject, while others would receive the Redeemer is distinctly implied. Other Scriptures are plain: “Who hath believed our report and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (Isa. 53:1) Paul used this very Scripture, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel” (Rom. 10:16). And too, John wrote, “That He [Christ) came unto His own and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (Jn. 1:11,12). Thus, declaring that salvation came to the Jews on condition. “And ye will not come unto me that ye might have life” (Jn. 5:40). So, the very Scripture that Paul used to prove that “all Israel shall be saved,” proves that they will be saved on condition. Now let us notice verse 21 of Isaiah 59:
As for me this is my covenant with them: God’s part in the scheme of redemption – in turning men from transgression, is revealed in the covenant, “My covenant.” Moses was very plain: “God made a covenant with us in Horeb” (Deut. 5:1-3). This covenant they were to learn, keep, and do. This was a continuing covenant. The Hebrew writer tells us that the Lord did not regard them, “Because they continued not in my covenant” (Heb. 8:9). This is a quote from Jeremiah 31:31-34, where the prophet says, “For my covenant they brake.” When a covenant is not continued in, or broken, the provisions of that covenant are legally void. So, in finding fault with the first covenant the Lord God promised the second [the new]. And in compliance to its laws we have remission of sins, but the apostate who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing (for by it he was sanctified) and has insulted the Spirit of grace, has only a dreadful expectation of judgment (Heb. 10:29). However, unto the “covenant keeper,” Paul said: “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead the Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Heb. 13:20,21).
Now, were not the Jews of Paul’s day under the “new and everlasting covenant”? Is not this the covenant of promise spoken of by Isaiah and Jeremiah, in which their sins would be remembered no more? Certainly it is. Then, what is the problem that men have with Romans 11:26, “So all Israel shall be saved as it is written”? Written in Isaiah 59:20,21 and Jeremiah 31:31-34, and a few other places as well. Could it be in the term “all, ” all Israel shall be saved? Note: When God said, “I will make a new covenant, and in that covenant all shall know me” (Jer. 31:31,34), didn’t he mean that all who would continue in his covenant would know, or have a relationship with him, as he says: “I will be to them a God and they shall be my people” (Heb. 8: 10)? And in the prophecy of Isaiah 2:2,3, where it is said of the government of the Lord’s house that all nations shall flow into it, do not we understand that all nations would be invited or accepted in the Lord’s house (Mt. 11:28,29; Rev. 22:17)? And when Jesus said, “And if I be lifted up, from the earth, I will draw all men unto me” (Jn. 12:32), surely we understand that all men here are the ones who hear and learn (Jn. 6:44,45; Rom. 10:17; Mk. 16:15,16; Acts 28:24), having exercised their own free will. Likewise, “So all Israel shall be saved” as it is written; just like the prophet said, “when they turn from their transgression” (Isa. 59:20) and receive a blessing (Acts 3:26).
Dear reader, all Israel shall be saved, just like all Mexico shall be saved. “For God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34,35). If men only knew what the gospel is for (Rom. 1:16), and understand that now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2); that the promise that God made to Abraham, was not changed by the law of Moses (Gal. 3:16-18); having sealed the promise with an oath which cannot be changed. On this we have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast (Heb. 6:13-19). The hope of men, both Jews and Gentiles is in the gospel (Rom. 1:16). To the Corinthians Paul had preached the gospel; they had received the gospel; they stood in the gospel; they were saved in the gospel, on condition of their faithfulness (1 Cor. 15:1,2). And to the Colossians Paul wrote, “If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you have heard” (Col. 1:23).
In vain do the premillennialists look for a future age in which salvation will be granted to the Jew; neither can they expect another way or means of salvation for the Jew. This is a perversion of the word. It is dangerous to make a playground of the word of God; to imagine things not there; to have Paul saying things he did not say; that is, that in some future time the “whole” of Israel shall be saved.
A hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in (Rom. 11:25).
First we will note the hardening of Israel; the use God made of it and who was responsible for this hardening.
That God answers every man according to the multitude of his idols, and sends a strong delusion unto all who believe not the truth, is a fact clearly revealed unto man (Ezek. 14:1-9; 2 Thess. 2:10-12). Likewise, it is also equally true that man hardens his own heart by a repeated rejection of his word. A good example is found in the book of Exodus. In dealing with Pharaoh the Lord sent Moses and Aaron unto him with a message, confirmed by miracles, “Let my people go” (Exod. 5:1-2). Pharaoh refused, and it was said that God hardened his heart. In Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies we learn that three Hebrew words are used respecting the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. One implies his strengthening himself against all fear of alarm, stoutly resisting the warnings and motives urged upon him, and the terrors of God’s judgment. Another seems to point to his insensibility and want of conviction, as the same word is applied to the ear when not duly impressed with sounds, or to the eye when it becomes dim. Now, it cannot be imagined that the Lord God made Pharaoh evil for he was already evil. And every act of obedience imposed upon him, and every act of disobedience by him, God used to demonstrate his power, and accomplish his purpose, by heaping honor upon himself. Many were the times that God used bad men to carry out his will. Luke tells us that “Judas by transgression fell and went to his own place” (Acts 1:25). Now, the Lord did not make him evil yet he used him to carry out the inevitable.
The sectarians, as well as a few brethren, have attempted to establish a time for “all Israel being saved,” by crediting Paul with an argument which he did not make. A look into a few translations [mis-translations] will serve in verifying our point (Rom. 11:25).
The Emphasized New Testament (J.B. Rotherham): Until the full measure of the nations shall come in.
The New Testament in Modern Speech (Richard F. Weymouth): Until the great mass of the Gentiles has come in. Now get what is said in v. 26.
The Twentieth Century New Testament.- And then all Israel shall be saved.
The New Testament in Modern English (J.B. Phillips): Once this has happened, all Israel shall be saved.
Others say the same; all affirming that the Jews would be hardened until all the Gentiles are saved, then all the Jews will be saved. Thus establishing a “when” time for the salvation of Israel. But dear reader Paul did not say that. Their translations are very poor commentaries. And, the “well loved” Revised Standard Version being among the sorry lot says: “Until the full number of the Gentiles come in.” To this Albert Barnes agrees, “It doubtless refers to the future spread of the gospel among the nations; to the time when it may be said that the great mass, the abundance of the nations, shall be converted to God. . . . Then he says, all Israel shall be saved.”
What Does The Bible Say?
We must never forget that the Jews are accountable to the same God; must obey the same gospel; be in the same body, and have the same hope. Their rejection of God, his plan to save them, destroys not the faithfulness of God. The decrees of the covenant are still intact (Rom. 3:34). So when Paul spoke of a “hardening in part,” he refers to the same class whom the Lord encountered in Matthew 13:13-17; John 12:39-43, and he himself in Acts 28:24-28, which the prophet did foretell in Isaiah 6. The words of Jesus in the above mentioned gospels, and the writings of Paul in the Roman letter well document the prophecy of Isaiah as belonging to the times of the New Testament. The hardening of the Jews would persist until the cities be wasted without inhabitant and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate (Isa. 6:11). In Daniel 9:26,27; as well as the Lord’s account in Matthew 24; Mark 13; and Luke 21, foretell of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the end of Judaism. This was the “Lord’s doings.” Titus, upon seeing the dead bodies, gave a groan, and spreading his hands to heaven, called God to witness that this was not his doings. We have certainly had God for our assistant in this war, and it was no other than God who ejected the Jews out of these fortifications; for what could the hands of men or machine do towards overthrowing these towers? (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 12, Section 4, and Book 6, Chapter 9, Section 1).
In speaking of the end – the abomination of desolation; when they would see the Roman army surround Jerusalem, the Christians were to flee to the mountains (Pella) for safety. But this he said would not happen until the gospel had been preached in all the world (Matt. 24:14-22; Lk. 21:20-24). From this we learn that the Gentiles would have heard the word of their salvation, and come into the fold; or in the words of Paul, “The fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). That dear friend, is exactly what happened. The gospel had been preached universally, and this was the only way the Gentiles could come in (Col. 1:23), and this took place before Jerusalem fell.
More on the hardening of Israel: Where there is a hardening of the heart there is rebellion against God. When Pharaoh hardened his heart against the will of God, he oppressed God’s people. Likewise, when the Jews hardened their hearts in rejection of his word, they oppressed the people of God. Paul quotes David in Psalm 69:9, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me” (Rom. 15:3). Now who could convince the hardened Jew that he had ever reproached God, and all the rebellion and rejection of God he blamed the Son of God for? Yet that is what happened. When men do not like the truth of God when it is taught, they will hate the one doing the teaching, and think they are right in doing so. To the hardened Jew the gospel of Christ became a stumbling block (Rom. 11:9; 1 Cor. 1:23), and he continued in that condition, oppressing the church; afflicting God’s children and at last was restrained only by the destruction of Jerusalem; the temple; the end of the Jewish system, as the prophet said (Isa. 6:11,12). Jesus views this as “The days of vengeance that all things which are written may be fulfilled (Lk. 21:22).
Until the Fulness of the Gentiles Be Come In: Our beloved brother R.L. Whiteside in his Romans Commentary reminds us that “until” does not tell what will follow the event or events mentioned in the phrase it introduces, or governs. He refers to these examples: Gen. 8:5; 46:43; 1 Sam. 15:35; Jn. 5:17; and Rom. 8:22 (please read). Also, definition three of my large dictionary says, “Up to the time of; up to the time when; up to the time of some (occurrence).” One thing we know for certain, that the Gentiles were coming in – accepting the gospel, while the Jews were rejecting it and this continued to be so before and after the destruction of the Jewish system, and nothing changed other than the termination of the persecution of the Christians by the hardened Jews.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 11, pp. 338-341
June 2, 1988