About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 11

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All Israel Will Be Saved  (ch.11:25-36)  


In verse 25 Paul says, "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mysteryÖ"  The book of Romans is a defense of what constitutes salvation so that no one will be ignorant of the truth.  Part of the salvation message is the salvation for both Jews and Gentiles.  After what Paul has said in early chapters he does not want people to be ignorant of the fact that God is not finished with the Jews as people, or, Israel as a nation.  It's sad to say though that many people are ignorant of these things today.  Worst still are those who promote the unbiblical teaching of Replacement Theology, meaning, Israel has been replaced with the church in the eyes of God and prophetic history.


The specific reason why Paul is now speaking to the issue of Israel in chapters 9 through 11, as he says here, is that he does not want the Gentiles to be conceited because of the fact that they have been accepted into the plan of salvation.  The arrogance of man is an ever present tendency.  The sad fact of the matter is that the Gentile believers have been arrogant when it comes to these matters.  The church throughout much of its existence has been pretty anti-Jewish in nature.  This began to slowly change in the last half of the 1500's when certain groups, like the Puritans, began to be interested in Biblical prophecy.             

In verses 25 and 26 Paul goes on to say that Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles have come in.  The hardening means the faithlessness of the Jews when it comes to Jesus.  Paul uses the word "full" again, but this time he uses it in connection with the Gentiles coming to faith in Jesus.  Earlier the word "full' was used in connection with Israel.  Now it is used in connection with the Gentiles.  It is clear that Paul is saying that there is a certain number of Gentiles that will be saved before this age ends.  When that number is reached, all Israel will be saved.  Note that Paul uses the word " Israel ", not the word "Jews".  I don't believe I'm making too much about this, but because Paul uses " Israel " and not "Jews", I believe he has the nation of Israel in mind.  The nation will return to Jesus.  This is important when it comes to end time Biblical prophecy.     


When thinking of prophecy and the book of Revelation, I believe there will be Gentiles saved during the Great Tribulation.  I see this being the great multitude seen in Revelation 7:9 and following.  If I'm right on this point, then during the Great Tribulation there will be a vast number of people getting saved, as I've mentioned earlier.  At some point during the time of tribulation the last Gentile will be saved.  Then, at the return of Jesus those Jews who are not killed by enemy forces will be saved upon seeing their Messiah return in the sky.  If you read the last few chapters of Zechariah you'll see that to be true.       


Paul makes a dramatic statement in verse 26.  He says, "All Israel will be saved."  Once the fullness of Gentiles comes into the faith, all Israel will be saved.  I'll say it again.  All Israel does not mean all Jews.  It means the remnant of Jews who are still alive at the end of the Great Tribulation.  All the Jews who survive the Great Tribulation will be saved.   


Some interpret Israel in this verse as Christians, both
Jew and Gentile, since Paul has mentioned earlier that everyone who claims to be a Jew is not necessarily a real New Testament style Jew.  It is very clear from the context that Paul is speaking about the nation of Israel.  He is not talking about a spiritual Israel consisting of both Jews and Gentiles.  Once again, we should understand Israel in these chapters to refer to the descendents of Abraham as was understood in the Old Testament because this is the way in which Paul has been using the terms Jews and Israel in Romans.  It is bad Biblical interpretation to suggest the Jews are a combination of both Gentile and Jewish New Testament Christians.


In verses 26 and 27 Paul quotes from Isaiah 59:20 and 21 and Isaiah 27:9 when he says, "the Deliverer will come ... and this is my covenant with them, when I will take away their (IsraelĎs) sins."  This covenant was spoken to Abraham, confirmed with Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and others all the way through the Old Testament, including King David and the prophets.  If you read Zechariah 12 through the end of the book, you'll see Israel's deliverance.  The point is made that they have never been delivered in the way these promises state.   Therefore, Godís covenant, His promises of the Old Testament, is still meant for the Jews, not for a spiritual Israel we call the church. 


In verses 28 Paul says that concerning the gospel, the Jews are enemies to the Gentile believers.  The Jews are enemies because they oppose the Gentile Christians.  Paul then says that even though the Jews are the Gentiles enemies, they are loved by God because of the patriarchs.  What does this mean?  The word "patriarchs" refer to the fathers of Israel, meaning, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  God gave these men specific promises.  He gave these men a covenant that would apply to them and their descendents.  God will honour these promises and the covenant spoken to the patriarchal fathers of Israel.  He cannot, nor will not, take these promises back and give them to someone else.  Again, these promises have nothing to do with works as Paul has previously stated.  These promises have nothing to do with Israel 's ability to live up to what God expects.  It's all a matter of God's sovereign choice, a matter of His grace, also as Paul has stated.   


The word "election" here refers to the fact that God has chosen the Jews, or "elected" the Jews to be special priestly nation to the nations of the world.  That was God's plan for Israel all along, which by the way, will be fulfilled during the thousand year rule of Jesus on earth.  The Greek word translated as "election" here u is "ekloge", which means "to choose".  It was God's choice to pick Abraham from all the other men of the world.  Abraham did nothing that was worth God calling him to be the father of a great nation.  Abraham was later "declared" as a righteous man, not be he was righteous but because he simply believed all the things that God had promised him.  Abraham was not righteous when God first called him.  Abraham was never really righteous.  He even doubted at times that God would help his wife Sarah have a baby boy, thus the birth of Ishmael from his wife's slave girl.  God simply declared Abraham as righteous, as He declares us as righteous today, assuming we believe as Abraham believed.        


In verse 29 Paul says that Godís gifts and His call are irrevocable.  This is very important when refuting the false doctrine of Replacement Theology.  This means that if God made a promise to Abraham and to his descendents, that promise will be fulfilled in them, and not in anyone else.  God called Abraham's descendents Israel to be a priest to the nations (Exodus 19:6).  This calling is irrevocable.  God will not, even cannot, go back on a promise.  If He could, we are in no way assured of our salvation. 


Verses 30 and 31 make it clear.  The Gentiles now have the opportunity for salvation due to God's sovereign choice.  The Jews will once again have their opportunity, also by God's sovereign choice.  There is still hope for the Jews, and even more than hope.  There is God's promise of a great future for Israel.               


Those holding to Replacement Theology say that God
did not change His mind, did not go back on His
promises to Abraham.  Israelwould be a great nation, but it's not national Israel.  It's spiritual Israel, meaning all New Testament believers who have the faith of Abraham.  The problem with this thinking is that Abraham would not have understood the promises in this light.  He would have understood Israel to be his ethnic descendents, not some new group of people that would include Gentiles.  It makes no sense that God would promise Abraham certain things when Abraham did not understand the promises as God understood them.  If God meant one thing in the Abrahamic Covenant and Abraham understood it differently, don't you think God would have cleared up the misconception before he ratified the covenant?  I think so.  Abraham understood the promises to be directed towards Israel, just as God Himself understood them.  The nature of a covenant is that two or more parties agree.  If there is misunderstanding on the content of the covenant, there can be no agreement.  Replacement Theology just isn't right.          


Verse 32 says, "God has bound all men over to disobedience so that He can have mercy on all men."  We have seen this picture earlier in Romans.  Paul proves beyond a doubt that all men have fallen way short of Godís intention for them.  All mankind are sinners.  Here Paul says that God has bound all men over to their own disobedience.  God has allowed all men to stray as far as they want from Him, yet in so doing, God will have mercy on all men. 


Because of the use of the words "all men" in verse 31 some people believe that all mankind will eventually be saved.  That's a nice thought but the Bible just doesn't make that claim.  We must understand the word "all" in both its immediate context and the context of the whole Bible.  God will show his mercy to all men.  Jesus died on the cross in an act of mercy for all men, but only those who embrace God's mercy and receive it will be saved. 


Paul ends chapter 11 with a doxology.  It is as if he has finished his discourse and now ends it with great words about God.  In one sense he has ended his argument of faith and salvation.  In another sense he must have been so overjoyed by what he was writing that he broke into praise for the Lord.    


Paul ends this part of his letter by saying, "O, the depth of the riches, the wisdom and the knowledge of God!  How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!  Who has known the mind of the Lord?  Who has ever given to God that God should repay him?  For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever! Amen."  We see how Paul views God here.  He has given his life to Elohim, the creator God, who is Lord above all there is.  


These are the words from a man who really knew God and the Lord Jesus Christ in a way very few of us have ever known God.  These aren't superficial words.  This is a great enduring theological treatise.   You see the greatness of God in comparison to the wretchedness of man.  God is beyond our knowing, but through the Lord Jesus Christ, we both know of God and know God.    


In verse 33 Paul is basically saying that it is impossible for us to know the depth of God's riches and knowledge.  What riches Paul might be talking about is debatable. One thing we know and that is God is rich in every way, and His riches is far beyond being material.  I don't think Paul is thinking of any kind of material wealth here.  The wealth I believe Paul is speaking about is in fact the wealth of who God is.


"How unsearchable are His judgments", Paul says.  The words "His judgments" simply means "His decisions".  God makes decisions.  The reason for all of His decisions is simply beyond our ability to know. We may think we know, but we don't.  It's only a fool who believes he knows why God decides what He does at any given time. 


When Paul says that God's paths are beyond tracing, they really are.  We know a bit about God's paths since creation, since Genesis 1:1, but remember, God is eternal. There is more to where God has been prior to creation that where He has been since creation.  God created all of the heavenly host of angelic beings prior to Genesis 1.  We know very little of the angelic world.  We only see hints in the Bible. Beyond the angelic world, we know nothing of anything God created prior to that.  We just know very little of what God Almighty has done.


In verse 34 Paul asks, "Who has known the mind of the Lord."  In context the word "Lord" here means God, not Jesus.  No one knows the mind of God except Jesus.  I often hear people talk as if they know the mind of God.  Again, only fools talk like this. 


Paul is totally right when he says that no one has ever counseled God on any matter.  It's nonsense to even entertain the idea that someone has sat down with God and gave Him any kind of advice.


In verse 35 Paul says that no one has ever given God anything that He needs to repay.  God owes us nothing.  This is where I believe the Prosperity Gospel has it all wrong.  God owes us nothing.  What He gives us; He does so out of love and grace, not out of a sense of obligation.  If you want to think in terms of God owing us something, the closes thing one could think of is that God owes us the judgment of the Lake of Fire.


In verse 36 Paul says that all things come from God, they go through Him and they return to Him.  This is beyond our ability to comprehend.  All, things, whether spiritual, material, or any other kind of thing we don't know of, not only come from God, they somehow pass through Him and return to Him.  This almost sounds like Pantheism which believes that all of creation is in fact God, or, part of God.  I don't believe in Pantheism.  I believe that God is separate from His creation.  I think the Genesis account makes that clear.  For example, God created man in a shadowy image of Himself.  I believe that implies that man as a created being is separate from the Creator.                             


So in light of who God is, who we just saw, you can be assured that what He says about His people Israel will certainly be as He says.


Paul now builds on what he has said in the previous 11 chapters.  In light of all that he has taught, he tells the Roman believers how they should live, both with their fellow believers and with those unbelievers they see every day in the Roman Empire.

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