All Israel will be Saved Romans 11:26 Did you catch the misquote in the title? No? Just wait, we will get to that. This passage is one of the most (deservedly) famous of verses in the Bible. I don't know how many sermons I have heard, books and web sites read, over the years that made good - or ill - use of these words in Romans 11:26. THE POPULAR VIEW: FUTURE MASS CONVERSION OF NATIONAL ISRAEL The most usual interpretation that I heard takes into account the verse before: "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" Rom. 11:25 The most-common explanation of the passage is that at the time of Paul's writing and up through our time God had switched His attention from His chosen people (national Israel) and turned it more fully on the Gentiles - all those who are not Jews. In order to flesh out this scenario other presumably related verses are pressed into service, most notably Zechariah 12:10 and Revelation 1:7: “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” Zech. 12:10 “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. “ Rev. 1:7 The popular view as taught by two dispensationalists: John Macarthur and John Piper: "So, what [Paul, in Romans 9] is saying is, Israel was set aside, yes, temporarily and partially. And in their setting aside, the riches was turned to the Gentiles. After the Gentiles fullness has come in, after the church is complete (that's what that means) God will go back and redeem Israel. Zechariah tells us exactly how. He says, “They will look on Him whom they have pierced and they will mourn for Him as an only son.” That is an indication that their salvation comes about directly as a relationship of their focus on Jesus Christ. At that point, they will be saved. And, then He will fulfill His covenant, verse 27, He will take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, now, they have become enemies for your sake. In other words, their setting aside affected the salvation of the Gentiles. But, as touching the election, in other words, in God’s eternal purpose, they are the beloved for the Father’s sake, for God cannot change His covenant. His gifts and callings are without repentance, and so, He will bring them back. There is no question that He will bring them back. But, the bringing back has to be around the truth of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Macarthur, 1980 Original page here: http://www.biblebb.com/files/macqa/1301-Q-14.htm Closer to the gist of the text are Piper's comments: "The apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 that Christians “wait for [God's] Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” Jesus is the “the Deliverer” (ton heruomenon) from God's wrath to come. The closest parallel in the New Testament to this word “Deliverer” is found in Romans 11:26, where Paul describes how “all Israel” will be saved. Verse 26: “And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer (ho heruomenos) will come from Zion [meaning Jerusalem or the heavenly Jerusalem], he will banish ungodliness from Jacob. "So we see that this Deliverer is Jesus Christ. He is the one who will save “all Israel,” and his salvation will be from “the wrath to come.” And the way he will do it is by “banishing ungodliness from the people,” as we see in verse 26: “He will banish ungodliness from Jacob”—that is, from all Israel. And he will forgive their sins. Verse 27: “And this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” So Israel will be saved when Jesus Christ, the deliverer, comes from Zion and (1) takes away the ungodliness—that is, the hardening—from Israel and replaces it with faith [recall verse 23, “if they do not continue in their unbelief , they will be grafted in”), and so (2) their sins will be forgiven, and (3) they will be grafted in to the tree of salvation and promise as one people with the Gentiles who believe in Jesus. ... "Now how is this going to happen? I don't know the details, but it seems to me that Paul does mean that in connection with the second coming of Christ there will be a great turning of Israel to Christ. Just how it works, I don't know. But I find certain prophecies very suggestive. For example, Zechariah 12:10, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” And Isaiah 6:8, “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children.” And Matthew 23:39, where Jesus says to the hardened nation: “I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” "I don't want to go beyond what is clear. So I say that I am not sure about the precise when and how of Israel's conversion. But that it is coming and that it will be given by Jesus Christ, the deliverer who banishes ungodliness and forgives sins—of that I feel sure. Original page here: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/2004/164_All_Israel_Will_Be_Saved/ Both of these explanations have much in common. Both link together Old Testament prophecies with still-future fulfillment. Piper seems more careful to acknowledge his unsureness on just how this could possibly play out, yet nevertheless ends with certainty that the Dispensational scenario will indeed play out just as envisioned. PROBLEMS WITH THE POPULAR VIEW But is this the correct view? Will there be this extraordinary national conversion of Israel sometime in the future? Biblically there are several problems that come up. As we consider and deal with these problems, a better interpretation, hopefully, begins to present itself. TEXTUAL PROBLEMS Did you find the misquote? The problem is not in the words, but in the sentence itself. By quoting this phrase - "All Israel will be saved." - all together like that the impression is given that the original was one small sentence. Well, in the Bible the sentence is much more involved. And this makes a big difference. Here is the whole sentence: "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. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins." Romans 11:25 - 27 In my Greek New Testament from the beginning of verse 25 to the end of verse 27 (the quotation from Isaiah) is all one sentence. Let us work outward from our main sentence - or what we perhaps thought was a sentence! We now have: "...and so all Israel will be saved,". "And so" can better be interpreted as "and in this way" or "and thus". This already makes a difference because now we have to ask: In what way? The answer is twofold: both before and after the phrase. This from an earlier article of mine: "Context: This is where many, many translations and paraphrases do us a great disservice. How? Well, they effectively isolate "All Israel shall be saved" from the rest of the sentence! Did you know that the original sentence extends both before and after that more famous sound bite? The NIV and others especially separate the previous thought, cutting the sentence up. The sentence should read: "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, and so [that is, in this manner] all Israel will be saved..." There are two clarifications as to all of Israel's being saved. A. It will be "in this manner" - the manner just described in the previous phrase: It will consist of both Jew and Gentile, the latter taking advantage of a blindness of the former. These two groups, Jews and Gentiles will thus make up the total number of the redeemed, the Israel of God. B. It will be "as it is written" - according to the two passages cited by Paul. This brings us down to the third hermeneutic principle." End of the quotation of my previous post here at Baptistboard. No use reinventing the wheel! The rest follows.