This is certainly an area of scripture that confuses the masses. It has been a true stumbling block for many. Someone very close to me currently uses this one area of scripture to hold to the belief that God isn't done with the Jews and He will save them all. (they are undecided as to what the "all" really means) Clearly though, there is much that needs to be considered when reading this portion of the letter that Paul wrote to the Roman church.
This article will be a longer than normal but please give it a full read because I am confident that you will see the full picture by the time it is finished.
In order to grasp the flow of what Paul is trying to say here we need to back it up a couple chapters. Anytime a difficult text comes up, chances are if you were to read back a couple chapters you can find many answers. We need to see the context and the flow of what was being said in order to be able to understand the author when we get to a difficult spot. We need to get a "running start" on a lot of these tougher portions of God's Word. There is no way you'll ever get the meaning moving if you just try pushing it from a stand still.
Now remember Paul is writing again to Gentiles and his topic here is the unbelieving Jews of that day. Don't forget that during this time the Jews were persecuting the Christians heavily. It started with Christ when the Jews yelled out "Crucify Him Crucify Him!" Jesus warned His followers that they'd be dragged before councils and persecuted heavily, some even to death. Indeed all of this happened as He said.
A mainstream view today is that at some time in the future God will be finished with the Gentiles and will begin saving the Jews in that dispensation of time. These people emphatically declare that "it says ALL Israel will be saved!" But we need to consider many points before we make this declaration. Let's say that this was still a future event to us. It would have to mean 1 of these 2 things....
1) The "all Israel" means EVERY SINGLE Jew ever to live. In this case faith is irrelevant because every one of them are saved anyway. The centuries of Christ hating Jews who died that way will get a pass because the "all" literally means "all".
2) The "all Israel" means every single Jew alive IN THAT DAY. The future generation of Jews that Paul is speaking about. But if it means that only that final generation of Jews would be saved then what is the point? God just skipped over centuries of Jews in order to save one last generation of Jews? This absolutely cannot be supported at all from scripture and quite frankly it doesn't make one bit of sense.
I think you get the significance of that point. Consider that one heavily and what you'll realize is that the ONLY logical, biblical answer is that the "ALL ISRAEL" is none other than the "Israel of God" which was a remnant of Israelite believers within Israel.
We should start in Romans chapter 9 to set the context properly. Romans chapter 9 starts off with Paul saying..
"I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit-- that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh" Romans 9:1-3
Now, if ALL Israel was going to be saved as in every last Israelite, why would Paul have so much sorrow and anguish over it? This was written 2 chapters earlier than chapter 11. In the original there are no chapter breaks. This was all the same thought process. Did something change in God's plan in between chapters 9 and 11? Of course not. He is greatly sorrowed over this and he even says that he would cut himself off from Christ for the sake of his brothers in the flesh, the Jews. He continues...
"But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. Romans 9:6-8
Pretty straight forward. Paul says that it has nothing to do with being a physical descendant of Abraham. He even says that not all who descended from Israel actually belong to Israel! But rather, it's the children of the promise that are God's offspring. Later on in the chapter Paul writes..
"And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay." Romans 9:27
Now consider that verse just above for a second. If in chapter 9 Paul says "ONLY A REMNANT WILL BE SAVED" and then 2 chapters later he says "In THIS way, all "Israel" will be saved", what do you think that means? Was he contradicting himself? Absolutely not. Paul in that verse also said that the Lord would carry out his sentence (vengeance) ....
"fully and WITHOUT DELAY?" (2000 years an EXTREME delay if this hasn't happened yet)
In the passage just mentioned, Paul draws from Isaiah 10:22-23 and quotes him. Clearly saying that in the days when the Lord would carry out his sentence upon the earth (earth is better translated as "land" or "ground". Greek word "ge"- strongs g1093) But when the Lord would carry out His sentence upon the land of Jerusalem, even though there would be as many Jews as the sand on the sea, ONLY A REMNANT would be saved.
Paul in chapter 10 basically just reiterates the point that salvation was available to all. He talks about how his prayer is that God would save them. He says they (the Jews) have a zeal for God but without knowledge. He hammers home again that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile in Christ. He quotes old testament prophets as well that spoke of the day when God would make the 2 into 1 new man. Then we get to chapter 11 where the confusion really hits. Paul says...
"I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people WHOM HE FOREKNEW"
Now did you catch that? Paul asks a rhetorical question to the Gentiles and says "Has God rejected His people?" He answers and says no way! He says basically "Look! I myself am a Jew and He didn't reject me!" But look what he says....
"God has not rejected His people....WHOM HE FOREKNEW".
Do you know who those people were? That was the remnant. Those whom He foreknew were His elect. This in no way is meant to be applied to all of Israel. Only to His elect whom He foreknew. Paul continues on from there and speaks about how in Elijah's day there were 7000 men who hadn't bowed the knee to Baal. This was a remnant in Elijah's day as well. Paul then says...
"So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace." Romans 11:5
(letter was written in the first century, not today. PRESENT time)
Paul then starts his section where he is warning the Gentiles not to boast. He is basically telling them in a way that they can understand. It was through the stumbling of the Jews that salvation came to all men. But yet Paul uses that and says basically "but imagine how cool it will be when God calls His chosen remnant of Israelites back to Him?" Paul writes..
"Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, AND THUS SAVE SOME OF THEM."
See that remnant again? Save "some".
Now we get to the passage that has caused a big ole mess. Paul says...
"I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved," Romans 11:25-26
Now, what have we already established powerfully above and also in the teachings posted in the days prior to today? We have established the following and we have established it emphatically...
There was an Israel within physical Israel. Not all who descended from Israel belonged to Israel. Being a descendant of Abraham meant nothing. A Jew was one who was circumsized in the heart and had nothing to do with being a Jew outwardly. The true "Israel of God" was those who believed and walked by faith. Had nothing to do with bloodline.
When Paul says to the Gentiles that a partial hardening has come upon the remnant of chosen Jews, what exactly is he saying? He is saying that there were still Jews at that time around maybe 55ad or so that hadn't come to faith in Christ yet but they most certainly would come and many would come by way of jealousy from seeing the goodness of God toward the Gentiles. God was not done saving his remnant according to the election.
Remember, the whole entire point of Paul even saying these words to the Gentiles was to get them not to be proud or boastful. He wanted to humble them and make sure they knew that God wasn't done with the Jews just yet. He still had many that He would save before the coming of the Lord in judgment upon them. Many would be joined to the church and would heed the warnings of Jesus when He told them to flee the city when they saw the armies surrounding Jerusalem. That happened too. It's recorded that no Christians died in the siege because they were gone. Why? Jesus told them to leave roughly 40 years earlier on the Mount of Olives.
Paul says "in this way ALL Israel will be saved"
In what way?
Due to jealousy.
"It will be due to jealousy that all of the true Israel, the remnant of Jews that God foreknew, would be saved"
Thank you for reading this series on who Israel really is. I hope that you enjoyed the series. Please take a moment to like the article below and if you have a chance please go to my home page and hit the like button at the bottom too. Thanks in advance!