Romans (22): All Israel will be Saved (ch. 11)
Romans 11: An Exposition (22) - All Israel Will Be Saved
All Saints * Dr. Gregg Strawbridge * November 23, 2008
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite. . . “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life” (1 Kgs. 19:18). 11:4 But what is the divine reply? “I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, elect by grace. . . . 11:21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, [Israel] perhaps He will not spare you . . . So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brethren, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 11:26 And in this way all Israel will be saved; as it is written, “Out of Zion will come the Deliverer; He will banish ungodliness from Jacob” (Is. 59:20). 11:27 “And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins” (Jer. 31:33; Is. 27:9). 11:33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! 11:34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” (Is 40:13) 11:35 “Or who has given a gift to Him, to receive a gift in return?” (Job 41:13). 11:36 Because out of Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:1-36, selected texts)
Not Every Israelite is Rejected - How God can be faithful in light of unbelieving Israel’s response to new covenant fulfillment in Jesus? To address this, Paul uses language (fittingly) of Israel’s deepest shame (eg, 2 Kgs 21:14; Jer 7:29). Not all Israel [cultic Israel] has been rejected because as a matter of fact, Peter, Paul and Mary (and Jesus) were all Jews, as well as “Christians.” There is a faithful remnant now (11:5). The NT shows many faithful Judahites. Note: Judahites refer to Jews after the exile.
Some Israelites are Rejected- Paul has already labored to show that many Judahites held their status as God’s chosen people in terms of “works of Torah,” customs and ritual acts which defined their identity as God’s holy people (circumcision, sabbath, food laws, etc.). From this status proceeded, not gratitude and humility, but sinful pride. Think of the prayer of the Pharisee and publican as an example (Lk. 18:9ff). “God, I thank You that I am not like other people . . . [Jesus judges] For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk. 18:4). Paul says the same truth, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works” (11:6).
All Israel will be Redeemed - Key to the important passage 11:25ff is the adverb “so” (houtos) in “So all Israel will be saved” (11:25). One way to take it is “and in a time to come all Israel will be saved.” Grammatically however, actually, “so/houtos” is “and in this way” (ESV/NJB, et al). Paul has been saying all along the prideful rejection of Christ by Judahites has led to salvation for the rest and will jealously provoke salvation to every true Israelite (11:24-25). Paul experienced this as he was turned away from the synagogues toward Gentile salvation (e.g., Acts 13:40ff) as he stated clearly “to make my own people jealous, and thus save some of them” (11:13-14). This is the MO/modus operandi of the new covenant for all that have ears to hear. The undeserving receive while the presumptuous are rejected. “So do not become proud” (11:20), a powerful lesson to Gentiles and the Church of all ages. The conclusion is the grand benediction of God’s sovereign control over it all. Paul is a believer in God’s sovereign grace as he frequently testifies (Rom. 8:28-9:1ff, Eph. 1, Phil. 1:29, 1 Cor. 1:30). God will be glorified through it all: from, through and to Him are all things (11:36, 1 Cor. 8:6). God is glorified through through all such matters.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more