Does The Bible Say All of Israel Will Be Saved?
Why do some believe that the Bible teaches that all of Israel will be saved? Usually this question is asked based on the text in Romans 11:22-27. Particularly, in verse 26, Paul says and so all Israel will be saved. The English Standard Version (ESV) reads:
“And in this way all Israel will be saved…” We will give our thoughts on this text later. But, here are some of the concerns which must be answered in this seeming difficult text.
- Does the text mean every individual in Israel?
- Was Paul speaking of all ethnic Jews or those who make up the spiritual body of Christ.
- How would Israel be saved?
- When would Israel be saved, i.e. is this text speaking of a past salvation or one future to Paul’s writing?
Question One: Who is All of Israel?
We cannot take the term all Israel to mean every individual. This is a statement used to speak of the covenant nation as a whole, not from an individual perspective. Paul previously expressed his desire for Israel’s salvation but their zeal was insufficient. Thus, he says God held out his hand to a disobedient and gain saying people, but all had not believed the gospel. (Rom. 10:1-3, 18-21).
He emphatically stated that “whosoever called upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13). They are not all Israel who are of Israel Rom. 9:6-8).
Question Two: Is All of Israel Ethnic Jews?
Of course to speak of Israel when Paul wrote, he was referring to the ethnic descendants of Abraham. Paul himself was an ethnic Jew of the tribe of Benjamin and fleshly seed of Abraham. So, if God was saving Israel he was saving the ethnic descendants.
However, to say he was saving them, does not mean he was saving them through or based upon their ethnicity. This we deny. However, it cannot be charged that we are replacement theorists. Israel, is ethnic Israel. Only they are not saved through their bloodline.
Question Three: When Would All of Israel Be Saved?
There can be no question that the salvation of Israel spoken of here is yet future when Paul spoke. “Shall be saved” is future tense. That means the general view of some that Israel was completely saved at the cross is flawed.
However, we must not assume that because it was future post Pentecost, that it remains future today. We must not assume the faulty premise that “once future always future” is true. Such would make every prophecy impossible to be fulfilled ever.
We suggest there is a future that is limited to (1) the coming in of the fullness of the Gentiles and (2) the time the Deliverer comes out of Zion, i.e. the return of Christ.
Does that imply premillennial dispensationalism? No. It is a future which does not extend beyond the first century generation or time of the parousia, Matt. 24:3-34.
Question Four: How Would All of Israel Be Saved?
Since we have agreed we are discussing ethnic Israel, but also denied they are saved through ethnicity, then how all of Israel will be saved is the question.
Paul, established the answer to this question at the Jerusalem council, when He along with Barnabas and Pharisees went to Jerusalem, the headquarters of Judaism to get an “authoritative” answer the Judaizers would accept.
Here is what Peter said, which is a direct parallel and commentary on Romans 11:26. Peter’scontext is that God makes no difference or distinction between Jew or Gentiles in the manner of salvation. He clearly sets aside the law as a yoke or burden which the Jews could not bear as the reason not to invoke it in the case of the Gentiles.
Next, in not making a difference, he says God made no difference between us [Jews and them [Gentiles] purifying their hearts by faith. Here, we see the “way” God saved both Jew and Gentile. It is by “faith.” Compare Gal. 3:8.
Thus, Peter asks, “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Then he gives the solution to the problem which is the divine commentary on the issue at hand. Let us note it then break it down element by element.
“But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they. The phrase “in this manner” from “hon tropon” means in the same way. It equates with houtos, (in this way) in Rom. 11: 26.
The Gentiles were saved by faith. Therefore, the Jews also would be saved by faith.
Secondly, Peter, speaking of Israel and including himself, speaks of their future salvation saying “we shall be saved, even as they.
Shall be saved is future tense.
Peter did not see their salvation completed at the cross or Pentecost. He spoke of it as yet future.
This is the same meaning ascribed to the future of salvation in his first epistle, where it reads: receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls, (1 Pet. 1:9).
According to Paul, (Rom. 13:10 and Heb. 9:28) this salvation is completed at Christ’s parousia.
That harmonizes with Rom. 11: where the Deliverer is said to come out of Zion.
All of Israel will be saved is no longer the question. All of Israel has been saved. God spoke not of individuals but of those who were in the covenant. All of Israel includes the faithful Israelites of previous generations up to the generation in which the apostles lived up to the time of the parousia, or 70AD, (Heb. 10:37; 11:39-40).
That was the future of Israel that extended beyond Pentecost but not beyond the fall of Jerusalem. For more information on all of Israel willl be saved see Israel 1948, Countdown To Nowhere by Don Preston.