Will all Israel be saved? Of course and of course not

 

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
(Luke 2:34-35)

Some “Messianic Jews” say that “all Israel will be saved.” I am reminded of the preacher, Kenneth Copeland who often asks his audience to repeat after him – “Ahhhhl, say ahhhhl.” Words like “all” and “world” are notorious in biblical exegesis. With regard to “all,” what is the context of Paul’s statement that “all Israel will be saved.”

Consider the following two comments from Messianic Jews on Dr Schiffman’s blog

James says:

“According to Paul, all of Israel will be saved.”

James quotes scripture: “And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob” – Romans 11:26.”

Romans 9 explains who “Israel” is. Only a remnant of Jews, children of the promise. The Jew, Jacob, was loved, while Esau, his (Jewish) twin is hated. Only Jacob was saved. I shall quote the relevant Romans 9 passage shortly.

Dr Schiffman says:

“Romans 11:1-2 says God did not replace them (the Jews) or reject them. What does that mean regarding eternal things? Whatever it means, it means, with all of scripture, that Israel is not just another nation among the nations, and that the Jews are not just another ethnic group.”

More Christians than Dr Schiffman seems to think agree with him that Israel is not just another nation/ethnic group. These Christians are called “premillennialists.” However, Paul says in Romans 9, which he reaffirms in Romans 11 that only a remnant of (ethnic) Israel will be saved, and the reason that they will be saved is not that they’re “ethic” and dedicated to repairing the world. The reason is that God has mercy on those he wants to have mercy irrespective of how much good they have done.

Romans 9:27-29.

“Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.” It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”

And in Romans 11, which is hard for a Jew to bear, we read that the majority of Jews – as is the case with the majority of Gentiles – will be lost.

11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

7 What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, 8 as it is written:

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that could not see
and ears that could not hear,
to this very day.”

Here’s the hardest of all: God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy. It is God’s grace that saves – “And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:6).

With regard to works, Romans 11 does not mean that you are not required to do good works. The NT teaching is that works don’t save, which is a very unrabbinical notion; works are the fruit of salvation. For many Messianic Jews, and Roman Catholics for that matter, works save. It is “works” that are bringing Messianic Jews and Rome close together.

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3 thoughts on “Will all Israel be saved? Of course and of course not

  1. Well said. As I heard recently from an S. Lewis Johnson sermon, a good answer about the question — does that mean every single Jew alive at that time? — is: in the first century Israel rejected their Messiah — and yet the details tell us that not every Jew rejected, but that many were saved, as told in Acts and elsewhere. So the precedent from the First Coming holds true, that just as “Israel rejected” but not every single individual, so at the Second Coming “all Israel” will be saved, but not every single individual.

    • Dan, yes that passage would have been very apt. Here it is:

      Romans 9:4-6
      Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5 whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
      6 But it is not as though the word of God hath come to nought. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel.

      Please don’t take my inadvertence for a convenient omission.

      Be nice, now.

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