Will All Israel be Saved?
What is meant by “And so all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26)?
“And so all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26) does not mean that the entire nation of Israel will be saved when Jesus returns, as many teach. This verse refers to the salvation of the Church. In other words, “all Israel” speaks of the Church, both Jew and Gentile, and Paul describes in what manner she “shall be saved.” This teaching is supported by the following scriptural truths:
1. The context speaks of believing Jews and Gentiles. Paul described believing Jews as the “remnant according to the election of grace” (11:5,7), and believing Gentiles as the “wild olive tree” that has been grafted into the “good olive tree” ( 11:17,24). The believing remnant of Israel could be referred to as “the fulness of the Jews,” just as believing Gentiles are referred to as “the fulness of the Gentiles” ( 11:25). Together, believing Jews and Gentiles comprise “all Israel,” the Church.
2. God does not differentiate between Jew and Gentile. There are not two separate olive trees, but one, consisting of all believers, whether Jew or Gentile ( 11:17). God does not show favoritism; therefore, He doesn’t have a separate plan of salvation for the nation of Israel: “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:12,13). The following scriptures also emphasize this truth: Acts 10:34,35; 20:21; Rom. 1:16; 2:9–11; 3:9,22,23; Eph. 2:13–18.
3. The Church is the true Israel of God. The Bible describes the Church as “the olive tree” (Rom. 11:17,24); “fellow citizens” of “the commonwealth of Israel” (Eph. 2:12,19); “one new man” (Eph. 2:15); “one body” (Eph. 2:16); “the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Rev. 21:9); “heirs of God, and joint–heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17); “the children of the living God” (Rom. 9:26); “an holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9); the “elect” (1 Pet. 1:2); “Abraham’s seed” (Gal. 3:29); the “Jerusalem which is above” (Gal. 4:26); “the children of promise” (Gal. 4:28); “the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel” (Isa. 60:14); and “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:15,16). These terms show that the Bible does not speak of two Israels being saved ( Israel, the nation, and Israel, the Church), but of one Israel, the Church, which Paul refers to as “all Israel.”
Moreover, a true Israelite is one whose heart has been changed by God. The term “ Israel” means “prince with God.” The angel said to Jacob, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (Gen. 32:28). Similarly, all who come to Jesus [the Holy One of Israel] in repentance and faith are given “power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12), are washed from their “sins in his own blood,” and are made “kings and priests” unto God (Rev. 1:5,6).
The Bible further describes true Israelites: “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart” (Psa. 73:1). When Jesus met Nathanael, He said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (John 1:47). David prayed, “Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts. As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity: but peace shall be upon Israel” (Psa. 125:4,5). Paul declared that “he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom. 2:29).
4. The context of Romans 11:26 indicates that only a remnant of Israel will be saved.
Romans 11:1–4—All Israelites by birth are not God’s people, but those whom He “foreknew.” For example, when Elijah thought that all of Israel had killed the prophets and destroyed God’s altars and that he alone was left, God said to him, “I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal” (11:3,4). These seven thousand were the true Israel, the remnant whom God foreknew. See also 1 Kings 19:18.
Romans 11:5—“Even so . . . at this present time . . . there is a remnant [a small, believing minority] according to the election of grace,” not according to national identity. This truth is confirmed in Romans 9:27: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved.” See also Rom. 9:6–8,28,29; Isa. 1:9; 10:20–23; 46:3; Jer. 31:7; Joel 2:32; Micah 4:7; Zeph. 3:13.
Romans 11:7—Paul made a distinction between Israel, the nation (unbelieving Jews), and Israel, the elect of God (believing Jews)—“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election [the remnant] hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.”
Romans 11:14—Paul hoped for only “some” or a remnant of his fellow Jews to be saved, and that by hearing and believing the gospel. See also Rom. 3:22; 10:12,13. Certainly, he would not have wished himself “accursed from Christ” for his “kinsmen according to the flesh” ( Rom. 9:3) if he believed the whole nation of Israel would be saved when Jesus comes.
Romans 11:17–22—Some of the branches (unbelieving Israel) had been broken off. According to the words of Paul, they judged themselves “unworthy of everlasting life” because they rejected Christ and His gospel (Acts 13:46). This truth is especially illustrated in Matthew 21:33–45 and Jeremiah 11:16,17. See also Matt. 22:1–14; 23:37,38; Luke 19:41–44; Acts 18:6; 28:23–28. God will, however, save individual Jews (the remnant) and “graft them in again,” not because of their nationality, but on the condition of faith—“if they abide not still in unbelief” (Rom. 11:23). For this reason, Paul testified “both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). See also Acts 26:20; Rom. 9:30–33; 10:1–4,9–13.
Romans 11:25—Natural Israel, except for the remnant, will remain in spiritual blindness until “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in,” that is, until the ingathering of believing Gentiles at the Second Coming. On that “day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,” there will be no opportunity for unbelieving Jews (or Gentiles) to be saved. Paul wrote that “tribulation and anguish” will come “upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; . . . for there is no respect of persons with God” ( Rom. 2:5,9–11). This truth is in accordance with the words that Moses spoke to Israel. “A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul [whether Jew or Gentile], which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:22,23; Deut. 18:15–19).
5. Romans 11:25 and 26 do not speak about when Israel will be saved, but how. These verses are often interpreted to mean “When the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled, then all Israel will be saved.” It is important, however, to note that verse 26 does not say, “And then all Israel shall be saved” but, “And so all Israel shall be saved.” (The word “so” is in the original Greek.) Throughout Romans 11 we see how “all Israel [the Church] shall be saved”:
Verse 11, “I say then, Have they [natural Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”
Verse 12, “the fall of them [natural Israel] be the riches of the world.”
Verse 15, “the casting away of them [natural Israel] be the reconciling of the world.”
Verse 19, “Thou wilt say then, The branches [natural Israel] were broken off, that I [a Gentile] might be graffed in.”
Verse 20, “because of unbelief they [natural Israel] were broken off, and thou standest by faith.”
Verse 25, “blindness in part is happened to [natural] Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
“And so all Israel shall be saved” ( 11:26). Knowing that natural Israel would refuse the gospel, God ordained that it should be preached to the Gentiles in order to save those who would believe (Rom. 11:30–33; Acts 13:46). Therefore, the above six verses in Romans 11 show that the so of Romans 11:26 refers to the how of Israel’s (the Church’s) salvation, namely, by believing the Word of God that was spoken to her as a result of natural Israel’s unbelief.
In summary, “And so all Israel shall be saved” refers to the salvation of the Church, not to the salvation of the entire nation of Israel. The context speaks of only a remnant of Israel being saved and of the conversion of Gentiles. Also, God makes no difference between Jew and Gentile. Furthermore, the Church is the true Israel of God, which is saved by having the opportunity to hear and believe the gospel that unbelieving Israel rejected.
Do the promises of Romans 11:26 and 27, which speak of the Deliverer that shall come out of Zion and of His covenant, apply to the future salvation of the nation of Israel?
The promise, “There shall come out of Sion [ Zion] the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” ( 11:26), is a quotation from Isaiah 59:20: “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.” It cannot possibly refer to Jesus’ coming as a future deliverer to the Jews, as many assume, because He already fulfilled this prophecy in His first coming. “God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour [Greek, deliverer], Jesus” (Acts 13:23); “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:30,31); “Unto you first [Israel] God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:26).
Concerning “Sion,” God declares to the Church (whether Jew or Gentile), “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22). Scripture contrasts natural Israel, who reject Jesus the “chief corner stone” in “Sion,” and spiritual Israel (the Church), who receive Him and become a “holy nation: . . . the people of God.”
“Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner. And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (1 Pet. 2:6–10).
The promise, “For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (Rom. 11:27) has also been fulfilled by the first coming of Jesus and is now a reality for believing Jews and Gentiles—the Church. “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. . . . Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:16–18,22). See also Jer. 31:31–34; Matt. 26:27,28; 1 Cor. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:6. The Gentiles who were “strangers from the covenants of promise” are now “made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:12,13).
Since Christ has already come as Deliverer and has given the Church His new covenant, the promises of Romans 11:26 and 27 apply to the present salvation of Jews and Gentiles, not to the future salvation of the nation of Israel.
Are there other Old Testament prophecies to Israel that have been fulfilled in the Church?
Yes. They include the following ten prophecies:
1. The “seed” in which all nations shall be blessed (Gen. 22:18) is fulfilled in Christ (Gal. 3:16,29) and in the Gentiles receiving the gospel by faith (Gal. 3:7–9).
2. The “Prince of Peace” of Isaiah 9:6 and Micah 5:5 is fulfilled in Jesus Christ because “he is our peace, who hath made both one [believing Jews and Gentiles], and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; . . . for to make in himself of twain [two] one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Eph. 2:14–18).
3. The enlargement of Zion’s tent (Isa. 12:6; 54:1–3; Zeph. 3:14) is fulfilled in the conversion of the Gentiles (Gal. 4:27,28).
4. Zion’s “corner stone” (Isa. 28:16) is fulfilled in Jesus Christ Himself “in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:20,21). Thus, the earthly temple in Jerusalem is replaced by the spiritual temple of believing Jews and Gentiles. See also 1 Cor. 3:16,17; 6:19,20; 1 Pet. 2:5 and Chapter Twenty–three.
5. The water that God promised to pour upon Jacob’s offspring (Isa. 44:3; 12:3) is fulfilled by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon believers (John 7:37–39), both Jew (Acts 2:36–38) and Gentile (Acts 10:44,45).
6. The raising up of the tribes of Jacob (Isa. 49:6) is fulfilled when the gospel is preached to the Gentiles (Acts 13:47).
7. The giving of “peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near” (Isa. 57:19) is also fulfilled in Jesus Christ who “came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both [believing Jews and Gentiles] have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:17,18).
8. “My people” (Hos. 1:9,10; 2:23) is fulfilled in whom the Lord calls “not of the Jews only [the remnant], but also of the Gentiles.” Together these comprise “the children of the living God”—the Church (Rom. 9:24–27; 1 Pet. 2:10).
9. The restoration of “the tabernacle of David” (Amos 9:11,12) is fulfilled in God’s visiting the Gentiles “to take out of them a people for his name” (Acts 15:13–17).
10. The offering up of “incense” and “a pure offering” (Mal. 1:11) by the “sons of Levi” (Mal. 3:3) is fulfilled in the “holy priesthood” of believers whose prayers are as incense and who “offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5; Rev. 8:3; Rom. 15:16). See also Chapter Twenty–three.
Since these Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled in the Church, they confirm that the Church is spiritual Israel. Therefore, they should not be taken to imply the future salvation of Israel.
Is Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,” a promise that all Israel will be saved?
This verse cannot mean that all Israel will be saved because the context clearly refers to:
• Only a remnant being saved “according to the election of grace” (11:5,7).
• The salvation of “some of them” ( 11:14).
• Jews who will be saved on the condition—“if they abide not still in unbelief” ( 11:23).
Romans 11:29 does mean, however, that although some do not believe, God has not changed His mind about His gifts and calling that have come as a result of the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. With longsuffering He waits for souls, even unbelieving Jews, to come to Him. Notice the part that believers have in leading unconverted Jews to Christ: “For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so, have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy” (Rom. 11:30,31). God’s door of love and mercy is yet open for all who will come to Him. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:33).
What is “the hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20)?
According to Paul’s teaching, the hope of Israel that God promised is Jesus and the resurrection of the dead. (Compare Acts 28:20 with 23:6; 24:15,21; 26:6–8.) It can be attained by repenting and turning to Him. (Compare Acts 26:6–8 with 26:20–23; 28:20 with 28:23.)
Notice that Paul connects this hope with the Church and God’s grace: “There is one body [the Church], and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling. . . . But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Eph. 4:4,7).
Since there is only one body and one hope, the hope of Israel is the same as the hope of the Church—“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27), which is the blessed hope of His glorious appearing on resurrection day (Titus 1:13). See also 1 Pet. 1:2–4.
When will the remnant of Israel be saved?
God is saving the remnant of Israel now. Paul wrote, “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace” ( Rom. 11:5). When addressing Jews at Antioch, Paul expected them to repent rather than to judge themselves “unworthy of everlasting life” (Acts 13:46).
The Bible teaches men to repent now, not to put it off until later: “Now [God] commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30). “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).
What should be our attitude toward the Jews?
We should have the same Christ–like attitude toward them as we would have for any unsaved person. With tender compassion, we should pray and do all we can to win them to the Lord because His gospel “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Above all, we should not give the Jewish people the false hope that, as a nation, they will automatically be saved in the future.
Doesn’t the parable of the fig tree teach the restoration of the nation of Israel as a sign of the Second Coming of Christ and of her eventual salvation as a nation?
Not one Scripture verse shows that the fig tree represents Israel, as some suppose. God refers to Israel as His vineyard, which shall be trodden down because it brought forth wild grapes: “O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down” (Isa. 5:3–5). See also Ezek. 19:10; Psa. 80:15,16; Matt. 21:33–44; Mark 12:1–12; Luke 20:9–18. Moreover, believing that the fig tree in Luke 21 represents Israel is inconsistent with Matthew 21:18–20 and Mark 11:12–14, passages in which Jesus cursed the fig tree.
An examination of the following scriptural truths will show that the parable of the fig tree represents the signs of the last days and does not refer to Israel.
“And he spake to them a parable: Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled” (Luke 21:29–32).
1. Jesus referred to trees in general, not just the fig tree. Notice that He said, “the fig tree, and all the trees.”
2. Jesus mentioned several signs, not just one sign. He said, “When ye see these things come to pass” (the signs mentioned in the context), not “When you see this thing come to pass” (the single sign of the restoration of Israel). Jesus referred to the signs He had already given in the context, such as the appearance of false prophets and the occurrence of wars, earthquakes, famines, etc. See Matt. 24:3–29 and Luke 21:5–25.
3. Jesus said, “This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled” (Luke 21:32; Matt. 24:34). We believe this means the generation that sees all the signs of His coming fulfilled is the generation that will see His return. Since more than a generation (forty years) has passed since Israel was declared a nation on May, 14, 1948, and since Christ has not yet returned, we know He was not referring to Israel’s restoration. (Many are now awakening to this fact and are feeling disillusioned with a loss of confidence in their Bible teachers. How much sadder it would be to awaken to the truth about the Second Coming after receiving the mark of the beast!)
4. As a sign of His coming, Jesus foretold not the restoration of Israel but that “ Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). The times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled when Jesus comes.
5. Jesus had already rejected the nation of Israel and had predicted the destruction of Jerusalem without making any mention of its restoration (Luke 19:41–44).
In summary, the parable of the fig tree is simply teaching this: just as the budding of trees in the springtime signifies that summer is near, so the fulfillment of the signs of the end–time indicates that the coming of our Lord Jesus is near.
Doesn’t First Corinthians 10:32 teach that God has a separate plan of salvation for the Jews than for the Church?
This verse simply teaches believers not to offend the unsaved (whether Jews or Gentiles) and the saved (the church of God, which consists of Jewish and Gentile converts). “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God” (1 Cor. 10:32).
God does not have a separate plan of salvation for the Jews. Paul wrote, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:12,13).
Doesn’t Zechariah 12:10, “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him,” teach that all of Israel will be saved?
Some teach that when Jesus comes, the nation of Israel will look upon Him and mourn in repentance and thereby be saved. Here are seven reasons why that teaching is unscriptural:
1. Zechariah 12:10 was fulfilled at the crucifixion of Jesus: “For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, a bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced” (John 19:36,37).
2. If Israel rejected Jesus when He came as Savior (Luke 19:14,27), they are not likely to receive Him when He comes as Judge.
3. Before Jesus comes, “All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb” (Rev. 13:8), and, consequently, “shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (Rev. 14:9,10) and “be damned” (2 Thess. 2:9–12). Jesus warned unbelieving Jews, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:43). Therefore, what hope would Israel or any unbeliever have of being saved at Christ’s return after the Tribulation?
4. According to the words of Jesus, when all the nations of the earth face the wrath of the Lamb, the mourning that will be heard will be that of anguish and fear, not of repentance. They will say “to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:16) and “all the tribes of the earth [shall] mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30). See also Zeph. 1:14–18.
5. As has been stated, not all Israel shall be saved, only a remnant (Rom. 9:27).
6. When Jesus comes, all Jews (and Gentiles) who rejected Him will be judged, not saved. “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath. . . . Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile. For there is no respect of persons with God” ( Rom. 2:5,9–11). Examine the words of Jesus and the apostles: Matt. 8:11,12; 10:6,12–15; 12:41,42; 15:13,14; 21:31,32,44; 23:13–15,33; Luke 19:27; 20:18; Acts 3:22,23; 13:40,41,46,50,51; 18:6; 1 Thess. 2:14–16. Study the words of the Old Testament prophets: Isa. 2:6–12, 34:8; 65:1–15; Ezek. 13:5–8; Amos 5:17,18; Zeph. 1:12–18. See also Matt. 7:21,24–27. (The words “whosoever” and “everyone” include the Jews). Compare John 1:11 with 12:48; Rom. 10:19 with Deut. 32:20–29.
7. When Paul said, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha” (1 Cor. 16:22), he made no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Anathema means “accursed, condemned, devoted to destruction.” Maranatha means “our Lord cometh or will come.” Together they mean “let him be accursed—the Lord cometh.” When Jesus comes, all who do not love Him will be accursed and will face the eternal wrath of God without measure.
The unprepared will have no second opportunity for salvation. “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev. 22:11,12).
God clearly demonstrates His unfailing love and concern to save unconverted Jews because He sends forth His witnesses to preach to “the Jew first” (Rom. 1:16). The time to repent and get ready is now. When Jesus comes, it will be too late.