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Paul says in Romans 11:26, "And thus all Israel will be saved." What did he mean?
Let us first establish what Paul did NOT mean. He did not mean that some people are so chosen that they will be saved regardless of whether or not they place their faith in Jesus Christ. In John 10:9 Jesus said,
"I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."
In other words, those who go through the Door, which is Jesus Himself, are saved. Peter, too, testified of Jesus Christ in Acts 4:10-12,
"Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that . . . there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."
No one's genealogy is so holy that he can be saved apart from Jesus Christ. No man is so righteous that he can attain salvation by his own goodness, for "all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23).
How, then, can "all Israel" be saved? Let us look at Paul's context leading up to this statement.
" (25) For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening [porosis, "stupidity or callousness"] has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles [ethnos, "nations"] has come in; (26) and thus all Israel will be saved, just as it is written, 'The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.' (27) 'And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins'."
Paul was primarily concerned about the lost tribes of Israel, as that was the main focus of his discussion in these three chapters. However, it is probable that in this particular passage he was using the term in a more generic sense that included all of the tribes of Israel, including Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. The most important thing to keep in mind, however, is that Paul was not excluding those lost sheep of Israel, the ten tribes dispersed by the Assyrians 800 years earlier.
The point Paul was making was that God had imposed a partial "hardening" upon Israel. Paul got this idea from Isaiah 6:10, 29:10, and 44:18. Even as God hardened Pharaoh's heart, so also did He harden the hearts of the Israelites. Paul says in Rom. 11:11 that their hearts were hardened, not so that they would stumble and fall, but so that (the gospel of) salvation would be preached to the rest of the nations.
God intended to save all nations, and for this reason He caused Israel to stumble temporarily. First, the House of Israel stumbled, and 800 years later Judah stumbled. But the divine purpose was not to make most of them burn in hell, or even that they would be annihilated in the end. His purpose was to EXPAND the scope of His Kingdom to include the whole earth.
Paul was speaking corporately of Israel--not of individual Israelites. Individual Israelites are certainly involved in this, along with many other people who were to be regathered with them (Isaiah 56:6-8). Yet throughout the centuries there have been many individuals who did not believe in Christ. They will yet bow their knee to Him and confess Him as Lord, as Paul says in Phil. 2:10, 11. However, their time of faith will be at the Great White Throne Judgment when they are raised for that final age in which they will learn righteousness in the so-called "lake of fire."
But Paul was speaking of the corporate entity called Israel, a national unit, not an individual person. Isaiah had prophesied in 27:6, "Israel will blossom and sprout; and they will fill the whole world with FRUIT." In other words, the fruit that God requires will come through Israel not through Judah. Judah's "fig tree" had been cursed when Jesus said in Matt. 21:19, "No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you."
In other words, the fruit of the Kingdom will not come through Judah but through Israel--true Israel, not the counterfeit state that has assumed this name by Identity theft today. That modern state is a Jewish state, not an Israelite state. It fulfills Matt. 21:19, not Isaiah 27:6.
Judah produced the Messiah, but Israel must bring forth the Kingdom, for that is the provision of the Birthright that was given to Joseph-Ephraim, the fruitful leader of Israel. Ephraim means "fruitfulness." The Kingdom of God must come through Ephraim, son of Joseph, not through Judah. This is one reason why Jesus could not establish the Kingdom as a Judahite in His first appearance. It must await His second appearance, in which He comes as Joshua the Ephraimite--the Old Testament type who led Israel into the Promised Land.
So getting back to Paul's statement that "all Israel will be saved," he tells us that God had hardened the hearts of the Israelites 800 years earlier, in order to cast out the seed of Ephraim (Jer. 7:15). Many years later, after Jesus came and was rejected by Judah, and after Jesus' disciples were scattered by persecution (Acts 8:1), the Gospel of Christ went out to the other nations. It went to Parthia, where many ex-Israelites still lived. It went to Asia Minor (now Turkey), where a great many Israelites lived. (Peter's first letter was addressed specifically to them.) It went even to Britain, where still other Israelites lived as I showed in Book 1 of Lessons from Church History. Finally, in more recent centuries, the Gospel went into Africa, the Americas, and deeper into Asia.
This great missionary movement, beginning in the late 1700's, was carried out largely by people who were descended from those lost Israelites. Their forefathers had migrated north and west into Europe from the area around the Caspian Sea. The Gospel had been hindered for 13 centuries by corruption in the Church, but the Reformation, beginning with Luther in the 1500's, began to turn this around.
The recent movie, Prince Caspian, is actually a historical allegory of the Reformation beginning with the corruption of the Talmarines (Christians under Rome). This is why it takes place after 1300 years of corrupt Talmarine rule. And Prince Caspian is a vague but specific reference to the European people whose ancestors had migrated into Europe from the Caspian Sea. Prince Caspian represents the reformers in general, who came from European ex-Israelites of the dispersion.
At any rate, Paul's teaching that "all Israel will be saved" is not meant to exclude anyone else, for Isaiah prophesies clearly that others would be "gathered" along with Israel (Is. 56:6-8). After all, the House of God was to be a temple for ALL PEOPLE (vs. 7). In essence, God cast out Israel in order to put them into the same situation as all the other nations who had not been "chosen." Then Jesus came as the Door through whom all must come in order to be saved.
Yes, all Israel will be saved. But so will everyone else. Israel was not the only nation that was hardened. Rom. 11:32 says, "For God has shut up ALL in disobedience, that He might show mercy to all." In other words, God took credit for the hardening, taking upon Himself the responsibility to save them all. God always takes responsibility for His own actions. If He hardened all, then He becomes liable to rectify the situation according to the justice of His own law. Israel and all nations were hardened; therefore, God is responsible to bring all to salvation. Some become believers in their life time; the rest will believe and confess Him at the Great White Throne.