Continued Conjecture and Confusion over the Jews
Conjecture over the timing and process of Jewish salvation has brought about much confusion and sadly false teaching in the church. This has happened to the point that, if some of us really knew what Paul was saying, he would probably be considered by them to be “anti-Semitic”.
In chapters 9-11 of his letter to the Romans, Paul addressed certain questions and speculation over the future of the Jewish people and their salvation in the light of what appeared to be a huge disconnect between Jews in general and their Messiah. He addressed questions like, why were Jews not embracing the gospel? And, had God rejected them?
Unfortunately, Paul’s attempts to do this have sadly also been misconstrued by those who wildly speculate over the process of Jewish salvation or who have been taught the theologies of such speculators. Perhaps Peter’s words are true of some of these people too, where he wrote, “Paul … wrote … some things … that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist … as they do the other Scriptures” (2Peter 3:15-16).
Separate Plan for Israel after the Gentiles is False
A twisting of Paul’s writing on this issue of the future of the Jews in God’s plans is the common misinterpretation that AFTER the “fullness of the Gentiles has come in,” THEN Israel will experience salvation. People read this idea into Romans 11:25-27 when it isn’t there, especially if they have been taught this idea. Yet, a simple reading of the passage will show this to be untrue.
Read it for yourself:-
“A PARTIAL HARDENING has come upon Israel, UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 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’; ‘and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’”
“A PARTIAL HARDENING” speaks of the NATURE of Israel.
“UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” speaks of the duration of this partial hardening.
“And IN THIS WAY all Israel will be saved” speaks of the MANNER of the salvation of “all Israel” and NOT THE TIMING of it.
“as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins” speaks of salvation through the promised deliverer and the promised new covenant, i.e. through the gospel of Jesus and the new covenant.
Nothing here speaks of Gentiles coming in “BEFORE Israel will be saved”. This idea gets accidently read into the passage by readers who expect the passage to be saying this, when it doesn’t.
Explaining the Passage
At this point in this passage, Paul, whose heart is to “somehow…save SOME of them (fellow Israelites),” is addressing the Gentiles in order to give them a sober and accurate understanding of what is happening to the Jews.
He is saying, something like, “Gentiles …In case you get the wrong idea of what is happening through your own evaluation of what you see, let me explain a mystery. A PARTIAL (not complete) hardening has come upon Israel as a people. And, this will be the case UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And, in this way, despite their condition of partial hardening, all Israel will be saved, as it is written, through a Savior who will remove their ungodliness with God’s new covenant!”
Drips and Drabs and Spurts
Essentially, as far as the Jews are concerned, while the Gentiles are coming in, and until the end of that time, they too will be coming in, however, because of a partial hardening, it will be in drips and drabs with occasional spurts.
At the time of Paul’s writing it was more like drips and drabs, while the Gentiles were coming into the kingdom in spurts. This was something that drew attention and caused possible speculation and pride among the Gentiles in the church in Rome, which Paul addressed here.
He addresses any idea that the Jews are LARGELY or COMPLETELY hardened as a people and as a result ABANDONED, by explaining that a PARTIAL hardening has come upon them, hence their lack of receiving of the gospel en masse.
So, just as the fullness of the Gentiles come in with drips and drabs and with occasional spurts, so too, will the fullness of the Jews. And, together they comprise Messiah’s “all Israel,” a Holy Nation and a Kingdom of priests.
A Duty to Tell the Jews about Jesus
Like Paul, we have a gospel to preach to a hard world, including to the Jews who have experienced ONLY a PARTIAL hardening. And, although, at times, it may appear that the Jews are abandoned by God, this is not the case. They, too, must have their ungodliness banished through the Savior with His new covenant. Quite frankly, reaching Jews with the gospel is not harder than reaching atheists in the West or Japanese in Japan.
The time for Jewish salvation, like for everyone else, is NOW. And, it’s through their Messiah, Jesus, with God’s New Covenant.
Just as a missionary in Japan doesn’t stop sharing the gospel at the rejection of it by countless Japanese, we shouldn’t let the rejection of the gospel by many Jews keep us from sharing it with them.
Photo by Alex Bruda