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"And So All Israel Will Be Saved" -- Romans 11:16-36

The Twenty-Ninth in a Series of Sermons on Paul's Epistle to the Romans

At the end of Romans 8, Paul’s reflection upon the grace of God moves him so deeply that he composes one of the grandest doxologies in all the Bible. “In all these things,” Paul writes, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But in the next chapter when contemplating the present condition of his own beloved people, the Jews, Paul’s mood darkens dramatically. “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.”

Having gone from the heights of joy to the depths of despair, the very thought of God redeeming his ancient people, the Jews, brings Paul back to the heights of doxological praise. And so as this three chapter discussion of the fate of his people comes to an end in Romans 11:33-35, Paul writes: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! `Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?’ `Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

What is it that can bring Paul from the heights of doxology to the depths of despair and then back again to the heights of doxology? Paul’s hope that Israel’s present unbelief will give way to faith at the end of the age, when, as Paul puts it in Romans 11:26, “all Israel will be saved.”

To read the rest of this sermon, click here

Reader Comments (5)


I enjoyed this sermon, but I am a bit interested where you found the book of Hoses listed in your sermon title :)
October 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick
I was wondering if you are ever going to get these sermons published in a homelitical commentary? All of these in one volume would be a great help to any preacher or teacher. Just wondering if that had ever crossed your mind.
October 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMerritt
Thank you Dr. Riddlebarger!

I have always had difficulty understanding Romans 11, and I appreciate your article for setting forth the two views. Although I would classify myself as currently holding to the Dutch school view, I am still thinking about it. You make good points.

Here is why I still hold to the Dutch school view:
1. Paul does refer to Israel as the elect in Romans 9:6-8:
'But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: "THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED." That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants."

2. In addition, when I read Jesus' words toward the nation of Israel in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, particularly Matthew, I find nothing that would encourage the nation of Israel to believe that they would receive such a special dispensation at the end of time.

3. But, I do not see two separate plans or covenants at least after Christ's death, one for the Gentiles and one for the Jews, outside of possibly Romans 11.

4. It seems the purpose of Romans 11 is more to make sure that we as Gentile Christians do not be smug, rather than set forth an eschatogical position that would lead us to not worry about the salvation of the Jews, because they will be taken care of in a separte manner.

But, as stated, I am still thinking about it. Thanks again!

Yours truly,
Bill Hornbeck
October 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBill Hornbeck
One further thought -

For Reformed Christians, salvation is always tied to election, and salvation is always directed to particular individuals (Jacob, not Esau, for example), not groups. As you write in your article today on the Canons of Dort: "Rather, the Reformed Christian believes that God actually saves his elect through the death of Christ, and that God’s grace is directed to the specific individuals whom God intends to save. In other words, those whom God has chosen are the particular individuals for whom Christ is said to have died. "

Even within Romans 11:2, it is stated:
"God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew ..."

And, also in Romans 11:7:
"What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened;"

The second view of Romans 11:26 ("all Israel will be saved"), which interprets that phrase, as providing a unique salvation opportunity for all of the group of Jews at the end of time, is inconsistent with Scripture and the Canons of Dort's emphasis of salvation by election and salvation of particular individuals as compared with groups. It is also inconsistent with the many references throughout Scripture of only a remnant of Israel being saved.
October 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBill Hornbeck

As you know, I take the position that "all Israel" refers to national Israel, and that immediately before the end of the age, large numbers of ethnic Jews will come to faith in Christ. In regards to the particularism of Reformed theology, this simply means that each one of them is known by God, chosen in Christ, and called to faith immediately before the end of the age.

The charge of consistency is unfounded.
October 24, 2008 | Registered CommenterKim Riddlebarger

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