Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"All Israel"


Studying through Romans a few years ago, I came to the following conclusion concerning Romans 11:26a (“and in this way all Israel will be saved”); namely, that “in this way” is referring to the entire proceeding outline of redemptive history among Jews and Gentiles (wherein a “partial hardening” comes upon [ethnic] Israel, Gentiles are “grafted in” to the covenant line, and–once “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in”– Jews–having been provoked to holy jealousy by God’s work among the Gentiles–trust in Christ and are grafted in again). Therefore “all Israel” refers to believing Jews and Gentiles (to use the Apostle’s analogy: both the wild and natural branches grafted into the one olive tree). I was surprised to find that basically nobody agrees with my interpretation of the text. Not G.K. Beale, not Dr. Tom Schreiner (under who I was privileged to study Romans), not John Murray: all of these scholars–and many more!–take “all Israel” as referring to ethnic Israelites. Taking this view, however, they have to explain that “all” does not mean “all” but only all the elect ethnic Israelites. Which–in this case–may make one wonder why the Apostle bothered to write “all” at all! On my view, all is needed in the text because it qualifies “Israel,” so that the reader is meant to understand that “in this way” all of God’s chosen people–from Jews to Gentiles and finally to Jews again–will be saved.
Obviously, it’s rather disconcerting to find yourself virtually alone in an understanding of the text. And to find myself in disagreement with so many trusted teachers certainly made me re-examine the Scripture. But–looking at the passage again and again–I became convinced that I was viewing the argument in Romans correctly. Also–it turns out–I’m not quite alone in my interpretation of Romans 11:26a. See there is this one guy
In his Romans Commentary, regarding Romans 11:26a, John Calvin writes: 


Many understand this of the Jewish people, as though Paul had said, that religion would again be restored among them as before: but I extend the word Israel to all the people of God, according to this meaning, — “When the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also shall return from their defection to the obedience of faith; and thus shall be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be gathered from both; and yet in such a way that the Jews shall obtain the first place, being as it were the first-born in God’s family.” This interpretation seems to me the most suitable, because Paul intended here to set forth the completion of the kingdom of Christ, which is by no means to be confined to the Jews, but is to include the whole world. The same manner of speaking we find in Galatians 6:16. The Israel of God is what he calls the Church, gathered alike from Jews and Gentiles; and he sets the people, thus collected from their dispersion, in opposition to the carnal children of Abraham, who had departed from his faith.

This is precisely how I had come to see the text! So, when it comes to Romans 11:26a, I am a Calvinist. (I have no idea how Arminius interpreted this text.)

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