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.
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:
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.
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.)
Labels: Reformation Theology