Q368 : What Does Paul Mean that All Israel Will be Saved (Romans 11:26)?

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Q368 : What Does Paul Mean that All Israel Will be Saved (Romans 11:26)?

I have heard a few teachers preach about Romans 11:26 "and so all Israel will be saved".

Most say that this is talking about "corporate" Israel, or the majority of Israel, and that not every single Jew will be physically and spiritually saved at Christ's 2nd coming. But, there are others like Andy Woods who teach that "all" means all, and we can take that literally as saying every Jew will be saved at the 2nd coming of Christ.

Currently I lean towards Andy's view that all will be saved physically, because they had to call out to Him and acknowledge He is their true Messiah (Matthew 23:39), which requires belief. So in turn they would be saved spiritually.

But I was recently reading Pentecost's book "Things to Come,"2 and he describes the Judgement of the Jews after the Tribulation and before the Millennial Kingdom to determine which of them will enter the Kingdom (Matt 24:31; Ezekiel 20:33-44).

So, the question is. If all of Israel will be saved, then what is the point of the Judgement of the Jews to determine who will enter the Kingdom, if all of them are already saved?

Let me know what you think. Thanks!


1.Ref-0050, 282


Ref-0050J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come : A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958).

A368 : by Tony Garland

Here’s Ezekiel’s passage:

32 "What you have in your mind shall never be, when you say, 'We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and stone.' 33 "[As] I live," says the Lord GOD, "surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. 34 "I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. 35 "And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. 36 "Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you," says the Lord GOD. 37 "I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; 38 "I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I [am] the LORD. (Eze. 20:32-38)

What you are seeing is two views as to when and how Ezekiel 20:33-44 comes to pass.

Interpreters such as Andy (and myself) understand Ezekiel 20:33-44 as describing a process spanning a period of time (e.g., the Tribulation, especially the last half). Others see the passage as a one-time event after the return of Messiah—often connecting the passage with Matthew 24:31

31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Mat. 24:31)

Some observations:

  • Ezekiel's passage compares God's future dealings with Israel to her original wilderness wanderings prior to entry into the Promised Land: "Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you." The original wilderness wanderings was a lengthy process spanning a 40-year period. This implies the "pleading" of God will take place by means of extended difficulty over a period of time.
  • Ezekiel's passage correlates with events of the Tribulation, which include a world-wide persecution of Jews (in the midst of Gentile lands—"the wilderness of the peoples"). This dovetails with the persecution of the Woman of Revelation 12 (who represents Israel, Rev. 12:6, 13-14).
  • The result of Israel's earlier time in the wilderness was a nation purged of unfaithful Israelites who had rebelled against God. They died in the wilderness. By the end of the process, they were removed from among the new generation which then entered the land by crossing the Jordan under Joshua. The upcoming judgment is said to be similar.
So, the question is. If all of Israel will be saved, then what is the point of the Judgement of the Jews to determine who will enter the Kingdom, if all of them are already saved?

Those of us who believe this is accomplished by a process over time, connect it with the time of Jacob’s trouble.

The purging takes place during the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), during the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21).1

Interpreters in our camp see a parallel passage in Zechariah as describing the same time period:

8 And it shall come to pass in all the land," Says the LORD, "[That] two-thirds in it shall be cut off [and] die, But [one] -third shall be left in it: 9 I will bring the [one-third] through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, 'This [is] My people'; And each one will say, 'The LORD [is] my God.'" (Zec. 13:8-9)

Since all the remaining one-third [Zec. 13:8-9] become believers, at that point, all Israel and the Remnant of Israel become one and the same.2

It is my view that this "refining" is a process which spans a period of time, including, especially, the last 1/2 of the Tribulation period.

I am in agreement with Fruchtenbaum as to the result: 1) the total number of living Jews dwindles; simultaneously 2) the number of believing Jews grows. At the point of the Second Coming the only Jews remaining alive are those who trust in their Messiah, Jesus Christ. It is at this point that "all Israel will be saved."

This can be seen in my diagram, Who is a True Jewa." In that diagram, the green inner circle expands as the outer blue circle contracts such that the region between the two (corresponding to unbelieving Jews) disappears. The rose-colored box on the right side of the diagram explains this process and refers to Romans 11:26 in conjunction with Jer. 31:34 which indicates a time when every Jew will know God.

34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more. (Jer. 31:34)

Another argument against seeing this as a separation that occurs after the return of Christ is found in a careful reading of the last phrase in Romans 11:26, 26 The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. (Rom. 11:26)

Notice that The Deliverer is successful at turning ungodliness from Jacob (God always achieves His goals!). It doesn't imply only some Jews turn and other unbelieving ones remain to be culled after the Second Coming.

The persecution/tribulation is so intense that only Jewish believers remain after the Tribulation has run its course. This also explains why, in the Sheep and Goat Judgment (Matthew 25) we only find three groups: 1) sheep; 2) goats; 3) "my brethren." In the context of Matthew 25, "my brethren" are the believing Jews who survived the Tribulation, whereas the sheep and goats are Gentile in origin.

There is no mention of unbelieving Jews in this setting. This also implies Matthew 24:3 (the global gathering of His elect from among unbelievers) need not require Jewish unbelievers for fulfillment. It only requires believers—Jewish or otherwise—to be gathered from among unbelievers, in this case, unbelieving Gentiles: the goats of Matthew 25.

So, it boils down to how one understands the purging/refining passages leading to "all Israel" being saved? Does the purging take place as a single event following upon the Second Coming? Or does it take place over time, as a process—corresponding with the time of Jacob's Trouble—ending with the arrival of Israel's Messiah?


1.Ref-0089, 1179
2.Ref-0219, 799


Ref-0089John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997).
Ref-0219Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003).

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