All Israel Shall Be Saved?
by Steve Wohlberg
Romans 11:26 says, “And so all Israel will be saved.” What does this mean?
Obviously, it doesn’t mean every Jew will be saved. In fact, the same chapter says God hopes to “save some of them” (vs. 14). Judas was a Jew, yet we know he will be lost for betraying Christ. Jesus called him, “the son of perdition” (John 17:12). Jesus told many Jews, “If you do not believe I am He [the Messiah], you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Not every Jew believes in Jesus Christ, thus many will “die in their sins” and be lost.
Many Christians today interpret Romans 11:26 as applying to the end of the seven-year tribulation when Jesus appears in the clouds at His Second Coming. In other words, they don’t apply the verse to all Jews throughout history, but only to “all Jews” who are alive at the end. Supposedly, at the end of the tribulation, all remaining Jews in Israel will look up, see Christ coming in the clouds, realize He is the true Messiah, believe in Him, and thus “All Israel will be saved.”
This is a false teaching, as I will attempt to show.
- First, the context of Romans 11 is not the Second Coming.
- “There is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:5-11). It would be an act of partiality to save “all Jews” at the end, but not “all Jews” in history. The idea is, “When all final Jews see Christ coming in the clouds, then they will believe.” But this would give those final Jews a supposedly irresistible opportunity to believe in Jesus Christ which past Jews have not had. Nor would this be fair to “all Gentiles” living at the end. Why would God save all Jews at the end but not all Gentiles? All Gentiles will see Jesus coming just like all Jews.
- When Christ finally appears in the clouds, IT’S TOO LATE TO BELIEVE IN HIM. Rev. 22:11,12 says that before He comes in the clouds, all decisions have already been made. Jesus said it will be like Noah’s day (Mat. 24:37-39). In Noah’s day the door of the ark closed before the flood came (Gen. 7:16). When the flood came, it was too late. To save all Jews AT THE SECOND COMING would be like saving all those outside the ark WHEN THE RAIN STARTED FALLING.
- When Jesus comes in the clouds, this is the time of judgment upon ALL unbelievers who don’t know God nor obey the gospel (2 Thess. 1:7-10; Jude 14,15).
So what does this mean, “All Israel shall be saved”? First of all, Romans 9:6 says there are two Israels. one is an Israel according to the flesh (Romans 9:3,4) and the other is the Israel of God (Galatians 6:14-16). The Israel of God is composed of both Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:29). Gentiles who believe are grafted in. They become part of the “same body” with believing Jews (Eph. 3:6). Paul calls this unity of believing Jews and Gentiles, “the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4).
The immediate context of Romans 11:26 is vs. 25. When “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in,” then “all Israel will be saved.” Or, to be exact, “And so all Israel will be saved.” In other words, the coming in of the fullness or total number of the Gentiles results in “all Israel” being saved. Paul’s idea seems to be that when all Gentiles (totally, throughout history) have come in, that is, have been grafted into the Vine, they, uniting with all Jews who have become believers, will form the total number of the saved. Paul also reveals that when Gentiles come in, God can use this to motivate some Jews to believe (verses 11 & 14). Vs. 25 calls this whole thing, “this mystery,” which we have already proven to be the “mystery” of both Jews and Gentiles being united in one body through Christ (Eph. 3:4,6). Vs. 27 says all are saved because Christ takes away their sins through His covenant, which must be the New Covenant, which applies to all believers, Jew and Gentile. Thus the “all Israel” that is saved is the total group of believing Gentiles and Jews combined.
The “all Israel that is saved” does not apply to all Jews throughout history, nor can it apply to a select favored group who become instant believers when Jesus Christ comes crashing down through the sky. By that time, it is too late to believe.