D. Norman Easter
Some religious leaders and some politicians advise our government to give the Jews preferential treatment because they are The chosen people of God. Others say, “Don’t bother taking the Gospel to the Jews, because God has a special plan for saving all Jews. As soon as all Gentiles are saved that will be saved, God will then save all Jews,” they say. The main proof text for this teaching is Romans 11:26, “And so all Israel will be saved.” Such teaching however, is false. Furthermore, to place such an interpretation on Romans 11:26 is to wrest the Scriptures from their intended meaning. To understand this verse one must consider its context beginning with chapter nine.
Paul is heart-broken because his kinsmen. The Jews, are lost. He declares that he would sacrifice himself for them if that would redeem them. “That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh (Rom 9:2-3). But because the Jews are lost does not mean God’s Word has failed. He has children other than those who descended from Israel (Rom. 9:63). God called Gentiles to come to Him as well as the Jews. (Rom. 9:24-26) Only a remnant of the Jews will be saved. “Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved (Rom. 9:27). Their salvation is dependent upon their confessing Jesus as Lord by the terms of the Gospel
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him (Rom. 10:9-12).
Christ had ended the Old Testament Law of Moses. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:4). The Jews being ignorant of this had not submitted themselves to God’s system of righteousness in Christ.
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God (Rom. 10:1-3).
Salvation for the Jew and the Gentile is dependent upon their recognition of Jesus as Lord. Paul asserts, “That there is no difference between the Jew and he Gentile in the matter of salvation” (Rom. 10:12). It is a matter of, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13). Whosoever would, could obey the Gospel, “but all had not believed the report of the Gospel of Christ” (Rom. 10:16). Jesus established in the great commission the Gospel as the terms of salvation for every creature in all of the world. Upon the failure to believe to believe in Christ, the Jews would not confess Jesus as Christ, the Lord and therefore did not obey the Gospel of Christ. (Rom. 10:16). Jesus established the Gospel in the great commission as the terms of salvation for every creature in all of the world. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:15-16)
God cut off the Jews because of their unbelief (Rom. 11:20). God grafted in the “unnatural branches,” the Gentiles, because the Jews did not believe (Rom. 11:19, 24). If God can graft in the “unnatural branches,” He can graft back in the “natural branches,” the Jews, provided they come to believe by the terms of the Gospel. “And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again” (Rom. 11:23). Paul began the book of Romans by saying, “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to the Jew first and also to the Greek [Gentile]” (Rom. 1:16). The Gospel was presented to the Jews first and then to the Gentiles (Acts 13:26). The Gospel was the means of salvation for either. If Jew or Gentile is saved, it will be because of their belief and compliance to the terms of the Gospel.
How were the Gentiles saved? Their obedient faith caused God to graft them in. That is also how Israel will be saved if they are saved. God is no respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11; Acts 10:34-35). The Gospel is the means of salvation for the Gentiles, so it is also the means of salvation for t he Jews. So in Romans 11:26 is an adverb of manner, meaning that this is the means for any and all of Israel to be saved, that is, by the terms of the Gospel. Both groups, Jews and Gentiles, can be saved by their “obedient faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:25-26). A remnant of the Jews will be saved (Rom. 9:27) because they will come to that “obedient faith” in Christ Jesus. All Israel can be saved that way (Rom. 11:26). The Jews will be saved only by believing and obeying the same Gospel the Gentiles believe and obey.