What is the meaning of “All Israel will be saved” in Romans 11:26? Does it teach that every single Israelite will be saved? If some Israelites are lost (for example Judas Iscariot) why did Paul say “All Israel will be saved”? Maybe Paul it referring to a future event in which every single member of the Israelite nation in that future generation will be saved.


Paul said in Romans 9:6-7, “not all Israel is Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s descendants.”  Clearly, “Israel” has at least two meanings in the New Testament.  There is physical Israel, which is those directly descended from Israel/Jacob, the grandson of Abraham.  The Jewish people are “Israel” in that sense.  However, Paul speaks of spiritual Israel.  These are the children of promise.  These are those who have saving faith in Jesus.  Like Paul said, true circumcision is circumcision of the heart. In Romans 2:25-29 we are told that if we break the law it is as if we had not been circumcised.  He talks about being physically circumcised versus spiritually circumcised.  In Colossians 2:9-12 we are told that the “real” circumcision is not an outward thing but an inward thing and that it happens when we are baptized into Christ.  In Galatians 4:21-31 Paul tells us that physical Israel, outside of Christ, are children of Hagar and brothers of Ishmael, and that the true children of Sarah and Abraham–the true Israel–are the followers of Christ.

Therefore, the answer to your question is that the “Israel” being referred to in Romans 11:26 is those who are saved through Christ.  Those who have put their faith in Christ, repented and been baptized into Christ are the true Israel, and all of them will be saved.  

Now, look at the direct context of Romans 11:26.  In this context, Paul is indeed talking about people who are Jewish.  But the point is that any Jew can become part of spiritual Israel.  Salvation is still open to Jews, just as it is open to Gentiles.  Paul desperately wants to see his fellow Jews saved.  Like he says, “If they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in.” (Rom 11:24).  Paul says that, as far as election is concerned, the Jews are still loved by God, but they must come to faith in Jesus to be saved.  If so, then they will be part of the “all Israel” who will be saved in Romans 11:26.

Some Christians interpret Romans 11 to imply some sort of special coming-in of Jews at the last days.  I am skeptical, but I am open to this explanation.  Even if this were true, “All Israel” would not be a reference to only Jewish Christians in any case.  If we are alive at the end times, I suppose we will see, but this does not affect us now.  We need to be faithful and we need to continue to share the gospel, including with our Jewish friends.  That is all we need to be concerned with.

John Oakes

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