Romans - Lesson 46

Romans 11:25-32

In this lesson on Romans 11:25-32, you will gain understanding of the mystery surrounding Israel's salvation and its implications for both Jews and Gentiles. Paul explains that Israel's hardening is only temporary until the full number of Gentiles comes in, leading to the salvation of all Israel. However, interpretations vary, ranging from a salvific covenant with Israel apart from Christ to an end-time salvation of Jews. Paul's message underscores the unity of Jews and Gentiles in God's plan of salvation, challenging believers to embrace humility and avoid arrogance. 

Lesson 46
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Romans 11:25-32

IV. The Defense of the Gospel: the Problem of Israel (9:1–11:36)

A. Introduction: The Tension Between God's Promises and Israel's Plight (9:1-5)

B. Defining the Promise (1): God's Sovereign Election (9:6-29)

C. Understanding Israel's Plight: Christ as the Climax of Salvation History (9:30-10:21)

1. Israel, the Gentiles, and the Righteousness of God (9:30-10:13)

a. The Righteousness of God and the "Law of Righteousness" (9:30-33)

b. The Righteousness of God and "Their Own Righteousness" (10:1-4)

c. Gospel and Law (10:5-13)

2. Israel's Accountability (10:14-21)

D. Summary: Israel, the "Elect," and the "Hardened" (11:1-10)

E. Defining the Promise (2): The Future of Israel (11:11-32)

1. God's Purpose in Israel's Rejection (11:11-15)

2. The Interrelationship of Jews and Gentiles: A Warning to Gentile Believers (11:16-24)

3. The Salvation of "All Israel" (11:25-32)

F. Conclusion: Praise to God in Light of His Awesome Plan (11:33-36)

  • This lesson offers a deep dive into Paul's Letter to the Romans, revealing its pastoral aims, Paul's intentions to visit Spain, Jerusalem, and Rome, and its relevance to early Christian dynamics and theological inquiries about the Law in Christ's time.
  • This lesson offers a fresh view of Paul's theology, focusing on Romans. It emphasizes the first-century context, highlighting Gentile inclusion and unity in Christ, challenging traditional views. Gain insights into Paul's message and its relevance today.
  • Explore the book of Romans for modern faith conflicts: balance tradition with contemporary practices, learn from history, and grasp Paul's ministry and Gospel's complexities.
  • Follow along with Dr. Moo as he begins a thorough review of Romans 1:2-5. You will learn how Paul emphasizes Jesus' earthly life, resurrection, and his appointment as the Son of God in power. This lesson examines the interconnectedness of faith and obedience, underscoring that while faith initiates salvation, genuine faith inherently entails obedience to Christ as Lord, maintaining a balanced Christian life.
  • By delving into Romans 1:16-17, you'll understand the Gospel extends beyond individual salvation, encompassing God's reign over creation and His establishment of justice. The Gospel challenges worldly powers, offering hope and transformation to all who embrace it.
  • Listen along as the class discusses questions and answers revolving around Romans 1:16-17.
  • In Romans 1:18-28, you learn that all people are held accountable by God, having knowledge of Him through natural revelation but some turn away. This passage highlights the manifestation of God's wrath against sin, the exchange of truth for falsehoods, and the absence of excuses for humanity's actions, ultimately emphasizing God's fair judgment.
  • Listen in as the class and Dr. Moo discuss aspects of Romans 1:18-28.
  • The lesson discusses Romans 2:1-11, it highlights the use of the diatribe device and the transition from focusing on Gentiles to Jews. It underscores the Jewish belief in their special status and their potential misunderstanding of God's judgment. The lesson reviews the focus of the text on key themes such as judgment, righteousness, and the relationship between faith and good deeds.
  • In this lesson, you'll review the significance of the Law, notably the Law of Moses, in God's judgment. Paul stresses that mere knowledge of the Law isn't sufficient for righteousness; obedience is key. The primary message is that salvation ultimately relies on God's grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as human efforts and consciences alone cannot secure salvation. This lesson highlights the importance of understanding these concepts in interactions with people of different religious beliefs.
  • The key takeaway in this lesson is that while being a Jew comes with a great heritage, it doesn't guarantee salvation. Obedience to God's law is crucial, and reliance on religious heritage or rituals won't save you. The lesson emphasizes the universal human condition of being under the power of sin, and people cannot be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law or by the works of the Law. Only through faith in Christ are we made righteous.
  • This lesson explores the New Perspective on Paul, emphasizing that the Law was for Jewish covenant status, not just salvation. It promotes a holistic faith view, balancing vertical and horizontal aspects, Spirit-led obedience, and 1st-century Judaism diversity, enriching Pauline teachings in the church.
  • In exploring Romans 3:21-26, you'll gain insights into the relationship between righteousness, faith, and salvation. Paul highlights God's righteousness, which is accessible to all through faith in Jesus Christ. By weaving together themes of righteousness, faith, and inclusivity, Paul challenges conventional Jewish and Gentile perspectives, emphasizing the continuity of God's salvation plan while underscoring the centrality of faith in Christ for all believers.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the potential challenge in translating Romans 3:23-24, particularly the term "all" and its connection to the debate on universalism in evangelicalism. Dr. Moo stresses the importance of coherence in biblical interpretation and explores the themes of God's righteousness, faith, and grace in justification. The lesson reviews the cultural background of redemption, drawing parallels with the Greco-Roman slave market and emphasizing the need to understand both the problem of sin and the Gospel solution.
  • Embarking on this lesson, you'll gain insight into the historical development and contemporary challenges surrounding the doctrine of justification. Through exploring classic Reformation principles and contemporary reassessments, you'll understand the tensions between Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives, particularly regarding the infusion of righteousness and the role of grace.
  • The lesson explores the intricate connection between faith and works, justification, and sanctification in contemporary theological discourse. It delineates divergent views on justification, with scholars like Piper advocating for the preservation of biblical distinctions amidst modern theological trends. The lesson examines key questions regarding the meaning, basis, time, and means of justification.
  • Students in Dr. Moo's class ask multiple questions about justification.
  • By studying Romans 3:27-4:25, you gain insight into Paul's theology, where faith, exemplified by Abraham's righteousness, transcends works and ethnicity, emphasizing the universal scope of salvation through Christ.
  • Hear the questions the students ask regarding Romans 3:27–4:25. And discover Dr. Moo's answers to the questions posed.
  • In Romans 5 – 8, you gain insights into profound theological concepts like justification, identity in Christ, and the tension between present reality and future hope, guiding you to embrace your changed identity and hope for future transformation amidst life's trials.
  • Students as deep questions about Romans 5-8. Hear what Dr. Moo presents as answers to their questions.
  • Through Romans 5:1-11, you'll review the contrast between the Old and New Realms, understanding the essence of living in grace, finding hope amid suffering, and experiencing the assurance of eternal security rooted in Christ's sacrifice and God's love poured into believers' hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  • In Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts Adam's sin with Christ's redemptive grace, emphasizing humanity's hope and victory over death through union with Christ, while various interpretations of original sin underscore the universal need for redemption and Christ's pivotal role in restoring humanity to God.
  • Listen to the thorough questions the students ask regarding Romans 5:12-21.
  • The students ask excellent questions of Dr. Moo in this insightful discussion on Romans 6:1-14.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the theological implications of Christ's death and resurrection as explained in Romans 6. You will explore different interpretations of Paul's language regarding the old self and the new self, considering the implications for the Christian life. Ultimately, you will be challenged to recognize your identity in Christ and to actively live according to that identity, rejecting the slavery of sin and embracing servitude to God.
  • Hear the questions the students ask of Dr. Moo regarding Romans 6:1-23.
  • In diving into Romans 7, you'll explore the Law's role in Christian life. Paul's discourse clarifies the distinction between law and gospel, emphasizing the Torah's significance in understanding divine commandments.
  • Class discussion on Romans 7:1-6
  • In Romans 7:7-12, Paul explores the Law's role in intensifying sin and contrasts it with Christ's liberation. His narrative prompts reflection on individual experience and collective identity, enriching understanding of Christian faith.
  • The class discusses the previous lesson on Romans 7:7-12.
  • This lesson covers interpretations of Romans 7:13-25; whether Paul's description is of pre- or post-conversion struggle with the Law.
  • In Romans 8:1-22, discover the Spirit's transformative power over sin, leading to a life free from condemnation, intimacy with God, and anticipation of future glory amid present sufferings.
  • Explore the theological insights on environmental stewardship, emphasizing Christian responsibility in light of Romans 8:19-22.
  • Gain insights into Romans 8:23-27, understanding destined glory despite present suffering. The Spirit intercedes, bridging current and promised futures, offering assurance amid weakness.
  • Romans 8:28 offers profound insights into the nature of God's providence and the believer's journey of faith. Beyond its surface meaning, the verse challenges misconceptions about 'good' and underscores the transformative power of God's grace. It invites believers to trust in God's unfailing love amidst life's trials, anchoring their hope in the assurance of His sovereign care and redemptive purposes.
  • Romans 9:1-5 highlights Paul's profound concern for Israel's salvation and the theological complexities surrounding God's promises. Reviewing salvation history, you'll learn that God's offer of salvation for both Jew and Gentile, fits within the Old Testament narrative.
  • Paul discusses Israel's role in God's plan, emphasizing grace over race. He illustrates divine choices and sovereignty, sparking debates on salvation.
  • Discover diverse views on election, Israel's struggle with faith, and the significance of overcoming theological narrowness in Romans 9:30-10:21. Gain insights into law versus faith in attaining righteousness and the importance of engaging deeply with Scripture for a comprehensive understanding.
  • Gain insights into faith versus works, Christ as the culmination of the Law, and the inclusivity of righteousness through Him. Embrace unity in Christ, transcending cultural divisions, and embodying love and holiness.
  • Gain insight into contrasting righteousness by law vs. faith in Romans 10:5-13. Accessibility of salvation through Christ bridges Old and New Testament teachings, emphasizing unity and continuity.
  • Gain insights into Romans 10:14-21, emphasizing faith, preaching, and Israel's reception of the message. Dr. Moo highlights Paul's use of Old Testament quotes and God's ongoing relationship with Israel, revealing the significance of faith and salvation.
  • Gain insight into Romans 11:11-15. Paul discusses Jewish rejection, Gentile salvation, and Jewish inclusion, aiming to provoke Jewish envy. The phrase "life from the dead" hints at spiritual renewal or future resurrection.
  • Gain insights into the Olive Tree analogy in Romans 11:16-24. Understand humility, faithfulness, and the purpose of warning passages in Scripture.
  • Discover the mystery of Israel's salvation in Romans 11:25-32. Paul reveals unity of Jews and Gentiles, challenging arrogance and emphasizing God's inclusive love.
  • Gain deeper understanding of Christian-Jewish ties, navigate theological challenges, address Israel-Palestine tensions, and embrace God's inclusive grace.
  • Gain deep insights into Romans 12:1-2: True worship extends beyond rituals, urging sacrificial living and transformation in response to God's mercy.
  • In Romans 12:3-8, Paul stresses humility, unity, and diverse gifts within the body of Christ, urging faithful stewardship for the edification of the body of Christ.
  • Gain insights into love's complexity in Romans 12:9-21. Paul urges sincere affection, alludes to Jesus' teachings, and prompts contemplation on love and judgment.
  • Gain insights into balancing submission to authorities with obedience to God. Understand the context of Paul's exhortation to Roman Christians and the complexities of submission, emphasizing humility, unity, and love in the Christian life within God's sovereignty.
  • In Romans 14:1-15:13, you learn about the division in the Roman Christian community, the concept of adiaphora, the balance between liberty and love, and Paul's emphasis on mutual acceptance and avoiding spiritual harm through personal conviction and respect for others' practices.
  • In Romans 15:14-16:27, you explore Paul's extended conclusion, his ministry to the Gentiles, his request for prayers regarding his journey to Jerusalem, the roles of Phoebe and Junias in ministry, and the diversity of the early Christian community.

Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.


Other Recommended Reading:

The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright, Piper, John. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007. (978-1581349641) 

Understanding Paul: The Early Christian Worldview of the Letter to the Romans. 2d ed., Westerholm, Stephen. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004. (978-0801027314) 

Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision, Wright, N. T.  Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009. (978-0830838639) 

English version of the Bible: NIV (2011) is preferred; ESV and HCSB are also recommended.

Dr. Douglas Moo 
Romans 11:25-32  
Lesson Transcript


Romans 11:25-32

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.


A. Post-Holocaust Hermeneutics:  

It is clear that verses 25-26 are the climax of the chapter now. Paul turns to them and says that he doesn’t want them to be ignorant of this mystery. When Paul uses the word mystery, he usually uses it in the sense of something that was hidden in the Old Testament but now revealed in the New Testament. The mystery is this – and note his purpose again – “so that you may not be conceited.” He is worried about this arrogance, particularly among the Gentiles. “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” Israel hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. We see a reflection of this sequence one more time. 

And then verse 26, “And in this way, all Israel will be saved.” The question is which of these moments does this language refer to? One way of viewing this is to see it as referring to the entire process, but another way of understanding it is seeing it to refer to this particular stage in the process. Let me look at the options and explain a little bit more about how it works. 

“All Israel will be saved.” First of all, quickly, simply mentioning it to dismiss a view, there are those who say that this is a verse promising that the people of Israel will be saved by their own covenant, apart from Christ. In academic theology, there is this thing people call post-holocaust hermeneutics, which basically says in light of the holocaust, what happened in the Nazi regime during World War II, we need to rethink the way we are interpreting Scripture with respect to the people of Israel. We need to remove any possible anti-Semitism from our interpretation. 

So, one thing that we should do in light of that is to recognize Israel’s valid relationship with God through her own covenant. Sometimes this is called bi-covenantialism because of the idea that God has established two distinct salvific covenants; one with the people of Israel who are saved by their covenant which is focused on the Torah, and another covenant that is focused on Christ and is for the Gentiles. 

I mention this because it has become a popular view in some circles, appealing to our era of tolerance and pluralism. But this is plainly not what Paul is teaching. No, Paul doesn’t specific say that all of Israel will be saved by believing in Jesus, but he has defined salvation clearly enough throughout Romans that it is entirely valid to think that is implied here. In other words, throughout Romans Paul has made clear that the salvation God now offers people for all human beings, and remember how often Paul has said, Jew and Gentile right back to 1:16, is tied to Christ, God’s righteousness in Christ, and faith in Him. I bring that up to say this is a view that we should be aware of, we may hear it at some point, but which needs to be rejected.


B. Who Is Included and When: 

More interesting is the question of the who and when. “All Israel will be saved.” Does that mean that all Jews and Gentiles who are elect by God will come to salvation throughout history? Does it mean that all elect Jews will be saved throughout history? Or is it referring to an end-time salvation of a large number of Jews? These are where the options are. Good evangelical interpreters hold each of these views. It is one of those matters where we can’t be certain about as to what Paul intends. 

For me, it is likely that the reference is to the third view as you would know, I assume, by reading my commentary on that, but this is one I remember struggling with. The evidence isn’t as clear as one might like it to be. 

A couple of other things get involved in this. There is the question of Israel and the church. The first view takes the reference to Israel as referring to the entire church. Calvin, Luther, and many of the reformers along with Tom Wright in our day argue that view. That assumes that the word Israel can be applied to Gentile Christians. The question is whether that is a valid thing that Paul does or not.

Personally, I think he does do that in Galatians 6:16 where Paul talks about the Israel of God. I think that is a way of saying the whole people of God who now can be called Israel in the sense that the church inherits in the New Covenant age the blessing and benefits that God had promised to Israel. I think there is basis for that. 

The first view is the one that has been maintained by traditional dispensationalism where that particular movement, that particular way of reading Scripture clearly distinguishes always between Israel and the church. 

Traditional covenant theology tends to move more toward the second way of reading Israel and virtually equate the two. My former colleague Greg Beale for instance argues this very strongly. 

The third view, a kind of mediating one, saying sometimes Israel does refer to national people of God, the Jews. Sometimes, however, Paul uses it in the theological sense and I am more in that third camp. For me, it is possible that Israel in verse 26 might include the Gentiles. I can’t rule that out, I think Paul does do that. But in this context where Paul in verse 25 distinguishes between Gentiles and Israel, it is very unlikely that verse 26 suddenly shifts to a different meaning of the word.

This all turns on the meaning of “thus” right? If “thus” refers back to verse 25, then you can make the case for the “all.” This is the way God works out His salvation for the church. 

Dr. Moo:  
The word there at the beginning of the verse probably should be translated ‘in this way.’ People who hold each of these views are happy in arguing that. Some who hold the third view want to translate it as “then,” in other words, to make it a clear sequence. This is possible meaning for the word but it is not the normal meaning to the word. 

If you translate it “then,” you have the sequence here: Israel experiences a hardening until the full number of Gentiles comes in and then once the full number of Gentiles come in, then all Israel is saved. That makes a neat sequence where the salvation of Israel is something that is yet future. 

In my view, as you know from reading the commentary, I tend to agree with people like Greg Beale who think that the fundamental way in which we see the testaments related is that the promises made to Israel are now being fulfilled in the church. However, I do see in Romans 11 a place where Paul says that God still has a future for some of the people of Israel; that He is going to save a significant number of them at the end. I do think that the subsequent text here, “The deliverer will come from Zion” probably refers to Christ’s coming at the end of history. So, as I put it together then, at the end of history when Christ returns again, God in His grace is going to reach out to save a significant number of Jewish people demonstrating His continuing faithfulness to His promises to them. 

If, at some point in history, say two or three generations a substantial majority of Jews within those generations come to Christ, then you better start thinking that the end is nigh?

Dr. Moo:  
Part of the problem is, when and what is the sequence of events. I don’t think Paul is specific enough to say. Some say that it is the Parousia itself, the appearance of Christ that is going to trigger the salvation of the Jews. The salvation of the Jews may not precede the coming of Christ’s glory. We are just not sure of what that sequence is. 

Israel in this case is going to be the descendants of Abraham? 

Dr. Moo:  
The phrase, ‘all Israel’ is used quite widely in Scripture, not in the sense of every single Jew, but in the sense of a representative and significant number of some sort. It is certainly not promising salvation for every single Jew or every single Jew that is alive when Christ returns. Paul is saying that in contrast to the small number we see now, there will be a greater number coming in at the end. 

The thing that gets me is that it certainly is calling for a great faith in the providence of God and His remembrance of who actually is a descendent of Israel.

Dr. Moo:  
Right. There are long discussions by Jews as to what it means to be Jewish. The State of Israel has had to set up very strict qualifications in terms of what it means to be a Jew. That could be left with God from the standpoint of what Paul is saying.

Could that slide be changed to be “all the faith-filled Jews.” Could a word like that be used?

All May Not Mean All: Dr. Moo:  
I guess. I think that we – Arminians and Calvinists – all agree that people are elected; the question is on what basis. 

You learn very quickly that the word all doesn’t always mean all, like we often use it. At the beginning of the letter, it does seem to mean all, and it seems to be stressing it, that we’re all under sin. But now he doesn’t mean all, he means a great number. This seems to be a pretty big change right there in the same letter. 

Dr. Moo:  
There is no neat mathematical rule when you come to the word “all.” You have to look at its context, see how it is used elsewhere. Often, we have an implicit restriction when we use the word all. All of the group that I’m talking about but not all unrestricted. 

We use that everyday language; all the people were upset. Are you saying every single human being who has ever lived was upset? No, what I mean is all the people I am talking about and even then I mean the majority, a lot of them, some vocal ones, maybe not even the majority. You have to look at every text in Scripture that way and figure out what is intended. 

You kind of see that in “all were shut up under lawlessness so that He might show mercy to all.” 

Dr. Moo:  
Right. In verse 32 we have this very same issue here. Another text cited for universalism where again the issue is, what does all mean. 

It seems to me that the Jews are jealous that God is interested in the Gentiles. And the Gentiles are jealous of the Jews. And neither one realizes that the root system of God is big enough to accommodate both. Both the branches that were grafted on as well as the ones who grew naturally.

Dr. Moo:  
That’s exactly right. This kind of mirrors the situation in the Roman church. Do you see how this is setting up Romans 14-15? This whole theology about Israel and the Gentiles; Paul is going to bring that home when he talks to these two groups in the Roman church and tells them to stop fighting with each other. You Jews need to recognize that the Gentiles are part of the picture because God is bringing them in, and you Gentiles, rejoicing that you have been brought in, need to stop being prideful and arrogant. You need to stop looking down at the Jews as if God is done with them. All of this theology is building up to what Paul is going to say in Romans 14 and 15 when he talks to the community there. 

Is he saying this about the attitude towards the unbelieving Jews might spill over on the believing? 

Dr. Moo:  
I think that is related, yes. It is a little difficult to know when Paul is talking about not boasting over the natural branches, is he talking about Jewish Christians or Jews? It is probably a little of both.


D. The Mystery of Salvation History:  

I want to talk about the mystery finally as we look at this text. I think is a sort of an interesting Old Testament issue. If we are doing our work carefully, we come to Paul’s quotation in verse 26, “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.” 

What does Isaiah 59:20-21 say? Anyone know? Let’s look back there, this is what Paul is quoting. Isaiah 59:20-21. “The Redeemer will come to Zion,” Paul says that deliverer will come from Zion. The Hebrew of Isaiah 59:20 can either mean the sense of either come to or come for the sake of. The Hebrew there can’t mean from and yet that is how Paul quotes it here. 

Once again what we find Paul doing here is that we find, not infrequently a New Testament use of the Old Testament, a quotation of the Old Testament in light of the fulfillment in Christ. Paul has changed the ‘to’ to the ‘from’ and the question is why? 

In Isaiah, you have this kind of typical sequence that the prophets talk a lot about. Isaiah talks about Israel’s sin at the beginning of the chapter and then says how God is going to intervene, He is going to judge Israel’s enemies, He is going to gather together the exiles, and the deliverer will come to Zion. God will manifest Himself for His people. He will come to Zion to deliver the people and to judge God’s enemies. Yet Paul says that the deliverer is coming, the Redeemer, the Deliverer, is coming from Zion and I think what that means, Paul is reflecting on what that means in light of the coming of Christ. 

In the Old Testament, you have a fairly common sequence; God will deliver Israel, He will rescue the people from their enemies, He will exalt Jerusalem, He will make the land fruitful again. This will be something that will bring Gentiles in; Gentiles will then join in with Jews in a restored Zion. This is a typically familiar theme in Isaiah. 

Paul, now looking at what God has done in salvation history, sort of reverses that theme. Gentiles have already come into Zion as he suggests in 9:33, “I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble, a rock that makes them fall and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” Remember Paul quotes this later on in chapter 10, with an “anyone who believes in Him” including the Gentiles. 

There is this puzzling turn that salvation history has taken that Paul continues to comment on again and again. In fact, Gentiles are coming in first and making Jews jealous whereas people would have thought that God was going to deal with the Jews first and make the Gentiles jealous. 

So, there has been a reversal which leads Paul to change the wording of this verse. Gentiles have streamed into Zion. Israel is still in sort of in exile because they have not responded to the grace of God in the Gospel. So, the deliverance of Israel will come from Zion since God has already restored Zion by bringing the Gentiles in.