4. What Does the Lord Say
Conversion of All Israel?
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans )
All millenarians hold that all the Jews will be
and acknowledge the Christ crucified as the Messiah, the Savior of all
either at the beginning or at some time during the hoped‑for
They think that passages such as Zechariah
support their belief: "And I will
pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit
of grace and of supplications:
and they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced." In the New
Testament they regard Roman 11:25-26 as their main stronghold because
there declares that "all Israel shall
be saved." How such passages
are to be understood in agreement with other statements of Holy Writ
now try to show.
A Remnant of Israel will Accept Christ
God says by the prophet Isaiah: "For
though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet [only] a remnant
of them shall return [be
converted]" (Isa. ).
This is repeated by the apostle Paul who writes: "Esaias
also crieth concerning Israel: Though the number of the children of Israel be as
the sand of the sea, [yet only] a remnant
shall be saved. . . . And as Esaias said before: Except the Lord of
left us a seed, we would have been as Sodom and been made
like unto Gomorrah" (Rom. ,
29). In the Old Testament God promised: "In that day will
I raise up the
tabernacle of David that is fallen, . . . and I will build it as in the
old" (Amos ). In the
Testament He declares that this very prophecy is being fulfilled in the
conversion of the Gentiles, God taking "out
of them a people for His name," thus building His church (Acts
"Through their [the Jews'] fall
salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them [the Jews] to
(Rom. ; cf. Acts -47).
Yet it is not all Israel that will be converted to
but only a remnant, "the
election," those who will not abide in unbelief; "the
rest are blinded" (Rom. 11:7‑10). This remnant
shall, by the missionary activity of the Gentile church (see Isaiah
return to God's holy mountain which is Zion,
the church of Jesus the Messiah. But as a whole, as a nation, the
Israel have been rejected (Matt. 21:43) and this rejection will
the end of the world, as the Lord says (Luke 21:24‑27): "Jerusalem
shall be trodden down of the
Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled; . . . and then
they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."
The "times of the Gentiles"
are the times in which the Gentiles are called by the Gospel, the
grace (2 Cor. 6:1-2; Psa. 81:11‑15). And these times
continue unto the end as the Lord assures us in Matthew
24:14: "And this gospel of the kingdom
shall be preached in all the world, .
. . and then shall the end come."
But concerning the Jews as a nation, the Holy Spirit tells
us: "The wrath is come upon them to the
uttermost" (1 Thess. ),
that is, unto the end (compare the Greek text). These statements are
sweeping leaving no room for a universal conversion of the Jews (cf.
Who is meant by "the House of David"?
Promises such as Zechariah
and Joel began to be
on the Pentecost Day (Acts ),
and are still being fulfilled in the gathering of the remnant of Israel
as well as in the gathering of "all
that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call"
(Acts -39). For the "house of David" (Zech. )
comprehends all the children of the "Son of David" (Heb. ; Eph. -20),
the "royal priesthood" (1
Pet. 2:9; Rev. 5:10). In the same sense the "inhabitants
of Jerusalem" (Zech. )
are all the citizens of the HolyCity, the church
of Christ (Gal. ; Heb. ;
This gathering of the elect of Israel during the
time of the
New Testament is indicated in the words Isaiah 11:11: "The
Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover
the remnant of His people";
for after they had broken the first covenant, God promised them a
of His grace in sending the Messiah, thereby establishing the "new covenant" (Jer. 31:31‑33),
and calling them by the Gospel (2 Thess. 2:14). All true children of
-17), of Israel,
will accept and keep this new covenant; but they are only a remnant.
read in Isaiah 4:2-3 that at the time when "the
Branch of the Lord" (Isa. 11:1; Jer. 23:5-6) "shall be
beautiful and glorious . . . for them that are escaped
of Israel, . . . he that is left [the
remnant] in Zion . . . shall be called
holy, even every one that is written among the living," that is,
the Book of Life (Psa. 69:28; Amos 9:9; Rev. 20:15; 21:27) . Isaiah
say "the whole Jewish nation."
Misinterpretations of Other
Old Testament Passages
In this connection we may point out the
such passages as Isaiah 2 and Micah 4:1‑8 on which the millenarians
their belief that in the last times the city of Jerusalem
in Palestine will be the
Christ's earthly kingdom. They teach that Christ will reside in Jerusalem
and reign like David and Solomon, and that all the nations will go
worship on the mountain of God.
Right here it is necessary again to remind the reader of the fact that
the kingdom of Christ
is not a worldly kingdom
(John -37), and that
kingdom on earth, the Kingdom
does “not come with observation," with
external show (Luke 17:20‑21). When the prophets of God speak of "the last days," the days
"hereafter," they mean the whole era, or period, of the New Testament
times. The “mountain of the house of the
Lord" is the Lord’s church (compare with this passage Isaiah 28:16;
Peter 2:6‑8: Matthew ;
Ephesians ff., etc.),
to which "many nations shall come" by
being converted to the living God (Acts 26:17 ff). This prophecy has
process of fulfillment since the beginning of the missionary work of
apostles (Acts 15:12‑17; ;
). Therefore God
all believers does not say, "Ye shall come to the holy
mountain" as if it were to happen in the future, but, "Ye are come unto MountSion, and unto the city of the living God" (Heb. 12:22‑24;
Gal. ). So then by the
and building of the church
the Messianic kingdom, all these prophecies have been fulfilled.
How about the Chief Bulwark of the Millenarians?
Let us now consider Romans
11:25‑27, which the millenarians believe to be the
New Testament proof for a general conversion of the Jews. This passage
as follows: "I would not, brethren,
that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in
conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel,
until the fulness of the Gentiles be come
in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of
Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My
unto them, when I shall take away their sins."
It is certain that the apostle Paul does not deny
has stated in the whole section comprising Romans 9:1‑11, 24, namely,
that not "all Israel according to the flesh," but only
a remnant of Israel will be saved,"according
to the election of grace" (Rom. 11:5‑11).
Furthermore, the purpose of this section, chapters 9‑11, is to prove
that the promises of God concerning Israel
are being fulfilled, that they have not become void, even if not
all Jews are
saved. It is made plain that this is the Holy Spirit’s intention when
"Not as though the Word of God hath
taken none effect. For they are not
which are of Israel"
(Rom. 9:5‑8). Mark well how he distinguishes between "all
Israel" and those "which are of Israel."
The same distinction he makes in
Romans 2:28-29, saying: "He is not a
Jew, which is one outwardly; . . . but he is a Jew, which is one
inwardly." (Compare Matthew 3:9; John 8:39‑44; ; Revelation 2:9).
In the light of such clear definitions we are
take the phrase "all Israel"
in our text as denoting all true Israel, all such as are
of Abraham (John 8:39; Gal. 3:29). This is expressly stated in the
quoted by Paul in
59:20 where we read: "The Redeemer shall
come to Zion, and unto
them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord."
Hence not all such as can trace their natural descent to Abraham, but
Israel according to the spirit, that is, all "who turn
from transgression in Jacob," who believe in
the promised Redeemer, shall be saved. This remnant of Israel
together with the elect of the Gentiles, they are the children of
(Rom. -12). In full
with the statement that only a remnant of the people of Israel
shall be saved, Paul here declares "that
blindness in part is happened
to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come
in." This is saying that not all Jews are hardened, blinded, and
excluded from salvation as some Bible‑readers may imagine when reading
passages like Isaiah 6; Acts 13:46-47; 1 Thessalonians 2:16. Only a
"part," a portion, of Israel
is blinded; but God has reserved a remnant, a "holy seed"
Rom. 9:27‑29); and this remnant shall be saved.
Rejection of the Gospel by the Greater Part of Israel
to End of Days
blindness which has befallen the greater part of Israel
(for "remnant" indicates a small part) will continue "until
the fulness of the Gentiles be
come in," until this "fulness" has been brought into the
fold of the Good Shepherd. The "fulness
of the Gentiles" does not mean "all Gentiles" but the
"full number" of all the elect out of the Gentiles, as is easily
seen, especially here, where by "all
Israel" all the elect out of Israel (Rom. 11: 7) must be
The gathering and coming in of "the
fulness of the Gentiles" however, does not cease before the end of
world; and the preaching of the Gospel always has a converting and
and effect (Isa. 55: 10-11; Jer. 23:29; Rom. 1: 16; 1 Cor. 1:18). Hence
that the gathering of "the fulness
of the Gentiles" shall not be completed at some period of time
the end. These words of Paul (Rom. ),
exclude all hope for a future great or even universal conversion of
blindness of the greater part of Israel
will continue unto the end of the world.
Paul continues: "And so all Israel
shall be saved" (Rom. ).
Here we must point out a great mistake of the millenarians. They take
adverb of manner "so" as an adverb of time, in the sense of
"then, thereafter." This is inadmissible, for it not only changes the
meaning of the text but also makes the Holy Spirit contradict Himself,
something here which is at variance with other passages of His Holy
instance 1 Thessalonians 2:16). The adverb "so" denotes the manner in
which the Word of God quoted from Isaiah 59:20 will be fulfilled. God's
regarding Israel does not remain without effect (Rom. 9:6); God has not
"cast away His people" entirely or in their totality (Rom. 11:1), not
so completely that they have become like Sodom and Gomorrah (Rom.
9:29): He has
left them aremnant, a seed, which will be converted and again
be "grafted into their own olive
tree" (Rom. 11:24).And
"so," in this manner,
the promise will come true that "all
Israel shall be saved," that is, the
promise to all "that turn from
transgression in Jacob" (Isa. 59:20).And the gathering of this remnant will continue "until
the fulness of the Gentiles be come in," that is,
as we have shown, unto the end of the world.