February 3rd, 2010
live-blogged by Chipper Flaniken
(Streaming video is available here)
Welcome to the live blog for the “All Israel” conversation at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School!
Please see below for an official advertisement concerning the conversation. The live blog will begin momentarily.
On February 3, 2010 from 7pm-9:30 in ATO Chapel at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, the Henry Center, in conjunction with Chosen People Ministries, will host a conversation entitled “‘All Israel’ and the Church: A Conversation on Scripture, Eschatology, and Evangelism”. Conversational partners will include Dr. Mitch Glaser of CPM, Dr. Douglas Moo of Wheaton College, Dr. Willem VanGemeren of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dr. John Feinberg of TEDS, and the moderator, Dr. Richard Averbeck of TEDS. All are welcome and invited to this free event.
The following outlines possible avenues of discussion:
In Romans 11 Paul makes the case that God has not cast off his people Israel, despite their rejection as a nation of Jesus, their Messiah. His final argument that God isn’t finished with Israel is that “all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:25-27). What did Paul mean and how will this come to pass? Who constitutes “Israel,” the biological seed of Abraham or his spiritual seed? Is the salvation in view spiritual, national, socio-economical, or all of these? Has this promise been fulfilled during the NT era by individual Jews and Gentiles turning to Christ and hence “filling up” the “all Israel?” Or is the promise to be fulfilled in the end-times at the return of Christ? If the latter, will only those biologically Jewish be saved, or will there also be a massive turning to Christ among the Gentiles? Whatever the answers to such questions, what are the implications for how Christians should understand the modern state of Israel? And, of most practical importance, how should one’s understanding of Rom 11:25-27 impact one’s attitudes toward and efforts in evangelizing Jews?
How and When Will All Israel Be Saved?
Conversation with Dr. Feinberg, Dr. Moo, Dr. VanGemeren, Dr. Averbeck (moderator), and Dr. Glaser beginning shortly!
Introductory comments by Dr. Averbeck (moderator) and opening prayer.
Dr. Averbeck is professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has been at Trinity since 1994.
Dr. Douglas Moo – former professor at TEDS for about 20 years, now teaching at Wheaton College. He is the author of A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, as well as several other commentaries and books.
Dr. John Feinberg – Chair of the Department of Biblical and Systematic Theology and professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has been at Trinity since 1983. Author of “No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God”.
Dr. Willem VanGemeren – Director of the Doctor of Philosophy in Theological Studies program and professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has taught at Trinity since 1992.
Dr. Mitch Glaser – President, Chosen People Ministries – involved in Jewish evangelism in several countries.
Main passage for the evening is Romans 11:25-27
Four questions for evening panel:
- How does Romans 11 fit into Paul’s argument in the book as a whole?
- To whom does Paul refer when he speaks of all Israel in Romans 11:26?
- What is your understanding of how and when Israel will be saved?
- How does your understanding of Scriptures relate to your views of Jewish evangelism today and into the future?
Comments from Dr. Moo:
Will provide little argumentation and little nuance given time constraints
Look at Romans from several perspectives:
A. Takes Romans 9-11 to be integral to Romans as a whole
B. We must make sure that we do not forget Romans 1-8 when trying to understand Romans 9-11.
For example, there are significant issues in Romans 4 concerning the “people of God”.
Thus, people in Romans 1-8 seem to have no ethnic discrimination – spiritual ancestor is Abraham.
C. There is much about “the land” in the Old Testament, but not a lot about the land in the New Testament
see Romans 4:13 – “heir of the world”
Main Point: There seems to be a universalizing hermeneutic in Romans.
If Abraham is indeed the father of those who believe…we might expect the word “Israel” to naturally appear in Romans 9-11.
Also – Galatians 6:16 – Paul uses the word “Israel” to describe the “church”.
But Dr. Moo does not believe Paul does this in Romans 11.
He notes that there is a distinction in verse 25 between Israel and the Gentiles.
Therefore, when Paul predicts “All Israel” will be saved…there is an ethnic component to this, but it does not mean all the Jews that have ever lived. The phrase has a “representative” significance according to a significant number of Jewish people – but not all.
When will All Israel be saved?
There are indications that Paul might be thinking of a process through history. All Israel is being saved…when all of the elect of both Jews and Gentiles are saved. This seems unlikely…
Why might the temporal situation be important?
Dr. Moo: Thinks a significant number of Jews will be saved when Christ returns in glory.
Why? Focus on key verses – note importance of “until” in verse 25.
This naturally suggests there will be a change in the situation at some point in time.
This hardening of the Israelites will cease at a certain time…there will be a significant turning to Christ among the Jewish people.
What are the implications of all of this?
Dr. Moo: seems to be a clear pattern of Old Testament prophecies finding fulfillment in the new people of God in the New Covenant era.
So Romans 11:25-27 – how does it fit into this pattern? Dr. Moo thinks there is a contrast here between Jews and Gentiles. Text “pushes him in that direction”. It forces him to that conclusion about ethnic Israel. But he does not draw many significant consequences from that claim.
Also, it seems as though the promise Paul makes here in Romans 11 does not mean that the Jews will inhabit a certain land.
Finally – what about Jewish evangelism?
Dr. Moo: No significant basis in this text or others that there should be a particular focus on the Jews as far as evangelism. The Gospel should be taken to all nations.
Comments from Dr. Feinberg
Jesus is the savior for all people groups.
God promised great things to Israel in the past, but will they be fulfilled? Have these promises been canceled?
The trustworthiness of God and Gospel are at stake.
So what does Paul say in chapter 9? Israel has an election to privilege, which is not the same as an election to salvation.
Salvation is for a remnant – not from merit – but from grace.
Chapter 10 – Paul shows that Jews who do not turn to Christ…they can’t blame anyone but themselves
Chapter 11 – What about the promises to Israel unconditionally? Chapters 9-10 don’t clearly answer these questions
Paul addresses this in chapter 11. Verse 1 – God has not cast away the Israelites
There is still a remnant of Jews coming to Christ – such as Paul
Israel’s falling away is part of a divine strategy to win Gentiles and Israelites to Christ.
God will reap a whole number of Israelites
In sum: God’s promises to Israel will be fulfilled despite the delay! God’s Word can be trusted.
What is the meaning of “All Israel”? It seems as though Romans 9-11 are about ethnic Israel, otherwise it is hard to see how they fit into the book. If not, the contrasts in chapter 11 make very little sense.
But what does “all” mean?
- Doesn’t refer to every Jew that has ever lived…many did not have right relationships with God
- Doesn’t think this is a reference to the church
- Paul doesn’t intend to include OT believers
- Paul doesn’t think that all NT believers will be saved…but a remnant will be saved.
So to what does “All” refer?
See Romans 11:25 – Part of the Jewish nation during the age when Paul was writing will be spiritually blinded. But the blindness will be temporary until the Gentiles have been received in “fullness”.
Paul contrasts current spiritual blinding with future spiritual sight.
When will the future come? No specific date in Scripture.
Dr. Feinberg things it will become at the second Advent
So does “All” refer to every Jew alive at this Second Advent? Possibly, but it also might just refer to the nation as a whole. Some might still be turned away.
A judgment of sheep and goats will come according to Jesus…so these goats may be only Gentiles and the sheep Jews…but Jesus doesn’t say this.
Never underestimate the sinful obstinacy of mankind!
God is certainly able to save every Jew alive.
How will they be saved?
Zechariah 12 – post-exilic passage
What does Zechariah 12 say? Seems to predict a day in which God will fight for Israel and confuse the enemy of Israel. Israel’s enemy will be defeated. But also…
…verse 10 – grace will be poured out on the people of God
Thus, the Israelites will be moved to plead for forgiveness and then turn towards the Lord.
Again, when will this be fulfilled?
In the climatic battle at Armageddon at the end of the Tribulation. Jesus seems to confirm this in Matthew 24.
Dr. Feinberg: None of what I presented contradicts Paul’s explanation in Romans 9-11
Romans 11 is not a mandate for Jewish evangelism…the Great Commission is.
But this should be an encouragement to bring the Gospel to the Jews. There is no evidence that the fullness of Jews has been brought in. The remnant is incomplete. Evangelism to the Jews is not futile!
In the coming day…the nation as a whole will respond to Christ.
How far are we from these events? Hard to know…but the Tribulation could start this year for all we know.
Also, seeds sown could bear fruit in in the future when Jews look upon Christ and repent.
Regardless of how far we are from these events…we should be obedient to the Great Commission, and we don’t want to see anyone experience a Christ-less eternity.
The passages tonight encourage us to evangelize.
Comments from Dr. VanGemeren
Paul has a concern for all people…the voice of God in Scripture is an echo of the Creator.
At the same time, Paul argues that all people may be spiritual children of Abraham (see Romans 4). Abraham received inheritance…and all with faith in Christ will share in this.
Paul sees himself as a representative of Israel called to be a light to the Gentiles. The Jewish people have received much light, and as such he is called to be a light to the nations.
Paul is zealous in his ministry to the Gentiles in order to provoke Israel to jealousy (see Romans 11). He is jealous for salvation for both groups.
Also, there is a mystery in Romans 11 and Romans 16. Paul knows that his mission is in accordance with Scripture and the mystery of God.
Where God has accorded to him an insight as to redemptive history…the prophets didn’t understand this.
There was a hardening, but there is and will be a believing community from Israel. Paul thinks that Israel will again be a part of the people of God. He is speaking of ethnic Israel…not necessarily a political reality
God’s purposes with Israel are not over yet. His gifts and his calling are irrevocable (Paul’s). And note that the citations he uses demonstrate that he depends on the OT for his descriptions and understanding as described in Romans 11
All of these acts are in accordance with the Scriptures…mysterious as to how it will work out. Salvation is by grace…but of course not every Jew will be saved!
God has loved all humanity as he may have mercy on all of them. He shows mercy to humanity! So all Jewish people, guilty and unfaithful, may call on God and be saved!
Israel’s salvation is brought together with the Gentiles.
1. Israel is “the natural branches” – close relatives of God
2. They are still the beloved according to Abraham. Isaiah 41:8.
3. Most importantly – as Paul received a dramatic vision of Christ…so it may be that the Redeemer will come to dramatically save the Israelites
So, the salvation of ethnic Israel must and will be part of the nations.
Questions 3 and 4:
Israel is not at the center of Paul’s Gospel…the center is Jesus Christ!
Paul sees himself as an ambassador to the world. He does not simply address individuals, nor does he limit himself to the Christian church. He lays claim to the cosmos.
At the same time, Paul’s commitment to Scripture raises the question of God’s fidelity. Romans 9-11: Paul wrestles with the place of Israel in redemptive history. The OT books were the Scriptures for Paul. See Isaiah – representative texts. Paul is truly a representative of others.
Paul so well knows these texts that he is able to comment on the order as presented in the OT texts. So Paul provides a bridge between these two worlds. History from one sequence of events helps us see what God is doing in the context of Paul.
This is what Paul means by “mystery”. Isaiah 59 – Paul’s citation of this text makes the most sense in response to all of Isaiah as a whole
Paul sees a vision of the new humanity. Israel will be sharing in the benefits of God’s goodness. Paul’s provocation to jealousy for the Israelites therefore comes from his understanding of Isaiah’s condemnation of Israel for rejecting God’s goodness. From this it is clear that the Jews cannot bring themselves into God’s presence.
Then we see that the “Redeemer will come from Zion” – this is what motivates Paul! Salvation is God’s alone…Israel and the nations alone cannot produce salvation (see Isaiah 59:20, Romans 11:26).
Isaiah 60:19 – the Lord will be the everlasting light (for the Jews).
- God will come and intervene on the behalf of his people. But the freedom of God’s mercy does not allow us to predict the form or the time during which this will unfold. Israel strayed from the Scriptures…even at Pentecost the Jews became more Torah focused. Torah wisdom was central, and it became more divisive.
Finally, how do Christians communicate with Jews?
- evangelical Christians have a unique privilege of building bridges. But we are often not aware of the discussions that have been transpiring over the past 2,000 years! We need to educate ourselves…studying the Second Temple period is recommended. We have islands that evangelicals are not aware of. We are often unaware of God’s continuing grace during the Second Temple period.
Evangelicals must not think that Israelites are either all right or all wrong. Anti-Semitic leanings are to be absolutely condemned, but our fear of it should not lead us to opposite extremes either.
Comments from Dr. Mitch Glaser
Intro: Dr. Glaser is Messianic Jew from Brooklyn. Became a Christian during the Jesus Movement out in California. He “takes Romans 9-11 personally” – as he assumes Paul does as well.
Thinks that Paul uses Romans 9-11 as an attempt to bear his soul to the Israelites. It is evangelism in and of itself.
- The “All Israel” in Romans 9-11 refers to all ethnic Jews that accept Jesus Christ as Savior before the Second Coming.
- The fullness of God’s promises will not come to the Jews until they accept Christ.
- Dr. Glaser thinks Romans 9-11 refers to a cataclysmic, End Times event. So Dr. Glaser is looking to evangelize to the Last Gentile (laughter).
- Jeremy Cone – Harvard Theological review – quoted Origen…the fullness of the Lord’s portion will not be complete until the Israelites come to faith in the End Times. This will complete the fullness.
- Robert Murray M’Cheyne agrees, so does Spurgeon
Spurgeon quote: the day will come when the Israelites will be gathered…but until then the glory of the church will not be complete.
Who is All Israel?
It seems impossible that “all Israel” includes Gentiles. There seems to be a clear distinction here.
“All Israel” will be ethnic Jews that receive the fullness of God’s promises before the Second Coming. Again, this will be a cataclysmic event.
Jerusalem will be saved…God will intervene (reference to Dr. Feinberg Sr. and his comments on the matter).
Important to note that God takes the initiative in pouring out his Spirit. The nation of Israel will not be saved by weapons of war made by human hands…but by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit will lead the Jews to repentance.
So Romans 11 is a fulfillment of Zechariah 12
For the church to evangelize the world without evangelizing the Jews in disgraceful
Romans 1:16 – must view this passage in view of Romans 11. It implies a priority rather than a sequential order of events. Same language as Matthew in seeking “first the kingdom of God”
So there must be a priority of concern…and Paul focused on Gentiles of course…but it did not lessen his concern for the Jewish people. He often evangelized to the Jews before he evangelized to the Gentiles
Thus, Paul’s behavior in Acts is a commentary on his language in Romans 11
J Hudson Taylor story
- we learn that one mission does not negate our command for another mission!
- Gentiles have a lot of love for the Jewish people, but sometimes Dr. Glaser often feels like evangelism to the Jews feels like a great omission rather than part of the Great Commission
- There is a uniqueness to Jewish evangelism in regards to the special role the Jews play in God’s soteriological plan.
Reaching Jews for the gospel must be a priority concern for all Christians since it the final step before the second coming
We need to connect Romans 11 to Romans 10 – all who call on the Lord will be saved. No distinction at the foot of the cross. Jewish people are saved the way Gentiles are saved. The Word of God produces faith in the hearts of those who believe in every age!
- We are God’s instruments of those who be part of the End Time Remnant. The Gospel must be preached to the Jews, no matter when that day will come.
Romans 11:11 – Salvation has come to the Gentiles to makes them jealous. Paul sees a special role for the Gentiles in bringing Jews to faith…so of these Gentiles will be in the audience today, or perhaps watching on screen!
Five Minute Break for Refreshments
Questions from Speakers to Fellow Speakers
Dr. Glaser to Dr Moo – something dramatic happens when the Jews accept Christ it seems in Romans 11, do you agree?
-Dr. Moo agrees…the resurrection will occur
-Dr. VanGemeren – His hope is that there will be salvation of Israel, and then the consummation of the ages.
Dr. VanGemeren to Dr. Moo – doesn’t think that all prophecy is fulfilled through the church (which Dr. Moo seems to think). There is a special role for Israel in the final days.
Dr. Feinberg – because of unconditional nature of OT covenants…there is something in store for the Israelites. Romans 11:25-27 is about the salvation of Israel per se.
Dr. Moo – Sees the pattern of fulfillment in the NT, but Dr. Moo thinks that people in this era fulfill that pattern. Christ fulfills the prophecies, which are extended to the church and not Israel as a nation necessarily
Dr. Moo to Dr. Glaser on evangelism – Dr. Moo doesn’t think that Jewish evangelism should be a priority. Points to Romans 2 and the reversal of the Romans 1:16 pattern.
Dr. Averbeck to Dr. Glaser and Dr. VanGemeren – what about this issue of the land?
- Dr. Glaser – what about all the prophesies that speak about the land and the kingdom that are not quoted in the NT? Do we have the right to say that because some prophecies are fulfilled by the church, that therefore all will be fulfilled by the church? Dr. Glaser thinks not.
- Dr. VanGemeren – God is faithful, but he is also sovereign and free. Let’s not bind him with our interpretations. The NT accords with Moses and the Prophets, but it is not a one-to-one relationship per se.
Question and Answer: End of Live Blog