Future State of Israel As Prophesied By Wilhelmus 'A Brakel

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Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Interesting comments by Wilhelmus 'A Brakel on the future of the Nation of Israel (writing in 1700)...

"One more question remains to be answered: Will the Jewish nation be gathered together again from all the regions of the world and from all the nations of the earth among which they have been dispersed? Will they come to dwell in Canaan and all the lands promised to Abraham, and will Jerusalem be rebuilt?

We believe that these events will transpire. We deny, however, that the temple will be rebuilt, and that the previous mode of worship will be observed, which prior to Christ's coming was of a typifying nature and would then be of a reflective nature...They will be an independent republic, governed by a very wise, good-natured, and superb government. Furthermore, Canaan will be extraordinarily fruitful, the inhabitants will be eminently godly, and they will constitute a segment of the glorious state of the church during the thousand years prophesied in Revelation 20."

"The Christian's Reasonable Service" Vol. IV, pg. 530-531


Puritan Board Freshman
I know a decent amount of people who claim to be amillennial, claim to be opposed to dispensationalism; yet still believe that the modern nation of Israel is a continuation of the old nation, and a fulfillment of prophecy. Is this common, and is it compatible with amillennialism? (Hoping I'm not derailing the thread.)

Covenant Joel

Puritan Board Sophomore
I know a decent amount of people who claim to be amillennial, claim to be opposed to dispensationalism; yet still believe that the modern nation of Israel is a continuation of the old nation, and a fulfillment of prophecy. Is this common, and is it compatible with amillennialism? (Hoping I'm not derailing the thread.)

I've not come across that very often. Usually when I do (broad generalization coming), it seems that those claiming such haven't really studied out the implications of what they profess to believe. Dispensational ideas can be hard to shake.

On the other hand, comments like A'Brakel's were not that common in the Puritan flavor of postmillennialism. I.e., the conversion of "all Israel" in Romans 11:26 was commonly understand as natural, ethnic Israel, rather than the multiethnic church. But that's a far cry from seeing the modern state of Israel as a fulfillment of prophecy.


Puritan Board Doctor
A book like Iain Murray's "The Puritan Hope" (BoT) shows that there has been an over-reaction in some reformed circles to premillennial dispensationalism and its excesses with regard to the Jews, such that amillennialism has been embraced rather than postmillennialism, a future national conversion of the Jews has been denied, and it has been denied that there is any hint of a return to their ancestral stomping ground for the natural branches in the Bible, even in a partial fulfilment of some of the prophecies.

But in God's providence, many of the natural branches have returned before - may be long before - the Jewish nation believes.

Of course this is a far cry from dispensationalism. The land of Israel isn't peculiarly holy as it once was, and the relationship of both converted and unconverted Jews - and converted and unconverted Arabs - to it is radically different.

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
As Richard said, Murray’s The Puritan Hope shows that among the Reformed there has been a view that many Jews would be converted near the end of the age. This is different, though, than saying they are the Biblical Israel and that the formation of the Jewish state is the fulfillment of prophecy.

A Jew myself, I desire that many of my people after the flesh come to know Messiah Jesus (or Yeshua, as Jews call Him), who is the glory of Israel.

I think the very crux of understanding prophecy, especially that which pertains to eschatology (study of end times things), is to determine What and who is Israel? Is it the Jewish nation that presently inhabits Palestine? Is it worldwide Jewry?

This is what the Scriptures say:

For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people (Acts 3:22-23).​

Peter was here reiterating Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15,18,19. In verses 18 & 19 God is saying that He will put His words in the Prophet’s mouth – that is, the Messiah to come – and whosoever will not hearken to God’s words Messiah is given to speak, God shall require it of him, that is, require his place in the people of Israel, and his life. Peter puts the meaning as, he “shall be destroyed from among the people”. At that moment in Jerusalem, the Spirit of Christ guiding Peter to restate God’s words through Moses, the God of Israel cut off from the people of Israel all those who rejected His words through His Son – just as a butcher takes a great cleaver to cut gristle away from the meat. This was the moment Jesus’ words to the chief priests, Pharisees, and elders of the people were fulfilled: “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matt 21:43). He had just finished telling them the parable of the wicked husbandmen, and these rulers of the nation had themselves pronounced the sentence which was to be laid against them (21:41).

Let no one think this is a “replacement theology”, for the church has never replaced Israel! (Related threads here, and here.) It was written in the prophecies of Isaiah that part of the work the great King who sat on David’s throne would do with regard to His kingdom would be “to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice” (Isa 9:7). So the King reordered God’s Israel: only those who bowed the knee to Him and cleaved to Him in covenant promise and faith, sealing this with the token of the Messianic covenant – water baptism – would be united to Him and thus to His people and kingdom. All who refused would be cut off, no longer part of Israel. It came to pass – also according to numerous prophecies – that the believing Gentiles were grafted in to the heart and body of the King: one King, one land, one faith, one baptism, one sword of one Spirit: the King’s word of power, and one people – made up of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

Those Jews of the great treachery – the siding with the prince of darkness against their rightful King and God – if they remained unrepentant and continued in blasphemous rebellion, were stripped of the name Israel, given as it was to Jacob and his children who abode in the faith of their father Abraham, to the children of promise only, and not to the children of the flesh. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel (Rom 9:6).

In sum, the Israel of God is not that which abides in the land of Palestine – illicitly claiming the name “Israel”, to which they have no right – although it may very well be that many of the Jews in that land will hearken to the word of their long-lost King and Saviour, and, bowing the knee, enter into the international community of God’s people, the true Israel. May it be!

[From, A Poet Arises In Israel]

I say the rabbis have led my people
into the curses of Moses
these past twenty centuries,
for if we had pleased God

and were under His sure covenant blessings
and protection, how is it possible
we had been spewed from the land
to be slaughtered and despised

among the goyim two thousand years
and to end in the ovens of Hitler?
The truth is – and only can be! –
we have followed treasonous leaders

in betrayal of our King,
and have reaped their destruction.
O nation of fools, we,
to be blinded so long!

As the prophets foretold,
the Gentiles came to His light,
and we followed our teachers
into darkness

even unto this blood-filled day!
Cast off the pretenders
who have slain our millions
and return to the one Book we are the people of!

I tell you Israel exists
but no longer tied to the land,
neither to the Jewish nation,
for the great net of the Almighty

has been cast over all the nations
to draw forth His elect
from the ends of the earth,
so Daniel’s vision may be realized,

“that all people, nations, and languages
should serve Him:
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
which shall not pass away

“and His kingdom
that which shall not be destroyed.” [7:14]
Israel is now the international community
which bows the knee to Messiah, David’s Son,

and which holy nation
gleaned from the nations
shall be the Israel which fills the entire world
and inherits all the land-promises,

an everlasting Kingdom of Glory
such as legend or dream never imagined,
with a Temple in it
built of living stones

which are the people in whom YHWH
dwells and lives
as we worship and rejoice in the glory
of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah.​
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Puritanboard Commissioner
"They will be an independent republic, governed by a very wise, good-natured, and superb government" - 'A Brakel

Bibi Netanyahu? Next thing you know, you'll be quoting 'a Brakel that in the future the greatest nation on earth will be governed by a man of half Irish descent with an African name who will hold forth "hope" and "change." Can you please tell me how that one ends?

Even Kim Riddlebarger sees a some form of future for a revival of ethnic Israel (Rom 9-11).


Staff member
The question is, what in the world is an ethnic Israel? All those who have a blood relationship to Jacob? Or is it all those who practice Judaism? Does anyone know for sure who is or is not a part of ethnic Israel?


Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The question is, what in the world is an ethnic Israel? All those who have a blood relationship to Jacob? Or is it all those who practice Judaism? Does anyone know for sure who is or is not a part of ethnic Israel?
You are correct, those ones who actually share lineage. Back in I believe the 4th or 14th century the Khazar people of the caucus mountains coverted to Judaism, so there are a lot of Jews since then who are not actual Jews from Jacob/Judah and so on, but from the Khazar peoples, probably only the wealthy converted though. There is no doubt the ethnic Jews are still around, I mean not all fled Judea after 70AD...


Puritan Board Doctor
The question is, what in the world is an ethnic Israel? All those who have a blood relationship to Jacob? Or is it all those who practice Judaism? Does anyone know for sure who is or is not a part of ethnic Israel?

I don't see this as a problem, as virtually every nation is racially mixed, yet this doesn't stop God from bringing blessing to particular nations or races. Israel was racially mixed from early on, there having always been a facility for those not descending from Abraham and Sarah, yet professing faith in the Lord to become Israelites.

The Apostle Paul, in the Spirit, identifies "Israel according to the flesh", even although they were racially mixed in Paul's day:
Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? (I Cor 10:18)

The Apostle Paul also identifies "the Israel of God" i.e. true believers:
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace [be] on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. (Gal 6:15-16)

But he promises that these two subsets of humanity, Israelites after the flesh and true believers, will always overlap, at least somewhat, in the interadventual era, and that one day the blindness of the Jews will be removed:

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (Rom 11:25)

I don't know if there was a relatively minor move of God's Spirit among the Jews before 1948, or 1967, or whatever, but the fact that "Israel according to the flesh" have been permitted to return to their ancestral home, in the Lord's providence, before they are converted as a nation, will mean that they won't be able to look upon it as their being rewarded as of debt by God for their returning to Him in Christ.

OT prophecies of Israel's return to the Land in the interadvental period/last days, point beyond any providential return to the Land by Israel after the flesh,to the inheritance of the whole Earth by the Israel of God.

But Israel after the flesh is still one of the nations that the Lord is converting to Himself and is going to convert, and the Land of Israel/Palestine is still part of the Earth which belongs to the Lord of the whole Earth.

For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. (Isaiah 54:5)

To say that God gave us this Land is actually a poor argument for a Jew, particularly an unconverted Jew, to make regarding Jewish entitlement to the Land of Israel, in the New Testament period. I'm sure they have lots of better arguments they can legitimately make.

They'll probably have to eventually find a way - if they can - of making peace with the Palestinians, in spite of many of those being terrorists, supporters of terrorism, and/or Islamists. Mass conversions among Jews and Palestinians might help.

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Dennis, after your mention of Riddlebarger’s view of a revival of “ethnic Israel” right before the end (i.e., to faith in Christ), I went back to his Amillennialism book and read his chapter on that. I much appreciate his writing and viewpoint in many things, though not here – not entirely. If he had used the term “ethnic Jews” or “Jews in the land of Palestine” instead of “ethnic Israel” I would not have a problem with his chapter. Perhaps the only place I really differ is with his taxonomy re the Jews of the Jewish state.

It might be said to me, “Well, Paul the apostle used the term (Israel after the flesh), so what is your problem with using the name Israel for the Jewish state today, the State of Israel?” Two responses: I do use the term “the State of Israel” as that is the name of a sovereign nation in today’s world, and if I want to be understood I must speak using common language. Though I will, if appropriate, give the caveat of the view I hold here.

Second, when Paul wrote the actual nation of Israel was still extant, and its people still inhabiting the land. So it was needful for him to make a distinction between the authentic Israelites who cleaved to the divine King of Israel, and the “cut-off” renegades from the nation beloved of God, who still occupied the land even though disinherited, according to the word of God through Moses, and the apostle Peter. Then in the year 70, and again in 135, the Jews were finally expelled from the land and the status of a nation was taken from them utterly. So today – in 2012 – I may legitimately speak of unbelieving Jews abiding in the land of Palestine (or the territories of ancient Israel) as having no right to the name Israel. The name belongs only to the one true Israelite who kept God’s law perfectly and obeyed Jehovah God in all His will, who alone fulfills the meaning of the name, Jesus of Nazareth. Right to the name is also given to all those who are united to Jesus by faith and covenant sealing, Jew and Gentile both.

I do hope that a large number of Jews – and even the majority of them who are in the Jewish state – come to faith in their Messiah, although I do not see it as prophesied in Scripture. Even though it is a bit lengthy, I will add William Hendriksen’s comments on Luke 21:24 and Romans 11:25. 26, for those interested in one Reformed commentator’s take on the matter. Hendriksen follows:


Luke 21:24. And they will fall by the edge of the sword and will be carried off as
captives into all the nations …

What happened, in fulfilment of this prophecy, was as follows: Even several years
before the outbreak of the Jewish War the Roman yoke was becoming more
oppressive than ever. Action produced reaction, with the result that Jewish hatred of
their heathen oppressors rose to the point of organized rebellion. By no means every
Jew was in sympathy with this movement, but after a while the warnings of the
moderates were drowned out by the voices of the Zealots. Emperor Nero sent his
famous general Vespasian to Galilee, which was soon overrun. But, due to the forced
return to Rome of this general and Nero’s suicide, the conquest of Galilee was short-
lived. A period of confusion followed in Rome, with four emperors in one year. See
on verses 8–11. The Jews took advantage of this situation, so that the rebellion began
to make some headway again. But then Vespasian, now emperor, having restored
order, sent his son Titus (who himself later on became emperor, A.D. 79–81) to
Jerusalem with a large army.

The siege began in April of the year A.D. 70, while Jerusalem was still filled with
Passover pilgrims. For the terror that ensued one should read Josephus, Jewish War,
especially Books IV to VII. After a siege of about five months the Romans finally
overwhelmed the entire city. According to Josephus the total number of prisoners
taken throughout the entire war was 97,000, while 1,100,000 perished during the siege
(Jewish War VI.420). Even though these figures may be exaggerated, the number
must have been enormous.

The war was inexcusably cruel. Not only was the temple given up to the flames
but the entire city—except three towers and a portion of the western wall—was razed.
By the thousands aged men, women, regardless of their physical condition, and even
little children were murdered. Some of the prisoners were subsequently thrown to the
wild beasts, others were sold into slavery “into all the nations,” while a select number
of the strongest and best-looking captives figured in the triumphal procession which
Rome gave to the conquerors, and which Josephus describes in such elaborate detail,
as if the terrible slaughter were really something to be proud of.

For many, many years no Jew was allowed to reside in or even to visit Jerusalem,
which was made a pagan city. But enough has been said to show in what manner
Christ’s prediction, recorded in Luke 21:24a, was fulfilled.

Continued: and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles until the
times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

S. Greijdanus explains this passage as probably meaning that the time of
oppression for Jerusalem will last “to the end of the centuries, the coming of the final
judgment and the return of Christ in glory, the very theme to which the Lord now [in
verses 25–28] turns.”

Lenski similarly states that “the seasons here meant continue from the destruction
of Jerusalem to the time of the Parousia.”

With this judgment I am in agreement. The claim that “the time of the Gentiles
ended May 14, 1948, when Israel became an independent state,” and that “the Jews
have returned to their country in fulfilment of prophecy” is contradicted by the
following facts:

a. Even today only about one out of every five Jews is living in Israel.
b. Even today the very existence of Israel—and of Jerusalem as an independent
Jewish city—is still being threatened.
c. The great majority of Jews do not regard Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

For much more on this see my book Israel in Prophecy, Grand Rapids, 1972.
For Practical Lessons and Greek Words, etc., see pp. 945–948.

Romans 11:25. For I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers,
so that you
may not be conceited, that a hardening has come upon part of Israel
(and will
last) until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in.

Resuming use of the plural,[SUP]319[/SUP] Paul directly addresses the entire congregation.
Nevertheless, it is clear that even now he is thinking especially of those Gentile
believers who stood in need of being warned against anti-Semitism. In no uncertain
terms he has just told them that for the Jews, even for those who had become
delinquent, and initially hardened, the door of opportunity to be saved was standing
open at least as widely as it did for the Gentiles (verse 24). It is in connection with
this thought that he now continues by using the explanatory conjunction For.

The words, “I do not want you to be unaware” signify, “I want you to take to
heart.” Note also here the word of tender affection “brothers.” On both of these points
(a. not unaware, and b. brothers) see 1:13.

“… of this mystery.” In referring to a mystery Paul is not using this term in the
pagan sense of an esoteric doctrine for the initiated, but as indicating a truth which
would not have been known if God had not revealed it.[SUP] 320[/SUP]

As appears from the very wording of verse 25—note “that a hardening has come
upon part of Israel” (literally, “that a hardening in part has come on Israel”), this
petrifaction is not absolute and unqualified; there is always a saved remnant, called
into being in a marvelous manner:

a. Carnal Israel stumbles and is rejected because of its unbelief. Result:
b. The gospel is proclaimed to the Gentiles. The elect Gentiles are saved. Result:
c. God uses this salvation of Gentiles in order to arouse the envy of the Jews.

d. The Jewish remnant accepts Christ, in accordance with God’s eternal plan. In
connection with each item it is God himself who brings about these results. But let us
quote Paul’s own words (verses 11, 12, 31):
a. “Because of their trespass
b. salvation (has come) to the Gentiles
c. to make Israel envious, so that,
d. as a result of the mercy shown to you [Gentiles], they [Israel] too may now
receive mercy.”

Now is not that just too wonderful for words? Moreover, the blessed interaction
Paul has in mind must not be given too limited a scope. It even reaches beyond that
which is enclosed in these four items. For example, we may be sure that saved
Gentiles (item b.) do not sit still, but, in turn, become witnesses for Christ; and so do
saved Jews (item d.). This interdependence between the salvation of the Gentiles and
that of Israel is the substance of the divine “mystery.”[SUP] 321[/SUP]

In harmony, then, with the substance of this mystery, here in verse 25 the apostle
states that the hardening has come upon part of Israel. That was true in the past, is
true now, will still be a fact in the future. Is not this the same as to state that a remnant
of Israel, in every age, is saved (see 9:27; 11:1–5)?

Israel’s rejection is not absolute and unqualified, nor necessarily final. It is partial.
Paul feels the need of stressing this fact because certain Gentiles seemed to have
harbored contrary thoughts, as was pointed out in connection with verses 17–24. So
he tells them, “I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers, so that you
may not be conceited.”

Not only is it true, however, that the divine hardening (in punishment for human
hardening) affects part of the people in any period of history, but it is also a fact, as
the apostle states here in verse 25, that a definite time-span has been assigned to this
hardening. For the people as a whole it will last “until the fulness of the Gentiles has
come in.” In connection with verse 12, where the same word fulness (pleroma) occurs,
it has been shown that by “fulness” the apostle means “full number.” What Paul is
saying, then, here in verse 25, is that Israel’s partial hardening—the hardening of part
of the people of Israel—will last until the full number of elect Gentiles has been
gathered into God’s fold.

And when will that full number have been brought to salvation in Christ?
Scripture is very clear on this point. It will be on the day of Christ’s glorious Return.
Once he has returned, there is no longer any opportunity for accepting the gospel call.
See Luke 17:26–37; II Peter 3:3–9. Cf. Belgic Confession, Article XXXVII:

“Finally we believe, according to the Word of God, when the time appointed by
the Lord (which is unknown to all creatures) is come and the number of the elect
complete (italics added), that our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, corporally
and visibly, as he ascended, with great glory and majesty to declare himself Judge of
the living and the dead, burning this old world with fire and flame to cleanse it.”

It has become clear, therefore, that the hardening of part of Israel and the
gathering of Gentiles occur side by side. With respect to Israel this partial hardening
began already during the days of the old dispensation (Rom. 9:27; 10:16, 21; 11:3),
was taking place in Paul’s own day, and will continue until the close of the new
dispensation. Side by side with this hardening process, the gospel is being proclaimed
to the Gentiles. Some reject it; some, by God’s sovereign grace, accept it.
Returning now to Israel, it is obvious that if, in every age, some Israelites are
hardened, it must also be true that in every age some are saved. Paul expresses this
thought in words that have given rise to much controversy, namely, 26a. And so all
Israel will be saved.

Three Interpretations

A. The Most Popular Theory

“All Israel” indicates the mass of Jews living on earth in the end-time. The full
number of elect Gentiles will be gathered in. After that the mass of the Jews—Israel
on a large scale—will be saved. This will happen just previous to, or at the very
moment of, Christ’s Return.

For the names of some of the advocates of this theory see p. 307.


a. The Greek word οὕτως does not mean then or after that. The rendering “Then all
Israel will be saved” is wrong. In none of the other occurrences of this word in
Romans, or anywhere else in the New Testament, does this word have that meaning.
It means so, in this manner, thus.

b. This theory also fails to do justice to the word all in “all Israel.” Does not “all
Israel” sound very strange as a description of the (comparatively) tiny fraction of Jews
who will still be living on earth just before, or at the moment of, Christ’s Return?

c. The context clearly indicates that in writing about the salvation of Israelites and
Gentiles Paul is not limiting his thoughts to what will take place in the future. He very
definitely includes what is happening now. See especially verses 30, 31.

d. Would it not be strange for God to single out for a very special favor—nothing
less than salvation full and free—exactly that generation of Jews which will have
hardened its heart against the testimony of the longest train of Christian witnesses, a
train extending all the way from the days of Christ’s sojourn on earth—in fact, in a
sense, all the way from Abraham—to the close of the new dispensation?

e. The reader has not been prepared for the idea of a mass conversion of Israelites.
All along Paul stresses the very opposite, namely, the salvation, in any age (past,
present, future) of a remnant. See the passages listed under 11:5, p. 363. If Rom.
11:26 actually teaches a mass conversion of Jews, would it not seem as if Paul is
saying, “Forget what I told you previously”?

f. If Paul is here predicting such a future mass conversion of Jews, is he not,
contradicting, if not the letter, at least the spirit, of his earlier statement found in I
Thess. 2:14b–16:

“… the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and do
not please God, and are hostile to all men, in that they try to prevent us from speaking
to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their
sins. But upon them the wrath [of God] has come to the uttermost”[SUP]322[/SUP]?

g. The immediately following context (11:26b, 27) refers to a coming of “the
Deliverer” who will turn away godlessness and remove sin from Jacob. Was not that
the purpose of Christ’s first coming? But the popular interpretation of Rom. 11:26
predicts a mass conversion of Jews in connection with Christ’s second coming. That
theory is, accordingly, not in harmony with the context.
For these several reasons Interpretation A. should be rejected.

B. John Calvin’s Theory

“All Israel” refers to the total number of the elect throughout history, all those who
are ultimately saved both Jews and Gentiles. In his Commentary on his passage
Calvin expresses himself as follows:

“I extend the word Israel to all the people of God, according to this meaning:
when the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also will return from their defection to the
obedience of faith, and thus will be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of
God, which must be gathered from both …”

The same view is defended by J. A. C. Van Leeuwen and D. Jacobs, op. cit., p.
227; and, in a sense, by Karl Barth, Der Römerbrief, Zürich, 1954, p. 401; English tr.,
p. 416.


Inasfar as Calvin interprets the term Israel spiritually—“Israel” refers to the elect—
his theory must be considered correct. Cf. Rom. 9:6. Also his claim that the section,
verses 25–32 (considered as a unit), describes the one people of God cannot be
successfully refuted. On the other hand, Calvin’s application of the term “Israel,” in
verse 26, to all the people of God, both Jews and Gentiles, is wrong. In the preceding
context the words Israel, Israelites(s) occur no less than eleven times: 9:4; 9:6
(twice); 9:27; 9:31; 10:19; 10:21; 11:1; 11:2; 11:7; and 11:25. In each case the
reference is clearly to Jews, never to Gentiles. What compelling reason can there be,
therefore, to adopt a different meaning for the term Israel as used here in 11:26? To
be sure, at the close of verse 25 the apostle makes mention of the Gentiles, but only in
order to indicate that the partial hardening of the Jews will not cease until every elect
Gentile will have been brought into the kingdom. Accordingly, Paul is still talking
about the Jews. He does so also in verse 26b. Even verse 28 contains a clear reference
to Jews. Not until verses 30–32 are reached does the apostle cause the entire body of
the elect, both Jews and Gentiles, to pass in review together.

Therefore, while appreciating the good elements in Calvin’s explanation, we
cannot agree with him in interpreting the term “all Israel” in 11:26 as referring to all
the elect, both Jews and Gentiles. A passage should be interpreted in light of its
context. In the present case the context points to Jews, not to Gentiles, nor in verses
26–29 to a combination of Jews and Gentiles.

C. A Third Theory

The term “All Israel” means the total number of elect Jews, the sum of all Israel’s
“remnants.” “All Israel” parallels “the fulness of the Gentiles.” Verses 25. 26 make it
very clear that God is dealing with both groups, has been saving them, is saving them,
and is going to save them. And if “All Israel” indicates, as it does, that not a single
elect Israelite will be lacking “when the roll is called up yonder,” then “the fulness of
the Gentiles” similarly shows that when the attendance is checked every elect Gentile
will answer “Present.”

For the meaning of “will be saved” see on 1:16, p. 60. For Jew and Gentile the
way of salvation is the same. In fact, their paths run side by side. Opportunity to be
saved will have ended for both when Christ returns. As indicated previously, the
two—“the fulness of the Gentiles” and “All Israel”—constitute one organism,
symbolized by a single olive tree. It should be clear that if, in the present connection,
fulness must be interpreted in its unlimited sense, the same holds for all in “All

The words “And so” are explained by Paul himself. They indicate, “In such a
marvelous manner,” a manner no one could have guessed. If God had not revealed
this “mystery” to Paul, he would not have known it. It was, in fact, astonishing. The
very rejection of the majority of Israelites, throughout history recurring again and
again, was, is, and will be, a link in the effectuation of Israel’s salvation. For details,
see above, p. 366, 367, 377, 378 (Rom. 11:11, 12, 25).

Although, to be sure, this interpretation is not nearly as popular as is theory A,
among its defenders are men of recognized scholarship (as holds also, of course, for
theories A and B). Let me mention but a few.

One of the propositions successfully defended by S. Volbeda, when he received
his summa cum laude doctor of theology degree from the Free University of
Amsterdam was: “The term ‘all Israel’ in Rom. 11:26a must be understood as
indicating the collective elect out of Israel.”[SUP]323[/SUP]

H. Bavinck, author of the four-volume work Gereformeerde Dogmatiek
[Reformed Dogmatics], states, “ ‘All Israel’ in 11:26, is not the people of Israel,
destined to be converted collectively, neither is it the church consisting of united Jews
and Gentiles; but it is the full number which during the course of the centuries is
gathered out of Israel.”[SUP]324[/SUP] Cf. H. Hoeksema, God’s Eternal Good Pleasure, Grand
Rapids, 1950, p. 465.

And L. Berkhof states, “ ‘All Israel’ is to be understood as a designation not of the
whole nation but of the whole number of the elect out of the ancient covenant people
… and the adverb οὕτως cannot mean ‘after that,’ but only ‘in this manner.’ ”[SUP]325[/SUP]

For a similar interpretation see H. Ridderbos, op. cit., p. 263.

Not only scholars of Reformed persuasion and Dutch nationality or lineage have
adopted this interpretation, but so have many others, as is clear from a glance at
Lenski’s commentary on Romans, pp. 714, 726, 727. See also O. Palmer Robertson,
“Is There a Distinctive Future for Ethnic Israel in Romans II?,” in Perspectives on
Evangelical Theology, Grand Rapids, 1979, pp. 81–94. These interpreters are
convinced that this is the only interpretation that suits the text and context.

Objections Stated and Refuted

Objection No. 1

This interpretation destroys the contrast between the remnant mentioned in 11:5, on
the one hand, and the mass of Israel, on the other.


Our interpretation does not destroy a contrast but defines it more accurately. The real
contrast is that between single remnants (see, for example, 11:5), on the one hand, and
“all Israel,” that is, the sum of all the remnants throughout history (verse 26), on the

Objection No. 2

According to this interpretation the “mystery” mentioned by Paul amounts to no more
than that all Israel’s elect will be saved. But that is a truth so obvious that it fails to do
justice to the implications of the term “mystery.”


Not so! The mystery of which Paul speaks has reference to the marvelous chain of
events that results in Israel’s salvation. It points to seemingly contradictory factors
which in God’s loving and overruling providence are so directed that ultimate
salvation for “all Israel” is effected. See above, pp. 377, 378.


[SUP]319[/SUP] Note change from σύ in verse 24 to ὑµᾶς in verse 25.

[SUP]320[/SUP] The word µυστήριον occurs also in Rom. 16:25 and six times in I Cor., six times also
in Ephesians, four times in Colossians, once in II Thessalonians, and twice in I

It is also found in the book of Revelation (1:20; 10:7; 17:5, 7). As there used it is
perhaps best explained as “the symbolical meaning” of that which required
explanation. In the LXX of Dan. 2, where the word occurs no less than 8 times (as a
singular in verses 18, 19, 27, 30, and 47b; as plural in verses 28, 29, and 47a) it refers
to a “secret” that must be revealed, a riddle that needs to be interpreted. The meaning
“divinely revealed truth” fits very well into the context of Luke 8:10 and its parallels
(Matt. 13:11; Mark 4:11), the only Gospel instances of its use.

[SUP]321[/SUP] So also Ridderbos, op. cit., p. 263.

[SUP]322 [/SUP]Or: at last; or, to the end.

[SUP]323[/SUP] Quoted from De Intuitieve Philosophie Van James McCosh, Grand Rapids, n.d.,
p. 415.

[SUP]324[/SUP] Vol. IV, p. 744. This is my translation from the Dutch. So also for the quotation
from Volbeda.

[SUP]325[/SUP] Systematic Theology, pp. 699, 670.


Puritan Board Doctor
Interesting comments by Wilhelmus 'A Brakel on the future of the Nation of Israel (writing in 1700)...

"One more question remains to be answered: Will the Jewish nation be gathered together again from all the regions of the world and from all the nations of the earth among which they have been dispersed? Will they come to dwell in Canaan and all the lands promised to Abraham, and will Jerusalem be rebuilt?

We believe that these events will transpire. We deny, however, that the temple will be rebuilt, and that the previous mode of worship will be observed, which prior to Christ's coming was of a typifying nature and would then be of a reflective nature...They will be an independent republic, governed by a very wise, good-natured, and superb government. Furthermore, Canaan will be extraordinarily fruitful, the inhabitants will be eminently godly, and they will constitute a segment of the glorious state of the church during the thousand years prophesied in Revelation 20."

"The Christian's Reasonable Service" Vol. IV, pg. 530-531

Does a Brackel cite any particular Scriptures for his prediction of the Jews' return?
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