Romans 11 debunks Israel-Only

The Israel-Only teaching says that the Gentiles of the Bible are only the lost tribes of Israel and that this verse says that the Gentile salvation is “All Israel”.

Romans 11 “25 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, 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved.”

But let us read the context to find the truth. Who were the Israelites and who were the Gentiles?

Romans 1 “And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”

Romans 11 “13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles”

Paul is the Apostle to the Gentiles who wrote to the Gentile believers in Rome.

Some believe that the Gentiles are only ex-Jews who became uncircumcised Greeks. But Paul says that he preaches to Greeks and non-Greeks (every race)

Romans 1 “14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.”

He tells them that Gospel of Christ is the salvation from God to save them from the wrath to come.

Romans 1 “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness”

He tells them that there will be judgment for EVERY human being – both Jew and Gentile:

Romans 2 ” There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.”

But the Israel-Only teaching says that God does show favoritism because He only gave the Law to Israel and no other nation – and therefore only judged Israel. They say that the Gentiles are not part of the Law and therefore we are innocent. But look what Paul says here:

Romans 2 “12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.”

Paul said that ALL people who sin outside the law are still going to be judged! This includes ALL nations on the earth who never received the Law of Israel. Paul said that even if the Gentiles did not receive the written Law (10 commandments), they are still accountable! But on what basis? How can God judge us Gentiles if He never gave us any law! Paul says that the Gentiles are judged by their consciences! We all have the law written on our hearts. We know that murder and adultery are wrong – and this is why every nation in the world has laws that punish those crimes – this proves that the law is written on our hearts even if God never gave the Gentiles any written laws! This conscience of knowing good and evil came from the sin of Adam in the garden that was passed down to all of humanity. Therefore there will be judgment for EVERY human being who has ever lived on this planet – and the Israel-Only teaching is wrong!

Romans 3 “What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:“There is no one righteous, not even one;”

Paul concluded that nobody was righteous – both Jew and Gentile was guilty before God. The Law was given to Israel for two purposes – to show the entire world guilty and to prove to mankind that nobody can become righteous by their own efforts!

Romans 3 “19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.”

The Law was given to Israel and they failed to keep it. The Law excluded Gentiles from the covenant and they had no hope and were without God. The Gentiles were dead in sin apart from the Law while the Jew was dead in sin under the law.

Therefore the Law exposed both Jew and Gentile as sinners.

Ephesians 2 “11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

The Good News is that through Jesus Christ, we can receive righteousness by faith as a free gift for both Jew and Gentile!

Romans 3 “21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.”

So then Paul clearly explains the difference between the Jew and the Gentile and shows that salvation is a free gift to all who believe and receive it by faith.

But Paul was very sad about his own flesh and blood – the nation of Israel.

Romans 9 “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.”

Paul defines who exactly is Israel:

  • His own people.
  • His own race (flesh and blood)
  • The people under the Law and covenants
  • The children of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob)
  • The sons of God

Therefore it is clear that the people of Israel are the descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Therefore who are the Gentiles?

  • Not related to Paul by race (flesh/blood)
  • Not under the Law
  • Not under covenants
  • Not related to Abraham
  • Not the children of God
  • Not the people of Israel!

Paul explains what happens to these Gentiles here:

Romans 9 “23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” 26 and, “In the very place where it was said to them, You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”

The Gentiles who were NOT God’s people and NOT His beloved and NOT His children have now become His people, His children and His beloved because of their faith in Jesus! But why did God reject Israel and accept the nations? It’s because the Israelites tried to pursue righteousness by the works of the law and failed but the Gentiles who were outside the law attained the righteousness by faith and not works!

Romans 9 “30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone (Christ).”

Jesus Christ died on the cross to END the law so that everyone who believes in Him can be made righteous by grace through faith. But the Israelites tried to become saved by their works and that’s why they did not receive God’s righteousness.

Romans 10 “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”‘

Paul said that the righteousness of faith is not based on the Law or works or blood-line or Abraham or the covenants or the patriarchs but only based on the HEART of FAITH:

Romans 10 “Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Once Jesus died on the cross, God ENDED the law so that He does not care who is a Jew or Gentile. The only thing that matters is your heart – do you have faith? EVERYONE who believes in Jesus Christ will be SAVED and made RIGHTEOUS! God has no favorites! But the Israel-Only teaching wrongly thinks that God only saves Israelites! But the truth is that God sees no difference between Jew and Gentile but saves EVERYONE who believes in their heart. God does not look at circumcision or uncircumcision, male or female, Jew or Gentile, Israel or pagan, descendant or non-relation to Abraham – God does not look at human/fleshly qualifications but looks at the HEART and saves those who believe in Christ by GRACE!

So then does that mean Israel was totally rejected? Paul answers this hear:

Romans 11 “ I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew… the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”

Paul himself is a living example that God always chooses a remnant by GRACE. God did not completely reject Israel but a remnant was saved by grace. But the rest of Israel was hardened by unbelief.

Romans 11 “What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened,”

Why did that happen? So that the Gospel could go to the GENTILES !!

Romans 11 “11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!”

Paul said that Israel was hardened and stumbled in unbelief (crucifying Jesus and the Apostles). But this caused the Gospel to go to the Gentiles (Read Acts 9-10). God had ordained the hardening of Israel so that He could save the Gentiles causing great spiritual riches to come to the world. But he says that it would be even greater if Israel accepts Christ one day!!

Why did God send the Gospel to the Gentiles? To arouse Israel to jealousy!

Romans 11 “13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.”

Paul said that God wanted to make Israel jealous when they saw Him blessing the Gentiles with salvation. So that somehow the Israelites would believe the Gospel and that would be like the dead being raised to life! It would be a miracle to see Israel accepting Christ.

Paul then warned the Gentiles:

Romans 11 “17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.”

He told the Gentiles that they were like a wild olive shoot that was grafted into the natural olive shoot (Israel). God removed Israel from the covenant because of unbelief and grafted the Gentiles in because of their faith. But he warned the Gentiles not to be proud because they could also be removed if they stopped believing!

Romans 11 “22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!”

Paul compares the Israel and Gentiles as TWO trees:

  • Israel is the cultivated/natural olive tree
  • Gentiles are the wild olive tree (separate nations)
  • God broke off the Israelite branches from the natural olive tree because of their unbelief and rejection of Jesus.
  • God grafted in the wild branches (Gentiles) into the cultivated olive tree (Israel) because of the Gentiles’ faith.
  • But if the Israelites BELIEVED, then those broken branches will be grafted back into their natural olive tree!
  • Paul said that if God can graft in the wild branches (Gentiles) into the natural olive tree then HOW MUCH MORE will He bring back the natural branches (Israel) !!

Romans 11 “25 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, 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved.”

So then Paul told the Gentiles – Don’t be arrogant because here is the mystery!

  • God allowed the majority of the Israelites to be hardened so that the Gospel went to the Gentiles UNTIL the FULL number of Gentiles were saved.
  • But AFTER that FULLNESS of Gentiles were saved, God removes the hardening/blindness of Israel so that the FULL REMNANT of Israel (remaining elect) (ALL ISRAEL) will be saved.

Let us use an example to understand this:

  • Let’s say that 10,000 Israelites believed the Gospel from Acts 2-8 until Stephen was killed. The rest of the Israelites are hardened.
  • After that time, the disciples are scattered out of Israel and they preach to the Samaritans and the Gentiles in Acts 9-10 and onwards through the Apostle Paul.
  • Towards the years before AD70, all the Gentiles in the Roman Empire had heard the Gospel through Paul and the full number of them were saved.
  • Then in the last 3 years before AD70 during the great tribulation, the remaining Israelites would be saved so that the total number of saved Israelites is 144,000.

In the book of Revelation 7, we see this being explained:

REVELATION 7 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000,from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000. After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”

ISRAEL                                                                     GENTILES

144,000 – a number counted by John Great multitude that no one can count
John specifies the names of the 12 tribes from ONE nation Israel. From EVERY nation, every tribe, people and language!
These people are on earth They are in Heaven

Israel-Only Teaching fails the basic test of mathematics and logic.

  • 144,000 is a number counted by John but the Great multitude is a number that no man can count! Therefore the 12 tribes of Israel ARE NOT the Gentiles.
  • One nation of Israel is NOT every nation in the world!
  • 12 tribes of Israel are NOT every tribe in the world!
  • Earth is NOT heaven!

Therefore it is clear that Israel-Only collapses when we study the Bible in context.

The Gospel was preached to the Gentiles during the 1st Century in the nations where the Israelites lived. In AD70, Israel as a nation was judged.

Was the fullness of Gentiles indicating that there is no salvation after AD70? Not at all. When we read Romans 11, we see that Paul was talking about the context of the salvation of Israel. He was talking about the “fullness” of Gentiles with respect to Israel’s salvation in that specific generation. History shows us that many billions of Gentiles have believed in Jesus even after AD70.

Israel was judged in AD70, but the Gentile nations will be judged in the future after the 1000 metaphorical years at the final resurrection of Revelation 20. So then the Gospel remains to the Gentiles from AD70 till today.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died on the cross and was buried. He rose from the dead on the third day. Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ, will be saved and receive the forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of God as a FREE GIFT.

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