Elements of a Biblical Eschatology, Part 8

I would not be a premillennialist if Revelation 20:1-10 were not in the Bible.  This is the only passage where the millennial kingdom is explicitly taught.  Critics of premillennialism charge us with holding to a doctrine that is standing on the thin ice of one single passage, especially given the fact that Revelation is a highly symbolic and difficult book to interpret.  My response to that charge is twofold:

1. One biblical passage is enough to establish a doctrine.  I would not believe in the imputation of Adam’s sin to all his descendants if not for Romans 5:12-19.  I would not believe in the future conversion of Israel to Christ if not for Romans 11:26 and the surrounding verses.  Other passages speak to these issues indirectly, but these are the only ones that are explicit with respect to the doctrines that I have mentioned.  The same is true for premillennialism.

2. The book of Revelation is indeed highly symbolic and difficult to interpret at many points.  But it was also given to us by divine revelation for the purpose that we might understand it.  Specifically, it is a book that speaks more directly to eschatology than most others, and we should seek to understand it and take seriously what it teaches.

This post will address only Revelation 20.  The discussion will be more lengthy than my previous posts, but that is the only way I can do justice to the passage.  In the next post I will draw in some other passages of Scripture. 

Revelation 20:1-10 teaches a millennial kingdom on this earth ruled over by Christ prior to the eternal state.  If you really want to follow what I am saying here, then you should have a Bible open to that passage.  In this passage we have several elements that demand explanation:

– the binding of Satan for a thousand years (vv. 1-3)

– the first resurrection, namely, the resurrection of those who have been killed for their testimony to Christ as well as all those who had not worshiped the beast (vv. 4-6)

– the millennial Kingdom, during which time those who have been resurrected reign with Christ (vv. 4-6)

– differentiation between the first resurrection and the second resurrection: the first occurs at the beginning of the thousand years, and the second occurs at the end (v. 5)

– a final rebellion led by Satan at the end of the thousand years, which is quickly put down (vv. 7-10)

– Satan’s final destination: the lake of fire (v. 10)

Postmillennialists and amillennialists (hereafter POM’s and AM’s) usually argue that the binding of Satan refers to what happened to him at Christ’s first coming.  Specifically, they point to verse 3, which reads, “and he [the angel, which some say is Christ himself] threw him [Satan] into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.”  Since the purpose of Satan’s binding is to prevent him from deceiving the nations any longer, POM’s and AM’s argue that the thousand years refers to the present age (or, for some POM’s a future “golden age” that will gradually develop out of this present age).  Prior to Christ’s first coming, Satan held the nations in darkness, but now that the gospel has gone out to all nations, he has been bound in this one respect.  The nations are no longer held captive to the darkness of ignorance, for the gospel has continually spread around the world.  This means that the present age is “the millennium,” and Christ is reigning over this world right now.  As for the distinction between the first and second resurrections, some argue that the first resurrection refers to regeneration.  Others (more plausibly) argue that the image of a first resurrection is employed to show that those who have died for their testimony to Jesus have not been defeated but reign with him in Heaven during this present age.  It is not a bodily resurrection that is in view but simply a symbolic reference to the ongoing life of the dead in Christ.  At the end of the thousand years (this present age, or for POM’s the golden age of the church), Satan will lead a massive rebellion.  POM’s and AM’s argue that the battle of Revelation 20:7-10 is the same as the battle described in 16:13-21 and 19:11-21, namely, the battle that occurs at the end of the present age at the Second Coming of Christ.  The final judgment and the eternal state follow immediately after Christ’s coming.

This line of interpretation requires that 20:1-10 be identified as a recapitulation, not a continuation of the story from chapter 19.  After all, most are agreed that 19:11-21 describes the Second Coming and Christ’s victory over his enemies at that time.  If chapter 20 simply continues that story, then the millennium comes after the Second Coming, thereby confirming the premillennial view.  But if chapter 20 is a recapitulation, going back and telling the same story in a different way, then either the POM or AM interpretation is correct. 

It would be foolish to deny that the book of Revelation contains a number of recapitulations.  It is not a strict, linear, chronological story laid out from beginning to end.  However, there are several reasons within the context of Revelation itself to reject the claim that chapter 20 is a recapitulation, thereby rejecting the claims of POM’s and AM’s.  When I began to pay close attention to the following details, I could not avoid the premillennial conclusion.

1. The purpose of Satan’s binding is to prevent him from deceiving the nations any longer.  While the POM and AM interpretation has some plausibility from a theological standpoint, how does the book of Revelation itself define Satan’s deceptive work, and when are we to suppose that it is operative?  I am convinced that Revelation has nothing to say about the Old Testament period but instead locates Satan’s deceptive activity in this present age.  In Revelation 12-13, we are introduced to three evil characters, a dark parody of the Holy Trinity: the dragon, the beast from the sea, and the beast from the earth (later identified as the false prophet).  The dragon (clearly identified as Satan) is the power that stands behind the two beasts, antichrist and the false prophet.  Revelation 13:14 speaks of the work of the false prophet by saying, “And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast. . .”  This is not a reference to Satanic deception of the Old Testament era that was curtailed by the coming of Christ.  It is a reference to the Satanic powers of deception operative in this present age.  But even nearer to the context of chapter 20, we read in 19:20: “And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast . . .”  Again, the false prophet (a puppet of Satan) is referred to specifically in regard to his deceptive work.  The most natural conclusion to draw only a few verses later at 20:3 is that when Satan is bound “so that he would not deceive the nations any longer,” the deception in view must be the deception that was operative through the false prophet and the antichrist.  Satan’s deceptive work ends when the two beasts are thrown into Hell (19:20-21) and he himself is bound for a thousand years (20:1-3).  The story clearly seems to continue at chapter 20 rather than recapitulate.  To suppose that chapter 20 is a recapitulation is to suppose that it the recapitulation tells the same story in a way that is almost diametrically opposed to the way it was told in the previous chapters.  Prior to chapter 20, Satan’s deceptive power is rampant.  How could this same period of time be described as a time during which he is bound so that he may longer deceive the nations?  The best conclusion to draw is that Satan’s deception in this present age is brought to a temporary end at the Second Coming of Christ, which begins the millennial kingdom. 

2. When you read about the Second Coming in 19:11-19 and then about the doom of the two beasts in 19:20-21, there is one glaring omission that every reader of Revelation should naturally focus on: what happened to the dragon?  We are introduced to the unholy trinity, the three primary villains, in chapters 12 and 13.  This trio wreaks havoc on the world in the following chapters, and then we come to the climactic battle of chapter 19, and the two beasts are sent to the lake of fire.  What about the other villain, the ringleader?  When I read 20:1-3 right after 19:20-21 (keeping in mind that there were no chapter divisions when John wrote this) I am naturally inclined to believe that John intends these passages to form one unit as part of the same story: first he tells us what happened to the two beasts and then what happened to the dragon.  It makes more sense to me that the binding of Satan is of a piece with the doom of the two beasts than the idea that the binding of Satan represents the beginning of a new recapitulation of the same story.  If this reading is on target, then Satan has to be bound at the same time the two beasts are judged, namely, at the Second Coming of Christ, not his first coming.  This reading is confirmed by 20:10, which speaks of the final doom of Satan after the thousand years: “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”  Sam Storms (who is AM), has rightly pointed out that there is no verb in the Greek in reference to the beast and the false prophet.  Literally, it reads, “where the beast and the false prophet.”  Storms argues that the implicit verb should be “were thrown,” indicating that the casting of Satan into the lake of fire corresponds in time with the casting of the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire.  I disagree.  That idea would not suggest itself to me on a natural reading of the text.  Any reader who has read chapters 19-20 in order would assume that the beast and false prophet were cast into the lake of fire a thousand years earlier and that they are still there when Satan arrives after the millennium.  In addition, in Greek it is much more likely that when no verb is given, then the verb “to be” is the implicit verb.  Greek is much more likely to omit this verb (since it can be understood from the context) than any other verb. 

3. The two resurrections are best understood as bodily resurrections.  Almost everyone agrees that when it says, “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed” (v. 5), this is a reference to bodily resurrection.  The same verb for “come to life” is used in the previous verse in reference to the first resurrection.  It is difficult to suppose that the same verb could be used in the immediate context to refer to something different.  In addition, the idea communicated here is exclusive.  In other words, if the second resurrection is the only bodily resurrection, then it would include all of humanity, not just “the rest” who were not participants in the first resurrection.  But John phrases it in such a way as to indicate that those who participate in the first resurrection do not participate in the second resurrection.  Therefore, if the second resurrection is a bodily resurrection, the first resurrection must also be a bodily resurrection, or else the category of people who were participants in the first resurrection would never experience bodily resurrection, a manifest absurdity.  I admit that it is difficult to understand how a portion of humanity that has been raised from the dead to an immortal life will share the earth with another portion that hasn’t.  But then we must remember that the Jews never expected that the Messiah would experience the resurrection before everyone else.  Dividing the general resurrection up into distinct phases is an explicitly Christian doctrine.  If Paul can divide it between Christ the firstfruits and those who belong to Christ (1 Cor 15:20), then why should we have any trouble filling in the blank and saying that the rest of the dead will be raised at a later time?  Jesus Christ appeared to his disciples over a period of 40 days after his resurrection.  The new age mingled with the old as an immortal fellowshipped with those who were still under the power of death.  This is how it will be during the millennium.  We already have a category for it in the resurrection of Christ. 

4. Those who participate in the first resurrection will reign with Christ for a thousand years (20:6).  When we read of other references to Christ and his people “reigning” in the book of Revelation, it is always on the earth.  See Revelation 2:26-27; 5:10; 22:5.  The latter reference is to eternity, but it is on a renewed creation.  My point here is not that every reference to the saints “reigning” is explicitly a reference to the millennium, but merely that nowhere do we read of a spiritual reign of the saints with Christ in Heaven.  Such an idea is not too hard to fathom, but it is not a category anywhere in the book of Revelation.

5. Finally, although I have not dealt with the sources directly, I have read in the works of credible scholars that some Jewish apocalyptic writings outside of Scripture envision a messianic kingdom on earth prior to the eternal state.  I do not cite these as religious authorities but rather as evidence that such an idea was not foreign to John’s context, thereby strengthening the plausibility of my interpretation of Revelation 20.

Yes, it is only one passage, but the explicit teaching of one biblical passage is enough to establish a doctrine.  The POM and AM readings of Revelation 20 are simply inadequate.  The premillennial reading makes the best sense of the passage within the context of the whole book.   

In the next post (which will be shorter, I anticipate) I will show how the premillennial doctrine illuminates the broader teaching of Scripture in ways that neither postmillennialism nor amillennialism does. 

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7 Responses to “Elements of a Biblical Eschatology, Part 8”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Hi fenderpooh,

    fenderpooh:

    I would not believe in the future conversion of Israel to Christ if not for Romans 11:26 and the surrounding verses.

    https://fenderpooh.wordpress.com/2007/05/31/elements-of-a-biblical-eschatology-part-8/

    Jim:

    It is because of the surrounding verses that we know that Romans 11:26 does not refer to a future conversion of the nation of Israel, but to the salvation of the entire New Covenant Israel (all of the saints, both Greek and Jew), including the non-hardened part (the Jews who have believed in Christ), the Gentile part that enters into it (the Gentiles who have believed in Christ) and the no-longer-hardened part that subsequently enters into it (the Jews who will believe in Christ once the full measure of the Gentiles who believe in Christ has been reached). Your interpretation of Romans 11:26 takes this verse out of the context of its surrounding verses and changes the definition of Israel from referring in 11:25 to all three parts (the non-hardened part, the Gentile part and the no-longer hardened part) to referring in 11:26 only to the no-longer-hardened part in 11:25. There is no basis for changing the definition of Israel from 11:25 to 11:26. Paul analogizes the Israel in 11:25 as the tree in 11:16-24. Part of the believing tree/Israel is removed by unbelief from the believing tree/Israel until the Gentiles enter into the believing tree/Israel by faith, after which the unbelieving/removed part can then believe and enter into the believing tree/Israel by faith. Then Paul says in 11:26 that it is in this manner, that is, in this sequence just described in 11:16-25, that all Israel (the believing tree/Israel in 11:16-25) is to be saved: (1) some Jews (the non-hardened part) and many Gentiles (the Gentile part) first, and then many more Jews (the no-longer-hardened part) later. Nothing is either stated or implied regarding a future conversion of the nation of Israel. That interpretation is imposed on Romans 11:26 in contradiction to a contextual understanding of this verse, the Israel in 11:26 being the Israel in 11:25, and the Israel in 11:25 being the tree in 11:16-24. The Israel in 11:26 is not just the grafted (re-grafted) natural branches in 11:16-24 / the no-longer-hardened part in 11:25, but the whole thing, that is, all of the saints from cross onward.

    Jim

  2. fenderpooh Says:

    Jim (is that your name?),

    I disagree with your analysis. I am not arguing that “all Israel” in Rom 11:26 refers to the non-hardened part. I believe it refers to Israel as a whole. This was not the main subject of my post here, but I will offer these arguments for my position:

    1. The argument of Romans 11 as a whole is that Israel has not stumbled so as to fall completely (verse 11). Paul bases this on the fact not only that there is a present remnant of Israel (vv. 1-10) but also that unbelieving Israel can be brought back. This is clearly what Paul means when he writes about the natural branches that were broken off being grafted back into the tree (vv. 23-24).

    2. Verse 12 makes no sense without a future conversion of Israel. I quote: “Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!” The pronoun “their” must refer to ethnic Israel, since the group being spoken of is differentiated from the Gentiles who come in through Israel’s fall. So then, what is “their” (ethnic Israel’s) fulfillment in this verse? It is, as Paul says in verse 15, “life from the dead.” Paul could be speaking metaphorically here, indicating that Israel as a whole will come to life spiritually at some future point. Or he may even be speaking here of the literal time of the resurrection. In other words, Israel’s conversion will mean life from the dead in the sense that it will coincide with the return of Christ.

    3. The argument of verses 25-27 demands a future conversion of Israel. Paul says, “a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (v. 25). The “until” implies that the hardening will be lifted once the Gentiles have come in. Paul immediately goes on to say, “and so [or in this way] all Israel will be saved.” To suppose that “Israel” here refers to the whole new covenant people and not to ethnic Israel is to assume that Paul equivocates in this one verse from his usage of the term “Israel” throughout the chapter, including the immediately preceding verse. The Old Testament citations that follow further confirm the point because they speak of the deliverer removing ungodliness from Jacob and taking away the sins of Israel.

    4. Finally (and this is decisive), notice the pronoun that follows in verse 28: “From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.” Who is Paul referring to? Obviously, he is referring to ethnic Israel, because only ethnic Israel fits this description. But then, what is the antecedent of “they”? It is “Israel” from verse 26, which means that the salvation of “all Israel” in verse 26 must refer to the salvation of ethnic Israel. Verses 29-32 confirm the point, which I will not quote here but encourage you to read in this light. Verse 32 alone will be enough: “For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.”

    While Paul can use the language of “Israel” in reference to the new covenant people as a whole, I do not see him do that anywhere in Romans 9-11. He consistently distinguishes Israel from the Gentiles, and the flow of is argument clearly points to a future conversion of ethnic Israel as a whole.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Hi fenderpooh,

    fenderpooh:

    I am not arguing that “all Israel” in Rom 11:26 refers to the non-hardened part. … he writes about the natural branches that were broken off being grafted back into the tree … “Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!” The pronoun “their” must refer to ethnic Israel … The argument of verses 25-27 demands a future conversion of Israel.

    Jim:

    Actually, whether you know it or not, you are in fact arguing that the “salvation” of “all Israel” in 11:26 refers to the salvation of the “part” of the “Israel” in 11:25 which is now “hardened” in unbelief toward Christ and which will no longer be “hardened” in unbelief once the “fullness” of the “Gentiles” has “entered” into this “Israel” in 11:25. You are changing the definition of “Israel” from referring to all three parts (the non-hardened part, the Gentile part, and no-longer-hardened part) in 11:25 to referring only to one part (the no-longer-hardened part) in 11:26, and you have no basis for doing so.

    fenderpooh:

    The pronoun “their” must refer to ethnic Israel, since the group being spoken of is differentiated from the Gentiles who come in through Israel’s fall. So then, what is “their” (ethnic Israel’s) fulfillment in this verse? It is, as Paul says in verse 15, “life from the dead.” Paul could be speaking metaphorically here, indicating that Israel as a whole will come to life spiritually at some future point.

    Jim:

    The “Israel” in 9:31 – 10:3 and 11:7-11 is unsaved, Old Covenant Israel, whereas the “Israel” in 9:6-8 and 11:25-27 is saved, New Covenant Israel. These are two different Israels. Most Israelites are the Israel in 9:31 – 10:3 and 11:7-11. They do not believe in Christ. They are not the Israel in 9:6-8 and 11:25-27, which is comprised of the ones who believe in Christ, both Greek and Jew. The Israel in 9:31 – 10:3 and 11:7-11 (Old Covenant Israel) is dead, being separated from Christ, whereas the Israel in 9:6-8 and 11:25-27 (New Covenant Israel) is alive, being a partaker of Christ. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:6, the Old Covenant of the letter kills, whereas the New Covenant of the Spirit makes alive. Thus, Old Covenant Israel in Romans 9:31 – 10:3 and 11:7-11 is dead in the Old Covenant, whereas New Covenant Israel in 9:6-8 and 11:25-27 is alive in the New Covenant. Thus, if Old Covenant Israel came to believe in Christ, thus entering into New Covenant Israel, it would be life from death. As Paul says in 11:12 and 11:15, “But if their trespass, the wealth of the world, and their failure the wealth of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness? … For if their rejection, the restoration of the world, what the acceptance, if not life from the dead?”

    fenderpooh:

    The argument of verses 25-27 demands a future conversion of Israel. Paul says, “a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (v. 25). The “until” implies that the hardening will be lifted once the Gentiles have come in. Paul immediately goes on to say, “and so [or in this way] all Israel will be saved.” To suppose that “Israel” here refers to the whole new covenant people and not to ethnic Israel is to assume that Paul equivocates in this one verse from his usage of the term “Israel” throughout the chapter, including the immediately preceding verse.

    Jim:

    What Paul says in 11:25 regarding the saved, New Covenant “Israel” is analogized in what he says in 11:16-24 regarding the saved, New Covenant “tree.” Part of the believing “tree/Israel” is excluded from the believing “tree/Israel” by unbelief, the other part remaining in the believing “tree/Israel” by faith, until the Gentiles have entered into the believing “tree/Israel” by faith, after which the excluded/unbelieving part of the believing “tree/Israel” can likewise believe and enter into the believing “tree/Israel” by faith. This is the stated sequence in which all of this believing “tree/Israel” (the believing part and the Gentile part first, and then the no-longer-unbelieving part afterward) is to be saved through faith in Christ. As Pauls says in 11:26, “And in this manner (in this stated sequence) all Israel will be saved.” To what “Israel” is Paul referring in 11:26? To the “Israel” just described in 11:25, which is analogized as the “tree” in 11:16-24. Paul is not suddenly referring in 11:26 to that other “Israel” in 11:7. To conclude that the “Israel” in 11:26 refers, not to the “Israel” in 11:25, but to the “Israel” in 11:7, is to take 11:26 out of its immediate context. Paul does in fact differentiate two different Israels. The Israel in 9:31 – 10:3 and 11:7-11 is not the Israel in 9:6-8 and 11:25-27.

    fenderpooh:

    The Old Testament citations that follow further confirm the point because they speak of the deliverer removing ungodliness from Jacob and taking away the sins of Israel.

    Jim:

    Paul is referring in 11:26-27 to Christ’s first advent, in which He goes to the cross, as the basis for this “salvation” of “all Israel.” In his first citation (Isaiah 59:20 from the LXX) in 11:26, Paul changes the preposition “eneken” (on behalf of) to “ek” (out of) in order emphasize Christ’s first advent: “… He will come OUT OF (ek) Zion, the Deliverer. He will turn ungodlinesses away from Jacob.” In 1:3, Paul says, “regarding His Son, the One having been born OUT OF (ek) the seed of David, according to the flesh.” In 9:5, he says, “OUT OF (ek) whom (the Israelites), the Christ.” In 11:26, he says, “OUT OF (ek) Zion, the Deliverer.” All of this refers to Christ’s first advent, in which He went to the cross. It is His first advent, in which He goes to the cross, which is the basis for the “salvation” of “all Israel” (all New Covenant Israel, all the saints). It was at the cross that Christ “turned away ungodlinesses from Jacob.” Then, in 11:27, Paul loosely cites the Jeremiah prophecy regarding God’s New Covenant with Israel, saying, “And this to them the from-Me covenant, whenever I would remove their sins.” This New Covenant, in which God removes sins, was initiated at the cross, where Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant, shed the blood of the New Covenant to remove sins. There is no reference to Christ’s second advent in any of this. It is the cross of His first advent which is the basis for the “salvation” of “all Israel” (all saints). Paul’s whole point throughout Romans 9-11 is not that the nation of Israel is to be saved, but the sequence in which New Covenant Israel (9:6-8 and 11:25-27) is to be saved. It explains why the fact that so few Israelites are now being saved is not a failure of God’s word regarding His New Covenant with Israel. What is happening is what’s supposed to happen, the fullness of the Gentiles preceding the fullness of the Jews into the New Covenant Israel that is being saved in accordance with God’s word.

    fenderpooh:

    Finally (and this is decisive), notice the pronoun that follows in verse 28: “From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.” Who is Paul referring to? Obviously, he is referring to ethnic Israel, because only ethnic Israel fits this description. But then, what is the antecedent of “they”? It is “Israel” from verse 26, which means that the salvation of “all Israel” in verse 26 must refer to the salvation of ethnic Israel.

    Jim:

    The ones in 11:28 who are enemies because of the Gentiles, who thus have been excluded from the believing “tree/Israel” until the Gentiles enter into the believing “tree/Israel,” and who are loved because of the fathers, who thus will later believe and enter into the believing “tree/Israel,” are not the “Israel” in 11:26, which is the “Israel” in 11:25, which is the “tree” in 11:16-24, but the unbelieving/excluded branches in 11:16-24, the hardened/excluded part of the “Israel” in 11:25. Paul’s point is the sequence in which the fullness of the Gentiles and the fullness of the Jews is to enter into New Covenant Israel. The fullness of the Gentiles is ordained by God to precede the fullness of the Jews into New Covenant Israel.

    fenderpooh:

    Verses 29-32 confirm the point, which I will not quote here but encourage you to read in this light. Verse 32 alone will be enough: “For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.”

    Jim:

    Paul says in 11:30-32, “For as you (Gentiles) once disobeyed God, but now were shown mercy by the disobedience of these ones (hardened Jews), 31 in this manner also these ones (hardened Jews) now disobeyed, so that by your (the Gentiles’) mercy they (hardened Jews) now would be shown mercy. 32 For God enclosed all the ones (both Gentiles and hardened Jews) in disobedience, so that He would show all the ones (both Gentiles and hardened Jews) mercy.” The unbelieving/excluded part of the “Israel” that is to be saved in accordance with God’ word regarding His New Coveant with Israel will not have their own separate, distinct salvation. Rather, they will enter into the same New Covenant Israel through faith in Christ, just as the Gentiles will have done before them. They will not be saved as a separate Israel. Rather, they will enter into the Israel that is to be saved in accordance with God’s word regarding His New Covenant with Israel, just as the Gentiles will have done before them.

    fenderpooh:

    While Paul can use the language of “Israel” in reference to the new covenant people as a whole, I do not see him do that anywhere in Romans 9-11. He consistently distinguishes Israel from the Gentiles, and the flow of is argument clearly points to a future conversion of ethnic Israel as a whole.

    Jim:

    Not so. Paul clearly differentiates the Israel in 9:31 – 10:3 and 11:7-11 from the Israel in 9:6-8 and 11:25-27. We, the saints, both Greek and Jew, are the Israel in 9:6-8 and 11:25-27, which is the Israel that is to be saved in accordance with God’s word regarding His New Covenant with Israel. This is why the fact that the Israel in 9:31 – 10:3 and 11:7-11 is not being saved is not a failure of God’s word. It isn’t a failure, because they are not the Israel that is to be saved in accordance with God’s word regarding His New Covenant with Israel. It is we, the saints, who are these ones. We are the vessels of mercy, as stated in 9:21-24. They are the vessels of wrath. Paul identifies the Israel in 9:6-8 and 11:25-27 as the children of God, identified in 8:13-18 as us, the saints, both Greek and Jew, and as the children of the promise, identified in 4:13-18 as us, the saints, both Greek and Jew. In contrast, they are the children of the flesh. They are not the Israel in 9:6-8 and 11:25-27. In order to be saved, they must become us. They must enter into the same New Covenant Israel into which the Gentiles must enter. This is the Israel that is to be saved. And the manner in which it is to be saved, the sequence, is stated in 11:16-27: some Jews and many Gentiles first, and then many more Jews.

    Paul differentiates these two different Israels in Galatians 4:21-31 as well, each one having its own covenant (either the Old Covenant or the New Covenant), its own Jerusalem (either earthly Jerusalem or heavenly Jerusalem) and its own people (either the Jews [non-saints] or the saints, both Greek and Jew). As Paul says, “we,” the saints, are not those ones. The New Covenant Israel is identified in Galatians 6:15-16 as “the Israel of God,” which is comprised of the ones who walk by the rule that it is neither circumcision nor uncircumcision but the new creation in Christ that matters. They (the Jew [non-saints]) must become us (the saints, both Greek and Jew). They do not have their own salvation. They must become us. We are the Israel that is to be saved. There is no other saved Israel.

    Jim

    PS: Yes, my name is Jim.

  4. andrew Says:

    YOU ARE SO BORING!

  5. fenderpooh Says:

    Jim,

    I won’t begin to respond to all that. That’s not really the point of this post. Let me just say that I think you misunderstand my position. I have nowhere argued that Israel will have a separate destiny or salvation from the new covenant Gentiles (I have explicitly repudiated that view in some of my posts). There is one people of God, and one way of salvation for both Jews and Gentiles. My position is, rather, that this one people of God will include a mass conversion of ethnic Israel to Christ at the end. I don’t see Paul equivocating on his use of terms throughout the argument of Romans 9-11 the way you do, and I think my view makes good sense of the flow of the argument with less complications than you have proposed. Learn to shave with Ockham’s razor.

    Thanks for your input.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Hi fenderpooh,

    In my opinion, the two-Israels explanation is in fact the simplest explantion. It’s clear that the Israel in 9:31 – 10:3 is not the Israel in 9:6-8. It’s equally clear that the Israel in 9:31 – 10:3 is the Israel in 11:7-11. It’s also clear that the Israel in 11:25 is analogized as the tree in 11:16-24; Paul applies the exact same logic to both the tree in 11:16-24 and the Israel in 11:25. This tree/Israel in 11:16-25 is comprised of the ones who believe in Christ, the ones who do not believe in Him (the Israel in 9:31 – 10:3 and 11:7-11) having been excluded, just as the Israel in 9:6-8 is comprised of the ones who believe in Christ, the ones who do not believe in Him (the Israel in 9:31 – 10:3 and 11:7-11) having been excluded. In 11:16-25, Paul describes the sequence in which the saints enter into the tree/Israel through faith in Christ, the fullness of the Gentiles preceding the fullness of the Jews into this tree/Israel. These are all the ones who are saved. Then, in 11:26-27, Paul says that it is in this manner (the sequence just described in 11:16-25) that all Israel (the same Israel that is described in 11:25) is to be saved. This refers to the entire Israel that is saved through faith in Christ (past, present and future), not just the part that is yet to be saved in the future. Redefining Israel between 11:25 and 11:26 from referring to the entire Israel that is to be saved to referring to only the part of Israel that is saved in the future is not what I consider an application of Ockam’s razor. Rather, I consider it to be an example of taking a verse out of its immediate context. In 11:30-32, Paul is still talking about this sequence in which all Israel is to be saved, the fullness of the Gentiles preceding the fullness of the Jews. The stated reason for the subsequent fullness of the Jews is not the second advent of Christ, but the preceding fullness of the Gentiles. It is because of the mercy experienced by the Gentiles that the once-hardened Jews will likewise experience mercy. Both enter into the same Israel through faith in Christ. Thus, Paul is talking about the same thing throughout 11:16-32. There is no reason to think that he changes the subject in 11:26 and changes his use of the term “Israel” in that one verse from how he uses it in 11:25. The fact that Paul conceives of two different Israels, an Old Covenant Israel, whose citizens are the Jews (non-saints), and a New Covenant Israel, whose citizens are the saints, both Greek and Jew, is seen not only on Romans 9-11, but also in Galatians 4:21-31 and 6:15-16 and in Ephesians 2:11-20.

    Jim

  7. Typefleels Says:

    It’s amazing

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