June 14, 2012

Church History and Israel’s Future

by Nathan Busenitz

Romans 11:26 promises that all Israel will be saved. Dispensationalists understand this verse to refer to a national salvation of ethnic Israel after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

Non-premillennialists sometimes imply that such an interpretation is a dispensationalist invention, because it means that God still has a future plan for national Israel.

But did you know that many throughout church history, including many in the Reformed tradition have shared a belief in the future salvation of the Jewish nation?

None other than John Calvin, in his commentary on Romans 11:25-26, noted that “when the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also shall return from their defection to the obedience of faith.”  Other Reformers, such as Martin Bucer, Peter Martyr, and Theodore Beza similarly concluded that there would be a future calling and conversion of the Jewish people.

A belief in the future salvation of national Israel was especially strong among the Dutch Reformed and the English Puritans of the seventeenth century. Regarding the Dutch Calvinists of that time period, J. Van Den Berg explains that for “virtually all Dutch theologians of the seventeenth century, ‘the whole of Israel’ indicated the fullness of the people of Israel ‘according to the flesh’: in other words, the fullness of the Jewish people. This meant that there was a basis for an expectation of a future conversion of the Jews—an expectation which was shared by a large majority of Dutch theologians” (Puritan Eschatology, 140).

Commenting on the English Puritans, Iain Murray similarly notes: “This same belief concerning the future of the Jews is to be found very widely in seventeenth-century Puritan literature. It appears in the works of such well-known Puritans as John Owen, Thomas Manton and John Flavel. … It is also handled in a rich array of commentaries, both folios and quartos – David Dickson on the Psalms, George Hutcheson on the Minor Prophets, Jeremiah Burroughs on Hosea, William Greenhill on Ezekiel, Elnathan Parr on Romans and James Durham on Revelation: a list which could be greatly extended.” (The Puritan Hope, 43).

But a belief in national Israel’s future salvation actually goes all the way back to the early church. What follows, then, is a brief sampling of theologians throughout church history who have affirmed that future reality. Others could be added, but these should suffice to make the point:

1. Justin Martyr (c. 100–165) held that the tribes of Israel would be gathered and restored in accord with what the prophet Zechariah predicted: And what the people of the Jews shall say and do, when they see Him coming in glory, has been thus predicted by Zechariah the prophet: “I will command the four winds to gather the scattered children; I will command the north wind to bring them, and the south wind, that it keep not back. And then in Jerusalem there shall be great lamentation, not the lamentation of mouths or of lips, but the lamentation of the heart; and they shall rend not their garments, but their hearts. Tribe by tribe they shall mourn, and then they shall look on Him whom they have pierced; and they shall say, Why, O Lord, hast Thou made us to err from Thy way? The glory which our fathers blessed, has for us been turned into shame.”

2. Tertullian (c. 155–230) urged Christians to eagerly anticipate and rejoice over the coming restoration of Israel: “It will be fitting for the Christian to rejoice, and not to grieve, at the restoration of Israel, if it be true, (as it is), that the whole of our hope is intimately united with the remaining expectation of Israel.”

3. Origen (185–254) believed in “two callings of Israel.” The first calling of Israel refers to Israel’s calling before Christ that eventually led to their stumbling and falling. The second calling of Israel, however, is future and will take place after the period of the fullness of the Gentiles. In Origen’s words: “But when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, then will all Israel, having been called again, be saved.”

4. John Chrysostom (349–407) said this in regards to Romans 11:26:

[Regarding the fact] that they [the Jews] shall believe and be saved, he [Paul] brings Isaiah to witness, who cries aloud and says, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” (Isaiah 59:20.) … If then this has been promised, but has never yet happened in their case, nor have they ever enjoyed the remission of sins by baptism, certainly it will come to pass.

In his homilies on Matthew, Chrysostom also noted:

To show therefore that [Elijah] the Tishbite comes before that other [second] advent … He said this.  … And what is this reason? That when He is come, He may persuade the Jews to believe in Christ, and that they may not all utterly perish at His coming. Wherefore He too, guiding them on to that remembrance, saith, “And he shall restore all things;” that is, shall correct the unbelief of the Jews that are then in being.

5. Augustine (354–430) concurred: It is a familiar theme in the conversation and heart of the faithful, that in the last days before the judgment the Jews shall believe in the true Christ, that is, our Christ, by means of this great and admirable prophet Elias who shall expound the law to them. . . . When, therefore, he is come, he shall give a spiritual explanation of the law which the Jews at present understand carnally, and shall thus “turn the heart of the father to the son,” that is, the heart of the fathers to the children.

6. Cyril of Alexandria (378–444): Although it was rejected, Israel will also be saved eventually, a hope which Paul confirms.  … For indeed, Israel will be saved in its own time and will be called at the end, after the calling of the Gentiles.”

7. Theodoret of Cyrus (393–457): And he [Paul] urges them not to despair of the salvation of the other Jews; for when the Gentiles have received the message, even they, the Jews, will believe, when the excellent Elijah comes, bringing to them the doctrine of faith. For even the Lord said this in the sacred gospels: ‘Elijah is coming, and he will restore all things.’

8. Cassiodorus (c. 485–585) [commenting on Psalm 103:9]: This verse can be applied also to the Jewish people, who we know are to be converted at the world’s end. On this Paul says: Blindness in part has happened in Israel, that the fullness of the Gentiles should come in, and so all Israel should be saved.

9. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274): It is possible to designate a terminus, because it seems that the blindness of the Jews will endure until all the pagans chosen for salvation have accepted the faith. And this is in accord with what Paul says below about the salvation of the Jews, namely, that after the conversion of the pagans, all Israel will be saved.

Note: Other early theologians who believed in a future salvation of Israel include Prosper of Aquitaine (390–455), Gregory (540–604), Isidore (560–636), Bede (d. 735), Peter Damian (1007–1072), Anselm (1033–1109), and Bernard (1090–1153).

10. The Geneva Study Bible (16th century): He [Paul] speaks of the whole nation, not of any one part.  … The blindness of the Jews is neither so universal that the Lord has no elect in that nation, neither will it be continual: for there will be a time in which they also (as the prophets have foretold) will effectually embrace that which they now so stubbornly for the most part reject and refuse.

11. William Perkins (1558–1602): The Lord says, All the nations shall be blessed in Abraham: Hence I gather that the nation of the Jews shall be called, and converted to the participation of this blessing: when, and how, God knows: but that it shall be done before the end of the world we know.

12. Elnathan Parr (d. 1630) [on Romans 11:26]: That all the elect shall be saved? Who ever doubted that? But of the calling of the Jews there is doubt. He calls their salvation a secret or mystery but there is nothing mysterious about all the elect being saved. He shows that there is an unbroken reference to Israel/Jacob, that is, ethnic Israel. [From verses 25-28 Parr concludes,] Before the end of the world the Jews in regard to their multitude will be called.

13. Matthew Poole (1624–1679): [On Romans 11:26] By Israel here (as in the precedent verse) you must understand, the nation and people of the Jews. And by all Israel is not meant every individual Israelite, but many, or (it may be) the greatest part of them.  … These prophecies and promises [from Isaiah 27:9; 59:20 and Jer. 31:33], though they were in part fulfilled when Christ came in the flesh, (see Acts 3:26,) yet there will be a more full and complete accomplishment thereof upon the Jewish nation and people towards the end of the world.

14. Increase Mather (1639–1723): That there shall be a general conversion of the tribes of Israel, is a truth which in some measure hath been known and believed in all ages of the church of God, since the Apostles’ days.

15. Matthew Henry (1662–1714): Another thing that qualifies this doctrine of the Jews rejection is that though for the present they are cast off, yet the rejection is NOT final; but, when the fullness of time is come, they will be taken in again. They are not cast off for ever, but mercy is remembered in the midst of wrath.  … The Jews shall continue in blindness, till God hath performed his whole work among the Gentiles, and then their turn will come next to be remembered. This was the purpose and ordination of God, for wise and holy ends; things should not be ripe for the Jews’ conversion till the church was replenished with the Gentiles, that it might appear that God’s taking them again was not because he had need of them, but of his own free grace.

16. Cotton Mather (1663–1728): This day, from the Dust, where I lay prostrate before the Lord, I lifted up my Cries … for the conversion of the Jewish nation, and for my own having the Happiness, at some time or other, to Baptize a Jew that should by my ministry be brought home unto the Lord.

17. Thomas Boston (1676–1732): There is a day coming when there shall be a national conversion of the Jews or Israelites. The now blinded and rejected Jews shall at length be converted into the faith of Christ.

18. James Robe (1688–1753): Me thinks I hear the nation of the Jews (for such is the cry of their case) crying aloud to you from their dispersion, … we have now been rejected of God for more than sixteen hundred years, because of our unbelief, and for this long, very long while, wrath to the uttermost hath been lying upon us! There are many promises and predictions that we shall be grafted in again.  … Pray therefore, and wrestle with God, that he may, according to his promise, pour forth upon the Spirit of grace and supplication, that we may look upon him whom we have pierced, and mourn.

19. John Gill (1697–1771): And so all Israel shall be saved.  … Meaning not the mystical spiritual Israel of God, consisting both of Jews and Gentiles, who shall appear to be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, when all God’s elect among the latter are gathered in, which is the sense many give into; but the people of the Jews, the generality of them, the body of that nation, called “the fullness” of them, Romans 11:12, and relates to the latter day, when a nation of them shall be born again at once; … when they as a body, even the far greater part of them that shall be in being, shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their King; shall acknowledge Jesus to be the true Messiah, and shall look to him, believe on him, and be saved by him from wrath to come.

20. Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758): The Jews in all their dispersions shall cast away their old infidelity, and shall have their hearts wonderfully changed, and abhor themselves for their past unbelief and obstinacy. They shall flow together to the blessed Jesus, penitently, humbly, and joyfully owning him as their glorious King and only Savior, and shall with all their hearts, as one heart and voice, declare his praises unto other nations.  … Nothing is more certainly foretold than this national conversion of the Jews in Romans 11.

21. Charles Hodge (1797–1878): The second great event, which, according to the common faith of the Church, is to precede the second advent of Christ, is the national conversion of the Jews.  … The restoration of the Jews to the privileges of God’s people is included in the ancient predictions and promises made respecting them. . . . The future restoration of the Jews is, in itself, a more probable event than the introduction of the Gentiles into the church of God.

22. Robert Murray M‘Cheynne (1813–1843): Converted Israel … will give life to the dead world.  … just as we have found, among the parched hills of Judah, that the evening dew, coming silently down, gave life to every plant, making the grass to spring and the flowers to put forth their sweetest fragrance, so shall converted Israel be when they come as dew upon a dead, dry world. The remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.

23. J. C. Ryle (1816–1900): It always seemed to me that as we take literally the texts foretelling that the walls of Babylon shall be cast down, so we ought to take literally the texts foretelling that the walls of Zion shall be built up—that as according to prophecy the Jews were literally scattered, so according to prophecy the Jews will be literally gathered—and that as the least and minutest predictions were made good on the subject of our Lord’s coming to suffer, so the minutest predictions shall be made good which describe our Lord’s coming to reign. And I have long felt it is one of the greatest shortcomings of the Church of Christ that we ministers do not preach enough about this advent of Christ, and that private believers do not think enough about it.

24. Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892): I think we do not attach sufficient importance to the restoration of the Jews. We do not think enough of it. But certainly, if there is anything promised in the Bible it is this.

(Spurgeon again): The day shall yet come when the Jews, who were the first Apostles to the Gentiles, the first missionaries to us, who were far off, shall be gathered in again. Until that shall be, the fullness of the Churches’ glory can never come. Matchless benefits to the world are bound up with the restoration of Israel; their gathering in shall be as life from the dead.

Nathan Busenitz

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Nathan serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Church and teaches theology at The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles.
  • Eric Davis

    Nate, I was surprised to see many of those names in there. Good stuff. Thank you for your tireless efforts, here, and so many other articles you’ve done.

    • Nate B.

      Thanks Eric! I’ve enjoyed your period contributions here at C-Gate. Keep up the good work in Jackson Hole.

  • Romans 11:26 promises that all Israel will be saved. Dispensationalists understand this verse to refer to a national salvation of ethnic Israel after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.Non-premillennialists sometimes imply that such an interpretation is a dispensationalist invention, because it means that God still has a future plan for national Israel.But did you know that many throughout church history, including many in the Reformed tradition have shared that same interpretation?THE “SAME INTERPRETATION” AS WHAT?  THE FIRST OF SECOND PARAGRAPH?  IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE REFERRING TO THE SECOND…

    • First.

      • Well, if it is not clear (is it?) then perhaps it needs updating…?

        • elainebitt

          It was clear to me. “such” in the second paragraph refers back to the first paragraph. 😉

    • Nate_Busenitz

      Hi Guest,

      Thanks for your comment. I apologize for the confusion. I’ve edited the article to clarify the issue.

  • Thanks, this is very interesting. I appreciate your clarity up front that ‘national Israel’ means people who are ethnically Jewish, not people who currently live on a certain piece of real estate.

    • Astorp

      Can’t they be ethnically Jewish living in the diaspora and also live in the land of Israel. It seems to me that you are being very selective.

      BTW I am ethnically Jewish (by the 1st birth) and Christian (belonging to Christ) by the 2nd birth and awaiting the fulfillment of God’s  salvation promises whether here or in glory, for the elect of ethnic Israel.

      With brotherly love, Grace and Shalom

  • scott shaffer

    “Romans 11:26 promises that all Israel will be saved. Dispensationalists understand this verse to refer to a national salvation of ethnic Israel after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
    Non-premillennialists sometimes imply that such an interpretation is a dispensationalist invention, because it means that God still has a future plan for national Israel.”
    Yes, and dispensationalists would do well to remember that there are many outside their camp that believe there is a future for national Israel. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard something akin to, “Well amillennialists think God has abandoned national Israel.” 

    • elainebitt

      We do remember. Those are the “moderate supersessionists”, as per Michael Vlach’s definition in his book “Has the Church Replaced Israel”.  😉

    • Yes, we do realize that at least some amillennialists recognize and affirm a future salvation for Israel, the “moderate supersessionist” view as Vlach defined it: the view that recognizes future large-scale salvation for Israel (into the Church) but rejects the future restoration of Israel as a nation to prominence during the kingdom.

      Many non-disps including amills, postmills (for example Jonathan Edwards), and  historic premills (the early church as well as later), would be in this category of moderate supersessionism.

  • Excellent summary of the history regarding Israel’s future.  I’ve seen the long list of names — as in this document: http://www.fredsbibletalk.com/Israel_theologians.pdf.  Thanks for the quotes from so many great saints throughout Church history.

  • Jimandcarolyndowdy

    Amen! Thank you.

  • elainebitt

    Thank you Nathan! I appreciate all that you have written and spoken on the subject.

  • Scott D

    Any chance you could show us footnotes or sources so we can check out the context a little more?  

    • Nate_Busenitz

      Hi Scott,

      I have the source info for all of these. However, putting source information into a blog post — with two dozen citations — can make things a little bulky. So I’d prefer not to clutter up the original post with all of the source data.

      However, if you have one or two specific quotes you would like source information for, I’d be happy to provide it.

      Or, you can track down most of the source info at the following online resources:




      I was also able to find a number of these using http://books.google.com.
      Two other helpful resources are Iain Murray’s book, ‘The Puritan Hope’ and Barry Horner’s book, ‘Future Israel.’

      Hope that helps!

      • threegirldad

         The thing is that there are a number of theology-related quotes floating around nowadays that turn out to be apocryphal.  And when the subject generates as much passion as this one does, you can’t really be surprised if someone insists on sources.  I can appreciate the concern about cluttering up the main body of the post, but it would set a useful precedent for others.

        Ad fontes!.  🙂

  • Another name to add to the list (many great quotes from him): Horatius Bonar (1808-1889). 

    The Future Israel site — http://www.futureisraelministries.org — has PDF files of several books and sermon transcripts from Bonar, J.C. Ryle and Spurgeon, specifically on the topic of Israel’s future.

  • Coley

    Hi Nathan,

    I really enjoy your posts. Just curious, does Dispensationalists and modern day Messianic Jews paths ever cross? Do you think they could be the beginning of Israel coming to know Christ? In the past few years, I’ve read and heard of a few Jews that believe in Christ moving back to Israel and starting congregations that still live pretty much as Jews but believe Jesus is the Messiah. I read of Messianic Jews referencing Dispensationalists but rarely hear anything about the modern Messianic Jewish movement, even though they both hold to a distinction of the Church and Israel at some level. Do you think there will be an overlap to the fulfillment of the Church and Israel coming to faith in the latter times, as there was an some what of an overlap of Israel and the Church beginning in the days of Jesus and the Apostles?


    •  Interesting who you dispies fight against what Paul says that there is NO distinction between Jew and Gentile any longer because Christ broke down that wall of partition.

      guess you’ll cut that part of the Bible record out.

      • James Kime

        There is also no distinction between male or female.  There is also no distinction between slave or free.  Your name is Nancy, so I am assuming you are female.  Why do you fight against what Paul says about you?  The distinction Paul was talking about was explicitly laid out for us: no longer foreigners to the covenants of the promise, etc.  He didn’t teach there was no such thing as a Jew or Gentile anymore.

  • We are Israel and so “in this way” all Israel will be saved, who is Israel? The faithful covenant people of God in all ages, peoples of every tribe nation and tongue, the children of Abraham by faith.

    • Thanks for commenting Micah. Nates point here is that your understanding of “all Israel will be saved” may be common today, but is not the view held by all the people above. For example, after reading the Calvin quote, do you think he would have shared your view of this passage or the dispi view?

      • Even if we grant the minor premise (that Calvin and others viewed a future restoration of those of Abraham’s lineage to salvation by faith in Christ), none of them would grant the major premise behind this post.  The more I study Scripture the more baffled I am at the Dispensational viewpoint.  I’m only thankful that you do not read the rest of Scripture (John 3:16 for example) the way you read passages such as Romans 11:26, or you’d have to grant universalism.

        • James Kime

          The major premise behind dispensationalism is that God actually is faithful to His promises without changing of mind (something Rom 11 also says) and that He isn’t into bait and switch games.  The new information in Rom 11 that Paul was giving had to do with the Gentiles mass conversion taking place now, not that the Jews would be converted in mass and restored as a nation.

          •  what bait and switch…we see the promises of Gentiles coming into the Kingdom even in the Old Testament, esp. the minor prophets. 

          • James Kime

            Nancy, dispensational belief isn’t about whether Gentiles would be saved in the future (from the perspective of the prophets).  It is whether or not Israel would be regathered as a political entity.  Your application of specific texts about Israel’s regathering as a political entity to the church is just lazy and theologically driven rather than text driven.

          • Bait and switch is a valid description of replacement theology aka supersessionism.  But what do supersessionists do with passages such as Jeremiah 32:42?  “For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them.”

            The supersessionist view would reinterpret that to mean that God brought all the great disaster upon Israel (this people), but then brought them (the Church) all the good. That is not what the OT texts say.  Jeremiah 32:42 is a good case in point: it’s all in the same verse, both the curses and the blessings, and they both apply to the same people, ethnic Israel.

      • MarkO

        Calvin might have shared the Dispensational view?
        that’s very doubtful

        Calvin wrote:
        “This (referring to “and upon the Israel of God”) is an indirect ridicule of the vain boast of the false apostles, who vaunted of being the descendents of Abraham according to the flesh. There are two classes who bear this name, a pretended Israel, which appears to be so in sight of men,-and the Israel of God……..In a word, he gives the appellation of the Israel of God to those whom he formerly denominated the children of Abraham by faith (Gal. 3:29), and thus includes all believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, who were united into one church……..they are not all Israel which are of Israel, neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children.” 

        •  Mark I wholeheartedly agree.  again, the blogger is reading through dispensational presuppositions desparately clawing through the old theologians in hopes that he can find a hair of dispensationalism.  Next thing, they’ll be telling us because we use the term dispensations (though not in their sense of the word) that we also are dispies.  Mac has some things right at his seminary but even the beacon of dispie teaching (DTS) is seriously restructuring their own dispie view, it will be one or two generations and dispensationalism will have run its course right off the cliff of good theology.

          • Thpittman

            Please do not make the mistake in assuming all at DTS adhere to the newer Progressive view. There are still many on staff there that uphold the Revised view that is what is being referenced above. Also, even if DTS were to keep down that path, they are hardly the only Dispensational school out there. Dispensationalism is not about trying to keep a system alive but about literal, historical, grammatical interpretation of the text. Many read this and assume we are woodenly literal. We do recognize figures of speech. What we are very careful in doing is trusting that God will fulfill all which He has stated. The Old Testament gives us a pattern of His workings. Such is the stuff of all good theology.

        • James Kime

          MarkO, Calvin was certainly not a dispensationalist.  No one argued that he was.  The post simply showed how he affirmed a point dispensationalists make and many nondispensationalists fight.

          • MarkO

            interesting take. I am aDispensational and I agree that there will be an ingathering of Jews just as there is now and has been a great ingathering of Gentiles. To posit this fact which Scripture clearly indicates does not give even a toe hold on where Dispies want to go next with that fact.

            Next? Yes, they want to say that because Israelites will be gathered to Christ, THEREFORE there must be a Millennium for them to live in and there must be a temple for them to sacrifice animals again.

            Huge leap in logic.

          • James Kime

            MarkO, there will be a kingdom on earth just like Jesus prayed for there to be.  Dispensationalism doesn’t start with Rom 11.  How can you be one and not know this? It starts with the promises of God and sees them unfold and fulfilled through the person and work of Christ.

    •  Israel is the ones after the faith of Abraham and David (read Galatians and Romans) who also were justified by faith alone through grace alone by an imputed righteousness in Christ alone.  And remember, All “israel” is NOT “Israel”.  Besides, Paul tells us the promise to Abraham was to his “seed” singular and that means to the True Israel, Jesus Christ the Righteous One, the True David in whom all the promises (of the OT) are yea and Amen.

      • James Kime

        ” Israel is the ones after the faith of Abraham and David…” that is a theological definition and not a biblical one.  The bible never calls anyone but Jews Israel.  Gentiles are never referred to as Israel.  This is why you have to go backward on the Bible and change OT text meanings.  Jesus is never called the true Israel.

        Is 49:6
        He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

      • Fred

         Nancy may benefit from these posts by Paul Henebury answering the so-called “seed” argument. http://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/galatians-3-the-land-and-the-abrahamic-covenant-what-was-paul-thinking-pt-1/

        The other parts can be found at his website, Dr. Reluctant: http://drreluctant.wordpress.com

  • Tony

    Better question would be do they affirm a restoration of National Israel and a fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant?  I think Spurgeon’s statement says it all when he says, “the fullness of the Churches’ glory can never come.”  Like lots of non-dispensationalists that affirm the future salvation of National Israel, he fails to recognize the distinction God makes between Israel & the church.  The “glory” of the church is distinct from the “glory” of the promised and still coming Davidic fulfillment.  The problem w/ the reformers doctrine is they take a kingdom promised to Israel and substitute the church in it’s place when no such scripture ever says the kingdom was transferred.  For the record: I am dispensational.

    • MarkO

      “no such…kingdom transferred”?

      Acts 28:28
      “Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen. …preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.”Apparently Paul was quite sure about preaching the Kingdom to the Gentiles. There is no explicit statement in the NT of Paul preaching a futuristic premillenialism.

      • James Kime

        where to even begin…

      • Tony

         You do know the difference between the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God; don’t you?  Kingdom of God is Spiritual, Kingdom of Heaven is physical.  hence why the phrase “kingdom of heaven” only appears in Matthew’s gospel (in the AV): the gospel aimed at the Jews.  This is why, I also inserted the phrase “Davidic Covenant” in my initial response.  The davidic covenant has nothing to do w/ the kingdom of God which is only entered by the new birth (Jn 3:3,7) and cannot be inherited by flesh and blood (1 Cor. 15:50); while the kingdom of heaven CAN and will be entered into by flesh and blood survivors of the time if JACOB’s trouble (Mat 25:34-40).  So let me be clearer: a physical, literal, earthly kingdom was promised to the Israel w/ Messiah as the king (Davidic Covenant) and that promise was never revoked and/or transferred to a bunch of highminded gentile dogs in Geneva, Rome, or any other city: unless of course you have a verse that says so.

    •  this is what happens when you are wrongfully taught that this is a “reformers” teaching.  Read your church history and it is the majority view of all ancient Crhistians.  Besides, arent the Davidic promises specifically to Jesus the Great David?  No, you dispies split God’s plan as if He had to have a Plan B.  Smacks of arminianism to me.

      • James Kime

        Again Nancy, pay attention to what is actually said.  Some of the most well known of the earlier generations have affirmed that Jews awaited a future salvation and not just interpret Rom 11:26 as referring to the church.

      • Thpittman

        That is a bold statement since until the 3rd century almost all writers were premillennial. This does not mean they would understand the dispensations as are commonly understood now, but they did understand a distinction. God is not using plan “B”. The Church is called a “mystery” in that it was not spoken about in the OT. Trying to read it back into the OT violates the author’s intent (namely Paul) in those passages where he is explaining this.

    •  and what of Paul’s words that ALL the promises are in Him yea and amen?

      • James Kime

        Yes Nancy, all of God’s promises are realized in Christ.  No one will benefit from the promises outside Christ.  Even the restoration of Israel (which this post is about) is only because they are finally as a nation converted.  None of the promises are outside of Christ.  The passage does not mean that every promise God made has already been fulfilled.  This verse has been tortured by amills for so many years, if it wasn’t inspired and preserved for us, it would have died hundreds of years ago.

        • MarkO

           It is difficult to see how a pure race of Israeites could possibly be established in a Mortalennium when no such race en masse exists today as far as I have been made aware.

          • James Kime

            Jesus could turn rocks into the children of Abraham but the speculations of man are enough to undo God’s promises to many today.  Oh the lack of faith in an awesome God…

          • MarkO

            ex nihilo right?

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  • MarkO

    To my knowledge not a single one of the names listed above was a Dispensationalist (that is one who believes the God has planned a separate future for Israel distinct from the Church).

    Nearly all these men’s comments on Israel were set in writing before Dispensationalism was invented around 1830.AND, many of those in the list above were either postmillennial or amillennial in their timing of Eschatology – or possibly Historic Premil such as Spurgeon.The list helpful to confirm the opinions of many who believe that there will be a great in gathering of  Israel to Jesus at the end of time. It would be a non sequitor and a misuse of the opinions of those listed above to suppose that a finally in gathering of Israel demands, requires or presupposes a Millennium after Christ’s final Return.There is one body of the Redeemed and Israel will be grafted back in to that Tree at some point in human history before the Final Advent of Christ. …and all God’s people (including saved Israel) said…”Amen”

  • sorry Nathan, you are interpreting the writings through the eyes of a 21st century person.  We have a “nation of Israel” and you are reading the reformers and later puritans through that worldview.  While they held out hope that there would be many who are ethnic Jews who would be saved, and some held out that at the end this would occur, it seems you haven’t taken in that you’re reading it through a dispensational grid, via MacArthur’s seminary. 
    Doesn’t matter though.  The crux is that your view is the new kid on the theological block and even DTS is beginning to shift their view, especially as the “this generation” of the dispies is dying off.  How well i remember hearing that the generation that saw that Israel became a nation again would be the final generation…then it was the generation that saw Jerusalem taken back by Israel would be the final generation…well both have passed the dispensational “40 year generation” mark and well….we’re all still here.  See I attended a psuedo-dispensational church that looked at the generation from the 40’s as the last generation then the one from the 60’s and now that we’re way past that 40year mark i heard they changed it to when Israel gets the temple mount back.  Sadder still is that you hold to two Peoples of God, two different salvation systems and two different ends for your two distinct peoples of God (ethnic Jews and Gentiles, whom PAUL said there is NO difference any longer).

    • James Kime

      “Sadder still is that you hold to two Peoples of God, two different salvation systems and two different ends for your two distinct peoples of God (ethnic Jews and Gentiles, whom PAUL said there is NO difference any longer).”

      This is one of the most ignorant things I have read.  Amills would do well to lob fewer grenades and do more to think through what people actually say.

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  • i also find it fascinating that while you will find agreement with this men on your dispie position you reject most of the other things they teach:  covenantal/infant/household baptism, the Lord’s presence in the Supper, Baptism, prayer, preaching, and the Supper as Means of Grace.
    If you’re going to pick and choose what you like/don’t like about the above listed teachers, you’ve just succumbed to the american-schmorgesborg style of Christianity.

    • James Kime

      Nancy and MarkO, try this:


      There comes a point when the collection of your complaints aren’t even worth addressing.

    • You only show your own ignorance in making such a statement. 

      “the Lord’s presence in the Supper”: that is a Catholic view, and yes Luther thought something like that idea too, but Luther is not quoted above.  The names quoted above are mostly from the 16th century and later, Protestants.  And the earliest Christians cited, such as Justin Martyr, were before the Catholic era as well.

      “Baptism, prayer, preaching, and the Supper as Means of Grace”:  I don’t even follow your reasoning there; no error there. Those are indeed considered the means of Grace.  Even though nowadays some evangelicals like the “new” term of spiritual disciplines, that term also includes the connotation of other new, unsound things like spiritual formation, and other error associated with it in the books published on the spiritual disciplines. The means of grace is still a true and biblically valid concept.

      “covenantal/infant/household baptism”:  well, yes, that idea has been around since CT was formed in the 17th century and believed by many (but not all) of the above men quoted, who were CT and moderate supersessionist: as defined above, the idea that the church has replaced Israel but recognizing that Israel will experience a large-scale conversion (into the Church) at the Second Coming.  Spurgeon, however, was very clearly baptist (believers baptism) and did not agree with infant baptism.

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  • Nate_Busenitz

    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks to all for your eagerness to comment and interact. At this point, however, the comment thread seems to be going off course. So I’m going to close up the comments at this point.

    I’ll close with a couple quotes from a few more recent theologians on the future salvation of Israel:

    * * * * *

    Gerhardus Vos (1862–1949): With respect to national privilege, while temporarily abolished now that its purpose has been fulfilled, there still remains reserved for the future a certain fulfillment of the national elective promise. Israel in its racial capacity will again in the future be visited by the saving grace of God [Rom. 11.2, 12, 25]. (Source: Gerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, Old and New Testaments, 79.
    John Murray (1898–1975): If we keep in mind the theme of this chapter [ Rom. 11] and the sustained emphasis on the restoration of Israel, there is no other alternative than to conclude that the proposition, ‘all Israel shall be saved’ is to be interpreted in terms of the fullness, the receiving, the in-grafting of Israel as a people, the restoration of Israel to gospel favor and blessing and the correlative turning of Israel from unbelief to faith and repentance. . . . In a word, it is the salvation of the mass of Israel that the apostle [Paul] affirms. . . . It does not follow that Israel no longer fulfills any particular design in the realization of God’s worldwide saving purpose. . . . Israel are both “enemies” and “beloved” at the same time, enemies as regards the gospel, beloved as regards the election. . . . “Beloved” thus means that God has not suspended or rescinded his relation to Israel as his chosen people in terms of the covenants made with their fathers. (Source: John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997], 99)

    C. E. B. Cranfield (1915–Present): “It is only where the Church persists in refusing to learn this message, where it secretly-perhaps quite unconsciously-believes that its own existence is based on human achievement, and so fails to understand God’s mercy to itself, that it is unable to believe in God’s mercy for still unbelieving Israel, and so entertains the ugly and unscriptural notion that God has cast off His people Israel and simply replaced it by the Christian Church. These three chapters [Rom. 9-11] emphatically forbid us to speak of the Church as having once and for all taken the place of the Jewish people.” (Source: C.E.B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, in The International Critical Commentary, vol. 2 [Edinburgh: T & T Clark Limited, 1979], 448)
    R.C. Sproul (1939–Present): And so all Israel will be saved. The context indicates that Paul must be speaking of the Jewish people. He does not mean every Jew that ever lived, but the nation of Israel. Now why do I say that ‘Israel’ in this phrase refers to the Jews? All through his discussion Paul is talking about Israel in part: part of Israel has been blinded, part of Israel has been cut away, part of Israel has been stubborn, part of Israel has been excluded from the kingdom of God and its blessings. The Jews as a people are presently under judgment. But as there was a national judgment, so there will be a national restoration. Their rejection, even though it was a national rejection, did not include the rejection of every individual. So the restoration doesn’t necessarily mean that every individual Jew will be saved, but the nation as a nation will be restored to God. R.C. Sproul (1939–Present): And so all Israel will be saved. The context indicates that Paul must be speaking of the Jewish people. He does not mean every Jew that ever lived, but the nation of Israel. Now why do I say that ‘Israel’ in this phrase refers to the Jews? All through his discussion Paul is talking about Israel in part: part of Israel has been blinded, part of Israel has been cut away, part of Israel has been stubborn, part of Israel has been excluded from the kingdom of God and its blessings. The Jews as a people are presently under judgment. But as there was a national judgment, so there will be a national restoration. Their rejection, even though it was a national rejection, did not include the rejection of every individual. So the restoration doesn’t necessarily mean that every individual Jew will be saved, but the nation as a nation will be restored to God. I remember sitting on my porch in Boston in 1967, and watching on television the Jewish soldiers coming into Jerusalem, dropping their weapons and rushing to the Wailing Wall, and weeping and weeping. Immediately I telephoned one of my dear friends, a professor of Old Testament theology, who does not believe that modern day Israel has any significance whatsoever. I asked him, ‘What do you think now? From 70 AD until 1967, almost 1900 years, Jerusalem has been under the domination and control of Gentiles, and now the Jews have recaptured the city of Jerusalem. Jesus said that Jerusalem will be trodden under foot by the Gentiles, until the fullness of the Gentiles be fulfilled. What’s the significance of that?’ He replied, ‘I am going to have to rethink this situation.’ It was indeed startling. (Source: R. C. Sproul, The Gospel of God: Romans [Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 1999], 191-92).

    • MarkO

      Good quotes. It is helpful to me to read this knowing that Vos, Murray, Cranfield and Sproul did not/do not self-indentify as a Dispensationalists.  If I remember correctly these men are either classified as Amil or Postmil.

  • James Kime

    As always Nathan, great post.

  • Busdriver4jesus

    I didn’t have time to review the whole comment thread, so if this point was previously made, I apologize:  I am not shocked to see so many non-dispensationalists support what is thought to be a distinctly dispensationalist position.  That’s the kicker:  if folks of many eschatologies sign to something, it must not be distinctly dispensational.  Here’s why I think this is the case on Romans 11 and ethnic Israel:  in the minds of the above church fathers, ethnic Israel does not equal national Israel.  Ethnic Jews will come to Christ, and become part of the Church, not form (or be formed) into a separate body/nation (Gal 3:28, Eph 2:11f).

    • MarkO

       Amen – “you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant…” Heb 12:22-24
      OT saints and NT saints form one body of believers – not 2 moving along parallel tracks.
      “…if folks of many eschatologies sign to something, it must not be distinctly dispensational.”

      Good point Bus Driver

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