Summary: Paul is summarizing his grand argument in Romans 11 regarding God’s plan of salvation for Jews and Gentiles. It is so amazing that no one could have come up with it on his own.
23And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.
25Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
27“and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
28As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
33Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:23-36)
Students of the Bible know that these verses have caused a lot of discussion and disagreement in the Christian Church. More than one phrase in this passage has provoked rigorous analysis.
For instance, the phrase, “All Israel will be saved” (11:26) is one of them. What does it mean?
There are some who believe that this phrase means that one day the nation of Israel as a political entity will be grafted back into the Church, and that every Israeli will be saved.
Others believe that the phrase refers to a future generation when, before the end, God will bring a tremendous influx of Jewish people who believe in Jesus into his kingdom. And it will be a tremendous revitalization at that time of Christ’s kingdom on earth.
Others believe that this verse simply states that God will continue to deal with the Jews of Israel generation after generation, and that once we get to the end of time we will look back and see this great cumulative work that God has done among his ancient people in all generations.
And still others look at this passage and say, “Well, really, it doesn’t give us any hope at all for Israel in the future. Paul is really just saying that all the Church will be saved. Both Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians will be saved. This isn’t speaking necessarily to some future for ethnic Israel.”
Well, having heard that you might be tempted to say, “Look, if all these scholars, professors, and great commentators on Scripture over the generations can’t figure this out, how can you expect me to figure this out? And more importantly, how can I get anything of practical use out of this passage?”