Israel Has Not Been Replaced by the Church
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "THE DELIVERER WILL COME OUT OF ZION, AND HE WILL TURN AWAY UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB; FOR THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS."
Much of the church appears to believe that Israel has been replaced by the church, that is superseded it. This erroneous doctrine, termed replacement theology or the doctrine of supersessionism by some (sounds more scientific, but isn’t), states the original promise to Abraham of land, seed and blessing cannot be fulfilled for the people of Israel. This is wrong. The illogical nature of this doctrine, if true, would make the gospel unstable and unreliable.
Paul in verses 25 & 26 states categorically that Israel has not been lost.
Paul, in chapters 9-11 of Romans is answering a great soteriological question: if God is able to save us, as he says he is, what evidence is there that he indeed keeps his promises? Paul proves God is able to because God has not forgotten Israel. God will complete the work he set out to do (Philippians 1:6), and Paul answers emphatically, to the question – has God cast off Israel? “God forbid” (11:1) – the most pronounced negative exclamation a Jew can offer. Chapter 11 sets out the fact that Israel has not been cast off in five parts:
1. Rejection of Israel is not total – it is partial
2. Israel’s rejection is to bless the gentiles
3. Israel’s covenants are guaranteed
4. Israel is certain of restoration
Gentiles are like wild olive branches graphed into the true olive tree (11:16-21)
In Chapter 11 Paul gives the example of the Olive Tree because Israel is represented by the olive tree throughout Scripture. Gentiles certainly have been revealed the mystery of the church in that “the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6). However, he warns gentile believers not to be proud or boastful of the fact they have been grafted into the olive tree. This is because gentiles are aliens to the Kingdom of God, and are like wild olive, and contrary to nature have been grafted into the olive tree (11:17). That is, it is against the gentile nature to want to be partakers of Yeshua, the messiah; however, through the work of the Christ, this is accomplishable by faith in Jesus Christ. And it is this latter point Paul is getting across. The gentiles cannot boast, because it is not the wild grafted in branch that supports the root but the root of the tree that supports the wild grafted branch – Jesus Christ, who is a Jew. And if God is able to graft in branches contrary to nature, how much easier will it be for Him to graft in olive branches – that is Jews. Israel therefore is not lost or forgotten – they have been cut from the root (Jesus Christ), so provoke them to action (11:14-17).
The fact that Israel’s promises are on hold is a mystery, now revealed (11:25)
Why the promises of Israel were withheld was hidden from Israel through their blindness. Jesus clearly stated they would be cast out, but the leaders of Israel did not listen:
“‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!’” (Matthew 23:37-39).
Note the underlined portion of the verse. The rejection of Yeshua as the Messiah doomed Israel to being left desolate as outline in Matthew 12:41 when the Jews blasphemed the Holy Spirit, a prophecy fulfilled in A.D. 70. Paul speaks of this as being a mystery – where the term mystery is explained in Romans 16:25,26 – as something that has been hidden, like a curtain that hides a precious stone, but is drawn back revealing it. Hence the mystery has been revealed as to why the promises made to Abraham have not been fulfilled.
Promises of God are Irrevocable
Before examining the reason why Israel has not received her promises, we need to state that God’s promises are irrevocable. Paul states: “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (11:29). That is due to God’s unchanging love, grace and the sovereign will; his promises are sure, secure, firm and inviolable. If there were not, as 1 Corinthians 15 points out, we would be people “most miserable” because we could not have hope - for faith in something that is unsure is a false hope. God’s promises therefore are immutable and unalterable.
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Romans 11:25 NKJV
Israel seeks not the Messiah because of blindness or hardening
Only a small remnant seeks Yeshua and have found him. These Messianic Jews are very small in number – most Jews reject Yeshua and God. Their hearts are hardened, they are blind to the fact Yeshua has died for their sin as well as those of the gentiles.
The blindness is only in part, that is temporary
There is a time limit on the partial blindness, because the next word indicates that the action continues until something else happens.
The blindness is until
This word is missed by too many. The blindness is temporary – until something else happens.
When the predetermined number of gentiles have been saved, their blindness will be lifted.
The phrase “until fullness of the Gentiles has come in” means that until the last remaining gentile who will be saved is saved, the condition on Israel remains. Only after this, will, Israel will be saved.
If Israel is to be saved (11:26,27), then Israel cannot have been replaced by something else
Paul writes: And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “THE DELIVERER WILL COME OUT OF ZION, AND HE WILL TURN AWAY UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB; FOR THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.”
These are quotes from Isaiah 59:20 indicating the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-16) will be fulfilled – Yeshua, is the deliverer and will occupy Mount Zion; Isaiah 59:21 indicating the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17 etc., Deuteronomy 28, Leviticus 26) will be fulfilled (Land, Seed and Blessing) and Jeremiah 31:31-34 indicate a new covenant will be established; “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people”.
Israel has been knocked down so they look up
It looks as Israel is no longer in view of God, but this is the plan of God! He is using the gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy (11:11), meaning salvation has come to the gentiles, forcing Israel to look to God for salvation.
The Church is NOT Israel: National Israel will be restored, and the promises made good after all the time of the gentiles has be fulfilled.
Arnold Fruchtenbaum (2010) Replacement Theology and the Epistle of I Peter Ariel Ministries http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Fruchtenbaum-ReplacementTheologya.pdf