If there is one hotly debated topic in Evangelical circles it would have to be “All Israel will be saved.’ But where does the idea originate from? After all, sin is sin, there is no such thing as corporate redemption under the Old Covenant or the New. Ezekiel Ch.18:20 “The soul who sins shall die”, but then we have the passage in Romans Ch.11:26, which implies salvation for ‘all’ Israel. I decided I would explore the teachings of some of Judaism’s greatest scholars and find out why they believed ‘All Israel will be saved’, furthermore what those same teachers believed about the lack of redemption for the non-Jewish souls.
“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; Or this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” Concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:26-29.
In the New Testament the cross-reference to Paul’s quote is given as Isaiah Ch. 59:20;21. Isaiah is speaking about a Redeemer, there is only one Redeemer, Jesus Christ. It’s self-explanatory then, that if you are a Christian, you would realize that only those who accept the Redemption offered by Jesus Christ are saved. And, yet Christians continue to attest to salvation for ‘All Israel’. This is what Isaiah Ch.59:20;21 says…
“The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” Says the LORD.
“As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.”
“All Israel will be saved” is a term that is not found in the passage that Paul is referring to in Romans 11:26. Furthermore, Paul says nothing about descendants, descendants etc., forevermore. The Septuagint as usual says even less in this passage.
“The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob.” Where is it written in Isaiah Ch.59:20;21 that All Israel will be saved? When the condition for redemption is for those who TURN. Paul is quoting a reference that clearly states that only those who ‘TURN’, a word used for repentance will be redeemed when the Redeemer comes to Zion, an event that had already happened when Paul wrote Romans.
For the purpose of this study Israel will mean Jews. Simply because the Evangelicals who quote this passage of scripture mean Jews and only Jews. Any other way of dealing with the topic or referring to natural or spiritual Israel will muddy the waters and cause unnecessary confusion.
When discussing ‘All Israel will be saved’ it’s hard not to delve into the Resurrection of the Dead. A topic that comes with its own vagueness, both from a Hebraic perspective and a Christian one. The Resurrection of the Dead is a reunion of an already dead (decomposed) body to the Soul, into an immortal state.
I discovered the term “All Israel will be saved”, steeped in Judaic literature but with very little basis. Outside of Second Maccabees Ch.7:9, there is only one other reference to Israel (Jews?) being resurrected. Daniel Ch.2:2 mentions a similar ‘rising-up’ from the dust as it were. Once Maccabees and Daniel are weighed there is very little else to get excited about, until one reads Talmudic literature. The authors of Talmud are not shy in proclaiming, the Jews and only the Jews are the ones to inherit eternal life. And, then there are the Noachides (the Righteous gentiles), but that’s a whole other story. I will proceed to the Noachides later, as it is important to understand the criteria for non-Jews to enter eternal bliss.
Non-Jews before you breathe a sigh of relief there is a caveat! And, it is an elimination of whisperers. WHAT? Are you a whisperer?
I discovered that the end game for both Jews and Christians is not that dissimilar. The Pharisees (modern-day Judaism) and Christians believe in the immortal soul. They both also believe in the Resurrection of the Dead (with minor variants) and a futuristic earthly existence. Which brings us to a minor issue, NOT! The Land; the Land; the Land. For any future existence, Jews must have ‘THE LAND’, Jews must return to Eden; Eden to the land.
As they say in the movies, “Without further ado”, let’s begin…
Romans 11:26 ”All Israel will be saved”, what does it mean?
Someone once said to me, to understand a verse in the Bible, you need to read the twenty verses before and the twenty verses after. In order to understand Romans 11:26, let’s go back 20 verses.
It’s apparent when we do this that Paul is speaking of a remnant (Romans 11:5). The meaning of the word remnant is the leftover, the residue, whatever is left behind at the end. He goes on to say … “By the election of grace and not of works”, that is not by the ‘works of the Law, we cannot be saved by the works of the Law. We can only be saved by Grace, but even under Grace there are ‘works’, and we will be judged by our ‘works’ (Revelation 20:12).
Romans 11:13-14 To you, moreover, speaking to the Gentiles and himself to some extent to shake some of them out through jealousy.
Romans 11: 17-23 Is a metaphor about the Gentiles being grafted into the wild olive tree and they (Israel) being cut off because of unbelief. Gentiles also have the potential to be cut off and Israel has the potential to be grafted back in. They are more so, because Gentiles are not part of the original olive tree.
Romans 11:25 The Mystery … Paul also speaks in Romans about Israel being blinded in part, he experienced this perfectly because when he got converted, it was like scales fell from his eyes, and he was able to receive the truth of the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ.
Romans 11:26 And, all Israel will be saved! A verse that causes so much confusion, it’s a mystery, but when the time of the Gentiles is completed a remnant of Israel will be saved. The Greek word, sode’-zo, means to save, heal and rescue.
Whatever remnant will be left at the end, will accept Jesus as their Messiah and they will be saved. There is a remnant according to grace (Romans 11:5) Paul used the 7000 that had not bowed the knee to Baal as an example.
The idea that all Israel, corporate redemption will be/must be saved is not from the Bible, but it’s an idea that is based in Judaism and Kabbalah, which is a form of Judaism. Because Adam (the Jewish man has the breath of YHWH in him, technically he cannot die or be cut-off from his creator, in theory it makes sense, but from a Christian perspective it does not. It is this teaching that has infiltrated the Christian church and its views on modern day Israel.
Of course, it should always be our desire that Jews be saved, just like it should be that the whole world should be saved. It’s Gods desire that no man perish, like it was for the Apostle Paul, but even he stated it as a desire, saying…” My heart’s DESIRE is that Israel (they) MIGHT be saved (Romans 10:1). There is a big difference between stating “All Israel WILL be saved” and desiring that Israel “MIGHT be saved”. It’s impossible that Paul meant both, instead the former has been grossly misunderstood and the latter is correct because it is confirmed by other scriptures.
All Israel will be saved – The Talmudic perspective:
As I mentioned earlier the Pharisaic and Christian views on the immortal soul are not that dissimilar. This is because of Paul’s influence on the New Testament and his own Pharisaic upbringing. He himself stated he was a Pharisee of Pharisees (Philippians 3:5) who ‘sat at the feet’ of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). Two things we can glean from his comments: the first; that the relationship between Paul and Gamaliel was very strong, to sit at someone’s feet meant to draw on every word that proceeded from their mouth. The second; that Paul was on his way to becoming Sanhedrin.
Paul with his understanding of the immortal soul would have understood Jesus’s resurrection totally. Jesus in His resurrected body was fully body and soul. The disciples were able to touch Him, doubting Thomas was only satisfied when he put his fingers into the wounds of Jesus (John 20:27). What would have been the outcome if for instance Paul was a Sadducee? Would we share the same consensus with the Jews? I don’t think so, because the Sadducees did not believe in the Resurrection of the Dead.
According to Neusner, the Sadducees deferred on the Resurrection of the Dead; Angels; the Immortality of the Soul and Divine Providence. They also only accepted the Written Torah (Neusner, 2005). From Josephus we learn that the Sadducees believed the soul perished with the body (Antiquities 18:1.4). Geza Vermes also points out that all the rewards and punishment for the Sadducees were received in this life (Vermes, 2010). We also have the reference from the New Testament itself about the Sadducees disbelief in such an event (Matthew 22:23).
The principles of Pharisee-ism are the total opposite, they are the Immortality of the Soul; belief in Angels; Divine Providence; Freedom of Will; Resurrection of the Dead and a Written and Oral Torah.
It’s clear at this point that the Sadducees did not accept the Resurrection of the Dead as a doctrine. But what of the Pharisees, where did they get their teaching from? And, you might be wondering why I am harping on about the Resurrection of the Dead, it’s because eternal life in Judaism is intrinsically connected with Resurrection. Even if for some reason a Pharisee had to spend a brief period in Gehenna, like a sort of a purgatory, his destination is Eden.
I promise you; you will not be blown away by what I discovered about what the Pharisees believe in the Resurrection of the Dead. Let’s begin with Vermes, in his book The Real Jesus, Vermes says that it was not widely known among the Jews and that the concept gained prominence only in the Second Century B.C. by the Jews in diaspora who were influenced by Greek culture.
For Neusner it’s back to the Garden of Eden. In his view because Israel holds the belief of ‘One’ God (Deuteronomy 6:4) that qualifies Israel to attain to Resurrection. Why? Because they know their God and are monotheistic. “The Gentiles are not…they reject God in favour of idols”, says Neusner. The monotheistic Jewish soul is on a journey back to the Garden of Eden, which is Israel, as in the Land. Then there is the aspect of suffering. Israel is the Suffering Servant who has endured incredible hardship in this world none explains this concept clearer than Rabbi Stuart Federow in his book Judaism and Christianity: A Contrast.
Neusner would agree I’m sure, in his eyes the Righteous Jew is always suffering and therefore warrants eternal redemption, no questions asked. The whole premise of Jewish resurrection hinges on one passage of Hebrew scripture. “Also, your people shall all be righteous; They shall inherit the land forever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, That I may be glorified (Isaiah 60:21). That’s it!
“To be Israel means to rise from the grave and that applies to all Israelites. The entire holy people will enter the world to come, that is, Israel will enjoy the resurrection of the dead and eternal life. Israel then is anticipated to be the people of eternity.” (Neusner, 2005). The Jewish Eden, which is the land, is not just a place for the resurrected soul but rather a condition. From reading about this condition, it reminded me very much of a Buddhist Nirvana.
Which brings me to the Zohar, and no doubt some of the wackiest origins of where this concept originated from. The Zohar itself informs us that it has its origins in Babylon and that its philosophies were developed in Babylon during the Exile. In the Zend Avesta the Jews discovered similar stories about creation, Adam and Eve, the temptation and the Resurrection of the Dead. The jury is still out on whether some of these stories were adopted by Zoroastrianism or the other way around. There is no denying though that Zoroastrianism has heavily influenced Talmudic Judaism. The Resurrection for Jews in the Zohar is like other Jewish texts. It’s about the land and returning to the land, a reincarnation of souls brought back to the land when the graves were opened (Zohar).
“Therefore, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves and bring you into the land of Israel.
“Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves (Ezekiel 37:12;13).
Lastly, it’s only fair to check in on Maimonides and see what he has to say about the Resurrection of the Dead. Well, it appears very little, the man of science and medicine didn’t much care for the doctrine. And even when he was given an opportunity to make his views clear in Maamar Tehiyyet ham-Metim, he failed to do so. (The Introduction to the Code of Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, 1980).
All Israel will be saved – The Jewish perspective for non-Jews.
It’s all doom and gloom for the non-Jewish souls unfortunately, they will perish, and the wicked will not stand in judgement as the Psalmist says…” Therefore, the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Remember the word ‘Righteous’ from before (Isaiah 60:21) and that the Righteous are the Jews.
The disqualifications for Redemption for non-Jewish souls include:
Those who read heretical books, “The books of the Evangelists … they do not save from the fire. But they are allowed to burn where they are, they and the reference to the divine name that are in them.” (Neusner, 2004; Neusner, 2005). Some of the suggestions from the Rabbi’s included, cut out the name and burn the rest.
“(1) He who says, the Resurrection of the dead is a teaching which does not derive from Torah, (2) and that the Torah does not come from Heaven; and (3) Epicureans [hedonist]” (Neusner, 2005). Well, Epicureans means Greek thinkers. The Zohar calls them ‘antediluvians’, from my understanding it would mean ‘creatures’ as in the ‘others’ who were created as non-Jews. Then there is a general exclusion of ‘Gentiles’, “Idolaters, do not even figure in judgment at all. They do not rise from the grave.” (Neusner, 2005).
Lastly, I will address The Whisperers. The Who? You might very well ask. For that we need to read the Jewish Creed, based on Isaiah 60:21.
He who denies The Resurrection
He who denies the origin of The Torah (that it was from Heaven)
The Unbelievers (those who do not believe in the concept of the ‘One’ God)
From Rabbi Akiba:
He who reads Heretical Books (Christian texts)
He who Whispers over a Wound (a clear reference to Christians who pray over wounds and diseases in the name of Jesus). There are at least three instances in Talmudic literature that mentions Rabbi’s suggesting death would be better than being prayed over in the name of Jesus. Two choking instances and a snake bite.
From Rabbi Saul:
He who utters the letters of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH).
In concluding then, ‘All Israel will be saved’ is a predominantly Jewish term, that is only found in Romans 11:26, it is found nowhere else in the Bible. I checked every verse in the entire Bible that had the word Israel in it, no mean feat I can tell you. However, the idea of a Jewish remnant being ‘saved’ is throughout the scriptures.
From Isaiah 60:21 the Jews have managed to create a scenario whereby every Jew the ‘Righteous’ warrants a Resurrection. The non-Jews under Noachide, if they deny the deity of Jesus, or the reading of the New Testament might attain Resurrection with the Jews. I think I’ll pass on that one, thank you very much.
Christians who encourage that salvation can be attained in any other way are in error and will be judged for being part of a deception. If Noachides think that by having one foot in Judaism and one foot in Christianity and that somehow that will win them brownie points with God, they are wrong. The only way you can be a true Noachide is by denying Jesus Christ, who is the true Resurrection and the Life. Without Jesus Christ of Nazareth there is no Resurrection.
Brenton, L. (2010). The Septuagint version of the Old Testament and Apocrypha. [Whitefish, Mont.]: Kessinger Pub, p.195.
Creed, M. (2019). Maimonides on the Jewish Creed: Abelson, J. : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive. [online] Internet Archive. Available at: http://archive.org/details/jstor-1451103/page/n28 [Accessed 4 Jun. 2019].
De Manhar, N. and Drais, J. (1995). Zohar Bereshith to Lekh Lekha. San Diego: Wizards Bookshelf.
Federow, S. (2012). Judaism and Christianity: A Contrast. Bloomington, Ind.: iUniverse Inc.
Jesus Christ in the Talmud, a. (2019). Jesus Christ in the Talmud, Midrash, Zohar, and the liturgy of the synagogue: Dalman, Gustaf, 1855-1941 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive. [online] Internet Archive. Available at: http://archive.org/details/cu31924074488150/ [Accessed 4 Jun. 2019].
Josephus, F. and Whiston, W. (2008). The works of Josephus. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
Nelson, T. (2005). The Nkjv Daily Bible. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson.
Neusner, J. (2004). The emergence of Judaism. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, pp.74,217.
Neusner, J. (2005). Questions and answers. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, pp.13, 45,152,153,154,164.
Neusner, J. (2011). The Babylonian Talmud. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, pp.Sanhedrin 10:1 A-G.
Twersky, I. (2010). Introduction to the Code of Maimonides. New Haven: Yale University Press, pp.43,502.
Vermès, G. and Vermès, G. (2010). The real Jesus. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, pp.107-109.
Cheryl Mason 4 June 2019.