One Fold – One Israel


Exploring Romans 11: Will Jews convert and be God’s Israel once again?

Misunderstanding Paul’s wording in Romans 11 has bound many Christians into the belief that Jews who rejected Christ are still God’s people and will return to God one day. The establishment of the state of Israel is by many considered the beginning of Paul’s prophecy.

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 
And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 
For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (Rom 11:25-27)

Perhaps changing the word “until” to the Greek meaning of the same word “while” would have avoided all this misunderstanding, but is the choice of the translators. Is Paul here speaking of the secret of the Jewish conversion in some distant future, or has Paul’s meaning been twisted by false teachers and how the translation is?

Paul’s meaning is clear throughout the 11th chapter and the rest of the chapter has to explain this one verse, further revelations in scripture must match this one.

Do we interpret it to mean that Jews who rejected Christ are predestined to convert, or is there a misunderstanding here? Christ never forces anyone to follow Him, never has.

If Paul says the mystery is that God will reject the Jewish people but save a remnant in the end, it means that God has not shown mercy upon the many Jews living in the time between then and now. This is nonsensical because God cares for all men, Jews, and pagans alike. He would not prevent the conversion of the Jewish people before the end because that suits His plan to only win them then. God tries to save every individual He can at any day of age.

This leaves us with two options;

1- God foresees that many Jews will convert in the end, despite generational rejection. This is indeed wonderful and possible. As said to the prophet Daniel about the time of the end: “Knowledge shall increase and many shall travel here and fro”. (Dan.12:4) An increase in knowledge means more converted, it is a natural sequence but hardly a mystery. Paul describes the Jews as “natural branches” cut off God’s tree because of unfaithfulness and, if grafted again, grafted to their tree naturally (Rom.11:24). What is a greater mystery, a branch grafted to its own tree, or a “were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree”? Paul is clear that a Jewish conversion is not a greater mystery or achievement than a pagan conversion. A Jewish conversion therefore cannot be both a mystery and natural at the same time.

If Romans 11:25-27 is meant to speak of Jews converting in the future, it still does not prophecy the State of Israel. Because God does not need a “State of Israel” to save Jews. The two are not synonymous. Before, Jews lived among Christians and had to converse and deal with them daily all over the world. This led to many converted Jews, which is why the Jewish leaders in each place encouraged Jews to create locked communities wherever they lived. Avoiding as much contact with Christians as possible. The state of Israel took the Jews who were spread among the Christians and secluded them in a land where they only learned from each other daily. The result was a stronger identity in the rejection of Christ for many, and others no longer in small groups abroad, became atheists. A study quoted in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz shows that only 30% of Israelis say they are religious. ( )

This indicates that after the birth of the State of Israel, there are fewer spiritual Jews, not more.
Paul is not prophesying the State of Israel in Romans 11, as that is not synonymous with a “state of conversion”. Those Jews who returned to the land after the Babylonian captivity had to convert before returning. It was God’s condition to return them that their conversion happened wherever they had been scattered to. Thus, the belief that God gathered modern Jews to the state of Israel to convert them contradicts God’s order and law. Returning to the land was a reward for their conversion, not the means to produce one.

“And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee” (Deu.30:1-3)
Those who claim they are to return before they convert, speak neither truth nor light: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa.8:20)

Solomon understood this sequence and prayed according to it, a prayer God said He would hear.

“If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near; Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; 
And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause” (1. King.8:46-49)

Christ was clear, the only accepted repentance was acknowledging Him as their Lord (Mat 23:39). Jews need atonement to receive God’s approval and a return, an atonement only given through Christ. Thus, the modern Jews who have returned to the state of Israel, by not accepting Christ, and by not inviting the Christian converts to come as well, do not fulfill the requirements to return. Worse; they defy Christ’s word and conditions for returning.

If Paul is prophesying the return of many spiritually blinded Jews, he is prophesying their conversion to Christ, not to a land.
It is a natural consequence of the world being more enlightened and people less isolated because of the internet, many Jews will convert to Christ in the end time – However, this cannot, in my opinion, be what Paul is here speaking of. For then “the whole of Israel saved” is rejecting the fact that Jews for 2000 years have been lost, and only a remnant at the end will be saved and this is the “whole of Israel”. Which makes little sense. The mystery Paul is speaking of has to be something else than some speculate.

2. – The second option to understand this verse is if a word in there should have been translated to English a little differently. If we are to compare with the rest of the New Testament, the secret of the gospel at that time when it was written, was that the invitation extended to the heathens as well as Jews. It took a while for the apostles to understand, and they even needed a push, to preach to the heathens (Mat 15:23; Joh 4:9; Acts.10:45; Gal.2:12). They wondered greatly when Christ preached to non-Jews. They debated it after Christ left when Peter had seen pagans receive the Holy Spirit (Acts.11). This was the great “secret” that pagans were to become part of Christ’s Israel and be equal to Jewish converts.

This is the secret: “the fullness of the Gentiles” has to come “in” so that “all Israel shall be saved”. This understanding fits with Christ’s own message: “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. … And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (Joh.10:11,16)

Here Christ speaks of Israel, and that people of another “fold” have to be brought in to create “one fold”. If this is what Paul meant, it is echoing Christ’s words and not a new doctrine by Paul.

Earlier in chapter 11, Paul explains how he is part of the remnant of Israel, those who received Christ. He is part of that remnant in his day. He then explains that Israel is like a tree with branches, and the gentiles are “grafted in” to this tree that is Israel. While those who reject Christ of “the natural branches” are cut off, meaning they are no longer part of Israel.

The modern state of Israel is a “cut off branch” from the real Israel, but no longer God’s Israel. As Paul states, if individual Jews convert they are put back upon the tree, and so it has been throughout time.
The word Jews is in the Bible not just used on a people, but also of a state of mind: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God”. ” (Rom 2:28-29) In Revelation this notion is repeated when Christ says someone claims to be Jews but are not.

The stem of God’s tree is not a Jewish state or the state of Israel, it is Jehovah and His law and prophets.

The letter of Romans was written by Paul while he was in Corinth. He wrote chapter 11 while there, and this is also when he was treated badly by Jewish brethren and this happened: “But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” (Acts 18:6)

Paul understood that for Christ to return “the other fold” had to come in, and this is why he focused upon them rather than the “spiritually blinded” part of the Jews.

The sequence of events is explained by Christ. He said to the disciples: “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:  But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat 10:5-7)

The first to be reached was the genetic Israel. When this was done, they were sent to all the world with the gospel: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Mat 24:14) 

Notice that the message is the same to Israel as to “all nations”: “the kingdom of heaven” and “this gospel of the kingdom”. It is Christ’s kingdom. Christ’s state.

This is repeated in Revelation where an angel carries a message to worship God, their creator, that is to go not just to Jews but to: “to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people …Fear God, and give glory to him” (Rev.14:6-7)
So the plot is explained fairly well here and in other places. God planned to first reach Judah and then as many of physical Israel wherever they are scattered, and then the offer is to be given to the whole world. Once those who receive salvation “come in” the fullness of all who are called are come in, then Christ will have “one fold”, “the whole of Israel”. The “whole” is not everyone, if it was, then all Jews and all Gentiles would be saved. This is not “the whole” meant in Paul’s letter. He means that those of the Jews that convert to Christ and those coming in from the Gentiles will together form “a whole”. A new whole. Meaning a complete “fold” as Christ said. This was the secret to many, that the long-awaited Messiah of the tribe of Judah would not save His people and start His kingdom until “the fullness of the pagans came in”. This was the whole plan from the very beginning, from when Israel was called out of Egypt to be a kingdom of priests. To bring the truth about God and His law and atonement to the world. But instead of doing this, they copied the pagans, and they kept their knowledge and practice to themselves and would not share it or win others to it. Instead of seeing themselves as God’s diplomats, they felt superior to others and did not evangelize their God. God’s plan did not change, and instead, He commissioned the apostles, the seventy chosen and the first Christians to do the job Judah had not wanted to do: to reach the rest of the world.
The secret was therefore not that Jews would convert, they were the natural “branches”, but that pagans would be “grafted in” before Christ’s kingdom could start. Christ is not waiting for blinded Jews to convert, but for those who had not had the chance to hear the gospel, to hear it. Then, as Christ said, “Then shall the end come”.

There is no additional time, or a return to a Jewish state and another attempt there. Everyone has to convert first, wherever they are, then Christ will come and gather His people when He comes. The Bible teaches it was first the Jews, then Israel, then the pagans, and then “the end” comes.

The invitation and call to the pagans were prophesied several times in the Old Testament.
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.  … He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law” (Isa.42:1.4)

While Jews hoped Messiah came to deliver them and rule over the world and over the Gentiles with “an iron rod”, they failed to see that the Messiah wanted to save the Gentiles and invite them to become part of Israel. (Rev.19:15; Rom 2:10-11) The “iron rod”, spoke of the final judgment on all mankind. This idea was resisted.
“Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the Lord Speak, saying,
“The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”
From Isaiah we see that God also in the Old Testament invited the stranger to come and worship and be one with His people if he wished: “ Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, …Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer…mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. ..The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.” (Isa.56:3-8)

The truth comes from the Jews

So why does Paul say: “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 

Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen” (Rom 9:3-5)

This is a valuable and powerful statement that can save someone from deception if understood correctly. If the wrong meaning is taken out, then it only serves to confuse. Paul, sometimes, explains things in a more complicated way than many “uneducated” can comprehend, as Peter said about Paul’s writings (2.Pet.3:15-16). Most likely Paul wrote as academics would write in his time because unlike the fishermen Peter and John and others with more common professions, Paul had been educated at rabbi schools and was a pharisee (Php.3:5, Act 22:3). This might explain why the letters of Peter, John, and James are straightforward and easy to understand even when translated, while Paul often argues back and forth before giving his conclusion. A very different approach, easily misunderstood, especially when he gives attention to what people say and then his response to it, appearing as both is his opinion to the modern reader. It was, in fact, common among the ancient Greek style of writing (Aristotelian Argument) to first introduce an issue, then present the case, then address the opposition, provide proof, and then present a conclusion. While Paul does communicate as a learned man of his day to some degree, it causes great confusion if everything he says is Paul’s conclusion. A lot of Paul’s style of writing is lost to modern readers and some in his day who were classified as uneducated. One such example is when Paul discusses God’s law when it appears as if he dismisses it but then concludes that the law is good and not abolished (Rom.3:31; 1. Tim.8:1) Many Christian doctrines are solely built upon the same ideas that Paul argues, rather than the conclusions he gives to the same questions.

So, is Paul saying in Romans 9 that God’s people are the genetic Israeli people, regardless of what they do or believe because they were once given “the covenant” and “the promise”?
In the next verse, Paul says: “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Rom 9:6-8)

Paul, here, explains that just like not all of Abraham’s children of the flesh inherited the promise given to Abraham, not all Israel by flesh are inherits of the promise either.

What many think Paul is saying is that everything belongs to those of the flesh, despite that he is himself explaining his meaning is the opposite.

Jesus explained the same in a straightforward way in His address to the Samaritan woman: “The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews” But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (Joh 4:19-23) 

Why did Jesus not say salvation came from Him? Why say it came from the Jews, the same Jews that He knew were about to end His life?`And this is the point of the matter also explained by Paul.

Jews needed to receive Christ as their King and Savior. The Jew had to understand that the law and the prophets spoke of Him.

But when Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, He made it a point for her to understand that Messiah’s mission was explained in the Jewish system, and not theirs or other pagan.

The truth, the promises, the culture, and the law, had been entrusted to the Jews and the gospel was to be built upon those truths given to them and not a different religious understanding. For her, it was important that she understood that the foundation of Christ’s mission was the truth given to the Jews.

This is also Paul’s point. Not to say that Jews who rejected Christ are still Israel of the promise and continue to have claim on God’s promises, but that the pagans who had “been grafted in” on the tree, need to understand that this is the tree they are grafted upon. They are taking part in the blessing given to physical Israel and the Jews, and the gospel belongs in this setting and not in a pagan or another religious setting.

Basically, Paul was teaching the pagans not to change the foundation of the gospel and create a separate religion. This is very fitting advice, considering how the Roman church ended up doing just that, rejecting the Jewish roots and adding pagan roots in its place. Both Christ and Paul are warning against such a move. Separating Judaism and Christianity caused division of what was supposed to be united, and it was against God’s will. The Jews who rejected Christ did their part as well in creating this division. The Roman Church and the Jews-by-Flesh together succeeded in destroying the witness of the gospel by separating the law and the prophets from the gospel. The Jews claimed to keep the law and the Roman church claimed to keep the gospel. Both are now in ignorance of their own impending doom. They worked together in pulling the two witnesses apart, with equal guilt. 

The truth Paul explains in his letter is the same truth given to the Samaritan woman, which is that the gospel and Christ are only understood correctly by uniting it with “the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;  Whose are the fathers…”

Yet although given the key to unlock the mystery of redemption, only by accepting Christ, would they truly be God’s “Israel”.

Paul explaining the “grafting in” of the pagans is again to prevent the idea that gentiles are to transform their religion and call it by Christ’s name. And to, despite facing resistance by many Jews, not hate them or reject them. Instead, to feel blessed by them and their history and experience with God. And to hope, pray, and expect many to turn back to God and be “re-branched”.

The first headquarters of the gospel messengers was Jerusalem, and the first preachers were Jews. But the Roman church transferred this headquarters to Rome and changed the fundament to which people understand the gospel.

Thus, the letter to the Romans stands the test of time and exposes their folly.
However, this move could not have happened if the Jewish leaders had not scattered the true Israel from the land.

Jesus started preaching to His Jewish brethren to reach them first with the gospel. He also preached to the Samaritans, who had in part the truth but were deceived on several matters. He clarified to them that the Jews were on the right side of the argument when it came to their long-standing differences. He then sent out His apostles to preach to the “lost” from the tribes of Israel. The reason they received the truth first was because they were closer to the truth and were better equipped to preach to the pagans all over the world. They were commissioned to enlighten the world on His identity and purpose. So as God designed it, it happened. The Bible which speaks to billions worldwide every day is written by Jews. Christians are being educated through scripture, again educated by Jews. Faithful Jews. Learning from Israel’s history, learning from the covenants given to them, their relationship with God, their failures, and their prophets. And lastly, from the lion of Judah, Christ, who was born a Jew. The whole Bible is a Jewish book. Every page, in the New Testament, is a gift from God through the Jews. They were entrusted with the truth, they have the history, that is to form the foundation of the Christian believer.

All of this is the fulfillment of the promises given to physical Israel, and God kept His word. The fulfillment is not, however, placed upon the Jews who rejected their own Lord. They are no longer grafted in. They are no longer part of God’s Israel, even if they call themselves Israel. They lost the opportunity to educate the world. The meaning of Paul is the importance of seeing how everything was fulfilled through the Jewish people, and this is not to be placed on the disobedient Jews of today.

Paul also calls for respect for what the Jewish people have given, and any persecution against Jews throughout time by Christians is not God’s design.  Christians have not been called to persecute anyone, let alone their own blinded brothers. You cannot cure the hardness of the heart with more hardness. Only love can give birth to love. So any Christian should pray for and love those who are spiritually blinded, not hate them.

But loving them is not giving them a false idea that they are the “real Israel” in their spiritually blinded state. Only by converting can they be grafted back into the “real Israel”. The fold that was the remnant of Israel by flesh who has preached and saved those willing and receiving the gospel from the Gentiles, this is the real Israel. The “spiritually blinded Jews” have to join this group, this tree.

Replacement theory

God’s Israel was never taken from the Jewish people and given to the Christian people. God’s Israel followed the line of the Jewish people through Christ, His disciples, the seventy chosen, and the tribes of Israel, through a Jewish book, the New Testament, and then also with the “grafted in gentiles”. Israel was not taken from one and given to another. Israel continued with the faithful remnant, and they became the teachers and the forefathers through whom gentiles were reached and added. Thus, God’s Israel is not a replacement theory, it is a continuation with a remnant and the “adopted” into the family. And those Jews who rejected being part of Christ’s leadership and kingdom, were, as they wished, removed from “the tree”.

Replacement theory is not saying that Gentiles are now part of Israel. The Bible says they are.
Rather, replacement theory is both the lie of the Roman church and that of the Jewish church;

1. The Roman church preaches replacement theory, by removing the gospel of Christ from the Jewish God-given culture and then replacing the foundation of God with the foundation of man. By removing the base of the gospel, Christianity has become a replacement theory, and a separate religion altogether. God continued with a remnant who were faithful, and not the Roman church.

2. Replacement theory is also taking the promises given to the remnant faithful of God, they who received Christ and preached to the whole world the offer of salvation, and giving those promises to the Jews that rejected God instead. Stealing from the faithful Jews, from Moses and the prophets, from the true meaning of the law and the culture, and claiming the real Israel is those who misunderstood and disobediently persecuted Christ and His followers in words and actions, is another form of “replacement theory”. We take from those God has said are the faithful Israel and claim God’s promises are for the unfaithful broken-off branches instead. Peter, John, James, and everyone they reached is then rejected for the sake of the descendants of the Pharisees that scattered them, which is an insult to God. It is also contrary to Israel’s history as recorded in the law and the bible. God never chose the disobedient remnant over the obedient remnant.

Understanding who the real Israel is, we will understand that it is blessing them that will give a returned blessing, not giving money to the modern state of Israel and their warfare.

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