James A. Gunn
Eschatology is the doctrine of last things. What is to happen before, during, and after the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ? There are four major systems of eschatology each with subsystems that may carry a particular view into diverse interpretations.

Every man who is committed to the authority of Scripture and who has a position on eschatology obviously believes that the system he has adopted is the most Scriptural. Each of the four of the major systems of eschatology all claim to be the most Scriptural. We can all cite our heroes who believe as we do or rather we believe as they do. Over the last 35 years or so I have attempted to be objective in my study of eschatology. When I first developed an interest in the doctrine of last things I had not been taught any system at all. An advantage to being ignorant is that I did not have a system of eschatology to defend. Too often the basis for holding to a particular system of eschatology is: “That is what I have always been taught.” It is then a matter of pride to insist that what we first learned must be correct. One of the marks of a believer is that he is teachable [meek] and remains so as long as he lives. Other men decide that eschatology is not important at all and thus have adopted none of the accepted views at all, except to trust that it will all “pan out”. They are “Panmillennialists.”

Eschatology is important because your system of eschatology will necessarily interpret Scripture for you. E.g., when you read Romans 11:26, “And so all Israel will be saved” and, of course, you know who or what “Israel” is then you will interpret to whom Paul is referring based on your eschatology. The man who has no consistent eschatology will be inconsistent in his understanding of the entire Bible.

“Never underestimate the power of a preconceived notion.”
Charles Alexander

Here is a much too simple description of the four major views that only states what is to me “the bottom line.” I have deliberately omitted the Hyper-Preterism view [all prophecies are fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.] simply because I do not give it any credence at all. It is not my purpose to define each system in detail, including my own. I have included a SHORT BIBLIOGRAPHY ON AMILLENNIAL ESCHOTOLOGY that will give a much more organized education on Amillennialism.

Dispensationalism: The millennium is future. The current most popular view and to me the most extreme view of Premillennialism is Dispensationalism. This view of last things says that the nation of Israel {Israel after the flesh} is the focus of the Bible. The Bible begins and ends with ethnic Israel as a nation. The church is an afterthought, a “parenthesis”. Israel is national Israel and Israel will never be part of the church. There are two ways to be saved, be born a Jew, or to be a Christian. The church and Israel are two separate entities and the one is never a part of the other. The nation of Israel will be restored at the return of Christ and Christ will reign as King on the earth over a literal kingdom for a literal 1000 years. Many OT prophesies of a land are not completely fulfilled in the OT nor in the church in a heavenly Jerusalem, they are reserved for the millennium. The OT takes precedence over the NT. The church is “raptured” out of the world at the return of Christ to be forever separate from Israel. The temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem and animal sacrifices will once again be offered. Judaism is restored in all its former glory. To be fair Dispensationalism has been modified in recent years but the current popular version is pretty close to what is described above.

Historic Premillennialism: The millennium is future. National Israel will be restored at the return of Christ and Christ will reign for a literal 1000 years on earth. Jews will be saved because they are Jews although it will be through the belief of the Gospel. The Jews thus saved become part of the church.

Postmillennialism: The millennium is future. There will be an approximate 1000 years of peace and a strong Christian influence in the world before the return of Christ at the end of time. The Jews have a special place in redemptive history because they are Jews.

Amillennialism: The millennium is now. Instead of Amillennialism I prefer realized millennialism or inaugurated millennialism.  We are now in the millennial reign of Christ with the tares growing among the wheat! The “a” in a-millennialism means no millennium, which is a misnomer. Those who hold to Amillennialism believe that the “millennium” is the perfect period of time between the first advent of Christ and His second coming. Christ the King reigns now in this present age.

There are only two ages in the Bible, this present age and the age to come [These are biblical terms]. There are two “Israel’s” in Scripture. There is national Israel, which has been rejected by God, and the “Israel of God” which is the church. The focus of the Bible is on the church as they are redeemed in Christ as individuals. God saves sinners through the means of the gospel in all of human history. Before the institution of the local church there were individuals from every race and tribe who were called by God. There is nothing to follow the church when Christ returns. God’s elect will be with Him in glory for eternity. Unbelievers are forever in hell. The NT interprets the OT.

Some, who hold to Amillennialism, e.g., Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, believe that vast numbers of Jews will be saved through the Gospel at the end of the age. I have no problem with vast numbers of Jews, or anyone else, being saved as individuals but I do have a problem with the idea that Jews will be saved because of their birth certificate.

The conclusion: The Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 21:43, says:

Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.

And the “kingdom of God is at hand”, not yet future. The Jews forfeited any and all claims to the kingdom because of unbelief. The “nation” that bears the fruit of the kingdom of God is the church, the Israel of God.

When John the Baptist, referring to Jesus of Nazareth, proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” he was not only pointing to Messiah but he was announcing the end of Judaism and the Old covenant.

My Case for Amillennialism

How do I make my argument for inaugurated millennialism? Rather than tackle what are to me all of the faults of the other major views I will follow a couple of lines of thought that each lead me to inaugurated millennialism. Most of my comparisons are between Dispensationalism and Amillennialism although much of the argument applies to Historic Premillennialism and Postmillennialism.

My case for Amillennialism can be summed up simply:

The focus of the Bible is the church and not national Israel.

God deals with individuals and not nations in the matter of eternal salvation.

God has always included the Gentiles in the number of His elect.
There are two Israel’s in Scripture.

The covenant promises in the OT have been fulfilled, forfeited, or made to Christ and His church.

The NT interprets the OT.

Principles of Bible Interpretation:

It is essential that you have a system of Bible interpretation or you will be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” Ephesians 4:14

My First Principle is the focus of the Bible: Either the focus of the entire Bible is on a race of people called Israel {the Jews} or the focus of the Bible is on the church.

So is the Bible mainly about the Jews or is the Bible mainly about the church? Of course the Bible is about both the Jews and the church but what is its end objective, its focus!

Is the OT about the Jews and the NT about the church and will the Jews once more be prominent in the grand scheme of things? Or is the Bible about the church in both the OT and the NT?

You must understand that these two views on the focus of the Bible are so radically different that there is no room for compromise. One is correct and the other one is wrong. They cannot both be correct!

The view that says the focus of the Bible is on the Jews claims that their view is the most literal interpretation of the Bible. The view that says the focus of the Bible is on the church is said to be a more spiritual interpretation.

However, it is not really accurate to assign ‘most literal’ or ‘more spiritual’ to either view of the focus of the Bible because proponents of both views take what they consider to be literal as literal and spiritualize the text when it suits their method of interpretation.

Dispensationalism claims to be the most literal interpretation of the Bible and is embodied in the popular “Left Behind” series of books. In the 1970’s it was “The Late Great Planet Earth” that was all the rage.

The view that says the focus of the Bible is on the church and is said to be more spiritual is called Amillennialism.

There are not very many books written about the more spiritual view of interpretation. This view is not sensational. How many books could you sell if all you had to say was that there is the present age and the age to come?

Amillennialism has no ‘secret rapture’ with Christians flying on airplanes suddenly disappearing, there is only one general resurrection of the dead, and there is no third temple with renewed animal sacrifices. There is simply this present age and the age to come, and that’s it.

There is much more involved in the intricacies of Dispensationalism besides what I will point out but these points are essential to that system of interpretation.

If Dispensationalism yields on any one of these principles of interpretation its entire system of interpretation will crumble.

And so the First Principle of Interpretation is on how you view the focus of the Bible, the Jews or the church is an essential point.

My Second Principle: The NT interprets the OT. Dispensationalism says that the NT does not interpret the OT and that all of the OT prophecies concerning the Jews not literally fulfilled in the OT must be literally fulfilled in a time that is yet future. This future time is called the ‘millennium’ or a literal 1000-year reign of Christ on this earth.

My Third Principle: The true church is found in both the OT and the NT. Dispensationalism does not allow that the church is found in the OT. By the ‘church’ I mean those Gentiles and Jews chosen by God and who believe the same Gospel that we preach today and I do not mean the visible church organization as it was instituted on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.

Dispensationalism makes a fixed and firm separation between national Israel and the Church. This separation between Israel and the Church, according to Dispensationalism will be forever.

A Fourth Principle: Dispensationalism recognizes two methods of salvation, one for the Jews and one for the Church. Dispensationalism claims that salvation is by grace but it insists that God will save the Jews because they are Jews.

E.g., Roman Catholicism also says that salvation is by grace. But “grace”, according to R.C. teaching is only to be obtained through the sacraments of the church. So they can call it “grace” but it amounts to something that you must do or be in order to be saved.

Let me emphasize something.

There are highly respected men of God who hold diverse views of eschatology.

Eschatology is not; at least it is not to me, a test of fellowship.

A test of fellowship is something over which you would part company, or break fellowship. One example of a test of fellowship for me is the deity of Christ. Anyone who denies that Jesus of Nazareth is God is not yet a believer and cannot possibly participate in Christian fellowship.

What I am presenting here is not simply parroting what another man has written. What I believe is based on an objective examination of eschatology from now over nearly thirty-five years of Bible study. I will steal a line from an old preacher who said, “Well, I have been right at least once, because I have believed all the different systems at one time.”

Here I feel like a noxious weed in a garden full of beautiful flowers saying how lovely I am and how ugly they are.

Jim, do you think you know more about the Bible than John MacArthur? [Dispensational]
John MacArthur is still living and is a great expositor of the Word of God and is loved by most people who have heard him and read his work.

Jim, do you think you know more about the Bible than Charles Spurgeon?
[Historic Premillennial] Charles Spurgeon was the greatest preacher of the 19th Century, perhaps of all time. Read anything by Mr. Spurgeon and you will see how he exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Jim, do you think you know more about the Bible than Jonathan Edwards? [Postmillennial]
Jonathan Edwards was perhaps America’s greatest theologian.

Jim, do you think you know more about the Bible than Martyn Lloyd-Jones? [Amillennial]
Martyn Lloyd-Jones is the greatest expositor of the Scriptures of the 20th Century and it bothers me to disagree with him on any interpretation. But I don’t agree with Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, an Amillennialist, on the meaning of “all Israel.”

Jim, do you really think that you could be correct in your interpretation of Romans 11:26, “All Israel”, and all of these great men of God are wrong? Do you think you know more about the Bible than they do?

No, I honestly do not think that I know more about the Bible than any of these men who each represent a different interpretation of Romans 11:26.

Why do they have different interpretations? They have different interpretations because their eschatology interprets Romans 11:26 for them.

But if they can all disagree with each other, why can’t I disagree with all of them?

Learn something about Christian maturity.
All of us have a ‘blind spot’ or two. [Except for me, of course.]

Let me give you an example. I read the Puritans, yet most of the Puritans were paedobaptists. Paedobaptism teaches that infants are proper subjects for baptism. The Bible simply does not teach that infants [unbelievers] should be baptized. The only examples of baptism in the New Testament are of believers.

The reason that I give the example of baptism is to show that we may disagree on some point of doctrine and yet not discount everything else that a man has to say.

What about these four great men, MacArthur, Spurgeon, Edwards, and Lloyd-Jones, who while they disagree in their eschatology, they all agree on one thing.

What each of these great and respected men have in common is that they all, even Lloyd-Jones, teach that God will finally have respect for the nation of Israel. That God will save some or all of the Jews because they are Jews.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones was influenced by the formation of the modern nation of Israel in 1948. Yes, it will be through the Gospel, he said, that great numbers of Jews would be saved, but is not that God showing a special respect for national Israel?

You see, even the best of men bring their eschatology to a text and somehow must fit what they have committed to about the end of the age into their interpretation of that text.

“And so all Israel will be saved….”

All Israel will be saved, but again, who or what is “all Israel”?

My case for Amillennialism {continued}:

Personally, I have held the Amillennial position for many years after what I believe to be a fair study of every view. However, in March 2001 I began to preach through Romans {100 sermons over 2 years and 9 months} and when I came to Romans 9, 10, and 11, it affirmed for me the biblical case for Amillennialism.

Some of the lessons from Romans 9, 10, and 11 that prove the Amillennial case are:

Salvation is by God’s sovereign choice and He saves individuals as individuals.
Romans 9:6-23

The nations {Gentiles} have always been in the number of God’s elect as individuals. 
Romans 9:23-26

There has always been only a “remnant” of Israel after the flesh included in God’s elect. There never was a generation of Jews who were all saved.
Romans 9:27-29

Salvation is effected through the gospel by faith.
Romans 10:1-17

God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. But His people, i.e., those whom He chose for eternal salvation in Christ were never Israel after the flesh.
Romans 11:1-10

The allegory of the single olive tree defines true Israel.
Romans 11:11-24

The mystery of the ages is not that there would be the church but rather the make-up of the church. The mystery that has been revealed is that the true church has always been made of Gentiles and Jews. The church is the total number of the redeemed and includes only individuals who were saved by grace one at a time.

“And so all Israel will be saved.” This is not a sequence of events, i.e., Gentiles and then Jews but the manner in which all Israel will be saved. All Israel is the Gentiles and the Jews who are chosen and called by God and Israel is the church.
Romans 11:25-27

Before we can understand Romans 9, 10, and 11 we need to have studied Romans 1-8.

The Apostle Paul was Amillennial.

About the first thing the Apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Christians in Rome is that the Gospel of God concerns Jesus Christ and that the Gospel is revealed in the OT Scriptures. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a NT innovation brought in by God because His original plan for the Jews somehow failed.

Paul emphasizes that the gospel of God was promised in the OT Scriptures; therefore the focus of the Scriptures is about Christ and His church and not the nation of Israel.

The Theme of the Letter to the church in Rome:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’ ” Romans 1:16-17

But we must read verse 18! “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”

The backdrop of the Gospel is the wrath of God that is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Apart from the conviction of the righteous wrath of God against sinners, there is no real urgent sense of need for the Gospel of God in Christ Jesus.


That is why chapters 9, 10, and 11 absolutely must be taken as a unit.

There are dangers of misinterpretation when you isolate any doctrine and fail to apply Biblical Theology as your method of interpretation. Biblical Theology is the method of comparing Scripture with Scripture. Biblical Theology uses easily understood passages of Scripture to explain the more difficult passages that deal with the same subject.

Biblical Theology takes the entire context of the Bible, both OT and NT to get at the meaning of a passage.

There are dangers:
If a person dwells only in chapter 9 it is possible that they will become so taken with the doctrine of election and the absolute sovereignty of God that they drift into the error of hyper-Calvinism which is simply a form of fatalism.

If a person stays mostly in chapter 10 it is possible that they will be so moved by the necessity of the preached word that they will drift into the error of emphasizing man’s responsibility and begin to preach that all a person has to do is to “call upon the name of the Lord” and no matter what else is going on in that person’s life that God is obligated to save anyone who mouths those words. There is no call for repentance, just say you believe in Jesus and continue in sin on the ‘broad way that leads to destruction.’

They will use tracks like “The Four Spiritual Laws” to witness and they will have competitions about baptisms. A man who I was privileged to lead to Christ observed that Southern Baptists emphasized the three “B’s”, baptisms, buildings, and budgets.

Pragmatism! The end justifies the means, they say, whatever works to get them down the aisle, and in so doing they compromise the very Gospel itself.

And if in chapter 11 a person takes verse 26a out of context it is likely that they will assume the definition of who is and who is not included in ‘all Israel’ and they will drift into the error that God is someday going to save the Jews because they are Jews.

You might be surprised at how clear the answer to the question, “What about the Jews?’ becomes when you study the context of 9, 10, and 11.

Now if you come to Romans 11:26 without traveling with Paul through Chapters One through Ten, and especially Nine and Ten, with an occasional visit to the Books of Galatians and Ephesians, and you have already made up your mind that “all Israel” must mean all the Jews, then you will not agree with my interpretation of Romans 11:26.

If, however, you will follow closely this argument you still may not agree with my interpretation but you will have to ignore a lot of Scripture to do so. Also, you must clearly define your system of Bible interpretation.

Before we concentrate on Romans 9, 10, 11 we will highlight some verses in Romans 1-8 in order to emphasise that God always deals with individuals as to eternal salvation and that God has never made a distinction between Jew and Gentile as to His sovereign mercy in salvation. If a person realizes these two facts he will be forced to abandon any version of eschatology that says that God will favor the Jews because they are Jews. Of course the rebuttal is that God made covenant promises to the Jews. The answer is that every promise to the Jews was kept or forfeited because of their unbelief.

What about the promise God made to Abraham?

Romans 4:17-22  is the summary of the faith of Abraham and Sarah.

With that as a backdrop we will look at three aspects the promise:
A land; a seed {nation}; a blessing to all nations.

In each aspect of the promise we will answer two questions? 

In what respect has the promise already been fulfilled and in what respect is the promise yet to be fulfilled? 

SEED The easiest part of the promise to explain from Scripture pertains to the “seed.”

The birth of Isaac to Sarah was the first aspect of the specific promise of “seed.”  Indeed there are many children who trace their genealogy to Abraham.

The number of Abraham’s children is compared to the number of stars in heaven and the grains of sand of the sea. 

So there is a natural fulfillment to the promise of seed.

But can we more fully understand what God revealed to Abraham?  Yes!
We have a clear statement in the word of God, so we don’t have to struggle with the exegesis or interpretation. 

Galatians 3:16-19
16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.
17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.
18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. 
19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.

So the fulfillment of the promise in the aspect of seed, in the normal manner is seen in the multitude of offspring, but specifically fulfilled in the single object to whom the promise was made, even to Jesus Christ, the Seed!


The Jews laid an exclusive claim to Abraham as their father and tried to shut out everyone else.  The source of their error was a misunderstanding of why God had chosen out a people to be separated unto God and to receive the oracles, or the word of God and to preserve it for hundreds of years. They confused that important role with an exemption from the wrath of God.

6 "For you are a holy {set apart} people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.
7 The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples;
8 but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
9 Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
10 and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face.
11 Therefore you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them.

God had instructed Israel to share the blessing of His word with the nations of the earth; the Jews were to be “as a light to the Gentiles.”

Isaiah says to the Israelites:  Isaiah 42:6
6 "I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness,
And will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the Gentiles,

But alas, the Jews failed miserably in this aspect of the promise,
i.e., to be a blessing to the nations.  Cf Romans 3:1-3

The promise of God did not fail because of the unbelief of the Jews because the ultimate fulfillment of the promise to be a blessing to all nations is in Christ.

Isaiah says concerning Messiah:

Isaiah 49:6
6 Indeed 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 give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'"

And Paul affirms this prophecy:
Galatians 3:6-9
6 just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." 
7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed." 
9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

Having dealt with the aspects of the promise as to the “seed,” and to “all the nations of the earth,” we will look at what is, perhaps, the most difficult aspect for most people to grasp, i.e., regarding land.


It is a serious error of interpretation to make the promise to Abraham, especially as it pertains to LAND, apply to only the Jews. But dear friends, that is exactly what Dispensational eschatology teaches.

A few years ago I had a passionate encounter with a preacher that I met at the Southern Baptists Founders Conference in Kentucky.  He was of the Dispensational eschatological persuasion and his primary assurance of the truth of that system hung on the fact of the present existence in the Middle East of the nation of Israel. 

To him, that “proved” that God’s promise to restore Israel to the land was being fulfilled before our very eyes.  He was as certain of his position as I was of mine; yet we have very different interpretations of Scripture.

Is there a nation in the Middle East that calls itself “Israel?”  Of course! 

In 1948, following WWII and the Holocaust, a nation was constituted in the Middle East and named itself “Israel.”   Every day the news media carry stories of the ongoing conflict between the Arabs and the Jews. Are we to understand that this nation is the fulfillment of the promise by God to restore Israel to the land? Many will answer, ”Yes!”  The majority, in fact, would answer in the affirmative.

But I want to remind you that everywhere in Scripture the promise of land is contingent on obedience. The overthrow of the northern kingdom of Israel by Assyria and later the capture of the southern kingdom of Judah by Babylon was as a direct result of idolatry and disobedience. The return of the Jews from the exile in Babylon {which by the way included only a small number of those who were then in Babylon} was a fulfillment of specific prophecy, and it too had limitations.

So, as we have seen with the aspect of the SEED, and as a BLESSING TO ALL NATIONS, we will see a natural fulfillment and a broader spiritual fulfillment of the promise regarding the LAND.

Joshua 21:43-45
43 So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it.
44 The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.
45 Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

Jeremiah 18:1-10
1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying:
2 "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear My words."
3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel.
4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:
6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?" says the LORD. "Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!
7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,
8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.
9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it,
10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.

So the question for those of the Dispensational persuasion to deal with is what is left regarding the land that is yet to be fulfilled when Joshua says that God has already given the land: So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and “All came to pass.”

And Jeremiah says that God has the right regarding a nation
“to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it...”

God is faithful to keep His word, and in my understanding, He does not have anything yet to do regarding a literal restoration of the Jews to the land.

But there is yet a future fulfillment regarding LAND.

Hebrews 11:8-19
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude--innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.
16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called," 
19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:  “The promise referred not only to the Jews’ possession of the land of Palestine but to that great day which is coming, when the ‘kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.’  It is the promise concerning the great and glorious day when ‘there shall be new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness,’ and Christ and His people shall reign in glory in this glorified world.”

Psalm 37:9
“For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth.”

And Jesus in Matthew 5:5
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

God’s promise to Abraham involved

It seems to me that God has kept His promise to Abraham in natural ways and the ultimate fulfillment of the promise is sure in Jesus Christ and in the church.

“Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.”  Romans 4:16

Every person that God saved in the OT looked forward to Christ who is the Lamb of God. In the present NT age and until the end of the age, everyone who is saved looks back to what Christ has done as the sufficient Substitute for sin.

In both the OT and NT there is only one method of salvation and that is by grace through faith!

The Church is the final object of the love of God in Christ [John 17] and there is nothing to follow the church. When Christ returns at the end of this ‘present age’ the ‘age to come’ continues forever.

Central to my argument is that in view of all of the Scriptures that show that God does not make any distinction between Jews and Gentiles as to their salvation how can anyone come to Romans 11:26 and say that now God does make a distinction between Jews and Gentiles?

To me the power of these Scriptures is so strong that I am dismayed at the men whom I so greatly admire and respect do not see the inconsistency of their interpretation. Given the opportunity I am sure that they would say that I am naïve and unsophisticated in my simplistic approach.

Before I comment on some of the verses in Chapter Eleven, I want to put before you a number of the Scriptures that speak to God’s impartiality when it comes to whomever He justifies.

These references came from a quick search and there are surely many more that I could bring forth. I easily found 30 NT references that speak to God’s impartiality when it comes to whomever He justifies.

God Makes No Distinction!

Matthew 8:11-12
11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Romans 1:5-7
5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,
6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:

Romans 1:13
that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles

Romans 1:16-17
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

Romans 2:8-11
8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness -- indignation and wrath,
9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;
10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
11 For there is no partiality with God.

Romans 2:28-29
28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;
29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

Romans 3:9
What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.

Romans 3:21-22
21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference.

Romans 3:29-30
29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also,
30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

Romans 4:9-11
9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised.

Romans 4:13-14
For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Romans 4:16
16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all

Romans 9:6-8
6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,
7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called."
8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.

Romans 10:12-13
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

1 Corinthians 7:19
Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing,

Galatians 1:6-9
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,
7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Galatians 2:6
God shows personal favoritism to no man

Galatians 3:7-9
7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed."
9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

Galatians 3:15-16
15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.
16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.

Galatians 3:26-29
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 4:21-31
21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.
23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise,
24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar --
25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children --
26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27 For it is written:
"Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband."
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.
30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman."
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

Galatians 5:6
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

Galatians 6:16
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and [even] upon the Israel of God.

Ephesians 2:11-18
11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh -- who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands --
12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,
15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,
16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.
18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

[and has broken down the middle wall of separation, and it will not be built again!]

Ephesians 2:19-22
19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 3:1-7
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles --
2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you,
3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already,
4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),
5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:
6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,

The “mystery” is not that there will be the church as the Dispensationalists teach; the “mystery” is the constitution of the church, Gentiles and Jews together in one body!

Ephesians 3:8-9
8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;

Colossians 3:8-11
8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.
9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,
10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,
11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

1 Peter 2:9-10
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

Acts 15:6-11
6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.
7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.
8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,
9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we [Jews] shall be saved in the same manner as they [Gentiles]."

Do you grasp what Peter said? It is not that Gentiles will be saved in the manner of Jews, but that Jews will be saved in the manner of Gentiles!

Now with all of those Scriptures in your head that clearly say that God makes no distinction between Gentile and Jew how can anyone still hold to the claim that God will make such a distinction?

Now for some comments on Romans Eleven:

11:1-2 His people…whom He foreknew.  Cf. 9:28-29

11:5remnant…. Cf. 9:6; 27

11:6grace…. If God made a distinction for the Jew would that be grace?

11:7the elect…. Cf chapters 8 & 9

11:14and save some of them – nowhere in the Word of God does it say God will save ‘all of them.”

11:21 God did not spare the natural branches….

This is most important: Read again 9:1-6

Now ask yourself in light of all of these Scriptures that say that God makes no distinction between Jew and Gentile as to justification, and remember Paul’s grief over the stubborn unbelief of his “kinsmen according to the flesh”, then ask yourself this: when he comes to 11:26 will he toss everything else that he has written away and now mean that God will indeed save “national Israel”? Is Paul a hypocrite in 9:1-6?

If you can hold to the interpretation that “all Israel” is national Israel, I say that you are ignoring the Scriptures or you are blinded by your eschatology.

You may say the same about me, and that would be fair enough, but at least examine your principles of interpretation. I have given you my principles of Bible interpretation, what are your principles of Bible interpretation?

“For it must be remembered the ultimate context of any particular Scripture is the totality of Scripture.” O. Palmer Robertson

11:26And so all Israel will be saved.

Who is ‘all Israel’?

“All Israel” are the children of Abraham, the Israel of God, and includes elect Gentiles and the elect remnant of the Jews.

Read 11:25-26

It is not the fullness of the Gentiles and then “all Israel”, i.e., not a sequential order of events. It is not after the Gentiles, then the Jews!

It is ‘in this manner’ all Israel will be saved. Gentiles and Jews who make up the church who are the Israel of God,

And so all Israel will be saved.

And so ‘in this manner’ all Israel will be saved.

The Apostle Paul was Amillennial.

I will close with this admonition. It will not matter how you interpret Romans 11:26 if you do not personally repent of your sin and come to Jesus Christ in faith. The meaning of ‘all Israel” will be of little importance in hell.


Out of the more than fifty books that I have studied on eschatology I recommend the following as best supporting Amillennialism and objectively refuting the other views. If anyone wants more references I can provide them, but these will do a more than adequate job of presenting Amillennialism.

The Meaning of the Millennium, edited by Robert G. Clouse. InterVarsity Press, 1977
This book does not argue for any particular view.

Moses or Christ, Charles D. Alexander, Chapel Library

Romans Eleven and the Two Israel’s, Charles D. Alexander, unpublished.
I can provide a copy.

The Church and Last Things, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Crossway Books, 1998

Israel in Prophecy, William Hendriksen, Baker Book House, 1968

Biblical Studies in Final Things, William E. Cox, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1966

The End Times Made Simple, Samuel E. Waldron, Calvary Press, 2003

A Case for Amillennialism, Kim Riddlebarger, Baker Book House, 2003

The Israel of God, O. Palmer Robertson, P & R Publishing, 2000

The Gospel as it Really is, Stuart Olyott, Evangelical Press, 1979

Copyright © 2005 James A. Gunn
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Used by permission.
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