Reformed critique of the premillennial explanation of Romans 11 (2): Chapter Five: Premillennialism (18)

Previous article in this series: February 15, 2018, p. 228.

“…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.” Romans 11:25, 26

The error concerning “until”

The error of dispensational premillennialism regarding the text of Scripture itself, in Romans 11, is twofold. First, the premillennialists assume, falsely, that “until” in verse 25 implies that subsequently, in history, there will follow an age in which the Jews will no longer be blinded in part. This deliverance from their partial blindness means, for premillennialism, a future saving of multitudes of Jews, the vast majority of them.

This assumption is mistaken. “Until,” in verse 25 does not imply a deliverance of the Jews from blindness after the fullness of the Gentiles is come in. “Until” does not imply an age (dispensation) following the coming in of the fullness of the Gentiles, an age (dispensation) when Israel will no longer be blind.

“Until” only expresses how long and for what divine purpose the Jews are blinded in part. “Until” suggests nothing as to a subsequent deliverance from blindness, so that masses of Jews will be saved and the nation of Israel will be restored to its former, earthly power and glory.

“Until” states, and means, that God blinds the Jews in part for a period of time—the present age, from the ascension of Jesus to His second coming—during which the fullness of the Gentiles is coming in. “Until” suggests that the gathering of the mainly Gentile church is the purpose of the blinding of the Jews.

When the fullness of the Gentiles, that is, the church, which is mostly composed of Gentiles, has come in, or been saved, history ends with the second coming of Jesus Christ. No dispensation follows. The blindness of the Jews in part has achieved its purpose. The entire church has been gathered from the nations, including some elect from the Jews.

That the word “until” in scriptural usage does not imply a subsequent change in the reality that goes on until a goal is reached is evident from I Corinthians 15:25: the risen Jesus Christ “must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” Jesus does not cease reigning when the goal of putting all enemies under his feet has been reached. He will continue to reign at God’s right hand forever. “Till” in I Corinthians 15:25, like “until” in Romans 11:25, only expresses the time and purpose of the reality that lasts “till,” or “until.”

The error concerning “so”

The second error of premillennialism regarding Romans 11:25, 26 is even less excusable. It is the insistence upon understanding the word “so,” or “thus,” as “then.”

The premillennial explanation of verse 26 is that after the fullness of the Gentiles, the Jews will be delivered from blindness with regard to Jesus as the Christ of God. And then all Israel shall be saved. “Then,” in the future, masses of Jews will be saved. They will be saved in such a way as to form a restored, earthly kingdom of God.

But the text does not read “then.” Neither does the text mean “then.” Nor may anyone explain the text as teaching “then.” The text reads, means, and must be explained as “so,” or “thus,” or “in this way.” In the way of the blindness of Israel only “in part,” which means that always some Jews are being saved all the while that the fullness of the Gentiles is coming in, all Israel shall be saved throughout this present age.

When the fullness of the Gentiles shall have come in, at the very end of history, also all Israel shall have been saved. All Israel shall have been saved in the ongoing salvation of the elect Jews throughout New Testament history.

The premillennial notion that the text predicts a future salvation of multitudes of Jews in a dispensation that is to follow the present age is obviously mistaken. It is inexcusable error. Learned theologians should be embarrassed by their mistake regarding the meaning of the word “so” in Romans 11:26. They should hasten to correct their mistake, even though doing so will virtually destroy their dispensational doctrine. A first-year student of Greek grammar can, and ought to, spot the error. “So” in the Greek language, as in the English translation, does not mean “then.”

I repeat: “So” in Romans 11:26 means ‘in this way,’ not ‘in a dispensation following the coming in of the fulness of the largely Gentile church.’

Positive, Reformed interpretation of Romans 11

The gospel of Romans 11, therefore, is the good news that the seemingly evil blindness with regard to Jesus Christ on the part of national Israel and a majority of Jews, which continues throughout all of New Testament history to the present day, is made by God to serve a good purpose. The good purpose is the saving of the precious church of Jesus Christ out of all nations. The good purpose is the extension of salvation, once limited to Israel, to the nations.

This has always been God’s main purpose with history: the gathering of His beloved elect church out of all nations. The unbelief of the Jews has served this purpose.

Nevertheless, the blinding of the Jews has never been total. It has always been a blindness “in part” (v. 25). Despite the rejection of the Christ by the majority of Jews, a grievous sin, especially in view of their privileged status in the time of the old covenant, God has always had His elect among them. Throughout the present age, God has provoked them to jealousy by the saving of the Gentiles, grafted these elect Jews into their own olive tree, saved them, and made them one body with the Gentile believers in Jesus Christ.

“So,” “thus,” “in this way,” all Israel is being saved, along with the fullness of the Gentiles.

And “so” the entire church is being saved and the grand, spiritual kingdom of God is being formed.

Eschatological false doctrine and heresy

Premillennialism is false doctrine concerning the truth of the end. The present age is the last age, or dispensation, in history. As the age of the saving of the church out of the Gentile nations as well as from the Jews—the bride, body, and kingdom of Jesus the Christ, the present age is the culmination and goal of all the ways and works of God with regard to history.

There is no dispensation to follow, as the climactic age.

There will be no rapture of the church while history continues.

The church, therefore, will not escape the tribulation under Antichrist. On the contrary, she will be the object of his persecution. So is the church one with Christ, as the body of which He is Head, and so is Christ identified with His church, as the head with His body, that the apostle can refer to the church as “Christ”: “As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ” (I Cor. 12:12; where the reference is to the church). And the coming Antichrist is Anti-Christ, not Anti-Jews.

There will be no dispensation of the carnal glory of a restored earthly nation of Israel, a Jewish kingdom of God.

A future millennium of carnal peace, power, and prosperity for the Jews, indeed for the entire world, under the rule of Jesus, heavenly king of an earthly nation of Israel in old Jerusalem, is sheer fantasy and utter folly.

At the root of this false doctrine of the last things is heresy. The heresy is twofold, and grievous in the extreme.

Dispensational premillennialism is a form of the denial of Jesus Christ.

It is also a denial of election.

Nothing less.

This I will demonstrate in the articles that follow.

(to be continued)