Rom 11:25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Rom 11:26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob".
Much of the trouble Christians have had in biblical interpretation has come because they don’t take the time to study the context of a given verse or passage. If you study cults and those who have gone into serious error you will always find a clear example of this. Acts 2:38 is an example in which the Church of Christ have set their flag on its hill to live or die claiming it proves baptism is necessary for salvation, Act 2:38 And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The problem, of course, is that the rest of the Bible just won’t allow it.
In the passage above from Romans 11 we have a similar problem it seems to me. This one isn’t nearly as dangerous but nevertheless it has been used to further the cause of dispensationalism and confusion. The phrase, “and in this way all Israel will be saved” has been taken to promote a future time in which ethnic Jews will enter into the fulfillment of prophecies as of yet unseen. The Puritans and many others see this passage as pointing to a time in which the Jewish nation will experience revival before the Lord comes back. I certainly would welcome that, of course, but I think there are a couple of reasons why that is problematic.
1. First of all, verse 26 is the culmination of his argument that he started in chapter 9, Rom 9:6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel. Paul has spent the first eight chapters destroying everything that the Jews were trusting in for salvation; e.i. their favored status and the Law. He has shown that they are as guilty before God as the Gentiles. And so chapters 9-11 is Paul pointing out that God’s eternal, saving decrees were never pointed at any one ethnic group but God has always been free to save whom he will.
He makes this point immediately in Rom 9:7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." Rom 9:8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. Just because someone was born a Jew never meant they were going to be saved, merely that they were part of the OT covenant God made with the Jews.
Paul makes this point several times in the NT; Rom 2:28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. Rom 2:29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
So when Paul brings his point home in 11:26, he is not saying that all Jews will be saved but that all elect Israelites would be saved because the true Israel has always been those chosen from eternity.
2. I think another point to be made that is often ignored is that whatever else verse 26 says, it clearly says that all Israel will be saved. And the problem we have, if this is to apply to all ethnic Jews, is that this can never be fulfilled. Millions of Jews have died without Christ from Abraham on right up until this present age. If this points to a future revival and even if there is a time in which all Jews living will be saved, all Israel will not be saved. How can saving a small number of Jews living at the time of Christ’s return have any bearing on all Israel being saved?
Instead, if Paul is showing in 9-11 that all the elect will be saved and this includes both Gentile and ethnic Israel, then in that way all the elect Israelites will be saved and God has, in fact, kept his promises which were only to save the elect through faith by grace. So in this way all Israel who were elect from eternity will be saved along with all the Gentiles who were elected as well. The way Paul is speaking of is to save the elect through the work of the cross of Christ which is being worked out in a partial hardening of the Jews as he brings in Gentiles as well. It is a partial hardening as God is saving both Jew and Gentile alike.
Gal 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
Col 3:11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Eph 2:11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands--
Eph 2:12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Eph 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility Eph 2:15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, Eph 2:16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
Notice Eph. 2:15 above. If Gentile and Jew have been made one new man in Christ then it seems that any theological position that keeps them separate has missed the point and deemphasizes the gospel.