Interview 17: Will All Israel Be Saved? (Matthew Elton)

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How does salvation work?  Is Israel still God’s chosen people or are they on the same footing as everyone else now that the Messiah has come?  In Off Script episode 17, Is Jesus the Only Way to God?, Brian wrote in, inquiring if a Torah-observant Jew could be saved even if he or she didn’t believe in Jesus.  He sharpened his question by pointing out how painfully aware many Jews are of how Jesus’ followers have horribly mistreated their people over the centuries. In this interview, Matthew Elton deftly works his way through several of Paul’s epistles, giving special attention to Romans 9 to find an answer.  Whether you are interested in Jewish-Christian relations or struggle to understand the doctrine of election, this bible-heavy interview is sure to stimulate your thinking on these important issues.

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8 thoughts on “Interview 17: Will All Israel Be Saved? (Matthew Elton)

  • Wow! Where to begin? Thank you both very much for taking the time to address my post from Off Script 17 which I had almost forgotten about. Mr. Matt Elton certainly came to the table well prepared with his biblical literacy and excellent rhetoric. While this was a brilliant conversation, indeed a sufficient response to my post for most people, it left my theological scatterbrain unsatisfied, frustrated and emotional. It seemed like there was a straw man argument built against my post, and I’m not sure why. It could be due to my lack of skills in eloquent rhetoric, proposing difficult and heavy concepts in confusing manners. In my post I agreed that we all come to the Father through Jesus, and that we are all saved by faith, I never mentioned anyone gaining salvation through Torah observance, or decent from Abraham. I don’t think the atoning work of Jesus is superfluous, however I believe if we want to “evangelize” Jews that we need to present a Torah observant Jesus and Paul, something that is being done in recent scholarship but hasn’t yet trickled down into mainstream Christianity. I agreed with some of the material brought up, but found myself in disagreement with the majority of it. As I said in my post, I did enjoy hearing this topic discussed.. so I can’t complain, even though I found myself in disagreement, mainly in our different understandings of how the New Covenant works, and Jew/Gentile distinction.
    Again, thanks for taking a whole episode to address a post of mine. I don’t wish to spam the Restitutio page with my theological understandings, but if anyone wants to discuss this further, find out what I disagree on and why, or just plain rebuke me and tell me to repent of my stubbornness, they can send an email to or look me up on Facebook. Blessings to you Sean and Matt!

    • Brian,

      I hope you don’t think we were talking about you during this whole podcast. In fact, we were talking about your question about a Torah-observant Jew who doesn’t believe in Jesus. I’m really sorry if what we said came across as a straw-man argument. That’s certainly not our intention. Help us understand your points. What’s your understanding of the new covenant and Jew/Gentile distinctions?

  • Great talk, thank you.

    It’s also very important to define the biblical meaning behind “faith in Jesus,” or, even better, “the faith OF Jesus.”

  • Enjoyed this talk very much which really got me thinking with a few new thoughts though. At Rom 9-11 Paul states that only a remnant of Israel, that is those who accept and believe Jesus as the Messiah, will be saved, and therefore we know of course that not every descendant of Jacob will be saved.

    Rom 11:25,26 “…..Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved…..” In Rom 9:6 it says that “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.” And the point being made in the talk, I think, is that “all Israel” (11:26) is referring then, from God’s perspective, to all those who believe in Jesus Christ, and therefore “all Israel” is to be defined purely on the basis of faith.

  • Thank you Sean and Matt for this lively discussion. I appreciated all the scripture readings. As noted, Gal 3:29 makes it very clear who the true descendants of Abraham are, i.e., the heirs of salvation/Kingdom/world (Rom 4:13). Gal 3:29 “And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.” I also appreciated the reference to Eph 2:14-15 where, through Messiah, God has made the two (Jew and Gentile) into one new man.

  • The New Perspective on Paul comes with different flavors. What about Pamela Eisenbaum’s book, Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle, for instance? It does not seems to fit your description of the New Perspective on Paul. What your thoughts on her book?

  • Sean, I really enjoyed this podcast. You guys did an excellent job all the way through and I’m especially happy that you discussed the issue(s) so well in both its biblical and multi-layered historical contexts. Having studied this subject a great deal myself over the course of my lifetime I was glad to hear so many excellent points brought out, especially emphasizing the continuity of the people of faith throughout the Bible in terms of the working out of God’s ultimate plan of salvation culminating in the coming of Jesus, the Messiah of God. I think the only thing that was said that I (slightly) disagree with is your final conclusion as to the meaning of “and so all Israel will be saved.” I very much agree with your point that salvation in the new covenant era is only through faith in Christ, and therefore, that must be true of for Israel (according to the flesh) as well. However, rather than understanding “Israel” in this verse as something along the lines of “the Israel of God” – i.e., God’s true people through faith in Christ, I think the context rather strongly suggests that Paul is speaking of ethnic Israel in this particular verse. Most of the best biblical commentators, in my view, resolve this problem by seeing the phrase “all Israel” as meaning – in accordance with extra-biblical Jewish writings of the times – to mean “Israel as a whole.” That is, that after the fullness of the Gentiles come in, the majority of ethnic Israel will also be saved – through faith in Christ. I think either this understanding or the Israel of God understanding are both viable and ultimately also both rest on the truth that salvation is through faith in faith. All the major commentaries discuss these and other options. My favorites are the small Tyndale volume on Romans by F.F. Bruce and the much large Anchor Bible volume on Romans by Fitzmyer. Anyway, thanks to both of you for this excellent podcast and all of the other great work you are doing.

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