What are your thoughts on the letter to the Romans and the fate of the Jews who do not believe in Jesus? Will they be saved just by being God's people, even though they don't believe in Jesus? -- Young Lee (Los Angeles)

Not at all. As Paul argues in Romans 9-11, only those Jews who follow the Messiah are the people of God (9:6). The Jews who rejected Jesus in the first century were not the people of God--they were not part of the remnant of faithful Jews (which included, among others, Mary the mother of Jesus, Elizabeth, Zechariah, Anna, and Simeon). After the first century, as I read the scriptures, no Jew was reckoned among God's people.

In Romans, Paul is answering the question about the situation of the Jews in his day, not ours! Evangelicals err when they squeeze some 21st-century fulfillment out of Romans 9-11, prophesying a mass conversion of the nation of Israel. What comfort would it have been to Paul's reader if he said, in effect, "Don't worry about all your (Jewish) friends and relatives. Two thousand years from now all living Jews will make it"? Paul himself is an example of a Jew who would be saved in the remnant (Romans 10-11).

"All Israel" means all true Jews--those who accept Christ--and no others. Today the door is closed. We do not expect a mass conversion of the Jews, nor did Paul ever predict one. I could be wrong, but I would encourage us to keep an open mind as we reconsider Romans 11.

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