Fullness of the Gentiles

25For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the FULLNESS OF THE GENTILES has come in.(Rom. 11:25).

A) The mystery is the model of God’s working in the Jew – Gentile interrelationship to bring them to equality in one Body of Believers. 

  • Romans 10:12-13, “12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13  for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” (NASB)
  • Paul quoted from Joel 2:32, ” And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be saved: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, and the LORD has said, among the remnant whom the LORD calls.” (NKJV)

B) When the Gentiles were fully established into the new nation of true Spiritual Israel, then the old obsolete exclusively Jewish sacrificial system and temple would be destroyed.  This included the elimination of the nationalistic-ethnic Jewish circumcision system that it was based on.  The Gentiles had to be fully brought into the New Covenant Kingdom (grafted in) and brought to full equality as heirs and sons of God along with the Jewish believers – Christ would make “one out of the two,” and all of the believers would be “fitted together, growing into a holy temple in the Lord…for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:11-22).  Then, the Old Covenant temple system and people could be fully judged and destroyed.  The New Covenant system needed to be in place before the old was taken out of the way.  This was for continuity purposes, both for the Jew and for the Gentile, who were now one-Body in Christ.

Sub Study on: “The Fullness of the Gentiles:”

  • In Rom. 11:25 Paul said Israel’s salvation was dependent on the arrival of the fullness of the Gentiles.
  • The salvation of “all Israel” and the “fullness of the Gentiles” occur together (11:26).  It is plain, then, that the salvation of the Gentiles resulted from the initial salvation of Israel (Remnant).  The coming fullness of the Gentiles, in turn, was meant for the fullness of the rest of Israel to come in. 
  • We thus have: Remnant –> Fullness of Gentiles –> Salvation of “All Israel.”
    • The phrase ‘fullness of the Gentiles’ is the same for ‘fullness of Israel.’  Both ‘fullnesses’ would coincide.  By ‘fullness’ it is not meant ‘numbers.’  It is not saying , ‘when the full number of Gentiles comes in’ – that is reading into the verse something which it does not say.  The ‘fullness’ is speaking of the fullness or equality of salvation being given to both Jew and Gentile, and when that fullness comes, so also will Israel’s fullness: so all true Israel will be saved.  It is not two ‘fullnesses’ here being discussed, but one and same fullness reached simultaneously by both groups.
  • The salvation of the Gentiles would result from the initial salvation of Israel.
  • Romans 11:7 – Israel has not, but, the elect (the remnant according to grace) has obtained, and the rest were blinded.
  • Here is the “initial” salvation awaiting consummation when the fullness of the Gentiles would come in.
  • God’s promises to Israel were being fulfilled!
  • Remember Romans 9:28, “For He will finish the work and cut it short…the Lord will make a short work upon the land.” –> Romans 11 would be the consummation           –> Romans 9:28 said it was coming shortly!

Paul and the Hope of Israel:

  • The OT repeatedly predicted the salvation of the Gentiles – at the time of Israel’s restoration.
  • Isaiah 11:10-11 – The banner; Gentiles – The remnant!
  • Amos 9:11-12 – Acts 15:7-17 – So that the rest of mankind might seek the Lord…
  • Romans 1:16 – To the Jew first, then the Greek.
  • Isaiah 49:5-6a –> Israel; – 49:6b –> Then the Gentiles; – 49:8 –> New Covenant salvation for both Jew and Gentile.
  • Isaiah 56:3-8 –> Foreigners (allogenes) and Eunuchs.
  • Isaiah 60:3, 7, 10-11, 14 –> Foreigners (allogenes) would offer sacrifice on YHWH’s altar –> this could never, ever happen in the Old Covenant temple!! –> This could only be in the New Covenant church where Gentiles are priests offering spiritual sacrifices (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Heb. 13:15; Rom. 12:1).
    • Look at this powerful reminder of our previous study: after Isa. 59:20 speaks about the Redeemer to come (Christ) –> then Isa. 60:3 states that the Gentiles will be able to come into this covenant  –> and in verse 7 states that they will be able to offer acceptable sacrifices to God on His alter in the house of God (church).  –> Then look how verses 10-11 are quoting from Revelation 21:24-26 speaking about “there still will be kings and the Gentiles on the earth” –> this is after the “New heaven and new earth” were created, as we were told in 21:1.
    • After that we see in verse Isa. 60:14 that all of the sons of those who afflicted you…will fall down at your feet –> we are still in the same context of referring to Christ from Isa. 59:20.  Who were those who afflicted Christ –> the Jews.  Now look at where in the Bible Jesus quotes this verse –> Revelation 3:9 when speaking to John about the church under persecution in Philadelphia,
      • “Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie – I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you.”
    • Do we see the power of what Jesus is saying:
      • Remember the church is the body of Christ.  The Jews were persecuting the Christians –> they were persecuting Christ just like Paul was before he was saved in Acts 9:4-5, 26:9-11.  Paul was arresting, beating and killing Christians –> Jesus told Paul that he was persecuting Him.  The Old Covenant Jews from the synagogue were persecuting the Christians in Philadelphia –> they were persecuting Christ.
      • Notice in Rev. 3:9 how Jesus says that “they say they are Jews,” but He says they are not, and calls them liars. 
        • The Old Covenant fleshly Jews were never the “true Israel/Jews,” but always only those who were the believers in faith – the “children of the promise.” (Rom. 9:6-8, 2:28-29; Gal. 3:7)
      • Jesus is quoting from Isa. 60:14 and saying that the Old Covenant Jews, those who were “the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you…” they would be forced to bow down in submission.
      • Rev. 3:9 gives us the timing of fulfillment of Isa. 60 because we know that:
  • The Gentiles were accepted into the church and able to offer sacrifices pleasing to God in the 1st century.
  • The Philadelphia church was no longer in existence after the 1st century and Jesus said this prophecy fulfillment related to them.
  • The Old Covenant temple and Jews were destroyed and ceased to exist in a special unique covenant with God in AD 70.
  • Therefore, Isaiah 60 was fulfilled in the full consummation of the New Covenant and judgment and destruction of Old Covenant Israel by AD 70.

Paul – The Song of Moses – the Hope of Israel:        

  • Deuteronomy 32 – In Israel’s last days, when Israel turned her back on YHWH, He had said that He “will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation;” in Deut. 32:21 by the calling of the Gentiles – This was God’s plan all along as Paul quotes it being fulfilled in His time in the 1st century in Rom. 10:19 and 11:11!!
  • Paul, who preached the hope of Israel (Acts 28:20), said that Israel was rebellious (as predicted in Isaiah 65:1-2 – and quoted as happening in Rom. 10:20-21), and that God was through him and his ministry to the Gentiles, provoking Israel to jealousy (Rom. 10:19; 11:11-14)
  • Paul appeals to Deuteronomy 32:19-21 three times (Rom. 10:19, 11:11, 14).
  • Israel’s last days prophecies were being fulfilled – just as promised – right on time!

Paul and the Fullness of the Gentiles:

  • The salvation of Israel was dependent on the bringing in of the fullness of the Gentiles according to Romans 11:26.
  • Remember: Initial salvation (remnant) –> fullness of the Gentiles –> fullness of Israel.
  • During Paul’s ministry: the remnant was being saved –> he was the apostle to the Gentiles (Read: Rom. 11:13; Gal. 2:7).
  • Paul played a distinctive and pivotal role in bringing in the fullness of the Gentiles in fulfillment of God’s OT promises of Israel’s last days –>
  • Romans 10:19-21; 11:11-14 (Rom. 11:13 “I magnify my office!”)
  • Colossians 1:24-27, “24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.  27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
  • Paul was given the distinct, personal role of completing –> fulfilling the word of God –> the mystery –> to “fully accomplishing the mystery” –> the fullness of the Gentiles.
  • The mystery was the “Jew – Gentile” equality in Christ.
  • The mystery was the bringing up to fullness (equality) the Gentiles with Israel, in the body of Christ!
  • The salvation of Israel at the coming of the Lord would be finished when the fullness of the Gentiles was accomplished – Romans 11:25-27.
  • Therefore the salvation of Israel and the coming of the Lord is tied temporally to the completion of Paul’s mission to the Gentiles – he had to fulfill the word of God –> the mystery –> the fullness of the Gentiles being brought to equality in the body of Christ!

Paul and the Mystery:

  • Romans 16:25-26 – The mystery – from the OT –> Now, in 1st century made manifest!
  • Ephesians 3:1-6, 2:11-22; Gal. 3:7-8, 26-29; Col. 1:24-27 – The mystery –> “Jew–Gentile equality in Christ.”
    • Romans 15:16-18 – That I might present the offering of the Gentiles.
    • 2 Timothy 4:17 – “…that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear…”
      • Might be fully accomplished = Greek: plerophorethe –> I complete, carry out fully, satisfy fully.  HELPS Word Studies: from plḗrēs, “full” and phérō, “carry, bring”) – properly, fully carry-through (make full); bear (or wear) fully.

Paul and the “Offering of the Gentiles

  • Romans 15:16-18 – Paul was going to Jerusalem with the “offering of the Gentiles,” or to put it another way “offering the Gentiles,” as a sacrifice unto God.
  • The language is liturgical – Paul was acting as a priest!
  • Scholars labor to discern if he meant he was offering the gifts from the Gentiles, or, if he was offering the Gentiles as a sacrifice to God.
  • It is not “either—or” –>  It is Both!
  • Romans 15:30-31 – Paul asked the Roman saints to pray for him:
    • That he might be delivered from ungodly men.
    • That he might make the journey with joy.
    • That my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints.
  • Why was Paul concerned about the Jerusalem church possibly not accepting the offering? –> It was from the GentilesThis had never happened before!
  • Jewish Acceptance of the gifts from the Gentiles would be acceptance of the Gentiles as brethren!

The Fullness and the Great Commission:

  • The fullness of the Gentiles could / would only come as a result of the completion of the world mission as Jesus declared in Matthew 24:14,
    • “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
  • Romans 10:18, “But I say, surely they have never heard, have they?  Indeed they have; “their voice has gone out into all the earth (past tense), and their words to the ends of the world.”
  • Colossians 1:5-6, “5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel  6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;”
  • Colossians 1:23, “if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven (past tense), and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.”
  • Titus 2:11-13, “11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” (He could not be saying he is looking for it unless he knows he accomplished the “in the whole world” the Lord had said).
  • 1 Timothy 3:16, “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world (past tense), Taken up in glory.”
  • Acts 2:5, “Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.”
  • Every word used by Jesus to describe the preaching into all the world (kosmos) to every creature (ktisis), earth (ge), nations (ethnoi), and world (oikoumene) was used by Paul to say it had been done!
  • The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write in so many of his letters to the various churches throughout the known world that the world mission as Christ required was fulfilled in the first century.
  • Therefore, the fullness of the Gentiles came in the first century.   His mission was accomplished – the Fullness Arrived!

All Israel Shall Be Saved – Revelation:

  • Revelation 7:4-8, 14:1, 3-4 – The remnant of all twelve tribes – Here is the “all Israel” consummation.
  • 14:4 – they were called the “First fruits” of those redeemed!
  • Revelation 14:6-8 – then it speaks of the angel flying in the midst of heaven having the “everlasting gospel” to preach to all the world.
  • This was to happen at the time of the judgment of the Great Harlot city – Babylon   (Rev. 16:19, 17:1, 5-6, 18, 18:10, 18-21, 24, 19:2).
  • The city where the Lord was slain (11:8).
  • Jesus promised from the very first verse of Revelation right through to the 2nd to last verse in the Revelation –> these things must shortly come to pass (Rev. 1:1, 3:11, 22:7, 12, 20)

Summary and Conclusion (of the Sub Study: The Fullness of the Gentiles):

  • Paul preached the hope of Israel.
  • His doctrine of the salvation of the remnant was from the OT –> it was being fulfilled in the first century.
  • God said that work would be finished shortly.
  • His ministry to the Gentiles was foretold in Israel’s scriptures.
  • Paul’s personal ministry was the fulfillment of God’s end times scheme –> Deut. 32.
  • Paul’s message was that God was fulfilling His promises to Israel, in Christ and the church –> not through national restoration –> not through ethnic elevation –> but through faith.
  • Paul’s message of fulfillment meant the end of the Old Covenant exclusionary system.
  • Old Covenant Israel had brought the Seed, but then rejected Him as their Messiah, and judged herself unworthy of eternal life.
  • The remnant was being called into the one body where there is no such thing as ethnicity.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, Scythian, or Roman, etc!
  •  Thus, the salvation of “all Israel” was a good news/bad news reality.
  • It was the catastrophic end of the Old Covenant System.
  • It was the glorious establishment of the New Covenant world order in the blood of Christ, and His glory in the church for all generations, forever and ever.
  • This is what you and I are called to live out in our lives.


See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:

Remnant (A Remnant Shall be Saved)


For a more in-depth study see the related full “Study Series”:

Study Series 11 on Romans 11 (sub study on The Fullness of the Gentiles)

Study Series 15 Lesson 1 Revelation Intro, Purpose and Background

Study Series 16 Lesson 3 Rev. Chapters 10 thru 12