How Will “All Israel Be Saved?” A New Translation of Ridderbos’s Commentary on Romans 11:25-32

Critical to the New Testament’s vision of the global church is the place and role of Israel in the divine economy. Central to that vision is Paul’s much-debated argument in Rom 9-11, especially Rom 11:25-32. Many evangelical interpreters understand Paul to teach a future, end-time mass conversion of Israel at the end of history immediately preceding the return of Christ in glory. Some interpreters, however, understand Paul to be speaking of the conversion of Jewish persons over the course of redemptive history (and their corresponding incorporation into the church). One prominent proponent of this reading of Rom 11:25-32 is the twentieth-century Dutch Reformed New Testament scholar, Herman Ridderbos.
Until now, only Ridderbos’s comparatively brief statement of his position in his Pauline theology (Paul: An Outline of His Theology) has been available to English-speaking readers. A new translation of a portion of his Aan de Romeinen, prepared by the author of this proposal, now allows these readers for the first time to explore the extensive, exegetical argument that Ridderbos advances for his position. This translation also offers fresh insight into the importance that Ridderbos assigned to these verses within the scope of Pauline theology.
This paper will place Ridderbos’s reading of Rom 11:25-32 in exegetical and historical context. It will give attention to the way in which Ridderbos engaged rival readings of this text. It will also reflection upon the implications of Ridderbos’s reading for the character and mission of the global church, not least the place of Israel relative to the church.