Of course, a key passage is Romans 11:25-26:
Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, 26 and so all Israel [πᾶς Ἰσραὴλ] will be saved...The key question here is whether Paul believed every single Israelite would be saved.
I do not have the time to write an extensive essay on this--I've got to get back to finishing my dissertation. In fact, Scott Hahn presented a paper at the International Meeting of SBL a few years ago which looks at this passage in great detail--and let me tell you, to fully treat this subject would take another dissertation! Nonetheless, I want to piggy-back off Tilling's post and say a few things about this passage.
The key here is identifying how "all Israel" [πᾶς Ἰσραὴλ] is used in the Old Testament and non-canonical Jewish literature. For that I recommend an excellent article by James M. Scott [“All Israel Will Be Saved,” in Restoration: Old Testament, Jewish & Christian Perspectives (ed. J. M. Scott; Leiden: Brill, 2001), 489-526]. Scott shows that the phrase is typically used to describe all twelve tribes. In other words, the term is typically used to identify the inclusion of the northern tribes.
In eschatological contexts, the term is especially focused on the restoration of the northern tribes with the southern house of Judah. Thus, "all Israel" means "all the tribes" of Israel--even the so-called "lost tribes". This is probably most clear in Testament of Benjamin 10:11:
2 Samuel 2:8-10: Now Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul's army, had taken Ish-bo'sheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahana'im; and he made him king over Gilead and the Ash'urites and Jezreel and E'phraim and Benjamin and all Israel. Ish-bo'sheth, Saul's son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David”
2 Samuel 5:3, 5: So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel… At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years
2 Samuel 19:11: And King David sent this message to Zadok and Abi'athar the priests, "Say to the elders of Judah, 'Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his house, when the word of all Israel has come to the king?”
1 Chronicles 21:5: And Jo'ab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to David. In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who drew the sword, and in Judah four hundred and seventy thousand who drew the sword.
1 Kings 4:7: Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel, who provided food for the king and his household; each man had to make provision for one month in the year.
For a detailed survey see James Scott's article (especially 500-514).
4Q521 2 iii 1-5: and the law of your favor. And I will free them with [...] 2 its is su[re:] 'The fathers will return to the sons' (Mal 3:24). [...] 3 which the blessing of the Lord in his goodwill [...] 4 May the [ea]rth rejoice in all the pla[ces] 5 fo[r] all Israel in the rejoicing [...]. [NOTE: compare with Sir 48:10 where Mal 3:24 is used to describe the restoration of the tribes of Israel]
4Q164 1:1-8: [he will mak]e all Israel like eye-paint around the eye. 'And I will found you in sapphi[res' (Isa 54:11). Its interpretation:] 2 They will found the council of the community, [the] priests and the peo[ple...] 3 the assembly of their elect, like a sapphire stone in the midst of the stones. 'I will make] 4 all your battlements [of rubies]' (Isa 54:12). Its interpretation comes the twelve [chiefs of the the priests who] 5 illuminate with the judgments of the Urim and the Thummim [...without] 6 any from among them missing, like the sun in all its light. 'And a[ll your gates of glittering stones' (Isa 54:12).] 7 Its interpretation concerns the chiefs of the tribes of
Israel in the l[ast days... of] 8 its lost, their posts.
T. Ben. 10:11: Therefore, my children, if you live in holiness, in accord with the Lord's commands, you shall again dwell with me in hope; all Israel will be gathered to the Lord."
The upshot of the analysis is that the term was related to Israel's tribal configuration. Scott states in his conclusion of the survey of Old Testament texts: "Although the term 'all Israel' can be used to denote a representative selection from the full complement of the tribes, it is never used to refer specifically to all individuals within the nation" (507).
Likewise, after looking at the texts from the Second Temple period, he concludes:
"The expression occurs most frequently in the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs and in the (sectarian) writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls. "All Israel" is used less frequently with reference to historical Israel (cf. T. Jos. 20:5; Ps-Philo, Bib. Ant. 22:1; 23:1; CD 3, 14), unless the emphasis is on the continuity of Israel through the ages to the present and beyond. Otherwise, the term is used to stress either the (often idealized) present reality or the future hope. As in the OT usage, 'all Israel' does not denote each and every individual, but rather a collective whole or some subset of the whole. The expression normally preserves an element of the twelve-tribe system of ancient Israel, and thus can be understood as deliberate archaism orSo now let's return to Romans 11:225-26. When Paul speaks about the salvation of "all Israel" what is he referring to?
restorationism when it is used of the post-Monarchic situation. This tendency is particularly clear in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs" (515).
It seems Paul is speaking of the pan-Israelite restoration hope. In fact, as Hahn pointed out in his SBL paper, a close look at Romans 9-11 reveals that, whereas up to now Paul has spoken about the "Jew" (Ἰουδαῖος), in these chapters there is a subtle shift in focus to "Israel". Moreover, Hahn showed many of Paul's Old Testament citations throughout this section are drawn from passages which speak of the northern tribes. For example, in Romans 9:25 Paul cites Hosea:
“'Those who were not my people
I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved
I will call ‘my beloved’ [cf. Hos 2:23].
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God’ [Hos. 1:10].”
These words are spoken to the northern tribes. In chapter 1 Hosea explains that in sending these tribes into exile God is punishing them for the infidelity--he will say, "You are not my people" (cf. Hos 1:10). This is clear if one reads the prophecy in context:
Hos 1:10-11: 10 Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Sons of the living God.” 11 And the people of Judah and the people of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head; and they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.The northern Israelites were sent into exile but they were not forgotten. Though they were dissolved into the nations through intermarriage God did not forget about them--he still knew where they were, much like God told Elijah he knew where the faithful remnant of his people was in his day (cf. Rom 11:2-6).
Paul thus sees his Gentile mission in terms of the pan-Israelite hope. The northern tribes must be restored to fulfill the promises made by the Lord through the prophets. Where are they? Among the Gentiles. To bring Israel home means to bring in the Gentiles. This is the mystery. God allowed Israel to be exiled so that he could use them to eventually bring the nations home as well--as their relatives.
Paul's opponents accuse him of rejecting his people. Paul doesn't see it that way. By neglecting the Gentiles--where the northern tribes were sent--his opponents are the ones who have rejected Israel.
Thus: "Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, 26 and so all Israel [πᾶς Ἰσραὴλ] will be saved..." (Rom 11:25-26).
For more see the treatment in Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch, The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Romans (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003).
In the com-box I got a great question from t.c. williams. Speaking of my conclusion, he writes,
"You have provide Scripture for all your other conclusion but not for this one. Why? This seems like quite a hermeneutical leap. Where in Paul are Gentiles understood as the lost Northern tribes?"
Thanks for the question. I'm sorry I added didn't make the conclusion more exegetical. I was just trying to save time by summing it up. Let me be a little more clear here.
First, go back again and look at the logic in Hosea. The Israelites are sent off into exile and become "not my people". But God will restore them again, and, on that day, they "will be called sons of the living God" (cf. Rom 9:26).
With that in mind, let's return to Paul. Let's look at Paul's logic in 9:22ff:
"What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?"Paul then applies the Hosea passage to those called from the Gentiles! Look at the next verse:
"As indeed he says in Hosea, 'Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'my beloved.' And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people', they will be calledIs Paul wrenching this passage from Hosea out of context? Some think so. Some think Paul is randomly applying this passage which originally spoke of the northern tribes to the Gentiles in a kind of "replacement" theology. For example, see E. Elizabeth Johnson, The Function of Apocalyptic and Wisdom Traditions in Romans 9-11 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989), 150: “Paul appears to wrench Hos 2:25 and 2:1 from their historical contexts to apply them to Gentiles rather than to Israel..."
'sons of the living God'" (cf. Romans 9:25-26; Hos 2:23; 1:10).
I think that misunderstands Paul. As Richard Hays and others have shown, to understand Paul one must see how the contexts of the passages he cites forms part of his argument. For example, consider the argument above in Romans 9:6ff. There Paul's point is that biological descent from Abraham does not secure salvation. He writes,
"For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all areHe Paul cites Genesis 21:12, which contains the word spoken by the Lord to Abraham. The context of this passage is hugely signficant for Paul's argument. In Genesis 21 Abraham is told that his descendants will be named through Isaac--and not Ishmael. Paul's point is simple: If Jews are going to assert that biological descent from Abraham secures salvation, ask them about Ishmael. The same kind of narrowing of the promised line occurs in the selection of Jacob over Esau--which, of course, is the point of the following verses (cf. Rom 9:10-13).
children of Abraham because they are his descendants; but 'Through Isaac shall
your descendants be named'" (Romans 9:6-7).
Now let's return to Paul's use of the Hosea passage in 9:25-26. Paul knows what Hosea prophesied--the Israelites who had been sent to Gentiles, who became "not my people" would one day be restored. On that day their status as God's people would be restored--"they will be called 'sons of the living God.'" That is how Paul can use this passage in reference to the Gentiles. He is NOT wrenching Hosea out of context.
I would also refer you to Acts, which I think is aware of Paul's program to bring the lost tribes home.
Why is Paul arrested in the Temple? It is clearly because of his association with the Gentiles (cf. Acts 26:28). Before King Agrippa Paul even explains his mission as a mission to the Gentiles. Relating his vision of the Lord, he explains:
"The Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles—to whom I send you" (Acts 26:15-17).
At the end of the book we read Paul preaching: "Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen” (Acts 28:28).
But here's what's fascinating. Paul's also understands his mission in terms of the pan-Israelite restoration. Note what Paul says to Agrippa in Acts 26:6-7:
"And now I stand here on trial for hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, 7 to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king!"
Note: Paul's arrest for his Gentile association is ultimately wrapped up in his ministry to the twelve tribes. Wow! Also see Acts 9:15, where Paul's ministry is described in this way: “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel..." Paul is going to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and the sons of Israel.
So much more could be said. Paul goes on to talk about the fact that he has been arrested because of his belief in the resurrection. Clearly this is a reference to Jesus' resurrection. But do not forget that for ancient Jews resurrection was also an image frequently used to describe the restoration of the twelve tribes (e.g., cf. Ezek 37:1-14; Hos 6:1-2). In fact, as James Scott observes, in the ancient literature, the Greek term diaspora was not first used as a reference to "scattered" Israel. It primarily has the meaning of "decomposition" of a body after death. [See James Scott, “Exile and the Self-Understanding of Diaspora Jews,” in Exile: Old Testament, Jewish and Christian Conceptions (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 178-179. So Jesus' resurrection would likely have carried the further restoration implications.
Wish I had more time, but I've got to get back to the dissertation.