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Romans 11:25 KJV For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

What is "the fulness of the Gentiles?"

  • NIV: "until the full number of the Gentiles has come in", is that more understandable? – Keelan May 1 '18 at 7:09
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The Idea in Brief

The "Fulness (sic) of the Gentiles" is the time when Gentile dominion on the earth ends, and the visible theocratic kingdom on earth once again begins. When the theocratic kingdom on earth ended with the departure of the glory of the Lord (before the Babylonian Captivity) as described in the Book of Ezekiel, the Hebrew Bible from that time forward then referenced Gentile powers as the referent of time. The Gentile rulership (when the theocratic kingdom on earth ended) had began at the time of the Babylonian Captivity, and continues to this day, and therefore the fulfillment ("fulness") of the Times of the Gentiles awaits a future day, when the visible theocratic kingdom will once again be established on earth.

Discussion

In the Hebrew Bible, the theocratic kingdom began at Sinai, when the glory of Yahveh dwelt (glory-dwelled = "shekinah") in the Tabernacle and later in Solomon's Temple. First Moses, the judges, and then the Jewish kings were the representatives of the leadership of this theocratic kingdom on earth. That is, Yahweh was the Head of State in the Theocratic Kingdom, whose regent was the King of Israel.

Therefore the referents of time in the Hebrew Bible were not based on the age of the world, but based on the reigns of these respective Jewish leaders at the time. For example, Hebrew Scripture references the reigns of the Jewish kings as time referents, since they had represented the leadership of the theocratic kingdom (even when divided).

For example -

1 Kings 16:23 (NASB)
23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king over Israel and reigned twelve years; he reigned six years at Tirzah.

That is, the rule of Jewish kings was the basis of gauging time, since their rulership was the nominal extension of the authority of Yahweh, who was the Head of State of the theocratic kingdom, even if divided. The laws of this kingdom came from the Torah.

However, when the Babylonian Captivity occurred (as described in the Book of Ezekiel), the glory of Yahweh had departed the Temple and this theocratic kingdom on earth ended: thus the reign of Jewish kings had terminated (and so there was no longer any more referent of time based on the reign of any Jewish kings). At this time the prophet Daniel introduced the images of reigning Gentile powers on earth as rapacious animals, which one day would end. So post-exilic Hebrew Scripture such as Zechariah and Haggai reference the reigns of these Gentile powers (and not Jewish kings), and so these references are to the times of the reference of reigning Gentile powers on earth versus any Jewish power -- thus "the Times of the Gentiles." The following graph provides an overview of "the Times of the Gentiles."

The last eight chapters of Ezekiel (approximately 20% of the book) concerns dozens of measurements, which suggest the literal establishment of Ezekiel's new temple, where the glory of Yahweh will one day dwell. (The dozens of references to precise measurements with a ruling measuring rod suggest that this temple is literal.) It was in this context of the apocalyptic end that Jesus was alluding in Luke 21:24 to the fulfillment or completion of the "Times of the Gentiles," when Gentile rule would end in the world in general and over the Promised Land in particular. That is, Jesus was alluding to the time when these rapacious Gentile powers would no longer dominate the earth.

At the current time (today) we are living in the invisible kingdom of God (under the New Covenant), where the temple is the body of the believer in the individual and collective sense. That is, the believer operates in the kingdom of God while on earth (please see Acts 26:16-18 and Col 1:13). Since this kingdom is invisible, there is no exercise of direct theocratic authority on earth. That is, there is no direct exercise of the Torah within this invisible kingdom.

So the "Times of the Gentiles" refers to this indefinite period of time on earth, which will one day end when the Lord comes back to earth to reestablish his rule and authority on the earth, when "the nations will be broken with a rod of iron and shattered like earthenware" (Ps 2:9 with Rev 2:26-27, Rev 12:5, and Rev 19:15). The Apostle Paul is making the same reference to the fulfillment of the Times of the Gentiles, which will inaugurate the Zionic era.

Rom 11:25-27 (NASB)
25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

 “The Deliverer will come from Zion,   
  He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”   
  27 “This is My covenant with them,   
  When I take away their sins.”

In conclusion, Scripture points to the literal establishment of the theocratic kingdom on earth at some point in the future, which will be centered on the Temple described by Ezekiel (and which translates into the eternal Zionic Jerusalem described in Revelation 21:10-27, where the measuring rod appears again suggesting literal events and objects).

Conclusion

The "fulness (sic) of the Gentiles" is the time when Gentile world power will end on earth, and subsequently be displaced by the re-establishment of the visible theocratic kingdom on earth.

  • So you see ezekiel as a temple? How about new jerusalem instead? – diego b May 2 '18 at 20:31
  • And I like this answer. Rom 11 can also be interpreted as Israel being blind until the fullness of the gentiles accept the gospel – diego b May 2 '18 at 20:32
  • @diegob - Diego, when we say Herod's Temple, we mean the temple associated with Herod. When I say Ezekiel's Temple, I mean the temple associated with the description given by Ezekiel in the last 20% of his prophetic book. – Joseph May 2 '18 at 20:49
  • Thats not what I meant. I meant you see ezekiel describing a temple? In think he is describing a city, John interprets new jerusalem as fulfilling it. – diego b May 2 '18 at 21:03
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The word used by Paul πληρωμα, pleroma (Strong 4138) is also used by Mark in Mark 2:21 :

the new piece that filled it up

There is certainly the idea of a numerical filling up or plenitude inherent in the word but I would see more than that.

Robert Young's literal translation gives similar to the KJV :

till the fulness of the nations may come in.

And J N Darby has

the fulness of the nations.

But I would say there is more than just a numerical idea to the word as Mark's use would indicate. There is the concept of completeness, wholeness, of proper function and suitability.

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The word translated "fullness" [G4138] is used by Paul a few verses earlier and seems to provide the context for what he means in verse 25. Given the context he seems to have an agricultural image in mind (IE: "bounty"):

[Rom 11:12 KJV] 12 Now if the fall of them [be] the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?

The "fall" of them seems to be prose and not poetry. Paul is referring to the hardening of the Jewish leadership to their messiah (whom they refused to permit be their king and thus forfeited the kingdom):

[Act 13:46 KJV] 46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

But what does he mean by the ensuing "fullness"? He asks us to imagine a tree. In the plan of God this tree's unfruitful branches were cut off and new branches were grafted in resulting in a bounty for the gentiles. So out of the "diminishing" of the Jews the gentiles became lush full branches.

So what happens when those branches see the bounty of the gentile branches and are grafted back in? Even more bounty!

Fall... leads to creation of the body of Christ Diminished... leads to gentile bounty Inclusion... life from the dead

Update

I wonder if the "fullness" represents replacing the branches (IE: the same number) that fell from unbelief?

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[The fullness of the gentiles is facilitated by the return of the Ten Lost Tribes that intermingled with the nations and were virtually indistinguishable from the gentiles... that’s why it says all of Israel shall be saved, that’s all twelve tribes... as James says in his epistle, to the twelve tribes...]

I think it is important to recognize where Apostle Paul is getting his information from and it’s obviously from the Old Covenant writings.

““Yet the number of the children of Israel Shall be as the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass In the place where it was said to them, ‘YOU ARE NOT My people,’ There it shall be said to them, ‘ You are sons of the living G d.’ Then the children of JUDAH AND the children of ISRAEL Shall be gathered together, And appoint for themselves one head; And they shall come up out of the land, For great will be the day of Jezreel!” ‭‭Hosea‬ ‭1:10-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Contrast that to

““And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.”” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭9:26‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Here we have a MAJOR ISSUE because G d divorced the North ten tribes and the law of Moses says that so long as the first husband is alive, the divorced woman cannot remarry. So the Northern Ten Tribes by blood are divorced and intermingled with the gentiles. Jesus the Messiah comes and says accept me as your bridegroom enter into Covenant with me. There’s a problem in the mind of the Jew. Gentiles have divorced Northern Ten Tribe Blood and so how can the gentiles receive salvation? G d can’t enter into Covenant with those He divorced.

“Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also.” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

But Apostle Paul explains further.

“For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.

Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to G d.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:2, 4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

In other words on Mt Sinai it was the Angel that spoke and that made a Covenant with all the twelve tribes and the gentiles present, or Jesus. And now Jesus the first husband DIED but what more, He rose again. So now the divorced Ten Tribes are free from the law of the first husband.

But we enter into the New Covenant not by bloodline John says

“who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of G d.” ‭‭John‬ ‭1:13‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Therefore anyone can come in.

I think what is throwing us off is the choice of the word Israel rather than the Judah or Jews the southern kingdom in the verse you quoted. In a sense all twelve tribes are blinded, the Jews (Judah and Benjamin) who refuse to accept their own messiah and the North Ten Tribes who may have lost their heritage due to intermarriage.

But the next verse says ALL of Israel will be saved.

And G d’s promise to Abraham was that in him or in his SEED (referring to Christ) all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This happened when Jews and gentiles accepted Christ. The fullness of the gentiles is essentially all the nations that were divided according to Deuteronomy 32:8 to the the sons of G d coming BACK under the dominion of G d.

And this was partially facilitated with the intermarriage of the Northern Ten Tribes with the gentiles who had a strong affinity to G d, some of whom still knew their heritage in their tribe but were alienated by the Jews because they were G d’s divorcees.

I’ll end with the heart of G d longing for His divorced Efraim

““How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred.” ‭‭Hosea‬ ‭11:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

G d had a plan and the heavenly hosts were unable to understand how He could take back those He divorced.

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