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?"

  • 1
    NIV: "until the full number of the Gentiles has come in", is that more understandable?
    – user2672
    May 1, 2018 at 7:09

10 Answers 10


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.


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).


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, 2018 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, 2018 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, 2018 at 20:49
  • 1
    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, 2018 at 21:03

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.


Two contextual things are of great importance here: 1. the pleroma/fullness of Israel (which is associated with "life from the dead" - i.e. "what will their fullness bring?"), this parallels his conclusion, "and so ALL Israel will be saved". - THEN 2. the culmination of Paul's argument of 9-11: "God has shut up everyone into disobedience - so that He might have mercy on all". So, I ask, why not let it mean what it literally says (and it does NOT say, "the full number", but simply, "pleroma" in the Greek text)?

Paul's usage elsewhere resonates with this, e.g. that in Christ "the fullness" of God dwells [Col. 2:9], etc. A remainder is inconceivable here.

So, one possible (and I contend, probable) conclusion is that "the fullness of the Gentiles" simply (and perhaps, shockingly) means ALL the Gentiles. This is paralleled by the unexpected revelation of the mystery given to Paul that, "the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel" - Ephesians 3 (cf. the commentary by Markus Barth). No exceptions or limitations are stated.

This is the simple albeit scandalous reading of the text. It presents a Gospel that is truly "Good News" - and one fully commensurate with what God will do through the "last Adam": reverse all the death and destruction brought through the first (from a reading of Romans 5 that lets it say what it says). This is what some call, "The Victorious Gospel". A much needed hermeneutical principle is to always prefer (where logically allowed) the interpretation that honors the expansive scope of, "where sin abounds, grace much more abounds".

  • Welcome. A good first post. I'd encourage you to provide more support for your proposal from the scriptures. This will help us understand your input more readily and also a 'fuller and more complete' answer. +1
    – Steve
    Jun 22, 2021 at 11:40

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


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


[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.


See: Richard David Thompson: 'Israel and the Messiah Unveiled'.

He deals with Romans 11v25 on page 318, and teaches that the Greek word for fullness here ('pleroma') deals with a full maturity rather than a full number (although the two may be linked). Thus as Christ's Gentile church grows into a full maturity, in these last days of the End Times, it will provoke Israel into jealousy for the things of God in Christ. This full maturity includes a fullness of love, caring for Israel/Jews/Israelites locally and in the nation if Israel, and a full maturity in ministry (5 fold ministry in a way we haven't seen yet and other aspects) to manifest the Father's kingdom on the earth in a full way - in love and power.

Richard D Thompson deals with the issue of the 'times if the Gentiles' in his first book, 'Almost Midnight' Mark Maddock

  • Hi Mark, welcome to BHSE - thanks for your contribution. I've tidied your answer a little to be a bit clearer. Appreciate you sharing this insight and providing the reference. Any direct quotes could be beneficial for improving this answer, especially if they provide some of the hermeneutical justification for Richard's rationale. Please do take the Site Tour when you get a chance, to learn more about how the site works.
    – Steve can help
    Nov 16, 2020 at 13:36

In Romans 11:25 what is “the fullness of the Gentiles”?

“The fullness of the Gentiles”. or until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. (NET Bible)

The NIV, NRSVCE and HCSB give a similar rendering of the verse as the NET Bible, which reads;

Romans 11:25 NET

25 For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters,[a] so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel[b] until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.

For seven years,(Daniel 9:27 The Abrahamic covenant)) this unique privilege of "adoption as sons of God was preached" to the Jews, but since not enough of them accepted the invitation, it was also preached to the Gentiles. Cornelius being the first gentile to be "adopted as a son of God".

Natural Israel failed to produce the required number, so God “turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name”. From Romans 11:13 we note that Paul is addressing Christians of non--Jewish origin, and continues in Vs 17 with the illustration of the cultivation of an olive tree to show how God’s purpose with regard to the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17:1-8 and 22:15-18) was being fulfilled.

Since non-Jews would receive this “holy calling” only until the “full number” was reached of those making up “the Israel of God,” (Galatians 6:15-16) logically the number of such spiritual Israelites purchase from among mankind is limited to 144,000.00. We read:

Revelation 14 1-4 (NASB)

The Lamb and the 144,000 on Mount Zion

1 Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144,000 who had His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps.

3 And they *sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to learn the song except the 144,000 who had been purchased from the earth. 4 These are the ones who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are celibate. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from mankind as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.

What will happen when the number of 144,000 is sealed?

Jesus disciples approach him and ask him.

The Great Tribulation.( Matthew 24:21 NASB)

Matthew 24: 3 NASB "And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the [b]end of the age?” (other versions "the end of the world")

Read Matthew 24:15-29, the parallel Luke 21:20-26 amd Mark 21-23-24

The prophecy has a dual fulfillment, the first fulfillment came in 70 C.E. when the city was besieged by the Roman armies under General Titus. This resulted in severe famine conditions and much loss of life. The Jewish historian Josephus relates that 1,100,000 Jews died or were killed, about 100,000 survived and were taken into captivity and the temple was completely destroyed.

The second fulfillment is mention by Matthew 24:21,29 and Mark 13:24, Jesus’ prophecy is saying that after the outbreak of the coming global tribulation, there will be striking phenomena, as represented by sun and moon being darkened, stars falling, and powers of heaven being shaken) as well as the fulfillment of “the sign of the Son of man.”

  • Israel failed to produce the required number, - where do you get that from?
    – Steve
    Jun 22, 2021 at 11:32
  • steveowen : The Parable of the Great Banquet: {Luke 14:15-34 NET] The Jews, especially the religious leaders, were the first to be invited. In the main, they rejected the invitation throughout Jesus’ ministry. But the invitation would not stop with them. Jesus clearly is suggesting that in the future a second invitation would be extended to lowly ones of the Jewish nation and to proselytes. Thereafter, there would be a third and final invitation to people whom the Jews viewed as unsuitable before God.. Read; Acts 10:28-48. Sep 13, 2021 at 17:24

I have been taught Dispensationalism most of my life and am now a member of a Reformed Church which is not. I have begun to question my former teachings, especially when it comes to Daniel and the Lawless one or an actual anti-Christ. Seems to me Daniel's prophetic writings have been fulfilled since Jesus said the “times” are fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand.
Now the reformed group (no disrespect intended) claims the Darby brought Dispensationalism to this country from Europe but, in my research, I found he was not the first to teach this in Europe and that early believers did believe Christ was going to set up a literal kingdom on this earth for a thousand years, then there was a change in this view which went to spiritualizing much of what was taken to be literal including Revelation. Interesting

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    – Lesley
    Feb 4, 2021 at 17:30

On the 5th of July in 1950 Israel enacted the Law of Return which set the criteria for those who might return to the heritage given them in that land by way of qualifications set out in the charter and therefore it may be assumed that anyone else is a Gentile and once there are no more able to return to Israel the fullness of the Gentiles would be achieved.


Paul is making a direct reference to Genesis 48:19 where Israel Prophesied over Ephraim: , and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations." Which could be translated "fulness of Gentiles."

Ephraim was a name for the ten lost tribes that were scattered through the nations and called in the NT; Gentiles.

So, Paul knew that those turning to Messiah from the Gentiles were actually descendants of the ten tribes that could rejoin the commonwealth of Israel because of the work of the Messiah. (Matthew 15:24 Yeshua(Jesus) said ..."I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.") That's what this chapter is about.

He also knew that when they come in it will be a fulfilment of Ezekiel 37 and all will be under the rule of Messiah therefore he said in verse 12... and all Israel will be saved; meaning the Jews (2 tribes) and the Gentiles (the lost 10 tribes).

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