The more I look into Romans 11:26 the more I realize that I am like a fish swimming upstream. It is with a great deal of charity that Michael Bird writes, “several scholars try to take Rom 11:26… as referring to the consummated salvation of Jews and Gentiles.” citing only N.T. Wright, who happens to be one of my primary sources. Furthermore, the arguments in favor of the view that Romans 11:26 is a reference to a great ingathering of Israel at the end times are very strong.
The following are five of what I believe to be the more compelling reasons to interpret “Israel” in Romans 11:26 as a reference to the nation.
Argument #1: Isn’t it obvious?
Michael Bird who just concluded a series very similar to this one waves off the view that Romans 11:26 could mean anything other than a reference to national Israel:
“It seems fairly clear from the wider context of Romans 9-11 (Rom 9:4, 6, 27, 31; 10:19, 21; 11:2, 11, 25), that Paul is looking ahead to the eschatological salvation of national Israel in the future.”
So just from reading the passage of Romans 9-11 it seems quite obvious that Paul believes in the national restoration of Israel in the future.
Argument #2: Collective apostasy requires collective recovery
Romans 11:11-12 speaks of Israel’s collective stumbling so that salvation may come to Gentiles. Verse 12 concludes with the statement, “how much more will their full inclusion mean!” It only makes sense that if a collective stumbling is in view then a collective recover of verse 26 must also be in view.
Argument #3: Paul begins to us the word “covenant” in 9-11
James Dunn points out that the word “covenant” is not found anywhere in Romans 1-8, but appears (only twice) in Romans 9-11 in connection with “Israel”, and both times in reference to O.T. prophecies regarding their restoration.
Argument #4: Romans 9-11 consistently uses “Israel” in the national sense
In Romans 11:25 Paul speaks of a hardening that has “in part happened to Israel” (NKJV). This is an obvious reference to “Israel” the nation. It seems unfathomable that Paul would change his use of “Israel” without warning in the span of only two verses. Furthermore, R. C. Sproul makes the point that when Paul uses the term “Israel” in this portion of Romans, that he consistently had the nation in mind.
Argument #5: The O.T. promises Israel’s restoration
The Old Testament promises the restoration of Israel as a whole (Deut 4:25-31; 30:1-6) at which point God would usher in the age to come (e.g., Hosea 14:1-7; Joel 2:12-3:2). Paul seems to have shared this presupposition and assumes it here in Romans 11:26.
Conclusion: As I consider the weight of some of these arguments I feel their force and understand why someone who otherwise holds to a covenantal approach to the scriptures might still see a future ingathering of the national ethnic people of Israel. It is important to observe that almost none of the scholars I have consulted take “all Israel” to mean “every last individual Israelite”, neither have many of them commented on the mechanism of Israel’s salvation, though they unanimously seem to agree that there is only one covenant, not two.
While these arguments are persuasive, they do not say all there is to say on the question of Israel in Romans 11:26. Some highly esteemed scholars have taken this passage to mean “all the people of God”. Next we’ll look at some of their main arguments before offering my concluding thoughts.
 Another that comes to mind is O Palmer Robertson.
 This is Geerhardus Vos’ argument in The Pauline Eschatology p.89: “the recovery from this must bear the same collective interpretation.”
 James D.G. Dunn, The New Perspective on Paul, ©2005, p.443-444
 NRSV: “a hardening has come upon part of Israel”
 R.C. Sproul notes, “If Paul is referring to spiritual Israel, he is departing from the way he uses the term Israel here and in the preceding three chapters. Ever since chapter 8 Paul has been talking about ethnic Israel.” See his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, p.379.
 See Craig Keener in the IVP Bible Background Commentary on the New Testament, p.437-438. Though he also notes: ‘although this is one of the few New Testament passages that had occasion to address it” and points out that “Jewish teachers commonly said that “all Israel will be saved,” but then went on to list which Israelites would not be saved.”
 “In the rabbinic teaching at m.Sanh. 10:1, “All Israel will have a share in the world to come,’ but exceptions then are listed, such as the person who denies ‘the resurrection of the dead’”. John Ruemann in the Eerdmans Commentary on the Whole Bible, p.1277.
 Ibid., Ruemann offers several different scholarly interpretations to that question.