Steve Gregg's Explanation Of "FULLNESS OF GENTILES"

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jpat1975
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Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:14 am

Steve Gregg's Explanation Of "FULLNESS OF GENTILES"

Post by jpat1975 » Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:20 pm

Can someone sum up what Steve Gregg has written specifically on the "fullness of the Gentiles" in Romans 11? I think I now have a better idea, since my first draft of this post. I've since, gone back to listen to some recordings of Steve's on this, and from it it looks like he sees this "fullness of the Gentiles" as an incomplete NUMERIC number of non-Jewish people coming into the Church - a PROCESS that BEGAN when Gentiles were formally recognised/welcomed, in the New Testament (e.g. since the conversion of Cornelius in Acts 10, etc). Steve sees this passage as something focused on the REASON for Israel's blindness, rather than eschatology (which at best, is alluded to in passing). Most of Israel blind, because the focus of evangelism is primarily on the Gentiles. That said Jews are most welcome, and indeed still convert, although a much smaller percentage. This PROCESS is FULFILLED only at the Jesus 2nd coming - with nothing in this passage clearly demanding there be a period of mass conversion of Jews.

My own questions on this include:
Was this "fullness of the Gentiles" already fulfilled? Based on an Romans 11 mp3 lecture I heard, it sound like this fullness, in Steve's view, has not yet be fulfilled, because not every Gentile has been evangelised prior to the 2nd coming, if I understood him correctly.

Meanwhile another non-Dispensationalist, sees it fulfilled at the conclusion of Paul's own unique ministry "to the Gentiles". I am not sure whether or not Steve would agree with.

Don Preston does not see this as NUMERIC, but rather RELATIONAL
see: https://donkpreston.com/?s=fullness+gentiles+numeric - I still have to go through that, but he starts off by saying "focus on the word translated as “fullness” (pleroma, πλήρωμα, Strong’s #4138) in Romans 11:25, as well as the antonym, hettema. If it can be shown that these words do not inherently mean and demand a numeric fullness" which I'm not sure I've heard Steve comment on before. Don also makes the point that the opposite word "hettema" is likewise never used in a numeric sense, but that word talks about a fall-cutting-offf/failure/defeat, which implies that "pleroma" here is more likely talking about restoration/success/victory for Gentiles thanks to our RELATIONSHIP to God the Father having been born again - saved by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ. If I understood Don correctly in what little I read.

I've heard some say this is talking about the "mystery" of Gentiles inclusion revealed being that fulfillment. What does Steve think of such an idea?

Does Steve consider "mystery of Gentiles" and "fullness of the Gentiles" as two separate items? Update: After listening to a debate and q&a with Don Preston vs Steve, it looks like Steve likens the TIMES OF THE GENTILES to be the later separate portion of invitations to the wedding feast in that parable. The first invitations were to the Jews whose cities were burned for rejecting it. The latter on the highways were Gentiles from 70 AD until Jesus 2nd Coming yet future.

How can we be confident of this particular understanding of Romans 11:25 "fullness of the gentiles" is correct? How ambiguous is it? What is left unclear? How can we clarify this to settle with some reasonable closure on the right interpretation?

Here's is a somewhat cleaned up automated Youtube transcript of the portion of Steve's own Romans 11 mp3/YouTube video where he addresses verse 25 and fullness - starting from the timestamp 54:16 in https://youtu.be/UmLUzgszBnA

"...now the big verses that many people have trouble with [in Romans 11] is verse 25 and 26 [where Paul says]

"I do not desire brethren that you should be ignorant of this mystery lest you should be wise in your own opinion that hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in and so all Israel will be saved as it is written..."

[and Paul then continues to quote] from Isaiah [where it says]

"the deliverer will come from Zion and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob for this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins"

this is obviously [talking] about [what Jesus said:]... "this is the new covenant [in] my blood"...

Jesus made the new covenant with the remnant of Israel
[He] was the deliverer coming and turning away ungodliness from Jacob (that is, the remnant of Jacob)

but all of Jacob - all the true Jacob - will be saved

in what way? in the way described in verse 25

now the "way" [is] popularly understood by dispensationalists [as well as] those who are simply influenced by them (because I've heard this argument even from people who aren't technically dispensational that they just apparently they haven't thought in any category is different than dispensation[alism])... they think it's saying that a temporary hardening has happened

...they wanted to insert the idea of temporary in [this] verse... [an idea of] permanency

has God "permanently" cast off as people? no.

[in fact] the word "permanent" isn't [even] in there
because [Paul]'s not talking about chronology

likewise [these folks also] want to insert the idea of temporary - that [a] temporary hardness has happened to Israel until the Gentiles are coming

and "then" (another temporal word [they artificially insert]) all Israel be saved

you see this how the dispensationalist understand this fate of the Jews and the Gentiles - that God has temporarily put the Jews aside bring it in the Gentiles. [once] he's done [doing] that [then] he'll then bring the Jews in again. so [they think] you need to have
something like the word "temporary" [there in front of] hardening...

unfortunately for their position [Paul] says neither of those things

[Paul] simply says [that a] hardening "in part" has happened to Israel

what does he mean by that? some Jews are hardened in some [p]art

[Paul] doesn't say whether this will continue to be true or not

...that's not [Paul's] thought

he's not thinking about that

he has already told us that part of them were hardened back in verse seven he said:

"what then Israel has not obtained what it seeks the elect have obtained it and the rest were hardened"

that's the hardening "in part" - the rest [of the ethnic Jews] who are not [part of] the remnant

they were hardened

so part of the nation of Israel is hardened

not all of it

...this is a fact through the entire age of the church until the whole you know Gentile world is [heard?] and the fullness of the Gentiles has come in so the condition of hardening partial hardening of Jews is permanent - as long as Gentiles are coming in he says until the fullness of the Gentiles come in this is the process that's growing out for 2,000 years

now is [Paul] saying something's then going to change after the fullness of the Gentiles come in?
[and after that] then something else is gonna happen - like then Israel's gonna stop being hardened and start being safe?

[no, but] that's what the dispensational reads - but [Paul] doesn't say that

[Paul] just speaks of the fullness of the Gentiles being coming in and he doesn't speak of any other point [beyond] that

why? because no doubt Gentiles will be coming in right to the last day, otherwise we have to assume that Gentiles will stop being saved for a period of time - and then after that short period time when no one's being saved Jesus will come

but the Gentiles no doubt will have opportunity to come in until Jesus returns

and therefore the fullness of the Gentiles becoming in means right up until the last day till the last Gentile has been converted


what's after that? well the second coming
of Christ

not the conversion of Israel


and in fact [Paul] says he does not say and "then" all Israel be saved (as if he's given a sequence of events )

[rather] he says and "thus" so all Israel be saved

the word in Greek means "in this way"

so instead of talking about "what ORDER of events"
he's talking about "the METHOD" [of] HOW is God fulfilling the [promise]
that he would save all Israel
he said he would
[so] "here's HOW he does it"

[he does it] by taking [only] the Jews who believe [and also] taking [only] the Gentiles who believe [and] putting him in one tree - one Israel - and that whole tree is saved

all Israel is saved

the Jewish branches

the Gentile branches

they all participate in the holiness and fatness of the tree
[etc]

and therefore all Israel
all the olive tree
gets all of its proper branches

all the believers: Jews
and Gentiles they are the believing branches
they are the olive tree
they are Israel
in this way by God you know
only taking that portion of Israel that believes
(hardening the rest)
bringing in the fullness of the
believing Gentiles

that's the method by which God is fulfilling his promise to
save all Israel all Israel including the
Gentile his rights

and he quotes Isaiah
there about Christ "turning ungodliness
from Jacob"

of course Jesus did that and
he did make that new covenant that
Isaiah speaks up there in the upper room
with his disciples

the passage is isaiah 59:20 and 21 that he quotes now quickly..."


EDIT: I'm going through a new feature on the website and it looks like someone was able to organize the audio of each radio show call by TOPIC. Nice! I might find my answer there.

On a call from 2017-07-07 someone is asking "Fulness of the Gentiles: What does "until the fulness of the gentiles be come in" mean? [Romans 11:25-32]". Steve indicates this is the only passage in scripture we have to go by that uses that particular expression. That it's not obvious, on the face of it, what it means. However it probably has something to do with that partial blindness on the part of Israel UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come about, and that this is talking about the full NUMBER of Gentiles that are going to come in. Now this word UNTIL sometimes means "until the end of a situation" - a termination point, But Steve also points out that UNTIL could also mean "determination", like He does in Genesis 28:15 "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you UNTIL I have done what I have promised you.”. After God is done, does that mean THEN He'll forsake Jacob? Steve says obviously not. Rather He means "you don't have to worry about Me disappearing on this project, before it's done". In other words, God is DETERMINED to get it done. There are other similar thoughts expressed in scripture where the word UNTIL is also used in this way. When Paul says part of Israel has been blinded, it means primarily, this is a condition that's prevailing as a result of God's determination to bring in the Gentiles.

On another call from 2014-05-08 "Romans 11 not Eschatological: So you don't think Romans 11 is eschatological? When would be the fulness of the Gentiles come in then? [Romans 11:25-28]" - Someone is asking about when this will happen, and Steve says he sees it more as a "process" that is on-going for 2000 years - especially since Paul went out to the Gentile world on his missionary trips in Acts - or maybe since the conversion of Cornelius - basically since the time Gentiles began to be formally welcomed into the church [this has be on-going since]. Gentiles have primarily been the focus of evangelism, but of course Jews are also being welcome, and some also have been converting since. The caller said at this point that they understood this to be the PROCESS, but wanted clarification about the CULMINATION the "UNTIL". Steve responded saying he believes this previously mentioned process will continue until Jesus 2nd Coming. Now Steve doesn't think that Paul here is focusing on the 2nd Coming in that verse though. He thinks Paul is focusing on the process. The reason that many Jews are not believers is because God is drawing in Gentiles in larger numbers. The caller disagrees on the level of emphasis, but that we both can agree on an eschatological event. Steve doesn't think the passage is about eschatology as the primary subject. [e.g. The primary subject of that verse is Israel's blindness, with perhaps an allusion to something eschatological.] The caller insists that this is referring to a future in-gathering of a remnant of Israel. Steve says this is not obvious in the passage. The caller agrees it's not totally clear. The caller still thinks it's temporary blindness because of numerous references to ethnic Israel in Romans (11x). Steve disagrees because not all references in Romans to "Israel" is always about the flesh/ethnic Jews. The caller is forgetting chapters 9 to 11 is one argument Paul is making, where Paul uses "Israel" two different ways - despite the frequency of it being used in the ethnic sense.
Last edited by jpat1975 on Sun Oct 18, 2020 10:36 am, edited 21 times in total.

jpat1975
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:14 am

Re: What Is Steve Gregg's Concise Explanation Of "FULLNESS OF GENTILES"

Post by jpat1975 » Thu Oct 15, 2020 2:51 pm

I'm just trying to get a clear idea of what Steve thinks on this, as I've shared this lecture with a fellow believer who is into dispensationalism, and want to make sure I can clarify any questions they had.

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