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The Fullness Of The Gentiles


Romans 11:25-27
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness 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:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”

This must be one of the most intriguing and puzzling passages in the Bible.

Paul is not adding a new mystery to us. He is explaining it. And this mystery includes Israel, the fullness of the Gentiles and Jacob.

Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved.

Put simply:
Blindness in part has happened to Israel >>> the fullness of the Gentiles comes in >>> all Israel will be saved

What is the fullness of the Gentiles?

The apostle Paul was referring to Genesis 48:17-20:

17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.
18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”
20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’” And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.

A multitude of nations is translated "the fullness of nations" in Darby, Tree of Life, and Young's translations.

Genesis 48:19 Darby Translation (DARBY)
But his father refused and said, I know, my son, I know: he also will become a people, and he also will be great; but truly his younger brother will be greater than he; and his seed will become the fulness of nations.

Genesis 48:19 Tree of Life Version (TLV)
But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also will become a people, and he also will become great. But his younger brother will become greater than he and his seed will be the fullness of the nations.

Genesis 48:19 Young's Literal Translation (YLT)
And his father refuseth, and saith, `I have known, my son, I have known; he also becometh a people, and he also is great, and yet, his young brother is greater than he, and his seed is the fulness of the nations;'

The Hebrew word for "multitude" in this passage is "melo" (Strong's #4393). It means fullness (literally or figuratively), all along, all that is in, all therein, fill, full, fulness, handful, multitude.

The Hebrew word for "nations" in this passage is "goy" (Strong's # H1471). Apparently from the same root as 1465 (in the sense of massing), it means a foreign nation; hence, a Gentile; also (figuratively) a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts, Gentile, heathen, nation, people.

The term "the fullness of the nations" is מלא הגוים melo ha-goyim in Hebrew.

Ha is the definite article which means ‘the’ and it relates to the noun which it precedes. Goyim is the plural form for ‘goy’ and thus means nations, people.

Why are the descendants of Ephraim called a multitude of nations or more correctly, the fullness of the Gentiles?

Ephraim was a son of Joseph, and received a blessing from his grandfather Israel. But before Israel blessed Ephraim and his brother Manasseh, he promoted them from grandsons to sons.

Genesis 48:5-6
And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. Your offspring whom you beget after them shall be yours; they will be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance.

Ephraim and Manasseh now become the sons of Israel. The offspring whom Joseph beget after them shall be Joseph's, and they shall inherit Ephraim’s and Manasseh’s portions from Joseph. But these two sons now belong to Israel.

Through Manasseh was the firstborn of Joseph, Ephraim received a greater and more superior blessing from Israel.

Genesis 48:13-14
13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him.
14 Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn.

According to the Bible, the Tribe of Ephraim entered the land of Canaan after it was conquered by Joshua, a descendant of Ephraim himself.

Numbers 13:8
from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun;

Numbers 13:16
These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.

From the time of Joshua to the formation of the first Kingdom of Israel, the Tribe of Ephraim was a part of Israelite tribes where no central government existed. They entered into a time of crisis when the people were led by leaders known as Judges.

Judges 21:25
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

With the growth and increase of horrendous threats from all around, the Israelite tribes decided to form a centralized monarchy to defend themselves and fight against their enemies. The Tribe of Ephraim joined a new kingdom with Saul as the first king.

After the death of Saul, all the tribes other than Judah remained loyal to the House of Saul. But after the death of Ishbosheth, Saul's son and successor to the throne of Israel, the Tribe of Ephraim joined the other northern Israelite tribes in making David, who was then the king of Judah, the king of a re-united Kingdom of Israel.

However, when Rehoboam, David's grandson, became king in 930 BC, the northern tribes split from the House of David to form the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The first king of the Northern Kingdom was Jeroboam, from the Tribe of Ephraim. He ruled from 931 to 909 BC.

1 Kings 11:26
Then Solomon’s servant, Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephraimite from Zereda, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow, also rebelled against the king.

1 Kings 11:31
And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you

Ephraim was a part the Northern Kingdom until the kingdom was conquered by Assyria. The people were exiled in 722 BC. The Tribe of Ephraim was one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

After that, Ephraim is often seen as the tribe that embodies the entire Northern Kingdom and the royal house resided in the tribe's territory just as Judah is often seen as the tribe that embodies the Kingdom of Judah and its royal family.

As the Tribe of Ephraim was the main one of the House of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, when the prophets talked about Ephraim, they were actually referring to all the Ten Tribes of the North.

Due to their continual idolatry, the House of Israel was rejected by God but the House of Judah was not.

Hosea 1:2-9
2 When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea:
“Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry
And children of harlotry,
For the land has committed great harlotry
By departing from the Lord.”
3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
4 Then the Lord said to him:
“Call his name Jezreel,
For in a little while
I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu,
And bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.
5 It shall come to pass in that day
That I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
6 And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him:
“Call her name Lo-Ruhamah,
For I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel,
But I will utterly take them away.
7 Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah,
Will save them by the Lord their God,

And will not save them by bow,
Nor by sword or battle,
By horses or horsemen.”
8 Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son.
9 Then God said:
“Call his name Lo-Ammi,
For you are not My people,
And I will not be your God.

God would no longer have mercy on the House of Israel, but would utterly take them away. They were no longer called God's people. "For you are not My people, and I will not be your God."

This rejection was not for the House of Judah, the Southern Kingdom. The House of Judah returned after their exile in Babylon but the House of Israel as a whole didn't. They were deported into Assyria and then dispersed to the Gentile nations and into the regions beyond.

Most of the Jewish people today are from the House of Judah, and most of the House of Israel are still lost somewhere in the Gentile nations.

However, the rejection of Ephraim or the Ten Tribes was part of God's eternal plan to save the world. Ephraim would be the fullness of the Gentiles or a multitude of nations.

Genesis 41:52
And the name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

Just as his name represents, God has caused Ephraim to be fruitful in the land of his affliction. Wherever he went, God would bless him to be a blessing to others.

Melo ha-goyim מלא הגוים means that the descendants of Ephraim would be a multitude of nations and the fullness of the Gentiles.

After their exile, the Ten Tribes with Ephraim being their head, were mixed among the nations of the earth and they were assimilated to become like the Gentiles. The Ten Tribes of the North are now still filling the nations, and their descendants cannot be counted because of their great number.

Hosea 1:10-11
10 “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 God.’

11 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!

The prophets spoke about something even greater and more glorious.

Isaiah 49:6
Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

When the Messiah restores the ten tribes of Israel, He will be a light to the Gentiles, and He should be God's salvation to the ends of the earth. In fact, for the Jews to recognize Who their Messiah is, this is a prime requisite. Their Messiah will be able to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel. Only the Messiah can do this impossible task!

Jeremiah 31:6-12
6 For there shall be a day
When the watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim,
Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
To the Lord our God.’”
7 For thus says the Lord:
“Sing with gladness for Jacob,
And shout among the chief of the nations;
Proclaim, give praise, and say,
‘O Lord, save Your people,
The remnant of Israel!’
8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country,
And gather them from the ends of the earth,
Among them the blind and the lame,
The woman with child
And the one who labors with child, together;
A great throng shall return there.
9 They shall come with weeping,
And with supplications I will lead them.
I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters,
In a straight way in which they shall not stumble;
For I am a Father to Israel,
And Ephraim is My firstborn.
10 “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
And declare it in the isles afar off, and say,
He who scattered Israel will gather him,
And keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’
11 For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
And ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he.
12 Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion,
Streaming to the goodness of the Lord—
For wheat and new wine and oil,
For the young of the flock and the herd;
Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden,
And they shall sorrow no more at all.

God will again have mercy on Ephraim and restore him to be His people again!

Jeremiah 31:18-22
18 “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself:
‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained bull;
Restore me, and I will return,
For You are the Lord my God.
19 Surely, after my turning, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh;
I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated,
Because I bore the reproach of my youth.’
20 Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he a pleasant child?
For though I spoke against him,
I earnestly remember him still;
Therefore My heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him, says the Lord.
21 “Set up signposts,
Make landmarks;
Set your heart toward the highway,
The way in which you went.
Turn back, O virgin of Israel,
Turn back to these your cities.
22 How long will you gad about,
O you backsliding daughter?
For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth
A woman shall encompass a man.”

The Messiah will then ushered in a New Kingdom where both the house of Israel and the house of Judah will be living with Him and keeping the New Covenant.

Jeremiah 31:31-34
31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah
32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.
33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.

When the descendants of Ephraim or the Ten Lost Tribes are fully restored in Zion, there will again be one Kingdom under one King ruling over them. Yeshua their Messiah! Just like under King David!

Ezekiel 37:15-28
15 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
16 “As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: ‘For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.’ Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.’
17 Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand.
18 “And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, ‘Will you not show us what you mean by these?’—
19 say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”’
20 And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes.
21 “Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;
22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again.
23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
24 “David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them.
25 Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.
26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.
27 My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
28 The nations also will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”’”

Ephesians 2:14-18
14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,
15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,
16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.
18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

When that happens, the nations also will know that He is the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when His sanctuary is in their midst forevermore. And truly He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.

Paul started writing Romans 11 with this question, "Has God cast away His people?":

Romans 11:1-2
1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.

As God did not break His covenants with the House of Israel and the House of Judah but kept them throughout the ages, bringing His lost sheep home, we know He is faithful too in doing exactly what He says He will do in His Word.

Matthew 15:24
But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

2 Peter 3:8-9
8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

God Himself will complete His salvation plan with all the nations as the physical restoration of the twelve tribes of Israel comes to be fully fulfilled! The greatest evangelization of all the nations of the earth will occur when the children of Abraham become a blessing to all the nations of the earth. Yes, all the nations of the earth!

Genesis 26:4-5
4 And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;
5 because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”

Zechariah 8:23
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”

Isaiah 2:3
Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

The House of Israel, who were once lost in the Gentile nations, when restored by God, will be the best and most effective missionaries, witnesses, evangelists, preachers, pastors and teachers to the nations they have been before! They speak the languages of the nations, and know their cultures and customs. They also will teach others to obey His voice and kept His charge, His commandments, His statutes, and His laws.

Matthew 28:18-20
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Now what should those of us, who have come into the household of God by faith in Yeshua, do? Let us not behave like the elder brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son. When the prodigal returns, we become both jealous and angry. We should rejoice and celebrate with our Father in heaven when our brother returns! We should pray for his return. We should even seek out our missing brother!

Romans 11:11-24
11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.
12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,
14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.
15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree,
18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.”
20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.
22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

He is truly the Good Shepherd, seeking His lost sheep even to the end of the age! Not one less! Both Jews and Gentiles!


Written on: 11 March 2017