I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.” – Romans 9:2-4 (NIV)
After Paul writes of overwhelming victory in Romans 8, his mood turns somber as he reflects upon Israel and its rejection of Jesus the Messiah.
Chapters 9-11 are best presented as a unit. Each of these chapters start with a lament, but end with a doxology.
Shepherd’s Notes observes: Paul’s stance regarding Israel was similar to that of Moses when Israel sinned by creating the golden calf. “But now, if Thou wilt, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Thy book which Thou has written!” (Exodus 32:32, NASB)
Although Paul’s primary mission was to the Gentiles, his heart ached for the salvation of his Jewish brethren.
The Jewish Advantages
Verses 4-5 show how tragic the Jews’ rejection of Christ the Messiah was in light of their many advantages:
- They were Israelites.
- They received adoption as sons.
- They experienced God’s glory.
- They received God’s Law.
- They were given God’s special covenant.
- They were given responsibility of Temple worship service.
- They were descendants of the patriarchs.
- They had God’s promises.
- They were Jesus the Messiah’s ancestors.
Paul’s concern for his Jewish brothers demonstrated great love and compassion. Like Christ, he was willing to sacrifice in order that they might find eternal life by placing their faith in Him.
Are we as concerned for those who haven’t placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Paul was?