A prayer for one's own. 9:1-5
Many of Paul's countrymen had rejected Jesus; they had received everything from the Lord their God and now they returned his favour by rejecting his Son. This certainly distressed Paul, and so in our passage for study he expresses his grief for apostate Israel.
v1. The opening verse is designed to emphasize verse 2. It is an emphatic statement where Paul declares that he is speaking truthfully, a fact confirmed both by his conscience and the Holy Spirit.
v2. Paul is filled with anguish for the present state of Israel. Paul's fellow Jews had a full and complete place before the living God, but they are now outside his grace. For Paul, a Jew, it is a great loss.
v3. Paul states that if it were possible, he would be willing to trade places with his fellow countrymen. Paul is willing to forfeit his salvation for them. "If I could".... ie. if it were right and according to the will of God. "I would pray" (NIV "wish")..... I would ask this of God. And why this depth of feeling? They are his "brothers", his "own race"; they are members of God's family, but are in rebellion against Him.
v4-5. Paul goes on to make four statements detailing the privileges of his race. It is the loss of such wonderful privileges that causes Paul so much pain:
i] They are Israelites. This is a religious term denoting the Jews as God's chosen people.
ii] They are a blessed race:
a) Theirs is the adoption as sons - people in a special relationship with God. God is their Father.
b) Theirs the Divine glory. God has manifested himself to his people; He has been personally present with his people.
c) The covenants, the promised blessings of God. The word "covenants" means the agreements that God has made with his people.
d) The gift of the Mosaic Law.
e) Service to God. Many translations have "worship" here, but the Greek word means "service" - the privilege of serving God.
f) The promises. All the promises revealed in the scriptures.
iii] "Theirs are the patriarchs." They are part of the family God chose to deal with throughout history."
iv]. Finally, from the Jewish people came the Messiah, Christ. Paul concludes by making two points about Jesus:
a) "Who is over all". He is Lord, and therefore, our Lord and master. Phil.2:10.
b) "God-blessed forever, Amen." He is blessed of God. The NIV translation is probably not correct. It is unlikely that Paul would confuse his readers by calling Jesus "God over all". Such would imply that Jesus has authority over the Father.
With this list of privileges before Paul, what else can he do but be filled with anguish at the thought that so many of his countrymen had lost everything.
Island of isolation
The children of the 80's and 90's will probably be known as the me generation. We moved into the minimum self and insulated ourselves from the endless invasion of our persons by the media, government, associations, .... and yes, even our local church. Yet, now in this new millennium we are on the way out of the island of isolation. Some commentators suggest that we are even now moving into the re-generation, the rediscovery of.......... Well, I'm not sure what. Is it pragmatism? We may be rediscovering the 1960's!
It's very hard allowing ourselves to be burdened by the troubles of others. Yet, Paul did not isolate himself from feelings of concern. In fact, he saw his feelings as rightly motivated by his relationship with Christ and confirmed by his renewed conscience. They were genuine feelings, originating in truth and unaffected by the warp of human nature. Paul allowed himself to have a genuine anguish for his Jewish brothers. He mourned their potential loss in Christ.
When it comes to focusing our emotions on the needs of those around us, on whom do we release our limited emotional energy? We see the images of starvation on the TV night after night. We see the mass of humanity surge past us, lost and alone. A broken world lies before us. Like Paul, our emotional energy should rightly be applied to our brothers and sisters in the Lord. "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has not pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence."
When it comes to our brothers and sisters in Christ, no one is an island unto themselves. We have to learn to carry each other. It is then that we experience that "he's not heavy, he's me brother."
Why does Paul feel great anguish for his fellow Jews?
Print-friendly: Sermon Notes. and Technical Notes
Index of studies: Resource library
Pumpkin Cottage Ministry Resources
Lectionary Bible Studies and Sermons