I am speaking the truth in Christ. I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. (Romans 9:1-3)
In this passage, Paul makes a statement that many believers have a hard time understanding. The wording can be confusing, but the message is relatively simple: he is trying to convey his love for his people, the Jewish people. Paul proclaims that if it were possible, he would give up his own salvation if his unbelieving Jewish brethren would be saved. This is a love similar to that of Yeshua (Jesus).
The statement shows that indeed most of the Jewish people at the time of Yeshua had not received Him as the Messiah. Paul continues by answering the question that may be on the mind of the reader, “Has God forgotten His promises to the Jewish people?” He says that God has absolutely not given up on the Jewish people, but rather quotes God’s explanation to Moses, “‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Romans 9:15-16). Paul makes it clear that God has not forgotten His promises and that He is still in control. It is also clear that sometimes, the way that we would do things is not God’s way.
Paul’s heart is still broken as he continues in Romans 10. He begins to explain that the Jewish people followed the law for the sake of righteousness without faith. This meant that they vainly tried to attain relative perfection by pursuing the Law, the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Paul never claims that the Law is bad or evil, just that when one strives for God in his or her own strength, it is futile. Rather, by the death and resurrection of Yeshua, people who believe in Him can now attain true righteousness – and the Law pointed to that fact. It is then clear that Paul longs to see his Jewish people receive Jesus as the Messiah.
Believers often study Paul as the model for Missions and Evangelism, but we all too often ignore his actions. Paul was an educated Jewish man whom God called to share the Gospel – which was a very Jewish message – with the non-Jewish people. This idea was revolutionary. Although Paul did travel from city to city sharing the love of God and the Jewish Messiah with non-Jewish people whom he loved, he still never gave up his love for his own Jewish people. Paul even proclaimed that they and their promises still belong to God and that God would fulfill them. In Paul’s missionary journeys, he would visit the synagogue in every new city to which he traveled, and then went to the non-Jewish people afterwards. This is not to say that the Jewish people are more important; it merely demonstrates that one of our “role models” for Missions really loved the Jewish people and never forgot them, just as God will never forget them.
If God is really a faithful God; if He has not forgotten or thrown away the Jewish people; if Paul truly loved the Jewish people; if they need Jesus as much as everybody else, then the question we must ask ourselves is why are we not sharing Jesus with them more?
Contributed by Ryan K.
Read Part 2 here