Romans 9:1-13; 30-33
A. This begins a two chapter section in which Paul deals with the nation of Israel: what God has done in their past as well as what part-if any, they still occupy in the future plan of God.
B. Some eschatological interpretations have all the Jews-or at least most of them, alive during the millennium being saved. Thus God will not ultimately reject those they still consider his people but his people set aside at the present time which is the age of the Gentiles.
C. In the midst of this discussion, Paul also deals with some other thorny issues, like election. He gives examples of how God has chosen some people over others, seemingly even before they were born.
D. But woven throughout the section is Paul’s concern for those who are lost-the same concern all believers should have.
E. Paul had experienced the grace of God in a marvelous way, and because he had been a recipient, he wanted others to be as well.
I. Paul’s Grief Over Unbelief (vv. 1-5)
A. Our grief over the lost.
1. All of us can probably testify that we have loved ones, maybe even spouses or children, who do not know Christ as their Savior.
2. While it pains us over any person who is lost, knowing those close or related to us are is even more devastating.
3. If death overtakes them before they repent, it is even more painful, for our theological belief then reminds us we will never see them again. There will be an eternal separation from us just as it will be from God.
4. We often comfort ourselves by hoping they have made a last minute decision in their heart and mind that we are not aware of.
5. My maternal grandfather fell into this category. Though he attended church regularly, there was no evidence in his lifestyle he had ever trusted Christ. Prior to his death, he had many strokes which continued to incapacitate him, finally leading to his inability to talk or walk. My dad would talk to him about his spiritual state and his blue eyes would fill with tears, but we had no way of knowing whether or not he ever made life’s most important decision.
B. Paul’s grief over his lost kinsmen. (vv. 1-3)
1. Paul states his heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for his people who have rejected Christ.
2. While the Romans actually put Jesus to death, it is very evident the religious leaders were the ones who instigated the crowd to cry out for his crucifixion.
3. They were jealous of the crowds who followed Jesus-many of whom had previously been their followers.
4. They saw many of Jesus’ actions as breaking of the Law of Moses.
5. His claim to forgive sins was heresy in their minds and an act of equating himself with God whom he claimed to be-another matter that infuriated them.
6. Nor did they accept the proposition he had been resurrected from the grave.
7. Much of their unbelief lay in their misinterpretation of Old Testament scripture which they believed pointed to a Messiah who would deliver his people from their oppressors not die on a cross.
8. As Paul viewed so many of his brethren continuing to reject his message, it grieved him intensely.
9. He even went so far as to propose he would be willing to be cut off from God if it meant their salvation.
10. The import of this statement is amazing. How many of you would be willing to give up your eternal place in heaven and go to hell if it meant someone you loved would be saved. In other words, would you give someone else your salvation and lose yours in the process?
11. Paul was not simply making this statement but was honest in his willingness to do that very thing. While theologically impossible, the intent and passion are there.
12. These people are not what we would consider blood kin with Paul but simply members of his own race. He was a Jew.
13. Thus Paul was willing to trade his salvation not only for his blood kin but also for those of his own race. I think he would have done it for anyone.
14. Interestingly, these are the same people who have harmed Paul physically and tried to destroy his ministry.
15. The situation is similar to when Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who were crucifying him because they didn’t know or understand what they were doing.
16. Paul’s intense concern over his lost kinsmen reminds us of something John would write; “If anyone says, ‘I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who hates his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (I John 4:20)
C. Privileges that should have driven the Jews to Christ (vv. 4-5)
1. As we think about the privileges the Jews had that should have made it very simple for them to trust Christ but who did not, we think of the many who have been exposed to Christianity-and who have even lived in a Christian nation, but who continually reject the love of Christ.
2. What were the privileges of the Jewish people? God had selected them from all the people on earth and entered into a covenant with them. He sent Abraham to the land that would become the Promised Land and their home. Through Abraham, he made a great nation of the Jews and performed mighty works in their life. He selected them above the Egyptians through the plagues, delivered them from slavery, dried up the Red Sea for them to cross over, destroyed the Egyptian army, gave them his Law and provided for their needs throughout the wilderness wanderings. He returned them to the Promised Land and allowed them to expel the pagan inhabitants. He gave them every opportunity to fulfill his plan and purpose which was to be a light to the nations, but many of them failed.
3. When the time came for God to send his Son into the world, he even sent him of Jewish heritage. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (John 1:11)
4. None of the privileges, however, made it possible for Jews to come to Christ in a different way than the Gentiles. The way has always been, and will always be, faith.
D. Not all Jews are true Jews (vv. 6-13)
1. Since it is evident not all Jews are children of God-made evident by their rejection of Christ, has God failed in his promise to make them his children?
2. Of course not. The promise was always contingent on belief, and not all believed.
3. Had Abraham not trusted God in faith, he would never have become the father of the faithful.
4. True Jews, or true children of Abraham, are not just his biological descendants. In fact, many of his biological descendants are not children of God or true Jews as Paul defines them.
5. Remember what Paul has already said; “A true Jew is one whose heart is right with God.” (2:29)
6. And again, “The real children of Abraham, then, are all those who put their faith in God.” (Galatians 3:7)
7. As proof of his apology, Paul appeals to the example of Abraham and Sarah and their children Isaac and Ishmael.
8. Isaac was the son of promise while Ishmael was the son engineered by the impatience of Sarah and the reluctant consent of Abraham.
9. After the mistake, God told Abraham, “Do not be upset over the boy (Ishmael) and your servant wife. Do just as Sarah says, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” (Genesis 21:12)
10. Abraham had descendants by Ishmael but they were not the true descendants of faith or the ones through whom the promise to bless all nations through Abraham would come. Nor were they in the line through which the Messiah would be born.
11. Similarly, not all who are born of the Jewish race are true Jews and in fact a true Jew does not have to be of Jewish heritage at all.
12. Isaac was the son of promise, and only those who follow his example of faith as well as Abraham’s have access to God and God’s promise of salvation.
13. Paul also appeals to Isaac’s family. He married Rebekah who became pregnant with twins. Before they were born, she was told of a normally backwards set of events. The younger would serve the older. Jacob was chosen over Esau. Jacob became a man of faith while Esau didn’t have time for it.
II. Our Passion Must Include The Correct Message (vv. 30-33)
A. God accepts us by faith.
1. Even though the Gentiles were not seeking God, those who came to him came by faith.
2. The Jews who tried so diligently to get to God by obedience to the Law discovered that was not the way either. They too had to come by faith.
3. They stumbled over the very way God designed to bring them to himself.
4. To prove this, Paul quotes a passage in Isaiah 28:16.
5. The rock they stumbled over was Jesus, and they did this by rejecting him as God’s means to their salvation.
B. What causes us to stumble over Christ?
1. Salvation by faith regardless of works doesn’t make sense to some.
2. God for them should be a grandfatherly type who in the end will overlook their sin.
3. Salvation requires humility and offends our pride, and some don’t want to come that way.
4. Obedience is required, and some want to go their own way and do their own thing.
A. Ask God to give you a passion for those who don’t know him as well as opportunities to share your faith and the wisdom to know how.
B. Our message must always include the way of faith for this is the only way to approach God and know forgiveness of our sins.