Israel’s Rejection of Christ
1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
Israel’s Rejection and God’s Purpose
6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.”
10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
Paul’s heart is broken for his fellow Jews. He knows that they are locked into their religious system and as long as they are unwilling to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah promised by God to them for the last four thousand years, they will end up in Hell. God hasn’t changed His promise to them, but He’s fulfilled His promise to send them the Messiah and they have rejected Him. They have loved the religion more than the God of the religion and placed their acts of worship above the God who first saved them from Egypt and now is saving them from their sins. Paul sees this as he was once part of the Grand Sanhedrin which is comprised of 71 members and is the set of ruling judges over the whole nation of Jews. He was the watchdog of the high priests and was even charged with capturing Christians and leading them to Jerusalem where they would be tortured and most likely killed for repenting of their sins and trusting in the work of the promised Messiah instead of their own (Acts 7:54-60; 8:1-3). Remember, it was on one of these such trips that Jesus saved him (Acts 9:1-30). He was a Jew of the Jews – of the tribe of Benjamin and trained under the famous teacher of the time, Gamaliel (Romans 11:1, Acts 22:1-5). He knows their culture, he knows their views, and he knows the religion more than even some of their priests. Knowing all this, he knows how hard it is going to be for many of them to break from their traditions. Fathers will turn on their wives, children will turn on their parents, and people who have turned to Christianity would often be shunned in the marketplace – unable to buy food or supplies. Paul says here that if it were possible, he would have given up even his salvation to save those who are unable to understand or break with their traditions.
This is where the whole thing takes a turn. See, the Israelites at the time believed that they were saved by their genealogy and not their faithfulness in God. Paul makes his case by showing that God’s promise has carried through in Abraham’s spiritual seed and not the physical seed of the first born male. For the Jews who would have read this, the news would have been earth shattering. Tomorrow we’ll go into this in more detail.