Paul Begins by Expressing His Great Sorrow Because the Jews Had Rejectedchrist

Paul Begins by Expressing His Great Sorrow Because the Jews Had Rejectedchrist


Chapter 9

C. H. Spurgeon

Paul begins by expressing his great sorrow because the Jews had rejectedChrist.

God: His Grace

The Gentiles did neither will it, nor run for it, for they sat in darkness (Matt. 4:16). In darkness, therefore not willing what they knew not; 'sitting' in darkness, a contented posture, therefore not running to meet it, but anticipated with these invaluable blessings of goodness. Such is the method of God's grace towards all that partake of it, for he is found of those that sought him not (Isa. 65:1).

Paul now takes up another issue. God counts as righteous human beings who have faith and actually makes righteous believers who live by faith. But is God righteous in His treatment of Israel, seemingly setting aside His ancient people in favor of the Gentiles? In three sweeping chapters Paul proves that God is righteous in all His ways.

Paul expresses his personal anguish over Israel’s rejection of their Messiah. But history shows that God’s initial choice of Israel was sovereign and free, not dependent on the works of any of the patriarchs. The Old Testament consistently portrays God as a sovereign being. In fact He has exercised His sovereign choice to save rather than destroy His people despite their sins. God’s choice of the Gentiles to obtain a righteousness they never sought is simply another expression of that sovereign grace that has always marked His actions. As for Israel, that people stumbled through no fault of God, but because they pursued righteousness as if it could be obtained by works rather than faith. In everything God has been consistent and totally fair.

C. H. Spurgeon

The Jews thought that God must certainly save them. They thought theyhad a birth claim. Were they not the children of Abraham? Surely they hadsome right to it.

This chapter battles the question of right. No man has anyright to the grace of God. The terms are inconsistent. There can be no rightto that which is free favor. We are all condemned criminals, and ifpardoned, it must be as the result of pure mercy, absolute mercy, for desertthere is none in any one of us.

9:1I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,

I speak the truth in Christ--I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit--

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,

2Cor. 1:23

But I call god as witness to my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth.

1Cor. 11:10

Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

1Tim. 2:7

And for this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

9:1-3 Paul expressed concern for his Jewish “brothers” by saying that he would willingly take their punishment if that could save them. While the only one who can save us is Christ, Paul showed a rare depth of love. Like Jesus, he was willing to sacrifice for others. How concerned are you for those who don’t know Christ? Are you willing to sacrifice your time, money, energy, comfort, and safety to see them come to faith in Jesus?


Threading through each continent on earth is a continental divide, that point of high elevation that separates the flow of water to the opposite ends of the continent. Theoretically, a drop of water falling on the U.S. continental divide would eventually reach either the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean, depending on which side of the divide it flowed down.

This illustration helps us grasp the concept of divine sovereignty that we are going to study in the next few chapters of Romans, the section we’re calling “God’s Righteous Dealings with Israel” (9:1--11:36).

Scripture presents God’s sovereignty as both a fact and an evidence of His love, justice, and goodness, whatever our limited minds may think of His choices.

We can see these features in God’s dealings with His chosen people Israel. Paul turns to this subject in Romans because it was close to his heart, and he wants his readers to know what God was doing with the nation of Israel. Paul had such a heartfelt wish for the salvation of his Jewish kinsmen because for the most part, Jews had rejected Christ as Messiah. This rejection raised the issue of where Israel now fit in God’s plan of salvation.

Human logic would say that God simply responded to Israel’s rejection of Christ by rejecting Jews and turning to the Gentiles. But that’s not the explanation Paul gives. God does not react to human actions. His sovereignty is prior to, and often overrules, human choice.

Paul says, in fact, that Israel’s selection as the chosen people was an act of God’s sovereignty from the very beginning. Even though Abraham had other children besides Isaac, Isaac was the only child to whom God’s promise applied. God made a choice among Abraham’s children, on no basis other than His will.

C. H. Spurgeon

They hated Paul intensely; nothing could surpass the malice of the Jewsagainst the man whom they reckoned to be an apostate from the true faith,because he had become a follower of Christ, the Nazarene. Yet note whatis Paul’s feeling towards his cruel countrymen; he is willing, as it were, toput his own salvation in pawn if by doing so the Jews might but be saved.

You must not measure these words by any hard grammatical rule, youmust understand them as spoken out of the depths of great loving heart;and when such a heart as Paul had begins to talk, it speaks not according to

the laws of logic, but according to its own immeasurable feelings. Therewere times when he almost thought that he would himself consent to beaccursed, “anathema,” cast away, separated from Christ, if thereby hecould· save the house of Israel, so great was his love towards them. Of course,this could not be; and no one understood better than Paul did that there isonly one Substitute and one Sacrifice for sinners. He only mentioned thiswish to show how dearly he loved the Jews, so that on their account hehad great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart for his brethren, hiskinsmen according to the flesh. Do you, dear friends, feel that sameconcern about your brethren, your kinsmen according to the flesh? If theyare not saved, do you greatly wonder that they are not, if you have no suchconcern about them? But when once your heart is brought to this pitch ofagony about their souls, you will soon see them saved.

Note: In this section Paul speaks of Israel not of the Jews, to emphasize the roots of that people's identity as God's chosen people. Yet Paul, in speaking of Israel, makes a distinction between descendant of Abraham, and member of the covenant community. The true covenant community has always been composed not of the natural children of Abraham, but his spiritual children, who have Abraham's kind of faith.

In making this argument Paul is laying a foundation that enables him to argue strongly that today's Israel, the chosen covenant community of God, is composed of Gentiles as well as of Jews who believe God's promises about Jesus, His Son.


This text is found in a Psalm which is signalized by the fact that it contains the middle verse of the Bible, namely, It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in am. (Psalm 118:9)


In a special office of the Treasury Department is located the government’s Conscience Fund. If represents a unique service for those who have cheated on Uncle Sam. The Fund is now $3 million after 160 years. It all started back in 1811 when a New York man sent in $6 who said he was “suffering the most painful fangs of conscience.” The biggest year of conscience settlement; no one knows the reason was 1950 when $370,285 came in. The largest contribution was $14,250 from London in the late nineteenth century. Along with the money came notes of explanations and appeals for forgiveness. “I’ll sleep better now,” wrote a donor, “I have my suitcase packed for heaven.” Another confided, “I want to have a clear, conscience.” Still another, “I’d hate to burn in hell for a couple of bucks.”

C. H. Spurgeon

The apostle is evidently about to make an extraordinary statement — astatement which would probably not be believed, and, therefore, he givesas a preface the meet solemn asseverations that are permitted to Christianmen declaring that he is speaking the truth, and also that the Holy Ghost isbearing witness with his conscience that it is so — that he so loves thesouls of his fellow-countrymen that, though the thing could never be, yet ina sort of ecstasy of love he could devote himself to anything so long as hiscountrymen might but be saved. “My kinsmen according to the flesh.”

C. H. Spurgeon

He never thought about his unbelief, brethren, without the deepestimaginable regret. How far is this from the spirit of those who look uponthe ungodly without tears — settle it down as a matter that cannot bealtered, and take it as a question of hard fate, but are never troubled aboutit. Not so the Apostle. He had great heaviness and continual sorrow in hisheart.

9:2that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.

I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.

That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.


Spurgeon once tells of once he was utterly depressed in spirit and soul, discouraged, and failing in health. Just before leaving for a recuperation, he preached on “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The experience was so sad that he wished it would never happen again.

Afterwards, a man came to see him. Spurgeon described him later as “one step away from the insane asylum.” His head bulging, his hands nervous and his spirit totally depressed. The man told Spurgeon that after hearing his sermon, he felt that Spurgeon was the only one who could understand him and so he had come. Spurgeon comforted him as best he knew how from his own sad experience.

For five years, Spurgeon did not see the man. But “just last night” (he was delivering the above lecture to students at the College). “I saw him: it was like night and day. He was completely changed.” Spurgeon concluded that he was willing to undergo hundreds of such experiences now that he knew God permitted it to happen so that he could know and sympathize with people under similar predicaments.

9:3For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,

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,

For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmenaccording to the flesh:

C. H. Spurgeon

He had just that self-sacrificing spirit of Moses, that he would lose anythingand everything if they might but be saved. And this is the spirit whichought to actuate every Church of Christ. The Church that is always caringfor her own maintenance is no church. The Church that would be willing tobe destroyed if it could save the sons of men — which feels as if, whateverher shame or sorrow, it would be nothing if she could but save sinners —that Church is like the Lord, of whom we read, “He saved others: himself

he could not save.” Oh! blessed heart-break over sinful men, which makesmen willing to lose everything if they might, but bless and win men toChrist! “My kinsmen,” says he, “according to the flesh.”

A Life Observed

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them. —Romans 12:6

The death of C. S. Lewis on November 22, 1963, has long been overshadowed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on the same day. While the anniversary of Lewis' death rarely makes the headlines, the worldwide impact of this British scholar, teacher, and author continues to grow 40 years after his passing.

His books sell more than 3 million copies a year and the most famous, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Chronicles Of Narnia, have been reprinted scores of times.

Converted to Christ as an adult, Lewis put his keen mind and imagination to work in the service of God. As a well-known writer and speaker, he continued a simple lifestyle. Michael Nelson has written in the International Herald Tribune: "Two-thirds of his book royalties were earmarked for charities. He never traveled abroad, even when fame brought invitations to lecture from around the world."

Lewis gave us the incomparable gift of a fresh, creative look at our fallen human condition and the timeless power of the gospel of Christ. He lived out the command to serve the body of believers through whatever gift God has given us by His grace (Romans 12:4-6). His example can spur us on to use our God-given gifts for His glory.

God uses ordinary people to carry out His extraordinary plan.

Timeless Insights

If you had three wishes, would one of them be the wish Paul expressed in Romans 9:3? To separate yourself from God willingly for the sake of another seems foolish. As Paul wrote earlier in Romans: For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. (5:7). Yet Paul's motivation was a worthy one, as Martin Luther explains.

"Paul's words will seem peculiar, no, stupid to those who appear holy but actually love God from impure motives. Their love is for the sake of salvation and peace or for the sake of escaping hell, not for God's sake, but their own. They foolishly say that orderly love begins with itself and that everyone must, to begin with, wish salvation for himself and for his neighbor. But they think this because they do not know what it means to be blessed and saved, unless they desire to take it to mean living a life of sensuous pleasures and having a good time according to their fancy. but to be blessed means this: to desire the will of God and His glory, and nothing of your own. We should pray to be saved and enter into the kingdom of God, not because we want all to go well with us, but so that the name and the honor and glory of God the Lord will be praised and increased. For when God's name is glorified, our well-being follows of its own accord."

God's will mattered to Paul more than his own well-being. Such selfless commitment may seem strange today when even marriage vows often endure only as long as we both shall love or till debt do us part. But Paul was following the model laid down by God Himself, who demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (5:8).


A man said to a friend, I hear you dismissed your pastor. What was wrong? The friend said, Well, he kept telling us we're all going to hell. The first man then asked, What does the new pastor say? The friend replied, The new pastor says we're going to hell too. So what's the difference? asked the first man. Well, said the friend, the difference is that when the previous pastor said it, he sounded like he was gland about it; but when the new man says it, he sounds like it is breaking his heart.

That is what Paul is saying in this passage. It is breaking his heart that he has to say harsh things to and about nonbelievers, especially those among his fellow Jews.

Chapters 9-11 are the natural outcome of the first eight:

Chap.. 9

Israel's rejection rests with herself.

Chap.. 10

Israel's rejection is not complete; some are saved now.

Chap.. 11

Israel's rejection is not final: the nation is to be saved in the future.

Each of these three chapters begins with some fact about Paul. In the opening chapter of this section, Paul's burden is to relate something of his passion for the lost souls of his countrymen. Have w ever wept over souls? Do we deal with souls in the spirit of love, or spiritual pride? The Apostle here shows us something of the honesty of his passion, for he had been charged with being an enemy of the Jews. Being in Christ his life was such as would permit no exaggeration so that he spoke the truth, and he did not lie. Besides this his conscience quickened by the Holy Spirit also gave witness to this passion.

The extent of His passion is seen in his deep-rooted emotions. Such inward sadness and mental anguish, both great and continual, that he even included severance from Christ a price worth paying to see Israel saved! If the granting of the wish depended only on Paul's affections for Israel, then it would be granted but, of course, chapter 8 closes with no separation. It is not easy to estimate the measure of love in a Moses or a Paul! But such love does show up a contrast in many Christians today who are virulent in their anti-Semitic attitudes and careless indifference toward the perishing millions who have never heard of Christ.