I ask, then, has God rejected His people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. ... Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?
Have you ever been jealous of another person's faith—in a good way? Do you know anyone who seems to rise above it all (life's many trials and little miseries), and you know deep down it's because they lean on God in faith as their Protector and Guide?
This idea of jealousy as a good thing appears to be what the apostle Paul is saying here. Though the Jews have long been a "disobedient and contrary people" (Romans 10:21b), Paul is earnest in his concern for their spiritual well-being. As he ministers to the Gentiles, and their numbers increase as the Holy Spirit gives them faith, he wants his Jewish brothers and sisters to yearn for—be jealous of—what the Gentiles have: a true and lasting faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
This is no idle intention. In fact, Paul is so earnest for his fellow Jews' deliverance he said he would reject his own salvation in exchange for them coming to faith.
"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. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen" (Romans 9:1-5).
The Jews have it all Paul says here. Yet their persistent striving for a Law-based salvation earned by their own works blinded them to the promised Messiah in their midst—Jesus—their Brother according to the flesh. Plain as day, God as Man, He was a stumbling block which many of them could not see past (see Romans 9:30-10:4).
Many in this world are struck by a similar blindness. May our lives as believers make them jealous for the faith we have in Jesus.
Heavenly Father, let our lives burn bright with a faith and love that draws others to Jesus. In His Name we pray. Amen.
1. Who do you know personally and deeply admire? What do you most appreciate about him or her?
2. Is it possible Paul might have wanted to be an apostle to the Jews more than the Gentiles?
3. Do you think your Christian faith is apparent to others?
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Who do you know personally and deeply admire? What do you most appreciate about him or her?