Not All Israel is Israel, I. Paul’s Deep Love for His Kinsman

When coming to Scripture, there are few phrases that have such weight and implication as does “Not All Israel belong to Israel” in Romans 9. It says first that there are essentially two Israels—one that is truly Israel and another that merely a shadow or a prefiguring. It says also that there has been a misunderstanding by some earlier interpreters of Scripture. These interpreters believed that it was the physical descendents of Jacob who were the children of God and that it was those who would inherit eternal life (cf. Mark 10:17). Jesus refutes this notion on several occasions, none more poignant than his refutation of the Pharisees:

They answered him, “Abraham is our father . . . We were not born of sexual immorality (i.e. like the Samaritans). We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires” (John 8:39, 41-44).

The ultimate rejection of Christ’s words was not limited to the Pharisees for it was true of most of Israel, which prompts Paul, after his glorious declaration of the unfailing love of God in Christ at the end of Romans 8, to address the unbelieving, condemned state of Israel by looking at the nature of the Promise of God to Abraham.

Before he begins to address the nature of the Promise to Abraham, Paul first assures his readers of his deep affection for the physical descendants of Israel. There were undoubtedly those who attacked the hard truths that Paul had written about, and they questioned the genuineness of his love and concern for the nation of Israel. To address this accusation, Paul writes, “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” (Rom. 9:2). Paul says that he would spend eternity in hell, separated from God forever if it would mean that the nation Israel would believe in Christ and be saved. What love this man had for his people! Yet this love would not deter him from speaking the truth that so offended these persons, but his love drove him to preach the hard truth, for he said elsewhere, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (cf. 1Cor. 9:16). Paul knew that it is not the lack of offense that brings freedom and salvation, but it is the proclamation of truth, no matter its palatability (cf. John 8:32).

Next: II. It is the Children of Promise Who are Counted as Offspring

Categories: Fridy Night Bible Study

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5 replies

  1. I like this. It's 2 fold. Not only is Paul preaching the gospel to Israel, and the Pharisees wth biblical truths that seem to offend many people and leave people to reject Christ because of his powerful words, but you see love. Love in that Paul didn't leave his strong words to stir, he put himself in the position to show his affection to them by telling them; “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” (Rom. 9:2). Though many of them still resisted the truths, can you imagine what those words sounded like to a few who did listen? Wow!!


  2. I think this is a good lesson to learn from Paul. Though some might argue that he should have said this sooner in the letter (like the beginning of chapter 2), it still demonstrates the great love that he had for the Israelites though he, like Jesus, frequently bashes their traditions and their stubbornness. I believe it is from thoughts like this that Martin Luther said, "Peace if possible; truth at all costs."


  3. You know this get's deeper. As I reading, something popped in my head. Romans 9, in the first 8 to 10 verses I read, I wondered why Israel today, Jews today would consider themselves the chosen people, when it could be the chosen nation in which Abraham came from, essentially Christ himself. Being the chosen decendents of Abraham is specific. Separating the physical decendents from spiritual decendents. This is the cause of war between Palestine and Israel. Correct me if I wrong, but these verses in Romans kinda shun the Jews from the high status they put themselves on. If it's confusing I can make more sense of it if needed.


  4. It makes perfect sense. I am planning on addressing that very thing in one of the next two posts. You'll be well prepared for FNBS if you make it. I know, we can't have you all the time.=P


  5. I think which would explain why Paul was so consistent and so hard on them. He was trying to break down the assumption of having first class rights just because they were Jews, misunderstanding what the coventant to Abraham was really about. hmm


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