Paul’s “Crucial Conversation” with His Kinsmen

I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:1-3).

Romans 9-11 is an inspired example of “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) to loved ones who have stubbornly refused to obey the gospel.

The gospel is founded upon three truths which were very “hard” and unpalatable to the Jews:

  • God’s plan of using the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not mean the Jews were divinely intended to be “God’s chosen people” from 2000 B. C. until the end of human history.

  • God’s plan of using the Law of Moses to function for 1,500 years as a school master/tutor to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24) and foretell the eventual revelation of the faith (i.e., the “mystery kept secret since the word began” [Romans 16:25] which was promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures [Romans 1:2] and was revealed by the Holy Spirit to Christ’s holy apostles and prophets [Ephesians 3:5]) is NOT evidence that God does not love the Jews or that the Law of Moses was flawed.

  • God’s plan of replacing the “first covenant” (made with the house of Israel at Mount Sinai) with a second, new, and better covenant (made with all humanity at Mount Calvary and offers mercy upon unrighteousness and divine forgetfulness of your sins and lawless deeds [Hebrews 8:7-13])is not sufficient grounds for rejecting the gospel of God.

But, from the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 onward, many Jews (including Saul of Tarsus for several years) have refused to believe and obey the gospel. And, they have felt justified in doing so.

In Romans 9-11, the apostle Paul has a “crucial conversation” with his physical kinsmen on these three basic flaws in their unbelief. Before writing these “hard” truths, he concludes chapter 8 with a comprehensive declaration of God’s vast love (vv. 38-39) and begins chapter 9 with a poignant personal confession of his immense and intense love for his “countrymen according to the flesh” (vv. 1-3).

“Speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) is essential to a proper proclamation of the gospel and any “crucial conversation” of its “hard” truths.

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Author: jchowning

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