The Berean Expositor
Volume 27 - Page 138 of 212
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"The desire rose up in the apostle's heart, and to a certain extent he allowed and
sanctioned it. Yet only to a certain extent, for a higher desire struck in and controlled
it--the desire to be in perfect accord with God's desire and will. Hence his desire to be
anathema for his countrymen never was completed and complete. It hung suspended. It
remained imperfect. It was conditional, and the condition that would have brought it to
maturity was never forthcoming. Thus the embryo-desire was in reality but a potency, so
that the translation I could desire is indicated" (Dr. John Lightfoot on Rom. 9:).
The question is difficult to decide with certainty. According to one interpretation the
apostle is manifesting a sympathetic understanding with the attitude of his countrymen by
saying in effect, "I know, for I did the same myself". According to the alternative view,
he is emulating Moses, who cried:
"Yet now, if Thou forgive their sin ----- ; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy
book which Thou hast written" (Exod. 32: 32).
Perhaps it is impossible for us in the present life to arrive at a conclusion. The
question does not demand a decision. No point of doctrine or practice is affected by
either view, and, therefore, while we still believe the apostle said that he "used to wish"
in the past, thereby assuring Israel that there would be no self-righteous condemnation so
far as he was concerned, we freely grant the liberty of others to believe that such was the
apostle's love for Israel, that, if the sacrifice would have proved effective, he was willing
even for that, if only his nation might be saved. In either case, it is clear that any charge
against Paul of indifference to the fate of his countrymen now that he is the apostle to the
Gentiles is effectively answered.
Israel's Privileges (9: 4, 5).
pp. 191 - 198
The apostle's sorrow for his kinsmen is expressed, first of all, not in terms of their fall,
but in relation to the heights of privilege from which that fall had taken place, and it is the
enumeration of Israel's dispensational privileges that for the present must occupy our
"I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart (for I myself used to wish
that I were anathema from Christ) for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants,
and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the
fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, Who is over all, God blessed
unto the age. Amen" (Rom. 9: 2-5).
It will be helpful, before we examine these items in detail, to observe their disposition.
By noting the correspondence between them we shall obtain a clearer view of their true
meaning than by the individual study of each in turn.