Paul’s People

Monday, Mar. 28                                                       

There’s a side to Paul the Apostle that we can miss.  He was commissioned to preach the gospel to the Gentile world, which he did, but not at the exclusion of his own people.  We all know that he went to the Jews first wherever he went, partly because they had a head start in their knowledge of God.  After all, Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, and because of O.T. prophecy, the Jews were fully expecting the Messiah to come at this time.  Paul no doubt had high expectations for a positive response from his own people.  What a help they would be in presenting the gospel to the Gentiles!  But they not only rejected the message, they rejected the messenger.  They opposed him and tried to kill him.  So rather than their being a help in reaching the Gentiles, they became a hindrance.  Paul suffered much from Roman persecution, much of it because of the Jews.  Despite this, Paul kept on going to the Jews first.   He never gave up trying to reach his own people.  His heart is revealed in Rom. 9:1-2.  “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers . . ..”  He could not be accursed because salvation is irreversible, but it reveals his heart, which is again expressed in Rom. 10:1.  “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.”  All this is rather incidental to the main subject of Rom. 9-10, but it conveys a message that we should not miss.  What can we learn from this?  Paul’s concern for the Jews as well as the Gentiles was intense.  It was emotional.  It drove him.  We need to have that kind of concern for the lost—even radical Muslims.  We get used to all the killing going on in our world—the mass bombings, the beheading of Christians, our anti-Christian society, and the anti-God philosophies and practices.  All of this has become daily fodder for the media.  It’s so easy to shrug our shoulders and continue our normal life, basically just concerned for our own little world.  Please note that Paul’s concern for his people drove him to prayer.  He didn’t just moan and groan.  He didn’t just wring his hands, feeling helpless to remedy the situation.  He didn’t push the issue to the back burner.  He prayed.

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