In the presence of Christ, I speak with utter truthfulness -- I do not lie -- and my conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm that what I am saying is true.
My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief
for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. a I would be willing to be forever cursed -- cut off from Christ! -- if that would save them.
They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God's special children. b God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave his law to them. They have the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises.
Their ancestors were great people of God, and Christ himself was a Jew as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God, who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. c6
Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to the Jews? No, for not everyone born into a Jewish family is truly a Jew!
Just the fact that they are descendants of Abraham doesn't make them truly Abraham's children. For the Scriptures say, "Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted," d though Abraham had other children, too.
This means that Abraham's physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. It is the children of the promise who are considered to be Abraham's children.
For God had promised, "Next year I will return, and Sarah will have a son." e10
This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he grew up, he married Rebekah, who gave birth to twins.
But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message proves that God chooses according to his own plan,
not according to our good or bad works.) She was told, "The descendants of your older son will serve the descendants of your younger son." f13
In the words of the Scriptures, "I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau." g14
What can we say? Was God being unfair? Of course not!
For God said to Moses, "I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose." h16
So receiving God's promise is not up to us. We can't get it by choosing it or working hard for it. God will show mercy to anyone he chooses.
For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, "I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you, and so that my fame might spread throughout the earth." i18
So you see, God shows mercy to some just because he wants to, and he chooses to make some people refuse to listen.
Well then, you might say, "Why does God blame people for not listening? Haven't they simply done what he made them do?"
No, don't say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to criticize God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who made it, "Why have you made me like this?"
When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn't he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?
God has every right to exercise his judgment and his power, but he also has the right to be very patient with those who are the objects of his judgment and are fit only for destruction.
He also has the right to pour out the riches of his glory upon those he prepared to be the objects of his mercy --
even upon us, whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.
Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, "Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before." j26
And, "Once they were told, 'You are not my people.' But now he will say, 'You are children of the living God.' k "
Concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out, "Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand on the seashore, only a small number will be saved.
For the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth quickly and with finality." l29
And Isaiah said in another place, "If the Lord Almighty had not spared a few of us, we would have been wiped out as completely as Sodom and Gomorrah." m30
Well then, what shall we say about these things? Just this: The Gentiles have been made right with God by faith, even though they were not seeking him.
But the Jews, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded.
Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law and being good instead of by depending on faith. They stumbled over the great rock in their path.
God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said, "I am placing a stone in Jerusalem n that causes people to stumble, and a rock that makes them fall. o But anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed. p "
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)