Heidi, it is a tricky verse, but I think we often make it more difficult than it really is. So, if you will permit this novice to attempt to explain the verse...
The obvious clear parallel is Moses' exclamation in Ex. 32:32:
Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.To which the Geneva annotators very simply append:
He esteemed the glory of God so much, that he preferred it even to his own salvation.It is important to note that the cutting off of which he (Paul, also) speaks is an impossible desire: for in the ordained world or the world that actually is, damnation or condemnation is only the fruit of those who seek not the glory of God -- for he has appointed a way in which he is to be glorified, and at the head of that order is the eternal enjoyment of Him (WSC 1). So, as the Dutch Annotations wisely state:
Not that the Apostle should wish to be obdurate and hardened against Christ, like as they [the Jews] were: for this cannot be wished by any Godly man; but he wisheth through an overflowing love, which notwithstanding always subjects itself to the will of God, that he might bear in their stead, the punishment which was to be expected by them, in God's righteous judgment by reason of their hardness, that they might be freed form their hardness and banishment.So Paul could wish from his deep love to his brethren that he could be cut of from the enjoyment of God -- all the while, however, recognizing that this is an impossible wish, since God has not ordained that any should honor him but through the enjoyment of Him. So Paul could wish his own cutting off; he would give up his own happiness for his people; but he won't/can't, since the only way to do that would be to go apart form the will of God, and ultimately not bring glory to Him. In the appointed order, condemnation is inextricably linked with sin, hardening and opposition to God.
So in answer to your second question: if we were considering purely how the world *might have been*, yes, we should be willing to be cut of from the enjoyment of God for his glory; but considering the world as created and ordained by God, we cannot do so, for such would require us to deviate from his expressed commandments and will (which is the opposite of glorifying Him).
Wow, in the time it took me to type this, 5 responses were added!