Paul wishing himself accursed for his brethren

Discussion in 'NT Epistles' started by a mere housewife, Dec 3, 2009.

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  1. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    How could Paul in Romans 9:3 wish that He were 'accursed from Christ' for the sake of anyone else -- is this not like loving others and clinging to them more than to Christ?

    Are we also supposed to be willing to be damned if it would serve to the edification or salvation of someone else?

    Again, I'm very sorry if this has been answered in the past (I can't imagine that it wasn't, but I'm evidently not very good at getting specific search results).
  2. Joseph Scibbe

    Joseph Scibbe Puritan Board Junior

    I had always thought this meant that if it meant that all Israel would be saved Paul would havetraded his salvation for it. That he would have gone to hell if it meant the salvation of the Jews.
  3. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Yes, this is what I understand it to mean as well.
  4. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    If the 10 Commandments in part tell us that we are to always be content in whatsoever state, is Paul violating the catechism's application of the commandment to us then?

    Or, is there a godly discontentment that we may exercise?
  5. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    It is rhetoric to make a point. He tells us that he is full of sorrow for his countrymen. Then he says, "For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. . . ." In other words, he's stating the extent of his sorrow.

    It is similar to saying, "if it were up to me, I'd fix them all. But it is not up to me. It is up to God."

    I don't see anything at all sinful about his statements. He is obedient to God and he is sorrowful for the unbelief of his brothers in flesh. That doesn't mean he is not content with where God has placed him. He embraces the sorrow and he preaches the truth.
  6. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    I need to be at home and look in my Greek books to say for sure, but I seem to recall that the type of verb Paul uses might be appropriately translated:

    I could wish myself accursed....

    In other words, this is an entirely hypothetical scenario, grammatically. Optitive somethingorother...

    I'll try to find this later today, if someone else hasn't already corroborated or disproved this by then.

  7. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    No I was sure his statements, as inspired ones, could not be sinful: but I was unsure how to reconcile them with - not sorrowing for others to the point of conflict with the will of God, or losing a pre-eminent love for Christ, who disposes all these things.

    Thanks very much.

    Adam unfortunately I know so little about Optitive somethingorothers, but I'll take your and Vic's word for it :).
  8. Idelette

    Idelette Puritan Board Graduate

    I may be wrong...but I thought that Paul was using a hyperbole here. Meaning that Paul had such a deep anguish over Israel that he says this to emphasis his anguish; but not necessarily to be taken literally. In the ESV and NASB Paul says, "For I could wish that....." rather than saying "For I wish, or I desire that"... The language here leads me to believe that he's using a hyperbole.

    But, perhaps, some of the Bible scholars on the board can correct me if I am wrong??

    edit: I just saw the post by Victorbravo....
  9. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    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!
  10. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    Thanks for asking this Heidi. I have wondered the same thing. Vic's post is very helpful. :up:
  11. Idelette

    Idelette Puritan Board Graduate

    Yeah, me too!
  12. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Paul, thank you -- I thought that surely the resolution must be that Paul cared more about God's glory than other people, not about other people than Christ, but was unsure if then to care about God's glory could possibly be consistent with rejecting Him (and how could one possibly determine on such a course, when it seems like those things -- whether we would be allowed to 'stand in' for someone else -- would be some hidden and not His revealed will?).

    Joshua, your bodily presence may be mean but your speech is very -- bifuscular. If you know what I mean.
  13. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Heidi, that's partly why I like the account given by the Dutch Annotations quoted above, since it very succinctly and smoothly unites the statement of Paul's love for Israel with his ultimate concern for God's glory: it was just that he wanted them to be "happy" or "saved," but that he desired that by his own bearing of their punishment, they would be released (not just from punishment), but from their own hardness and obstinacy; rather, that they would act in accordance with the will of God and bring glory to his name.
  14. Berean

    Berean Puritan Board Doctor

    I think Josh has the Advent Flu.
  15. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    I think his soul is full of gunk.
  16. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    That clears up my doubts on a matter of grave importance; thank you.

    (That is, I am now *certain* that your heart is full of unwashed socks.)
  17. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    Dana and Mantey refer to this as a subset of the Potential Indicative:

    Sorry, I don't know how to use a Greek font yet.

  18. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    There is a sense that this word used can carry a meaning of excommunication from the body or even wishing a temporal death. Which in some way would help his kinsman 'according to the flesh' be saved. Paul is expressing His love for them as if anything he could do would benefit them. The phrase anayema einai apo tou cristou, can also be rendered to be separated unto death. Not separated from Christ but by Christ. It is as if Paul was saying if his death could be a ransom for them, he would do it. Yet he knew this is not possible.
  19. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    I have always seen that passage as being like Exodus 32:31-32

    [bible]Exodus 32:31-32[/bible]
  20. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    sounds like Paul was a "racist".

    How dare he even acknowledge that he sprang from an identifable people, let alone prefer them above strangers!
  21. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Thank you, Rev. Greco: Paul (Prufrock) had also mentioned that parallel but I hadn't stopped to consider it more fully; this passage has been easier for me to understand because I understood Moses as a type of Christ, interceding for us: and of course, praying in the will of God for His people. Paul's case has been more puzzling because there do not seem to be those aspects with him; but with the very helpful answers in the thread I think it is clearer now -- and the relation with this passage is clearer as well.
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