Romans 9:3
For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) I could wish . . .—Rather, I could have wished. The wish, of course, related to what was really impossible. Still it is a nobly generous impulse, at which some weak minds have been shocked, and out of which others have made sentimental capital. Let us leave it as it is.

Accursed from Christ.—Separated from Christ, and devoted to destruction. Does not the intensity of this expression help us to realise one aspect of the Atonement—“being made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13)? (The Greek word for “curse” is different, but comes to be nearly equivalent.)

Romans 9:3. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ ( The word αναθεμα, here rendered accursed, answers to the Hebrew word חרם, cherem, which signifies what is devoted to destruction. And, as the Jewish nation was now an anathema, destined to destruction, Mr. Locke supposes that Paul, to express his affection for them, here says that he could wish, provided he could thereby save them from it, to become an anathema, or to be devoted to destruction himself, in their stead. In other words, that he could be content “that Christ should give him up to such calamities as these, to which the Jewish people were doomed for rejecting him; so that if they could all be centred in one person, he would be willing they should unite in him, could he thereby be a means of saving his countrymen. This is the interpretation of Dr. Samuel Clarke, (see his Seventeen Sermons, p. 340.) To the same purpose nearly is Goodwin’s exposition of the passage: “It seems,” says he, “to mean, that he was willing to be looked upon, and in every respect dealt with in the world, as if he were accursed by Christ, and so worthy of all ignominy, punishment, tortures, and death, that could be inflicted on him: such as were wont to be inflicted on persons, who, for some hateful crime, were devoted to utter destruction. The Greek word is indifferently applied either to persons or things, and in Scripture commonly signifies such, in either kind, as were consigned, either by God himself, or men, or both, to destruction, in the nature of piacular sacrifices.” Such a sacrifice Paul was willing to become for his brethren’s sake, supposing that he could thereby “procure deliverance for them from that most heavy curse of an eternal separation from God, which he certainly knew hung over their heads, for their obstinate refusal of the gospel.” According to these interpretations, αναθεμα απο Χριστου, must be rendered, made an anathema by, or from Christ. But Dr. Waterland observing, as απο προγονων, 2 Timothy 3:3, signifies, after the example of my forefathers, απο του Χριστου, in this passage, may signify, after the example of Christ. This exposition is adopted by Dr. Doddridge as the most probable, who thus paraphrases the verse: “I could even wish, that as Christ subjected himself to the curse, that he might deliver us from it, so I myself, likewise, were made an anathema after his example; like him exposed to all the execrations of an enraged people, and even to the infamous and accursed death of crucifixion itself, for the sake of my brethren: &c., that they might thereby be delivered from the guilt they have brought upon their own heads, and become entitled to the forfeited and rejected blessings of the Messiah’s kingdom.” Many commentators have shown how very absurd it would be to suppose the apostle meant, that he could be content to be delivered over to everlasting misery for the good of others. The apostle here mentions his near relation to the Jews, in order that what he had expressed concerning the greatness of his affection for them, might be the more easily believed by them.9:1-5 Being about to discuss the rejection of the Jews and the calling of the Gentiles, and to show that the whole agrees with the sovereign electing love of God, the apostle expresses strongly his affection for his people. He solemnly appeals to Christ; and his conscience, enlightened and directed by the Holy Spirit, bore witness to his sincerity. He would submit to be treated as accursed, to be disgraced, crucified; and even for a time be in the deepest horror and distress; if he could rescue his nation from the destruction about to come upon them for their obstinate unbelief. To be insensible to the eternal condition of our fellow-creatures, is contrary both to the love required by the law, and the mercy of the gospel. They had long been professed worshippers of Jehovah. The law, and the national covenant which was grounded thereon, belonged to them. The temple worship was typical of salvation by the Messiah, and the means of communion with God. All the promises concerning Christ and his salvation were given to them. He is not only over all, as Mediator, but he is God blessed for ever.For I could wish ... - This passage has been greatly controverted. Some have proposed to translate it, "I did wish," as referring to a former state, when he renounced Christ, and sought to advance the interests of the nation by opposing and defying him. But to this interpretation there are insuperable objections.

(1) the object of the apostle is not to state his former feelings, but his present attachment to his countrymen, and willingness to suffer for them.

(2) the proper grammatical construction of the word used here is not I did wish, but I could desire; that is, if the thing were possible. It is not I do wish, or did wish, but I could desire ἠυχόμην ēuchomēn, implying that he was willing now to endure it; that his present love for them was so strong, that he would, if practicable, save them from the threatened ruin and apostasy.

(3) it is not true that Paul ever did wish before his conversion to be accursed by Christ, that is, by the Messiah. He opposed Jesus of Nazareth; but he did not believe that he was the Messiah. At no time would he have wished to be devoted to destruction "by the Messiah," or "by Christ." Nothing would have been more terrible to a Jew; and Saul of Tarsus never doubted that he was the friend of the promised Messiah, and was advancing the true interests of his cause, and defending the hopes of his nation against an impostor. The word, therefore, expresses a feeling which the apostle had, when writing this Epistle, in regard to the condition and prospects of the nation.

Were accursed from Chest - Might be anathema by Christ ἀνάθεμα εἶναι ἀπὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ anathema einai apo tou Christou. This passage has been much controverted. The word rendered "accursed" (anathema) properly means,

(1) Anything that was set up, or "set apart," or consecrated to the gods in the temples, as spoils of war, images, statues, etc. This is its Classical Greek meaning. It has a similar meaning among the Hebrews, It denoted what was set apart or consecrated to the service of God, as sacrifices or offerings of any kind. In this respect it is used to express the sense of the Hebrew word חרם cherem "anything devoted to Yahweh, without the possibility of redemption." Leviticus 27:21; Leviticus 27:29; Numbers 18:14; Deuteronomy 7:26; Joshua 6:17-18; Joshua 7:1; 1 Samuel 15:21; Ezekiel 44:29.

(2) as what was thus dedicated to Yahweh was alienated from the use of him who devoted it, and was either burnt or slain and devoted to destruction as an offering, the word came to signify a devotion of any thing to destruction, or to complete ruin. And as whatever is devoted to destruction may be said to be subject to a curse, or to be accursed, the word comes to have this signification; 1 Kings 20:42; Isaiah 34:5. But in none of these cases does it denote eternal death. The idea, therefore, in these places is simply, "I could be willing to be destroyed, or devoted, to death, for the sake of my countrymen." And the apostle evidently means to say that he would be willing to suffer the bitterest evils, to forego all pleasure, to endure any privation and toil, nay, to offer his life, so that he might be wholly devoted to sufferings, as an offering, if he might be the means of benefiting and saving the nation. For a similar case, see Exodus 32:32. This does not mean that Paul would be willing to be damned forever. For,

(1) The words do not imply that, and will not bear it.

(2) such a destruction could in no conceivable way benefit the Jews.

(3) such a willingness is not and cannot be required. And,

(4) It would be impious and absurd. No man has a right to be willing to be the "eternal enemy" of God; and no man ever yet was, or could be willing to endure everlasting torments.

From Christ - By Christ. Grotius thinks it means from the church of Christ. Others think it means "after the example of Christ;" and others, from Christ forever. But it evidently means that he was willing to be devoted by Christ; that is, to be regarded by him, and appointed by him, to suffering and death, if by that means he could save his countrymen. It was thus the highest expression of true patriotism and benevolence. It was an example for all Christians and Christian ministers. They should be willing to be devoted to pain, privation, toil, and death, if by that they could save others from ruin.

My kinsmen ... - My countrymen; all of whom he regarded as his kinsmen, or relations, as descended from the same ancestors.

According to the flesh - By birth. They were of the same blood and parentage, though not now of the same religious belief.

3. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for—"in behalf of"

my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh—In proportion as he felt himself severed from his nation, he seems to have realized all the more vividly their natural relationship. To explain away the wish here expressed, as too strong for any Christian to utter or conceive, some have rendered the opening words, "I did wish," referring it to his former unenlightened state; a sense of the words too tame to be endured: others unwarrantably soften the sense of the word "accursed." But our version gives the true import of the original; and if it be understood as the language rather of "strong and indistinct emotions than of definite ideas" [Hodge], expressing passionately how he felt his whole being swallowed up in the salvation of his people, the difficulty will vanish, and we shall be reminded of the similar idea so nobly expressed by Moses (Ex 32:32).

I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ; or, separated from Christ. This verse hath greatly vexed interpreters. Some read it, I did wish myself accursed from Christ: q.d. Before my conversion, I was willing to be accursed from Christ, to be a violent persecutor of the Christians, and so to be held of them as accursed for my brethren’s sake. The vulgar Latin, and many Romanists, thus render the word hucomhn, in the text; but the generality of interpreters read it as we do, not indicatively, but potentially; and they make an ellipsis in the words, hucomhn pro hucoimhn an; the like is frequent; see Acts 25:22 1 Corinthians 2:8 2 Corinthians 11:1. But then still the difficulty is, how, and in what sense, the apostle wished himself accursed, or separated from Christ. The received opinion is, that out of zeal to the glory of God, and love to his brethren, he was willing to be damned, that they all might be saved. Many of the ancients did thus expound this place: "Christ became a curse for us; and what marvel is it" (says one) "if the Lord would be made a curse for the servants, that a servant should be willing to become an anathema for the brethren." "He doth not wish" (says another) "for his brethren’s sake to be separated from the love and grace of Christ, but from the comforts of Christ, and the future happiness that we have by him: he is content to lose his part in the heavenly glory, if that might promote the glory of Christ, which would be more illustrated by the saving a whole nation, than a particular person: q.d. If this might be the fruit of it, if it would gain this end, I could, methinks, be content to part with all my hopes in Christ, even my eternal happiness, upon condition my brethren might be partakers thereof; so passionate and abundant love have I to and for them." This exposition is not satisfactory; therefore so, he think the apostle here speaks of being accursed only for a season, or of being an anathema in this world. An anathema sometimes signifieth corporal death and destruction: of old, in times of common calamity, they were wont to sacrifice men to their idols and infernal gods, for the pacifying of their anger; such a sacrifice they called anathema, which is the word here used: q.d. For my brethren’s sake, that so they might be saved, I could be content to be cut off, to be made a sacrifice, to die the worst of deaths. But if this be admitted, how then is that clause to be understood, from Christ? It is not, I could wish myself an anathema, but an anathema from Christ. To this they answer that favour this interpretation, That instead of from Christ, you may read, by Christ: q.d. I could be content to be cut off or destroyed by Christ, that my brethren might be saved. This sense of the words suits well with the zeal and kindness of Moses to his brethren, Exodus 32:32; rather than they should not be pardoned and spared, he prays, that God would blot him out of the book that he had written: see annotations there. There is yet another, and a more probable, interpretation of this wish of the apostle. It is as if he had said, I could be willing to be separated or excommunicated from the church of Christ, for the sake and salvation of my country and nation. Anathema (says Hesychius) signifies akoinwnhtov, excommunicate; 1 Corinthians 16:22: If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema; let him be removed from the Christian assemblies, deprived of those Christian privileges that are afforded there. Galatians 1:8,9, Let him be an anathema that teacheth another gospel; i.e. turned out of the church of Christ, and avoided by all true Christians. If this sense be admitted, then from Christ must signify, from the body of Christ; and so the word Christ is used, 1 Corinthians 12:12 Galatians 3:27. Christ being the Head of the body, he that is cut off from the body may be truly enough said to be cut off from Christ. Thus the apostle Paul, who was accused and persecuted by the Jews, for having made a defection from the law of Moses, and setting up Christian assemblies in opposition to their Judaical service, doth fitly express his kindness and love to them, in wishing himself deprived of those most valuable privileges, on condition they night be partakers thereof. To this it may be added, that in the primitive times, this anathematizing, or excommunicating, was attended with delivering up to Satan, and that with destruction of the flesh, with very sharp and severe punishments upon the bodies of men. And so anathema, in this notion, may be taken with this improvement, and may contain all those temporal calamities that he was willing to endure and undergo for their good: see D.H. in loc.

My kinsmen according to the flesh; so the Jews were by natural descent: see Genesis 29:14. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ,.... Some consider this as the reason of the apostle's great heaviness, and continual sorrow of heart, because he had made such a wish as this, and read the words, "for I have wished", or "did wish"; that is, in my unregenerate state, whilst I was a persecutor of Christ, and a blasphemer of his name, I wished to be for ever separated from him, and to have nothing to do with him; for then I thought I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus, and this I did out of respect to the Jewish nation, and because I would not relinquish the Jewish religion; but oh! what a trouble of mind is it to me? what uneasiness does it give me when I think of it, and reflect upon it? But this can never be the apostle's meaning, for he would never have appealed to Christ in so solemn a manner, and took an oath upon it, for the truth of his enmity to Christ, and alienation from him before conversion, which everybody knew; nor was it anything strange, that whilst he was an unbelieving Jew, he should wish himself separated from Jesus of Nazareth, and always to remain so; and his having done this before his embracing of Christianity could be no evidence of his present affection for the Jewish nation, especially since he repented of it, and was sorry for it. But this wish, whatever is meant by it, is mentioned as an instance of his great love to his countrymen the Jews. Many have thought that his meaning is, that he had so great a value for them, that he could even wish himself, and be content to be eternally separated from Christ, everlastingly banished from his presence, never to enjoy communion more with him, or in other words, to be eternally damned, that they might be saved. But this is what could never be, and which he knew, was impossible to be done, and was contrary to that strong persuasion he had just expressed in the close of the foregoing chapter. Nor is it consistent with his love to Christ, to wish any thing of this kind; it would make him to love the Jews much better than Christ; since, according to this sense, he must wish to be parted from him, that they might be saved, and consequently must love them more than Christ: nor is it consistent with, but even contrary both to the principles of nature and grace; it is contrary to the principles of nature, for a man to desire his own damnation upon any consideration whatever; and it is contrary to the principle of grace, which always strongly inclines to be with Christ, and not separated from him; in a word, to be accursed from Christ in this sense, could be no proper means of the salvation of the Jews, and therefore it cannot be thought to be desirable, or wished for. Some things are said indeed for the qualifying of this sense of the words, as that the apostle said this inconsiderately, when he was scarcely himself, through an ecstasy of mind, and intemperate zeal, and an overflow of affection for his nation; but this is highly to reflect upon the apostle, and to represent him in a very unworthy manner, when it is certain he said this with the greatest deliberation and seriousness; he introduces it in the most solemn manner, with an appeal to Christ, the Holy Spirit, and his own conscience, and therefore it could never drop from him through incogitancy, and an overheated affection. Again, it is said, that this wish was made with a condition, if it was the will of God, but that he knew was not; or if it could be for the good of these people, this also he knew it could never be: the best qualification Of it is to say it is an hyperbolical expression; and so if it is, it must be with a witness, being such an hyperbole, as is not to be matched in sacred or profane writings. The words of Moses are thought to be a parallel one, "blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which thou hast written", Exodus 32:32; but that is not to be understood of the book of eternal life; but either of the book of the law, as R. Sol. Jarchi expounds it, which God had ordered him to write, and his desire is, that his name might not stand there; or rather of the book of this temporal life, that he might die and not live. It remains then that these words must have another meaning. Now let it be observed, that the word here translated "accursed", answers to the Hebrew word which, with the Jewish writers, is one sort of excommunication in use among them, and the greater sort; the forth of it, as given by them, is very horrible, and shocking (r); See Gill on John 9:22; and so we may observe the word "anathema" here used is mentioned as a form of excommunication in 1 Corinthians 16:22; of all such as love not Christ and his Gospel, and make it appear by their principles or practices, or both, that they do not, and so ought to be removed from the communion of churches. Now, taking the word in this sense, the apostle's meaning is, that he could wish to be excommunicated from Christ; that is, from the body of Christ, from the church of Christ, Christ mystical, as the word "Christ" is used, 1 Corinthians 12:12; to be deprived of the ordinance of Christ's house, to be degraded from his office in it, and not to be so much as a member in it. He saw that these branches, the people of the Jews, were going to be cut off, and no longer to be of the church of God; and such was his affection to them, that he could have wished rather to be cut off himself, that they might be spared; and this was an instance of great love to them, since, next to Christ, the church and the ordinances of it were exceeding dear unto, and highly valued by the apostle. Again, it is worthy of observation, that the Hebrew word which the Septuagint render by the word in the text, is used for any thing devoted to God, and which could not be alienated to any other use or service; and if it was a man, or any among men that was devoted, it was not to be redeemed, but was "surely to be put to death", Leviticus 27:29. Some have thought that Jephthah's daughter was put to death upon this law; but be that as it will, the apostle here may reasonably be thought to allude unto it, and his sense be this, that he could wish himself , "to be devoted unto death", not from Christ, but "by" Christ; and some copies read "by": I could wish that my dear Lord and Master, as if he should say, would appoint and order me to die, might this nation of mine but escape that ruin and destruction I see is coming upon them, as a nation and a church; I could be content to die the most accursed death, and be treated in the most ignominious manner, might they but be saved; a like expression is that of R. Ishmael (s), "may I be an expiatory sacrifice for the children of Israel";

"which (says one commentator (t)) he said, , "because of his love to them"; and it is as if he should say, all the punishment which is right to come upon them, I will take it on myself, in order to atone for them;''

and says another (u),

"the sense is, he took upon him their redemption, and this he said, , "because of the greatness of his love":''

now for a man to die for his country, that a whole nation perish not, was agreeably to the sentiments both of Jews and Gentiles, and was the highest instance of love among men; "greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends", John 15:13; and this is carrying the sense of the apostle's wish high enough, and not too far. The persons on whose account he could have expressed this wish, are described by their natural relation to him,

my brethren, my kinsmen, according to the flesh: he calls them his brethren, not in a spiritual sense, nor in a strict natural sense, but in a general way, as being of the same nation: it is a saying with the Jews (w), , "all the Israelites are brethren"; for the same reason he calls them kinsmen; and these appellations he uses to remove that ill will and prejudice they had conceived in their minds against him, and to signify the ground of his affection for them: and he adds, "according to the flesh", to distinguish them from his spiritual brethren and relations; for though they were brethren in a national sense, they were not all so in a spiritual relation.

(r) Vid. Buxtorf. Lexic. Rabbinic. p. 827, 828. (s) Misn. Negaim, c. 2. sect. 1.((t) Bartenora in ib. (u) Maimon. in Misn. Negaim, c. 2. sect. 1.((w) Caphtor, fol. 38. 1.

For I could wish that myself were {a} accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the {b} flesh:

(a) The apostle loved his brethren so completely that if it had been possible he would have been ready to have redeemed the castaways of the Israelites with the loss of his own soul forever: for this word accursed signifies as much in this place.

(b) Being brethren by flesh, as from one nation and country.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 9:3. ηὐχόμην γὰρ ἀνάθεμα εἶναι κ.τ.λ. For I could wish that I myself were anathema, etc. For the omission of ἂν see Acts 25:22, Galatians 4:20. Paul could wish this if it were a wish that could be realised for the good of Israel. The form of expression implies that the wish had actually been conceived, but in such sentences “the context alone implies what the present state of mind is” (Burton, Moods and Tenses, § 33). ἀνάθεμα is to be construed with ἀπὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ: the idea of separation from Christ, final and fatal separation, is conveyed. For the construction cf. Galatians 5:4 (κατηργήθητε ἀπὸ Χριστοῦ). ἀνάθεμα Galatians 1:8 f., 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Corinthians 16:22 is the equivalent of the Hebrew חֶרֶם, Deuteronomy 7:26, Joshua 7:12—that which is put under the ban, and irrevocably devoted to destruction. It is beside the mark to speak of such an utterance as this as unethical. Rather might we call it with Dorner “a spark from the fire of Christ’s substitutionary love”. There is a passion in it more profound even than that of Moses’ prayer in Exodus 32:32. Moses identifies himself with his people, and if they cannot be saved would perish with them; Paul could find it in his heart, were it possible, to perish for them. τῶν συγγενῶν μου κατὰ σάρκα distinguishes these from his Christian brethren.3. I could wish] Lit., I was wishing; the imperfect. A similar imperfect occurs Galatians 4:20; where lit., “I was desiring.” Without discussing the grammatical theory of the construction we may paraphrase, I was on the way to wish, or, I was in course of wishing. Two things are implied; the tendency to the wish; and the obstruction of it.—The Gr. for “to wish” here means specially to express a wish; almost, “to pray.” Paul’s love for Israel is such that, but for certain preventing reasons, he would form a wish to be cut off from Christ for their sakes.

myself] Strongly emphatic in the Gr. His intense love for his brethren constrains him to contemplate himself as their victim, if such a victim there could be.

accursed] Lit. an anathema; a thing devoted to ruin by a solemn curse. Such is the meaning of the word wherever else used by St Paul; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Galatians 1:8-9. (See Bp Lightfoot’s note on Galatians 1:8.) No milder meaning will suit the intensity of this passage. St Paul could even have asked for the extremest imaginable suffering possible for man—but for certain reasons in the nature of things which forbade him. These reasons may be given thus:—To desire the curse of God would be to desire not only suffering, but moral alienation from Him, the withdrawal of the soul’s capacity to love Him. Thus the wish would be in effect an act of “greater love for our neighbour than for God[40].” Again, the redeemed soul is “not its own:” to wish the self to be accursed from Christ would thus be to wish the loss of that which He has “bought and made His own.”—But, the logical reason of the matter apart, we have only to read the close of ch. 8 to see how entire a moral impossibility it was for St Paul to complete such a wish.—The words here were perhaps written with a tacit reference to the memorable passage, Exodus 32:32-33. The answer there given to the request of Moses would alone suffice to forbid the completion of any similar request thereafter.

[40] Rev. H. Moule’s Suggestive Commentary on this Epistle.Romans 9:3. Ηὐχόμην, I could wish) A verb in the imperfect tense, involving in it a potential or conditional signification, involving the condition, if Christ would permit. His grief was unceasing [continual], but this prayer does not seem here to be asserted as unceasing, or absolute. Human words are not fully adequate to include in them [to express fully] the emotions of holy souls; nor are those emotions always the same; nor is it in the power of those souls always to elicit from themselves such a prayer as this. If the soul be not far advanced, it is incapable of [cannot comprehend] this. It is not easy to estimate the measure of love, in a Moses and a Paul. For the narrow boundary of our reasoning powers does not comprehend it; as the little child is unable to comprehend the courage of warlike heroes. In the case of those two men [duumvirs] themselves, the intervals in their lives, which may be in a good sense called extatic, were something sudden and extraordinary. It was not even in their own power to elicit from themselves such acts as these at any time they chose. Grief [heaviness] and sorrow for the danger and distress of the people; shame for their fault; zeal for their salvation, for the safety of so great a multitude, and for still farther promoting the glory of God through the preservation of such a people, so carried them away, as to make them for a time forget themselves, Exodus 32:32. I am inclined to give this paraphrase of that passage: Pardon them; if thou dost not pardon them, turn upon me the punishment destined for them, that is, as Moses elsewhere says, kill me, Numbers 11:15. It is therefore the book of temporal life, as distinguished from that of eternal life, according to the point of view, economy, and style of the Old Testament; comp. Exodus 33:3; Exodus 33:5. The book of temporal life is intended in Psalm 139:16.—αὐτὸς ἐγὼ, I myself) construe these words with to be [were].—ἀνάθεμα εἶναι, to be accursed) It will be enough to compare this passage with Galatians 3:13, where Christ is said to have been made a curse for us. The meaning is, I could have wished to bring the misery of the Jews on my own head, and to be in their place. The Jews, rejecting the faith, were accursed from Christ; comp. Galatians 1:8-9; Galatians 5:4. Whether he would have wished only the deprivation of all good, and his own destruction, and annihilation, or the suffering also of every evil, and that too both in body and in soul, and for ever, or whether, in the very excitement [paroxysm] of that prayer, he had the matter fully present before his understanding, who knows whether Paul himself, had he been questioned, would have been able exactly to define? At least that word [Ego] I [all thought of self] was entirely suppressed in him; he was looking only to others, for the sake of the Divine glory; comp. 2 Corinthians 12:15. From the loftiest pinnacle of faith (chap. 8) he now shows the highest degree of love, which was kindled by the Divine love. The thing, which he had wished, could not have been done, but his prayer was pious and solid, although under the tacit condition, if it were possible to be done; comp. Romans 8:38, I am persuaded; Exodus 32:33.—ἀπὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, from Christ) So ἀπὸ from 1 Corinthians 1:30; or, as Christ, being made a curse, was abandoned by the Father; so Paul, filled with Christ, wished in place of the Jews to be forsaken by Christ, as if he had been accursed. He is not speaking of excommunication from the everlasting society of the church. There is a difference between these two things, for κατάρα קללה, curse, has the greater force of the two, and implies something more absolute: חרם, anathema, something relative, Galatians 1:8-9, 1 Corinthians 16:22, the former is rather more severe, the latter milder; the former expresses the power of reconciliation by the cross of Christ; the latter is more suitable to [more applicable as regards] Paul; nor can the one be substituted for the other, either here, or in the passages quoted.—Τῶν) The apostle is speaking of the whole multitude, not of individuals.—ἀδελφῶν μου, for my brethren) This expresses the cause of his so great love toward them.—συγγενῶν μου κατὰ σάρκα, my kinsmen according to the flesh) This expresses the cause of his prayer, showing why the prayer, other things being supposed to be equal [cœteris paribus, supposing there were no objection on other grounds], was right; and by adding kinsmen, he shows that the word brethren is not to be understood, as it usually is, of Christians, but of the Jews. Christ was made a curse for us, because we were his kinsmen.I could wish (ἠυχόμην)

Or pray as 2 Corinthians 13:7, 2 Corinthians 13:9; James 5:16. Lit., I was wishing; but the imperfect here has a tentative force, implying the wish begun, but stopped at the outset by some antecedent consideration which renders it impossible, so that, practically, it was not entertained at all. So Paul of Onesimus: "Whom I could have wished (ἐβουλόμην) to keep with me," if it had not been too much to ask (Plm 1:13). Paul would wish to save his countrymen, even at such sacrifice, if it were morally possible. Others, however, explain the imperfect as stating an actual wish formerly entertained.

Accursed from Christ (ἀνάθεμα ἀπὸ τοῦ χριστοῦ)

Compare Galatians 1:8, Galatians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Corinthians 16:22. See on offerings, Luke 21:5. Set apart to destruction and so separated from Christ (Philippians 1:21; Philippians 3:8, Philippians 3:20). An expression of deep devotion. "It is not easy to estimate the measure of love in a Moses and a Paul. For our limited reason does not grasp it, as the child cannot comprehend the courage of warriors" (Bengel). Compare Moses, Exodus 32:32.

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