Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.…
Paul had just spoken with apparent severity of his brethren. To them his doctrines were peculiarly offensive. They must have regarded him as a traitor. Still he loved his kindred, and his loving heart gushes forth in this comprehensive desire. It is —
I. HEARTFELT. "My heart's desire." Not all who are interested in the salvation of men are influenced by this desire. There may be —
1. A professional desire. The evangelist, the teacher, the pastor may have it.
2. A duteous desire. Better this than none.
3. An intellectual desire. Paul's intellect was active, but it was sweetly submissive to Christ. All this gave him power. It gives power to-day. This is true of music, of art, of poetry. No heart, no power. Love evokes love. Heart responds to heart.
II. PRAYERFUL. Genuine desire must voice itself in prayer. Our heart's desire is our prayer. The heart that goes out to men must go up to God. Often the shortest and surest way to reach men is by way of God's throne.
III. FRATERNAL. Paul was a cosmopolitan man; still he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews. The Christian is the true Jew. Judaism is the root; Christianity is the flower and the fruit. Judaism the dawn; Christianity is the splendour of noon. When Paul became a Christian he found that for which he always sought. Now he longs for his brethren. So ought we. There is a sanctified patriotism.
IV. EVANGELICAL. "That they might be saved." This was Christlike. Nothing short of this could satisfy the apostle. Not enough for them to be saved from national disaster; not enough from earthly sorrow. They must be saved from sin here, and death hereafter. Are you saved? Then make Paul's comprehensive desire yours.
(R. S. MacArthur, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.