Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.…
Notice here —
I. THE APOSTLE. Observe —
1. That ministers are not only to preach against wicked persons, and to exhort their people to obedience, but also to pray for them, as Samuel and Jeremiah did (1 Samuel 12:23; Jeremiah 13:17).
2. When ministers are to speak of a matter that may distaste, they must wisely prevent all offence by preparing the minds of the hearers, and showing that they speak out of love, and a desire of their salvation. As physicians prepare, and nurses sometimes still their little ones with singing, so also must ministers attempt every way which may profit their people.
3. Paul loves the Jews, but tells them plainly of their faults; so must ministers do. The way to get peace among men is not to reprove, but this is the way to lose the peace of God.
4. The condition of ministers is painful. The care to save souls that we may give up a good account is infinite. But our joy is in the conscionable discharge of our duty, and for such as receive the Word with reverence we praise God for the joy wherewith we rejoice on their behalf (1 Thessalonians 3:9).
II. THE CHRISTIAN. Observe —
1. Though the Jews seek Paul's life, yet he loves them. We are Pharisees by nature, loving our friends and hating our foes, but we are Christians by grace, and therefore must love our enemies and pray for them, as our Saviour taught and practised. Every man can love his friend, but only a godly man can love his enemy; and in this doing we do ourselves more good than our enemies. If, then, thou canst so rule thine affection as to love thine enemy and pray for him, it will be a sweet comfort to thy breast.
2. Paul's love was hearty; so let thine be. Some, after a controversy is ended, will promise friendship, but with a reservation of revenge. Judas kissed Christ, and betrayed Him; and Joab saluted Amasa courteously and slew him. Remember thou to mean the truth thou makest show of.
3. Let thy love appear in kind words and salutations, as Paul calls the Jews brethren, which condemns the practice of some, who, if they be offended, show that they are possessed either with a dumb devil — they will not speak; or with a railing devil — if they speak it shall be with taunts and reproaches.
4. Pray for them thou lovest. Thou shalt never have any comfort of his friendship for whom thou dost not pray.
(Elnathan Parr, B.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.