Ro 9:1–33. The Bearing of the Foregoing Truths upon the Condition and Destiny of the Chosen People—Election—The Calling of the Gentiles.
Too well aware that he was regarded as a traitor to the dearest interests of his people (Ac 21:33; 22:22; 25:24), the apostle opens this division of his subject by giving vent to his real feelings with extraordinary vehemence of protestation.
1, 2. I say the truth in Christ—as if steeped in the spirit of Him who wept over impenitent and doomed Jerusalem (compare Ro 1:9; 2Co 12:19; Php 1:8).
my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost—“my conscience as quickened, illuminated, and even now under the direct operation of the Holy Ghost.”
2. That I have, &c.—“That I have great grief (or, sorrow) and unceasing anguish in my heart”—the bitter hostility of his nation to the glorious Gospel, and the awful consequences of their unbelief, weighing heavily and incessantly upon his spirit.
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).
4. Who are Israelites—See Ro 11:1; 2Co 11:22; Php 3:5.
to whom pertaineth—“whose is”