Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3
Thesis: Paul's actual emotional condition rules out "antagonism" as a fundamental root for the major shifts in God's dealings with Israel in respect to the Gospel.
Introduction: We saw in our previous study that Paul knew four things: he knew his antagonists were accusing him of a form of "theological hatred against Israel" as evidenced by both his message and his audience; he knew that their charge was totally false; he knew that what he was about to claim was not going to be easily believed; and he knew that they could not legitimately contradict him because his claim was irrefutable without omniscience.
We also briefly mentioned that God's shift of focus both in His message and His audience was at the very root of an entirely new way of dealing with the world of humanity that would leave the past with its focus upon a single nation behind, at least for a time, and that this was a totally unexpected development kept secret from the prophets of Israel throughout their time of ministry to the nation.
This evening we are going to delve a bit deeper into the actual content of his claim so that we may put the charges of heresy and deceit behind us.
October 22, 2017
- I. Paul's Emotional State.
- A. At first glance, it looks to be a constant "downer".
- 1. He wrote of "great sorrow".
- a. The typical sense of "great" is "an outsized largeness" that is beyond the typical norms.
- b. The "sorrow" was what we call "sorrow" as indicated by its use in respect to people dealing with the death of a greatly beloved companion.
- c. But, I have decided to call it "an overwhelming depression".
- 1) Luke (the physician) used the term in 22:45 to explain the disciples' behavior in the Garden of Gethsemane and "sorrow" is not really in view.
- a) The disciples had been asked by Jesus to pray with Him.
- b) They also had been warned by Jesus that, if they did not, they would succumb to a coming "temptation".
- c) But they went to sleep anyway; a situation where the body simply takes over and goes to sleep.
- d) Thus my word "overwhelming" since they could not win over the body's demand, and my word "depression" because it "depressed" their good intentions to pray in the face of a very critical situation.
- 2) John uses the word in 16:6 and 16:-20-23 to indicate a situation of the soul that was seriously overwhelming in its ability to depress their faith and to contrast it with the opposite: a joy that no man can take away. Thus, the soul's "overwhelming depression" is contrasted with the soul's "rejoicing in joy that is unable to be destroyed".
- 2. He also wrote of "unceasing grief".
- a. The term translated "grief" is only used twice in the New Testament, but is not an uncommon word: it seems to mean the emotion one feels when a desired goal is frustrated.
- b. This meaning is enhanced by Paul's "location" of the feeling as "in my heart".
- 1) The "heart" is where all values have their origin and safe-keeping.
- 2) As such, it is the root of all "agenda" operations; the efforts put forth to achieve the agenda.
- 3) Thus, "pain in my heart" probably means I have been frustrated by my desire to see Israel respond to God's truth and all my efforts have been brushed aside by them.
- c. The problematical word is "unceasing".
- 1) We tend to think of something that is "unceasing" as "constantly on-going", but it might serve us better to think in terms of "never ending".
- 2) It is a fact of emotional life that we have competing agendas and competing efforts and that we focus upon, pretty much, one at a time.
- 3) The fact that we cannot focus upon all of them all of the time simply means that we have a way to "bury" some while focusing upon others, but "buried" does not mean "gone": we are often blind sided by our emotions when something happens that brings into focus one of those "rivers of desire" that we have set aside in order to shoot the rapids in another river.
- 4) Thus, all Paul was saying was that he could never really escape the river of desire he had for Israel's good; he could only avoid it temporarily in favor of a more immediate issue: it was "never ending".
- B. The consequent reality: Paul was occasionally slapped in the face by Israel's determined hatred for him, his message, and his willingness to preach to the nations.
- II. The Evidence.
- A. This "evidence" was not, so much, for his opposition.
- B. This "evidence" was for himself so that he knew that the Spirit was the co-witness to his love for his kinsmen according to the flesh.
- C. The evidence was this: he had actually spent some time praying that God would "curse" him in the place of Israel.
- 1. The translation "I could wish" is completely wrong-headed.
- 2. The word does mean "wish" in some texts, but the "wishing" is very strong (like wishing the day would come while clinging to a log in the ocean in the darkness of the night).
- 3. In some cases the translators actually see that it means "I was praying".
- 4. In our text, the verb is an imperfect indicative; meaning a action that was on-going in the past for a time.
- 5. Besides, the use of the imperfect tied to the notion of "wishing" means that Paul quit such wishing: this would destroy his argument altogether (one does not stop wishing without discontinuing a pursuit of a high valued agenda).
- 6. Thus, Paul did quit praying to be a savior for Israel, but he never quit wishing Israel would believe in the Real Savior Whose actions under the "curse" could bring them to salvation.