Before Paul himself became a Christian, he was a fierce enemy of the first Christians. He arrested many of them; he even helped to kill some of them (Acts 26:10). However, this same Paul was the man whom God had chosen, even before his birth, to declare Godís good news to the nations (Galatians 1:13-17).
Paulís experience was very extreme, but the same principle is true about all Godís people. God chooses his enemies to become his friends (5:10). By our evil deeds, we all have made ourselves enemies of God; by the death of Christ, God forgives us and makes us his people (3:23-24).
However, in Romans 11:28, Paul is not writing about Christians generally, but about the Jewish people (in other words, the people who belong to Israel). God loves the Jewish people for a very particular reason. It is not that they deserve his love. Godís grace (kindness) is a free gift and not something that we can earn (11:6). Rather, Paul says that God loves them because of Ďthe fathersí. Paul means Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, from whose family the Jewish people came. God made promises to these men about the future of their family; and he will certainly carry out all of his promises. He has chosen the Jewish people to be his special people, and therefore he loves them.
We can imagine that some Christians from other nations might protest against Paulís words. He was not just telling them to love their enemies now. He was urging them to recognise Godís love for the entire nation from which many of their enemies came.
Perhaps Paul could have made that lesson easier. He could have spoken only about the many Jewish people who had accepted Christ. However, Paul was not trying to make his lesson easier. Rather, he wanted to show how great and wonderful Godís wisdom is (11:33-34). God loves the Jewish people; he will forgive them, and he will give them a right relationship with himself (11:25-27).
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© 2018, Keith Simons.