Paul has already told us how desperately he prayed for the Jewish people, also called Israel (9:1-3).
Now he tells us what he was praying for them. He was praying for their salvation; in other words, for God to save them.
Salvation means rescue and safety; to save means to rescue and to provide safety. So, Paul has not changed his subject since he began his book. Romans 1:16 says that the gospel (God’s message about Christ) is the power of God to save both Jewish people, and people from other nations. The Jewish people are the people who come from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Salvation in the Bible means much more than physical safety. In particular, it refers to a right relationship with God (10:9-13). Nobody is in reality safe if they do not have a right relationship with God. It is God alone who makes people and nations safe (Psalm 27:1-3).
Paul’s prayer, therefore, is like the prayer in Psalm 122:6. That Psalm tells us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel; ‘peace’ in the Psalm has the same meaning as ‘salvation’. We ask God not just to save it from war, but to bring all its people into a right relationship with himself. Then, at last Israel’s people will know true success (Psalm 122:9).
Paul was praying for the salvation of the whole of Israel, and not just for some of its people. In Romans 11:26, he declares that God really will answer this prayer: God will save all of Israel. Paul is referring there to what will happen at the time of Christ’s return to this world.
Next part: Zeal for God (Romans 10:2)
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© 2017, Keith Simons.