Zeal for God is the strong desire that God should receive the honour due to him.
Paul and the first Christians often met Jewish people (the people who belong to Israel) with this attitude. It was not always a pleasant experience. Many Jewish people sincerely believed that Paulís message about Christ was wrong. So, because of their zeal for God, they considered that they had to argue fiercely with him. Sometimes they even joined in attacks against him. However, people from other nations attacked Paul, too; and sometimes their attacks were even worse (2 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Usually we can only speak as a witness about things that we ourselves see or hear. We cannot be a true witness of other peopleís attitudes, because we do not know their thoughts. However, Paul can speak as a true witness here, because these were formerly his attitudes. As a young man, he too had opposed the Christians with great zeal. He had approved of the death of Stephen, the first Christian who died because of his belief in Christ (Acts 8:1). Paul even wanted to arrest the Christians in Damascus (Acts 9:1-2). However, on the way, Christ met with him, and that changed Paulís life completely (Acts 9:3-6; 1 Timothy 1:12-16).
So when people were angry with Paul now, he felt only love towards them (Luke 6:27-28; Romans 11:28). He knew that only the knowledge of Christ separated him from them. That knowledge had not come to Paul by his own efforts, but by Godís kindness. He prayed eagerly that those people would know Christ too.
Next part: True and false righteousness (Romans 10:3)
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© 2017, Keith Simons.