CLAIM: Paul states that he would want to be “accursed,” so that his Jewish friends could know the love of Christ. What is going on in this passage?
RESPONSE: Paul is using hyperbolic (or exaggerating) language here for effect. He is expressing his heart for his brothers –the Jews. In many ways, Paul is similar to Moses in the OT. When the Jews sinned against God and deserved judgment, Moses wanted to intercede for them: “On the next day Moses said to the people, ‘You yourselves have committed a great sin; and now I am going up to the LORD, perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.’ 31Then Moses returned to the LORD, and said, ‘Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. 32But now, if You will, forgive their sin–and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!’ 33The LORD said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book’” (Ex. 32:30-33). Obviously, Moses couldn’t be a substitute for the people, because he had his own sin. But, his heart was in the right place. The same is true for Paul.