The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Romans 10

Rom 10:1

A repetition of Paul's point in Rom 9:1-5. Even though Paul has expounded Israel's prophetically forecast rejection of God's grace, he is yet careful to emphasize that he still has great yearning for Israel to enter into salvation. His desire for their salvation is reflected in his going to the Jews first (Acts 13:46; 18:5,6; cf Rom 1:16) and also in praying to God on their behalf.

Rom 10:2

THEY ARE ZEALOUS FOR GOD, BUT THEIR ZEAL IS NOT BASED ON KNOWLEDGE: Paul knew this, because he had earlier striven alongside them in the same spirit of zeal and in the same ignorance (Acts 8:3; 9:1; Gal 1:14; 4:17; Phi 3:6; 1Ti 1:13). They knew much of the Scriptures, but in one area they were terribly deficient... as he describes in v 3...

Rom 10:3

THEY DID NOT KNOW THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COMES FROM GOD: They failed to accept what God had graciously provided in His Son: free and unmerited favor and blessing and forgiveness, through faith.

AND SOUGHT TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN: They sought to establish their own righteousness, by the works of the Law (Rom 9:31,32). See also Phi 3:6,9. Cp the boasting of the Pharisee in Luk 18:9-12.

THEY DID NOT SUBMIT TO GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS: It is by an attitude of faith that a man may subject himself before God: I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone" (Psa 71:16).

Rom 10:4

CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW SO THAT THERE MAY BE RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES: Those who believed in Christ Jesus as the means of God's bestowal of righteousness saw the complete eclipse of law (any law, the definite article is not in the original) as a means to the attaining of righteousness for man.

END: Just as in English we speak of "the end of the matter" and use the expression "to the end that" -- in the one expression "end" meaning conclusion or termination, and in the other, goal or purpose -- the same dual possibility lies in the Greek word "telos". The work of God in Christ both put an end to the Law, but it also fulfilled the goal or purpose of the Law, which was a "schoolmaster" or "guide" to point the way and to lead others to Christ (Gal 3:24)! In a similar vein, Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Mat 5:17). But in being fulfilled, in and through Christ, the Law -- by necessity -- came to its end or conclusion.

In Christ, the Law came to an end in the same way that the seed comes to an end in the new plant that springs up, or the bud comes to an end in the blossoming flower. "The new is in the old concealed; the old is in the new revealed."

FOR EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES: "Paul adds a certain qualification to the statement about Christ as the end of the law for righteousness. He is that 'for everyone who believes.' This seems to suggest that the law is still applicable to those who do not believe. 'Those who have not yet passed from the being-in-the-Law to the being-in-Christ, and those who allow themselves to be misled into exchanging the being-in-Christ for the being-under-the-Law, are under the Law and are made to feel its power' (A Schweitzer)" (EB).

Rom 10:5

THE MAN WHO DOES THESE THINGS WILL LIVE BY THEM: Cit Lev 18:5. The LM does indeed seem to offer life to those who keep it blamelessly (Gal 3:10). But this is, just as clearly, impossible. However, if the Law were to be followed, in faith, recognizing that it pointed forward to the true righteousness of God revealed in Christ, then a man might "live" by them! For he would be keeping the Law, as best he was able, as a gesture of his faith in Yahweh Himself -- and as a means of sustaining that faith; and it would be that faith, in God's promises, that would ultimately save him -- not his perfect obedience (which, as we know, was impossible).

Rom 10:6

Vv 6,7: In Christ, there is no need for us to do the impossible. In Christ, God has already done it for us!

THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT IS BY FAITH: That is, the "spirit" of righteousness by faith, personified in Moses! (This is an extraordinary expression, since -- to the devout Jew -- Moses might better be described as "the righteousness that is by the Law"!)

Vv 6-8: Cit Deu 30:12-14. At first sight, the selection of this portion seems inappropriate, since neither 'righteousness" nor "faith" can be found here, and there is heavy emphasis on doing, as in Lev 18:5. But the context helps us, for the passage presupposes a heart attitude of loving obedience (Deu 30:6-10) rather than a legalistic attempt to attain righteousness. The whole burden of the passage is to discourage the idea that the doing of God's will means to aspire after something that is too difficult and out of reach. Actually, if the life is attuned to God, His will is as near as the mouth and heart (the mouth as the organ to repeat the word of God and turn it back to Him in prayer and praise, the heart as the source of desire to please Him).

DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, 'WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?' (THAT IS, TO BRING CHRIST DOWN): God has already sent His Son "from heaven" (cp John 6:50,51,58; 3:13).

Rom 10:7

'WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE DEEP?' (THAT IS, TO BRING CHRIST UP FROM THE DEAD): This has also been done already by God: raising His Son from the dead (Acts 17:31), thereby demonstrating the working of His mighty power (Eph 3:19,20; Rom 1:4).

Rom 10:8

THAT IS, THE WORD OF FAITH WE ARE PROCLAIMING: And so Paul asserts that he and the apostles were proclaiming the same "gospel" that Moses had: justification by faith.

Rom 10:9

IF YOU CONFESS WITH YOUR MOUTH...: This contains no stipulation about law, no external ordinances. It requires an open declaration from the lips revealing a sincere belief within, and on this ground a man could be saved.

"JESUS IS LORD"... GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD: It is important to realize that v 9 is not intending to set out ALL that a man must believe for salvation. The matters mentioned are summary in character. Jesus is Lord because he is the Son of God, sent by God to be Saviour and King over all mankind (cp Phi 2:11); this was esp attested by the Father when He exalted him to His own right hand (Acts 2:33-36). To openly confess that Jesus is Lord is thus to acknowledge all that God purposed with His Son, both "the things of the Kingdom and the things of the Name" (Acts 8:12). To believe that God raised him from the dead is to acknowledge God's seal upon him, for it was always upon the basis of his resurrection that the apostles proved that Jesus indeed was Christ (Acts 2:31,32,36; 13:35-38).

JESUS IS LORD: It was natural for the church to have a fundamental confession of this sort, since at the beginning it was Jewish-Christian in its composition and therefore had in its background the example of confession in Israel, "The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deu 6:4). The coming of Christ necessitated the enlargement of the confession to include Jesus as Lord: "For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live" (1Co 8:6).

Rom 10:10

HEART... MOUTH: Clearly carried over from Deu 30:14 (v 8 here), and thus sym belief and confession. "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Mat 12:34).

WITH YOUR HEART: See Lesson, Prov and the heart.

Rom 10:11

ANYONE WHO TRUSTS IN HIM WILL NEVER BE PUT TO SHAME: Cit Isa 28:16: Scripture indicates how faith can be transforming for one's life, replacing fear and hesitation with bold confidence that rests on the sure promises of God. For this purpose Paul uses Isa 28:16 (cf the Rom 9:33).

HIM: "Him" here refers to the "sure foundation stone", in the context of Isa 28, in contrast to the Temple itself or the Law! This in itself suggests that, in the days of Isaiah, it was understood that there was -- and there would be -- someone greater than the Temple and the Law, and that someone -- as Paul knows -- was, ultimately, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Rom 10:12

FOR THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JEW AND GENTILE: This belief and its blessing is open to "anyone" -- Jew and Gentile alike. Whatever "difference" there may be in the two groups in some respects, there is no difference when it comes to the need for Christ and the availability of his salvation (cf Rom 3:22).

THE SAME LORD IS LORD OF ALL AND RICHLY BLESSES ALL WHO CALL ON HIM: In Rom 3:30 Paul reasoned that because God is one there in only one means of salvation for all. Now, in a similar way, he argues that because Jesus is Lord, a title that implies that he is over all (both Jew and Gentile, eg Isa 49:6,7; Psa 22:7,8; Acts 10:36), then his riches must extend to all. The sense in which he is "rich" to all may be seen from Rom 2:4; 9:23; Eph 1:7.

Rom 10:13

EVERYONE: That is, all kinds (classes, or races) of men. Examples of "all" prob meaning "without distinction" rather than "without exception": Joh 1:7,9; 3:26; 5:28; 8:2; 12:32; 13:35; 1Ti 2:1,2; 4:15; 5:20; 6:17; Heb 2:9.

WHO CALLS ON: This implies trust, or faith, in the One called upon.

THE NAME OF THE LORD: Jesus bears his Father's Name and thus those who call upon him, call upon Yahweh -- thus fulfilling the words of the prophet (Acts 2:21-38,39; 3:13).

SHALL BE SAVED: This is the end reached; it forcefully concludes the apostle's argument, namely, Salvation by faith is an opportunity for ALL.

Rom 10:14

HOW, THEN, CAN THEY CALL ON THE ONE THEY HAVE NOT BELIEVED IT?: Now the apostle turns from the responsibility of the seeker after salvation to emphasize the role that believers are intended to have in God's plan for preaching the gospel. Calling on the Lord is meaningless apart from some assurance that He is worthy of confidence and trust, that He has something to offer that guilty sinners need. Calling on Him and trust in Him are two sides of the same coin. The verse suggests that calling on the Lord continues to be a mark of the believer, not simply the first step in the direction of establishing relationship to him (cf 1Co 1:2).

AND HOW CAN THEY BELIEVE IN THE ONE OF WHOM THEY HAVE NOT HEARD?: Paul proceeds to the second consideration in his closely reasoned argument, and it is this -- that faith depends on knowledge. One must hear the gospel before he can be expected either to receive it or reject it.

AND HOW CAN THEY HEAR WITHOUT SOMEONE PREACHING TO THEM?: The KJV has "without a preacher" -- which may be misleading, in that it implies (or it may be inferred therefrom) that there is a special office of preacher. This is of course not the case at all: all God's children are (or should be) preachers!

Rom 10:15

AND HOW CAN THEY PREACH UNLESS THEY ARE SENT?: Preachers will not go forth unless they are sent. Is there any scriptural support that God intended to send forth preachers to all men? Yes! Isa 52:7.

THEY ARE SENT: To be "sent" suggests at least two things: that one operates under a higher authority and that his message does not originate with himself but is given him by the sending authority. The prophets were men who were sent in these two respects. So was the Lord Jesus (John 3:34; 7:16). So is the Christian in his witness-bearing capacity. The apostles received their commission from the risen Lord as he in turn had been sent by the Father (John 20:21). In addressing the Roman ecclesia, Paul was careful to state at the very beginning that he was called and set apart for the ministering of the gospel (Rom 1:1).

In the context of Isa 52, these preachers are being sent to all men! "The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of ALL THE NATIONS, AND ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH will see the salvation of our God... so will he sprinkle MANY NATIONS, and kings will shut their mouths because of him" (Isa 52:10,15).

THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS: Cit Isa 52:7: Paul appropriates the same words to himself: Rom 10:15 -- where "feet of HIM" becomes "feet of THOSE". Paul typically changes from singular to plural: Isa 49:6 / Act 13:47; Isa 49:8 / 2Co 6:1,2; Jos 1:5 / Heb 13:5,6. (Notice also the "our" in Rom 10:16.)

Rom 10:16

Vv 16,17: That is, 'Who has given FAITH to our teaching? So then FAITH (sw) comes by teaching...'

Nevertheless, not all had welcomed his glad tidings and obeyed it. But this also had been predicted by Isaiah: "Lord, who has believed our message?" (Isa 53:1). What a change of atmosphere from Paul's quotation of Isa 52:7 (v 15) to his quotation of Isa 53:1 (v 16)! The prophet foresaw a repudiation of the message about salvation through a suffering Servant. History has sustained prophecy: "Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1Co 1:23).

Rom 10:18

Cit Psa 19:4, which speaks of a universal extension of the gospel to all the world.

Rom 10:19

DID ISRAEL NOT UNDERSTAND?: There remains the possibility, however, that in spite of hearing the message, Israel has not understood it. So in all fairness this should be considered, for if it were true, it would be a mitigating factor in their situation. But the very form of the question in the original contains an implicit denial that Israel's failure results from lack of understanding. At Pentecost Peter spoke of the ignorance of his countrymen as explaining the crucifixion. But as time went on, fewer and fewer Jews in proportion to the total population of the nation responded to the gospel. A hardened attitude set in. The precedent of the Jews who did respond to the gospel, instead of moving their fellow-Jews, only embittered them. Then, as the gospel spread abroad and was received by Gentiles in ever greater numbers, this served to antagonize them still further.

I WILL MAKE YOU ENVIOUS BY THOSE WHO ARE NOT A NATION; I WILL MAKE YOU ANGRY BY A NATION THAT HAS NO UNDERSTANDING: Cit Deu 32:21: Because of their lack of faith, and their idolatry, God would turn from Israel to the Gentiles. By the time Paul writes this, Gentile response to God and His Word had surpassed the response of Israel, so the quotation is apt and telling in its effect. Those who lacked special revelation and the moral and religious training God provided for Israel have proved more responsive than the chosen people.

I WILL MAKE YOU ANGRY: As indeed it did: Acts 17:4,5; 21:28; 22:21,22; 1Th 2:16.

This quotation from Deu 32:21 is again picked up in Rom 11:11,14. It echoes the "not-people" passages of Hosea in Rom 9:25,26.

Rom 10:20

Isaiah, in Isa 65:1, proclaimed daring words intending to boldly disturb the self-contented minds of the Jews. This thought is reminiscent of Rom 9:30.

Rom 10:21

Cit Isa 65:2. God is the one who is seeking, reaching out to His people continually with a plea that Israel return to Him in loving obedience, only to be rebuffed. So we may draw the conclusion that the spiritual condition of Israel does not come from a lack of opportunity to hear the gospel or a lack of understanding of its content, but must be traced to a stubborn and rebellious spirit such as cropped up in the days of Moses and the days of the prophets. It is the more grievous now because God has spoken His final word in His Son and has been rebuffed by those who should have been the most ready to respond.
Previous Index Next