ROMANS CHAPTER 10
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD THROUGHOUT HISTORY IS REVEALED IN HIS DEALINGS WITH THE JEWS. Romans 9:1 - 11:36.
SALVATION OF THE JEWS DEPENDS ON THEIR SUBJECTING THEMSELVES TO THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD WHICH ESTABLISHES CHRIST AS THE END OF THE LAW. Romans 10:1-7.
"(1) Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. (2) For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. (3) For not knowing about God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. (4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (5) For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. (6) But the righteousness based on faith speaks thus, 'Do not say in your heart, Who will ascend into heaven?' (that is, to bring Christ down). (7) or 'Who will descend into the Abyss?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)." Romans 10:1-7. NASV.
The Jews have a zeal for God but not in accordance with knowledge. Who was better qualified to say that of the Jews than Paul? He was a Jew, a Pharisee. He had such a zeal for God that he worked hard to stamp out Christianity! But he found out that his zeal was not in accordance with true knowledge. In actuality he was persecuting the Son of God. He had been trying to pursue a Law of righteousness. But he had lacked the knowledge that could produce faith. He didn't know about God's grace of imparting righteousness to the faithful. He had stumbled over the stumbling stone of Christ. He had sought to establish his own righteousness, and therefore had not subjected himself to the righteousness of God. The stumbling stone was very effective in Paul's case. It caused him to realize his mistake and make correction before it was too late. When he stumbled over the stumbling stone of Christ, it hurt him and it woke him up to the truth. He then immediately turned to belief and obedience of his Lord Jesus Christ.
After that Paul's heart's desire and prayer to God was that his fellow Jews might recieve the same salvation as he. Paul said in Romans 10:2-4 that salvation for the Jews was available through knowledge of and subjection to God's righteousness. As Christ is the end (or goal) of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes, Jews had to come to belief in Christ just as the Gentiles had to come to belief. And Jews, of all people, should have realized that. For Christ was the goal of the Law of righteousness the Jews had been pursuing. That Law should have brought the Jews to a knowledge of their sin, and should have led them like a schoolmaster to Christ and the righteousness based on faith. Paul said that the goal of the Law of Moses had been fulfilled in Christ.
Notice that Paul did not condemn zeal, but only zeal that is without knowledge. He said that one must come to know that he must subject himself to the righteousness of God. In subjecting oneself to the righteousness of God, obedience to the word of God became necessary. We are not called upon to work under law but we are called upon to render obedience. If we do not obey God, we certainly are not subjecting ourselves to the righteousness of God.
The Jews were pursuing (that is, trying to practice) a law of righteousness but they did not practice it by faith. Moses wrote of no salvation by means of the mere practicing of the Law, but would only lsay that the one that practiced the Law must live by that Law. In fact, the Jews were called upon to have faith in God just as all men of all time have been called upon to have faith in God. Moses told the Jews in Deuteronomy 30:10, "You (must) turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul." God demonstrated to them time and time again that there was no other deliverance for them from the evil nations of the world except the deliverance which He provided. They were always called upon to have faith in God and act in obedience to that faith.
Moses went on in Deuteronomy 30:11-14 to tell the Jews about the Law which was to lead them to the redemption from their sins that Christ would provide. "For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say,'Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say,'Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it."
That is what Moses said about the special Law given by God to the Jews, the Law of Moses. Moses intimated that God brought it to the Jews and placed it in their mouths and in their hearts. They had had no part in creating it. God had brought it to them.
Then Paul said in Romans 10:6 that something very similar can be said about the righteousness based on faith. He delved into the words and thoughts of those Jews who did not have faith in Christ. He intimated that they had been incredulously asking what to them were unanswerable questions. "Who will ascend into heaven to bring a redeemer down to us? Who will descend into the Abyss to bring a redeemer up from the dead?" Their answer was: no one! We must keep the Law in order to be saved! Paul indicates that they recognized some of the characteristics that a redeemer must have: He must come from heaven and He must die as a sacrifice and be then brought up from the dead. But they had no faith that God would do this for them. They chose to work out their own salvation by keeping the Law so they might merit salvation. They had a zeal without knowledge, were seeking to establish their own righteousness, and did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.
WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED. THERE IS NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN JEW AND GREEK. Romans 10:8-13.
"(8) But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart,' that is , the word of faith which we are preaching, (9) that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; (10) for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (11) For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.' (12) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; (13) for 'Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.'" Romans 10:8-13. NASV.
Paul told the Jewish Christians that God had given them the Christ, their Savior, in just the same way that He had given them the Law of Moses. No one had to ascend into heaven to bring Christ down. No one had to descend into the Abyss to bring Christ up from the dead. This gospel word, just like the word of God in the time of Moses, is near you, in your mouth and in your heart - that is, the word of faith which we are preaching.
Christ was the end of the Law. Christ fulfilled the Law. The Law demanded punishment for sin, and Christ bore that punishment. In effect Paul said to the Jews of his day, "Now is the time for you to believe that Jesus, who died and was raised from the dead, is the Christ, the Son of the living God. In Him you can enjoy the righteousness you seek."
Paul paraphrased the words of Moses and gave them even fuller meaning. To the Christians to whom Paul wrote the Roman letter Paul intimated: "you Christians did not have to go into Heaven to find someone to bear your sins for you. Christ came down voluntarily and did that. And you did not have to go down into the Abyss of Hades, the place of the departed souls, to bring Christ up after He died. God brought Him up from the dead. So then the word of Christ is near you, in your mouth and in your heart just as Moses said the Law was with the Jews in the days of old."
God brought the Law to the Jews. They could not have brought it to themselves. And through faith, God led them and delivered them into the promised land. They never would have reached it otherwise. In a similar manner God brought Christ to the Christians of Rome and they had a full opportunity to believe through the word of faith which God gave Paul to preach. This reminds us of the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31-34 when God said through Jeremiah concerning the new covenant to come, "After these days, I will put my laws into their minds and I will write them upon their hearts ... For all shall know Me."
What was this word of faith which Paul preached? "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved." Why did this confession of Christ lead people to salvation? Because Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes. That was the knowledge that the Israelites lacked. And having no proper knowledge of Christ, they could not have faith in Him.
So then listen to this preaching of the word of God, Paul said. Know the fact that God sent His Son down from heaven and then, when He had been killed, raised Him from the dead. Believe that! Confess with your mouth as that dear Jew, Simon Peter, did. " You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Your salvation will be the result if you know that, if you pursue righteousness with a knowledge of that. If you believe enough to make that confession and act upon it in your life, then your life will be a confession of your faith. It will not be just a belief hidden in your heart, but it will come out to the surface in your actions and your mouth will speak it before the world! You will not be able to remain silent.
In Romans 10, verses 9 and 10, Paul gave the order and sequence in which God works with people to bring them to salvation. First, with the heart man believes. Follow that lead. There is the opening door leading to righteousness. Next, with the mouth he confesses. There is an indication of the action that must be taken. There is where salvation goes beyond the requirement for "faith only". Faith, if it has no deeds, is dead, being by itself, said James 2:17. James continued, "I will show you my faith by my deeds." (James 2:18). Faith has to come up out of the silent heart, from the unheard to the lips, out of the mouth to that which can be heard in the ears of other people. Then we must go through life confessing with all our actions that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
What would this confession have done for a Jew of Paul's day? It would have resulted in his salvation. He would have come to the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness. Jesus Christ did not come to naught when He died. He became victorious when God raised Him from the dead. The Jew would have come to the knowledge that Christ's prophesied kingdom transcends the earthly realm and includes and includes the spiritual realm; that Christ's kingdom is essentially a spiritual kingdom. He would have come to understand these things from the evidence presented by the preacher. That would have led him to an obedience of his faith, which was described in Acts 2:38 as repentance and baptism for the remission of his sins. Repentance, confession, baptism, and a life of continuing obedience of faith are all summed up here in Romans 10:9-12.
Also for the believing Gentile of Paul's day, Christ was the end of the law written in his heart. The Gentile also had to come to the knowledge that the law that he had been pursuing in his life was fulfilled in Christ. And in our day as well, we must all come to the knowledge that the law that we have been pursuing in our lives is fulfilled in Christ, else we will be lost. We also must believe, repent, and be baptized, and continually confess Him with our mouths and all our actions.
GOD HAS ALWAYS PROVIDED HIS PREACHERS TO CALL BOTH JEWS AND GENTILES. MANY JEWS HAVE REJECTED THE PREACHERS. Romans 10:14-21.
"(14) How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (15) And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!' (16) However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" (17) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (18) But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; 'Their voice has gone out into all the earth. And their words to the ends of the world.' (19) But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? At the first Moses days, 'I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation, by a nation without understanding will I anger you.' (20) And Isaiah is very bold and says, 'I was found by those who sought Me not, I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.' (21) But as for Israel He says, 'All the day long, I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.'" Romans 10:14-21. NASV.
Note that in Romans 10:11 Paul quoted Isaiah as saying, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed." Then in Romans 10:13 Paul quoted Joel as saying, "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved." Then in Romans 10:14 Paul posed a question. "How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? Paul pointed out, by referring to the quotations from the prophets, that both "belief" and a "calling upon the Lord" have always been necessary to be saved. These Scriptures should have taught the Jews that belief in God as their Savior was necessary, and that belief had to be followed by a calling on the name of the Lord in order for that belief to become the faith that saves. This is an eternal principle. It has always been true ever since Adam sinned and began to need salvation; it was true in the time of the Jewish nation; it was true in Paul's day; and it is still true today that belief in the Lord and a calling upon His name is necessary for us to receive the Lord's gift of salvation.
Going back to Romans 10, verses 9 and 10, Paul said that belief and confession with our mouths was necessary for us to receive God's gift of salvation. On the other hand, Paul then pointed out in Romans 9, verses 12 and 13 that the prophets of the Old Testament taught that belief and calling upon the name of the Lord leads to salvation. Even in Paul's day, thing equal to the same thing were equal to each other. We conclude that the phrase, "confession with our mouths," describes essentially the same action as the phrase "calling upon the name of the Lord."
Paul wanted the Jews to understand that God has not changed the essentials of His gospel. After all, His grace had always been extended to the Jews ever since their creation as a separate people. And then, in Paul's time, the gospel of Christ, the good news that the Son of God has answered all those who have been calling on the name of the Lord, was not a new gospel that the Jews could not accept. It was the same gospel that had always been extended to the Jews. Jesus Christ is the answer to all those who have been calling on the name of the Lord all down through the ages of mankind.
Paul was calling upon the Jews and Gentiles to understand that they could not establish their own righteousness but had to heed the preaching of the prophets in their call for them to believe and call upon the name of the Lord in order to be counted righteous. And now that Christ had come, they had to take the next step and accept Him specifically and personally, and confess His name, or else God's plan for their salvation could not be effective in their case.
God's plan of salvation was put in universal terms in the 10th chapter of Romans. God has always required faith and He has always required a calling on His name. The Jews and Gentiles who have believed and called upon His name undoubtedly have been saved.
Today there are people all around us in the world who have zeal for God but not according to knowledge. They seek to establish their own righteousness through some kind of law of merit. It seems to be a part of human nature for people to want to achieve righteousness through their own power. They must wake up to the fact that only the knowledge of sin comes in this manner and that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. They must understand and believe that only God can save them, and they must call upon His name.
In Romans 10:14-15 Paul posed some more questions. "How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?"
First of all, answers to these questions complete his line of reasoning concerning the plan of salvation for the Jews. Most of the Jews were rejecting Jesus as their Christ. Perhaps they were reasoning that this Jesus cannot be the Savior of all the Jews of old who never heard of Him. How could the Jews of old have called upon Jesus in whom they had not chance to believe. No preacher came to them in the old days and told them about this Jesus, they reasoned in their minds. God sent prophets to the Jews but they didn't reveal this man Jesus as God's Son, did they? The Jews of old did not accept Jesus, so the Jews of Paul's day couldn't believe and call upon His name either. This may have been the thinking of many Jews. Jesus just didn't have a part in their understanding of their relationship with God.
But Paul hastened to point out that the reasoning behind such questions was erroneous. The Jews of old did have preachers who preached the gospel to them. Isaiah spoke of them when he said, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!" Ah, yes! The good news has been preached all down through the ages. And in the next few verses Paul cited examples of preachers who brought "glad tidings of good things" and examples of the results of their preaching. God sent preachers to the Jews of old. Not the least of these preachers was Isaiah. And Isaiah's report was that the Jews wouldn't believe. We should note here that Paul quoted the words of Moses, David, and Isaiah and followed with the statement that "faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" But where in the words given in olden times to Moses, David, and Isaiah was the "word of Christ?"
Let us remind ourselves that Christ was not idle before He came to earth to live and die in the flesh for us. Christ the Son has been with God the Father ever since the beginning of all time. The "word of Christ" has always been the same as the "word of God." In fact, the Apostle John referred to Christ as "the Word" personified and said that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Understanding this, it can be said even of the Jews of Isaiah's time, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ."
The word of Christ and God was preached to the Jews. They heard it, but most of them did not believe, so it did not produce faith. But Christ and God did their part which was to give them opportunity and to urge them to believe. The Jews had the ability to make their own choices.
In Romans 10:18 Paul quoted someone who asked in answer to his questions, "Surely they (Israel) have never heard (about Christ), have they?" The question seems to have been intended as rhetorical and intimated that the Jews could not have been expected to have faith in Christ. "Indeed they have (heard)," answered Paul. Paul quoted Psalm 19:4. "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." To what words do the Psalm refer? They refer to the words God spoke through His vessels, the prophets. Did Israel hear? The prophet of the Psalms said they heard and even all the earth heard.
But in Romans 10:19 Paul quoted some who still asked, "Surely Israel did not know, did they?" Paul said that Moses and Isaiah gave the answer to that question. God not only made the necessary things known to Israel, but, when they would not believe, God went so far as to try to stir them up to belief by jealousy of the Gentiles. God made His word known to Gentile nations also. The result was given in Romans 10:20: "I was found by those who sought Me not, I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me." In other words, you Jews, to whom God spoke more often and more clearly than to any other nation, claim you never heard about God's grace offering salvation by faith. But some other people who did not have all the advantages that you Jews had, have heard and have responded in faith.
An example of this occurred when God sent Jonah to the Gentile city of Nineveh. Although God made Israel a special people to carry out His special purpose, God has never forsaken any people. He has sent His word by His preachers to all people in every age.
Finally in Romans 10:21 Paul quoted God Himself through the prophet Isaiah concerning Israel, "All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people." That is why most of Israel has not been saved through Jesus Christ. God would have saved them in a moment if they would have had faith. God did not reject them. He "stretched out His hand to them" constantly. God continues to this very day to stretch out His hand to those individuals who are descended from Israel. When the Jews, or anyone else, rejects God, God even uses that rejection to work good to those who do not reject Him. He used the Jews rejection of Him to make Himself "manifest to those who did not ask for Him," even including us who live today.
Refer again to the questions of Romans 10:14-15, "How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?" These questions have but one answer. They cannot! No one can call upon the Lord unless he has believed. No one can believe in the Lord who has not heard Him. And no one has heard without a preacher. And no one has preached the word of God except those sent by God to do it.
God has done just this throughout the history of sinful mankind on earth. God has always sent the necessary preachers of His word so that sinful men could hear, believe, and call upon His name. God has always done all that is necessary. God sent His prophets in olden times, and He sent Christ and His Apostles in more recent times, with the glad tidings of salvation. And how beautiful are their feet because God sent them, messengers from God.
Paul said the Jews had not lacked for preachers. The Jews had all heard the glad tidings, perhaps better than any other people on earth. But, by and large, the Jews had not believed and called further upon God's name. But God has given them every advantage. God has done all for them.
God offers the glad tidings to the world today, the whole world, Jews and Gentiles alike. God has "His Israel" today, the Christians. The Christians are God's preachers. God's preachers, the Christians, are sent into all the world to preach the glad tidings to every creature today.
God's glad tidings cannot be preached unless God sends the preacher. Those "socalled" preachers who go on their own do not really have God with them. God is with those He sends and only those. Those whom God sends do not preach their own message but only the message God has given them. Thus, today, when men hear one truly sent by God, they hear Jesus the Christ. Today the Godhead does all with respect to salvation through Jesus, the Christ. Jesus "speaks" through His preachers and that characterizes those who are sent. Only those who are sent will let Jesus speak through them.
Jesus would send everyone of us who truly call on His name. He would use us as "vessels of mercy" to save the world. But when it comes down to us as individuals, Jesus' use of one of us as a "vessel of mercy" depends upon our willingness to be sent. Jesus will do all the "real work". He only wants us to act as "vessels". The lost of the world need to hear Jesus. They do not need to hear us. But we are to be the vessels by which the world hears Jesus so that others can develop a zeal for God according to knowledge, so that they can believe and confess and call upon the name of the Lord. And "whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved."
(This was taken from the book "God's Righteousness Revealed," a commentary on Romans by F. M. Perry.)
© 2002, F. M. Perry