Romans 10

The need for faith in Christ and confession of that faith.

This is why preaching to everyone is important.

 

Romans 10:1-4

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

So that no one can miss the point, Paul states his commitment to the Israelites that it is his “heart’s desire and prayer to God for them” (Romans 10:1) to be saved.  One of the things that Israelites had going for them was their zeal; however, it was not based upon knowledge (Romans 10:2).  To please God, it takes a combination of both.  Their specific problem was that they were “ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God,” and were “seeking to establish their own.”  Because of this, “they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Romans 10:3).    The legalist would say, “If I make enough laws and demands on myself, surely God will accept me.”  On the other hand, the believer in Christ would declare, “My righteousness is a gift from God.”  Or stated another way, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).  When one sees the righteousness of God that comes through Christ, he quickly does away with the idea of attaining righteousness on his/her own (see Philippians 3:3-11).

Romans 10:5-13

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6But the righteousness based on faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' " (that is, to bring Christ down) 7or " 'Who will descend into the abyss?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

The oppositional nature of the two approaches to righteousness can be seen in the difference between Moses statements and faith statements.  Moses statement, based on law, was that “the person who does the commandments shall live by them” (Romans 10:5).  The one who is living a life of faith knows in her/his heart that there is no need to wait for the Savior to show up.  The questions, “Who will ascend into heaven?” or “Who will descend into the abyss?” (Questions that the Israelites were still asking!) are superfluous because Christ has already done that (Romans 10:6-7).  The significance of these questions is that they would require Jesus to come back down to earth (again) or to rise from the dead (again) as though he had not done enough.  On the contrary, to a person of faith, “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (Romans 10:8).  It is in the believers mouth because, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord” and in the believers heart because, if you “believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,” the result will be that “you are saved” (Romans 10:9).

Since the above statements are true and to make his point, Paul quotes two Old Testament scriptures that were familiar to the Israelites.  The first is from Isaiah 28:16, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame” (Romans 10:11).  The second is from Joel 2:32, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).  Sandwiched between these two quotes is an assertion basic to the Christian faith, that is “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him” (Romans 10:12).  This is the message Peter preached on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-40) when the first gospel message was preached and the church had its beginning.  It is the message that has been preached ever since (Remember the theme of Romans 1:16-17; see also Acts 10:34-35, Acts 17:30-31, Revelation 22:17).

Romans 10:14-16

But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" 16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?"

Beginning in Romans 10:14 Paul asks a series of questions.  The questions are: “But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15a).  These questions find their answers in the theme of Romans which is presented in Romans 1:16-17.  The power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, whether Jew or Greek, is found in the gospel!  This is why Paul declared himself to be “under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish” (Romans 1:14).  This is why he stated, “I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (Romans 1:15).  Calling on the name of the Lord is required for salvation (see Acts 22:16).  But one cannot call without believing, cannot believe without hearing, and cannot hear without preaching.  And the preaching won’t happen unless preachers are sent! (Romans 10:14-15a).  This is why Paul quotes with joy Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15b).

The truth is that not everyone who hears the gospel is going to believe it and call upon the name of the Lord, thus obeying the gospel (Romans 10:16a). This should not be a surprise to anyone.  After all, Isaiah had prophesied this 700 years before when he stated, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” (Romans 10:16b, quoted from Isaiah 53:1, see also John 12:37-43).

Romans 10:17-21

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

18But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

"Their voice has gone out to all the earth,

and their words to the ends of the world."

 19But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,

I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;

with a foolish nation I will make you angry."

 20Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

 "I have been found by those who did not seek me;

I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me."

 21But of Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people."

It is true and accurate that, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).  So the question becomes, “Is the reason that the Israelites have not obeyed the gospel because they have not heard?” (Romans 10:18a).  Paul’s reply is, “Indeed they have” (Romans 10:18b), and then he quotes Psalm 19:4 to remind the Romans that the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) was in fact being carried out.  But, if they had heard, perhaps the problem was that they did not understand (Romans 10:19a).  He dismisses this as not a possibility.  In actuality, Moses had predicted that jealousy and anger would be the cause (Romans 10:19b, quoted from Deuteronomy 32:21) and Isaiah was so bold as to say this anger and jealousy would be because of the Gentiles (Romans 10:20, quoted from Isaiah 65:1).  He summarizes Israel’s response by quoting from Isaiah 65:2, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”  God had given them a chance but they, as a nation, had rejected him!

Review Questions:

 

1.     Paul accuses the Jews of lacking knowledge.  The specific knowledge they lacked was of the righteousness that comes from God.  What kinds of statements might a person who is “seeking to establish his own righteousness make?  What about someone who understands her/his righteousness is a gift from God?

 

2.     The question was asked, “Who will ascend into heaven?”  Who had already done this?

 

3.     The question was asked, “Who will descend into the abyss?”  Who had already done this?

 

4.     What is the importance of the word being so near Christians that it is described as “in your mouth and in your heart?”

 

5.     Why is the statement, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek” an important concept in the book of Romans and for our salvation?

 

6.     Paul connects three important happenings together before one reaches belief.  What are they?

 

7.     Regarding the Jews, Paul dismisses the possibilities that they had not heard the gospel or that they didn’t understand it as the reasons why they had rejected it.  What two words did he use to describe the reasons why they had rejected the gospel?

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