Updated: Apr 20, 2022
Romans 10:1-21 a short commentary
Daddy's plan for man
10:1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Paul shares his heart with his Christian family and reassures them that his deepest desire is for the Jews to come to saving faith. The Jews were very enthusiastic about their religion and God however they were going about it in a completely different way from that which God actually requires. They failed to understand that the only righteousness available to them was that of the ‘imputed’ righteousness obtained only and exclusively via Jesus Christ. However they strived to try and achieve right standing through keeping the Mosaic Law which they or their forefathers were unable to achieve. Jesus Christ came to fulfil all of the Law and the Prophets and through His sacrificial death and resurrection provided a right standing with God for both Jews and Gentiles who would believe in Him.
5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “Whoever does these things will live by them.” [a] 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” [b] (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” [c] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” [d] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Jesus Christ forged the one true path to salvation for mankind by completely fulfilling the Law and thereby making a clear path to right standing with God for all those who could not keep the Law i.e. everyone. We are not able in our own strength to go up into heaven or descend into the grave i.e. our works cannot bring us to the Saviour. Paul then gives direct quotations from Deuteronomy which Moses had given to prepare the Hebrews for entering the Promised Land. Moses was trying to point out to the Hebrews that the Promised Land was a gift from God not something they could earn or obtain in any other way. In the same way our salvation today is a gift from God that we appropriate by faith as we speak out of our mouths (lips) that ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead. God’s loving offer of salvation through the Gospel is not far away from human hearts but rather very close to them as it is faithfully preached by His ministers. When faith enters into our hearts it leads us to confess with our lips that ‘Jesus is Lord’ . This combination of faith and confession brings us into right standing with God and produces salvation as the Holy Spirit regenerates us.
11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” [e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” [f]
Paul quotes Isaiah 28:16 as a proof text to demonstrate that salvation through Jesus Christ is everlasting. This wonderful blessing of salvation applies to everyone who calls on the Lord with saving faith and is irrespective of their ethnic origin. These verses offer tremendous comfort to penitent sinners seeking the Saviour.
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” [g]
Paul now describes the salvation chain in reverse; how can anyone call on a Saviour whom he has not believed in and indeed has even not heard of? How can anyone hear about the Saviour unless someone else is preaching the Gospel message to them? How can anyone preach the Gospel message unless God has called them and sent them out to proclaim the good news? What a tremendous call to witness and evangelise for the church body showing our serious responsibility before God to reach the lost souls. Paul then quotes Isaiah 52:7 showing the sheer joy of imminent release from captivity and shows that this is exactly the type of joy that those who respond to our Gospel message thus releasing them from the bondage of sin. The good news is so wonderful that it bearers’ feet are described as being beautiful which bring the most welcome and long awaited message that any human being could ever hear.
16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” [h] 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. 18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:
“Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” [i]
Unbelievably many of the Jews turned up their noses at this wonderful offer of salvation. So what went wrong? The true Gospel message had been faithfully preached by Jesus Himself, Paul and others but the unbelief in many Jews did not permit saving faith to penetrate into their hard hearts and lead to confession of Jesus Christ as Lord. The true Gospel message was spreading like wildfire over the Mediterranean area but not everyone who heard the message accurately preached responded in faith to it. It is still the same today as the Gospel message is rolled out all over the world!
19 Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says,
“I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.” [j]
Tragically in the same way that Moses chided the unbelievers of ancient Israel Paul has to concluded that it was not that they did not ‘get it’ but rather did not ‘want it’ in terms of the Gospel message. The Jews would witness the heathen Gentiles coming into the Kingdom of God and realise they had missed out.
20 And Isaiah boldly says,
“I was found by those who did not seek me;
21 But concerning Israel he says,
“All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”[l]
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”[k]
Isaiah also cuts right to the chase by pointing out the same type of paradox that Paul was witnessing with the Jews was occurring. It was to the Jews as the chosen people, that God was constantly reaching out to but they were so stubborn, disobedient and hard hearted that they did not recognise God’s voice calling them to repentance. God then turns His offer of salvation to the more distant and previously not chosen people the Gentiles who were so far from God they did not seem to even know they should be searching for Him!
Romans 10:5 Lev. 18:5
Romans 10:6 Deut. 30:12
Romans 10:7 Deut. 30:13
Romans 10:8 Deut. 30:14
Romans 10:11 Isaiah 28:16 (see Septuagint)
Romans 10:13 Joel 2:32
Romans 10:15 Isaiah 52:7
Romans 10:16 Isaiah 53:1
Romans 10:18 Psalm 19:4
Romans 10:19 Deut. 32:21
Romans 10:20 Isaiah 65:1
Romans 10:21 Isaiah 65:2
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