Adam Clarke Commentary
The apostle expresses his earnest desire for the salvation of the Jews, Romans 10:1. Having a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, they sought salvation by works, and not by faith in Christ, Romans 10:2-4. The righteousness which is of the law described, Romans 10:5. That which is by faith described also, Romans 10:6-10. He that believes and calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved, Romans 10:11-13. What is necessary to salvation, believing, hearing, preaching, a Divine mission, the Gospel, and obedience to its precepts, Romans 10:14-16. Faith comes by hearing, Romans 10:17. The universal spread of the Gospel predicted by the prophets, Romans 10:18-20. The ingratitude and disobedience of the Israelites, Romans 10:21.
My heart‘s desire, etc. - Though the apostle knew that the Jews were now in a state of rejection, yet he knew also that they were in this state through their own obstinacy, and that God was still waiting to be gracious, and consequently, that they might still repent and turn to him. Of his concern for their salvation he had already given ample proof, when he was willing to become a sacrifice for their welfare, see Romans 9:3.
They have a zeal of God - They believe their law to have come immediately from God himself, and are jealous of its glory and excellence; they conscientiously observe its rites and ceremonies, but they do not consider the object and end of those rites; they sin more through ignorance than malice; and this pleads in their excuse. By this fine apology for them, the apostle prepares them for the harsher truths which he was about to deliver.
For - being ignorant of God‘s righteousness - Not knowing God‘s method of saving sinners, which is the only proper and efficient method: and going about to establish their own righteousness - seeking to procure their salvation by means of their own contriving; they have not submitted - they have not bowed to the determinations of the Most High, relative to his mode of saving mankind, viz. through faith in Jesus Christ, as the only available sacrifice for sin - the end to which the law pointed.
For Christ is the end of the law - Where the law ends, Christ begins. The law ends with representative sacrifices; Christ begins with the real offering. The law is our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ; it cannot save, but it leaves us at his door, where alone salvation is to be found. Christ as an atoning sacrifice for sin, was the grand object of the whole sacrificial code of Moses; his passion and death were the fulfillment of its great object and design. Separate this sacrificial death of Christ from the law, and the law has no meaning, for it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins: wherefore the Messiah is represented as saying, Sacrifice and observing thou didst not desire; burnt-offering and sin-offering thou hast not required; then said I, Lo, I come to do thy will; a body hast thou prepared me, Psalm 40:6, Psalm 40:7; Hebrews 10:4-10; which proves that God never designed that the sacrifices of the law should be considered the atonement for sin, but a type or representative of that atonement; and that The atonement was the sacrifice offered by Christ. Thus he was the End of the law, in respect to its sacrifices. And, as sacrifices were offered merely to procure pardon of sin, righteousness, or justification, Christ is the end of the law for this justification to every one that believeth on him, as dying for their offenses, and rising again for their justification, having made peace through the blood of his cross. Therefore every Jew who rejected Christ rejected salvation, and that very salvation which the law witnessed and required, and which could not be had but through Christ alone.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law - The place to which the apostle refers, seems to be Leviticus 18:5: Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments; which if a man do, he shall live in them. These words seem to be spoken in answer to an objection which might be made by a Jew: “Did not Moses give us a law, the observance of which should secure our salvation?” Such a law Moses undoubtedly gave, and that law promises life to those who perform its precepts: but who can plead for life on this ground, who rejects that Christ who is the end of the law? No man ever did, nor ever can, fulfill that law, so as to merit salvation by the performance of it: for, as all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, they are all under the curse of the law, which says: Cursed is every one who continueth not in all the things that are written in the book of the law to do them, Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10; therefore by the deeds of this law none can be justified, because all are in a state of condemnation for transgressions already committed against it. If, therefore, there were not such a provision as is made by the death of Christ, no soul could be saved.
But the righteousness which is of faith - As it is most evident that there can be no justification by works, as all are sinful and all in a guilty state; if God will grant salvation at all, it must be by faith: but faith must have an object and a reason for its exercise; the object is Jesus Christ - the reason is the infinite merit of his passion and death.
Who shall ascend unto heaven? etc. - As Christ is the end of the law for justification to every one that believes, no observance of the law can procure him. Who, by the practice of the law, can bring Christ down from heaven? or, when brought down, and crucified and buried, as a sacrifice for sin, who can bring him up again from the dead? And both his death and resurrection are essentially necessary for the salvation of a lost world. Or the sense of the apostle may be this: They who will not believe in Christ crucified must in effect be seeking another Messiah to come down from heaven with a different revelation; or they who will not credit the doctrine that we preach concerning his resurrection seem in effect to say, Christ yet remains to be raised from the dead, and reign over the Jews as a mighty secular sovereign, subjecting the Gentile world to the sway of his righteous scepter.
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee - There is no occasion to seek high or low for the saving power; the word of reconciliation is nigh. The way of salvation is now both plain and easy. The law is magnified and made honorable by the death of Christ; and the doctrine of faith in his death and resurrection is fully proclaimed, and amply proved to be effectual to the purpose for which it was revealed. By the preaching of the Gospel the doctrine of salvation is nigh thee, and the saving influence is at hand: it is in thy mouth, easy to be understood, easy to be professed: and in thy heart, if thou art upright before God, sincerely desiring to be saved on his own terms, not striving to establish thy own method of justification by the law, which must for ever be ineffectual, but submitting to the method of justification which God has devised.
That if thou shalt confess, etc. - Acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Savior. Believe in thy heart that he who died for thy offenses has been raised for thy justification; and depend solely on him for that justification, and thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth, etc. - And be sincere in this: for with the heart, duly affected with a sense of guilt, and of the sufficiency of the sacrifice which Christ has offered, man believeth unto righteousness, believeth to receive justification; for this is the proper meaning of the term here, and in many other parts of this epistle; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. He who believes aright in Christ Jesus will receive such a full conviction of the truth, and such an evidence of his redemption, that his mouth will boldly confess his obligation to his Redeemer, and the blessed persuasion he has of the remission of all his sins through the blood of the cross. One grand object of the apostle is to show the simplicity of the Gospel scheme of salvation; and at the same time, its great efficacy, it is simple, and very unlike the law, which was full of rites, ordinances, ceremonies, etc., each of which required to be perfectly fulfilled: and yet, after all, even those who had the utmost zeal for God, and, as conscientiously as possible, observed all the precepts of the law, had not attained to justification nor peace of conscience. Whereas both Jews and Gentiles, who had believed on the Lord Jesus according to the simple declarations of the Gospel, were freely justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses: and they had the witness in themselves that they were passed from death to life.
For the Scripture saith - And howsoever the Jews may despise this Gospel, because it comes not unto them with pomp and ceremony, it puts those who receive it into possession of every heavenly blessing: and this is according to the positive declarations of the prophets; for it is written, Isaiah 28:16; Isaiah 49:23: Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. He shall neither be disappointed of his hope, nor ashamed of his confidence; because he has that faith which is the evidence of things not seen, the subsistence of things hoped for, Hebrews 11:1. See note on Romans 1:16.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek - All are equally welcome to this salvation. Here the Jew has no exclusive privilege; and from this the Greek is not rejected. One simple way of being saved is proposed to all, viz. faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; because he is the same Lord who has made all and governs all, and is rich in mercy to all that call upon him.
For whosoever shall call, etc. - Nor shall any one who hears this doctrine of salvation, and credits it as he is commanded, be permitted to pray or supplicate the throne of grace in vain: for the Prophet Joel hath declared, Joel 2:32: Whosoever shall call upon, invoke, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners, shall be saved - shall have his guilt pardoned, his heart purified; and if he abide in the faith, rooted and grounded in him, showing forth the virtues of him who was called him out of darkness into his marvellous light, he shall be saved with all the power of an eternal life.
How then shall they call on him - As the apostle had laid so much stress on believing in order to salvation, and as this doctrine, without farther explanation, might be misunderstood, it was necessary to show how this faith was produced; and therefore he lays the whole doctrine down in a beautifully graduated order.
1.There can be no salvation without the Gospel: a dispensation of mercy and grace from God alone, here called, Romans 10:15, the Gospel of peace; glad tidings of good things.
2.This must be preached, proclaimed in the world for the obedience of faith.
1st, a proper Message;
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach - Dr. Taylor remarks on this quotation, which is taken from Isaiah 52:7, that “feet are variously used in Scripture, and sometimes have respect to things internal and spiritual. For as the life of man and the practice of piety are compared to walking, Psalm 1:1, so his feet may signify the principles on which he acts, and the dispositions of his mind. Ecclesiastes 5:1: Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God. Agreeably to this, the feet of the messengers in Isaiah and of the apostles in this verse, may signify the validity of their mission - the authority upon which they acted, and any character or qualifications with which they were invested.”
But they have not all obeyed the Gospel - This seems to be the objection of a Jew; as if he had said: A Divine mission would be attended with success; whereas there are numbers who pay no attention to the glad tidings you preach. To this the apostle answers, that the Spirit of God, by Isaiah, Isaiah 53:1, foretold it would be so, even in the case of the Jews themselves, where he said, Lord, who hath believed our report? For although God brings the message of salvation to men, he does not oblige them to embrace it.
So then faith cometh by hearing - Preaching the Gospel is the ordinary means of salvation; faith in Christ is the result of hearing the word, the doctrine of God preached. Preaching, God sends; if heard attentively, faith will be produced; and if they believe the report, the arm of the Lord will be revealed in their salvation.
But I say, have they not heard? - But to return to the objection: You say they have not all Believed; I ask: Have they not all Heard? Have not the means of salvation been placed within the reach of every Jew in Palestine, and within the reach of all those who sojourn in the different Gentile countries where we have preached the Gospel, as well to the Jews as to the Gentiles themselves? Yes: for we may say of the preaching of the Gospel what the psalmist has said (Psalm 19:4) of the heavenly bodies: Their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. As the celestial luminaries have given testimony of the eternal power and Godhead of the Deity to the habitable world, the Gospel of Christ has borne testimony to his eternal goodness and mercy to all the land of Palestine, and to the whole Roman empire. There is not a part of the promised land in which these glad tidings have not been preached; and there is scarcely a place in the Roman empire in which the doctrine of Christ crucified has not been heard: if, therefore, the Jews have not believed, the fault is entirely their own; as God has amply furnished them with the means of faith and of salvation.
But I say, Did not Israel know? - You object to this preaching among the Gentiles; but is not this according to the positive declaration of God? He, foreseeing your unbelief and rebellion, said by Moses, Deuteronomy 32:21, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. As you have provoked me to jealousy with worshipping those that are no gods, I will provoke you to jealousy by those which are no people. This most evidently refers to the calling or inviting of the Gentiles to partake of the benefits of the Gospel; and plainly predicts the envy and rage which would be excited in the Jews, in consequence of those offers of mercy made to the Gentiles.
But Esaias (the Greek orthography for Isaiah) is very bold - Speaks out in the fullest manner and plainest language, Isaiah 65:1, notwithstanding the danger to which such a declaration exposed him, among a crooked, perverse, and dangerous people: I was found of them that sought me not; I put my salvation in the way of those (the Gentiles) who were not seeking for it, and knew nothing of it: thus, the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness have attained to the law of righteousness, Romans 9:30, and they have found that redemption which the Jews have rejected.
But to Israel he saith - In the very next verse, (Isaiah 65:2), All day long have I stretched forth my hands, manifesting the utmost readiness and willingness to gather them all together under my protecting care; but I stretched forth my hands in vain, for they are a disobedient and gainsaying people. They not only disobey my command, but they gainsay and contradict my prophets. Thus the apostle proves, in answer to the objection made Romans 10:16, that the infidelity of the Jews was the effect of their own obstinacy; that the opposition which they are now making to the Gospel was foretold and deplored 700 years before; and that their opposition, far from being a proof of the insufficiency of the Gospel, proved that this was the grand means which God had provided for their salvation; and having rejected this, they could expect no other. And this gives the apostle opportunity to speak largely concerning their rejection in the following chapter.
I.In the preceding chapter are several quotations from the law, the prophets, and the Psalms; and as the apostle seems to take them with considerable latitude of meaning, it has been thought that he only uses their words as being well calculated to express his sense, without paying any attention to their original import. This principle is too lax to be introduced in such solemn circumstances. Dr. Taylor has made some judicious and useful distinctions here. After observing that, if we allow this principle, no argument can be built on any of the apostle‘s quotations; and that it must have been an indifferent thing with him whether he did or did not understand the Scripture - as, on this supposition, they would serve him as well without as with the true meaning - he adds: the apostle was a strict and close quoter of the Scripture; but he did not always quote them in the same manner, or for the same purpose.
1.Sometimes his intention goes no farther than using the same strong expressions, as being equally applicable to the point in hand. So, Romans 10:6-8, he uses the words of Moses, not to prove any thing, nor as if he thought Moses spoke of the same subject, but only as intimating that the strong and lively expressions which Moses used concerning the doctrine he taught, were equally applicable to the faith of the Gospel. So, in the same manner, Romans 10:18, he quotes Psalm 19:4, though it is likely (see the note on Romans 10:18) that those expressions were used by the ancient Jews in application to the Messiah as the apostle applies them.
These things duly considered, it will appear that the apostle has every where shown a just regard to the true sense of the Scripture he quotes, in the view in which he quotes it.
II.The apostle here makes a just and proper distinction between the righteousness or justification that is of the law, and that which is by faith in Christ. And, in his view of the former, shows it to be absolutely impossible; for if no man is to live thereby - to have spiritual and eternal life, but he who does these things; then salvation on that ground must be impossible; for,
1.The law makes no provision for the pardon of sin.
1.The righteousness or justification, which is by faith, receives Christ as an atoning sacrifice, by which all past sin is pardoned.
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