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Bible Commentaries
Romans 10

Clarke's CommentaryClarke Commentary

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Verse 1


The apostle expresses his earnest desire for the salvation of

the Jews, 1.

Having a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, they

sought salvation by works, and not by faith in Christ, 2-4.

The righteousness which is of the law described, 5.

That which is by faith described also, 6-10.

He that believes and calls on the name of the Lord shall be

saved, 11-13.

What is necessary to salvation, believing, hearing, preaching,

a Divine mission, the Gospel, and obedience to its precepts,


Faith comes by hearing, 17.

The universal spread of the Gospel predicted by the prophets,


The ingratitude and disobedience of the Israelites, 21.


Verse Romans 10:1. My heart's desire, &c.] 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.

Verse 2

Verse Romans 10:2. 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.

Verse 3

Verse Romans 10:3. 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.

Verse 4

Verse Romans 10:4. 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 fulfilment 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, Psalms 40:6, Psalms 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 offences, 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.

Verse 5

Verse Romans 10:5. 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, fulfil 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.

Verse 6

Verse Romans 10:6. 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? c.] 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 sceptre.

Verse 8

Verse Romans 10:8. 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 honourable 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.

Verse 9

Verse Romans 10:9. That if thou shalt confess, c.] Acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Saviour. Believe in thy heart that he who died for thy offences has been raised for thy justification and depend solely on him for that justification, and thou shalt be saved.

Verse 10

Verse Romans 10:10. For with the heart man believeth, c.] 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, &c., 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.

Verse 11

Verse Romans 10:11. 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. Romans 1:16; Romans 1:16.

Verse 12

Verse Romans 10:12. 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.

Verse 13

Verse Romans 10:13. For whosoever shall call, c.] 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 Saviour 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.

"Believing in Christ, or God, Romans 10:11, and calling upon God, Romans 10:12-14, are in effect the same thing; as calling upon God necessarily connects and supposes faith in him: and he who duly believes in Christ has such a sense of his dependence upon Divine grace, that he looks unto God and trusts in his power and goodness alone for happiness: which is the true religion of the Gospel." Dr. Taylor.

It is evident that St. Paul understood the text of Joel as relating to our blessed Lord; and therefore his word κυριος must answer to the prophet's word יהוה Yehovah, which is no mean proof of the Godhead of Jesus Christ. If the text be translated, Whosoever shall invoke in the name of the Lord, which translation יקרא בשם יהוה yikra beshem Yehovah will certainly bear, yet still the term Yehovah, the incommunicable name, is given to Christ; because invoking in the name signifies soliciting one in the name or on the account of another. He who is invoked is GOD; he, in whose name he is invoked, is JESUS CHRIST, who is here called Yehovah. He who asks mercy from GOD, in the name and for the sake of JESUS CHRIST, shall get his soul saved.

Verse 14

Verse Romans 10:14. 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.

3. None can effectually preach this unless he have a Divine mission; for how shall they preach except they be SENT, Romans 10:15. The matter must come from God; and the person mho proclaims it must have both authority and unction from on high.

4. This Divinely-commissioned person must be heard: it is the duty of all, to whom this message of salvation is sent, to hear it with the deepest reverence and attention.

5. What is heard must be credited; for they who do not believe the Gospel as the record which God has given of his Son cannot be saved, Romans 10:14.

6. Those who believe must invoke God by Christ, which they cannot do unless they believe in him; and in this way alone they are to expect salvation. Professing to believe in Christ, without earnest, importunate prayer for salvation, can save no man. All these things the apostle lays down as essentially necessary; and they all follow from his grand proposition, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. But, says the apostle, How shall they CALL upon him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they BELIEVE in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they HEAR without a preacher? And how shall they PREACH except they be sent? And with what message which can bring salvation can they be sent, but with the GOSPEL OF PEACE, the GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS. When, therefore, there is:

1st, a proper MESSAGE;

2dly, a proper MESSENGER;

3dly, the message PREACHED, proclaimed, or properly delivered by him;

4thly, the proclamation properly HEARD and attentively considered by the people;

5thly, the message which they have heard, conscientiously BELIEVED;

6thly, the name of the Lord Jesus, by whom alone this salvation is provided, most fervently INVOKED; then,

7thly, salvation, or redemption from sin and misery, and the enjoyment of peace and happiness, will be the result of such calling, believing, hearing, preaching, sending, and message sent:-and thus the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith is guarded from abuse.

Verse 15

Verse Romans 10:15. 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, Psalms 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."

Verse 16

Verse Romans 10:16. 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.

It is proposed to their understanding and conscience; but it does not become the means of salvation unless it be affectionately credited.

Verse 17

Verse 17. 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.

Verse 18

Verse 18. 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 (Psalms 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.

In Psalms 19:4, the psalmist has קום kauuam, their line, which the Septuagint, and the apostle who quotes from them, render φθογγος, sound; and hence some have thought that the word in the Psalm was originally קולם kolam, voice. But that קו kau is used for word or speech is sufficiently evident from Isaiah 28:10, line upon line, precept upon precept, &c., where קו is analogous to word or direction. It is very remarkable that these words of David, quoted by St. Paul, are mentioned in Sohar. Genes. fol. 9, where it is said: עבדי משיחא אינון מלין Abdey mashicha innun millin. "These words are the servants of the Messiah, and measure out both the things above and the things beneath." To this notion of them the apostle may refer in his use of them in this place, and to a Jew the application would be legitimate.

Verse 19

Verse 19. 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.

Verse 20

Verse Romans 10:20. 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.

Verse 21

Verse Romans 10:21. 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 Psalms 19:4, though it is likely (see the note in that place) that those expressions were used by the ancient Jews in application to the Messiah as the apostle applies them.

2. Sometimes the design of the quotation is only to show that the cases are parallel: or, that what happened in his times corresponded with what happened in former days. So Romans 2:24; Romans 8:36; Romans 9:27-29; Romans 11:2-5; Romans 11:8-10; Romans 15:21.

3. Sometimes the quotation is only intended to explain a doctrinal point, as Romans 1:17; Romans 4:6-8; Romans 4:18-21; Romans 9:20; Romans 9:21; Romans 10:15; Romans 15:3.

4. Sometimes the quotation is designed to prove a doctrinal point. Romans 3:4; Romans 3:10-19; Romans 4:3-17; Romans 5:12-14; Romans 9:7; Romans 9:9; Romans 9:12; Romans 9:13; Romans 9:15; Romans 9:17; Romans 10:5; Romans 10:11; Romans 10:13; Romans 12:19; Romans 12:20; Romans 13:9; Romans 14:11.

5. Sometimes it is the intention of the quotation to prove that something was predicted, or properly foretold in the prophetic writings, as Romans 9:25; Romans 9:26; Romans 9:33; Romans 10:16; Romans 10:19-21; Romans 11:26; Romans 11:27; Romans 15:9-13.

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.

These rules may help to vindicate the quotations in all the apostolic writings. And it is evident that we cannot form a true judgment upon any quotation, unless we take in the intention of the writer, or the view in which he quotes.

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.

2. It affords no helps for the performance of duty.

3. It makes no allowances for imperfections in duty, or for imperfections is our nature.

4. Its commandments, necessarily, suppose a righteous soul, and a vigorous body; and it does not lower its claims to the fallen state of man.

5. It requires perfect obedience, not only in all things, but in all places and circumstances. The man who comes up to this standard, has ever been in it, and has never swerved from it, shall, by the law, live for ever. But no man, since the fall, ever did so or ever can do so: therefore, salvation by the works of the law is absolutely impossible. But,

1. The righteousness or justification, which is by faith, receives Christ as an atoning sacrifice, by which all past sin is pardoned.

2. Receives continual supplies of grace from Christ by the eternal Spirit, through which the man is enabled to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and his neighbour as himself.

3. This grace is afforded in sufficient degrees suited to all places, times, and circumstances, so that no trial can happen too great to be borne, as the grace of Christ is ever at hand to support and to save to the uttermost. The law is the letter that killeth; the Gospel is the spirit that giveth life. Reader, let thy whole soul say with the apostle, Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Romans 10". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/romans-10.html. 1832.
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