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Romans 10

The Expositor's Greek TestamentExpositor's Greek Testament

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CHAPTERS 9 11. With the eighth chapter Paul concludes the positive exposition of his gospel. Starting with the theme of Romans 1:16 f., he showed in Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20 the universal sinfulness of men Gentile and Jew; in Romans 3:21 to Romans 5:21 he explained, illustrated and glorified the gospel of justification by faith in Christ, set forth by God as a propitiation for sin; in Romans 6:1 to Romans 8:39 he has vindicated this gospel from the charge of moral inefficiency, by showing that justification by faith is inseparably connected with a new life in the Spirit, a life over which sin has no dominion and in which the just demands of God’s law are fulfilled. He has even carried this spiritual life on, in hope, to its consummation in glory: and no more remains to be said. With chap. 9 a new subject is introduced. There is no formal link of connection with what precedes. Structurally, the new division of the epistle stands quite apart from the earlier; it might have been written, and probably was written, after a break. But though no logical relation between the parts is expressed, a psychological connection between them is not hard to discover. The new section deals with a problem which presented great difficulty to the early Church, and especially to men of Jewish birth, a problem which haunted the Apostle’s own mind and was no doubt thrust on his attention by his unbelieving countrymen, a problem all the more painful to him as he realised more completely the greatness and glory of the Christian salvation. This was the problem constituted by the fact that the Jews as a whole did not receive the Gospel. They were God’s chosen people, but if the Christian Gospel brought salvation they had no share in it. The Messiah was to spring from them, but if Jesus was the Messiah this privilege meant not redemption but condemnation, for they rejected Him almost with one consent. In short, if the birth of the Christian Church and the gathering of Gentiles into it represented the carrying out of God’s purpose to bless and save men, God must have turned His back upon Himself; He must have broken His promise to Israel, and cast off His chosen people. But as this must seem impossible, the Jewish inference would be that the Gospel preached by Paul could not be of God, nor the Gentile Churches, as Paul asserted, God’s true Israel. This is the situation to which the Apostle addresses himself in the ninth and the two following chapters. It is a historical problem, in the first instance, he has to deal with, not a dogmatic one; and it is necessary to keep the historical situation in view, if we are to avoid illegitimate inferences from the arguments or illustrations of the Apostle. After the introductory statement (Romans 9:1-5 ), which shows how deeply his heart is pledged to his brethren after the flesh, he works out a solution of the problem or an interpretation of the position along three lines. In each of these there are many incidental points of view, but they can be broadly discriminated. (1) In the first, chap. Romans 9:6-29 , Paul asserts the absolute freedom and sovereignty of God as against any claim, made as of right, on the part of man. The Jewish objection to the Gospel, to which reference is made above, really means that the Jewish nation had a claim of right upon God, giving them a title to salvation, which God must acknowledge; Paul argues that all God’s action, as exhibited in Scripture, and especially in the history of Israel itself to say nothing of the essential relations of Creator and creature refutes such a claim. (2) In the second, chap. Romans 9:30 to Romans 10:21 , Paul turns from this more speculative aspect of the situation to its moral character, and points out that the explanation of the present rejection of the Jews is to be found in the fact that they have wilfully and stubbornly rejected the Gospel. Their minds have been set on a righteousness of their own, and they have refused to submit themselves to the righteousness of God. (3) In the third, chap. 11, he rises again to an absolute or speculative point of view. The present unbelief of the Jews and incoming of the Gentiles are no doubt, to a Jew, disconcerting events; yet in spite of them, or rather which is more wonderful still by means of them, God’s promises to the fathers will be fulfilled, and all Israel saved. Gentile Christianity will provoke the unbelieving Jews to jealousy, and they too will enter the Messianic Kingdom. In the very events which seem to throw the pious Jewish mind out of its reckoning, there is a gracious providence, a depth of riches and wisdom and knowledge which no words can express. The present situation, which at the first glance is heart-breaking (Romans 9:2 ), is only one incident in the working out of a purpose which when completed reveals the whole glory of God’s mercy, and evokes the loftiest and most heartfelt praise. “He shut up all unto disobedience that He might have mercy on all.… Of Him and through Him and to Him are all things. Unto Him be glory for ever.” Since Baur’s time several scholars have held that the mass of the Roman Church was Jewish-Christian, and that these three chapters, with their apologetic aim, are specially addressed to that community, as one which naturally felt the pressure of the difficulty with which they deal. But the Roman Church, as these very chapters show ( cf. Romans 9:3 , my kinsmen, not our ; Romans 11:13 , ὑμῖν δὲ λέγω τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ), was certainly Gentile, whatever influence Jewish modes of thought and practice may have had in it; and it was quite natural for the Apostle, in writing what he evidently meant from the first should be both a systematic and a circular letter, to include in it a statement of his thoughts on one of the most difficult and importunate questions of the time. The extraordinary daring of chap. 11 ad fin. is not unrelated to the extraordinary passion of chap. 9 ad init. The whole discussion is a magnificent illustration of the aphorism, that great thoughts come from the heart.

Verse 1

Romans 10:1 . The Apostle cannot enlarge on this melancholy situation without expressing once more the deep grief which it causes him. Since the Jews are referred to in the third person ( ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν ) it is clear that the persons addressed are a Gentile Church. ἀδελφοί : Paul’s heart seems drawn to his spiritual kindred as he feels the deep gulf which separates him meanwhile from his kinsmen according to the flesh. ἡ μὲν εὐδοκία τῆς ἐμῆς καρδίας : the meaning of εὐδοκία must be gathered from such examples as Matthew 11:26 , Ephesians 1:5 ; Ephesians 1:9 , Philippians 1:15 ; Php 2:13 , 2 Thessalonians 1:11 . His heart’s εὐδοκία is that in which his heart could rest with complacency; that which would be a perfect satisfaction to it. This is virtually the same as “desire,” and an “Etymologicum ineditum” quoted in Schleusner explains it by βούλημα , γνώμη , προαίρεσις , ἐπιθυμία . His inmost desire and his supplication to God are in their interest, with a view to their salvation. The μὲν has no corresponding δέ ; the sad reality which answers to it does not need again to be expressed.

Verse 2

Romans 10:2 . Their good qualities compel his affection. ζῆλον θεοῦ ἔχουσιν : they have a zeal for God, are intensely (though mistakenly) religious. Cf. Galatians 1:14 . An unbelieving Jew could interpret his opposition to the lawless gospel of Paul as zeal for the divinely-given rule of life, and his opposition to the crucified Messiah as zeal for the divinely-given promises. It was God’s honour for which he stood in refusing the Gospel. ἀλλʼ οὐ κατʼ ἐπίγνωσιν : this religious earnestness is not regulated by adequate knowledge. For ἐπίγνωσις see Ephesians 4:13 , Philippians 1:9 , Colossians 1:9-10 ; Col 2:2 , 1 Timothy 2:4 , 2 Timothy 2:25 ; it is especially used of religious knowledge, and suggests attainment in it ( ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους , τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι , 1 Corinthians 13:12 ).

Verse 3

Romans 10:3 . This verse goes to the root of the matter, and explains the failure of the Gospel among the Jews. It was due to their ignorance of the righteousness of God. All men need and crave righteousness, and the Jews, in their ignorance of God’s, sought to establish a righteousness of their own. Their own is the key to the situation. Their idea was that they could be good men without becoming God’s debtors, or owing anything at all to Him. Such an idea, of course, shows complete ignorance of the essential relations of God and man, and when acted on fatally perverts life. It did so with the Jews. When the Gospel came, revealing the righteousness of God that for which man must be absolutely indebted to God’s grace, and which he can never boast of as “his own” it cut right across all the habits and prejudices of the Jews, and they did not submit themselves to it. Paul interprets the position of his nation through the recollection of his own experience as a Pharisee no doubt rightly on the whole. For ὑπετάγησαν in middle sense see Romans 8:7 , Romans 13:1 , Hebrews 12:9 , James 4:7 , 1 Peter 2:13 .

Romans 10:4 . Further proof that the pursuit of a righteousness of one’s own by legal observances is a mistake, the act of men “in ignorance”. τέλος γὰρ νόμου χριστὸς εἰς δικαιοσύνην παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι : For Christ is law’s end, etc. The sense required a sense which the words very naturally yield is that with Christ in the field law as a means of attaining righteousness has ceased and determined. The moment a man sees Christ and understands what He is and what He has done, he feels that legal religion is a thing of the past: the way to righteousness is not the observance of statutes, no matter though they have been promulgated by God Himself; it is faith, the abandonment of the soul to the redeeming judgment and mercy of God in His Son. The meaning is virtually the same as that of our Lord’s words in Luke 16:16 . νόμου without the article is “law” in the widest sense; the Mosaic law is only one of the most important instances which come under this description; and it, with all statutory conceptions of religion, ends when Christ appears. It is quite true to say that Christ consummates or fulfils the law (hence Calvin would prefer complementum or perfectio to finis as a rendering of τέλος ); quite true also that He is the goal of the O.T. dispensation, and that it is designed to lead to Him ( cf. Matthew 5:17 , Galatians 3:24 ); but though both true and Pauline, these ideas are irrelevant here, where Paul is insisting, not on the connection, but on the incompatibility, of law and faith, of one’s own righteousness and the righteousness of God. Besides, in limiting νόμος to the Mosaic O.T. law, this interpretation does less than justice to the language, and misses the point of παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι : there is no believer, Gentile or Jew , for whom law, Mosaic or other , retains validity or significance as a way to δικαιοσύνη , after the revelation of the righteousness of God in Christ.

In Romans 10:5 ff. Paul describes more fully, and in O.T. terms, the two ways of attaining δικαιοσύνη law and faith. His aim is to show that they are mutually exclusive, but that the latter is open and accessible to all.

Verse 5

Romans 10:5 . Μωυσῆς γὰρ γράφει : Moses’ authority is unimpeachable on this point. The righteousness that comes from law must be an achievement: the man who has done it shall live in it, Leviticus 18:5 . Paul writes ἐν αὐτῇ with reference to δικαιοσύνην : the ἐν αὐτοῖς of the LXX refers to πάντα τὰ κρίματα which precedes. Moses, of course, in writing thus did not mock his people; the O.T. religion, though an imperfect, was a real religion, under which men could be right with God. To keep the law of God and live by doing so (Matthew 19:17 ) was the natural aim and hope of a true Israelite; only, in this case, the law was not a collection of statutes, but a revelation of God’s character and will, and he who sought to keep it did so not alone, but in conscious dependence on God whose grace was shown above all things else by His gift of such a revelation. Paul, however, is writing with Pharisees and legalists in his eye, and with the remembrance of his own experience as a Pharisee in his heart; and his idea no doubt is that this road leads nowhere. Cf. Galatians 3:10-12 . To keep the law thus is an impossibility.

Verse 6

Romans 10:6 f. ἡ δὲ ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοσύνη οὕτως λέγει . It is remarkable that Paul does not make Moses his authority here, though he is about to express himself in words which certainly go back to Deuteronomy 30:12-14 . It is the righteousness of faith itself which speaks, describing its own character and accessibility in words with a fine flavour of inspiration about them. But it is not so much a quotation we find here, as a free reproduction and still freer application of a very familiar passage of the O.T. It is irrelevant to point out that what the writer in Deuteronomy means is that the law ( ἡ ἐντολὴ αὔτη ἢν ἐγὼ ἐντέλλομαί σοι σήμερον ) is not oppressive nor impracticable (as Paul in Romans 10:5 tacitly assumes it to be); the Apostle is not thinking in the least what the writer of Deuteronomy meant; as the representative of the righteousness of faith, he is putting his own thoughts his inspired conviction and experience of the Gospel into a free reproduction of these ancient inspired words. μὴ εἴπῃς ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου : = do not think, especially thoughts you would be ashamed to utter. τίς ἀναβήσεται εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν ; … ἢ τίς καταβήσεται εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον ; There is no impossible preliminary to be accomplished before the true religion is got under way; we have neither to scale heaven nor descend into the abyss. ἄβυσσος (in N.T.) only in Luke 8:31 and seven times in Rev. But cf. Psalms 106:26 ; 70:20. The passage in Deuteronomy has εἰς τὸ πέραν τῆς θαλάσσης . These two indefinite proverbial expressions for the impossible are interpreted by Paul. With τοῦτʼ ἔστιν (Romans 10:6-7 ), he introduces a midrash upon each. The first means (in his mind) bringing Christ down; the second, bringing Christ up from the dead. Evidently the righteousness of faith is concerned with a Christ of whom both these things are true a descent from heaven, and a rising from the dead, Incarnation and Resurrection. We could not bring about either by any effort, but we do not need to; Christ incarnate and risen is here already, God’s gift to faith.

Verse 8

Romans 10:8 . ἐγγύς σου τὸ ῥῆμά ἐστιν … τοῦτʼ ἔστιν τὸ ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως ὃ κηρύσσομεν . What is in the lips of the preacher is near to all who hear. In Deut. the word is of course the Mosaic law; here it is the Gospel, the word which deals with that πίστις on which the righteousness of God depends. τῆς πίστεως is objt. gen [1] The whole idea of the verses is that righteousness has not to be achieved, but only appropriated.

[1] genitive case.

Verse 9

Romans 10:9 . Apparently this verse gives the content of what the Apostle describes as “the word of faith which we preach”. ὅτι = viz. The reference both to heart and mouth in Deut. suits his purpose, and he utilises it; the closing words in the LXX ( καὶ ἐν ταῖς χερσί σου ποιεῖν αὐτό ) he disregards. ἐὰν ὁμολογήσῃς τὸ ῥῆμα … ὅτι Κύριος Ἰησοῦς : the putting of the confession before the faith which inspires it, and of which it is the confession, seems to be due simply to the fact that in the O.T. passage present to the Apostle’s mind ἐν τῷ στόματί σου precedes ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου . τὸ ῥῆμα is virtually = the Gospel, as God’s word concerning His Son and faith in Him. We confess it when we say, Jesus is Lord. Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:3 , Philippians 2:11 . The exaltation of Jesus is the fundamental Christian confession, and presupposes the resurrection; and it is this exaltation which here (as in the other passages referred to) is meant by His Lordship. It is mechanical to say that the first part of Romans 10:9 (Jesus is Lord) refers to the doubting question in Romans 10:6 , and therefore means a confession of the incarnation; and the second part of it (God raised Him from the dead) to the doubting question of Romans 10:7 . Paul nowhere connects the Lordship of Christ with His incarnation, and there is certainly no reference to His Divine nature here. The confession of the first part of the verse answers to the faith in the second; he who believes in his heart that God raised Christ from the dead can confess with his mouth (on that ground and in that sense) that Jesus is Lord. On the basis of such mutually interpreting faith and confession he is saved. This does not deprive the death of Christ of the significance which Paul ascribes to it elsewhere. Christ could not be raised unless He had first died, and when He is raised it is with the virtue of His sin-atoning death in Him. His exaltation is that of one who has borne our sins, and the sense of this gives passion to the love with which believers confess Him Lord.

Verse 10

Romans 10:10 . καρδίᾳ γὰρ πιστεύεται εἰς δικαιοσύνην , στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖται εἰς σωτηρίαν . The parallelism is like that in the previous verse, though the order of the clauses is reversed. To be saved one must attain δικαιοσύνη , and this depends on heart-faith; such faith, again, leading to salvation, must confess itself. To separate the two clauses, and look for an independent meaning in each, is a mistake; a heart believing unto righteousness, and a mouth making confession unto salvation, are not really two things, but two sides of the same thing. The formalism which seems to contrast them is merely a mental (perhaps only a literary) idiosyncrasy of the writer. It is true to say that such a confession as is meant here was made at baptism; but to limit it to baptism, or to use this verse to prove baptism essential to salvation, is, as Weiss says, unerhörter Dogmatismus .

Verse 11

Romans 10:11 . This verse proves from Scripture the main idea in the preceding, viz. , that faith saves. It is a quotation from Isaiah 28:16 (see Romans 9:33 ) with the addition of πᾶς , to which nothing corresponds either in Hebr. or LXX. Yet oddly enough it is on this πᾶς that the rest of the Apostle’s argument turns. The way of righteousness and salvation by faith, he goes on to show, is meant for all.

Verse 12

Romans 10:12 . οὐ γάρ ἐστι διαστολὴ Ἰουδαίου τε καὶ Ἕλληνος : this has been proved in one sense in chap. 3 there is no distinction between them in point of sin; it is now asserted in another sense there is no distinction between them in that the same Lord is waiting to save all on the same conditions. κύριος πάντων is best taken as predicate: the same Lord is Lord of all: cf. Acts 10:36 , Philippians 2:10 f. Christ is undoubtedly meant: in His presence, in view of His work and His present relation to men, all differences disappear; there can be only one religion. πλουτῶν εἰς πάντας : abounding in wealth toward all. Christ can impart to all men what all men need the righteousness of God. Cf. Romans 5:15-17 , Ephesians 3:8 , τὸ ἀνεξιχνίαστον πλοῦτος τοῦ Χριστοῦ . τοὺς ἐπικαλουμένους αὐτόν : cf. 1 C. Romans 1:2 where Christians are described as οἱ ἐπικαλούμενοι τὸ ὄνομα τ . Κ . ἡμῶν Ι . Χ . The formula, as the next verse shows, is borrowed from the Old Testament; and as Weiss remarks, Romans 10:13 sets aside every idea of a distinction between the invocation of God and that of Christ. To a Christian, as Paul conceives him, Christ has at least the religious value of God; the Christian soul has that adoring attitude to Christ which (when shown in relation to Jehovah) was characteristic of O.T. religion, See Acts 9:14 ; Acts 9:21 , Acts 22:16 (Paul’s conversion), 2 Timothy 2:22 . It is a fair paraphrase of the words to say that salvation depends on this: whether a sinful man will make appeal for it to Christ in prayer, as to One in whom all God’s saving judgment and mercy dwell bodily. It rests with Christ, so appealed to, to make a man partaker in the righteousness of God and eternal life.

Verse 13

Romans 10:13 . For every one who invokes the name of the Lord shall be saved. The words are from Joel 3:5 (= Joel 2:32 LXX). “The Lord” in the original is Jehovah; here, manifestly, Christ a proof how completely Christ stands in God’s place in all that concerns salvation.

Verse 14

Romans 10:14 f. It is difficult to trace very clearly the line of the Apostle’s thought here. Many scholars (including W. and H. and Lipsius) connect Romans 10:14-15 closely with what precedes, and mark a break between Romans 10:15 and Romans 10:16 . It is as if Paul were expanding the πᾶς of Romans 10:13 and justifying that universal preaching of the Gospel which was itself a stumbling-block to the Jews. Every one who invokes the name of the Lord shall be saved, and therefore the conditions of such invocation must be put within reach of every one . It is no argument against this interpretation that the ideas it introduces are not essential to the main purpose of the chapter, which is to prove the culpability of the Jews: the eager fulness of Paul’s mind often carries him on thus. Others read Romans 10:14-21 continuously, and mark a break at Romans 10:13 ( e.g. , Weiss, Sanday and Headlam). They lay stress on the οὖν in Romans 10:14 ( cf. Romans 9:14 , Romans 9:30 , Romans 11:1 ; Romans 11:11 ) as indicating that a paragraph has ended, and that the writer is facing the consequences which flow from it, the objections which can be made to it, etc. In this case the connection would be something like this. Salvation depends upon invoking Christ; but to invoke Christ depends upon certain conditions which the Jews may say it has been beyond their power to fulfil; let us inquire into the conditions, and see whether such a plea holds good. The first of these connections seems to me much the simpler, and it has the advantage of covering the second. For if the invocation of Christ, which is the sole and universal condition of salvation, has been made possible for all men, it has been made possible for the Jews. The special application to them, in which the argument of the chapter is clinched, is not made till Romans 10:19 ; here they are only involved with the rest of the world which has heard the Gospel. πῶς οὖν ἐπικαλέσωνται : sc. τοῦτον . πῶς δὲ πιστεύσωσιν οὗ οὖκ ἤκουσαν ; It is simplest to render, How are they to believe on Him Whom they have not heard? identifying the voice of the preachers with that of Christ. Winer, p. 249. Cf. Ephesians 2:17 . The rendering, Him of Whom they have not heard, would be legitimate in poetry. πῶς δὲ ἀκούσωσιν : this deliberative form is in all probability right: see critical note and Blass, Gramm. des Neut. Griech. , 205. ἐὰν μὴ ἀποσταλῶσιν : viz. , by the Lord Whom they preach, and Who is heard speaking when they speak. Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:17 , ἀπέστειλέν με Χριστὸς … εὐαγγελίζεσθαι . To find here the idea of an official ministry, as something belonging essentially to the constitution of the Church, is grotesque. “St. Paul argues back from effect to cause, through the series of Prayer, Faith, Hearing, Preaching, Sending; thus the last link in his argument must be the first in the realisation from which the rest follow; this one therefore he confirms by the prophetic announcement in Isaiah 52:7 ” (Gifford). ὡς ὡραῖοι : the true text of Romans greatly abbreviates the prophet’s words, but the joy with which the deliverance from Babylon was foreseen is in keeping with that with which Paul contemplates the universal preaching of the Gospel.

Verse 16

Romans 10:16 . The fact remains, however, in spite of this universal preaching, that there has not been a universal surrender to the Gospel. οὐ πάντες : the Jews are present to the writer’s mind here, though the words might apply more widely; hence the compassionate mode of statement. Cf. Romans 3:3 : εἰ ἠπίστησάν τινες . Yet this quantum of unbelief does not discomfit the Apostle; for it also, as well as the proclamation of the Gospel, is included in the prophecy. τίς ἐπίστευσεν τῇ ἀκοῇ ἡμῶν is a lament over practically universal unbelief. ἡ ἀκοὴ ἡμῶν in Isaiah means “that which we heard,” but who the “we” are is not clear. If a representative prophet speaks, ἀκοὴ will mean that which he and other prophets heard from God: = Who hath believed the revelation made to us? Cf. Isaiah 28:9 ; Isaiah 28:19 . If a representative of repenting Israel speaks, ἀκοὴ will mean that which he and his countrymen have heard from the prophets: = Who hath believed the message delivered to us? Assuming that Paul as a preacher instinctively used the words to express his own thought and experience in his vocation, they will mean here, Who has believed the message delivered by us Apostles?

Verse 17

Romans 10:17 . This verse is really parenthetic: Paul’s logical mind cannot let slip the chance of showing how this quotation confirms the connection of ideas in Romans 10:14 . ἄρα suits a rapid passing inference better than the more deliberate ἄρα οὖν which is much more frequent in Romans. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:18 , 2 Corinthians 5:14 , Galatians 2:17 . So then faith comes from a message (that which is received by the hearer of the Gospel), and the message διὰ ῥήματος Χριστοῦ through the Word concerning Christ. That which when heard is ἀκοὴ is when spoken ῥῆμα , and it is the condition of faith. The construction in ῥῆμα Χριστοῦ is the same as in τὸ ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως in Romans 10:8 . The words could not signify Christ’s command.

Verse 18

Romans 10:18 . The process of convicting the Jews is now under way, and ἀλλὰ λέγω introduces a plea on their behalf. It is Paul who speaks: hence the form of the question μὴ οὐκ ἤκουσαν suggests his. opinion as to the answer. To hear is necessary in order to believe; you do not mean to say they did not hear? Cf. 1Co 9:4-5 ; 1 Corinthians 11:22 . μενοῦνγε is immo vero . The contrary is so clearly the case that there is a touch of derision in the word with which Paul introduces the proof of it. Cf. Romans 9:20 . The Gospel has been preached in all the world: the words of Psalms 19:4 (exactly as in LXX) are at once the expression and the proof of this. Of course they refer to the revelation of God in nature, but their use will seem legitimate enough if we remember that Paul knew the extent to which the Gospel had been proclaimed in his day. Cf. Colossians 1:6 ; Colossians 1:23 . It was as widely diffused as the Diaspora, and the poetic inspired expression for this had a charm of its own.

Verse 19

Romans 10:19 . ἀλλὰ λέγω : another attempt to introduce a plea on behalf of Israel. You cannot say, “they did not hear”; surely you do not mean to say, then, Israel did not understand? At first sight there seems an unnatural emphasis here on Israel , but this is not the case. The generality of the argument must be abandoned now, for the passages next to be quoted, which are already present to Paul’s mind, contrast Israel with the Gentiles, and so bring it into prominence; and it is in the case of Israel, of all nations, that the plea of not understanding is most out of place. Above all nations Israel ought to have understood a message from God: Israel, and inability to understand God’s Word, ought to be incompatible ideas. πρῶτος Μωυσῆς λέγει , Deuteronomy 32:21 . πρῶτος suggests the beginning of a line of witnesses to this effect: virtually it means, even Moses, at the very beginning of their history. The point of the citation is not very clear. Like the passages quoted in Romans 9:25-26 , it might have been adduced by Paul as a proof that the Gentiles were to be called into God’s kingdom, and called in order to rouse the Jews to jealousy; but to be in place here, there must be also the latent idea that if peoples beyond the covenant (who were not peoples at all), and unintelligent peoples ( i.e. , idol worshippers) could understand the Gospel, a privileged and religiously gifted people like the Jews was surely inexcusable if it failed to understand it. The same idea seems to be enforced again in Romans 10:20 . Ἡσαίας δὲ ἀποτολμᾷ : “breaks out boldly” (Gifford). It was an act of great daring to speak thus to a nation with the exclusive temper of Israel, and Paul who needed the same courage in carrying the Gospel to the Gentiles was the man to see this. οἱ ἐμὲ μὴ ἐπερωτῶντες means those who put no question to me, sc. , about the way of salvation. In Isaiah 65:1 the clauses occur in reverse order. What the prophet has in view is God’s spontaneous unmerited goodness, which takes the initiative, unsolicited, in showing mercy to faithless Jews who made no appeal to Him and never sought Him; the Apostle applies this, like the similar passages in Romans 9:25 f., to the reception of the Gospel by the Gentiles. [2] If God was found and recognised in His character and purposes, where all the conditions seemed so much against it, surely Israel must be inexcusable if it has missed the meaning of the Gospel. The very calling of the Gentiles, predicted and interpreted as it is in the passages quoted, should itself have been a message to the Jews, which they could not misunderstand; it should have opened their eyes as with a lightning flash to the position in which they stood that of men who had forfeited their place among the people of God and provoked them, out of jealousy, to vie with these outsiders in welcoming the righteousness of faith.

[2] The part of Isaiah 65:1 which is not quoted here (I said, Behold Me, behold Me, unto a nation that was not called by My name) is meant, as usually pointed, to refer to the Gentiles, and this tradition of its application Paul may have learned from Gamaliel (Cheyne); but the pointing is wrong: see Cheyne.

Verse 21

Romans 10:21 . πρὸς δὲ τὸν Ἰσραὴλ λέγει : That is what he says of the Gentiles, but as for Israel, he says, etc., Isaiah 65:2 . For πρὸς = with reference to, see Hebrews 1:7 f., Luke 12:41 . The arms outstretched all the day long are the symbol of that incessant pleading love which Israel through all its history has consistently despised. It is not want of knowledge, then, nor want of intelligence, but wilful and stubborn disobedience, that explains the exclusion of Israel (meanwhile) from the Kingdom of Christ and all its blessings. This is not inconsistent with Romans 10:3 , if we go to the root of the matter. For the ignorance there spoken of is one which has its root in the will, in the pride of a heart which is determined to have a righteousness of its own without coming under any obligation to God for it, and which therefore cannot assume the attitude to which the Gospel becomes credibly Divine; while the ignorance suggested as a plea for unbelief is that of men to whom the Gospel has never been presented at all. The latter ignorance might annul responsibility; the former gives its full significance to guilt.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Romans 10". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/egt/romans-10.html. 1897-1910.
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