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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
Romans 10



Other Authors
Verses 1-21

THIS LEADS THE Apostle, in the early part of chapter 10 to contrast the righteousness of the law with that of faith, and once more he expresses his fervent love and desire towards his people. His prayer for them was for their salvation. Very clear proof this, that they were not saved. Religion they had, zeal they had, the law they had, but they were not saved. Wrongly assuming that they were to establish their own righteousness by law-keeping they went about to do it, and miserably failed. And the very zeal with which they went about it blinded them to the fact that Christ was the end of the law, and that God’s righteousness was available for them in Him.

How much better it is to have God’s righteousness than our own, for ours at the best would be only human. Every one that believes has Christ for righteousness, as verse Romans 10:4 tells us. And Christ is “the end of the law.” The word end is used here, we believe, just as it is in 2 Corinthians 3:13, signifying the object in view. The law was really given in view of Christ. It paved the way for Him. If only Israel had been able to steadfastly look to the end of the law they would have seen Christ. It is quite true of course that Christ being come, all thought of righteousness being reached by law came to a conclusion. But that is not the primary meaning of verse Romans 10:4.

Next, we have a striking contrast drawn between the righteousness of law and the righteousness of faith. The former demands the works that are in keeping with its requirements and prohibitions. Words will not do, works must be produced. By those works, if produced, men shall live. Failing to produce them, and to go on failing to produce them, men shall die.

In contrast thereto the righteousness of faith does not demand works at all. It does not demand that we ascend into heaven to bring Christ down, for down He is come. Nor does it demand that we descend, as though to bring Him up from the dead, since from the dead He is risen. In penning these words the Apostle evidently had in his mind the words of Moses as recorded in Deuteronomy 30:11-14. Read that passage and see. You will notice that verse Romans 10:8 of our chapter, as to the form of it, is suggested by verse Romans 10:14. The word of the Gospel is sent by God to us. Received by us in faith, it becomes the word of faith to us, entering our hearts and coming out of our mouths.

Of old God brought His commandment very near to Israel that they might do it. He has brought His word even nearer to us in Christ. It is now not a word of what we ought to do, but of what Christ has done, and of what He Himself has done in raising Christ from the dead. On our part the word only demands that we believe with the heart that God has raised Him from the dead, and that we confess Him as Lord with our mouths. When heart and mouth thus go together there is of course reality. Real subjection to Jesus as Lord carries with it salvation.

Notice the distinction that is drawn in verse Romans 10:10 between righteousness and salvation. The faith of the heart in Christ puts a man into right relations with God—the faith of the heart, be it noted, as distinguished from the faith of the head, or mere intellectual apprehension. Real conviction of sin produces a heartfelt sense of need, and consequently heartfelt trust in Christ. That heartfelt faith God sees, and He reckons the man as right with Himself. Now the man goes a step further and confesses Christ publicly, or at least openly, as his Lord. This at once puts Him outside the world system in which the Lord is refused. His links with the world thus being cut, he steps into the blessedness of salvation.

Salvation is a word of very large meaning, as we have before seen. If we confine it in our thoughts to deliverance from the hell that our sins deserve, we miss a good deal of its significance. The moment we believe we are righteous before God, but until we definitely range ourselves under the Lordship of Christ by confessing Him personally as Lord, we do not get free of enslavement to the world, nor can we expect to experience the might of His authority and power on our behalf. How much do we know—each one of us—of a life of happy freedom in subjection to the Lord, and in occupation with His interests?

It is not supposed for one instant, of course, that we are going to believe in Jesus and not confess Him as Lord with our mouths. That would be impossible if our faith be the faith of the heart, since it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. Verse Romans 10:11 of our chapter makes this point very clear. The believer is not ashamed. This is quoted from Isaiah 28:16. The same verse is quoted in the last verse of the previous chapter, and it is also quoted in 1 Peter 2:6. The, “make haste,” of Isaiah becomes, “ashamed,” in Romans, and “confounded,” in Peter. A good illustration this of how New Testament quotations enlarge the sense of Old Testament predictions. The one who believed Isaiah’s word would never have to flee in panic-stricken haste before the avenging judgment. Neither shall we. But we have also One introduced as Lord, who fills us with confidence and in whom we glory. Who, really knowing Him, would be ashamed to confess Him?

Our salvation, then, lies in calling on the name of the Lord, as is stated so plainly in verses Romans 10:12-13. There is richness of supply and of power in Him, and all is at the disposal of the one who calls upon Him, without any distinction. Here we have the “no difference” of grace, just as in chapter 3 we had the “no difference” of guilt. Jesus is “Lord over all” whether they call upon Him or whether they do not. But the richness of His saving power is only at the disposal of those that call upon Him.

Do we call upon Him? Without a doubt we called upon Him at the hour of our conversion, and salvation we received. But is it the habit of our hearts to call upon Him in every emergency? A daily salvation we need, and a daily salvation is for us as we call upon Him—a salvation from every spiritual danger. The Lord does not always deliver His saints from physical dangers, threatened by the world without: sometimes He permits them to suffer grievous things, as in the case of Stephen, for instance. But then see how mighty was the spiritual salvation that Stephen enjoyed, even while his persecutors were breaking his bones. He furnishes us with the finest possible illustration of spiritual salvation flowing from the Lord, who is over all.

How important then is the Gospel, in which He is presented as Lord for the submission of faith. Verses Romans 10:14-15 emphasize this. If men are to be saved they must hear the Gospel and God must send it. With Him it all begins. God sends the preacher. The preacher delivers the message. Men hear of Christ and they believe in Him. Then they call upon the Lord and are saved.

But all begins with God. Every true preacher is sent forth by Him, and beautiful are their feet as they go. Paul quotes from Isaiah 52:1-15, where the prophet speaks of the coming days, when at last the tidings of deliverance comes to Zion by the advent of the Lord in His glory. Equally beautiful however are the feet of those who carry the tidings of His advent in grace and humiliation, and of all that was accomplished by it for our salvation.

The trouble is that all have not obeyed the Gospel, as Isaiah also indicated. Obedience is by faith. The word, “report,” really occurs thrice in this passage; for verse Romans 10:17 more literally rendered is, “So faith then is by a report, but the report by God’s word.” When the report reaches our ears, backed by the authority of God’s word, we believe it. Then it is that we can say like the Queen of Sheba, “It was a true report that I heard.”

The report then has gone forth. It had gone forth even in the early days when Paul wrote this epistle. The blessing however was conditioned upon the obedience of faith. Now as a nation Israel had remained unbelieving, and the warning words of the prophets were in process of being fulfilled.

In the first verse of the chapter the Apostle had expressed his fervent desire and prayer, which was for their salvation. In the closing verses he sets forth the sad facts of the situation. They were a disobedient and gainsaying people. The word, “gainsaying” means, “contradicting.” They continually said, “No” to all that God proposed, and denied all that He asserted.

Yet God had borne with them in long patience, stretching out His hands in entreaty, as it were. Now the moment had come for a change in His ways. Israel had stumbled over Christ as a stumbling-stone, and were for the time being set aside.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Romans 10:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". 1947.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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