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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
Romans 10

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

ROMANS CHAPTER 10

Romans 10:1-3 Paul’s prayer for Israel, who were misled by blind zeal.

Romans 10:4-10 The difference between justification by the law and by

faith explained from Scripture.

Romans 10:11-13 Salvation open to all that believe, both Jews and Gentiles.

Romans 10:14-18 The necessity of preaching to the Gentiles inferred.

Romans 10:19,20 God’s acceptance of the Gentiles known before to the Jews,

Romans 10:21 as also their own refusal of his offered mercy.

The apostle begins this chapter with another prolepsis, or rhetorical insinuation, professing his unfeigned love of his nation, and his hearty desire of their salvation: q.d. As before, (c.g.) so now again I declare openly, (O ye Christian Jews, my brethren), that whatever the generality of the Jews do think of me, as if I hated them, or were their enemy; yet there is none more passionately and tenderly affected to them than I am: and from hence it is, that I do so heartily desire and pray to God, for all that people, that they might be saved.

That they might be saved; that they may obtain eternal salvation, and escape that deluge of wrath aud destruction that hangs over their heads.


Verse 2

For I bear them record, i.e. I must testify this of them, or of many of them,

that they have a zeal of God; that they have a fervent desire to maintain the law of God, with all the Mosaical rites and ceremonies, as thinking thereby to promote the glory of God.

But not according to knowledge; i.e. true and right knowledge. Though it be a warm, yet it is a blind zeal. They know not the will of God, or what that righteousness is which he will accept. They know not for what end the law and worship of God, under the Old Testament, was instituted. They knew not that Christ, in, and by whom, that law is fulfilled.


Verse 3

They being ignorant of God’s righteousness: here he shows more particularly what knowledge the Jews wanted. They knew not the righteousness of God; of which see Romans 1:17, with the notes there. This was abundantly manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, Romans 3:21; and a thing very needful to be known, as being that wherein man’s happiness consisted; but they were ignorant of it.

Going about to establish their own righteousness; their personal and inherent righteousness, a home-made righteousness, which is of their own spinning; this they designed to set up in the room of God’s righteousness.

Have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God; this notes the pride that accompanied their ignorance, and that is in the hearts of men by nature. They will not go abroad for that which they think they have, or may have, at home. They will not be beholden to another for that which they suppose they have in themselves. They have righteousness enough of their own working; and therefore they reject and withdraw themselves from that which is of God’s appointing.


Verse 4

He proves that the Jews were ignorant of the righteousness of God, because they were ignorant of Christ, the true

end of the law. Christ is the end of the law: q. d. The law was given for this end, that sinners being thereby brought to the knowledge of their sins, and their lost and damned estate, by reason thereof, should fly to Christ and his righteousness for refuge; see Galatians 3:19,24. Or else: Christ is the end of the law; i.e. the perfection and consummation thereof. The word is taken in this sense, 1 Timothy 1:5. He perfected the ceremonial law, as being the substance whereof all the ceremonies of the law were shadows; they all referred to him as their scope and end. He perfected also the moral law, partly by his active obedience, fulfilling all the righteousness thereof, partly by his passive obedience, bearing the curse and punishment of the law, which was due to us. Whatever the law required that we should do or suffer, he hath perfected it on our behalf: see Romans 8:4.


Verse 5

In this and the following verses, he shows the great difference that is between the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith; and this difference is taught us in the books of Moses himself. As for the righteousness of the law, that is plainly described by Moses, Leviticus 18:5; and it tells us expressly: That the man who doth personally, perfectly, and constantly observe and do whatsoever the law requires, shall be rewarded with eternal life: see Romans 2:13, and the notes there. And on the contrary, it implies thus much: That whoso fails, or falls short, shall incur death and damnation. This also it declares in other places, Deuteronomy 27:26 Galatians 3:10. This is a hard saying; who can hear it? It shuts us all out of heaven, it turns us into hell, it lays upon us impossible conditions. Let us hearken therefore to the righteousness of faith; of which in the next, .{see Romans 10:5}


Verse 6

The righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise: by a prosopopoeia (a frequent figure in Scripture) he puts the person of a reasonable creature upon the righteousness of faith, and bringeth it in speaking and declaring itself as followeth; or else the meaning is, that the Scripture, or Moses, speaketh thus of the righteousness of faith. These words are taken out of Deuteronomy 30:12,13. The question is, Whether Paul doth properly allege this place in Deuteronemy, or only allude to it? Some think the latter, that Moses directly speaks of the law, and that the apostle, by an allusion, or by way of accommodation, applies it unto faith; hence it is, that he doth not cite the very words of Moses, but alters and adds to them, as best served his purpose. But others think, that this would extenuate the torce of St. Paul’s argument, if he should only allude unto this testimony of Moses, and not confirm that which he intended by the same. Therefore their opinion is, that these words are properly cited; and that Moses himself, in that place, doth speak (though very obscurely) of the righteousness of faith; yea, the foregoing words in Deuteronomy 30:12,13 do belong to the times of the gospel. Some of the Jewish rabbis have confessed, that Moses in that chapter, especially the beginning of it, hath reference to the days of the Messiah. He speaks there of the Israelites being driven among all nations, and unto the utmost parts of heaven, which chiefly happened to them a little after the ascension of Christ, and will abide upon them till their conversion, of which see Romans 11:1-36; and then God will restore them again to the Land of Promise, to that Jerusalem which is from above, the true church of Jesus Christ; then he will circumcise their hearts, and the hearts of their seed, to love the Lord with all their heart, and with all their soul; then will the Lord rejoice over them to do them good, as he rejoiced over their fathers; then, according to God’s covenant promise, the law of God shall be written in their hearts; it shall not be hidden, or afar off, but nigh them, in their mouths, and in their hearts. Thus the apostle convinceth the Jews by a testimony out of Moses, in whom they trusted.

Say not in thine heart; i.e. think not anxiously and despondingly within thyself.

Who shall ascend into heaven? i.e. to learn the will of God there concerning our righteousness and salvation, and then teach it to us; or, to see if there be any admission or room for such as I am there, and to carry me thither.

That is, to bring Christ down from above; this is in effect to deny that Christ has already come down from heaven to reveal it to us; and that he must now come to do it: or else, this is as much as to deny that Christ hath already descended from heaven, to procure and purchase salvation for us; and that he must come down again for that purpose. It were to deny the ascension of Christ into heaven; for he is gone thither, not as a private, but as a public person: he is gone thither as our Head, and thither he will bring all his members; he is there as our forerunner, as one that is gone before to prepare a place for us. For Christians to distrust their going to heaven, is to doubt whether Christ be in heaven; he had never gone thither if he had not perfected our redemption and salvation here.


Verse 7

Who shall descend into the deep? By the deep, here, understand hell: see Luke 8:31 Revelation 9:1 20:1,3. q. d. Do not inquire distrustfully, and despairingly, whether thou shalt go to hell, or who shall go thither, to see, and bring thee word, if such as thou are there.

That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead; this were in effect to frustrate and make void the death of Christ; it is as much as to say, he never died for us, or he must come again, and suffer, and shed his blood for the remission of our sins. He died to deliver us from death and damnation; he endured the wrath of God, that we may escape it. The sense of the whole is this, That the doctrine of justification by faith, doth not propose such difficult and impossible terms, as the doctrine of justification by works. The righteousness of the law, that speaks terror, and puts us into a continual fear of hell, and despair of heaven; but the righteousness of faith, that speaks comfort, and forbids all amazing fear and troubles about our salvation or damnation.


Verse 8

But what saith it? i.e. what saith the text in Deuteronomy 30:14? or what saith the righteousness of faith? What is its style and language? In the Romans 10:6,7 he did but tell us what it said not, but here he tells us what it saith.

The word is nigh thee; i.e. the matter required of thee, in order to life and salvation. He seems in these words to declare the readiness and easiness of the way of salvation, as taught us in the gospel, and by the righteousness of faith. God requires no hard thing of us, to cross the seas, to climb the mountains, to take long and painful journeys, to find it out. The way of salvation under the gospel hath but a short cut; it requires not so much the labour of the hand, as the confession of the mouth, and the belief of the heart: or, The word that teacheth it is at hand, it is as if it were in thy mouth and heart: a proverbial speech, (as some think), to show the readiness of it.

That is, the word of faith, which we preach: by the word of faith, he means the gospel, and the doctrine of it: and the gospel is so called, either effectively, because it works faith; or objectively, because it is a received faith, and is the proper object of it.


Verse 9

q.d. There are but these two things, which the gospel principally requires in order to our salvation: the one is, the confession of Christ with our mouths, and that in spite of all persecution and danger, to own him for our Lord, and for our Jesus; and to declare, that we are and will be ruled and saved by him, and by him only. The other is, to believe in our hearts,

that God hath raised him from the dead. This article of the resurrection of Christ presupposeth all the rest, and fasteneth together, as by a link, all the antecedents and consequents of it; his ascension, session at the right hand of God, and intercession, which followed after. This article therefore, by a figure, is put for all the rest; and this is mentioned, because the death and passion of Christ had availed us nothing, unless he had risen again; for thereby he obtained a perfect victory over sin, death, and damnation, for all the elect. This is the principal ground of our justification, as hath been said, Romans 4:25.


Verse 10

With the heart man believeth; in the former verse confession was set first; in this, believing. Faith indeed goes before confession; I believed, says the psalmist, and the apostle after him, therefore have I spoken; yet our faith is discerned and known by our confession.

Unto righteousness; i.e. unto justification. This phrase may be expounded by Romans 4:5, or Romans 9:30.

With the mouth confession is made unto salvation: our adversaries the papists make great use of this text, to prove that good works, as confession, &c., are the cause of salvation; whereas confession is required here, not as the cause, but as the means thereof. The apostle makes faith here to be the cause, as well of salvation, as justification; because confession of the mouth, to which salvation is here ascribed, is itself an effect or fruit of faith; and so, according to that known rule in logic, the cause of the cause, is the cause of that which is caused thereby.


Verse 11

The saving effect of faith and confession, spoken of immediately before, is here proved by Scripture. Either he refers to Isaiah 28:16, or Psalms 25:3; or else he means, that this is the general doctrine of the Scripture. See notes on Romans 9:33.


Verse 12

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: he gives a reason for that universal term, whosoever, which he had added in the precedent verse, and is not found in Isaiah, as was noted before, in Romans 9:33.

The same Lord over all; these words are a reason why there is no difference now between Jew and Greek. This title is to be referred more especially to Jesus Christ, who was called Lord, Romans 10:9, and is called:

Lord of all, Acts 10:36. He is Head of all the elect, in all nations of the world.

Is rich unto all; i.e. is bountiful unto all. So that the Jews need not envy the calling or coming of the Gentiles; they have never the less themselves; the Lord hath an inexhaustible store of grace and mercy. The fountain is above our thirst.

That call upon him; not to all, hand over head, but to such as call upon him in faith.


Verse 13

That the Lord is rich unto all that call upon him, is confirmed here by a testimony out of Joel 2:32, which is also cited by St. Peter, Acts 2:21. The apostle’s argument may be thus formed: If whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved, then the Lord is rich to all that call upon him; for no riches are comparable to salvation; but the former is true, therefore the latter.

Whosoever, whether Jew or Gentile, shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved; i.e. on him whose name is the Lord. Jesus Christ is principally meant, as appears by many passages in the prophet. Compare this with 1 Corinthians 1:2.


Verse 14

The connexion of this verse and the following verses of this chapter is very obscure. Some connect these words with Romans 10:12. There he said: There is no difference between Jew and Greek, & c. And this he proves, because the means to attain salvation by the true invocation of God hath been made common to all; and consequently faith, and so, from time to time, the hearing and preaching the word of God, according as the one is occasioned by the other. Others make this the coherence: Seeing the righteousness of faith is the only true righteousness, and doth, in common, by the promise of God, belong to Jew and Gentile (as hath been said); it was therefore necessary, that some must be sent of God to both people, which is the ordinary way and means to beget faith, and to bring men to Christ. His way of arguing is such, as logicians call sorites; rhetoricians, a gradation; and it is very forcible and demonstrative: q. d. God hath, by his prophets, promised salvation indifferently to Jew and Gentile; but without calling on him, there is no salvation; and without faith, there is no prayer; and without hearing, there is no faith; and without a preacher, there is no hearing; and without solemn mission, there can be no preacher. His manner of speaking all along is by way of interrogation, which is the more convincing, because it carries in it a kind of an appeal to the persons spoken to; every interrogation is equivalent to a negation.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? There is no foundation then for the popish doctrine of invocating saints and angels.

How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? Amongst the elect of God, there may be some that are born deaf; and in these, God doth supply the want of outward means in an extraordinary way: but ordinarily, hearing is as necessary to faith, as faith is to prayer, or prayer to salvation.


Verse 15

How shall they preach, except they be sent? viz. immediately, by God or Christ, as the prophets and the apostles: see Galatians 1:1. Or mediately, by men; i.e. by such as have authority from Christ to separate and ordain others to this work. Without this orderly mission, or ordination, how can they preach? Saith the apostle; i.e. how can they do it duly or profitably, or in the name and by the authority of Christ? For otherwise, there were, and still are, those that run before they are sent, Jeremiah 23:21.

How beautiful are the feet of them! Their arrival or approach. The persons of such are meant, though their feet be named, because they carried them up and down to do this work. The scripture referred to is found in Isaiah 52:7. The apostle here leaveth the Septuagint, and followeth the Hebrew text; yet he doth not cite the place in all points as the prophet hath it. He leaveth out some words, as upon the mountains, which had respect to the situation of Jerusalem; and he changeth the number, turning the singular into the plural.

Objection. But the text in Isaiah speaks of such a messenger as was sent to publish the deliverance of the Jews from the bondage of the Assyrians.

Answer. Though that be granted, it is applied and accommodated aptly enough to the preaching of peace and salvation by Christ; because that deliverance (as all other temporal deliverances) had its foundation in the redemption purchased by Christ.


Verse 16

But they have not all obeyed the gospel: he here preventeth a cavil of the Jews. Thus they might reason: If the apostles and preachers of the gospel are sent with so great authority from God, and bring such a welcome message, how comes it to pass that so few receive it, and yield obedience thereunto? To this he answers, that it need not seem strange, because it was foretold long ago by the prophet, Isaiah 53:1. It is not to be understood as if this was the cause of their unbelief, because Isaiah said thus. The particle for doth not show the cause, but the consequence: it was not because the prophet so said, that they did not believe; but because they believed not, the prophet so foretold.

Lord; this is added by the Seventy for explanation.

Who hath believed our report? i.e. Very few, none in comparison. Compare this with John 3:32.


Verse 17

This is the conclusion of the former gradation, Romans 10:14. He speaketh here of the ordinary means whereby faith is wrought; not confining or limiting the Spirit of God, who worketh, or may work, by extraordinary means, yea, without any means at all. See Poole on "Romans 10:14".

By the word of God; by the command of God: q.d. The gospel could not be lawfully preached to them, for them to hear it, but by God’s command; and therefore the apostles and others, in preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, had good authority for what they did.


Verse 18

He answers an objection, that some one might make in behalf of the Jews, to excuse them; that they could not believe, because they had not heard; and faith, as in the foregoing verse, comes by hearing. To this he answers, that the gospel was published to the whole world; therefore the Jews must needs have heard it. That the gospel had been preached all the world over, he proves by a testimony taken ont of Psalms 19:4: q. d. David tells you, that all have heard, or might hear; for the sound of the gospel is gone out into all the earth.

Objection. But David speaks of the works of God, as the heavens, the firmament, &c.

Answer. Some think the apostle only alludes to this place, {Psalms 19:4} and doth not allege it. Others think that the psalmist doth literally and historically speak of the heavens, &c.; and prophetically of the apostles, and preachers of the gospel. By

all the earth, in this verse, you may understand the greatest part of it; and by

the ends of the world, the remote parts thereof.


Verse 19

Here he proves by three testimonies out of the Old Testament, that the Jews must needs have heard the sound of the gospel, together with the Gentiles; only they rejected it, when the other embraced it. And so he layeth the ground of what he was purposed to handle in the following chapter, concerning the receiving of the Gentiles, and the casting off, and after calling, of the Jews.

Did not Israel know; here something must be supplied to make up the sense neither God, or the gospel, or the righteousness of faith, or the conversion of the Gentiles. The Israelites could not well pretend ignorance, considering what Moses and Isaiah had said, in whom, or in whose writings, they were conversant.

Moses saith; viz. in Deuteronomy 32:21. Still he follows the translation of the Seventy.

I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you; here God threateneth the Jews, that he would punish them with jealousy and anger, by preferring the Gentiles before them; at the sight whereof, their hearts should be sore vexed; to behold all their privileges taken from them, and given to a people whom they accounted most vile and despicable, to be no people in regard of them, to be dogs and beasts rather than men: see Acts 13:45. Read the cited place in Deuteronomy Deuteronomy 32:21 and you will find that God speaks of this as a fit punishment upon the Jews for their idolatry. They had chosen to themselves such as were no gods; and therefore, to requite them, God would take to him such as were no people: they had chosen to themselves (as it were) another husband; and God, to be even with them, had chosen another wife.


Verse 20

Esaias is very bold; i.e. he speaks more boldly concerning the calling of the Gentiles, and the casting off the Jews. He used a holy freedom, though it cost him dear; Jerome saith, he was sawn asunder with a wooden saw. This is a commendable property in a preacher: see Acts 4:13 28:31.

And saith: viz. in Isaiah 65:1. The apostle in this citation differs in some words, both from the Hebrew text and the Seventy, as may appear to him that will compare them together.

I was found of them that sought me not; compare this with Romans 9:30, and see the notes there.

I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me; compare this with Ephesians 2:2. The advantage and advancement of the Gentiles was altogether of free grace, and an effect of God’s free election.


Verse 21

But to Israel he saith; viz. in Isaiah 65:2. In the former verse there is a consolatory prophecy, foretelling the vocation of ignorant and profane Gentiles; and in this, there is a menacing prophecy, threatening the rejecting of the rebellious and stubborn Jews.

All day long; from the time of their first calling to their dissipation.

I have stretched forth my hands; as a father holds forth his arms to receive a rebellious son. Compare this with Matthew 23:37.

Unto a disobedient and gainsaying people; the prophet Isaiah hath but one word, rebellious, and the apostle renders it by these two words, disobedient and gainsaying: they were disobedient in heart, and gainsaying with their tongues, contrary to those two gracious qualifications, mentioned Romans 10:9,10, belief in the heart, and the confession of the month. Compare this with Acts 7:51,52 Ac 13:45 19:9.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Romans 10:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/romans-10.html. 1685.

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Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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