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Bible Commentaries

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
Romans 10

 

 

Verse 30

2. MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY: THE JEWS EXCLUDED THROUGH THEIR OWN UNBELIEF.

For convenience we may divide this passage into two sections: (I.) Chap. Romans 9:30-33 sets forth the fact that the Jews had not attained to righteousness because they rejected God's way of obtaining it, namely, by faith. The responsibility for their rejection therefore rests upon themselves. (II.) The Apostle proceeds to lay emphasis upon this position, by proving that the Old Testament itself pointed to Christ as the end of the law, and to faith as the one way and the universal way of salvation; hence the unbelief of the Jews, in spite of the many prophetic warnings, left them without excuse, as a disobedient and gainsaying people; chap. Romans 10:1-21.


Introduction

Verse 1

Romans 10:1. Brethren. This term of affection, though not addressed to Jewish readers, was probably suggested by Paul’s feeling toward them; his severity was consistent with love; comp. Romans 9:1, etc., 1 Corinthians 9:20; Galatians 3:15.

The desire, lit., ‘good pleasure,’ not, ‘good will;’ the latter sense does not suit the context. ‘Desire’ is not exact, yet probably suggests the true sense: the salvation of Israel was the ideal of his heart (Godet). A Greek particle occurs here, which implies that this verse presents the first member of a contrast; the corresponding word is not found in what follows, but the contrasted thought is evidently expressed in Romans 10:3.

Of my heart qualifies ‘desire’ only.

And my petition to God. ‘Prayer’ is not so exact as ‘petition;’ ‘to God’ is to be joined with ‘petition’ (as an incorrect reading indicates), and not with ‘is,’ which must be supplied in English (see below).

On their behalf, or, ‘for them.’ The word ‘Israel’ is poorly supported, and was substituted for ‘them,’ as an explanatory gloss, since a church lesson began here. The correct reading shows the intimate connection of thought with the close of chap. 9.

Is for their salvation. ‘Is’ must be supplied, since the best authorities omit it. ‘Their salvation’ (lit., ‘unto salvation’) expresses the sense which the E. V. expands into: ‘that they might be saved.’ Their salvation is the end (ideal) of his ‘good pleasure,’ and this he asks God to grant. The mixture of these two ideas need occasion no difficulty when it is remembered that in the New Testament the combined purpose and purport of prayers are usually introduced by the word meaning ‘in order that.’


Verses 1-21

II. Proof that the Jews were Excluded through their Unbelief.

The section may be divided into four paragraphs:—

The Jews with all their religious zeal failed to recognize (1.) Christ as the end of the law (Romans 10:1-4); (2.) the gratuitous character of salvation (Romans 10:5-11); (3.) the universal character of salvation (Romans 10:12-18); and (4.) all of these things together with their rebellion had been prophesied (Romans 10:19-21). The last paragraph contains the direct application to the Jews. ‘They could not excuse themselves by this, that God had not done His part to make humanity know the gospel, or that it had not reached them, or that they could not have seen what their conduct in regard to it and God’s dealings with the Gentiles would be’ (Tholuck).

The argument is very concise, sometimes obscure, but there is general agreement that the responsibility of the Jews is proven from the Old Testament Scriptures, which point to salvation in Christ as by faith and hence universal, so that unbelief is the ground of rejection. The evangelical purpose of the Old Testament is implied throughout, and the Scripture citations assume that ‘Christ is the end of the law’ (Romans 10:4) in its typical and prophetical significance.

The section opens with an expression of Paul's affection for his nation, an echo of chap. Romans 9:1-5, and with his testimony to their religious zeal which, however, did not prevent them from refusing Christ and His gratuitous and universal salvation, offered to all who believe. Despite their zeal, their unbelief must exclude them. The argument is carried out without any reference to the supposed conflict with the position taken in chap. Romans 9:6-29.


Verse 2

Romans 10:2. For I bear them witness. The reason for his desire and prayer is the fact to which he now bears his testimony.

They have a seal for God, i.e., of which God is the object, not great zeal, or, godly zeal. Their zeal was religious, conscientious, but misdirected.

But not according to knowledge. The word often means full knowledge, and is here used to denote correct, vital knowledge. Answering to the objective advantages of the Jews (chap. Romans 9:1-5) was this religious zeal, which degenerated into blind fanaticism. But this, we infer from the passage, is better than indifferentism. Where there is some earnestness, there is something to hope for. In this respect the condition of many in Christian lands is less encouraging than that of the Jews in Paul’s time.


Verse 3

Romans 10:3. For they. In Romans 10:3-4, we have the proof from fact, that their religious zeal was ‘not according to knowledge.’ The thought, however, in contrast with Romans 10:1, as already indicated.

Not knowing, or, more exactly, ‘being ignorant of’ (as in E. V.), but ‘not knowing’ preserves the verbal correspondence with ‘knowledge,’ which exists in the original also, and, moreover, it does not suggest that the ignorance was excusable. But we need not press the phrase so far as to render it ‘mistaking,’ or, ‘overlooking.’

God’s righteousness, as throughout the Epistle, ‘that righteousness which avails before God, which becomes ours in justification’ (Alford).

Striving to establish their own. ‘Righteousness’ is probably to be omitted in this clause, although the evidence is nearly evenly balanced. ‘Striving’ suggests that they would acquire what according to God’s method of salvation was to be bestowed, while ‘establish,’ or, ‘set up,’ suggests the pride of their endeavor.

Did not submit themselves, etc. The verb is not passive, but middle; for the former would indicate merely the historical result, while the latter points to their personal guilt, a thought better suited to the context, and bringing out the implied contrast with Romans 10:1.

The righteousness of God; here ‘conceived of as a divine ordinance, to which one submits one’s self, through faith’ (Meyer), as the context plainly indicates.


Verse 4

Romans 10:4. For Christ is the and of the law. The emphatic word is ‘end’; its meaning, however, is open to discussion. Explanations: (1.) Christ is the object, or aim, of the law. This may be expanded in two ways: (a.) The end of the law was to make men righteous, and this end was accomplished in Christ; hence the Jews by rejecting Him did not submit themselves, etc. (b.) The end of the law was to lead to Him, hence by stumbling at Him, while seeking their own righteousness, they did not submit themselves, etc. The two may be combined; each of them preserves the force of ‘for,’ as a proof of Romans 10:3. (2.) Christ is the fulfilment of the law. This, which is true enough, does not meet the requirements of this passage. (3.) Christ is the termination, conclusion, of the law. So many commentators, among them Meyer, who paraphrases: ‘For in Christ the validity of the law has come to an end, that righteousness should become the portion of every one who believes.’ This ‘chronological’ view has much to recommend it, especially the fact that there is such a sharp contrast made in Romans 10:5-6, between the law and Christ. On the other hand we may ask why should Paul quote from the law, if it had lost its validity? This view, moreover, does not furnish so strong a proof of the position of Romans 10:3, as (1.) which is, on the whole, the preferable explanation.

Unto righteousness to every one that believeth. If ‘end’ is taken in the sense of ‘aim,’ then ‘unto’ expresses the result; if it means ‘conclusion,’ then this clause indicates the purpose of the abrogation of the legal system. The emphasis here rests on ‘believeth,’ since it was thus that men submitted themselves to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:3).


Verse 5

Romans 10:5. For. Here the Apostle enters upon a proof from the Old Testament, of his position that the one way of salvation is by faith (Romans 10:5-11). He cites the law against the law as a way of obtaining righteousness. Other citations follow, in support of similar positions. But this verse, in itself, is a direct proof of Romans 10:4.

Moses writeth that the man who hath done the righteousness which is of the law shall live in it. We here give a rendering of the text which seems to be better established. The critical questions, however, are not only numerous, but difficult to decide. The authority of the Sinaitic manuscript has turned the scale in regard to the following readings: ‘that’ to be placed immediately after ‘writeth;’ ‘these things’ to be omitted; ‘in it,’ referring to ‘righteousness,’ to be substituted for ‘by (lit., in) them.’ The acceptance of these changes alters the construction, as indicated in our rendering. The received text conforms more closely to the LXX. (Leviticus 18:5), which is an argument against it. In Galatians 3:12, where the Apostle quotes the same passage, the variations are slight, although ‘man’ is to be omitted there, while it is retained here (as in the LXX.). It will appear then that the Apostle interprets the passage, instead of citing it directly, and his interpretation is obviously correct.

The man who hath done. The participle sums up the obedience as one act, which is the condition of ‘living’; the starting-point is not faith, but the exact and full performance of that which the law requires, which the Apostle here terms: the righteousness which is of the law. It is implied, but not directly asserted, that no one had thus fulfilled it.

Shall live in it, i.e., in this righteousness, ‘it will be the means of salvation and life for him who really does the law’ (Godet). It has been maintained that ‘live,’ in Leviticus 18:5, and similar Old Testament passages, refers only to temporal prosperity, but even the Jewish interpreters included more, and certainly ‘life’ in the New Testament has an exalted meaning. Since the Apostle implies that the higher obedience and consequently the higher reward were unattainable, it has been urged that Moses could not have seemingly proposed any such meaning as is here involved. But this either dwarfs the moral scope of the law, or puts it in a false position: for the law, although made by the Jews merely an expression of the condition of a legal righteousness, was far more than this; it led to Christ (comp. Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:19-25). The antithesis between Romans 10:5-6 is relative, not absolute. Even the doing and living, so far as they became a reality, pointed to Christ, who by His vicarious doing and living makes us live and do.


Verse 6

Romans 10:6. But the righteousness of faith. (‘Which is’ may be omitted; the form in the similar expression of Romans 10:5 is fuller.) As already indicated, ‘but’ introduces a contrast with the other ‘righteousness’ of doing (Romans 10:5). The personification is quite natural.

Saith thus; not, ‘speaketh,’ which suggests a contrast with ‘writeth.’

Say not in thy heart (LXX., defectively; ‘saying;’ E. V: ‘that thou shouldst say.’) This phrase is = ‘think not,’ but usually suggests an evil thought

Who shall ascend into heaven? ‘For us’ (LXX.) is omitted. This question is thus explained by the Apostle in his own language, which he substitutes for the clause of design in the Old Testament passage. Similar clauses are substituted in Romans 10:7-8.

That is, to bring Christ down. ‘That is’ introduces the explanation, but the whole clause may mean either (1.) ‘Whoever asks this’ question, says, in effect, who will bring Christ down? thus denying that He has come; or (2.) ‘That is, in order to bring Christ down;’ substituting this purpose for that expressed in Deuteronomy. The fatter sense agrees best with the view that Paul is interpreting the passage in Deuteronomy; the former with the other theories respecting his use of it. We interpret this clause as referring to the Incarnation, the coming down from heaven of the preexistent and promised Messiah (comp. Romans 10:9). Others refer it to the present exalted position of Christ


Verses 6-8

Romans 10:6-8. The language from ‘Say not in thy heart’ (Romans 10:6) to ‘in thy heart’ (Romans 10:8), is that of Moses in Deuteronomy 30:12-14, according to the LXX., with variations and interpolated explanations. The question then arises: How are we to understand Paul’s use of the passage? The answers have been: (1.) as an interpretation of the deeper sense of the original passage; (2.) as an employment of it, but in a new sense; (3.) as an application of the general principle underlying the words of Moses. Of these views we decidedly prefer the first, urging in favor of it the following considerations: (a.) Paul is proving that ‘Christ is the end of the law for righteousness,’ etc. If that means, as we hold, the aim, or object, of the law, then it is natural that the Apostle would use the law itself to prove it. (b.) The contrast is not between ‘the righteousness of faith’ and ‘Moses,’ but between the former and ‘the righteousness which is of the law’ (Romans 10:5), and the correct reading only makes this contrast the sharper. Hence we may expect to find here what Moses writes respecting the righteousness by faith over against what he has written of the righteousness of the law. But if this is an adaptation or application, the words derive no enforcement from Moses. (c.) As Romans 10:5 stands in the received text, it appears to be a direct verbal citation. But the correct reading shows that the words of Moses are used in the same free manner both in that verse and in Romans 10:6-8. Hence it cannot be argued that Paul cites in the one case, and adapts, or applies, in the other. (d.) It is unlikely that Paul would argue respecting the case of the Jews, from their own Scriptures, and give the language a meaning that was not, at least, typically involved in the primary sense. (e.) This interpretation is neither far-fetched nor forced. The words of Moses referred to the law, that very law the end of which was Christ. When viewed as a thing to be done (Romans 10:5), it did not lead to Christ; viewed as a revelation, intelligible and accessible, leading to trust in God then (comp. Deuteronomy 30), and more fully to faith in the Christ when He had come, the words of Moses respecting it had as their deepest meaning a reference to Christ: ‘if spoken of the law as a manifestation of God in man’s heart and mouth, much more were they spoken of Him, who is God manifest in the flesh, the end of the law and the prophets’ (Alford). (f). This view preserves both the connection and the contrast between the law and the gospel, and thus accords with chap. Romans 9:31 (‘did not come unto that law’), and with the whole sweep of Paul’s argument. Accepting this view, we extend the application of ‘Moses writeth’ (Romans 10:5) to the whole passage. ‘The righteousness which comes from faith is personified (comp. Hebrews 12:5), so that the following words of Moses, in which Paul recognizes an allegorically and typically prophetic description of this righteousness, appear as its self-description’ (Meyer). On this mode of interpretation, see Excursus on Galatians 4:21-31. The objections to the other views will be readily inferred from what has been said. Both of them grow out of a failure to recognize the true validity of the law (and of the Mosaic economy) as leading to Christ, and make too sharp a contrast between law and gospel (rather than between ‘doing’ and ‘believing’). Moreover, whatever emphasis is laid on the position that Paul bases his argument upon the principle which underlies the words of Moses, is in reality a concession to the view we have advocated. To deny any such agreement in principle seems to deny honesty to the Apostle’s argument.

For convenience we append a literal rendering of the entire passage (Deuteronomy 30:11-14) from the LXX.

11. Because this commandment, which I command thee this day, is not exalted (out of reach), nor is it far from thee. 12. It is not in the heaven above, saying. Who shall ascend for us into the heaven, and bring it to us, and hearing it we will do it? 13. Nor is it beyond the sea, saying, Who shall pass through to beyond the sea, and may bring it for us, and may make it heard, and we will do it? 14. Very nigh thee is the word, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, and thy hands to do it


Verse 7

Romans 10:7. Who shall descend into the abyss? LXX. ‘Who shall pass through into beyond the sea?’ The descent of Christ to the realm of the dead ‘is in any case the undoubted presupposition, which led Paul to substitute the words of our passage for those of the original’ (Meyer). The next clause compels us to take this view, but various explanations have been given of the variation from the Old Testament language. ‘The probable solution of the difference is, that the ideas beyond the sea and beneath the earth coincide as designations of the realm of the dead’ (Lange).

That is, etc. See the similar clause in Romans 10:6. The two verses imply that the Incarnation and the Resurrection are accomplished facts; hence that such questions are forbidden by ‘the righteousness of faith.’ But what kind of questions sure they? simply of unbelief, or also of perplexity, or of anxiety? Certainly the fundamental error is one of unbelief, and that in regard to the main facts here presented (comp. Romans 10:9). But it is not necessary to exclude the other views, which are suggested by the original passage: ‘The anxious follower after righteousness is not disappointed by an impracticable code, nor mocked by an unintelligible revelation; the word is near him, therefore accessible; plain and simple and therefore apprehensible—deals with definite historical fact, and therefore certain’ (Alford). It is but fair to present another view of the whole passage, as summed up by Godet: ‘All the doing demanded from man by the law (Romans 10:5) and which he can accomplish only imperfectly, has been already perfectly accomplished by Christ, whether it has to do with the conquest of heaven by holiness, or the doing away of condemnation by expiation. There only remains then to man, in order to be saved, to believe in that work by applying it to himself; and this is that which the righteousness of faith commands us (Romans 10:8), after having forbid den us (Romans 10:6-7) to pretend ourselves to open heaven and close hell. . .. Christ having charged Himself with the doing, and having left to us only the believing, the work of Christ puts an end to the legal regime; that which the Apostle would prove (Romans 10:4).’


Verse 8

Romans 10:8. But what saith it. This is inserted to introduce the positive statement of Moses; but ‘it’ here refers to ‘the righteousness of faith’ (Romans 10:6).

The word is nigh thee, etc. (comp. the LXX. as given above).

In thy mouth, and in thy heart. These terms explain how the word is nigh. As a matter of fact the pious Israelite had the law in his mouth and heart, i.e., to confess and believe, precisely as Paul afterwards explains in applying the language to the gospel. Others find in the original passage only a reference to the familiar accessible character of the law (see above). But after all any true grasp of God’s revelation, even in the days of Moses, was gained in the way Paul describes.

The word of faith; either respecting faith, or, which forms the substratum and object of faith (Alford).

Which we preach. Paul himself, and all other preachers of the gospel. This explanation of ‘word’ in the Old Testament passage is in accordance with the statement of Romans 10:4. Any nearness of the Old Testament ‘word’ was due to its leading to Christ, whom the gospel proclaimed as the object of faith; hence to this ‘word’ the Old Testament passage pointed. Some limit the reference to the easy and familiar doctrine of faith.


Verse 9

Romans 10:9. Because. The word may mean ‘that’ (as in E V.), indicating the purport of the word preached, but ‘because’ is preferable here. We have then a proof that ‘the word is nigh.’

If thou shalt confess with thy month. This is placed first, to correspond with ‘in thy mouth’ (Romans 10:8); after the proof is completed the order is changed (Romans 10:10).

Jesus as Lord. There is little doubt that this is the correct explanation. This confession implies that He has become Incarnate (comp. Romans 10:6 : ‘who shall ascend into heaven?’); for ‘Lord’ is the term applied to Jehovah in the LXX. ‘In this appellation is the sum of faith and salvation’ (Bengel).

Believe in thy heart. Comp. ‘in thy heart;’ Romans 10:8. ‘Heart’ is to be taken in the wide Biblical sense, and not limited to the affections.

That God raised him, etc. This answers to the question of Romans 10:7. Paul always gives prominence to this fact of Redemption. His example should be followed by all modem preachers.

thou shalt be saved. The requisites for salvation, as here stated, are: belief with the heart in the Resurrection of Jesus, not as an isolated historical event, but as involving the previous Advent of the Son of God, who is now the ascended Lord—and hence confession of Him as Lord.


Verse 10

Romans 10:10. For with the heart, etc. This is an explanation of Romans 10:9. ‘The idea of salvation is analyzed; it comprises two facts: being justified and being saved (in the full sense of the word). The first fact is specially connected with the act of faith, the second with that of confession’ (Godet). Here belief comes first, in accordance with Christian experience.

Man believeth, lit, ‘it is believed,’ unto righteousness, i.e., with this result, that righteousness is obtained; men are accounted righteous when they believe with the heart.

And with the mouth confession is made, or, ‘man confesseth,’ lit., ‘it is confessed.’ The impersonal form has the force of a general statement. The E. V. fails to preserve the correspondence. We might render: ‘faith is exercised,’ to conform with ‘confession is made.’

Unto salvation, with this result, namely, ‘salvation’; here including, as we hold, sanctification and glory. It is not necessary to limit this to the latter. The two parallel clauses are closely connected. True faith always leads to confession; confession is nothing without true faith. Public confession is a confirmation of our own faith; a bond of union with others; an outward pledge to consistent living; but above all an act of loyalty to Christ.


Verse 11

Romans 10:11. For the Scripture saith. Isaiah 28:16, already cited in chap. Romans 9:33. After the extended proof that ‘Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to every one that believeth,’ the passage is introduced again to confirm that statement. Strictly speaking ‘for’ furnishes a proof of the former half of Romans 10:10.

Whosoever, etc. The word answering to ‘whosoever,’ more literally, ‘every one’ is not found in the original passage (comp. chap. Romans 9:33). But it is properly inserted here, because this idea of universality, which is implied in the original prophecy, has not only been established in the intervening discussion, but is the theme of the succeeding verses.


Verse 12

Romans 10:12. For there is no distinction (comp. chap. Romans 3:22) between Jew and Greek, i.e., Gentile (comp. chap. Romans 1:18 and elsewhere). Proof of the universal ‘whosoever’ (Romans 10:11).

For one and the same is Lord of all; lit., ‘the same is Lord of all.’ Other constructions have been defended, but the main thought remains unaltered. It seems best to refer this, not to the Father, but to Christ (the exclusive subject since Romans 10:4), especially as He is termed ‘Lord of all’ (Acts 10:36), and Romans 10:9 has emphasized the confession of Him ‘as Lord.’ The oneness of the Lord is a proof that there is no distinction.

And is rich; shows Himself rich in giving.

Unto all. Toward all the riches of His grace may be directed; this proves that there is no distinction; but only those are really the recipients of it, that call upon him, thus proving their faith by their invocation of Him, which is a confession of Him. ‘The true confession of faith is in effect that cry of adoration: Jesus Lord! And that cry can be uttered equally by every human heart, Jew or Gentile, without its having need of any law. Behold how the universalism founded on faith excludes henceforth the dominion of law’ (Godet).


Verses 12-18

Romans 10:12-18. We mark these verses as a separate paragraph. In the previous verses the method of faith is shown to have been God’s way of salvation in all ages; here it is declared to be His way for all people. It is gratuitous, hence universal. This way is open to all (Romans 10:12-13) and is to be preached to all (Romans 10:14-18). This serves to emphasize the responsibility of the Jews for their own exclusion.


Verse 13

Romans 10:13. For every one who. We thus indicate the full form of the Greek (differing from that of Romans 10:11). The citation is from Joel 2:32; comp. Acts 2:21, where the LXX. is even more closely followed. ‘For’ is inserted, since the citation is introduced here as a proof of Romans 10:12.

Shall call upon the name of the Lord, etc. The prophecy refers to ‘Jehovah,’ but in His final revelation of Himself (comp. Acts 2:17 : ‘in the last days’). If Christ is meant in Romans 10:12, then this prophecy is applied ‘justly to Christ, who has appeared in the name of God, and continually rules as His Representative and Revealer, and Mediator, whose name was now the very specific object of the Christian calling on the Lord’ (Meyer). When, however, this author speaks of this ‘calling’ as not being ‘the worshipping absolutely,’ but rather ‘worship according to that relativity in the consciousness of the worshipper, which is conditioned by the relation of Christ to the Father,’ he is unsupported by the records of Christian experience. The heart of the believer, calling upon Jesus as Lord, makes a loyal surrender to Him, and in its joyous devotion to the Master, is not apt to make this distinction between absolute and relative worship,—a distinction which is not in accordance with Biblical monotheism, and is verbal rather than real.


Verse 14

Romans 10:14. How they shall call, etc. In the case of the four verbs: ‘shall call,’ ‘shall believe,’ ‘shall hear,’ ‘shall preach,’ the subjunctive (deliberative) form is better supported. ‘They’ throughout is indefinite. ‘Can’ might be substituted for ‘shall,’ but is perhaps too strong. The Apostle argues from the cited prophecy (Romans 10:13) the necessity of preachers sent forth in accordance with another prophecy (Romans 10:15), in order by thus enforcing the universality of the gospel to show more plainly the responsibility of the Jews.

On him, etc. Here and throughout the reference is to Christ

Have not believed; lit., ‘did not believe,’ indicating the beginning of faith; but English usage favors ‘have believed,’ and so in the next clause.

Of whom they have not heard. The reference is to hearing Christ through His preachers, or to hearing the Christ who is preached; since ‘of whom’ here cannot be grammatically explained as = about whom.

Without a preacher; apart from, independently of, one preaching, i.e., proclaiming a message as a herald.


Verse 15

Romans 10:15. Except they be sent. Sent by Christ is implied, but the main thought is, sent, ‘through the word of God’ (Romans 10:17). Commissioned through the message they proclaim, as this citation from Isaiah indicates.

As it is written (Isaiah 52:7), How beautiful, etc. The four oldest manuscripts, together with minor authorities, sustain the briefer reading: ‘How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things!’ The fuller form is that of the LXX., hence is likely to have arisen from a desire to conform. The Apostle has also omitted ‘upon the mountains,’ and substituted the plural for the singular. (The E. V. obscures the parallelism of the original; ‘preach the gospel’ and ‘bring glad tidings,’ represent the same word.) The prophecy is undoubtedly Messianic, and, hence, properly applied by the Apostle to the preachers of the gospel. The primary reference to the restoration from exile ‘derived all its value from being introductory to that more glorious deliverance to be effected by the Redeemer’ (Hodge). The necessity and dignity of the preachers of the gospel, as here set forth, form a solemn warning to all who attempt to preach without being sent, as well as an encouragement to all, however feeble, who have been sent. The character of the message is the main test of the preacher’s mission.


Verse 16

Romans 10:16. But, on the contrary, contrasting the preaching to all with the limited result, they, indefinitely used, though the application to the Jews is implied, did not all hearken to the glad tidings. All who heard did not ‘hearken.’ There is a verbal correspondence in the Greek also. Faith was require those who did not believe were those who did not hearken.

For, introduces the proof that ‘not all’ hearkened.

Isaiah saith (chap. Isaiah 53:1). Paul believed that Isaiah was the author of the entire book. This state of things was foreseen and predicted; was not accidental, but was recognized in the Divine plan.

Who believed our report? The word ‘report’ is the same as ‘hearing’ in Romans 10:17; the variation in rendering obscures the argument. But it is difficult to find a word which will express the exact sense, namely, ‘that which is heard,’ almost equivalent to that which is preached. In older English the phrases ‘a good hearing,’ ‘a bad hearing,’ occur in the sense of good and bad news. It confuses the sense to understand it as what is heard of God (= the word of God), and the act of hearing is not meant; comp. Galatians 3:2. The citation is quite exact from the LXX., ‘Lord’ being inserted. The Messianic reference of the passage is an ample warrant for the application here made by the Apostle, to unbelief in the Christian preaching. The preaching of the gospel is a duty, whether men hearken or not; to believe the message is the necessary condition of really hearkening.


Verse 17

Romans 10:17. So then faith Cometh of hearing, i.e., from the announcement which is heard. ‘The heard preaching of the gospel brings about in men’s minds faith in Christ’ (Meyer).

And hearing through the word of Christ. The weight of authority favors the substitution of ‘Christ’ for ‘God.’ ‘Word’ is literally ‘saying,’ and probably means command or order, taking up again the idea of the verb, ‘except they be sent’ (Romans 10:15). Thus the authority of the message is emphasized over against the unbelief of some, preparing the way for the application to the responsibility of the Jews.


Verse 18

Romans 10:18. But I say. The strongly adversative ‘but’ introduces the answer to a possible objection, in excuse of the unbelief spoken of in Romans 10:16.

Did they not hear? ‘They,’ i.e., those who did not hearken; the Jews are meant, but not yet directly spoken of. The question in the Greek points to a negative answer: It cannot be that they did not hear, they did hear, though they did not hearken, hence have not this excuse.

Nay, verily. Comp. chap. Romans 9:20, where the same word is rendered ‘nay but.’ We substitute ‘nay,’ for ‘yes,’ to indicate the relation to the question: so far from its being the case that they did not hear, the very opposite is true.

Their sound, etc. The rest of the verse is taken from Psalms 19:4 (E. V.), in the exact words of the LXX. But it is not cited as in itself a proof from Scripture; for there is no formula of quotation, and the Psalmist is speaking of the universal revelation of God in nature, not in the gospel. The Apostle applies the language to the universal preaching of the gospel, which he affirms. there is, however, a propriety in this application. ‘The manifestation of God in nature, is for all His creatures to whom it is made, a pledge of their participation in the clearer and higher revelation’ (Hengstenberg). That the gospel had actually been preached everywhere is not what the Apostle affirms. It had become universal in its scope, and occupied the central positions of the Roman world. Its wide extension among the Gentiles showed that the Jews could find no excuse for their unbelief in not having heard. Everywhere there had been opportunity for them to hear. The verse applies even more strikingly to those in gospel lands.—‘Sound’ is the LXX. rendering of the Hebrew ‘line,’ which in the Psalm means ‘a musical chord.’


Verse 19

Romans 10:19. But I say; as in Romans 10:18, introducing a similar question, and another supposed excuse.

Did Israel not know? This is the direct application to the Jews, who have been in mind throughout. The anticipated answer (as the original indicates) is a denial of the not-knowing, i.e., an affirmation that Israel knew. But ‘knew’ what? The connection with Romans 10:18 favors the explanation: ‘knew that the gospel would go forth into all the earth.’ The prophecies which follow, it is true, prove that the gospel was to pass over from the Jews to the Gentiles. But the more general view seems preferable. Meyer: ‘This universal destination of the preaching of Christ expressed in Romans 10:18 must have been known by the Jews, for long ago Moses and also Isaiah had prophesied the conversion of the Gentiles,

Isaiah likewise, the refractory spirit of opposition thereto of the Jews (Romans 10:20-21). If they had not known this, there might have been some excuse for them, as surprised by the event. But there was not even this palliation. Most of the other views are opposed by the form of the question.

First Moses saith. From this point to the close of the chapter we have the direct Scriptural proof, that the Jews ought not to have been in ignorance. The universality had been announced to Abraham, but Moses was the ‘first’ to write of this; others, among them Isaiah, repeated the prophecy.

I will provoke you, etc. The citation is quite exact, from the LXX. of Deuteronomy 32:21. ‘You’ is substituted for ‘them.’

With that which is no nation. The preposition is almost = ‘on account of,’ but implying more than that: ‘aroused on account of and directed against a “no-nation.” ‘No-people’ (comp. chap. Romans 9:25) is the meaning of the Hebrew.

With a foolish nation, one without understanding, idolatrous, I will anger you, or, ‘excite you to anger.’ The use made by the Apostle of this prophecy is very apt. ‘Moses prophetically assumes the departure of Israel from God, and His rejection of them, and denounces from God that, as they had moved Him to jealousy with their “no-gods” (idols) and provoked Him to anger by their vanities,—so He would, by receiving into His favor a “no-nation” make them jealous, and provoke them to anger by adopting instead of them a foolish nation’ (Alford). The application of the original prophecy need not be confined to the Canaanites.


Verse 20

Romans 10:20. But (introducing another prophet) Isaiah is very bold and saith. ‘But Isaiah even ventures to say’ (Lange), or, he is emboldened, and hence he says.

I was found of them, etc. Isaiah 65:1 is here cited, with transposed clauses; otherwise quite closely after the LXX., which changes ‘I was sought’ (Hebrew) into ‘I was found,’ but quite in accordance with the original prophecy. That Paul understood the original prophecy as referring to the Gentiles must be maintained by all who admit his logical acuteness, and of course by those who accept his authority as an inspired Apostle. But many apply the words of Isaiah to the Jews, a view which is opposed by the rest of the verse (Isaiah 65:1 : ‘I said, behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name’), since the privilege of being called by the name of Jehovah was ever cherished by the ancient Jews and the word ‘nation’ is that used of Gentiles.


Verse 21

Romans 10:21. But with respect to Israel; not ‘to,’ nor yet, ‘against’ The contrast is between ‘Israel’ and the Gentiles referred to in the prophecy (Romans 10:20).

He, i.e., Isaiah, speaking for God, as in the previous verse, saith (Isaiah 65:2).

All day long I spread out, etc. The order of the LXX. is slightly changed in the citation. ‘Spread out,’ as one who invites to his embrace, or, even supplicates; this God is represented as doing without intermission, ‘the whole day.’

A disobedient and gainsaying people. So the LXX., but the Hebrew is simply ‘a rebellious people.’ Probably ‘disobedient’ presents the positive, and ‘gainsaying’ the negative side of the rebellious conduct; or rebellion is distinguished into refusing God’s commands and contradicting His words, disobedience and unbelief, acting and reacting upon each other continually. Habitual and continuous conduct is indicated by the form of the Greek. Thus the discussion of the responsibility of the Jews ends: God offered them the gospel, but they would not accept. The universality of the gospel implied the one way of faith; want of faith was the rejection of the universal gospel.

 


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Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Romans 10:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/romans-10.html. 1879-90.

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Sunday, December 8th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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