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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Romans 10

 

 

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Verses 1-15

Romans 10:1. Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

Let this be our “heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel.” Sorrows upon sorrows have come to the Lord’s ancient people even down to this day; and they have been scattered and peeled, and rent and torn in almost every land. Who does not pity their griefs and woes? Let it be our heart’s desire and daily prayer for Israel that they may be saved through faith in the Messiah whom they have so long rejected.

Romans 10:2. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

In Paul’s day, they were most diligent in the observance of every form of outward devotion, and many of them sincerely desired to be right with God; but they did not know how to attain the desired end.

Romans 10:3. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

Perhaps I am addressing some who are very anxious to be right with God; they are by no means hypocrites, but are really awakened to a sense of their danger, yet they cannot get peace of mind; and the reason is that, like the Israelites, they are “going about to establish their own righteousness.” “Going about” — that is to say, struggling, striving, searching, worrying themselves to get a righteousness of their own which they never will obtain, and being ignorant of “the righteousness of God” which is completed in Christ, and which is freely bestowed upon all who believe in him. Alas! they “have not submitted themselves” unto this righteousness of God, and there is a kind of hidden meaning in the apostle’s expression. They are so proud that they will not submit to be saved by the righteousness of another, even though that other is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Yet this is the main point, — the submission of our proud will to the righteousness of God.

Romans 10:4. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.

Christ is the ultimatum of the law; and when we go to the law, accepted and protected by him, we present to the law all that it can possibly demand of us. Christ has fulfilled the law on behalf of all who believe in him, so that its curse is abolished for all of us who approach it through Christ.

Romans 10:5-9. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

“The righteousness which is of faith” is quite another thing from the righteousness which is of the law. It is not a thing of doing, and living by doing, but of trusting, and living for ever by trusting. What are you at, —you who would fain clamber up to the stars, or you who would plunge into the abyss? There is nothing for you to do, there is nothing for you to feel, there is nothing for you to be, in order that God may accept you; but, just as you are, if you will receive Christ into your heart, and confess him with your mouth, you shall be saved. Oh, this glorious way of the salvation of sinners, — so simple, yet so safe, — so plain, yet so sublime, — for me to lay aside my own righteousness, and just to take the righteousness of Christ, and be covered with it from head to foot! I may well be willing to lay aside my own righteousness, for it is a mass of filthy rags, fit only to be burned.

Romans 10:10-14. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?

How can there be true prayer where there is no faith? How shall I truly pray to God if I do not really believe in him? “For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Romans 10:14. And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?

We must know what it is that we are to believe; and knowing it, we shall be helped by the Holy Spirit to believe it,

Romans 10:14. And how shall they hear without a preacher?

If the Word of the Lord does not get to a man either by the living voice, or by the printing-press, which often takes the preacher’s place, how is he to believe it? You see here what I have often called “the whole machinery of salvation.” First comes the preacher proclaiming the gospel, then comes the sinner listening to it, then comes the hearer believing it, and in consequence calling upon the name of the Lord as one who is saved with his everlasting salvation.

Romans 10:15. And how shall they preach, except they be sent?

Here is the great engine at the back of all the machinery, — God sending the preacher, — God blessing the Word, — God working faith in the heart of them that hear it.

Romans 10:15. As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things?


Verses 1-19

Romans 10:1-3. Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

A fault — a pitiable and grievous fault — that men should be in earnest and very zealous, and yet nothing should come of it, because they spend that zeal in a wrong direction. Men would make themselves righteous. They would come before God in the apparel of their own works, whereas God has made a righteousness already, which he freely gives, and for us to try and produce another is to enter into rivalry with God — to insult his Son, and do dishonour to his name. May God grant that any here who are very zealous in a wrong direction may receive light and knowledge, and henceforth turn their thoughts in the right way.

Romans 10:4-5. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

That is the righteousness of the law. We are not under that covenant now. We shall never attain to righteousness that way.

Romans 10:6-9. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

How very simple! No climbing, no diving, no imagining, no long reckoning of the understanding, no strangling of the mental faculties. It is just believe God’s testimony concerning his Son, and thou shalt be saved.

Romans 10:10-11. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek:

[Gentile] in this matter.

Romans 10:12-13. For the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

This was the old prophecy of Joel. The Jews knew it. It is the new teaching of the gospel. The Gentiles know it. Oh! who would not wish to be in that broad “whosoever,” that he might find salvation?

Romans 10:14-15. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher! And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

So that, rightly looked upon, the humblest preacher of the gospel stands in the most solemn relationship towards mankind. His Master sends him. He tells his message. Men hear it, believe it, and by it are saved. Happy is the messenger. Well may his heart rejoice, even when his soul is heavy, because he has such work to do in his Master’s name.

Romans 10:16. But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

And what Isaiah says, many and many a preacher since has had to say. “Woe, woe to us for this.”

Romans 10:17-19. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know?

Did not the Jewish people have a time of hearing and instruction? Certainly they knew, and they knew also that the gospel was not to be confined to them. They had a warning that it should even be taken from them and sent to other nations.

This exposition consisted of readings from Isaiah 42:1-17; Isaiah 43:18-25; Romans 10:1-19.


Verses 1-20

Romans 10:1. Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

Now these people had persecuted the Apostle. Wherever he went they had followed him up; they had hindered his work: they had sought his life: and yet this was the only return that he made to them — to desire and pray that they might be saved. Let us never be turned aside from this loving desire for those among whom we dwell. We wish them nothing worse — we cannot wish them anything better than that they may be saved. Let us not only desire it, but let us pray for it. Let us turn our desires into the more practical and holy form of intercession.

Romans 10:2. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

Always make allowance for anything that is good in those who, as yet, are not converted. We must not be unjust with them because we desire to be faithful to them.

Romans 10:3. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

And that is the great mischief with persons who are not saved. They are very sincere, very earnest, but they will not submit to the righteousness of God; they will not agree to be made righteous by the grace of God through Jesus Christ; but they “go about” — that is the Apostle’s word. It is very expressive of the energy men will put into it, and the shifts to which they will have recourse, in order to work out a righteousness of their own. They will go about, aye, even to the very gates of hell; they will try to climb up by prayers, even to the gates of heaven. They will go about to establish their own righteousness, but they do not know the righteousness of God, and they refuse to submit themselves to it.

Romans 10:4. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

He that believes in Christ is as righteous as the law could have made him, if he had kept it perfectly. The end of the law is righteousness; that is, the fulfilling of it; and he that hath Christ will see the law fulfilled in Christ, and the righteousness of Christ applied to himself.

Romans 10:5-6. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise,

Ah! that is a very different sort of thing. It does not speak about doing and living, “but the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise.”

Romans 10:6-9. Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead. ) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

There is the gospel in a nutshell. What a very simple way it is — to believe these great facts about the Lord Jesus Christ — really to believe them so that they become practical factors in your life. This is all the way of salvation. Christ has not to be fetched down. He has come. He has not to be fetched up. He has risen from the dead. The work is finished. What thou hast to do is to believe in that finished work and accept it as thine own, and thou shalt be saved.

Romans 10:10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

How different all this from that going about to establish our own righteousness, this setting up of prayers, and tears, and church-goings, and chapel-goings, and good works, and I know not what beside! Instead of that, here is Christ set forth, and “ye are complete in him.” If you take him to be yours, you are “accepted in the Beloved,” and “being justified by faith, you have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Oh! what a blessing is this!

Romans 10:11. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Though he did much that he need be ashamed of, yet when the law so brought him to believe in Jesus Christ for righteousness, he is righteous, and he is so righteous that he shall never be ashamed of his righteousness, nor ashamed of his faith in Christ. Would God that some who are going about after a righteousness of their own would be led to try this method, and believe in Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:12. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek:

What a blessed word that is — “There is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile”! There are some that want to keep up that difference. They say that we are Israel, or something of the kind. I do not care what we are. There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek.

Romans 10:12. For the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

Someone said to me, “I think that the Romish Church cannot be the Church of Christ. I do not think that the Church of England is the Church of Christ. Do you think the Baptists are the Church of Christ?’ And my answer was, “The Church of Christ is to be found mixed up in all churches, and no churches at all.” It is a people that God has chosen from among men, and they are to be found here and there and everywhere, a spiritual seed that God has marked out to be his own; and they are known by this —that they call upon the Lord, and “the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.”

Romans 10:13. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

We call upon that name by having confidence in it; by speaking to God in prayer, using that name; by adoring and reverently proclaiming the majesty and the name of God. Whosoever shall call upon or invoke that great name shall be saved.

Romans 10:14. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?

For at the bottom of the saving invocation or call there must be real faith. There cannot be any true worship of God unless it be grounded and bottomed upon faith in God.

Romans 10:14. And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?

There cannot be such a thing as believing what has never been spoken in our hearing, and has never been made known to us. Of course, reading often answers the same end as hearing. It is a kind of hearing of the Word; but a man must know, or he cannot believe.

Romans 10:14. And how shall they hear without a preacher?

How is that possible? Do you see the machinery of the gospel? There is the calling upon the name. That comes of faith. There is the faith that comes of hearing; but there is the hearing that comes of preaching. Now a little farther.

Romans 10:15. And how shall they preach, except they be sent?

Poor preaching. It will not be the kind of preaching that produces believing hearing, except they be sent. If God does not send the man, he had better have stopped at home. It is only as God sends him that God will bless him. He is bound to back up his own messenger when he delivers God’s own message. “How shall they preach, except they be sent?”

Romans 10:15. As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

And they are so beautiful because, you see, God has put them at the root of everything. God makes the preacher whom he sends to be the source of so much good, or the channel of so much good, for by his preaching comes the hearing, and by the hearing comes the believing, and out of the believing come the calling upon the name and the salvation.

Romans 10:16. But they have not all obeyed the gospel.

“But.” A sorrowful “but” is this. Oh! this is the mischief of it. The gospel, then, has an authority about it; or else the Apostle would not speak of obeying the gospel. Men are bound to believe what God declares to them, and their not believing is a disobedience. “They have not all obeyed the gospel.”

Romans 10:16. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

As if there were so few that did believe it, that he had to ask who they were.

Romans 10:17. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

You are wise, therefore, dear friend, if you are seeking salvation to be a hearer of the Word; but mind that it is the Word of God that you hear, because the word of man cannot save you. It may delude you. It may give you a false peace; but the hearing that saves is hearing which comes by the Word of God. Oh! take care, then, that you do not run hither and thither just because of the cleverness of certain speakers; but keep you to the Word of God whoever preaches it, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

Romans 10:18. But I say, Have they not heard?

These very people for whom the Apostle prayed — have they not heard?

Romans 10:18. Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

The preaching of the gospel went forth amongst those Israelites, who rejected it. Wherever they went, the gospel seemed to follow them like their shadows. They could not escape from it, but they did not believe it.

Romans 10:19. But I say, Did not Israel know?

Assuredly, Israel did know, but did not believe.

Romans 10:19. First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

Moses told them that it would be so if they rejected Christ. Christ would be preached to the Gentiles, and those whom they thought to be foolish would come in and accept what they had rejected.

Romans 10:20. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

He told them, therefore, that God would save a people who hitherto had never sought after God — that he would send the gospel to a people that were dead in sin, and had never asked to receive the light and life of God.


Verses 1-21

Romans 10:1. Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

Desire is the mother and the soul of prayer “my heart’s desire and prayer.” These Israelites had hunted Paul about, and sought to kill him. They were his deadly enemies; but the only return he made them was to pray that they might be saved. I hope you will never have a worse wish for your worst foe.

Romans 10:2. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

Always see all the good that is to be seen; and, when you have to reprove and rebuke begin by admitting what is good: “They have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.”

Romans 10:3. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

They were very zealous; but it was blind zeal. They were very energetic; but they used their energy in going the wrong way. God has a righteousness, and our wisest course is to submit to it. Our righteousness, if we set it up in opposition to God’s way of salvation, will only increase our sin. You can be ruined by your righteousness, as surely as by your unrighteousness, if you set it in the place of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. “They being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

Romans 10:4. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

If we get Christ by believing, we have the righteousness of the law. All that ever could come to us by the highest and most perfect obedience to the law, we get by faith in Christ Jesus.

Romans 10:5. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law,

And being the one through whom the law was given, he knew how to describe it; and we may be sure that he made no mistake. This is his description of legal righteousness: —

Romans 10:5. That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

That is it: “Do and live.” That is the law, and a very just law, too. Leave anything undone, or break the command in any respect and you die; that is the law.

Romans 10:6. But the righteousness which is of faith —

This is quite another thing; it —

Romans 10:6. Speaketh, on this wise,

And it is Moses who speaks here, as in the previous verse. This is what the righteousness of faith says: —

Romans 10:6-9. Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

God’s way of salvation, then, is “Believe and live.” Believe in Christ; Christ dying, Christ raised from the dead. If thou so believest, thou art saved. Thou needest not mount to heaven in rapture, nor dive to hell in remorse. As thou art, believe and live. This is the way of the righteousness of God.

Romans 10:10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

True faith must be accompanied by an open confession. Come forward, and outwardly own what you inwardly believe. Remember those words of the Lord Jesus, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Here, as there, the confession is put after the faith, as indeed it must be. First, the reality, the thing signified, faith; afterwards, the outward and visible sign in the confession of that faith.

Romans 10:11. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

He need never be ashamed of his faith. It will bear him up; it will bear him through; it will bear him up to heaven.

Romans 10:12-13. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

That is it wonderful sentence; catch at it. Doubting, troubled spirits, catch at it, believe it, practice it; and you shall find it true.

Romans 10:14-15. How then shall they call on him in whom. they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

See here the whole machinery of salvation. God provides salvation in Christ Jesus, he sends the preacher to tell of it, men hear, they believe, and salvation is theirs. You have not to make it righteousness, you have to accept the one that is made for you. It is not what you shall do that shall save you; it is what Christ has done. You are to get out of self-confidence into confidence in him; and as soon as you do so, you are saved.

Romans 10:16. But they have not all obeyed the gospel.

Oh, no; all who have beard it, have not obeyed it! There are many here who have beard it from their childhood, and yet they have not obeyed it. Notice the word “obeyed”, for the gospel comes to you with the force of a command. If you reject it, you sin against it, for it is your duty to accept it: “but they have not all obeyed the gospel.”

Romans 10:16. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

So few were the obedient, that he asked where they were.

Romans 10:17-18. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard?

Oh, may they hear, indeed!

Romans 10:18-19. Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

Has he not done it? Israel is rejected, and remains without Christ, while many out of “a foolish nation” of Anglo-Saxons, who were idolaters, have accepted Christ. People who were regarded as dogs by God’s chosen nation Israel have come into the house of the Lord, and still Israel refuses to come.

Romans 10:20. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not;

Hear, then, you who have never had any religion; you who seldom go to the house of God. Even you may be saved, for it is written, “I was found of them that sought me not.”

Romans 10:20. I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

Here is the manifestation of sovereign grace, God choosing and saving whom he wills, irrespective of their condition; exercising the sovereignty of his mercy in saving the most undeserving.

Romans 10:21. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands —

In the attitude of invitation and entreaty, and readiness to receive, —

Romans 10:21. Unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

And that is what he has done to thee, O then careless child of pious parents, then unregenerate hearer of the Word! All day long has he stood and stretched forth his hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. The Lord forgive all such, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Romans 10:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/romans-10.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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