The Expository Files.

Continuing Series On Romans 9-11

 Romans 10

Part 2 of 3

Romans 10
The tenth chapter of Romans begins the same way as chapter nine, with Paul expressing his personal concern for his Jewish countrymen: "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved," (1). We observed - in the first installment of this series that in this section of the Roman letter, Paul is addressing some concerns relative to the Jews and Gentiles. In particular, the change from the old to the new covenant (or from Moses to Christ) became a struggle for some of Paul's countrymen; specifically, the inclusion of Gentiles in the family of God. In the ninth chapter of Romans, Paul explained that anybody - regardless of race, income, gender, education or social standing - ANYBODY can hear, believe and obey the gospel of Christ and be saved! Anybody. That's the way it is with the gospel plan. Now who wants to reply against that or argue with God about it? Notice the last phrase in Romans nine: "... whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame!" The emphasis ought to be on "whoever" (Jews, Gentiles, WHOEVER).

In Romans 10:2,3, Paul identifies part of the problem. There were many Jews who were deeply involved in their religion, yet they were lost. Now this problem did not involve a lack of zeal. The problem was, their zeal wasn't backed up by knowledge. Are there people in this predicament today? Of course. The zeal and enthusiasm is obvious in their religious activities. But you see, zeal doesn't make up for ignorance. We need to know God's ways and respond by accepting His ways. These Jews, many of them, had zeal without knowledge. They were ignorant of God's righteousness, yet were seeking to set up and advance their own standards. This is one reason so many Jews were rebellious about the inclusion of the Gentiles.

Paul states that Christ was the "end of the law," (4). Christ came, He lived and died and was raised, to bring that old system to its' intended conclusion "to everyone who believes." The law had a purpose; the law fulfilled its' purpose and Christ brought it to an end. "All believers understand (not only that Christ is the end or aim or purpose for which the law was given, and that he also ended or fulfilled it, but) that Christ, by providing the gospel, put an end to the law - killed it. The apostle does not mean that the law only dies to a man when he believes in Christ, else it would still live, as to unbelieving Jews: 'to every one that believeth,' therefore, expresses a contrast in enlightenment, and not in state or condition. The new covenant or testament, which is the gospel, made the first testament old (Heb. 8:13)," (Standard Bible Commentary, by McGarvey & Pendleton, p.#421).

In Rom. 10:5-13, Paul explains that there was a big difference between the law system and faith in Christ. That's the contrast in verses 5-13. The law system depended upon keeping the law; to be justified that way, one would need to perfectly perform the demands of that law. With "the righteousness of faith," you receive and use God's gifts; you respond to God's grace and love as conveyed perfectly by His Son. NOTE - there is obedience in both systems! But in the law system, you depend just on your obedience. With "the righteousness of faith," your obedience is part of your faith and your response to God, who gave His Son for you! The gospel plan does not mean, we get together, ascend into heaven, get Christ and bring Him down here to help us (see verses 6-8, which is a poetic description of HUMAN INITIATIVE). God gave, God sent His Son, who lived and died for us and this word is "near us." God took the initiative. We respond; we call upon the name of the Lord when we obey the gospel. Hence, the law system depended upon performance; the righteousness of faith is about RESPONDING TO WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN; reacting to what God has done for us, and this salvation is for all (Jews, Gentiles, "whosoever!").

The rest of Romans 10 is about RESPONDING TO THE GOSPEL (see verses 14-21). You see, under Christ and on this side of the cross, what matters is not nationality, blood, human tradition or anything like that. What matters is responding to the gospel. And Paul points out, if there are Jews who are not saved, it isn't because God has cut off the nation. If there are Jews who are lost, the reason they are lost is - "...they have not all obeyed the gospel!" (verse 16). If there are Jews who are lost, it is (as Isaiah said), they are "a disobedient and contrary people."

Notice, faith comes by hearing the word of God. This is a universal principle. "Faith begins with the acceptance of testimony. There were first the facts, which were witnessed, then reported; and we must know the reports (testimonies of the inspired word) in order to truly believe the facts. That is why God sent special messengers, endowed with His Spirit, to give the world His word. When we truly accept the testimonies regarding Jesus Christ, our faith deepens into trust and affects our life. There is nothing here to substantiate subjective 'experience of faith' concepts. God 'gives faith' by giving that which produces faith (see Jude 3)." {Robert Turner, Reading Romans, p.#81}.

The gospel is universal. And in giving this universal blessing, God saw to it that it was universally published and propagated. As God attempted to do this, many in Israel reacted with frustration and disbelief. Paul is dealing with this in this section of the Roman epistle. He is stressing "the fact that the rejection of Israel as a nation from having any further covenant, as a nation, with God, had not affected in any manner the status of Jews as individuals, who, exactly like all others, are called to enjoy the privileges of redemption in the Lord Jesus Christ," (Commentary on Romans, by James B. Coffman, p.#358).

Next, Romans 11

By Warren E. Berkley  
From Expository Files 4.3; March 1997