Romans 10 Bible Commentary

Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown

(Read all of Romans 10)


1. Brethren, my heart's desire--The word here expresses "entire complacency," that in which the heart would experience full satisfaction.
and prayer--"supplication."
to God for Israel--"for them" is the true reading; the subject being continued from the close of the preceding chapter.
is, that they may be saved--"for their salvation." Having before poured forth the anguish of his soul at the general unbelief of his nation and its dreadful consequences (Ro 9:1-3), he here expresses in the most emphatic terms his desire and prayer for their salvation.

2. For I bear them record--or, "witness," as he well could from his own sad experience.
that they have a zeal of--"for"
God, but not according to knowledge--(Compare Ac 22:3; 26:9-11; Ga 1:13, 14). He alludes to this well-meaning of his people, notwithstanding their spiritual blindness, not certainly to excuse their rejection of Christ and rage against His saints, but as some ground of hope regarding them. (See 1Ti 1:13).

3. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness--that is, for the justification of the guilty (see on Ro 1:17).
and going about--"seeking"
to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God--The apostle views the general rejection of Christ by the nation as one act.

4. For Christ is the end--the object or aim.
of the law for--justifying
righteousness to every one that believeth--that is, contains within Himself all that the law demands for the justification of such as embrace Him, whether Jew or Gentile (Ga 3:24).

5-10. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man that doeth--"hath done"
those things--which it commands.
shall live in them-- (Le 18:5). This is the one way of justification and life--by "the righteousness which is of (or, by our own obedience to) the law."

6. But the--justifying
righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise--"speaketh thus"--its language or import is to this effect (quoting in substance De 30:13, 14).
Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down, &c.--that is, "Ye have not to sigh over the impossibility of attaining to justification; as if one should say, oh! if I could but get someone to mount up to heaven and fetch me down Christ, there might be some hope, but since that cannot be, mine is a desperate case."

7. Or, Who shall descend, &c.--another case of impossibility, suggested by Pr 30:4, and perhaps also Am 9:2 --probably proverbial expressions of impossibility (compare Ps 139:7-10; Pr 24:7, &c.).

8. But what saith it? It saith--continuing the quotation from De 30:14.
The word is nigh thee--easily accessible.
in thy mouth--when thou confessest Him.
and in thine heart--when thou believest on Him. Though it is of the law which Moses more immediately speaks in the passage quoted, yet it is of the law as Israel shall be brought to look upon it when the Lord their God shall circumcise their heart "to love the Lord their God with all their heart" (Ro 10:6); and thus, in applying it, the apostle (as OLSHAUSEN truly observes) is not merely appropriating the language of Moses, but keeping in the line of his deeper thought.
that is, the word of faith, which we preach--that is, the word which men have to believe for salvation (compare 1Ti 4:6).

9. That if thou shalt, &c.--So understanding the words, the apostle is here giving the language of the true method of justification; and this sense we prefer (with CALVIN, BEZA, FERME, LOCKE, JOWETT). But able interpreters render the words, "For," or "Because if thou shalt," &c. [Vulgate, LUTHER, DE WETTE, STUART, PHILIPPI, ALFORD, Revised Version]. In this case, these are the apostle's own remarks, confirming the foregoing statements as to the simplicity of the gospel method of salvation.
confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus--that is, probably, "If thou shalt confess Jesus [to be] the Lord," which is the proper manifestation or evidence of faith (Mt 10:32; 1Jo 4:15). This is put first merely to correspond with the foregoing quotation--"in thy mouth and in thine heart." So in 1Pe 1:10 the "calling of believers" is put before their "election," as that which is first "made sure," although in point of time it comes after it.
and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised--"that God raised"
him from the dead, &c.--(See on Ro 4:25). In Ro 10:10 the two things are placed in their natural order.

10. For with the heart man believeth unto--justifying
righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation--This confession of Christ's name, especially in times of persecution, and whenever obloquy is attached to the Christian profession, is an indispensable test of discipleship.

11-13. For the scripture saith--in Isa 28:16, a glorious Messianic passage.
Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed--Here, as in Ro 9:33, the quotation is from the Septuagint, which renders those words of the original, "shall not make haste" (that is, fly for escape, as from conscious danger), "shall not be put to shame," which comes to the same thing.

12. For there is no difference--or "distinction"
between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord over all--that is, not God (as CALVIN, GROTIUS, OLSHAUSEN, HODGE), but Christ, as will be seen, we think, by comparing Ro 10:9, 12, 13 and observing the apostle's usual style on such subjects. (So CHRYSOSTOM, MELVILLE, BENGEL, MEYER, DE WETTE, FRITZSCHE, THOLUCK, STUART, ALFORD, PHILIPPI).
is rich--a favorite Pauline term to express the exuberance of that saving grace which is in Christ Jesus.
unto all that call upon him--This confirms the application of the preceding words to Christ; since to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus is a customary expression. (See Ac 7:59, 60; 9:14, 21; 22:16; 1Co 1:2; 2Ti 2:22).

13. For--saith the scripture
whosoever--The expression is emphatic, "Everyone whosoever"
shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved-- (Joe 2:32); quoted also by Peter, in his great Pentecostal sermon (Ac 2:21), with evident application to Christ.

14, 15. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and . . . believe in him of whom they have not heard? and . . . hear without a preacher? and . . . preach except . . . sent?--that is, "True, the same Lord over all is rich unto all alike that call upon Him. But this calling implies believing, and believing hearing, and hearing preaching, and preaching a mission to preach: Why, then, take ye it so ill, O children of Abraham, that in obedience to our heavenly mission (Ac 26:16-18) we preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ?"

15. as it is written-- (Isa 52:7).
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, &c.--The whole chapter of Isaiah from which this is taken, and the three that follow, are so richly Messianic, that there can be no doubt "the glad tidings" there spoken of announce a more glorious release than of Judah from the Babylonish captivity, and the very feet of its preachers are called "beautiful" for the sake of their message.

16, 17. But they have not all obeyed the gospel--that is, the Scripture hath prepared us to expect this sad result.
For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?--that is, "Where shall one find a believer?" The prophet speaks as if next to none would believe: The apostle softens this into "They have not all believed."

17. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God--"This is another confirmation of the truth that faith supposes the hearing of the Word, and this a commission to preach it."

18. But I say, Have they not heard?--"Did they not hear?" Can Israel, through any region of his dispersion, plead ignorance of these glad tidings?
Yes, verily, their sound went--"their voice went out"
into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world--These beautiful words are from Ps 19:4. Whether the apostle quoted them as in their primary intention applicable to his subject (as OLSHAUSEN, ALFORD, &c.), or only "used scriptural language to express his own ideas, as is done involuntarily almost by every preacher in every sermon" [HODGE], expositors are not agreed. But though the latter may seem the more natural since "the rising of the Sun of righteousness upon the world" (Mal 4:2), "the Dayspring from on high visiting us, giving light to them that sat in darkness, and guiding our feet into the way of peace" (Lu 1:78, 79), must have been familiar and delightful to the apostle's ear, we cannot doubt that the irradiation of the world with the beams of a better Sun by the universal diffusion of the Gospel of Christ, must have a mode of speaking quite natural, and to him scarcely figurative.

19. But I say, Did not Israel know?--know, from their own Scriptures, of God's intention to bring in the Gentiles?
First--that is First in the prophetic line [DE WETTE].
Moses saith, &c.--"I will provoke you to jealousy ('against') [them that are] not a nation, and against a nation without understanding will I anger you" (De 32:21). In this verse God warns His ancient people that because they had (that is, in aftertimes would) moved Him to jealousy with their "no-gods," and provoked Him to anger with their vanities, He in requital would move them to jealousy by receiving into His favor a "no-people," and provoke them to anger by adopting a nation void of understanding.

20. But Esaias is very bold, and saith--that is, is still plainer, and goes even the length of saying.
I was found of them that sought me not--until I sought them.
I was made--"became"
manifest unto them that asked not after me--until the invitation from Me came to them. That the calling of the Gentiles was meant by these words of the prophet (Isa 65:1) is manifest from what immediately follows, "I said, Behold Me, behold Me, unto a nation that was not called by My name."

21. But to--rather, "with regard to"
Israel he saith, All day--"All the day"
long I have stretched out my hands--"did I stretch forth"
my hands--the attitude of gracious entreaty.
unto a disobedient and gainsaying people--These words, which immediately follow the announcement just quoted of the calling of the Gentiles, were enough to forewarn the Jews both of God's purpose to eject them from their privileges, in favor of the Gentiles, and of the cause of it on their own part.

Note, (1) Mere sincerity, and even earnestness in religion--though it may be some ground of hope for a merciful recovery from error--is no excuse, and will not compensate, for the deliberate rejection of saving truth, when in the providence of God presented for acceptance (Ro 10:1-3; and see on Ro 9:7, Note 7). (2) The true cause of such rejection of saving truth, by the otherwise sincere, is the prepossession of the mind by some false notions of its own. So long as the Jews "sought to set up their own righteousness," it was in the nature of things impossible that they should "submit themselves to the righteousness of God"; the one of these two methods of acceptance being in the teeth of the other (Ro 10:3). (3) The essential terms of salvation have in every age been the same: "Whosoever will" is invited to "take of the water of life freely," Re 22:17 (Ro 10:13). (4) How will the remembrance of the simplicity, reasonableness, and absolute freeness of God's plan of salvation overwhelm those that perish from under the sound of it (Ro 10:4-13). (5) How piercingly and perpetually should that question--"HOW SHALL THEY HEAR WITHOUT A PREACHER?"--sound in the ears of all churches, as but the apostolic echo of their Lord's parting injunction, "PREACH THE GOSPEL TO EVERY CREATURE" (Mr 16:15), and how far below the proper standard of love, zeal, and self-sacrifice must the churches as yet be, when with so plenteous a harvest the laborers are yet so few (Mt 9:37, 38), and that cry from the lips of pardoned, gifted, consecrated men--"Here am I, send me" (Isa 6:8), is not heard everywhere (Ro 10:14, 15)! (6) The blessing of a covenant relation to God is the irrevocable privilege of no people and no Church; it can be preserved only by fidelity, on our part, to the covenant itself (Ro 10:19). (7) God is often found by those who apparently are the farthest from Him, while He remains undiscovered by those who think themselves the nearest (Ro 10:20, 21). (8) God's dealings even with reprobate sinners are full of tenderness and compassion; all the day long extending the arms of His mercy even to the disobedient and gainsaying. This will be felt and acknowledged at last by all who perish, to the glory of God's forbearance and to their own confusion (Ro 10:21).