NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
Dr. Robert R. Seyda
EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS
SUMMARY OF CHAPTER TEN
The Apostle Paul had been writing earlier about the love he had for his fellow Jews even though they kept focused on keeping the Law and thereby establishing their own righteousness by works. But the problem was, they had no interest in submitting to God’s righteousness. They rejected the idea that Christ had brought an end to using the Law to gain righteousness. They just couldn’t see the impossibility involved, even though Moses had written about righteousness based on the Law, that the person who believed in and practiced them must also live by them down to the last letter. This was a matter of having more zeal than knowledge. It takes both of these combined in one faith. Such faith was now available in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Israel was being given plenty of opportunities to heed the Gospel of Christ, but for the most part, they refused it, thereby hurting only themselves.
By Paul explaining the Law in this light and the keeping of the Law in self-righteousness compared to the righteousness offered by God, it showed the Jews (and the Gentiles) that no one can be saved by keeping the Law. It takes a public profession of the faith in Christ a person has in their heart that Jesus is the Son of God and that God raised Jesus from the dead, that a person can be saved. Jesus kept the law perfectly, something no Jew, and certainly no Gentile, had ever done or could do. And until they believe and confess this as the basis for their faith, there was no other way to get right with God.
The righteousness that God now offers through Christ is based upon faith in Christ’s work on the cross, not keeping the Law. It doesn’t involve the accomplishment of some great feat (like ascending to heaven or descending to hell). That’s impossible, to begin with. As foretold by Scripture, it is extended to all, both Jew and Gentile. And it is offered to both through the same medium of preaching the Gospel. God is no respecter of a person’s national origin, skin color, or gender. He makes no distinction between the Jew or the Gentile because He is Lord of all. This is why the Gospel is such Good News. It is for “everyone,” no matter who they are, that “calls on the name of the Lord” which saves them. Even with this, it still doesn’t depend on the will of man alone. As the Apostle John wrote, “all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”1
The problem with the nation of Israel, then, is that not all of them accepted the Gospel message, even when they had ample opportunity. But as Moses predicted, the day would come when God would provoke Israel to jealousy by another people, who Isaiah said did not seek God yet found Him, while Israel continually rebelled against Him. And even though their salvation didn’t depend on them but on Christ, they still needed to listen to the Gospel message.
How else were they supposed to believe unless they heard what Jesus had to say? Paul clarifies his point by writing that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of God.” The fact that faith comes by hearing the “word of God,” means that by hearing Christ they were listening to God, Paul also asks how those who preach the Word of God can do so unless they are sent? This is why it was so crucial for them to understand that he had been sent by God to tell them the Good News of Christ.
Paul, in quoting Isaiah, writes a compelling line by asking a question; “who has believed what he has heard from us?” In Isaiah’s day, very few believed, even though many heard. That is still true today. Many believe, but few are saved. Jesus said many will cry out to Him on the day of His return, “Lord, Lord” but He tells them to depart because He never knew them at all.2 Many are called, but few are chosen. Why? To hear the Gospel and believe it, is not enough…it must be obeyed. Paul saw the same problem that Isaiah identified in ancient Israel, and that’s the fact that “not all obeyed the Gospel.” It takes a person of God with the Word of God and the Spirit of God to make the children of God for the glory of God. There is real power in the Gospel, as Paul wrote, “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”3 If all we had to depend on were our own power, then none would be ever saved.
The Jews just didn’t get it. They thought that by their law-keeping, they would be accepted by God but that’s legalism and salvation by works, and God will not allow that4 because it’s nothing more than filthy rags.5 It is “Christ [Who] is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” In other words, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved.”
1 John 1:12-13
2 Matthew 7:21-23
3 Romans 1:16
4 Ephesians 2:8-9
5 Isaiah 64:6