The Pulpit Commentary

Romans 10:1-21 (Romans 10:1-21)

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Romans 10:11-21 (Romans 10:11-21)

What follows to the end of the chapter is abruptly expressed, in such wise as to render difficult a clear exposition of the intended argument. It seems (as in other parts of the Epistle) as if St. Paul had dictated rapidly, and without pausing to consider whether readers would easily follow the thoughts of which his own mind was full. First, having done with his illustrations from the Pentateuch, he resumes the line of thought expressed at the end of Romans 10:4 , by παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι . For, though Romans 10:11 is logically connected (in a way usual with St. Paul) with the preceding one—the quotation from Isaiah being adduced in proof of πιστεύεται εἰς δικαιοσύνην in verse 10—yet what follows is really a continuation of the thought of verse 4, viz. that the "righteousness of God," spoken of in verse 3, is of faith, and also for all. In evidence of this he returns to the text from Isaiah 28:16 , already cited in Romans 9:33 , and himself supplies πᾶς at the beginning of it, so as to bring out its universal application. It may be that, quoting from memory, he had forgotten that this word was not in the original, or he may have purposely added it in order to express more clearly what the original—in which there is no limitation of ὁ πισττεύων —really implied. The latter supposition is probable, inasmuch as (according to the best-supported readings) he had previously ( Romans 9:33 ) quoted the text without this addition, and now follows out the idea of πᾶς by giving a reason for it, and then, in Romans 9:13 , adds a text from Joel in which πᾶς does occur, so as to intimate that the "calling on the Name of the Lord," spoken of by Joel, implies the "believing" spoken of by Isaiah, and hence that the two texts must be equally universal in their application.

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Romans 10:13 (Romans 10:13)

For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved ( Joel 2:32 ). The text from Joel is in a passage which is distinctly Messianic; the same that is quoted by St. Peter ( Acts 2:16 ) as fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. Hence, and from the fact of πᾶς ὃς ἂν being emphatic in the original, it is well quoted by the apostle as supplementing the previous one from Isaiah, and as conclusive for his argument.

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Romans 10:11-13 (Romans 10:11-13)

Lordship and riches.

This passage exhibits the identity of the old covenant and the new. Paul quotes from the prophecies of Isaiah and Joel, in such a manner as to show, not only that he acknowledged the inspired authority of those writers, but also that he regarded words of promise uttered in the former dispensation as valid in the later. The language quoted harmonizes with the widest conceptions of the Divine benevolence, and must have been adduced with especial satisfaction by one so broad in his sympathies as was the large-hearted apostle of the Gentiles.

I. THE LORDSHIP AND WEALTH OF CHRIST . In speaking of the blessings of salvation, it was very natural that Paul should be led to refer to the glory of the Saviour, in order that it might be understood how vast was his power alike to deliver and to protect his people, and to confer upon them priceless favours.

1. As Lord of all, Christ is Possessor of all power in heaven and in earth. He is of right Ruler of all; and the application of this language, referring to Jehovah, to the Son of man, is proof that he was regarded by St. Paul as Son of God. To Christians, however, it is delightful to reflect upon Christ's authority, exercised over them, benignantly on his part, and gratefully and practically acknowledged and submitted to by themselves. A rebel and a loyal subject think very differently of their sovereign. To us Jesus is the King, because he is the Prophet and the Priest, who has come to us with the voice of God, and has bought us with his precious blood, tie is enthroned in our hearts; he gives laws to our life.

2. Jesus is rich unto all. We are assured of "the unspeakable riches of Christ," and are counselled to buy of him "gold tried in the fire, that we may be rich." If "all things are ours," it is because we are Christ's, and Christ is God's. He who redeems and rules, supplies the wants of his ransomed ones. He is not, like some of the wealthy of this world, rich for himself; he is rich for us, rich boundlessly and inexhaustibly, rich benevolently and for ever.


1. Believing on him is essential to participating in the blessings Christ offers to men. The apostle has previously been insisting upon faith as the means of obtaining the true and Divine righteousness, as God's way for man to come to himself and to enjoy his favour. They who have faith shall not be put to shame, shall surely and eternally be saved.

2. Calling upon him would seem to be a natural result of faith. They who believe in the heart will give their faith utterance by the lips. By this Hebrew expression we may understand both open confession and earnest prayer. By calling upon the Lord's Name, no vain and superstitious invocations or repetitions are to be understood, but the sincere entreaty of the soul for deliverance, guidance, or help.


1. The limitations of nationality are abolished. The religions of heathenism are local; the deities of heathenism are national and tutelary. Under the older dispensation, Jehovah was revealed as the one God, the God of all the earth; yet the Hebrews too often regarded the Lord as their God, and theirs only. The distinction between Jew and Gentile was, to the Hebrew mind, deep and ineffaceable. To St. Paul largely belongs the honour of giving currency to the true doctrine of Christianity, that religion is one and universal; that God is the Father of mankind; that Christ is Saviour and Lord of all men; that the middle wall of partition is broken down; that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile.

2. The offers of Christianity are made to all, and its terms and conditions are adapted to all. He is "rich unto all," and his riches are for "whomsoever believeth," for "whomsoever calleth upon his Name." What language could be used more fitted to encourage every hearer of the gospel to submit to the Lordship and to seek the true riches of Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

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Romans 10:5-13 (Romans 10:5-13)

The simplicity of the gospel.

The apostle here contrasts the simplicity of God's plan of salvation with the efforts which men have made to work out a righteousness for themselves. Salvation is gained—

I. NOT BY OUR OWN GOOD WORKS . "Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the Law, That the man who doeth those things shall live by them" ( Romans 10:5 ). If this were the condition of salvation, how hopeless would our condition be! None of us could say that we had made ourselves free from sin, or that our works were perfect and faultless, or that we had fully and faithfully kept all the commandments of God.

"Not what these hands have done

Could save this guilty soul;

Not what this toiling flesh hath borne

Could make my spirit whole."

II. NOR BY MIRACULOUS INTERVENTION . "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?" ( Romans 10:6 , Romans 10:7 ). The desire which is here expressed still survives. Not content with the Word of God and the invisible, but real, spiritual presence of Jesus with his Church, and the power of the Holy Spirit, many zealous Christians think it is necessary to have a more visible manifestation of the supernatural. Hence we have the doctrine of the real presence; alleged appearances of the blessed Virgin at Lourdes and at Knock; and, on the other hand, an undue stress laid upon the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."


1. The Holy Scriptures are the means used to bring this salvation near to us. "The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach" ( Romans 10:8 ). In contrast with ceremonial or legal observances, in contrast with all miraculous appearances, the apostle here magnifies the reading and preaching of the gospel as the Divine method for the salvation of souls. "The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation."

2. Faith, which is the condition of salvation, is an act of the human mind. Not by bodily labours or sufferings, not by appearances to our bodily senses, but by the Spirit of God and the Word of God working upon our spirits, and producing faith in us, do we receive salvation. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness" ( Romans 10:10 ). It is to the spiritual and not to the bodily nature that the appeal of religion is to be made. It is the spiritual and not the bodily nature that we must cultivate if we would see the kingdom of God.

3. Yet this faith will have an outward manifestation,. "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation" ( Romans 10:10 ). If our faith in Christ is real, it will show itself. We shall not be ashamed to make public acknowledgment of him.

4. Thus salvation is brought within the reach of every one. "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" ( Romans 10:12 , Romans 10:13 ). This plan of salvation brings the gospel to the Gentile as well as to the Jew. "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek" ( Romans 10:12 ). Wherever there is a heart seeking after God, that soul need not wait to work out a righteousness for itself. "Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved." What a contrast the simplicity of the gospel is to all human systems of religion and all man-made methods of salvation! The more we keep to the Word of God, and the less we mingle with it human tradition and ecclesiastical shibboleths, the more shall we be blessed in bringing souls to Christ.—C.H.I.

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Romans 10:12-21 (Romans 10:12-21)

The universality of the gospel.

The favour of God is free. But the apostle has already indicated another antagonism to the ignorant zeal of his people: the favour of God, being free, is free for all ( Romans 10:4 , Romans 10:11 ). As Godet says, "Paul has justified the matter of his preaching, salvation by grace; he now justifies its extension'' He here sets forth the universality of the gospel as evident from its very freeness, as anticipated by the Law, as consistent with the exclusion of Israel from its blessedness.

I. THE UNIVERSALITY OF THE GOSPEL IS EVIDENT FROM ITS VERY FREENESS . If the Law had been able of itself to justify, it might have seemed as though the Gentiles were without hope. But when it is perceived that the Law only leads to Christ, and that in Christ a free forgiveness is granted to sinful man, at once the conclusion is forced upon us—then to every sinful man. And the conclusion is just; even as Joel had foreseen, "Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved." There needs but that faith which is involved in true repentance, a willingness to be saved by grace alone, and the salvation is ours. Let, then, the true cry for help go up from any human heart, and it is answered. But it follows that if, according to God's grace, salvation is such that it is, in itself, possible to every man, he must design that it shall be brought within the reach of every man. Hence the succession of questions which Paul asks, arguing that God's design to save sinful man, when calling upon him in truth, implies a design that it should be possible for man to believe in him as God the Saviour, which again implies the hearing him proclaimed, which again implies a preacher of the glad tidings, which again implies the sending of the preachers. Yes, if such is the salvation for sinful man, God must have instituted a universal apostolate for the nations. This indeed was so ( Matthew 28:19 ; Acts 1:8 ). But Paul argues it, that he may justify his own mission, partly; and partly also, we may suppose, to remind them that they, the Jews, should have been the nation of apostles, that this was indeed the very intent of their election, had they not made the counsel of God of none effect. O glorious calling! O grievous forfeiture of high blessing!

II. THIS UNIVERSALITY OF THE GOSPEL WAS ANTICIPATED BY THE LAW . What had Moses said to them? "I will provoke you to jealousy," etc. They had provoked God by following after other gods; God would provoke his people by seeking other peoples (see Deuteronomy 32:21 ). Isaiah stated boldly what in the earlier words was more obscurely hinted at, "I was found of them," etc. (see Isaiah 66:1-24 .). Here also a repetition of Romans 9:30-33 . These, however, are but samples; there was enough in their Law, had not the veil been on their eyes, to show that they were but trustees for the world, and that one of their peculiar glories was that the Gentiles should come in the fulness of time to do homage to their God (see Isaiah 60:1-22 ). Israel "did know," or at least might have known.

III. THIS UNIVERSALITY OF THE GOSPEL WAS NOT INCONSISTENT WITH THE EXCLUSION OF ISRAEL FROM ITS BLESSEDNESS . The terms were, for them as for all, "Whosoever shall call," etc. And, it being impossible to call on One whom they had not heard, the hearing was certainly not withheld from them. It was true even of gospel preaching, as of the voices of the heavens ( Psalms 19:1-14 .), that the sound had gone into all the earth. For everywhere the gospel had been preached "to the Jew first." Yes, God had not cut them off from the blessing, but they had cut themselves off. It was true, as Isaiah had said, "All the day long," etc. So the parables of Jesus ( Matthew 21:1-46 ., 22.). They might have been the chosen people for the glorious work of the world's salvation; but the election was broken by their unbelief.

So, then, though God might surely choose or lay aside instruments as he would, in the carrying on of his work, he did not act without reason. It was because the Jews, being exalted to heaven, cast themselves down to hell, that they might not be the heralds of his grace. They would not receive it; therefore they could not show it forth.—T.F.L.

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Romans 10:12-21 (Romans 10:12-21)

The natural history of faith.

From an account of the plan of salvation as faith in and confession of a risen Saviour, the apostle, in the verses now before us, proceeds to consider the natural history of the faith which Jew and Gentile are led to place in the one Lord. For it is most important to know how faith is induced. And here we notice—

I. THE RISEN LORD IS WITHIN EVERY ONE 'S CALL . ( Romans 10:12 , Romans 10:13 .) There is no difference in his accessibility to both Jew and Gentile. "He is rich unto all that call upon him." With the sovereigns of this world court-favourites are the rule, and I suppose there is no exception. Only certain individuals get near the king, and are favoured with an audience. But this risen Lord over all can be rich unto every one that cares to call upon him. Let Jew or Greek only cry to him, and the needful help will come. This suggests the following comforting thoughts.

1. The throne on which our Lord now sits is a throne of grace. He is to sit, indeed, one day on a throne of judgment; meanwhile let us rejoice that he sits on a "throne of grace." It is to help the needy and the lost that he now sits enthroned. We are now under a "reign of grace." We hear a good deal in the present day of a "reign of law:" what consolation it is to think that, so far as Christ is concerned, we are all under a "reign of grace"!

2. He can hear directly every one that calls upon him. Of course, such a fact implies that our risen Saviour is indeed Divine. By virtue of his Divinity, he can hear everybody, whether Jew or Gentile, who cares to call upon him, and can deal directly with them. The many-voiced cry of lost and tempted souls reaches his ear and is all interpreted. It is easy to state the case of Christ hearing prayer, but it is overwhelming to imagine what such an arrangement demands from the blessed Being upon the throne. Yet it is sober fact—the whole cry of the race, the bitter cry of lost and tried souls, enters the sympathizing mind of our Divine Saviour and King.

3. He is rich to all the petitioners. Just as when on earth he allowed no one to go empty away, so from his throne of grace on high there is no real petitioner dismissed without relief. He encourages Jew and Gentile alike to call upon him, and then treats us in a way that becomes a King. He does far more "exceeding abundantly for us above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." If we ask him to save us, he does so with an everlasting salvation. If we ask him to pardon us, he does so with overflowing love. If we ask him to sanctify us, he enables us to die daily unto sin and to live unto righteousness. If we ask him to make us useful, he opens doors of usefulness for us of the most surprising character. In short, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But he hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit" ( 1 Corinthians 2:9 , 1 Corinthians 2:10 ).

II. BUT AN OMNIPRESENT SAVIOUR NEEDS THE BEAUTIFUL FEET OF HIS HERALDS TO BE UPON ALL THE MOUNTAINS IF MEN ARE TO KNOW HIS NEARNESS . ( Romans 10:14 , Romans 10:15 .) We have seen that the risen Saviour is within every one's call. But he is not palpable to sense. He is unseen. His presence is spiritual. Only by heralds going forth to proclaim the glad tidings of his presence are men led to call upon him. And the heralds address the ears of men. By this particular avenue of hearing does the message come. If men never hear of Jesus, they cannot be expected to realize his presence or to trust him. And so a propaganda is necessary, and the missionary enterprise is just such a propaganda to bring before Jew and Gentile the splendid fact that a risen Saviour is within each man's call. The natural history of faith is, then, this: "'Faith'—the faith which, overcoming the world, justifies and purifies and saves—'cometh by hearing,' cometh in the way of communication from man to man, as distinguished from any natural reflective enlightenment; while that 'hearing cometh by the Word of God,' ariseth out of an express revelation uttered from heaven, in contrast to every system, device, or imagination of unassisted human reason," £ This being so, we can understand how the apostle quotes the rapturous words of the prophet about the beautiful feet of the heralds of glad tidings. The institution of the preaching of the gospel is the most beautiful now existing among men.

III. THE GLAD TIDINGS HAVE NOT HAD A UNIVERSAL RECEPTION . ( Romans 10:16-18 .) In some cases the heralds have had small success. As Esaias cries, "Lord, who hath believed our report?" so has many a minister lamented his scant success. For, amid the multitude of competing things and persons palpable to sense, an unseen Saviour gets ignored by many. The problem was not, in the missionary age of Paul, as to many not hearing of a Saviour at all—rather was it that so many heard of him, yet gave no heed. For the apostle in this passage quotes what in the nineteenth psalm is applied to nature, as if the gospel message, at least in his day, had been as widely proclaimed as the limits of the world allowed. And when we consider the population of the world in Paul's time, and how it was practically within the grasp of the Roman empire, and that information filtered clown to the distant colonies more surely perhaps than, though not so speedily as, news does nowadays; and when we add to this the magnificent missionary spirit which animated Paul and his associates, he had reason to take up the universal terms and apply them to the propagation of the gospel. So that the gospel was more widely proclaimed in the first century in proportion to the population of the globe than it is as yet in the nineteenth. The contrast which now obtains between the revelation of God in nature and the revelation of God in the gospel in their respective relations to mankind—the one being universal, the other partial in its application—has been largely, if not entirely, due to the lack of enterprise and missionary spirit on the part of the Church. And yet too much may be made of this contrast, and men may fail to see that the proclamation of a revealed religion is the one way in which God is likely to receive attention from his creatures. The following quotation from Archer Butler upon the point will be welcome. "If God were to interfere at all, they [the deists] maintain, it would be by some universal agency, simple, general, and obvious, as the laws of his visible creation. They smile at the notion of God's greatest exhibition of his will to man being acted upon the reduced theatre of a petty province, and made dependent on the chances of human testimony. 'In the moral as in the physical world,' exclaims the leader of the sentimental school of deism, 'it is ever on a great scale, and by simple means, that Deity operates.' But what if we retort that it is those very laws of nature 'on a great scale'—those very 'simple means'—that have caused God to be forgotten? Not justly, we admit; for they ought eminently to have convinced men of his presence and power: but what of that? We are not now speaking of argumentative propriety, but of actual fact; not of man as he ought to be, but of man as he is. And it is an undeniable fact that it is the permanence and uniformity of the natural laws of the creation that have beguiled men into speculative, and, still more, into practical atheism; that it is the very perfection of the laws which has hidden the Legislator. The hand that God has constructed so wondrously can write, 'There is no God;' let it be smit with sudden paralysis, and the notion of an intervening Avenger will arise; nay, let us at any time behold some strange unique in any of the departments of experience, and it startles our habitual slumber. That is to say, as long as the work is perfect, we recognize no worker; but the moment it becomes deficient (the very thing which ought logically to produce the doubt), we begin to conceive and admit his reality. The more apparently capricious the works of nature, the more they resemble man's; and the more they remind us of direct agency analogous to the human. Now, if this be so, could it be expected that, to produce an acknowledgment of his being and attributes, the Deity would continue to employ the same medium of regular and ordinary laws, the same vast and uniform processes in the physical and moral world, which in all ages have tended (such the miserable subjection of man to an unreasoning imagination) to render his agency suspected by some, and practically forgotten by the many? To make himself felt he must disturb his laws; in other words, he must perform or permit 'miracles.' But then he must likewise exhibit them sparingly, as, if they continued to appear on assignable principles of stated recurrence, and in definite cycles, nay, if they appeared frequently, though unfixedly,—they would enter, or seem to enter, into the procession of the laws of nature, and thus lose their proper use and character. What follows? It follows that miracles cannot be presented to every successive age, far less to each individual person; they must, then, be presented only to some particular age or ages, and to some particular personal witnesses. But we have seen that they ought to be publicly and continually known; therefore (there being but one way of transmitting past events to present times) revealed religion and the knowledge of God, which we have seen is only thus to be practically and influentially attained, must he dependent upon human testimony. There is no step of this deduction which might not be made by a man who had never heard of any actual revelation having been given to man; it is purposely built upon the simplest principles of our common nature This seems to me to amount to something not unlike demonstration, that a traditional revelation, built on testimony transmitted from man to man—that is, of a Bible and sermon religion—far from being improbable (as the impugners of an 'historical creed' so eloquently insist), is actually the form of religion imperatively demanded by the very structure of human nature. " £

IV. THE RECEPTION OF THE GOSPEL BY THE GENTILES HAS BEEN PROVIDENTIALLY ORDERED AS A STIMULUS TO THE JEWS . ( Romans 10:19-21 .) The faith which has come by hearing the gospel to the Gentile nations was intended to rouse to holy jealousy the unbelieving Jews. The one section of mankind has been and is being played off against the other in the all-wise providence of God. And nothing is more certain than that the Jews shall yet surrender to the claims of our risen Saviour, and enter the Christian Church as obedient followers of the once crucified but now exalted Messiah. Let us, then, have confidence in our Lord, not only regarding our personal salvation, but also regarding the ingathering of the nations.—R.M.E.

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