1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
The Message of Salvation to All
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says,“Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down)7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, 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. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for
“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.”
19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,
“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”
20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
I know the Bible has chapter and verse delineations, but we must remember during our study, that this letter was not written chopped and diced for easy reference, but instead, as a Letter! That being said, Paul was discussing the fact that those who had not sought God’s righteousness (the Gentiles), were now being given the righteousness of God through faith in Christ.
Paul’s next statement is that he harbors no animosity or ill-will toward his Jewish kinsmen, but rather wishes that they would all be saved. He goes on the state that though the Israelites were full of zeal for God, that their zeal was misplaced, and makes the claim that misplaced zeal is errant – that God does not accept improper worship. This reminded me of Leviticus 10:1-3.
So, if they were misguided, how was their zeal misplaced? Well, they did not know, or submit to, the righteousness of God. Again, Paul points out that man was not able to fulfill the Law to obtain righteousness, so they began trying to create their own form of righteousness that was not of God. They missed the whole point of the Law – to reveal sinfulness and point them to Christ, the Messiah who would perfectly fulfill the Law for all who would believe in Him. Christ is the fulfillment of the Law!
Moses did write about righteousness by the Law in Leviticus 18:5, but instead of focusing on what the Law pointed to, the Israelites focused on the Law itself (refer back to Romans 9:31-33). We can only be counted as righteous through faith in Christ. Not by works; and Paul so eloquently illustrates this by referencing the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 30. Works asks, “Who will bring Him down, or up”, as if by some work of our own we could cause God to give us righteousness. Faith has no need for such questions because it trusts the object of its faith. “By grace you have bee saved through faith – and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” – Ephesians 2:8
Now we come to a clear declaration of the Gospel by the Apostle Paul in verses 9-10: salvation is granted to those who declare “Jesus is Lord”. Let us take a hard look at this statement. What did Paul have in mind when he wrote this? Well, to understand that we should look to understand what Paul was thinking of when he chose the word ‘declare’. In the original Greek, the word Paul chose to use was homologeó / hom-ol-og-eh’-o ( I confess, I publicly declare Strong’s Greek 3670) that Jesus Christ is Lord (kurios / koo-ree-os)-(Greek. A person exercising absolute ownership rights). There were two conditions to be met – to declare that Jesus Christ has absolute ownership rights, and to believe in one’s heart that God raised Christ from the dead. The word that Paul uses for believe is pisteuo / pist-yoo-o (Greek. be persuaded, have confidence). In other words, we must declare openly that Christ has absolute ownership over us and that we have been totally persuaded that God raised Him from the dead.
Our heart-felt belief is what leads to God justifying us (attribute – Justifier; Romans 3:19), and our open declaration of faith leads to salvation under Christ’s Lordship. God mercifully promises that anyone who calls upon Christ, who meets the two criteria of Romans 10:9-10 will not be put to shame, and Paul references Isaiah 28:16 to show this promise. Isaiah used an interesting word for shame, it is the Hebrew word chuwsh / koosh – which means make haste, be disturbed, agitated. Interesting that these states of being are addressed in Psalm 23 by the phrase “He makes me lay down in green pastures”, those who are not in Christ have no option but to be disturbed, as they have no shepherd to lead them. (Matthew 9:36)
Paul then points out that both Jew and Gentile are equally accepted before God because Christ is the Lord over them all, they are one kingdom. He points to the prophet Joel in the second chapter, thirty-second verse as his proof of this fact; everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
A great explanation of the importance of the role which has been given to believers is outlined in verses 14-15. Paul uses a regression to explain that we are being used to gather the harvest for Christ, to bring those who have been given Him by the Father, the good news of the Gospel. Each one of us has been sent by Christ to those in our sphere of influence (family, friends, neighbors, co workers, etc…) to preach the good news of salvation through faith in Christ. He explains that only through preaching the Gospel can people hear it, and only through hearing it can people believe, and only through believing will someone be convinced that they need to call on the Lord for salvation.
But not all who hear the Gospel will believe it! Paul dealt with this in his day as we do in ours. Paul’s own countrymen, the Israelites, rejected the Gospel – not all of them, but a majority did. This was to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 53:1. Paul points out in verse 17 that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. What does this hearing mean? Let’s turn once more to the original Greek to see if we can glean a little more understanding of what Paul’s audience would have understood this word to mean: akoe / ak-o-ay’ / the sense of hearing, the ability to hear spiritually. So Paul was saying that the ability to hear spiritually come from physically hearing the word of God, and that only spiritual hearing engenders saving faith.
The remaining verses in this chapter list fulfilled prophecies regarding the hardening of the Jewish people:
Paul asks, “Have they not heard” He answers with Psalm 19:4
Paul asks, “Did Israel not understand?” He answers with Deuteronomy 32:21 and Isaiah 65:1-2.
Paul ends this chapter by pointing out that the closing of Israel’s ears to the Gospel was a prophesied event. God did it, it was not man’s will. He intended for the Gentiles to receive His righteousness through Jesus as a means of engendering jealousy in His chosen people, and as we will see next week, He is not done with the nation of Israel, nor has He forgotten the promises made to the patriarchs.