Chapter # 10 Paragraph # 3 Study # 3
May 19, 2009
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17 So then faith cometh
by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are
no people, and
by a foolish nation I will anger you.
20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
1901 ASV Translation
16 But they did not all hearken to the glad tidings. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17 So belief cometh
of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
18 But I say, Did they not hear? Yea, verily, Their sound went out into all the earth, And their words unto the ends of the world.
19 But I say, Did Israel not know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy with that which is no nation, With a nation void of understanding will I anger you.
20 And Isaiah is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I became manifest unto them that asked not of me.
21 But as to Israel he saith, All the day long did I spread out my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
- I. Paul's "Process" of Salvation.
- A. Having established "the word of faith" as the fundamental principle of a heart/mouth agreement regarding "Truth" about the character of the Lord of the Universe, Paul now sets about to unveil the divine process by means of a series of questions [See Notes for May 5, 2009] (494).
- B. The "questions".
- 1. How shall they call upon [the One] into whom they did not believe? [See Notes for May 5, 2009] (494)
- 2. How should they believe from out of One Whom they did not hear? [See Notes for May 5, 2009] (494)
- 3. How should they hear without one who proclaims? [See Notes for May 12, 2009] (496)
- 4. How should they proclaim if they should not have been sent? [See Notes for May 12, 2009] (496)
- C. The "problem": Not everyone who "hears" yields to the truth of the Gospel.
- 1. This chapter began with Paul's claim that his heart's desire was Israel's salvation. From there it went into a series of "explanations" as to why Israel was not saved.
- a. The first of those explanations was Israel's intransigent commitment to establish "their own righteousness" (10:2-3). Their "zeal of God" made them intransigent and their commitment to self-exaltation made them committed to self-righteousness.
- b. The second was the distinct and stark contrast between the "methods" of the approaches to the acquisition of "righteousness".
- 1) On one hand is the way of Moses' explanation of how "Life" might be achieved by one's performance: Life is by keeping the dictates of the Law. Paul had earlier explained the rigorousness of this requirement by saying that one had to "seek for glory and honour and immortality" by "patient continuance in well doing" (Romans 2:7). There is no allowance for, or excuses for, dropping the ball: "the soul that sinneth shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4) and "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10) and "cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them" (Galatians 3:10).
- 2) On the other hand is the way of Moses' explanation of how "Life" might be achieved without any "human" performance: the righteousness which is of faith "saith" "the word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart" (Romans 10:8). This, Paul declares, means that "if thou shalt confess with thy mouth 'Lord Jesus', and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (10:9). There is nothing "rigorous" about this method. Moses said of this method, "it is not hidden ... neither is it far off ... you can do it" (Deuteronomy 30:11- 14).
- 2. From this explanation as to methods, Paul immediately declared that the "faith" method was open to all as God makes no distinctions between Jew and Greek.
- 3. And from there he launched into a series of questions as to "how" these things were to be done.
- 4. The only "problem" with the "faith" method is this: one must "believe" or the method is unproductive. Thus, the fly in the ointment is Isaiah's admission that there are not a lot who will approach the issue from this "faith" orientation.
- a. Paul's acknowledgment is "they have not all obeyed the gospel." This is a tad problematical because of the translators' option to use "obeyed" to render Paul's term. "Obedience" tends to fit the method of the Law rather than the method of faith and that makes it easy for people to misunderstand. Paul is adamant that human "performance" issues devolve into the rigorous necessity of "Law". Thus, he used a word (translated "obeyed" by the AV) that signals a particular kind of reaction to "hearing". The word he used actually means "to put oneself under what is heard". This does not mean "obey"; rather, it means "believe". The "gospel" does not demand "obedience"; it demands "belief". To confuse this is to miss the entire argument of Romans 10. "Obedience" means to intend to establish one's own righteousness by submission to the rigor of Law. "Belief" means to hear a promise and accept it as a truth "under" which one will take his position on "how things work". Paul's admission is that the message of "faith" is not well received. Isaiah found this to be true ("Lord, who hath believed our report?" -- Isaiah 53:1) and Paul did likewise.
- 1) The translators' choice to use "report" disallows our perception of Paul's use of Isaiah. In Romans 10:16 Paul admitted that not all "hear and put themselves under the Gospel. Then he quoted from Isaiah 53:1 where the Septuagint used the word "hearing" and the translators opted for "report" (as a thing heard). Then, in 10:17 Paul concluded that "faith is out of 'hearing'..." and the 'hearing' is "through the word/utterance of Christ." The point I wish to make is that Paul keyed upon the word "hearing" throughout the two verses and that cannot be seen by the readers of the translators' choices.
- 2) The issue of 'hearing' is the question of response to the things heard: one either "believes" them, or not. This is Paul's argument. The issue of "commands" is the same -- the matter of response -- but the response is significantly different: one either "obeys", or not. Since Paul's theology is that the Law was not given to inspire "obedience", but to reveal how massive is the "disobedience" (Romans 3:20; 5:13; and 7:7) and that the impact of the Law is not to generate "obedience" but "rebellion" (Romans 6:14; 7:8; and 1 Corinthians 15:56), it is critical to our understanding of the Law/Faith contrast that we not get "obedience" mixed up with "belief".
- 3) It is not Paul's "point" to make "disobedience" OK. It is, rather, to make "obedience" possible -- through "faith" rather than self-effort.
- b. Paul's acknowledgment is, however, not an admission that his "method" does not work, or is not the true method. It is simply an admission that the vast majority of those who "hear" the Gospel reject it. This is no surprise. Jesus, Himself, said that the vast majority of humanity is on a "broad" path that leads to destruction and that only a "few" find the "narrow" path that leads to Life (Matthew 7:14). In all of biblical revelation this fact stands out: the "Truth" is very unpopular in this fallen world.
- D. The "conclusion": faith arises out of "hearing" and "hearing" comes through the word of Christ.
- 1. This is Paul's larger conclusion: the "faith" method is the only workable method. One "hears" and either "believes" or not. And the "hearing" is "through" the "word" of Christ.
- 2. But this is also Paul's introduction into his next issue: is the "Gospel" restricted by reason of its dependence upon "hearing"?