Romans Chapters 9 to 11, Part 6
by Karl Kemp
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Part 6 continues the verse-by-verse study of Romans chapters 9-11 with the last part of the discussion under Rom. 9:31.
It is significant that Paul goes on in Romans chapter 10 to speak much about the righteousness of God that is imputed and imparted through the new covenant. He specifically mentions this righteousness in 10:3, 4, 6, and 10, cf. 10:5. I'll quote Rom. 10:3, 4, "For not knowing about God's righteousness [the righteousness that comes from God; Israel could have known and should have known about this righteousness] and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God [the righteousness of God that is imputed and imparted to those who submit to God's new-covenant salvation in Christ Jesus]. For Christ is the end of the Law [That is, the Mosaic Law and the old covenant established on that Law have been superseded by the new covenant established on the atoning death (and resurrection) of the Lamb of God] for [rather, "resulting in"] righteousness [the righteousness of God] to everyone who believes."]] (32) Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. [[The apostle Paul's primary point here was that Israel didn't submit in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel of new-covenant salvation, through which they would have become partakers of the righteousness of God (the imputed and imparted righteousness of God). ((I had a footnote: Although it's true that many of the Israelites didn't have faith in God and His word in the days of the old covenant, which was required and without which works were meaningless, Paul is speaking here of the need for Israel to have faith in Christ now that He has come and the gospel of new-covenant salvation is being proclaimed. (The Israelites who had truly submitted to God and His Word in faith were quick to submit to His Christ and the gospel in faith when it was presented to them [cf., e.g., John 3:21; 5:42-47; 7:17; and 8:42-47].)
By the time Paul wrote Romans, some twenty-five years had passed since Christ had been crucified, resurrected, ascended to heaven, and had poured forth the gift of the Spirit (starting at Pentecost). The Israelites who had faith in God in the days of the old covenant are saved through Christ, but they couldn't receive the new birth or the imparted righteousness of God before Christ had overthrown spiritual death, sin, and the devil in His atoning death.))
It wasn't a viable option to cling to the old covenant once the new covenant had come, which is what Israel was doing. Paul frequently mentions that we must be saved by faith (a faith that appropriates God's grace, in accordance with His plan of salvation), not by works (cf., e.g., Rom. 3:27-30; 4:1-16; Gal. 2:16; 3:1-14; 5:2-6; and Phil. 3:9). ((I had a footnote: Faith wasn't a new idea. As Paul showed in Romans chapter 4, Abraham (who is the father of the nation Israel and the father of all believers) was saved by grace through faith, not by works or merit.)) If we could be saved (if we could earn salvation) by our works/works of the Law (which we can't), we wouldn't be saved by the grace of God (cf., e.g., Rom. 11:6).]] They stumbled over the stumbling stone [[It's important to see that the apostle Paul is speaking of the Israelites of his generation, those who had been confronted with the gospel; he wasn't thinking of the Israelites of previous generations. Christ (and new covenant salvation through faith in Him) is the stumbling stone. Israel couldn't stumble over this stumbling stone before He had come.
God could have sent His Son in a way that would have ensured that all Israel would have readily followed Him and become "Christians." For example, He could have had Christ "born" into a respected family; He could have made it widely known that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, even though He was raised in Galilee (thus fulfilling the prophecy of Micah); He could have seen to it that Jesus had the proper religious credentials; and He could have had Him brag on the religious leaders and the people of Israel instead of insulting them and demanding that they repent or perish. But the purpose of God was to separate off those who didn't really have faith in God and His word, or love Him and His word, and who weren't about to repent and appropriate (by grace through faith) the righteousness of God. Christ's coming showed where their hearts were (cf., e.g., John 5:36-47; 8:39-59; 15:18-25). The new covenant was designed to solve the sin/rebellion/pride problem.
In John 7:17, Jesus said (He was dealing with the fact that many of the Jews didn't believe in Him), "If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching [Jesus' teaching], whether it is of God or whether I speak from myself." The Israelites who loved God and had faith in Him loved His Son and had faith in Him; the Israelites who were backslidden could repent and submit to God and His Son, and many of them did, but most of them didn't.]], (33) just as it is written, 'BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED [literally, "put to shame."].' " [Paul "quotes" part of Isa. 28:16 with Isa. 8:14 here. Isaiah 8:14 mentioned a "stone of stumbling." The words at the end of Rom. 9:33 are also quoted in Rom. 10:11. Those who don't believe in Him (who don't submit to Him and the gospel in faith) will be "put to shame," in accordance with the plan of God.]
ROMANS CHAPTER 10
"Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them [for Israel] is for their salvation. [Compare Rom. 9:1-5. To have the righteousness of God spoken of in Rom. 9:30; 10:3, 4, 6, 19 is to have salvation. Romans 10:10 uses the words righteousness and salvation in parallel; Rom. 10:9, 13 speak of having salvation/being saved.] (2) For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. [Their zeal was misdirected since it was not in accordance with the truth, with the fact that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the new covenant in His blood has superseded the old covenant, which was established on the Mosaic Law.] (3) For not knowing about God's righteousness [the imputed and imparted righteousness of God that comes to believers by grace through faith in God, His Son, and the gospel] and seeking to establish their own [by doing works of the Law], they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God [in Christ]. [[Israel didn't have a legitimate excuse for not knowing about the righteousness of God. The problem was that they had rejected Christ and the gospel that offers men the righteousness of God; "they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God" that comes through faith in Christ. We discussed the all-important righteousness of God (the imputed and imparted righteousness) that became available with the new covenant quite a bit under Rom. 9:30-32.
It isn't hard to understand where the motivation came from to seek to establish their own righteousness, and this problem was not at all limited to ancient Israel. For one thing, people, in their pride, would much rather try to earn salvation than to humble themselves before God and admit that they are totally dependent on His grace and mercy. We are all dependent on His grace and mercy, whether we know it or not, and whether we want to admit it or not (cf., e.g., Rom. 11:32-36). The world, the flesh (the old man), and the devil and his hosts fight against God's new-covenant plan of salvation and righteousness.]] (4) For Christ is the end of the law [the Law (the Mosaic Law); cf., e.g., Rom. 6:14; Gal. 5:18: and Col. 2:14] for [rather, "resulting in" (Greek preposition "eis")] righteousness to [or, "for"] everyone who believes. [[I believe the translation of the NASB substantially misses Paul's intended meaning. I would translate the Greek preposition "eis" as "resulting in" here, or the equivalent. The NASB translates this same Greek preposition as "resulting in" twice in Rom. 10:10. The following translations are all on the right wavelength: "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes" (NIV); "For Christ ends the law and brings righteousness for everyone who has faith" (NEB); "For Christ marks the termination of the law, so that now anyone who has faith may attain uprightness" (Goodspeed]; and there are quite a few other similar translations.
The covenant established on the Mosaic Law given at Mount Sinai has been terminated and replaced by the new covenant; the old covenant could not provide righteousness (the imputed and imparted righteousness of God) to believers.
I had a footnote: People of faith in the days before Christ came, like Abraham, Moses, or Daniel could be forgiven and declared righteous on the basis of what Christ was going to do, but they had to wait for Him to accomplish His saving work before they could enter into the fullness of what it means to have the righteousness of God imputed and imparted to believers. (Some grace was provided under the old covenant, but it was very limited compared to the grace provided in the new covenant [cf., e.g., John 1:16, 17].) Once Christ had come and initiated the new covenant in His blood, it was not an acceptable option for Jews (or Gentiles) to reject Christ and try to be saved through the old covenant.
This meant, for one thing, that Gentiles didn't have to submit to the ceremonial law of the old covenant to become part of God's true Israel, which was a controversial issue in the early Christian church. Christ had to solve the sin problem (which included His dethroning spiritual death and sin) in His atoning death to provide this righteousness. It never was God's plan for believers to attain righteousness by the old covenant, by the Law; He always planned to send His Son to solve the sin problem and make believers righteous (e.g., 1 Pet. 1:20; cf. Gen. 3:15).
The translation of the NASB of Rom. 10:4 doesn't make it clear that the dispensation of the Law has been terminated, and it could (wrongly) be understood to teach that saving righteousness could be attained by keeping the Law. Believers were sometimes called "righteous" under the old covenant, but it was a relative righteousness. Those who were "righteous" in the days when Jesus came on the scene, for example, were quick to admit that they needed to repent and submit to the righteousness of God. They answered the call to repent sounded by John the Baptist and then sounded by Christ Himself and by His disciples.
Although Christians aren't under the old covenant and the Mosaic Law, we are enabled, and required, to keep the moral requirements of the Law (excluding the ceremonial works of the Law) in our daily lives as we walk in the Spirit by faith. (See my paper, "The Christian, the Law, and Legalism.) After all, God's Law tells us how people should think and live; His moral law doesn't change. Paul makes the point in Romans that it is only born-again Christians who have the ability to fulfill the requirements of the Law in their daily lives (see Rom. 2:26-29; 8:4); the ability to fulfill the requirements of the Law in our daily lives comes by the imparted righteousness of God, through the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of God. Our living righteous lives, in the will of God, by His grace through faith, is a big part of what new-covenant salvation is all about. God hates sin! He paid a very high price (an infinite price) to make us righteous and holy!]] (5) For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. [[Compare Lev. 18:5; Neh. 9:29; Ezek. 20:11, 13, 21; Rom. 7:10; and Gal. 3:12. Although believers could be called righteous under the old covenant, they could not fully keep the Law or achieve eternal life by the Law - they could not achieve eternal life apart from the grace of God in Christ. Paul contrasts two kinds of "righteousness" in Rom. 9:30-10:13. One kind of "righteousness" (I put the word righteousness in quotation marks because this type of righteousness doesn't really exist) is where people (apart from the grace of God in Christ) try "to establish their own [righteousness]" (Rom. 10:3) by keeping the Law. (I had a footnote: As I mentioned, Christians are enabled by the grace of God to keep the Law in their daily lives, but they are not trying to establish their own righteousness; they walk in the righteousness of God, by His grace, and for His glory.) If this type of righteousness did exist, people could earn/merit eternal life by their righteousness. The other type of righteousness is the righteousness of God (spoken of, for example, in Rom. 9:30; 10:3, 4, 6-10; and Phil. 3:9), which is received, and walked in, by grace through faith in union with Christ and by the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of God.]] (6) But the righteousness based on faith [[I prefer the translation of the NIV, "the righteousness that is by faith." The Greek preposition used here ("ek") is often used with the word for faith (e.g., Rom. 1:17 [used twice]; 5:1; 9:30; Gal. 2:16; 3:7, 8, 11, 12, 24; and 5:5), and the two words together are often translated "by faith." The primary point that Paul makes regarding "the righteousness that is by faith" here in Rom. 10:6-13 is that this righteousness (the imputed and imparted righteousness of God), which is a big part of what new-covenant salvation is all about (not to minimize forgiveness), comes by the work of God through the resurrected and glorified Lamb of God.
All that remains for us to do is to receive and walk in this righteousness by grace through faith. It's His plan; His work; His grace; His righteousness. In a very real sense His saving work is done; He doesn't want our works (works of the flesh/works of the Law/works done for our glory); He wants our submission to Him and to His grace from our hearts in faith; and He wants us to give Him all the glory forever. Anything less constitutes a violation of divine order in the universe. As we walk in faith and by the Holy Spirit the works of righteousness will necessarily be manifested, but in a very real sense they are the works of God (cf., e.g., Eph. 2:10).]] speaks as follows [In verses 6-8 Paul loosely quotes and applies Deut. 30:12-14 to demonstrate the important point that in one very real sense God's work is finished - we must submit (in faith) to His new-covenant righteousness and salvation.]: 'DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, "WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?" (that is, to bring Christ down) [It's too late for us to do any work that would motivate God to send His Son down to the earth to be born of a virgin to save us - He has already been sent; He has already come!], (7) or "WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).' [[It's also too late for us to try to descend into the abyss ((Hades, where Jesus descended after He died for our sins [cf. Acts 2:27, 31; Luke 23:43; and Eph. 4:9; these verses are all discussed in my verse-by-verse study on Ephesians chapter 4; start under Eph. 4:8])) to bring Jesus up from the dead. He has already been raised from the dead.]] (8) But what does it say? 'THE WORD IS NEAR YOU [[The apostle is speaking of the "word" of the gospel, which he also calls the "word of [the] faith" later in this verse. God the Father has already sent His Son to die for us, He has already raised Him from the dead and made Him Savior and Lord (cf. Acts 2:36), and He has already sent the word of the gospel to tell us what He has done for us and what He requires of us - to repent and submit to the gospel in faith.]], in your mouth and in your heart' [The NASB didn't use capitalized letters for the words "in your mouth and in your heart." These words are included in Deut. 30:14, and the NASB included these words within quotation marks. God's word must be in our heart; faith is of the heart. And His word must be in our mouth; if we believe the gospel in our heart, we will confess it with our mouth. "For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart" (Matt. 12:34, 35).] - that is, the word of faith [The Greek has the definite article with the noun for faith here; it could be translated "the faith." (On "the faith," cf., e.g., 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 1:23; 6:10; Eph. 4:13; Col. 1:23; 1 Tim. 1:2; 4:1, 6; 5:8; and 6:10, 21.)] which we are preaching, (9) that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord [cf. Matt. 10:32; Luke 12:8; Rom. 14:9; and 1 Cor. 12:3], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved [[Paul undoubtedly mentioned confessing with the mouth first (before believing in the heart) because Deut. 30:14 happened to mention "in your mouth" before "in your heart." Anyway, it's clear that faith must be in the heart for confessing with the mouth to be meaningful. In the next verse Paul mentions believing before confessing. Confession isn't something separate from faith; it goes with faith; and confession isn't a work that merits salvation any more than other aspects of faith.
For us to confess Jesus as Lord from our heart is a big part of what salvation is all about. Paul isn't talking about just saying the words "Jesus is Lord" (cf., e.g., Luke 6:46); he is talking about saying these words from the heart and in conjunction with living in line with the fact that He is our Lord (by grace through faith). There is no valid Christianity apart from submitting to Jesus as Lord. To the extent we are not serving Him as Lord, our salvation (if we even have salvation) is on shaky ground.
We are required to believe more than the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead to be saved (for example, we must believe that He is deity, God the Son through whom all things were created; we must believe that He was born of a virgin, that He lived a sinless life, that He died on the cross bearing our sins with the guilt and the penalties, and that He is coming again to judge the world), but the resurrection of Christ is an essential part of the gospel message. We must believe all the Bible teaches about Jesus; we must believe in Him (cf., e.g., John 3:15-18; Acts 16:31).]]; (10) for with the heart a person believes [[More literally, "for with the heart it is believed." God wants (and demands) our hearts; people can be very religious and they can do many works without giving God their hearts, without really submitting to Him or loving Him from the heart. Faith (Bible faith/saving faith) is of the heart; it involves much more than giving mental assent to the facts of the gospel. It includes a submission of self to God, to His Christ, to His covenant, to His Word, to His righteousness.]], resulting in [Greek eis] righteousness [the imputed and imparted righteousness of God in Christ], and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. [If we really believe the gospel (submit to the gospel in faith), including the fact that Jesus is Lord, we will make it top priority to live like it (by the grace of God). Receiving and walking in the righteousness of God by grace through faith is a big part of what salvation is all about.] (11) For the Scripture says, 'WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.' [Literally, "will not be put to shame." Paul "quoted" these words from Isa. 26:18 in a fuller form in Rom. 9:33. We won't be "disappointed" or "put to shame" because God makes righteous and saves from the wrath to come those who submit to Christ and the gospel in faith. We must, of course, continue to walk in faith to the end; faith isn't a one shot deal; God wants us, very much including our hearts, today, tomorrow, and forever.] (12) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all [[Compare, for example, Acts 10:36; Rom. 3:29. Jesus is Lord of all. He is the Lord of all people, of all Jews and all Greeks (Gentiles); and all people are called to submit to Him in faith. At the present time most people living on the earth do not acknowledge the lordship of Christ (or the lordship of God the Father), and God isn't forcing the issue. The time will come, however, when all people, whether believers or unbelievers, whether alive or dead, will acknowledge, one way or another, that Jesus is Lord (to the glory of God the Father), along with every other being in the universe, whether righteous or evil (cf., e.g., Phil. 2:9-11). This doesn't mean, of course, that all will be saved.]], abounding in riches for all who call on Him [[There is no distinction between Jew and Greek (Gentile) in that all are sinners and in that all who are saved are saved the same way, by grace through faith in Christ (cf., e.g., Rom. 3:22-24, 28-31). To "call on Him [Christ]" includes submitting to Him in faith, in accordance with the gospel. Calling on Christ is something we do, not something God does, though it is true, as we discussed under Rom. 9:6-29, that we couldn't have faith in Christ if God didn't take the initiative in our salvation (which includes calling, convicting, drawing, etc.). Faith isn't something God gives us, but at the same time it is nothing for believers to boast about. To submit in faith to Christ includes admitting that we are spiritually dead and in bondage to sin and in no way able to save ourselves or to try to earn salvation. Faith isn't a work (by Biblical definition), and it includes the admission that God must receive all the glory forever.]]; (13) for 'WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.' [[These words were quoted from Joel 2:32 to substantiate the fact that those who repent and call upon the name of the Lord Jesus (in faith) will be saved. (I had a footnote: Joel 2:28-32 are quoted in Acts 2:16-21. Joel 2:20-3:2 are discussed on pages 156-158 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture.") The fact that the word "LORD" is "Yahweh" in the Hebrew of Joel 2:32 causes no problem in that Jesus (God the Son) is fully deity with God the Father, who has the preeminent role in the Trinity; it is Biblical to use the name Yahweh for God the Son too. Although the glorious name Yahweh is typically used of God the Father in the Old Testament, it is used several times for God the Son, even as the word "God" is typically used for God the Father in the New Testament, but is used several times for God the Son. See my paper titled, "The name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son." When we call on the name of the Lord Jesus, we do so realizing that He has been sent by God the Father to bring us to God the Father (cf. John 14:6) and save us.]] (14) How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? [It's clear that people can't call on the name of the Lord Jesus in repentance and faith before they hear about Him and the gospel of salvation.] (15) How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, 'HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS [Isa. 52:7]!' [God had sent messengers, like the apostle Paul, and they had preached the gospel to the Jews and the Gentiles.] (16) However, they did not all heed the good news [[I prefer the KJV, "But they have not all obeyed the gospel." Many who heard the gospel (not that they had opened their hearts before God to really hear the gospel), did not submit to the gospel in faith - they did not obey the gospel. By saying that they did not obey the gospel, Paul meant that they did not submit to, and obey, the gospel in faith. By saying that they did not obey the gospel, Paul probably made the point even stronger that they were responsible to submit to God and the gospel of salvation than if he had said that they did not believe/have faith in God and the gospel. (To have faith in the gospel is the equivalent of believing the gospel. The Greek verb for faith is "pisteuo." It was derived from the Greek noun for faith, "pistis.") I'll list some other verses that speak of obeying or not obeying the gospel: Rom. 1:5; 6:17; 2 Thess. 1:8 (cf. 2 Thess. 2:10-12); and 1 Pet. 4:17; cf. John 3:36. Unbelief and disobedience go together (cf., e.g., Heb. 3:18, 19).]]; for Isaiah says, 'LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?' [This quotation from Isa. 53:1 supports the idea that many would not believe (which includes not submitting to or obeying) the gospel of new-covenant salvation provided in the sacrificed Lamb of God (who was spoken of in Isa. 52:13-53:12). In that Paul was dealing mostly with Israel in Romans chapters 9-11, he probably was thinking (at least for the most part) of Israel here in verses 16, 17; most of the Israelites were not submitting to the gospel in faith.]] (17) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ ["the word about Christ"]. [[I believe it's clear (in context with verses 14-16, 18) that Paul wasn't saying here that because people hear the gospel they will submit to the gospel in faith, but it is true, of course, that we must hear the gospel before we can submit to it in faith. ((I had a footnote: Some (wrongly) say this verse shows that God gives us saving faith by sending the gospel to us. The "hearing" of this verse is the same as the hearing spoken of in verse 14. Many hear the gospel but do not submit in faith to what they have heard and obey it. As free moral agents (we still have some freedom of the will after the fall), we must respond to the gospel with faith after we hear it, so God isn't giving us faith by sending the gospel to us.))]] (18) But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; 'THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD' [Psalm 19:4; cf. Rom. 1:8; Col. 1:6, 23]. [Paul made the point again here that the problem wasn't that people hadn't heard; and again, in this context, Paul was speaking (at least for the most part) about the people of Israel; the problem was that many had heard but had not submitted to the gospel in faith ("they have not all obeyed the gospel" KJV [Rom. 10:16]).] (19) But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? [[In Rom. 10:19-21 the apostle speaks of the fact that God had made it known to Israel (in the verses from the Old Testament that he goes on to quote in Rom. 10:19-21) that Israel (speaking of the majority of the Israelites) would not submit to the gospel (Rom. 10:21), but that many Gentiles would (Rom. 10:20), and that He would make unbelieving Israel jealous by saving many Gentiles (Rom. 10:19). His quotation here in verse 19 is from Deut. 32:21. Paul continues with the theme of God's making Israel jealous by saving a large number of Gentiles in Romans chapter 11 (see Rom. 11:13, 14, 25, 26, 30, and 31). He shows that God will use this jealousy as a factor in the conversion of individual Jews and in the ultimate conversion of (the end-time remnant of) Israel. Paul quotes Isa. 65:1 in Rom. 10:20, and he quotes Isa. 65:2 in Rom. 10:21.]] First Moses says, 'I WILL MAKE YOU JEALOUS BY THAT WHICH IS NOT A NATION, BY A NATION WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WILL I ANGER YOU.' (20) And Isaiah is very bold and says, 'I WAS FOUND BY THOSE WHO DID NOT SEEK ME, I BECAME MANIFEST TO THOSE WHO DID NOT ASK FOR ME.' (21) But as for Israel He says, 'ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE.' " [See under verse 19.]
We will continue this study of Romans chapters 9-11 in Part 7. After giving another quotation that deals with God's sovereignty and human responsibility with some of my comments, we will start Romans chapter 11.
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