1 Brethren, my heart's
desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For
I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish
their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness
of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one
The personal attitude of Paul regarding
his fleshly brethren, the Jews, is almost sad. It is sad, not because his
attitude is unworthy, but because it is so heart-rending how he loved his
fellowman so much, yet they refused to come to the source of blessing.
He had already stated in chapter nine, verse three, how he wished he might
be accursed if that would be of any value in bringing them to Christ. Now
he expresses with a tone of great sincerity that it was his heart's desire
that Israel be saved. He prayed to that end. Certainly he did not pray
for their salvation in their rejection of God's plan, but he prayed that
they might receive God's plan, and thereby, be saved.
The Jews had the good quality of being
zealous. They were fervently religious. They thought many times they were
doing good even though they were actually doing wrong. Paul could understand
that because he had been guilty in the past of that same action and misunderstanding
himself. They had a zeal to serve God, but they were trying to serve God
the wrong way. They were ignorant and ill-informed as to what they had
to do to serve God. By turning from Christ and rejecting Him, they had
turned from the only way that one can acceptably serve the Lord of heaven.
They were ignorant of "God's righteousness." It refers to the commandment
of God, as explained in Psalm 119:172, that man must obey in order to be
counted righteous, and be forgiven of sins that separate him from God.
The people of Israel, as noted earlier, persisted in establishing their
own way, or continuing to conform in a fashion to the former ways under
which they had lived, but which were no longer operative, inasmuch as the
all-sufficient and eternally intended system of redemption was now effective.
Determined to follow the old law as given by Moses, and coupling with that
their many traditions and customs, they refused to submit to the "righteousness
of God," that system of salvation God planned before the foundation of
the world, and delivered through Christ.
Paul states emphatically, and it seems
most difficult that anyone could misunderstand such a forthright declaration,
that Christ is the end of the law. The word "end" means goal, target, that
which was in view. The coming of Christ was that toward which the old law
pointed. "End" here is like the term "end" in First Peter 1:9, where Peter
wrote, "Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
The goal, target, that which is in view of faith, is salvation. In like
manner, Christ was the "end" of the old law of Moses. It is the same thought
here as in Galatians 3:23-25 which teaches the purpose of the law was to
bring to Christ.
5 For Moses describeth
the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things
shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh
on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that
is, to bring Christ down from above:) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the
deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 8 But what saith
it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is,
the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy
mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised
him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth
unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Paul calls upon Moses to describe the
significance of the old law under which not even the Jew continued to live
as subject. Moses said the old law was a law of works, a law whereby one
could be declared righteous only if he was perfect, a law by which one
would be acceptable unto God only because he merited acceptance by the
Lord. The old law was a system where eternal life was obtainable only upon
perfection, which simply meant, eternal life was not actually attainable
under the old law. To violate one point meant being guilty of the law,
a law that did not provide for forgiveness (James 2:10; Hebrews 10:4).
In contrast to that, the system by
which man can truly have life is the system of faith that demands complete
trust and confidence in Christ. Those who subscribe to the system of salvation
by faith do not ask questions, or make demands, that in essence challenges
God, or continually ask for signs and miraculous evidences and proofs before
they accept what the Lord has declared. Those who walk and live by faith
do not seek for Christ to come again and manifest Himself personally as
He once did, nor that He be resurrected over and over again before they
will believe. This kind of attitude would be one of disbelief in what God
has already done, or caused to be done. It would be the very opposite of
the trust and confidence that is an essential part of the system of faith.
What does the system of salvation
by faith declare? It declares the Word that the Roman Christian had, and
spoke, and in which they believed, indeed, the Word of truth that Paul
preached. The system of salvation by faith declares the gospel Paul and
the other apostles were teaching. There is a parallel stated here between
the message of faith and the message being preached. What was being preached
was the very system of faith that God brought through Christ.
What was that message of faith that
Paul was preaching? Verses nine and ten state the necessity of faith, and
confession of that faith. This passage, if there was no other teaching
related to being saved, (there are many others), would prove forever that
salvation by faith alone in the sense of giving mental assent to certain
facts of truth cannot and does not save. Confession of that faith is also
mentioned. It is mentioned twice in the two verses as being necessary to
salvation. One may argue that if a person truly believes, he will obey
the teaching to confess. This is exactly correct. Also, if one truly believes,
he will obey other commands for salvation, such as repentance and baptism
into Christ, which are also parts of the system of faith.
There is not presented here a checklist
of steps to be taken to be saved as if this is all there is to be done
by man. But these two things are essential, and the passage presents in
understandable terms that salvation is by a system of faith, and that system
includes more than mere mental assent. One must place his complete confidence
and dependence on Christ to be saved. One must hold deeply and dearly the
conviction in his own heart of the true identity of the Lord Jesus Christ
as the Son of God, the true and living God of heaven. One must hold that
conviction so stedfastly that he will acknowledge his faith and trust in
Christ by making confession of that faith with his mouth. We read of several
instances in the New Testament of people who verbally confessed that they
believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. This is the kind of
confession under discussion here. It is more than the conviction that Christ
is God's Son, which, of course, is not to be minimized whatever. But it
specifically makes reference to a confession made with the mouth. Salvation
is no more solely based upon one's verbal confession than upon one's mental
assent to certain facts regarding Christ. The terms confession and belief
are used to represent the entirety of the system of salvation. They are
but two parts of that system, which is based upon the merit of the blood
of Christ, offered by the grace of God, and blesses those who are obedient.
This system, rather than the one upon
which the Jews had for so long looked with favor, was and is the one that
brings release from the sin and shame that deprives a person of spiritual
life, but brought spiritual death. Paul repeats himself in verse eleven
by saying almost the same thing he did in verse thirty-three of chapter
nine. He is repeating the same message the prophets of old had forecast
concerning the way of salvation. The way of faith is the way of salvation,
and the way of escape from being ashamed before God. The emphasis of the
passage is that salvation is one based upon complete and unquestioning
trust in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. Such trust and confidence
naturally necessitates acceptance of and conformity to whatever commands
He has given in His law.
12 For there is no difference
between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto
all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the
Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have
not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach,
except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them
that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
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.
The following passage presents one of
the examples of indisputable logic and order in the presentation of divine
truth. Step by step, Paul traces the connection between the Word of the
Lord and salvation. The passage gives emphasis to the necessity of the
message of truth, without which there can be no salvation for man.
In verse twelve, the point is made
that had been previously established in the book on several occasions,
that God approaches all men alike, there is no respecter of persons, Jew
and Gentile are both in need of salvation, and both have the same avenue
open to them to become children of God. The Lord treats all men alike with
respect to their service before Him without regard to their nationality,
ancestry, or other such barriers that once existed during former ages.
He is over all, and rich unto all that call. Under the system of faith
"there is no difference." Everyone has access to the riches of God the
same way; namely, through calling on the name of the Lord.
Those who call on God shall be saved.
This is a theme repeated from the prophets and accentuated in New Testament
teaching. The question does not present itself as to whether one is saved
who calls on God, because this is unmistakenly affirmed to be the true
case. The question is, "What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord?"
It means more than mere belief that
God is, even though man must acknowledge that truth. Mental assent that
Jesus is the Christ is not all it means. Mental assent is not calling on
the name of the Lord. Christ warned during His personal ministry on earth
that just calling, "Lord, Lord," would not suffice (Matthew 7:21). The
way some act and teach, you would think speedily repeating the name, "Jesus,
Jesus," is what it means. But that is not it. Therefore, one could actually
believe in God, even believe that Jesus is the Christ, and still not call
on the name of the Lord and receive salvation. Jesus made it clear that
calling on the name of the Lord involves doing what is instructed by the
Lord. It means doing His will. There is something to be done. Obedience
is absolutely essential in calling on the name of the Lord in order to
be saved. Matthew twenty-five reveals how some at judgment will have thought
they served God, but learn that they had failed in their purpose because
they did not do as they were instructed to do. Keep in mind, even as one
does what he is commanded, he cannot and does not earn his salvation.
Calling on God is making an appeal
unto God for salvation according to His will. First Peter 3:21, "The like
figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away
of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,)
by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." God calls -- man must answer. In
answering, he makes his appeal to God. It is plain that answering God's
call involves baptism. Acts 22:16 makes the point even clearer. Ananias
told Saul (the writer's name before he became an apostle), "Arise, and
be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
In the passage now under consideration in Romans, Paul makes it plain that
those who shall call, shall be saved. This calling, therefore, involves
belief and trust, but also the doing of other commandments directed by
the Lord in order to enter into a saved relationship with God. This includes
repentance (Luke 13:3), confession of faith, as noted even in this passage,
plus being baptized, an action of obedience by which we enter into Christ
(Romans 6:3,4; Galatians 3:27). The system of faith, therefore, does not
exclude obedience, but necessitates obedience.
But inasmuch as obedience to God must
be from the heart (see Romans 6:16-18), it logically follows that one who
obeys must first have an understanding of what he is doing. Having such
information, assuming he does believe what he has been taught, and does
possess a real conviction of the truth he has learned, he can call on God
for salvation as noted above. But until one believes, he cannot call. (It
should be quite evident to us that believing and calling on the Lord are
not identical, but are two distinct operations, although certainly related
and connected. But they are not the same. Calling on the Lord for salvation
is not merely believing. Believing comes before the calling. Paul put something
between believing and salvation, and he identified it as calling on the
name of the Lord.)
Continuing the logical and orderly
presentation, Paul now insists that until one hears about the Lord and
His plan of salvation, he cannot possibly, intellectually, emotionally,
or in any other way believe and have confidence in Christ. You cannot be
convicted of something about which you have no knowledge. The heart (mind)
must be informed before there can be faith. We see the necessity of hearing
the will of God.
Before one can hear, (meaning more
than having audible sounds fall on the ear drum, but includes comprehension
and understanding of what is taught), there must be someone who will preach
the gospel. Before one can preach, he must be sent. The apostles were sent
to do this preaching of the glorious system of faith. Since their day,
others have continued to "preach the word," using many methods of doing
so. That which is to be preached is the Word of the Lord, the message of
salvation by grace, extended to man through Jesus Christ, made possible
by His blood, and appropriated by obedience faith.
The process is simple. One is sent
with the Word. Some hear and understand. The evidence in the message convinces
them of the truthfulness of it, and they believe it is true. Now, in a
believing state, they call on the name of the Lord by rendering obedience
to the commands given in the message of salvation. All this is traced back
to the Word of God. Where there is no knowledge, there is no faith, no
ability to obey. It begins with the preaching and comprehension of the
Word of God. Faiths comes as the evidence of the Word is presented. The
hearers must be persuaded and convinced by the message of truth. Without
it, there can be no salvation.
Verse fifteen turns back to an Old
Testament statement that declares the beauty found in those who present
the message of glad tidings, the gospel, the good news of salvation. The
beauty is not in the messenger, but the message. I think this statement
has primary reference to the apostles through whom the truth was given
to the world, and who were, at the time of Paul's writing, engaged in revealing
and proclaiming to the world the plan of salvation that was heretofore
a mystery. On the other hand, it surely must have application to any person
who would preach God's truth to his own generation.
Unfortunately, not all who hear will
believe. This spells their spiritual death. It was true when the gospel
was first preached, and it is true even yet, that not all who have the
opportunity to hear, believe, and obey do so. Many, like the Jewish nation
generally, persist in rejecting the message of God. This is an eternal
tragedy, and our hearts are pained to personally know some who will treat
God's holy will in such fashion. But regardless of how men respond (favorably
or unfavorably) to the Word of the Lord, the presentation of the Word,
belief in that message, obedience to that message, is still the way God
has devised to bring men unto Him.
Let me encourage the reader to study
in this connection John 6:44,45; Acts 15:7; James 1:21; First Peter 1:22,23.
These and other passages emphasize the Word in order to be saved.
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.
Paul returns specifically to the theme
he introduced significantly in the first part of chapter nine, and again
at the beginning of chapter ten; namely, the spiritual condition of the
Jews. Having noted that Christ was rejected by the Jews generally, one
wonders why. They had heard the Word. The sound or message of truth had
gone to the ends of the earth, as prophesied in Psalm 19:3,4, to which
Paul refers. No excuse could be given for not having been taught. Paul
asks, "Did not Israel know?" The answer is clear. Yes, they knew. In fact,
if they had paid proper attention to such revered people as Moses and the
prophets, they could have quickly and easily known they were supposed to
respond to the plan God devised. Moses had spoken the Word of the Lord
to Israel, telling Israel that God would allow the Gentiles, "them that
are no people," to provoke them to jealousy. In other words, seeing how
Gentiles would desire to enter into the saved relationship with God, God
anticipated that through the use of the Gentiles, the Jews might be provoked
to salvation. Not only do we see how God used the Jews to bring salvation
to the entire world, including Gentiles, but God also used the Gentiles
to motivate the Jews to be saved as well.
Paul reminds his reader how Isaiah
had prophesied that the Gentiles, "those who sought me not," found the
Lord, and God manifested Himself to the Gentile. But the case with the
Israelites, unfortunately, was so different. As God had pleaded with Israel,
as revealed in Isaiah 65:2, God stretched forth His hand, extended His
invitation to Israel, (a people who badly needed salvation as much as the
Gentiles), but the people of Israel turned their backs against the invitation.
This is the sad and deplorable state, not only of the Jews as a nation
even yet, but the state and spiritual condition of any and all who reject
the gospel, God's plan for saving man.
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