Romans 10 - Righteousness Of God

INTRODUCTION: Paul became known as the apostle to the Gentiles, but in this chapter he expressed that the prayer of his heart was for the children of Israel to be saved. The zeal of strongly committed Jews for the law prevented their acceptance of Christ by faith, so he was indeed the stumbling stone and rock of offense for many of them. The righteousness of God can never be secured by personal effort to fulfill the law. Paul was certainly not unfamiliar with how strong a zeal for the law could be. First he had very zealously persecuted Christians as blasphemers. Then, after the Lord confronted and changed him, he endured much violent persecution himself as he witnessed for Christ both to Jews and to Gentiles. This chapter of Romans is in my own paraphrase, to some extent in an amplified style, prepared by examining several translations, and with some use of lexicons for both Hebrew and Greek.

NOTE: Verses in the comments are from the 1769 King James Bible.


A - PAUL DESIRED SALVATION FOR THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL

Romans 10 "1 Brothers in the Lord, the desire of my heart and my prayer to God for the children of Israel, is that they might be saved. 2 For I can attest that they have a zeal about God, but not in accordance with intimate knowledge. 3 For they are unaware of and uninformed about God's righteousness, so they endeavor to establish their own righteousness. They have not submitted themselves to the righteousness from God. 4 For Christ is the satisfaction and completion of the law for righteousness to every one who believes in him."

COMMENTS: Before his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul had extreme zeal for the law as he persecuted Christians with approval of the Jewish leaders. After his unusual confrontation by the Lord, many times the Jews strongly rejected his teaching about Christ Jesus as he preached in synagogues before the mixed gathering. He had a great desire to see Jews accept the righteousness of Christ Jesus, but so often Gentiles more readily believed from his preaching. Such was the case in Antioch of Pisidia after his first time in the synagogue. Acts 13 "44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, [saying], I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth."

Some years later, as Paul and Silas traveled through Macedonia they took the gospel of Christ to the synagogue at Thessalonica; but they had to leave there after just a few weeks due to the threatened violence to them. Acts 17 "10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming [thither] went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. 14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still." Berea was one of those places where quite a few received the message of Christ, but the city overall still became threatening to Paul.

Paul had years of ministry as he traveled widely, but the hatred toward him for his teaching about Christ reached a peak at Jerusalem with public violence from Asian Jews. Then, after about two years of being held prisoner by the Romans, Paul was on his way to Rome, but still as a prisoner. He would finally be able to be with the Roman believers, as his letter to them had been written before he ever visited there.

Paul's last time at Jerusalem did not go well. Acts 21 "26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them. 27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, 28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all [men] every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. 29 (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) 30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. 31 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul." Paul had no doubt in his belief that true righteousness before God comes only through belief in Christ Jesus. He used his two years as a prisoner to witness about Christ to even those Jews and Gentiles who had authority over him before he was transferred to Rome.


B - RIGHTEOUSNESS IS ONLY BY FAITH

Romans 10 "5 For Moses said the man who lives by the law will have his life determined by the law. 6 But those with righteousness which is of faith would not, in their heart, need to ask the impossible. Who would be able to ascend into heaven, that is, to bring Christ down from above? 7 Who would be able to descend into the deep, that is, to bring Christ up alive again from the dead? 8 But what said it? The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved."

COMMENTS: Paul used scripture given by the LORD to Moses for all the children of Israel. His intent was to show that scripture verifies that faith in God is the only way to have righteousness that fulfills the law. He began with Leviticus 18 "5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I [am] the LORD." This would be an impossible goal if God had not also provided a way for the law to be fulfilled through faith.

So Paul went to another section of the law given to Moses. Deuteronomy 30 "10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, [and] if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. 11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it [is] not hidden from thee, neither [is] it far off. 12 It [is] not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 13 Neither [is] it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?"

God the Father sent Christ the Living Word down from heaven to be the word of faith for those who will hear it and do it. And there was nothing in a distant land across the sea that could be brought back for the people to clearly understand and then accomplish in their own strength. But Paul passed over that second clause and turned attention to the need for each person to believe in Christ with all their heart, and with all their soul.

Paul's preaching was always about Christ, so he inserted his own words within his reference to the Deuteronomy passage he was quoting. Who would be able to descend into the deep, that is, to bring Christ up alive again from the dead? The obvious answer was that only God has the power of resurrection. Paul then went back to the original quotation. Deuteronomy 30 "14 But the word [is] very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it." He then gave the application that what he preached was the word of faith that if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.

Paul wrote this truth earlier in this letter. Romans 8 "3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."


C - WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT

Romans 10 "10 For you receive righteousness by believing in your heart, and then you are saved by confession from your mouth. 11 For the scripture says, Whoever believes on him shall not be dishonored and deceived in their hope. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile: for it is the same Lord over all, and he abundantly supplies for all who appeal to him. 13 For whoever shall appeal to the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How can they make their appeal if they have not believed in him? And how could they believe if they have not heard of him? and how would they hear if there is no one to preach? 15 And how shall anyone preach unless they have been sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the joyful news of tranquility and security, and bring that gospel of good benefits! 16 But they have not all listened to and accepted the gospel, which is joyful news. For Isaiah said, Lord, who has believed our report?"

COMMENTS: Righteousness comes only from a genuine belief in God from the heart, with salvation confirmed by declaring that belief verbally. In verse 7 above, Paul touched upon the ending portion of his reference to Isaiah 28:16 which he had mentioned in Romans chapter 9, verse 33. "As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believes in him shall not be ashamed." The secure hope of righteousness from the LORD eliminates all possibility that the believer will ever be ashamed of that which God has provided. There is no difference between the children of Israel, and all other people who have no part in that heritage, since there is only one Lord over all.

The Lord will save those who first believe in him by faith, and then ask him into their heart in full submission. The steps to faith begin with the Word of God being presented by those who are effective having been sent of God. But each individual must believe by faith in their heart the message of salvation. And finally each one must make a personal and genuine appeal to God to save them.

Paul took seriously the concept that those who truly preach the gospel of Christ must be sent by God, and in verse 15 above he referred to Isaiah 52:7 for his applied scripture about spreading that joyful news. Paul did not boast about his ability to deliver convincing words, but gave all credit to the cross of Christ as stated in another letter. 1 Corinthians 1 "17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." And Paul humbly wrote in another letter about the gift he received to be a minister of God. Ephesians 3 "7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;"

In verse 16 above Paul again drew from the prophet Isaiah to show how the scripture had been fulfilled because all who heard the word of truth did not believe. Verses 2 through 5 expand on the opening that Paul used, and much of that passage was likely familiar to his readers, otherwise his frequent references would not have been very effective. Isaiah 53 "1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

The apostle John provides some additional perspective to the way Jesus fulfilled prophecy from Isaiah. John 12 "36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. 37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with [their] eyes, nor understand with [their] heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him."


D - THE LORD WAS FOUND BY THOSE WHO DID NOT SEEK HIM

Romans 10 "17 So then faith, assurance, and trust come by receiving instruction, and that instruction is the Word of God. 18 But I say, haven't they heard? Yes, truly they have, because that preaching was spread throughout all the earth, and the words of scripture to the ends of the world. 19 But I say, Didn't Israel perceive and understand? First Moses said, I will provoke and arouse you to a fear of being supplanted by people not of Israel, and I will make you angry by insignificant and untaught people. 20 But Isaiah is very bold, and said, I was found by people who did not look for me; I was revealed to those who did not ask about me. 21 But to Israel he said, All day long I have reached out my hands to a disobedient people who rebel and refuse to believe."

COMMENTS: Israel had access to the Word of God that can lead to faith for those who have an open heart to receive and accept the gift it reveals. The preaching of the Word and the inspired Scripture has been spread throughout the whole world, and yet many of the people of Israel would not perceive and understand the truth. Paul again directed his readers to scripture from Moses, written even before Israel entered the Promised Land, to show the anger of the LORD against Israel for their worthless idols. Deuteronomy 32 "21 They have moved me to jealousy with [that which is] not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with [those which are] not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation."

Then Paul made reference to scripture from the prophet Isaiah that was written after the long period of the judges, and near the end of the centuries of various kings who ruled in two divided kingdoms in Israel. Paul could have used a little more of that passage as I will quote below, but apparently he used what he believed was sufficient to his point.

Isaiah 65 "1 I am sought of [them that] asked not [for me]; I am found of [them that] sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation [that] was not called by my name. 2 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way [that was] not good, after their own thoughts; 3 A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; 4 Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable [things is in] their vessels; 5 Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These [are] a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. 6 Behold, [it is] written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom, 7 Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom." The additional verses that I included gave me much to think about, not only for how far Israel had drifted, but just how much the LORD has forgiven of me, and that I must now avoid anything that even resembles such offensive things to the LORD.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

LORD, Thank you for so many blessings to your chosen children of Israel which have overflowed by your design, to numerous Gentiles because the righteousness of God is available to all people. I had very little true understanding of basic scripture passages when you opened my heart to believe that only your grace could save me. There were always many people around me from various denominations, who believed they were accepted into your kingdom because of their own efforts to follow your written word. Without your touch to my heart, I could have remained lost, thinking I could never be good enough to be your child. Some people openly reject the truth, and others fail to understand that scripture teaches that the righteousness of God given to the believer by faith is the only way to be assured of eternal life. Paul had a deep concern for his fellow Israelites who were depending on their own ability to keep the law of scripture, because they did not accept their need for the righteousness that can only comes from God through faith. Thank you, LORD, for guiding Paul to write this letter which has such direct application to "religious people" in our present time. Paul had used references to scripture that would have been familiar to many of his fellow Jews, even if they had drifted away from God. I ask that you, Lord, guide me to examine scripture carefully to direct my prayers and my witness to any who may have an open ear to hear and accept the message of the gospel. Your word continues now to go throughout the world in many languages in readable format and in the spoken word. So, LORD, I also want to pray that those who seemingly have not sought after you will somehow hear and respond to the message of eternal salvation through righteousness that only you can provide. Amen.

Published 20 June 2016