Romans 10:1-13

Thursday Evening Bible Study

December 4, 2008


Paul has been talking about the sovereignty of God – how God chooses us and shows mercy to us.  He’s talked about how God has done an amazing thing and shown mercy to people who were “not” His people – that’s us.

The odd thing in God’s plan is that the people we call the “chosen” people, the Jews, have chosen to reject God’s Son, while those who used to be known as “not a people”, the Gentiles, have become the people of God.

But that doesn’t mean that God is finished with the Jews.  And that doesn’t mean that Paul is finished with the Jews.

Paul now takes a step back to make sure that any Jewish person reading this might not think that he really, secretly hates the Jews.

:1  Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.

desireeudokia (“well” + “to think”) – will, choice; good will, kindly intent; delight, pleasure

It would be Paul’s greatest delight to have the Jews saved.

prayerdeesis – need, want; a seeking, asking, entreating

This wasn’t the kind of prayer that is part of some “wish list”.  This is an earnest prayer, one based on true need.

:2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

bear them witnessmartureo – to be a witness, to bear witness, i.e. to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something

zealzelos – excitement of mind, ardor, fervor of spirit

knowledgeepignosis – precise, correct, fuller, clearer knowledge; more thorough knowledge.

Not “knowledge” as in what is acquired through “understanding” (oida), but “knowledge” on the basis of having experienced the truth, having come in contact with the actual thing.  It’s not knowledge like understanding the answer to a mathematical equation, but knowledge as in knowing Debby because she’s my wife.

These people have a kind of fervency about God, about serving Him, but they don’t know Him.


Religion ain’t enough

“Religion” could be defined as “zeal for spiritual things”.
Paul’s point here is that these people are very, very religious, but it’s not enough.
Some people say, “Well as long as you’re sincere …”.  You can be sincerely wrong.
In Israel you see lots of examples of “religion”.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher – there are regular fights between the various groups that share the site –the police have to be called in to separate the “priests”.  There’s a ladder that the groups have been arguing over.  There’s the “holy rock” that people like to kiss and rub things on.

We often saw goofy looking getups in Israel – guys wearing robes, monks, friars, etc…

The Jews had a zeal for God in their rituals, but not for God Himself.
(Isa 29:13 NKJV)  Therefore the LORD said: "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
Zeal alone isn’t enough.  It’s important to have a passion about the right things.

:3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.

ignorantagnoeo – to be ignorant, not to know; not to understand, unknown

righteousnessdikaiosune – the state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God

This is the key word to this verse.  It’s all about being “righteous” before God.

Being “saved” requires that we are “righteous” before God.  It requires that we meet God’s standards.

Paul is saying that the Jews don’t have a full understanding of just how righteous God is and what He requires from us.

establishhistemi – to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set; to stand

The Jews have tried to stand on their own righteousness before God.

They have felt that they could be considered “right” before God.

submittedhupotasso – to arrange under, to subordinate; to subject, put in subjection; to subject one’s self, obey; to submit to one’s control

A Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.

They missed the fact that righteous involved faith. 

(Rom 1:16-17 NKJV)  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. {17} For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

Righteousness doesn’t just come from outward obedience, but a heart that trusts in God.


My standards don’t count

It’s interesting to hear what people think is required to go to heaven.
Sometimes it’s some certain big sin that they think is the crucial thing.  As long as they haven’t killed anyone or committed adultery, then they must be good enough for God.
Sometimes people get into comparing themselves with others.  “Well I’m not as bad as Fred over there …”.  The problem is that in God’s sight, we’ve all failed to meet admission standards because we’ve all sinned.  It doesn’t matter how badly you’ve flunked, you’ve still flunked.
In the end, what you think doesn’t count for anything.  It’s what the judge thinks that is important.
Salvation isn’t based on what you think God’s standards of righteousness are, it’s based on what He thinks righteousness is.
That’s why it’s so important that we base our beliefs on what God has said Himself.  We need to base what we believe on what the Bible says, not what we think and not what some fast talking religious person says.
What we think is righteous isn’t even close.
(Isa 64:6 NKJV)  But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
In Jesus’ day the Pharisees were the ones who worked hardest at trying to be righteous.  Yet Jesus said,
(Mat 5:20 NKJV)  "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
As an example of just how far off we are, Jesus gives one example after another showing how we take God’s ways and try to make them easier to do, lowering the bar for ourselves.
(Mat 5:43-48 NKJV)  "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' {44} "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, {45} "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. {46} "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? {47} "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? {48} "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

the endtelos – end; termination, the limit at which a thing ceases to be; that by which a thing is finished; the aim, purpose

There are several ideas in what Paul says here.

1.  Jesus is the “goal” of the Law.
It’s all about Him.  It all points to Him.  He’s the one hinted at in the sacrifices.  The difficulty of the Law and our inability to live by it point to a need for a Savior.
2.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law.
He’s the one who met the requirement of the Law.  He has paid our debt.

(Mat 5:17 NKJV)  "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

3.  Jesus has ended the Law as a means of salvation.
(Rom 6:14 NKJV)  For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
(Col 2:14 NKJV)  having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
This is why the writer of Hebrews says,

(Heb 10:26 NKJV)  For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

Once you’ve found out that Jesus is the end of the Law, you can’t go back.  There are no more sacrifices to cover you, only the blood of Jesus.

:5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them."

shall livezao – to live, breathe; to enjoy real life; endless in the kingdom of God

Paul quotes from:

(Lev 18:5 NKJV)  'You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.

Paul isn’t talking about just “living your life” by following the law.

The point of the verse is to say that if you follow the Law perfectly, you will have “life”.

The righteousness which comes from the Law only comes when you do the law perfectly.

(James 2:10 NKJV)  For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

:6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' " (that is, to bring Christ down from above)

speaks in this way – Paul is going to quote from Deuteronomy, but it’s a bit of a loose quote.  He even changes some of the words (substituting “abyss” for “sea”), but if you follow carefully, you’ll see that Paul makes some important statements that all come back to this quote:

(Deu 30:11-14 NKJV)  "For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. {12} "It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' {13} "Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' {14} "But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

Even though Moses was trying to tell the people that God’s commandments are right in front of them, there is something more to what Moses is saying.
Paul uses this quote from Moses to show how the gospel is found even in the writings of Moses.

that is … - Paul is using a technique called “Midrash”, how the rabbis would teach, making a comment or interpretation on a passage.

to bring Christ down – Paul’s point is that it is not necessary for someone to ascend to heaven because Christ has already come down to us.

God has already taken on human flesh and dwelt among us.  Someone has already come to earth from heaven.

Jesus is the Lord of heaven.

:7 or, " 'Who will descend into the abyss?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

abyssabussos – bottomless; the abyss, the pit; the common place of the dead

Paul changes Moses’ words from “the sea” to “the abyss” because it fits the point of the gospel better.  Jesus didn’t just go across some sea to save us, He died for us.  He went to hell and back.

Jesus is risen 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 which we preach):

neareggus – near, of place and position

mouth … heart – pay attention to where this word of salvation is – near us, in the mouth and heart.

word of faith

There are churches who have taken this phrase and twisted it into a whole set of doctrines – the “health and prosperity” doctrines.

But Paul is using the phrase as a contrast to the Law (vs. 5), as to how a person is saved.

It is the message of salvation that Paul is preaching.

Paul uses this phrase as being connected to “the righteousness of faith” (vs. 6)

The righteousness of the Law is based on man accomplishing difficult, impossible things, things that God has already taken care of through Jesus.
Here the point is that God’s commandments, His ways are not based on us doing some sort of impossible feats of strength and effort, but that they are very close, in our mouth and heart.

:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Notice how Paul is going to use the “mouth” and “heart” from Deut. 30 and apply it to our salvation.  Moses said,

(Deu 30:14 NKJV)  "But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

The “word” was in the “mouth” and in the “heart”.  Look what Paul says:

confesshomologeo – to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, declare; to profess; to declare openly

This is something you say with your “mouth”

believepisteuo – to think to be true, to be persuaded of

This is something you do with your “heart”.

Note there is both verbal and non-verbal involved.

Both outward (“confess”, verbal) and inward (“believe”, non-verbal)

the Lord Jesus – He is the one who came down from heaven.

the NAS translates this, if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord

I wonder if this might not even be a hint at Paul saying “Jesus is Yahweh”.  In the Old Testament the name of God is usually substituted with “Lord” by the translators.
Paul will make this connection between Jesus and Yahweh a little clearer in a few verses (vs. 13)

To the Jew – the issue is understanding that Jesus is God, He is LORD, He is Yahweh.

To the Gentile – Caesar is not “lord”, but Jesus is Lord.

raised Him from the dead – He is the one who came out of the “abyss”, He rose from the dead.

Paul is simply following the passage that he’s quoted in Deuteronomy.

:10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Again, Paul is using the same two ideas found in Deuteronomy 30 – believing and saying – the heart and the mouth.

When you put your faith in Christ, God gives you righteousness.

(2 Cor 5:21 NKJV)  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Your outward confession is important as well – it’s a part of the salvation process.  There are no “Secret Service” Christians.

(Mat 10:32-33 NKJV)  "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. {33} "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

:11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."

Paul is now going to bolster his argument by quoting from:

(Isa 28:16 NKJV)  Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.

It doesn’t look like Paul quoted it correctly, but he actually did.  He was quoting the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint (LXX), which uses the same language:

LXX: 16  kai o pisteuwn ep autw ou mh kataiscunyh

put to shamekataischuno – to dishonor, disgrace; to put to shame

If you put your trust in Jesus, you may be ashamed in front of some of your friends.

You will not be ashamed in the end.

But you will never be ashamed before God.

Why does Paul quote from here?  Because it deals with the issue of “faith”, of “believing”. (righteousness requires “faith”)

:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.

distinctiondiastole – a distinction, difference

is richplouteo – to be rich, to have abundance; metaph. to be richly supplied; is affluent in resources so that he can give blessings of salvation to all

God doesn’t make a distinction between Jew or Gentile, He will save anyone who calls on Him.

The Psalmist writes:

(Psa 86:5 NKJV)  For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.
(Psa 145:18 NKJV)  The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.

Paul then quotes something to prove this point…

:13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

Paul is quoting

(Joel 2:32 NKJV)  And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved….

Why does Paul quote this?

This is the verbal part, the part of the “mouth”, the “confession”.


Call on the name of Yahweh – this is the way that Joel wrote it.  Yet Paul has made it clear that salvation comes from Jesus.

Jesus is the LORD (Yahweh) of heaven who came down to earth.



Paul says it comes by faith, not by the Law.
It comes by believing and confessing.
There’s an inward part to salvation – your heart needs to be involved.
There’s an outward part to salvation – your mouth needs to be involved.


The success of Google Inc. is such that it is now part of the American cultural vocabulary and consciousness. The Google search engine has tamed the vast resources of the Internet allowing users to access pertinent information with lightning speed.

That success, and the company's generosity to its staff (read, stock options), draws hordes of eager prospective employees. Although Google has grown from 700 employees in 2002, to 2,700 in 2004, the company remains highly selective. One way Google weeds out the best from the rest is by publishing a 21-question aptitude test in a number of magazines. The questions alone are enough to confuse those who are not technologically and intellectually elite. For example:

"How many different ways can you color an icosahedron with one of three colors on each face?" and "On an infinite, two-dimensional rectangular lattice of 1-ohm resistors, what is the resistance between two nodes that are a knight's move away?"

The test also includes more subjective, tongue-in-cheek requests like "Write a haiku describing possible methods for predicting search traffic seasonality" and "What is the most beautiful math equation ever derived?"

Another method used by Google and other high-tech companies like Yahoo and Microsoft, is to hold competitions for computer programmers, hoping to identify the most talented computer engineers. The test consists of complex coding problems. Cash prizes are awarded to the top contestants, and new job offers quickly follow.

In the summer of 2004, Google tried a different approach, placing billboard ads that simply read:

"{first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits of e}.com."

Anyone able to solve that puzzle was taken to another website and confronted with another thorny math problem. Those smart enough to decipher that were taken to an internal Google page that praised "your big, magnificent brain" and invited you to apply for a job.

John Beukema, Western Springs, Illinois; source: Michael Liedtke, Google Working to Recruit Brainy Elite (10-26-04)

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t have questions like that to enter the Kingdom of heaven?


In the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, as King Arthur and his knights seek the Holy Grail, they come to a bridge that spans an abyss of eternal peril. A bridge keeper allows people to cross this bridge only if they can answer three questions. Get one wrong, and you're tossed into the pit.

Lancelot is the first tested. The keeper asks him, "What is your name?" Lancelot answers.

"What is your quest?"

Lancelot answers, "To seek the Holy Grail."

"What is your favorite color?"


"Right," says the bridge keeper, "off you go." Lancelot crosses the bridge, amazed this was so easy.

The second knight similarly states his name and quest. But the third question is now, "What is the capital of Assyria?"

"I don't know that."

The knight is hurled, screaming, into the abyss.

The third knight, Sir Galahad, is nervous as he's asked his name and quest, but he answers correctly.

"What is your favorite color?"

Sir Galahad panics. "Blue…no, yellow--Aaaaahhhh," he screams as he is hurled into the pit.

Finally, the king steps up. "What is your name?"

"Arthur, King of the Britains."

"What is your quest?"

"To seek the Holy Grail."

"What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?"

"What do you mean," asks Arthur, "an African or European swallow?"

"What? I don't know that," answers the bridge keeper, who immediately is launched into the abyss. Arthur and his followers thereafter cross the bridge unhindered.

John Ortberg, "True (and False) Transformation," Leadership (Summer 2002), pp.101-102

It’s really not that difficult to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

You must believe in Jesus, that He is the Lord of heaven.

You must confess that He has risen from the dead.