Romans 10:14-21

Thursday Evening Bible Study

February 28, 2008


Last week we studied how Paul was comparing the righteousness of the law with the righteousness of faith.

Being right with God can only be done through faith, not by doing the law. We can never meet the standards that are necessary to be righteous through the Law.

The righteousness of faith was summed up with Paul’s quote from the book of Joel:

(Rom 10:13 NKJV) For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
We mentioned last week that it was the name of “Yahweh” that Joel is talking about calling upon.
Paul has been equating this with believing in Jesus.

The Bible gives us several hints that Jesus is Yahweh.

Isaiah gets a glimpse at the glory of Yahweh:
(Isa 6:1-3 NKJV)  In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. {2} Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. {3} And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!"
Yet John tells us that what Isaiah saw was the glory of Jesus:
(John 12:41 NKJV)  These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

While Joel (Joel 2:32) writes that we must call on the name of “Yahweh” to be saved, Peter, who quoted from the passages in Joel on the day of Pentecost spoke of the name of Jesus and said,

(Acts 4:12 NKJV)  "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Jesus is Yahweh.

We must call on the name of Jesus if we want to 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?

call onepikaleomai – to put a name upon; to invoke; to call upon by pronouncing the name of Jehovah

This word comes directly from the previous verse, "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

Paul is going to take this idea of “calling on the name of the Lord” and develop this idea.

believedpisteuo – to think to be true, to be persuaded of, place confidence in

heardakouo – to hear

a preacherkerusso – to be a herald; proclaim openly

Pay attention to these words – you’ll see them woven into the rest of the passage.

The idea is this, you CANNOT call on Him if you don’t believe in Him.  You CANNOT believe in Him if you haven’t heard of Him.  You CANNOT hear of Him unless someone preaches with you.


They won’t be saved unless you tell them.

These verses are at the very heart of why we send out missionaries around the world.  It’s at the very heart of why we must tell others about Jesus.
A woman named Rose Crawford had been blind for 50 years.  “I just can’t believe it!”  she gasped as the doctor lifted the bandages from her eyes after her recovery from delicate surgery in an Ontario hospital.  She wept for joy when for the first time in her life a dazzling and beautiful world of form and color greeted eyes that now were able to see.  The amazing thing about the story, however, is that 20 years of her blindness had been unnecessary.  She didn’t know that surgical techniques had been developed, and that an operation could have restored her vision at the age of 30.  The doctor said, “She just figured there was nothing that could be done about her condition. Much of her life could have been different.”
There are people all around us that need to hear about Jesus.

Guilt.  Loneliness.  No purpose in life.  Hopelessness and despair.  Fear of death.

These are some of the many things that all those without Jesus have in common.  We have the answer.


Make the message clear.

We are to proclaim the message with clarity.  Can you imagine a king sending a messenger to tell his subjects an important message when the messenger isn’t really sure what he’s supposed to be saying?
We watched the movie “The Great Debaters” the other night – a great movie with Denzel Washington about a group of students at a negro college back in 1935 who are taught how to debate.  At the beginning of the movie their teacher is having them recite the same thing over and over again, with a cork in their mouth – teaching them to speak up and speak clearly.
We have a responsibility to share the message clearly.  It’s hard to respond when the message isn’t clear.
One of the problems that Christians have is the danger of forgetting to think like an unbeliever.  We get all “sanctified” and used fancy words that don’t mean a thing to a non-Christian.
One of the things I love about Greg Laurie is his ability to communicate the gospel in a way that can be understood.

What is the message?

But be sure you don’t make it harder than it is. 
1.     We have a problem – our sin separates us from God.
2.     God has a solution – He sent Jesus to die on a cross, to pay the penalty for our sins.
3.     We must respond – we need to turn from our sins and receive God’s free gift.  We need to believe and “call on the name of the Lord”.

:15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent?

sentapostello (“apostle”) – to order (one) to go to a place appointed

There’s a logical progression backward going on.

To call on the Lord, you have to believe in Him.

To believe in the Lord, you have to hear about Him.

To hear about the Lord, you need someone to tell you.

For someone to tell you about the Lord, they need to be sent.



Jesus sent His disciples:
(Mat 28:19-20 NKJV) "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

This is called the “Great Commission”.  It is not the “Great Suggestion”.  I’ve seen a Christian T-shirt that says, “What part of “GO” don’t you understand?”

We call the disciples “apostles”, or “sent ones”.

They were not to be the only ones to “go”.

Going should be the natural result of true worship.
When Isaiah had his vision of the Lord sitting on His throne, the scene ends with:

(Isa 6:8 NKJV)  Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

We might get the idea that the natural outcome of worship should be a tingling feeling that goes up and down our spine.  For some of us, we have the idea that coming to church is all about coming to “feel better”.  When Isaiah was experiencing true worship, the outcome was, “Here am I, send me”.

If we are “doing church” right, then you ought to be uncomfortable just sitting in church.
You ought to be thinking, “Hey, I’ve got places to go, people to see, things to do”.

:15 As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!"

Paul quotes from Isaiah:

(Isa 52:7 NKJV) How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

mountains – to get the good news to Jerusalem, you have to go up into the hills, the mountains. Jerusalem sits on top of the Judean mountains, at 2500 ft. above sea level.
glad tidings … salvation – it’s possible that Isaiah’s original prophecy was dealing with salvation from an enemy like the Babylonians. But I think we’ll see that it has to do with eternal salvation, being saved from our sins.

beautifulhoraios – blooming, beautiful (used of the human body); from wra, hour, period, means properly timely. From that comes the idea of being beautiful, since nearly everything is beautiful in its hour of fullest perfection.

Perhaps it would be better to translate this “timely” or maybe “appropriate” or “what good timing”…

who preach the gospeleuaggelizo (“good” + “message”) to bring good news, to announce glad tidings.

A “messenger” is an aggelos, the word for “angel”, this is a messenger with good news.

who bring glad tidingseuaggelizo (same word) to bring good news

The passage in Isaiah says these “glad tidings” is to “proclaim salvation”.


Good timing.

A wise old farmer once said:
Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
There is a sense in which it is always the right time to be telling people about Jesus.  The Bible says:
(2 Cor 6:2 NKJV)  …Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
But there is also a sense in which having just the right timing is everything.
Look at Philip with the Ethiopian Eunuch:

(Acts 8:26-35 NKJV)  Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, "Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is desert. {27} So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, {28} was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. {29} Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot." {30} So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" {31} And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. {32} The place in the Scripture which he read was this: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. {33} In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth." {34} So the eunuch answered Philip and said, "I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?" {35} Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.

How could Philip have timed his arrival any better?  In fact, how did he time it so well in the first place?  Because he was being obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Pay attention to the Lord.  Pay attention to the opportunities in front of you.

Sometimes the opportunities are ones the Lord brings to you.  Sometimes the opportunities are ones you are sent to.

Get beautiful feet.

:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?"

Paul quotes from Isaiah, just a few verses after where he quoted in Isaiah 52:

(Isa 53:1-6 NKJV) Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? {2} For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. {3} He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. {4} Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. {5} But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. {6} All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

God has been talking about salvation from sins all along, just as Paul has been teaching.

obeyedhupakouo – to listen, to harken; to obey, be obedient to, submit to

This is a word related to the word “to hear” (akouo) used in verse 14 (unless they “hear”). This is hearing and then doing, obeying.

I wonder if it could almost be valid to say, “all have not heard”.  But the idea of “heard” is that of hearing in order to obey.

the gospeleuaggelion – good tidings; the gospel; the noun form of “preach the gospel” (vs. 15).

believed – the essential ingredient to being saved.

reportakoe – the sense of hearing; this is the thing “heard”


Not all are going to respond.

Don’t get discouraged.
Don’t twist arms.
Your responsibility is simply to share the message.  What they do with the message and whether or not they respond by believing is both the work of the Holy Spirit drawing them to Jesus, as well as their own individual free will in choosing whether or not they respond.

:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

faithpistis – conviction of the truth of anything

hearingakoe – the sense of hearing

wordrhema – that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken

There are two main words that are translated “word” in the New Testament, this is the one used less frequently (70 times). The one you hear about most is logos (330 times)

wordlogos – of speech; a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea; its use as respect to the MIND alone; reason, the mental faculty of thinking, meditating, reasoning, calculating; In John, denotes the essential Word of God, Jesus Christ, the personal wisdom and power in union with God.

rhema is the word that Paul has just used back in verse 8, as the “word of faith”, the message that he has been preaching, the message of salvation through faith in Christ.

(Rom 10:8 NKJV) 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):

The idea is that it all starts with God’s “word”. When God’s “word” is given, it is to be “heard”. Hearing God’s word is what produces “faith”.

We often use this verse as a way of growing our faith – the idea is that if we get into God’s Word more, we will be building our faith.
I think there is much truth to this concept.
But the context is “faith” as it relates to salvation.
The concept in this verse is that for a person to have saving faith, they need to hear God’s word.


Share God’s Word.

Sometimes we almost get ashamed of our Bible, as if it’s “antiquated” or something that’s only for “weak people”.  We’re afraid that someone will say, “Well, I don’t believe in the Bible”.  We get the idea on our heads that if they don’t believe the Bible, then they aren’t going to listen to anything we have to say.
Whether they believe in the Bible or not, the Bible is God’s Word.
And God’s Word is effective.
(Isa 55:10-11 NKJV)  "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, {11} So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

It will do a work in the person’s heart.  For some it will soften their heart.  For others, it will harden their hearts.

God’s Word is an effective tool.
(Heb 4:12 NKJV)  For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Suppose a bank robber comes into a local bank, pulls out a gun, points it at a teller’s head, and tells him to fill up his bag with money.  Let’s say that the teller is a wise guy, and responds to the robber, “I don’t believe in guns”. If the robber pulls the trigger, will the bullet have any effect on the teller, even if the teller says he doesn’t believe in it?

God’s Word is powerful.  Don’t be afraid to use it.

Follow the example of one of the greatest evangelists in the history of the world, Billy Graham.  He’s famous for saying over and over again in his messages, “The Bible says …”

:18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: "Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world."

Paul is quoting from Psalm 19

they – who is Paul talking about?

Perhaps he’s talking about everyone in the world.

soundphthoggos – musical sound, whether vocal or instrumental

Even though our English Bible has the word “line” in Psalm 19:4, Paul is quoting accurately from the Septuagint.

wordsrhema – that which is or has been uttered by the living voice; same word used in vs. 17.

Paul is quoting from:

(Psa 19:1-4 NKJV) The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. {2} Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. {3} There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. {4} Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,

There is a sense in which all of mankind has had a witness of who God is through the work of creation.

Some might say that since some people haven’t heard the gospel, that they are off the hook with God. Paul has made the point several times (Rom. 1 also) that creation is an adequate witness to man about God. Man has no excuse in not seeking the Creator, the one who has made everything around us.

But the problem is that creation’s witness is a faulty one.  It was marred by sin in the Garden of Eden.  It’s been twisted by the curse that came as a result of man’s sin.  It’s only when we hear from God’s Word that we understand the witness clearly.

(Psa 19:7 NKJV)  The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;

:19 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: "I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation."

Paul is quoting from Deut. 32:20-21.

(Deu 32:20-21 NKJV) And He said: 'I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be, For they are a perverse generation, Children in whom is no faith. {21} They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation.

While wandering in the wilderness, the nation of Israel kept backsliding and worshipping various other gods.  They made God jealous.  So God would in turn make them jealous by reaching out to nations that would be considered “foolish” to the Jews.  Namely, us.
For the Jewish mind, this was totally unheard of, that God would have actually had a plan in mind from the beginning to save people who weren’t Jews.

foolishasunetos – unintelligent, without understanding, stupid

Speaking of foolish people –


A sailor meets a pirate at Starbucks, and talk turns to their adventures on the sea.  The seaman notes that the pirate has a peg-leg, a hook, and an eye patch. The seaman asks “So, how did you end up with the peg-leg?” The pirate replies “We were in a storm at sea, and I was swept overboard into a school of sharks.  Just as me men were pulling me out, a shark bit me leg off” “Wow!” said the seaman. “What about your hook”? “Well...” replied the pirate, “We were boarding an enemy ship and were battling the other sailors with swords.  One of the enemies cut me hand off.” “Incredible!” remarked the seaman. “How did you get the eyepatch”? “A seagull dropping fell into me eye”, replied the pirate. “You lost your eye to a seagull dropping?” the sailor asked incredulously. “Well...” said the pirate, “ was me first day with the hook.”

provoke you to jealousyparazeloo (“alongside” + “jealousy”) – to provoke to jealously or rivalry


Deb and I had been dating off and on for a year.  I broke up with her for a second time at the end of May, 1977 because I was just too busy for a girlfriend between school and my ministry as a youth pastor.  But a week after we broke up, she went out with three different guys in a single weekend.  I was very confused.  I found myself very jealous.  I asked her to marry me two weeks later.  A warning to all you gals, this is only something that’s to be done by trained professionals.  Don’t attempt this at home.
God would use His reaching out to us foolish Gentiles to make His chosen people, Israel, jealous.

Paul will develop this concept in the next chapter

(Rom 11:11 NKJV) I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.


Make ‘em jealous

Let people know what God has been doing in your life.
God will use His love for you to work in the lives of others.
They will want what you have, a God who loves you.

move you to angerparorgizo – to rouse to wrath, to provoke, exasperate, anger

:20 But Isaiah is very bold and says: "I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me."

is very boldapotolmao – to assume boldness, make bold

made manifestemphanes (“into” + “to shine”) – manifest; fig. of God giving proofs of his saving grace and thus manifesting himself

:21 But to Israel he says: "All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people."

Paul is quoting from Isaiah 65:1-2

(Isa 65:1-5 NKJV)  "I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, 'Here I am, here I am,' To a nation that was not called by My name. {2} I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts; {3} A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face; Who sacrifice in gardens, And burn incense on altars of brick; {4} Who sit among the graves, And spend the night in the tombs; Who eat swine's flesh, And the broth of abominable things is in their vessels; {5} Who say, 'Keep to yourself, Do not come near me, For I am holier than you!' These are smoke in My nostrils, A fire that burns all the day.

allholos – all, whole, completely

stretched outekpetannumi (“out of” + “to fly”) – to spread out, stretch forth

disobedientapeitheo (“not” + “persuade”) – not to allow one’s self to be persuaded; to refuse belief and obedience

contraryantilego (“against” + “to speak) – to speak against, contradict; declare one’s self against him, refuse to have anything to do with him

Descriptive of people who are always arguing against you; always contradicting what you say.

Have you ever met people like that?


The pastor of a church decides that God is calling the church to a new vision of what it is to be and do. So at the elders meeting, he presents the new vision with as much energy, conviction and passion as he can muster. When he had finished and sat down, the senior elder called for a vote. All 12 elders voted against the new vision, with only the clergyman voting for it. “Well, pastor, it looks like you will have to think again,” says the senior elder. “Would you like to close the meeting in prayer?” So the pastor stands up, raises his hand to heaven, and prays, “LOOOOOOORD!...will you not show these people that this is not MY vision but it is YOUR vision!” At that moment, the clouds darken, the thunder rolls, and a streak of lightning bursts through the window and strikes in two the table at which they are sitting, throwing the pastor and all the elders to the ground. After a moment’s silence, as they all get up and dust themselves off, the senior elder speaks again. “Well, that’s twelve votes to two then.”


God’s patience

We might look at this and think that God has no room for stubborn people.
We might tend to look at this and think that God is done with the nation of Israel.
Think again.
This doesn’t excuse stubbornness, but you need to keep in mind where Paul goes from here.
(Rom 11:1 NKJV)  I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
My point is not to test God’s patience by being stubborn.
My point is that if you are stubborn but still alive, God has not given up on you.