Paul's Epistle to the Romans

 (35) Present Standing of Israel
Romans 10:5-12


5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the Law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”
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)
7 or, “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up 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):
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.
10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.


Introduction

It is so simple: Faith plus nothing equals righteousness. While the person seeking salvation through the Law would always be trying to keep the Law (10:5), the salvation which Christ offers is not in some unattainable place; it is as near as our hearts and mouths (10:6-12). Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved (10:13). Paul had shown earlier that everyone is lost (1:18-3:20).  Now he repeats the good news of 3:21-31: Everyone can be saved! The “anyone” of 10:13, echoes the “everyone” of John 3:16.

5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the Law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”

This is a quotation from [1]Leviticus 18:5 (see below). Literally, its meaning is “the man that hath done these things,” talking about everything a man has done in the past. For a person to become righteous by keeping the Law they must keep the whole Law for their entire life, since the failure to keep even one of God’s commands causes the person to fall below God’s standard, and to be condemned to death. Granted that you could attain righteousness by keeping the Law, but it would be your own righteousness, not God’s righteousness. It would never measure up to His (see [2]James 2:10). A Jew who is able to perfectly meet all the requirements of God would still not be saved. No one, except Christ, has ever been able to keep all the commands of God.

When Moses writes that the Jew who keeps the statutes and judgments of God shall live by them, he does not mean that a person will be given eternal life because of his obedience, or his works. Eternal life is a gift in both the Old and New Testaments, and is never earned. Both Moses and Paul clearly understood and taught that obedience to the Law would never give a person a standing of righteousness before a holy God. But Christ by his life and death revealed the perfect righteousness of God, which was bestowed by the Father on the basis of faith in the Son. This was the goal to which the Law pointed.

The Law was given to people who were already sinners and who were already condemned to death. Even if they could keep the Law perfectly from that day forward, they still would be lost because God requires payment for those sins, which are past. Any hopes that men may have for obtaining righteousness by the Law are doomed to failure from the outset.

____________________________________verse 5 notes__________________________________________

[1]Leviticus 18:5  You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord. The solemnity of this verse cannot be overemphasized. These are God’s Laws and they must be obeyed.

[2]James 2:10   Whoever breaks one commandment is guilty of breaking them all. The result of breaking even one commandment is that a person is as guilty as if he broke them all. Guilty of breaking them all, contradicts salvation by works. Since all men are “guilty before God” (Rom 3:19), salvation necessarily is by grace through faith (Eph 3:8–9).

 

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)

In reference to Moses’ teaching concerning the righteousness, which comes from faith, the apostle quotes [3]Deuteronomy 30:12, 14 (see below). The quotation is used to show that the book of the Law (Deuteronomy) taught the very same principles of the Gospel concerning justification by faith. The Law, taught men what to do and how to live. But the righteousness which is by faith teaches men to believe and live. The Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament) clearly shows that the Law is to be written upon the hearts of men. It was not to be an external means of external justification. Unfortunately, the Jews mistakenly perverted the Law and were attempting to keep the Law outwardly without the right inward heart attitude.

When Moses refers to the Law, he is referring to the Word of God, not the Ten Commandments only. Moses argued that the Jews had no reason to disobey the Word of God because it had been clearly explained to them and was not far from them. In fact, Moses urged them to receive the Word in their hearts (see [4]Deut. 5:29). The emphasis in Deuteronomy is on the heart, the inner spiritual condition, and not mere outward acts of obedience.

Throughout this passage, Paul is interested in establishing the accessibility of the message of God’s righteousness. To that end, he counseled the Jew, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above).

This appears to be a taunt. The Jew feels the righteousness of God is inaccessible because no one can ascend into heaven to inquire about it. Paul teaches, however, that we do not have to ascend into heaven for God came and tabernacled among us in the person of Jesus Christ, to show us the righteousness of God.

The interesting thing is that, in their setting in Deuteronomy, these verses are not referring to faith and the Gospel at all. They are speaking about the Law and specifically the commandment to “turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 30:10b). God is saying that the Law is not hidden, distant, or inaccessible. A man does not have to go up to heaven or cross the sea to find it. It is near at hand and waiting to be obeyed.

But the Apostle Paul takes these words and reapplies them to the Gospel. He says that the language of faith does not ask a man to climb to heaven to bring Christ down. For one thing, that would be utterly impossible; but it would also be unnecessary, because Christ has already come down to earth in His Incarnation!

__________________________________verse 6 notes_________________________________________

[3]Deuteronomy 30:12, 14  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?’ …But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. Moses reminded the people that the covenant was not too hard for them to understand, nor was it far off (inaccessible). They were not required to do the impossible to find it. The Lord had brought it to them, and their responsibility was to obey it. The covenant was not easy to keep, but God had made provision in case of failure. The people were then required to repent and to bring the appointed sacrifices. Since the sacrifices were types of Christ, the lesson is that those who sin should repent and put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

[4]Deuteronomy 5:29   Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever! God knew that they did not have a heart to keep His commandments. He wished that they did, so that He could bless them abundantly.

7 or, “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

When the apostle quotes [5]Deuteronomy 30:13 (see below), he changes it from “Who will go over the sea” to Who will descend into the abyss. His point is that the Gospel does not ask men to descend into the grave to bring Christ up from among the dead. This would be impossible, but it would also be unnecessary, because Christ has already risen from the dead. Notice that in 10:6 and7 we have the two doctrines concerning Christ, which were hard for a Jew to accept—His Incarnation and His Resurrection. Yet he must accept these if he is to be saved. We will see these 2 doctrines again in 10:9 and 10.

In the Old Testament, the term abyss was sometimes applied to the sea as being fathomless. It is often set in contrast to heaven. It stood frequently for the region in which there are fallen spirits and lost souls. In the present passage it stands, as in the Old Testament, for Sheol, or the region of the dead, into which Christ went at His death. To think of a repetition of the death and resurrection of Christ would be to impute incompleteness to that which was accomplished once for all and stands eternally in its absolute effectiveness.

Once again, this verse sounds like a taunt of unbelief. It smacks of a denial of the resurrection of Christ. We do not need to descend into the abyss to learn of God’s righteousness for Christ is alive and is living proof of that righteousness.

_________________________________verse 7 notes_________________________________________

[5]Deuteronomy 30:13    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?’Moses reminded the people that the covenant was not too hard for them to understand (mysterious), nor was it far off (inaccessible). They were not required to do the impossible to find it. The Lord had brought it to them, and their responsibility was to obey it. The covenant was not easy to keep, but God had made provision in case of failure. The people were then required to repent and to bring the appointed sacrifices. Since the sacrifices were types of Christ, the lesson is that those who sin should repent and put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

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):

If the Gospel doesn’t tell men to do the humanly impossible, or to do what has already been done by the Lord, what then does it say?

Again Paul adapts a verse from Deuteronomy 30 to say that the Gospel is near, accessible, intelligible, and easily obtained; it can be expressed in familiar conversation (in your mouth); and it can be readily understood in the mind (in your heart) (Deut. 30:14). It is the good news of salvation by faith, which Paul and the other apostles preached. Therefore, the journey of verse 6 and 7 is unnecessary because God has clearly revealed the way of salvation: it is by faith. The message of faith (word of faith) is the way to God.

When he entered a town to preach, Paul immediately proceeded to the synagogue. Whether the Jews believed his message or not, when he left, they remained behind to discuss what Paul had taught. The very message of the Gospel of Christ had been in their mouths and in their hearts, but they did not believe. The truth of righteousness was as close to them as it could possibly be, but they failed in their responsibility to receive that truth.

Here, Paul means to  show that in the mind of the Spirit these words of Moses, though used by him when speaking about the Law, were intended to bear also an interpretation with reference to the Gospel, and that, in certain respects, what was true of the Law was applicable to the Gospel. The changes that are made from the literal meaning to the spiritual, and that the passage as it is used here applies to the Gospel, and points to the fact that Christ had accomplished His redemptive work on the Cross and had ascended to heaven. The Spirit of God prepared, through Moses, the way for the apostle to apply the words to the subject of justification.

While presenting a contrast between the righteousness, which is of the Law, and the righteousness, which is of faith, he shows that there is this point of similarity, in that both the Law and the Gospel were accessible. In fact, they were “in the heart and in the mouth.” He shows, too, that the essential difference between the Law and the Gospel lies in the facts of the advent, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, events which could never have been brought about by human effort. Man could neither bring Christ down from heaven nor raise Him from the dead. Works are ruled out. Man can do nothing. God has done it all. The facts must be accepted by faith.

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.

That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus.—Paul has just said that the Gospel has been in the mouths of the Jews. Now he builds on that thought. He explains that the confession “Jesus is Lord” (see Titles of Christ) refers to the lordship which Jesus exercises as the exalted Christ. Salvation must entail faith in One who is Lord. Confession of the lordship of Christ takes for granted the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Lord.

The divine title “Lord.” is what is being stressed. The confession that “Jesus is Lord” is the acknowledgment, as a testimony to others, of the supreme and absolute authority of Jesus Christ; that is, the One who, having been despised and rejected of men, was afterward glorified as the exalted One to whom all authority is given, who has been invested with all His mediatory privileges and power.

And believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.—The apostle goes on to say that in order to be saved one must believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead. Belief in the resurrection is necessary because new life to the believer is contingent upon a living Lord.

Having a token acceptance that Jesus is Lord, and believing the fact of His resurrection is not sufficient for salvation.

Here it is in a nutshell: First you must accept the truth of the Incarnation, that the Babe of Bethlehem’s manger is the Lord of life and glory, that the Jesus of the New Testament is the Lord (Jehovah) of the Old Testament; Second, you must accept the truth of His resurrection, with all that it involves. God has raised Him from the dead as proof that Christ had completed the work necessary for our salvation, and that God is satisfied with that work. Believing this with the heart means believing with one’s mental, emotional, and volitional (the will) powers—your total personality, your entire being. It amounts to a personal acceptance of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is saving faith.

The question often arises, “Can a person be saved by accepting Jesus as Savior without also acknowledging Him as Lord?” The Bible gives no encouragement to anyone who believes with mental reservations: “I’ll take Jesus as my Savior but I don’t want to crown Him Lord of all.” On the other hand, those who make submission to Jesus as Lord a condition of salvation face the problem, “To what degree must He be acknowledged as Lord?” Few Christians would claim to have made an absolute and complete surrender to Him in this way. When we present the Gospel, we must maintain that faith is the sole condition of justification. But we must also remind sinners and saints constantly that Jesus Christ is Lord (Jehovah-God), and should be acknowledged as such.

This exercise of faith is more than the acceptance of the historic fact of the resurrection of Christ. It is a matter of the heart, not simply of the mind. It therefore involves the appreciation of the promises of God as fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Christ and an appropriation of His person. The confession and faith are, then, the response to “the word of faith” (v. 8). Confession is put first for the following two reasons: first, because confession of the Christ as Lord is the evidence of faith; second, because this confession provides the distinctive difference between those who have been justified by faith and those who are seeking righteousness by their own works [6](see1 Cor. 12:3).

The closing message of Acts is that the Jews of Paul’s day, from Jerusalem to Rome, rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Individual Jews believed, of course, but the torch of the Gospel was passed from the Jewish nation to the Gentiles. Not only has Christianity spread from Jerusalem to Rome, it has also made the transition from an exclusively Jewish religion to a hope for all nations [7](see Acts 28:28).

____________________________________verse 9 notes______________________________________

[6]1 Corinthians 12:3  Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.  Now that they are saved, the believers must know how to judge all spirit-manifestations, that is, how to discern between the voice of evil spirits and the authentic voice of the Holy Spirit. The crucial test is the testimony that is given concerning the Lord Jesus. If a man says, “Jesus is accursed,” you can be sure that he is demon-inspired, because evil spirits characteristically blaspheme and curse the name of Jesus. The Spirit of God would never lead anyone to speak of the Savior in this way; His ministry is to exalt the Lord Jesus. He leads people to say that Jesus is Lord, not just with their lips, but with the warm, full confession of their hearts and lives.

[7]Acts 28:28    “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent wto the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”  In view of the rejection of the Gospel by the Jews, Paul announced that he was taking the Gospel to the Gentiles, and he expressed the assurance that they would hear it.


Titles of Christ— Names given to Christ in the Bible.

Titles of Christ
Alpha and Omega (Rev. 22:13)
Bread of Life (John 6:35)
Bridegroom (Mark 2:19)
Good Shepherd (John 10:11)
Head of the Body (Col. 1:18)
High Priest (Heb. 5:10)
Just One (Acts 3:14)
Lamb of God (John 1:29)
Light of the World (John 8:12)
Logos (John 1:1)
Lord (Rom 10:9)
Master (Luke 8:24)
Prophet (Matt. 21:46)
Redeemer (Luke 24:21)
Savior (Titus 3:7)
Servant (Luke 22:26)
Son of God (Matt 14:33)
Son of Man (Matt 8:20)
The Firstborn (Col 1:15)
The Resurrection (John 21:23)
The Vine (John 15:1)
The Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)

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

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness—it is not a mere intellectual acknowledgment but a genuine acceptance with one’s whole inward being. When a person does that, he is instantly justified (saved). Belief in the saving power of the risen Christ must come from the innermost part of man’s being. This is described as man’s heart [8](see The Way of Salvation).

and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation—that is, the believer publicly confesses the salvation he has already received. Confession is not a condition of salvation but the inevitable outward expression of what has happened: “If on Jesus Christ you trust, speak for Him you surely must.” When a person really believes something, he wants to share it with others. Therefore, when a person is genuinely born again, it is too good to keep secret. He confesses Christ. Confession with the mouth is evidence of genuine faith in the heart. Frequently both our Lord and the Apostle Paul indicate the coordination of faith and a confession (see [9]Lk 12:8 and [10]I Tim 6:12). Confession with the mouth does not bring about genuineness of belief in the heart, but it gives evidence of it.

The Scriptures assume that when a person is saved he will make a public confession of that salvation. The two go together. It has been said, “If there be no confession of Christ the Lord with the mouth, we cannot speak of salvation; as our Lord said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”  Also, “A heart believing unto righteousness, and a mouth making confession unto salvation, are not really two things, but two sides of the same thing.”

The question arises why confession comes first in 10:9, then belief, whereas in 10:10 belief comes first, then confession. The answer is not hard to find. In verse 9 the emphasis is on the Incarnation and the resurrection, and these doctrines are mentioned in their chronological order. The Incarnation comes first—Jesus is Lord. Then the resurrection—God raised Him from the dead. In verse 10, the emphasis is on the order of events in the salvation of a sinner. First, he believes, and then he makes a public confession of his salvation.

There was a transition period in early days of the Christian church when men were secrete disciples to avoid persecution and death; but today there is no such thing as a secrets disciple—a born again person who refuses to confess Christ. I do not mean that all Christians preach, or pray in public or even testify in the church service; but all true believers “confess with the mouth” that Jesus is Savior of their soul! Jesus clearly taught, “If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you.” He said, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven (Matt. 10:32-33).

______________________________________verse 10 notes__________________________________________

[8]The Way of Salvation Romans 10:9-10, has long served as one of the most helpful portions of Scripture for pointing out the way of Salvation: confession that Jesus is Lord, and belief in ones heart that God has raised Him from death. The belief is not merely verbal agreement but staking ones entire being on this truth.

[9]Luke 12:8    Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.

[10]1 Timothy 6:12    Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.Timothy was already saved and possessed eternal life. He had already professed a good profession before many witnesses, as every believer should.

 

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

The aim here seems to be to deny any supposition that there is one way of salvation for the Jews and another way for the Gentiles. There is only one way—we believe in the heart, receive God’s righteousness, and then confess Christ openly and without shame.

For the Scripture says,—It is Paul’s customary habit to always appeal to Scripture to validate his teaching.

“Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”— The apostle now quotes [11]Isaiah 28:16(see below)—he quoted this verse before in 9:33.  This quotation not only demonstrates that salvation by grace through faith alone has always been God’s salvation plan, but that no one—including Gentiles was ever to be excluded; therefore, Paul emphasizes that whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame. The key element in salvation is again seen to be faith. Salvation is not received by the sinner until there is a heartfelt belief in the Lord Jesus. But just as the Gospel is close to all, likewise it is offered to all, Gentiles as well as Jews. The word “Whoever” is used to indicate the universality and impartiality of God’s offer of salvation. Just as all who sin will be judged, so all who believe will be saved and richly blessed.

put to shame—Although it is true that a person who believes in the lord Jesus Christ for salvation will not be ashamed of Him, I believe the primary meaning is that one who believes will not be put to shame in the sense of disappointment. Paul is not afraid that the sinner who places his faith in Christ will be disappointed or defeated. By this, the apostle means that he will not be afraid that salvation by faith will not work. He believes in its power to save to the uttermost.

The thought of public confession of Christ might arouse fears of shame, but the opposite is true. Our confession of Him on earth leads to His confession of us in heaven. Ours is a hope that will never be disappointed.

___________________________________verse 11 notes________________________________________

[11]Isaiah 28:16   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.  God has established the Messiah as the only worthy object of trust, a sure foundation.

 

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

In Romans 3:23 we learned that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile as far as the need for salvation is concerned, for all are sinners [12](see Galatians 3:28-29). Now we learn that there is no distinction as far as the availability of salvation is concerned. The Lord is not an exclusive God, but is Lord over all humanity. He is rich in grace and mercy to all who call upon Him. To call on the Lord means to pray in faith for salvation.

All, if they are to be saved, must come the same way to Christ. The Lord Jesus said, “…no man cometh to the father, but by Me.” (John14:6). You cannot come to Him by the Old Testament rituals or by the Mosaic Law. Salvation is offered to all people on the same basis of mercy—by faith. Hear and believe the Gospel.

The purpose of the universal offer of salvation is to show the Jew that it is possible for the heathen Gentile to be saved. God’s prerequisite to salvation is faith, not racial distinction. Therefore the call to salvation is to whoever will believe, whether Jew or Gentile. The reason is that there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. The Lord God is rich in His attitude toward all sinners and ready to receive anyone who calls on Him for salvation.

____________________________________verse 12 notes________________________________________

[12]Galatians 3:28-29    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  The Law made distinctions between these classes. For instance, the distinction between Jew and Gentile is insisted on in Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:1, 2. In his morning prayer, a Jewish man thanked God that He had not made him a Gentile, a slave, or a woman. In Christ Jesus, these differences disappear, that is, as far as acceptance with God is concerned. A Jew is not preferred over a Gentile, a free man is not more favored than a slave is, nor is a man more privileged than a woman is. All are on the same level because they are in Christ Jesus. The Galatians were deluded into thinking that they could become Abraham’s seed by keeping the Law. Paul shows otherwise. Christ is the seed of Abraham; the inheritance promised to Abraham was fulfilled in Christ. When sinners believe on Him, they become one with Him. Thus, they become Abraham’s seed and, in Christ, they inherit all of God’s blessings.


Summary

This entire section emphasizes the difference between the “Law of Righteousness” and “Faith Righteousness.” The contrasts are seen in the following summary.

Law Righteousness

Only for the Jew

Based on works

Self-righteousness

Cannot save

Obey the Lord

Leads to pride

Faith Righteousness

For “whosoever”

Comes by faith alone

God’s righteousness

Brings salvation

Call on the lord

Glorifies God

 

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