Romans 10
ICC New Testament Commentary
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
10:1. There is no break in the argument between this chapter and vv. 30-33 of chap. 9; but before expanding this part of the subject, the Apostle pauses for a moment, impelled by his own strong feelings and the deep tragedy of his countryman’s rejection, to express his sorrow and affection.

Marcion admitted into his text ver. 2-4, which he was able to use as a proof text of his fundamental doctrine that the Jews had been ignorant of the ‘higher God.’ The whole or almost the whole passage which follows 10:5-11:32, he appears to have omitted, Zahn, p. 518. Tert. Adv. Marc. v. 13.

ἀδελφοί. The position increases the emphasis of a word always used by the Apostle when he wishes to be specially emphatic The thought of the Christian brotherhood intensifies the contrast with the Israelites who are excluded.

μέν: without a corresponding δέ. The logical antithesis is given in ver. 3.

εὐδοκία: ‘good will,’ ‘good pleasure,’ not ‘desire,’ which the word never means.

The word εὐδοκία means ‘good pleasure’ either (1) in relation to oneself when it comes to mean ‘contentment,’ Ecclus. 29:23 ἐπὶ μικρῷ καὶ μεγάλῳ εὐδοκίαν ἔχε: ib. 35(32):14 οἱ ὀρθρίζοντες εὐρήσουσι εὐδοκίαν: 2 Thessalonians 1:11 καὶ πληρώσῃ πᾶσαν εὐδοκίαν ἀγαθωσύνης καὶ ἔργον πίστεως ἐν δυνάμει: Ps. Sol. 16:12: or (2) in relation to others, ‘good will,’ ‘benevolence,’ Ecclus. 9:12 μὴ εὐδοκήσῃς ἐν εὐδοκίᾳ ἀσεβῶν: Php 1:15 τινὲς μὲν διὰ φθόνον καὶ ἔριν, τινὲς δὲ καὶ διʼ εὐδοκίαν τὸν Χριστὸν κηρύσσουσιν: (3) in this sense it came to be used almost technically of the good will of God to man, Ephesians 1:5 κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ: 1:9 κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν αὐτοῦ: Ps. Sol. 8:39.

The above interpretation of the word is different from that taken by Fritzsche (ad loc.), Lft. (ad Php 1:15), Grm. Thayer, Lex. (s. v.), Philippi and Tholuck (ad loc.). The word seems never to be used unqualified to mean ‘desire’; the instance quoted by Lft. does not support it.

ἡ δέησις: non orasset Paulus si absolute reprobati essent. Beng.

εἰς σωτηρίαν = ἵνα σωθῶσι; cf. ver. 4 εἰς δικαιοσύνην and 1:5 εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως.

The additions ἡ before πρὸς τὸν Θεόν and ἐστιν before εἰς σωτηρίαν in the TR. are grammatical explanations. The reading τοῦ Ἰσραήλ for αὐτῶν may have been merely an explanatory gloss, or may have arisen through the verse being the beginning of a lesson in church services.

2. μαρτυρῶ γάρ. This gives the reason for St. Paul’s grief. He had been a Jew περισσοτέρως ζηλωτὴς ὑπάρχων (Galatians 1:14; cf. Acts 22:3) and hence he knew only too well the extent both of their zeal and of their ignorance.

ζῆλον Θεοῦ. Obj. genitive: ‘zeal for God’ (not as in 2 Corinthians 11:2). An O. T. expression: Judith. 9:4 ἐζήλωσαν τὸν ζῆλόν σου: Psa_68 [69]; 118[119]:139 ὁ ζῆλος τοῦ οἴκου σου: 1 Macc. 2:58 ζῆλος νόμου. Jowett quotes Philo, Leg. ad Caium, § 16 (Mang. ii. 562) ‘Ready to endure death like immortality rather than suffer the neglect of the least of their national customs.’ St. Paul selects the very word which the Jew himself would have chosen to express just that zeal on which more than anything else he would have prided himself.

κατʼ ἐπίγνωσιν. The Jews were destitute, not of γνῶσις, but of the higher disciplined knowledge, of the true moral discernment by which they might learn the right way. ἐπίγνωσις (see Lft. on Colossians 1:9, to whose note there is nothing to add) means a higher and more perfect knowledge, and hence it is used especially and almost technically for knowledge of God, as being the highest and most perfect form: see on 1:28 and cf. 3:20.

3. ἀγνοοῦντες γάρ. This verse gives the reason for οὐ κατʼ ἐπίγνωσιν, and the antithesis to ἡ μὲν εὐδοκία. ἀγνοοῦντες means ‘not knowing,’ ‘being ignorant of,’ not ‘misunderstanding.’ St. Paul here states simply the fact of the ignorance of his fellow-countrymen; he does not yet consider how far this ignorance is culpable: that point he makes evident later (vv. 14 sq.).

τὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ δικαιοσύνην … τὴν ἰδίαν. St. Paul contrasts two methods of righteousness. On the one side there was the righteousness which came from God, and was to be sought in the manner He had prescribed, on the other was a righteousness which they hoped to win by their own methods, and by their own merit. Their zeal had been blind and misdirected. In their eagerness to pursue after the latter, they had remained ignorant of and had not submitted to the method (as will be shown, a much easier one) which God Himself had revealed.

ὑπετάγησαν. Middle, ‘submit themselves,’ cf. Jam 4:7; 1 Peter 2:13; 1 Peter 5:5; Winer, § xxxix, 2. p. 327 E.T.

The second δικαιοσύνην after ἰδίαν of the TR. is supported by א only among good authorities, and by Tisch. only among recent editors; it is omitted by A B D E P, Vulg. Boh. Arm., and many Fathers.

4. τέλος γὰρ νόμου κ.τ.λ. St. Paul has in the preceding verse been contrasting two methods of obtaining δικαιοσύνη; one, that ordained by God, as 9:32 shows, a method ἐκ πίστεως; the other that pursued by the Jews, a method διὰ νόμου. The latter has ceased to be possible, as St. Paul now proves by showing that, by the coming of Christ Law as a means of obtaining righteousness had been brought to an end. The γάρ therefore introduces the reason, not for the actual statement of ver. 3, that the Jews had not submitted to the Divine method, but for what was implied—that they were wrong in so doing.

τέλος: ‘end,’ ‘termination.’ Law as a method or principle of righteousness had been done away with in Christ. ‘Christ is the end of law as death is the end of life.’ Gif. Cf. Dem. C. Eubuliden, 1306, 25 καίτοι πᾶσίν ἐστιν ἀνθρώποις τέλος τοῦ βίου θάνατος (quoted by Fri. and by many writers after him).

The theological idea of this verse is much expanded in later Epistles, and is connected definitely with the death of Christ: Ephesians 2:15 ‘He abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances’; Colossians 2:14 ‘Having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and He hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.’ This last passage is paraphrased by Lft.: ‘Then and there [Christ] cancelled the bond which stood valid against us (for it bore our own signature), the bond which engaged us to fulfil all the law of ordinances, which was our stern pitiless tyrant. Ay, this very bond hath Christ put out of sight for ever, nailing it to His cross, and rending it with His body, and killing it in His death.’ And as he points out, a wider reference must be given to the expression; it cannot be confined to the Jews. The ordinances, although primarily referring to the Mosaic law, ‘will include all forms of positive decrees in which moral or social principles are embodied or religious duties defined; and the “bond” is the moral assent of the conscience which (as it were) signs and seals the obligation.’

‘Although the moral law is eternal, yet under the Gospel it loses its form of external law, and becomes an internal principle of life.’ Lid.

νόμου: ‘Law’ as a principle (so Weiss, Oltramare, Gif.), not the Law, the Mosaic Law (so the mass of commentators). It is not possible indeed to lay stress on the absence of the article here, because the article being dropped before τελος it is naturally also dropped before νόμου (see on 2:13), and although St. Paul might have written τὸ γὰρ τέλος τοῦ νόμου, yet this would not exactly have suited his purpose, for τέλος is the predicate of the sentence thrown forward for emphasis. But that the application of the term must be general is shown by the whole drift of the argument (see below), by the words παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι proving that the passage cannot be confined to the Jews, and consequently not to the Mosaic law, and by the correct reading in ver. 5 τὴν ἐκ νόμου (see critical note).

The interpretation of this verse has been much confused owing to incorrect translations of τέλος (fulfilment, aim), the confusion of νόμος and ὁ νόμος, and a misapprehension of the drift of the passage. That the version given above is correct is shown (1) by the meaning of τέλος. It is quite true that Christ is the τελείωσις of the Law, that in Him what was typical has its fulfilment; but τέλος never means τελείωσις (as it is taken here by Orig. Erasmus, &c.). Again, it is equally true that the Law is the παιδαγωγός that brings men to Christ, and that Christ can be described as the object or goal of the Law (as the passage is taken by Chrys., other fathers, and Va. amongst English commentators): but τέλος is only used once in this sense in St. Paul’s Epistles (1 Timothy 1:5), Χριστός would become the predicate, τέλος would then require the article, and νόμος would have to be interpreted of the Jewish Law. The normal meaning of the word, and the correct one here, is that of ‘termination’ (so Aug. De W. Mey. Fri. Weiss, Oltramare); (2) by the meaning of νόμος (see above). This is interpreted incorrectly of the Jewish Law only by almost all commentators (Orig. Chrys. and all the Fathers, Erasmus, Calv. De. W. Mey. Va.); (3) by the context. This verse is introduced to explain ver. 3, which asserts that of two methods of obtaining righteousness one is right, the other wrong. St. Paul here confirms this by showing that the one has come to an end so as to introduce the other. It is his object to mark the contrast between the two methods of righteousness and not their resemblance.

But the misinterpretation is not confined to this verse, it colours the interpretation of the whole passage. It is not St. Paul’s aim to show that the Jews ought to have realized their mistake because the O. T. dispensation pointed to Christ, but to contrast the two methods. It is only later (vv. 14 f.) that he shows that the Jews had had full opportunities and warnings.

εἰς δικαιοσύνην παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι: ‘so that δικαιοσύνη may come to everyone that believes,’ ‘so that everyone by believing may obtain δικαιοσύνη.’

Omni credenti, tractatur τὸ credenti v. 5:5 sq., τὸ omni v. 5:11 sq. παντι, omni ex iudaeis et gentibus. Beng.

5-10. St. Paul proceeds to describe the two modes of obtaining δικαιοσύνη in language drawn from the O. T., which had become proverbial.

5. Μωσῆς γὰρ γράφει κ.τ.λ. Taken from Leviticus 18:5, which is quoted also in Galatians 3:12. The original (ἃ ποιήσας ἄνθρωπος ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς) is slightly modified to suit the grammar of this passage, τὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ νόμου being made the object of ποιήσας. St. Paul quotes the words to mean that the condition of obtaining life by law is that of fulfilment, a condition which in contrast to the other method described immediately afterwards is hard, if not impossible. On this difficulty of obeying the law he has laid stress again and again in the first part of the Epistle, and it is this that he means by τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν in Ephesians 2:15 (quoted above).

ζήσεται: shall obtain life in its deepest sense both here and hereafter (see pp. 180, 196).

There are a number of small variations in the text of this verse. (1) ὅτι is placed before τὴν δικαιοσύνην by א* A D*, Vulg. Boh., Orig.-lat., after νόμου by אc B Dc E F G K L P &c., Syrr., Chrys. Thdrt. &c. (2) ἐκ νόμου is read by א B, ἐκ τοῦ νόμου by the mass of later authorities. (3) ὁ ποιήσας is read without any addition by א* A D E, Vulg., Orig.-lat., αὐτά is added by B F G K L P &c., Syrr., Chrys. Thdrt. &c., eam by d**e†. (4) ἄνθρωπος is om. by F G, Chrys. (5) ἐν αὐτῇ is read by א A B minusc. pauc., Vulg. Boh. Orig.-lat., ἐν αύτοῖς D E F G K L R &c. Syrr., Chrys. Thdrt. &c.

The original text was ὅτι τὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ νόμου ὁ ποιήσας ἄνθρωπος ζήσεται ἐν αὐτῇ. The alteration of αὐτά … αὐτοῖς came from a desire to make the passage correspond with the LXX, or Galatians 3:12 (hence the omission of ἄνθρωπος), and this necessitated a change in the position of ὅτι. τοῦ νόμου arose from an early misinterpretation. The mixed text of B γράφει τὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ νόμου ὅτι ὁ ποιήσας αὐτὰ ἄνθρωπος ζήσεται ἐν αὐτῇ and of D γράφει ὅτι τὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ τοῦ νομοῦ ὁ ποιήσας ἄνθρωπος ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς are curious, but help to support א A Vulg. Boh.

6-8. The language of St. Paul in these verses is based upon the LXX of Deuteronomy 30:11-14. Moses is enumerating the blessings of Israel if they keep his law: ‘if thou shalt obey the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law; if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul’; he then goes on (the RV. translation is here modified to suit the LXX): ‘11[For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not too hard for thee, nor is it far from thee. 12Not in heaven above] saying, Who shall go up for us into heaven [and receive it for us, and having heard of it we shall do it? 13Nor is it beyond the sea], saying, Who will go over to the further side of the sea for us, [and receive it for us, and make it heard by us, and we shall do it?] 14But the word is very nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, [and in thy hands, that thou mayest do it].’ The Apostle selects certain words out of this passage and uses them to describe the characteristics of the new righteousness by faith as he conceives it.

It is important to notice the very numerous variations between the quotation and the LXX. In the first place only a few phrases are selected: the portions not quoted are enclosed in brackets in the translation given above. Then in those sentences that are quoted there are very considerable changes: (1) for the λέγων of the LXX, which is an ungrammatical translation of the Hebrew, and is without construction, is substituted μὴ εἰπῇς ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου from Deuteronomy 8:17, Deuteronomy 9:4: (2) for τίς διαπεράσει ἡμῖν εἰς τὸ πέραν τῆς θαλάσσης is substituted τίς καταβήσεται εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον in order to make the passage better suit the purpose for which it is quoted: (3) in ver. 8 the words σφόδρα … ἐν ταῖς χερσί σου are omitted (this agrees with the Hebrew), as also ποιεῖν αὐτό.

6. ἡ δὲ ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοσύνη οὕτω λέγει. It is noticeable that St. Paul does not introduce these words on the authority of Scripture (as ver. 11), nor on the authority of Moses (as ver. 5), but merely as a declaration of righteousness in its own nature. On the personification compare that of Wisdom in Proverbs 1:20; Luke 11:49; of παράκλησις Hebrews 12:5.

τίς ἀναβήσεται εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν; In the original passage these words mean: The law which I command you is not far off, it is not in heaven, so that you will have to ask, Who will go up to bring it down for us? it is very near and not hard to attain. St. Paul uses the same words to express exactly the same idea, but with a completely different application. ‘The Gospel as opposed to the Law is not difficult or hard to attain to.’

τοῦτʼ ἔστι, Χριστὸν καταγαγεῖν: ‘that is to say, to bring Christ down.’ Just as Moses had said that there was no need for anyone to go up into heaven to bring down the law, so it is true—far more true indeed—to say that there is no need to go into heaven to bring down the object of faith and source of righteousness—Christ. Christ has become man and dwelt among us. Faith is not a difficult matter since Christ has come.

The interpretations suggested of this and the following verses have been very numerous. τοῦτʼ ἔστιν occurs three times in this passage, and we must give it the same force in each place. In the third instance (ver. 8) it is used to give a meaning or explanation to the word τὸ ῥῆμα, which occurs in the quotation; it introduces in fact what would be technically known as a ‘Midrash’ on the text quoted (so Mey. Lid. Lips. and apparently Va. Gif.). That is the meaning with which the phrase has been used in 9:8, and is also the meaning which it must have here. The infinitive cannot be dependent on τοῦτʼ ἔστι (for in all the passages where the phrase is used the words that follow it are in the same construction as the words that precede), but is dependent on ἀναβήσεται which it explains: so Xen. Mem. I. v. 2 (Goodwin, Greek Moods and Tenses, § 97) εἰ βουλοίμεθα τῷ ἐπιτρέψαι ἢ παῖδας παιδεῦσαι, ἢ χρήματα διασῶσαι. In this and similar cases it is not necessary to emphasize strongly the idea of purpose as do Fri. (nempe ut Christum in orbem terrarum deducat) and Lips. (nämlich um Christum herabzuholen), the infinitive is rather epexegetical (so apparently Va. Gif.). The LXX here reads τίς ἀναβήσεται … καὶ λήψεται; the construction is changed because τοῦτʼ ἔστιν καὶ κατάξει would hardly have been clear.

Of other interpretations, some do not suit the grammar. ‘That would be the same thing as to say Who will bring Christ down?’ would require τίς κατάξει τὸν Χριστόν. Weiss translates ‘that would be the same thing as to bring Christ down,’ apparently making the infinitive dependent on τοῦτʼ ἔστιν. Other translations or paraphrases do not suit the context: ‘Do not attempt great things, only believe’: or, ‘Do not waver and ask, Is Christ really come? only believe.’ The object of the passage is not to exhort to faith or to show the necessity of faith—that has been done in the early part of the Epistle; but to prove that the method of faith was one which, for several reasons, should not have been ignored and left on one side by the Jews.

7. ἤ, Τίς καταβήσεται … ἀναγαγεῖν: ‘nor is it necessary to search the depth, since Christ is risen from the dead.’ St. Paul substitutes τίς καταβήσεται εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον for the more ordinary τίς διαπεράσει ἡμῖν εἰς τὸ πέραν τῆς θαλάσσης, both because it makes a more suitable contrast to the first part of the sentence, and because it harmonizes better with the figurative meaning he wishes to draw from it. ἄβυσσος in the O. T. meant originally the ‘deep sea,’ ‘the great deep’ or ‘the depths of the sea,’ Psa_106(107):26 ἀναβαίνουσιν ἕως τῶν οὐρανῶν, καὶ καταβαίνουσιν ἕως τῶν ἀβύσσων, and the deep places of the earth, Psa_70(71):20 καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἀβύσσων τῆς γῆς πάλιν ἀνήγαγές με, and so had come to mean Tartarus or the Lower World; τὸν δὲ τάρταρον τῆς ἀβύσσου Job 41:23, where the reference to τάρταρος is due to the LXX; cf. Eur. Phoen. 1632 (1605) ταρτάρου ἄβυσσα χάσματα. Elsewhere in the N. T. it is so used of the abode of demons (Luke 8:31) and the place of torment (Revelation 9:1). This double association of the word made it suitable for St. Paul’s purpose; it kept up the antithesis of the original, and it also enabled him to apply the passage figuratively to the Resurrection of Christ after His human soul had gone down into Hades.

On the descensus ad inferos, which is here referred to in indefinite and untechnical language, cf. Acts 2:27; 1 Peter 3:19; 1 Peter 4:6; and Lft. on Ign. Magn. ix; see also Swete, Apost.-creed, p. 57 ff.

8. τὸ ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως. ‘The message, the subject of which is faith’; πίστις does not mean ‘the faith,’ i. e. ‘the Gospel message’ (Oltramare), but, as elsewhere in this chapter, faith as the principle of righteousness. Nor does the phrase mean the Gospel message which appeals to faith in man (Lid.), but the Gospel which preaches faith, cf. 10:17. On ῥῆμα cf. 1 Peter 1:25 τὸ δὲ ῥῆμα Κυρίου μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. τοῦτο δέ ἐστι τὸ ῥῆμα τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν εἰς ὑμᾶς.

ὃ κηρύσσομεν. This gives the reason why the new way of righteousness is easy to attain, being as it is brought home to every one, and suggests a thought which is worked out more fully in ver. 14 f.

In what sense does St. Paul use the O. T. in vv. 6-8? The difficulty is this. In the O. T. the words are used by Moses of the Law: how can St. Paul use them of the Gospel as against the Law?

The following considerations will suggest the answer to be given:

(1) The context of the passage shows that there is no stress laid on the fact that the O. T. is being quoted. The object of the argument is to describe the characteristics of δικαιοσύνη ἐκ πίστεως, not to show how it can be proved from the O. T.

(2) The Apostle carefully and pointedly avoids appealing to Scripture, altering his mode of citation from that employed in the previous verse. Mosen non citat, quia sensum Mosis non sequitur, sed tantum ab illo verba mutuatur, Vatablus, ap. Crit. Sacr. ad loc.

(3) The quotation is singularly inexact. An ordinary reader fairly well acquainted with the O. T. would feel that the language had a familiar ring, but could not count it as a quotation.

(4) The words had certainly become proverbial, and many instances of them so used have been quoted. Philo, Quod omn. prob. lib. § 10 (quoted by Gifford), ‘And yet what need is there either of long journeys over the land, or of long voyages for the sake of investigating and seeking out virtue, the roots of which the Creator has laid not at any great distance, but so near, as the wise law-giver of the Jews says, “They are in thy mouth, and in thy heart, and in thy hands,” intimating by these figurative expressions the words and actions and designs of men?’ Bava Mezia, f. 94. 1 (quoted by Wetstein) Si quis dixerit mulieri, Si adscenderis in firmamentum, aut descenderis in abyssum, eris mihi desponsata, haec conditio frustranea est; 4 Ezra 4:8 dicebas mihi fortassis: In abyssum non descendi, neque in infernum adhuc, neque in coelis unquam ascendi; Baruch 3:29, 30 τίς ἀνέβη εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ ἔλαβεν αὐτήν, καὶ κατεβίβασεν αὐτὴν ἐκ τῶν νεφελῶν; τίς διέβη πέραν τῆς θαλάσσης καὶ εὗρεν αὐτήν (of Wisdom); Jubilees xxiv. 32 ‘For even if he had ascended to heaven, they would bring him down from there … and even if he descends into Sheôl, there too shall his judgement be great’; cp. also Amos 9:2.

(5) St. Paul certainly elsewhere uses the words of Scripture in order to express his meaning in familiar language, cf. ver. 18; 11:1.

For these reasons it seems probable that here the Apostle does not intend to base any argument on the quotation from the O. T., but only selects the language as being familiar, suitable, and proverbial, in order to express what he wishes to say.

It is not necessary therefore to consider that St. Paul is interpreting the passage of Christ by Rabbinical methods (with Mey. Lid. and others), nor to see in the passage in Deuteronomy a prophecy of the Gospel (Fri.) or a reference to the Messiah, which is certainly not the primary meaning. But when we have once realized that no argument is based on the use of the O. T., it does not follow that the use of its language is without motive. Not only has it a great rhetorical value, as Chrysostom sees with an orator’s instinct: ‘he uses the words which are found in the O. T., being always at pains to keep quite clear of the charges of love of novelties and of opposition to it’; but also there is to St. Paul a correspondence between the O. T. and N. T.: the true creed is simple whether Law on its spiritual side or Gospel (cf. Aug. De Natura et Gratia, § 83).

9. ὅτι ἐὰν ὁμολογήσῃς κ.τ.λ. This verse corresponds to and applies the preceding verse. The subject of the ῥῆμα which is preached by the Apostles is the person of Christ and the truth of His Resurrection. Κύριος refers to ver. 6, the Resurrection (ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς αὐτὸν ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν) to ver. 7. The power of Christ lies in these two facts, namely His Incarnation and His Resurrection, His Divine nature and His triumph over death. What is demanded of a Christian is the outward confession and the inward belief in Him, and these sum up the conditions necessary for salvation.

The ordinary reading in this verse is ἐὰν ὁμολογήσῃς ἐν τῷ στόματί σου Κύριον Ἰησοῦν, for which WH. substitute τὸ ῥῆμα ἐν τῷ στόματί σου ὅτι Κύριος Ἰησοῦς. τὸ ῥῆμα has the authority of B 71, Clem.-Alex. and perhaps Cyril, ὅτι Κ. Ἰ. of B, Boh., Clem.-Alex. and Cyril 2/3. The agreement in the one case of B and Boh., in the other of B and Clem.-Alex. against nearly all the other authorities is noticeable.

10. καρδίᾳ γὰρ πιστεύεται κ.τ.λ. St. Paul explains and brings out more fully the application of the words he has last quoted. The beginning of the Christian life has two sides: internally it is the change of heart which faith implies; this leads to righteousness, the position of acceptance before God: externally it implies the ‘confession of Christ crucified’ which is made in baptism, and this puts a man into the path by which in the end he attains salvation; he becomes σωζόμενος.

11. λέγει γὰρ ἡ γραφή κ.τ.λ. Quoted from Isaiah 28:16 (see above, 9:33) with the addition of πᾶς to bring out the point on which emphasis is to be laid. St. Paul introduces a proof from Scripture of the statement made in the previous verse that faith is the condition of salvation, and at the same time makes it the occasion of introducing the second point in the argument, namely, the universal character of this new method of obtaining righteousness.

In ver. 4 he has explained that the old system of δικαιοσύνη ἐκ νόμου has been done away with in Christ to make way for a new one which has two characteristics: (1) that it is ἐκ πίστεως: this has been treated in vv. 5-10; (2) that it is universal: this he now proceeds to develope.

12. οὐ γάρ ἐστι διαστολὴ Ἰουδαίου τε καὶ Ἕλληνος. St. Paul first explains the meaning of this statement, namely, the universal character of the Gospel, by making it clear that it is the sole method for Jews as well as for Gentiles. This was both a warning and a consolation for the Jews. A warning if they thought that, in spite of the preaching of the Gospel, they might seek salvation in their own way; a consolation it once they realized the burden of the law and that they might be freed from it. The Jews have in this relation no special privileges (cf. 1:16; 2:9, 10; 3:9; 1 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11); they must obtain δικαιοσύνη by the same methods and on the same conditions as the Gentiles. This St. Paul has already proved on the ground that they equally with the Gentiles have sinned (3:23). He now deduces it from the nature and the work of the Lord.

ὁ γὰρ αὐτὸς Κύριος πάντων, cf. 1 Corinthians 12:5. This gives the reason for the similarity of method for all alike: ‘it is the same Lord who redeemed all mankind alike, and conferred upon all alike such wealth of spiritual blessings.’ It is better to take Κύριος πάντων as predicate for it contains the point of the sentence, ‘The same Lord is Lord of all’ (so the RV.).

Κύριος must clearly refer to Christ, cf. vv. 9, 11. He is called Κύριος πάντων Acts 10:36, and cf. 9:5, and Php 2:10, Php 2:11.

πλουτῶν: ‘abounding in spiritual wealth,’ cf. esp. Ephesians 3:8 τοῖς ἔθνεσιν εὐαγγελίσασθαι τὸ ἀνεξιχνίαστον πλοῦτος τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

τοὺς ἐπικαλουμένους αὐτόν. ἐπικαλεῖσθαι τὸν Κύριον, or more correctly ἐπικαλεῖσθαι τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Κυρίου, is the habitual LXX translation of a common Hebrew formula. From the habit of beginning addresses to a deity by mentioning his name, it became a technical expression for the suppliant to a god, and a designation of his worshippers. Hence the Israelites were οἱ ἐπικαλούμενοι τὸν Κύριον or τὸ ὄνομα Κυρίου. They were in fact specially distinguished as the worshippers of Jehovah. It becomes therefore very significant when we find just this expression used of the Christians as the worshippers of Christ, ὁ Κύριος, in order to designate them as apart from all others, cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2 σὺν πᾶσι τοῖς ἐπικαλουμένοις τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. There is a treatise on the subject by A. Seeberg, Die Anbetung des Herrn bei Paulus, Riga, 1891, see especially pp. 38, 43-46.

13. πᾶς γὰρ ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται. St. Paul sums up and clenches his argument by the quotation of a well-known passage of Scripture, Joel 2:32 (the quotation agrees with both the LXX and the Hebrew texts). The original passage refers to the prophetic conception of the ‘day of the Lord.’ ‘The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.’ At that time ‘whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord’ shall be saved. This salvation (σωθήσεται, cf. ver. 9 σωθήσῃ, 10 σωτηρίαν), the Jewish expectation of safety in the Messianic kingdom when the end comes, is used of that Christian salvation which is the spiritual fulfilment of Jewish prophecy.

Κυρίου. The term Κύριος is applied to Christ by St. Paul in quotations from the O. T. in 2 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 2:16; 1 Corinthians 10:21, 1 Corinthians 10:26; 2 Corinthians 3:16, and probably in other passages.

This quotation, besides concluding the argument of vv. 1-13, suggests the thought which is the transition to the next point discussed —the opportunities offered to all of hearing this message.


10:14-21. This unbelief on the part of Israel was not owing to want of knowledge. Fully accredited messengers— such a body as is necessary for preaching and for faith— have announced the Gospel. There is no land but has heard the voices of the Evangelical preachers (vv. 14-18). Nor was it owing to want of understanding. Their own Prophets warned them that it was through disobedience that they would reject God’s message (vv. 19-21).

14 All then that is required for salvation is sincerely and genuinely to call on the Lord. But there are conditions preliminary to this which are necessary; perhaps it may be urged, that these have not been fulfilled. Let us consider what these conditions are. If a man is to call on Jesus he must have faith in Him; to obtain faith it is necessary that he must hear the call; that again implies that heralds must have been sent forth to proclaim this call. 15 And heralds imply a commission. Have these conditions been fulfilled? Yes. Duly authorized messengers have preached the Gospel. The fact may be stated in the words of the Prophet Isaiah (52:7) describing the welcome approach of the messengers who bring news of the return from captivity—that great type of the other, Messianic, Deliverance: ‘How beautiful are the feet of them that preach good tidings.’

16 But it may be urged, in spite of this, all did not give it a patient and submissive hearing. This does not imply that the message has not been given. In fact Isaiah in the same passage in which he foretold the Apostolic message, spoke also of the incredulity with which the message is received (53:1) ‘Lord, who hath believed our message?’ 17 Which incidentally confirms what we were saying a moment ago: Faith can only come from the message heard, and the message heard implies the message sent— the message, that is, about Christ.

18 But it may be alleged: We grant it was preached, but that does not prove that Israel heard it. Is that possible, when in the words of Psalm xix ‘the voices of God’s messengers went forth into all lands, and their words to the limits of the known world?’

19 Or another excuse: ‘Israel heard but did not understand.’ Can you say that of Israel? From the very beginning of its history a long succession of its Prophets foretold the Divine scheme. Moses, to begin with, wrote (Deuteronomy 32:21) ‘I will excite you to jealousy at a nation outside the pale, that does not count as a nation at all. I will rouse your anger at seeing yourselves outstripped by a nation whom you regard as possessing no intelligence for the things of religion.’ 20 Isaiah too was full of boldness. In the face of his fellow-countrymen he asserted (65:1) that God’s mercies should be gained by those who had not striven after them (the Gentiles). 21 And then he turns round to Israel and says that although God had never ceased stretching out His arms to them with all the tenderness of a mother, they had received His call with disobedience, and His message with criticism and contradiction. The Jews have fallen, not because of God’s unfaithfulness or injustice, not because of want of opportunity, but because they are a rebellious people—a people who refuse to be taught, who choose their own way, who cleave to that way in spite of every warning and of every message.

14-21. This section seems to be arranged on the plan of suggesting a series of difficulties, and giving short decisive answers to each: (1) ‘But how can men believe the Gospel unless it has been fully preached?’ (5:14). Answer. ‘It has been preached as Isaiah foretold’ (ver. 15). (2) ‘Yet, all have not accepted it’ (ver. 16). Answer. ‘That does not prove that it was not preached. Isaiah foretold also this neglect of the message’ (vv. 16, 17). (3) ‘But perhaps the Jews did not hear’ (5:18). Answer. ‘Impossible. The Gospel has been preached everywhere.’ (4) ‘But perhaps they did not understand’ (ver. 19). Answer. ‘That again is impossible. The Gentiles, a people without any real knowledge, have understood. The real fact is they were a disobedient, self-willed people.’ The object is to fix the guilt of the Jews by removing every defence which might be made on the ground of want of opportunities.

‘The passage which follows (14-21) is in style one of the most obscure portions of the Epistle.’ This statement of Jowett’s is hardly exaggerated. ‘The obscurity arises,’ as he proceeds to point out, ‘from the argument being founded on passages of the Old Testament.’ These are quoted without explanation, and without their relation to the argument being clearly brought out. The first difficulty is to know where to make a division in the chapter. Some put it after ver. 11 (so Go.) making vv. 11-21 a proof of the extension of the Gospel to the Gentiles; some after ver. 13 (Chrys. Weiss, Oltr. Gif.); some after ver. 15 (Lid. WH. Lips.). The decision of the question will always depend on the opinion formed of the drift of the passage, but we are not without structural assistance. It may be noticed throughout these chapters that each succeeding paragraph is introduced by a question with the particle οὖν: so 9:14 τί οὖν ἐροῦμεν; 30; 11:1, 11. And this seems to arise from the meaning of the particle: it sums up the conclusion of the preceding paragraph as an introduction to a further step in the argument. This meaning will exactly suit the passage under consideration. ‘The condition of salvation is to call on the Lord’—that is the conclusion of the last section: then the Apostle goes on, ‘if this be so, what then (οὗν) are the conditions necessary for attaining it, and have they been fulfilled?’ the words forming a suitable introduction to the next stage in the argument. This use of οὖν to introduce a new paragraph is very common in St. Paul. See especially Romans 5:1, Romans 5:6:1, Romans 5:12:1; Ephesians 4:1; 1 Timothy 2:1; 2 Timothy 2:1, besides other less striking instances. It may be noticed that it is not easy to understand the principle on which WH. have divided the text of these chapters, making no break at all at 9:29, beginning a new paragraph at chap. 10, making a break here at ver. 15, making only a slight break at chap. 11, and starting a new paragraph at ver. 13 of that chapter at what is really only a parenthetical remark.

10:14, 15. The main difficulty of these verses centres round two points: With what object are they introduced? And what is the quotation from Isaiah intended to prove?

1. One main line of interpretation, following Calvin, considers that the words are introduced to justify the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles; in fact to support the πᾶς of the previous verse. God must have intended His Gospel to go to the heathen, for a duly commissioned ministry (and St. Paul is thinking of himself) has been sent out to preach it. The quotation then follows as a justification from prophecy of the ministry to the Gentiles. The possibility of adopting such an interpretation must depend partly on the view taken of the argument of the whole chapter (see the General Discussion at the end), but in any case the logical connexion is wrong. If that were what St. Paul had intended to say, he must have written, ‘Salvation is intended for Gentile as well as Jew, for God has commissioned His ministers to preach to them: a commission implies preaching, preaching implies faith, faith implies worship, and worship salvation. The conversion of the Gentiles is the necessary result of the existence of an apostolate of the Gentiles.’ It will be seen that St. Paul puts the argument exactly in the opposite way, in a manner in fact in which he could never prove this conclusion.

2. Roman Catholic commentators, followed by Liddon and Gore, consider that the words are introduced in order to justify an apostolic or authorized ministry. But this is to introduce into the passage an idea which is quite alien to it, and which is unnecessary for the argument.

3. The right interpretation of the whole of this paragraph seems to be that of Chrysostom. The Jews, it has been shown, have neglected God’s method of obtaining righteousness; but in order, as he desires, to convict them of guilt in this neglect, St. Paul must show that they have had the opportunity of knowing about it, that their ignorance (ἀγνοοῦντες ver. 3) is culpable. He therefore begins by asking what are the conditions necessary for ‘calling upon the Lord?’ and then shows that these conditions have been fulfilled. There may still be some question as to the meaning of the quotation. (1) It may be introduced merely as corroborative of the last chain in the argument (so most commentators). This need of a commissioned ministry corresponds to the joy and delight experienced when they arrive. Or better, (2) it may be looked upon as stating the fulfilment of the conditions. ‘Yes, and they have come, a fact that no one can fail to recognize, and which was foretold by the Prophet Isaiah.’ So Chrysostom, who sums up the passage thus: ‘If the being saved, then, came of calling upon Him, and calling upon Him from believing, and believing from hearing, and hearing from preaching, and preaching from being sent, and if they were sent, and did preach, and the prophet went round with them to point them out, and proclaim them, and say that these were they whom they showed of so many ages ago, whose feet even they praised because of the matter of their preaching; then it is quite clear that the not believing was their own fault only. And that because God’s part had been fulfilled completely.’

14. πῶς οὖν ἐπικαλέσωνται. The word οὖν, as often in St. Paul, marks a stage in the argument. ‘We have discovered the new system of salvation: what conditions are necessary for its acceptance?’ The question is not the objection of an adversary, nor merely rhetorical, but rather deliberative (see Burton, M. and T. § 169): hence the subjunctive (see below) is more suitable than the future which we find in 9:30. The subject of ἐπικαλέσωνται is implied in vv. 12, 13, ‘those who would seek this new method of salvation by calling on the name of the Lord.’

In this series of questions in vv. 14, 15 the MSS. vary between the subjunctive and the future. Generally the authority for the subjunctive strongly preponderates: ἐπικαλέσωνται א A B D E F G, πιστεύσωσιν א B D E F G P, κηρύξωσιν א A B D E K L P. In the case of ἀκούσωσιν there is a double variation. אc A (A latet) B and some minuscules read ἀκούσωσιν; א D E F G K P and some minuscules read ἀκούσονται; L etc., Clem.-Alex. Ath. Chrys. edd. Theodrt. and the TR. read ἀκούσουσι. Here however the double variant makes the subjunctive almost certain. Although the form ἀκούσουσι is possible in N.T. Greek, it is most improbable that it should have arisen as a corruption from ἀκούσονται, and it is too weakly supported to be the correct reading. ἀκούσωσιν, which will explain both variants and harmonizes with the other subjunctives, is therefore correct. B here alone among the leading MSS. is correct throughout.

οὗ οὐκ ἤκουσαν: ‘how can they believe on Him whom they have not heard preaching?’ οὗ is for εἰς τοῦτον οὗ: and as ἀκούειν τινος means not ‘to hear of some one,’ but ‘to hear some one preaching or speaking,’ it must be so translated, and what follows must be interpreted by assuming that the preaching of Christ’s messengers is identical with the preaching of Christ Himself. This interpretation (that of Mey. and Gif.), although not without difficulties, is probably better than either of the other solutions proposed. It is suggested that οὗ may be for ὅν, and the passage is translated ‘of whom they have not heard’; but only a few instances of this usage are quoted, and they seem to be all early and poetical. The interpretation of Weiss, οὗ = where, completely breaks the continuity of the sentences.

15. κηρύξωσιν. The nominative is οἱ κηρύσσοντες, which is implied in κηρύσσοντος.

By means of this series of questions St. Paul works out the conditions necessary for salvation back to their starting-point. Salvation is gained by calling on the Lord; this implies faith. Faith is only possible with knowledge. Knowledge implies an instructor or preacher. A preacher implies a commission. If therefore salvation is to be made possible for everyone, there must have been men sent out with a commission to preach it.

καθὼς γέγραπται, Ὡς ὡραῖοι οἱ πόδες τῶν εὐαγγελιζομένων ἀγαθά. By introducing this quotation St. Paul implies that the commissioned messengers have been sent, and the conditions therefore necessary for salvation have been fulfilled. ‘Yes, and they have been sent: the prophet’s words are true describing the glorious character of the Evangelical preachers.’

The quotation is taken from Isaiah 52:7, and resembles the Hebrew more closely than our present LXX text. In the original it describes the messengers who carry abroad the glad tidings of the restoration from captivity. But the whole of this section of Isaiah was felt by the Christians to be full of Messianic import, and this verse was used by the Rabbis of the coming of the Messiah (see the references given by Schoettgen, Hor. Heb. ii. 179). St. Paul quotes it because he wishes to describe in O. T. language the fact which will be recognized as true when stated, and to show that these facts are in accordance with the Divine method. ‘St. Paul applies the exclamation to the appearance of the Apostles of Christ upon the scene of history. Their feet are ώραῖοι in his eyes, as they announce the end of the captivity of sin, and publish εἰρήνη (Ephesians 6:15 τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς εἰρήνης) made by Christ, through the blood of His Cross, between God and man, between earth and heaven (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Ephesians 2:17; Colossians 1:20); and all the blessings of goodness (τὰ ἀγαθά) which God in Christ bestows on the Redeemed, especially δικαιοσύνη.’ Liddon.

There are two critical questions in connexion with this quotation: the reading of the Greek text and its relation to the Hebrew and to the LXX.

(1) The RV. reads ὡς ὡραῖι οἱ πόδες τῶν εὐαγγελιζομένων ἀγαθά: the T. R. inserts τῶν εὐαγ. εἰρήνην after οἱ πόδες. The balance of authority is strongly in favour of the RV. The clause is omitted by א A B C minusc. pauc. Aegyptt. (Boh. Sah.) Aeth., Clem.-Alex. Orig. and Orig.-lat.: it is inserted by D E F G K L P &c., Vulg. Syrr. (Pesh. Harcl.) Arm. Goth., Chrys. Iren.-lat. Hil. al. The natural explanation is that the insertion has been made that the citation may correspond more accurately to the LXX. This end is not indeed altogether attained, for the LXX reads ἀκοὴν εἰρήνης, and the omission might have arisen from Homoeoteleuton; but these considerations can hardly outweigh the clear preponderance of authority.

There is a somewhat similar difficulty about a second minor variation. The RV. reads ἀγαθά with A B C D E F G P, Orig. Eus. Jo.-Damasc., the T. R. has τὰ ἀγαθά with א etc. Clem.-Alex. Chrys. and most later authorities. Here the LXX omits the article, and it is difficult quite to see why it should have been inserted by a corrector; whereas if it had formed part of the original text he could quite naturally have omitted it.

(2) The LXX translation is here very inexact. πάρειμι ὡς ὥρα ἐπὶ τῶν ὀρέων, ὡς πόδες εὐαγγελιζομένου ἀκοὴν εἰρήνης, ὡς εὐαγγελιζόμενος ἀγαθά. St. Paul’s words approach much more nearly to the Hebrew (RV.) ‘How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation.’ He shortens the quotation, makes it plural instead of singular to suit his purpose, and omits the words ‘upon the mountains,’ which have only a local significance.

16. ἀλλʼ οὐ πάντες. An objection suggested. ‘Yet, in spite of the fact that this message was sent, all did not obey the Gospel.’ οὐ πάντες is a meiosis; cf. τί γὰρ εἰ ἠπίστησάν τινες; (3:3).

ὑπήκουσαν, like ὑπετάγησαν (ver. 3), seems to imply the idea of voluntary submission: cf. 6:16, 17 δοῦλοί ἐστε ᾧ ὑπακούετε … ὑπηκούσατε δὲ ἐκ καρδίας εἰς ὃν παρεδόθητε.

τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ. The word is of course suggested by the quotation of the previous verse.

Ἡσαΐας γὰρ λέγει κ.τ.λ. ‘But this fact does not prove that no message had been sent; it is indeed equally in accordance with prophecy, for Isaiah, in a passage immediately following that in which he describes the messengers, describes also the failure of the people to receive the message.’ With γάρ cf. Matthew 1:20 ff. The quotation is from the LXX of Isaiah 53:1. Κύριε, as Origen pointed out, does not occur in the Hebrew.

ἀκοῇ: means (1) ‘hearing,’ ‘the faculty by which a thing is heard’; (2) ‘the substance of what is heard,’ ‘a report, message.’ In this verse it is used in the second meaning, ‘who hath believed our report?’ In ver. 17, it shades off into the first, ‘faith comes by hearing.’ It is quite possible of course to translate ‘report’ or ‘message’ there also, but then the connexion of idea with ver. 18 μὴ οὐκ ἤκουσαν is obscured.

It has been questioned to whom St. Paul is referring in this and the preceding verses—the Gentiles or the Jews. The language is quite general and equally applicable to either, but the whole drift of the argument shows that it is of the Jews the Apostle is thinking. Grotius makes vv. 14 and 15 the objection of an opponent to which St. Paul replies in ver. 16 ff.

17. ἄρα ἡ πίστις. ‘Hence may be inferred (in corroboration of what was said above) that the preliminary condition necessary for faith is to have heard, and to have heard implies a message.’ This sentence is to a certain extent parenthetical, merely emphasizing a fact already stated; yet the language leads us on to the excuse for unbelief suggested in the next verse.

διὰ ῥήματος Χριστοῦ: ‘a message about Christ.’ Cf. ver. 8 τὸ ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως ὃ κηρύσσομεν. St. Paul comes back to the phrase he has used before, and the use of it will remind his readers that this message has been actually sent.

Χριστοῦ is the reading of א B C &2; D E minusc. pauc., Vulg. Sah. Boh. Arm. Aeth. Orig.-Lamentations 2:2, Ambrstr. Aug.—Θεοῦ of אc A Db c K L P al. pler., Syrr., Clem.-Alex. Chrys. Theodrt.

St. Paul has laid down the conditions which make faith possible, a Gospel and messengers of the Gospel; the language he has used reminds his readers that both these have come. Yet, in spite of this, the Jews have not obeyed. He now suggests two possible excuses.

18. ἀλλὰ λέγω: ‘but it may be said in excuse: It is possible that those whom you accuse of not obeying the Gospel message have never heard of it?’ On μὴ οὐ see Burton, M. and T. § 468.

μενοῦνγε: an emphatic corrective, ‘with a slight touch of irony’ (Lid.); cf. 9:20.

εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν κ.τ.λ. St. Paul expresses his meaning in words borrowed from Psalm 19:5. (18:5), which he cites word for word according to the LXX, but without any mark of quotation. What stress does he intend to lay on the words? Does he use them for purely literary purposes to express a well-known fact? or does he also mean to prove the fact by the authority of the O. T. which foretold it?

1. Primarily at any rate St. Paul wishes to express a well-known fact in suitable language. ‘What do you say? They have not heard! Why the whole world and the ends of the earth have heard. And have you, amongst whom the heralds abode such a long time, and of whose land they were, not heard?’ Chrys.

2. But the language of Scripture is not used without a point. In the original Psalm these words describe how universally the works of nature glorify God. By using them St. Paul ‘compares the universality of the preaching of the Gospel with the universality with which the works of nature proclaim God.’ Gif.

A second difficulty is raised by older commentators. As a matter of fact the Gospel had not been preached everywhere; and some writers have inverted this argument, and used this text as a proof that even as early as this Christianity had been universally preached. But all that St. Paul means to imply is that it is universal in its character. Some there were who might not have heard it; some Jews even might be among them. He is not dealing with individuals. The fact remained true that, owing to the universal character of its preaching, those whose rejection of it he is considering had at any rate as a body had the opportunities of hearing of it.

19. ἀλλὰ λέγω, μὴ Ἰσραὴλ οὐκ ἔγνω; a second excuse is suggested: ‘surely it cannot be that it was from ignorance that Israel failed?’

(1) What is the meaning of the somewhat emphatic introduction of Ἰσραήλ? It has been suggested that it means a change of subject. That while the former passage refers to Gentiles, or to Gentiles as well as Jews, here the writer at last turns to Israel in particular. But there has been no hint that the former passage was dealing with the Gentiles, and if such a contrast had been implied Ἰσραήλ would have had to be put in a much more prominent place, περὶ δὲ τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ λέγω, μὴ οὐκ ἔγνω; The real reason for the introduction of the word is that it gives an answer to the question, and shows the untenable character of the excuse. Has Israel, Israel with its long line of Prophets, and its religious privileges and its Divine teaching, acted in ignorance? When once ‘Israel’ has been used there can be no doubt of the answer.

(2) But, again, what is it suggested that Israel has not known? As the clause is parallel with μὴ οὐκ ἤκουσαν, and as no hint is given of any change, the object must be the same, namely ῥῆμα Χριστοῦ, the message concerning the Messiah. All such interpretations as the ‘calling of the Gentiles’ or ‘the universal preaching of the Gospel’ are outside the line of argument.

(3) But how is this consistent with ἀγνοοῦντες ver. 3? The contradiction is rather formal than real. It is true Israel’s zeal was not guided by deep religious insight, and that they clung blindly and ignorantly to a method which had been condemned; but this ignorance was culpable: if they did not know, they might have known. From the very beginning of their history their whole line of Prophets had warned them of the Divine plan.

(4) The answer to this question is given in three quotations from the O. T. Israel has been warned that their Messiah would be rejected by themselves and accepted by the Gentiles. They cannot plead that the message was difficult to understand; even a foolish people (it was foretold) would accept it, and thus stir up Israel to jealousy. Nor again can they plead that it was difficult to find; for Isaiah with great boldness has stated that men who never sought or asked for it would find it. The real reason was that the Israelites are a disobedient and a stubborn people, and, although God has all day long stretched forth His hands to them, they will not hear Him.

πρῶτος Μωσῆς. εὐθὺς Μωσῆς. ‘Even as early in Israel’s history as Moses.’

ἐγὼ παραζηλώσω ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ.: taken from Deuteronomy 32:21 substantially according to the LXX (ὑμᾶς is substituted for αὐτούς). In the original the words mean that as Israel has roused God’s jealousy by going after no-gods, so He will rouse Israel’s jealousy by showing His mercy to those who are no-people.

20. Ἡσαΐας δὲ ἀποτολμᾷ. St. Paul’s position in opposing the prejudices of his countrymen made him feel the boldness of Isaiah in standing up against the men of his own time. The citation is from Isaiah 65:1 according to the LXX, the clauses of the original being inverted. The words in the original refer to the apostate Jews. St. Paul applies them to the Gentiles; see on 9:25, 26.

B D* F G with perhaps Sah. and Goth. add ἐν twice before τοῖς, a Western reading which has found its way into B (cf. 11:6). It does not occur in א A C Db c E L P etc., and many Fathers.

21. πρὸς δὲ τὸν Ἰσραὴλ λέγει κ.τ.λ. This citation (Isaiah 65:2) follows almost immediately that quoted in ver. 20, and like it is taken from the LXX, with only a slight change in the order. In the original both this verse and the preceding are addressed to apostate Israel; St. Paul applies the first part to the Gentiles, the latter part definitely to Israel.

The Argument of 9:30-10:21: Human Responsibility

We have reached a new stage in our argument. The first step was the vindication of God’s faithfulness and justice: the second step has been definitely to fix guilt on man. It is clearly laid down that the Jews have been rejected through their own fault. They chose the wrong method. When the Messiah came, instead of accepting Him, they were offended. They did not allow their zeal for God to be controlled by a true spiritual knowledge. And the responsibility for this is brought home to them. All possible excuses, such as want of opportunity, insufficient knowledge, inadequate warning, are suggested, but rejected. The Jews are a disobedient people and they have been rejected for their disobedience.

Now it has been argued that such an interpretation is inconsistent with Chap. 9. That proves clearly, it is asserted, that grace comes to man, not in answer to man’s efforts, but in accordance with God’s will. How then can St. Paul go on to prove that the Jews are to blame? In order to avoid this assumed inconsistency, the whole section, or at any rate the final portion, has been interpreted differently: vv. 11-21 are taken to defend the Apostolic ministry to the Gentiles and to justify from the O. T. the calling of the Gentiles and the rejection of the Jews: vv. 14, 15 are used by St. Augustine to prove that there can be no faith without the Divine calling; by Calvin, that as there is faith among the Gentiles, there must have been a Divine call, and so the preaching to them is justified. Then the quotations in vv. 18-21 are considered to refer to the Gentiles mainly; they are merely prophecies of the facts stated in 9:30, 31 and do not imply and are not intended to imply human responsibility.

An apparent argument in favour of this interpretation is suggested by the introductory words 9:30, 31. It is maintained that two propositions are laid down there; one the calling of the Gentiles, the other the rejection of the Jews, and both these have to be justified in the paragraph that follows. But, as a matter of fact, this reference to the Gentiles is clearly introduced not as a main point to be discussed, but as a contrast to the rejection of Israel. It increases the strangeness of that fact, and with that fact the paragraph is concerned. This is brought out at once by the question asked διὰ τί; which refers, as the answer shows, entirely to the rejection of Israel. If the Apostle were not condemning the Jews there would be no reason for his sorrow (10:1) and the palliation for their conduct which he suggests (10:2); and when we come to examine the structure of the latter part we find that all the leading sentences are concerned not with the defence of any ‘calling,’ but with fixing the guilt of those rejected: for example ἀλλʼ οὐ πάντες ὑπήκουσαν (v. 16), ἀλλὰ λέγω, μὴ οὐκ ἤκουσαν; (v. 18), μὴ Ἰσραὴλ οὐκ ἔγνω; (v. 19). As there is nowhere any reference to Gentiles rejecting the message, the reference must be to the Jews; and the object of the section must be to show the reason why (although Gentiles have been accepted) the Jews have been rejected. The answer is given in the concluding quotation, which sums up the whole argument. It is because the Jews have been a disobedient and gainsaying people. Chrysostom, who brings out the whole point of this section admirably, sums up its conclusion as follows: ‘Then to prevent them saying, But why was He not made manifest to us also? he sets down what is more than this, that I not only was made manifest, but I even continued with My hands stretched out, inviting them, and displaying all the concern of an affectionate father, and a fond mother that is set on her child. See how he has brought us a most lucid answer to all the difficulties before raised, by showing that it was from their own temper that ruin had befallen them, and that they are wholly undeserving of pardon.’

We must accept the interpretation then which sees in this chapter a proof of the guilt of the Jews. St. Paul is in fact looking at the question from a point of view different from that which he adopted in Chap. 9. There he assumes Divine Sovereignty, and assuming it shows that God’s dealings with the Jews are justified. Now he assumes human responsibility, and shows that assuming it the Jews are guilty. Two great steps are passed in the Divine Theodicy. We need not anticipate the argument, but must allow it to work itself out. The conclusion may suggest a point of view from which these two apparently inconsistent attitudes can be reconciled.

St. Paul’s Use of the Old Testament

In Chaps. 9-11 St. Paul, as carrying on a long and sustained argument, which, if not directed against Jewish opponents, discusses a question full of interest to Jews from a Jewish point of view, makes continued use of the O. T., and gives an opportunity for investigating his methods of quotation and interpretation.

The text of his quotations is primarily that of the LXX. According to Kautzsch (De Veteris Testamenti locis a Paulo Apostolo allegatis), out of eighty-four passages in which St. Paul cites the O. T. about seventy are taken directly from the LXX or do not vary from it appreciably, twelve vary considerably, but still show signs of affinity, and two only, both from the book of Job (Romans 11:35 = Job 41:3 (11); 1 Corinthians 3:19 = Job 5:13) are definitely independent and derived either from the Hebrew text or some quite distinct version. Of those derived from the LXX a certain number, such for example as Romans 10:15, show in some points a resemblance to the Hebrew text as against the LXX. We have probably not sufficient evidence to say whether this arises from a reminiscence of the Hebrew text (conscious or unconscious), or from an Aramaic Targum, or from the use of an earlier from of a LXX text. It may be noticed that St. Paul’s quotations sometimes agree with late MSS. of the LXX as against the great uncials (cf. 3:4, 15 ff.). As to the further question whether he cites from memory or by reference, it may be safely said that the majority of the quotations are from memory; for many of them are somewhat inexact, and those which are correct are for the most part short and from well-known books. There is a very marked distinction between these and the long literary quotations of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

In his formulae of quotation St. Paul adopts all the various forms which seem to have been in use in the Rabbinical schools, and are found in Rabbinical writings. Even his less usual expressions may be paralleled from them (cf. 11:2). Another point of resemblance may be found in the series of passages which he strings together from different books (cf. 3:10) after the manner of a Rabbinical discourse. St. Paul was in fact educated as a Rabbi in Rabbinical schools and consequently his method of using the O. T. is such as might have been learnt in these schools.

But how far is his interpretation Rabbinical? It is not quite easy to answer this question directly. It is perhaps better to point out first of all some characteristics which it possesses.

In the first place it is quite clearly not ‘historical’ in the modern sense of the word. The passages are quoted without regard to their context or to the circumstances under which they were written. The most striking instances of this are those cases in which the words of the O. T. are used in an exactly opposite sense to that which they originally possessed. For instance in 9:25, 26 words used in the O. T. of the ten tribes are used of the Gentiles, in 10:6-8 words used of the Law are applied to the Gospel as against the Law. On the other hand Rabbinical interpretations in the sense in which they have become proverbial are very rare. St. Paul almost invariably takes the literal and direct meaning of the words (although without regard to their context), he does not allegorize or play upon their meaning, or find hidden and mysterious principles. There are some obvious exceptions, such as Galatians 4:22 ff., but for the most part St. Paul’s interpretation is not allegorical, nor in this sense of the term Rabbinical.

Speaking broadly, St. Paul’s use of the O. T. may be described as literal, and we may distinguish three classes of texts. There are firstly those, and they are the largest number, in which the texts are used in a sense corresponding to their O. T. meaning. All texts quoted in favour of moral principles, or spiritual ideas, or the methods of Divine government may be grouped under this head. The argument in 9:20, 21 is correctly deduced from O. T. principles; the quotation in 9:17 is not quite so exactly correct, but the principle evolved is thoroughly in accordance with O. T. ideas. So again the method of Divine Election is deduced correctly from the instances quoted in 9:6-13. Controversially these arguments were quite sound; actually they represent the principles and ideas of the O. T.

A second class of passages consists of those in which, without definitely citing the O. T., the Apostle uses its language in order to express adequately and impressively the ideas he has to convey. A typical instance is that in 10:18, where the words of the Psalm are used in quite a different sense from that which they have in the original, and without any definite formula of citation. So in 10:6-8 (see the note) the O. T. language is used rather than a text from it cited. The same is true in a number of other passages where, as the text of Westcott and Hort exhibits clearly, ideas borrowed from the O. T. are expressed in language which is borrowed, but without any definite sign of quotation. That this is the natural and normal use of a religious book must clearly be recognized. ‘For [the writers of the N. T. the Scripture], was the one thesaurus of truth. They had almost no other books. The words of the O. T. had become a part of their mental furniture, and they used them to a certain extent with the freedom with which they used their own ideas’ (Toy, Quotations, &c. p. xx). It is a use which is constantly being made of the Bible at the present day, and when we attempt to analyze the exact force it is intended to convey, it is neither easy nor desirable to be precise. Between the purely rhetorical use on the one side and the logical proof on the other there are infinite gradations of ideas, and it is never quite possible to say how far in any definite passage the use is purely rhetorical and how far it is intended to suggest a definite argument.

But there is a third class of instances in which the words are used in a sense which the original context will not bear, and yet the object is to give a logical proof. This happens mainly in a certain class of passages; in those in which the Law is used to condemn the Law, in those in which passages not Messianic are used with a Messianic bearing, and in those (a class connected with the last) in which passages are applied to the calling of the Gentiles which do not refer to that event in the original. Here controversially the method is justified. Some of the passages used Messianically by the Christians had probably been so used by the Rabbis before them. In all cases the methods they adopted were those of their contemporaries, however incorrect they may have been. But what of the method in relation to our own times? Are we justified in using it? The answer to that must be sought in a comparison of their teaching with that of the Rabbis. We have said that controversially it was justified. The method was the same as, and as good as, that of their own time; but it was no better. As far as method goes the Rabbis were equally justified in their conclusions. There is in fact no standard of right and wrong, when once it is permitted to take words in a sense which their original context will not bear. Anything can be proved from anything.

Where then does the superiority of the N. T. writers lie? In their correct interpretation of the spirit of the O. T. ‘As expounders of religion, they belong to the whole world and to all time; as logicians, they belong to the first century. The essence of their writing is the Divine spirit of love and righteousness that filled their souls, the outer shell is the intellectual form in which the spirit found expression in words. Their comprehension of the deeper spirit of the O. T. thought is one thing: the logical method by which they sought formally to extend it is quite another’ (Toy, Quotations, &c. p. xxi). This is just one of those points in which we must trace the superiority of the N. T. writers to its root and take from them that, and not their faulty exegesis.

An illustration may be drawn from Church History. The Church inherited equally from the Jewish schools, the Greek Philosophers, and the N. T. writers an unhistorical method of interpretation; and in the Arian controversy (to take an example) it constantly makes use of this method. We are learning to realize more and more how much of our modern theology is based on the writings of St. Athanasius; but that does not impose upon us the necessity of adopting his exegesis. If the methods that he applies to the O. T. are to be admitted it is almost as easy to deduce Arianism from it. Athanasius did not triumph because of those exegetical methods, but because he rightly interpreted (and men felt that he had rightly interpreted) the spirit of the N. T. His creed, his religious insight, to a certain extent his philosophy, we accept: but not his exegetical methods.

So with the O. T. St. Paul triumphed, and the Christian Church triumphed, over Judaism, because they both rightly interpreted the spirit of the O. T. We must accept that interpretation, although we shall find that we arrive at it on other grounds. This may be illustrated in two main points.

It is the paradox of ch. 10 that it condemns the Law out of the Law; that it convicts the Jews by applying to them passages, which in the original accuse them of breaking the Law, in order to condemn them for keeping it. But the paradox is only apparent. Running through the O. T., in the books of the Law as well as in those of the Prophets, is the prophetic spirit, always bringing out the spiritual truths and lessons concealed in or guarded by the Law in opposition to the formal adherence to its precepts. This spirit the Gospel inherits. ‘The Gospel itself is a reawakening of the spirit of prophecy. There are many points in which the teaching of St. Paul bears a striking resemblance to that of the old Prophets. It is not by chance that so many quotations from them occur in his writings. Separated from Joel, Amos, Hosea, Micah, and Isaiah by an interval of about 800 years, he felt a kind of sympathy with them; they expressed his inmost feelings; like them he was at war with the evil of the world around. When they spoke of forgiveness of sins, of non-imputation of sins, of a sudden turning to God, what did this mean but righteousness by faith? When they said, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice,” here also was imaged the great truth, that salvation was not of the Law … Like the elder Prophets, he came not “to build up a temple made with hands,” but to teach a moral truth: like them he went forth alone, and not in connexion with the church at Jerusalem: like them he was looking for and hastening to the day of the Lord’ (Jowett). This represents the truth, as the historical study of the O. T. will prove; or rather one side of the truth. The Gospel is not merely the reawakening of the spirit of prophecy; it is also the fulfilment of the spiritual teaching of Law. It was necessary for a later writer—the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews—when controversy was less bitter to bring this out more fully. Christ not only revived all the teaching of the Prophets, righteousness, mercy, peace; He also exhibited by His death the teaching of the Law, the heinousness of sin, the duty of sacrifice, the spiritual union of God and man.

The same lines of argument will justify the Messianic use of the O. T. If we study it historically the reality of the Messianic interpretation remains just as clear as it was to St. Paul. Allegorical and incorrect exegesis could never create an idea. They only illustrate one which has been suggested in other ways. The Messianic interpretation, and with it the further idea of the universality of the Messianic kingdom, arose because they are contained in the O. T. Any incorrectness of exegesis that there may be lies not in the ideas themselves but in finding them in passages which have probably a different meaning. We are not bound, and it would be wrong to bind ourselves, by the incorrect exegesis of particular passages; but the reality and truth of the Messianic idea and the universal character of the Messianic kingdom, as prophesied in the O. T. and fulfilled in the N. T., remain one of the most real and impressive facts in religious history. Historical criticism does not disprove this; it only places it on a stronger foundation and enables us to trace the origin and growth of the idea more accurately (cf. Sanday, Bampton Lectures, pp. 404, 405).

The value of St. Paul’s exegesis therefore lies not in his true interpretation of individual passages, but in his insight into the spiritual meaning of the O. T.; we need not use his methods, but the books of the Bible will have little value for us if we are not able to see in them the spiritual teaching which he saw. In the cause of truth, as a guide to right religious ideas, as a fatal enemy to many a false and erroneous and harmful doctrine, historical criticism and interpretation are of immense value; but if they be divorced from a spiritual insight, such as can be learnt only by the spiritual teaching of the N. T., which interprets the O. T. from the stand-point of its highest and truest fulfilment, they will become as barren and unproductive as the strangest conceits of the Rabbis or the most unreal fancies of the Schoolmen.

[See, besides other works: Jowett, Contrasts of Prophecy, in his edition of the Romans; Toy, Quotations in the New Testament, New York, 1884; Kautzsch, De Veteris Testamenti locis a Paule Apostolo allegatis, Lipsiae, 1869; Clemen (Dr. August), Ueber den Gebrauch des Alten Testaments im Neuen Testamente, und speciell in den Reden Jesu (Einladungsschrift, &c., Leipzig, 1891); Turpie (David Mc Calman), The Old Testament in the New, London, 1868.]

Tert. Tertullian.

Lft. Lightfoot.

Beng. Bengel.

אԠCod. Sinaiticus

Tisch. Tischendorf.

A Cod. Alexandrinus

B Cod. Vaticanus

D Cod. Claromontanus

E Cod. Sangermanensis

P Cod. Porphyrianus

Vulg. Vulgate.

Boh. Bohairic.

Arm. Armenian.

Gif. Gifford.

Fri. Fritzsche (C. F. A.).

Lid. Liddon.

Orig. Origen.

&c. always qualify the word which precedes, not that which follows:

Chrys. Chrysostom.

Va. Vaughan.

Aug. Augustine.

De W. De Wette.

Mey. Meyer.

Orig.-lat. Latin Version of Origen

אԠCod. Sinaiticus, corrector c

F Cod. Augiensis

G Cod. Boernerianus

K Cod. Mosquensis

L Cod. Angelicus

Syrr. Syriac.

d Latin version of D

e Latin version of E

† The Bohairic Version is quoted incorrectly in support of this reading. The eam read there does not imply a variant, but was demanded by the idiom of the language.

RV. Revised Version.

Lips. Lipsius.

Ign. Ignatius.

WH. Westcott and Hort.

Clem.-Alex. Clement of Alexandria.

Go. Godet.

Oltr. Oltramare.

Ath. Athanasius.

edd. editores.

Theodrt. Theodoret.

T. R. Textus Receptus.

C Cod. Ephraemi Rescriptus

pauc. pauci.

Aegyptt. Egyptian.

Sah. Sahidic.

Aeth. Ethiopic.

Pesh. Peshitto.

Harcl. Harclean.

Goth. Gothic.

al. alii, alibi.

Eus. Eusebius.

Ambrstr. Ambrosiaster.

pler. plerique.

For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
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.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
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:)
Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
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;
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.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
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.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
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?
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!
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
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.
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.
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.
But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
ICC New Testament commentary on selected books

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bible Hub
Romans 9
Top of Page
Top of Page