Romans 10:14
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
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(14-21) Thus there is a distinct order—belief, confession, invocation. But before either the last or the first of these steps is taken the gospel must be preached. The Jew, however, cannot plead that the gospel has not been preached to him. It has been preached both to Jew and Gentile. Both Moses and Isaiah had foretold the conversion of the Gentiles, and Isaiah had also foretold the unbelief of the Jews.

Romans 10:14-17. How then — As if the apostle had said, From the promise of salvation made to them that shall call on the name of the Lord, I have inferred, that there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, as to the possibility of obtaining salvation from God; and from hence we may further infer, that the gospel must be preached to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews, and the sundry means of grace be dispensed to them, and therefore that we, the apostles, in so doing, do nothing but what is agreeable to the will of God, though on that account we are much reproached and persecuted. For how shall they call upon him — With sincerity; in whom they have not believed — In whose existence, power, and goodness they have not believed; or in whom, as capable of hearing, and able and willing to grant their requests, they have no confidence; (see on Hebrews 11:6;) or whom they do not believe to be a proper object of worship, or worthy to be invoked with divine honours and adoration. And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? — “Even the works of nature and providence must be made known to mankind by instructers, to make them able to understand them: much more the gospel of Christ.” — Baxter. Or the apostle speaks here chiefly, if not only, of believing in Christ, and therefore his words are not inconsistent with what he advances, Romans 1:19-20, concerning the existence and perfections of God being made known to all mankind by the works of creation. Some way or other the divine revelation concerning Christ must be made known to us, before we can understand and believe it. In hearing is included reading, which is tantamount to hearing, and by which many are brought to believe, John 20:31; These things are written that you may believe. But hearing only is mentioned as the more ordinary and natural way of receiving information. How shall they hear without a preacher — To carry these important tidings, which the light of nature could never be able to discover: or, except God reveal the gospel to them some way or other. And how shall they — The ministers of the gospel; preach except they be sent — Expressly for that purpose? that is, except they be both commissioned, and, at least in some measure, qualified for that difficult though important work? How shall a man act as an ambassador, unless he have both his instruction and his credentials from the prince that sends him? St. Paul probably intended to intimate, that as the apostles, and other first ministers of the gospel, were originally Jews, their own prejudices on this head were so strong, that they never would have thought of carrying the gospel to the Gentiles if God had not particularly charged them to do it; especially as its avowed opposition to the idolatry and the other vices which reigned in the Gentile countries, could not but expose them, more or less, to persecution in various forms, wherever they came and attempted to preach it. Thus, by a chain of reasoning from God’s will, that the Gentiles also should call upon him, Paul infers that the apostles were sent by God to preach to them also. As it is written — And described in that striking prophecy, Isaiah 52:7-8, How beautiful are the feet — The very footsteps, or the coming; of them that preach the gospel of peace — The gospel, which shows the way how peace is made between God and man. The figure here applied by Isaiah “is extremely proper. The feet of those who travel through dirty or dusty roads are a sight naturally disagreeable: but when they are thus disfigured by travelling a long journey, to bring good tidings of peace and deliverance to those who have been oppressed by their enemies, they appear beautiful.” — Macknight. Most commentators think “that the 52d chapter of Isaiah is to be explained as a prophecy of the return of the Jews from Babylon, and that the text here quoted refers to the joyful welcome that should be given to the messengers who brought the first tidings of Cyrus’s decree for their dismission. And if it were so, the apostle might very justly infer from thence the superior joy with which the messengers of the gospel should be received. But I think a great deal may be said to show it probable, that the context in question has, in its original sense, a further reference.” — Doddridge. See note on Isaiah 52:7. But they have not all obeyed, &c. — As if he had said, But you may say, Why then doth not this preaching convert more of the Jews? This excellence of the gospel, and the preaching of it, doth not suppose that all that hear it will be converted by it: for though faith comes by hearing, yet there may be hearing without faith. So Esaias saith — In that very context which contains so many illustrious testimonies to the gospel, namely, Isaiah 53:1, Lord, who hath believed our report? — That is, very few have been persuaded and converted by our preaching. So then faith cometh by hearing — Hearing is the ordinary means, even hearing the word of God, of begetting faith in people: and it was necessary for the Gentiles, in particular, who had not access to the Scriptures, to have the truths of the gospel declared to them by preaching, that they might hear and believe them.

10:12-17 There is not one God to the Jews, more kind, and another to the Gentiles, who is less kind; the Lord is a Father to all men. The promise is the same to all, who call on the name of the Lord Jesus as the Son of God, as God manifest in the flesh. All believers thus call upon the Lord Jesus, and none else will do so humbly or sincerely. But how should any call on the Lord Jesus, the Divine Saviour, who had not heard of him? And what is the life of a Christian but a life of prayer? It shows that we feel our dependence on him, and are ready to give up ourselves to him, and have a believing expectation of our all from him. It was necessary that the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles. Somebody must show them what they are to believe. How welcome the gospel ought to be to those to whom it was preached! The gospel is given, not only to be known and believed, but to be obeyed. It is not a system of notions, but a rule of practice. The beginning, progress, and strength of faith is by hearing. But it is only hearing the word, as the word of God that will strengthen faith.How then shall they call. ... - The apostle here adverts to an objection which might be urged to his argument. His doctrine was, that faith in Christ was essential to justification and salvation; and that this was needful for all; and that, without this, man must perish. The objection was, that they could not call on him in whom they had not believed; that they could not believe in him of whom they had not heard; and that this was arranged by God himself, so that a large part of the world was destitute of the gospel, and in fact did not believe; Romans 10:16-17. The objection had particular reference to the Jews; and the ground of injustice which a Jew would complain of, would be, that the plan made salvation dependent on faith, when a large part of the nation had not heard the gospel, and had had no opportunity to know it. This objection the apostle meets, so far as it was of importance to his argument, in Romans 10:18-21. The first part of the objection is, that they could "not call on him in whom they had not believed." That is, how could they call on one in whose existence, ability, and willingness to help, they did not believe? The objection is, that in order to our calling on one for help, we must be satisfied that there is such a being, and that he is able to aid us. This remark is just, and every man feels it. But the point of the objection is, that "sufficient evidence of the divine mission and claims of Jesus Christ had not been given to authorize the doctrine that eternal salvation depended on belief in him, or that it would be right to suspend the eternal happiness of few and Gentile on this."

How shall they believe in him ... - This position is equally undeniable, that people could not believe in a being of whom they had not heard. And the implied objection was, that people could not be expected to believe in one of whose existence they knew nothing, and, of course, that they could not be blamed for not doing it. It was not right, therefore, to make eternal life depend, both among Jews and Gentiles, on faith in Christ.

And how shall they hear ... - How can people hear, unless some one proclaim to them, or preach to them what is to be heard and believed? This is also true. The objection thence derived is, that it is not right to condemn people for not believing what has never been proclaimed to them; and, of course, that the doctrine that eternal life is suspended on faith cannot be just and right.

14, 15. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and … believe in him of whom they have not heard? and … hear without a preacher? and … preach except … sent?—that is, "True, the same Lord over all is rich unto all alike that call upon Him. But this calling implies believing, and believing hearing, and hearing preaching, and preaching a mission to preach: Why, then, take ye it so ill, O children of Abraham, that in obedience to our heavenly mission (Ac 26:16-18) we preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ?" The connexion of this verse and the following verses of this chapter is very obscure. Some connect these words with Romans 10:12. There he said: There is no difference between Jew and Greek, & c. And this he proves, because the means to attain salvation by the true invocation of God hath been made common to all; and consequently faith, and so, from time to time, the hearing and preaching the word of God, according as the one is occasioned by the other. Others make this the coherence: Seeing the righteousness of faith is the only true righteousness, and doth, in common, by the promise of God, belong to Jew and Gentile (as hath been said); it was therefore necessary, that some must be sent of God to both people, which is the ordinary way and means to beget faith, and to bring men to Christ. His way of arguing is such, as logicians call sorites; rhetoricians, a gradation; and it is very forcible and demonstrative: q. d. God hath, by his prophets, promised salvation indifferently to Jew and Gentile; but without calling on him, there is no salvation; and without faith, there is no prayer; and without hearing, there is no faith; and without a preacher, there is no hearing; and without solemn mission, there can be no preacher. His manner of speaking all along is by way of interrogation, which is the more convincing, because it carries in it a kind of an appeal to the persons spoken to; every interrogation is equivalent to a negation.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? There is no foundation then for the popish doctrine of invocating saints and angels.

How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? Amongst the elect of God, there may be some that are born deaf; and in these, God doth supply the want of outward means in an extraordinary way: but ordinarily, hearing is as necessary to faith, as faith is to prayer, or prayer to salvation.

How then shall they call on him in whom they, have not believed?.... The apostle having observed, that whoever, Jew or Gentile, believe in the Lord and call upon his name, shall be saved; and that the same Lord was ready and willing to dispense his grace, without any difference to them; suggests, that it was therefore absolutely necessary, that the Gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, as well as to the Jews; that it was the will of God it should be; that what he and others did, was by a divine commission; that they were sent by the Lord to preach the Gospel to them; that hearing they might believe, and so call upon the name of the Lord, and be saved; and therefore the Jews ought not to blame them for so doing, for there was a real necessity for it, since there can be no true calling upon God without faith, no faith without hearing, no hearing without preaching, and no preaching without a divine mission. The first of these is signified by this interrogation. Every man calls upon the God he believes in, and him only; this has been the practice of all men, in all nations; such as have not believed in God and Christ, do not call upon them; it is true indeed, there may be an external invocation of them, where there is no true faith; but then this is not calling upon them in truth and sincerity; as is their faith, so is their calling upon them; as the one is historical, the other is only external; there is no true invocation without faith, or any that is acceptable to God, or of any avail to men; for calling on the name of the Lord, as it ought to be practised in all religious worship, so it includes and every part of worship as done in faith:

and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? the meaning is, that there is no faith in Christ without hearing of him; as it is in human, so in divine faith, there may be believing without seeing, but not without hearing; so we believe that there were such men as Alexander and Julius Caesar, and other persons now in being, though we never saw them, having heard of them, or had a report made of them, which we have reason to give credit to; so there may be, and is faith in Christ without seeing him with our bodily eyes, though not without hearing of him; for of an unheard of person, there can be no faith in him, because no exercise of thought about him. This is to be understood of outward hearing of the word, and of adult persons only; for that, infants may have the grace of regeneration, and so faith wrought in them by the Spirit of God, without hearing the word, is not to be denied; since as they are capable of the principles of corruption, why not of grace? and also of such persons as have the right and free exercise of the faculties of hearing and speaking, and not of such who never could hear, and speak; for as the Spirit works where, and how he pleases, so he can work faith in the hearts of such persons who never heard the word, and enable them to exercise it on the proper object, and cause them secretly to call upon the name of the Lord, with groans which cannot be uttered. Moreover, this is to be, understood of the ordinary way and means of believing; for though God can, and sometimes does work by other means, and even without any, yet his usual way and method is, to bring men to faith and repentance by the hearing of the word:

and how shall they hear without a preacher? or there is no hearing without, preaching; there may be reading without it, and this ought to be where there is preaching, to see that what is preached is agreeably to the Scriptures; but there is no hearing the word explained without preaching; explaining the word is preaching. There is no hearing of Christ, and salvation by him, without the preaching of the Gospel; the usual and ordinary way of hearing from God, and of Christ, is by the ministry of the word: this shows not only the necessity and usefulness of the Gospel ministry, but also points out the subject matter of it, which is Christ, and him crucified. They that preach ought to preach concerning the person of Christ, his offices, grace, righteousness, blood, sacrifice and satisfaction, otherwise men may hear the preacher, and not hear Christ.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? {9} and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

(9) That is, true faith, which seeks God in his word, and that preached: and this preaching God has appointed in the Church.

Romans 10:14-15. Introduction: In order now that men should call on the name of the Lord, it is necessary that they should have been believing, hearing, preaching, and that the sending forth of preachers should have taken place, which sending forth also the Scripture prophesies. The object of this introduction is not already to cut off every way of escape from the Jews (Chrysostom, Theodoret, and several others, including Köllner), for this is spoken of for the first time in Romans 10:18 ff.; but the necessity of the evangelical ἀποστολή is first of all to be established generally, in order then to make the disobedience of the Jews stand out with the force of contrast. Grotius and Michaelis see in Romans 10:14-15 a Jewish objection, which alleges that the gospel had not been preached to all the Jews in the world, etc.; Paul then answers in Romans 10:16 ff. But how unsuitably he would have answered! Must he not, before everything else, make good—what he only brought in at Romans 10:18—that all Jews had heard the announcement of the gospel? The objection here assumed is made by Paul himself in Romans 10:18.

οὖν] draws an inference from Romans 10:13 : How shall they accordingly (in pursuance of the requirement of ἐπικαλεῖσθαι contained in Romans 10:13) call on, etc.? On the future of ethical possibility, see Winer, p. 262 [E. T. 348]. Important codd. and Lachm. have, instead of the futures, the deliberative subjunctive aorists: How should they, etc.? The attestation in the case of the different verbs, of which Tisch. 8. likewise reads the subjunctive forms, although he retains instead of ἀκούσωσιν the future form ἀκούσονται, is so unequal, that we can come to no decision. Comp. generally Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 734 f. The subject to ἐπικαλέσονται κ.τ.λ. is those who, according to the passage of Scripture in Romans 10:13, shall attain to salvation through calling on the name of the Lord; that to κηρύξουσιν and ἀποστάλ., the κηρύσσοντες. The impersonal rendering (Fritzsche, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Philippi, van Hengel, and several others) has against it the fact that κηρύξ. has not the same general subject as the foregoing verbs.

εἰς ὃν οὐκ ἐπίστ.] Him, on whom they have not become believing; see Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 92.

πῶς δὲ πιστεύσουσιν κ.τ.λ·] Rightly the Vulg.: “Quomodo credent ei, quem non audierunt.” οὗ is not an adverb of place (Hofmann); for thus after εἰς ὅν the symmetry of the discourse would only be heterogeneously disturbed. Nor can it denote de quo (Luther, Castalio, and many, including Philippi and van Hengel), since ἀκούειν τινός in the sense of ἀκ. περί τινος, without a participle annexed, is entirely foreign both to the N. T. and to Greek prose (Xen. Mem. iii. 5. 9 is a case of attracted genitive); and in Homer only, Od. iv. 114, is the solitary instance of it found. See Kühner, II. 1, p. 309; Buttmann, Progr. üb. d. syntakt. Verbind. der Verba ἀκούειν and ἀκροᾶσθαι, Potsd. 1855, pp. 7, 12, and neut. Gr. p. 144 f. Just as little is the object, i.e. the contents of the preaching heard, meant by οὗ, which would rather be expressed by ὅν (Ephesians 4:21); but rather the speaking subject, who is listened to as he from whom the discourse proceeds (Mark 6:20; Mark 7:14; Luke 2:46, et al.; Winer, p. 187 [E. T. 249]), Christ being in this case conceived of as speaking through His preachers (see the following); comp. Ephesians 2:17. On the general thought, comp. Plat. Rep. p. 327 C: ἦ καὶ δύναισθʼ ἂν, ἦ δʼ ὃς, πεῖσαι μὴ ἀκούοντας;

χωρὶς κηρύσς.] without their having a preacher, apart from a preacher. Comp. Tittmann, Synon. p. 95; who, however, wrongly explains, οὐ πιστεύσαντες τῷ κηρύσσοντι.

ἀποσταλῶσι] Whence? διὰ ῥήματος Θεοῦ, Romans 10:17, informs us.

The form of the argument is a sorites, and its conclusion: The appointment of evangelical heralds is the first condition in order to bring about the calling upon the Lord. This retrograde sorites thus leads us back to the source; and of the ἀποστολή thus suggesting itself as primarily necessary, the prophetic confirmation from Isaiah 52:7 (not closely after the LXX.) is then given. This “dulcissimum dictum” (Melanchthon), because it speaks of the message of blissful liberation from exile, therein possesses the Messianic character, as concerning the restoration of the theocracy; and therefore is legitimately understood by Paul—in connection with the Messianic idea and its historical fulfilment—as a prophecy of the evangelical preachers. These preach salvation (שָׁלו̇ם, meaning in Isaiah also not merely peace, but the theocratic cratic saving deliverance), preach good (טוֹב); that is, still more generally, omne quod felix faustumque est, which is to be received through Christ, the accomplisher of the divine dominion. That the Rabbins also understood the passage in a Messianic sense, and in what way, see Wetstein.

The opposite of the poetical: how pleasant are the feet (i.e. how welcome the arrival), etc., at Romans 3:15; Acts 5:9; Nehemiah 1:1-5; see Schaefer, ad Eur. Or. 1217; Boeckh, Expl. Pind. p. 281; Wunder, ad Soph. El. 1357 f. p. 120.

Romans 10:14-21. In order to realize this calling upon the Lord, proclaimers of the gospel had of necessity to be sent forth; nevertheless all did not obey the gospel; in which case neither does this excuse avail, that they had not heard the preaching (Romans 10:18); nor that, that Israel did not recognise the universality of the preaching (Romans 10:19 ff.). Thus, following up 1–13, there is still further set forth the people’s own guilt in their exclusion.

Romans 10:14 f. It is difficult to trace very clearly the line of the Apostle’s thought here. Many scholars (including W. and H. and Lipsius) connect Romans 10:14-15 closely with what precedes, and mark a break between Romans 10:15 and Romans 10:16. It is as if Paul were expanding the πᾶς of Romans 10:13 and justifying that universal preaching of the Gospel which was itself a stumbling-block to the Jews. Every one who invokes the name of the Lord shall be saved, and therefore the conditions of such invocation must be put within reach of every one. It is no argument against this interpretation that the ideas it introduces are not essential to the main purpose of the chapter, which is to prove the culpability of the Jews: the eager fulness of Paul’s mind often carries him on thus. Others read Romans 10:14-21 continuously, and mark a break at Romans 10:13 (e.g., Weiss, Sanday and Headlam). They lay stress on the οὖν in Romans 10:14 (cf. Romans 9:14, Romans 9:30, Romans 11:1; Romans 11:11) as indicating that a paragraph has ended, and that the writer is facing the consequences which flow from it, the objections which can be made to it, etc. In this case the connection would be something like this. Salvation depends upon invoking Christ; but to invoke Christ depends upon certain conditions which the Jews may say it has been beyond their power to fulfil; let us inquire into the conditions, and see whether such a plea holds good. The first of these connections seems to me much the simpler, and it has the advantage of covering the second. For if the invocation of Christ, which is the sole and universal condition of salvation, has been made possible for all men, it has been made possible for the Jews. The special application to them, in which the argument of the chapter is clinched, is not made till Romans 10:19; here they are only involved with the rest of the world which has heard the Gospel. πῶς οὖν ἐπικαλέσωνται: sc. τοῦτον. πῶς δὲ πιστεύσωσιν οὗ οὖκ ἤκουσαν; It is simplest to render, How are they to believe on Him Whom they have not heard? identifying the voice of the preachers with that of Christ. Winer, p. 249. Cf. Ephesians 2:17. The rendering, Him of Whom they have not heard, would be legitimate in poetry. πῶς δὲ ἀκούσωσιν: this deliberative form is in all probability right: see critical note and Blass, Gramm. des Neut. Griech., 205. ἐὰν μὴ ἀποσταλῶσιν: viz., by the Lord Whom they preach, and Who is heard speaking when they speak. Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:17, ἀπέστειλέν με Χριστὸςεὐαγγελίζεσθαι. To find here the idea of an official ministry, as something belonging essentially to the constitution of the Church, is grotesque. “St. Paul argues back from effect to cause, through the series of Prayer, Faith, Hearing, Preaching, Sending; thus the last link in his argument must be the first in the realisation from which the rest follow; this one therefore he confirms by the prophetic announcement in Isaiah 52:7” (Gifford). ὡς ὡραῖοι: the true text of Romans greatly abbreviates the prophet’s words, but the joy with which the deliverance from Babylon was foreseen is in keeping with that with which Paul contemplates the universal preaching of the Gospel.

14. How then, &c.] This is an argument for the evangelization of the heathen, as against the jealous reserve of Pharisaic Judaism. Q. d., “The prophets announce a salvation for all who turn to Messiah; but these must first believe Him to be able to save; but believers must first be hearers; therefore there must be preachers, missionaries, sent out from the possessors of the true faith.” All this proves that a large proclamation of Messiah to the Gentiles, by Jewish missionaries, (as Paul,) was in perfect accord with the prophecies.

Romans 10:14. Οὗ οὐκ ἤκουσαν) whom, namely, when speaking in the Gospel, Romans 10:15, or offering Himself, they have not heard.

Verses 14, 15. - How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? This question may be taken, in the first place, as serving to connect the two passages from Joel and from Isaiah (see previous note). But it is further the beginning of a sorites, suggested by a new thought, which is carried out to the end of the chapter. The course of this new thought through the rest of the chapter may be expounded as follows: It might be pleaded, in behalf of the unbelieving Jews, that they had never really heard, through preachers duly sent to them, the gospel message; and hence that they were not to be blamed for rejecting it. With this idea before him, the apostle first (vers. 14, 15) allows generally, in the form of a series of questions, that, as before calling on the Lord there must be faith, so before faith there must be hearing, before hearing there must be preaching, and for preaching there must be authorizing mission; and he quotes, in illustration, a passage from Isaiah, which describes beautifully the preaching of good tidings of peace by commissioned messengers to all the world. But he is careful to add (vers. 16, 17) that, according to the same prophet, such universal preaching, and consequent hearing, does not involve universal hearkening; thus showing, in view of the main purpose of his argument, that the fact of the Jews not hearkening now is no evidence that they had not heard. Then he goes on to ask whether any could plead the excuse of not having heard, so as to justify want of the faith that cometh of hearing. Nay, he replies (ver. 18), the sound of the good tidings has gone forth to all the earth, even like the language of nature spoken of in Psalm 19. Then (ver. 19), pressing his argument home to the Jews, who have been all along in view, he asks, "But I say, Did not Israel know?" The word ἕγνω, being different from ἤκουσααν previously used, must express some different meaning. But what St. Paul exactly meant by it is not quite clear. The quotations from the Old Testament that follow in proof of knowledge (vers. 19, 20) seem to support the view that what Israel knew, or ought to have known, was the Divine design of the promulgation of the "good tidings" to all the world, which has just been spoken cf. Such promulgation should have been to them no stumbling-block; for it had been told to them from Moses downwards, and they had full opportunity of knowing it. Lastly (ver. 21), the apostle intimates that the present state of things, in which Gentiles accept the gospel while Israel in the main rejects it, far from being an objection to it, is but a further fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecies, which represent God as making himself known to those who had not known him, while pleading with Israel in vain. This exposition of the supposed course of thought being borne in mind, the passage (with the further aid of some interposed comments) may become intelligible. It continues: 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 (or, good tidings) of peace, and] bring glad tidings of flood things! (Isaiah 3:7). The genuineness of the. words within brackets is at least doubtful. Even with them the text is not quoted in full, though sufficiently to remind of its purport. Romans 10:14
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