Romans 10:17
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
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(17) So then faith cometh.—Inference from the prophecy just quoted. Before men can believe, there must be something for them to believe. That something is the word of God, which we preach and they hear. It must be remembered that the word for “report” in Romans 10:16, and for “hearing” in Romans 10:17, is the same, but with a slight difference of meaning. In the first place, both the act of hearer and preacher are involved; in the second place, only the act of the hearer.

By the word of God.—We should read here, without doubt, “by the word of Christ”i.e., by the gospel first delivered by Christ and propagated by His ministers.

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.So then faith cometh ... - This I take to be clearly the language of the objector. As if he had said, by the very quotation which you have made from Isaiah, it appears that a report was necessary. He did not condemn people for not believing what they had not heard; but he complains of those who did not believe a message actually delivered to them. Even by this passage, therefore, it seems that a message was necessary, that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the divine message. It could not be right, therefore, to condemn those who had not obeyed the gospel because they had not heard it; and hence, not right to make salvation dependent on a condition which was, by the arrangement of God, put beyond their power. The very quotation from Isaiah, therefore, goes to confirm the objection in Romans 10:14;15.

By hearing - Our translation has varied the expression here, which is the same in two places in the Greek: "Isaiah said, Who hath believed our report τῇ ἀκοῇ tē akoē? So then, you must admit that faith comes by that report ἐξ ἀκοῆς ex akoēs, and therefore this report or message is necessary." When it is said that faith cometh by hearing, it is not meant that all who hear actually believe, for that is not true; but that faith does not exist unless there is a message, or report, to be heard or believed. It cannot come otherwise than by such a message; in other words, unless there is something made known to be believed. And this shows us at once the importance of the message, and the fact that people are converted by the instrumentality of truth, and of truth only.

And hearing - And the report, or the message (η ̔ἀκοὴ hē akoē), is by the Word of God; that is, the message is sent by the command of God. It is his word, sent by his direction, and therefore if withheld by him, those who did not believe could not be blamed. The argument of the objector is, that God could not justly condemn people for not believing the gospel.

17. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God—"This is another confirmation of the truth that faith supposes the hearing of the Word, and this a commission to preach it." This is the conclusion of the former gradation, Romans 10:14. He speaketh here of the ordinary means whereby faith is wrought; not confining or limiting the Spirit of God, who worketh, or may work, by extraordinary means, yea, without any means at all. See Poole on "Romans 10:14".

By the word of God; by the command of God: q.d. The gospel could not be lawfully preached to them, for them to hear it, but by God’s command; and therefore the apostles and others, in preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, had good authority for what they did.

So then faith comes by hearing,.... That is, by preaching; for the word hearing is used in the same sense as in the preceding verse; and designs the report of the Gospel, or the preaching of the word, which is the means God makes use of, to convey faith into the hearts of his people; for preachers are ministers, or instruments, by whom others believe:

and hearing by the word of God; or "of Christ", as some copies read, and so do the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions; and intends either the holy Scriptures, which have God for their author, and Christ for the subject of them; and which furnish the men of God, or ministers of the Gospel, with proper materials to preach; and so hearing or preaching is by them, or else the command of God or Christ, which more properly signifies; and the sense is, that men preach the Gospel in obedience to the commandment of the everlasting God, and according to the orders, mission, and commission, warrant and authority, of the Lord Jesus Christ: and so these words are the conclusion, and sum of the whole; that as invocation is owing to faith, so faith to hearing, hearing to preaching, preaching to a mission; whence it follows, that it is the original will of God, to send forth his apostles and ministers, to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, as well as to the Jews; that they hearing might believe, and believing call upon the Lord, and so be saved by him: it is a saying of the Jews, , "hearing depends upon the word" (e).

(e) Zohar in Deut. fol. 110. 3.

{11} So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the {m} word of God.

(11) A conclusion of the former discussion: we must ascend from faith to our calling, for by our calling we came to the testimony of our election.

(m) By God's commandment.

Romans 10:17. Inference from the prophetic passage, with the view of substantially recapitulating what was said in Romans 10:14, and then pursuing the subject in Romans 10:18.

ἀκοή] the same as in Romans 10:16, the announcement, which is heard; comp. on John 12:38. From this comes faith; the heard preaching of the gospel brings about in men’s minds faith on Christ; but preaching is brought about by God’s behest (Luke 3:2; Matthew 4:4; Hebrews 11:3), set to work by the fact that God commands preachers to their office. Rightly have Beza, Piscator, Semler, Cramer, Fritzsche, Glöckler, Tholuck, Baumgarten-Crusius, so understood ῥῆμα Θεοῦ. For the ordinary interpretation of it, also followed by Hofmann, as the preached word of God, is incorrect for this reason, that according to it ῥῆμα Θεοῦ in point of fact would not be different from ἀκοή; and this ῥῆμα Θεοῦ does not point back to Romans 10:8, but to ἀποσταλῶσι in Romans 10:15, as the remaining contents of the verse show, so that the signification saying obtains textually the more precise definition of its sense as behest. But when ἀκοή has been taken in two different senses in Romans 10:16 and Romans 10:17, so that in Romans 10:16 it signifies the preaching, but in Romans 10:17 the hearing (Rückert, de Wette, Philippi, according to whom the preaching is to be analysed into its two elements, the hearing and the word of God, comp. Tholuck); or when in διὰ ῥήματος Θεοῦ, instead of “God’s word,” divine revelation has been substituted (Reiche, van Hengel, comp. Olshausen, who explains it as equivalent to διὰ πνεύματος Θεοῦ): these are just makeshifts in order to separate the incorrectly assumed notion of ῬῆΜΑ ΘΕΟῦ from that of ἈΚΟΉ.

How could Paul infer also ἡ δὲ ἀκοὴ διὰ ῥήματος Θεοῦ from Isaiah? Certainly not from the mere address κύριε, but rather from the whole attitude of the prophet towards God, as it is expressed in κύριεἡμῶν,—an attitude in which the prophet stands as the servant and ambassador of God, so that God thus appears as He on whose saying, i.e. on whose command, the ἀκοή is preached.

Romans 10:17. This verse is really parenthetic: Paul’s logical mind cannot let slip the chance of showing how this quotation confirms the connection of ideas in Romans 10:14. ἄρα suits a rapid passing inference better than the more deliberate ἄρα οὖν which is much more frequent in Romans. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:18, 2 Corinthians 5:14, Galatians 2:17. So then faith comes from a message (that which is received by the hearer of the Gospel), and the message διὰ ῥήματος Χριστοῦ through the Word concerning Christ. That which when heard is ἀκοὴ is when spoken ῥῆμα, and it is the condition of faith. The construction in ῥῆμα Χριστοῦ is the same as in τὸ ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως in Romans 10:8. The words could not signify Christ’s command.

17. So then faith, &c.] In this verse, which forms a parenthesis of thought, St Paul uses the quotation just made in a new reference; not now to the fact of unbelief, but to the means of faith. Isaiah’s words imply that the “report” of Messiah’s messengers was the appointed means for the conveyance of faith (“who hath believed?”) in Messiah. But this faith was (see above, Romans 10:11,) for Gentiles as well as Jews. Therefore Gentiles as well as Jews must have the “report” carried to them.

hearing] Same word in Gr. as that rendered report just above. See margin of E. V.

by the word of God] i.e. either “by His order,” or “by (the delivery of) His message;” “by the utterance of truth from and about Him.” The latter is on the whole more likely, both grammatically and by the context, where the necessity of evangelization is the main point.—A various reading, but not decisively supported, is “by the word of Christ.”

Romans 10:17.[118] Ἄρα, then) From the complaint of the prophet respecting the unbelief of his hearers, he infers, that the word of God and preaching, the proper source and handle of faith, were not wanting.—ἐξ ἀκοῆς) ἈΚΟῊ, hearing, and hence [the thing heard] speech, word, preaching.

[118] Ἡμῶν, [the report] of us) thy ambassadors, he means.—V. g.

Romans 10:17By hearing (ἐξ ἀκοῆς)

The same word as report, above, and in the same sense, that which is heard.

Word of God (ῥήματος Θεοῦ)

The best texts read of Christ. Probably not the Gospel, but Christ's word of command or commission to its preachers; thus taking up except they be sent (Romans 10:15), and emphasizing the authority of the message. Belief comes through the message, and the message through the command of Christ.

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