Romans 10:18
But I say, Have they not heard? Yes truly, their sound went into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerNewellParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTeedTTBVWSWESTSK
(18) Have they not heard?—The relations of hearing to belief suggest to the Apostle a possible excuse for the Jews, and the excuse he puts forward interrogatively himself: “But, I ask, did they (the Jews) not hear?” Yes, for the gospel was preached to them, as indeed to all mankind.

Their sound.—Here, the voice of the preachers; in the original of Psalms 19, the unspoken testimony of the works of nature, and especially the heavenly bodies, to natural religion (“What though no real voice or sound,” &c.).

Romans 10:18-21. But I say, Have they not heard — As if he had said, Their unbelief was not owing to the want of hearing. For they have heard; yes, verily, &c. — So many nations have already heard the preachers of the gospel, that I may, in some sense, say of them as David did of the lights of heaven, Their sound went into all the earth, &c. — To the utmost parts of the known world. But I say, Did not Israel know — Namely, that the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, and many of them thereby made members of the church? They might have known it even from Moses and Isaiah, that many of the Gentiles would be received, and many of the Jews rejected. For first, Moses saith, (Deuteronomy 32:21,) I will provoke you to jealousy — To the highest degree of displeasure and exasperation; by them that are no people — By bestowing your privileges on the Gentiles, who at present are not my people, and of no account with me. As the Jews followed gods that were not gods, so he accepted, in their stead, a nation that was not a nation; that is, a nation that was not in covenant with him. This the Jews could not endure to hear of, and were exceedingly enraged when the apostles preached the gospel to the Gentiles. And by a foolish nation — A people who were destitute of the knowledge of the true God, and showed themselves to be fools by their idolatries. See Jeremiah 10:8. But indeed all who know not God, may well be called foolish. But Esaias is very bold — And speaks plainly what Moses only intimated, and by so doing showed he was not afraid of the resentment of the Jews, who he knew would be exceedingly provoked at the prophecy which he was about to utter. I was found of them that sought me not — That is, I will call the Gentiles, and by the preaching of my gospel will bring them to the knowledge of myself, who formerly neither knew nor regarded me. The Gentiles were too much occupied with the worship of their idols ever to think of worshipping, or even inquiring after, the true God. Nevertheless, even to them, while in this state, God, by the preaching of the gospel, made himself known, and offered himself to be the object of their worship, and their God in covenant. But to Israel he saith — Invidious as he knew his words would be to a nation so impatient of rebuke, All the day long have I stretched forth my hands — In the most importunate and affectionate addresses; unto a disobedient and gainsaying people — Who are continually objecting and cavilling; whom no persuasion can induce to regard their own happiness, so as to be willing to admit the evidence of truth, and the counsels of wisdom; and whose character is just opposite to that of those who believe with their hearts, and make confession with their mouths. The prophet’s words are an allusion to the action of an orator, who, in speaking to the multitude, stretches out his arms to express his earnestness and affection. By observing that these words were spoken of Israel, the apostle insinuates that the others were spoken of the Gentiles. See the notes on Isaiah 65:1-2. 10:18-21 Did not the Jews know that the Gentiles were to be called in? They might have known it from Moses and Isaiah. Isaiah speaks plainly of the grace and favour of God, as going before in the receiving of the Gentiles. Was not this our own case? Did not God begin in love, and make himself known to us when we did not ask after him? The patience of God towards provoking sinners is wonderful. The time of God's patience is called a day, light as day, and fit for work and business; but limited as a day, and there is a night at the end of it. God's patience makes man's disobedience worse, and renders that the more sinful. We may wonder at the mercy of God, that his goodness is not overcome by man's badness; we may wonder at the wickedness of man, that his badness is not overcome by God's goodness. And it is a matter of joy to think that God has sent the message of grace to so many millions, by the wide spread of his gospel.But I say - But to this objection, I, the apostle, reply. The objection had been carried through the previous verses. The apostle comes now to reply to it. In doing this, he does not deny the principle contained in it, that the gospel should be preached in order that people might be justly condemned for not believing it; not that the messengers must be sent by God, not that faith comes by hearing. All this he fully admits. But he proceeds to show, by an ample quotation from the Old Testament, that this had been actually furnished to the Jews and to the Gentiles, and that they were actually in possession of the message, and could not plead that they had never heard it. This is the substance of his answer.

Have they not heard? - A question is often, as it is here, an emphatic way of affirming a thing. The apostle means to affirm strongly that they had heard. The word "they," in this place, I take to refer to the Gentiles. What was the fact in regard to Israel, or the Jew, he shows in the next verses. One main design waste show that the same scheme of salvation extended to both Jews and Gentiles. The objection was, that it had not been made known to either, and that therefore it could not be maintained to be just to condemn those who rejected it. To this the apostle replies that then it was extensively known to both; and if so, then the objection in Romans 10:14-15, was not well founded, for in fact the thing existed which the objector maintained to be necessary, to wit, that they had heard, and that preachers had been sent to them.

Yes, verily - In the original, a single word, μενοῦνγε menounge, compounded of μέν men and οὖν oun and γέ ge. An intense expression, denoting strong affirmation.

Their sound went ... - These words are taken in substance from Psalm 19:4. The psalmist employs them to show that the works of God, the heavens and the earth, proclaim his existence everywhere. By using them here, the apostle does not affirm that David had reference to the gospel in them, but he uses them to express his own meaning; he makes an affirmation about the gospel in language used by David on another occasion, but without intimating or implying that David had such a reference. In this way we often quote the language of others as expressing in a happy way our own thoughts, but without supposing that the author had any such reference. The meaning here is, that that may be affirmed in fact of the gospel which David affirmed of the works of God, that their sound had gone into all the earth.

Their sound - Literally, the sound or tone which is made by a stringed instrument (φθόγγος phthongos). Also a voice, a report. It means here they have spoken, or declared truth. As applied to the heavens, it would mean that they speak, or proclaim, the wisdom or power of God. As used by Paul, it means that the message of the gospel had been spoken, or proclaimed, far and wide. The Hebrew, is "their line, etc." The Septuagint translation is the same as that of the apostle - their voice ὁ φθόγγος αὐτῶν ho phthoggos autōn. The Hebrew word may denote the string of an instrument, of a harp, etc. and then the tone or sound produced by it; and thus was understood by the Septuagint. The apostle, however, does not affirm that this was the meaning of the Hebrew; but he conveyed his doctrine in language which aptly expressed it.

Into all the earth - In the psalm, this is to be taken in its utmost signification. The works of God literally proclaim his wisdom to all lands and to all people. As applied to the gospel, it means that it was spread far and wide, that it had been extensively preached in all lands.

Their words - In the psalm, the heavens are represented as speaking, and teaching people the knowledge of the true God. But the meaning of the apostle is, that the message of the gospel had sounded forth; and he referred doubtless to the labors of the apostles in proclaiming it to the pagan nations. This Epistle was written about the year 57. During the time which had elapsed after the ascension of Christ, the gospel had been preached extensively in all the known nations; so that it might be said that it was proclaimed in those regions designated in the Scripture as the uttermost parts of the earth. Thus, it had been proclaimed in Jerusalem, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Rome, Arabia, and in the islands of the Mediterranean. Paul, reasoning before Agrippa, says, that he could not be ignorant of those things, for they had not been done in a corner; Acts 26:26. In Colossians 1:23, Paul says that the gospel had been preached to every creature which is under heaven; see Colossians 1:6. Thus, the great facts and doctrines of the gospel had in fact been made known; and the objection of the Jew was met. It would be sufficiently met by the declaration of the psalmist that the true God was made known by his works, and that therefore they were without excuse (compare Romans 1:20); but in fact the gospel had been preached, and its great doctrine and duties had been proclaimed to all nations far and near.

18. But I say, Have they not heard?—"Did they not hear?" Can Israel, through any region of his dispersion, plead ignorance of these glad tidings?

Yes, verily, their sound went—"their voice went out"

into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world—These beautiful words are from Ps 19:4. Whether the apostle quoted them as in their primary intention applicable to his subject (as Olshausen, Alford, &c.), or only "used scriptural language to express his own ideas, as is done involuntarily almost by every preacher in every sermon" [Hodge], expositors are not agreed. But though the latter may seem the more natural since "the rising of the Sun of righteousness upon the world" (Mal 4:2), "the Dayspring from on high visiting us, giving light to them that sat in darkness, and guiding our feet into the way of peace" (Lu 1:78, 79), must have been familiar and delightful to the apostle's ear, we cannot doubt that the irradiation of the world with the beams of a better Sun by the universal diffusion of the Gospel of Christ, must have a mode of speaking quite natural, and to him scarcely figurative.

He answers an objection, that some one might make in behalf of the Jews, to excuse them; that they could not believe, because they had not heard; and faith, as in the foregoing verse, comes by hearing. To this he answers, that the gospel was published to the whole world; therefore the Jews must needs have heard it. That the gospel had been preached all the world over, he proves by a testimony taken ont of Psalm 19:4: q. d. David tells you, that all have heard, or might hear; for the sound of the gospel is gone out into all the earth.

Objection. But David speaks of the works of God, as the heavens, the firmament, &c.

Answer. Some think the apostle only alludes to this place, {Psalm 19:4} and doth not allege it. Others think that the psalmist doth literally and historically speak of the heavens, &c.; and prophetically of the apostles, and preachers of the gospel. By

all the earth, in this verse, you may understand the greatest part of it; and by

the ends of the world, the remote parts thereof. But I say, have they not heard?.... , "but I say", is a phrase frequently used by the Jewish doctors in disputation, either in forming or answering objections. The Ethiopic version confines these words to Israel, and reads, "have not Israel heard?" whereas they are to be understood both of Jews and Gentiles; the question refers to each, and the answer is,

yes, verily: which the Arabic renders just the reverse, "no", or "not at all, notwithstanding their sound went into all the earth"; and so makes this an aggravation of their stupidity, and obstinate rejection of the Gospel, that they would not hear it, though its sound reached every place; but the answer is in the affirmative, they did hear. The Jews heard the Gospel in the times of Isaiah, and other prophets, though they disbelieved the report of it; they heard it from John the Baptist, and were pleased with his ministry for a while; yea, they heard Christ himself preach it, who spake as never man did, with power and authority, as the Scribes did not, and wondered at his gracious words; they heard the apostles of Christ, who for some time were limited in their ministry to them only, and after their commission was enlarged, were ordered to preach first to them; so that they could not say they had not heard it, and they were left entirely inexcusable. The Gentiles also had heard it; the apostles were bid to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature; and at a proper opportunity, they did as the Lord commanded them, and the Gentiles heard the Gospel with joy and pleasure; multitudes were converted everywhere, and churches raised through their ministry, according to the will of God; thus

their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world; the passage referred to is Psalm 19:4, which some here, as there, understand literally of the works of nature, the heavens, the firmament, the sun, moon and stars, proclaiming every where the being of God, his perfections, especially his wisdom, power, and goodness; so that the Gentiles were not without hearing of God, even whilst they were destitute of a divine revelation; which was a sort of a prelude of the after extensive spread of the Gospel among them: a voice, or sound, is ascribed to the inanimate creatures; and which is so loud, that it reaches to the end of the earth. There are three voices, the Jews say (f) which go "from one end of the world to the other"; and one of them is , "the voice of the orb of the sun": others understand these words of the law, of which many "encomiums" are given in the psalm from whence this passage is taken; and though it was delivered peculiarly to the people of the Jews, yet the fame of it reached the nations of the world, as Moses suggests it would, Deuteronomy 4:6; and the Jews say (g).

"that when the law was given to Israel, , "its voice went from one end of the world to the other".''

Or as it is better expressed by Philo (h), and almost in the words of this text,

"the fame of the laws which Moses left, is gone throughout all the world, unto the ends of the earth.''

But certain it is, that the apostle is speaking neither of the light of nature, nor the law of Moses, but of the preaching of the Gospel; and what the Psalmist, literally understood, says of the heavens, that the apostle in an allegorical and mystical sense, or by an argument from the lesser to the greater, or by way of allusion, applies to the apostles and ministers of the Gospel, the luminaries of the world, and stars of heaven; whose ministry, by this time, had reached the then known parts of the habitable world; as it was to do, before the destruction of Jerusalem, according to Christ's prediction, Matthew 24:14, and as the Apostle Paul testifies it had, Colossians 1:6, and in which he himself had a very considerable share, having preached the Gospel from Jerusalem, round about unto Illyricum. There is some little difference between the passage in the Psalms, and as cited or referred to by the apostle, who instead of "their line", reads "their sound"; which have made some suspect a corruption of the present Hebrew text, or a various reading; and that the Septuagint, followed by the apostle, used a copy which had not, "their line", but "their voice", and which was the true reading; but then how came the Chaldee paraphrase to render it by, "extension", and Aquila by "a canon", or "rule?" and besides, the Masora observes, that this word is no where else read, which is not true of for that often occurs; to which may be added, had this been the reading, the Septuagint would have rendered it most probably, as they do elsewhere, by "voice", and not "sound": but for the reconciliation of this let it be observed, that the Hebrew word signifies a rule, or plummet, or such a line as builders use in their work, as a direction to them, hence Kimchi (i) explains it by "their building"; and so it may signify any rule, or direction, whether given by writing, and so Aben Ezra (k) interprets it by "writing", or by word of mouth; besides, the carpenter's line, when stretched out, and remitted upon the timber, makes a sound, and hence the word might be used for one: all this agrees with the ministry of the apostles, who were builders; and as they worked by a line and rule themselves, so they gave out rules and directions to others, both by writing and preaching, both which reached far and near; this the apostle seems to allude to, in 2 Corinthians 10:13, where he speaks of the measure, line, and rule of their ministry, which reached to Corinth and further, without going into another man's line: moreover, that great Oriental critic, and our countryman, Mr. Pocock (l), has shown from the use of the word in the Arabic language, that the word in the Psalms may signify a loud cry, or noise, as well as a line, or rule; so that the psalmist and the apostle may be easily reconciled.

(f) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 20. 2.((g) T. Bab. Zebachim, fol. 116. 1.((h) De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 657. (i) In Psal. xix. 4. (k) In ib. (l) Not. in Portam Mosis, c. 4. p. 48, &c.

{12} 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.

(12) An objection: if calling is a testimony of election, were not the Jews called? Why should I not grant that, says the apostle, seeing that there is no nation which has not been called? Much less can I say that the Jews were not called.

Romans 10:18. A perhaps possible exculpation for the Jews is suggested by Paul as a spontaneous objection, and that in the form of a question to be negatived, and is then repelled with words from Scripture. “But I ask: Was it then in any way not possible for them to come to faith ἐξ ἀκοῆς? The preaching surely did not remain unheard by them, surely did not fail to come at all to their ears?” The correct view is simply and clearly given by Chrysostom. Incorrectly Hofmann: After Paul has introduced the prophet as speaking, he leaps over to the saying something himself, which that prophetic saying suggests to him. Against this may be urged, (1) that not here for the first time, but already in Romans 10:17, it is Paul who speaks; (2) that he, in placing himself in contradistinction to the prophet, must have written not merely ἀλλὰ λέγω, but ἀλλʼ ἐγὼ λέγω; (3) that ἀλλὰ λ. is not to be taken, with Hofmann, “Well! then I say,” since in that case ἀλλά would have the sense of agreement or concession (see Baeumlein, Partik. p. 16), which is suitable neither here nor in Romans 10:19. The ἀλλά is the quite customary ἀλλά of objection, which is made by oneself or in the name of the opponent; Baeumlein, p. 13.

On the following question: Surely it cannot be that they have not heard? observe that οὐκ is closely joined to ἤκουσαν, expressing the opposite of ἤκουσαν (Baeumlein, p. 277 f.; Winer, p. 476 [E. T. 642]; comp. 1 Corinthians 9:4; 1 Corinthians 11:22), and that the interrogative μή supposes the negative answer: by no means has it remained unheard by them, which negation of the οὐκ ἢκουσαν implies the assertion of the ἤκουσαν.

ἤκουσαν] sc. τὴν ἀκοήν. The subject is those who remained unbelieving (οὐ πάντες ὑπήκ., Romans 10:16), by whom Paul certainly means the Jews, although without expressing it directly and exclusively. The reference to the Gentiles (Origen, Calvin, Fritzsche, and others, including van Hengel and Krummacher) is quite foreign to the connection; comp. on Romans 10:15.

μενοῦνγε] imo vero. See on Romans 9:20.

εἰς πᾶσαν κ.τ.λ.] from Psalm 19:5 (close after the LXX.), where the subject spoken of is the universally diffused natural revelation of God; Paul clothes in these sacred words the expression of the going forth (ἐξῆλθεν, aor.) everywhere of the preaching of the gospel. Comp. Justin, c. Tryph. 42, Apol. 1:40.

ὁ φθόγγος αὐτῶν] their sound, the sound which the preachers (to these, according to the connection, αὐτῶν refers, which in the psalm refers to heaven, the handiworks of God, day and night) send forth while they preach. In the LXX. it is a translation of קַוָּם, which some have understood, with Luther, as their measuring linc (comp. Hupfeld), some, and rightly so, according to the parallelism, with the LXX., Symm., Syr., Vulg., and most expositors, as their sound.

The answer μενοῦνγε κ.τ.λ. (in which, moreover, Paul does not adduce the passage from the Psalms as a quotation) confutes the ΟὐΚ ἬΚΟΥΣΑΝ very forcibly, because it argues a majori, and even applies to all the Jews of the dispersion. But the conclusion that, according to our present passage, the gospel had at that time actually penetrated everywhere (even to China, America, etc.), is simply an arrant mistake, contrary to the nature of the popularly poetical expression, although, in imitation of the older commentators, renewed by Löhe (v. d. Kirche, p. 34 ff.), and Pistorius in the Luther. Zeitschr. 1846, II. p. 40. The universal extension of the gospel (comp. Colossians 1:6; Colossians 1:23; Clem. Cor. Romans 1:5) set on foot by the apostles on a sufficiently large scale, is continually in course of development. Comp. Romans 11:25-26.Romans 10:18. The process of convicting the Jews is now under way, and ἀλλὰ λέγω introduces a plea on their behalf. It is Paul who speaks: hence the form of the question μὴ οὐκ ἤκουσαν suggests his. opinion as to the answer. To hear is necessary in order to believe; you do not mean to say they did not hear? Cf. 1 Corinthians 9:4-5; 1 Corinthians 11:22. μενοῦνγε is immo vero. The contrary is so clearly the case that there is a touch of derision in the word with which Paul introduces the proof of it. Cf. Romans 9:20. The Gospel has been preached in all the world: the words of Psalm 19:4 (exactly as in LXX) are at once the expression and the proof of this. Of course they refer to the revelation of God in nature, but their use will seem legitimate enough if we remember that Paul knew the extent to which the Gospel had been proclaimed in his day. Cf. Colossians 1:6; Colossians 1:23. It was as widely diffused as the Diaspora, and the poetic inspired expression for this had a charm of its own.18. But I say] Here the connexion recurs to Romans 10:16, after the parenthetic inference from the quotation there made. Isaiah had said “Who hath believed?” St Paul now quotes again to shew that this means anything but “Who hath heard?” Prophecy contemplated a world-wide preaching, whatever might be the limits of believing.

Have they not heard?] Better, Did they not hear? See on Romans 10:16.

Yes verily] Same word in Gr. as that rendered Nay but, Romans 9:20. It is corrective; the hearing was not only wide, but world-wide.

their sound, &c.] Here Psalm 19:4 is quoted, (Psalm 18:4, LXX.,) verbatim with the LXX., and closely with the Heb. The Heb. word rendered “sound” means precisely “line” or “chord;” probably in the sense of a musical note, and specially a key-note—the basis of the strain.—The words are not formally introduced as a quotation, but no doubt are really such; not merely an adaptation. In the world-wide message of the stars concerning God, St Paul is led to see a Divine intimation of the world-wide message of His Gospel. Natural Religion was but the parable and forerunner of the final Revelation.—The past tense is the past of prophecy; the purpose is regarded as fulfilled. Q. d., “Were not all men, in the Divine intention, hearers? Yes, verily: prophecy regarded them as such.”—By the date of this Epistle, vast tracts of the then “world” were penetrated by the “word of God.” But this is not the strict reference of the past tense in the quotation, which points to the completeness of the Divine purpose.Romans 10:18. Μὴ οὐκ ἤκουσαν, Have they not heard? [μἠ Interrog. implies a negative answer is expected: so Latin num; you cannot say they have not heard, can you?]) You cannot say, can you, that the faculty of hearing was wanting in them, since faith comes only by hearing?—εἰς πᾶσανῥήματα αὐτῶν) So the LXX., Psalm 19:5. In that Psalm, there is a comparison drawn, and the protasis is accordingly, Romans 10:2-7, and the apodosis, Romans 10:8, etc. Hence we clearly perceive the same reason for the Proclamation made by the heavens, and the Gospel,[119] which penetrates into all things [So the proclamation of the heavens, “There is no speech,” etc., “where their voice is not heard,” etc.] The Comparison rests mainly on the quotation of the apostle, and offers no violence to the text.—ὁ φθόγγος, the sound, Psalm 19:5, קו. Aquila had at a former period translated that word κανών, rule.—Comp. by all means, 2 Corinthians 10:13. Every apostle had his own region and province, as it were, defined, to which his voice was to come, but a rule only refers to single individuals, a sound or word extends to the whole earth.

[119] “The heavens declare the glory of God,” etc.:κηρύσσειν to preach, is properly to proclaim as a herald.—ED.Did they not hear? (μὴ οὐκ ἤκουσαν)

A negative answer is implied by the interrogative particle. "Surely it is not true that they did not hear."

Sound (φθόγγος)

Only here and 1 Corinthians 14:7, on which see note. Paul uses the Septuagint translation of Psalm 19:4, where the Hebrew line or plummet-line (others musical chord) is rendered sound. The voice of the gospel message is like that of the starry sky proclaiming God's glory to all the earth. The Septuagint sound seems to be a free rendering in order to secure parallelism with words.

Of the world (τῆς οἰκουμένης)

See on Luke 2:1; see on John 1:9.

Romans 10:18 Interlinear
Romans 10:18 Parallel Texts

Romans 10:18 NIV
Romans 10:18 NLT
Romans 10:18 ESV
Romans 10:18 NASB
Romans 10:18 KJV

Romans 10:18 Bible Apps
Romans 10:18 Parallel
Romans 10:18 Biblia Paralela
Romans 10:18 Chinese Bible
Romans 10:18 French Bible
Romans 10:18 German Bible

Bible Hub

Romans 10:17
Top of Page
Top of Page