Sunday, December 13, 2009

Romans 10:14-21

Mal Couch, Ph.D., Th.D.

Romans 10:14-21

God Provides the Blessing of Salvation for All

In these verses Paul expands on his argument to show that the Lord always had in mind reaching the Gentiles who were not part of the people of the Jewish people who are the children of Abraham, and who have given to them directly the covenant promises. The nations, or Gentiles, would be blessed through what God was going to do with Abraham, i.e. the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:3). "Through you I will bless all the families of the earth." The apostle also discusses salvation from the human level, in that God would use the messenger, a man sent with the gospel, to reach the pagan world.

How shall they call upon [Him] into whom they believed not? Or, how shall they believe in whom they heard? And how shall they hear without one who is proclaiming? (10:14) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:14 Paul now comes down to the human level and shows that, in God’s providence, He uses human instruments to reach men for Christ. God is the Author of history and He moves men, opens and closes doors, as He sees fit!

And how should they proclaim if they were not sent forth? Just as it has been written, How beautiful the feet of the ones good-messaging of good things? (10:15) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:15 In biblical days the feet were the ugliest parts of the body. People had dirty, rough, cut and callused feet because their feet were exposed to the elements. And, they wore open sandals as they traveled on rocky, filthy roads. But Isaiah takes another view about the feet of the messenger of the gospel truth! It is as if these feet are beautiful (horaios). The Greek word can be translated "with the vigor of life, young looking, well formed." The physical-ness of the feet are ignored but the purpose of these feet are seen by the spiritual message they bring to those in darkness!

The word "good-message" is actually the word "gospel." It is a compound word: eu=good, angelizomai=message. And it is used here as a Participle: "The ones who are continually bearing the good message."

Paul is actually quoting a premillennial verse from Isaiah 52:7. In verse 6 the Lord says "My people that know My name; therefore in that day I am the one who is speaking, ‘Here I am.’" That is the day that the nation of Israel as a whole will return to God and seek His face again. Paul uses the passage as a principle of how the truth is moved—through human agency.

But on the contrary, they did not all obey the gospel. For Isaiah is saying, Lord, who believed the report of us? (10:16) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:16 Now Paul quotes Isaiah 53:1. The covenant people come through Abraham-Isaac-Jacob-the Twelve Tribes. They have all the promises made to them. But this does not mean every one of the covenant people will personally believe in the Lord.

But on the contrary is a strong adversative conjunction alla (D&M, p. 240). It is used three times in this section of verses (vv. 16, 18, 19). Alla is always emphatic and can be used, as I use it here, as a "contrary" or as an "exception." "Report" is the Greek word akoe. It is related to the word "to hear" (akouo) and refers to a message verbally delivered.

The great amillennial commentator Alford falls into his allegorical trap but then comes out on the side of premillennialists. He writes: "The persons meant in this verse are as yet kept indefinite." But I ask, how can that be? Paul is clearly quoting from Isaiah 53 about the Jewish people! However Alford recovers and adds: "But evidently the Apostle has in his mind the unbelieving Jews, about whom his main discourse is employed."

Thank you Dr. Alford!

For the faith [comes] out of hearing, and the hearing because of the utterance concerning Christ. (10:17) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:17 The word "For" is the Greek word ara and is called a postpositive conjunction. This means that the word introduces a conclusive statement. It makes a summary. Again Paul’s point is to show how God has sent forth human instruments, men who carry the "utterance" (ramatos) about Christ. Thayer defines the word ramatos: "That which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken." It can even mean "doctrinal instruction." One could then say people need to hear the doctrinal instruction about Christ!

But on the contrary, I am saying, they heard not. Have they? [Yes] they have: into the earth the voice of them went out and into the ends of the [inhabited] earth, their utterances. (10:18) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:18 Paul now quotes Psalm 19:4. For "voice" he uses the musical word phthogos that means a musical sound. Psalm 19 is about the heavens declaring the glory of God. The expanse, the stars and galaxies are His handy work and proclaim His greatness. There are several ways to take Paul’s quoting of this passage about God and His creation:

(1) He could be saying that by "natural theology" God has sent forth His "good news" to the world, whether everyone has heard about Christ or not. This is similar to what he says in Romans 1. (2) He could also be saying, in so many words, that the gospel of Christ is kind of embedded in natural revelation. Humanity cannot deny God’s handiwork nor can people deny the gospel. (3) Finally, he could simply be making a parallel of natural revelation with the fact that the gospel of Christ is now going around the world so that all may hear its message.

But on the contrary, I am saying, did not Israel (distinctly) know? First, Moses is saying, I will make jealous you by [that which is] not a nation, by a nation without knowledge I will anger you. (10:19) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:19 "(distinctly) know" is an Aorist Tense of the verb ginosko. I translate it with the word distinctly because of the Aorist. Paul’s point is that the Jews were not in the dark, and never were, on this issue of hearing God’s truth. The Jews were not ignorant or innocent. The Jews were aware from the Scriptures of God’s intention with regard to themselves and the Gentiles. (Alford, p. 422)

The verbal phrase parazeloo is a compound of para=alongside, zaloo=jealous. The word carries the idea of "to provoke to jealousy or anger." I believe we have made a mistake by translating this word "jealous," rather than anger. The fact that God had begun to work with the Gentiles made the Jews furious. Alford agrees. He writes, "God be receiving into His favor a "no-nation" (Gentiles) to make [the Jews] jealous, and provokes them to anger." (Alford, p. 423)

Paul is quoting from Deuteronomy 32:15-25 where God is prophesying the apostasy of the Jews and a judgment that will then fall upon them. There Moses wrote that his people "forsook God who made him (Israel), and scorned the Rock of his salvation" (v. 15), and, "forgot the God who gave you birth" (v. 18). Then the Lord adds:

They have made Me jealous with what is not God, they have provoked Me to anger with their idols, so I will make them jealous with those who are not a people, I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation (v. 21).
Paul uses nation in the singular. He has no specific country or nation in view. It is a broad description in general of the pagan Gentiles, as a collective, whom God is now reaching with the gospel!

For Isaiah is bold and is saying, found Me by the ones not seeking. I "became found" to the ones not asking for Me! (10:20) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:20 The apostle continues to build his case and now quotes Isaiah 42:6-7. The prediction from Isaiah the prophet is that Israel will stop seeking God but the Lord will then turn to those not seeking—the Gentile nations.

The expression became found is the Greek word eurisko. It is the common word "to seek." It is an Aorist Passive Indicative. By God’s sovereign work with the Gentiles in this dispensation (PERIOD) of Grace, a new work was begun in reaching those who wallowed in lost-ness and unbelief! The cause of this "finding" was not a self-generated searching; it was by design and carried out by the Lord’s sovereign work of predestination and election! Innately the Gentiles never asked for God! "There is none who seeks for God. … There is not even one!" (Rom. 3:10-12). This is a key component of the doctrine of TOTAL DEPRAVITY!

But toward Israel I am saying, all the day I put forth the hands of Me to a people disobedient and obstinate. (10:21) (Couch, Greek Translation)
10:21 God, for a PERIOD (during this dispensation of Grace), has ceased working with the nation of Israel in the larger sense. This does not stop His future working again with them to bring them into the promised kingdom blessings. For now, Israel is set aside. We are in the PERIOD of the postponement, though many Jews, a remnant, is coming to Christ and added to the church. But the distinct theocratic work with the nation of Israel will again resume. The Lord will touch the hearts of His people and restore them to their promised Land. They will enter by faith. This is made clear by the prophet Ezekiel. He writes:

I will vindicate My holiness. I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will cause you to come out of your graves, My people, and I will bring you into the land of Israel. I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it, declares the Lord. (Ezek. 36-37)
How blind of the Reformed allegorists, amillennialists, and preterists, to deny these clear passages! One allegorist, Ellicott, caved in and had to be honest about the above verses. In a weak moment he became a dispensationalist/premillennialist and admitted: "The promise of earthly restoration must yet be made, and must in due time be literally fulfilled." (Ellicott, p. 305) It is too bad that most Reformed guys remain in darkness and deny the plain meaning of the Word of God!

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