romans.gif (5336 bytes)


ROMANS 10:1-10:21
Last updated 12/31/00

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 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.


Introduction

The thrust of this chapter lies heavily in Paul's view of the Shema, which was reflected in the Jerusalem council ruling of Acts 15 (as revealed by God to Peter, Paul, James, etc.) Here it was determined that gentiles do not have to become Jews in order to have a relationship with Messiah.

The deeper reasoning behind this decision was that to require prior conversion would compromise God's oneness (i.e., the Shema) and the oneness of all humankind in Him. God is the God of the Jews and God of the gentiles.

By the time of this Romans letter, Paul faced several problems in his task. On the part of the Jews, some maintained the view that gentiles had to become Jews first as part of their faith in Yeshua. Others denied the righteousness of God by asserting their own special place with no regard for God's worldwide intentions.

As time went forward, there also developed problems among gentiles who did not maintain proper regard for the "Jewish roots" of their faith, as well as respect of and responsibility toward those Jews who did not yet regard Yeshua as Messiah. (Refer also to background notes.) Paul's words in chapters 9-11, set the stage for his counsel of chapters 12-15.


Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

"Brethren" in this context are both Jewish and gentile believers in Yeshua. Although this chapter, as well as the ones before and after it, are focused on Israel, Paul's message is very much for the gentiles in the congregation, as he will later remind the gentiles of the "obedience of faith," (see notes to Romans 1:1-7) with particular regard to those Jews who do not yet believe in Yeshua. In chapter 11, Paul will make it clear that his "ministry to the gentiles" is on behalf of Israel's salvation.

For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

Paul continues to show his respect for the faith of his Jewish brothers who do not yet believe Yeshua is the Messiah. This is important to remember throughout the rest of the letter.

3  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.

The Pharisees (and others) were very involved with the Torah, keeping many of its outward commandments quite well. (Yeshua Himself told the people to follow their example in this respect.) However, they did not see beyond the "outer garment" of the Torah commandments to the "goal" which those commandments pointed to (see 10:4 below). If they had been following Torah in faith, allowing God to circumcise their hearts ("to be born again"), they would have recognized Yeshua for Whom He was -- the ultimate goal of the Torah, and "Elohim" tabernacled in a human form (John 1:1-14).

At least that's what Paul claims.

However, the "case" for the religious leaders of Yeshua's day not recognizing Him for Who He was, is a difficult one to prove on a literal level. To lend (Hebraic) support Paul's argument, we will take a glimpse into a more obscure Jewish resource.

The Zohar (one of the most important sources in Hebrew mystical Torah study), states that it is quite possible to follow the commandments and not see the "body beneath the garments":

Soncino Zohar, Bemidbar, Section 3, Page 152a - Said R. Simeon: ‘Alas for the man who regards the Torah as a book of mere tales and everyday matters! If that were so, we, even we could compose a torah dealing with everyday affairs, and of even greater excellence. Nay, even the princes of the world possess books of greater worth which we could use as a model for composing some such torah. The Torah, however, contains in all its words supernal truths and sublime mysteries. Observe the perfect balancing of the upper and the lower worlds. Israel here below is balanced by the angels on high, of whom it says: “who makest thy angels into winds” (Ps. CIV, 4). For the angels in descending on earth put on themselves earthly garments, as otherwise they could not stay in this world, nor could the world endure them. Now, if thus it is with the angels, how much more so must it be with the Torah-the Torah that created them, that created all the worlds and is the means by which these are sustained. Thus had the Torah not clothed herself in garments of this world the world could not endure it. The stories of the Torah are thus only her outer garments, and whoever looks upon that garment as being the Torah itself, woe to that man-such a one will have no portion in the next world. David thus said: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Ps. CXIX, 18), to wit, the things that are beneath the garment. Observe this. The garments worn by a man are the most visible part of him, and senseless people looking at the man do not seem to see more in him than the garments. But in truth the pride of the garments is the body of the man, and the pride of the body is the soul. Similarly the Torah has a body made up of the precepts of the Torah, called gufe torah (bodies, main principles of the Torah), and that body is enveloped in garments made up of worldly narrations. The senseless people only see the garment, the mere narrations; those who are somewhat wiser penetrate as far as the body. But the really wise, the servants of the most high King, those who stood on Mount Sinai, penetrate right through to the soul, the root principle of all, namely, to the real Torah. In the future the same are destined to penetrate even to the super-soul (soul of the soul) of the Torah. Observe that in a similar way in the supernal world there is garment, body, soul and super-soul. The heavens and their hosts are the outer garment, the Community of Israel is the body which receives the soul, to wit, the “Glory of Israel”; and the super-soul is the Ancient Holy One. All these are interlocked within each other. Woe to the sinners who consider the Torah as mere worldly tales, who only see its outer garment; happy are the righteous who fix their gaze on the Torah proper Wine cannot be kept save in a jar; so the Torah needs an outer garment. These are the stories and narratives, but it behoves us to penetrate beneath them.

(This Romans study does not attempt to explore the text at too mystical a level. That is something we have reserved for our Revelation study.)

4  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

This is perhaps the most horribly translated verse in the "New Testament," and appears this way in almost every edition of Christian Bibles. The phrase "end of the law" should be translated along the lines of, "goal of the Torah," based on what Paul has been discussing to this point. The word "end" in verse 4, is telos in the Greek. Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (which is incidentally, a "Protestant" work), correctly states that telos in Romans 10:4, should be defined as, "the final issue or result of a state or process."

Christian translators have instead inserted the ambiguous phrase, "end of the law," to lend support to the false view that Paul taught that the Torah was done away with by Yeshua's work. Some, such as the New English Bible, go as far as saying, "For Christ ends the law and brings righteousness for everyone who has faith."1

Faith in Yeshua does not end the "law" (Romans 3:31, Matthew 5:17-21). Paul has already said in his letter that the Torah witnesses to the righteousness of God. The context of the entire Romans letter to this point and forward, is that if a person was/is following Torah in faith, that person will recognize Yeshua as the Messiah as He is the Torah in the flesh -- the goal of the Torah (refer back to verse 3 above).

Verses 5-10

In these verses Paul quotes several times from the Torah to show that the righteousness based in Torah is the same as righteousness based on faith/trust. No one was ever saved through doing works before Yeshua.

Today, followers of Yeshua who keep Torah are often accused of trying to "put people back under the bondage of the law," as if to say they are returning to an "old way" of salvation by works. This is an erroneous argument however, as there was never a works-based way of salvation before Yeshua came. Salvation has always been through faith -- as defined by God -- and God has given only one revelation (Torah) to live out this faith and to learn how to be conformed to His image. (See background notes on the Jewish view of salvation, faith and freedom.)

5  For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

Paul quotes Leviticus 18:5 and makes the point that the Torah points to God's truth and man can thus be saved via Torah, if he follows it in faith. The language in this verse ("shall live") is the same as Paul used in chapter 8 where he described salvation for the believer who by the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) puts to death the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination). Paul again equates following the Torah with following the Ruach, as he did in chapter 8.

6-8  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;

Another translation bias is found here. The first word of verse 6, "but," is de in the Greek, which has a variety of possible meanings. Christian texts (Young's Literal Translation being an exception), have used the word "But" in order to teach a contrast between the "way of Torah" and the "way of Messiah." This is absolute falsehood, as they are one and the same. (See also our Matthew study for more on this subject, as well as Not Subject to the Law of God? in the YashaNet library.)

Following the flow and context of Paul's letter (i.e., not putting an anti-Torah "spin" on the text), a correct translation of de in this verse, would be "furthermore" or "moreover."

In verse 7, Paul further equates (faith in) Yeshua with following God's Torah (Romans 10:4), by quoting a passage from the Torah (Deuteronomy 30:11-14), that speaks of obeying the Torah in faith (i.e., you don't have to work it, as it is in your heart), and directly applying it to "believing in Yeshua."

Again, Paul shows that faith/trust via proper understanding of Torah (Romans 10:2-3), and faith/trust via proper understanding of Yeshua (Matthew 5:17-21), are the same thing. You cannot follow Torah "in faith" and deny Yeshua, and you cannot "have faith" in Yeshua while maintaining that you are not subject to the Torah of God (Romans 8:6-7, 1 John 2:3-5).

9  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.

Having linked faith in Yeshua to the commandment of following Torah (in verses 6-8), Paul now brings forth the idea of "verbal repentance."

The Talmud has some interesting commentary on confessing sin and atonement:

Talmud, Yoma 36b - Our Rabbis taught: And shall make atonement — Scripture speaks of atonement through words. You say it refers to atonement through words. But perhaps it refers to atonement [obtained] through [sacrificial] blood? I infer it thus: Here ‘atonement is mentioned and there ‘atonement’ is mentioned — Just as the atonement mentioned in connection with the he-goat is one through words, so the atonement mentioned with the bullock is one obtained through words. And if you wish to argue against it, then [learn from]: And Aaron shall present the bullock for the sin-offering, which is for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house, yet the bullock has not been slaughtered! What does ‘And if you wish to argue against it’ imply? — This: And if you would say: Let us infer from the he-goat prepared within the Temple, the atonement of which is obtained through blood, behold [against that argument] Scripture says: ‘And he shall make atonement’, and the bullock has not been slaughtered yet!

Talmud, Megilah 20b - AND FOR THE CONFESSION MADE OVER THE OXEN, an analogy being drawn between the ‘atonement’ mentioned in this connection and that mentioned in connection with the Day of Atonement, as it has been taught in reference to the Day of Atonement: ‘And he shall make atonement for himself and for his house: the text speaks of atonement made by words. And atonement is by day, as it is written, For on this day shall atonement be made for you.

See background notes on the Jewish view of salvation, faith and freedom, regarding what Paul (the rabbi and Pharisee), means by "confessing and believing."

12-13  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.

Once again we see the theme of the Shema, which shows no distinction between Jew and gentile regarding opportunity for salvation. The term "whosoever," includes Jew and gentile, and once again points to the Shema. Here, Paul quotes from the Tenakh, Joel 2:32.

Verses 14-21

The balance of this chapter is concerned with God's restoration process that will demonstrate to the children of Israel that they had departed from His mercy. These verses are couched between Paul's desire for his people (Romans 10:1) and his having Israel's salvation as the ultimate goal of his ministry "to the gentiles" (11:1-14).

At the time Paul is writing Romans, much of Israel is still either wavering on the issue of Yeshua, or rejecting Him altogether. As we will see, Paul wishes to provoke His brethren to jealousy, so they would reconsider and obey the good news they had heard.

Paul fires off a series of questions to make his point:

14-16  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?

The subject in these verses remains Israel (as it has been since the end of chapter 9). Paul's mission to his brethren in the main focus of chapters 9-11. What is also important to note, is that Paul will leverage his arguments in the ensuing chapters (12-15), to show gentiles that they have a responsibility to Israel as part of their faith.

Paul's reference to those who preach the gospel of peace, is an indirect proclamation that the message of his ministry comes in truth and with the blessing of God.

Paul quotes (the "gospel message") from several passages in Isaiah 52 and 53 -- verses firmly rooted in the Torah. He equates the "suffering servant" of Isaiah, with Yeshua. Paul makes clear that much of Israel has not believed thus far, but this too is part of God's mysterious plan -- to open the door for gentiles to come to faith, who in turn, will provoke more of Israel to faith.

17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

"Hearing" ("shema") is not passive listening, but hearing with understanding of obedience. This was lacking on the part of most of Israel (i.e., Romans 10:2).

18-21  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.

Paul now begins to answer the questions he just posed. Israel indeed has heard the gospel message of the Torah that should lead them to recognizing the Messiah. Therefore (as he has alluded to earlier in the letter), those who reject Him have no excuse.

Paul's rebuke is not without precedent. The idea of Israel falling into sin by hearing and not obeying is not alien to their history -- nor is God's promise to send someone that would save them from this:

Isaiah 6:8-9 - Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

Isaiah 27:9 - By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.

Isaiah 59:20 - And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 31:33-34 - But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Were the book of Romans to end here, some might conclude that due to Israel's sin, God is done with them as "the chosen people." Paul heads off such a false conclusion with a stern warning in the next chapter.


1. As cited in the Jewish New Testament Commentary, David Stern, 1995, Jewish New Testament Publications, Clarksville, MD, p.395.


RETURN TO THE ROMANS INDEX