According to God’s Righteousness
All forms of righteousness are not the same (Romans 10:1-7)
Paul again makes it clear that he is not against Israel as a people. He strongly desires that they be saved. Everything isn’t all bad about Israel. They do have a strong zeal for God, but it is a zeal without guidance. It is a zeal acting without knowledge. Paul could testify personally of the matter (Acts 22:3; Philippians 3:3-7; Galatians 1:13-14). In persecuting the church, the Jews thought they were acting on behalf of God (John 16:2).
However, they failed to see God’s righteousness. They didn’t notice how God’s plans were being carried out (I Timothy 1:13; Acts 7:60). They were so focused on obedience to the Old Law that they failed to see that God did not intend for it to be permanent. Instead, they began to make up their own terms for what constituted righteousness (Matthew 15:1-9; 23:1-39; Mark 7:7-8). They rejected Jesus, failing to see that the Christ was the end (goal or completion) of the law so as to bring righteousness to all who believe (Galatians 3:24).
By clinging to the Law, Jews failed to see that the Law itself said that it could not bring about righteousness. Quoting Leviticus 18:5, Paul shows that the Law required perfect obedience, which Paul showed earlier cannot be accomplished (Nehemiah 9:29; Ezekiel 20:11,13, 21; Romans 3:9-16, 23; Galatians 3:12).
1. What does Paul desire Israel to be saved from? (Romans 11:26; I Timothy 2:4).
2. Is ignorance an excuse for wrong doing?
3. Paul quotes Deuteronomy 30:11-14. What did this passage mean in its original context?
Paul refers back to a time just before Moses’ death. Moses had brought Israel a new law that Israel needed to obey. He wasn’t giving them an impossible task. “For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach” (Deuteronomy 30:11). It did not require impossible journeys or impossible tasks. It did not need to be brought down to man’s level in order to be followed, yet this is what the Pharisees were attempting to do by “simplifying” the law by adding regulations. Nor was the requirements of God out of a man’s reach so that they needed replacing (Job 11:7). In Deuteronomy 11:13 the word in Hebrew is for the deep, which typically refers to the ocean, but Paul here uses it to refer to a different abyss. See also Proverbs 30:4. If this was the requirement of faith in the Old Law, then how much truer is it in the New Law?
Both examples, though from the Law, were stumbling blocks to the Jews. They could not accept that Jesus came from heaven, nor that he was resurrected from the dead.
1. How do people today trying to bring Christ down or bring Christ up in regards to Christ’s law?
2. Notice that Paul took a quote by Moses about the Law and applied it to faith. What does that imply about faith?
God’s righteousness is faith in action (Romans 10:8-13)
Instead of an impossible task, what did the Old Law require of the Jews? Quoting Deuteronomy 30:14, Paul shows that the Law was with them. It wasn’t far away, it is right there with the believer, easy to know and understand. God’s teachings were what they should be teaching (in their mouth) and what they thought about (in their hearts). This word of faith was the gospel taught by the apostles (I Timothy 4:6). What was true in Moses law is more true in the Gospel.
The Gospel requires both public confession of Jesus as Lord as well as actual belief. In times of persecution, people might be inclined to hide their faith, but this cannot be (Matthew 10:32-33; Acts 8:37). Similarly, in times of popularity some might claim to be Christians without really meaning it. It takes both action and sincerity to be saved (Romans 1:5; Philippians 2:8-11). This is not the whole, but it is critical. It leads to salvation but it is not the end point (I Peter 3:21).
Again, this requirement of faith should not be surprising to the Jews. Quoting Isaiah 28:16, Paul proves that faith in God has always been expected and Isaiah prophesied that faith in the Messiah was essential.
The requirement of faith is even handed. No distinction is made between the Jews and Gentiles (Romans 3:26-30). God gives abundantly to all who call on Him (Ephesians 1:3; 2:4). Again Paul quotes from the Old Law to prove his point (John 2:32). To call on someone’s name is to ask for that person’s authority or approval (Acts 25:11-12). When Peter was asked by what authority he acted (Acts 4:7), his answer was that he acted in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:10). The word “iniquity” typically translates the Greek word adikia, which literally means against authority (Isaiah 64:7). Those who call upon God – that is, to accept His authority over their lives – will be saved (Zechariah 13:9; Acts 2:21). Interestingly, baptism is an act that calls upon Jesus’ name (Acts 22:16).
Faith requires knowledge of God’s teachings (Romans 10:14-15)
But you can’t ask for the Lord’s authority over your life if you don’t believe in Jesus. For that matter, you can’t believe in someone you never heard of and you won’t hear of the Christ unless there are people proclaiming the message (Titus 1:3; I Corinthians 1:21). And there won’t be enough people proclaiming the Gospel unless they are sent (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15).
Again, this should not take the Jews by surprise. The spreading of good news by preaching was prophesied in Isaiah 52:7. Preaching is a critical and important element in God’s plan to save mankind.
Why isn’t everyone one saved? (Romans 10:16-17)
This then leads to the question that if this is all that is required, then why isn’t everyone saved? Both Jews and Greeks get the same message of salvation, so why aren’t the Jews responding as greatly as the Greeks?
The answer is that they have not obeyed because they have not believed what God said (Acts 28:24; Hebrews 4:2). Notice that there is an expectation that the Gospel had to be obeyed, and that it is due to a lack of faith which produces a lack of action (James 2:14-26). Once again, Paul quotes Isaiah, this time Isaiah 53:1, to prove his point.
Faith comes from hearing the Word of God. If people reject that word, they will not have the faith necessary to be saved (Acts 18:8).
1. Are people not being saved because God is preventing them from understanding His Word?
Is the problem that they didn’t know? (Romans 10:18-21)
Is the reason the Jews have not become Christians because they haven’t heard the Gospel? The answer is clearly false. The gospel was being proclaimed loud and clear throughout the world (Acts 26:26; Colossians 1:6, 23). It is just as the knowledge of God is broadly proclaimed by His deeds (Psalms 19:4; Romans 1:20).
Israel should have known this proclaiming of the gospel would reach the Gentiles while at the same time be generally rejected by the Jews because Moses prophesied it (Deuteronomy 32:21). The Gentiles are called “foolish” because of their sins (Titus 3:3). Isaiah foretold it in even plainer language in Isaiah 65:1-2. God was found by the Gentiles who as a people were not searching for God, while at the same time God was rejected by His own people (Proverbs 1:24).
Israel, despite how they viewed themselves, were not a good people (Isaiah 65:2-7; Acts 7:51-52; 13:45; 19:9). God reached out for His people, but they refused (Matthew 23:37).
1. Can Israel object to their rejection of the gospel by pleading that God planned it this way?