28 March 2012

Romans 10:1-21

"If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and beleive in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (v. 9)


Paul is dealing with the question why his Jewish contemporaries have not, by and large, responded to the message of Jesus in the way that Gentiles (non Jews) have. As always, he turns to the Old Testament for clues.

He does not question the special place the Jewish people have in God's purposes ("to the Jew first and also to the Greek", Romans 1:16), but argues that they have misunderstood the basis of that relationship. He draws a distinction between righteousness (that is, being in a right relationship with God) based on obedience to the law given by God, and righteousness based on a response in faith to God's gift of Jesus Christ. Such a response is open to Jew and non-Jew alike.

Interpreters are not agreed about what Paul means by "Christ is the end of the law" (v. 4). "End" could mean 'the fulfilment to which the law points'. If, on the other hand, he means that Christ has abolished the law, it is only in the sense in which it is misunderstood by his Jewish contemporaries. Certainly obedience remains important. Faith itself is a form of it (verse 17), andchapters 12 to 16 of Romans have much to say about appropriate lifestyle. What matters is the basis of our relationship to God. It is, and always has been, faith (compare Romans 4:3); faith openly expressed (verse 9). In verse 10 "justified" means restored to a right relationship with God.

The reference to the resurrection in verse 9 is important for Paul. It is God's affirmation that Jesus, although crucified, is indeed God's Messiah. It was that discovery on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1-9) that brought Paul to faith.

Of course the message about Jesus has to be heard if there is to be a response. As verses 14 to 21 affirm, preachers have been sent, but not all who heard the message have responded.

To Ponder

How important is openly confessing the faith we have?

How would you express the difference between 'establishing our own righteousness' and 'submitting to God's' (verse 3)?

How important is it for you to believe in the resurrection of Jesus? Why?


Bible notes author

The Revd Brian Beck

Brian Beck is a Methodist minister, now retired, and a former president and secretary of the Methodist Conference. A large part of his ministry has been spent in theological education, both in Limuru, Kenya, and in Cambridge, England..