Romans Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. Brothers, my heart’s deepest desire and my prayer to God for Isra’el is for their salvation;
Compare 9:1-4a As a first approximation, in Chapter 10, Sha'ul writes mainly about the salvation of Jewish individuals, while in Chapter 11 he is more concerned with the salvation of the Jewish nation as a whole. On the word "salvation" see Lk 2:11 N.
2. for I can testify to their zeal for God. But it is not based on correct understanding;
Zeal for God is good, not bad (Ga 4:17-18); "who will hurt you if you become zealots for what is good?" (1 Ke 3:13) Thus not all zeal is fanaticism. True, zeal can be abused, as Sha'ul can testify; because before he came to faith, he zealously persecuted believers in Yeshua (Ac 7:58-8:3, 9:1-6, and especially 22:3-4, where he describes to the Jewish establishment his former attitude by saying, "I was a zealot for God, as all of you are today").
Why does non-Messianic Jewish zeal for God go astray? Because it is not based on correct understanding of the Torah, God's word about himself (literally, "it is not according to knowledge") — a statement designed at least to pique the curiosity of Jews who spend their lives studying Torah. Paul goes on to explain what he means (see vv. 3-10N).
3. for, since they are unaware of God’s way of making people righteous and instead seek to set up their own, they have not submitted themselves to God’s way of making people righteous.
These verses analyze the "ignorant zeal" of non-Messianic Jews (v. 2), and the structure of the argument is of critical importance. Verses 3,4 and 5 each start with the word "for"; thus there is a set of nested explanations — v. 3 explains v. 2, v. 4 explains v. 3, and vv. 5-10 explain v. 4. This verse is really just an expansion of what was said at 9:32a, but it has to be restated here in order to establish the chain of reasons noted in vv. 3-10N.
4. For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts.
The evidence that non-Messianic Jews "have not submitted themselves to God's way of making people righteous" (v. 3), which itself shows that their "zeal for God" is "not based on correct understanding" (v. 2), is that they have not grasped the central point of the Torah and acted on it. Had they seen that trust in God — as opposed to self-effort, legalism, and mechanical obedience to rules — is the route to the righteousness which the Torah itself not only requires but offers (9:30-32a&N), then they would see that the goal at which the Torah aims is acknowledging and trusting in the Messiah, who offers on the ground of this trusting the very righteousness they are seeking. They would see that the righteousness which the Torah offers is offered through him and only through him. They would also see that he offers it to everyone who trusts — to them and to Gentiles as well (vv. 11-13 below; 3:29-4:25 and 9:24-30 above).
Is Sha'ul guilty of stereotypical thinking and prejudice? Does he accuse all non-Messianic Jews of relying on self-effort and having an attitude of legalism? No, rather, he considers this to be the prevailing establishment viewpoint in the non-Messianic Jewish community of his time. Stereotypical thinking and prejudice (which when applied to Jews is called antisemitism) arises when an attribute possibly predicated truly of a community is applied uncritically, often falsely, to each individual in it. This Sha'ul does not do.
An error made by all major English versions and by most commentators — and one with profound antisemitic implications even when none are intended — is the rendering here of the Greek word "telos" as "end," in the sense of "termination." The King James Version is ambiguous — in it the verse reads, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth"; this leaves to the reader the decision whether "end" means "termination" or "purpose" (as in "the end justifies the means"). But other versions decide the matter for him, and they decide it wrongly. The New English Bible says, "For Christ ends the law and brings righteousness for everyone who has faith"; and the margin gives as an alternate, "Christ is the end of the law as a way to righteousness for everyone who has faith." The (Roman Catholic) Jerusalem Bible goes even farther: "But now the Law has come to an end with Christ, and everyone who has faith may be justified." Likewise Today's English Version (the "Good News" Bible): "For Christ has brought the Law to an end, so that everyone who believes is put right with God."
However, the Messiah has not brought the Law to an end, nor is he the termination of the Law as a way to righteousness. The Torah continues. It is eternal. God's Torah, properly understood as the very teaching which Yeshua upholds (1С 9:21&N, Ga 6:2&N), remains the one and only way to righteousness — although it is Yeshua the Messiah through whom the Torah's righteousness comes. For the Good News that righteousness is grounded in trust is proclaimed already in the Torah itself; this is the central point of 9:30-10:21. In seed form this was already stated at 1:16-17; Sha'ul declares it directly at Ga 3:6ff. To such a Torah there is no cessation, neither in this world nor in the next.
This truth is not peripheral but central to the Gospel, and it cannot be compromised, even if the whole of Christian theology were to oppose it! While there is a recent and valuable strand of modern Christian scholarship which acknowledges that Sha'ul is neither anti-Jewish nor anli-Torah, very little of this has penetrated popular Christianity. To Jews with even a modest amount of Jewish training the Torah is correctly understood as a central and eternal element of God's dealing with mankind in general and with Jews in particular. Therefore, the idea that "the law has come to an end with Christ" is for them both shocking and unacceptable. Fortunately the idea is also untrue!
According to Amdt and Gingrich's Л Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, the Greek word "telos," used 42 times in the New Testament, has to mean "finish, cessation, termination" in four or five places (Mk 3:26, Lk 1:33, 2C 3:13, MJ 7:3, 1 Ke 4:7). But in the great majority of cases its meaning is either (I) "aim. purpose, goal" toward which a movement is being directed (1 Ti 1:5,1 Ke 1:9), or (2) "outcome, result, consummation, last part" of a process not obviously being directed and which may or may not terminate (6:21-22 above, Mt 26:58, MJ 6:8). These meanings are reflected in the English word "teleology." the branch of philosophy dealing with goals and purposes. Then why is "telos" regularly regarded as meaning "termination" here? Because theology gets in the way of exegesis, wrong theology that falsely understands the Mosaic Law as not offering God's righteousness through trust, wrong theology that denigrates God's Torah and thereby both the God who gave it and the Jewish people to whom he gave it.
Even the paraphrases of the Living Bible ("Christ gives to those who trust in him everything they are trying to get by keeping his laws. He ends all of that") and Phillips ("Christ means the end of the straggle for righteousness-by-the-Law for everyone who believes in him") miss the point. The verse is not about our struggle but about God's Torah. It is true that whoever comes lo trust in Yeshua relies on Yeshua for salvation and thus ends his self-effort. But this verse does not speak of ending anything, li says that the great sweep of God's purpose in giving the Torah as a means to righteousness achieves its goal and consummation in the coming of the Messiah.
It therefore follows, Sha'ul says, that a person who has the trust in God which the Torah itself requires will — precisely because he has this trust, which forms the basic ground of all obedience to the Torah (1:5) — understand and respond to the Gospel by also trusting in God's Messiah Yeshua. It is in this way and only in this way that he will be deemed righteous in the sight of the God he wants to serve and whose Torah he wants to obey. Only by believing in Yeshua will he be able to obey the Torah. By disbelieving in Yeshua he will be disobeying the Torah. This is because the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers the Torah'a righteousness, which is God's righteousness, to everyone who trusts.
5. For Moshe writes about the righteousness grounded in the Torah that the person who does these things will attain life through them (Leviticus 18:5).
The quotation is from Leviticus 18:5, "You shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, which, if a person does them, he will live by them." Should there be any doubt whether the righteousness that results from obeying God's statutes and judgments leads to eternal life, the verse says, "he will live by them," on which Rashi (quoting the Sifra, a fourth-century collection of midrashim related to Leviticus), comments: "It refers to the world to come; for if you say it refers to this world, doesn't everyone die sooner or later?" Thus I translate the phrase, he will attain life through them — eternal life. The word for "live" or "attain life" is the same as that used at 8:12-13 to describe what will happen to the believer who "by the Spirit" keeps "putting to death the practices of the body." Conclusion: Sha'ul affirms that the Torah and the Ruach HaKodesh offer one and the same eternal life. This is consistent with and suggested by the fact that the Holy Spirit came to the first believers on Shavu'ot (Pentecost), the same day the Torah was given to Moses (see Ac 2:4&N).
The two most important of the "statutes and judgments" referred to in Leviticus 18:5 are stated by Yeshua at Mark 12:28-31: (1) loving God (the Sh 'ma, Deuteronomy 6:4-5) and (2) loving one's neighbor as oneself (Leviticus 19:18). Both are predicated on trusting in God: you can't love God if you don't believe in him as who he says he is, and since both you and your neighbor are made in God's image you can't love your neighbor as yourself in the sense that the Torah demands without believing in the God who made both of you. Therefore. Leviticus 18:5, quoted here by Sha'ul, backs up his point that obeying the Torah requires trust, not legalistic works.
6. Moreover, the righteousness grounded in trusting says: "Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend to heaven?’” — that is, to bring the Messiah down —
7. or, "'Who will'" descend into Sh’ol?’” — that is, to bring the Messiah up from the dead.
8. What, then, does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (Deuteronomy 30:11–14). - that is, the word about trust which we proclaim, namely,
8 Verse 6 commences with "Moreover." Conjunctions are little words easily ignored, but in a closely reasoned argument they can be of critical importance, even to the point of changing its entire sense. This is an instance. The Greek conjunction "de" used here, is confusing to English-speakers because it can have any of these three very different meanings:
(1) "And, moreover, furthermore," implying that what follows continues the thought already begun. Example: "I love you, and I will love you always."
(2) "Bui, rather, in contrast, on the contrary," implying that what follows is different from and contrasts with the preceding thought. Example: "I love you, but you don't love me."
(3) "But, but only if," implying that what follows is not in contrast with the preceding thought but does limit, condition or modify it in some way. Example: "I love you, but I need you to return my love."
Greek could use "de" in all three sentences.
Again, erring for the same reason as in v. 4, namely, deeply rooted antisemitism, all the major English translations and most commentators take "de" as "but" in sense (2). This makes vv. 6-8 contrast wilh v. 5 instead of continuing or modifying its thought, thusly: "The righteousness based on the Torah says one thing (v. 5), but, in contrast, the righteousness based on faith says something else (vv. 6-8)." This interpretation, like the one that makes v. 4 speak of terminating the Law, is antisemitic, even if today it is unintentionally so. It flows out of the Christian theology which mistakenly minimizes the importance of the Mosaic Law. This, in turn, is the fruit of the Church's effort during the second through sixth centuries of the Common Era to eliminate, hide or finesse the Jewishness of Christianity (see my Messianic Jewish Manifesto, Chapter III, especially pp. 52-55). It is crucial, therefore, to insist that vv. 6-8 do not present the righteousness based on faith in the Messiah Yeshua as different from the righteousness based on the Torah, but as the same — the same righteousness based on the same trust and leading to the same eternal life.
The chief reason vv. 6-8 should be seen as explaining v. 5 and not as presenting something new is that the quotation from Deuteronomy 30:11-14 which Sha'ul uses to make his point is from the Torah itself, the very Torah that is wrongly understood to teach legalism (both by the non-Messianic Jews Sha'ul is opposing and by the Christian interpreters I am opposing). Sha'ul quotes from the Torah in order to show that the righteousness grounded in trusting (v. 6) is exactly the same as "the righteousness grounded in the Torah" (v. 5). He proves this by showing that the very trust implicit in the Torah quotation of v. 5 (as explained in v. 5N) is taught explicitly as well — the Torah itself commands the very trust Sha'ul is talking about, trust in God and in his Messiah when he comes. Thus vv. 6-8 sharpen the meaning of v. 5, which is then seen to imply that the person who practices "the righteousness grounded in the Torah" (v. 5) will necessarily have the trust in Yeshua the Messiah that we proclaim (v. 8). That is, he will see that the Torah itself guides him toward the goal of trusting in the Messiah Yeshua (v. 4). Therefore, understanding "de" (v. 6) in sense (1). I have rendered it "Moreover" in the JNT, so that vv. 6-8 add to the point already made in v. 5 instead of contrasting with it.
But I would not oppose taking de as conveying sense (3), limiting what "the righteousness grounded in the Torah" (v. 5) can mean. Specifically, this would make v. 6 limit the righteousness grounded in the Torah to being nothing other than the righteousness grounded in faith. If this is the correct understanding, then vv. 4-6 are to be taken thusly:
"For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts. For Moshe writes about the righteousness grounded in the Torah that 'the person who does these things will attain life through them.' But that very righteousness which the Torah offers is itself limited by the Torah itself to being a righteousness grounded in trusting, because the Torah itself says, 'Do not say in your heart, "Who will ascend to heaven?"' — that is, to bring the Messiah down by means of works not grounded in trusting..," etc.
That is, the righteousness grounded in Torah (v. 5) says that you must trust, not that you must do legalistic works. It is true that the person who "does these things" (v. 5) will attain life and righteousness, but the "doing" of "these things" can only be accomplished in faith; it is by definition impossible to do them by self-effort, for that would contradict what the Torah itself requires. Thus vv. 6-8 limit the meaning of "righteousness grounded in Torah" (v. 5) to "righteousness grounded in trusting" (v. 6) and exclude from God's righteousness those Jews (and non-Jews) who think Leviticus 18:5 authorizes self-effort or legalism as a means of earning that righteousness. (That there were such people is clear from Ga 3:12&N, where Sha'ul quotes the same verse of Leviticus in the context of showing how legalists misuse it.)
Both this alternative rendering and the one found in the JNT are consistent with Sha'ul's overall reasoning in these verses and in Ep 2:8-1 O&N. Perhaps the most cogent reason for rejecting sense (2) for "de" is that Greek has a different word, "alia" which is a strong adversative, which Sha'ul could have used had he meant to present an alternative way of being considered righteous by God. Had he written "alia," it could only have been translated, "but, on the contrary, in contrast." As it is, the word "de" in the light of all that has been said, should be understood in either sense (1) or sense (3) but not in sense (2). No matter which of these two is chosen, vv. 6-8 must be taken as advancing the thought of v. 5, not as contrasting with it a second path to righteousness. Sha'ul is building on v. 5 to support his point of v. 4 and 9:32, that the Torah itself requires trust.
As I said, I believe Sha'ul quotes Deuteronomy to prove the Torah itself teaches that righteousness requires trust. But some think Sha'ul misuses the Torah by quoting selectively in order to apply the passage to the Messiah, whereas the original refers clearly and only to the Torah:
"For this commandment which I command you this day is not hidden from you, nor is it far away. It is not in heaven, which might make you say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us and bring it to us, so that we may hear it and do it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, which might make you say, 'Who will cross the sea for us and bring it to us, so that we may hear it and do it?' On the contrary, the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it." (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)
However, Sha'ul is not picking and choosing. He plays by the rules. According to the canons of rabbinical citation, the context is assumed as given — even a brief quotation is supposed to call to the reader's mind the entire passage of which it is a part (Mt 2:6N). Sha' ul knows this; he knows his readers cannot be "deceived" into ignoring the context, particularly the words adjacent to the ones he cites. Therefore, far from changing the p'shat ("simple sense," Mt 2:15N) of the text, Sha'ul is assuming his readers know the p 'shot already, so that he can base upon it a drash ("teaching") which should win the acceptance of anyone who approaches Torah in a spirit of trust.
Christian theologians who think the Mosaic Law offers only "works-righteousness" and not "faith-righteousness" (and Jewish critics of the New Testament who wrongly but understandably suppose that they can rely on such Christian commentators to expound the New Testament correctly) say that in v. 8 Sha'ul intentionally stopped short of quoting the phrase, "so that you can do it," at the end of the passage, because he knew they couldn 7 do it. In other words, these theologians think that Sha'ul knew something Moses didn't, namely, that no one was capable of keeping the Torah; and that therefore he extracted phrases from context and gave them the opposite meaning from the one they have in their original setting. Can Jewish critics be blamed for calling Sha'ul deceptive, if this is what he did?
But Sha'ul certainly was not a deceiver, as he himself protested when so accused (1С 9:20-22&N, 2C 4:2&N). Rather, in his drash he is referring the "commandment" and "word" of the Deuteronomy passage to God's requirement that Israel is to trust in the Messiah when he comes, the "prophet like me" whom Moses wrote about (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; see Ac 3:22-23&N). Furthermore, even though he doesn't quote the words, "so you can do it." he implies them by including this "doing" in his drash at vv. 8b-10&N. This is not deception but midrashic exposition.
In v. 7 Sha'ul's substitution of "descend into Sh'ol" for "cross the sea" does not seriously alter the underlying thrust of the p 'shot, but it does make its application to the Messiah clearer. Just as no human effort is needed to bring the Torah from heaven, where, according to Jewish tradition, it existed from eternity past, before God gave it to Moses on Mount Sinai; so likewise no one needs to ascend to heaven, where the Messiah once was (Yn 6:36, Pp 2:6-8) — even, according to Jewish tradition, from eternity past (compare Micah 5:1(2)) — in order to bring the Messiah down. Nor need one descend into Sh'ol, according to the Tanakh the place of the dead, where Yeshua also was (for three days; Psalm 16:10, Mt 12:39-^M), Yn 2:19-22, I Ke 3:19), to bring the Messiah up from the dead, because God has already done it (Acts 2:24-32). If there is no need to bring the Messiah from where he has once been (Sh'ol), all the more is there no need to bring him from where he has not been ("beyond the sea"); this is an implied kal v'chomer argument (see Mt 6:30N). In any case, the purpose of both the Deuteronomy passage and this one is to show that self-effort is neither necessary nor possible: both Torah and Messiah were given by God's grace, without human assistance, so that Israel might "hear... and do."
9. that if you acknowledge publicly with your mouth that Yeshua is Lord and trust in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be delivered.
10. For with the heart one goes on trusting and thus continues toward righteousness, while with the mouth one keeps on making public acknowledgement and thus continues toward deliverance.
The chain of reasoning begun in v. 2 continues (see vv. 3-10N). Providing evidence for what was said in v. 4. these six verses deal with Jews who trust; the extension to Gentiles who trust is discussed in vv. 11-13. The sequence of "Jew. then Gentile" is dictated by the fact that the New Covenant was made with Israel, that is. with the Jewish people.
In these verses Sha'ul quotes not from the Tanakh generally but specifically from the Torah "proper," the Five Books of Moses (see Mt 5:17N), in order to prove that the righteousness grounded in the Torah (v. 5) is nothing other than the righteousness grounded in trust (v. 6). (The purpose of these verses has been too often misunderstood; see below.)
The thing Israel is to "do" is the word, which is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. That word is not about following rules legalistically but is the word about trust that we emissaries of the Messiah proclaim. What is this "trust"? According to Sha'ul's analysis it consists of two components, trusting (in a narrower sense of the term) and acknowledging publicly; and for these activities one employs, respectively, the heart and the mouth. Only on the basis of such trust can our efforts to obey God's directives (1:5) lead to being made righteous (1:16-17) and to deliverance (or "salvation") from the death penalty which sinners (that is, all people, 3:23) have earned (6:23).
In fact, v. 9 plus the last two verses cited constitute the whole Gospel in brief, so far as the individual is concerned. As a sinner, you not only fall short of earning God's praise (3:23) but have earned death as your wages (6:23a). Nevertheless, God's free gift to you is eternal life through Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord (6:23b). If you put your trust in him inwardly (heart) and outwardly (mouth), you will be delivered from death to life (v. 9).
The Greek word for "to acknowledge publicly" is "omologein," usually translated "to confess" but meaning, literally, "to say the same thing" — in this case, to agree with what God has revealed in his word about himself and his Son. The public, open aspect of this agreeing is essential; this can be seen from the contexts elsewhere in the New Testament where the word "omologein" is used — Mt 10:32; Lk 12:8; Yn 1:20,9:22, 12:42; 1 Ti 6:13; 1 Yn 4:2-3, 15; 2 Yn 7.
An important consequence, especially for Jewish people, is that there are no "secret believers." The term refers to persons who believe that Yeshua is the Messiah but do not tell their family and friends and have little fellowship with other believers. True, trusting in Yeshua is often a process and not an instantaneous event, and during this period a person may not yet be "ready to give a reasoned answer to anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, with humility and fear" (1 Ke 3:15—16&N). If the person is in touch with other believers and being taught properly, this period should rarely be longer than a few days or weeks. In unusual cases it could last a few months, but it should never take years. Without exception, those who fail to acknowledge their faith publicly are aborted in their spiritual growth: in the end Yeshua will not acknowledge them before his Father in Heaven (Lk 12:8).
Trusting God means trusting that he will provide the spiritual resources needed to deal with trials of your faith (Mt 10:19-20). God normally uses more experienced believers to channel these resources to you — the religion of the Bible is not found alone in the lotus position. If you do not consider yourself "ready to give a reasoned answer," you should seek out other believers to help you.
I will make my appeal even more direct. I know a number of Jewish people — some are Orthodox Jews, some Hasidim — who agree mentally that Yeshua must be the Messiah but have gone for years without telling family, friends and colleagues. They are leading double lives; but the hidden life is not a life of faith, only a life of hiding. Behind their reticence is fear, but beneath the fear is lack of trust in God's ability to care for and protect them. According to v. 9 (and Ya 2:14-26), their mental assent is not saving faith. There are no secret believers. If this description fits you, I urge you to "come out of the closet" without delay. God will help you weather the crisis.
The Greek tense of the verbs in v. 9 speaks of action at a specific time, but in v. 10 the tense often implies continuing action, although the majority of scholars believe that Sha'ul is not actually emphasizing it here. Nevertheless, it is a fact that one usually comes to trust at an identifiable point or period of time; but in order to continue toward righteousness and deliverance, it is necessary that one goes on trusting and keeps on acknowledging publicly one's faith.
Finally, and most importantly, what is the significance here of naming Yeshua's Lordship and his resurrection as the two "articles of faith" essential to righteousness and salvation? Here "Lord" (Greek kurios) could be equivalent to either Hebrew Adon ("Lord," applied to God in the sense of "Ruler") or to God's personal name YHVH (represented in Jewish liturgy as "Adonuf' and in English writing sometimes as "Jehovah" — see Mt 1:20&N, 7:21 &N). To acknowledge... that Yeshua is Adon implies committing oneself to obeying him (1:5); this is the meaning of "kurios" at Mt 7:21-23. To acknowledge that he is Adonai means not only that, but also affirming that he is one with the Father (see Yn 10:30N), fully divine, with all of God's attributes and authority; this is the meaning of kurios at Pp 2:9-1 l&N. A case can be made for either meaning here. It must be pointed out that to acknowledge Yeshua the Messiah as Adonai is not to deny that the Father and the Holy Spirit "are" Adonai too, or to believe in anything but one God (Deuteronomy 6:4), or to believe anything that conflicts with the Tanakh.
But this acknowledgement of Yeshua's divine authority is meaningless unless, with respect to his humanity, he has been raised... from the dead. Further, only a resurrected Lord can be our cohen gadol interceding with the Father on our behalf (8:34; MJ 4:14, 7:25), only a resurrected man can be the firstfruits of the resurrection promised to us (8:23, 29; 1 Corinthians 15), and only a resurrected Messiah can come to rule in glory and fulfill the universal Jewish expectation of final deliverance for the nation of Israel (11:25-27; Isaiah 2:1-5, 9:5-6(6-7); Lk 21:27-28; Ac 1:6-7; 1С 15:51-52; 1 Th 4:13-18). Faith in Yeshua must be accompanied by the conviction in one's heart that he has been resurrected. An unresurrected Messiah can perform none of the Messianic tasks, and such "faith" is in vain (1С 15:12-28&NN).
11. For the passage quoted says that everyone who rests his trust on him will not be humiliated (Isaiah 28:16).
12. That means that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — Adonai is the same for everyone, rich toward everyone who calls on him,
13. since everyone who calls on the name of Adonai will be delivered" (Joel 3:5(2:32)).
-13 Although Sha'ul has been speaking of the Torah, which was given only to Jews, his analysis of trust in vv. 8b-10 implies that trusting is something that non-Jews are equally able to do (as we know already from Chapter 4). So he pivots on those verses to return to the theme of Gentile salvation raised at 3:27-4:25 and again at 9:24-30, and smooths the transition by citing the verse quoted at 9:33, the most recent appearence of this topic. There the stress was on "will not be humiliated": here it is on "whoever" —Jew or Gentile — rests his trust on the Messiah. Verse 12 supports this truth by restating the argument of 3:28-31; and v. 13 gives as evidence yet another Scripture, with emphasis on the word "everyone."
14. But how can they call on someone if they haven’t trusted in him? And how can they trust in someone if they haven’t heard about him? And how can they hear about someone if no one is proclaiming him?
15. And how can people proclaim him unless God sends them? — as the Tanakh puts it, "How beautiful are the feet of those announcing good news about good things!" (Isaiah 52:7)
The short digression on the Gentiles (vv. 11-13) is followed by a return to the case against Israel. Sha'ul now utilizes a method he has employed before (3:1; 6:1, 15), one used by the rabbis throughout the Talmud — he introduces an imaginary opponent to make objections and forwards his case by answering them. This opponent is perhaps best thought of as a non-Messianic Jew defending Israel and looking for the flaws in the argument of 9:30-10:13. He appears five times — by implication here (vv. 14-15), and explicitly at v. 18. v. 19, 11:1-2 and 11:11.
His first objection is to Sha'ul's use of the quotation from Joel in v. 13. His position is: 'That verse about calling on the name of Adonai should not be applied to Jews in the way that you have done. It is not our fault if we don't call on the name of Adonai through Yeshua, because no one was sent to proclaim him to us." His four questions detail the links: calling requires trusting, which requires hearing, which requires a proclamation, which requires that someone be sent — and the sender, in this case, would have to be God. In the end, therefore, he blames God: "If God had sent someone announcing good news about good things, we would have welcomed him, we would have thrilled to the sound of his feet" — that is the import of his quoting Isaiah.
A similar objection is heard today when it is claimed that the Tanakh does not contain Messianic prophecies fulfilled by Yeshua (or at best is unclear about them), so that Jews cannot be blamed for not receiving him as the Messiah. Again, the blame is laid on God — he didn't send us anyone, his message isn't clear; it's his fault, not ours.
16. The problem is that they haven’t all paid attention to the Good News and obeyed it. For Yesha‘yahu says, "Adonai, who has trusted what he has heard from us?" (Isaiah 53:1)
17. So trust comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through a word proclaimed about the Messiah.
Blaming God for human sin is as old as Adam (Genesis 3:12), and Sha'ul will have none of it. No, he says, your analysis is wrong, the problem is that only some (the Messianic Jews), not all, have paid attention... and obeyed (the two English verbs translate the single Greek word "upekousan" ("hearkened"). Sha'ul supports his assertion with a quotation from the same portion of Isaiah as was cited by the imaginary opponent; implicitly Sha'ul admonishes him to pay attention to the context. The phrase, "Adonai, who has trusted in what he has heard from us?" (KJV, "Lord, who has believed our report?"), addresses all four of the opponent's questions (vv. 14-15). "From us" emphasizes that people were indeed sent to proclaim, and "what he has heard" suggests that Israel did indeed hear (but Sha'ul returns to secure this point in vv. 18-21). Thus the only missing link in the chain is trust (v. 17), which Israel has refused to supply.
In quoting Isaiah 53:1 and 52:7 Sha'ul. like any rabbi, expects his readers to recall the context. Here the context extends through Isaiah 53:12 and includes the most extensive and detailed prophecy in the whole Tanakh of the Messiah's first coming, when he would die an atoning sacrificial death for sins. Also, in v. 15 the Greek word "evangelizomenoi" translated "those announcing good news" and corresponding to Isaiah's Hebrew word "m'vasser," is the cognate to the word for Good News or "Gospel" in v. 16 (Greek evangehon, Hebrew b 'sorah). Thus Sha'ul is telling his imaginary opponent, "Israel has had the Good News that should have led them all to trust in Yeshua — they have had it in Isaiah 53, but they didn't believe it." That is the point of v. 17 — the word has already been proclaimed about the Messiah (see also vv. 8-10 above), and it has been heard. Therefore, since trust comes from what is heard, Israel ought to have trusted. An application for today: do evangelism! Proclaim the Gospel! Unless people hear the Good News of Yeshua, they cannot come to trust in him; for "trust comes from what is heard."
18. “But, I say, isn’t it rather that they didn’t hear?” No, they did hear — "Their voice has gone out throughout the whole world and their words to the ends of the earth" (Psalm 19:5(4))
The opponent counters Sha'ul: "You say Israel should have trusted. I am willing to admit for argument's sake that people were sent to proclaim, but the problem is not Israel's failure to trust. Isn't it, rather, that Israel didn't hear?" Sha'ul replies, No, they did hear, as is proved by Psalm 19:2-5(1-4), of which the final verse is quoted:
"The heavens declare the glory of God,
The firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Each day announces it to the next.
Each night expresses this knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
Their voice is not heard.
Yet their voice has gone out throughout the world
And their words to the ends of the earth."
Implied here is a kal v'chomer argument (see Mt 6:30N) that if everyone in the world, including, of course, Gentiles, has had the kemel of the Gospel proclaimed by the heavens, so that anyone can respond by trusting in God; how much more should Israel, who have had the written Torah (3:2,9:4; the same Psalm 19 calls the Torah "perfect, restoring the soul"), have paid attention and trusted! Sha'ul made the same point at 1:19-20 (see also Ti 2:11).
19. “But, I say, isn’t it rather that Isra’el didn’t understand?” "I will provoke you to jealousy over a non-nation, over a nation void of understanding I will make you angry" (Deuteronomy 32:21)
Thrust and parry continue. "Granted that they may have heard," replies the opponent, "it still is not their fault that they have not come to faith in Yeshua. The sound waves may have struck their eardrums. But, I say, isn't it rather that Israel didn't understand the message they heard?" Sha'ul does not deny the possibility that Israel failed to understand, but he does not admit it as an acceptable excuse. Israel should have understood. The poetic parallelism of Deuteronomy 32:21 quoted in v. 19 implies another Ы v 'chomer argument: If a non-nation, that is. a nation void of understanding, understood the message declared without words by the heavens (see v. 18N), how much more should Israel have understood it from the written word of God! But the argument is even stronger, for Sha'ul quotes this passage to show that God predicted long ago that he would use precisely this circumstance to provoke you (Israel) to jealousy and make you angry; in fact, this jealousy becomes the very means of Israel's deliverance (11:11, 14). The context of Deuteronomy 32:21. cited here, shows that God is using eye-for-eye justice with Israel — the rest of the verse says that because Israel has made God jealous and angry, therefore God will make Israel jealous and angry. But the final words of the poem reveal that in the end, God "will forgive his land and his people" (Deuteronomy 32:43).
20. Moreover, Yesha‘yahu boldly says, "I was found by those who were not looking for me, I became known to those who did not ask for me (Isaiah 65:1)
21. but to Isra’el he says, "All day long I held out my hands to a people who kept disobeying and contradicting"' (Isaiah 65:2).
(See 9:1-11:36N for an outline of Chapters 9-11.) Sha'ul concludes Part II (9:30-10:21) the same way he did Part I (9:6-29) — by recalling its opening verses. Isaiah 65:1 (v. 20) echoes 9:30, and Isaiah 65:2 (v. 21) echoes 9:31.
- chapter 1
- chapter 2
- chapter 3
- chapter 4
- chapter 5
- chapter 6
- chapter 7
- chapter 8
- chapter 9
- chapter 10
- chapter 11
- chapter 12
- chapter 13
- chapter 14
- chapter 15
- chapter 16