February 6 - Romans 10:14-21

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Romans 10:14-21 – Telling the World

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”  

But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”  Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”  

Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.”  

And Isaiah boldly says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”  

But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” 

Paul now discusses the fact that Israel can't be held responsible for their rejection of Jesus Christ because they never really heard the message. He has spent a great deal of time in the last chapters pointing out the God's way is grace, not legalism. What if it were true that this wasn't made clear to the Jews. What if it wasn't fair to expect them to know something that wasn't made black and white?

His response is taken straight from Scripture. Grace has been part of God's message to the Jews from the very beginning. If they didn't know it, it was because they weren't paying attention. It was there all the time. The point he makes is that Jesus is present in the preachers. To hear a preacher is to hear him. Jesus himself made this clear in Luke 10:16 when he says, "The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me" to the 70 who were sent out as missionaries.

A preacher in Paul's world is not the same as a preacher in today's culture. This word means 'herald,' one who relays information that has been given to him. A preacher can not preach unless they are sent. A herald can not relay news unless it has been given to him. With this confidence, Paul knows that those who have been sent are telling of Jesus Christ and anyone who has missed the message wasn't paying attention.

The rest of Paul's scripture quotations point out that the word of God has gone out to the ends of the earth – creation knows who he is. If Israel heard the message, but didn't understand it, Paul says that isn't a good argument because the Gentiles had no religious training and they responded to the message of faith. Those who are not a nation have come into the kingdom of God.

By the last quotation in this section, Paul reminds his readers that though the Gentiles didn't look for God, they found him because he revealed himself to people who had faith. It is the work of God in his sovereignty and those of faith responded, while those who were a disobedient and contrary people rejected him.