Romans 10:12-13

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 10:12
  • Romans 10:13

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.

Righteousness does not come by the law, but by faith. Paul uses two quotes from the Old Testament to demonstrate the point. Rules do not make people righteous, because rules do not change the heart. The path to righteousness starts with faith. Believe, speak/think on those beliefs, then do them. It is very simple, you do what you know is true and right. Paul summarizes these Old Testament passages by simply saying believe and confess. That is how faith turns into righteousness, you think or say what is true then do what is true.

Paul contrasts the Gentiles simple walk of faith, and therefore finding of righteousness, with Israel’s fixation on rules, which do not make anyone righteous. Chapter 10 is the culmination of Paul’s demolition of the competing Jewish “authorities” attack on his gospel and attempt to bring the Roman believers under their sway to follow the rules of Judaism. These “authorities” claim following rules, the law, is the path to righteousness. In this chapter, Paul culminates his argument that their claim is exactly the opposite of what is true, and as usual Paul uses Scripture (in this case the very words of Moses) to make his case.

Paul is restating to his audience of believers in Rome that there is no distinction between those Jews and Greeks who believe, that God is Lord of both, and anyone who calls upon Him gains riches and salvation.

In verse 12 and 13 Paul is talking about gaining riches as well as salvation if we call on the Lord. The Greek word translated “call upon” in verses 12, 13, and 14 is different from the word translated as “confess” in verses 9-11. Confess means to agree with; call upon means to invoke or to name. In verses 9-11 Paul instructed believers to agree with and do what they know is true in their hearts, which brings righteousness/harmonious living into their daily lives. Paul is again spelling out that when it comes to faith, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him.

In verse 13, Paul quotes a portion of Joel 2:32, where the the prophet Joel is speaking to Israel, Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved. In this verse, the word “saved” is used. The Greek word “sozo,” translated “saved” here, is often translated “heal” when the context makes it clear that a person was delivered from a disease. Any time we see the word “save” (verb) or “salvation” (noun) it is important to ask, “What is being delivered (saved) from what?”

In the context of Romans 10, and Romans as a whole, what do Jews and Gentiles need to call upon God for deliverance from? In this particular context, it appears the answer would be “poverty,” because if we call on God we gain riches, which saves or delivers us from poverty.

Throughout Romans Paul tells his audience that the righteousness of the law brings spiritual poverty. That is the condition of the competing Jewish “authorities,” and it is the condition of Israel. But the righteousness of faith, for those who call on Him, brings great riches. When we confess what we know to be true in our hearts, then live out those truths, we have true riches, spiritual riches. In the context of Romans 10, some of these spiritual riches are cultivated through righteous, harmonious living with fellow believers as Paul makes clear in chapters 12 through 15. Spiritual poverty, on the other hand, consists of a lack of fellowship not only with God but also with His family. If we call on Jesus, believe in Him, we can experience all of the spiritual riches God has for us.

This concept of spiritual riches, achieved through daily faith in God, is taught throughout the Bible. In Revelation 3:18, Jesus counsels the believers in Laodicea to “buy gold” from Jesus, as much as they like. It is inarguable that if someone could have as much gold as they wanted, then they would be very rich. In Revelation 3, the means to gaining those great riches is to listen to Jesus’ voice. Isaiah 55 uses the same word picture to show that true riches come from listening to God. We have the Spirit of Jesus in our hearts. True righteousness, and true riches stems from listening to the word of Jesus, speaking those words, and doing those words.

Biblical Text

12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

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