COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS
By Dr. John R. Stone
Paul’s concern in chapters 9-11 of Romans has to do with God’s promises to the nation of Israel. Paul has explained the idea of salvation1 by grace through faith apart from keeping the law in chapters 1-8. As a result of this teaching that the keeping of the law was not necessary for salvation1, the Jews were wondering if God had abandoned (turned His back on) them as His special people. Their concern was that if justification2 by grace is really complete and God’s promises are really secure, what happened to Israel? In this section of Romans Paul explains that there was still a remnant (small number) of believing Jews in the church (chapters 9-10), and the rejection of the Jews is not final. God will eventually restore the Jewish nation to a place of prominence (importance) in His kingdom (Chapter 11). In chapter 9 Paul explained God’s role in the choosing of the nation of Israel and in the saving of a soul. Here in chapter 10 he explains man’s role in this matter of salvation. God is sovereign (supreme) in His choosing, but man must exercise faith in God’s provision for salvation1.
I. Righteousness3 Based on Good Works:
In this section, Paul reaffirmed his love for his own people, the Jewish people. His message of grace was not an indication of rejection of his fellow countrymen. He wanted them to be saved. Although they were very zealous for God, they were doing good things for the wrong reason. They were thinking that keeping the law and doing good works would save them. They were seeking to establish their own righteousness3, and by so doing they turned away from God’s righteousness.
In verse 4 Paul says that Christ is the end of the law for everyone who believes. This means that when a person comes to Jesus Christ for salvation1, he gives up any attempt to earn salvation by good works or religion. One must live a perfect life if he is depending on good works or religion to be saved.
II. Righteousness3 Based on Saving Faith:
In contrast, salvation by faith in Christ is different and better. It is not necessary to understand the mysteries of the incarnation5 (bring Christ down) or the resurrection6 (bring Christ up). Saving faith is very simple, and it is made very clear in the gospel. To confess that Jesus is Lord means to agree that Jesus is God in human flesh. He is not just a great teacher and leader; He is the incarnate5 God. To believe that God has raised Him from the dead means that I must place all hope of eternal salvation on the fact that God was satisfied with the payment that Jesus made for my sin. The gospel is simple, and it is the same for every person, Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, man or woman, young or old.
I receive the righteousness of God when I believe the gospel and when I confess it with my mouth. That is to say, when I apply its truth in practical ways, my life is saved from emptiness and destruction. There is no exception to this rule. “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (v.13).
Zeal7 is not enough for salvation. Obedience to the requirements of any religion is not enough. Practicing Judaism, any formal religion, or even Christianity is not enough. One must personally believe that the Son of God died on the cross for the penalty of sin and that God raised Him from the dead because He was satisfied with the sacrifice that Jesus made. It is in believing, not in doing, that one becomes righteous in the sight of God.
1salvation: the saving of a person’s soul from sin and its consequencessaved: rescued from danger
2justification: the act of declaring a person free from blame
3righteousness: moral goodness
4condemnation: the act of being condemned (punished for sin)
5incarnation: when Christ became a man as well as God, when he was born
6resurrection: the rising of Christ from the grave
7zeal: intense passion for a cause
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