Fairview Baptist Church
2040 Main Street WW - Ashland, Kentucky 41102
"Where Everybody Is Somebody and Jesus is Lord"

 

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Bailey Sadler Class

SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON STUDY GUIDE – Fall 2016

 

Study Theme:  Unvarnished Truth: Life’s Greatest Story

What This Lesson Is About:

Week of:

Lesson Title:

Some of our decisions are life changing—even eternal. The greatest decision we will ever make centers on what we will do with Jesus Christ.  This week's study will focus on helping those who have not made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior to answer the question, “What must I do to be Saved?”

 

Sept.  04

One Great Creator

 

Sept. 11

One Great Purpose

 

Sept. 18

One Great Problem

 

Sept 25

One Great Savior

X

Oct. 02

One Great Commitment

 

Oct. 09

One Great Task

 

 

 

 

LIFE IMPACT:

To be saved, I must trust in Christ.

FOCAL PASSAGE:

Romans 10:1-3,8b-13

LESSON OUTLINE:

I.    

II.

III.

Salvation Is Given, Not Earned!  (Rom. 10:1-3)

Salvation Comes Through Confession & Believing  (Rom. 8b-10)

Salvation Is Available To All  (Rom. 10:11-13)

THE SETTING:  

Paul had already discussed the universality of human sin and the possibility of salvation, provided through Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. Our last two sessions focused on key texts related to these truths. In Romans 9–11 Paul expressed his concern about the situation of unbelieving Jews. Although most readers today are not Jews, Paul’s emphasis on the need to make a decision about Jesus as personal Lord and Savior is relevant to us.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

INTRODUCTION:

What must I do to be saved? We make decisions constantly. Many decisions require little thought, and most decisions require little long-term commitment. But the greatest decision centers on what we will do with Jesus Christ. Knowledge about Jesus is not enough. Our need for salvation is answered in Jesus, but we must each decide whether we will commit to that truth and trust Jesus.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

I.

Salvation Is Given, Not Earned!  (Rom. 10:1-3)

1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God concerning them is for their salvation! 2 I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 Because they disregarded the righteousness from God and attempted to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves to God’s righteousness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.   Do you think there are many people with an embedded attitude of miss-trust of “outsiders” in this region?  Why, or why not?

2.   What do you think causes some people to be afraid of commitment?

3.   According to verse 1, what was the apostle Paul’s heart’s desire?

4.   What does the word “desire” tell us about Paul’s attitude toward “them”?

5.   Who were the “Brothers” and who were the “them” in verse 1?  (See Rom. 9:30-33.)

6.   According to verses 30-33 what was the main difference between the two people groups?

7.   Looking at verse 1, what do the words “my heart’s” and Paul’s act of prayer reveal about his attitude toward salvation?

8.   What impact should this have on believers today?

9.   If the Jewish people had such a great “zeal for God” (v. 2), why then didn’t they already have salvation?

10.   What are the positive and negative meanings of the word “zeal”?  (See Digging Deeper on definition of “zeal.”)

11.   What do you think it means to have “zeal” but not according to knowledge (v. 2)?

12.   Where in our culture do we often see “zeal” without “knowledge”?

13.   How would you explain the meaning of verse 3?

14.   Why did the Jews think they were in “good standing’ with God?

15.   How did the Jews attempt to establish their own righteousness?

16.   What kept the Jews from submitting themselves to God’s righteousness?

17.   What are some ways people today try to establish their own righteousness?

18.   Why is it so appealing to establish your own standard of righteousness instead of following God’s

 

Lasting Lessons in Rom. 10:1-3:

1.  When we are saved, we will pray and work for the salvation of others, particularly those to whom we are close.

2.  Our giving to mission causes indicates that we desire all people, no matter who or where they are, to be saved.

3.  Genuine enthusiasm for God exhibits itself in seeking in evangelize others.

4.  Submitting ourselves to God means sharing His message of salvation with all people, especially with those around us.

 

II.

Salvation Comes Through Confession & Believing  (Rom. 8b-10)

8b The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith that we proclaim: 9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

1.   To whom was Paul speaking in verse 8b “The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.”?

2.   From what Old Testament Scripture is this message found?  (See Deut. 30:11-16.)

3.   How do the two  compare? How are they the same? How are they different?

4.   According to verse 9, what is the clear gospel message of faith that Paul proclaimed?

5.   How would you explain this message of faith to a non-believing friend or family member?

6.   Is the message of salvation conditional?  If so, how do we know?

7.   What does the dual response of “believe” and “confess” indicate about salvation?

8.   What are the implications of confessing Jesus as Lord?

9.   To what does “believe in your heart” refer? 

10.   Do you believe that it goes further and deeper than just merely agreeing with a fact?  Why, or why not?

11.   What is the difference between biblical believing and believing a fact?

12.   How do people today try to establish their own righteousness?

13.   How do the results of faith in verse 10 stand in contrast to those apart from faith in Romans 2:5?

 

Lasting Lessons in Rom. 10:8b-10:

1.  Jesus is God’s revelation of Himself.

2.  The message we should be preaching is that Jesus has been raised from the dead.

3.  To believe and confess as Jesus required takes a deep-seated inner conviction; merely to acknowledge truths is not believing and confessing.

4.  The result of believing and confessing in the biblical sense is righteousness and salvation.

 

III.

Salvation Is Available To All  (Rom. 10:11-13)

11 Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

1.   According to verse11, who is able to confess and believe in Jesus?

2.   How would you explain: “Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame” (v. 11)?

3.   What does Paul’s use of the word “everyone” tell you about the depth of His offer of salvation?

4.   What does this tell believers regarding their role in His universal church?

5.   What does verse 12 tell you about God’s offer of salvation?

6.   According to these verses, what three points does Paul emphasize?

7.   Based on the universal need for salvation and the universal way to salvation, what must one do to be saved?  Why?

8.   What does it mean to “call on the name of the Lord” (v. 13)?

9.   How would you explain the past, present, and future tense of salvation?

10.   Do you believe Christians have a role in God’s plan of salvation?  If so, why?  And, if so what is it?

11.   If social, racial, or economic distinctions make no difference to God, as a vital part of His salvation plan, do they make a difference to you?  If so, why?

12.   Has the gospel transformed your life?  If so, how?  What is involved in calling on Jesus’ name for salvation?

 

Lasting Lessons in Rom. 10:11-13:

1.  The gospel applies to all people: Jews, Greeks, and Gentiles.

2.  To be saved, everyone must call on God’s name—that is, everyone must confess and believe in the crucified and risen Christ.

3.  Salvation includes the past (believers were saved), the present (believers are being saved), and the future (believers will be saved to do good works, to become imitators of Christ, and to join Him in heaven).

4.  Everyone—Jews and all others—needs salvation, has access to that same salvation, and must be saved in the same way (repent, then believe and confess in Christ).

 

CONCLUSION:

Not much has changed over the centuries.  Various views still exist over how one gains right standing with the Lord, or even if it is necessary.  Some deny that sin is a relevant factor over which they should have any concern.  Others are convinced that in the end everything will turn out okay; that God as a God of love will accept everyone; that salvation is an entitlement, a right.  Certainly, the view gaining right standing with God is a matter of performance—doing the right things, being a nice person—continues to be popular.

If Paul were standing in our pulpits or on our street corners, he would declare that none of this is true.  But he is not standing in our pulpits or on our street corners.  However, we are!  So we are charged to declare the truth—salvation is found by faith in Christ—alone!  This calls for a great commitment to Him as Lord!

So where do you stand as part of God’s great plan of salvation?  Are you part of it?  Or are you standing on the sidelines afraid to accept Him as your personal Savior?  Rate yourself that (YES!) I have accepted Christ as my personal Savior; or (NO!) I am standing on the sidelines, afraid to accept Christ as my personal Savior.  Where do you stand with Jesus Christ?

What are the implications of these truths for your life?  THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!

REMEMBER, the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.

 

Lesson Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the following sources:

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

 

FOCAL PASSAGE: 

Focal Passage from three different translations of God’s Word:

Revised Standard Version:  Romans 10:1-3,8b-10,11-13

Romans 10:1-3 (RSV)

1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.


Romans 10:8-13 (RSV)

8 The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); 9 because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved. 11 The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. 13 For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved."

 

New Revised Standard Version:  Romans 10:1-3,8b-10,11-13

 Romans 10:1-3 (NRSV)

1 Brothers and sisters, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God's righteousness.


Romans 10:8-13 (NRSV)

8 "The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11 The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13 For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

 

The Living Translation:  Romans 10:1-3,8b-10,11-13

 Romans 10:1-3 (NLT)

1 Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. 2 I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. 3 For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.


Romans 10:8-13 (NLT)

8 “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: 9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”

 

(NOTE:  Commentary for the focal passage comes from three sources: College Press NIV Commentary,Believer's Bible Commentary,and “The Complete Biblical Library Commentary,” and is provided for your study.)

 

Lesson Outline — “One Great Commitment” — Romans 10:1-3,8b-10,11-13

I.

II.

III.

Salvation Is Given, Not Earned!  (Rom. 10:1-3)

Salvation Comes Through Confession & Believing  (Rom. 8b-10)

Salvation Is Available To All  (Rom. 10:11-13)

COMMENTARY:

College Press NIV Commentary:   Romans 10:1-3,8b-10,11-13

The Jews’ Rejection of God’s Righteousness (10:1-3)

These three verses expand further the reason for the Jews’ lostness, namely, they rejected the gift of God’s own righteousness, preferring to stake their claim to heaven on the worthiness of their own works.

10:1.  Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. Paul addresses his “brothers” (ἀδελπηοί, adelphoi), which are his fellow Christians (not just Jewish Christians, contra MP, 418). In general Greek usage adelphoi was often inclusive of men and women and thus could be translated “brothers and sisters” (AG, 15).

Paul’s sentiment here is directed toward his fellow Jews: his prayer is “for the Israelites.” It reminds us of 9:1-3, where the Apostle expressed his grief over Israel’s lostness and declared his willingness to take their place if only they could be saved. Here he echoes that desire for their salvation.

“Desire” is εὐδοκία (eudokia), which is basically a feeling of good will toward others out of which a desire for their well-being naturally arises. Morris (378) calls it “warm affection” and favors Goodspeed’s translation, “My heart is full of good will toward them.” Paul’s reference to his “heart” (the spirit, the inner man) expresses the depth and sincerity of his desire. Phillips’ translation says, “From the bottom of my heart I long... that Israel may be saved.”

“Prayer” is δέησις (deēsis), which is a petitionary prayer, an entreaty, a supplication, a request. Here Paul is following his own instruction in Phil 4:6, “In everything, by prayer and petition,... present your requests to God.” He lays his request before God on behalf of Israel “unto [εἰς, eis] salvation,” i.e., for the purpose of their salvation.

Here is the situation: the Jews as a whole were lost, and Paul says he prays for them to be saved. What are the implications of such a prayer? Cranfield says it is “clear proof that he did not think of their present rejection as final and closed” (2:513). But how can this be, since he has already declared on the basis of divine prophecy that only a remnant will be saved (9:27-29)? On the basis of the remnant reference I believe Cranfield is wrong; Paul knows that no more than a remnant will be saved. Yet at the same time he does not know the exact number of this remnant, so he can pray for all Israel in the hope that as many as possible will be included in that number.

How to justify praying for the lost is an enigma for both Calvinists and non-Calvinists. For the former, if God’s eternal decree has already inviolably fixed the number and identity of the elect, what is the use of praying? The prayer will surely change nothing. At this point Calvinists usually appeal to their concept of the two wills of God: the number of the elect is indeed fixed according to God’s secret will, but his revealed will still enjoins us to pray for all and to seek the salvation of all.

On the other hand, non-Calvinists believe that human beings have free will and that God does not coerce anyone into salvation. So in what way do we expect God to answer our prayers for the salvation of the lost? What do we expect him to do? In another place I have explained how God may seek to influence human decisions through his providential control of external circumstances and his intervention in our mental processes, but such influences are resistible (Amos 4:6-11; Hag 1:1-11). In any case, because God surely loves all men infinitely more than we are even capable of, surely he is already doing all he can to influence all men to salvation. So what possible difference can it make when we pray for the lost? Lard’s comment on Paul’s prayer is relevant for such prayer in general:

... From the scope of prophecy and the obstinacy of the Jews, the Apostle must have felt sure that they would be lost. Yet he prayed for their salvation. Did he pray for what he felt certain would not be? He might very consistently have done so. The loss of the Jews was not fixed by irrevocable decree. It was determined by their own wilful rejection of Christ, and although morally certain, it was not unalterably so. Hence the Apostle could very properly ask God to avert it. No one knows, not even Paul, the resources of the infinite Father.

10:2.  For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. This is a partial explanation of why Paul earnestly desires and prays for Israel’s salvation, i.e., because they did seem to be genuinely sincere in their efforts to honor God. Literally Paul says “I bear witness” or “I do solemnly testify” that they have such zeal. How did Paul know this? Because this was his own state of mind prior to his conversion. He was truly zealous for God even while he was opposing Christ and his church in ignorant unbelief (Acts 22:3; Gal 1:13-14; 1 Tim 1:13).

To be zealous for a cause is certainly in itself an admirable trait, indicating sincerity and enthusiasm and passion. To be zealous “for God” is surely the most virtuous form of zeal. Thus this part of Paul’s statement is probably a compliment: “I’ll say this for them; I’ll give them credit for this.” As Dunn puts it, “Paul does honor to his fellow Jews for the fervor of their devotion to God and his law” (2:594). The problem is that one can be zealous, sincere, and enthusiastic and at the same time be deadly wrong. This was true of the Jews, whose zeal, says Paul, “is not based on knowledge” (see Prov 19:2). Unfortunately, where zeal serves the cause of error and ignorance, it is not a virtue but a vice. As Lenski says, “The greater the intensity of zeal devoid of true knowledge, the more damage it does to itself and to others.”

Paul’s testimony concerning the Jews’ uninformed zeal is a good corrective for those who think that sincerity is the deciding factor in one’s relationship with God. If that were true, then the Jews would surely have been saved. But Paul makes it crystal clear that they are lost in spite of their sincerity. They are lost not because of their lack of knowledge as such, but because they refused to accept the knowledge that was available to them (see 10:16-21; see 1:18-25, about the Gentiles). One is not held responsible for knowledge that is actually inaccessible to him (4:15), but willful ignorance is inexcusable.

The Jews’ zeal was blameworthy not because of its ultimate object, which was God, but because of the way they sought to honor him. This is explained in the next verse.

10:3.  Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. As we saw in our discussion of 1:17 (JC, 1:115-121), “the righteousness that comes from God” is the very heart of the gospel of grace. It is the same as “the righteousness that is by faith” in 9:30. The Greek uses the simple genitive construction, “the righteousness of God,” but it is clear from the context and from the message of Romans in general that the NIV translation is correct. The righteousness of which Paul speaks is not God’s righteous nature as such, but the gift of a right standing before him which he offers to bestow on believing, penitent sinners. See 1:17; 3:21-22; 4:6; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9.

This is the righteousness by which God has always saved sinners, even before its basis was not specifically known. The actual basis for it is the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ; the righteousness of God is literally Christ’s satisfaction of the penalty of the law (eternal punishment in hell) in our place. This is the gift of righteousness which God offered to all of Israel throughout OT history, through their humble acceptance of the gospel provisions of the law. This is also the gift he offered to them in the very person of their Messiah, Jesus.

But, says Paul, the Jews did not know this righteousness. They did not know it when it was initially offered to them in God’s promises in OT history, and especially they did not know it when it was offered to them in Jesus himself. This is the climax of their not-knowing: the rejection of Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah and Savior. Their “chief ignorance” was their “failure to see that there is no other way to justification and salvation save by faith in Christ Jesus.” “The basic error of Israel was misconception respecting the righteousness unto justification.”

To say that the Jews did not know this righteousness of God does not mean that they had never been exposed to it and were somehow ignorant of the very existence of the promises of God and the reality of the gospel facts. Rather, it means that they did not acknowledge the good news of God’s righteousness; they did not accept it and welcome it and submit to it.

Instead, they continued to seek acceptance with God on the basis of their own righteousness, i.e., “as if it were by works” (9:32). They sought to use their law code as if it were a law system; they sought to achieve a level of personal obedience that would make them deserving of heaven. Rejecting the gift of the “robe of righteousness” (Isa 61:10), they relied on their own “filthy rags” (Isa 64:6). Or as one writer says, “Refusing to ‘put on Christ’ (Gal. 3:27), they clothed themselves with a garment of their own spinning, which they, like all other worms, spun from their own filthy inwards.... Refusing to accept Christ as the Rock for life-building, they reared their crumbling structure on their own sandy, unstable nature.”

“Their own” righteousness means the personal self-righteousness achieved by each individual, not the national or corporate righteousness of the Jewish nation as compared with other nations. Only if we take this in the former sense does it have universal application. I.e., every one of us, not just Jews living under the Mosaic Law, must fight the temptation to plead our case before God based upon our own moral and spiritual accomplishments rather than upon the blood of Christ.

The last part of the verse, “they did not submit to God’s righteousness,” is the main clause; the two verbs in the first part of the verse (“not knowing” and “seeking”) are participles that modify or explain the main clause. That is, the Jews did not submit to God’s righteousness in the sense that they ignored it and set forth their own as a substitute for it.

The word for “submit” is ὑποτάσσω (hypotassō), which is commonly used for submission to law or persons in authority (8:7; 13:1, 5). In what sense is a rejection of grace a refusal to submit to authority? It is so in the sense that grace is the way of salvation established by God himself and declared by him to be the only possible and acceptable way; thus to reject God’s way by refusing his gift of righteousness is an act of rebellion against God. It is so also in the sense that accepting the gift of God’s righteousness requires a humble and submissive attitude along with a repudiation of personal worthiness, to which human pride stubbornly clings. As Cranfield says, the Jews’ rejection of God’s righteousness involved “their refusal to humble themselves to accept it as an undeserved gift,” and “the refusal to let grace be grace, the refusal to give God alone the glory.”

How, then, does one submit to the righteousness of God? By accepting God’s way as the only way, thereby abandoning all claims to salvation based on self-righteousness. The only way to do this in the Christian era is to accept Jesus as the only Messiah and Savior, and to do so by fulfilling the gracious conditions for receiving God’s righteousness as spelled out in the Word of God. Chief among these conditions is faith (9:32a,33b; 10:4-17), the very essence of which is in part the act of submitting or surrendering oneself into the hands of God.


10:8.  But what does it say? The subject of the verb “say” is the same as in v. 6, “the righteousness that is by faith.” What does faith-righteousness say to us? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart”.... This statement closely follows part of Deut 30:14, “No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” This completes the thought begun in Deut 30:11, where Moses tells his people that God’s commands are not beyond their grasp, as if they could find them only by ascending to heaven or crossing the sea (30:12-13). On the contrary, his word is as close to you as your own mouth and heart. You already have God’s law; all that remains is for you to obey it.

Though Paul in 10:8 is obviously echoing key elements of this verse in Deuteronomy, he is not just repeating it but is adapting it to his own purposes. When Moses said, “The word is very near you,” he meant the word of command. Deut 30:11 speaks literally of “[this command which] I am commanding you today”; v. 14 says this word (of command) must be obeyed. But to show that he is not speaking of the same word, Paul adds this specific qualification: ... that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming.... Moses spoke a word that must be obeyed; Paul proclaimed a word that must be believed.

The term for “word” is ῥῆμα (rhēma), not logos, probably because the LXX uses rhēma in Deut 30:14. It refers to the message Paul proclaimed or preached, the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Why is it called “the word of faith”? One reason is that the proper and natural response to the word (message) of the gospel is to believe it (as contrasted with the proper and natural response to the word of law, which is to obey it). Another reason is that this word is what stimulates and evokes faith (10:17). Finally and primarily, as is often the case for Paul, the term “faith” stands in contrast with “works” (9:32) and with the “doing” required by law (10:5). Thus “the word of faith” is another shorthand expression for the entire way of grace.

The main point is that the word of faith is near you. This simply reinforces what was said in vv. 6-7, that the source of our salvation is not works that we do but the saving work of Jesus, which is made known to us through the word of the gospel. This means, as Lard says (329), “that what justification by belief requires is easy,” as compared with the impossible requirements of salvation by law.

Just how near is this “word of faith”? It is so close that it is “in your mouth” and “in your heart.” Deut 30:14 says the same thing about the word of law. The Israelites had heard the word of the law spoken by Moses; thus they were fully able to repeat it with their own mouths and understand it in their hearts. Likewise, through the proclamation of the word of faith, the saving righteousness of God is immediately present to the hearing sinner, so near and familiar to him that he can talk about it and mull it over in his mind.

10:9.  It may be that in the original reference (Deut 30:14) the mouth and heart were mentioned simply because they are the epitome of nearness. I.e., what could be closer to the center of a person’s being than something in his mouth or in the deep recesses of his heart? But Paul is not content to let these figures stand as simple symbols for nearness. In the next two verses he gives them a spiritual or theological application, showing that the mouth and the heart are both involved in receiving for oneself what the close-at-hand “word of faith” promises.

Moses declared that the word of command was very near to the Israelites, but it still had to be obeyed: “The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” Paul likewise tells us that the word of faith demands a response. The gospel may be in someone’s mouth in the sense that he can repeat it, and it may be in his heart in the sense that he knows about it and understands it. But such a person is not actually saved unless he believes the gospel message to be true and both internally and externally surrenders himself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Paul sums up this response in v. 9: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. This verse begins with the Greek word ὅτι (hoti), which the NIV and others translate as “that.” Taken thus, v. 9 would be the content of the word of faith that Paul proclaimed. Others take hoti as meaning “because” (e.g., Moo, 657; NRSV). I.e., the word of faith is as near as your mouth and heart, because the simple hearing of the word puts one in the position of immediately being able to use his mouth and heart to receive salvation.

The Greek for “confess” is ὁμολογέω (homologeō), which literally means “to say the same thing, to agree,” and thus to acknowledge the truth of something. Of course such a confession could be hypocritical, but the very sense of the word implies sincerity, and in this context Paul ties it to sincere heart-belief.

Paul says that this confession is “with your mouth,” which shows that he is referring to an oral, public confession of one’s faith. In 1 Tim 6:12-13 Paul reminds Timothy that he confessed the “good confession in the presence of many witnesses,” and notes that even Jesus “made the good confession” before Pontius Pilate (see John 18:37).

The essential content of our confession is specified: “Jesus is Lord.” The Greek is κύριον ̓Ιεσοῦν (kyrion Iēsoun), literally “Lord Jesus.” The KJV speaks of confessing “the Lord Jesus.” It is generally accepted, though, that this double object of the verb “confess” has the sense of confessing “Jesus [to be] Lord.” The NASB puts it “Jesus as Lord.” The NIV gives the correct sense of the statement. (See 1 Cor 12:3, where the same formula, kyrios Iēsous, obviously means “Jesus is Lord.”)

The confession of Jesus as Lord early became the standard way of acknowledging oneself to be a Christian. It was “the earliest... Christian creed” (Bruce, 202), “an established confessional formula” (Cranfield, 2:527), the “slogan of identification” that marked one as a believer (Dunn, 2:607). See John 20:28; Acts 2:36; 10:36; 1 Cor 12:3; 2 Cor 4:5; Phil 2:11.

What does it mean to confess Jesus as Lord? It ascribes to him two things: ownership and deity (see Cranfield, 2:529). The basic connotation of the word is that of the owner or master of something (cf. the English “landlord”). To confess Jesus to be our Lord is thus to confess that he is our owner and we are his slaves. It is the external expression of an internal spirit of complete submission to every aspect of his word and will.

In accord with the religious significance attached to the title kyrios in biblical times, it is clear also that confessing Jesus as Lord is to confess that he is deity, that he is fully divine, that he is God the Son, equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in essence and power and honor. “Lord” is the name above every name (Phil 2:9-11); it is Paul’s trinitarian title for Jesus (1 Cor 8:6; 12:4-6; Eph 4:4-6). It is also the Greek word used by Greek-speaking people to represent the holy name of God—Yahweh—in the OT, orally at first and then ultimately in copies of the Septuagint (see Moo, 660, n. 77; see GRe, 121).

There is still no greater and no more significant confession than “Jesus is Lord.” To confess him as “the Christ” and “the Son of the Living God” (Matt 16:16) is accurate and appropriate, but to omit the central confession of his Lordship is to ignore the fundamental pattern of NT Christianity. MacArthur points out (2:74), “In the book of Acts, Jesus is twice referred to as Savior but ninety-two times as Lord. In the entire New Testament, He is referred to some ten times as Savior and some seven hundred times as Lord. When the two titles are mentioned together, Lord always precedes Savior.”

The other necessary response to the word of faith mentioned by Paul in this verse is to “believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.” To “believe that” (πιστεύω ὅτι, pisteuō hoti) is to acknowledge or assent to the truth of some statement. This is a necessary aspect of saving faith, but must be accompanied also by “believing in/on” Jesus, which is the element of trust. (See JC, 1:107-108.) Here the element of trust is not specifically mentioned but is implied in the confession of Lordship, by the phrase “in your heart,” and by association with “trusts in” (πιστεύω ἐπί, pisteuō epi) in v. 11.

To “believe in the heart” means not only to accept the bare facts about something but also to accept its full meaning and significance and to be committed to applying its implications to one’s own life. It is comparable to being “obedient from the heart” (6:17, NASB).

It is significant that believing and confessing are linked together; it shows that in the Christian life they cannot be separated. “Inward belief and outward expression of the word [are] inextricably linked, the two sides of one coin.” Confession without faith is of no value for salvation (Matt 7:21-23), and faith without confession is simply unthinkable: “True faith is never silent; it always confesses.”

It may seem strange that Paul mentions confession before faith, since the logical order would seem to be the reverse. The order in v. 9 is dictated, however, by the order of “mouth” and “heart” in Deut 30:14 as reflected in v. 8. In v. 10 Paul recapitulates v. 9, using the reverse (expected) order.

Exactly what must be believed in the heart about Jesus as a means to salvation? We must believe “that God raised him from the dead.” In view of the centrality of the atonement in God’s provision for our justification (JC, 1:118-120), it may seem strange that Paul should here omit any reference to the cross and mention only the resurrection. The resurrection is not unrelated to our justification, however (see 4:24-25). Also, we should not jump to the conclusion that Paul’s list here in 10:9 is meant to be exhaustive (see below). Also, he focuses specifically on faith in the resurrection because in the NT the resurrection of Christ is directly related to his Lordship (see below).

That Jesus actually died and came back from the dead are two of the most firmly attested facts in the NT, and are completely indispensable to the gospel (1 Cor 15:1-4). Faith in the resurrection is the keystone (the top wedge of an arch) that gives legitimacy to all the other elements of our belief about Jesus. We cannot believe in his incarnation, virgin birth, deity, propitiatory sacrifice, and Second Coming if we deny his resurrection.

We must believe not just that he came back from the dead, but more specifically that God raised him from the dead. As such we acknowledge that his resurrection is not just some isolated and unexplained accident of nature, nor a part of some sinister hoax by an unidentified but malevolent power. No, his resurrection was an act of God, the God of the Bible, the God of the Jews, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ himself. Thus the resurrection establishes the entire biblical worldview, especially its claim that our justification before God is not by our own righteousness but by his righteousness alone.

Belief in Christ’s resurrection is naturally linked with confession of his Lordship, since in the NT his resurrection and Lordship are inseparable. As the final and victorious stage in his battle against death and Satan, the resurrection is the supreme and conclusive expression and validation of the Lordship of God the Son in his incarnate form as Jesus of Nazareth. Because of the resurrection there can be no doubt that this man is, in Thomas’ words, “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28). There are many others for whom deity and lordship are claimed (1 Cor 8:5), but the claims of Christ and Christ alone are vindicated once for all by his resurrection. See Matt 28:18; Acts 2:36; Rom 1:4; Eph 1:20-22; Phil 2:9-11; Rev 1:17-18.

This brings us to Paul’s main point. Grace as a way of salvation is simple and relatively easy (compared with law), because the message has already been proclaimed to you, and the reality of which it speaks can be appropriated without delay by the activity of your own mouth and heart. You must respond as instructed, to be sure; but if you do respond, you can be assured that “you will be saved.” This salvation includes the present down-payment of the “double cure” for sin (JC, 1:248), followed by the full inheritance of eternal life (8:17-25).

This verse clearly states that salvation is conditional: “If you do these things, you will be saved.” This is in keeping with Paul’s main point in this chapter, namely, that the Jews’ lostness is not the result of some action (or lack of action) by an unfaithful God, but is the result of their own refusal to meet the gracious conditions for receiving salvation.

Regarding the specific conditions named here, v. 9 presents a dilemma for those committed to a faith-only view of salvation. On the one hand, the verse omits any reference to baptism, and thus seems to refute the claim that baptism is somehow a condition for salvation. On the other hand, it does speak of deliberate oral confession as a condition for salvation, and thus seems to go against the common view of justification by faith alone.

At the same time, this verse presents a problem for those who do believe that baptism is a condition for salvation. Paul seems to be saying that the only conditions for salvation are faith and confession; he makes no specific mention of baptism.

Regarding the former dilemma, some faith-only advocates simply ignore the implications of this verse for their view; others openly deny the parallel significance given by Paul to confession and faith. Moo (657) says it is surprising, “in light of Paul’s stress on faith in this context,” that he should list two conditions as our expected response to the word of faith. Moo’s explanation is that Paul did this just for rhetorical purposes, i.e., to maintain a parallelism with the references to both mouth and heart in Deut 30:14. He then discounts the reference to confession thus:

... Paul’s rhetorical purpose at this point should make us cautious about finding great significance in the reference to confession here, as if Paul were making oral confession a second requirement for salvation. Belief in the heart is clearly the crucial requirement, as Paul makes clear even in this context (9:30; 10:4, 11). Confession is the outward manifestation of this critical inner response.

Murray’s explanation is similar: “We are not to regard confession and faith as having the same efficacy unto salvation,” he says (2:55). Like any other good work, confession “is the evidence of the genuineness of faith” (2:56). Lenski says the same thing: “The instant a sinner believes, righteousness results.... This is justification by faith alone.... One who believes and is thereby justified confesses and shows that his faith is genuine” (657).

Such attempts to discount the significance of confession in order to preserve a concept of “faith only” that has been around only since Zwingli (16th century) are unfair to Paul’s teaching, however. The references to confession and faith are grammatically parallel; the two verbs are identical in form and are related to “if” in exactly the same way, i.e., as equal conditions for salvation. If faith is a condition for salvation, then so must confession be. This is not to say that these two acts are related to salvation in the same way. I.e., both are conditions for salvation, but they do not play the same role in bringing the sinner to that point.

This verse shows the folly of taking any passage regarding the way of salvation in isolation from others that address the same subject. It especially shows the fallacy of drawing faith-only conclusions from texts such as John 3:16; Acts 16:31; and Rom 3:28. I have commented several times that when Paul uses expressions such as “righteousness by faith” (9:30; 10:6) and “word of faith” (10:8), these are shorthand expressions that stand for the entire grace system as contrasted with the law system. (See JC, 1:266-271, on 3:27-28.) Just as works are the central element in the law system, so is faith the central element in the grace system. The frequent reference only to faith is due to this centrality, and the absence of a reference to other acts (such as repentance and baptism) cannot be taken as ruling them out as conditions, as this verse shows.

Lard notes that Hodge says, “The two requisites for salvation mentioned in this verse, are confession and faith.” Lard then comments, “But the reader may ask, Do you regard this condition [confession] as indispensable? I will answer the reader by asking, Are you ready to assume the responsibility of dispensing with it? I at least am not” (330).

The bottom line is that Paul’s teaching about faith and confession is inconsistent with the prevalent Protestant understanding of salvation by faith alone. (See v. 14 below for a further problem with this view.)

But what about the absence of any reference to baptism here? Even if we grant that faith is not the only condition for salvation, the only other one mentioned here is confession, not baptism. How can we explain this?

The same cautions explained above apply to this concern as well. We cannot assume that any one NT passage includes the entire list of conditions for salvaiton—not even this one. In fact, this very verse contains something that shows us that it was not intended to include all the conditions necessary for salvation, namely, the limited nature of the content of the faith specified here. Paul says if you believe “that God raised him from the dead,” you will be saved. But virtually all Christians agree that the content of faith must include more than this; it must especially include “faith in his blood” (3:25). Thus the abbreviated content of the faith described here shows this verse is not intended to be a comprehensive, exclusive list of conditions.

Compiling such a list requires looking at all that Scripture has to say about the way of salvation. (See JC, 1:112-115.) In Romans, Paul has already explained the saving significance of baptism (6:3-4); he need not repeat it here. Many other texts do the same. (See Cottrell, Baptism.)

One thing about this verse suggests that baptism may not have been absent from Paul’s thinking after all, even though it is not specifically mentioned. That is the fact that the verbs “confess” and “believe” are aorist tense, which suggests that Paul had in mind a specific past act that was associated with the sinner’s initial and decisive confession of faith. In early Christian practice, this act was baptism. Bruce says, “If we are to think of one outstanding occasion for such a confession to be made, we should more probably think of that first confession—‘the answer of a good conscience’ (I Pet. iii.21)—made in Christian baptism” (205). Also, Cranfield (2:527) notes that the confessional formula “Jesus is Lord” was probably “used in connexion with baptism (the present verse—perhaps also the fact that baptism was in, or into, the name of Jesus—would seem to point in that direction).” This confession, says Dunn, was “a public confession of a solemn nature,” and “would no doubt be used at baptism” (2:607). The confession of Jesus as Lord is also referred to as “calling on the name of the Lord” in 10:13; and this is something associated with Christian baptism as a saving event (Acts 22:16; see Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21).

10:10.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Literally this reads, “For with the heart one believes unto [εἰς, eis] righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses unto [eis] salvation.” The NIV equates “unto righteousness” with being justified, which is probably accurate.

Do “justified” and “saved” refer to two different things in v. 10? MacArthur (2:72) says the former is the positive side of grace, i.e., what we become and receive (eternal life), while the latter is the negative side, i.e., what we escape (sin, eternal punishment). This distinction is completely artificial, however, and has no basis in the text. Godet makes a more reasonable distinction. He says justification is specific and depends only on faith, while salvation is more general, including sanctification and glory, and thus requires “persevering fidelity in the profession of the faith.” But this is not Paul’s point either, as the aorist tense for both verbs suggests. In other contexts such distinctions may be appropriate, but not in this verse. As Dunn says, here the words “could be reversed without loss of meaning.” “There is no substantive difference here,” says Stott (283). Hendriksen (2:345) and Moo (659) also see them as synonyms in this verse.

The two parts of the verse are strictly parallel in form. In each case Paul is talking about how a sinner initially receives the gift of God’s righteousness, which is the same as entering into the state of salvation. Thus this verse does not add anything to v. 9, in which being saved (the only term used there) is conditioned on both confession and faith.

One problem with the NIV is that it obscures the precise relation shown in the Greek text between believing and righteousness, and between confession and salvation. Paul says the sinner believes “unto (eis) righteousness” and confesses “unto (eis) salvation.” Eis expresses purpose (and therefore result). I.e., the sinner believes for the purpose of receiving the gift of righteousness, and that is indeed the result of his faith. The sinner likewise confesses for the purpose of receiving the gift of salvation, and that is indeed the result of his confession.

When we understand that the two parts of this verse are parallel in form and that “righteousness” and “salvation” here have the same connotation, we can see why the faith-only approach to salvation cannot be true. This view assumes that righteousness or justification by faith means that one is justified as soon as he has faith, in the instant he has faith. Such simultaneity, however, is not inherent in the preposition “by” in the phrase “justified by faith,” and this verse is evidence of it. The fact that another, separate act besides faith (i.e., confession) is also a condition for receiving salvation shows that one does not receive it as soon as the faith is present. This same logic also shows that justification by faith does not exclude from the salvation package the act of baptism, which in other texts is shown to be the precise time when the salvation is received (e.g., Col 2:12, “in baptism”).

4. God’s Righteousness Is Available Equally to Jews and Gentiles (10:11-13)

Why are so many Jews lost, while so many Gentiles are being saved? It all comes back to the question of righteousness, and how a person seeks to be accepted as righteous by God. The question has always been, “In whose righteousness do you trust?” Anyone who trusts in his own righteousness will come short of the glory of God and be put to shame on Judgment Day; but anyone who humbly, by faith, accepts the gift of God’s own righteousness will be saved. This applies to Jews, covenant service notwithstanding; it also applies equally to Gentiles. In this New Covenant age, the focus of this trust must be Jesus Christ, whose saving work is the very source and essence of this gift of righteousness.

This brief section speaks of the universality of God’s righteousness, and how it is intended for and available to every human being.

10:11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Unlike v. 6, this is specifically identified as a quote from Scripture, namely, Isa 28:16b. This was quoted earlier in 9:33; see the comments there for its basic meaning.

“Will never be put to shame” means that those who meet God on the day of judgment wearing the free gift of the robe of Christ’s righteousness (Isa 61:10; 2 Cor 5:21) will not be ashamed; those who refuse the gift (i.e., refuse to put their trust in Christ) will show up for the judgment wearing only their own filthy rags (Isa 64:6) and will be eternally ashamed. See Phil 3:9.

The “him” who is the object of trust is without question Jesus. In 9:33 this was implicit, but the context of 10:11 makes it explicit. He is the Lord of whom this whole passage speaks (vv. 9,12,13).

Paul cites Isaiah to once again provide OT confirmation for his teaching. His main point is righteousness by faith, and in vv. 8-10 Jesus Christ is the specific object of this faith. This is what Isa 28:16b means, he says.

Isaiah is quoted exactly the same in 9:33 and 10:11, except for the addition of one word in the latter. In each case the subject is a participle, “the one who believes/trusts” (ὁ πιστεύων, ho pisteuōn). Universality is implicit here, but in 10:11 Paul makes it explicit by adding the word πᾶς (pas), “all, everyone, anyone.” Thus he emphatically affirms that God’s offer of righteousness by faith is open to everyone. It is open to all Jews; those who refuse to accept it do so by their own choice. It is also open to all Gentiles, many of whom have accepted it (9:30). Those who exercise their freedom to trust in him constitute the true Israel, spiritual Israel, the remnant.

10:12.  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile... where the true Israel is concerned. Paul has already declared, in 3:22b, that “there is no difference” between these groups. In that verse his point was that there is no difference between them with regard to sin, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23); “Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin” (3:9). In this verse, though, the statement sounds the joyful note that there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles with regard to salvation. The promise in v. 11 applies equally to all. As Peter learned through his encounter with Cornelius, “God does not show favoritism” when it comes to salvation (Acts 10:34). The Old Covenant distinction between Jews and Gentiles was a matter of the formers’ election to service; faith-righteousness as the only way of salvation is offered to all. See 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:28; Col 3:11.

The all-inclusiveness of the gospel is grounded in the universality of the Lordship of the one Lord, Jesus Christ: ... the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who will call on him... . In 3:29-30 Paul affirmed the unity of Jews and Gentiles by declaring that there is only one God who is the God of them both. The idea here is the same, with attention focusing specifically on Jesus as the one Lord who is over all. That “Lord” here refers to Jesus is clear from v. 9 (see 1 Cor 12:5; Eph 4:5; Phil 2:9-11). He is elsewhere declared to be “Lord of all” (Acts 10:36; see Rom 9:5; Eph 1:22).

“All” refers specifically to all people, Jews and Gentiles; but the reference to riches means he is also Lord over all things, especially the spiritual bounty of salvation. God is “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4) and supplies all our needs “according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). This reminder that our Lord is rich assures us that there is an inexhaustible supply of grace; it will never run out, no matter how many heirs there may be. He is fully able to richly bless “all.” Thus there was no need for the Jews to jealously seek an exclusive saving relationship with God. “The Jew had no reason to envy or begrudge the Gentiles their call, since it in no way impoverished him” (MP, 429).

Paul says that God richly blesses “all who call on him.” We might have expected the Apostle to say, “all who believe in him,” since his main emphasis thus far has been on faith (10:11). Why does he now change to “call on him”? Probably for two reasons. First, “calling upon the Lord” is a way of confessing him with our mouths; thus by using this language Paul reinforces the essentiality of confession as explained in 10:9-10. “Calling upon him” unites faith with the act of confessing. Second, Paul uses this word here to set up the quotation from Joel 2:32 in the next verse. To “call upon” (ἐπικαλέω, epikaleō) was a word widely used in biblical times in both secular and religious senses. In the middle voice (as here) it meant “to appeal to someone” for a favor or a blessing. It is the word Paul used when he “appealed” to Caesar (Acts 25:11-12,21,25; 26:32; 28:19). When used in reference to God it often had the sense of petitionary prayer (1 Kings 18:24; Acts 7:59). To call upon the name of God was the same as calling upon God, as vv. 12 and 13 show.

Calling upon (the name of) the Lord—confessing his Lordship—has always been a distinguishing characteristic of God’s people. Calling on the name of Yahweh set Israel apart from all the nations: “Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms what do not call on your name” (Ps 79:6; see v. 4). In the NT Christians are identified as the ones who call on the name of the Lord (Acts 9:14,21; 1 Cor 1:2; 2 Tim 2:22). To call upon the Lord is in essence a humble confession of his absolute, universal Lordship. As MacArthur (2:83) says, “To call upon the name of Jesus as Lord is to recognize and submit to His deity, His authority, His sovereignty, His power, His majesty, His word, and His grace.”

10:13.  Most important, calling upon the Lord is specifically related to salvation: for, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” In some contexts this may refer to praying for deliverance from temporal troubles, as in Ps 116:4, “Then I called on the name of the LORD: ‘O LORD, save me!’” In other contexts, as here, it is an appeal to God for salvation from sin.

This verse (except for “for”) is an exact quotation of Joel 2:32 (LXX, 3:5). In Acts 2:21 the Apostle Peter cites this as part of a Messianic prophecy that refers to calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Acts 2:36-38; see 4:12; 8:12). Here we see again how “calling on the name of the Lord” is equivalent to “confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord” (10:9), and how confessing with the mouth results in salvation (10:10).

The relation between calling on the Lord and salvation from sin also helps us to understand how baptism is related to the initial reception of salvation. In Acts 22:16, God’s messenger Ananias tells the penitent but as-yet-unsaved Saul to do what Joel 2:32 says and call on the name of the Lord, i.e., for salvation. Do this, he says, while you are being baptized and washing away your sins. The very act of baptism is both a humble acknowledgment (confession) of the Lordship of Christ, and a prayer for him to save by washing away sins through his blood. The baptismal act should also be accompanied by a verbal prayer that “calls on his name,” i.e., calls upon the Lord to keep his promises and wash away all sins. This is the sense of 1 Pet 3:21, which says that baptism saves us because it is “an appeal to God for a good conscience” (NASB).

One last point about 10:13 is that it is a clear affirmation of the deity of Jesus. There can be no question that “the Lord” here refers to Jesus, especially in view of the content of our saving confession in v. 9. Also, there can be no question that Paul is here quoting Joel 2:32 and applying it to Jesus. But in the original Hebrew of Joel 2:32, “Lord” is actually the tetragram, the name Yahweh. Thus Paul is identifying Jesus of Nazareth with Yahweh, the God of the OT. (This is not to say that Yahweh and Jesus are identical. Yahweh as known in the OT is actually all three persons of the trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—as known in the NT.)

The main point of this paragraph (10:4-13) is that Jesus Christ alone is the source of saving righteousness. The emphasis throughout has been upon him. Now, by climactically applying Joel’s prophecy to Jesus, Paul shows why we can have such utter confidence in him: he is no less than God himself.

SOURCE: The College Press NIV Commentary: Romans, Volume 1; by Jack Cottrell; New Testament Series Co-Editors: Jack Cottrell, Ph.D., Cincinnati Bible Seminary; Tony Ash, Ph.D., Abilene Christian University; College Press Publishing Company, Joplin, Missouri

 

Believer's Bible Commentary: Romans 10:1-3,8b-10,11-13

Israel's Present (Chap. 10)

10:1.  Paul's teachings were most distasteful to the unconverted Jews. They considered him a traitor and an enemy of Israel. But here he assures his Christian brethren to whom he was writing that the thing that would bring the greatest delight to his heart and the thing for which he prays to God most earnestly for Israel is that they may be saved.

10:2.  Far from condemning them as godless and irreligious, the apostle gives his testimony that they have a zeal for God. This was apparent from their careful observance of the rituals and ceremonies of Judaism, and from their intolerance of every contrary doctrine. But zeal is not enough; it must be combined with truth. Otherwise it can do more harm than good.

10:3.  This is where they failed. They were ignorant of God's righteousness, ignorant of the fact that God imputes righteousness on the principle of faith and not of works. They went about trying to produce a righteousness of their own by law-keeping. They tried to win God's favor by their own efforts, their own character, their own good works. They steadfastly refused to submit to God's plan for reckoning righteous those ungodly sinners who believe on His Son.


10:8.  If the gospel doesn't tell men to do the humanly impossible, or to do what has already been done by the Lord, what then does it say?

Again Paul adapts a verse from Deuteronomy 30 to say that the gospel is near, accessible, intelligible, and easily obtained; it can be expressed in familiar conversation (in your mouth); and it can be readily understood in the mind (in your heart) (Deut. 30:14). It is the good news of salvation by faith which Paul and the other apostles preached.

10:9.  Here it is in a nutshell: First you must accept the truth of the Incarnation, that the Babe of Bethlehem's manger is the Lord of life and glory, that the Jesus of the NT is the Lord (Jehovah) of the OT.

Second, you must accept the truth of His resurrection, with all that it involves. God has raised Him from the dead as proof that Christ had completed the work necessary for our salvation, and that God is satisfied with that work. Believing this with the heart means believing with one's mental, emotional, and volitional powers.

So you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. It is a personal appropriation of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is saving faith.

The question often arises, "Can a person be saved by accepting Jesus as Savior without also acknowledging Him as Lord?" The Bible gives no encouragement to anyone who believes with mental reservations: "I'll take Jesus as my Savior but I don't want to crown Him Lord of all." On the other hand, those who make submission to Jesus as Lord a condition of salvation face the problem, "To what degree must He be acknowledged as Lord?" Few Christians would claim to have made an absolute and complete surrender to Him in this way. When we present the gospel, we must maintain that faith is the sole condition of justification. But we must also remind sinners and saints constantly that Jesus Christ is Lord (Jehovah-God), and should be acknowledged as such.

10:10.  In further explanation, Paul writes that with the heart one believes unto righteousness. It is not a mere intellectual assent but a genuine acceptance with one's whole inward being. When a person does that, he is instantly justified.

Then with the mouth confession is made unto salvation; that is, the believer publicly confesses the salvation he has already received. Confession is not a condition of salvation but the inevitable outward expression of what has happened: "If on Jesus Christ you trust, speak for Him you surely must." When a person really believes something, he wants to share it with others. So when a person is genuinely born again, it is too good to keep secret. He confesses Christ.

The Scriptures assume that when a person is saved he will make a public confession of that salvation. The two go together. Thus Kelly said, "If there be no confession of Christ the Lord with the mouth, we cannot speak of salvation; as our Lord said, 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.'" And Denney comments,

"A heart believing unto righteousness, and a mouth making confession unto salvation, are not really two things, but two sides of the same thing."

The question arises why confession comes first in 10:9, then belief, whereas in 10:10 belief comes first, then confession. The answer is not hard to find. In verse 9 the emphasis is on the Incarnation and the resurrection, and these doctrines are mentioned in their chronological order. The Incarnation comes first—Jesus is Lord. Then the resurrection—God raised Him from the dead. In verse 10 the emphasis is on the order of events in the salvation of a sinner. First he believes, then he makes a public confession of his salvation.

10:11.  The apostle now quotes Isaiah 28:16 to emphasize that whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame. The thought of public confession of Christ might arouse fears of shame, but the opposite is true. Our confession of Him on earth leads to His confession of us in heaven. Ours is a hope that will never be disappointed.

The word whoever forms a link with what is to follow—namely, that God's glorious salvation is for all, Gentiles as well as Jews.

10:12.  In Romans 3:23 we learned that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile as far as the need for salvation is concerned, for all are sinners. Now we learn that there is no distinction as far as the availability of salvation is concerned. The Lord is not an exclusive God, but is Lord over all mankind. He is rich in grace and mercy to all who call upon Him.

10:13.  Joel 2:32 is quoted to prove the universality of the gospel. One could scarcely wish for a simpler statement of the way of salvation than is found in these words: "Whoever calls on the name of the L shall be saved." The name of the L stands for the L Himself.

SOURCE: Believer's Bible Commentary; by William MacDonald; Copyright © 1995, 1992, 1990, 1989 by William McDonald. Database © 2014 WORDsearch.

 

The Complete Biblical Library Commentary: Romans 10:1-3,8b-10,11-13

10:1. God has offered righteousness to Israel three times: (1) under the prophets (9:30-33); (2) under the Law (10:1-13); (3) under the gospel (10:14-21).

Paul did not discuss Israel's rejection with coldness and anger. He felt deeply about the matter (cf. 9:1-3). Paul's life was often endangered by the Jews; many a beating and stoning left marks upon his body. But despite this he was deeply grieved over their ways; he desired above all else that they might be saved. The burden of souls left no room in his heart for the condemnation of souls.

10:2-3. The Jews failed to submit to the righteousness of God. They had great zeal, they knew the Law, they gave themselves to the Law, and they endeavored to convert Gentiles to the Law. But since their zeal was "not according to knowledge," it was not acceptable. It was misguided to a wrong cause.

The Jews had not properly interpreted the purpose of the Law. Ignoring the sinfulness of their hearts, they had come to trust in the keeping of the letter of the Law. When Jesus came, offering free pardon for sin, they felt they had no need of Him. "They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?" (John 8:33). On more than one occasion they asked, "What shall we do?" Notice John 6:28, 29 where we read they asked, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" Jesus answered, "This is the work of God, that ye believe."

The human desire to merit God's favor by works is present among all men; it is not limited to the Jew with his alms, prayers, and traditions. The African brings offerings to his fetish; the Hindu bathes in the Ganges; those of the Roman Church do penance, count beads, and journey to shrines.


8. Imputed righteousness provides an ever-present spiritual standard for believers. In other words, it is a righteousness that is centered in the Word of God. In writing of this, Paul asks questions that may have appeared foolish. In essence, he asks those who are searching for righteousness if they must go up to heaven and bring Christ down in order to have someone to keep them righteous. Or must they go down to the grave to bring Him up from the dead to have someone to keep them righteous.

Paul's use of Deuteronomy showed that he was not preaching a new concept; the only new part was the work Jesus had accomplished. Hebrews discusses the relationship of Jesus to the Levitical system, showing the "better" way of Jesus' finished work (John 19:30; Hebrews 10:9-14).

Verses 6-8 are taken from Moses' inspired teaching in Deuteronomy 30:12-14. When Jews were inclined to say that it was impossible to please God, Moses reminded them that "it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off" (Deuteronomy 30:11). God through Moses was saying to Israel that He had made faith and life accessible to them. For every sin and transgression He had made a plan for forgiveness. Their faith was demonstrated by their obedience.

The Jews of Paul's day were liable to make the same error as those of Moses' day. To question how they could "ascend into heaven" in order to find a way of perfection was a denial of the incarnation of Christ. To question the need for bringing someone from "the deep" was a denial of Jesus' resurrection.

Paul's answer was that the Word was near them, seated at the right hand of the throne of God, and He (Jesus) is identified and inseparably connected with the written Word, which is "even in thy mouth." The righteousness by faith can be maintained by adhering to and abiding in the Word of God.

The message of salvation by faith conveys the good news that Christ, the Son of God, came down from heaven to become the Son of Man and to die for us, and that He has ascended again from the dead. The two greatest miracles of the Christian faith are the Incarnation which tells us that Christ came down from heaven, and the Resurrection which tells us He came up from the regions of the dead. These truths must be believed in the heart. The Scriptures, "the word of faith," are the means of relaying this to us.

10:9, 10.  God's great plan of righteousness is so wonderful and so complete that man's efforts are excluded. Salvation can only be received by faith. Faith does not earn a Saviour, faith accepts a Saviour. All that is required is the act of believing; proof is the act of confessing Him. Salvation is as close as the air we breathe. We only need to receive Him and confess Him. Salvation is for "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord" (verse 13).

Most translations render "confess... the Lord Jesus" as "confess... Jesus as Lord." The emphasis is on the lordship of Christ.

At the very heart of the gospel is the Resurrection. Salvation is to confess with the mouth the lordship of Christ and to believe in the heart His resurrection. Believing comes before confession. Lack of confession indicates lack of faith. Confession is first of all Godward in the heart, then outward and manward. Heart trust and true confession cannot be separated.

Believing with the heart is in contrast with intellectual belief. Faith, as used in Scripture, is not a natural attribute of fallen man. Faith is "not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). Calvinists are scriptural when they say that man cannot believe apart from God's gracious help. They are unscriptural when they say He offers it only to a predetermined few. The Holy Spirit offers faith to all mankind (verse 11), but man must will to exercise that faith by receiving Christ, committing himself to Jesus as his Lord.

Confession of mouth and belief of heart are the prime requisites of salvation, representing the believers' outward and inward responses. Inward conviction must find outward expression. Salvation comes by faith which inevitably will cause the believer to confess Christ both in word and deed.

10:11. This verse is a quotation from Isaiah 28:16. "He" in Isaiah is changed to "whosoever." Several translations render "ashamed" as "disappointed." There is nothing mentioned about law; it is all by faith. None of these renderings—ashamed, put to shame, disappointed—mean to be ashamed of the Lord. Rather, whosoever anchors his faith in Christ can be certain that the gospel works; it has power to save and deliver.

10:12. "Difference" is rendered "distinction" in several translations. There is no distinction between Jew and Greek (Gentile) in their sinfulness (3:22, 23), and no distinction in the plan to deliver them from sin. God's mercy is rich unto all. The lordship of Christ is equally relevant to all in the matter of salvation.

10:13.  Nothing can be simpler: "Whosoever"—one and all, anyone; "call"—call on the name of the only One who can help; "shall be saved"—it is just that simple. Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, bond or free, black or white, educated or uneducated, refined or crude—anyone can simply call. No longer is there a special people. It is all who call. Those who call are the elect, the chosen. They are the Israel of God.

The thrust of these verses is an appeal to the Jews to forsake the road of legalism and walk the way of grace. Paul appeals to them to see that their zeal is wrongly placed. Generations before the prophets had declared that faith is the way to God and that the door is open to all who believe.

SOURCE: The Complete Biblical Library Commentary - Acts.  Copyright © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.; World Library Press, Inc.

 

DIGGING DEEPER: Key Word(s)

DESIRE (v. 1)—The verb "to desire" in the Scriptures usually means "to long for," "to ask for," "to demand," and may be used in a good or bad sense (compare Deut. 7:25 the King James Version). The Revised Version (British and American) frequently renders the more literal meaning of the Hebrew. Compare Job 20:20, "delight"; Proverbs 21:20, "precious"; Psalm 40:6, "delight"; αἰτέω, aitéō (except Col. 1:9), and ἐρωτάω, erōtáō (except Luke 7:36) are rendered "to ask" and ζητέω, zētéō, "to seek" (compare Luke 9:9 et. al.). The Hebrew ‏כָּסַף‎, kāṣaph, literally, "to lose in value," is translated (Zeph. 2:1) by "hath no shame" (the Revised Version, margin "longing," the King James Version "not desired"). The literal translation "to lose in value," "to degenerate," would be more in harmony with the context than the translations offered. The Hebrew ‏חֶמְדָּה‎, ḥemdāh (2 Chron. 21:20, "without being desired"), means according to the Arabic "to praise," "to give thanks." The context brings in contrast the burial of the king Jehoram with that of his fathers. In the latter case there was "burning," i.e. recognition and praise, but when Jehoram died, there was no ḥemdāh, i.e. there was no praise for his services rendered to the kingdom.

SOURCE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; James Orr, M.A., D. D., General Editor; Parsons Technology, Inc.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Zeal (v. 2)—The word “zeal” (“enthusiasm,” NIV; “are zealous for,” NIV) literally means “heat.”  In the positive sense, it refers to passion for defending, embracing, or pursuing God.  In the negative sense, it refers to jealousy.  Although the Jews had “zeal”, Paul said, they had it not according to knowledge (“it is misdirected zeal,” NLT).  The form of Greek word translated “knowledge” refers to a deep understanding, a practice of correctly grasping the purpose of God’s revelation of Himself through Christ.  The Jews understood God’s law in the judicial sense, but they failed to understand its purpose (which Paul explained in Gal. 2:16; 3:24).

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

RIGHTEOUSNESS:  The actions and positive results of a sound relationship within a local community or between God and a person or His people. Translators have employed “righteousness” in rendering several biblical words into English: sedaqah, sedeq, in Hebrew; and dikaiosune and euthutes in Greek. “Righteousness” in the original languages denotes far more than in English usage; indeed, biblical righteousness is generally at odds with current English usage. We understand righteousness to mean “uprightness” in the sense of “adherence or conformity to an established norm.” In biblical usage righteousness is rooted in covenants and relationships. For biblical authors, righteousness is the fulfillment of the terms of a covenant between God and humanity or between humans in the full range of human relationships.

Old Testament:  The starting point is the Hebrew notion of God’s “righteousness.” The Hebrew mind did not understand righteousness to be an attribute of the divine, that is a characteristic of God’s nature. Rather, God’s righteousness is what God does in fulfillment of the terms of the covenant that God established with the chosen people, Israel (2 Chron. 12:6; Ps. 7:9; Jer. 9:24; Dan. 9:14). God’s righteousness was not a metaphysical property but that dimension of the divine experienced by those within the covenantal community.

Most especially, God’s righteousness was understood in relation to the image of God as the Judge of created order (Ps. 96:13). God’s judgments are consistently redemptive in nature, God’s judgments protected, delivered, and restored Israel (Isa. 11:4-5). At times God’s righteousness was experienced in God’s delivering Israel from enemies and oppressors (Ps. 71); at other times, in God’s delivering Israel from the nation’s own sinfulness (Ps. 51:19). Such deliverance involved God’s righteousness of wrath against the persecutor and the wicked (Ps. 106). Salvation and condemnation exist together as the two sides of God’s righteousness; the leading side is always deliverance: God condemns only because He also saves (Ps. 97).

Righteousness is a religious concept applied to humans because Israel had entered into a covenantal relationship to God. Because God had chosen Israel, the nation had the covenantal responsibility of fulfilling the terms of the covenant. Precisely here, serious misunderstanding frequently flaws thought about Israel’s desire for righteousness. The Old Testament did not call on the people of Israel to attempt to earn God’s favor or to strive to merit God’s graces (Ps. 18). Indeed, the Old Testament teaches that God’s gracious favor had been poured out on the nation in God’s choosing of Abraham and his descendants. God acted to establish the covenant and in so doing bestowed salvation on Israel (Ex. 19). The law was given as an act of divine mercy to provide Israel with guidelines for keeping the nation’s own portion of the covenant (Lev. 16; Ps. 40). Rather than being a ladder that Israel climbed to get to God, the law was understood to be a divine program for the maintenance of a healthy relationship between Israel and God (Lev. 16). God expected Israel to keep the law not to earn merit but to maintain the status God had already given the nation. As Israel kept the covenant law, the nation was righteous. Thus human righteousness in relation to God was understood as faithful adherence to the law (Lev. 19). Even so, God did not leave humans with the hopelessly impossible task of performing the law perfectly: the law God gave contained provision for atonement through repentance and appropriate acts of contrition (Lev. 19).

The concept of righteousness as faithful fulfillment of the provisions of a covenant was also meaningful in strictly human terms. The person who met the demands of a variety of social relations was thought to be righteous, to have done righteousness, though the requirements of righteousness varied with the covenantal/relational context. Some of the prominent areas were those of family (Gen. 38), friendship (1 Sam. 24), nation (Prov. 14:34), and even in relation to servants and certain foreigners (Job 31).

New Testament:  Greek philosophy understood righteousness to be one of the cardinal virtues, but New Testament authors show that they understood the word in terms of Old Testament thinking about covenantal relations. Human righteousness in the New Testament is absolute faith in and commitment to God (Matt. 3:15; Rom. 4:5; 1 Pet. 2:24). The one who in faith gives oneself to the doing of God’s will is righteous, doing righteousness, and reckoned righteous by God (Jas. 2:23). The focus of faith in God is the saving activity of God in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:21-26). The human-to-human dimension of righteousness observed in the Old Testament is present in New Testament thought (Phil. 1:3-11), but it seems less prominent, perhaps because of the importance of the New Testament concept of love.

At the heart of New Testament thinking about righteousness is the notion of God’s righteousness (Matt. 6:33; Acts 17:31; Rom. 1:17; Eph. 4:24; Jas. 1:20). Interpreters debate whether the phrase “righteousness of God” is a subjective genitive, meaning “God is righteous,” or an objective genitive, meaning “God gives righteousness.”

This grammatical distinction is more than a point about subtle linguistic nuance. In the New Testament, especially in Paul’s letters, “the righteousness of God” is the key to understanding the salvation of humanity.

Interpreters who take “the righteousness of God” to mean “God gives righteousness” see salvation as a God-created human possibility. Righteousness is that which God requires of humanity and which God gives as a gift to the person of faith. In this line of thought, faith is the condition for the reception of the gift of righteousness from God. God acts in Christ, and, in turn, humans react by having faith. Then God gives them righteousness or reckons them, on the basis of their faith, as if they were righteous.

On the other hand, interpreters who understand “the righteousness of God” to mean “God is righteous” contend that salvation is purely the work of God, God’s saving activity in keeping the divine side of the covenant of creation. God acts in Christ, and part of that action is the creation of faith on the part of human beings who otherwise have no faith. Thus “the righteousness of God” is the power of God at work saving humanity (and the whole of creation), through the creation of faith in sinful persons.

The line between the camps of scholars holding these different interpretations of “the righteousness of God” is sharply drawn, and the debate over the validity of these interpretive options continues with intensity.

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

CONFESSION: Confession, an admission, declaration, or acknowledgment, is a significant element in the worship of God in both Old and New Testaments. The majority of the occurrences of the term can be divided into two primary responses to God: the confession of sin and the confession of faith.

Confession of Sin:  Numerous Old Testament passages stress the importance of the confession of sin within the experience of worship. Leviticus speaks of ritual acts involving such admission of sin: the sin (or guilt) offering (5:5-6:7) and the scapegoat that represents the removal of sin (16:20-22). Furthermore, confession can be the act of an individual in behalf of the people as a whole (Neh. 1:6; Dan. 9:20) or the collective response of the worshiping congregation (Ezra 10:1; Neh. 9:2-3). Frequently, it is presented as the individual acknowledgment of sin by the penitent sinner (Ps. 32:5; Prov. 28:13; see also Pss. 40 and 51 which are individual confessions although the word “confession” is not used).

Likewise, in the New Testament confession of sin is an aspect of both individual and corporate worship. At the Jordan, John’s followers were baptized, confessing their sins (Matt. 3:6; Mark 1:6). Similar confessions were made by Paul’s converts in Ephesus (Acts 19:18). Christians are reminded that God faithfully forgives the sins of those who confess them (1 John 1:9). James admonished his readers not only to pray for one another but also to confess their sins to one another (5:16), probably within the context of congregational worship. By the end of the first century, routine worship included confession as the prelude to the observance of the Lord’s Supper as seen in Didache 14:1.

Confession of Faith: Closely related to the confession of sin in the Old Testament is the confession of faith, that is, the acknowledgment of and commitment to God. In 1 Kings 8:33,35 (as well as 2 Chron. 6:24,26) acknowledgment of the name of God results in forgiveness of sins. Such acknowledgment came to be standardized in the confessional formula known as the Shema (Deut. 6:4-5).

Such declaration of commitment to God, or particularly to Christ, is also found in the New Testament. One’s public acknowledgment of Jesus is the basis for Jesus’ own acknowledgment of that believer to God (Matt. 10:32; Luke 12:8; compare Rev. 3:5). Furthermore, as Paul described the process by which one is saved, he explicitly drew a parallel between what one believes in the heart and what one confesses with the lips (Rom. 10:9-10). Belief and confession are two sides of the same coin! Probably the earliest confession of faith was the simple acknowledgment of the lordship of Christ (Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11), but the rise of heresy seems to have caused the addition of specific data about Christ to the confession—for example, that He is Son of God (1 John 4:3,15) or that He has come in the flesh (1 John 4:2). A firmly set outline of Christian beliefs then appears to be what is meant by confession in later New Testament writings (Heb. 5:14).

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

SALVATION: The acutely dynamic act of snatching others by force from serious peril. In its most basic sense, salvation is the saving of a life from death or harm. Scripture, particularly the New Testament, extends salvation to include deliverance from the penalty and power of sin.

Old Testament:  For Israelite faith, salvation never carried a purely secular sense of deliverance from death or harm. Because God and no other is the source of salvation, any saving act—even when the focus is preservation of life or release from national oppression—is a spiritual event. The primary saving event in the Old Testament is the Exodus (Ex. 14:13) which demonstrated both God’s power to save and God’s concern for His oppressed people (Ex. 34:6-7). Israel recounted God’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery in the Passover ritual (Ex. 12:1-13), in sermon (Neh. 9:9-11), and in psalms (for example, Pss. 74:12-13; 78:13,42-54; 105:26-38). The retelling of the Exodus event and of God’s provision during the wilderness years (Neh. 9:12-21; Pss. 78:14-29; 105:39-41; 114:8) provided a precedent for sharing other stories of national and even personal deliverance (Pss. 40:10; 71:15).

Some argue that the Old Testament does not link salvation with the forgiveness of sins. The recurring cycle of national sin, foreign oppression, national repentance, and salvation by a God-sent “judge,” however, witnesses the linkage (Judg. 3:7-9,12,15; 4:1-4; 6:1,7,12; also Neh. 9:27; Ps. 106:34-46). God’s sending of a deliverer is in effect God’s act of forgiveness of the penitent (compare Pss. 79:9; 85:4). Psalms 51:12 perhaps provides the best Old Testament case for personal salvation from sin.

In the Old Testament, salvation primarily concerns God’s saving acts within human history. The early prophets anticipated God’s salvation to be realized in the earth’s renewed fruitfulness and the rebuilding of the ruined cities of Israel (Amos 9:13-15). Salvation would extend to all nations who would stream to Zion for instruction in God’s ways (Isa. 2:2-4; Mic. 4:1-4; Zech. 8:20-23). The prophets also hinted of a salvation that lies outside history (for example, Isa. 51:6). The larger context of Isaiah 25:9 reveals that God’s salvation embraces abundant life (25:6) and the end of death (25:7), tears, and disgrace (25:8).

Throughout most of the Old Testament, salvation is a corporate or community experience. The Psalms, however, are especially concerned with the salvation of the individual from the threat of enemies (Pss. 13:5; 18:2,35; 24:5). Though the focus is negative—salvation involves foiling the enemies’ wrongdoing—there are hints of a positive content of salvation that embraces prosperity (as in Ps. 18:35). The Psalms are especially interested in God’s salvation of the “upright in heart” (Ps. 36:10) or righteous (Ps. 37:19-40) who rely on God for deliverance. Psalm 51:12 more than any other Old Testament text associates personal salvation with a conversion experience; renewed joy of salvation accompanies God’s creation of a new heart and right spirit and assurance of God’s abiding presence.

New Testament:  For convenience, salvation can be viewed from the two perspectives of Christ’s saving work and the believer’s experience of salvation.

Christ’s saving work involves already completed, on-going, and future saving activity. Jesus’ earthly ministry made salvation a present reality for His generation. Jesus’ healing ministry effected salvation from disease (Mark 5:34; 10:52; Luke 17:19). Jesus offered God’s forgiveness to hurting people (Mark 2:5; Luke 7:50). He assured a repentant Zacchaeus that “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9). Through such encounters Jesus fulfilled the goal of His ministry: “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

The apex of Christ’s completed work is His sacrificial death: Christ came to “give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45); Christ “entered once for all into the Holy Place,… with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12 NRSV); “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor. 5:19 NRSV). Here ransom, redemption, and reconciliation are synonyms for salvation. With reference to Christ’s atoning work, the believer can confess, “I was saved when Jesus died for me.”

Christ’s present saving work primarily concerns Christ’s role as mediator (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1). Christ’s future saving work chiefly concerns Christ’s coming again “to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him” (Heb. 9:28 REB) and salvation from the wrath of God’s final judgment (Rom. 5:9-10).

Though Christ’s sacrificial death is central, Christ’s saving activity extends to the whole of His life, including His birth (Gal. 4:4-5), resurrection (Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:17), and ascension (Rom. 8:34).

The believer’s experience also offers a perspective for viewing salvation. The experience again embraces the past, present, and future. God’s initial work in the believer’s life breaks down into various scenes: conviction of sin (John 16:8); repentance (turning) from sin to God (Luke 15:7,10; 2 Cor. 7:10); faith which involves commitment of one’s whole life to Christ (John 3:16,36); confession of Christ as Lord (Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:9-10). Scripture uses a wealth of images to describe this act: new birth (John 3:3; Titus 3:5); new creation (2 Cor. 5:17); adoption (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:4-5; Eph. 1:5); empowerment to be God’s children (John 1:12); the status of “saints” (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1). This initial work in the believer’s life is often termed justification. Justification, however, also embraces God’s final judgment (Rom. 2:13; 3:20,30).

God’s ongoing work in the believer’s life concerns the process of maturing in Christ (Heb. 2:3; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18), growing in Christ’s service (1 Cor. 7:20-22), and experiencing victory over sin through the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 7-8). Here sin remains a reality in the believer’s life (Rom. 7; 1 John 1:8-2:1). The believer is caught in between what God has begun and what God is yet to complete (Phil. 1:6; 2:12).

God’s yet to be finished work in the lives of all believers is sometimes called glorification (Rom. 8:17; Heb. 2:10). Scripture, however, uses a wealth of terms for this future saving work: adoption (Rom. 8:23); redemption (Luke 21:28; Rom. 8:23; Eph. 4:30); salvation (Rom. 13:11; Heb. 1:14; 9:28; 1 Pet. 1:5; 2:2); and sanctification (1 Thess. 5:23). God’s future work involves more than the individual; God’s future work extends to the renewal of heaven and earth.

Some Contested Issues:  (1) The relationship between faith and works: Scripture repeatedly affirms that salvation is the free gift of God appropriated through faith (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 3:28). No individual merits salvation by fulfillment of God’s law (Rom. 3:20). Saving faith is, however, obedient faith (Rom. 1:5; 16:26; 1 Pet. 1:2). We are saved for good works (Eph. 2:10). Faith that does not result in acts of Christian love is not salvific but demonic (Jas. 2:14-26, especially v. 19).

(2) The perseverance of the saints: Assurance of salvation is grounded in confidence that God is able to finish the good work begun in us (Phil. 1:6), that God who sacrificed His Son for sinners (Rom. 5:8-9) will not hold back anything necessary to save one of his children (Rom. 8:32), and that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ (Rom. 8:35-39). Confidence in God’s ability to keep those who have entrusted their lives to Christ is not, however, an excuse for any believer’s inactivity or moral failure (Rom. 6:12-13; Eph. 2:10).

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

 

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND READING:

 

Righteousness In Pauline Thought

By Joe Beckler

Joe Beckler is a church planter and resort minister in Durango, Colorado.

Paul offered an understanding of righteousness that honored the complete story of Scripture, reaching all the way back to the roots of Judaism.

E

NVISION WRITING A LETTER to people you have never met.  That was the apostle Paul’s challenge when writing to believers in Rome.  He was writing an audience he knew only through others’ words.  Certainly, he wondered what he should write to this gathering of believers in ancient Rome.

Paul, in this epistle to the Roman church, offered a brilliant explanation of the Christian faith.  In a world of varying religious viewpoints, Paul wrote the Book of Romans with a clear mandate to clarify exactly what happened in the historical life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Roots in Judaism

Paul’s words in Romans show a journey of understanding.  As a devoted Jew of the highest degree, Paul had to reconcile what happened in his life before and after he met Jesus.  As a Pharisee, his spiritual journey was most certainly connected to a vibrant religious heritage.  Because of Jesus, Paul’s theology, including his understanding of “righteousness,” had changed.

In the Book of Romans, “righteous” is a prevailing theme.  Paul offered an explanation of righteousness that honored the complete story of Scripture, reaching all the way back to the roots of Judaism.  He wanted followers of Jesus to understand how righteousness, as related to the work of Jesus,  completed the story.  Jesus’ work was not an awkward interruption.  Rather, it was an act of fulfillment.  The Roman church, Paul’s target audience for this epistle, was likely a mix of Jews and Gentiles.1

To Jewish recipients of this letter, Paul wanted to show how the righteousness that Jesus graced upon believers was not in contradiction to the story of God’s work with Israel.  At the same time, as an apostle to the Gentiles, Paul was writing to show how Jesus brought Jews and Gentiles together through one gospel message.

Righteousness is a word with many meanings.  “You are so self-righteous!” for example, suggests piety and that someone thinks he/she is morally or spiritually better than others.  Sometimes the term separates people into categories of “good” and “bad.”  Paul’s use of “righteousness,” on the other hand, was far from any self-generated sense of piety.  Instead, he understood the word in terms of his Hebrew heritage in the midst of the Greco-Roman world.  In Paul’s day, people held competing understandings of what righteousness meant.  The same is true today.  Through the centuries, Christian theologians have had a long-continued debate over the theological understanding of righteousness.2

In the New Testament dikaiosune is the Greek word meaning righteousness.  Generally, dikaiosune means: God’s requirements, that which is considered right, uprightness, righteousness, justice, making something right, putting something or someone in right relationship, religious duties, as well as charitable acts.3

Dikaiosune has its root in the word dike, which refers to justice and punishment.  For the Greeks, Dike was the name of the goddess of justice.  The New Testament writers used the term four times, generally referring to punishment and justice (Acts 25:15; 28:4; 2 Thess. 1:9; Jude 1:7).4

Paul’s understanding of righteousness would have been filtered through his Jewish lineage heritage, an understanding that went back to the patriarchs.  In Genesis 15:6, God credited Abram with righteousness (Hebrew, tsedaqah).  Righteousness in the Hebrew understanding carried parallel meaning to that of the Greek, focusing on “what is right, just, normal.”5

The Greeks viewed righteousness in a Platonic ideal sense.  It was the standard against which a person measured himself.  In a sense, righteousness referred to the perfect model of what was right, fair, and virtuous.  In contrast, the Hebrew understanding of righteousness was relational.  Righteousness came as a result of meeting obligations in a relationship.6  God was in relationship with the people of Israel.  To keep the law meant they remained righteous (or in right standing) with respect to their relationship with God.

Judaism honored the law.  To keep the law was to fulfill one’s obligation, resulting in a state of righteousness before God.  The dilemma, as Paul explained, was that the law could never be maintained (Rom. 3:21-26).  All fell short of God’s ideal.  Thus, Paul was not simply concerned with his readers maintaining a proper understanding of Judaism and righteousness.  He wanted to show how the expectations had  changed through Jesus, who had brought about a revolutionary fulfillment in understanding righteousness.  As Paul wrote, “Apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed” (v. 21, HCSB).

Paul, combating those who wanted to morph Jesus’ way back into the folds of Judaism, knew he needed to show the uniqueness of Jesus in relationship to righteousness.  To do this, Paul reached lack into the origins of his Jewish story, referring to Abram, as mentioned above.7  Being Israel’s patriarch, Abram was alive before God gave Moses the law.  As Paul pointed out, God credited Abram as righteous (or in right standing) as a result of simply believing.  Abram’s faith in God was enough.  God bestowed righteousness (tsedaqah).  Abram did not earn this.  It was a gift.

Revealed in Jesus

Paul wanted his audience to understand that God’s righteous standards had not changed.  However, human ability to merit this “right standing” was impossible.  The human sin condition merited death (6:23).  Something had to be done.  A gift of righteousness, bestowed by God onto people, was essential.  Jesus was the gift of righteousness.  Anyone trusting Jesus, God credited as righteous!

The beauty of Paul’s description of righteousness is that it clarifies who can truly make someone righteous (dikaios).  It is exclusively an act of God.  Being made righteous is God’s work in a person’s life.  This righteousness dominates the life of a Jesus follower, because God’s righteousness is not under human control.  Bestowed by God, righteousness is worked out in the life of a believer who submits himself or herself to Jesus.8  Paul used the metaphor of slavery to emphasize the work of God’s righteousness in a believer (6:18).  He explained that a follower of Jesus is “enslaved to righteousness.”  Using the image of slavery, Paul creatively introduced the reality of Christian freedom.  The believer, when enslaved to God, is purchased for freedom!9  As a slave to righteousness, Paul explained God emancipates the believer.  The Lord redeems the believer, resulting in eternal life.10

If you meditate on Paul’s life, you see a man radically transformed because of a personal encounter with Jesus.  Paul, who once struggled to achieve righteousness according to the law, wrote that such merit was rubbish compared to knowing Jesus (Phil. 3:2-9).  Writing to believers in Rome, Paul wanted Christians to know that the righteousness he embraced was God’s gift.  He was a slave, enslaved to God’s work of righteousness within his own life.  The same is true for us.  Both Abram and Paul were credited with righteousness, because of faith.  Likewise, Jesus invites us to trust in Him in the same way and be make righteous by God’s power alone!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bi

1.    Sanday and Headlam, Romans (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1975), xxv-xxvi.

2.    Dunn, The Theology of the Apostle Paul (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 337.

3.    Aland, Black, Martini, Metzger, and Wikgren; The Greek New Testament (Stuttgart, Germany: United Bible Societies, 1994), 46.

4.    Schrenk, (dike, punishment; dikaios, righteous) in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Kittel, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 178, 181, 187.

5.    (tsedeq; righteousness) in Brown, Driver, and Briggs; The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew & English Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996), xxx.

6.    Dunn, 341.

7.    Romans 4 and Genesis 15:6.

8.    Fitzmeyer, Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, 1993), 447.

9.    Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1961), 428.

10.   Romans 6:22.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Fall 2011.

 

To Confess  A Word Study

By Mark A. Rathel

Mark A. Rathel is associate professor of theology and philosophy, The Baptist College of Florida, Graceville, Florida.

T

HE CONCEPT OF “CONFESSION” is an important part of a Christian’s experience.  Many Christians correlate confession with the beginning of the Christian life.  The acknowledgement of our status as sinners and our profession of allegiance to Jesus express integral aspects of Christian conversion.  The New Testament, however, does not limit the role of confession to the beginning of the Christian life, when the new believer confesses his or her faith in Christ.  This act of confession, a confession that leads to repentance of sin, is an essential part of a believer’s spiritual life.  As Baptist theologian W. T. Conner wrote, “It [repentance] is an attitude that belongs to the Christian life as a whole.  The initial act of repentance is the beginning of a life of repentance.”1

The Greek verb for the act of confession is homologeo.  This compound word derives from two other Greek words: homo, meaning “like,” and logos, meaning “word” or “thing spoken.”  The Greek verb for the act of confession, then, has a range of usages including “promise,” “agree,” “admit,” “confess (sins),” and “publicly declare (that one is something),”2

Backgrounds of “Confession”

The various contexts in which the vocabulary of “confession” occurred in documents written prior to the New Testament provide understanding in how the readers of Romans would have understood the concept of confession.  “Confession” functioned as an important concept in legal and religious contexts.

The concept of “confession” occurred predominately as a legal term with the connotation of “agree with.”  The Greek noun “confession” frequently described a contractual agreement.  Numerous Greek papyri discovered in Egypt bear this meaning.3  A common heading for a last will or testament is “contract and agreement (homologia).”  The papyri describe a contract laborer as a “confessor” (homologos).  Another of the papyri uses the verb form meaning “to agree with.”  It is a legal document: “We acknowledge (homologeo) that we divided between ourselves at the present time the vineyard which we hold on lease.”4 

The religious usage of “confession” correlates and builds upon the legal background.  In a manner similar to which one confessed wrong-doing in a court, one acknowledged or confessed sins before a deity.  An individual publicly professed allegiance to a deity by means of an oath of confession.5

The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, contains a unique usage of the idea of confession.  The translators of the Septuagint frequently translated the Hebrew word yada, “to confess, to praise, to give thanks,” by means of the verb exomologeo, a related word with the same meaning as homologeo, mentioned above.  The Israelites “confessed praise” of God’s majestic power (1 Chron. 29:12), as well as His mighty acts of redemption (Ps. 105:1-6).  Frequently, worship provided the setting for the confession of praise to Yahweh.  The Greek translation of Psalm 100:4 provides evidence of “confession” as an act of praise.  “Enter into His courts by means of giving thanks (exomologeo), and his courts with hymns; give thanks (exomologeo) and praise His name.”6

“Confession” in Romans

Paul used Greek words for “confess” four times in Romans.  Twice he used the term homologeo highlighting public allegiance to Jesus (Rom. 10:9-10).  He used exomologeo twice in quotations from the Septuagint in the sense of confessing praise (Rom. 14:11; 15:9).  The concept of confession in Romans used both the legal and Septuagint background.

Romans 10:9-10A discussion contrasting two kinds of righteousness supplies the immediate context for Paul’s use of “confession” in Romans 10:9-10.  On the one hand, a perfect, unmerited kind of righteousness is available from God through faith.  On the other hand, many Jews pursued self-righteousness through works of the law.  In Romans 10:1-13, Paul quoted the Old Testament six times to reassure his readers that the Old Testament itself taught that righteousness comes by faith.  One of his quotes, Deuteronomy 30:14 (see Rom. 10:8), affirmed that a heart faith brings righteousness.

In Romans 10:9-10, Paul set forth three pairs of related truths in describing how an individual receives salvation.  First, Paul linked confessing with the mouth to believing with the heart.  Faith and confession involved doctrinal content, namely, the lordship of Christ.  In light of the over six-thousand times the Septuagint translates “Lord” for “Yahweh,” an avowal of the lordship of Christ affirms His deity.  The public confession “Jesus is Lord” flows out of an inward heart attitude of trust.  Faith inevitably flows outward in a public pledge of allegiance to the person of Christ.  Second, Paul linked righteousness with salvation—salvation that originates with a person’s believing with his or her heart.  Salvation means that God provides humans with righteousness as a gift through Christ.  Third, Paul linked believing that Jesus is Lord with His being raised from the dead.  As it was with the women who finally recognized the resurrected Christ at the empty tomb, as it was with Jesus’ post-resurrection encounter with Thomas and his subsequent confession of faith, so it has been for followers of Jesus through the centuries: Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection confirm His lordship.

Romans 14:11Although we do not see it in the English translations, Paul again used the Greek term homologeo to talk about confessing praise to God.  In Romans 14:11, Paul uses the Septuagint version of Isaiah 45:23: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God” (HCSB, emphasis added).  The dispute between “weak” and “strong” Christians differing on the subject of eating meat offered to idols functions as the immediate context for this Old Testament quote.  Paul challenged his readers not to judge each other for two reasons.  First, they are brothers despite their differences.  Second, all believers will stand before God’s judgment seat (14:10).  Isaiah 45 celebrates the nature of God as the world’s only Creator, Savior, and Judge.  The action depicts submission.  The action of the tongue portrays a confession of  praise, even in the context of judgment.

Romans 15:9Paul’s final reference to confession in Romans occurs in chapter 15.  The immediate context is a final plea for unity in the Roman church (vv. 1-13).  Since Christ accepted the individual believer, the individual believer should accept other Christians (v. 7).  Christ serves the Jews as well as the Gentiles (or nations), the most visible human divide in the first century (v. 8).  Paul brought together four Old Testament citations to demonstrate that both Jew and Gentile belong to the community of the Messiah.  In Romans 15:9, Paul quoted Psalm 18:49.  The psalm described events in David’s life and David’s consequent desire to praise God’s name among the Gentiles.  The fact that Paul cites this Scripture passage as supportive of a ministry of Christ to Jews and Gentiles indicates that the apostle interpreted this psalm as a prophecy of the Messiah.  Paul’s letter to the Roman believers affirms that Jesus, then, is the speaker who confesses praise to God among the Gentiles.7

Implications for Believers

Paul’s teaching regarding the act of confessing offers numerous implications for the Christian life.  First, the act of confessing “Jesus is Lord” serves as a public oath of allegiance to the Person of Christ as full Deity.  Second, Christians can disagree about matters non-essential to the gospel and recognize that God alone is the Judge.  All Christians will bow in submission to the Creator-Savior-Judge and confess praise.  Third, Christ Himself confesses praise among the Gentiles or nations as they glorify God for His mercy, Christ, then, is our Example in praise for the nations coming to salvation.                                         Bi

1.   Walter T. Conner, The Gospel of Redemption (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1945), 199.

2.   William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, “ὁμολογέω” in A Greek-English Lexicom of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd ed. rev. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1979), 568; Dieter Furst, “Confess” in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, gen. ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids: Regency Reference Library, 1986), 1:344.

3.   The term “papyri” describes documents written on writing materials made from the papyrus reed.

4.   The entire discussion about “confession” in the Greek papyri comes from James Hope Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Illustrated from the Papyri and other Non-Literary Sources (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1952), 449.

5.   Furst, 344.

6.   Author’s translation of Psalm 100:4.

7.   Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996), 878-79.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Fall 2008.

 

SALVATION   A Word Study

By Mark Rathel

Mark Rathel is associated professor of theology and philosophy, The Baptist College of Florida, Graceville, Florida.

JESUS CHARACTERIZED THE PURPOSE of His ministry as coming to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  Thus salvation is a foundational and key biblical concept, particularly in the New Testament.  “Salvation” is a comprehensive concept that expresses the act of God on behalf of sinful humanity in which He brings sinful human beings into a personal relationship with Himself through the ministry of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Included under this broad concept of salvation is a wide range of benefits god provides to a believer.  A partial listing of those benefits includes legal justification, adoption, forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption, liberty, sanctification, and ultimate deliverance in a heavenly existence.

Etymological Considerations

Because of the association of salvation and the biblical revelation, many people assume the term “salvation” possesses inherent religious or theological overtones.  In the first century, however, people used the concept of “savior” and “salvation” with both religious and nonreligious connotations.  “Salvation” serves as the translation of the Greek noun soteria, a term denoting deliverance or preservation from danger.  The corresponding Greek verb is sozo, “to save.”  In Greco-Roman society, the title “Savior” (Greek, soter) denoted both human and divine deliverers.

Nonreligious usages of the concept of salvation outside the New Testament include nautical, military, and medical contexts.1 According to Homer, darkness saved (preserved) the army from extinction.2 The most common nonreligious usage of the Greek term for “salvation” occurs in the context of healing.  The city of Samos, for example, issued a decree in praise of the physician Diodorus who restored the salvation (health) of many patients.  Apion, an Egyptian soldier serving in the Roman army, wrote several letters asking about his family’s health.  To his father, Apion wrote, “I beg you therefore, my lord father, write me a few lines, first regarding your health” (Greek, soteria).3

Likewise, the New Testament contains frequent usages of the Greek term for “salvation” in which the term does not have a religious or theological meaning.  For example, Paul experienced preservation (salvation) from shipwreck on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:20,34).  Frequently the verb “save” describes the action of healing in the Gospels (Matt 9:21; Mark 5:23; Luke 6:9).

The Old Testament, rather than the etymology or usage of the Greek word, provides the richest background for an understanding of the New Testament concept of salvation.  The Hebrew word for “salvation” is yasa, which denotes to make wide, to make spacious, or to deliver.4 Sin, distress, and enemies, in contrast, constrict or constrain people.  The Old Testament almost exclusively utilized the language of salvation with God as agent.5 Old Testament “salvation: as a theological concept is historically based on the exodus (Ex. 14:30; 15:2).  The prophet Isaiah described salvation in a universal sense, not in terms of individual salvation, but in terms of the expansiveness of salvation.  He taught salvation extends to the ends of the earth and to all generations (Isa. 45:22; 49:6; 51:8; 52:10).

“Salvation” in the New Testament

The New Testament highlights the religious usages of salvation.  The proclamation of salvation entails both negative and positive elements.  Negatively, salvation means deliverance from that which is harmful, such as death, wrath, and separation from God (Matt. 1:21; 8:25; John 12:27).  Positively, salvation means wholeness, the bestowal of positive blessings (Luke 9:56, NASB; Heb. 7:25; Jas. 5:15, HCSB).

The New Testament describes salvation as a past, present, and future reality for a believer.  A believer today can testify, “I have been saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved.”  Salvation as an accomplished fact points to the deliverance from the penalty of sin (Eph. 2:5,8).  Salvation as a present experience highlights the on-going process of God’s sanctifying work in believers (1 Cor. 1:18).  Neither the deliverance from the penalty of sin in the past nor the on-going experience of God’s grace in this life, however, is our ultimate destiny.  Our ultimate destiny is to experience eternal salvation from sin by living forever in the presence of God (Rom. 13:11; 1 Thess. 5:8-9). 

The concept of salvation functions as the major theme of the Third Gospel.  Luke used the language of salvation more frequently than any other Gospel writer.6 For example, Luke’s Gospel contains the noun “salvation” (soteria) five times (1:69,77; 2:30; 3:6; 19:9); the term occurs only once in the Gospel of John (4:22) and never in Matthew or Mark.  Luke highlighted that the birth of Jesus meant a Savior had entered the world (2:11).

Throughout his Gospel account, Luke continually focused on Samaritans, Gentiles, and marginalized people, such as lepers, outcast, and the poor.  In doing so, he highlighted a salvation that had indeed come to all peoples.  Faith and repentance comprise the proper human response to God’s offer of salvation.7

“Salvation” and Jesus’ Birth

Drawing our attention to our focal passage (Luke 2:25-38), we see that the concept of salvation dominates the birth narrative of Luke’s Gospel (chaps. 1 – 2).  Luke set the birth of Jesus in an historical framework of lowly Jewish believers and Roman history.  Luke’s use of hymns to express the richness of salvation is unique to the Third Gospel.  In Mary’s song (Luke 1:46-55), the young maiden affirmed God both as her Savior and the Savior of her people.  The Mighty God acts to exalt the lowly and oppose the powerful and proud.  In the song of Zechariah (vv. 67-79), the father of John the Baptist highlighted the necessity of a powerful intervention – “a horn of salvation” (v. 69, HCSB).  Further, God’s action in salvation opposes powerful people (v. 71).  Zechariah equated a personal experience of salvation with forgiveness of sins, rather that political liberation (v. 77); Simeon’s song (2:29-32) highlighted the fact that God’s salvation includes all people groups (v. 31).

Luke contrasted the birth of Jesus with the role of Caesar (v. 1).  Caesar “Augustus” functioned as a title that became a name.  The title “Augustus” derives from a verb (Greek: augazo) meaning “shining forth” and hence means “august one.”  The title thus was a claim of deity.  Various inscriptions from the eastern Mediterranean proclaimed Augustus as “savior of the world” or “savior of humanity.”  One inscription affirms Augustus as savior god who fulfilled ancestral hopes, an individual who will never be surpassed in greatness, and a person whose birth marked the beginning of a new era.8

In contrast, Luke proclaimed that – through the birth of Jesus – God sent a Savior who came to bring great and genuine joy for all people (vv. 19-11).  In the Book of Acts, Luke further explained this salvation is available only in Christ: “There is salvation in on one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, HCSB).

For the Father’s sending such a gift of salvation, the Scriptures teach that followers of Christ shall proclaim His praises forevermore (Rev. 19:1,3).

1.  Examples of the nonreligious usage of the Greek terms for “salvation,” including the texts for the examples given may be found in Ceslas Spicq, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, James Ernest, trans. and ed., vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 345; Walter Bauer, William F. Arndt, and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957), 805-806.

2.  Homer, The Iliad [online, accessed 6 April 2006).  Available on the Internet: http://classics.mit.edu/Homer/iliad.8.viii.html. 

3.  Apion, “A Soldier to His Father” in Selections from the Greek Papyri, George Milligan, ed. (Cambridge: University Press, 1912), 91.

4.  Frances Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A Biggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907), 446-447.

5.  Only three verses apply the title “savior” to humans: Judges 3:9,15; Nehemiah 9:27.

6.  David Wenham and Steve Walton, Exploring the New Testament: A Guide to the Gospels and Acts (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 235.

7.  Faith: Luke 7:50; 8:12; 17:19; 18:42, Repentance: Luke 3:3; 5:32; 15:7,10; 16:30-31; 24:47.

8.  Spicq, 353.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 33, Number 2; Winter 2006-07.

 

BIBLE CHARACTER TRIVIA

 

(4.195)  What Is The Answer To & Where In The Bible Is This Week’s Trivia Question Found? What wicked king, a dabbler is sorcery, sacrificed his son in the fire?  Answer Next Week:

Last week’s question: What commander led a successful revolt against the ill-fated King Zimri?  Answer: Omri; 1 Kings 16:16.