Daily Devotional: Romans 10:12-21

Paul, who is still writing largely to gentiles about how they have been chosen by God while the Jews rejected Him, continues by encouraging gentiles all the more. When it comes to justification, there is no difference between a Jew and gentile. This is about God’s work, not the works of the nations. God abounds in riches for all who call on Him. Paul quotes the Old Testament promise from Joel 2:32 to prove his point. The prophets shared that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved, period.

Paul asks a question about the Jews, how will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? Many Jews expended much energy on their religion without calling upon God. They were concerned about how they could please God, so calling upon their own abilities rather than God. They have not believed in God because they have believed in themselves to do religion. How can the Jews possibly believe in God when they have not heard about Him? How can they possibly hear about God if there is no preacher in their midst? How will there be a preacher in their midst if one is not sent? The work of the missionary is beautiful, bringing good things and good news. But, the Jews did hear. They were given the word, yet did not heed it—even according to their own prophet Isaiah. Faith does come by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ, but it did not produce faith in many Jews. Paul quotes from Psalms, Deuteronomy, and Isaiah to show that the Jews have heard the Gospel and rejected it. God would seek and save gentiles, angering or offending the Jewish people by doing so.

We often hear these verses in Chapter 10 to encourage others to become missionaries. Never mind that it is written about the Jews and that it didn’t work to produce faith. Never mind that Paul wrote that the word has already gone out to all the earth (v. 18). While it is good to have missionaries, we ought to be careful about how we appropriate God’s word to defend our own way of doing things. Instead, we should teach it in context. This passage is not encouraging people to become missionaries. It is a description of God seeking and saving gentiles according to His own word and will and the insufficiency of human evangelistic efforts—not that we shouldn’t evangelize, but that our efforts fall short without the movement of the Holy Spirit.


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