Faith Comes by Hearing…
10:16–18. Paul had made it clear that God’s gracious offer of righteousness by faith was given to all, Jews and Gentiles alike (cf. v. 12). His focus in this chapter, however, has been on the people of Israel and their response to that offer (cf. v. 1). Therefore when he wrote, But not all the Israelites (the Gr. text simply says “all”) accepted the good news, he obviously had in mind the Jews’ failure to respond. (“Accepted” translates hypēkousan, a compound of the verb “to hear.” It means “to hear with a positive response,” and so “to obey, to submit to.”) This is borne out by Paul’s confirming quotation of Isaiah 53:1: Lord, who has believed our message? This failure of the Jews to respond to the good news was true in Jesus’ days on earth (John 12:37–41) and in Paul’s day as well. However, the indefinite “all” of the Greek text (Rom. 10:16) is appropriate, because the response to the gospel among the Gentiles was also far less than total. Paul explained, Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message (lit., “is out from hearing”; cf. v. 14) and the message is heard through the word of Christ (lit., “and the hearing is through the saying [rhēmatos; cf. v. 17] concerning Christ”). The Greek word akoē (“hearing”) can mean the thing heard (the message; v. 16) or the act or sense of hearing (v. 17).
Someone, however, might insist that the Jews were not given adequate opportunity to hear the message. So, Paul said, But I ask (“say”), Did they not hear? He then quoted Psalm 19:4, concerning God’s general revelation in the cosmic heavens (cf. Rom. 1:18–20). However, that psalm also discusses God’s special revelation in the Old Testament (Ps. 19:7–11). Paul’s obvious answer to his question is that Israel had ample opportunity by both general and special revelation to respond to God. Certainly she heard.
10:19–21. With these verses the argument takes a turn. The apostle anticipated another objection. Someone might argue, “Yes, Israel heard but she did not understand that God purposed to offer righteousness by faith to all mankind, including Gentiles.” So Paul wrote, Again I ask (lit., “But I say”), did Israel not understand? (egnō, “know”) His answer this time was from two Old Testament quotations, one as early as Moses (Deut. 32:21) and the second by Isaiah (Isa. 65:1). Both Old Testament leaders wrote about God’s turning to the Gentiles, whom the Jews thought had no understanding (asynetō, “senseless”; cf. Rom. 1:21, 31). And yet concerning Israel, God has been gracious in spite of her disobedience (a quotation of Isa. 65:2). Israel’s continuing rebellious and unbelieving disobedience was judged by God’s turning to the Gentiles (Rom. 10:20; cf. Acts 8:1–8, 10). At the same time God has not withheld salvation from Jews. He has held out His hands, imploring them to return to Him.
C. God’s sovereign choice fulfilled (chap. 11)
To this point in this major section of Romans (chaps. 9–11) God’s personal righteousness and His provided righteousness for people has been displayed primarily in Israel’s rejecting Christ and rebelling against God, and in God’s choosing and turning to Gentiles in grace. These themes continue in this chapter, but God’s sovereign choice also involves His restoring Israel and His being magnified thereby.
Witmer, J. A. (1985). Romans. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 481). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.