Click here for the reading: Romans 10:8-18.
Paul wrestles with a question which causes a scandal: why did Israel to whom the promises came fail to believe? Here in the middle of answering this question in Romans 9-11, Paul lays out what Israel failed to understand. Righteousness is a matter of faith alone. Why was Israel hardened in this way? In what ways are we in danger of becoming hardened in the same way, even as we hear the Gospel like Israel did? Read also Deuteronomy 30, which Paul quotes in this chapter to make his point. What was Moses warning Israel against in that passage?
The Gospel is not confusing or hard to understand. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe with your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. As the heart stands for our inmost self and the mouth stands for our outward expression, faith is a matter of the whole man. In what ways, verbal and nonverbal, do we confess our faith in Christ? Why is this confession, outward and inward, so important for a living faith? In a time when we consider matters of the heart to be private, why is the Gospel meant to be public? Compare Matthew 16:13-20 and the confession of Peter to this passage.
As Acts 22:21-22 shows us, the Jews especially took offense that the promises of God were being given to the Gentiles. Paul reaffirms here that the Gospel is meant for all, Jew and Greek alike. All who call on his name will be saved, without exception, without distinction. What does this mean for the mission of the Church? Since Paul felt a strong desire that his own people might be saved, what does this mean for proclaiming the message to our own people as well? Consider also Acts 10 and Peter’s change of heart regarding Cornelius.
Yet no one can be saved if they have not heard the Gospel! No one can hear it if no one proclaims that life-giving message! Preaching is central to the mission of the Church, in a way that no other activity can be. How does this reality shape our understanding of preaching? How does it encourage us for the task? Since the word for “beautiful” can also mean “timely” or “seasonable,” how is preaching connected to God’s providence? How does Paul emphasize preaching also in passages like 2 Timothy 4:1-5?
Preaching is not an easy task, as the apostles like Andrew who died because of the word they proclaimed knew well. The prophets of old proclaimed a word which fell on deaf and angry ears. We live in the end of the ages, when the love of many will grow cold. How does this passage prepare us for difficult times, especially as the end of all things grows closer by the day? How can we find comfort in knowing that preaching is part of God’s will even when we suffer for it? How does the Lord’s reply to Jeremiah complaint in Jeremiah 15:10-21 apply even to our own day?