The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans

By G. Campbell Morgan

Chapter 17

ii. REJECTION. Rom 10:1-21

a. INTRODUCTION. Rom 10:1-3

1. The Apostolic Desire. Rom 10:1

2. Israel's Failure. Rom 10:2-3

b. THE WAY OF RETURN. Rom 10:4-15

1. Christ. Rom 10:4

2. Righteousness by Faith. Rom 10:5-13

a. The Witness of Moses. Rom 10:5-8 a

b. The Apostolic Fulfillment. Rom 10:8-10

c. The Universal Application. Rom 10:11-13

3. The Method. Rom 10:14-15

a. Submission dependent on Faith. Rom 10:14 a

b. Faith dependent on Hearing. Rom 10:14 b

c. Hearing dependent on Preaching. Rom 10:14 c

d. Preaching dependent on Commission. Rom 10:15


1. They did not hearken. Rom 10:16-17

2. Their Opportunity. Rom 10:18-21

a. The Testimony of Nature. Rom 10:18

b. The Testimony of Law. Rom 10:19

c. The Testimony of Prophecy. Rom 10:20-21

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On the basis of the principle of election as discussed, Israel as a nation is rejected. The apostle now proceeded to deal with that fact in order to show its real reason. In doing so, he first of all declared the fact of their failure in terms of his own sympathy and compassion; and then proceeded to show that their way of return must be through Christ; thus finally coming to the definite declaration of the reason of their rejection.


Again the apostle revealed his affection for his own people after the flesh, in the declaration of his desire and supplication for their salvation. In loyalty to truth he had ruthlessly exposed the sin of Israel, and declared their necessary rejection, because of their refusal to believe. Being about to emphasize this teaching, he first recognized that they had a zeal, but declared that it was in conflict with the plan of God. In all that he said about them, it is evident that he was speaking out of his own personal experience. Looking back to the days before he was apprehended on the way to Damascus, he remembered how he was filled with zeal, which he now knew to be zeal without knowledge. Interpreting the action of his people by his own experience, he declared them to be ignorant of God's Righteousness, which declaration was equivalent to saying that their standard of righteousness was low and imperfect.

When it is remembered that the apostle ever had in mind the Lord Himself when he spoke of the Righteousness of God, it is easy to understand his description of these people as "being ignorant of God's Righteousness." Their idea of that Righteousness was due to their misunderstanding of the written law; their ignorance of the true meaning of that law resulted from the fact that they had not known Christ; hence they were going about, endeavouring to establish a righteousness of their own, refusing to submit to the Righteousness of God, which is Christ. Paul knew perfectly well in his own experience, that nothing so soon compels a man to cease seeking to establish his own righteousness as a vision of the Righteousness of God. Here again it is impossible to escape the conviction that what he said of them was the result of his own experience, when on the way to Damascus, he was going about, establishing his own righteousness; but a vision of the Righteousness of God at once brought him to the position of submission thereto.

In the apostle


The apostle immediately proceeded to discuss the way of Righteousness according to the plan of God, in contrast to the attempt that Israel was making to establish its own righteousness.

1. Christ

The whole plan of God is stated in comprehensive terms in the words, "Christ is the end of the law unto Righteousness to every one that believeth." This is not a declaration that the requirements of the law are done away, but rather that they are all fulfilled in and through Christ in the experience of those who believe. While for the justification of the sinner Christ the Righteousness of God is imputed upon the basis of faith, for his sanctification Christ the Righteousness of God is imparted.

2. Righteousness by Faith

That Righteousness is by faith, he then proceeded to argue, calling first the witness of Moses; then showing that the principle enunciated by Moses was fulfilled in the apostolic preaching of Christ; finally making a universal application of that principle.

It is interesting to notice how Paul read into Old Testament quotations larger meanings than they seem at first to warrant. Whether either Moses or Isaiah understood the full value of what they wrote is extremely doubtful. They had both at least discovered a principle, namely, that of faith in a deliverer working safety. Paul making use of their words, showed that these things are fulfilled in Christ. He need not be sought for in the height or the depth, for now He has indeed come. The word is nigh men, in the mouth and in the heart; and the condition of salvation is that of belief with the heart, and confession with the mouth.

It is intensely interesting and of great importance to notice that at the close of this section, which has been so full of the subject of election, the apostle again quoting from the Old Testament Scriptures, once from Isaiah and once from Joel, shows by the use of the great word "Whosoever" that salvation is at the disposal of all who believe.

3. The Method

Then almost abruptly, and yet in closest connection, in a series of questions, he revealed the importance of the work of preaching the Gospel. There can be no calling on One not believed in. There can be no belief in One not heard of. There can be no hearing without a preacher. There can be no preaching without a commission.

Once again falling into Old Testament quotation, and again by his use of it enlarging its meaning, he described the preachers of the Gospel through whose message men will believe unto salvation, in the words,

"How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things."


Having thus declared the fact of Israel's failure, and having hastened to show the way of salvation provided for them, and for all men, the apostle declared the reason of their rejection.

From among the number of those who heard the glad tidings published by the missionary messengers, only some were elected. They were such as not only heard but hearkened, and he adduced in defence of that view, the complaint of Isaiah, "Who hath believed our report?'' The truth which is brought out here with great clearness is that God elects those who believe to salvation, rather than that those believe whom God elects. This is a distinction with a difference. It does not propose to clear away all the mystery that surrounds the subject. It does, however, place the emphasis at the right point, as it reveals the fact that responsibility rests upon those who hear. It must not be forgotten that such, and such only, are being dealt with in this section. The subject of those who do not hear is not under consideration. The responsibility herein indicated, they do not share. None can believe in Him of Whom they have not heard. To have heard is to have entered the region of responsibility.

The question then is, Had Israel such responsibility? and the inquiry is answered by the apostle in three ways.

He showed first that they had the testimony of Nature in common with all men, quoting from the psalm of Revelation, and from that part of it which deals with the revelation through Nature.

He next affirmed that they had the testimony of Moses, and the quotation he made in this connection is interesting, for passing over all the fact of the law which was given by Moses, he quoted from the book of Deuteronomy, and therein from the great song of Moses, in the course of which he prophetically dealt with the failure of Israel, declaring that on account thereof God would provoke them to jealousy by making use of people outside the covenant, for the accomplishment of His purpose. Thus in the most emphatic way he declared that through Moses they had heard.

Finally he reminded them that they had the testimony of the prophetic ministry. Referring to Isaiah, he quoted two sayings of his, the first of which exactly harmonized with his quotation from Moses, in that it declared how that Jehovah would be sought of a people that had not known Him, and become manifest to a people not called by His name; all of which emphasized the fact of Israel's knowledge.

The second quotation is, in some sense, not a second, for in Isaiah it immediately follows the other; but it emphasizes the long-suffering compassion of God toward His disobedient people, thus even more vividly setting forth the fact that they had heard.

Thus the reason of their rejection was that they did not hearken, even though they had heard the Word of God in Nature, through law, and by the mouth of the prophets.

This last quotation from Isaiah is of supreme value as it reveals exactly the Divine attitude, that namely of hands spread out continuously toward a rebellious people. The will of God is the salvation of all such, and He has elected to salvation those who believe. If rebellion be persisted in, then salvation is impossible, and those rebelling are not elected. To declare that God has arbitrarily chosen some to salvation, so that they must be saved; and that then He spreads out His hands in the attitude of mercy toward such as cannot be saved, is surely little short of blasphemy.