To the Romans 10:1-21
accurate knowledge: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, there are two words commonly translated “knowledge,” gnoʹsis and e·piʹgno·sis. Both are related to the verb gi·noʹsko, which means “to know; to understand; to perceive.” E·piʹgno·sis, the word used here, is a strengthened form of gnoʹsis (e·piʹ, literally meaning “upon” but here conveying the idea of “additional”). It can often be seen from the context to mean “exact, real, or full knowledge.” Here Paul uses this word to show that the zeal of his fellow countrymen, the Jews, was misdirected. It was not based on a correct understanding of God’s will as revealed through Jesus, the promised Messiah.
the end: The Greek word teʹlos, generally rendered “end,” has different shades of meaning. It can refer to the termination of something in contrast with the beginning. (Mt 24:14; Mr 3:26; Re 21:6) This meaning fits well here, for the Mosaic Law came to its complete finish after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven. (Joh 1:17; Ro 6:14; Ga 5:18; Col 2:14, 16, 17) However, teʹlos may also refer to “the end” in the sense of goal or objective. (Compare 1Ti 1:5, where this Greek word is rendered “objective.”) Since Paul described the Mosaic Law as a “guardian leading to Christ,” it can be said that Christ is the objective or goal aimed at by the Law. (Ga 3:24) So in this context, teʹlos apparently conveys both ideas.
the abyss: Or “the deep.” The Greek word aʹbys·sos, meaning “exceedingly deep” or “unfathomable; boundless,” refers to a place or condition of confinement or imprisonment. It occurs nine times in the Christian Greek Scriptures—here, at Ro 10:7, and seven times in the book of Revelation. The account at Re 20:1-3 describes the future casting of Satan into the abyss for a thousand years. The legion of demons who entreated Jesus not to send them “into the abyss” may have had that future event in mind. In verse 28, one of the demons asked Jesus not to “torment” him. In the parallel account at Mt 8:29, the demons asked Jesus: “Did you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” So the “torment” the demons feared would seem to refer to their being confined or imprisoned in “the abyss.”—See Glossary and study note on Mt 8:29.
the abyss: Or “the deep.” The Greek word aʹbys·sos has the basic meaning “exceedingly deep” or “unfathomable; boundless.” The term occurs nine times in the Christian Greek Scriptures, where it generally refers to a place or condition of confinement. (See study note on Lu 8:31.) Here at Ro 10:7, it refers to the symbolic place in which Christ Jesus spent parts of three days and from where his Father resurrected him. (Compare Ps 71:19, 20; Mt 12:40.) Jesus was confined, or restrained, when he was dead—unconscious and completely inactive. Only his Father could free him from that place of confinement. (Compare 2Sa 22:5, 6; Job 38:16, 17; Ps 9:13; 107:18; 116:3; Ac 2:24.) However, the term “abyss” cannot properly be limited in meaning to the common grave of mankind. (See Glossary, “Grave.”) It is noteworthy that the Greek Septuagint does not use aʹbys·sos to translate the Hebrew word sheʼohlʹ (“the Grave”). Also, the symbolic place of confinement in which Satan and his demons will be held is called an “abyss” and is also described as a “prison.” This usage of the term further supports the thought that “the abyss” is not limited in meaning to the common grave of mankind.—Lu 8:31; Re 20:1, 3, 7.
preaching: The Greek word basically means “to make proclamation as a public messenger.” It stresses the manner of the proclamation: usually an open, public declaration rather than a sermon to a group.
preaching: That is, publicly proclaiming.—See study note on Mt 3:1.
publicly declare: The Greek word ho·mo·lo·geʹo is rendered “confess” in some Bibles. Many lexicons define this word “to declare (acknowledge) publicly.” In verse 10, the same verb is translated “makes public declaration.” Paul explains that it is not enough for Christians to have faith in their heart; they must make a public declaration of that faith in order to gain salvation. (Ps 40:9, 10; 96:2, 3, 10; 150:6; Ro 15:9) They do not make such a public declaration just once, as at the time of their baptism, but they continue to do so when meeting together with fellow believers and when proclaiming the good news about salvation to unbelievers.—Heb 10:23-25; 13:15.
Lord: The Greek word used here, Kyʹri·os (Lord), is generally used as a noun in the Scriptures. Strictly speaking, it is an adjective signifying the possessing of power (kyʹros) or authority. It appears in every book of the Christian Greek Scriptures except in Paul’s letter to Titus and the letters of John. As God’s created Son and Servant, Jesus Christ properly addresses his Father and God (Joh 20:17) as “Lord” (Kyʹri·os), the One having superior power and authority, his Head. (Mt 11:25; 1Co 11:3) However, the title “Lord,” as used in the Bible, is not limited to Jehovah God. It is also used with reference to Jesus Christ (Mt 7:21; Ro 1:4, 7), one of the heavenly elders seen by John in vision (Re 7:13, 14), angels (Da 12:8), humans (Ac 16:16, 19, 30; here rendered “masters” or “sirs”), and false deities (1Co 8:5). Some claim that the phrase “Jesus is Lord” means that he and his Father, Jehovah, are the same person. However, the context makes it clear that this cannot be the case, since “God raised [Jesus] up from the dead.” Jesus’ authority as Lord was given to him by the Father.—Mt 28:18; Joh 3:35; 5:19, 30.—See study note on that Jesus is Lord in this verse.
that Jesus is Lord: While Jesus was on earth, some who were not his followers called him “Lord,” using the term as a title of respect or courtesy. When the Samaritan woman called him “Sir,” it was also out of respect. The Greek word used by Bible writers (Kyʹri·os) has a wide range of meaning and can, depending on the context, be rendered “Sir,” “Master,” or “Lord.” (Mt 8:2; Joh 4:11) However, Jesus indicated that by calling him Lord, his disciples (or learners) showed that they recognized him as their Master, or Lord. (Joh 13:13, 16) Especially after Jesus’ death and resurrection to an exalted position in heaven did his title Lord take on greater significance. By means of his sacrificial death, Jesus purchased his followers and thus became both their Owner (1Co 7:23; 2Pe 2:1; Jude 4; Re 5:9, 10) and their King (Col 1:13; 1Ti 6:14-16; Re 19:16). Acknowledging Jesus as Lord involves more than simply calling him by that title. True Christians must recognize his position and obey him.—Mt 7:21; Php 2:9-11.
No one who rests his faith on him will be disappointed: Paul is here quoting from Isa 28:16 according to the Septuagint. The Greek expression rendered “will be disappointed” basically means “will be ashamed (put to shame).” Paul here shows that a person who exercises faith in Jesus Christ will not experience the shame and disappointment of those whose faith is shown to be in vain. The same expression is used at Ro 9:33 and 1Pe 2:6.
Lord: The identity of the one referred to as “Lord” (Kyʹri·os) in this verse cannot be established with certainty from the context; nor have Bible scholars come to an agreement as to whether Paul meant the Lord Jesus Christ or the Lord Jehovah. Ro 10:9 clearly refers to Jesus Christ as Lord, and the quotation from Isa 28:16 found at Ro 10:11 applies to him as well. So if the “Lord” at Ro 10:12 is to be directly linked with “him” at Ro 10:11, the “Lord” referred to is Jesus Christ. On the other hand, at Ro 10:9, Paul speaks of exercising faith ‘in your heart’ that “God raised him up from the dead.” Furthermore, Ro 10:13, a quotation from Joe 2:32, states: “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” Hence, if the “Lord” referred to at Ro 10:12 is the same as at Ro 10:13, Jehovah God is the “Lord” being referred to. The thought would then be the same as that expressed at Ro 3:29—there is one God over both Jews and Gentiles. This is an example of how the New World Bible Translation Committee examined the context of each occurrence of the word Kyʹri·os (Lord) to determine where to restore the divine name. If the Hebrew Scripture background and the context provide no clear support for restoring the divine name, the committee retained the rendering “Lord” so as not to overstep the bounds of a translator, venturing into the field of interpretation.—See App. C1.
everyone: Here Paul quotes from Joe 2:32. In the preceding verse, Paul says that “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek” and that “there is the same Lord over all, who is rich toward all those calling on him.” So the word “everyone” in this context further emphasizes God’s impartiality toward Jews and non-Jews.
calls on the name of Jehovah: Calling on Jehovah’s name is broad in meaning and involves more than just knowing and using God’s personal name. The expression “to call on [someone’s] name” has its background in the Hebrew Scriptures. Paul is here quoting from Joe 2:32, where the context stresses true repentance and trust in Jehovah’s forgiveness. (Joe 2:12, 13) At Pentecost 33 C.E., Peter quoted the same prophecy of Joel and exhorted his listeners to repent and take action to secure Jehovah’s approval. (Ac 2:21, 38) Other contexts show that calling on God’s name involves knowing God, trusting in him, and looking to him for help and guidance. (Ps 20:7; 99:6; 116:4; 145:18) In some contexts, calling on the name of Jehovah can mean declaring his name and qualities. (Ge 12:8; compare Ex 34:5, where the same Hebrew expression is rendered “declared the name of Jehovah.”) In the verse that follows Ro 10:13, Paul connects calling on God with putting faith in him.—Ro 10:14.
the name of Jehovah: Paul here quotes from Joe 2:32, where the expression “the name of Jehovah” occurs. This combination of the Hebrew word for “name” and the Tetragrammaton is found more than 90 times in the Hebrew Scriptures. Some examples are Ge 12:8; Ex 33:19; 34:5; De 28:10; 32:3; Job 1:21; Ps 118:26; Pr 18:10; Mic 4:5. Concerning this Hebrew expression, one reference work says that it “means not only the name but [Jehovah’s] full being and power.” The use of the genitive “the name of Jehovah” instead of “the name Jehovah” indicates that his name is not used as a kind of charm. Rather, God’s name is linked to his personality, ways, and purposes. Thus, one who calls on the name of Jehovah must do more than know and use the name. He must come to know the Person behind the name, worship him, and live in harmony with his ways. Calling on the name of Jehovah also involves exercising faith in him, as Ro 10:14 shows.
Jehovah: In this quote from Joe 2:32, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text. This quote also appears at Ac 2:21 in Peter’s speech at Pentecost.—See App. C.
How beautiful are the feet: Paul is here quoting from Isa 52:7. The Scriptures commonly refer to parts of the human body as representing the whole person. Isaiah figuratively speaks as if the messenger were approaching Jerusalem from the nearby mountains of Judah. It would have been impossible to see the messenger’s feet from that distance, so the focus here is on the arrival of the messenger. “The feet” stand for the messenger and for the efforts he makes to proclaim good news. God viewed “the feet” of Jesus and his disciples as beautiful, or precious, because they fulfilled this prophecy and brought “good news of good things.”—See study note on those who declare good news of good things in this verse.
those who declare good news of good things: Paul is quoting Isa 52:7, which mentions “the one bringing good news” in singular. During Babylonian captivity, a messenger bearing news of deliverance must have been a welcome sight. However, Isaiah’s prophecy finds a greater fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the greatest proclaimer of good news. Paul expands the application of Isaiah’s statement still further by referring to “those [plural] who declare good news.” In imitation of Jesus, all Christians are messengers of the good news of peace.
Jehovah, who has put faith in the thing heard from us?: Paul here quotes the first part of Isa 53:1 regarding Jehovah’s servant and shows that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus. While the coming and glorification of Jesus—the Messiah—was good news, Paul says about the unbelieving Jews: They did not all obey the good news. Relatively few in Paul’s day put faith in the good news about God’s Servant.—For the use of the divine name here, see App. C3 introduction; Ro 10:16.
the word about Christ: The Greek expression could be understood as “the word of Christ,” that is, the word spoken by Christ. However, the context favors the rendering used in the main text, conveying the idea of ‘the word spoken about Christ.’ Some manuscripts read “the word of God” here, but the reading “the word about [of] Christ” has strong manuscript support.
inexcusable: Or “without excuse.” Lit., “defenseless.” The Greek word a·na·po·loʹge·tos was a legal term used when a person was unable to present any convincing evidence in his defense. Here the word is used to describe people who do not acknowledge God. The continual testimony “from the world’s creation onward” proves that God exists. Because his qualities are clearly seen, those who deny the truth about God cannot defend or make a valid case for their position. Paul goes on to say that God’s qualities are perceived by the things made. The Greek term rendered “perceived” is related to the term for “mind” (Greek, nous), which implies grasping with one’s mind. As one translation says, God’s qualities are “visible . . . to the eye of reason.” By viewing God’s creative works and meditating on them, humans can deduce many of the Creator’s qualities. That understanding, coupled with a detailed knowledge of the Creator’s thinking and purpose gained through a study of the Scriptures, can help a person to build strong faith.
into all the earth their sound went out: Paul here quotes from Ps 19:4, which describes how the silent witness given by God’s physical creation reaches the whole earth. Paul extends the application to the preaching work. He indicates that just as creation’s testimony reaches all the earth, to the point that rejection of God is inexcusable (Ro 1:20), so the extensive preaching of the “good news” (Ro 10:15) concerning Christ had given the Jews plenty of opportunities to accept it. Their lack of response was due to lack of faith. Paul may also have had in mind that the silent witness of creation gave an inaudible witness to all humans, making denial of God’s Creatorship inexcusable.—See study note on Ro 1:20.
the inhabited earth: Here the Greek word for “inhabited earth” (oi·kou·meʹne) is used in a broad sense and refers to the earth as the dwelling place of mankind. (Lu 4:5; Ac 17:31; Re 12:9; 16:14) In the first century, this term was also used in reference to the vast Roman Empire, where the Jews had been dispersed. (Lu 2:1; Ac 24:5) Paul here quotes from Ps 19:4, where the Septuagint (Ps 18:5, LXX) uses the same Greek word to translate a Hebrew term that can refer to the inhabited areas of the earth.
I have spread out my hands: Paul here quotes from Isa 65:2. To spread out one’s hands denotes an invitation or an entreaty. Like a father who reaches out to a rebellious son, Jehovah had figuratively spread out his hands in an appeal to his wayward nation.