SALVATION IS EASY — WHOEVER TRUSTS IN CHRIST’S RIGHTEOUSNESS
AND NOT IN HIS OWN WILL BE SAVED
Douglas Moo: Paul’s ultimate criticism of Israel is not just salvation-historical—Jews failed to see that God was doing something new with the Gentiles. It is also anthropological—Jews failed to seek a relationship with God in the right way. Both criticisms are found in this context. Jews are faulted for failing to recognize Christ as the culmination of God’s plan (10:4) and the rock on which the new people of God is to be built (9:33). But Paul also faults them for being overly concerned with works and neglecting faith (9:32).
R. Kent Hughes: Here in chapter 10 God places the responsibility for Israel’s lostness on Israel. God rejected Israel because Israel rejected the gospel. If you are without Christ, it is not because you are non-elect, but because you are rejecting Christ. You cannot place the blame on anyone else. At least ﬁve times in this chapter (vv. 8, 11, 12, 16, and 21) the responsibility of the Jews is implicitly emphasized, concluding with the poignant plea of verse 21: “But of Israel he [God] says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’”
John MacArthur: Now we could entitle chapter 10 “Israel’s Failure,” or we could entitle it “Israel’s Ignorance.” And either one of those titles would give us the theme of this chapter. . .
the issue of chapter 9 is an issue of election. It is an issue of sovereign choice. But the issue of chapter 10 is an issue of unbelief. And I want you never to forget that you always have both of those things. If you have salvation, you have the sovereign election of God and you have the faith of an individual. If you have the loss of…the lack of salvation, the loss of hope in Christ, it is because you have sovereign choice, that’s chapter 9, and because you have unbelief. You could think of it along the line of concurrence, which is a word that you may have heard used. It’s sort of like an airplane taking off. Two things are necessary for an airplane to take off, thrust and lift. If you have lift without thrust, you don’t get off. If you have thrust without lift, you don’t get off. You have to have thrust with lift.
S. Lewis Johnson: When we come to chapter 10, the apostle gives us the other side. He talks about human responsibility. Now when we talk about human responsibility we don’t want to misunderstand the apostle. We don’t want to imply in any way that when we talk about human responsibility that we’re talking about human works. Occasionally these things are mixed in the minds of believers. The apostle when he speaks about divine sovereignty does not oppose divine sovereignty to human works, but he speaks about divine sovereignty and then he speaks about human responsibility. Human responsibility is the requirement to respond to the sovereign grace of God as expressed in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I. (:1-4) SALVATION ELUDES THOSE WHO TRY TO EARN IT –
SADLY, ISRAEL DID NOT ACCEPT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST, BUT TRIED VERY HARD TO EARN THEIR SALVATION
A. (:1) Burden for Lost Countrymen
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.”
John MacArthur: Now when he says “brethren,” he’s writing to Gentiles and that’s a tender word and maybe the feeling that he had in his heart for the Jews kind of spilled over in his choice of words toward the Gentiles, too. And then he says, “My heart’s desire,” or my delight, or my good pleasure, it’s translated sometimes, or my deepest satisfaction. The greatest joy for Paul and it says “prayer to God,” my greatest satisfaction and my greatest prayer and the word prayer there, deēsis is a word that conveys the idea of begging, pleading. My greatest desire, my greatest pleading with God is for Israel’s salvation. So listen, don’t you for a minute think that Paul is some cold, calculating indifferent, hyper-Calvinist standing off, spewing out data about God’s sovereign election without a heart for the lost. His desire is so deep and so strong that his heart cannot rest in complacent theological indifference. It is drawn unceasingly to a beseeching, begging, supplication to God, it says, for Israel that they might be saved. They were in his heart.
Frank Thielman: Paul uses the vocative “brothers and sisters” (ἀδελφοί) at the beginning of a sentence when he wants to emphasize what he is about to say (1 Cor 14:20; Gal 3:15; 6:1; 1 Thess 5:25). Here the expression calls attention to the depth of Paul’s hope that Israel’s stumbling, described in 9:32–33, might not be permanent.
James Dunn: As elsewhere in Paul, καρδία denotes the inward person (see on 1:21; 2:15; and 8:27), and therefore the depth and sincerity of his claim, a motivating force which engages the whole person, not just a “mere feeling.”
B. (:2-3) Blame Falls on Israel
- (:2) Zeal without Discernment
“For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God,
but not in accordance with knowledge.”
John Toews: The problem with Israel’s zeal is that it is without knowledge and ignorant, which literally means lacking discernment, the ability to differentiate the true nature of reality. The language is full of irony. In its zeal for God Israel misunderstands the very criterion by which zeal is to be evaluated, true knowledge of the will of God.
The object of knowledge, or the point of ignorance, is righteousness. The contrast is the righteousness of God (the language of 1:16-17 and 3:21-26) and their own righteousness, the saving power of God to make the world right versus the exclusive ethnic righteousness of Israel.
Michael Bird: Nevertheless, despite their zeal, Israel lacks “knowledge,” knowledge in the sense of both awareness and assent to the divine saving action in Jesus the Messiah. . . Israel has demonstrated her ignorance of God’s deliverance wrought in the Messiah. It shows a lack of awareness about the Torah’s intrinsic limitations and an accompanying denial of Israel’s own disobedience to the Torah. In addition, some in Israel denied God’s impartiality toward all people and have not accepted the arc of prophetic promises that embrace the nations. In other words, they are ignorant of the entire sweep of argumentation set forth in Romans 1:16 – 9:33.
R. Kent Hughes: It is so easy for a zealous person to be lost if one thinks religion exists as a ladder to elevate oneself to righteousness and acceptance before God.
S. Lewis Johnson: Why is Paul so concerned for Israel? Well in chapter 9, he said he was so concerned for them because they’ve have such large privileges, and they have neglected them. And even though they have these great privileges, they’re lost. In other words, the contrast between their high position and their low status is such as to cause him to say “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.” He looks at the objective side of it. But now in chapter 10, he looks at the subjective side of it. He says, “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.”
- (:3) Rejection of God’s Provision of Righteousness
“For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”
Frank Thielman: Paul now says that unbelieving Israel has stumbled over Christ by rejecting his death as God’s means of atonement for universal human sin against himself (cf. 9:33; 1 Cor 1:23; Gal 5:11). This rejection left them running energetically down the pathway of the law under the illusion that their rejection of Christ and focus on the law itself was conformity to the will of God.
James Dunn: God’s righteousness can only be received in humble subjection, the creature recognizing its total dependence on the Creator. Israel had indeed recognized the need for obedience to the law, but unfortunately had so misunderstood what that obedience entailed that their zealous obedience had actually become disobedience, a zeal attested more by sword than by love of neighbor. By pursuing obedience at the level of the flesh (cf. 8:7), in terms of ethnic and particular rituals, they showed their misunderstanding of God’s righteousness; and, irony of ironies, by seeking to establish righteousness as something peculiarly theirs they were actually putting themselves outside God’s righteousness, resisting rather than receiving the saving grace of God.
John MacArthur: Now what were they ignorant of? Five things are outlined in this chapter. Five elements in the ignorance of Israel.
- They were ignorant of the person of God.
- They were ignorant of the provision of Christ.
- They were ignorant of the place of faith.
- They were ignorant of the parameters of salvation.
- And they were ignorant of the predictions of Scripture.
Tremendous chapter, so wonderfully laid out by the genius of the Holy Spirit. And this ignorance… And may I suggest to you what we’ve been saying all along, it is a willful ignorance. They chose not to believe the truth. They chose to close their ears and their eyes until God finally judicially did it for them. It was ignorant, but it was willing ignorance. It was unbelief, but it was willing unbelief. Paul is sorry about it, as verse 1 indicates. But nonetheless it was their own fault.
C. (:4) Basis for Salvation = Christ is the Goal – Providing Righteousness via Faith
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
S. Lewis Johnson: The expression, Christ is the end of the law, is a notoriously difficult one, because the term end may be given several different senses. Perhaps, since there are several meanings that are in harmony with the teaching of the Scriptures, it would be helpful to set forth some of the suggestions.
First, some have taken the word “end” in the sense of the goal (Interpretation #1). That is, Christ is the goal of the Law. The Law was intended to point forward to Him by acting in its office of convicter of sin (cf. Ro 3:20). In that sense it was the slave guardian that led men to Christ (cf. Gal. 3:24).
Second, it has been taken to mean end in the sense of antitype (Interpretation #2). In this context it would mean that all the types of the Old Testament pointed on to Christ. He is the One to whom the Levitical cultus pointed, being the burnt offering, the peace offering, the meal offering, the sin and trespass offerings, the Passover, etc. (cf. Heb 10:1). It is true that the Old Testament is full of illustrations of the coming Redeemer; they pointed on to Him.
Christ is the “end” of the law in the sense that those sacrifices pointed forward to him, illustrated what he would do when he came. He was the burnt offering. He was the meal offering, he is the meal offering. He is the peace offering. He’s the sin offering. He’s the trespass offering. He’s the drink offering. He’s the offering of the red heifer, all of the offerings. He is the great offering on the Day of Atonement. All of these things were to give us little bits of self understanding concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything gathered together when the Lamb of God came. He’s the end of the law; he’s the antitype of all of these types expressed in the Old Testament. Now the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks about the law “being a shadow of good things to come.” That’s what Paul may be speaking about here.
Third, most of the commentators have taken the word “end” in the sense of termination, finish, wind-up (interpretation #3). The old order, the legal age, is done away in Christ, even as a hypothetical means of salvation (no one could be saved by the Law, for all men are sinners, Christ excluded; cf. Gal. 3:10, 11, 12). The new order of the Spirit is here. This is likely the force of the text. Righteousness is only available in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice.
John Toews: The law is fulfilled by Messiah Jesus in relationship to righteousness for all who exercise faith. The law’s relationship to righteousness is fundamentally changed by Christ. Paul’s thesis here is a restatement of 8:4, Messiah Jesus did what the law was not able to do and thus fulfilled the objective of the law. Christ does that for all people who trust; the universalism of the gospel, for all people (see 1:16), replaces the particularity and exclusiveness of Jewish nationalism. Christ, law, righteousness, and faith, all key terms in Romans, are bound together in a provocative interpretation. The law is a good thing that Christ brings to the goal of God’s righteousness for all people of faith.
Frank Thielman: The imagery of pursuit that Paul has been using in 9:30 – 10:3 weighs heavily in favor of taking the term to mean “goal” or “purpose” [instead of termination or end] (cf. 6:21–22). Although he has not used the term “goal” before in 9:30 – 10:3, the idea of pursuit in order to reach a goal has nevertheless dominated the discussion. Gentiles reached the goal of righteousness without pursuing it (9:30). Israel pursued the law of righteousness but did not arrive at that law (9:31), and they failed to arrive at the law because they focused on works and stumbled over the immense significance of the atoning death of Christ (9:32–33). They pursued the law in the wrong way and therefore failed to arrive at the “goal” toward which the law should have led them. If instead of attempting to keep the law after being confronted with the gospel they had viewed the law through the lens of the gospel, they would have realized that the law points to Christ.
How does the law do this? It promises righteousness and life to those who keep its commands (10:5), but also indicts all humanity, Israel included, for not keeping those commands. Apart from the work of the Spirit in the lives of God’s people (8:4), the law can, in practice, only bring knowledge of sin (3:20) and God’s wrath (4:15). The law, then, describes the human plight and, by doing this, implicitly points to Christ. This is the sense in which Christ is the law’s goal.
Douglas Moo: With the coming of Christ, the goal toward which the law was pointing has been reached. I think this latter idea is close to Paul’s point. But if we think about it a minute, we will see that the idea of “end” is bound up with this meaning also. Paul may well here be thinking of the race course imagery he has used in 9:30–32 (“pursuing” and “obtaining”). Let’s picture Israel as the runner, the law as the race, and Christ as the finish line. What Israel has failed to understand, Paul is saying, is that the finish line has been reached. The Messiah and the salvation he brings have come. Thus, the “race” has attained its end and goal—or, to use the best English equivalents, its “culmination” or “climax.”
As a result of Christ’s coming and bringing the law to its culmination, righteousness is now available for everyone who believes. Christ opens a new phase in salvation history, in which God extends his offer of a right relationship with himself to Gentiles as well as to Jews. Faith, apart from ethnic origin or works, is the sole basis for experiencing this gift he offers to the world.
II. (:5-10) SALVATION INVOLVES SIMPLE FAITH AND CONFESSION REGARDING THE FINISHED WORK OF CHRIST
Frank Thielman: Paul explains from Scripture why unbelieving Israel’s elevation of the law over Christ as the way to righteousness and life is misguided (10:5–13). According to the law itself, one must “do” the law in order to gain righteousness and life by it (10:5; Lev 18:5), but this is something that Paul has shown earlier in the letter’s argument to be impossible (Rom 3:19–20; 4:15; 5:20; 7:7–25; 8:7). According to the gospel, however, righteousness comes to those who simply trust in the effectiveness of what God has done for them through the death and resurrection of Christ. This is consistent with what the Scriptures say about the need for God to transform the hearts of his people to make them capable of obeying and calling upon him (Deut 30:11–14 [cf. Deut 29:4; 30:1–10]; Joel 2:32).
Douglas Moo: Verses 5-13 elaborate on the two key points Paul has made in verse 4:
- Christ ends the era of the law, making available a righteousness that can be attained through faith ( 5–10);
- and this righteousness is now available to anyone who believes ( 11–13).
A. (:5) Impossibility of Gaining Salvation by Obedience to the Law
“For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness.”
B. (:6-7) Implications of Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ –
Righteousness Based on Faith Depends on the Finished Work of Christ
“But the righteousness based on faith speaks thus,”
- (:6) Implications of the Incarnation
“Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’
(that is, to bring Christ down),”
Frank Thielman: In contrast to the impossible task of fulfilling the law as a way of receiving righteousness and life, receiving righteousness and life by faith is easy. The difficult task has already been accomplished by Christ’s descent from heaven to reconcile people to God through his death on the cross.
- (:7) Implications of the Resurrection
“or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’
(that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”
Frank Thielman: Christ’s resurrection from the dead was also part of the difficult task of gaining righteousness and life for the believer, but just as God sent Christ down from heaven that people might live, so he raised Christ from the dead for the same reason. Nothing is left for people to “do” in order to be reconciled to God and live with him eternally. God has already done it all for them.
Paul continues his description of the easy availability of righteousness through the gospel by matching an imaginary and impossible ascent to bring Christ down from heaven with a hypothetical and equally impossible descent into the abyss to lead Christ up from the dead. The impossibility of both tasks matches the impossibility of keeping the law well enough to receive life by doing it (10:5). Paul’s point is that through the incarnation and resurrection of Christ God has already done everything necessary to provide righteousness and life for the believer.
Grant Osborne: Before people even begin to look for God, he is already present, and no matter how far they go out of their way to find him, he is never farther away than when they first started out. As long as we insist on doing the finding, we will discover that the search never ends. But if we begin by trusting God, we discover he is to be found right where we are.
S. Lewis Johnson: In other words, Moses is simply saying that the word of faith is not something that we have to go and get. It’s not something difficult. It’s the simple response of the heart to the word of God. Now, the apostle, by analogy, speaking rhetorically uses those expressions here in verse 6 and following, he says with reference to the righteousness of God, and remember, Paul writes from the standpoint of the finished work of the Lord Jesus. The cross has already taken place. “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)” In other words, we do not have to go into heaven to precipitate an incarnation by which the second person of the divine trinity should take to himself human nature and come down upon this earth. We don’t have to do that. It has already been done, Paul is affirming.
Furthermore, we don’t have to say, or the word of faith, the righteousness of God does not say, “Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)” We do not have to descend into the depths and bring up Christ in his resurrection so that he ascends to the right hand of the Father. The work of the Son of God in coming, as the incarnate second person, dying on the cross, entering into his grave, coming forth from the grace in victorious resurrection, has already been accomplished. It is not something that we do; it’s something that we trust. It’s not something that we are responsible for ourselves. We simply, through the word of God, observe what has happened for sinners, and we trust ourselves in what God has done for us. The apostle is saying then, there is no human merit that God recognizes. There is no human supplement that we must offer to the work of God. The righteousness of God is not something that we attain to by our activities. It is something that we obtain through free grace. It’s not a new start that we need to start over to try to keep the Law of God from today. But is an absolutely new heart that comes through the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration; who through the gospel of Christ transforms us, gives us new life so that we respond in faith and repentance and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the Old Testament expression of the righteousness of God.
C. (:8-10) Instruction Regarding God’s Plan of Salvation
- (:8) The Gospel Message of Faith in Christ Is Accessible
“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart ‘– that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,”
Frank Thielman: In contrast to the impossibility of gaining righteousness and life through doing the law, receiving righteousness and life through the gospel is simply a matter of sincerely embracing the good news, proclaimed by the apostles, that God has already gained righteousness and life for people in Christ.
R. Kent Hughes: Simply stated, we do not have to go to Heaven or into the world of the dead to ﬁnd Christ. He is near us. Nor does salvation belong to the elite who have taken mystical journeys to Heaven or Hell. For those who knew something of the Scriptures (as the Jews knew the Law), the saving word was on their lips and heart. That is, the gospel of Christ—the word of faith—was (and is) available, accessible, and simple. . .
Why do so many people miss the point? Because it does not jibe with the concept of religious self-elevation. It is just too simple.
The good news is the ultimate both in simplicity and mystery. We will never completely understand it in this world. Yet it is so simple that a twelve-year-old can understand enough to truly come to Christ.
John MacArthur: So, the righteousness that comes to men is a righteousness that’s very high because it must meet the infinite standard of the holiness of God. It’s a righteousness that we can’t gain on our own and so Christ provides it for us. And it is appropriated to us by what? By faith, by believing, not by pursuing it, not by trying to ascend to heaven or descend into the depths, but by receiving it.
- (:9) The Gospel Message of Faith in Christ Promises Salvation
Based on Confession and Trust
a. Confession of Submission to Jesus as Lord
“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord,”
Michael Bird: This verse is perhaps the best explanation of what it means to be a Christian. A Christian is someone who professes to live under submission of King Jesus and believes that God has acted in Jesus to usher in the age to come. Not only that, what is provocative is that Paul writes these words to a cluster of house churches in the heart of the Roman empire, living right under the emperor’s nose and boldly declaring the lordship of a Jewish man executed by the Romans as a common criminal. It’s provocative because the Roman emperor was the one hailed as Kyrios by supplicants and clients across the empire. At the time that Paul was writing, one can find inscriptions, papyri, and ostraca all attesting that “Nero is Lord,” even the grandiose claim that “Nero, the Lord of the entire world.” Whether Paul intends the statement “Jesus is Lord” to be heard as a deliberate sociopolitical protest against the propaganda of the imperial cult is debatable. But at least we should acknowledge that the claim was potentially incendiary and could be perceived as politically disloyal. To claim that “Jesus is Lord” on Lord Nero’s own turf was not going to endear the Christians to imperial authorities.
b. Trust in the Resurrection of Christ
“and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead,”
Grant Osborne: As has already been noted, neither of these components that establish our personal relationship with God can be reduced to reciting certain words or assenting to the facts. To believe and to confess involve whole-person commitment. Neither are these components described in such a way that a person might accomplish one without accomplishing the other. They are two parts of a single step, just as lifting the foot and then placing it back down are two movements in the one act of taking a step.
John MacArthur: If Paul had picked another event, it wouldn’t have been as significant as this. The resurrection says He is Son of God. The resurrection says He is Messiah, He is Savior. He is the ultimate Lamb, the sacrifice for the sins of the world. He is the perfect one, the sinless one, the one exalted at the right hand of God, the one to be the judge, the one to be the King. The only Savior, the judge of all men, the conqueror of death, the coming King, the eternal monarch of glory; all of that is bound up in the resurrection. And that’s what we’re called to believe.
c. Promise of Salvation
“you shall be saved;”
John Toews: The confession has two components: confession of Jesus as Lord and trust in God’s resurrection of him from the dead. The first means acknowledging Jesus Christ as Lord of the world and the church. A transfer of allegiance and ownership is announced publicly. The second calls for trust in the faithfulness of God, as the reference to God’s resurrection of Jesus and the second use of Isaiah 28:16 indicates. The goal of the confession and faith is righteousness (confession to righteousness) and salvation (trust to salvation) used here as synonyms. The triple use of salvation in vv. 9, 10, and 13 in connection with confession and calling on the name of the Lord emphasize that Jesus is the Lord through whom God grants salvation to all people who confess and call on him. The linkage of the key concepts of the letter and of the argument in 9:30f. in this chiastic formula—faith, righteousness, salvation—underline Paul’s emphasis on righteousness by faith alone for all people irrespective of ethnic heritage (9:31-32; 10:4).
S. Lewis Johnson: Saving faith is so simple. It’s mustard seed kind of faith. It’s the faith that tremblingly touches the Savior’s garment. It’s the faith that says, “Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” It’s the faith that a sinking Peter, sinking because of unbelief, utters when he says, “Lord, save me.” and Jesus reaches out his hand and saves him. And it’s the faith of a weeping Mary, concerned over the loss of a savior. It’s that simple. It’s the faith that trusts Christ. It’s the faith that moves out of ourselves and leans upon the one who has died for us. It’s the one who accepts him as our continental head who has offered the atoning sacrifice for all for whom he has died. May God in his wonderful grace move in your heart to lean upon Christ for your salvation.
- (:10) The Gospel Message of Faith in Christ Must be Embraced
a. Embraced by Belief in the Heart
“for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness,”
b. Embraced by Confession with the Mouth
“and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
III. (:11-13) SALVATION EXTENDS TO ALL WHO WILL BELIEVE WITHOUT EXCEPTION AND WITHOUT DISTINCTION
“For the Scripture says,”
John Toews: Paul emphasizes the unification of all nations before God on the basis of faith in vv. 9-13. Messiah Jesus is the fulfillment of the law to everyone who trusts because the goal of the Torah is that all nations become one before God. Out of faith removes all distinction and special privilege. God grants salvation to all who confess Jesus as Lord and who call upon the name of God. Paul again affirms that the word of God has not failed. It is fulfilled in Messiah Jesus.
A. (:11) Salvation Never Disappoints
“Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
Frank Thielman: The ease with which God makes righteousness available explains the irony that gentiles had attained righteousness without even seeking it, whereas unbelieving Israel, with their zeal for God’s righteous law, had failed to attain it. If righteousness comes to those who merely believe and confess the gospel, then Greeks as well as Jews can receive it. It does not involve, as a first step, becoming a Jew by adopting the Jewish law (cf. 4:9–17; cf. Acts 15:7–11; Gal 2:14–16).
B. (:12-13) Salvation Is for All Who Will Believe
- (:12a) Unity without Distinction for All Who Believe
“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek;
for the same Lord is Lord of all,”
Michael Bird: When God’s impartiality is worked out in practice, it means that there is no distinction among Jew and Gentile. This of course was the principle underlying 1:18 – 3:20, which stated that Jews and Gentiles are both condemned in sin; therefore, Jews and Gentiles both need justification by faith as made clear in 3:22, 29-30. Clearly, sharing in the same plight entails sharing in the same solution.
But the picture here is far more than Jews and Gentiles simply being stuck with each other in the same lifeboat. Jesus is the same Lord of both Jews and Gentiles because God intends to put all of his people under the headship of one person, Messiah Jesus. God’s plan, first annunciated to the patriarchs, was always to form a worldwide family of faith to live under the reign of the Messiah. So Paul’s reference to Jesus’ lordship is no mere abstract affirmation of his deity. It means in the first instance that our relationship with God is mediated through Jesus as the one appointed as Messiah and Lord. On top of that, Jesus’ lordship necessitates a radical configuration of how believers relate to each other, including followers of Jesus belonging to different ethnicities. There is no “them” and “us,” but only “us” under the lordship of Jesus. Those who believe in the same Lord belong in the same community — a point with significant ramifications later in the letter (see 14:1-11).
John MacArthur: Now notice verse 12. He says, “Whosoever believes on him shall not be disappointed,” in verse 11. And then he says, “For there is,” and this is dynamite, “no difference between the Jew and the Gentile.” Man oh man, I mean, you just can’t say anything more devastating than that. These people, who were so zealous of their identity, who to this very day have preserved themselves through all the centuries because of a zeal for their own racial identity and a zeal for their own religious heritage, whether they believe it or not. These people, who believe so strongly that they are different than Gentile people, are told by Paul there’s no difference, no difference. What a statement.
- (:12b) Unlimited Riches for All Who Believe
“abounding in riches for all who call upon Him;”
- (:13) Universal Invitation and Promise to All Who Believe
“for ‘Whoever will call upon the name of the LORD will be saved.’”
Douglas Moo: The verb “call on” (epikaleo) is apparently the trigger that leads Paul to yet another Old Testament text that underscores the universality of God’s offer in the gospel (Joel 2:32): “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” The “LORD” in Joel is Yahweh, the covenant name of God. But Paul identifies this “Lord” with Jesus (see Rom. 10:9, 12), the “stone” of Isaiah 28:16 (Rom. 10:11). Verse 13, then, is important evidence that the early Christians identified Jesus with God.
Grant Osborne: A final quotation taken from the Hebrew Scriptures (Joel 2:32) serves well for Paul’s conclusion. God’s special relationship with Israel will continue, but it has been broadened to include everyone who calls on the name of the Lord. God’s plans for Israel had their climax in Christ. Access to God, for all people, now comes through Jesus Christ. With this last reference, Paul neatly lays the foundation for the necessity of worldwide evangelism. Joel 2:32 is an Old Testament mandate for missions. To call on the Lord is to ask the Lord to come to you and be real to you. Those who call on Jesus as their Lord want him to be their Lord and Savior.