Chapter # 10 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
May 5, 2009
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
1901 ASV Translation:
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 and how shall they preach, except they be sent? even as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things!
16 But they did not all hearken to the glad tidings. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17 So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
18 But I say, Did they not hear? Yea, verily, Their sound went out into all the earth, And their words unto the ends of the world.
19 But I say, Did Israel not know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy with that which is no nation, With a nation void of understanding will I anger you.
20 And Isaiah is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I became manifest unto them that asked not of me.
21 But as to Israel he saith, All the day long did I spread out my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
- I. Paul's "Process" of Salvation.
- A. Having established "the word of faith" as the fundamental principle of a heart/mouth agreement regarding "Truth" about the character of the Lord of the Universe, Paul now sets about to unveil the divine process by means of a series of questions.
- 1. The root principle: one "believes" in his "heart" that God raised Jesus from the dead and, consequently, "confesses" with his "mouth" that this means that the Lord of the Universe has been revealed to have been Jesus -- in character, action, and words. This "confession" constitutes a "call upon His name"; a "call" that is addressed to "Him", not men. But this "confession" is focused upon the Lord of the Universe being the Redeemer; the "Jesus" Whose name means "He will save His people from their sins".
- 2. The "order": salvation is the final result of which Paul wrote; calling upon the Lord is what brings this salvation; believing is what initiates the calling; hearing is what makes the believing possible; preaching is what provides the hearing; sending is what provides the preaching.
- B. The "questions".
- 1. How shall they call upon [the One] into whom they did not believe?
- a. This unequivocally establishes that "calling" is a consequence of "belief".
- 1) This eliminates any "calling" that does not arise out of a proper "faith" that, Paul insists, must be in the resurrection by God of Jesus from the dead (10:9), Who was dead because He came to "save His people" by vicarious substitution.
- 2) This establishes the "call" as "the first act of faith" without which there is no "salvation". Paul declared that such "faith" results in "righteousness" (thus proving that he did not conceive of "faith" as a "stand alone" concept, but one which inescapably produces some form of result), but he disallowed any consequent "salvation" without that "righteousness" sponsoring a "call of the mouth" to the Lord. By this Paul forces us to the point that what a man believes with his heart will show up by means of the mouth (Jesus taught this: Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45). If a person asks, "What happens to the man who believes with his heart but does not call with his mouth?", he is only revealing that he does not understand Paul's concept of the indivisible unity of man. That's like asking, "What if a man hits a tree with an ax and there is no mark on the tree?" It is an impossibility based upon the nature of the case. It is also impossible to "believe" without anything resulting from that "faith". James made this argument when he said, "The demons believe and tremble": faith without the outcome of belief is mere "say-so" faith -- i.e., an "unbelief" that sponsors the claim of the mouth that "I believe" as a subterfuge. In other words, the mouth is an integrated element of "man" that cannot actually be disconnected from his integrated unity. We can speak of the "mouth" as an entity as if it has existence apart from the "heart" because it does have that separate existence, but we cannot speak of the "mouth" as a functioning organ as an isolated reality. Without the muscles surrounding the lungs, there is no inhaling/exhaling. Without the lungs there is no inhaling/exhaling. Without the inhaling/exhaling there is no rush of breath. Without the rush of breath, there is no "sound" from the vibration of the cords of the larynx. Without that vibration, the "mouth" cannot form "sound" into words. Without that formation, there is no "calling". In other words, at the physical level, "calling" is not an independent action of an independently functioning mouth. So also, at the level of "faith speech", whether formed by the physical mouth or not, "calling" is not something that can be done apart from the "believing", nor can "calling" not occur if the heart "believes". If the muscles of the rib cage expand, air is going to come into the lungs. The lungs are a separate entity from those muscles but what they do has inevitable consequences to the lungs. Thus the man who "believes with his heart" also "confesses with his mouth" because he cannot do otherwise.
- a) Paul did not insert the call of the mouth to frustrate his concept of salvation by grace through faith by "adding" something "human" to the "grace of God".
- b) Rather, Paul inserted the call of the mouth to establish his concept of a real "salvation" in which there is an actual, real, interpersonal relationship reconnected between God and men. With only a "heart belief" one could, theoretically, be exempted from Wrath, but only by a "mouth confession" does man enter once again into "fellowship with God".
- b. This also is the place to begin because salvation arises out of "calling".
- 2. How should they believe from out of One Whom they did not hear?
- a. The language is awkward, but the picture is not: Someone had to utter the words that were to be "believed" if "faith" was to happen (this is the essential conclusion of the apostle in 10:17).
- b. This introduces the most critical of the "faith" issues: the content comes from "outside" of the person who is doing the hearing. Men do not, themselves, create the content of faith; it comes with the "hearing". The One Who Speaks not only creates the content of the speech, but also the sound that carries that content to the ears of the hearer. Thus, the Heart/Mouth reality of the Imparter of the Faith addresses the heart/mouth reality of the receiver of the faith.
- c. There is this in this context: hearing does not automatically lead to faith, but faith cannot happen without the hearing. The hearing challenges the heart with the content of "the Faith", but that, of itself, does not bring the heart to acceptance. The proof of this is in 10:16-21.
- 3. How should they hear without one who proclaims?
- a. Clearly, in the physical realm, sound has to precede hearing.
- b. Just so, the proclamation must exist before the hearing can.
- 4. How should they proclaim if they should not have been sent?
- a. This is the part of the text that Paul reinforces with a reference to the Old Testament.
- b. This also precedes the disclaimer: not all obeyed what they heard. So, the entire process from the "sending" to the "calling" is in the text but carries no guarantee of the outcome of the connecting links. One can send a proclaimer and yet be given the silent treatment at the end (no "calling" by the hearer).
- II. The Larger Question.
- A. If, as Paul asserts, "all have heard" (10:18), what is the point of this series of questions?
- B. Why did Paul feel compelled to expose the process from the end to the beginning even though it is not necessarily productive?
- 1. Clearly he did want his readers to think a bit about each of the steps taken by God to make "the word of faith" a "near you" reality.
- 2. Just as clearly, he was not telling his readers that what God had done was going to be necessarily productive.
- 3. This may well be Paul's explanation of how he dealt with the contradiction between the longing of his heart as exposed in 10:1 and the reality of its frustration. In one sense, it must have been even more painful for him to know that God had made "salvation" as "near" to them as He had and that it was not going to result in "salvation for them". But, on the other hand, it does help the wounded heart to know the processes of God.