9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
1901 ASV Translation:
9 because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved:
10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame.
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him:
13 for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
I. The Word of the Faith.
A. Paul used this phrase to summarize his preaching ("...this is the word of the faith which we preach" -- 10:8).
B. This phrase is the object of Paul's further "explanation" (10:9-13).
1. Confession with the mouth has two specific elements.
a. The first is the "content": Lord Jesus.
1) The ASV translators added "as" -- indicating that they were thinking that the "content" of the saving confession is that Jesus is Lord. This certainly is an integral aspect of the preaching of Peter in Acts 2:36: "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." But this translation does two things Paul did not do: first, Paul put "Lord" first (this would require the ASV translators to say "the Lord is Jesus" to be consistent); and, second, Paul did not put any other words (such as "is" or "as") in his text.
2) Paul did not say "confess Jesus as Lord"; he simply said, "confess Lord Jesus". This raises the question of whether he was trying to communicate a specific identity as the ASV implies -- "Jesus is Lord" -- or that he was trying to wed a double identity into one -- "Jesus" and "Lord" are one and the same. The difference is this: "Jesus is Lord" focuses upon Jesus' "lordship"; but "Lord Jesus" focuses upon the blended concepts of "Lord" (sovereign) and "Jesus" (Savior).
a) The ideas that spring up are not the same. Those who wish Paul had said, "Jesus is Lord" often harbor a "theology" of "salvation by subscription to Jesus' authority over the lives of those who would be 'saved' " in a form that turns around and denies "salvation" to anyone who sufficiently contradicts that authority by the way they live ("How can a 'saved' person," they ask, "act like that?" -- with a specific behavior in mind that can run anywhere from the most heinous crime (perhaps rape and murder) to the most innocuous indiscretion (perhaps wearing makeup or smoking a cigar)). This is a backdoor distortion of the Gospel that effectively rests "salvation" upon what people "do" as "subscribers" to the Lordship of Jesus. On the other hand, those who follow Paul's words a bit more closely often harbor a "theology" of "salvation by lip service" in a form that turns around and promises "salvation" to anyone who simply utters the words, "Lord Jesus". This is a back-door distortion of the Gospel that effectively turns the Grace of God into what the Authorized Version translators called "lasciviousness" (Jude1:4). Both of these back-door distortions end up doing the same thing: they make "faith" a human production that can be rewarded, or penalized, as the "theology" demands. But Paul's terminology is not "faith", but "confession". In other words, the "confession" is a declaration of the content of the faith, not a commitment to whether a person must/does-not-have-to "practice" that content in a certain way.
b) There is a third option: "Lord Jesus" can mean that the "confession" is a declaration that one believes that The Lord and Jesus are One integrated Personality. This makes the "theology" a matter of "saying" that the One Who is Lord is exactly like the Jesus that walked on the planet, did what He did, said what He said, died for the sins of others, and was raised on the third day -- because that Jesus clarified what the Lord is actually like. The real issue of "salvation" is not "how a person acts in respect to his confession of the nature of the One in whom he believes", but WHO is the ONE believed? Jesus of Nazareth displayed the Glory of God in a very specific way (John said, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory -- John 1:14) and He offered "salvation" to all who would accept Him as the manifestation of the Father ("He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" -- John 14:9). When the WHO is twisted into some form of human practice/non-practice, the Gospel has been distorted. This is why Paul began his explanation of the righteousness that is by faith with the imperative, "Do not say in your hearts 'Who...?' ." If the WHO is in question, there can be no salvation. "Confession", on the other hand, is a declaration of the WHO and that declaration has no "imperatives" formally attached. There are all kinds of "implications" as to what behavior can be consistent with that WHO, but none of those "implications" carry the ability to 'save' or 'condemn' because salvation is by grace, not by works of "necessary implications".
b. The second is the "audience" of the confession.
1. It is a characteristic of men that they almost invariably twist Truth in the direction of some form of "human achievement". The clearest example of this is the way men tie "confession" to a "before men" setting without any support of the context whatsoever. This is a way to attempt to force men to "act" in a way that will qualify them for "salvation". It is an underhanded way to introduce legalism into Grace sothat (and this motive is crucial) they may pride themselves in being superior to all who do not "do" the required thing.
2. The context is single-minded in its focus upon just Who the audience is for this "confession": 10:12 says, "...the Lord...is rich unto all that call upon Him"; 10:13 says, "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved"; and 10:14 asks, "How...shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?". In all of these texts, "salvation" is given to those who used their "mouths" to "call" upon the Lord. Because "confession with the mouth" leads to "salvation" according to our present text (10:9) it is difficult, indeed, to get away from the fact that the "confession" is a "call" to the "Lord" Who is so directly identified by Paul as "Jesus".
2. Confession with the mouth is a figure of speech.
a. Paul is not excluding those who cannot utter the sounds of speech from "qualifying" through "confession with the mouth".
b. Paul is excluding those who refuse the most obvious implication of "confession with the mouth": personalinteraction with "Jesus", the Lord. In other words, "salvation" is all about a return to the interpersonal relationship of the creature with the Creator. There was an initial indication of what was lost by sin in the Garden in Genesis 3:8 where we read that Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God. This loss was echoed in Mark 9:32 where we are told that the disciples did not understand what Jesus had said and "were afraid to ask Him": this is the relational breakdown that sin introduced and that "salvation" is designed to restore.
c. What Paul has done is to establish that "salvation" does not come until the one who wishes to be saved takes that wish directly to the Lord. This is the reason behind all of the biblical texts that tie God's responses to men to their willingness to approach Him. The distance between two cannot be closed by one.