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:
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. Paul's "Bombshell": No Difference.
A. The "Jewish" mentality.
1. Romans 2:17-29 -- For centuries the Jews had considered that they had a "lock" on the One True God and the only way anyone who had not started out as a "Jew" could get in on the blessings of this God was to become a "Jew" by submitting to circumcision and submitting to the Mosaic Covenant.
2. Romans 3:1-8 -- In this mindset, there was a kind of trans-generational benefit to being born a "Jew" because the "oracles of God" had been given to the Jews; they had a more direct and clear revelation of the One True God.
3. Romans 9:5 -- Also, this trans-generational benefit rested on the fact that the covenants had been given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (the "fathers") and whoever was born in their lineage was "included", to some degree, in the covenants.
3. Romans 10:1-3 -- The "problem" for a "Jew" with being "Jewish" is that one felt compelled to establish one's own righteousness before God. This, being impossible, led only to one of two ways of dealing with the issue of righteousness: on one hand were those whose continuous failures were always in their face and their anger and frustration boiled up; and on the other hand were those who simply refused to acknowledge their failures and turned into insufferably self-righteous egotists.
B. Paul's declaration.
1. In Romans 4:9-10 Paul laid the groundwork for this "no distinction" declaration. There he raised the question of whether Abraham's justification was granted to him before, or after he was "circumcised". This was important because circumcision instituted the main "distinction" between Jews and Gentiles. Since, Paul argued, Abraham was justified before he received circumcision, it was not circumcision that provided the foundation for justification, but the faith that preceded it.
2. Then, in Romans 4:17, Paul declared that the promise to Abraham was not that he would be a father to one nation but a father of many. This threw the door open to the idea that the initial promise was international, or as Paul said in 4:13, "he [was to be] the heir of the world".
3. Thus, with the foundations in place, Paul could say that "there is no distinction" on the basis of national identity. The great dividing line was not lineage issues; it was "faith" issues. Thus, the issue, both now and always before, is the issue of how one approaches the problem of how to obtain a righteous standing before God. This is the heart of the argument of the apostle in Romans 10. Salvation is by faith in Christ, not by works of the Law.
II. Paul's Theology.
A. All Jews would have argued that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the One True God over all (2 Chronicles 20:6).
B. Paul argued in Romans 9:5 that Christ "is over all, God blessed forever."
C. Thus, it was no stretch for him to simply declare that "the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him."
1. The issue is two-fold.
a. He is "over all". The terminology of the translation is more specific than Paul's actual wording. He uses a simple genitive; the translators add the attendant preposition.
b. He is "rich" unto all who call.
1) The issue of the "call" is intensive. It is used when men are given "another" name to more specifically identify them (translated "surnamed"), and it became the descriptive term of Christians, "all that call upon thy name" (Acts 9:14 and 21). In addition, when Paul was put into the extremity of the legal process, he "called upon Caesar" (Acts 25:12).
2) The issue of the "richness" is specific: He "justifies" them by giving them the righteousness of God through faith.
2. This two-fold issue, then, extends to all who use their mouths to express the belief of their hearts that "the Lord" is "Christ".
a. Paul's "proof" of the richness toward those who call upon the Lord is Joel 2:32, which Peter also quoted in Acts 2:21.
b. This Joel text is set within the future wherein Yahweh will finally deliver Israel and bring the nations into the valley of Jehoshaphat to be judged for what they did to Israel.
1) It contains allusions to what happened at Pentecost (Acts 2) and it has allusions to Paul's derived principle of "salvation through calling upon the Lord".
2) The application of this text to Paul's argument is that of his finding the underlying constant in the fluctuating circumstances and seeing the "form of Truth" that exists in that constant. The Romans' circumstances were not those of the Joel text, but the need for deliverance is an enduring constant of which the Romans were partakers. Interestingly, Stephen "called upon" the Lord when he was being stoned and died ... indicating that "deliverance" is not fundamentally physical (Acts 7:59).